Meeting Minutes

July 18, 1997 Meeting

MEMBERS PRESENT: Craig Berry, Tim Christian, Maurice Leatherbury (Chair), Kelly Wood, Richard Harris, Paul Hons, Mike Hatch, Cyndie Harris, Mike Wright, Bill Buntain, Ramu Muthiah (for Rich Anderson), Ty Young, Tim Christian, Sue Ellen Richey (Recording Secretary)

MEMBERS ABSENT: Ginger Boone, Jim Curry, Chris Strauss, Eric DuChemin, Robert Pierce, Dallas Newell, Abraham John, Cengiz Capan, Bruce Pollock


The minutes from the June 20th meeting were approved as distributed.

Cyndie Harris reported that they have installed Apriori software and are ready to test it. The committee has spent some time conceptualizing about how the call tracking system should be designed, in case they have to design a system themselves, or customize a commercial one.

Mike Wright reported that he sent e-mail to committee members on July 17th to explain that the University attorney has made some changes in the contract. Microsoft has an agreement with University of Texas and Maurice was able to get a copy of it and show it to the attorney. He stated that Richard Harris will meet with Phil Diebel on Wednesday to see if he will sign the contract in spite of the attorney's objections to an indemnification clause. Richard said that he asked the attorney to explain to Phil Diebel the risks of signing the contract and Richard will explain the risks involved if the contract is not signed. Mike explained that he is going ahead with collecting IDO's from departments in anticipation of having to pay CompUSA before August 31.

Maurice reported having spoken with someone at UT Austin about the Microsoft contract, and discovered that UT Austin's agreement allows them to sell Microsoft products to students at the MS Select prices. Maurice wasn't sure whether their bookstore handles the sales or their Computing Center. Maurice reported that he and Mike Wright had visited with CompUSA last week and Mike attempted to convince them to send UNT the software the day the contract is signed; however, it seems that there is a chain of approval at Microsoft that has to be followed before the software can be shipped. Mike said he asked that Visual Studio 97 and MAC Office be shipped first, since these are in high demand. Mike asked committee members to let him know if there are any other products that need to be rushed.

Maurice reported that the open forum on word processing was a very interesting meeting. The group was able to stay focused on the question of which word processing software would be the best to support, rather than arguing about which software was the best word processing package. In the July IRC meeting, Phil Turner asked that this group define what it means to "support" a particular software package. Discussion followed. There was a question about whether the support will be handled centrally or by the distributed support areas. Mike Hatch explained that the College of Business "supports" Corel 7 but they don't concentrate their efforts on "how to" use it, but rather provide the software on the server, and make sure it functions. It is then up to the user to learn how to use the software. He further stated that, in that light, they support both MS Word and Corel 7, but they do not support WordPerfect 6.1. On the other hand, if the LAN manager happens to know how to do something that a user is having difficulty with, they will share their knowledge and expertise, but they do not try to become experts on either software package.

Cyndie stated that her understanding is that both word processing packages will be installed on the servers, but each department, individually, will have to decide which package they want to support. Maurice clarified that, at the forum, this was the issue--whether or not one or both of the packages will be installed on each server. There are some LAN managers who do not have both products installed because they don't want to have to deal with more than one. Mike Hatch stated that, from what he gathered from the forum, the people who don't want both packages supported are not the users. There are users in every area that want WordPerfect, so even though a distributed support person doesn't want to have it on a particular server doesn't preclude a user from getting the software, using it, and getting whatever central support that is available. There has been some fear that users will be denied the use of WordPerfect and that is not really the intention of the draft Desktop Application Software Standard document.

Maurice reported that the Corel 8 suite (excluding Paradox) can be obtained for $30.00 per license through a volume purchase agreement, which is even less than Microsoft Office licenses. Mike Hatch said COBA is going to enter into a site license agreement with Corel. Maurice continued, that from the Computing Center point of view, central support means: 1) manage a site license; 2) provide training; 3) help desk support; and 4) trouble-shooting.

Bill asked the group to look at the help desk's role in desktop application support, as well as training. One of the recommendations that came out of the ad hoc committee last year was a desire for more centralized application support so that each network manager or distributed support area doesn't have to become expert on various application products. In the Computing Center, one person fulfills that function and she is five years away from retirement. Bill said he thinks it would be appropriate to ask that committee to look at the whole issue of how to provide application support and training and come back with a suggestion to put forward in the next budget cycle.

Kelly Woods suggested that the committee define "levels" of support; for example: Level 1: Full support (buy it, install it, maintain it and provide user assistance); Level 2: install it, but provide no user support; Level 3: no install/no support.

Craig Berry said it is a matter of economics for his department; they can't afford to provide licenses for both software packages for all their users, nor does he have the staff to support two separate packages.

Maurice suggested that perhaps the best thing to do is have the Computing Center provide and manage the Microsoft Select Agreement and let distributed areas know they are on their own in terms of purchasing other word processing packages. Discussion continued. One issue that was raised at the IRC meeting was the need for a good conversion utility for converting old WordPerfect files into Word documents. It was concluded that at the present time, there are no good conversion utilities available. Maurice asked members to send him any information they have on conversion utility products so that the Computing Center can buy some for testing purposes. In summary, most units have already, or plan to move to Microsoft Office, even though some are keeping WordPerfect 6.1. It was agreed that as the administration gradually changes to Microsoft Office, that will necessitate the rest of the campus changing also.

Maurice summarized that the issues of training and user support need to be addressed; the Computing Center needs to decide what it will support centrally, and distributed areas can decide for themselves what they will support.

Mike Wright commented that a second help desk has been considered that would deal with software applications, and that would be for faculty and staff, primarily. The people staffing this help desk would be free to actually go to a faculty or staff site and help out. Maurice agreed that the way user assistance is provided should be reviewed. Richard Harris reported that at UT Austin, they have a certain number of staff on their Help Desk assigned to make office calls. Craig Berry suggested hiring an hourly employee specifically to help users with conversion problems. Richard Harris commented that when people are shown the advantages of the Microsoft product they will want to use it; this is a much better method than telling people they can't use WordPerfect. Mike Hatch noted that scanning an old document into MS Word works very well.

Maurice said he would call the Desktop Applications Standardization subcommittee together for a meeting to reconsider the draft document.

Maurice stated that the open forum is a good method of communicating with users and suggested having another one in the fall. There was some discussion about the forum and it was mentioned that several units have computing committees that meet for the purpose of communication between support personnel and users.

Maurice reported that Microcomputer Maintenance Shop will not support the newest Hewlett-Packard printers (5si's). He contacted CompUSA to see if they would be interested in providing a blanket maintenance contract for any new H-P printers purchased on campus. Maurice asked members to let him know if they are interested in setting up a campus-wide contract.

Maurice announced that Eriq Neale will disconnect the AOCE server at the end of August, 1997. He asked members to contact him if they have any objections to this.

Mike Hatch reported experiencing a problem in GroupWise where people who have their mail forwarded to an internet address could not be receive their forwarded mail. Randy Galloway is working on this problem with Novell.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 3:30 p.m.

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