February 01, 2006

The Boar: ITS, ID and Investment banking.

For some reason I decided against going to my lecture this morning despite getting up in order to do so. Instead I have been reading this week's Boar. I have to say I disagreed with most of what I read. A short run down:

  • ITS - 3 articles on how incompetent they think ITS are, including one double page spread. While the occasional point is valid they again seem to merge a veriety of different problems all into one. See my IT Services and Resnet entry for my views on ITS bashing.
  • "Darwin versus God": While the article manages to keep fairly neutral, I do dislike anything which tries to give credibility to the idea of Intelligent Design being, in any way, a scientific theory. It may well be right and evolution wrong for all we know but evolution is a debated and tested theory now fairly well supported with evidence. I.D. is not testable and has no evidence (And no, you can't count not being able to explain things in any other way as evidence. Should we count the unknown acceleration of the Pioneer space probe as some divine creator blowing on them for amusement?). Evolution is a scientific theory, I.D is not, end of story.
  • "Invested Interest" – An article about the Careers Service being almost entirely devoted to financial companies. Mostly I agree with this one, the careers service seem to basically only give us the things that turn up on their doorstep – i.e the financial companies that directly push for warwick graduates. Surely the job of the Careers Service is to get out there, find other companies and encourage them to come here so we get a wide choice of graduate employeers?

Morning winge over. I shall try to make my next lecture and will have to be late for the Resnet focus group meeting. Incidently, this week's focus group meeting is at 12.30pm in Room H355, Humanities Building. If you have anything useful to say about resnet please turn up, they need as much feedback as possible at the moment, apart from being made aware that the Boar don't like them. Does the Boar like anyone these day?

- 10 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Hetty Wainthrop

    well, they love themselves, other than that, no I don't think they do like anyone

    01 Feb 2006, 10:45

  2. its more like a tabloid. and they chase you over the waterfall if they think you've got a story to tell

    01 Feb 2006, 13:49

  3. James Earle (Occasional Boar writer)


    I think you're being a bit unfair here. The double-page spread is reporting on an IT expert/former employee criticizing ITS, not the Boar. The Boar isn't getting on at ITS—it's just reporting that that guy is, and based on both what he says and the way that ResNet has been this year, I don't think it'd be wrong to say that the paper is reflecting the views of almost the entire student body. So far this year, the paper has printed (if I remember rightly) a front-page about Unitemps being hacked, a front page about weaknesses in it's security policy, a news item about a group of students suing the university over them, another news article about the attack on the e-mail system, and now this interview with a former employee. Apart from the second front-page mentioned above, which was perhaps a little anti-ITS, I don't see how any of the other articles were in any way unfair. All except this week's interview were reporting of important events that just happened to make ITS look bad, and the interview strikes me as a good piece of journalism.

    I agree with you on ID, but I don't think it's fair to say that you shouldn't take the arguments of ID-ers into account, as some of them (though not most) aren't religious nutters—take Steve Fuller, who's just a plain nutter—and there's a kind-of valid point about the nature of science buried beneath all the bollocks about a creator.

    And what was the complaint about the Careers Service article?

    01 Feb 2006, 15:51

  4. Gareth


    Please remember two points:

    • that IT Services were not responsible for the security of the Unitemps system
    • According to the Helpdesk/Focus Group meetings, 99% of students on campus haven't reported any problems to IT Services about ResNet this term.
    • In the residences, Warwick Accomodation are your supplier of internet NOT ITS and therefore ITS are not responsible for compensation.

    I would also like to note that IT Services are working really hard to fix the problems but they can't be fixed overnight in regard to ResNet & Email.

    With the migration to Squirrel Mail for students (apart from finalists who can choose) this term, Email will become more stable for everyone.

    There are other inaccuracies in the ITS article which I find very disappointing but I'm not going to go into them here.

    01 Feb 2006, 20:19

  5. Much as I would love to correct the numerous inaccuracies in this weeks Boar, and address the erroneous conflation of all the things that have happened this year, I can't. Nor will anyone from ITS engage directly in a discussion with them – experience tells us anything we say will most likely be twisted, quoted out of context or simply downright misrepresented. Perhaps I'm wearing the proverbial rose-tinted glasses, but this is yet another occassion on which I think that the Boar is certainly not the paper it used to be when I was an undergraduate here, some 15 years ago.

    I don't think I'm treading on dangerous ground though if I point out that the person interviewed actually never worked for IT Services, so the Boars description of them as an 'Insider' is rather shaky at best. It also bothers me that they claim in their editorial section that we were 'ordered' to apologise. Actually, we apologised because it needed doing, not because we were ordered to, which is the irksome thing – we (IT Services) are genuinely sorry for the disruption that was caused dealing with this latest incident and the suggestion in the Boar that we were ordered to apologise suggests that we're not. The message we sent out was very carefully written and we resisted the natural urge to start with a huge explanation of what happened and why we did the things we did, because had we done so it would have detracted from the apology, or make it seem insincere.

