Office 2010 Useful Blogs

Microsoft’s blogs on Office 2010 are well worth reading This is the engineering blog

and the web apps blog is

I love the office web apps I can see how they will be used everywhere within a few years

Have a look at the Powerpoint blog on

Sheffield University Information Commons

On Thursday 3/12/2009 Dee Vyas and I visited Sheffield University Information Commons, below are my impressions

The Information Commons is a joint venture between the Library and Computing Services to provide the students with an informal working environment. It comprises of seven floors, floors 5 and 6 being computer labs while floors 1 to 4 are a mixture of Library and computer resources interlaced with informal seating. Floor 0 is a café with 20 quick visit computers and information screens. The information screens show what group room are free, how many pcs are free and what pcs have been pre-booked by students. The whole of the building has Wi-Fi.

The overall feel of the building is one of calm and a place where one can work in an informal way. This feeling is achieved by good architecture, high quality finishing and clever use of lighting and acoustic dampening.


The overall lighting level is low with the light spectrum being biased towards the blue end of the spectrum reinforcing the calm feeling. The level would be below normal working level but all the desk areas have their own desk lamps, allowing users to select their own light levels. The table lamp design allows the user to fix a coloured filter if they wish.

The Library shelving is standard library metal shelving with mini florescent tubes activated by a PIR allowing the browser sufficient light, while at the same time not impacting on the overall light levels.

Acoustic feel

The whole of the Commons is very quiet by MMU standards, but staff say is does get nosier during very busy periods. How this calm is achieved is a mixture of clever design and social control. People tend to talk below normal levels but as there is a lack of background noise students don’t feel the need to increase their levels to compensate.

Help Desk

The help desk is staffed by three staff from computing services and the Library; it is situated on floor 1. The staff are very student focused and are willing to help students with any problems they may have. The staff answer computer and library questions interchangeably but refer the more complex ones to their colleagues from the relevant service.

Computing Services offer laptop and PC support to students and staff; they will install software, remove virus/malware and diagnose hardware problems. Staff on the help desk act as a first contact but will refer the problem to computing services in the next door building. As a service they appear to be very focused on solving problems with no distinction between University and student owned computers.


All the computers are thin client computers with the desk top being delivered to the user. Each desk has its own desk lamp as mentioned before. The overall working area is small but none of the students found it to be a problem. Computers are split into three general groups

  1. Quick Print. The computer will only allow a user to log on for a maximum of 20 minutes, while being called quick print they have the normal desktop applications allowing quick editing as well as printing.
  2. Drop-in Computers. These are scattered around floors 1 to 6. These computers are as the name suggests available on a first come first served basis.
  3. Pre-booked computers. These are in computer rooms on floors 5 and 6 these can be booked for a periods of up to four hours. They can only be booked up to 48 hours in advance. Students can book on-line or at the Help Desk.

Printers and Photocopiers

Floors 1 to 4 have a Business zone containing printers and photocopiers while the computer rooms on floors 5 and 6 have their own printers and photocopiers. Printing charges are the same as MMU for black & white 5p per A4 sheet. The printers are set to duplex printing as default, colour is 25p. The zone also has a Library Self Service Terminal

The floors

Each floor has female and male toilets and a water fountain. Recycling bins are on each floor covering plastic, paper and general waste.

Each floor has a huddle board but little evidence of use.

Floor 0 is the entrance, students scan their student cards to gain access and on our visit had two security staff on duty monitoring comings and goings. It has the café and 20 quick use PCs and two Library Self Service terminals.

Floor 1 has the help desk, a laptop zone which comprises desks with power and of course the mixture of informal seating, computer desks and book shelving.

Floors 2 to 4 are identical being a mixture of informal seating, computer desks and book shelving. Each floor has a silent work room, and it was very well self-policed by the students.

Floors 5 and 6 are computer drop-ins, and while floor 6 in theory is a silent drop-in, it was no different in sound levels to the one on floor 5.

Careers and Employability Service

Katie Kilburn of the Careers and Employability Service approached the LRT team concerned that email sent to the All Student mailing list were not being seen as the All Student RSS feed only displays the last 5 items. In conversion with Katie she mentioned a site that has all the information they would like the students to see. Marketing and Communications provided a RSS feed to the site and we were able to provide a RRS feed on MyMMU messages page

WebCt and MMUB MBA students

The MBS students reported having problems accessing their web CT units in the MYMMU portal and the course administrator asked if the LRT team could help.
The course administrator give me two IDs as examples of students who were having problems. I checked both IDs in QLS and in webct and both IDs were enrolled and had the right units both in QLS and webct. But as the course started in March 2009 the webct units are in fact mapped as 2008/9 units not 2009/10. This mapping suggested the problem was the units were being hidden as last year’s units in webct and the portal
In conjunction with the course administrator one of the MBA students give permission for me to change his password and log in to the system as him. Logging in as the student the units were indeed hidden as last years unit but clicking on the Previous Years unit link they were displayed.
In conjunction with the course administrator a short help email was written informing students that clicking the Previous Years Link will make their units visible. The course administrator emailed the students concerned and all the students were able to access their units.

Adding new webpart zone to the top of the site

We wished to display the new unit survey web part above the normal Welcome message, but as standard it lacked a web part zone in the right place. So we needed to add a new web part zone

This needed to be added below My and above Page contents.

Open the site in designer and use the admin account and password. Select _catalogs

Check out the file

you need to take care that the web part is not inserted into the page contents part as this causes fun

When you are happy save it as a minor version and check how it looks. If everything is OK publish as a major version. You will need to authorise the change as well