Friday, December 18, 2009

One Week

This past week has been a whole heck of a lot busier than I expected it to be. Finals week was last week so most of the students (except those that work in the vet hospital) are gone until January. The administration/classroom building where I work is relatively quiet.

We have a few small computer labs sprinkled about for the students to use to access the internet, printers, network resources, etc. The computers use a third-party program to allow the students to log in using their own names and passwords. This program, in turn, asks the directory servers if they got it right. The program needs to give the directory servers a name and password the directory server recognizes so the program uses what we call a service account. It was time to change the password on the service account so I had to refresh the software on all of the lab computers. It's not terribly hard since we use a program called Ghost to take a snapshot of one computer we updated and copy that snapshot out to all of the lab machines. We could do all of them at once but we do it in batches due to geography. It takes most of a day to accomplish.

Now comes the really busy part. Besides learning about all of the lab machines you didn't know were out there, there are several computers in the department that log in automatically... using the service account. It didn't hit me until later that the password needed to be updated on each of them as well. And I don't have a clue where all of them are.

The process is relatively simple. I have to disable the drive protection program we use (you could delete half the hard drive and a reboot would put it back where it was), run a registry file that takes about a second to update the password, then re-enable the protection program. depending on the age of the computer, it takes anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes (a lot of them are somewhat slow). The problem is that you have to touch each computer using this method. The Ghost thing is impractical since the hardware and software can be vastly different.

Some of the auto-login computers were easy to find and clustered (like around the nurses station in the small animal area of the hospital). With others I can only be reactive, responding to a call that it keeps asking to renew credentials or some such error. Still others I notice as I walk by and update before anyone knows it was broken.

This process, a couple of long-standing issues, and regular calls have kept me largely away from my desk for most of the week. I've been getting a lot of exercise, though.

This week I also helped a friend set up a new computer. Between last night and Tuesday night, I spent about six hours with her. I was technician and teacher actually physically setting up the computer, installing software, getting the two computers to talk to each other over the network, going over the basics of Windows 7, and helping her to understand how to copy her data from her old computer to the new one (don't even go down the files and settings transfer road - or whatever they're calling it now. We tried that. The older computer didn't like it... not at all). With that, I've seen my wife this week about as much as I've seen my desk chair... which ain't much so I am infinitely glad it's Friday.

To top it off, it's one week until Christmas!!! (see, there I go again tying the title to the start and the end of the post) Everyone have a good time and safe journeys in whichever holiday you choose to (or not to) celebrate.

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