Posts tagged LUNA

Yep, it’s happening again. This week we’ll be making some tweaks to LUNA, the network which is behind internet access in Student Village and Riseholme Park. Don’t throw things at us though, this is an upgrade to the internet in student accommodation which is all good. During the changes you won’t experience any interruption in network access.

How things work won’t change at all – the process for getting online will be exactly the same as it is at the moment. However, we’re putting some shiny new equipment in to replace the old stuff as well as updating all our software, meaning that the entire network will be more reliable (no more random dropouts at 2am when you’re catching up on TV), more robust (you won’t be able to break it by using something we’re not expecting) and generally a bit snappier.

We’ll also be revamping the look and feel again to bring it in line with our new web design. This will be even faster than before, as well as offering top-notch accessibility and browser compatibility. At the same time we’ll be taking a close look at how to make some bits of the process easier to work with, such as adding games consoles.

Finally, once we’re happy that things are stable, we’ll be turning on some new features such as optimised scans (which are even faster) and an at-your-convenience scan which you can perform when it’s best for you without losing internet access, unlike the current system of being unceremoniously booted from the network.

We’ll be removing the feedback box so many of you have used to complain at us (and in one case wish us several unpleasant diseases, for which we award a bonus star for creativity) since we think it’s served its purpose, but you’ll be pleased to know that it’s successfully helped us to resolve a great many problems which we wouldn’t have been able to spot without you. Thanks!

Further to the revelation that there are students out there capable of voicing an opinion, we now have to deal with the resulting fallout. At this point I need to quote Joss, the nice man from CERD, who likened my approach to IT support to this:

Whilst I’m tempted to staple this notice to the front of the helpdesk and watch confused students ask “will you really set us on fire?”, it’s actually better to deal with stupid questions by documenting your response, on the basis that the universe never ceases to provide a constant stream of the terminally confused, people who don’t bother to read the dialog box which pops up with important information and clear instructions, and people who believe that the helpdesk are there to actually operate the computer on their behalf.

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If you’ve been keeping track of the joy that is LUNA, you will know that this week is the first time we’ve let the new scanning process loose on a select few guinea pigs in the Courts (and inadvertently Riseholme, sorry guys!). We also busted out a revolutionary tool, never before seen at the University. No, really. I checked.

The anonymous, free-form feedback box. A single box with no prescribed questions, no survey-style questioning, and no requirement to tell us who you are (although the option is there for you to leave an email address or phone number in case you’re happy for us to get back in touch). The result is somewhat more than we expected – usually feedback mechanisms get maybe three or four responses a week, we’re currently getting in the region of 20 to 25 a day.

Most of the feedback is little to no use – we have a wide assortment of “rubbish”, “useless” and “crap” comments. A few responses seem to be from people with broken apostrophe and shift keys (“its rubbish” or “i dont see y ur doin this”). A couple have broken exclamation marks (“!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”). However, despite this noise we’ve been able to glean a few things which we wouldn’t have been able to from simply relying on the helpdesk or by asking carefully selected questions.

Keep ‘em coming, although remember that every time you say “crap” without letting us know why God kills a kitten.

I’ve got the LUNA feedback server working, after a bit of prodding and getting other helpful people to fine-tune file permissions. Hopefully I’ll be able to requisition it for a few more things LUNA related in the future, like videos walking people through remedial actions and so on. We’ll see how it goes.

I’ve also been mucking around with quick concepts for a set of posters, reflecting the ‘fresh’ ICT style you may have seen in the Gateway 2 mockups. Sadly the change.lincoln.ac.uk address doesn’t exist (And 1st February is an arbitrary date, nothing’s actually happening then) but I can dream. See what you think.

'Changing...' poster for LUNA Phase 2

Today, I attended some training. I also have a headache, need to do some washing, and need to pack for a weekend in London (off to see the Lion King!), but that’s another issue.

