December 19th, 2004

teddyborg, geeky

Public Service Announcement: Random Windows XP Reboot Issue

Enough of my friendslist has been having problems with their computer just randomly deciding to reboot when Windows XP downloads that I wanted to make a public service announcement on the topic. Those not subject to Windows XP because they have an earlier Microsoft OS might want to glance over this; those who have another OS, or a real OS, are probably too l33t to need to read the rest of the announcement for the content. [Edit: those who already know how to manage their update settings are also too 1337 for this announcement, and may or may not wish to read it for any mild snark I may display, but shouldn't be reading it for the content.]

Somewhere in your Windows XP Control Panel there is a section governing Automatic Updates. Open this, and look at your settings.

If your updating is on full automatic, Windows will periodically (either every day, or one day a week, at a specified time) download updates, install them automatically, and reboot your computer without asking you first. This is actually bad, as anyone who's had their computer suddenly just turn off on them in the middle of a project where they weren't at the computer to tell it "NO!" can attest. (Save early and often, don't go without periodically adding bookmarks, don't leave LJ posts hanging before updating, don't fail to save important chat sessions, save multiple versions of something if you're not sure you want to keep the changes...)

If your updating is turned off, Windows will not ask you if you want to update it. This is also not the best -- despite what you may think of Microsoft's patches and updates, they do fix security vulnerabilities that random asshats exploit to turn your box into a virus-infested zombie machine. Anyone who's had the FBI knock on their door to tell them that their computer was used to crack into somewhere they shouldn't be can attest that there are some things that do need fixing. (True story -- the FBI presenter on computer security shared this. Bunch of college students who weren't even home when the cracking went on -- high speed internet, no firewall, plugged in and running hot through vacation. Idiots.)

Unless you can remember to check for important patches regularly, I recommend one of the two following:

Notify me [when there is an update], but don't automatically download or install them (for the bandwidth-conscious)
Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them (for those on high-speed connections who can afford to have their OS downloading something from time to time).

Windows XP will probably snarl at you periodically for not having your updating on full automatic, and claim it's "safer". Uh-huh. "Your computer will be protected at the bottom of the stairs!" In point of fact, unless updates are always rolled out at the default obscene hour of the early morning, notifying the user that there is a download immediately as it's released is probably the safest option, provided the user reviews it and installs it promptly. (Disclaimer: some updates do fuck with existing software, much to everyone's angst and so forth. Install wisely, and consult the support staff of the software that got broken.)
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ieee coin

Work: Why Loony was Hyper All Day

Today I spent with Check-In Chick, learning the basics of her job. I'm one of two people in contention for the position of Check-In Person on the shifts that Check-In Chick doesn't work; evidently the other young lady already spent a shift training and trying things out. Monday, we'll meet with my great-great grandboss in the back room's cubicle farm to see who gets to be the Heir and who's the Spare. If I'm the Spare, then I'll evidently commence supervisor training.

The Check-In position sounds deceptively simple: we just have to keep track of how many people are working, and what job they're on. That's it. That's all. And when you have eighty people being shuffled between at least six different jobs, and some of them don't come in all at the same time, and you're billing different clients for different jobs and you have to calculate the person/hours on each different job, and keep track of subsets of jobs, and there are at least four different supervisors running these jobs, and that's a slow day...

There are spreadsheets. There are massive spreadsheets. They're actually fairly simple once you get the hang of them, but getting the hang of them takes some doing. I'm calling on my experience TAing for the Programming teacher in high school, my Accounting class (where things on both sides of a ledger have to be reconciled) and my general computer experience. I poked around the spreadsheet so I could grok the formulas used; they're all pretty simple, nothing special.

I get excited over computers. I get excited over math. When I have a computer doing my math for me, I get really excited. That's what spreadsheets are for.

