This is why I don’t let users change their own printer cartridges

I was in a classroom today when the teacher told me that they hadn’t used their printer in years because it was broken.

At least, I think that’s what they said, because whenever someone tells me they haven’t used a printer in years, what I hear is “Despite my annual protestations, I don’t actually need my own personal printer, please take it away”.

Which I did.

However, when I went to remove the cartridges for recycling, I found out why it didn’t work.

As much as I hate changing printer cartridges, I put up with it because this is the inevitable alternative.

Google not loading first time in IE11 via a web proxy on Windows 8.1? Turn off SPDY support.

Update 14/03/14: According to Microsoft, this problem is fixed in the March 2014 Cumulative security update for Internet Explorer. However, I was able to immediately reproduce the problem even after the update was installed, so the below still applies as far as I’m concerned.

As my former boss Bond once said, “If you’re going to live on the cutting edge, you’ve got to expect some blood”. One of the many joys of being an early adopter is finding stupid bugs before everyone else, and so as I began wide-scale testing of Windows 8.1 at my school, we found this one.

In a nutshell, pretty much every time we tried to load www.google.com in Internet Explorer 11, we got a “This page can’t be displayed” message, yet the site would inexplicably load fine just by clicking refresh. We saw the same with other Google sites such as Gmail and Google Drive – but most sites seemed immune. Both the desktop and Modern UI versions of IE were affected.

Like most schools, our web access goes via an HTTP proxy so that content not suitable for the 5 year-old cherubs can be filtered out. We use Smoothwall, which is one of the better filtering products out there, but so many applications are not designed with proxy support in mind that it does occasionally cause problems. It’s very rare for any mainstream browser to have a problem with proxies, but when I bypassed it, the problem immediately went away. What was more curious was that we were already running Internet Explorer 11 on our Windows 7 workstations too, and they didn’t have any problems.

Read More…

Doesn’t even need a plug on it any more…

It’s a common complaint in school IT support departments that they are treated as general dogs-bodies there to help with any electrical appliance at all. VCRs, kettles, microwaves, desk lamps… the saying goes that “if it has a plug on it, it must be IT”.

Today set a new low for that sentiment, when I was asked to supply new AA batteries for an electric pencil sharpener.

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…