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  • School of CS newsletter

    Published: Monday, 21 November 2016

    Weekly newsletter for the School of CS

    [ top ]News from Head of School

    Fire alarms in the Kilburn Building

    Short version: If the fire alarm in the Kilburn Building sounds continuously, rather than intermittently, then you must clear the building in an orderly fashion.

    Long version: There was a fire alarm in the Kilburn Building on the afternoon of Wednesday 16 November. This was a real fire alarm and not a practice. The evacuation from the building was chaotic and not what should happen. 

    There appear to be a variety of reasons for this: 

    - Not all the fire alarms in the Kilburn Building  worked. This is bad and very dangerous - action is being taken.
    - The fire alarm became continuous and this means leave the building; many people did not do so. This is bad and very dangerous. 
    - As people left the building many congregated around  doors; again this is dangerous. If there is a fire etc debris can fall and cause injury. 
    - Many of our fire marshalls were in another building at School Board and thus there was a paucity of fire marshals. Those available had to extract people from rooms; again dangerous.  

    The building work for IT Services on the ground floor is the cause of some (but not all) of the recent alarms. The frequency of false alarms appears to be causing complacency; it must not do so.  

    Liz Caine, Tony Mcdonald and Uli Sattler have met with Cameron Wilson who is the project manager for the IT Services work. A full and frank exchange of views was made on the frequency of fire alarms, the disruption this does cause, and the complacency this may cause for Kilburn Building users and for security services; the latter are necessary to deal with the alarms. The message was received and we will monitor the response.  

    Nevertheless, all fire alarms must be taken seriously. An intermittent alarm is a warning to prepare for evacuation; on a continuous alarm, you have to leave the building promptly via your nearest safe exit route. If you are unclear of the route, follow the green 'running man' signs. Our assembly point is outside St Peter's Chaplaincy or an equivalent distance away from the building (e.g. if you have exited via another route). 

    Do not re-enter the building until you are told it is safe, even if the alarm has stopped.  

    We also need more fire marshals. Details of fire marshal responsibilities can be found here and the process for becoming a fire marshal is to sign up for a training session here - please let Tony McDonald know once you have completed the training.  

    gravatar Robert Stevens

    Other Causes of Fire Alarms

    As well as the IT Services building work, there are other causes of these fire alarms in the Kilburn Building:

    - Friday's lunch time fire alarm appears to have been caused by people either lighting up as they leave the building or smoking just outside the Chaplaincy entrance on the north side of the building. If you choose to smoke do so five metres from the building. If it's raining wear a coat or take an umbrella - do not shelter by the entrance. If you see someone smoking next to the doors please ask them to move away from the building.
    - Other fire alarms have been set off by misuse of microwaves. Use them properly and do not leave them unattended while in use.

    gravatar Robert Stevens

    [ top ]News and announcements

    Graduation Gowns

    The School’s next Graduation ceremony is scheduled for Thursday 15th December 2016 commencing at 4.45 p.m.  There will be a reception in School beforehand.  Academic staff will be receiving invitations from Ede and Ravenscroft to sign up for the event and order gowns.  If you have not received one yet, please email the University’s Graduation Team in the Student Services Centre to request a user account.

    gravatar Karen Corless

    International Undergraduate Awards success

    Veneta Haramplieva (CSwIE, graduated 2016, now Software Engineer at Amazon) received a special award from the University last week in recognition of her final year project being given a "Highly Commended" rating in the international Undergraduate Awards, aka the “Junior Nobel Prizes”, placing her project (supervisor Gavin Brown) in the top 10% of undergraduates internationally, across all subjects. The scheme covered 244 universities worldwide, with a total of 5,514 project entries. Veneta was selected as one of the 9 best Computer Science projects worldwide – an exceptional achievement! You can read her project report here.

    gravatar Robert Stevens

    Email Phishing

    Many thanks to all those who have completed the email phishing training. If you have not yet completed it, please could you arrange to do this as soon as possible? It is short and simple to complete and it is important that staff are aware of the issues and able to recognise phishing attempts.

    The course is accessed via Blackboard at  If it does not appear in your course list, you can book yourself on to the course at

    If you receive a phishing email the process for reporting it to IT Services is below:

    If you think you’re a victim of a phishing email, or that your PC has become infected, telephone us immediately on 0161 306 5544. If you receive a suspicious email:

    Note: Forwarding the email as an attachment gives us more information. Using Outlook, select the message (do not click the link!), click "More" in the title bar, then "Forward as attachment" and send to The quicker this message gets sent, the quicker we can block malicious sites and/or senders from the University network.

    gravatar Liz Caine

    This Week’s Planet Earth II

    This week’s Planet Earth II on the BBC was produced and directed by Emma Napper.  Emma is Hilary Kahn and Brian Napper's daughter. Both Hilary and Brian were long-standing members of the School and I’m sure they would have been very proud of Emma’s success.

    gravatar Robert Stevens

    [ top ]Events

    Data Science Institute Seminar - Nov 22nd

    Title: Sub-quadratic search for significant correlations

    Time: 2-4pm

    Venue: Kanaris Lecture Theatre (Manchester Museum)

    Speaker: Graham Cormode, University of Warwick

    Randomized algorithms have been very helpful for data reduction, with successful applications in log analysis and dimensionality reduction for machine learning.  These techniques have more recently been extended to problems in linear algebra. A basic problem in data analysis is to find correlations within multiple time series: consider a set of observations of values, such as the prices of a large collection of stocks over time.  Finding which pairs have high (linear) correlation would usually take time proportional to the square of the number of series.  By combining dimensionality reduction and hashing ideas, we can reduce this cost, albeit with some rather optimistic assumptions about the non-correlated signals.

    Click here to book a place.

    gravatar Karen Corless

    [ top ]Tech Support News


    Over the next couple of months, we are trialling a technology called: screenleap ( This application / web service lets you share the contents of your screen (Mac or Windows) with anyone (e.g. students in a lab, but they could be anywhere in the world). Its advantage over previous, similar technologies is that viewers have no software or plugin whatsoever to download: they simply browse to a URL that you supply, using any modern web browser on any device.

    The main evaluator is Suzanne Embury in her Software Engineering labs. For bandwidth reasons, we have found it better if the presenter in on the wired ethernet, but viewers can be on wifi (obviously in our labs all are on the wired network). If you want to do a small test, there is a free, limited version at For serious testing on our paid account, please contact Ian Cottam.

    We would be pleased to hear of different uses for this technology.

    gravatar Ian Cottam

    gravatar Karen Corless
Generated: Friday, 10 April 2020 11:11:49
Last change: Monday, 21 November 2016 11:02:21