Posted by: John Colby | Saturday May 3 2008

All Change

Software

On Wednesday morning I was giving a lecture on research, referencing and plagiarism to a group of MSc and MBA students just embarking on their dissertation. They’ve already come through the Certificate and Diploma stages of their degrees so this is the start of the final dissertation stage.

I was well into the lecture when a thought suddenly occurred – that the whole interface of the software they’re going to be using is different – the university is moving to Office 2007 on the annual summer migration and rebuild of all machines. It only happens once a year. Hence much of the week when not teaching maths has been concerned with finding out just how much we’re going to have to drop on these guys from a great height when they’re in the middle of writing the most important document of their lives thus far.

So my plans for documenting the changes in an understandable and, above all, concise, way have been brought forward. Two of the obvious difficulties are the changes to the filesystems and document names and the changes to the user interface.

This is not the only time, I suspect, that in this process I will be asking “Why?”.

Retirement

This week, April 30th, also saw the retirement of the boss – the person who I’ve been reporting to since the summer. Here’s wishing our Associate Dean, Professor Brian Anderton, a long and happy future. We can’t say retirement because he has several academic activities in the pipeline he can now devote much more time in pursuing. I owe Brian a lot as he has encouraged me over the years to develop maths support in the Faculty.

Promotion

Having said farewell to Brian on Wednesday, on Thursday it was confirmed to me by the Dean that I was moving up a grade and transferring to the Department of Accountancy and Finance. Naturally my role has been under discussion but to get the conformation is great. Anyone reading this from outside English Academia will not know that this is a slow process involving justification of the job description and various levels of approval in both the Executive and Human Resources. When I was in industry it was a discussion with the manager and that’s it!

The new role gives added security which, as the university is undergoing large changes, can only be a good thing.

LaTeX

Putting maths on here uses LaTeX. Putting maths in Word documents uses the Microsoft Equation Editor. In Open Office it’s the Formula editor. Getting them consistent together requires care. In preference terms Open Office comes first, followed by LaTeX, with the Microsoft offering, with its constant invitations to upgrade, a poor third.

Spring …

Is springing.

In the park

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