Since verbal commentary from the supervisors on who's doing what and what-all's happening would be too confusing, and lead to innumerable errors, especially when things start happening all at once, the supervisors write notes to us to tell us what's happening on their jobs. Around about 11:30, after I came back from break, my mind started humming songs from Phantom of the Opera. "Far too many notes for my taste, and most of them about Christine. All we've heard since we came is Miss Diae's name..." When a supervisor dropped another small sheet of paper on the desk, and the Check-In Chick and I both reached for it, my mind supplied: "Here: another note." "Let me see it!" "Please." Notes are crossed off as they get entered, and save-points are also written down so things can be rolled back accurately in case of a crash. My mind's already starting brewing a paperless system, but I haven't finished the requirements-gathering phase yet.

By the end of the day, I was doing most of the entering of stuff, and the Check-In Chick was sitting there, babysitting me, pointing out errors (which started out at many, but wound up trailing off), wiping her nose (she was sick, and decongestants interact adversely with her blood thinners), and not doing very much else. I noticed that though Cute Short Chick Super had verbally told us that her job was ending at such-and-such a time, she hadn't dropped off a note with us, and we do need the notes for paper backup in the case of problems. There was a respectable stack of notes by the time the shift was over, and this was the short Sunday morning shift, towards the end of the month, with jobs already closed, and very little downtime.

I think I did well at this first trial day of training. I enjoyed it more than I've enjoyed any job since my TA position with the Programming teacher, which tells you something, especially as I do like monitoring a lot. It seems to be the right mix of slack and scurry, with plenty of spreadsheets to engage my mind, and internet access. When we've got slack time, we can help supervisors out with editing and the like, we pick up monitor reports and distribute them to supervisors, and we walk the areas. I feel confident in my ability to perform well at this job with a minimum of coaching now, after this first day of training and orientation, and I know that I'll do even better after I'm fully trained.
fangirl, _schools4303

A thought on Hagrid's teaching (developed from HoIF list)

There's only so much a teacher can do to keep students safe when the student doesn't obey the teacher's instructions, instructions that must be followed in order to stay safe. Imagine if Malfoy showed the same level of disregard for Snape's instructions in Potions class that he does for Hagrid's instructions. Chaos! Disorder! Explosions!

However, if a student were to show the same level of flagrant disregard for safety instructions in a class of Snape's, Snape would have the student out on their ear before they could say "Mandrake," because Snape is used to maintaining authority in a potentially dangerous class. Hagrid is not used to maintaining authority with students, which is what's needed when working with dangerous creatures. I would say that Hagrid's an incompetent teacher because he cannot maintain authority with little snots like Draco, and especially because he did not follow up Draco's disregard for safety instructions by booting him from the class with a scathing letter to the parents.

Imagine if Draco had pulled a similar stunt in Snape's class, or even McGonagall's.

"Due to your spawn's inability to follow elementary instructions, he has been removed from my class. Draco's incompetence and utter inability to follow orders renders him extremely likely to kill himself and/or his fellow students. This behavior is unacceptable, and must be corrected if he is to remain at Hogwarts. He has been removed from this class and placed with the first-years. He may apply to attempt this course again in one year's time, assuming he has learned to act at least half his age."

A goodly portion of teaching children is crowd control and discipline. When a student steps out of line in that drastic a fashion, even if you've done all you can do to prevent it, you have to follow up and make sure that the student, the student's parents, the administration, and all other concerned parties know that the student disobeyed clear instructions, and the student's willful disobedience of instructions is why the student was injured. You don't plead the case of the poor misunderstood animal, you acknowledge that the animal is dangerous and the student was given clear instructions to remain safe, and the student is at fault for knowingly aggravating a dangerous animal.
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Eris Raven, Marah

Cat Food

My silly little Eris Raven has decided that some of the biodegradable packing peanuts from V's computer equipment make good snacks.

Silly cat.

She ate actual styrofoam last time around when she was a hen, so this should not surprise me in her cat incarnation here. Just, silly-cat. Silly, silly, silly, fluff-for-brains cat. At least shammash is clever.
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