[What is this? Quick jump to sections 0.0 and 1.0]
[Regular readers: find out what's changed, in section 0.3]

The ox.FAQ (co-author: Nostradamus)

ox.* newsgroups Frequently-Asked Questions

October 2001

Subject: -1. Contents

Subject: 0. MetaFAQ

* 0.0. What is the ox.FAQ?

The ox.FAQ is a collection of answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the Oxford local newsgroups, especially ox.talk and ox.general. This is different to the list of Frequently Unanswered Questions: see section 0.4. This is also, unsurprisingly, different to the Cambridge equivalent, the ucam.chat FAQ available at http://www.ucam.org/chat/FAQ.0.9.html. This is because, as you may have expected, the other place is populated by illiterates and anarchists.

Note that any commercial references in this FAQ do not imply anything beyond what is stated. There may be better businesses providing the same or better product for less or even free. We niether kno nor care chiz.

* 0.1. Where can I get this FAQ?

The new bits of this FAQ will be posted on or shortly after the first day of each month to ox.announce, ox.general and ox.talk. The whole thing is available at http://urchin.earth.li/oxnet/FAQs/ox.FAQ.html.

* 0.2. Who's responsible for it?

The first version of the ox.FAQ was compiled in February 1998 by Owen Massey and Stephen Gower. In September 1999 its maintenance was taken over by Colin Batchelor and J-P Stacey. In March 2000, its place of archive was moved to JPS's webspace, after complaints were made over swearing on CRB's webpage. No bloody kidding.

In September 2001, Colin, mid-thesis, handed over his reins to Janet McKnight and her badger parade.

Suggestions, additions and revisions should be sent to Janet McKnight at <janetmck@chiark.greenend.org.uk> or J-P Stacey at <jstacey@plato.wadham.ox.ac.uk>.

Individual contributors include, but are not limited to, Malcolm Austen, David Ball, Colin Batchelor, Terry Boon, Henry Braun, William Brewer, Paul Campy, Angela Salmon, Ian Collier, Simon Cozens, Peter Davey, Charles Davis, Chris M Dickson, Nicholas Farhi, Tony Finch, Stephen Gower, Ralph Highnam, Peter Humphrey, John Ireland, Alan Iwi, Matthew Somerville, Ian Johnston, Jonathan Jones, Andrew Loveridge, Mike Mason, Owen Massey, Moray McConnachie, Gertrude McDowell, Darren Nickerson, Ben North, Ian Parkinson, Paul Rudin, Adam Sandell, Angela Sammon, Ganesh Sittampalam, Robin Stevens, James Turner, Richard Walters, Bob Wells, Daniel Widden, Tom Womack, Gordon Woods, Pauline Sinclair and Steve Roberts. However, this is an incomplete list; we should really acknowledge here everyone who's ever posted to Oxnet.

All maintainers, past and present, relinquish any moral right in the compilation and arrangement of the ox.FAQ, and of those parts of it written by them; but other contributors retain copyright of their contributions by default, and where possible they have been credited. See section 6.1 (Surely nothing on the Internet is copyrighted?) for elucidation.

* 0.3. What's new since last month's posting?

The ox.FAQ has moved
It is available at http://urchin.earth.li/oxnet/FAQs/ox.FAQ.html and a local .ox.ac.uk copy should be on the CompSoc site fairly soon, if not already.
OUCS have reorganized their site:
2.1.0 How can I filter my e-mail?
Hotmail's frontend has moved to Windows 2000:
2.1.3 What's wrong with Hotmail?
Cyclists along the paved part of Catte Street have been ticked off by the LAW:
4.1. Isn't Catte Street / St Ebbe's an official cycle route?

* 0.4. "What is happening, and why?"

A list of frequently unanswered questions is available at http://users.ox.ac.uk/~scat0324/ox_test_fuq.html. Ask these at your peril.

Subject: 1. Oxnet

* 1.0. What's Oxnet?

It is the ox.* hierarchy of newsgroups accessible only to people in the .ox.ac.uk domains (and CompSoc members). The term was coined by Colin Batchelor. Before you go any further, you should read http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/netnews/.

The `official' Oxnet home page is at http://www.ox.compsoc.net/oxnet/ and is maintained by Ganesh Sittampalam <ganesh.sittampalam@magd.ox.ac.uk>, among others.

* 1.1. YKYBOOTLW...

Often the ox.* hierarchy gets taken over for a while by some obfuscating word game. The most popular and long-lasting has been that of Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs) and many-letter, or Extended Three Letter Acronyms (ETLAs).

This has died down quite a bit recently, although a row of a dozen or more letters representing a fairly well-known phrase (for instance "You Know You've Been On Oxnet Too Long When...") does occasionally crop up. With this in mind http://users.ox.ac.uk/~mert0108/tla.html still exists to allow you to decipher much of what is going on. Note that this contains swearing and is unsuitable for children and maiden aunts (CRB).

* 1.2. Can I read Oxnet from outside Oxford?

ox.* groups are only carried on the server news.ox.ac.uk and that only accepts readers in the .ox.ac.uk domain. It is possible to read Oxnet from a CompSoc account (see http://www.ox.compsoc.net/) but anyone eligible for a CompSoc account must be eligible for a University, college or departmental account in any case.

If you have an .ox.ac.uk account but are physically outwith the city, what you want is David Ball's comprehensive guide at http://www.ox.compsoc.net/~david/news/, which should tell you most things you need to know.

There is an oxbridge.* hierarchy accessible to those at Cambridge University, although 'hierarchy' is a rather grand name for it, consisting as it does of oxbridge.tat and oxbridge.misc; the latter gets no posts. Ever. The former gets huge numbers of posts. All the time. They're both the result of experiments in crossposting in December 1996 when the news managers at either end gave in to the pressure and created them for readers in the .ox.ac.uk and .cam.ac.uk domains only.

alt.oxford.talk (newgrouped on 18 May 1997) is a mysterious interloper, the analogue of ox.talk, but in principle accessible outside Oxford. Its propagation seems to be small, given the small number of spams it receives, but every so often it has a fair amount of traffic.

* 1.3. Is Oxnet archived?

Yes, thanks to Ganesh Sittampalam: an archive of many high-volume ox.* groups (only available from within .ox.ac.uk) is available at http://munchkin.comlab.ox.ac.uk/ox.archive/ (this archive was previously run by Robin Stevens). ox.colleges.new is archived at http://ocn.new.ox.ac.uk/archive/.

Oxnet articles occasionally find their way on to DejaNews. This happens when somebody crossposts between an Oxford newsgroup and an external newsgroup; any replies to the article in the external newsgroup by people outside Oxford will be seen in the local newsgroup.

* 1.4. "Damned social nonsense"

Owen Massey has pictures of a small selection of frequent and semi-frequent posters to ox.general, ox.talk and ox.test at http://users.ox.ac.uk/~jajones/gallery.html.

Sometimes, people from Oxnet decide that they want to meet each other socially. In real life. This is called an `ox.meet'. One of the more socialite members of Oxnet announces a time and a place, people turn up and they socialize. What actually happens depends on the location - if it's in a pub, people are going to sit around talking and drinking, in a park somewhere then they'll sit around talking and drinking. If you get on with people on Oxnet, you'll probably get on with them at an ox.meet - go along and find out what these people are really like.

And beware, if you don't go, you might start believing that these people don't really exist and are actually the creation of some bizarre second year psychology project.

Subject: 2. Computers

In the following section, "spam" is a formal portmanteau term encompassing both hugely-crossposted advertising on Usenet and unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE).

