The #blogjune 4 questions of the day

Via Paul Hargon   on Wednesday the 21st June, create a post answering these 4 questions.

  1. Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Graeme Oke.  My job title is Coordinator, Research Advantage.  I am a Research Librarian at La Trobe University in Melbourne Victoria.  My prime role is to manage a team of Senior Research Advisors to support HDR students and research staff from the Arts Social Science and Commerce (ASSC) College. I also have a role in the support of Research Impact, Customised Searches, Research Data Management and I contribute to the publications data collection exercise. Additionally  I am involved in the development of the Research Commons.  I have been writing a little about the Viz Lab and the Research Commons during blogjune.   I also love to ride a bicycle and have blogged about that too.

2. What hardware do you use?

I primarily use a work Dell Ultrabook running Windows 10.  I use a hand me down S3 Samsung smart phone.

3. And what software?

Outlook for email.  Word, Excel, Microsoft Onenote, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WordPress for blogjune, UNITE/sharepoint to access work stuff, I tend to use multiple browsers for different purposes Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer.

4. What would be your dream setup?

I think I would love to be able to work from home if I desired to.  The commute to and from work I find draining.  Think I am most productive in the early morning so would like to be able to just push myself early and then relax and go for a bike ride in the afternoon.  At times I have applied and aspired to be further up the hierarchy but that doesn’t seem to have eventuated.


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How do I book the Viz Lab?

On the surface and over the last year the booking process has evolved to an online form from a generic email   We are also soon to be added to the complete La Trobe room booking system However behind the scenes and from opening it has required a certain amount of intervention and complication.  Being in a restricted area those who book the facility need to be given card access.  This can be done by our library administration team by emailing patron’s identification and card access numbers.  To leverage this and empower those who take charge of events we set up a familiarisation process, and developed the requirement to sign a conditions of use form to try to ensure that those taking charge of an event knew how to run the equipment, and would leave the place as they found it. Once they have attended a familiarisation and lodged conditions of use form we pass on their card details for access to the facility.  They are then put on our registered users file and are in charge of the event.

The complication and administrative burden has been distributed across the library research partnership team via a roster checking the generic email and by allocation from the back end of the online form.  There is certainly an amount of time taken up to check availability, check if already a registered user, making the time for familiarisation in times when the facility if free, and booking the facilities.   Inherent with this has been technical issues on the day, and occasionally those who booked the event and familiarised not being present on the day, or cancelling the event without letting us know.   A year later we have around ninety registered users and have hosted a wide range of successful meetings and events. In more resent times an adjustment of booking process has involved our library administration team being notified by library research partnership team to make the actual booking. We are working towards lessening the administrative burden and distributing the load, we are currently reviewing the research commons and familiarisation procedures, we have reviewed the operation of the facility over the first year,  and looking at implementing the recommendations from this report.

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Sermon reflections

Following on from last week our pastor continued on the theme of when God talks are we listening.  The focus of today’s sermon was on prayer and an interesting starting point to state know you’ve probably heard lots of sermons on prayer and not here to lay a guilt trip on you or make things inaccessible or unachievable.  Main point was to live a prayer life and break down compartments in life.  With an emphasis of a book written in the 1600s still in print today and available online for free Practice the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

The three main points were;

  1. Cultivate and awareness of God in everyday living.
  2. Invite God to accompany you in every day to every place.
  3. Look for God’s hand and listen for God’s voice in the midst of your busy life.

For homework she suggested to take 5 minutes at the end of the day when you are in bed and  before you go to sleep to walk through your day in your mind and invite God in.  Slow down and reflect over the day where you might have seen God, what to give praise to over the day, things to confess, and reflect on where you might have allowed God to enter the moment.


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Coffee ride to Caroline Springs

Today was an easy going regular ride with my adult son to Caroline Springs.  It was a cold start but the sun was shining and as we rode along it became warmer.


The path taken was well known and meanders along Taylors Creek in the first part and then, for our area, has reasonable off road paths for bikes.  Being a bike advocate and being an active member of Brimbank Bike User Group BrimBUG I often can’t help myself but at times inwardly grumble at the very car centric infrastructure and lack of consideration for anything but cars as one rides around the suburbs.  Poor maintenance of paths, lack of connection at road crossings, misalignment of ramps and links to go around intersections and bike/pedestrian paths, no pedestrian/bike road crossings at busy shopping centre intersections and road crossings.  Maybe I was a bit more grumbly inside having read a tongue in cheek article with a provocative title just before going out.

