University of Essex


June 21, 2017

Here comes the summer!

Filed under: News — Sara Stock @ 2:44 pm

The sun is shining and the sky is blue – and many of us are getting ready to jet off somewhere even hotter, or to make the most of the British coast and countryside. But spare a thought for your colleagues still hard at work.

This year, ensure your colleagues won’t suffer in your absence because vital work is out of their reach in your mailbox or M drive.

You could:

  • Have planned handovers to team members before you go
  • Let your regular contacts know who to contact while you are away
  • Set up rules to forward some or all of your email elsewhere
  • Use your out of office to direct people to someone who can help
  • Change your phone’s voicemail message, or redirect your calls to a colleague
  • Store or move digital files to somewhere that your colleagues can access

If you’re not on holiday, but perhaps working from home, don’t forget that the safe (and convenient) way to access all of your work information from home is through Open VPN.

Enjoy the sunshine!




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June 20, 2017

Sending personal information? Stop and think!

Filed under: News, Security — Sara Stock @ 12:42 pm

If you’ve been watching the news this week you may have spotted that a staff member at the University of East Anglia accidentally sent out information about students’ extenuating circumstances to people who had no right to see that information. It’s horribly easy to email the wrong person, especially when you’re busy, so here are our tips for making sure you don’t make the same mistake.

1. Stop and think! Of course deadlines are important, but it takes more time to clear up after misdirecting personal information than it takes to stop and think before you share it.

2. If possible, avoid sending information by email. Deposit it in a shared folder or SharePoint or somewhere else that the person, or people,  you need to share it with can access it directly.

3. Send anonymised information. Does the person you are sending to need the names of individuals, or other identifying details? If not, take them out before you send the information.

4. Have a look at our advice on how to  ensure you email the right person.

If you still manage to send personal information to the wrong place, don’t panic – report it.



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June 8, 2017

All IT Services labs and group study pods will close at 3pm this Friday until 8am Monday morning

Filed under: News, PC Labs, [Resolved], [Service Alert] — Dan Jolly @ 11:43 am

In keeping with previous years, due to The End and Summer Ball celebrations this weekend all IT Services labs and group study pods at Colchester Campus will be closed from 3pm on Friday 9 June until 8am on Monday 12 June.

This is with the exception of the Silberrad Student Centre which will be open as usual on Saturday and Sunday, and the Albert Sloman Library (see Library opening hours).

This decision was taken following discussions with the Registrar, University Security manager, Director of IT Services and other IT Services staff.

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

June 5, 2017

Upcoming event: “Information Matters: launching the Information Champions’ network

Filed under: News, Security — Sara Stock @ 9:14 am

About this event

We’re counting down to the launch of our Information Champions’ network at our Information Matters half day event, introducing Champions to the role and each other. With a variety of speakers and stallholders Information Matters showcases the breadth of ways in which information is important to us.

Our speaker programme has now been finalised:

  • Slava Mikhaylov, Chief Scientific Adviser
  • DI Lee Morton, Cyber Crime Unit
  • Hersh Mann, UK Data Archive
  • Scott Summers, UK Data Archive
  • Martin Reed, CSEE
  • Richard Murphy, Director of IT Services

The event will be opened by Bryn Morris, Registrar and Secretary.

Check out our previous blog post for a list of stallholders.

When and where

  • Thursday 15 June 2017
  • UK Date Archive 2N2.4.16
  • Open to Information Champions and those interested in volunteering

Book a place

To book your place or to find out more about becoming an Information Champion please contact

If you work in a Section or Department that has not yet identified a Champion, and are interested in volunteering, then you’re welcome to attend this event.

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May 19, 2017

Improvements to FASER

Filed under: Elearning, FASER, News — Benjamin Steeples @ 3:12 pm

FASER originally started life as a project in Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (CSEE). When it was adopted by IT Services in 2005/6, FASER had roughly 5,000 submissions per academic year.
Since then the number of students has increased, but behind the scenes FASER has remained largely unchanged. 2015/16 saw nearly 150,000 student submissions in addition to 120,000 items of feedback, that’s over 50x the number of items FASER was initially designed for. Despite a partial rewrite of FASER in 2011 its performance has not scaled as well as we’d hoped, and last year it was clear that more drastic action was needed.

Over the last year we’ve been working hard on a new and improved version of FASER, developed in response to feedback from staff and students. The main goal of this new version has been to change the underlying infrastructure, paving the way for future enhancements and providing a modest performance and usability improvement. Other improvements include:

  • Implementing Single-Sign-On (SSO) to reduce the number of login prompts.
  • Ensuring FASER only reloads parts of the page that have changed, rather than reloading the entire page every time. We have combined this with additional caching of information and some database changes to ensure that pages and information loads faster than before.
  • Adding calls to action to FASER. These guide staff to common outstanding tasks relating to an assignment, and reduce the number of clicks and page loads required to achieve that task.
  • Rewriting the majority of FASER to take advantage of MVC software design. This allows us to separate the code responsible for the appearance, logic, and underlying data of FASER, and enables us to make changes to the service in a quicker and more responsive manner.
  • Finally, we have taken the opportunity to fix a lot of minor annoyances and bugs in FASER.

These are major changes to FASER, and things are still a little rough around the edges. To help us refine these improvements we have invited nearly 100 members of the University to trial this new version. With their help we hope to release this new version to all staff and students for the start of the 2017/18 academic year.







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