Wednesday, 30 November 2011


"...well, I don't think it is our responsibility".

I went to a student fault, all our kit was working, so started looking at the cabling.

A bit of background: some of our newest student accommodation is not owned by the University, but by an external company. The company owns the building and everything in it. They have told us they are responsible for anything physical in the buildings. The network settings is our responsibility; the sockets, wiring etc. is theirs.

Despite this, when a student gets in touch with them to report a problem (usually physical damage) it gets sent from them to us. As a favour (or just to get students working quicker - they can take weeks to fix a broken socket) we have been fixing broken sockets and damaged cables because it is easier than bounces emails and calls around the help desks. Also, when they do attempt to fix it we normally need to go back and fix it again as they are not too good at terminating sockets.

This fault in particular was showing a problem 6 meters from the room. Too close to be the cab. We traced the cable to a riser where, upon opening it, we discovered another socket for the room... that was dripping wet!

The contacts were going green they were that wet so it was obvious we had found the problem. I cleaned the contacts up with a screwdriver as a temporary fix for the student to get them working for now, then went to report it to the owners.

All we got from them was a load of drivel about how it's a network problem... and there is nothing they can do... and they don't think it is their responsibility. That it should be down to us to sort it out.

I am sorry?
Your building - physical? check
Your cabling - physical? check
Water leak - physical problem? check
Damaged socket - physical problem? check
Damaged cabling - physical problem? check

The university network is up and running, the problem is at their end. The students are paying their rent to a company for a service that the company does not deliver.

We should have just checked the switch was up and left it to them.

Except the student would be without a network connection, and we wouldn't do that to them.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The weekend starts here

Finally done for the weekend.

Went in at 7am this Saturday morning to swap out all the 2950 switches and the 3550 aggregator to be replaced by PoE (Cisco 3750s) in Print and Design.

It was absolutely filthy down there in the basement, which the picture doesn't do justice.

The need for this to be done is due to the fact that the departments phones (and the fibre feed) come from an area that had now been condemned. As we can't currently get an more analogue or digital lines into the building, or make any changes from the PN, we have had to move them to IP telephony.

Configuring the new phones was not made any easier by somebody turning off the power to the building with the voice gateway in without informing IT.

We also found a table of graphic designers all getting their network connection from a mini hub hiden under the desk. So before they can all have an IP phone we need to put some some extra sockets in as power requirements of the phones means only one phone will work off one switch port, and for the time being the mini hub is fed from the phone.

The analogue lines for a credit card machine and fax is provided by an ATA.

The VLANs have been configured and the trunk from the hub. So, hopefully, when the power comes back on the phones will get their IP addresses and config files, and all will be working Monday morning...

Fingers crossed.

Apologies, the Blogger app on my phone does not seem to be allowing picture uploads. I will tweet a pic.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The games I am looking forward to playing this Christmas

I know many of these will have been out for a while by the time I get to sit down to play them over my Christmas break, but with work, house and family stuff going on it may very well be my first opportunity.

The joys of being a responsible adult.

Well here is my list of what I am looking forward to:
1. Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 3 Obviously.
This is probably going to be one of the biggest selling games of all time, but which is better? COD MW3 or...

2. Battlefield 3
This will be my first time with Battlefield franchise but all indications suggest it is going to be a good 'un.

3. PES 2012
The differences in each yearly release, as well as the rising cost, has meant I only get a footie game every couple of years. Besides it takes about two years to unlock all the trophies if you are juggling it with a full time job.

I am looking forward to this one, the tricks are supposed to have been greatly improved as well as controlling the runs of other players. I just wish they had the proper licences, and I think I will be giving the manager game in PES a miss.

4. Driver: San Francisco
I remember playing the original on PS One and PC. After taking a downturn I have hopes this will put the series back on track. I would have preferred another Burnout game but that was not to be.

5. LA Noir
A bit of a cheat as I have already started playing it. Hopefully by Christmas I may have found the time to complete it and liked it enough to add some more cases via DLC.

6. Resistance 3
Resistance 1 and 2 were really enjoyable and hopefully this will continue into the third instalment. So far, so good, as they sent me a Sackboy Resistance 3 keyring :)

7. Batman: Arkham City
I was too dubious about superhero games to get the first one but I heard such good things about it Arkham City is making it onto the list.

8. F1 2011
Safety cars, KERS, moveable rear wing... ah yeah... Brum brum brummmmmmmmmmmmmm!

and the one I am most looking forward to:
Uncharted 3
Better than Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider put together.

Just hope I find the time.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Connected washing machines: Laziness or a service?

I have been up at the student villages yesterday and today patching connections for the laundrettes and setting VLAN's. The reason for these connections is so that students can log in from their rooms (or wherever) and see which (if any) washing machines and tumble dryers are available. They will also be able to see a progress bar that is full of red when a machine has just started a cycle but gradually decreases and gets lighter as the cycle progresses.

I guess one of the reasons is to prevent wasted trips to the laundry. Another may be to help justify the cost of university accommodation on top of the rise in tuition fees.

It was not an idea we came up with, it was put in motion by the accommodation services.

With tuition fees reaching £9000 a year (more for international students) I imagine the new students and their families will have less money available for the higher quality student accommodation and so there will also be less demand. Accommodation services must work hard to justify the prices (as the rest of the university needs to do with the tuition fees) and provide quality services to the students.

I have spoken before about how the students should also be getting wireless in their university accommodation for next year. They also, briefly, had a service for internet TV and gaming but it was causing problems on our network so had to be removed. I predict something similar may be in place again in the future.

I never imagined there would be internet connected washing machines and tumble dryers. I am sure there will be an iPhone app at some point.