Thursday, May 9, 2013

Missing the Classroom

For the last couple of days I've been back in the classroom. I've got to say - I kind of miss it. The enthusiastic kids teaching me a thing or two. Although - I did have that initial shock all over again.

For all of my talk about considering the classroom situation, I was thinking like an I.T. geek. If I can image a netbook in 3.5 minutes, then, given enough imaging sticks, I should be able to image an entire class lot of netbooks in less than 10 minutes, move onto to the next class and be done with the entire cluster (except the high school) within 2 days.

A couple of things changed things.

The number of sticks I have to work with is limited by a problem I've got. While all of the old imaging sticks copied just fine, the new ones that I brought had a great big giant problem - they wouldn't boot.

Given the nature of usb sticks - i.e. their small size - I only got back about half of what were out there. The kids are curious by them and anything more than 3 is seen as having "lots of imaging sticks". I've even caught one kid trying to steal one (and chances are, I've lost a couple to theft - in fact, I lost one today).

So probably not quite enough sticks though I've got enough to keep things ticking along.

Meanwhile I'm trying to figure out what's gone wrong with my code to copy the sticks. I've got a bit of testing to do... Though I'm tired enough that I've been turning into a pumpkin by around 10pm - making getting anything done difficult.

This is mainly due to my over investment in this image. It has to be perfect. My reputation is dependent on it. If I want to show school's how they can be empowered, I need to set a brilliant example of it. So I pretty much lived off V, coffee, a couple of hours of sleep a night for about a week to get this done. Of course, the problem is now, how do I get schools to contact me for a bit of a demo? i.e. Put together a quick branding (only takes me a day or so) package and show them how quickly a computer (desktop, laptop, whatever) can be imaged, how easy it is to do and top it all off with a demo of the software center with blacklisting capabilities.

The other thing that I completely missed is the fact that the new desktop is a little bit different and the effect this would have on the kids. The screen that says "Don't Panic" has kids turning around and saying "Nevyn" in as unsure a manner as I've heard from them which has me turning around and saying "Quick! Don't Panic!". The help screen, which opens on the first time they log in has them asking "What do I do?". Hell, even a teacher asked "Should we just ignore this screen?". Heartbreaking... If only there was a way to turn a bunch of glyphs or symbols into words.... What do we do with words?

So I've just completed the third day and I've only done 2 school's to completion, 2 are partially done and 2 more I haven't yet visited. And the support calls are starting to come through... Obviously every issue has to do with the new image and so there'll be times where I'm having to pop by a school just to show them it's not really an imaging problem. This is pretty normal during times of uncertainty (like a change to an operating environment).

Meanwhile, a weekend with the house to myself which should give me plenty of time to work through the bugs I know about so far (mainly to do with the imaging sticks).


  1. I would love to see your image. You talk about it a lot and it's quite exciting because I am also a school technician in Christchurch who works with Linux servers and only windows clients. I have a lot of netbooks in the 18 schools I manage here and I would like to see a YouTube vid or something demonstrating the imaging process and then the desktop environment the kids get.

    1. Hi I'm Nevyn. Long time poster, first time replier of comments left by NDog ;p

  2. if you go to ndog37 channel on YouTube you can see some of my imaging stuff as well. However I am keen to see your manakiaia project desktop environment and how awesome it is as a long time follower of your blog

    1. Hi NDog, I might do a video if I can borrow someone's video camera (the one on my phone does something weird in that it seems to capture just about everything BUT what you have it aimed at).

      However... I could do you one better... send you a stick and you can have a look for yourself... have a look at this post for sending me a private message (hopefully with an address I can send a stick to):

      And perhaps you could return the favour one day (send your livecd back my way..)