Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Encore teaching space upgrades

Installation of boundary microphones

If you are in a smaller room and would prefer not to be heard through the in-room speaker system there are now boundary microphones in every Encore enabled room. This microphone records your voice without it going through the in room speaker system so your voice will not be amplified. This would be useful to those who are using smaller seminar rooms or smaller teaching rooms so that you can teach as normal without your voice going through the in room speakers but still be captured for the Encore recording.  

This microphone therefore means that staff members can enter a room and not have to turn anything on to complete their recording. The microphones have a large pick up range, which means you are able to teach at the whiteboard/blackboard and still be heard on the recording.
If you would like your voice to be amplified you can still use the lectern or the lapel microphone that is provided in the room. 
The boundary microphone is the small button-like device that is located next to the podium microphone. Please ensure you do not cover this microphone with any papers or materials whilst you are completing an Encore recording.

These are not available in; St George’s Church, Richard Roberts Auditorium, Students Union Auditorium & Firth Hall.

Encore status lights

When you enter a room that is Encore enabled you will see a device light. This light will be GREEN when the system is idle and not recording anything. It will turn SOLID AMBER when it is coming close to a scheduled recording. It will turn RED when the system is recording. If you wish to pause the recording press down onto the light and it will turn FLASHING AMBER this means the system is paused and no audio or visual is being recorded. 

Rooms that do not have a device light are; St George’s Church, Richard Roberts Auditorium, Students Union Auditorium & Firth Hall.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Avoid getting scammed

The University has seen an increase in the number of fraudulent emails targeting staff and students.

These emails come from criminals who are trying to steal your money and login details. Often they involve fictitious financial information such as an invoice or phone bill, and they create a sense of urgency for you to act on it.

Our security means that 99.9% of these never reach your inbox. However, you still need to be careful when using email to protect yourself and the university from online fraud.

Here are some things to be cautious of:
  • Any email which asks for Usernames and passwords, bank account details, credit card numbers, personal information such as your birthday.
  • Emails about money. This includes emails with invoices, credit card statements and phone bills attached.
  • Disabling security. Fraudulent attachments may ask you to change security settings, remove protection or enable plugins. This enables malware to run on your computer.

If you think you have been caught out by a malicious email:
  • Immediately contact the Helpdesk on 0114 222 1111.
  • Change your University password and any other important credentials.
  • Run an antivirus scan of the computer.

If you think you have received a suspect email, forward it to and mark it as spam.

You have a responsibility for the security of your account. You must be careful when receiving emails. It is always much better to take the time to verify a message than to be rushed into action. For help and advice on emails please contact the CiCS Helpdesk.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

31 May loss of IT services - update

When we build our services, we design resilience and reliability into them right from the start because we know how critical IT services are to the University. This resilience protects our services and keeps them running, and in the case of our network, even protects us from issues that impact on other Universities. However, despite the high levels of resilience in our services, sometimes faults occur which can still cause them to fail. On Wednesday 31 May at approximately 11.40am, the University experienced a fault within our network. We have now taken three important steps to prevent this from happening in the future and to speed up recovery from similar problems. Firstly, we have now added a third link between the two core routers in the Computing Centre and Brunswick. Now, if the core routers lose connection between each other over their primary links, the third link provides a "heartbeat" between the two routers, thus allowing detection of a full or partial failure of one router. This will help to prevent the fault we saw on 31 May from recurring. Secondly, if a similar fault were to recur, the devices in network cabinets at each building will now attempt to reconnect automatically. This means the length of downtime will be minimised. Thirdly, the router software has been upgraded. We take the resilience and reliability of our services very seriously and will continue to work to prevent instances like this in the future.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Prepare for the uReports upgrade
An upgrade of uReports is scheduled for the end of March 2017. The upgrade process will result in the deletion of all private reports unless you copy them to the Public Folder. Follow the instructions below to prepare for the upgrade.

To learn about the changes and new reporting opportunities, attend one of our 10 minute drop-in sessions. Just pop in, there's no need to book a place. The sessions will be held in the CiCS training room in the Computing Centre on Hounsfield Rd.

