Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Short notice (as usual)

People (users) have consistently underestimated what we do in an IT department throughout the various places I have worked. "I need some software on every computer for my lesson in 5 minutes" and "can we have some laptops getting in for this afternoon" were the sorts of requests I heard often.

Another such request happened this afternoon. There was an email exchange between one of my colleagues and a member of staff about getting some wireless installed for a conference of 40 people next week. I was told this afternoon that the conference would now take place tomorrow morning and everyone will need wireless access.

So that left me with just a few hours this afternoon to:

Configure a Power over Ethernet switch or arrange power into the rooms/ceiling voids.

Configure switches for trunking wireless VLAN traffic.

Configure Access Points and setup correct security and keys.

Setup on Cisco WCS.

Run cables into areas the access points where needed, possibly using temporary trunking or finding a way to keep the cables out of the way and using hazard tape/strips to prevent tripping.

Finding a way to fix the access points temporarily so as not to damage the facilities but also prevent them being damaged or stolen.

Test they work with 'guest' keys and cover areas required.

Not to mention all the other jobs that were in for this afternoon, and that, because of the short notice, I had to do it by myself.

... and then staff just assume you just plugged it in and it worked.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Google Spreadsheets

We are currently in the process of moving over to Google Apps for Education. Today I used a rather awesome feature in Google Spreadsheets.

If you start filling in the spreadsheet with fields and then highlight what you have put in so far, press Ctrl and hold the bottom right corner, now expand the highlighted are as far as you want to go and it will auto-fill the rest of the rows or columns.

I tried it with prime ministers, football teams, cities and colours and it works really well.

Hopefully this tip could save you some time.


The rise and rise of the tablet

More and more staff are getting tablets for use at work. For that reason we have Blackberry Playbook on trial for testing.



I was playing with it this morning and was quite impressed. The swiping from off-screen (to access menus or home screen) takes a bit of getting used to but it seems to be a pretty decent device. It is quick and smooth and the menus fairly tidy. The camera was good and there was no problem getting it on our network. It is quite light but doesn't feel flimsy.

I downloaded the telnet client from the app world (Blackberry apps store) but it seems to work with Linux servers and not Cisco devices so it wouldn't be much use for us support staff.

Blooming iOS

It taunts me...


When I started my job I was told to get an iPhone for work as we had thousands of users with iOS and Apple devices and I should know how to troubleshoot and fix them. This I thought was brilliant... until I actually tried to use it.

This morning I was tweeted a link for an interesting article and what I got was the screen above. It even mocks Apple users by saying 'click here to see a wide array of the latest smartphones and tablets that do support Adobe's Flash Player'. This is probably what would stop me ever getting an iPad.

I hate iTunes, I hate the lack of Flash, I hate the way you currently have to do updates, I hate that lots of downloads don't work over 3G. I look forward to the improvements in iOS 5 and am thankful it is being released for the 3GS, but how will it run? My fear is slowly.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Missing phone...

I patched up a phone line for Chemistry this morning and being the thorough, conscientious employee I am I went to the room to make sure it was working before heading back off to the office.

This is what I found:


a very long LJU cable and following it, where does it go...


it disappears OUT THE WINDOW (along with some Cat5e).

After going down three floors and round the back of the building it seems to go into another room somewhere further along the building. Unfortunately all the other rooms it could go to were locked so it was not possible to test the handset or investigate the need for this type of cabling.

I will now try to find somebody and explain why it might be better to use a socket in the room or, if they are all in use, put in a new socket.