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The week that was


The first full week back at work for 2014 has come and gone. Although the kids were only back for 3 of the 5 days last week, it was a pretty hectic time. We have a handful of new staff, though not as many as previous years. Other staff who arrived during the course of 2013 have more than settled in and have become part of the fabric of the school.

From the IT side of things, we’ve had a busy, though not insane time. Compared to the start of 2013, things have gone a lot smoother this year. We discovered a handful of our computers that were very reluctant to start up after the long holiday break – this is due to their power supply units being very crappy parts. These will be replaced in due course over the next while, which will sort that problem out and also lead to some quieter computers.

After a long delay, we were finally able to get 6U swing frame cabinets from our one supplier. We received the boxes on Friday, only to discover that instead of a pre-assembled cabinet, we got flat packed cardboard boxes. While it is annoying to have to assemble the cabinet, thankfully it isn’t too difficult, and while the packed in instructions could be better, we managed to get by. Now the fun part is trying to find a spot where we can remove the old cabinet in our chosen venue, mount the new one, replace the switch with a POE version and then re-patch all 24 floor cables down into the patch panel. That’s going to mean a lot of time spent on the top of a ladder, which I am not looking forward to at all.

4 new PC’s also arrived on Friday, which will help us finally eliminate Windows XP from the network, along with Office 2007. One current PC needs to be formatted and reloaded, and it can replace another XP box. I am extremely glad that we will finally be rid of XP, all on Windows 7. The next step is to try and get more machines onto 64 bit, in eventual preparation before we move to Windows 8.1 or whatever next version of Windows.

One PC we replaced on Thursday went a lot smoother than I anticipated really. The bursar’s assistant has always been a very prickly person when it comes to her PC. We bought a machine last year for her, but could never get her migrated as she was always too busy. Finally we did it last week after her old PC finally irritated her enough. The swap over went so smoothly I was actually surprised. With the exception of a spread sheet that needed to be recreated from Quattro Pro, everything seems to be in order.

I released Internet Explorer 10 across the school, which turned out to be a slight disaster. I released it in a limited fashion last year, and while the staff work room was a good testing area, one thing wasn’t accounted for: new users logging onto the computers. The problem with IE 10 is that it longer accepts configuration info from a certain section of Group Policy. Normally I wouldn’t be too phased, except that this section includes the setting for proxy servers. Big problem there. Old users would have had the settings stored from when IE 9 was on the computers, but new users wouldn’t have these settings, resulting in no internet or access to Outlook Web Access. Suffice to say, we are now busy removing IE 10 from all classroom computers until such stage as it can be better managed. Offices we’ll leave it on, since those are highly static areas that don’t see new people too often.

Lastly, a lot of time was spent getting info into our new school admin package, Staffroom. Grade 8 pupils were imported in bulk, as well as individual new learners. A temporary data capturer is busy updating all the student records, slow process that it may be. I’m busy pushing everyone as hard as I can at the moment, as I really want us to get away from EduAdmin. The more we keep using EduAdmin, the more we realise just how out-dated and un user friendly the package is. Hopefully this week I can take the absentee lists from last week and get them captured into Staffroom.

From tomorrow, things really should start settling down and everyone should start getting into the swing of things. It’s going to be busy again, but hopefully less hectic than this last week. Running around like a headless chicken is never fun.

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