Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Life in ITS

Sometimes a simple request turns out to be hours of work. For instance, a few days ago, I was asked to install some software on a staff member's computer. No big deal -- faculty/staff computers are managed so that we can make sure there are no conflicts or issues. So I went to try.

Then things got complicated. The software kept putting up an error message when it was run. It took a bit of work to figure out the cause: we redirect some items routinely, and the software was not doing it right. We got this error:

You do begin to doubt software where they misspell "preferences." In any case, we had to search until we found the root of the problem was the file redirection (if you don't know what that means, it doesn't matter -- just something we use around here). We were able to get things to run if the user wasn't redirected, and luckily, the person who was installing the software could log in with an account where redirection wasn't used.
Then he dropped the news: this was for a class, and they wanted it on a bunch of lab machines, in order to teach the students how to use it. And, of course, we don't give students administrative privileges on the lab machines; student accounts also have that redirect, so it wasn't going to work for them.
So our plan was to install this in a lab, and then create an account that didn't redirect and have the students log in with that. Clunky, but it will work. So I spent the morning installing the software.
As I was doing so, I asked how many students in the class. And the answer came back.
Well, I installed the software on eight computers and sat back to deal with setting up the new account.
Over lunch, I got an email from the software company. I'd been asking them a few questions, and they told me that they had a beta version of the software that solved the problem, and they would let us download us. Good solution.
Only I had to uninstall the old version and install the beta version. It seems to be working, but the entire project took me and one other person a total of about six hours of work.
Just one more adventure in the exciting world of I&TS.