3rdragon: (firebird)
So, I'm on vacation right now. I am still checking work email about once a day, though, because there was some stuff relating to the yearbook, and so it doesn't pile up too much, and in case there is anything really important that I can deal with remotely. Or things that aren't *that* important, but should be dealt with anyway. Such as this.

I got an email two days ago:

hey miss Miriam this is -Name Redacted- what is everything that is supposed to be in the business plan (sic)

The business plan being a project that was assigned six months ago that was supposed to be REALLY REALLY due July 25th, the last day of fake makeup school before summer recess. I (and other people) have been in contact with Name Redacted, and he knew that this was a graduation requirement and that he needed to finish it and that I wanted it before the 25th so that I could edit it and he could correct it and give me a final version by the end of the day on the 25th. (Or perhaps sometime last week, if he was really late with it.) Furthermore, I don't HAVE a copy of the business plan handout with me: the paper copies are in my office, and the electronic copies are on the share drive, which I can only access from the school network. And while I could take a pretty good stab at listing all the things that are supposed to be there, I'd want to have the paper to refer to before giving a student an Official Pronouncement (and this is not a student whose behavior makes anyone feel inclined to give him extra slack), and also I don't trust him not to cut any corner he can, and while he can still cut corners on the handout, at least they're nicely delineated corners that will take a bit more effort to cut.

So I sent him a reply:

Everything that's in the handouts I gave about it. If you no longer have your handout, ask Ms. -Boss- for one. You can tell her that they're with my lesson plans.

Ms. Miriam

ok but all i need is stuff like a letter stating my business plan and the plans that i will take to make it happen right?

No, student, no. You need a business plan, with all the information that entails. Like is spelled out for you, step-by-step, specifically designed to make it as easy as possible to include all the information you need, in the template/worksheet handout.

It's not a letter. It's a specific document providing all the information that is asked for in the handout.

Ms. Miriam

Mind you, this whole exchange happened within the space of two hours. Which I think is pretty good for a random email sent to me WHILE I AM ON VACATION.

I just found this email, which was sent at 1am this morning:

ok i have to turn it in tomorrow and i don't have the time to come up there and get can you just tell me ms. Miriam and i can get it done

Upon reflection, I strongly suspect that "tomorrow" means today. (And, y'know, I would feel a lot more inclined to put effort into this, like maybe trawling through my work email to see if I can find a copy of the handout in question, if he'd showed ANY interest in getting this done during the last two weeks of sort-of-actual school, when everyone and her mother was getting on his case about finishing all this stuff. Or even if he'd managed to pay any attention to it last week. This student needs to learn to deal with the fact that deadlines are deadlines and you need to meet them. And by this point, I'm not feeling very sympathetic. And I don't have the information he wants.)

No, I can't. I told you that I needed it by three Thursdays ago. If coming to school was not convenient for you, you should have made sure at that point in time that you had all the information you needed.

I'm not in Pennsylvania right now, and I do not currently have a handout with me.

Ms. Miriam

I CCed my boss on that one. I'm pretty sure she'll back me up.
3rdragon: (firebird)
After YouthBuild, I will be the host of a reality tv show called Resume Idol, in which people submit resumes and I deconstruct/edit them. Snarkily.

(This inspiration brought to you by the gal, applying for my position, whose resume contained twenty-five errors. (That I noticed.) Among them having her margins set so oddly that the entire document was only five inches wide. For a tech position. For which she included among her skills Microsoft Word and basic web design.))
3rdragon: (firebird)
So on her way back from ConBust, [livejournal.com profile] vorindi stopped in Philly, and tagged along with me to work for half a day. My students' reaction?

"Ms. Miriam, is she your daughter?"

. . .

And these are 18-20-year-olds, not third graders.
3rdragon: (Default)
Am I glad to see you.

Long story short, yet another disadvantage of un-air-conned server rooms is that if you don't shut the windows and it rains over lunch, it can rain on the equipment. But so far as I can tell, things seem okay (there is internet, the lights on the wired routers are flashing, and my Moodle server has booted to the login screen).