2.0 Web & general

* 2.0.0 Do you like my web page? It's got frames.

Oxnet is home to some of the keenest advocates of text-only browsers (although at least two people have stuck their heads above the parapet in reasoned defence of frames). A non-frames alternative will mollify them for a while, but in the end you're sure to admit defeat. Other fancy constructions likely to cause offence are animated .gifs and silly Java applets.

The point of the Web is to make information available to the widest audience possible, not (primarily) to make that information pretty. Many people in Oxford have convenient access only to text terminals, and many choose to browse the Web using a text-only program such as Lynx or w3m because it's faster than downloading irrelevant graphics. There's nothing wrong with pretty web pages per se - indeed, clear presentation is laudable - just try to make them accessible by all.

For more rants in this vein, as well as useful information on making your web pages readable, visit the Campaign for Browser Independence at http://www.anybrowser.org/campaign/.

* 2.0.1 Anyone interested in IRC?

From: David Ball <davidball@lycosmail.com>

You can use IRC from ermine: here's how in 3 easy steps:
  1. Before you use it for the first time, you must type "use irc" at the prompt.
  2. Choose a nickname.
  3. To run IRC, type "irc <nickname> <server> -c\#keble", where <server> is any one of the IRC servers run in Oxford.
There is an OxIRC web page at http://munchkin.comlab.ox.ac.uk/OxIRC/.

* 2.0.2 Who's looking at my web page?

The Computing Services offer users with accounts on ermine the facility to be e-mailed statistics on the number of accesses their personal web page(s) receive. To register for this service you need to look at http://info.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/userautocount from your own account, for instance by using lynx.

However, even the more detailed of the two options this gives you provides only the *subdomain* from which the access came. This restriction was presumably imposed to maintain the privacy of people browsing the Web (once upon a time, the web logs on sable - the precursor to ermine - were world-readable and could be grepped for anything interesting), although there doesn't seem to be official confirmation on the OUCS web pages.

* 2.0.3 Where do I find RFCs?

The RFC you're probably looking for is RFC 1036, which is the Standard for Interchange of USENET messages. It, along with all of the others, is held on Oxford's mirror server at http://mirror.ox.ac.uk/Mirrors/www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1036.txt.

Its successor is Henry Spencer's Son of RFC 1036 which is held, amongst other places, at http://www.karlsruhe.org/rfc/son1036.txt.

http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-ietf-usefor-article-02.txt, also known as Grandson of RFC1036, contains current thinking on the matter.

* 2.0.4 May I use external proxies to eliminate banner advertisements?

Robin Stevens cautions:

We'd obviously prefer that you don't go using external proxies instead of the local one, though there's little we can do to stop you. There's no "official" ad-filtering proxy service.

However there's nothing to stop you setting up a local filter/proxy using junkbuster, Guidescope, squidguard or whatever, then chaining it to the OUCS cache (it may need you to specify a proxy of wwwcache.ox.ac.uk:80). http://www.waldherr.org/junkbuster/ will provide you with nice RPMs if you're after such things.

In amongst the arguments against banning adverts, you might also point out that a lot of sites depend on revenue from adverts. If you want to support the site, if you consider it worthwhile, you have to be able to click on the adverts. This might also be an argument against banning e.g. surf-for-cash sites. Especially seeing as last time anyone checked Hotmail was still happily unbanned.

2.0.5 Why are some host names given as a huge decimal number?

This is a common tactic used by spammers to disguise their sites. It's actually the IP address of the site written out as a single number instead of the more common "dotted quad" notation, where the address is usually <X.Y.Z.T>. The decimal number is equal to X*(256)^3 + Y*(256)^2 + Z*(256) + T.

Sometimes the octal version (where you count 0,1... 7,10,11... 17,20...) of the dotted quad is given instead, although this is rarer and not generally supported.

You can refer to any machine by these numbers and many commands, including "ping", will recognise it. Beware, though: certain badly-programmed browsers interpret the use of these numbers as referring to a local machine and therefore do not implement all the security checks they ought to: thus, given that the site may well belong to J Average Script Kiddie, you'd be advised to go nowhere near it.

2.0.6 Whom can I register a domain with?

Many people recommend Black Cat <http://www.blackcatnetworks.co.uk/> but the usual caveats apply, of course. BigBytes <http://www.bigbytes.co.uk/> have a list of several registrars.

And anyone who thinks that the above shouldn't end in a preposition should read section 5.2.

2.1 E-mail

* 2.1.0 How can I filter my e-mail?

If you find that you have difficulty organising your e-mail or that the increasing volume of spam is irritating you then you may wish to consider filtering your mail. The Computing Services provide info at http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/email/junkmail/filter/.

Even if you've decided you want to filter your mail you may have been scared off the idea by the apparent complexity of the procmail program. To help, Ian Collier has provided a procmail set-up to remove spam: http://www.comlab.ox.ac.uk/oucl/users/ian.collier/Misc/procmailrc. See http://www.comlab.ox.ac.uk/internal/PACK/procmail/mailblock.html for a slightly more user-friendly method (although you have to replace INCLUDERC="/PACK/procmail/default/etc/system.procmailrc" with a more suitable line if you are not using the comlab/ecs/ machines on which that file exists. There is a link to the copy of the file on the said page).

* 2.1.1 Why shouldn't I use a spam-trap in my e-mail address?

Especially on Usenet, many people give out their e-mail address only in a mangled form (e.g. john.smith@NOSPAM.oxford.ac.uk) which is quickly rectifiable by a human but does not present a valid address for spammers. This practice is deprecated in Oxnet, because the inconvenience it poses people wishing to e-mail the poster is considered greater than the inconvenience to the poster of pressing d a few times to delete spam (and of course if you're posting solely to Oxnet then the chance of your address being harvested is very slight).

The efficacy of spam-traps is also doubtful: a simple trap like the NOSPAM example above could be easily second-guessed by an Evil Spammer and a complex trap is likely to deter the majority of legitimate e-mails.

From: Robin Stevens <rejs@astro.ox.ac.uk>

It has been said that spam traps actually *increase* network congestion,
because of the additional effort involved in trying to resolve invalid
addresses and in then sending bounce messages which often don't get
through because the spammer used an invalid address or else had his
account blocked.

If you do find the amount of unsolicited commercial e-mail you receive to be a problem then you might like to consider filtering your e-mail -- see subsection 2.1.0.

* 2.1.2 How do I dial in to check e-mail?

OUCS runs a dialin service for university members. The details are available at http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/network/dialup/. The service gives you a terminal interface (connection to remote machines) and PPP, which means you effectively get a temporary IP address and all the benefits thereof: web-browsing from your local machine etc.

OUCS does not charge for this service: your telecom provider does, though. Both BT and ntl: charge as usual for local calls, which, in the ntl: case means just a connection charge of 3.5p in off-peak periods, although there is a charge of a few pence per minute during peak periods. So if you can wade through ntl:'s incorrect bills, losing direct debit mandates and potentially hiring contractors to put in phone lines, who knock holes in your walls, then ntl: might be a good bet.

This is all detailed on the above page, although the quoted offer of ntl:'s 7.50 line rental may no longer be available due to non-optional extras like cable TV.

Note that OUCS is now taking action against people who are sitting on a dialin modem: essentially up until now it has been possible to dial in for 3.5p, then sit there passing the occasional ping back and forth to stop OUCS' ntl: modems timing out, and only spending maybe half an hour of these five hours doing anything useful. Dialin connection traffic is now being monitored: anyone believed to be seriously abusing the dialin facility as a semi-permanent ethernet connection will have their accounts suspended.

