Computing Services

The department behind IT services at the University of Bath

Topic: Software Delivery

Windows 10 is ready for launch.....

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📥  Software Delivery

Staff at the University can use our form to register interest in having Windows 10 installed on their work PC.

Why do I want Windows 10?

Based on the Anniversary update of Windows 10, the University deployment includes: great new enhancements to the Start Menu, a better way to organise the apps you're working with using Task View & Virtual Desktops, the Action Centre and Microsoft’s new modern, secure web browser, Microsoft Edge. We’re also bundling in the latest edition of Microsoft Office 2016.

Freedom to do more – with the new Software Center included as standard, you have the freedom to install apps you need and to schedule Windows updates for when you aren’t in the office.

  • It’s all about speed – Windows 10 has a much faster boot up time
  • Security is key – Windows 10 has improved security features across the whole system
  • Microsoft Office 2016 – use the latest version of Office to complete your tasks
  • Cutting edge - a sleek and modern design, Windows 10 is a cutting edge OS.

Training and Support

You can book onto our Windows 10 self-paced training course. These run from May.  Alternatively, you can download the manual from Moodle and work through at your own pace.

The Microsoft Windows 10 Getting Started index runs you through features Windows 10 has to offer complete with handy videos.

Key things to note

  • Before your upgrade you’ll need to make sure any files on the C drive are backed up to a safe place not on your PC.
  • The installation process from start to finish should take approximately one hour, so please allow time for that. You might wish to request an upgrade appointment with your IT Supporter near the end of the day.

 

Choosing your software for the next academic year

  

📥  Computing Services, Software Delivery

We are here to support the University in delivering world class teaching and a key part of this is our software consultancy. This process makes sure that our academic staff and students have the right software on the machines in the general teaching areas (GTAs) and public access computers across the Claverton campus and in the Virgil Building , and also for use through the remote Windows service (UniDesk) and our remote linux service (linux.bath).

One part of my role as an IT Service Manager is to review changes to ensure they are straightforward and efficient, and to address any delays or confusion within a process. Software consultancy is a complex process, so I wanted to give some insight to the changes we have made and the factors that we think about when deploying teaching software in the right areas and in good time for the new academic year. This is very much a combined effort, involving colleagues from Software Delivery, Supporters, Software Licensing and other teams.

We have completed our process review and are ready to go with the new one, so here are a few points that I would particularly like to draw to your attention.

A new form to complete

One area we noted last time was that we struggled to get the correct information at the start of a request, as we weren’t clear about what we wanted. We have created a new form to address this, which we hope will make it easier to understand what we need to know at the start of the process. We know that this might seem a bit unwieldy to begin with, which is why we will be working with you to ensure that we have the correct information collected. There is only one completely new question on this form, relating to testing procedures which I’ll explain in a bit more detail later – everything else has been asked before, but not in such a structured way.

For the first time, we’re also hoping to take a more holistic approach to all of the GTA, public access and departmental PC lab areas, as we would like to use this single form and process to capture requests for installations in all of these different areas. This should allow for a greater consistency and efficiency.

Windows 10

Yes, we are planning to move the whole of the GTA/public access PC estate over to Windows 10 this summer, and as many of the Departmental PC lab areas as possible as well. As such we have started from a clean slate as far as the PCs are concerned, with only Microsoft Office 2016 being included by default. Please let us know of everything that you will need to support your teaching, and the activities of your students, beyond this.

Moving to Windows 10 brings other things for us to think about, and it’s worth mentioning that the experience that you will get on a PC in the GTA/public access estate won’t be identical to the experience on office PCs. This means that some of the functionality you may see elsewhere (such as being able to install software yourself through the Software Center) won’t be available here. The Windows update experience will also be different, as any updates requiring a reboot will take place outside of timetabled hours, and not impact on teaching activities.

Acceptance Criteria

We have certain criteria that software being requested has to pass in order to be accepted into the image for the next year. These are a series of questions that we need to answer to be able to process the request and provide the software:

  1. Has sufficient information been provided, to allow us to make this software available?
  2. Is the software licensed, or is funding in place to purchase, if required?
  3. Will the software work with the hardware specification that we have?
  4. Does the software provide the same functionality as another package being requested? (We aim not to have too much redundancy in the image, to save space and time)
  5. Is it technically possible to provide this software? i.e. Does it work on Windows 10, will it work in a shared environment, and similar considerations.
  6. Does the software work when installed in our environment?
  7. Can we deploy, and remove, the software in an automated manner?