So that was fun. But I was very glad not to have been the last person out of the building before lunch (so the fact that I usually don't shut the windows when I leave for lunch was not an issue), and very, VERY glad to see the polkaspots login screen.

3rdragon: (Default)
My really-not-at-all-boss (who nevertheless is the person with the clearest ideas for what I'm supposed to be doing here) has told me that he wants the Network Operations Center to look futuristic, science-fictional, like a space ship. Because what LinkNet, what Macha Works, is doing here is as much about the idea of what technology can be in Zambia, as any of the actual implementations.

So my question to you is, what does the future look like right now? If you had a huge budget, how would you build something that looks like a space ship? What about a modest budget?
3rdragon: (Default)
In the past four days I have had two interviews for jobs that I think I would really enjoy. Interesting tasks, good people, good environment, organizations doing meaningful work. Very manageable commutes on public transportation.

I hear back from both of them this week.

Here's hoping.
3rdragon: (Default)
The phone rang.

I answered it, "Center for Media Production, how may I help you?"

"Hello, may I speak to Andrew?"

" . . . I don't know of any Andrew?"

"This is Media Services, right?"


"Who does the media stuff, then?"

"Er, Jeff? Jeff Heath?"

"You see, I want someone to file an SPH on Room 101." (I begin to feel a bit out of my depth.) "I had a class in there last week and there was no remote in the drawer."

I decide that whatever is going on, this is something that can be dumped in my boss's lap. "Which room had the problem?"

The woman speaks slowly, perhaps to make sure that I understand, "Jefferson Patterson . . ." (Actually, that wasn't exactly what she said, but close enough)

I am now extremely puzzled. "Is this a building on Smith Campus?"

" . . . Hall, Room . . . "

"Is this a Smith building?"

"This is Hampshire College, right?"

"No, this is Smith College."

" . . . I think I have the wrong number."

"Yes, yes I think you do. Have a nice day."


. . . I'm still trying to figure out how that call arrived at the CMP desk.
3rdragon: (Default)
4:57 - A woman showed up looking for her flash drive, which she had left in the classroom computer in B4, which had a class in it.

5:13 - The printer in 211 had run out of paper. I put more in.

5:23 - the woman came back, still looking for her flash drive. The class had not yet let out, but apparently the flash drive was at the A consultant desk.

6:29 - I go upstairs to do the 6:30 "help start" in room 101, fully aware that the event probably doesn't start until 7, and no one will be there.

6:58 - after an engaging half-hour of watching my telenovela on the computer in room 101, someone shows up. I turn on the projector and put the dvd in the dvd player.

7:18 - I finish my telenovela.
I get a call from the Hillyer consultant, saying that there's a setup in Stoddard Hall, but that the building is locked.

7:20 - I arrive at Stoddard. The building is indeed locked, and there is a crowd of people outside. I call public safety.

7:38 - Public safety arrives and unlocks the building.
We grope around in the dark until we find a lightswitch (why are all the light switches at the BOTTOM of the stairs?), and I set everything up.

7:48 - The introduction of the speaker finishes and he starts speaking.
I leave.

Marvelous, isn't it?
3rdragon: (Default)
This is where one of the librarians I work with is going camping later this month. She's also trying to persuade me to join the SCA.

Fun times.

Also, there's a juvenile robin keeping my company just outside the window. It's really cute in a teenagerish sort of way.

There's really not much else of note going on right now . . . I had a good fourth at my cousin's 7 1/2 Birthday Bash, although helping with setup made it a bit exhausting. But hey, I got paid $30 to go to something that I would've gone to anyway!
3rdragon: (Default)
I get to hang out with cmoore. She had two cups of coffee today (she generally doesn't have any caffeine in the mornings). Here is a portion of our IM conversation this afternoon (minus all of my sporadic comments about what does and doesn't work in Moodle 1.9.2, because none of you care):

