Thursday, 28 January 2016

Carnival time

Well, January is proving a bad month for blogging!  A number of reasons.....

I'm spending some time reviewing digital services at another University which has meant I've been there for 4 days this month. Always interesting to, to cast an eye over another places services. I can make suggestions, but they are of course only my personal opinions - and I learn a lot from them too.

I've also taken a few days leave. I had a bit of a significant birthday last Saturday -  I know, difficult to believe isn't it :-) and had hinted quite heavily that I didn't want to spend it in Sheffield. So, I spent it in Venice instead. Which was rather nice. Nice of the Venetians to open Carnival on my birthday as well.

Other things over the past week include further work on our planning statement, a meeting with a colleague as part of the Campus mentoring programme , and a review of a major incindent we suffered last week when we lost our internet connection for several hours due to two separate cable issues from our internet supplier. I was away from Sheffield at another University when it happened, and couldn't understand why I couldn't connect to our roaming wireless service, Eduroam. I rebooted my iPad, turned wifi off and on again, blamed the other institution....  Until I remembered how Eduroam works - it has to authenticate back at your home instittiton, which of course was unreachable... Another service we need to add to things we lose when our Janet link goes.   We're seriously considering how we can mitigate against these failures. We always thought that two links gave us enough redundancy, but now we're not that sure.

So, I'll leave you with a short video of the opening of Carnival - quite spectacular.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Planning, recruiting and degree ceremonies

Earlier this week we had a Service Strategy Board where we had a look at the key objectives for next year for each of our Service Areas. Some key things coming up including our VLE review, a new digital media hosting solution,  implementing our new teaching and learning strategy, a new BI/MI solution, our new research IT support team - and many more! Over the last couple of days me and the rest of the departmental executive team have been on an awayday pulling all of this together, as well as adding in other big initiatives including digital transformation, into our strategic plan for next year. Our theme is capability - helping the University achieve its business objectives by increasing its capability and capacity to do things.

Capability came into our other set of discussions over the last couple of days, which was about looking at how we can increase the pool of people we recruit from in order to increase diversity. We talked about recruiting for potential and capability, rather than just for skills people have on the day, and being more flexible in our recruitment practices.

One disadvantage of being away over the last couple of days was missing our winter degree ceremonies. As usual we record and stream live all of the ceremonies, as well as producing DVDs, USB sticks and our famous handshake videos.

A real team effort - thanks to everyone. Here's some photos from the day to give you a flavour of what's involved.

The AV team suited and booted ready to operate the cameras

A view from behind camera one

Some of the backstage production kit

And the creative mediateam producing the recordings

Well done everyone involved!!

Friday, 8 January 2016

Fridge cams and robot projectors

A Happy New Year to you all, and welcome back.  The first week back after the Christmas break always seems longer than 5 days, and the things we talked about before Christmas a dim and distant memory. But, we son get back into the swing of things, and this week I've been having some discussions about setting up a Digital transformation team - I dont think it wil be called that, but that's it's working name.

We've also had a Process Improvement Unit Steering Group where we had a report form a recent event to improve and streamline the production of our prospectus which has been very successful.

I'm doing a bit of work over the next few weeks to help another University review its IT systems and services, and I've spent a day there getting to know the IT staff.

Finally, I've been keeping my eye on what's been going on at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. New technologies often appear in the consumer space first, and it important we keep up to date with them. Things that have caught my eye this year include wearable gadgets, which are getting smaller, and more integrated with clothing, 3D printing, which is quickly becoming mainstream, and virtual reality.

Some of the weirder gadgets include the smart fridge cam
which takes a picture of the inside of your fridge everytime the door opens so you can check what's on the shelves whilst you're shopping.

And the Tipron - a cross between a robot and projector. Apparently it learns the layout of your house and can wander into your bedroom and project the weather forecast onto the wall...  Spooky!