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Monday, March 6, 2000

  • Library's new electronic gateway
  • No steps to block Napster, MP3s
  • Engineers triumph in Toronto contest
  • Happening today and this week

Library's new electronic gateway

The UW library has a new web site -- a home page and many other new pages designed to give both experienced users and new users improved access to the information and services the library provides. The new home page was put in place late last night and greets users today at the same URL as the old Electronic Library: www.lib.uwaterloo.ca.

[Screen image] The web site "is the gateway to vast amounts of electronic information available to library users here at Waterloo", says Mary Stanley, the library's communications officer. "This information continues to expand and currently includes the full text of more than 4,200 electronic journals in fields from accounting to zoology."

A collection of "Research Guides by Subject" will point users to specific information, such as journals and databases selected for each UW academic department. There are also pages of quick reference tools, links to Internet search tools (and advice about assessing the quality of information on the Internet), statistical databases, and on-line journal indexes.

A major link is to the electronic catalogue, Trellis, jointly operated by UW and its partners in the Tri-Universities Group, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Guelph.

Of course the site also offers information about the library itself, such as library hours, staff, workshops offered and details on how to get books and articles quickly from the UW library, Laurier or Guelph.

There are two versions of the home page (a JavaScript version, pictured above, and a text version) to appeal to different tastes and machine or browser capabilities. Stanley says library staff will be conducting usability tests over the next few months to determine if the new web site meets the needs of students, faculty and staff. There's an "Ask Us/Tell Us" button located near the top of the home page to send comments.

[Red web page] Another new web site at UW is one for international students interested in enrolling here. Created by the office of the associate vice-president (academic) and the undergraduate recruitment office, it's at www.international.uwaterloo.ca/.

"Our goal," says Julie Hummel in the recruitment office, "is to have a place to direct inquiries using the web and to try to cut down on the massive numbers of telephone and written inquiries about studying at UW. The visitors centre alone responded to over 5,000 inquiries just this fall from international students. We will encourage them to use the web to gather the information they need."

No steps to block Napster, MP3s

Officials decided Friday not to take any immediate steps to put a barrier between UW computers and the controversial Napster web site.

Jay Black, associate provost (information systems and technology), said the University Committee on IST had discussed Napster briefly and decided there was no need to take action right away, despite some concern that the use of Napster software is helping computer users on this campus download digitized music in such large quantities that it's clogging the wires.

"I don't see evidence of an emergency," Black said, noting that IST staff will be "investigating and monitoring" the possible problem.

Napster is the source of a piece of software that lets computer users exchange music files in the MP3 format. Napster itself doesn't make music available, but its software gives users an easy way to find sources of MP3 files -- often in the collections of other amateurs -- and download them.

Media reports about Napster

  • ABC News
  • CBC News
  • CNet
  • That makes it easy to get hold of "pirated" music, copied without the permission of the performer or copyright owner, and both the Canadian Recording Industry Association and its American equivalent are making efforts in the courts to get Napster stopped.

    For reasons related to copyright, but also because heavy traffic in MP3s can use a vast amount of bandwidth, or network capacity, a number of universities in both Canada and the United States have blocked access to Napster. At the University of Western Ontario, which blocked Napster in December, a computing official said at one point that 50 per cent of the university's external network traffic was "Napster-related".

    It's hard to measure how much music is being downloaded at UW, Black says, noting that there are daily limits on the traffic from the Internet to computers connected to the residence network, which may be limiting the use of Napster here.

    He said he wouldn't consider it "censorship" to block access to Napster if necessary. "I don't know that anybody needs those music files to complete their job at UW," he said. "The network resources are not being used properly, and we need to ration them in some way." UW's Statement on the Use of UW Computing and Network Resources makes clear that resources, including the UW connections to the Internet, are there "to enhance the working and learning environment of its members".

    Engineers triumph in Toronto contest

    UW's team collected "virtually all the top prizes" at the Ontario Engineering Competition, held in Toronto over the weekend.

    Competition was "stiff", according to the team's advisor, Fakhri Karray of the department of systems design engineering, but UW competitors won in most categories and will be taking their presentations to the Canada-wide contest next weekend. Karray said there were about 200 students from across the province taking part in the OEC.

    "The winners of the different categories were announced during the banquet," he said, "which was also attended by several guests of honour and Ontario deans of engineering." UW's dean, Sujeet Chaudhuri, "was obviously very happy with the results and was congratulated warmly by his colleagues and the competition guests," Karray said.

    Winners at the OEC:

    Entrepreneurial design: first prize: Erick Vandeweghe, Ryan Anderson and Steve Pontisso of systems design engineering at UW; second, Western; third, McMaster.

    Corporate design: first prize: Benjamin Olsen, Akrum Elkhazin, Ehab Tahir, Jacqueline Leng and M. Hemingway of systems design at UW; second, Toronto; third, Greg Cantlon and Joe Philbrook of systems design at UW.

