Students Staff

March 14, 2019

[Service Alert] [Resolved] Issues affecting FASER’s performance

Filed under: [Resolved], [Service Alert] — Tags: — Benjamin Steeples @ 1:41 pm

Update 26 April:

We now believe that the majority of FASER’s performance and online annotation issues are resolved. Further improvements are planned and will be implemented over the summer.

Update 18 April:

We have taken several steps to reduce the load placed on the Annotaion service, which has improved its performance and reliability. We will continue to monitor things.

Update 03 April:

We’ve released version 2.2.10 of FASER which aims to improve the stability of FASER and reduce its impact on the Annotation service. FASER may be somewhat slower to begin with while it recalculates some common items, but users should notice a more stable online marking experience.

Additional changes are in development, and we are continuing to monitor the situation

Furthermore to the updates, we will be doing the following:

  1. Tuning: This week we will tune the database and underlying server and hardware, this should show improvements and is reversible and non-destructive.
  2. Preloading: After this we will be using the list of expected feedback required and “pre”-preparing these so they are ready for use. Others will queue.
  3. Database shrinking: Next week we will be removing records from the system so that any size issues are removed, this is non reversible and must be tested.
  4. Supplier bug report: We are in contact with the supplier to ask them to address the overly greedy software. Note that we cannot roll back to a previous version after upgrading this software.

Update 29 March:

The service is currently degraded as we are seeing high usage with the annotation component in FASER, which is causing latency with the service. Students should be unaffected, but staff may encounter problems when attempting to annotate submissions.

We have restarted the annotation component, which should reduce the latency and return to normal service.


Update 28 March:

We have identified some additional un-used features of the annotation service that are still active, and are having an adverse effect on service performance. These features have been disabled and users should notice an improvement during peak usage times.

Additional update 15:00:

To try to reduce the load on the annotation service, we have changed how submissions are uploaded. After being checked files are no longer automatically uploaded to the annotation service unless submissions are being marked online for an assignment. This means that when you start the first few files will be slightly slower to load while FASER uploads them, but the rest will be uploaded in the background ready.


Update 27 March:

We have identified an issue with the annotation service that may affect performance under heavy loads. A patch has been applied, which should improve page load times.

We will continue to monitor the situation


Update 22 March:

We are seeing a significant number of deadlines and submissions today, which is having an impact on FASER and its annotation component. Students should be largely unaffected by this, but staff may encounter problems when attempting to annotate submissions.


Update 19 March:

This morning, FASER’s annotate component was migrated to faster hardware (SSD storage). We are still monitoring the impact of this, but initial tests are favourable.


Original message:

We apologise for the recent performance issues with FASER. Over the last few days, we have been monitoring the service and slowly narrowing down the root cause of the problems that people have been encountering. We are still working on this, but one of the issues identified relates to an update to a third-party component that we rely on to provide online annotation and document checking.

We have implemented various emergency fixes to lessen the impact of these performance problems, and are working to identify other root causes and develop fixes. This is being treated as a priority.

We will continue to keep this blog post updated with developments every few days, but we thank colleagues and students for their continued patience whilst we fully resolve the matter.

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

July 7, 2014

Integrated similarity checking is nearly here!

Filed under: FASER, MEFE, Projects — Tags: , , — Alex ONeill @ 9:56 am

We are in the final stages of testing the FASer integration with our chosen similarity / plagiarism checker, Ephorus. It’s looking good and will make life much easier when organising submissions to be checked. All that will be required is to set up similarity checking on the Edit Assignment page and the final document submitted by each student will be automatically checked. You can then see the results and the reports directly in the FASer system – no more downloading and uploading of files requred!

Find out more about Ephorus here: More detailed instructions will be released once we launch the changes.

Also note, we are not planning on retiring TurnItIn at this time so it will still be available for manual checking if required.

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

February 11, 2014

[Service Alert: Resolved] Issues with FASer and blog service 11/02/2014

Filed under: Elearning, [Resolved], [Service Alert] — Tags: , — Dan Jolly @ 2:22 pm

service_alertIssues affecting the FASer online coursework submission service and blogs service between 5am and 10am this morning have now been resolved.

Three FASer deadlines were affected:

  • two at 9.45am in Government, and;
  • one at 10am in LiFTS

The respective departmental administrators have been contacted.

The issue was caused by a knock-on effect from the blogs service which became unresponsive around the same time. A fix was applied to FASer to resolve the issue. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

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

August 6, 2013

OCS is changing its name – Say hello to FASer

Filed under: Elearning, News — Tags: , — Dan Jolly @ 10:46 am

The Online Coursework Submission system (OCS) will undergo some major changes during 2013-14 to cater for e-submission, e-feedback, and e-marking to say the least. The changes are part of the Making Electronic Feedback Effective project – a sub project of the wider Assessment and Feedback step change programme.

As part of this change the name OCS will be changing to FASer (pronounced similar to Phaser or Phazer), and stands for Feedback, Assessment, Submission electronic repository. A project blog entry this week outlines the system name change.

Other milestones that should be complete by the end of summer also include a “One assignment, one entry” development which we hope will reduce workload for departmental administrators. The first 10 changes of the system are outlined in the project blog so please check regularly for updates.

To receive notifications about new developments, features and releases, and to give feedback, we encourage staff to sign up to the Moodle course.

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