News

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Oxford Maths Student Wins Countdown

Junaid Mubeen won the 59th series on countdown on 12 December 2008 on last programme to be hosted by Des O'Connor and Carol Vordermann. He has been an Oxford mathematics student and a member of St Anne's College, since 2003.

Junaid completed an MMath degree in 2007 and is now studying for a DPhil. His supervisor, Professor Charles Batty, said "I shall be delighted if he is as successful in his mathematical research as he has been in his television appearances".

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Electrical work in St Giles server room

This work has been completed.

On Monday 15th December 2008 the final part of the electrical work in the St Giles server room is to be completed. The potentially most disruptive work will take place before 9 am.

The following services will be given a backup power feed due to having dual power supplies:

  • Homes server Jam-tart
  • Main unix mail server Cheesecake.
  • Windows terminal server Pandora aka WTS.

The following services will be given preference to being powered up throughout the work but are at risk of being shutdown due to running on UPS battery power:

  • Homes server Battery
  • New unix mail server Mail-new.
  • Web application server Diode including Socrates and Minerva.
  • Main web server www.maths.ox.ac.uk.
  • Auxiliary web servers.
  • Administrative shares server magnetron including DFS.
  • Unix printing.
  • Unix webmail.
  • Eprints server.
  • External firewall.
  • Managed network.
  • VPN server Big-brother.

The following services will have to be shut down, have their power feed changed, and then be powered back up again thus giving the above services more battery power. This work will be done between 7 am and 8 am.

  • Windows Exchange server Rosemary
  • Windows printing
  • Laptop NAT firewall / router

The following computers may have to be switches off due to lack of UPS battery power:

  • Epimetheus.
  • Prometheus.
  • Electronic Notice Board (ENB) in St Giles' foyer.
  • Skylab.
  • Web-woman.

Wednesdays work was completed within 40 minutes with more than 20 minutes of UPS battery runtime left. More work has to be completed but two rather than one electrician can be working on the final part of the installation. Mains power will be turned off at 8 am with a target of completing the work by 9 am. The requirement for UPS power will be less on Monday than the previous power shutdown on Wednesday.

This work will give the server room independence from work in the new year which would have caused many interruptions to the server room for long periods of time. This is due to the technical difficulty of the work required in the riser rooms on the ground and first floor. Also this work reduces electrical load on the phase currently loaded much higher than the others.

We are aware of the admission process taking place next week and hope that this work with not disrupt that. All efforts will be made to have essential services running on mains power by 9 am Monday morning. If time is limited with running on batteries plan B is to defer the work until Tuesday morning at a similar time.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Gibson Building weekend power shutdown beginning Friday 12th at 3pm

We have been informed by the University Estates Directorate that the high voltage cable fault in Walton Street has now been repaired by SSE and the new substation to the rear of the Gibson Building has been powered up, therefore the Gibson & Harkness electrical changeover's previously scheduled for last weekend will now take place this Saturday 13th December between 7:30am and 5:30pm.

In order to facilitate this work the department needs to shutdown and unplug all electrical equipment before hand.

The IT team will be powering down and unplugging all IT equipment in the building (computers, network switches, printers, wireless access points etc), starting at 3pm on Friday 12th. Please make sure that you have saved all your work and logged out of your workstation by this time.

If you have any personal electronic devices (laptops, mobile phone chargers, etc.), we ask that you please disconnect them too.

Please DO NOT plug-in or turn on any electrical equipment after this time, as equipment may be damaged during the electrical work if it is left connected to the power supply.

The IT team will be around on Monday morning to reconnect and power up IT equipment; please wait for us to do this, rather than doing it yourself, so that we can verify that no damage occurred during the electrical maintenance. We expect to have everything up and running by 10:00.

Note: this work only affects the physical equipment in the Gibson Building. Apart from within the Gibson Building, all Mathematical Institute IT services and remote access will be operating as normal for all users.

If you have any queries regarding this notice, please send them to: help@maths.ox.ac.uk

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Network Outage

On December 10th 2008 there will be some disruption to the Maths IT network and some IT services.

OUCS have to perform emergency work on one of their backbone routers which will effect our network between 0800 and 0830. At the same time some disruptive internal network change overs will take place. The first will be changing the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) connected to the Dartington House network cabinet. The second will be changing over the power supply to our external switch in preparation for electrical work in St Giles server room. During this time it should be assumed that no IT services will be available. This work has been completed.

Between 0830 and 0900 the electrical supply to the main UPS in the St Giles server room will be turned off to allow electrical testing on the new circuitry in G4. This should not disrupt core services (i.e. home directories, email). This work has been completed.

To allow extra run time on the UPS less important machines will be turned off. The only user facing service will the the Electronic Notice Board (ENB) in St Giles' foyer.

To allow similar electrical work to take place in G5 there will be some disruption to IT services throughout the day. The following user facing machines (with services) will have to be shut down, have their power feed changed, and then be powered back up again:

  • Rosemary (MS Exchange email) Completed
  • Laptop NAT router Completed
  • Chess (Windows Print server)Completed

The following machines need to be shutdown and physically moved which will take some time:

  • Zeppelin (TCC video recorder)
  • Beast (ENB)Completed
  • Skylab (Terminal service for Oracle Financials)Completed

There are a couple of reasons for the electrical work in St Giles' server room. One is that the supply to the room was not adequate for the amount of servers in the room. This caused many power trips in 2007 and early 2008. A work around was put in place which was not a long term solution. An upgraded UPS and dedicated feed has already been installed and many core services have been moved to this.

