It was on a bitterly cold night and frosty morning, towards the end
of the winter of '97. . . .
-- "The Abbey Grange", The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The university, which promoter Raymond Brackstone had said in print was "incredibly cooperative", has made public a letter that officials sent to Brackstone this week, expressing some concerns about the venture. The report appears in this morning's Gazette.
According to Jerry Gray, UW director of technology transfer and licensing, the university has "concerns about being allocated a position by default in the tech house project," as well as Brackstone's plans for "commercially exploiting student intellectual property".
Last fall, Brackstone's company, Software Incubation Inc. of Toronto, bought a duplex on Albert Street in Waterloo which it said will be converted into a high-tech residence for eight UW computer science students with entrepreneurial ambitions. In a quest to find a "Wayne Gretzky of software", Brackstone is offering free room and board for the students, who must agree to turn over up to 49 per cent interest in any intellectual property developed while they live there.
In the letter to Brackstone this week, the university warns that "Young undergraduates may be lacking in business experience and not fully understand all of the implications of the contract they sign when they enter tech house." The letter also speaks of "the need to correct the public impression resulting from media reports that the University of Waterloo is involved in either promoting or supporting the tech house concept."
Gray said the university "occupies a position where it should look out for the best interest of students. The problem is it doesn't have the staff or resources to provide information" and legal advice to students on an individual basis. However, he said, UW intends to distribute information to students on questions and issues that could assist them in giving informed consent.
"Young students may not be well-positioned to make the best deal for themselves," he added, recalling his own naiveté when he was an engineering student at the University of Toronto. Issues of intellectual property are particularly sensitive, said Gray, since development may occur on a continuum and involve more than one student. The issues of ownership become increasingly complicated the more students are involved in a project.
As well, tech house residents involved in the co-op program may face conflicts of interest between their work term placements and their obligations to Brackstone. Although the university is not suggesting the tech house project is without merit, Gray said, it "cannot endorse or participate in any enterprise which has the potential to compromise the rights or academic success of the students, or which may give rise to situations in which the university's interests may come into conflict with the interests of its students".
"Christ in China" is the topic of a lecture to given at 7:30 tonight in Davis Centre room 1304, sponsored by Fountain Ministries, formerly the Laymen's Evangelical Fellowship on campus. The speaker is Murray Sherk, a part-time faculty member in computer science, who will talk about his work . . . with university students in China.
Co-op students can look for job posting #7 today -- more opportunities for the spring term -- and are reminded that workshops on "Researching Occupations" and "Information Interview" are scheduled for this morning.
There had been talk of postponing the shutdown until Release 11 was ready, later this winter, but the date originally announced as part of a general telephone system upgrade is being kept after all. Uttley explains:
The Voice Mail processor is being replaced with a faster model. Voice messages will be stored redundantly on two disks to provide uninterrupted access in the event of a disk failure, and the total capacity is being increased from 84 hours of messages to 120 hours.And a footnote to last weekend's conversion of the central phone switch: all went well, but "a problem in one of the racks" left a number of phones on campus dead on Monday morning. Uttley reports: "The incident disabled some 75-80 phones across campus when a power supply and its associated telephone line cards failed. There is no cause-and-effect connection between the new switch and this failure."
A much shorter interruption will occur in May 1997 when the Voice Mail software is upgraded to the newest version that Nortel is to ship in February.
There is no direct path from our current Release 8 to Release 11 that becomes available in February. Release 8 is too old. The migration path has to be to upgrade Release 8 to Release 10 first and then upgrade Release 10 to Release 11. Adding a pause of a few months between the steps is no extra work and might be safer if the brand new Release 11 contained any software bugs. Bell agreed that a two step upgrade was a fine idea and that is the way it will happen.
Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
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