Thursday, October 30, 2008

Assembling the components at the table

Perhaps this entry isn't worthy of posting but then again if it will save me a few moments at another time... Here are the steps to assemble the components of the computer-table:
  1. Install monitor spacer
  2. Place computers in place: 15 cm between them and be conscious of orientation so that power button is easily accessible for corresponding students and power cord difficult to access for students at opposite diagonal!
  3. Install monitor and computer power cords--Route through holes and put as little below level as possible. Extra cordage goes between the computers.
  4. Connect and route mouse and keyboard to corresponding computers, route cords between computers, mouse goes to one side, keyboard to other.
  5. Connect monitors.
  6. Test-boot the computers
  7. If they work, afix computer feet with double-sided tape to keep them in place.
  8. Mount monitors with metal strap (I need to get a pict to show this).
  9. Label computers and monitors with table number and red "A" or black "B" side depending on whether mounted at the inside or outside diagonals.
  10. Label 'home spots' for mice and keyboards.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A rush of activity!

This (Saturday!) morning we got a lot done at Roosevelt. Of course, a work day is always just the tip of the iceberg: there's always stuff that goes into preparing for it it, not just on my part but on the other participants parts as well. For example, my student Alberto, who volunteered to help lay cables had to at least arrange a ride not to mention put aside the other things he would have otherwise done. And Conner drove in from Burnsville, had researched different computer management software, and undoubtedly put aside other things he had to do. I coordinated schedules with different people, arranged snacks, and owe my wife big time for making such a delicious pizza for lunch! Also, I coordinated the various supplies for the cable hanging and installing monitors projects. It even requires attention to remember the camera with which I took this shot of Connor McCall at the server:


I hope to soon upload a few shots of Alberto installing the cables; he manages cables like a pro. Alberto got a huge amount done. Basically, he finished cabling the rest of the room, and it looks great. Now, every table has both power and Ethernet connections. This involved routing the ethernet cables through the table and using U-shaped staple/nails to keep them in place.

Also, my daughter Erika stopped by for about an hour: she was taking the ACT in Roosevelt this morning. She helped with some odds and ends as well. the two of them unpacked and installed four more monitors. I was able to apply a small solution which I had created to hold some of the older LCD monitors in place: now we have another table set up on the network.

Conner got some good work done also:
  • he got the squid server going again,
  • he installed a product called, "Saboyan" or something, this is used to manage a computer lab running Ubuntu in schools. It looks like we can use this application to manage student computer access. This is excellent! This product still requires some more setup.
  • He also got a Firefox add on which can be used to manage student use of Firefox. I'm quite excited about this as it has a feature to limit available websites -- this'll be a handy feature for the students who are at the lowest level of privileges -- and as they prove themselves reliable, their access increases exponentially!
  • And..
I'm at a point I'm going to take the server home and there are things that I can start to customize, for example add users, and learn how to use Saboyan and also do some more work on figuring out why the new switch isn't working for the thin client network.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Jack Ungerleider at the Riverview Cafe

Jack agreed to help out. Well actually, he's been doing that for a few years now. Here's a picture of Jack helping out at the science Museum where I saw him a few weeks ago at the Star Wars exhibit with my son.Anyway, we met at the Riverview Cafe On Sunday afternoon. The goal was/is to get 3 Plone servers running on the (relatively) powerful Web server that is now running over at the district. Thanks to Brian Dolan-Goecke, the server has five virtual machines on it one for each Zope instance, with two extra machines, one for an experimental Zope instance and the other for our Cmap Server.

And the machine itself was put online at MPS with the help of Ben Peck and Doug Roberts.

Long story short -- the stars didn't converge and we weren't able to get too much done. However, we did get further and I expect that I'll be able to permanently shut down the old Pentium desktop in my advisor's office which now runs these Web services. Poco a poco, as they say in Guatemala.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Even Greater Monitor News?

Today 13 monitors came in. New monitors. Upon opening the box and removing the new monitor, enabling the neck-structure between the base and display, Eddie and I saw a possibility...

The monitor can easily be tilted face up and can then be squashed way down, as a matter of fact... it can be squished down so it is 5.5 inches high and you guessed, it fits perfectly between the plywood shelf and glass top! It really looks like it was designed for our tables. I'll have to get a picture and post it, soon. This will save time and look really nice.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

eBay Monitor Bad News

Today arrived the hoped-for fix-up of the e-Bay order of 10 monitors. While the person had sent 10 monitors, only 6 of them had power cords, and there were no VGA cables! Via various e-mailings, they asserted that they could only find power supplies for 2 of the monitors. Thus they agreed to send 2 replacement monitors (with power supplies this time) along with 2 power supplies for the monitors that they located and 4 VGA cables.

Upon opening the box much to our surprise we found the same 2 monitors we had sent! What a waste of time. It appears that they found power supplies for the 2 monitors.

The 2 returned monitors worked with the power supplies they sent. That's the good news. Fred took the other 2 power supplies and will test them at NSJ so we will see.

Without getting into too much detail about the VGA cables, all 4 of them were of a strange design. One end of each of the cables had a 90ยบ configuration. It wouldn't work in the computers nor the monitors, like it was designed for computers or monitors released in Europe or Asia or Africa or something. It's time to get back to the e-Bay guy...