Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Student Filestore

Over recent weeks we have seen a rise in the number of problems for students using uni computers. Student filestore has been quite unstable, giving students problems signing in to computers and saving work.

During the last week, we have done some work which we hope will fix the problem, allowing you to use student computers as normal. The early signs are good, but we will keep an eye out for further problems. Hopefully we won't see any.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Accessing networked filestore from your Windows computer

A new problem has arisen affecting people using personal, or non managed Windows computers to access files on networked filestore. Where previously a box would ask for a username and password, this no longer appears meaning files can’t be accessed.

If you are having this problem, you can fix it by mapping a networked drive, to your networked filestore. This will create a permanent and stable connection to you shared area. This is a simple process which can be carried out by following the instructions on this CiCS webpages.

Map a network drive

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Student Loan Emails - Phishing

With each instalment of student loans we see a fresh batch of phishing emails sent by criminals who want to steal money from students. 

It's more of the same with regards spam and phishing, we block vast amounts of the stuff and generally our filters (now run by Google) are incredibly effective. Unfortunately a small number of mails still get through.

Targeting students who are waiting for their loans is particularly horrible and particularly effective. Our students do expect correspondance from SLC and the University. Therefore it's not surprising that when someone tells you that you need to update your bank details to get the money you desperately need to pay your rent the success rate is high. A couple of years ago Sheffield Hallam University was targeted and as a result 50 Hallam students lost their loans.

By reporting the scam emails that do land in your inbox the Helpdesk are able to monitor the situation at a local level, blocking senders, blocking websites and investigating further. Where we can identify a more serious threat then we escalate the matter to the appropriate authorities. We also work proactively to send out timely warnings; in the student newsletter due to land tomorrow there will be a warning for students expecting a payment in April.

The good news is that we're making progress. Arrests are being made and prison sentences are being handed down to the criminals running the scams, see Two Men Jailed For £1.5m Student Phishing Scams for a summary of a recent case involving student loans. This is a real collaborative effort that involves the recipients, CiCS staff (particularly the Helpdesk), Student Services, the SLC, Janet (www.ja.net) and the relevant authorities. 

So, if you receive a student loan phishing email please forward it on to phishing@slc.co.uk and phishing@shef.ac.uk. Every report sent to phishing@shef.ac.uk is checked and really does help us keep on top of this.

Replacing MUSE, but not necessarily with a portal...

The Replacement MUSE project is significantly not called the new portal project. This is because although we are replacing MUSE with something or somethings that provide the same functionality as MUSE we did not want to restrict ourselves into saying the replacement had to be a portal. 

Instead the project board looked at the functionality that MUSE provided and considered how best to deliver and improve on that functionality with new technologies. For next month's email newsletter we will provide more information about replacement MUSE including what it might look like and service launch timescales. For now we can share the following vision for replacement MUSE:

The vision for the future replacement MUSE is;

  • To provide a personalised point of access for IT services, with only those services specific and accessible to the individual being displayed.
  • To provide secure access ideally using single sign on, but not to become a barrier through requiring users to provide their credentials too often.
  • To provide a communication channel for targeted messages and a University wide channel for incident communications.
  • To offer dynamic content targeted to distinct groups including applicants, enquirers, alumni, associates, staff, students etc. 
  • To structure information around function rather than organisational hierarchy. 
  • To offer dynamic content to staff and students on key information (timetable, PC availability etc)
  • To allow controlled access to test and beta services for individuals and groups of staff

User experience
  • To provide a consistent experience as users access IT services on multiple devices.
  • To deliver a simple and modern user interface available on desktops, portable and mobile devices.
  • To be easy and obvious to find and sign in.
  • To be so intuitive that no user training is required to use it
  • To be fast and not to add drag to user experience in accessing services

  • To be resilient and reliable as the point of entry for critical IT services (alternate entry points may also be required).
  • To be available 24/7 (need to put some thought into availability but also amount of planned maintenance etc)
  • To be capable of providing services at peaks of demand

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

uSpace Closure: Supporting the Transition to new Services

Over the years uSpace has provided the University with excellent communication and collaboration services and introduced many staff and students to the ideas and possibilities of social media. However, time has passed and now all the functionality provided by uSpace can be provided bin a better way and more cost effectively using other IT services.

The future of uSpace has been discussed in detail at the Communication and Collaboration Service Advisory Group, in which representatives from across the University help shape the direction of CiCS services. Here it was decided to withdraw uSpace as a service over the coming year and to give University members plenty of notice so there are no surprises.

The withdrawal of uSpace is being managed as a formal project with representation from all faculties. The project will develop tools to automate the process of moving uSpace content onto new services. Most learning and teaching materials will be migrated onto MOLE 2 which has many new features that will provide additional benefits for your online learning and teaching activities including a new mobile app.

We aim to move all content as soon as possible, but realise some can’t be moved until the end of the 2013/14 academic year. However, we do encourage you to move your content onto a new services as soon as you are comfortable to do so and we can offer support to help you achieve this. Many staff have already made the transition onto new collaboration services.

We will be providing more information and regular updates through our usual news channels and via the project web page at

As part of the withdrawal process we will be contacting key uSpace users directly. In addition you can contact us for help and advice via the project web page linked above.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Training Opportunities

Creating screencasts

As part of the creative media strategy, the Creative Media team are piloting a new service, which will allow staff to create screencasts.

