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Wednesday, June 19, 2002

  • It's a sort of a portal
  • Alumni at Microsoft join campaign
  • Staff positions this week
  • Housing open house; other notes
Chris Redmond

Since 1865: it's Juneteenth

Co-op forum

A public forum today will present the results of the recent "satisfaction survey" of co-op students. It starts at 4:30 in Arts Lecture Hall room 116.

Exam schedule

The spring term final examination schedule is now available on-line, the registrar's office says.

It's a sort of a portal

"It's just sort of a cool thing," says an enthusiastic Scott Nicoll, calling from UW's department of chemistry. He's talking about myWaterloo.ca, a web site created by Nicoll and a few buddies in faculty computing offices across campus.

It offers access to UW e-mail -- "a connection from any machine with a browser on the planet" -- and a few other tricks and tools, such as an easy way to start and stop a "vacation" message that goes out in response to your e-mail when you're away.

More than a thousand users found it in the first few days, says Nicoll, although it hasn't been advertised and has no formal university status. "It is sort of a skunk-works project," he says, "and, if you want to get philosophical, a good example of the capabilities of skilled informal teams."

The project grows out of the Nexus Builders Laboratory, the people who support Waterloo Nexus, the successor to Waterloo Polaris as the system used for much of the university's student computing.

"Long long ago," an information page explains, "we added a simple mail reader, Endymion Mailman, to the Waterloo Polaris signon screen." More recently, with cooperation from the information systems and technology department, there's been the IMP mail system at getmail.uwaterloo.ca. "As we added a few additional applications," the page continues, "we realized that we had created a portal -- a common web based password protected entry point to a number of web based applications."

Well, sort of. It's not a kludge, not yet a portal, according to the popular standard that a portal doesn't just provide a toolbox but also keeps some "memory" of its users in a database and serves up customized information whenever they show up.

"Everyone gets the same desktop right now," the information page concedes. "That will need work as we add admin tools versus student tools versus faculty tools." An individual "bookmark manager" should also help turn the site into a genuine UW portal.

Jay Black, associate provost (information systems and technology), says he doesn't have anything against the myWaterloo project, though he stresses that it's "a volunteer effort" and isn't centrally sponsored. Since it's being produced by the Nexus staff, and is hosted on a UW-owned computer, "in that sense it has some legitimacy," he added.

He said he'd like to bring it up for discussion this Friday at a meeting of the University Committee on Information Systems and Technology. (That committee includes the associate deans for computing from UW's six faculties -- the people who tell the faculty computing offices what to do.)

"There isn't a university-wide portal project in any sense," Black said, "although there probably should be, if we had nothing better to do."

Alumni at Microsoft join campaign

[Suits and red polo shirts]

At Microsoft's headquarters: dean of engineering Sujeet Chaudhuri, Microsoft VPs Brian Arbogast and Gordon Mangione, UW president David Johnston, and Brian Porter of the development office.

More than 200 UW alumni working at Microsoft Corporation in the Seattle area will get personal visits this month inviting them to support Waterloo's fund-raising through a UW Alumni @ Microsoft Campaign.

"The goal of the campaign is to raise $1 million in US dollars," says Jason Coolman of UW's development office. "Most of these dollars will be matched by Microsoft at a 1:1 ratio. This will double the impact of the goal. Moreover, when converted into Canadian funds it will have another significant growth." He said "a few" gifts already received total $235,000, and that's before any matching funds.

The money -- part of UW's overall, multi-year Campaign Waterloo -- is being designated for undergraduate and graduate scholarships and the Enterprise Co-op program, he said. "All funds will be endowed under the name UW Alumni @ Microsoft."

A kick-off event for the campaign was held June 7 in Redmond, Washington, with some 70 alumni coming out to meet UW president David Johnston, dean of engineering Sujeet Chaudhuri and other visitors. Masters of ceremonies for the event were Brian Arbogast (BMath 1986) and Gordon Mangione (BASc 1989), both vice-presidents of Microsoft and co-chairs for the UW campaign.