Sessions available:
29 March - 14:00-16:30
3 April - 10:00-13:00
4 April - 14:00-16:30

Copy reports

In preparation for this upgrade, it will be necessary for you to review any private reports stored in the ‘My Folders’ directory within your uReports account. To prevent any private reports from being deleted, follow the instructions below. If you have any questions contact 

1. Go to your personal area and tick the box next to the reports you wish to save.
2. Click the 'Copy' icon
3. Navigate to 'Public Folders - Reports to be saved'
4. Click the 'New Folder' icon, and create a folder to store your reports in. Give the folder your username.
5. Go into the folder you have just created and then click the 'Paste' icon The reports should now appear in this folder ready to be imported into the new system.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Google Keep joins G Suite

You may be familiar with Google Keep already. It was launched in 2013 as a quick and simple way to keep notes and to do lists on your phone or computer but has only just become an official member of the G Suite family. You can get to Google Keep through the Google Apps menu on the top right of the screen in Drive or Gmail. 

It has the usual features you would expect from a G Suite app, like being able to use it on your Android or iOS device and the ability to share notes and reminders with collaborators. Here’s a more in depth look at Keep’s best features. 

Google Docs integration


 Google Keep’s introduction to G Suite coincides with the launch of the new Google Docs integration feature. In the Tools menu in Docs, choose Keep notepad and your notes will open in a side panel. From here, you can drag and drop snippets of text, bullet points and images into the document. The reverse also works; highlight a paragraph or image, right click and select Save to Keep notepad. The new note will also include a link to the original document to make it easy to find later.

Keep on any device

Google Keep works well on any device and is available as an app on both Android and iOS. It’s especially useful for creating audio notes and reminders and saving images from your phone into your Keep notepad. As with on the browser version, you can quickly filter and search for notes by color and other attributes like lists with images, audio notes with reminders or just see shared notes. 

Keep extension for Chrome

There’s also a Google Keep extension available for Chrome. This is handy because it allows you to save useful websites and images from webpages directly to Keep without having to open the app. To get the extension, open the Chrome browser, hover over Chrome in the top right corner and select Preferences, then Extensions and search for Keep. (If it says that your account can’t be signed in to the extension, check that you’re not already signed into Chrome with your personal Google account.)

Google Keep is a great way to organise your work and personal notes, tasks and reminders. Look for it in the G Suite apps menu on the top right corner of Drive or Gmail and give it a go.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Celebrating women in IT this International Women’s Day

In CiCS we have women doing amazing work across all areas of the department. Here we profile just a few of those women. Finding out more about how they got into IT and their advice for other women pursuing a career in IT.

Abbie McGregor
Faculty IT Manager

I stumbled into a career in IT! I moved to London in 1998 and got a clerical job in a Chartered Surveyors. I hated it as it was incredibly boring. After a few months I was moaning about it to my brother who worked for an IT consultancy in Manchester. He said they had a London office that needed a good office manager. So I had an interview over the phone and got the job! It was a really small office so I ended up doing everything including being talked through fixing computers over the phone. After a year, a job came up at London School of Economics - Desktop Support Team Leader. I put in an application thinking I'd never even get an interview but I did get an interview and I managed to persuade them that they needed someone with good customer service skills rather than good IT skills. They bought it and the rest is history. I learned everything I know about IT support on the job. When I moved back to Sheffield I worked as a Network Manager in 2 schools then took a break to have kids and came back to CiCS in 2012.

So I never really had a burning desire to work in IT but once I did, I realised that I was quite good at it. I've always really seen myself more as a Customer Service Manager with good IT skills and backup from teams of skilled people.

My advice to women wanting to pursue a career in IT is don't be put off by all the men and be confident in your ability.

Helen Parkes 
Senior Oracle Analyst / programmer 

I first encountered computing in 1970 in lower sixth form maths when the teacher arranged for us to do some simple programming on Birmingham University's mainframe.

