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Wake Forest University

Committee on Information Technology

CIT Minutes
December 1, 2005

In Attendance: Matt Nelkin, Stan Thomas, Tommy Murphy, Susan Smith, Jo Fennel Lowe, Allison Snow, Luis Gonzalez, Jay Dominic, Paul Escott, Allin Cottrell, Rick Matthews, Terry Blumenthal, John Pickel.

1. Matt Nelkin, Creative Services updated the committee on the WFU web site.  He explained that the Help Desk will now be providing service for web page related problems.

Creative services will be working with IS to install a backup server downtown at the Scientific Computing Center. He explained that WFU has taken note of the problems that Rice, Tulane, and other universities had with their web sites failing during the disaster caused by recent hurricanes. The off site server will provide a backup in case of a catastrophic emergency on the Reynolda Campus.

He also reported that Creative Services will be creating short aliases for all university web pages. They will follow the form http://www.wfu.edu/art.

Jay asked if we should put Bowman Gray department directory links on the WFU site. The committee discussed problems coordinating between the web sites for the Reynolda campus (wfu.edu) and the Hawthorne campus (wfubmc.edu). For example, the WFU Graduate School web site is at wfubmc.edu. Matt agreed to contact Gordon Melson, Dean of the Graduate School to start the process.

2. Allin Cottrell and Rick Matthews made a presentation to the committee concerning the issues with the Open Document Format and non-propriety data formats in general. In a nutshell, most users save documents and other data in default file formats such as *.doc in MS Word or *.slx in MS Excel.  Since these applications are proprietary, there is no guarantee that they won’t become obsolete and therefore unreadable.  There are a few open source solutions, such as “Open Office” by Sun Microsystems and others in XML, but none has filtered out as a clear standard. There was much discussion about the current ‘lay of the land’ in the open document situation. Allin agreed to write a motion for the next CIT meeting recommending a procedure for this problem.

Rick Matthews added that this brings up a broader, but related issue of open standards across all applications that we use on campus. Most software on the standard load ‘defaults’ to its proprietary format such as *.psd in PhotoShop. After some discussion, the committee came to consensus that this is a two prong issue, involving practice on the part of end users and education on the part of the administration. It was suggested that saving data in non-proprietary formats should be made part of the computer training on campus as well as putting a document on all new computers explaining the best way to save files.

3. The committee discussed the option of providing an alternative of a Tablet PC/laptop for faculty. Jay explained that his test users both were positive about the X41 but for different reasons. One user made use of the drawing tools on the tablet during classroom presentations, while the other appreciated the light weight and hand writing recognition. Terry read an email from Josh King that explained that students would not want to sacrifice the optical drive and speed in moving to a Tablet PC. Jay explained that there were newer machines on the horizon. The committee will keep abreast of this issue in the upcoming meeting.

4. Jay explained that the problem with the modems dropping connections was still an issue, but that IS now knows what is causing the problem and foresees a solution.

The committee adjourned at 5:00 PM.

The next meeting is on Thursday, January 26st at 4:00 PM

 


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