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Brainstormers - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
Brainstormers
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fivemack From: fivemack Date: May 23rd, 2008 12:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Competent institutional webmail, but that's really a bureaucratic issue rather than something worth storming brains about.

An integrated phone-book so I can tap Professor Huppert on my iPhone and it would ring him up, but I imagine Professor Huppert would argue long and loud for not doing this, at least in the three seconds between incoming phone calls.

Unified room booking, so you can both do 'I want a room somewhere near the Radcliffe Infirmary for twelve people to perform demonstrations on the bleeding edge of interpretive dance' and 'what interesting seminars are occurring in the Classics faculty this Wednesday afternoon?', but that involves stepping on the tail of every facilities administrator in Christendom and several in the business school, and getting room-booking to reflect reality is the hard bit.

I'd quite like the idea of a web2.0 tool for the big institutional compute facilities, so you can see that astrophysics is using two-thirds of the supercomputer for three months again, but that there's a one-week slot in which you could put your bid: but _scheduling_ access to compute facilities seems to go against the idea of the Grid, and computer-use chunks are quite large amounts of money so maybe ought to be scheduled by dispassionate professionals.
caramel_betty From: caramel_betty Date: May 23rd, 2008 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Competent institutional webmail, but that's really a bureaucratic issue rather than something worth storming brains about.

That's provoked a thought.

Cambridge's Prayer webmail system was a response to Oxford's rather good Wing system. It was really very good at the end of my time in Cambridge, and has been upgraded quite a bit since.

It's open source for HOT HOT geek action.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 23rd, 2008 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting! Never even heard of Prayer before...
caramel_betty From: caramel_betty Date: May 23rd, 2008 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's (partly) a creation of Tony Finch / fanf, who I thought you knew.

One of the initial reasons for writing it, I gather, is that Cambridge didn't have a webmail system, Pine sucked for attachments, and people didn't like Mulberry (a properly installed client). One of the geek motivations for it was that Wing at Oxford took up a shelf or two of computers, at the time; Tony and David were very happy they had Prayer running for the whole university on two machines.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 23rd, 2008 01:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I do indeed know fanf, but he has done so many cool geeky things that I don't have a mental list of all of them!! 8-)

Oxford's mail situation is, uh, in flux at the moment, though. If I told you anything more I'd probably have to kill you, & that would be a shame.
caramel_betty From: caramel_betty Date: May 23rd, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Would make for great blog posts, though.
fanf From: fanf Date: May 23rd, 2008 01:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Prayer is currently undergoing some fairly heavy development for the first time in several years. It now has proper Unicode support, and the next version has a templating system to make it easier to redesign its look & feel.
nja From: nja Date: May 23rd, 2008 12:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some of that is back-end stuff, though (and some is politics rather than technology). I think what J is suggesting is novel methods of accessing institutional systems, not setting up institutional systems. I'd like a system which allowed students to see their previous module marks, for example (the OU allows this), but I suspect the problems are political (and perhaps to do with the fact that the Registry often has the wrong information). Registering for modules, too - we currently have a paper-based system which has allowed one student to register for 10 more credits than he should be taking, and several others (according to the database) to register for 1/12 of a year on a degree course which doesn't allow part-time study. That shouldn't be too hard to do, given the will, and it doesn't rely on anything more complex than web forms and databases.

j4 From: j4 Date: May 23rd, 2008 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think what J is suggesting is novel methods of accessing institutional systems, not setting up institutional systems.

Yes, but sometimes the possibility of Cool Stuff -- and crucially cool stuff that someone else will do and pay for -- can be enough leverage for changes to institutional systems.

Sometimes.

Not very often in the sort of organisation that thinks "recent" means "last 300 years", admittedly. But I don't like to rule anything out. :-)
j4 From: j4 Date: May 23rd, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Unified room booking, so you can both do 'I want a room somewhere near the Radcliffe Infirmary for twelve people to perform demonstrations on the bleeding edge of interpretive dance' and 'what interesting seminars are occurring in the Classics faculty this Wednesday afternoon?'

Ooooh, oooh, this is all beautifully possible!

Put it this way, if the above ideas were a car, we'd already have at least three wheels (only one of them square), a driver-side quarterlight, two carburettors, an accelerator pedal made of marzipan, a windscreen, twenty-six copies of the Highway Code containing typing errors, and seven different-colour fluffy dice. :-}

I may be exaggerating the current situation for comic effect.
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