I started working in IT soon after university around 1980 as a systems analyst when the jobs of systems analyst and programmer were usually separate.  Punch cards were still used and PCs, relational databases and the internet were some years away.  The first PC I used was standalone and had a single floppy disc drive.

I've been in IT ever since (though it was called data processing before IT).  My job has evolved as technology has changed and I've been an analyst/programmer for about 25 years.

I didn't exactly choose to work in IT, it just happened.  The logic and problem solving suits the way my brain works!  I enjoy the contact with users too, and seeing how the various systems and information work together.

As for advice for women considering a career in IT,  I'd say that there is a whole range of IT work, it is not all geeks coding (even if that describes me).

Eleanor Shakeshaft 
Digital Content Officer 

I graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2014 and accepted the first job I was offered doing marketing and events for a high school near my hometown in Cheshire. Prior to this I didn't really know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I enjoyed creating digital content and had an interest in marketing as well as technology and IT. Working in the high school (and perhaps also missing student life a little bit) helped me to realise that I'd like to work in higher education, so at the end of 2014 I started applying for jobs related to marketing and digital content at universities all over the UK. The second interview I got was for the position of Digital Content Officer in CiCS at The University of Sheffield and I thought the position sounded perfect, so I was delighted when I got the phone call offering me the position! Although I felt a little bit apprehensive about packing up and moving to a city that I'd never been to before, I was excited for the adventure and knew that I'd enjoy the job. So I'm glad I took the risk.

I enjoy working in IT not just because of my interest in technology, but also because I know how much excellent IT services matter to higher education, teaching and learning, and it's only going to become more important in the future.

My advice to women thinking of a career in IT or wanting to progress their career in IT is to not be afraid of taking risks and to encourage themselves to break out of their comfort zone. If you see a job you like but aren't sure if you'll get it, just apply for it anyway! I think a lot of women have trouble recognising their own worth and talent. But an employer might just see your value and potential more than you can yourself.

There are more stories to follow, so check back soon. 

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Research IT events

Along with various partners like Nvivo and Amazon, we are hosting a number of events where you get a chance to meet the research computing support team, research software engineers, you can talk about your research IT needs and get advice on best practices for your research. Whether you are interested in Qualitative Analysis, Data Analysis or High performance computing, there is an event to help you get the most out of research IT facilities.

Booking information to follow.

Upcoming events


Join us for the official launch of the Sheffield Advanced Research Computer (ShARC), and learn more about High Performance Computing (HPC) at our HPC@Sheffield event. This is an excellent event for people who are new to this area and want to find out more.

Find out how Sheffield researchers are currently using HPC and hear from industry experts about new HPC technologies.In our poster competition you’ll also have the chance to win prizes donated by Intel. The closing date is Friday 24 March. More information to follow.  

When: Tuesday 4 April

Where: Firth Hall


We’re hosting a day long event with the developers of NVivo, QSR international, to help with your Qualitative Analysis. 

You can attend a seminar on using NVivo, get expert advice on your current projects, and speak to QSR representatives about any questions you may have. If you’re new to NVivo you will have the chance to try the software. 

Take part in our poster competition and s
how us how you’re using NVivo in your research. First prize is £400 towards the academic conference registration of your choosing. The closing date is Tuesday 28 February, find out more information here

When: Tuesday 4 April

Where: ICOSS, 219 Portobello

Amazon workshop

Take part in an Amazon immersion event.

Set up a small HPC cluster in a hands on session using Amazon EC2 for research, and learn more administering research facilities on Amazon for the research community.

The second half of the day will comprise two breakout sessions:

1. Accessing EC2 a hands on session where researchers can set up machines on Amazon thre will also be an opportunity to set up a small HPC cluster on Amazon using Alces flight.

2. Administering research facilities on Amazon for the research community; using S3 storage, integrating local infrastructure with Amazon to cloud burst when resources are required on demand.

When: Thursday 20 April

Where: Venue and booking details to be confirmed.

More information to follow.