cmoore: Woah, that coffee did weird things to my brain
Some people do hard drugs to feel like this.
Me, I just drink two cups of coffee.
me: laughter
cmoore: Wheeeee!
Cheap thrills.
It might be dangerous for me to be messing with the moodle code in this state
but I like to live on the edge.
(Ok, that's a lie.)
(But coffee makes me do strange things, clearly.)
3rdragon: (Default)
I've graduated from creating teacher documentation for Moodle (for non-Smithies, it's an online classroom forums-and-other-stuff program) to creating admin documentation. This means that I've lost much of the problem-solving aspect (how the heck do I phrase this enormously simple concept so that technilliterate professors who have none of the requisite knowledge can understand it?), but also has a number of upsides, including not having to phrase things so that people who don't have a clue what I'm talking about can understand me (in fact, everyone who might possibly use this probably knows more about it than I do), having crazy admin powers (mind you, I can only use them in a specific set of spaces in order to fulfill my tasks, but admin powers are like keys; it's not necessary to use them to feel happy having them), understanding a whole lot more about how Moodle works (it's pretty cool, actually), and making cmoore very happy (she said this morning that it's been kind-of freaking her out that she didn't have any kind of organized documentation about any of the things she's changed from the out-of-the-box Moodle. I agree with her that backups and documentation are a Very Good Thing).
I'm also getting further into the land of Why-is-Moodle-behaving-in-this-crazy-way-in-instance-x-but-not-instance-y, which is rather fun. I don't always know how Moodle works well enough to understand the fix (or even the basics of the resolution-category), but sometimes I do. And I have a certain talent for breaking programs/finding spots where programs are broken. I think that my methods are unconventional enough that I come at problems from angles that the programmers didn't expect and so can find holes. And I'm sure that having lots of points in Spot Check: Moodle Not Working the Way it Should is an important life skill.

As for books . . . )
3rdragon: (Default)
My alarm is an unusual beastie, in that it sometimes emits a really annoying beep along with the radio when it wakes me up. Sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't, I usually catch a bit of the morning news, and sometimes listen to it because I like to be at least vaguely informed . . .
Politics )

Just to highlight the power of positive thinking in computer lab work, I will point out that this morning I had a group come in and ask for help with video editing. I told them right up front that I have next to no experience with video editing and using a Mini DV Deck (I had, in fact, only done it twice: once in 10th grade and once in consultant training at the beginning of this past year, and had never actually used a Mini DV Deck (I didn't tell them that)), but that I would help as much as I could, and they told me that that was more than they had and would be grateful for any assistance I could provide. And I got them hooked up and importing video with nary a hitch. I really prefer this sort of interaction.
3rdragon: (Default)
And by World, really, I mean you. Yes, YOU, Presenter-guy from McConnell 103, with your head screwed on backwards.

- You are aware, yes, that you had between 8 and 12 DVDs and VHS tapes, which you needed to switch between over the course of your presentation, and that while this is doable, it's not the easiest thing in the world and may require a little time to set up?
- It is not my fault that there was no remote for the DVD player. AND I ran over to the CMP and got you a fresh remote which had working batteries and should have been just fine; that's the sort of remote we use in all of the rooms - except, apparently, in this one - and while I didn't know that just by looking at it, Damon didn't know that we used a different system in that room, either.
- Your attitude of You vs. Lab Consultant was not at all productive in this situation. I tried to get you to engage in a mood of Us vs. Electronic Components, which in my experience works much better, and you were not interested.
- You were not even willing to consider the idea that I might be good at my job, and the moment there was the slightest hitch, you leapt to disparaging me. I don't know if this was because I'm a student, or because I'm a woman, or because I'm wearing sandals today, or because I'm not old enough to drink legally, or if you treat everyone this way, but I behaved in a professional manner and dressed in something like business casual, and it might behoove you to treat people like they're actual human beings.
- You still refused to believe that I was even remotely competent, even after I solved several problems for you.

I will admit that it did not occur to me to use the computer for the DVD when the DVD player wasn't working, but I would like to point out that you really didn't give me much chance to do anything after I couldn't get you to the menu on your first DVD using the buttons on the DVD player itself.

