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Green IT

Log out, switch off

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

It’s almost holiday, but what about that ominous to-do list? We’ve compiled one especially for the office to save you some trouble. 

1. Make sure your password won’t expire while you are away on holiday. Rather reset it before you leave so you won’t be locked out of your accounts when you return.

2. Secondly, did you put in leave? We hope so, but if you haven’t, here‘s something to keep in mind.

3. If you plan on using your PC or device during your holiday and you need to have it fixed, updated or need to set up anything in order to do so, please try and bring it to us ASAP. Just like with Christmas shopping, people tend to wait until the last minute, therefore we are busier closer to the end of the year. The sooner you drop by, the sooner we can solve your problem.

4. If you’ll only be returning to the office mid-January, make sure the necessary arrangements have been put in place in your absence and your colleagues are up to date with your responsibilities. For example, some visitors and external workers’ SUNid registration might expire during the holiday and with it, their access to the network and buildings. If you are your department’s SUNiD representative, make sure this is dealt with before you leave. More info on SUNid here.

5. If you regularly misplace keys, cell phones, etc, it might be a good idea to set up security on your phone, as well as a tracking device. Read our article on security and how to set up tracking.

6. Activate Outlook’s Out of Office assistant. Detailed instructions on how to do this, can be found on Microsoft‘s website.

7. And lastly, before you happily close your office door for the last time this year, remember to switch off all equipment using electricity. This includes, PCs, chargers, printers, screens and lights.

 

Conservation by drone

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

You’ve seen the videos on YouTube – sweeping, breathtaking aerial shots capturing locations inaccessible to most people. On Wednesday Rhino Africa released a video compiled with drone footage which shows the beauty of Africa and the results are truly breathtaking. 

We can now gain access to previously remote areas with drones or UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) controlled by remote or with the guidance of software and GPS. These flying robots were named “drones” because they resemble the monotonous sound a male bee makes.

droneInitially, drones weren’t used for recreational activities. The first drones were utilised in the military, but today civilian drones outnumber their military counterparts. It is estimated that, by 2015, over a million has been sold. Currently, they are used  in commercial, scientific, recreational, agricultural, and other applications, such as policing and surveillance, aerial photography and conservation. 

The idea of using UAVs for conservation was conceived by Lian Pin Koh, a conservation ecologist and Serge Wich, a primate biologist in January 2011. It soon came to light that the available UAVs were too expensive for use in developing countries where they were most needed. The only solution for Lian and Serge was to build their own more affordable version, which ended up costing less than $2,000.

A year later, they tested their prototype in North Sumatra, Indonesia where the UAV flew over 30 missions and collected thousands of high-quality aerial images and video footage of forests and wildlife. (https://conservationdrones.org/our-story/)

As their research became known, the term “Conservation Drone” was coined and by 2012 the International Anti-Poaching Foundation was using UAV’s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIrgjCNcDBI

Worldwide organisations began using drones for conservation. In 2012 the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) started using UAVs in Chitwan National Park, Nepal to monitor rhinos, tigers and elephants, but also to deter poachers. In the same year, Google donated $5 million to the WWF to purchase conservation drones to fly over parts of Africa and Asia in an attempt to help monitor and catch wildlife poachers.

Closer to home UAVs have been used successfully in the Kruger National Park against rhino poachers. In 2012 a UAV was loaned to the South African National Parks authority by its manufacturer, Denel Dynamics. 

“In March 2014, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation announced a 255 million rand donation for a three-year initiative in partnership with Nature Conservation Trust, South African National Parks (SANParks) and a South African public benefit organisation (PBO) to combat poaching in Kruger National Park and test new anti-poaching technology. SANParks is testing the use of drones and this year, the Foundation added a further 37.7 million rand to buy a helicopter for use in anti-poaching operations.” (https://www.savetherhino.org)

In Namibia, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society used this technology to monitor the annual seal cull and also to combat rhino poaching in Etosha National Park. 

Other uses for UAVs include aerial crop surveys, aerial photography, search and rescue, inspection of power lines and pipelines, counting wildlife, delivering medical supplies to otherwise inaccessible regions, and detection of illegal hunting, reconnaissance operations, cooperative environment monitoring, border patrol missions, convoy protection, forest fire detection and monitoring,  surveillance, coordinating humanitarian aid, plume tracking, land surveying, fire and large-accident investigation, landslide measurement, illegal landfill detection, the construction industry and crowd monitoring. (Wikipedia

[SOURCES: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unmanned_aerial_vehicle, https://conservationdrones.org/our-story/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_Drones, https://www.savetherhino.org/rhino_info/thorny_issues/the_use_of_drones_in_rhino_conservation]

Get rid of your e-waste

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

Do you have old computers, monitors, cell phones or batteries lying around or clogging up cupboards? Are you concerned enough to dispose of them responsibly and not simply consign them to the dump?

There is a responsible campus solution. The IT Division has implemented a temporary e-waste depot on campus where e-waste will be aggregated for free pickup and disposal by contractors who specialise in the refurbishment, reuse and safe disposal of e-waste.

Electronic waste (e-waste) or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) are the terms used to describe old, end-of-life or discarded appliances using electricity. It includes computers, consumer electronics, etc. which have been disposed of by their original users. It can also include batteries.

E-waste is of concern largely due to the toxicity of some of the substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium and a number of other substances which are harmful to human health and ecosystems if not disposed of properly. The unsustainably rapid turnover of discarded electronics and computer technology is another reason for the need to recycle – or even better, re-use – e-waste.

