Duke ITAC - January 19, 2005 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - January 19, 2005 Minutes


January 19, 2005

Members present: Owen Astrachan, Mike Baptiste, Pakis Bessias, John Board, Shailesh Chandrasekharan, Paul Conway, Dick Danner represented by Ken Hirsch, Nevin Fouts, Michael Gettes, Daron Gunn, Guven Guzeldere, Craig Henriquez, David Jamieson-Drake, Scott Lindroth, Gregory McCarthy, Melissa Mills, Kyle Johnson, George Oberlander, Lynne O'Briend represented by Jim Coble, Mike Pickett, Molly Tamarkin, Robert Wolpert, Steve Woody, Tracy Futhey

Start Time: 4:03p.m.

I. Review of minutes and announcements

- Deborah Jakubs appointment
- Information commons kickoff

George Oberlander says Severe Weather Web is a database-enabled web that my department developed in conjunction with Duke HR and Duke News and Communications to inform the Duke community about the status of important Campus Services entities. During periods when we come under application of the severe weather policy a link from www.duke.edu and www.hr.duke.edu will point to this web. Severe weather personnel, all non-technical, can input status information about bus routes, parking, dining venues and other Campus Services entities using web based forms. They can indicate these entities are open/running, closed/not running or prevent them from displaying at all (if their status is unknown) and provide timely notes as well. The entities appear as if on the Duke HR web (we use their template) in a tabbed format (one tab each for "Bus", "Parking", "Dining" and "Other") but in actuality they run from a Linux Apache/MySQL server in my department. The operators can "disable" the web so when the link to it appears on the main Duke web sites, what appears is the default boilerplate about severe weather that you see on the HR site. This allows the operators additional time to gather accurate information and frees them from the necessity to synchronize with the folks activating the link. You can contact David Jarmul or Paul Grantham for more background if you need to. John Board says we will be having a new grad student rep, though he isn't here today.

II. Web policy and process - Tracy Futhey

Tracy says about this time last year Ken Hirsch came to this group and proposed some web policies. There was broad endorsement of the policies by ITAC, and then began the long process of taking those proposals to the many constituent groups and getting them to sign off on them. The sign-offs have been achieved, so now we can put out the word on those policies.

We also sought to create an approval process for certain things like non-partisan, political purpose web sites, difficult domain names, etc. We suggested a three-level review process. The final review in all cases is from the Provost.

John Board asks if this is a particular list of issues, i.e. this is now the way similar such situations will be dealt with.

Tracy says yes, we created a set process for particular sorts of things.

Molly Tamarkin asks if the people who are doing the technology know this committee exists. Is there a mail alias?

Tracy says what we really need is to get out the information about the first step in the process. The first step differs in each case. We need people to know there are 6 or 8 different entry points.

Paul Conway asks if these people are comfortable being set up in the gatekeeper role of a whole set of issues.

Tracy says she assumes they will take it on with full vigor, and they have been talked to throughout the process about it.

Melissa Mills asks if the process is online.

Tracy says the final version hasn't been published yet, but when it is it will be available online.

III. Collaborative A&S and OIT services - Melissa Mills

Melissa says this collaboration is an outgrowth of the fact that technology continues to get more mature, so we need to seize the things we can do at a production level and formalize a way of having those fall into place as they become ripe, rather than succumbing to the inertia of “well, we do it this way.” As part of the A&S long-range plan, we highlighted the need to collaborate with OIT and other schools. We’ve worked on that in the margins, but what gets in the way is: how do we do it? The big opportunity was when George McLendon, the new dean, arrived and talked with Tracy to identify things being done in A&S that might be more cost-effective for the university to do that would provide better service to the university and equal or better service to A&S.

We started these conversations early last spring; Mike Pickett and I worked with Tracy’s senior staff and put together a set of recommendations of things going on in A&S that were at maturation level and could peel off into central production at OIT. This has happened before with Blackboard, and the most obvious potential services are those such as streaming media - we don’t need our own RealPlayer server. Further collaborations we could do are at our help desk, to make clear that we are operating under the same framework as OIT.

What this dual report does is gives us a formal mechanism to develop processes to review what we want to do. No change has really taken place as a result of the joint appointment, but now there is a structure in place that will facilitate the development of processes not only of current things but new things as they come up.

My understanding is that this is what we are doing now. Mike and I are meeting about once a week, determining who stakeholders are and will hopefully do things so technology becomes transparent to the user.

John Board says we have thought that there will be ITAC meetings in the future dedicated to how IT is done in different schools. We may decide in the end that 12 different support models is something we do on purpose, and isn’t an accident. The specific issue of help desks has been focused on.