Some of these questions we can only answer when we start testing.

Testing

Although we can see if a piece of software has installed, very often we don’t know how to test if it actually works. We have decided to improve that this year, and so the only really new field on our form relates to testing.

We would value any testing procedures that you can supply for the software that you are requesting, so that we can be reasonably certain that it is working before we start to deploy it. For some packages this could be quite simple, but for others we recognise that it’s more difficult. If you provide instructions for students showing how to use the package then we are happy to receive those to work through. We aim to be testing the software during August, so if you or someone else that knows the software can help us with that, please let us know on the form.

Although I can’t guarantee that it will be possible, I am hoping that we will be able to provide an area to test the new image as it is being created. If this does prove possible, we will be in touch to let you know where and when this will happen. This would also give a good opportunity to get some “hands on” experience with Windows 10, if you are not familiar with this.

Software Licensing

In many cases this isn’t an issue, but to be certain we have to check the licence condition of every piece of software being requested. For requests that would require the purchase of licences we need to know that funding is in place to enable these to be purchased and maintained throughout the period of the deployment. Obviously we would like to have funding to provide everything, but we don’t, so please keep this in mind when placing your requests.

Where to find the form to request your software

We have sent out an email to staff who may need to request software with a link to the new form.  You can link from the email or use the go.bath.ac.uk/software-consultation address to get to the form.

 

Good things come to those who wait...

  

📥  Apple, Software Delivery

OS updates are big and exciting events these days (we look forward to them too!). Unlike years gone by, where you'd be sporting the same OS for 3-5 years, software manufacturers have become increasingly agile (and competitive), resulting in a flurry of annual releases.

This year alone we've seen Windows 10 Anniversary Update, macOS Sierra, iOS 10 and Android Nougat. I'm not going to lie, I installed every one of these on the day they came out on my personally-owned devices and with some of them, I went as far as to install the preview builds; because with my personally-owned technology, if I can't print my train ticket, edit my photos or watch Netflix then it's not a big issue; I can wait until a fix is released as none of these activities are mission-critical.

But when it comes to university-owned devices it's a different story. We're an organisation that aims to provide security and stability. This extends into each and everyone's software and hardware requirements and a small, innocuous update can cause havoc; resulting in devices being unable to interact or connect to essential university services and leaving you unable to work effectively.

An example of this is our Managed Print Service. The recent macOS Sierra update was incompatible with the drivers needed for print and it took a couple of weeks following release until updated drivers were available. During this time, Macs running macOS Sierra were unable to install the drivers required to print at the University. Another issue we recently saw was with MATLAB. Mathworks made us aware of an issue which caused the corruption of documents which made use of a foreign character set.

Now you might not make heavy-use of the Managed Print Service or use MATLAB and be thinking "why can't I update?". These are only the issues we're currently aware of. There are bound to be many more issues lurking, more incompatibilities to be found. Indeed, every week, on my home computer, I'm still getting updates to software that "improves compatibility with macOS Sierra".

We think it's great that people want to be early adopters and we want to embrace that desire for the latest version but we also want our colleagues to be able to work effectively. For that reason, university-owned Macs may currently not be upgraded to macOS Sierra.

We're not quite there yet but we will soon be accepting sign-ups from Mac users into our Previewers group, giving you the opportunity to download and install new versions of macOS and other software, prior to them being made available for general release. Please get in touch if you would like to sign up.

 

 

Choosing your software for the academic year 2016-17

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📥  Computing Services, Software Delivery

As this academic year draws to a close, it is time to start thinking about the software that would benefit you and your students in the academic year 2016-2017.  Below is a list of the software that will be available to you on one or more of our platforms (General Teaching Labs (GTAs), public access computers (PACs), UniDesk etc).

List of software A – Z – check to see that what you will need is listed.  (the version will be the most up to date on general release).

