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Archive for November, 2010

Upgrading the Computer Rooms

November 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Our school has two computer rooms/labs. The first one is filled with the best computers, and it is where my colleague and I make our home. The other computer lab is on the other side of the school and is filled with machines 2 years older at any given point than the main lab computers.

The school has a policy of upgrading the main lab every 2 years, with the older kit going into the second lab, with the oldest stuff already in the second lab being sold or circulated in the school, depending on age.

Today, the first batch of 20 computers arrived, out of a total of 40. There are no monitors yet, as they will come last. For the moment, the computers are just sitting in our main lab, as we disconnect the computers presently there and perform a good spring cleaning of the room. It’s been a hectic day preparing things. Dusting out the present computers is no fun task, but it has to be done. 2 years worth of dust is not good for those machines, as attested by some noisy fans.

The new computers are equipped with Intel Core i3’s, 4GB DDR3 ram, 500GB hard drives and onboard Intel graphics. There is no optical drive in these computers, as they would be damaged by the students over the life of the machine. It also helps to prevent ripping of cd’s and watching of DVD’s.

Over the next few days, we will continue disconnecting old computers in the main lab and moving them over to the second lab, dusting, cleaning and so forth. After all the physical labour, we need to deploy our Windows 7 images onto the computers and hope that the FOG cloning software can get them renamed and joined to the domain. Luckily, thanks to the power of multicasting, a tedious job otherwise only needs to run once.

The net result of all this activity will be a brand new shiny main computer lab, a second lab that is far more capable than ever before, and all the really old rubbish Celeron based computers in the school being tossed out and sold. The faster the computers are, the happier staff are likely to be.

This is a major process, but because we are starting much earlier than our network migration last year, we are on track to be done within the next two weeks or so.

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Interesting times with new copiers

November 14, 2010 Leave a comment

After much complaining and campaigning by my colleague and myself, the school eventually got its act together and set out to obtain new copiers to replace the rubbish Sharp machines I mentioned here. After a number of proposals, time spent taking them to the governing body and so forth, the school decided to invest in a solution from Nashua, based on Ricoh copiers. We have received a massive refurbished Aficio 2105, as well as a much smaller brand new colour Aficio MP 2050. The 2105 is a massive beast of a machine, capable of up to 105 pages a minute, as well as stapling, punching and booklet making with an extended device. The school went for all the bells and whistles basically.

After some limited testing, we found the 2105 to jam if we even looked at it. After having the senior techs from Nashua in, it was determined that the paper quality was not good enough for such a high volume high speed machine. Of all the things that could cause issues, this was something no one had thought of. It turns out that the paper we were using is fine for anything except this high speed machine. Once that issue was sorted out, the machine began to really earn its keep, printing out exam papers, booklets and other odds and ends. The machine still jams, mainly in the morning, before settling down and working like a workhorse for the rest of the day. These minor teething problems have been annoying, but the machine has more than proved its worth already.

The MP 2050 colour machine is a bit slow, but it works like a champ as well. I put through a 4050 colour page print job, the copier only jammed 3 times, and each jam wasn’t actually a jam. Next year we intend to make this copier available to students who want to print in colour, with an appropriate charge of course.

Next year, we will be getting a small multi function to fax, scan, copy and print in our front office, replacing 1 aging terrible fax machine, and a small Sharp copier. We will also be getting a medium sized copier/printer for our staff work room, which will give the staff the chance to print/copy small volumes.

The existing Sharp copiers are going to be collected in about 2 weeks time, and I for one am incredibly happy to see them go. From poor copy quality to lack of features, poor repair time and piss poor Windows drivers, we will finally be getting somewhere in reducing the school’s printing costs. After that, I would like to see some of the small printers in the classrooms going, as these are also open drain plugs for money.

There is still quite a while to go with the various areas that need attention, but I for one am very happy to see progress on this front. Next major overhaul will probably be the telephone system once the contract on that rubbish Samsung PABX system runs out.

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