* 2.1.3 What's wrong with Hotmail?

Hotmail is an Americas-based free e-mail provider which is very popular, largely for the reason that it got there first. Attempts by its owner to convert the servers to their own operating system have all so far failed, and it continues to run Unix-based software. The front-end runs off Windows 2000: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/prodtechnol/windows2000serv/case/hotmail/default.asp

What is wrong with Hotmail (specifically according to Ian Collier, Robin Stevens and Nick Sweeney, but see later):

It soaks up bandwidth
It might not bother the transatlantic link (see below), but it congests the connection between .ox and JANET.
It doesn't have redirection
Hotmail has no redirection service, nor POP service, although it does have a POP client.
It's web-based
If Hotmail is being used in its default configuration, your modem has to be running to read mail. Hotmail has huge amounts of graphics and takes ages to do anything with. You can in principle run it offline using Outlook Express, but whether the average user can work out how to do this is open to question.
It's broken
It unnecessarily requires Javascript to run and it cannot linewrap properly.
OUCS is perfectly good enough
All services that Hotmail provides, OUCS provides, better, this side of the Atlantic, and with better support. Rumours that "I can't access Herald from home" are simply not true, and may require a secure connection (https://herald.ox.ac.uk/) or further tweaking. Or you can move to ermine. Or you can use OUCS dialup in preference to a commercial provider, and get all the benefits of your provider, plus better bandwidth. Good, secure telnet variants (actually ssh) are available for connecting to ermine from practically anywhere. PuTTY is a standalone program that can be fit onto a floppy and started up on any PC with a floppy drive, practically. And Mindterm is a Java-based reader that can run in a web-browser.
They claim all rights to sell, duplicate and use for their own profit, whatever e-mail or attachments you send with them
Amazing but true. See the MSN FAQ for more details. You might want to try searching for:
"copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, translate and reformat your Submission"
Even other free providers are better
Nick Sweeney <nsweeney@jesus.ox.ac.uk> writes:
... Hotmail, like Amazon, has always had first-mover brand recognition,
and it's impressive how they cope with scalability for their millions of
users. But in terms of raw features, there are plenty of popular webmail
systems which beat the arse off them. Excite's is a personal favourite, as
it has pretty powerful filtering and unified messaging, too.

The rumours about throttling Hotmail's bandwidth are apparently not true. And it has some special agreement with above.net for the transatlantic link, it is claimed, so it isn't the suppurating bandwidth gobbler we claimed in a previous FAQ. But it's still rubbish.

* 2.1.4 What provision is there for e-mail once you've left the university?

Alumni mail has several times been mentioned as being a very good idea. In fact, back in 1998, the IT Committee said that this was a very good idea too.

Charles Curran <charles.curran@oucs.ox.ac.uk> informs:

An `alumni email scheme'---administered by the Alumni Office, shortly to
be merged with the Oxford Society---has been accepted and is being implemented.
I'm coordinating the IT side.

The scheme is scheduled to be available in Trinity.  Initially, the scheme
will just offer email forwarding; later, web forwarding, directories, etc
will be provided.

The chosen domain name is oxforduniversity.org.  A decision was made to
keep the name/domain distinct from ...ox.ac.uk; the colleges wanted `oxford' in
the name, etc.
The personal email name is likely to be of the form 
 Personal-Identifier = Personal-Name sep. Family-name sep. College Year
 sep. = '.'
 Personal-name  =  persnl-name(s)-in-DB   |  initials-from-DB
 Family-Name = family-name(s)-in-DB
 College  = college of matriculation      - `as chosen from menu'
 Year  = matriculation-year               - `as chosen from menu'

e.g. robin.stevens.merton92@oxforduniversity.org

The permitted variations of the personal email name are still being determined.
Some market research is being carried out on this.
(The scheme will cope with changes in personal and family names.)

Of course, the scheme will only work / be a success if it is used, that means
the email address has to be attractive enough to alumni.

* 2.1.5 How do I connect to NTLworld using Linux?

Malcolm Beattie <mbeattie@sable.ox.ac.uk> reports:

 Make a note of the serial number (printed on the cardboard
   CD cover underneath the CD itself) and the PIN (printed on the
   address label IIRC). Set up your PPP settings to dial into
   0800 5190150 with username p1autoreg and (PAP) password 6661066
   and have


   in your /etc/resolv.conf. Now dialin with those settings and use
   your (SSL aware and possibly Javascript too) browser to get the URL


   That will take you through accepting the T&Cs, entering your
   name, (NTL) phone number, serial number, PIN and a username and
   password of your choice. The final screen actually downloads a
   windows-y config file of some sort which includes server names:

       email user.name@ntlworld.com
       outgoing mail server smtp.ntlworld.com
       incoming mail server pop.ntlworld.com
       news news.ntlworld.com
       homepage homepage.ntlworld.com/user.name
       ftp upload.ntlworld.com

   It doesn't matter that there's no followon from the config file
   download; your account is already created at that point. Drop the
   phone connection, reconfigure PPP to dial 0800 5190100 and use your
   newly chosen username and password. You can now dialin for free.

2.2 Documents & typesetting

* 2.2.0 Where can I get a picture of the University coat of arms?

The blazoning of the arms is:

Azure between three open crowns or an open book proper leathered gules garnished and having on the dexter side seven seals gold and inscribed with the words DOMINUS ILLUMINATIO MEA.

There is two versions of the University coat of arms, the trademarked belted arms at http://www.ox.ac.uk/ and the simpler version at http://www.rsl.ox.ac.uk/isca/. Sources are as follows:

Self-extracting .exe:
Encapsulated postscript:

Ian Collier writes:

It might interest you to know that <http://web.comlab.ox.ac.uk/oxinfo/>
has nice gifs of both the coats of arms at the top of it.

The notice at ftp://micros.oucs.ox.ac.uk/graphics/crests/readme.1st states that the coat of arms can (only) be used in official non-commercial University business. It can, for instance, be put on the cover of a thesis.

A society that has been registered with the Proctors for two terms may apply to the Vice-Chancellor, through the Proctors, for permission to use "Oxford University" in their name and to use the University coat of arms. Permission is usually given to use the "Dominus" device and not the trademarked belted version.

"It's not a crest: it's a coat of arms."

* 2.2.1 Is there an approved LaTeX style file for theses?

From: Darren Nickerson <dnicker@ermine.ox.ac.uk>

 I have such a beast, yes. I've inherited it from
Robert Esnouf, formerly at the Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics. As
far as I can tell, I am  currently the self-designated "keeper of the

Mail me if you'd like it - I can tar it up. Of course, improvements
are welcomed.  
From: Ian Collier <imc@comlab.ox.ac.uk>
 As far as I am aware, "all Oxford University's
thesis typesetting rules" consist of the sentence "where the output
imitates letterpress the format may be that of a well-designed book"
and therefore any LaTeX style is almost as good as any other (although
whether LaTeX output is "well designed" could, I suppose, be argued).

I made my own format in TeX and no one seemed to object.
From: Joe Stoy <stoy@client2.comlab>
 Actually this particular sentence evolved quite
quickly, while Peter Neumann and my wife were the Proctors.  The
vagueness is ameliorated by samples kept by the Graduate Studies
Office of stuff which is unacceptable (e.g. dot matrix output), and
stuff which is acceptable.  One of the examples of acceptable format
is the standard 12pt LaTeX report style, output on a 300dpi laser

* 2.2.2 How do I count words in a LaTeX document?

