Archive by Author | The Angry Technician

Dear pupils trying to download Minecraft

After the 4th time in 2 minutes that the antivirus program blocks your Minecraft.exe download from a dodgy third-party site, you should perhaps take the hint that:

  1. that isn’t a legit copy of Minecraft, and
  2. that isn’t what you should be doing in an English lesson anyway.

The antivirus emails me when it blocks a threat. So I’ve had a few emails. Don’t be surprised if I remote view your screen, take some screenshots, and forward them to your teacher.

Copyright

This afternoon I watched a pupil Alt+Tab between Google and Paint while he painstakingly redrew by hand a logo he had found on Google Images.

Either he’s never heard of copy & paste, or he’s taking respect for copyrighted images incredibly seriously.

Alarming

It is a fact that on 9 out of 10 times the maintenance company comes in to look at our fire alarms, they will manage to set them off by accident without warning.

Sometimes they’ll do it out of term time, and only upset the holiday activities that everyone else forgot were on site

Sometimes they’ll do it in the early evening and irritate certain site residents who were in the shower after an entire day moving computer equipment.

And sometimes, they’ll do it right in the middle of a massive sports tournament while teams from 30 other schools are on site, leading to the Headmaster thundering across the school to the admin building like a bat out of hell to see whose backside needs kicking.

Enabling Dvorak for the Windows 8.1 on-screen keyboard

I’ve always been curious about the Dvorak keyboard layout, but the difficulty (and expense) of finding a quality keyboard to try it with has meant I never actually have tried it.

Then it occurred to me: I only ever use the on-screen keyboard on my Microsoft Surface (since I was too cheap to buy a type cover), and that can be remapped fairly simply:

The result:

Dvorak in IE 11

It’s safe to say you develop a new found appreciation for auto-complete immediately after turning it on. I am now taking bets on how long it takes me to switch back (place your bet on the back of a £50 note to the usual address). If nothing else, it certainly gives you an insight into how difficult children find using a QWERTY keyboard for the first time…

Not Very Good

It’s quite commonly accepted that being able to use a computer is an important part of many professional jobs these days, including being a teacher at a modern school.

It’s certainly important at our school.

So when you walk in to your first day’s IT induction and declare “I’m not very good with computers,” you’re basically walking in on your first day and proclaiming to your new employer “I’m not very good at an important part of the job you’ve hired me for.”

Do not be surprised if this adversely affects my opinion of you.

Some thoughts on the Start button

Windows 8.1 Start Button

Windows 8.1 has arrived, and with it we herald the triumphant return of the Start button. My response to the complaints over its absence in Windows 8 was simply “press the one on the keyboard”, but as I pondered how that response has gone down with users over the last year, I came to a realisation.

There are 3 basic types of computer users:

  1. Those who never noticed that almost every keyboard they have used for at least the last 10 years has a Windows key on it.
  2. Those who have wondered for 10 years what that key on the keyboard does.
  3. Those who pressed it 10 years ago and found out.

Dear School Trip Leader

When I tell you not to copy photos of children from the residential trip onto your personal laptop, it’s not just because there is a school policy forbidding it.

It’s not just to protect you from unwarranted accusations of impropriety regarding the photos of children you are storing.

And it’s not just because it’s a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

It’s also because your personal computer is a MacBook, and every time I have to spend an hour unpicking the vague error messages that iPhoto spits out when trying to export those photos, it makes me want to smash that MacBook over your head repeatedly.

Love and kisses,
AngryTechnician

Speaker Trouble

A few weeks ago while installing replacement workstations, I came across a ‘pair’ of speakers that didn’t work properly. The ‘pair’ were in fact two completely different speakers that happened to have compatible interconnects. They needed a 15V power supply, but had a 9V one. The 9V power supply plug was held in with blue-tack because it didn’t fit properly.

Nobody had ever reported this problem.

Area of Expertise

Recently I had the dubious honour of tidying up a laptop that a colleague had handed down to them by their son who “works for Cisco”.

It quickly became clear he had put absolutely zero effort in getting the laptop ready for use by a normal person. Highlights of this disaster area were:

  • Windows XP SP2, with IE7, and no updates.
  • Firfox 3.6.
  • Graphics driver not installed.
  • Remnants of various online gambling apps and IE toolbars.
  • 10GB system partition (NTFS compressed, naturally) with the rest of the 60GB drive in a second partition that had nothing on it.

I’m sure this guy is a fine network engineer, but remind me never to hire former Cisco employees to do any kind of workstation management.

Unreported

According to my collection of Minidump logs, there have been 257 Blue Screens of Death across our entire computer estate since Jan 2011.

Staff have reported the problem exactly 1 time.