A – Amos, Ansys, Arduino, Autograph, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Adobe Shockwave Player, Apple QuickTime
B – BlueJ
C – CambridgeSoft ChemDraw, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, Corel PDF Fusion, CRAN R for Windows, Cygwin, Chrome
E – Eclipse, EndNote X7 from Thomson Reuters, EViews from QMS
F – FileZilla FTP client, Firefox
I – Intercooled STATA
J – JAGS
K – 9bis KiTTY
M – Maple, MatLab, Microsoft Office, Miktex, MindGenius, Minitab
N – Nvivo
O – Oracle Java(TM) JRE
P - Paint.Net, PymOL, Python
S – Systat Sigmaplot, Sima Pro, Softalnd doPDF, SPSS, SyntEvo SmartSVN
T – TeXnicCeter, Thunderbird, Turning Point
V – Visual Studio, VLC Player
X – Xming
Please note: we can only deploy software for the next academic year that is on general release from the supplier by the 1st July 2016.

If you need to check that the above software is available on the platforms you need please refer to our Software 2016 – 2017 wiki page.  The page has much greater detail about versions, platforms and the timetable of rolling out the software across campus.

Requesting something different

Let us know at gta-software-requests@bath.ac.uk.  We will need the following information from you.

  • Academic course code(s) for the course(s) you need the software for
  • An approximate number of students that will attend the course
  • Is it taught, semester 1, 2 or both
  • Are there interdependencies with other software eg. is it a plug in for MS Word or Internet Explorer
  • Your faculty or department
  • Please provide licensing details
  • Which platforms do you need the software available on? Eg PACs, GTAs, UniDesk, AdminDesk, LCPU

 

OS X El Capitan & Office for Mac 2016

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📥  Computing Services, Software Delivery

Update on 08/02/2016: Thomson Reuters have now released Endnote X7.5, which adds "Cite While You Write" support to Word 2016. If you are an Endnote user then details on updating can be found at endnote.com

Last month saw the release of OS X El Capitan 10.11.2 and with it came another round of bug fixes, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth improvements as well as fixing bugs with Exchange in Apple Mail. In addition to this, Office 2016 has seen rapid and effective updates and the stability of the product has improved vastly.

The feedback that we have received from those who have installed these updates has been positive and our own testing has proved successful, we are therefore now happy to recommend updating to both OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) and Office for Mac 2016 on supported Macs.

If you have an administrator account on your machine then you can update to El Capitan through the Mac App Store. For installation of Office for Mac 2016 or if you do not have admin access on your machine then please contact the Help Desk or your local IT Supporter.

 

 

Choosing software for the new academic year

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📥  Computing Services, Software Delivery

As this academic year draws to a close, it is time to start thinking about the software that would benefit you and your students in the academic year 2015-2016.  Below is a list of the software that will be available to you on one or more of our platforms (General Teaching Labs (GTAs), public access computers (PACs), UniDesk etc).

List of software A – Z – check to see that what you will need is listed.  (the version will be the most up to date on general release).

  • A – Amos, Ansys, Arduino, Autograph, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Adobe Shockwave Player, Apple QuickTime
  •  B – BlueJ
  • C – CambridgeSoft ChemDraw, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, Corel PDF Fusion, CRAN R for Windows, Cygwin, Chrome
  • E – Eclipse, EndNote X7 from Thomson Reuters, EViews from QMS
  • F – FileZilla FTP client, Firefox
  • I – Intercooled STATA
  • J – JAGS
  • K – 9bis KiTTY
  • M – Maple, MatLab, Microsoft Office, Miktex, MindGenius, Minitab
  • N – Nvivo
  • O – Oracle Java(TM) JRE
  • P - Paint.Net, PymOL, Python
  • S – Systat Sigmaplot, Sima Pro, Softalnd doPDF, SPSS, SyntEvo SmartSVN
  • T – TeXnicCeter, Thunderbird, Turning Point
  • V – Visual Studio, VLC Player
  • X – Xming

Please note: we can only deploy software for the next academic year that is on general release from the supplier by the 1st July 2015.

If you need to check that the above software is available on the platforms you need please refer to our Software 2015 – 2016 wiki page.   The page has much greater detail about versions, platforms and the timetable of rolling out the software across campus.

Requesting something different

Let us know at windows-info@bath.ac.uk.  We will need the following information from you.

  • Academic course code(s) for the course(s) you need the software for
  • An approximate number of students that will attend the course
  • Is it taught, semester 1, 2 or both
  • Are there interdependencies with other software eg. is it a plug in for MS Word or Internet Explorer
  • Your faculty or department
  • Please provide licensing details
  • Which platforms do you need the software available on? Eg PACs, GTAs, UniDesk, AdminDesk, LCPU