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School of Physics and Astronomy – computing
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Periodic update (2022 June)

News and other updates for Summer 2022.

Switching to MFA §

Could I encourage folk to opt in to MFA (multi-factor authentication) on their GUID account? With that enabled, you will periodically (roughly weekly) be asked, when logging in to a university service, to enter a six-digit code, typically from a smartphone app. You might already have done this sort of thing on other services, for example GitHub or HMRC (banks are, as usual, laggards here, and often still do 'MFA' via SMS messages). This adds an extra bit of security to your GUID account.

This will become mandatory from 31 August 2022. That's ‘mandatory’ in the sense that if you don't, you will lose access to your email (please resist the temptation to say 'good!').

For what it's worth, I haven't heard MFA-related screams from any direction. I use a minority email client, and it has worked without difficulty for me. MacOS Mail and Thunderbird are both campus-supported, and the protocol (namely OAUTH2) is a standard one, rather than being anything MS-only. In practice, so far, it appears this has been less of a problem than folk initially feared. Set aside about 20 minutes for the process.

There is some associated training on information security (moodle link) and GDPR (moodle link) which have the same deadline. On the basis of only recently having done the courses myself (ooops), I can report that the first contains good advice (some of it specific to GU and some more general), but you are unlikely to find it challenging; the GDPR course requires slightly more concentration, and takes something like 45 minutes.

You do not need to delay MFA opt-in until you've done these courses.

For information, COSE is currently well behind Arts in the level of uptake here.

Any questions, phas-it@glasgow.ac.uk is hanging on the telephone, awaiting your call.


BYOD (that's Bring Your Own Device) §

Central IT plans to move towards more BYOD-style model for UG computing within 2–3 years; details are still (very) tentative, but at some changes to IT lab provision seem likely.

The University may adopt a ‘laptop-first’ policy for staff computing. That will include formally supporting macOS at campus level, for the first time. This, along with a developing campus interest in Cyber Essentials may imply some changes in the extent to which laptops are ‘managed’, in IT terms. We aim to stay at the ‘lightweight management’ end of this particular spectrum, but at least some culture change may be unavoidable.


That's the ‘Network Investment Improvement Programme’ to its friends, though it might now be one of these things that has become a free-standing acronym.

This is still on track to reach schools starting in Phase 5/2023+. This will result in new wiring and Eduroam++, and there is likely to be little network infrastructure change before then. When I've asked if we're near the front of the queue for (overdue!) infrastructure improvement, I have not yet been told that I'm wrong.

Hybrid working kit §

We have limited supplies of some hybrid working kit, and can pass on anecdotal experience from others.

AV support §

Support for AV equipment in the Kelvin Building is spread over a number of groups.

College IT Review §

The College is undertaking a review of its IT provision, with the intention of encouraging sharing of services between COSE schools, to a greater extent than happens just now. The initial collection of such shared services is illustrated in the image below:

CoSE IT Support Service Catalogue

The first such service to be visible will probably be a CoSE-wide IT helpdesk, with the intention, or expectation, that issues reported to the campus helpdesk by CoSE staff and students will be redirected to the CoSE-specific one, and thence to school-specific specialist staff where appropriate. There's a campus-wide push towards greater use of this helpdesk, but we're still OK with requests coming to the phas-it address.