Early next year a lot of electrical work has to be done in St Giles' which without the electrical upgrades in G4 and G5 would mean that core services would be effected several times for prolonged periods of time.

Any addition information will be added to this news item.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Network connection lost due to crashed router

There was a router crash yesterday at about 9pm. OUCS appear to have applied a temporary fix late last night.

Numerous university buildings were affected including us:

Theoretical Physics
Wytham Woods
Materials 12/13 Parks Road
Engineering - Thom Building
Engineering - 14/15 Parks Road
Keble College - 23 Banbury Road
Engineering - Holder Building
Engineering - Jenkin Building
OUCS - UCISA
Engineering - Wolfson E&T
Archaeology Research Laboratory
Educational Studies
Wolfson College
Tubney Woods (WildCRU)
Materials Annexe - 21 Banbury Road
St. Edmund Hall Annexe
Maison Francaise
Maths Institute - Felstead House
Statistics In Medicine
Access GRID (ComLab)
Physics - DWB
Engineering - IEB
Maths Institute
Computing Laboratory
eDiamond
Lady Margaret Hall
Dept. of Materials
eSciences (OeRC)
eScience Building - ComLab in OeRC

We appear to have had another problem this morning with connectivity between the buildings which may be related.

OUCS have investigated yesterdays fault and will be applying a permanent fix tomorrow morning. They predict it will interrupt connections for up to 10 minutes before 8:30am.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Gibson Building power shutdown - postponed until next weekend

Dear all,

We've just been informed that, due to an external high voltage cable fault in Walton Street, the planned shutdown to allow for the transfer of electrical supplies feeding Harkness and Gibson Buildings this weekend has been postponed and will instead be carried out next weekend.

We will send out another notification next week about the new shutdown date.

If you have any queries regarding this notice, please send them to:

help@maths.ox.ac.uk

Thanks,

Matthew

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Gibson Building power shutdown - Fri 5 Dec, 14:00

Dear all,

This notice only applies to people who make use of IT facilities located in the Gibson Building.

Over this weekend a shutdown of all electrical power will occur in the Gibson Building, as the main electrical feed for the building is being moved.

This means that there will be no power in the building until Monday morning.

The IT team will be powering down all IT equipment in the building, starting at 14:00 tomorrow (Fri 5 Dec).

Please make sure that you have saved all your work and logged out of your workstation by this time.

If you have any personal electronic devices (laptops, mobile phone chargers, etc.), we ask that you please disconnect them at this time too.

Please DO NOT plug-in or turn on any electrical equipment after this time, as equipment may be damaged during the electrical work if it is left connected to the power supply.

The IT team will be around on Monday morning to reconnect and power up IT equipment; please wait for us to do this, rather than doing it yourself, so that we can verify that no damage occured during the electrical maintenance. We expect to have everything up and running by 10:00.

If you have any queries regarding this notice, please send them to:

help@maths.ox.ac.uk

Thanks,

Matthew

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

More Phishing Attempts Targeted at Maths Users

The number of phishing attempts is rising significantly and barely a month goes by without reports of another such attempt.

Phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites (Youtube, Facebook, Myspace), auction sites (eBay), online banks (PayPal), or IT Administrators (Yahoo, ISPs, corporate) are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting.

Today we find yet another attempt which is very specifically targeted at people with maths.ox.ac.uk email addresses.

Hopefully no one is ever fooled by such emails.

A common characteristic of these emails is a request for your username and password or perhaps your bank details or other personal information. This is a sure sign of a scam. The IT team will never ask you for your username and password and in particular such confidential information would never be suitable for sending via email. If you get an e-mail asking you to follow a link to enter your details, don't click it. Instead, go to the main homepage of the site and check the security certificate before logging in and following their links.

As with any IT query or concern if you feel the need to verify with us that a message is a scam please do contact help@maths.ox.ac.uk. However, in general we will be aware of these attempts and these scams should be obvious and simply deleted.

Wikipedia has a good entry on phishing for those who want to find out more about the subject. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing

Friday, 28 November 2008
Thursday, 27 November 2008

Ongoing electrical problems in St Giles

As some people may be aware there has been a serious electrical problem for over a year affecting the power supply to buildings on St Giles.

Monday 24th saw the worst power failure yet and resulted in serious disruption to the departmental IT systems.

Since the problem in the street seemed to be unclear, and any attempt at resolution seemed slow, in Spring the department asked for electrical works to be done in the St Giles building that would attempt to resolve internal issues and thus reduce the disruptions.

There have been serious delays with this work. To date the first phase of the work to provide a dedicated distribution board to the server room has been completed. The second phase will redistribute the existing circuits in the room onto this new board. The final phase of the works will then rebalance the three phases within the St Giles building which are currently serious unbalanced.

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