Saturday, January 27, 2007

Another census

Hey, hey, hey! It's time for another reader census!

The objective, as you may have noticed, is to see who's been reading my blog. Those from PC, PKMN.NET, Super Cheats, or the Dell Computer Corporation. I urge you, the reader, to post a comment here and tell me who you are. Go on. The lines are all open.

Monday, January 22, 2007

High school is no fun

When I left middle school, many things changed. For one thing, I wasn't able to get away with murder — well, that was the only thing I was aware of until recently.

In your public library, I'm purely assuming, there's probably a section called Young Adult Fiction. A lot of this stuff consists of television fanfics and novelisations — Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sweet Valley High — and dramatic kid novels that supposedly document a kid's adventure in seventh or eighth grade, or perhaps facing the impending age of seventeen. One book in particular at my library is modelled as a collection of blog entries and has a back cover that looks roughly like a profile you'd encounter on Bebo. This wasn't the thing that shocked me; rather, it was that the narrator was a thirteen-year-old girl. Just passed the COPPA clearance, a year away from eligibility on MySpace — and from the looks of it, one of many in a breed that's been hunched on the Internet so much that it partially governs their lives. Many of the teenage books on the shelf are in the same format — many girls under the age of consent blogging about their school life. (Now I understand why MySpace is taken so seriously.)

And this past Sunday I eavesdropped on some of the high-school freshmen that attend the youth summit with me chatting fervently about MySpace and comments made by boys they'd dumped or girls they'd faced off against. And there was me thinking that this was only supposed to be characteristic of high-school upperclassmen — how wrong I was.

These days, I'm starting to miss my old middle school days. I'm thinking that it should have remained the same through high school, but two things happened: There were three schools to which we could go without much hitch, and I went to the least popular of the three. On top of that, I'd decided that, after introspection, that it wouldn't be worth any effort to contact any of them thereafter, instead relying on chance encounters. As a result, I ended up where I had no support from anyone else except an uncle (who put pressure on me in his Physics classes). I was done with the graduating class merely because I was too lazy to attempt to connect.

When you compare my high school years to middle school years, it's no contest. Even though I had been in withdrawal for some middle school years, I couldn't love them more. It's probably due to the fact that I had people who knew me and admired me — probably for the wrong reasons, but I still had some sort of company. I was able to go to dances with them; we could simply trot down to their residences in cases of projects; secrets were few and far between. I only realised this when I looked through those books at the library — I found that my best years were back in the seventh and eighth grade, and they would remain the best as long as I lived. It doesn't matter to me that I had a big head back then but didn't realise it; I'm making this comparison using mind settings of those times for each one. Even if I hadn't been as big-headed, there still were dances and secrets. Someone was paired up and dances were always fun, even if you did get your helmet destroyed or got embarrassed trying to dance for the first time, later to sink so deep into it that you got a fetish for the next four years. The drawback, though, was that I had been hit in the face with a short anti-Pokémon spell, rumours going about that I was infatuated with a Muslim student, and (this killed the rumours right away) the stigma of having sworn at another student for spitting in the group's cheese dip.

In high school, though, this was not present. If it indeed was, it wasn't widespread. In my first year both major dances were cancelled due to attendance issues. Plus which, more anti-Pokémon sentiment was in the air, and it took four years to go away. It was only until year three, when the health sciences programme was in full swing, when anything started happening. Compared with the students who were either unhealthily obnoxious or immersed in their studies, the breed the nursing programme drew in was a mixture of the two. Sometimes you'd have a few who wouldn't really be learning to be a nurse (I wonder how their internships will go). All in all, however, they had some charisma; alas, since it's been three years since I started, I'm going to narrowly miss the real activity I could have had to rival the days of middle school.

And had those books mirrored what my life in seventh grade was like, I'd be a giddy little fish that James wouldn't stand — probably solely based on the possible ownership of a MySpace or Bebo account. But for my time, Kidz Bop did rule. At least that was enough.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Pattern switch

I promised myself that I'd update the blog on Monday when the outcome was decided, but the internship in the IT office, alas, has been cut short. The reason was that online courses were beginning on 16 January and instructors would be demanding work at specific dates thereafter. Now all that's left to do is summarise the last of the internship and the way the courses are flowing.

On Wednesday, Tim introduced me to Look@Lan and Remote Desktop Control. This was set up to watch over the workstations in the IT room (the one with the Macintosh computers; they just recently got more widescreens), on which, the instructor noted, students were goofing off. We watched the students work on Flash projects and stayed to capture anyone who delineated from the task. After a few minutes, we caught up with one of the students, who had been viewing a forum; Tim stepped in, took over the computer on which the forums were shown, closed the browser, and typed a message on Notepad to deter the student from doing it again. It took a few more interventions and Mike finally blacklisting the site before he gave up.

Then, at the end of the day, Nick was confronted by a girl in the class who had found another one of seemingly countless ways to circumvent ESS to access MySpace. We finally got the name of the site down when the circumvention occurred on one of the control screens and blacklisted it; as a result, she created a notice in Paint — a red background for the desktop on which were the words IF U CAN C THIS, LOSER. Another student joined in, writing DORK on his custom wallpaper. Thank God for Clean Slate. And an image we were doing for the IT instructor who ran the room which would prevent further circumvention of task.

On Friday, I was all alone in the office, save for Dot and Mike, so I ended up labelling a few envelopes before I decided to finish another image.

On Tuesday, however, I got the course books and was informed that my internship was to stop abruptly for the reasons I've already given. On the first day I was not able to access any of the WebCT courses due to the fact that my details had not been given to the database. I had trouble with CourseCompass as well, but when a counselor gathered a required access code, I was onto that immediately.