As we travelled along a dog walker totally refused to get out of our way even when we politely gave a friendly ring on our bell as we approached.  Encountered pedestrians on a shared path who walked in front of us and then gave us dirty looks for thinking they might have to stop and let us pass.  We did encounter one driver around a round about who actually gave us right of way and a wave which was nice.  Across one bike/pedestrian path a worker just put down a couple of witches hats and blocked the whole path with a little bulldozer expecting us to dismount and walk around.  He certainly had not been on the path only 30 minutes before when we had travelled down the same path!


Overall it was a good ride with good coffee and good company.  I should chill more.  STRAVA result



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Possum visitor



Over the weekend we had a surprise visit from a possum.  Unusually to spot them during the day.  Have occasionally heard them scurry over the roof at night and seen in trees or on power lines at night over the years.  We have two cats so tried to keep them indoors whilst we dealt with our visitor.  On sight the possum froze I guess just hoping we would go away.  It then turned around and got caught up in the shade cloth we have on our fence line for privacy between our neighbours.


With a bit of coaxing it eventually worked its way out of the netting and slowly made its way down the fence and under the house.  So very cute.

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Viz Lab can we use Zoom?

Zoom has become the preferred software for video conferencing in my institution.  For meetings the Viz Lab was becoming popular having good clear and available Video Conferencing facilities.  The next natural progression was Zoom.  To both instigate a meeting and to join in on a meeting a major hurdle was to engage the room camera and the sound system.  This lead to a number of fails and a number of call outs to ICT and AV sometimes under pressure to fix on the spot or respond to crisis situations where meetings or seminars had started but connections had failed.  It also led to a number of frustrating instances where people had tried and tested it out before the event, but then on the day it failed.

A couple of champions persisted and found work arounds.  One found an ability to instigate the meeting from their laptop, use the Clickshare software in the room to project their screen onto the Viz Lab wall and run the meeting in that means.  Through ICT intervention we had the Viz Lab added as a room that could be invited to participate in Zoom.  This added to making the zoom experience more stable.


At one stage we had the complete audio unit break down and need replacing.  This put the Viz Lab out of action for a few weeks which was not a good look and awkward to have to inform potential users that the Lab was out of action.  In more recent times after almost a  year of trial and error we have had a complete refresh so that now we have a dedicated presentation computer to run meetings and a separate 4K computer for data visualisation purposes.  To instigate the meeting be it just a presentation, a video conference, a web conference using Zoom or to use the 4K data visualisation computer it is now a more streamlined process to instigate from the iPad that runs the Viz Lab


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Next phase of Viz Lab

In the develop of the Viz Lab and research commons the model and proposed use was  based on existing campus VisLabs  on campus.  These labs are set apart from general areas, isolated, and not used much.  The concept of having a very open and central facility was purposely made to draw attention. In the early phases of introduction to high level research groups from faculty and school  the space was introduced as meeting space utilizing the video conferencing facilities.  This took off quickly but with it inherent IT issues and having to quickly learn new and additional capacities to meet expectations.

An initial hurdle was the fact that the Viz Lab had been locked down to only allow Video Conference out of the room as instigator of a session and having to know the exact IP address of where you were dialling too.  This information had to be sort from ICT and there seemed to be a resistance to hand over an address book of room IP addresses.  The compromise was to introduce a generic room address book onto the controlling iPad.  This was far superior, however one had to work out exactly what room one was dialling to, and to get people to double check these from regional campuses.  It was also found to be limiting in that if you were dialling multiple rooms one had to sequentially dial in each room but if you connected with a wrong room one had to hang up all rooms and start again.

One other limitation we learnt was that it was not possible to directly dial into a teaching room.  Even if  one had booked a teaching room only AV could link your room to a teaching room.  What we learnt was to get the Viz Lab accessible on the address book, and to strongly suggest users book Video Conferencing in advance via AV using a form This has proved to be more reliable however one still has to be on stand by to ring up ICT or inform remote users about muting and/or turning on speakers plus to re inforce the use of microphones for sound in the Viz Lab.

After a year of operation and review we have refocused the purpose of the Viz Lab and consequently allowed it to function more purposely as both a meeting space and as a research space.

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