Use detex file.tex | wc -w, replacing file.tex with whatever your file is really called.

``I don't have DeTeX installed,'' I hear you cry. Of course you don't, unless you're using a sensible European installation like SuSE. The latest version of detex lives at http://www.cs.purdue.edu/homes/trinkle/detex/. This version, unlike earlier ones in the TeX archive, compiles fine under Linux.

2.3 Software & hardware

* 2.3.0 Has anyone had any experience of this computer firm?

Robin Stevens maintains a list of computer traders with various people's helpful opinions of their quality of service at http://www2.merton.ox.ac.uk/~rejs/traders/.

* 2.3.1 Where do I get rid of redundant computer equipment?

>From Peter Humphrey <peter.humphrey@computing-services.oxford.ac.uk>

Simon Withers at University Offices will collect older PCs (eg 386/486) 
which are in good working order and sends them to a West African 
University which is very glad to have them. Contact Simon on (2)70244, 
or  simon.withers@admin.ox.ac.uk  though he is away until the second 
week of January.

Geoffrey Fouquet, Art Curator of St Peter's College, does the same for 
Mogilev University in Ukraine. Minor faults are acceptable.

A part of Computacenter, RDC, based in Essex, will travel for
pallet-sized lots of redundant kit. See http://www.rdc.co.uk/.

Waverley Hardware sent round unsolicited advertising faxes. They said, 
"All equipment collected is ... either recycled or disposed of
ethically. ... Hard drives are 'cleaned' and all identifying labels
are removed. As a company, ... we do not at all approve of computers
going to landfill. ... even if it costs us more to re-direct waste
(and it does)."

Waverley Hardware, Computer Brokers, 33 Waverley Gardens, Stamford, 
Lincolnshire PE9 1BH
Contact: Anthony Blaine, Tel: 01780 482255, Fax: 01780 480586
Email: tonyblaine@hotmail.com, Mobile: 07967 209012

Pete Biggs, pete@physchem.ox.ac.uk, can take some old equipment from 
time to time. His electronics technicians will break it up for usable

If you have a smaller quantity and can arrange transport, the Council
waste and recycling centre at the bottom of Abingdon Road has an IT
equipment recycling section.

* 2.3.2 Where can I get this piece of free software?

OUCS offers a mirror site - that is, locally stored copies - of several Linux distribution and other such sites at http://mirror.ox.ac.uk/. In addition, the ssh/telnet program PuTTY, which will fit on a floppy disk and run on practically any Windows box, is available from lots of different locations: suggest http://www.wadham.ox.ac.uk/~jstacey/lowtar/putty.zip, but if anyone can think of an archive which has much more useful things on it, let us know and I'll link to that instead.

2.4 University IT

2.4.0 Who do I ask about specific IT problems?

The powers that be exist in multiple incarnations. If you have a problem, this is by no means a definitive, complete, accurate or indeed well-formatted list, adapted from a post by Robin Stevens <robin.stevens@oucs.ox.ac.uk>: General issues:
General computing advice:
your local IT support staff, or advisory@oucs.ox.ac.uk (if eligible: check at http://register.oucs.ox.ac.uk:8123/cgi-bin/ostrich/eligibility)
Spam from non-ox.ac.uk hosts:
use your mailer's "delete" key. If this isn't sufficient, contact postmaster@remote.domain or abuse@remote.domain, certainly not OUCS.
Status of machines:
http://status.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ will in general give the current status and notification of any problems with OUCS services.
OUCS network/dialup problems:
OUCS registration (eg email forwarding, quota) issues:
registration@oucs.ox.ac.uk Specific OUCS services:
Ermine/Herald faults:
advisory@oucs.ox.ac.uk (if it's a genuine problem with the system, it will get passed on)
Firewall queries:
OUCS mail problems:
OUCS cache problems:
OUCS news server:
OUCS DNS/DHCP registration:
hfs@ox.ac.uk Abuse:
Security incidents:
Port scans:
probe-report@oxcert.ox.ac.uk (lower priority)
Abuse by .ox.ac.uk hosts:
Virus reports:

Robin continues:

As always, check webpages etc first before sending in queries to see
whether your problem is covered.  Also exercise some common sense.  For
instance if a problem is internal to your college, the odds are that it
should be reported locally and that OUCS won't want to know about it.
Please try to include all relevant information when reporting a problem so
that can hopefully be dealt with more quickly - reports of the form "the
internet is broken" are unhelpful :-)

And again:

I think the network control number is intended only for IT support staff to
use or for those with dialin problems  - users should contact their local
IT officer first (not all network problems arise on central systems).
Network control really don't want 30000 university users phoning up every
time the backbone throws a wobbly :-)

2.5. Programming

* 2.5.0 How do I replace ^Ms in a file with "proper" newlines?

Tim Bagot <tsb@earth.li> writes:

If you do just want to replace CR with LF then

tr '\r' '\n'

should do the trick.  If the input file has CRLF then

tr -d '\r'

is probably what you want.

Sebastian Rahtz <sebastian.rahtz@computing-services.oxford.ac.uk> adds:
I find it fastest to do

zip foo *
unzip -o -a foo
rm foo.zip

when I get a collection of files. then I don't have to worry about
which are binary or text or pre-converted, or what. zip's algorithm
seems pretty trustworthy and works on any machine.

* 2.5.1 How do I rename lots of files at once?

Simon Cozens <simon@brecon.co.uk> writes:

Perl comes with a utility called "rename" which allows you to use a
regular expression to rename a bunch of files. eg:

        rename 's/\.txt$//' *

will strip the .txt extension off all files that have it.

Alan Iwi <iwi@atm.ox.ac.uk> mentions:

On that subject, I do think it's worth mentioning the following little 
package in your write-up:


Matthew Somerville <matthew.somerville@trinity.oxford.ac.uk> also suggests:

RISC OS users can use a well written program named Rename, available from

* 2.5.2 How do I make bras, kets and so on in LaTeX?

Steven Singer <singer@spiffy.ox.compsoc.net> writes:

It turns out that the \vrule command in
TeX can make a rule the height of the current enclosing horizontal box
(or line). This leads to code like:

\left\langle n \br \frac{1}{2} \right\rangle


\left\langle \frac{1}{2} \brbr \hat{A} \brbr 1 \right\rangle

* 2.5.3 Supposing I have an equation spread over several lines, with a pair of brackets at each end, but where one line is taller than the others, and I want the brackets to match?

Ian Collier <imc@comlab.ox.ac.uk> suggests:

You may find the \vphantom command useful.  It takes one argument which is
some text or a formula, and inserts an invisible strut which is the same
height as the text or formula would be if it were there.

* 2.5.4 How do I do sideways tables in LaTeX?

A crude hack is to use the lscape package and do an entire page in landscape. This is really the sort of thing you can only do at the end of a document because it requires \newpage breaks at either end. Sebastian Rahtz, one of the authors of the rotating package, recommends the sidewaystable environment instead of the table environment for this purpose. There is also a sidewaysfigure environment.

Subject: 3. The University

* 3.0. How do I get a new University Card?

This will all be formalized and written across the rooftops in letters of pitch three foot high "later in November 2000" (It is January 2001, and I am still waiting. Bah). We have a mole, though

Jacqui Hill <jacqui@mireille1.freeserve.co.uk> writes:

Meanwhile, you can, when your card expiry date looms near, get a new
photo by coming to the Bodleian, even if you then have to go away and
either get a form or get your administrator to email the Cards Office. 
She also adds, as of February 2001:
... As far as I know there were new forms and bits of paper
circulated with all the dire warnings about not coming to the Clarendon
Building any more.  This seems to be slowly settling into place - the rate
of "can I get a new card here" enquiries has dropped hugely, but there's
still a few.  Certain colleges and departments have been noted as 'not
being with-it'. ;)  Quite why you've not seen anything official, I don't

* 3.1. What's the number of the Oxford-Cambridge tie-line?