It's UW's first employee campaign for Campaign Waterloo, Coolman said, "and if it is successful we hope to employ this concept to a number of other organizations." A closing event at Microsoft is scheduled for July 18.

Staff positions this week

The Gazette is publishing on an every-other-week schedule now, and on the off weeks, the Daily Bulletin will publish, or at least summarize, the weekly Positions Available list issued by the human resources department. The list, with fuller descriptions of each job than this space usually has room for, is always posted on the HR web site.

Today's list, effective for a week, includes these opportunities:

More information is available from the HR department at ext. 2524.


Health conference

Toronto Member of Parliament Carolyn Bennett will give the keynote address this morning as "From Cell to Society", UW's three-day interdisciplinary health conference, gets under way. The event is being held in the Lyle Hallman Institute wing of Matthews Hall. After welcomes at 10:00 this morning, Bennett (pictured), who is a physician and author of a book on the Canadian health care system, will give her talk. Concurrent research presentation sessions are scheduled for 1:00 and 3:00.

Housing open house; other notes

Students are invited, along with other residents of Kitchener-Waterloo, to an open house tomorrow to discuss "an action plan for housing" in Waterloo Region.

"A wide variety of housing is needed to serve our community," says an invitation from Waterloo Region's Housing Statement Advisory Committee, which is hosting the event, Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the regional administration building, 150 Frederick Street in Kitchener.

The proposed action plan will be "a common strategic document for all stakeholders" and will "shape the future direction of housing in the Region" and "identify new housing opportunities and partnerships with area municipalities, the homebuilding industry and community groups".

The committee has already drafted a "housing vision" which calls for "well-designed, safe, healthy, diversified housing and communities that enhance the quality of life for everyone". It says there should be "a full range of housing choices for everyone . . . innovative approaches and partnerships . . . conservation of our natural environment . . . availability of a wide range of services and amenities . . . proximity to natural areas and green spaces . . . conservation of our heritage . . . fostering pride, dignity and a sense of responsibility."

Happening today: Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training is available in a one-hour session -- video plus quiz -- at 10 a.m. in Davis Centre room 1304, for those who need it. A similar session was to be offered tomorrow but has been cancelled, the safety office says. The same session will, however, be offered next Tuesday, June 25, at 10 a.m. (not 2 p.m. as previously announced).

A panel of experts will review issues of information technology in the health system, as the year's series of "smarter health" seminars winds up -- 4 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Local engineering alumni will be touring Research In Motion's manufacturing facility on Phillip Street tonight at 6:00 -- the latest event in the continuing program sponsored by the Waterloo Area Chapter.

Muslim Students for Universal Justice will present Naeem Jennah, leader of the Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa, speaking on "Parallels in South African and Israeli Apartheid", tonight at 7 p.m., Davis Centre room 1350.

And need I remind anybody that tomorrow brings the launch celebrations for the Keystone Campaign, the on-campus division of Campaign Waterloo. A parade across campus, starting at 11:30, leads to Federation Hall, where the party runs from noon to 2:00.

I said something about the celebrations in yesterday's Daily Bulletin, and will say more tomorrow. Today I'll just note that faculty and staff who are coming to the event are urged (1) to wear UW colours and spirit clothes, and (2) to bring along the door prize coupon from their bright red Campaign Waterloo invitation. "Fantastic" prizes will be drawn every few minutes through the event, says Shelley Rudd in the development office -- everything from a CD player to customized UW licence plates.

Later tomorrow, a ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled (at 3:30) for the new building project at Conrad Grebel College. A reception follows.



June 19, 1956: President Gerry Hagey reports to the board of governors that the Evangelical Lutheran Synod has approved affiliating the new "associate faculties", soon to become UW, to the existing Waterloo College. June 19, 1989: In the wake of the Tienanmen Square killings, the UW senate considers, then rejects, a motion to "re-evaluate" Waterloo's academic links with China. June 19, 1998: The Centre for Applied Cryptographic Research has its official opening.

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