Five Windows 7 Managed Desktop laptops, which can be collected from CiCS on 10-12 Brunswick Street or the Information Commons, have been made available for staff with Camtasia Studio installed, and bundled with headset mics. Camtasia allows users to create and edit professional screencasts, recording on-screen actions with integrated voiceover, video, quizzes and captions. It is ideal for making online presentations, software demonstrations and tutorials.

As well as supplying the computers, the Creative Media team can also offer training sessions to help staff get the most out of the software. This service is available for staff only, and is bookable by emailing creativemedia@sheffield.ac.uk.

Learning to use Google Mail

If you want to get to grips with using Google Mail or you want to know about the advanced features that are available then a recently introduced course will help you. An Introduction to Google Mail (CIC104) is being run on a monthly basis and can be booked through LMS.

The session covers:

   Accessing Mail
   Priority inbox
   Archiving versus deleting mail
   Setting up a vacation message
   Mail settings

To browse the course catalogue, or to enrol on a course, go to:

Using technology in teaching spaces

We have now created an online training request form for those wanting to know how to use technologies in teaching spaces.

Staff can fill in the form to request bespoke sessions, and a member of AV staff will respond to the query, discuss and agree what is required, arrange the session and lead it.

The form is available from the following web page:

Creative Media Workshops

Did you know that CiCS offer a range of workshops so that students who need to produce a video or audio-recording for a project or as part of their course can receive practical skills to complete their work? Training can be delivered flexibly by the Creative Media team and is tailored to the needs of the audience. If you would like to arrange a training session for your students, please complete the Training Request form.

If you would like to know more about creating videos, podcasts and screencasts yourself, CiCS will be holding two creative media workshops for staff in May.  The sessions will be held on Wednesday 1st May and Thursday 16th May between 12.15 and 1.00pm in IC Collaboratory 1 (B20).

Google Docs Offline

You don’t always have to have an internet connection to access your Google docs as you can view your documents, presentations or slides offline.  You can even make changes to your work whilst working offline.  So if you are anywhere that hasn’t got a wireless connection such as a train or an aeroplane it does mean that you can still work on your documents. You can read, search, and send emails offline. When you do connect to the Internet, Offline Google Mail synchronises with your Gmail account, downloading new emails and sending queued messages.

You will be able to use Google Docs offline from the 1st May but you can only use this facility in Chrome and it’s not currently available for every application in Google Drive.  For more information and to enable offline access go to:

Google Docs, Sheets and Slides Offline

Friday, 5 April 2013

New Suppliers of Discounted Software for Staff Home Computers

For many years CiCS has made Microsoft software available at significantly discounted prices for staff to install on their personal home computers for University work.

We have recently changed suppliers for this service and their new work@home portal is now live and ready to be used.

When you sign in to this portal you are redirected to our authentication service which looks like MUSE. Sign in here and you are returned to the work@home portal where you can make your choices, pay and receive a link to download the software onto your computer.

Full details are available on the web page linked below.

Work@Home portal

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Full Programme Confirmed for Sheffield Research Computing Event

The full programme is now available for the exciting research computing event to be held at Sheffield on Monday 15th April. Details are below, to reserve a place go to:



HPC@sheffield is an exciting University of Sheffield research computing event that will provide an opportunity for researchers, post­graduates and final year undergraduates to learn about projects using national research computing facilities and HPC facilities hosted locally at The University of Sheffield. HPC@sheffield will comprise a series of presentations and a poster session. The objective of the event
is to publicise what is available and to provide examples of what has been achieved by our research community.

The emphasis of the 2013 event will be the introduction of the new regional N8 HPC centre and to demonstrate the N8 facility for science and engineering applications using HPC.


Morning Session (Chair Prof Robertus v Fay­Siebenburgen)

  • 10:00 Opening and Welcome, Dr Christine Sexton, Director, Corporate Information and Computing Services, The University of Sheffield
  • 10:10 Introduction to the N8 facility, Dr Alan Real, N8 HPC Technical Director, University of Leeds
  • 10:35 Accessing and Using the N8 facility, Dr Gillian Sinclair, N8 HPC Service Development Manager University of Manchester
  • 11:05 N8 HPC tackles climate change with National Grid Carbon Ltd, Dr Chris Wareing, University of Leeds

11:30 Coffee

  • 11:50 Study of Unsteady flow over rough­wall surfaces using Iceberg/Polaris – Dr Mehdi Seddighi­ Moornani 
  • 12:10 Developments in GPU based Computation and Visualisation – Jeremy Purches, HPC Business Development Manager, NVIDIA Limited

12:30 Poster Session ­ lunch

Afternoon Session (Chair Prof John Harding)

  • 13:30 Using remote visualisation for bio­simulation with Iceberg, Prof Damien Lacroix Chair in Biomedical Engineering Introduction to Research Computing Showcase
  • 14:05 A brief look into the near future of HPC including processors, accelerators and graphics,Steve Smith, HPC Consultant Dell
  • 14:40 Using ANSYS with HPC systems – Simon Cross ANSYS UK 1515 Coffee and posters
  • 15:35 Using High Performance Computing to trace the origins of a coat colour gene – Prof Jon Slate, Molecular Ecology Lab, Dept. of Animal and Plant Sciences
  • 15:55 A Study of Torsional Drivers in the solar atmosphere – Stuart Mumford, Solar Wave Theory Group, SP2RC, School of Maths
  • 16:15 Simulation of Turbulence Structures for Aeronautical Flow Control, Dr Siouris and Wei Wang 16:35 Large scale finite element analysis of cancellous bone tissue using HPC, Chen Yuan

16:55 Close