There was a tie-line, but there isn't now. It has closed (xi.2000). The code used to be 556, followed by the internal number at Cambridge.

* 3.2. Where can I get my thesis bound?

The following places have been recommended on Oxnet:

* 3.3. Why does Oxford award fake MAs for cash?

From: Jonathan Jones <jajones@ermine.ox.ac.uk>

Roughly speaking, the argument is as follows.  The basic Oxford degree
for which undergraduates study is the MA, and this has been true for
centuries.  In olden days this was a seven year course.  These days most
of the courses have been trimmed down a bit and now take three or four
years.  These are not BA courses, though, they are MA courses. 

Oxford retains the tradition that MAs take 7 years, and so you can't get
the MA until 7 years after matriculating.  So they give you the BA as
something to wave around until you get the real degree.  And that's all
an Oxford BA is.

A couple of hundred years ago other universities came along and started
awarding degrees.  For some crazy reason they decide to award BAs rather
than MAs.  In other words, they were the ones that broke standard
practice.  Sadly they are now so numerous that their rather strange
decision has been normalised by sheer weight of numbers.

That's it really.  The issue of paying for degrees is basically a red
herring: you pay for *all* Oxford degrees, with one exception: the BA.
That's because the BA isn't a real degree, so charging for it wouldn't
be fair.

Sadly the university has decided to muddy the waters in recent years by
creating these new masters degrees (the M.Chem., M.Eng., that sort of
thing). Basically that's a cave-in, but such is life.
From: Ian Johnston <engs0011@sable.ox.ac.uk>
The ancient universities of Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews,
Aberdeen) also award MAs as first degrees and no-one gets all upset with them.
From: Owen Massey <owen.massey@stcatz.ox.ac.uk>
Those whose undergraduate degrees have 'Master' in the title are not
eligible to supplicate for an MA in or after their twenty-first term after
matriculation, in the manner of BAs, but they may become members of
Convocation in the usual manner--they gain 'MA status' in the manner of
University employees who are required to have MAs.
From: James Lawry <lawry@maths.ox.ac.uk>
So according to Dr Jones, the BA isn't really a degree, it's just a
bit of paper to wave around in the interim before your MA is awarded.
The actual _degree_ is the MA, and the course is an MA course.

Why, then, does the BA certificate state the subject of the degree,
while the MA certificate doesn't? In sending an application to
something where my qualifications had to be supported by certificates,
I wanted to claim that I have an MA in Mathematics. By the FAQ
information, I should be able to do this. But the certificate doesn't
say "Mathematics", so as far as the recipients of my application are
concerned, I can't claim this.

This kind of ties in with what the Dean of Degrees at my college told
us the day of the ceremony. He said that in receiving the MA you are
becoming a member of the equivalent of a mediaeval guild -- the oath
"Do fidem" is a mediaeval oath. ("So say it loudly and proudly," he
told us, "because it's very probably the only mediaeval oath you will
ever swear.") So it's as if the MA isn't a degree, it's a membership
of a society with no subject attached, which it happens that you can't
receive unless you have a BA and the required time has passed.

Oh, and it irritates me that the D. Phil. certificate doesn't make any
mention of the faculty that awarded it, as my thesis title doesn't
really bring to mind "mathematics" to most people and I have had the
same difficulty establishing to these pedantic people that my
doctorate was in maths.
From: jajones@ermine.ox.ac.uk (Jonathan Jones)
Your degree is not in Mathematics.  You have a degree in "Arts".  Hence
the name.

Another way to think of the BA certificate is as a pass certificate for
a bunch of courses you took.  These courses are a means of gaining
"credit" (in the American sense) for your degree.  The courses happened
to be in mathematics, but your degree is still a degree in Arts.

MAs of the University have the status of Master Craftsmen within
the guild.  But I don't see why you think this makes the MA not a degree:
what do you think the word "degree" actually means?  An MA is a
"degree of rank" within the guild.  This rank can be achieved in a
number of ways, of which the most common is to take certain courses
and obtain a BA (a certificate of passing these courses).

>Oh, and it irritates me that the D. Phil. certificate doesn't make any
>mention of the faculty that awarded it, as my thesis title doesn't
>really bring to mind "mathematics" to most people and I have had the
>same difficulty establishing to these pedantic people that my
>doctorate was in maths.

No it wasn't.  It was in Philosophy.  Your *thesis* was in maths.

My post merely explains *how* the current system works and why
it is indeed internally consistent.  Whether an approach basically designed
for a craft guild works well today is quite a different question.  Whether
the approach should be changed to fit in with current practice is yet
another question.  ISTM, however, that it would be possible to make
degree certificates more useful to their holders without changing the
underlying structures in the slightest.  Your DPhil certificate cannot
name the faculty which awarded it, as it was not awarded by a faculty, but
I see no reason why the nominating faculty should not be included.

AFAIR the MSc is not a real degree, in the sense of conveying guild rank.
It's more like a BA, and thus it is not surprising that it carries details.
But that's off the top of my head so to speak.

The rules for membership of Convocation have changed. Previously you had to have an MA to be a member of Convocation. The statutes now say:

  1. The functions of Convocation shall be to elect the Chancellor and the Professor of Poetry.
  2. Convocation shall consist of all the matriculated members of the University who hold a degree (other than an honorary degree) of the University, and of those not holding such a degree who are members of Congregation; provided always that a member of Convocation may, with the consent of Council for reasons which it shall deem sufficient, resign his or her membership, provided that he or she undertakes to continue to observe the statutes, decrees, and regulations of the University as though he or she had continued to be a member thereof.

* 3.4. When does term start?

The dates of Full Terms - the eight weeks when undergraduates are generally required by their colleges to be resident - as far into the future as has been agreed are all available at http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/admin/dates.htm.

The period of eight weeks referred to as Full Term must fall in the broader terms defined in the University Decrees as follows:

The first, or Michaelmas, Term shall begin on and include 1 October and end on and include 17 December. The second, or Hilary, Term shall begin on and include 7 January and end on and include 25 March or the Saturday before Palm Sunday, whichever is the earlier. The third, or Trinity, Term shall begin on and include 20 April or the Wednesday after Easter, whichever is the later, and end on and include 6 July.

Because of Collections it is a long-established usage to refer to the week before Full Term starts as 0th (noughth) Week (cf. the `zeroth' law of thermodynamics). However, it is not technically correct to extend this nomenclature beyond -1st Week or 11th Week, depending on the dates of the longer term.

Michaelmas is named after the feast day of St Michael, 29 September; Hilary after St Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, whose feast day is January 13; and Trinity after Trinity Sunday, eight weeks after Easter.

* 3.5. How do I pronounce Magdalen?

The 'Magdalen' of Magdalen College, Magdalen College School, Magdalen Bridge and Magdalen Road is pronounced 'maudlin'. (The estates around Magdalen Road were built on the college's cricket ground.) The same pronunciation is used for Magdalene College in Cambridge.

In all other contexts you pronounce the 'g'; in particular, for St Mary Magdalen Church, and Magdalen Street and Magdalen Street East which take their names from the church they bound.

