Archive for October, 2016

Teaching with Windows 10

October 13, 2016

This summer I switched the school computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10 with the thought the kids should use what they are most likely to encounter in the “real” world.    In other words, I had good intentions.  It is an operating system, what could go wrong?  Zoiks.  The updates is what could go wrong.  I use mostly non-domain computers in my classes.  Loaner laptops the kids can take home or the kids use their own laptops.  Let it sit for a day or two, turn it on and there is an update downloading.  Some of the kids know how to turn off the auto-update feature, some do not.  I have tried to turn off the auto-update on the domain computers through Group Policy but for some odd reason it does not do to much.  This is one of those lovely unplanned things that can throw a class schedule off.  Today one of the kid’s loaners started an update when he turned it on at the beginning of class.  It was still cranking 90 minutes later.  He did not get much done.

Interruptions like this are in my programming assignment due-date planning.  All my due dates are “to be determined”.  Not a big deal but it can mess with the class progression and it does throw off the kid’s “flow”.

Automatic updates should never be the default.  They should not be weekly.

Techs all over the state are complaining about this feature of Windows 10.  Labs being useless while Windows 10 updates take over.

I like Windows 10.  I just wish Microsoft had written it right the first time so they do not have to keep updating it.  Or at least cut the updates to once a month.

The obvious solution is to have a WSUS server so the updates are not acquired by the client computers from the internet but from the WSUS server and the WSUS server is scheduled to hand out the updates at a convenient time, like midnight on Saturday.  Building a WSUS server is one of those little tasks I have not had the time to learn how to do.

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Death of a Server

October 1, 2016

Tuesday I had a server die.  The hard drive was making a loud clicking noise which is a bad thing for hard drives.  (I had a student tear it apart just out of curiosity.  The read/write head had actually scratched the disk.)  It was not an important server; it was the student files server and most of the kids are on the cloud.  The box itself was an old Dell Optiplex 320 with a single drive running Windows Server 2008.  It was not really intended by Dell to run as long as it did, I figure about 6 years as a server without a break.  I thought I had a mirror drive in the box.  So much for thinking and not checking.  Originally I was not even going to replace the server but two teachers did use the server for students to turn in homework.  One of the teachers was the elementary tech teacher.  K-4 do not have Google accounts so this is how she collects their computer work.  For her this is an excellent solution so I had to replace the server.  Not a big deal box-wise.  I have a staff file server that is not used by many of the staff (the cloud again) so all I have to do is create a folder, share it and point the student’s domain policy at that folder with a drive mapping.  Piece of cake.  Yah, right.  I do this kind of stuff once in a blue moon.

The staff server is Server 2012.  Server 2012 has a slick process for mapping users to drives.  I tinker for a couple of hours.  Now I can do this mapping one student at a time by manually putting the folder address in their policy one at a time.  A real pain.  I continue to tinker with no luck.  I probably have some folder permission buggered up.  I tinker some more and finally resign myself to pasting the mapping into every student’s profile.  Bummer.  I am sitting there looking at this long list of names that I am going to have to do one at a time when I am struck by a moment of brilliance.  Can I highlight the kids and paste in a generic username and have it work?  Yup, I can.  Two minutes later I am done.

So here are some lessons learned.

  1. Mirror a spare drive in these non-multidrive servers.  I will check the staff server Monday.
  2. File permissions are an ugly mess when trying to learn them by trial and error. I need a class.
  3. I could have done the paste thing three hours earlier. Sometimes doing what you know how to do even if it looks tedious is better than trying something new that you do not know how to do.

I have been the school’s sole techie for 10 years and I am always amazed by how little I really know about the job.  There is always something like this coming up that takes me hours to figure out when there is a 5-minute solution if I knew what I was doing.  Every time I do something like this I learn new stuff but by the time I have to do I again I have forgotten what I learned.

I have had to learn this job by 100% on the job training but with all the headaches, stress from lack of knowledge, lack of time to learn the job properly and duct tape solutions due to lack of budget this job is still more fun than a box full of kittens.