Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Technology & Libraries

This week, though only three days old, has been one inundated with technology. I do not mean library technology such as databases, the Internet, or even an OPAC (a relatively dead acronym, but one I like to toss out every now and again just to prove I remember what it means). I do mean the sixteen computers and their peripherals I am responsible for maintaining, trouble-shooting, and turning in help tickets for when the blue-screen-of-death appears.

The IT department uses partitions and ghost images to help preserve system integrity. For several years, restoring computers meant using a re-imaging disk. With grant money, I was able to purchase computers for the center two summers ago, so the equipment is relatively new. Feeling very protective towards these lovely Gateways, increased usage begat the practice being added to my daily routine. Removing unnecessary downloads and restoring the original desktop, fabulous! It was a bit cumbersome since I could only do two computers at a time, but the process significantly lowered the number of help tickets, computer complaints, and out of order signs in the resource center. In July, the technician assigned to my computers added a restore shortcut to the desktop. No more disk and since I have over five network logins to my name the procedure was quicker, at least until I used the shortcut on Monday morning.

I was showing someone how simple it was to restore the computer and demonstrated using the GA system. It restored with ease, but restored to the previous image. Three new network software applications disappeared and the shortcut itself was gone. Sure that it was a fluke, I hastened over to a second computer to see if I had done something wrong. Unfortunately not, the same thing happened again. I left a note telling everyone not to use the re-imaging shortcut, akin to closing the door after the cows get out, but stopping the carnage at two computers was imperative. The computers were still usable, just missing a few software choices. I submitted a help ticket around 9:00 am and after lunch my technician was in the center and fixing the problem. Point of fact, she spent most of Monday and Tuesday fixing every computer and as of this morning all systems were go. She is indeed a Godsend, not only repairing the problem but also keeping me apprised of the status.

All but three of the sixteen computers have scanners and this morning the first thing on my to-do list was checking each of them and culling out the unsalvageable units. One was causing fits Tuesday afternoon, the power cord lifeless. I have a bad/good habit of keeping bits and pieces of cords and other stuff from units that die. In this case it was a good habit since I was able to use one such power cord and save a scanner. Eternal optimist, I determined it might take me an hour to login and check each scanner. Unbeknownst to me, the update included new software for scanners. Why, you might ask, is that an issue? Each scanner has accompanying instructions that were no longer usable and I have two different scanner models.

Translated that means:

  • Two updated sets of user directions were needed.
  • Screen shots for two sets of directions were needed.
  • The employee handbook had to be updated with new directions.
  • The bulleting board with old scanner directions was now moot.
  • Student workers have to be trained to use the new software.

What should have taken an hour from my early morning schedule took three hours to compile and three hours to create. When I left the handbook had six new additions concerning the new scanners and every system, with the exception of a very dead scanner (students keep messing with the USB cables and it is damaged beyond repair), everything worked and had color corresponding tutorials. Not to shabby for someone who had exactly one technology class during her grad work and none of this was covered.

I'm relieved, proud, thankful, and a bit smug. Isn't technology fun? If today was talk like a pirate day I'd be able to lower the Jolly Roger in victory.

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