While we're at it: Christ Church. Two words, no 'college'. In fact the variant forms Christchurch and Christ Church College are all attested - the omission of 'college' is a nineteenth-century affectation - but it's the way it's spelt today and you should respect that. It also avoids confusion with Christchurch, a town on the south coast of England or the South Island of New Zealand.

* 3.6. Does my college have a sister college in Cambridge?

From: Simon Cozens <simon@brecon.co.uk> and Steve Roberts <steve.roberts@materials.oxford.ac.uk>

HERE                 THERE
All Souls College    Trinity Hall
Balliol College      St. John's
Brasenose College    Gonville & Caius College
Christ Church        Trinity College
Corpus Christi Coll. Corpus Christi College
Exeter College       Emmanuel College
Green College        St. Edmund's College
Jesus College        Jesus College
Keble College        Selwyn College
Lady Margaret Hall   Newnham College
Lincoln College      Darwin College
Linacre College      Wolfson College
Magdalen College     Magdalene College
Merton College       Peterhouse
New College          King's College
Oriel College        Clare College
Pembroke College     Queen's College
Queen's College      Pembroke College
St. Catherine's Col. Robinson College
St. Cross College    Clare Hall
St. Edmund Hall      Fitzwilliam College
St. John's College   Sidney Sussex College
St. Anne's College   New Hall
St. Hugh's College   Clare College
Somerville College   Girton College
Trinity College      Churchill College
University College   Trinity Hall
Wadham College       Christ's College
Wolfson College      Darwin College
Worcester College    St. Catharine's College

Note that Queens' College, Cambridge, is apostrophised "unconventionally" in the above list: from Owen Massey <owen.massey@christ-church.oxford.ac.uk>

The apostrophe is in an unconventional position in "Queen's College",
Cambridge side, in $3.6 of the ox.FAQ.  I say unconventional rather than
wrong on the advice of

* 3.7. Does anyone know the latitude and longitude of Oxford?

From: Robin Stevens <rejs@astro.ox.ac.uk>

According to XEphem:
Oxford University Observatory  51:45:34 -1:15:04 64.0m
From: nick@thelonious.new.ox.ac.uk (Nick Williams)
Or 51.77 -1.25 in decimals. Do people still call this the ICBM address?

(Actually 51.759444 in decimal)

From: Neil Clifford <clifford@staffa.physics.ox.ac.uk>
It's the north dome - I did a gps survey a couple of years ago and found 
out that the lat/long we were using was actually for the wrong dome - not 
that it matters for the experiments concerned. The gps concerned (Garmin) 
can churn out lat/long or OSGB grid ref..

51 45 33.840 N 1 15 3.960 W 64m will put you in the middle of NAPL.

* 3.8. This lamppost isn't working.

And more to the point it's dark, so you can't read the notice that gives the relevant phone number as 0800 317802. (Source: lamppost on St Cross Road, by the cemetery.)

* 3.9. Who are the new streets in the Science Area named after?

Sidgwick Close is named after Nevil Sidgwick (1893-1952) of Lincoln College, who did important work on atomic bonding in the 1920s.

Sibthorp Road, between the PTCL and Forestry, takes its name from John Sibthorp (1758-1796), the author of Flora Graeca, a detailed account of the botany of Greece and Asia Minor. He died from tuberculosis, despite a diet of asses' milk prescribed for him along with swimming in the sea.

Sherard Place is named after William Sherard (1659-1728) who had the Chair of Botany named after him, and after a career collecting plants in the Alps, Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor, became Consul of the Levant Company, out of which he did very well. He donated his herbarium and library to the University.

Robinson Close is named after Sir Robert Robinson (1886-1975, no relation), the celebrity organic chemist. He is also commemorated by at least one reaction that I have forgotten.

It leads to Tylor Lane, a strange thoroughfare almost cut in half by Human Anatomy. This is named after Sir Edward Tylor (1832-1917), anthropologist and keeper of the University Museum. The other half of Tylor Lane points at

Le Gros Clark Place, which is between New Chemistry and the Dyson Perrins. Sir Wilfrid Le Gros Clark (1895-1971), an anatomist, is most famous for having with Weiner and Oakley determined that Piltdown Man was a hoax.

Dorothy Hodgkin Road commemorates the Nobel Prize-winning Somerville crystallographer (1910-1994) who determined the structure of penicillin.

Hinshelwood Road marks the man (1897-1967) who invented the gas mask and lived alone with his cats when his mother died. He won the Nobel in 1956 along with Nikolay Semenov. He spoke fourteen languages and was, according to a senior chemist in a talk he gave when I became a PRS, as mad as taxi.

Sherrington Place is named after Sir Charles Scott Sherrington (1852-1952), who took the 1932 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work on neurons.

Dobson Square, at the front of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics is named, as is the Dobson Unit of ozone thickness, after Gordon Dobson (1889-1976) who did early work on atmospheric ozone.

Haldane Road, up the back of the Clarendon, could be named after the popular science writer and geneticist J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964), who disappeared into obscurity in India, but is more likely named after John Scott Haldane (1860-1936) (the younger Haldane's father), who studied the effects of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide on respiration.

Bradley Place, where the Terrapin Hut used to be, seems to be named after the philosopher F.H. Bradley, but this can't be right.

Darlington Link is round the back of Plant Sciences and takes its name from C.D. Darlington (1903-1981), who was another popular science writer and geneticist.

The celebrity Australian Florey who was involved in work on penicillin, Howard Florey (1898-1968), Lord Florey of Adelaide, gives his name to Florey Road. He became Provost of The Queen's College in 1962 after winning the Nobel for Physiology in 1945, and had the Florey Building off St Clements named after him.

Edward Abraham Road is named after Sir Edward Abraham (1913-1998), who worked on penicillin with Florey, and worked on cephalosporin antibiotics.

* 3.10. How and where do I give blood?

The National Blood Service can be telephoned on an internal phone on 553-20303, says Tony Brett. Someone who wishes to remain anonymous, says that there is a web page at < http://www.bloodnet.nbs.nhs.uk>.

Stephen Cameron <cameron@comlab.ox.ac.uk> adds:

You may like to know that the Donation Centre at the JR2 is open daily,
if you are in a hurry to make your donation.  Their number is 447939.

(I assume he wasn't the Stephen Cameron I went to school with.)

Subject: 4. Transport

* 4.1. Isn't Catte Street / St Ebbe's an official cycle route?

Oxnetters, both cyclists and drivers, tend to be sticklers for the law when it comes to cycling. There's no justification whatsoever for: ignoring a red traffic light; riding unlit at night; cycling on the pavement, or any other breach of the Highway Code. They're all illegal, and (perhaps more importantly) dangerous and anti-social (and they make you fat.)

Both the top of St Ebbe's outside BHS and the bottom of Catte Street outside St Mary's have pavements with lowered kerbs, making it easy for a bicycle to be ridden straight across without stopping. Catte Street has been noted as being marked as a recommended cycle route for its whole length. However, policemen have told people to dismount on the short paved section to the south, and there are no other indications that it is a cycle lane at that point. The lowered kerbs are probably for e.g. disabled access, and not intended as an aid to avoiding making bunny hops.

As of May 2001 St Ebbe's Street and New Inn Hall Street now have clearly marked cycle routes in both directions (southbound, the paved section of New Inn Hall Street bears argent a car sejant affrontee sable with a mounted motorcycle passant in reverse in chief sable a bordure gules on a round shield: this is to prohibit motor vehicles only).

Northbound, St Ebbe's north of Pennyfarthing Place has a similar sign, but halfway up, just before the pavement argent a bordure gules on a round shield prohibits everything except pedestrians and bicycles being wheeled. There is no such sign southbound, and the northbound one is hidden by municipal flowers in the summer.

