Friday, 18 December 2009

And the wind down begins

Things are beginning to quieten down here at the NGS in preparation for the Christmas holidays. As you may expect NGS staff are also on holiday over the next few weeks so we have announced our Christmas cover arrangements in the fortnightly NGS email bulletin that went out today. This announcement is also on the front page of our website.

However, although things may be calming down now, next year is already looking very busy. Personally I'm going to be going through all the feedback we've received on our new website and addressing the comments, suggestions and feedback. We want to make the website as useful for our users and institutions as we possibly can so all feedback is welcome!

If you haven't already done so there is still time to complete our user survey which will close on the 20th of January 2010. So if you would like to be in with a chance to win one of three Amazon vouchers to help with your January sales shopping then make sure you complete the survey soon! I'll be spending the end of January going through the user survey results so if you would like your comments and feedback heard then you know what to do!

I'm also busy organising 4 NGS roadshows for the beginning of next year at various sites across the country. Keep an eye out on here and the NGS website for more news on these. The roadshows are becoming more and more popular and sometimes it's hard keeping up with demand. However we will consider all requests to hold more roadshows after Easter! If you would like a NGS roadshow at your institution then please let us know by emailing the support desk.

I hope you all have a great holiday and that we'll see you back on the NGS in 2010.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Catch up with the news

The latest edition of NGS News, the quarterly newsletter from the NGS, is out now.

This Christmas edition has a European flavour as we describe the NGS activities in Europe and our participation in building the European Grid Infrastructure (EGI). There is also an excellent article from Jonathan Churchill from the NGS at RAL and Paul Wilkinson from Exeter University who give an excellent use case study of the new User interface / workload management system (UI/WMS) for pest insect gene coding. Finally we also have articles on why we need certification and the ongoing developments in this field, a user case study from Dr Narcis Fernandez-Fuentes at the University of Leeds on virtual candidate drug trials and much much more.

The newsletter can be found on the NGS website.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Eventually I get this posted...

There have been some major teething problems with the wireless and wired connections here at AHM / IEEE. Thankfully they seem to have been fixed so here is the blog post I wrote yesterday!

This morning I was in the User Engagement session for two main reasons. User engagement is one of the main purposes of my job and the second reason is that I was giving a presentation during this session!

The session kicked off with Alistair Sutcliffe from Manchester talking about user engagement with health informatics. He specifically talked about user tool development and the involvement the eventual users had in the development process. Next up was a fellow NGS staff member Kevin Haines who gave a more technical focused talk on how users can access NGS resources using SSH enabled clients. Good publicity for the NGS again.

I was next up and you couldn’t really get a more different presentation from Kevins! My talk focused on the outreach methods that I use at the NGS to tell people about the NGS and the methods we use for gathering feedback from our users etc. I covered topics such as our popular roadshows where we go out to institutions and give presentations to potential users, our new Campus Champions scheme, innovation forum, our new website, the Communities service which was launched last week and our annual user survey. A lot to cover in 20 mins but I made it! There were a lot of good questions at the end which asked for more detail and I got to talk for longer about a subject that I get really enthusiastic about!

After lunch (better than yesterday!) I attended the social sciences and humanities session returning to my first job in grid computing many moons ago. Peter Halfpenny from the University of Manchester talked about the e-social science agenda. Peter started off with describing NCeSS and its objectives and the initial lack of demand for grid computing by social scientists. Things however have moved on and social scientists are no longer frightened of the grid. However now looking to the future the social scientists are now asking questions about the sustainability of the tools that have been produced. Who will look after these tools, who will look after them and who will support them? These questions need to be answered and people are looking towards the funding bodies.

So tonight is the conference dinner in the centre of Oxford and a chance to catch up with all those colleagues that I’ve not yet had a chance to chat to and there are quite a few! It’s almost the end of day 2 and it seems to have gone pretty quickly already.

Monday, 7 December 2009

AHM kicks off

It’s been a hectic day so far at AHM - the first thing I had to do today as soon as I walked in the venue was to find a presentation for someone to use as they were standing in for a NGS user who was ill. Luckily thanks to our shiny new website a suitable presentation was found and they made their slot with minutes to spare. A huge thank you to Shiv and Dave F for stepping in at the last minute with a presentation on using the NGS for in-silico drug screening.

The exhibition area where the NGS has a booth has been particularly busy. We had our first demo this afternoon on the NGS booth and I am pleased to say that it was extremely busy. Photos will follow tomorrow to prove this! The UI/WMS demo was given by Jonathan Churchill and was very popular with people staying way past the demo slot to ask more questions and find out more. More information on the user interface / work management system (UI/WMS) can be found on the NGS website.

This evening brings the poster session and the journey back into Oxford to find and check into our accommodation for the week.

Friday, 4 December 2009


It’s all been a bit busy here at the NGS this week as many of us are off to the AHM and e-science conference in Oxford next week. The NGS will be sharing a large double stand with our colleagues at GridPP so it should be fun!

We have some demos on the stand so be sure to pop past and see what’s going on. We have demos of the new UI/WMS, the Digital Library and SARoNGS on which we would really like your feedback.

The NGS will also be hosting a Birds of a Feather meeting on the Monday night 4.30pm - 6pm on the topic of "Services to support EU projects through the NGS" so come along!

So the stand rota is done, the leaflets are packed, the posters are printed, the stand presentation is almost done and the only thing that’s left now is to write my own talk that I’m giving on Tuesday!

I’ll be at both conferences so I’ll be in Oxford Monday – Friday – I hope it’s a good one as that’s a long stretch!

If you can’t make the conferences you can keep up to date through the wonders of blogging. Various NGS staff should be blogging from the events and myself and Claire will also be blogging for the GridCast team along with Manisha (from GridTalk) and Neasan from GridPP.