    Explanatory communication: first prize: Andrea Brown of mechanical engineering at UW; second, Karen Wong of systems at UW; third, Carleton.

    Editorial communication: first prize: Keith Parker of systems at UW; second, Toronto; third, Steve Pontisso of systems at UW.

    Parliamentary debate: first prize, McMaster; second, Royal Military College.

    There was also a "team design" category, and awards were also provided for technical excellence and social awareness, Karray said. Those went to teams from Toronto and Western.

    First and second place winners in each category will go on to the national competition at the University of Western Ontario this weekend.

    Karray gave credit to the dean of engineering for "strong support", and to three graduate students -- Jason Foster, Kate Hoye and George Roter -- "who provided assistance and help during the year-long selection and preparation process of our team".

    Happening today and this week

    First of all, today's the big day when co-op students find out about their spring term jobs. Matches following the initial interview period will be posted by 3:00 this afternoon, the co-op department says. And for those who aren't matched with jobs today, the "continuous phase" postings have begun, and there will be meetings late today to talk about what happens now:
    AHS, environmental studies, science: 4:30 p.m., Biology I room 271
    Arts, accounting, mathematics: 4:30 p.m., Arts Lecture room 116
    Engineering 1B: 4:30 p.m., Engineering Lecture room 101
    Engineering 2A and up: 5:30 p.m., Engineering Lecture room 101
    "Junior students," a memo says, "should also watch for an e-mail that will assign them a field coordinator who will provide assistance and advice for the students until they become employed. It will also ask them to make an appointment to see the field coordinator on March 9."

    Meanwhile, this week is also the time to look ahead past the spring term to next fall and winter. Preregistration for undergraduate students takes place today through Friday, in departmental offices.

    It's also International Women's Week, and although I haven't received much information, I understand that there will be related craft activities in the Student Life Centre at noontime each day and video showings, also in the SLC, at 6:00 each evening.

    The Federation of Students is announcing the Grand Opening of the Bomber Deli, with "quality food at student-friendly prices" in the Bombshelter pub in the SLC. today through Wednesday, "all sandwiches in the menu will be sold for only $2.00. . . . After the Grand Opening, sandwiches will resume their regular low price of $2.95."

    The senate executive committee meets at 3:30 this afternoon in Needles Hall room 3004. On the agenda: guidelines on the creation and review of co-op programs; English language requirements for admission; the proposed "environment and business" program; the joint environmental science program involving UW and Humber College; next year's admission requirements.

    "An entrepreneurship and management speakers double bill" is promised at 4:00 this afternoon in Davis Centre room 1302, sponsored by the Engineering society. Someone from Quarry Integrated Communications will speak on "Closing the Loop, from Product Development to Marketing", and Bernie Melloul of Melloul-Blamey will talk about "Management Challenges: The Demands of Entrepreneurship". The session "is another opportunity for young entrepreneurs and those interested in business to gain perspective on the challenges to be faced", says Graeme Hein of EngSoc.

    Novelist and short story author Alistair MacLeod will appear at St. Jerome's University this afternoon to read from his work (4 p.m. in the common room). "McLeod has long been recognized as one of Canada's pre-eminent writers of short fiction," says Charlene Diehl-Jones of the English department at St. Jerome's. "His newest work, a novel entitled No Great Mischief, has been declared his best work yet."

    This evening -- every Monday evening, in fact, at 7:30 p.m. -- something called The Embassy comes to the Humanities Theatre. The sponsors call it "church -- campus style". Tonight's topic: "The Gospel According to the Matrix".

    Alternatively, "Now Is the Time to Worship" according to several of UW's Christian clubs, including the Waterloo Christian Fellowship, the Catholic Student Community and the Chinese Christian Fellowship. It's "a night of praise, worship and prayer", starting at 7:00 this evening in Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University.

    Water will be shut off in the Environmental Studies I building tomorrow from 8 a.m. to noon, the plant operations department advises. "Use Environmental Studies II for washroom facilities," a note adds.

    Later this week, a significant lecture is scheduled for Wednesday evening, when Firoz Rasul of Ballard Power Systems appears in the Humanities Theatre (8:00). He's here as the third speaker in the "2020: Building the Future" series, following John McCallum of the Bank of Nova Scotia in mid-February. Rasul "will discuss the future implications of the Ballard fuel-cell on social evolution over the next twenty years", organizers say. "All are welcome to attend, and the presentation will be followed by a question and answer session."

    And here's a reminder that the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference starts Wednesday on campus. I'll say more about that tomorrow.

    The faculty association sends a note to remind members that nominations for the position of president and seats on the board of directors are being accepted until 3 p.m. today. Extra nomination forms are available from the association office, phone ext. 3787.


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