Stephen Gower <stephen.gower@wolfson.ox.ac.uk> helps:

I have a letter from Gabriel Stocks, of the City Council. I'm sure he won't mind me quoting:

"The City Council is keen to change this anomaly and to promote a new Traffic Regulation Order for the area which is likely to take place next year.

"To enable this change, the existing 'motor cycle' parking and other street furniture in St Ebbes will also need to be moved to allow unhindered access to and from the carriageway for cyclists, and reduce potential conflicts with pedestrians.

"I hope this clarifies the current situation."

The councils have advice for both pedestrians and cyclists, forwarded by Alan Iwi <iwi@atm.ox.ac.uk>:


* 4.2. Are those little LED lights legal?

From the uk.rec.cycling FAQ:

What's the situation regarding LED lights?

The Road Traffic Act states that for use at night, a bicycle must be fitted with front and rear lights that conform to the appropriate British Standard (which isn't exactly held in high esteem by many people!) or a suitable European equivalent. There's a general conflict of opinion as to whether LED lights, particularly those with only a `flashing' mode, conform to the British Standard, being as an LED isn't a `steady' source in the same way that an incandescent bulb is. Despite that, many LED lights are built to Dutch or German standards, so should technically be legal in the UK - more information can be found in the February/March issue of the CTC magazine.

All that said, LED lights are widely used because they're available fairly cheaply, are very visible and can go for a long time before the batteries need changing. There have been no reports of anybody being prosecuted for using LED lights on their bikes. Despite the quasi-legality of LED lights, having solely LED lights on your bike (especially one of those green `headlight' jobs) is not a good idea. Indeed, a large number of people use LEDs as backup lights, either with a dynamo or with more conventional lights. Although it's common sense, riding at night without lights is not only dangerous, it's also illegal.

From: Colin Blackburn <phys0060@ermine.ox.ac.uk>
> I believe something forbids you have to have LEDs of any sort.  See the
> ox.FAQ.

Not anymore. The current BS allows for steady (rear) LEDs. Cateye, for 
one, do an LED which satisfies that standard.


* 4.3. Are dynamo lights on their own legal?

From: Alan Iwi <iwi@atm.ox.ac.uk>

            ... strictly speaking if you have only
dynamo lights, the law requires you to stop at the left if making a right
turn at night (i.e. not in the middle of the road).
From: Ray Miller <ray@bench.oucs.ox.ac.uk>
Robin Stevens <rejs@astro.ox.ac.uk> writes:
> What would be nice is a dynamo set which automatically switches on LED
> lamps if the dynamo is engaged but not actually going round.

Or better still, that switches to battery back-up when output from the
dynamo falls below a certain level. I have a magazine article
somewhere that describes how to build such a system for not much
money. If you're intere[s]ted, I'll try to dig it out.

You could also check out 

Here you will find many interesting bicycle-lighting links, including
one to instructions on how to build a battery-charging system powered
by your bicycle dynamo. Combined with the afore-mentioned switching
system, you have the ideal bicycle-lighting solution! (Well, certainly
better than my current (ahem) set-up, which also stops working in the
See also the Bicycle Lights FAQ at http://www.bath.ac.uk/~bspahh/bikelights/lights.html.

* 4.4. What's going on outside the King's Arms?

The Smithgate, or Kings Arms Crossroads - that of Broad Street, Catte Street, Holywell Street and Parks Road - has a set of traffic lights on each corner but no pedestrian phase, so cars cross the junction at all times. (The same is true of the T-junction outside Worcester College.) There are also no pedestrian-controlled crossings nearby (though there are markings for one between the New Bod and the Kings Arms).

What really makes this junction noteworthy for Oxnet, however, is the presence of the advanced stop line for cyclists as you come out of Parks Road - apparently the first such in the UK. The green `cyclist' on the first set of lights allows cyclists to travel on to the next stop line about 3 metres forward. This line is next to another set of traffic lights. *These* must turn to green before any vehicle is allowed to cross the second line, whether they are going left, right or straight on.

* 4.5. Can I be arrested for speeding on a bicycle?

Paul Rudin brought the following letter from The Times (7.xi.1997) to the attention of Oxnet:

    "Wheels under fire"
     From His Honour Patrick Halnan 

     Sir, I write as one who frequently cycled to court.
     My fellow cyclists may like to know that as long as
     they do not cycle "dangerously", "furiously",
     "carelessly" or "without reasonable consideration"
     they can cycle as fast as they like. 

     The offence of "speeding" can, in law, only be
     committed by drivers of motor vehicles. 

     I remain Sir, a happy cyclist. 

     Yours truly, 
     33 Rotherwick Way, Cambridge. 
     November 5. 

* 4.6. How do I complain about a pothole?

From: Adam Sandell <adam@cello.demon.co.uk>

There are free and post-paid 'Post a pothole' cards available from the City
Council's environmental services department - Clarendon House, 52 Cornmarket
(above the new Gap shop) [editorial note: these are also available in some
bike shops]. Alternatively telephone 249811 (main Council switchboard) and
ask to be put through. Although many roads are managed by the County
Council rather than the City Council, the City Council is meant to take
complaints about all of them and make sure something happens.

Gervase Markham reports that e-mail to potholes@oxford.gov.uk bounces. Depending on the depth of the pothole, you might want to contact OUCC.

* 4.7. Is the Marston cycle path flooded?

From: Ganesh Sittampalam <ganesh@earth.li>

I was getting fed up trying to track down housemates etc to find out the
current status of the Marston psychopath, so I wrote this:

4.8. How do you remove D-locks?

Assuming you are removing your own damn D-lock and not nicking bikes, which is EBW (although it does tidy up the city centre quite nicely), several methods have been mooted:

Liquid nitrogen or other cryogenics
This method is generally the most humorous for people watching. Unless you have a custom freezer spray, or plenty of room to dip the D-lock in a bucket, forget it. Rags soaked in liquid nitrogen are pathetic, and if you try sploshing it around you can catch your bike frame, the bike stand or, possibly, your toes
Bolt cutters and hacksaws
Time-consuming. As has been pointed out, if the police catch you, they can trample your human rights and arrest you for "going equipped," which basically means having nicer toys than them. But they do work, and if you have Someone Official with you, then you should be fine.
Angle grinder
My method of choice (JPS). Lots of whizzo sparks, twenty seconds, and that's it. You need a power cable, though, so not convenient if you've chained it to the gates of Port Meadow.

4.9. How do I stop my bike getting stolen?

These hints from Henry Braun:

And a final word from Alastair Johnson <alastair.johnson@trinity.oxford.ac.uk>, suggesting buying a baby chair (capitalization etc. by the editor):

I was in a bike shop on cowley road on Sunday getting the bike serviced
(the brakes haven't worked for the best part of a year and the baby chair
had worked itself loose) and the bloke was telling me that bikes with baby
chairs on never get nicked. He then started on about how even the
"little bastards" had a soft spot for children etc. I was in a hurry to
leave since his shop was like an oven so I cut him off with some money
but maybe he has a point. Cheapest baby chair is 20

Subject: 5. Grammar

* 5.0. How should I write an e-mail address at the end of a sentence?

Including your e-mail address or a URL at the end of a sentence worries some people because of the potential confusion between dots in the address and the full stop. It's a matter of choice how you resolve this. The following are nice:

    foo.bar@st-brians.oxford.ac.uk     [no terminal full stop]
    foo.bar@st-brians.oxford.ac.uk .
As with all grammatical problems, the safest solution is to rewrite the sentence so that it no longer becomes a problem.

