Cool Solutions

Crazy Times and People


August 19, 2011 11:05 am





So, I thought I would write about some of the things I have seen and heard in education, some of it can be a bit frustrating and irritating if it was not so ridiculous. So I want to post it here to get it off my chest.

So as a little background. I work for a School district of about 10K kids and 1K employees. We have always used Novell as our NOS and it has served us well. We support 1000 computer per tech and have almost instant service (except of course around school start). We standardized on Windows Desktop about 10 years ago when we had twice the number of techs, half the computers and were 4 months behind on requests. So we have come quite some way since then.

As you might imagine we do not support macs, we do not have macs or ipads, or iphones so we never even looked at integrating them.

So this is where it starts:

We get a new Superintendent. He is not here more then a couple of days before he makes the announcement that we are behind on technology. He tells me this and his sole reason for this is because his iPhone (which we did not support) did not sync to our email and he cannot get his calendar and contacts on it. This was the first time I even knew he wanted it to sync but we are behind because of that.
So I download Novell Datasync, install it and the GroupWise plugin and voala in a matter of less then a day it syncs. I configured his new ipad with the settings ( in the mean time he is using gmail and making his secretaries to copy everything over to gmail). So I get the iPad to work on the local wireless but need to update Internet DNS and let it propagate to configure access outside the network. So the Sup. takes his iPad home for the weekend and I get it back monday to test access via the Internet (which works) but I notice calendar is not showing GW events so I check the settings and he turned off Contacts and Calendar sync for GroupWise. So I guess he just wants the feeling that he can sync it if he wants?

Second Super fun bite. We lost our director and one of my techs meets with the Super to discuss possibly applying for the position. The super just got his new 27″ iMac and tells the tech he has already seen a 20% increase in productivity with the new Mac over the PC. The reasoning was that he could run two applications side by side on that humungous screen. I am not sure how he quantified the increase, especially seeing as his PC had a 17″ screen and he never used in the first place. I have to give me tech credit though, he said we have been doing that for over a year with dual screens. Not sure if the Super knows that PC’s come with 27″ screens as well, in fact it would have cost a lot less to just buy one for his current computer then it would have been to buy himself the new Mac. I do not think this guy knows that schools are a little short on money.

Another Super fun bite. One of our schools needs more storage, we use Fiber channel SAN for storage so we get a quote of another enclosure that would add 10TB to the SAN. Anyone that works on SANs know that storage is not cheap for SANs. So we send the req up and the Super stops it because he can not understand why 10 Terabytes is so expensive when he can buy a 1 TB Mac drive for $140. I end up having to give him a lesson on what the difference is between Fiber channel enclosures and hard drives. especially consumer grade drives and corporate grade dirves and the cost differences. This guy is a self professed tech expert, he taught C programming in high school, I guess C programming qualifies you to know everything about computers and networking.

I am sure there will be more to come. I may throw some teacher stuff in to, the Super is a little to easy right now to deviate yet.

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Categories: Expert Views, GroupWise


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  1. By:FlyingGuy

    You can look at this two ways.

    1. These people are a major PITA and should be ignored to the greatest extent possible since their tenors are typically short and the next PHB will want to do something different anyway.

    2. See this as an opportunity to greatly expand your influence by simply feeding his ego and then building the system up to the point where his simplistic mind cannot understand it and will eventually STFU.

    This is the major problem for the IT folks. You get PHB’s who don’t really know what they are talking about but have heard enough buzz words that they think they know what they are talking about and so in the new position they feel like if they don’t do something then why the hell were they hired to begin with.

    Teachers – On the other end of the spectrum you have the people with the least authority trying their damnedest to do this impossible with almost nothing. Those are the people the need the most support, but they also need the most guidance and you spend a lot of time with them showing them how to accomplish what they need to get done with what they have.

    Doing the technology dance is difficult at best and maddening at worst. Just when you think you have it running on damn near on autopilot someone will come around and decide your not on the right course and typically they will come in the form of consultants that the school board contracts with. Suddenly crawling all over your stack and reporting back that since you are not using the latest thing from Microsoft you are in the stone age. They should just be taken out and shot.

  2. By:cafetom

    Hey there,

    We can dedicate an entire website to the self proclaimed technology experts with master and doctorate degrees in educational technology.
    From my experience in education, anything outside of education is either perceived as not really there (completely ignoring the reality that anything outside of education existing), or that since they set the standards in what technology is, the elevator only goes to the 2nd floor of technology. Pay no attention to the other 50 floors.
    I sat in on a master’s program class for educational technology. Now…think…masters program, advanced level. The class was called ‘Advanced Technology’ and was a 400 level class. I really wanted to see what was coming out of there. Second semester of the class. They were talking about Ping, Telent (purposely misspelled because that was on the ‘smartboard’), HTTP and HTTPS, and FTP. REALLY?
    I raised my hand as a guest and asked if part of this advanced technology class had anything to do with the OSI model. The instructor who has a PHD in Technology said (paraphrased) “We are forward thinking and are not bound by the constraints of what others have to say about technology. We have our own model.”
    Not wanting to argue, (I know), I asked if he would share his model with me. He said he is. First there was Ping, then Telent, and the ftp, and now the Internet (by Al Gore) I made that last part up.

    So this is what is really wrong. If the educational institution only goes to the 2nd floor of technology and proclaims it as the TOP LEVEL, how can we even expect our teachers or admin staff to even have a grasp on the other 48 floors?

    Last year I had a teacher told me that the web site was broken. I asked if she could get to it and she said she could through IE but not through ping. Huh? She had been told somewhere along the line that if she would be able to set a ping -t to a web site, it would give her faster speeds. And because she couldn’t ping it, it must be down and that she needed it working right away. I shared that ICMP is blocked through the firewall. She didn’t care about ICMP, she only wanted ping.

    Again, I am sure we can have 100 years of reading of the School Follies of Technology. Remind me to share the DHCP story, and how it isn’t a curriculum approved software. 🙂


    • By:blittrell

      That is too funny, I know exactly where you are coming from but the whole (we make our own model) just made me smile.

      You know I am working on the 24 year college degree model, mostly because of classes like that, where I go in there and I am like, is this Computers 101? How many times do you need to create a “Hello World” program before it gets a little old. My biggest issue with academic programming was that they never got deeper them what was in the basic C/C++ libraries, so accessing advanced stuff like networking or even how to integrate with web servers and such just was not there. Maybe it is there in the real world and it is trial by fire but that was frustrating.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing, that was great. I was surprised to find my blog on Cool Solutions, I got the email and was like, “oh crap”, but then I realized I am the only one that gets it here.