But the trouble didn't end there. On Wednesday I pulled the trial version of Visual Studio that came with my textbook out of the sleeve and installed it. However, when it installed .NET Framework 2.0, it fell silent. After a few attempts over the next two days, I decided to get another laptop. When that and moving to the library failed, I took the newer laptop up to Mike, who discovered that no prior version had been installed, making installation impossible. Today he had installed the prior version and installed everything from the disc, so I completed the week's course in about an hour. Everything's due on Monday now, it appears....

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Out and in

Yesterday Mike failed to show up, relegating me to the main office where I would help another senior sort out envelopes that were to contain mailers and recruitment notices. This senior managed to tell me that my permit to drive had expired as I had failed to show up for my examination, so on Friday I will need to file once more.

Today, though, he did turn up. The task of the day was to finish the computer that had reported the error of doom and return it to the nursing instructor; as it turned out, the keyboard had been antagonistic. Other than that, we just had to reinstall Windows XP on one computer, amid several tests that we found were unnecessary as the CD-ROM had merely doubted the integrity of the installation CD.

Mike, though, had something else on his mind. He had recently received a hard drive from Advanced Internet Management as an upgrade for the ESS firewall switch and was prepared to forward an announcement that the Internet would be down for a half hour whilst he installed it. This half-hour started right after lunch, when he returned from his own break. While it was a rather easy task removing the switch from the rack, the removal of the covering revealed something hilarious: Aside from the method of screwing the current hard drive into both the interface and the bottom plate, all the cables servicing the hard drive were secured with gel!

After fooling with the chisel, laughing at the lack of accommodation afforded by the gel method, we put the switch back in. The next step would be to figure out why the login details to the interface were not maintained as promised.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

'Dell can go to hell' — Zapdos

There should be a post on The Sky Temple of Lugia and Articuno in which Zapdos consoles a member who turned to Dell for his or her computer problems by saying the line 'Dell can go to hell'. The truth I knew was that Dell had done a right job of outsourcing, meaning that the majority of the technical support were operating in India, which — and I do not intend to offend any readers of Indian descent — due to many employees having to juggle two or three indigenous languages (out of more than 50 from what I've heard) with English, resulted in either faulty communication at the core or rather insufficient knowledge of the model in question. The case today in the office was the latter — Zapdos' line said it all, and now it's a post on my blog.

The day started normally but ended up revolving around one maintenance request that should have remained moderate. A nursing instructor had reported connectivity problems with a few of the laptops in the room's chest (no doubt attributed to the reconfiguration of the switches yesterday). We went down there and ensured that all other networks were not being accepted and that the computers were responding optimally to the new network configuration. They all did as we had hoped.

Then there were beeps.

One of the laptops emitted a long sequence of beeps before booting Windows XP — for those of you who may be able to figure it out, it was 24 followed by 10 followed by 11 — or thereabout, as Tim, the person working with me, doubted whether I had counted correctly as my tally changed often as he heard the sequence over and over. Regarding this as a fatal error, we returned all the other laptops and took this one upstairs.

The first idea was to ensure that it wasn't a connectivity error. When it was resolved that it wasn't, we did what may have depleted our stock by one: try Dell's support chat. The representative that spoke with us started by telling us to go to the 'PC Card' icon in the Classic Control Panel (there is none) and then told us to make sure the memory was in place. The memory was in place, and nothing abnormal occurred once Windows booted, besides run slowly even with 50 processes. By the time the clock told me to go to lunch, the representative had told us to dismantle the laptop and then turn it back on.

When I returned from lunch, the hard drive, NIC, memory, battery, and keyboard were out. From what Tim told me, the representative had actually closed the chat due to inactivity whilst he was unscrewing the desktop. In defeat, we just decided to place it on the desk for Mike, the IT head. He did glance at it when he returned, but not before turning to Tim, the other employee Nick, and me with a sceptical countenance and saying, 'What happened here?'

Does Hewlett-Packard have good education deals?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


What an eventful span of two days.

As you know, I am in the technology department of my school as an intern for the next four weeks, and two days have passed since I've entered. Now everything I've been taught last year in networking classes is starting to flood back into me.

Basically the routine will be like this for the next few days: I'll pick up my lunch, hang out on the boom as usual before the session begins, and then retreat upstairs to the data processing room. This room, as you may have guessed, is probably the most enigmatic room to any IT student as it's where the MySpace blockage, Clean Slate woes, and computer maintenance executions originate. When you actually enter the room, however, it's a very orchestrated disarray. Due to the transformation of the entire network, as I've explained before, we've needed to get whole new servers and fiddle with models in use to see how things would work. Combining this with the official release of Windows Media Player 11 and Internet Explorer 7 results in a trunkload of maintenance requests, many of them being fifteen-second reinstatements of the proxy settings from before. (The proxy is, and the installation of a new switch affords only the principals of the schools subject to the network and the police officers unrestricted Internet access; supposedly the Macintosh computers are affected as well. I'm not going to throw my dice on it just yet.)

As far as it has been, it's been quite lively and never falls short of an opportunity to move, except in the case of the IT head, who enjoys being able to monitor every device from one laptop (Alienware, which I seriously need to consider come September). We, though, have been moving from computer to switch to computer or any way around; today was mandatory reconfiguration of the switches in the three buildings that comprise my school and the school next door, while yesterday we gathered IP addresses and subjected computers to external drive capability. (The latter required the use of a master password to suspend Clean, do you think I'd really tell you that?) I work alongside two paid workers, one of which seems to have some website plan in mind involving Flash and has congratulated me for 'coming to the good side' after the proxy mess from last year.

I hope this blog qualifies for the journal assignment that had been mentioned but never formally administered.