It was previously suggested by Malcolm Austen that a dot at the end is allowed. However, Tony Finch <dot@dotat.at> writes:

This is wrong. The syntax in RFCs 821 and 822 does not allow for
terminating dots in email addresses; the DNS itself does though, and
gives them the [former] meaning in the ox.FAQ. The relevant bit of 822 is:

     domain      =  sub-domain *("." sub-domain)

     sub-domain  =  domain-ref / domain-literal

     domain-ref  =  atom                         ; symbolic reference

     atom        =  1*<any CHAR except specials, SPACE and CTLs>

     specials    =  "(" / ")" / "<" / ">" / "@"  ; Must be in quoted-
                 /  "," / ";" / ":" / "\" / <">  ;  string, to use
                 /  "." / "[" / "]"              ;  within a word.

     CTL         =  <any ASCII control           ; (  0- 37,  0.- 31.)
                     character and DEL>          ; (    177,     127.)

     SPACE       =  <ASCII SP, space>            ; (     40, 32.)

* 5.1. How do I use apostrophe's?

Its a common misconception that the value of a posting is reduced by it's misuse of the apostrophe. This isnt true, as all regular reader's will assure you.

For guidance on possessive forms, see Richard Green's "Basic and Advanced You're" at http://www.maths.lancs.ac.uk/~greenrm/its.htmlor, for a more comprehensive treatment, the very last section of http://www.faqs.org/faqs/alt-usage-english-faq/index.html . There are some amusing pictures at http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/users/martin/APOST/Apostrop.htm.

Although quotation marks are not really apostrophes, they do have the same written/printed form. The alt.usage.english FAQ (see above) deals with the issue of whether to put punctuation inside or outside the quotation marks; search for "logical placement".

* 5.2. Can I use a preposition to end a sentence with?

If you want to.

Winston Churchill is reputed to have dismissed this 'rule' by saying, "This is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put."

* 5.3. Surely only Americans (dread word!) spell -ise words in -ize?

Not so. The standard Oxford practice is to spell:

  1. words that can be analysed into an English root and an -eyes suffix -ize. There exist rare verbs with a noun in -ition which also end -ize. "recognize" for instance, unlike "ignite", "micturate", "demolish" and "add";
  2. all words where the "eyes" sound is spelt using a "y" -yse, not -yze (these are from the Greek verb luo, meaning "I loose"),
  3. and words that cannot be analysed as before -ise, specifically those from
    1. Latin -mittere, French -mettre (to put),
    2. Latin -prehendere, French -prendre (to take),
    3. Latin -cidere, French -cire (to cut),
    4. Latin -videre, French -voir (to see)./li>
    Note that this last category includes "televise", which while not actually from a classical Latin word, is based on the Latin supine stem visum.
  4. The alt.usage.english FAQ, which has an entry on the same topic at http://www.alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxizevsi.html also mentions "rise", "prize", "seize" and "capsize", which are obviously not "-eyes" words in the sense here, unless capsizing was historically something to do with caps. It helpfully (no, genuinely) points out that apprise and apprize have different meanings.

A list of examples is worth a thousand of anything.

-ize words   -ise words
womanize     excise
sympathize   analyse
bowdlerize   catalyse
winterize    exercise
liberalize   surmise
stigmatize   circumcise
atomize      surprise
digitize     paralyse
criticize    advise
Often it is useful to imagine the nouns formed from the verbs (or vice versa): analysis, catalysis and paralysis; woman, sympathy and winter; excision, surprise, advice.

The chief exception are verbs that have a related noun ending in -ise or -isement. Advertisement, chastisement, merchandise and franchise spring to mind. You will notice that they are from the French. "Gourmandise" is food such that a gourmand would eat, whereas to "gourmandize" is to eat like a gourmand. We should not have to explain the difference between a gourmand and a gourmet. Shibboleths are one of the few joys we have left. Despise is from French, and has a different etymology.

The practice in most other British universities and in the media and novels, is to end "eyes" words in -ise regardless. In the United States, they end "eyes" words in -ize. Writing "analyze" is still wrong across there, though. Unless you're writing a paper for one of the American Institute of Physics' journals, or talking about the film "Analyze This", of course. Calling that "Analyse This" is as wrong as talking about Slade's single "Come On; Feel The Noise".

Subject: 6. Legal notes

* 6.0. Is a Scottish pound note legal tender?

From: http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/tender.htm

The concept of legal tender is often misunderstood. Contrary to popular opinion, legal tender is not a means of payment that must be accepted by the parties to a transaction, but rather a legally defined means of payment that should not be refused by a creditor in satisfaction of a debt.

The current series of Bank of England notes are legal tender in England and Wales, although not in Scotland or Northern Ireland, where the only currency carrying legal tender status for unlimited amounts is the pound coin.

It has been concluded on Oxnet that the limits for other currency are 20p for 1p and 2p coins; 5 pounds for 5p, 10p and 20p coins, and 10 pounds for 50p coins. (There is a space here for anyone who knows the status of the two pound coin.)

From: Malcolm Austen <malcolm@ermine.ox.ac.uk>

Scottish one pound notes are not, and never have been, legal tender in
England ... what's more they are not legal tender in Scotland
either! In fact the _only_ notes that have ever been legal tender in
Scotland are English one pound notes.

[L]egal tender has absolutely nothing to do with acceptable exchange in a
shop. Presumably because at the point you offer to pay, you don't have the
goods so the payment is not in settlement of a debt.
From: Robin Stevens <rejs@astro.ox.ac.uk>
Some older coins remain legal tender, including gold sovereigns and the
Victorian double florins (4/-), but they're generally worth rather more
than face value.

* 6.1. Surely nothing on the Internet is copyrighted?

It is not the case that publishing material on the Web puts it into the public domain. The content of a web page is automatically copyrighted to its creator at the moment of creation, whether or not that person makes an explicit assertion of their copyright. "10 Big Myths about copyright explained" at http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html is a valuable gloss on copyright issues, slanted towards the Internet.

From: Terry Boon <terence.boon@university-college.oxford.ac.uk>

Bainbridge's "Intellectual Property" (1996) tells us:

  The copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work of
  known authorship, having a single author, expires at the end of the
  period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year during which the
  author dies.

The diligent reader is referred to section 12(1) of the Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act 1988, which was amended by the Duration of
Copyright and Rights in Performances Regulations 1995, SI 1995/3297.

These regulations implemented the UK's part of the European harmonisation
of copyright law - before them, the duration was 50 years.

* 6.2 I have a lock on my bedroom door. Do I need a TV licence?

See http://www.tv-l.co.uk/faq.htm for what the TV licensing people have to say.

Section 7: Culture

* 7.1 Who is Henry Reed?

Henry Reed (1914-86)

http://redfrog.norconnect.no/~poems/poets/henry_reed.html has three of his most famous poems, but the link is broken as of March 2001. He was also responsible for a number of radio programmes involving Hilda Tablet. (This would explain why my web search for Hilda Bucket turned up no entries.)

http://www.is.bham.ac.uk/publications/research/autumn98/autumn1998.htm contains an account of the University of Birmingham's Henry Reed Collection and a short biography. The rest of his radio scripts are at the Third Programme archives at the University of Delaware.

* 7.2 Why do people keep making modest proposals?

Read this: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/25/019.html

Maintained by J E McKnight and J-P Stacey. All moral rights and copyrights to the compilation and arrangement relinquished by the maintainers, but all individuals' contributions remain copyright.