Minutes of a meeting of Computing Strategy Group, 10am 24th April 2012


Paul Anderson
Stuart Anderson
Tim Colles
Liz Elliott
Dave Robertson
Alastair Scobie
Perdita Stevens

1. Minutes and matters arising

Relating to item 2 of previous minutes:

Alastair showed pictures and a tabular view summarising our current infrastructure and services. These were considered extremely useful. We discussed the information and its use. We decided these, imperfect though they are, should be quickly made available on the web to all users. In order to make sure they are kept up to date (as well as to provide context) the pictures should be included in the "living document" Computing Strategy, where they will be checked once a year and updated if necessary.

AP: AS to put these pictures on the web and in the Strategy document

AP: AS to continue to flesh out the tabular pages and publish (even if still imperfect) by next-but-one CSG.

AP: PS to place item on agenda for that CSG for a discussion of strategic priorities using these pages.

Relating to item 4 of previous minutes:

Unfortunately, the University's installation of Learn 9 provides only EASE authenticated access; this makes it unsuitable for general use in Informatics given our policy that course materials should by default be world readable. This is disappointing, as our position on this is shared by a number of other schools, and had been made clear.

AP: SOA to ask Gill to convene a task group to discuss strategic business-relevant directions in student portfolios and personal learning environments, and more generally, our use of technology to support and document learning and teaching.

Relating to item 5 of previous minutes:

PS had written an email and sent it to DR but it was stalled because our webpage about encryption needed updating.

AP: AS to make sure it is done and tell DR.

Relating to item 6 of previous minutes:

Progress has been made; AS and PS discussed goals and AS updated the plan accordingly. SOA has now sent AS comments on various issues.
AP: AS to update plan again in light of SOA's feedback and put it on Computing Strategy wiki.

2 Machines, given current funding regimes

The question, raised by Kate Bryne in email, was: What can we do about aging machines, given that research funders will typically no longer pay for commodity equipment?

The current situation is that commodity desktop machines are provided by the school. These machines are, indeed, aging, but should be adequate for commodity computing - email, web, writing papers. It is possibly arguable that if a researcher is experiencing frustration with one of these machines, it may be that what they are doing is beyond "commodity" computing and could indeed have been funded on a grant.

We discussed provision of laptops, where the School does not have a policy of providing them and staff are increasingly feeling pushed into buying their own machines with their own money. It may, unfortunately, be that there there is no good alternative to this. We discussed the possibility of a system that would give an individual with a particularly strong need for a laptop a chance to "bid", i.e. make a case, for one. This would be administratively burdensome, however; someone would have to adjudicate and it is likely that claims would be finely balanced.

Decisions on such matters would affect the overall computing equipment budget and are outside the remit of this committee, but several options are being given approximate costings and will be considered by the (school) Strategy Committee.

3. Date and time of next meeting

10-12 Tuesday June 19th

AP: PS to book room and announce it.

-- PerditaStevens - 22 May 2012

Topic revision: r1 - 22 May 2012 - 16:46:39 - PerditaStevens
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