I can accept but do not appreciate your behavior towards me. I can accept but do not appreciate the way that you made it abundantly clear that you had no faith in my abilities and wanted to know if there was "anyone else I could call." I can accept but do not appreciate the manner in which you pointedly stated that you had requested that there be someone present "who was able to use the equipment in the room." What I can't deal with is the fact that while I was outside calling my boss to come deal with the situation - at your request - you went over my head and talked to the science secretary and got her to call tech support (with, mind you, absolutely not mention that there was already a lab technician present). Excuse me, but I am tech support! And maybe we would have gotten somewhere if you'd been at all inclined to work with me rather than spending all your energy trying to find someone else. I know that you think I'm incompetent. But I am smart enough to know when I need reinforcements, and you could at least trust me to be able to dial a phone. Furthermore, while Patricia has worked here longer, I work in the CMP, which means that I deal with McConnell much more frequently than she does.

I hope your precious VHS tapes melt in a gooey mess.


10 June 2008 10:08 am
3rdragon: (Default)
1. I feel really bad for her.

I just had a woman come in, and I couldn't help her at all. I think she's lost her entire paper. It was in her e-mail, and she opened it rather than downloading it, and then just hit save, and I think it's gone. The new version isn't in her e-mail and isn't on her computer, and isn't on her H drive either (not that I thought it was, but she felt that it had maybe somehow magically made the jump because someone had told her that you can access the H drive from your home computer, and I was very dubious but checked for her anyway). In short, I couldn't do anything for her. I hate it when I can't help people, particularly when they're nice people who don't lash out at the consultants even though they're under a lot of pressure in a miserable situation. I gave her the number for the USC, but I really suspect that they won't be able to do anything either. And I know what it's like to lose something you've put that much work into, and I don't think it changes anything that you've lost it through user error rather than computer malfunction (mind you, I didn't tell her that; I think she's figured out that she should save it properly next time, and I don't need to be some snappy college kid telling her that it's all her own fault that it's gone).
So yeah, that depressing.

2. Vista is REALLY WIERD.

I've heard about Vista, and about how it's terrible, and how they tried to make it like mac and crit failed, but I'd never actually tried to use it before or even seen it. They got rid of all the menus. All of them. And replaced them with funny bubbly pop-ups that looked like they wanted to have pictures but didn't know how that I didn't have a clue how to navigate. That isn't trying to be like mac, that's trying to be like one of those one-laptop-per-child laptops whose name I've forgotten. Only it failed at that, too, because Windows is a more complex system and so can't deal with a simple pictorial navigation system. In short, so far as I could tell from two minutes of interaction, it's exactly as terrible as everyone says it is. No wonder my dad doesn't want to buy a new computer with that on it. At least if both he and mom switch to mac at about the same time Isaac won't have to deal with going back and forth between OSes at different houses. And that looks fairly likely (Mom is serious enough that I've gotten an e-mail that starts, "When we talk, I want advice on buying a mac . . ."), and dad has mentioned that he needs a new computer, so my anaylsis is that he'll get one within a year or two.
3rdragon: (Default)
Those of you who have been reading your Smith e-mail this past week will be aware that there was supposed to have been a power outage at 5:00 this morning, with power back on at 5:30 and lots of other stuff (like internet) down throughout the day as we update to co-gen.* My alarm clock has a battery so that it doesn't reset in instances like this, and I didn't notice anything unusual this morning. Turns out, the word on the street** is that whoever was supposed to turn the power off at 5:00 this morning didn't show, and so the whole thing has been called off. And while I'm glad that there aren't going to be freaking out people on my shift this morning, there will still be freaking out people at some point in the future, and since we did all the anticipating for today, it would've been nice to just go through with it and get it over with.
Ah, its/status says that it was canceled due to a family emergency.

It is officially summer. I took my first cold shower this morning and it was marvelous.

It's been quiet today, aside from the lady who wanted to print something and couldn't because the pay-for-print computer was having problems. Either she the computer was asleep and she turned it off instead of waking it up or someone turned it off over the weekend in preparation for the power outage. Either way it won't reconnect to the Pharos server, and the lady was not happy about it. I have to say that I'm really puzzled by these people who come down to print and say that they're in the middle of class and just ran down to print something. I mean, printing doesn't take that long if everything works, but it's still longer than I'd want to step out of class for. Of course I must admit that on at least one occasion I've cut my printing pretty close too, but I managed to be in class with my paper by the time class started.

