Some other highlights from yesterday include seeing Red Kites circling overhead, beautiful birds, huge, and they come down so low I would be worried if I had a piece of meat in my hand! Also managed to get into the nearest village which is Thame after the sessions had finished, and discovered that Robin Gibb lived there and is buried in the churchyard!
Another highlight was watching the husband and wife duo which is Heidi Fraser-Krauss IT Director at York University and Thomas Krauss, Professor of Physics at York, do a wonderful session on what IT can do to support academics. With some very funny role play, they illustrated the different drivers academics and iT Directors have, and how we have to be careful to respect those. As Thomas pointed out, academics aren't paid to be compliant!
in summary, the plea from the academic was:
Understand my drivers
Don't put me in a straight jacket, I don't get paid for compliance
Offer me services that makes my job easier
Make it easy to use, easy to access, easy to learn
Centrally managed services have to be reliable, if we don't own them we'll be more critical
And from the The IT Director:
Supporting research is non trivial
Build trust and credibility, go out and see people
Don't assume you know what researchers want
Difficult enough to provide commodity services eg storage and HPC, specialist services are hard
Pick your fights. Don't offer a managed desktop to an academic who uses a Mac!
If you get it right academics will support you
Excellent session which will be on line soon, and worth a watch.