12 December 2005

Generic email addresses

The University is developing guidelines for generic, or position-based, email addresses.

The University Information Management Systems Committee (UIMSC) has asked the Divisions for comments on a recent paper from ICT Services proposing guidelines (stress: guidelines) for the use of generic email addresses to be used for official contact with the University.

Copies of the paper have been circulated to the members of the Division’s IT & Infrastructure Committee for comment. Further copies can be obtained from the office of the Deputy Head of the Division.

Network switches

Network bandwidth problems to be solved at last?

One long-running source of frustration for the Division MAY soon be overcome: it appears that ICT Services will fund the replacement of outdated computer network switches around the Division (and the University) over the coming year.

Should ICT Services indeed have found the money to fund the replacements, we could soon be seeing better network response and improved speed.

NetPVR - Network Personal Video Recorder

Development continues on this service with some help from the ANU.

Scholarly Teaching Services at the Australian National University has contracted the Division to provide them with a netPVR: a system for requesting, recording and replaying television programs over the computer network.

The Division is developing such a system as a part of the implementation of the DEST Infrastructure grant that supported the National Institute of Language Learning (NILL).

A prototype is due to be demonstrated to the ANU in late January, 2006.

Assets transfer

New administrative arrangements come into play on 1 January 2006.

In order to transfer responsibility from the Division of Communication and Education for ASP to the Division of Learning and Teaching, and for IELTS/ELICOS and the Customised Language Program to International Division, on 1 January 2006, a list of the assets currently in use by these group is being drawn up with the intention of transferring their ownership to the new Divisions.

Blacklisting of email server

Overzealous attempts to limit spam leads to email delivery failure.

The COMEDU and BLIS email servers are being blacklisted by the SORBS service, apparently every day for the last two weeks. SORBS is a service that purports to list email servers that are sources of spam: email server administrators can subscribe to the SORBS service and use the blacklist to block ALL emails coming from those email servers on the basis that the emails are spam. ICT Services subscribes to the SORBS list and uses it to block any email from servers on the blacklist, resulting in email from BLIS and COMEDU addresses being ‘bounced’ back to the sender and not delivered.

There have been various reasons for the blacklisting of the BLIS and COMEDU email servers. For example, the first few times was from an 'Out of Office Reply' to a spam email which caused ICT Services email servers to interpret the reply as also spam. Over the past few days we were blacklisted due to some emails being “poorly” formatted, or email addresses misspelled. A series of bulk emails from the office of our PVC sent in support of an upcoming conference has led to the latest blacklist.

Each morning for the past week ICT Services has been contacted to remove the BLIS and COMEDU servers from the blacklist. ICT Services has been asked to change how they handle the blacklisting rules, but as yet to no avail.

Any attempt to reduce the amount of spam and malware is admirable: when it is overzealous and hinders the legitimate work of the University it is unacceptable. The Director of ICT Services has been asked to ensure that ICT Services staff modify the rules to ensure no legitimate email is refused delivery.