Report: March 23, 2005


Erindale College Council

REPORT OF THE COMPUTING COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Wednesday, March 23, 2005 at 3:10 p.m., in Room 3138, South Building.

PRESENT: J. Lim (in the Chair), A. Vyas, J. Seel, N. Collins, S. Bancheri, J. Sills, J. Tran, J. Hu
Regrets: R. deSouza, J. Linley, B. Thompson

1. Adoption of the Agenda

The agenda was approved with some changes as follows: item 4d was deleted and reporting on the item would be postponed until the fall. The item “Review of the UTM Web site” was added as item 4d. (J. Sills/J. Seel)

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting (February 23, 2005)

The report of the previous meeting was approved. (N. Collins/J. Seel)

3. Business Arising from the Minutes

a) Academic Computing Advisory Committee Meeting – Joe Lim

The Academic Computing Advisory Committee met on March 2nd and discussed the Learning Management system (WebCT, Blackboard, CCNet systems). He reported that an RFP will be released for learning management systems, because the university’s WebCT license expires in the summer of 2006. RCAT has also conducted a series of meetings and surveys to discover the system requirements of faculty and administrative support staff. Mr. Lim reported that UTM was part of the consortium that responded to the RFI, and proposed a home-grown, University of Toronto system as opposed to a commercial product. He would provide an update of the result of these efforts at the next meeting of the Committee.

b) UTM/St. George campus link

Mr. Lim reported that the UTM will be establishing a gigabit speed link to the St. George campus during the summer of 2005.

c) Spam

Mr. Lim reported that due to the spam filter problem and the increased occurrence of false positives, the spam threshold has been lowered on Outlook email systems.

d) Videoconferencing

Mr. Lim noted that developments on videoconferencing are tied to the establishment of the UTM/St. George campus gigabit speed link. The current link, which has a capacity of 30 megabits, is not sufficient to operate the UTM’s videoconferencing needs.

4. New Business

a) Report on CC-MED survey – Anil Vyas

The detailed report of the survey entitled “Highlights from a CC – MED Survey” is attached to these minutes.

Mr. Vyas noted that an electronic survey was conducted in April of 2004 to gather input from the UTM community on the types of services and response times that are expected from Computing Services (CC) and Micro Electronics (MED.) The survey had a total of 69 responses.

Mr. Vyas proceed to summarize the survey, describing the types of questions and the results.

He noted that when rating their level of satisfaction based on types of service requests, respondents generally gave a high satisfaction rating. Regarding software related service requests, most problems were experienced with the following: WIN98 Operating system, MS Office, Internet Explorer, Webmail and Eudora, and Corporate Time. Most of these problems could be associated with the frequent use of a particular software or because of the very recent introduction of an as yet unfamiliar program (as in the case of Corporate Time.) The survey also found that most of the problems associated with electronics were experienced by research laboratories.

Regarding the length of time needed to resolve a service request, the survey found that the majority of problems were solved within two days. The survey also indicated that there was a need for a feature that would explain to users the reasons for a service delay. This would be implemented into the trouble ticket system in the near future.

The survey showed that most respondents expected service response times to be within one to two days and for the resolution of a problem to be approximately two days. Most respondents also indicated that they would prefer to be present when a service was being performed.

In addition, the survey showed that many respondents do not use or do not know about the Network Attached Storage (NAS) device for backup purposes. Other feedback suggests that 650 megs may not be sufficient storage for some users. Mr. Vyas stated that notices about this feature were distributed to faculty and staff and that CS and MED staff would be setting up this feature for users as they carry out regular trouble ticket services.

The survey also showed the following information:

  • entering service requests was done on-line by approximately 54%, via the help desk by 32% of the respondents; the rest of the service requests were ‘walk-ins’
  • approximately half of respondents had either not used or did not know if they used the MyAccount web site
  • most respondents used either Eudora (32%), Webmail (26%) or Outlook (13%) as their email system
  • 56% of respondents connect to the UTM network from home using a high-speed connection and 73% have Norton as their anti-virus protection program

Mr. Vyas noted that staff would be implementing some changes to CS and MED services in response to the survey. For example, users will be informed of the status of their trouble ticket, letting them know when a staff member has been assigned, when a job has been completed and the reasons for any delays. He also noted that a recent upgrade will allow users to send and receive email attachments of up to 20 megs.

b) Update on Patch Link setup – Anil Vyas

Mr. Vyas reported that patch link software has been installed to 667 machines. He noted that Micro Electronics staff will continue to install these patch link automatic updates and that he would report on the project’s progress in the fall.

A member commented that there may be performance issues with automatic patch link updates when a number of applications are open at the same time and then only until the update is completed.

c) Computer Purchase RFP and Digital Output RFP – Joe Lim

Mr. Lim reported that Dell and IBM have been awarded a University of Toronto Tier 1 contract for five years. He noted that users would have to make a special case for the purchase of an IBM desktop, because the Tier 1 contract for IBM does not include desktops. He also reported that Dell prices have decreased by 20-25% recently. In addition, an RFP has been released for photocopiers since Ricoh’s contract with the university is expiring this summer.

d) Review of the UTM Web site – Joe Lim

The Typo3 content management system has been successfully implemented and is operating dynamically (changes are updated immediately.) The Chief Administrative Officer will be convening a small working group to do a review of the UTM home page with the goal of developing a more seamless home page.

In response to a member’s inquiry regarding more information on the status of the web portal project, Mr. Lim replied that the relevant committee has not met to discuss this project as of yet, but noted that work done on the learning management system will need to be coordinated with the web portal committee.

5. Other Business

a) Tech_Know_File 2005

Mr. Lim announced that this University of Toronto information technology conference is scheduled for May 11 and 12 and is hosted by University College. UTM will be presenting to the conference on four UTM-developed applications as follows: UTM submit, UTM blog, MyFiles (developing for users to access their files on drive H seamlessly on Windows Explorer) and a generic resource booking system (booking rooms, food, and media and other presentation equipment.) For more information on the conference, members can browse to .

In response to a member’s question, Mr. Lim replied that the MyFiles application will be announced via the ‘erincomm’ email system and information regarding its use will be on the UTM web site.

b) Changes to wireless authentication

Mr. Lim announced that there will be a change in wireless authentication requirements. Currently, wireless authentication is done using the Utordial account (library bar code and a password); starting in May, users can activate their wireless access with their UtorId and a password.

6. Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Computing Committee is scheduled for the fall session.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:20 p.m. (A. Vyas/ N. Collins)

Secretary of Council _______________________ Chair ___________________

September 2005