Placement within the School of Computing and Digital Media – Blog 3

At the beginning of the second semester of the 13/14 academic year the Greenroom became available for students/staff to use. Once the Greenroom became available for use there were several tasks that still needed to be done, firstly we transported and assembled several studio lights from Riverside East to the Scott Sutherland building. Since we had to disassemble the jib for transportation at the other end it was necessary to reassemble the jib as well as to connect it to a monitor which would allow you to view what the jib was recording/seeing. Since the Greenroom was now being regularly used, I was tasked with regularly checking the room to see what condition it was in, often the room seemed in fairly good condition though as time has gone on the floor has been marked quite severely and cracks have emerged on the floor and on the area where the wall meets the floor. It seems apparent that the Greenroom will need to be repaired each semester. In addition since students were required to book the Greenroom through the CSDM support team the task of recording the bookings and interacting with students in person/via email was primarily undertaken by myself. When booking the Greenroom we were required to use a program called Celcat. Celcat is a fairly simple to use timetabling system which allows rooms to be booked easily and leads to the timetables accessed from RGU to be updated with the appropriate information (allowing students to see at what times rooms have already been booked). Sometime after this I was required to give a short presentation on how to use Celcat to the other members of the support team as they had been absent during the initial training. From now on students are able to book the greenroom from N425(or by emailing the support team) and must come along to N425 to pick up the Greenroom’s key and receive the password to the room.

After several months of research and preparation the electronic booking system for digital media equipment has been installed. The electronic system provides numerous benefits when compared to the previous system which was simply based on paper, students simply have to have their card scanned as opposed to writing down all the required information as well as equipment simply having to be scanned, the list of what a student has been borrowed/the borrowed history of each item can be seen at a glance meaning that any if and piece of equipment has been damaged it will be easy to see who has been using the equipment and also it is quick and easy to find each piece of equipment’s record(instead of looking through hundreds of pieces of paper). In addition the system will warn the user when a piece of equipment has not been returned by the agreed upon time. After the software was installed I was given the task of scanning in each piece of equipment and creating an entry within the database for that item, this task took quite a while but was necessary to allow the system to fully function. So far the system has worked well though there do seem to be some issues however overall the implementation of the new system has been a success and made the process of booking in/out items a lot easier as well as providing a database which allows the user to see at a glance the status of each piece of digital media equipment.

I was also involved in setting up the requested equipment (PCs laptops etc) for use during Applicants day. Numerous projects from honours students were set up as a display to allow prospective students to see what they would potentially be working on at RGU, prior to this the support team had to prepare a large amount of hardware so the displays could be set up. A few hours before Applicants day began we had to assemble a large amount of equipment in the Atrium of riverside east and prepare the appropriate software for the projects that were to be displayed. After Applicants day all the hardware was disassembled and returned to the CSDM support team office, the process was repeated during the weekend as there was another ‘applicants day’ to allow prospective students who were unavailable during weekdays to visit the university. Both days were quite successful from my perspective and there were few notable issues.

I have also given several tours of Riverside East to several prospective lecturers prior to their interviews/presentations. This involved walking round the building while giving an overview of the general available facilities in the building as well as a look round the labs and an explanation of the equipment available to lecturers. After wandering around Riverside east for around 25 minutes before guiding the prospective lecturers to their next destination (to the interview room/to give a presentation). This went quite well though it was quite hard to stretch the tour out to 25 minutes, also some of the potential lecturers seemed to appreciate having a student’s perspective on RGU and the CSDM department.

I have also been tasked with creating several pieces of documentation related to the operation of the Greenroom and a couple of pieces of software. I created a document describing how to operate the digital lighting system within the Greenroom, this documentation was based on the information given to us by the technician who installed the lighting system. The lighting system allows for each light to be operated individually and allows for a lot of customisation in relation to the light levels (from daylight levels to extremely dim). I also created a document which explains the basic operations of booking point which should allow anyone who has previously had no experience using the software to make use of the system. In addition I created some documentation which explains how to make use of the software available from myapps which will allow all students and staff to remotely access their H drive from any location, essentially it covers how to install citrix receiver and how to work within the limitations of the version of windows explorer provided by myapps.

I also did a small amount of work relating to the motion capture system. After some motion capture files had been created (which involved a member of staff being dressed up in the appropriate gear and the recently deployed motion capture system in the greenroom being put to use) there was an issue with importing the file into 3DS max where it could be edited/viewed. Using an open source piece of software I was able to determine that the names of each point on the model that was captured were not compatible with the names that 3DS max was expecting, after altering some of the points and renaming others it was possible to successfully view the motion of a model within 3DS max.

I was also required to make/alter a number of spreadsheets which would be used to calculate percentages/grades that a student would receive for their exams/coursework. This was fairly easy to do though I was not particularly familiar with excel since I had not used it in quite a long time so I had to relearn the appropriate format which formulae in excel need to be written in. It was also necessary to install a custom add on to allow dates to be picked then displayed within a number of cells, strangely Microsoft had decided to remove this feature from the 2010 version of excel. All the spreadsheets I worked fulfilled all the needed requirements that I was given so I would say this task went quite well.

server_dismantleThough most aspects of the University have moved from the campus in town to Garthdee it was only recently that a larger number of servers were finally moved from the data centre at St Andrews Street to the data centre at Garthdee. Initially we had to unplug a large number of servers from the racks that they were stored in, next we had to label them before packing them securely in bubble wrap so they would not suffer any damage during the journey to Garthdee. When the servers eventually arrived at the Garthdee data centre they were unpacked then inserted into the appropriate racks in a pre-specified order. The move was a success with no loss of data and no apparent damage caused to any of the servers.

Well, thats it for my 3rd blog. My placement within the department finishes on the 22nd of August, so I will be back with one final blog to sum up my experiences.

Callum.