Other things that happened today are good:

  • I updated the jQuery framework which lies behind LUNA and PFMPC to the latest version, giving several speed increases which will be completely unnoticeable for most people but which make my benchmark tools very happy.
  • I updated some of the CWD CSS to fix a niggling bug in IE6 and improve appearance on browsers supporting the CSS3 specification. This brings CWD to version 1.3.7.
  • I updated the HTML in PFMPC from CWD 1.2 to 1.3, bringing more cross-browser goodness, better semantically valid navigation, improved printing and a liquid layout to make best use of bigger screens.
  • I hacked some regex into the game console registration pages in LUNA, which now forces people to enter a valid MAC address when they’re registering. Unfortunately they have to enter uppercase letters (a true MAC address can be either) to keep our network access software happy, but tomorrow may include fixing this so some clever JavaScript converts it to uppercase for them.
  • I’ve got a server to play around with where I can put a nice LUNA feedback page.
  • Kirsty has managed to do some more work on the ICT team blog, so I’m seeing if this post will cross over successfully.

This week has been one of tidying up loose ends. LUNA has had several minor HTML and typo fixes, and is currently undergoing a bit of JavaScript development wizardry to let users select their location during registration. JSON data from the server encodes how rooms, apartments and blocks are organised which is then extracted by the magic of jQuery into something usable. I’ve got the basics working (and the full thing if I generate a lot of unnecessary files), now it’s just a bit more work on extraction of arrays from within the JSON.

In other LUNA nonsense, working out which combination of technical features to use to let people provide feedback on Phase 2 changes (the compulsory anti-virus and anti-malware) is proving challenging and may lead to a new server being temporarily put together just for handling the feedback. I’m going to push for a LAMP stack, but since Lincoln is a Windows shop I’m not holding my breath.

Finally, balls are rolling on my posters project – a meeting for scoping and specification is booked where key parties can bang heads together until we get something reasonable before I begin doing hardcore implementation stuff.

Now, back to JSON.

The waiting is over, the changes have been made, LUNA is here.

All users of the internet in University accommodation (Student Village and Riseholme Park) will see the new service whenever they connect to the internet. None of your details have changed, you still use the same username and password to connect, but how things look will be different. Hopefully cleaner, faster and easier to use.

The next phase of the upgrade (requiring people to have updated machines and anti-virus) is already partially in effect, all new machines being connected and those already in quarantine will need to be running recent service packs. However, as far as we are aware nobody is affected by this requirement since you’re all well behaved and have updates turned on. At the next scheduled required rescan (about two weeks away) all users will be required to be up to date and running anti-virus and anti-malware software. Sadly we don’t have a cool web address like http://getsecure.lincoln.ac.uk to give to people which talks them through what to do, so in the meantime I’ve created my own quick guide:

Nick’s Guide to Getting Secure

Read it, make sure you follow the three simple steps, and that’s it. Easy.

Well, it’s been an exciting day today. Riseholme library and the Hull campus closed early, persistent if not particularly heavy snow over Lincoln, people going home stupidly early to avoid the chaos, and a continuation of the ongoing saga of getting LUNA working.

Our new date for deployment is… (drum roll)… Thursday 7th January. As long as nothing else goes wrong, the pages work and our server guy makes it through the snow.

Now, a quick mention of my next project: A website providing an electronic copy of all of the posters you normally see littered around campus, giving you a one-stop location to get all those details you were walking too quickly to remember. More on that later, I’m off to fight the snow now!

Today, big things were meant to be happening to the network. “Were” is the key word here, since upon the arrival of the ICT team from their Christmas┬ábreak – having dined and wined – we found that one of our two servers which support the student halls network had given up and fallen over. Not wanting to make sweeping changes on a broken system, we’ve now postponed updates until a time in the future. Hopefully this afternoon, but possibly not depending on how badly things have exploded.

Our ever-valiant team members who look after the servers and feed the gerbils running on the wheels inside them are looking at the problem right now. I’ll keep you posted.

It’s all going to be a bit quiet between now and Christmas (Although the three lifts @mab_sheila, @mab_jane and @mht_marie have promised to keep you company), but I bring exciting news (as promised) about the big changeover date for network access in student accommodation.

On the 4th of January, how you log in to the University’s network from University accommodation will change.

OK, that’s a bit of a lie to get your attention. How you log in won’t change, it’ll only look a bit different. The mechanics of registering a new computer won’t change either (and as a Christmas present you’ll be able to register games consoles!). However, a bit in the middle will be changing significantly – you will be required to run a quick scan of your computer when it is connected to the network. This is completely non-invasive (we honestly don’t care about the contents of your files, or your internet history, or your music collection) and only checks for the presence of certain required things, such as anti-virus and anti-malware software, the latest service packs, critical updates and so on.

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