    In case anyone wonders how I know this, it's probably worth explaining that I'm in charge of Customer Services in ITS and I largely wrote and sent out (at a time carefully selected to avoid overloading the University email systems) the apology. Neither I, nor my Department, needed a gun pointing at our collective heads to do it.

    01 Feb 2006, 21:37

  6. Ok, so let's examine the evidence:

    • The article is headed with "...blows whistle on the state of IT services after…." leading you to believe it is about IT services. It then launches into discussion of the university's information security and Unitempts.

    • Unitemps are not IT Services and I trust Gareth if he says ITS did not manage their systems.

    • Pavlosoglou did not work for ITS, Unitemps or the University.

    • Written in big text is: "A first year computer science student would have the ability to carry out something like this" but in the actual text body it qualifies it with "They'd have to be lucky as well". Well that rather takes the edge off the statement.

    • It states: "Any student can find out any other student's library card number, e-mail, department and full name" – Shock horror! This info is routinely spread accross the Union noticeboards in the form of people signing up to things. Without passwords, pin numbers it isn't much help. (Actually some things require only people's date of birth, that ought to be changed.)

    • "Imagine someone having your national insurance number, your home address, your grades, the societies that you have joined."
      ok… I've imagined it, its not great, but what exactly does it have to do with them having my university number and e-mail address?

    • Apparently I can hire a computer scientist to make a website for me for £1000. Firstly, I think that's rather overpriced and secondly, what concern is it to the university? I'd have to get those details myself first, that's my data protection issue, nothing to do with ITS or the University.

    • The article itself actually makes no further direct reference to ITS after the title and first paragraph, (except for the student's comment about obtaining the security policy) but yet shows a picture of a queue outside ITS after the account lock-outs incident on the weekend before last.

    So, is this article about student information storage within the university, about ITS's service record, about Unitemps or is it just another sensationalist article drawing on a whole horde of fairly distinct issues and pointing the finger at everyone they don't think students like at moment??

    01 Feb 2006, 22:53

  7. Also, it is very entertaining that the Boar had to fake the photo (look at the students smiling) because the queue had disappeared as ITS staff worked 13 hour days to remove the backlog.

    01 Feb 2006, 22:59

  8. The IT article isn't the best in the world but just because it point fingers at a few places within the university doesn't mean that it's wrong. So what if Warwick Accomodation are responsible for compensation and not ITs or unitemps is seperate altogether or ITs are improving things so far this term. The fact still remains that the university as a whole has been lacking in several places when it comes to IT. If there was a decent connection in residences, a reliable email system and Unitemps hadn't been hacked then they wouldn't have anything to print. It maybe a cheap shot for the boar to print a two page 'sensationalist' article like this but it's just reflecting a discontent already there.

    On your other comments I think it's harsh to critise the ID article as well. If anything it tries to distinguish quite clearly between religion and science. If science could explain everything then it would be 'end of story.'

    Actually of them all I found the "Invested Interest" article the hardest to digest because it was using some sort of twisted logic to say that because there's more finance jobs available than artsy based jobs then it's failing students, full stop. If they actually had wanted to 'investigate' the situation then they would have compared the resources it offers to those interested in more alternative jobs to those offered by other universities. That would have been informative and revealing, as it is it just identifies something that was already known. It doesn't go to the root of the problem and it also doesn't say whether they're ignoring the disparity or working to improve it or anything meaningful.

    02 Feb 2006, 19:10

  9. Apparently I can hire a computer scientist to make a website for me for £1000. Firstly, I think that's rather overpriced and secondly, what concern is it to the university? I'd have to get those details myself first, that's my data protection issue, nothing to do with ITS or the University.

    I'd point out, that £1000 is very cheap for a website. On the other hand, i'd question the ability of most computer scientists to do a good job.

    02 Feb 2006, 20:05

  10. My main objection is that the aritcle pretends to be about ITS as it mentions them in the title, in the short abstract-like text below the title and the photo is also about them. The actual content however has nothing to do with them. It goes through loads of other departments/companies faults and leaves the reader with an impression it is all ITs's fault.

    Ok, maybe my assult on the ID article was more of an excuse to vent my thoughts about people trying to claim I.D. is a science fueled by my having just read the ITS (arrg. see, It worked on me!) article.

    I didn't mean to comment on quality of the careers article either, just saying I agree with its general premise. As a physics student I was constantly bombarded with information about finance jobs but very rarely anything relevant. The Science and Engineering Fair was invaded by quite a few banks and 'consultancy' companies like accenture. I just generally got the feeling that the companies there were those which has pestered the careers service, not the other way around. Maybe I'm wrong, and if I am, they are pestering the wrong people.

    03 Feb 2006, 00:17

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