I finished The Arm of the Starfish yesterday. Cut for maundering about books and religion. )
Next on my reading list: A Ring of Endless Light and And Only to Deceive.

Pharos is working again. Whoot.

Em and I went canoeing yesterday, but turned back almost immediately because it was thundering ominously.

I think that's all for now.

*I would like to state that while I entirely approve of co-gen, I fully expected today to be hellish because people often don't check their e-mail/don't think ahead and then bad things happen and they freak out at the nearest person who looks to be vaguely in control of anything: probably me, since I have a shiny nametag and sit at a special desk.

**And by, "word on the street," I mean, "as I was told this morning by the chatty library lady who gives me my keys every morning and whose name I don't know and should probably ask sometime."
3rdragon: (Default)
Another dream )

I have an appointment with the Spanish Consulate. I will be in Boston on the 12th.

The school for social work started today, and this morning in Seelye I dealt with things from the basic ("Is there a lab with PCs in it?" (Welcome to the AWESOME of Mac Intel Dual-boots. No, I didn't actually say that.)) to the complex and esoteric ("So I've put this .pdf into a Word document" (Really? I didn't know you could do that.) "and I shrunk it a little bit, but when I print it it comes out all munched-up, and I'm afraid that I don't have the original document I scanned it from." (Um . . . um . . . how about taking a screenshot of the .pdf and inserting it into the word document as a graphics file? Which actually worked surprisingly well.) or "I'm looking for one of those cassette recorders where you can record your own voice along with the tape." (. . . I asked Steve about that one, and he didn't have a clue what I was talking about and I had to remind him that cassette tapes normally wipe previous data when you record over them rather than layering new and old data. He seemed to feel that this was really archaic technology. I wonder if I should tell him that I'm fairly sure my dad still tapes Prairie Home and the Puzzler every week on cassette tapes, and that our stereo system still has a record player (not that it works; my parents gave up on it when they bought a new stereo system and the same (pricey) part broke twice within a month of purchasing the thing). Or maybe I should casually mention that I had a class first year in which we had to watch a video on laserdisk. I think I'm still in a parenthesis. I'll close it now.)

And then I spent an hour this morning scanning slides. It was kind of cool, even though it was annoying and tedious.
3rdragon: (Default)
I wish people would warn me about these things so that I would know to dress properly. And no, I have no intention of checking the weather report on any kind of regular basis. Although perhaps I will now, just this once.

Hmm. Looks like it intends to remain warm.

I realize that lately I've been babbling on a lot about things that happen but not saying very much about myself, so I'll state right here that I'm doing well. I'm mostly dividing my time between hanging out with friends and work (oh joy, lots of not doing much at all interspersed with interesting demands ("You want a six-ft screen and one of those 25 lb portable microphones and a projector and a laptop and speakers for the laptop and a laser pointer? Of course, Ma'am. Right away. Would you like whipped cream with that?"), made all the more interesting by the fact that of course no one tells you how they want things to be set up, and then after you've set things up the best way you can figure out what with the constraints of the room and the equipment and the fact that it's a dining hall and people need to sit/eat/move around, they're annoyed because "Why on earth did they set it up this way?" So I'm smiling and nodding and doing my best not to let it rile me (and mostly managing fairly well). But though I complain, it's not bad work, and I think that being paid to do whatever I please for a few hours is worth a couple of unpleasant trips with a screen on a little cart. And I really do enjoy talking to the alums. I had a lovely conversation with some of the '48s yesterday about computers and changing technology, and then just a few moments ago I fell into a discussion with another '48 and discovered that she grew up in the same neighborhood my mother lives in and went to my highschool back in the '40s. Last night I had a talk with a rather drunk '73, but on the whole it seems that classes earlier than 1950 are the most interested in chatting with students (by which I mean me, since I'm my only example). I'm trying to figure out why this is, and while I have several theories they're all in the early stages of speculation.
3rdragon: (Default)
I spent several hours yesterday pretending to be a TV technician again. I think that I've come to the conclusion that no, this is not in my job description, and no, they did not train me for it, but on the other hand, I am a perfectly capable youth of the 21st century, and that if I can't make this stuff work it's fairly certain that none of the alums will be able to. And hey, if they want to pay me for walking around campus for four hours in the lovely weather and poking around other people's houses, I won't object.

