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Archive for March, 2008

Video Conferencing moves to ITD

Monday, March 31st, 2008

videoconferencingweb.jpgFrom 1 March ITD will take over responsibility for video conferencing at UNE. The aim is to ensure that UNE’s video conferencing infrastructure remains state-of-the-art.

Hans Schaefer has been working with video conferencing for more than 15 years. In that time he’s seen some remarkable changes. ‘Video conferencing is constantly changing. We have good networks worldwide now so the cost has come down enormously. It’s becoming increasingly flexible with video conferencing facilities installed in three lecture theatres and around 20 desktop videoconferencing units around UNE’ says Hans.

As a result of UNE’s rural location, the university has been quick to see the benefits of video conferencing. As a result UNE continues to be at the forefront of video conferencing technology. The university’s decision to have a dedicated sub-network for video conferencing has eliminated the need for a firewall and made connecting to UNE’s video conferencing system simple and reliable.

Video conferencing is already revolutionising teaching and learning at UNE. Today will see the first link up of students in the Joint Medical Program with lecturers at The University of Newcastle. Students using net meeting are also able to access UNE staff using video conferencing.

UNE’s principal IT Officer, Gordon Smith sees ITD’s  involvement in video conferencing as a natural extension of its role in providing communications infrastructure. ‘ITD provides and maintains data infrastructure and telephone infrastructure. Now we’re extending that role to include the provision of video communications infrastructure’ Gordon Smith.

Hans sees lots of new video conferencing developments just around the corner. “We have to keep our eyes open and talk to people about what they really want”. Hans made the move from TLC to ITD on the 1st March this year.

Seminar on knowledge taxonomies

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Tomorrow’s seminar in the LCRC seminar series will look at how information management technologies work to ‘carve up’ information.

Taxonomies are fundamental component of knowledge and information management systems. Dr Csaba Veres (who currently works for the Defence Science and Technology Organisation) will look at the problem of trying to define ‘valid’ information taxonomies before suggesting a new approach in which taxonomies are removed from knowledge representation.

Dr Veres will speak on Wednesday 26th March at 3pm in the Paul Barratt Lecture Theatre.


BI team gets valuable experience

Monday, March 17th, 2008

UNE’s BI (Business Intelligence) team will benefit from a 4-day course in Sydney.

Creating a well functioning data warehouse relies on a good understanding of dimensional modelling. UNE’s BI team (Rob Hale, James Cooper and Norm Boessler) will spend this week in Sydney getting the latest tips on dimensional modelling to create an efficient data warehouse.

ITDs Conker King

Monday, March 17th, 2008

conkersweb.jpgITD’s conker nuts came out in force last week to contest the third annual conker challenge.

It was a tough competition with more than 30 ITD staff vying for tmatt-and-norman-conkersweb.jpghe Conker King title. Some very fine conkers were collected by Mr. Hale.

“In England you have to go to some effort to get good conkers because everyone wants to play. But here it’s not that popular so I found some very fine conkers on the ground” said Mr. Hale

After a brief demonstration of the art of conking from Richard Wilson and Rob Hale, and a few cucumber sandwiches for good luck, the nuts began to fly. Luckily injuries were limited to the odd sore knuckle and bruised ego.

In the end it was an Aussie who emerged the victor. Senior analyst Brendan Heywood (pictured below with web architect Lynda Creedy) managed to crack the conkers of all opponants to take home the trophy.


A way to study

Monday, March 10th, 2008 gives you a way to share your favourite sites with friends or find others that share your interests. It can also be a fantastic research tool. is a social bookmarking tool. What this means is that it gives you a way of storing your favourite bookmarks online (rather than in your browser). Storing your bookmarks online has a few advantages, firstly you can then access them wherever you are and secondly (and this is where gets exciting) you can share bookmarks with others. has a range of uses particularly for students and researchers. You could be searching to find other researchers or students with similar interests. Once you’ve found someone studying the same things you can share bookmarks to useful sites. You could also use to set up a research group using a shared account. A group of people can set up bookmarks that might be useful for the whole group.

Obviously there are lots of other ways to use like looking for new things, sharing hobbies or making a wishlist – the possibilities are endless. To find out more visit and happy bookmarking.

It’s conker time

Friday, March 7th, 2008

conkerweb.jpgIt’s been banned in British schools (and for good reason) but this traditional children’s game is alive and well in ITD

It’s a game that has been enjoyed by British kids for generations. Now some of those British kids are working in ITD. The result is that the ITD Conker Challenge is now in it’s third year.

Rob Hale, an experienced conker player has assessed the conker situation in Armidale and is optimistic that this years’ competition will be fierce (really fierce)

“The increased rainfall has led to a bumper crop so there are plenty of prime conkers available which should lead to a fairer and no doubt more bruising contest…”  Mr Hale says.

The rules of the game are simple. Two players each with a conker (horse chestnut) on a string (see picture), attempt to hit their opponent’s conker. The first person to score a hit then gets a further chance to smash their opponents conker to bits. Anyway you get the gist. It is a somewhat dangerous game and is usually (at the very least) painful. So anyone wishing to participate – it’s at your own risk!!

The ITD conker challenge will be held on Friday 14th March at 1pm. If there are any participants from outside of ITD who are prepared to take on ITD’s dedicated conker nuts – just get in touch with Rob Hale

Behind the scenes at the IT Service Desk

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

It can be more than a wee bit stressful when you’re computer is having problems so I thought it would be a nice idea to introduce your friendly IT Service Desk staff.

The IT Service Desk is your first port of call if you’re having difficulty with computing at UNE. The Service Desk is physically located on the ground floor of the ITD building and there is also an IT Service Desk in the new learning commons on the ground floor of the Dixson library.

IT Service Desk staff can be difficult to track down due to the fact that they’re a little bit shy and quite a lot busy. Today was so busy in fact that I was only fahad-talibcrpweb.jpgable to track down three. Nevertheless here they are….

Fahad Talib (right) is not only a service desk superhero but is also a student (Comm/law). Fahid does lots of late shifts over at the new learning commons IT service desk in the library.


Jen Mitchell (here on the left) is also spending a lot of time at the new learning commons IT Service Desk in the Dixson library and with loads of new students to help out – Jen is flat out.

And last but by no means least, back at base (but very often in the library too) is Mike Hillard (Just down there – yep that’s him).mikehillardweb.jpg

This year the Service Desk hours have been extended. That means that students can now get IT support between 8:30 am and 7:00pm Monday-Friday during term time. The IT Service Desk is also staffed on Saturday afternoon (1-5pm) and Sunday afternoons (1-5pm)

Find Aussie blog treasure

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Blogging is big – and not just at UNE. The Top 100 Australian blog index will point you to blogs about cars or photography, fashion or even running a small business.

Its been just over a year since ITD set up this blogging software for UNE staff and students. In that time the number of blogs has grown to around 50. UNE blogs have become a popular tool for communicating with the UNE community.

If you’re new to blogs and blogging you might want to get a bit of an idea of the kind of blog diversity that’s out there in the blogpond. Whether you’re interested in food, finance, cars or just about anything else you’re bound to find a blog community that shares your passion.

The following blog, called dipping into the blogpond publishes a monthly list of the top 100 Australian blogs. You can find the list here: It’s a great way to start exploring Aussie blogs.