Erindale College Council

MINUTES OF THE COMPUTING AND DATA COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Monday, January 20, 2003 at 3:10 p.m., in Room 3129.

PRESENT: J. Seel (Chair), J. Lim, A. Vyas, I. Murray, P. Michelucci, N. Collins, J. Sills, S. Qureshi, D. Hill, C. Ferencz Hammond
REGRETS: P. Donoghue, R. Baker, J. Poë, F. Brown/C. Capewell, T. Mann/K. Nugent, S. Kibria
VISITOR: P. King (Library)

  1. Adoption of the Agenda
    The Agenda was approved by all present.

  2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting
    The minutes were approved. (N. Collins/I. Murray)

  3. Business Arising from the Minutes
    None.

  4. New Business:

    a) Overview of Backup system: Mechanisms Now Utilized and Future Plans- J. Lim

    J. Lim reported that currently Computing Services does the backup of servers using a tape backup unit, but this has space limitations. The department is planning to introduce a centralized backup system for faculty and staff by March of this year, which will be free of charge. Currently, staff and faculty share storage unit space with students - the new system will separate these two users. This system will appear as a network drive on each PC and will be set up so that faculty and staff can 'drag and drop' to back up data that is on the local hard drive. This system is free of charge and has a limit of 650 megabytes. This network storage drive should be accessible over the Internet by the end of the summer.

    J. Lim announced that for larger items, in excess of 1 gigabyte, Computing Services is planning the installation of the Legato system, which is used by the St. George Campus. Due to software license charges, there will be a one time only fee of $500 associated with this system. The planned launch of Legato will be the end of April. Backup will be automatic and will be done on a nightly, weekly and monthly cycle. In addition, J. Lim reported that this system requires a minimum number of users; at present, Computing Services is purchasing 25 licenses, but in future there is a possibility of partnering with the St. George Campus on the use of Legato. J. Lim explained to the committee that because this system would be accessible from the network, it was ideal for classroom use.

    Responding to a query regarding the prohibitive cost of this system, J. Lim explained that although the UTM community has 650 megabytes of regular backup availability, many faculty would wish to back up their entire research files with a system like Legato which has unlimited backup space.

    b) New Mail Server - J. Lim

    J. Lim reported that the switch to a new mail server proceeded with quite well, with the exception of a few problems with the Pine system.

    Responding to a query regarding the difficulty of accessing newsgroups through the Pine system, J. Lim explained that gaining access through Netscape has security concerns, due to users having to continually log out before the next user.

    c) Accessibility Issues and the UTM website - D. Hill

    D. Hill, UTM webmaster reported on the accessibility or any given user's ability to navigate the World Wide Web in general and more specifically, the UTM website. He gave details of guidelines that are endorsed by the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3). He described Priority Three level as being a website that is the most accessible by all groups. UTM main Web sites are currently at Level 1.

    D. Hill reported that he has developed templates which make the main page of the UTM website and its Student Services links accessible. Other connected sites on the UTM website do not as yet have this feature, however this is planned in the future as work on this project continues. To validate accessibility, D. Hill used the A-Prompt system, which enables users to check a website's accessibility and point to potential problem areas. He explained that not all UTM sites are accessible because when a site is updated with new content, it degenerates. P. King commented that a new provincial law was in the process of being enacted regarding website accessibility as part of the Disabilities Act. D. Hill promised to investigate this for the next Committee meeting and added that he was also working on a text only version of the UTM website, which would be highly accessible.

    At the end of his presentation, D. Hill asked for input from the Committee on the issue of browsers. He explained that Netscape 4.7 had been the cause of problems and that his view is that UTM should not limit itself in its use of a lower browser version. Several committee members suggested that a message be put on the UTM front page advising users to download updated browsers for proper site display. D. Hill commented that this type of display message will be implemented and added that to be standards compliant, the UTM website should be accessed through Internet Explorer 5 or Netscape 6.

  5. Other Business

    A member sought advice on several issues from the committee. There was discussion of the student software "Stella" and it was recommended that to avoid potential problems, all student passwords must be synchronized. Regarding a feasibility of a student web directory, it was suggested that this would be available towards the end of the summer, 2003. On the subject of the availability of thumbnail photos of students for classroom use by faculty, it was suggested that perhaps the new Registrar and Director of Enrolment Management consider this issue. Finally, the committee was informed about the rash of thefts of computers and related equipment, and it was suggested that everyone back up their systems and keep these in a separate, secure area.

  6. Next Meeting
    The next meeting of the Computing and Data Communications Committee will be on Monday, February 24, 2003.

  7. Adjournment
    The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 p.m. (N. Collins / D. Hill)