So. Moving. )
3rdragon: (Default)
So I was supposed to be doing tech support at the Campus Center today, but Campus Center staff are handling that and don't need me, so my boss told me to hang out at Lamont with Le and do tech support there. I've been at Lamont since 10am today, and so far have done exactly nothing. Le set up the permapower (microphone), and has spent most of the day napping (she's feeling poorly), and lunch is winding down with no sign of anyone wanting to use the microphone. Not that I'm complaining, mind. I had a lovely discussion with some members of the class of 1943 (who are rather more loquacious than the class of 1958*). Apparently knitting was big during the '40s, and one lady told me an anecdote about a chemistry professor who was very bothered by people knitting in class, but too shy to tell people to stop. I also realized, in the course of talking to them, that these women went to college during the Second World War. It's odd. I'm aware that WWII happened within living memory, but knowing that and listening to these women talk about Waves and Victory Gardens are two entirely different things.

And the parade this morning was nice.

All in all, it's been a nice day so far. I think I'll go call CMoore again; it would be nice to be able to return this permapower and go to Webs after all.

*By which I mean, interested in talking to me. The 1958ers were very loquacious with each other; in fact they created a minor din.
3rdragon: (Default)
I had a setup this morning in the college club. Well, not really a setup. The directions said that I was just supposed to help the presenter start a powerpoint, or something to that effect. I showed up shortly after 11:30 as I was directed to, fully expecting that the talk wouldn't start until sometime after 12 because they never do, and that I would set up the computer and then sit around waiting for the lecturer to show up so that I could help him or her start the whatever. But when I got there, I found a little elderly lady who looked about my grandmother's age (probably not actually that old; my grandmother does pretty well for a 70-something) fussing around the laptop and looking rather like a distressed bird. I introduced myself: "Hello, I'm from the computer lab, etc . . ." and she informed me that she didn't need any help setting things up, but she had several questions for me. And indeed she didn't. The projector wasn't on because she'd figured out Black Screen, and she wanted to make sure that she could leave it that way and it would come back on when she told it to, and that the computer wouldn't go to sleep on her, and she told me in passing that this was a very slow laptop. I verified that the computer was plugged in and wouldn't go to sleep and that the projector was working, and we had a brief chat, and I told her to call the lab if she had any trouble whatsoever, to which she responded in a completely shocked tone, "Even during lunch?" and I assured her that yes, the labs are open right through lunch.
I never did catch her name, or what the lecture was to be about.

But where else does one meet sweet tech-savvy old ladies?

I'm really quite surprised at my current state of being. I fully expected this to be THE WEEK FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, what with ConBust last weekend and Fencing Nationals this weekend. But I'm only moderately busy. In that I have time to take on more fencing responsibilities, and hang out after dinner with friends and be completely ridiculous, and read children's books, and waste time on the internet writing posts like this, and have a nice long chat with my mother, and check my e-mail far too frequently, and still be able to get down to the gym for forty-five minutes to convert lefty foils into righty foils. (Did you know that she had three foils (one of them bent completely upside-down), and probably hasn't been to practice properly since October, November at the latest? I don't think we've broken a blade since she stopped coming.)

Mind you, I did intend to get down to College Relations today and ask for maps, but that didn't happen only because I forgot about it, not because it's an intensely time-consuming commitment that I didn't get around to. Tomorrow will be busy schedule-wise, but shouldn't be terribly stressful, and I ought to be able to swing by there after Spanish class/before lunch.

Although it would be nice if the Housing Office would talk to me.

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