Several things have happened recently to make me feel very uneasy where I am now.
I was assured by the Head of School that I could keep my office while I was teaching Mathematical Structures. Now it seems that this meant actual teaching and did not include setting or marking the exam or answering students’ questions in the run-up to the exam; I have been ordered to leave at the end of this month. So I propose a sort of “fire sale” for Friday 6 December. If you are in London that day, and you show up at my office in the afternoon, there will be a pile of books and journals which will have to be got rid of; I will be happy for you to help yourself, and if you wish to make a small donation to charity, that will be fine by me. What doesn’t go will be bundled into the skip.
Now it seems that, completely unexpectedly, I have exceeded my quota on the network as well, and have been ordered to delete electronic files too. I can’t give them away, so they simply get trashed.
As part of this, Dropbox is broken. I was relying on it to get course material for Mathematical Structures to tutors. I can still do this from my own laptop, but it is a little odd to be forced to do this.
To add to the impression, my P45 arrived last week, saying I am no longer employed to teach Mathematical Structures as from the end of this month. So the last two weeks of term I will be teaching without a proper employment contract too.
Later: I was quite upset when I wrote the above. Later in the day, perhaps I should add something, just to show that I have no hard feelings for the IT people (who are not after all responsible for the disaster that centralisation of IT is becoming, but have to deal with the consequences).
It was true that the computer wouldn’t work because I was over quota. So let’s have some facts.
- I had been warned that I was over quota, by an automatic email this morning. Of course, if an email comes from IT support saying “You have exceeded your quota”, it is 99.9% sure that it is phishing, and you should ignore it (and preferably delete it in case there is anything harmful in it).
- My quota was 10GB. Let’s put that in perspective.
- When I arrived at Queen Mary more than 27 years ago, my quota was 200KB “soft” and 1500KB “hard”. So, when I wrote a book, I could compile it and print it out, but had to immediately delete the dvi file. Fairly soon afterwards, they decided that quotas were stupid and abolished them. At some point they brought them back.
- If you go into a shop like Maplins, you can buy a 500GB hard disk for 50 quid. So the cost of my quota is one pound, even at retail prices! If the department is so hard up, I am quite happy to donate a pound for them to get me an extra 10GB of storage.
- There seem to be two reasons why my usually modest usage of disk space has increased recently. One is that they introduced a new mail system made by Microsoft, and when I was unable to use it, told me that I should be running Windows Explorer. Because I can’t do that, but have managed to set up mutt to work with this system (with help from IT support and from commentators on this blog, notably Dima – thanks, Dima!) my saved mail is kept locally rather than in some cloud somewhere. The other is that, in order to circulate the course material for Mathematical Structures (notes, problems and solutions) to the tutors, I have been using Dropbox, but this is undiscriminating and downloads all my other Dropbox folders onto the system.
So on top of throwing me out of my office because answering students’ questions before the exam doesn’t count as “teaching” (to say nothing of examining!), and sending me my P45 saying my employment terminates at the end of this week, they are now telling me that the innovations I tried to make in running the course cannot be supported by our computer system.
I think I was quite justified in getting a bit upset.