What will happen to the e-Waste?

The contractors will separate the waste into items that

  • can be refurbished,
  • can be recycled and
  • must be safely disposed of.

Refurbishment of appliances and computers provides jobs and these items are then reused in needy schools and communities. Useful, scarce and valuable metals and other substances are extracted by recycling, while toxic e-waste is disposed of at special hazardous waste facilities. Examples of potentially toxic items include the old type of computer screens (CRT) and fluorescent tubes.

The procedure is as follows:

  1. Ensure that the items have been properly written off and dealt with in line with the University’s policy regarding the handling of redundant assets.
  2. Remove all your data, private and work related, from the devices. IT does not take responsibility for deleting or backing up any data or for any risk that your data might be accessible after disposal. Your device should be completely devoid of data.
  3. Contact Clive Layman at Stellenbosch campus, Le Roux Franken at Belpark campus or Kevin Vermaak at Tygerberg. Please do not bring E-waste to the IT Division before arranging logistics with one of the contact persons.

 

More information: www.ewasa.org

 

New building, new times

Friday, September 4th, 2015

it-gebouSince the 80s the Information Technology department has been located in a section of the Engineering faculty, just off Banhoekweg. Some of us have grown old with the building and became part of the furniture over time.

We are happy, ecstatic and enthusiastic to announce that this will change over the next two months. Yes, we are uprooting all our staff and in a mission of epic proportions relocating to a brand-new building where we will be rubbing shoulders with our new neighbours, Facilities Management. You can read more about our new, green home here and also in September’s issue of Kampusnuus.

As exciting as this new development is, there are also some logistic wrinkles that need ironing. Once they are ironed out, however, we’ll be providing a more convenient, streamlined service to everyone on campus.

Since we will now be even further away from central campus, the IT HUB, our current student centre, will become an additional service point. No longer do you have to lug that massive PC box across campus to the IT building and sprain an elbow doing so. You can now get assistance for your personal devices, as well as asset number PC (SU equipment) at the IT HUB. It works as follows:

SU equipment (with asset numbers and warranties)

Staff are welcome to drop their equipment off at the IT HUB if it suits them better. Just keep in mind this might cause a delay in service of at least a day. These include laptops and desktop PCs where a warranty is concerned.

All equipment will still be serviced at the main IT building, but minor adjustments, for example registering a device on the network, passwords, etc. can be done at the IT HUB.

Personal devices (no asset number or warranty)

Staff’s personal devices will be handled at the IT HUB or IT Workshop at a nominal fee. For a fee, staff can register 5 personal devices (e.g. smart phones, tablets and laptops) on the network. These devices will receive limited support at the IT HUB.

kaartWe will still be at your disposal through all the other channels and you can contact our service desk here:

Tel:  021-808 4367
Skype: ITStellenUni
E-mail: helpinfo@sun.ac.za (for general enquiries) or help@sun.ac.za (to log an error)
Twitter: @itstellenuni

Google Maps

Full instructions on how to log an error is available here. Please supply the correct information otherwise the call will not register on the system.

All our services are listed on our Service Catalogue and if you are brave enough, you can consult our Self-help wiki.

New IT building – greenest on campus

Friday, May 15th, 2015

In September the Information Technology (IT) division will enter a new era. Not only will we be moving to a new building, our new home will also be the first truly “green” building on campus.

A wide range of sustainability characteristics have been incorporated in the new building’s design and can be considered according to the Green Building Council of South Africa’s Green Star Office rating tool categories.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy: Solar photovoltaic energy generation on the roof; optimal northern orientation and window sizing; shading elements; vertical garden on the northern aspect to minimise heating and cooling; usage of river water for cooling; low energy lighting and smart lighting.

Indoor environment quality (IEQ): Natural lighting; ventilation; minimisation of noise.

Transport: Bicycle store and facilities for cyclists; optimal parking spaces.

Innovation: The vertical garden; the use of river and rainwater for air-conditioning plant cooling.

The building should not be seen as merely a space hosting a department, but also an integral part of the IT Division’s work system – the people, processes they execute and the spaces and facilities of the building all form an integrated whole.

The building can contribute to the goal of creating a new working culture, establishing new work methods and, above all, encouraging collaboration and communication.

Developing new ways of working and a different work culture is now more important than ever as we find ourselves in the Information Age. As the focus shifts to the application of information and communication technologies (ICT) within Stellenbosch University’s strategy, the IT Division has to be able to meet higher expectations. The new building can be viewed as a tool, amongst others, to help meet these expectations.

The nature of knowledge work in the Information Age, in which the IT Division engages, is increasingly team-oriented, social, requiring intensive communication, interactions, knowledge sharing, continuous learning and consultation. The ability to collaborate, breaking out of siloed thinking, effective networking and flexibility become valued capabilities.

The new building features large “open plan” working areas with abundant natural lighting and tracts of glass – much like the campus facilities of admired technology companies such as Google and Apple. Quality, utility and flexibility of furnishings and fittings are also vital as teamwork requires flexible furnishings that can be altered easily and quickly to accommodate new work areas.

Adequate, well-resourced meeting spaces and breakaway areas are required in order to achieve a balance between shared and private workspace in innovative ways. Digital communications facilities in these spaces must make remote working and virtual meetings easy and effective.

Finally, the work environment must be healthy, encourage creativity and collaboration and must be a place where people want to work and spend time.  A working environment that is welcoming, open and does not reinforce hierarchies and promotes flexibility and communication will contribute to the transition to a next-generation IT Division.

[ARTICLE: RALPH PINA]

 

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