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Daily Bulletin

University of Waterloo -- Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Thursday, April 3, 1997

So long to alt.binaries

Computer newsgroups that consist of pictures, sounds and software, rather than text, will be dropped from UW's computer networks this week, half a year after a "working group" recommended that that should be done.

"I am now able to proceed in accordance with the recommendations of that committee," says Jay Black, associate provost (information systems and technology), quoting the advice he received last fall from the Ad Hoc Working Group on News Management:

While news allows communication on a wide range of topics related to both the academic programs and the general intellectual life of the University, it consumes University resources. . . . Based on our study of the various possibilities and the approaches we considered, we recommend that the University cease importation of any newsgroup hierarchy whose volume constitutes a significant portion of the total and whose primary function appears to be the dissemination of non-text content (such as picture files, executable software, or sound files). . . . The use of newsgroups to disseminate such objects is not a worthwhile use of the resources that are being consumed. . . .

Appeals to continue importing a specific newsgroup that is deemed essential for research, teaching and administration or to enrich the general intellectual life of the University will be received by the Associate Provost, Information Systems and Technology, and referred to an appeals committee.

The delay has been in getting the appeals committee set up, but Black has now announced five of its seven members. "For continuity," he says, "the initial membership of this appeals committee includes three members who also served on the Working Group." They are Margaret Hendley, who heads the reference and collections development department in the Dana Porter Library; Roger Watt, manager of campus networks in IST; and Jeff Shallit of the computer science department, a faculty member who frequently speaks out on academic freedom and censorship issues.

Another two members will be Mario Bellabarba, president of the Federation of Students, and Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services), as a representative of the University Committee on Information Systems and Technology. Scott will chair the appeals committee. Two more members are still to be named -- one nominated by the staff association, one by the Graduate Student Association.

Says Black: "The Working Group recommended that termination of predominantly-non-text newsgroups commence with the 'alt.binaries' hierarchy. I have instructed the IST staff to proceed with arranging for that to happen as soon as possible." Doug Payne of IST says the change involves telling the ONet computer network what newsgroups to stop delivering to Waterloo, which "might take a day or two". Newsgroups that should be disappearing any day now have such names as alt.binaries.mac.applications, alt.binaries.pictures.sports, alt.binaries.doom, alt.binaries.warez.ibm-pc, and alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.cheerleaders.

Okay, guys, it's recess time

"Playday" is scheduled for today from 11:00 to 1:00 in the engineering quadrangle. "Return to your childhood without paying a psychiatrist," says Amy Green, chair of Students Advising Co-op, "We've been stuck inside working all term, and now it's time to get outside, enjoy the weather, and have fun before exam hell starts." Staff and faculty are welcome, as well as students, and the whole thing is free. "I'll be the one in pigtails," Green promises.

What's happening? Skipping, hopscotch, soap-bubble blowing, ball games, clapping games, jacks, "marbles (if somebody brings some)", and other such childish joys. And, to borrow a phrase from Frank Bunker Gilbreth, "mumblety-peg, if that's where your heart lies."

What's new under the sun

The parking office advises that spring term permits are on sale now, first-come, first-served as always. "We will process telephone orders if students are paying by Visa or MasterCard," says parking manager Elaine Koolstra; the phone number is ext. 3100. "If paying by cheque, your spot will be reserved upon receiving your payment by mail." Or, presumably, you can go in person to the parking office in the General Services Complex.

The housing office says it's looking for UW students "who wish to work as casual labour for a two-week period beginning April 28. Heavy lifting is required. Contact Peter Jordan at ext. 5178."

Yesterday's Gazette had an article about Martine Mientjes, who's doing research on the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment and who wants to hear from people with chronic low back pain. It might have been helpful if we'd included her phone number: she can be reached at ext. 5301.

Happening today and tomorrow

It's a very busy 24 hours, as the winter term races to its end. Among the events that must be noted:

The talk of the campus

Appointment of UW's new vice-president (university relations) should be announced in the next few days, the chair of the board of governors, Peter Sims, said at Tuesday's board meeting. The new VP will replace Roger Downer, who took early retirement last summer. . . .

The annual Friends of the Library event is scheduled for May 14, with a talk on "This Writer's Life" by staff member Illona Haus of the department of English. As it does in connection with the Friends event each year, the library office is collecting information about books by UW authors published during the past year. Mary Stanley, mstanley@library, would appreciate receiving information soon. . . .

The 40th anniversary celebrations are highlighted by a May 27 "Founders and Friends" event, and I see on the 40th anniversary Web site that there's a definition of UW's founders: "those members of University of Waterloo Board of Governors during the formative five years, 1957 to 1962. During this time, decisions were taken and plans put in place that set the direction for what the university has become." A plaque will be unveiled honouring those people, location not yet announced.


April 3, 1984: President Doug Wright announces that in future professors on sabbatical leave will receive three-quarters of their normal salary rather than the previous two-thirds.

Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@watserv1.uwaterloo.ca -- (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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