Melissa is asked if she will be taking on things Mike Pickett doesn’t have time for.

Mike Pickett says Melissa’s position is to take care of things in A&S. There are two parts of the position: communication and collaboration. Her job is only to figure out how A&S should do collaborations. If it works, we will pitch the process to other schools.

Tracy Futhey says what Melissa and Mike have identified is where OIT and A&S are doing similar things that could be done better centrally because we’re already involved in them.

Melissa says there are some things A&S might be doing that they’d want to transfer to OIT, and have A&S save money, but not have Duke save money.

Molly Tamarkin says that no matter how we provide service, we need same expectation of what is good service. I’d like to see us get to a discussion of what we mean by this service.

Robert Wolpert says there are some advantages to having OIT in things like classroom support. There’s an information brokering; some colleges are more effective than others at supporting classrooms, and some administrators are unaware of this because don’t know there are different ways.

Tracy says that’s a good point: we don’t have a list of items that will change tomorrow. We need to assess and make decisions, and make sure they have no service impact.

Mike Pickett says there’s no denying that there is going to be a perception issue of people understanding what is going on and determining what the end gain is.

George Oberlander says what might be nice is getting metrics on what would count as a success; as the situation progresses, we would have some progress statements in more measurable terms.

John Board says we have 5 A&S faculty members here, so in the absence of a strong faculty advocacy group for technology in A&S, concerns could be brought here. We want service to be good; if there is a need for frustrations to be voiced, voice them here.

Robert Wolpert says he does have concerns about computing support and the process by which technology is changed with no faculty involvement.

Melissa says there is no process yet, but she is noting that they need to have the faculty involved.

IV. The cutting edge - Croquet demo <opencroquet.org> a multi-platform, 3D virtual world, collaboration tool - Michael Gettes

Michael says there’s history to Croquet, but wants to show it first.

Croquet is about 3d immersion, on the web stuff, but it’s more than that [Mike shows Croquet on projection screen]

Croquet was created by Julian Lombardi and Mark McCahill. Lombari and McCahill got together. I met Julian at a conference, talked about it. I later saw McCahill, and said, ‘you need to talk to Lombardi.’ Since then the two have been working together. You can use it to create open environments; Julian wants to use it for academics, it can be used for gaming, etc.

Mike Pickett asks if people are looking beyond the interactive usability; i.e., people could look at building,

Michael Gettes says Washington Hospital has been looking at using the 3D environment to allow visual representation of hospital, to locate patients, etc.

Mike asks if we’re outstripping hardware again; do you foresee waiting for the hardware to catch up to use this, as things get more complex?

Michael says of course this stuff will push the limits at some point, but just in the last few months there have been improvements in hardware where Croquet is moving faster now.

Tracy Futhey says there are questions related to if uses and applications are reality or a visual representation of them.

Robert Wolpert says there are some support issues this brings up; the concept that software has outstripped hardware has caused some of us to reduce budgets for hardware now.

Michael says one intention is to try to get this stuff running on cell phones. As this matures, maybe the hardware isn’t really the issue.

Ken Hirsch says as a control interface for real world applications, the medical field, robots on other planets, etc., this would be an ideal way to do it.

John Board says the novelty here is the interaction with objects.

Michael says the fact that its open source is important too.

V. Next generation wireless - Dan McCarriar

Dan says as previously discussed in this group, we’ve been collaborating with the Health System to think about next generation wireless for campus and have developed a wireless group to talk about this. Since then (all work progress kept track of in our wikki) we have been doing a detailed requirements investigation. We broke it down into two areas: service requirements and product requirements that could take to vendors. Once we developed those, we took them to number of different vendors. We recently completed evaluation of vendors.

This week we debriefed the list and determined three vendors we would like to bring into the lab to test their equipment: These are Cisco, Airspace, and Maru (Cisco has since acquired Airspace).

We have the Airspace product in the lab now, and are working with Arew and Cisco to get their products. If you look at charter of this group, a couple things we are trying to address are both coverage and access to the network, like guest access and seamless access between campus and the health system. Those discussions are still ongoing.

Robert Wolpert says he assumes we will have seamless access for areas have today, and asks if all of this is within the 80211 structure, or if any of this beyond that.

Dan says this is all 80211, though one interesting application is dual-band phones might hand off between two bands.

Robert asks if group considering encryption issues.

Dan says yes, they hope they will be able to utilize things so people can have encrypted access.

Michael Gettes notes that even though there would be encryption at the wireless level, that doesn’t take away the need for application encryption.

John Board asks if cost is roughly constant with better service?

Dan says hard to compare what we have now, because we’re looking at full coverage, which don’t have now.

End Time: 5:29 p.m.