Jul 20

We’ve just replaced a load of the shonkiest lab chairs with new models – and the world did rejoice! [1]

The new, beefier Linuxproj will be going live on the 2nd of August. [2]

On a side note, some people may be happy to discover we’re almost ready to get some of the lab Macs back into service; vague stirrings of Jobsian life should start tomorrow… [3]

[1] Or at least found it more comfortable to sleep at lab machines…
[2] Back up your databases! Or not. We’ll be deleting them all in any case.
[3] Please do not start queuing at 8AM, this is not the Apple Store(tm).

UPDATE 22/07/2011

Two 27″ iMacs are now available in the breakout zone for testing purposes – looking good so far! Please note that they have a limited set of mostly desktop-y programs installed (no dev tools etc. until we’re sure they’re working properly). Please do not kiss the Macs.

Jul 1

Hello everyone,

As usual, while you’re all off earning some extra cash or having a well-earned rest for the summer, we’ll be here improving the teaching systems infrastructure and lab machines ready for the next academic year. This means that from time to time certain systems will be unavailable as we’re upgrading them – details will be posted on the systems notice board.

Upgrades and suchlike

Here’s some of the stuff we’ve got planned:

  • Linuxproj is getting an upgrade (we’ve got a nice beefy machine racked up and ready to go pretty soon now!)
  • The undergrad login server (uglogin) will be upgraded and moved to a virtual machine – this will give it improved resilience and lower power usage
  • The lab monitoring system will be improved – the plasma display map will become more readable, and we will be able to get better usage stats
  • The UG print server hardware will be upgraded, and we’re planning some improvements to the software
  • CSLib are migrating their various servers to less ancient hardware
  • We’ve ordered some new chairs to replace the ones that are really showing their age

STACS Overflow

We’ve also got a new system that’s been kindly set up for us by Dave Challis (ECS webmaster) – STACS Overflow. This is a question-and-answer site much like Stack Overflow which many of you have probably seen; it’s a place where you can ask and answer questions about programming, hardware, electronics, debugging, software advice, etc. We’ve had a few people trying it out and asking questions already; we may even be opening it up to other departments later in the year!

Toys^WTeaching equipment

Some of you have already seen the two quadrotor helicopters (ARDrones) we’ve got in the STACS office; we’ve also got a pair of Microsoft Kinects and a few keen individuals have been having a go with the OpenNI software under Linux. With a little help from Dave Tarrant, some of our students have even linked the two together and caused terror in the breakout zone with handwave-controlled robotic flying machines! If anyone would like to help improve the software and get it packaged up (or invent new and exciting uses for a scarily advanced computer vision system), give us a shout.

There’s also a shiny new (surprisingly small) 3D video camera available for loan from stores, and rumour has it there will be some extra stuff turning up there soon – watch this space…

Mar 31

STACS are pleased to announce two new trial deployments in the Computing Labs:

  1. Ubuntu!
  2. DPP – the Distributed Print Project

You may have noticed some of the lab Linux workstations have become a bit purple. This is because we’re trialling a build of Ubuntu Maverick as a replacement for the ageing RedHat 5 install in labs. It’s not completely finished yet, but most stuff should work. Give it a try and tell us how you get on! All bug reports to the STACS office, please.

We’ve also got the trial of a brand-new scheme for making better use of lab space, in the form of the (rather formally named) Distributed Print Project. Tired of fighting to get to the colour printers? Wish there was more room in labs? Look no further, for we may have the solution. The trial will be running tomorrow morning (we can’t guarantee it’ll run any longer than a day, as we’re nearing coursework handin time). Try out Duplat and let us know!

Dec 3

You may have noticed that we have taken a delivery of new PCs and monitors in the labs. Some of the older machines are being replaced over the next few days, which is all very exciting. Please bear with us while we get the new equipment unpacked and installed.

Since we always get asked, it’s worth mentioning that the outgoing machines don’t get thrown out. Instead, they move on to more sedate careers, in less demanding places than the teaching lab.

– HD