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Stress can be a good thing – Yeah right! June 13, 2008

Posted by davidit in Uncategorized.
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As I have mentioned earlier, you can wait for ages for something to happen and then just like a London Bus, two come at once.  Perhaps many of you will be more familiar with the notion that ‘things come in threes’ just what the things are and whether they are positive or negative things depends upon your personal outlook and your philosophical take on life.

If I could have planned the last two weeks I would have certainly not planned it like they have turned out!  Right in the middle of report writing season our Primary Domain Controller decided to blow a gasket!  Well it blew a hard drive and I was faced with a dilema.  Repair the disk (it was a striped array on a 6 year old HP server) and nurse the ailing machine through the rest of the year then retire it as planned this Christmas.  The alternative was to bite the bullet and migrate all the data on this ailing machine and promote a younger, faster and greater capacity machine to the role of top dog on the domain.  It was a classic “take a chance or pay a $10 fine” situation from Monopoly.  I opted to migrate the data.

It has proved to have been the right move to make, but the ‘bump’ on the network has been a stressful event for all the staff and especially me.  I have had to placate a seemingly countless phalanx of  stressed teachers panicking that their work had gone west with the dead drive.  Added into the mix was the secondary decision to finally take the opportunity to break the heavily scripted, over policied  environment that was a legacy from the previous tech support arrangement. I now had a pressure cooker environment where printers kept appearing or dissapearing, profiles would or would not work, software would want to be re-installed after each re-boot.  Not a good environment to work in.  Then the Internet failed!

On top of having to cope with all of these changes and everyone demanding stability, the Internet stopped.  It did not really stop, it just went dead slow, dead, dead slow.  At one point I disconnected the entire network from the Internet router and plugged my laptop in, it was just me and the router connected to the Net and even then it took 11 seconds for Google to load!

I spent four days, one of them last Sunday, constantly phoning my ISP trying to get them to see that the fault was with them and not, as they asserted,  with us and our network.  Fortunately my ISA server and their own data stats painted a picture that proved that the fault lay beyond school.  On Sunday alone, they alleged that we had downloaded 8gb of data on a 512kb connecton with all the machines in school turned off! By Tuesday an engineer had finally been dispatched, Eddie.  Eddie could see straight away that there was a fault and stuck at it.  Eventually it was decided that their router might be at fault and was duly changed.  And what do you know, the Internet is back again, not lightening fast, but we can surf.  But it has never been fast.  This week also saw us install two more ADSL connections to school so that we can split our Internet traffic via three lines.  This will reduce our user to speed ratio from 183:512kb to 60:512kb thus making the net to individual users seem faster as they get a better slice of available bandwidth.

By the time I had left school today, I began to feel that for the first time this year we had broken the back of the strangle hold that our previous network had upon us and that we have now broken the shackles of that restrictive regime.  Now for the first time the staff on the Supertanker will be able to really forge ahead with their ideas unfettered by the scripted restraints that previously held them back.  Profiles are gradually coming right, printers are printing, reports have been printed in time for today’s deadline and the dust is settling.

Now I can turn my attention to Prague.  Before I do though I need to acknowledge the calm headed and unflappable  tenacity of Steve our IT guru.  The diligence of Mark our onsite tech and of Eddie who was prepared to wade through the sea of nonsense emanating from our ISP (his employer) to fix our problem.  Thanks to you guys the blood pressure has stabilised, just in time to tweak it again in preparation for Prague next week!



1. Artichoke - June 14, 2008

I have had to placate a seemingly countless phalanx of stressed teachers panicking that their work had gone west with the dead drive.

Imagining this has me reaching for my external drive to restart a back up I cut short last week David …

and all the best for your next adventures …

2. David - June 14, 2008

Pam it is easy to preach good back up strategies, but harder to implement. I lost three years worth of graphics and 3-D animations earlier this year, when I mistakenly overwrote a drive when installing Linux onto my home computer… the data has gone! Keep that back up regime rock solid. I really should purchase an external drive too. Am now looking forward to the whole trip, especially meeting Helen and the her students after the conference. That and spending some time at the Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash, Brunel’s last great edifice.

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