Why IT support is hated

This morning I had an issue creating a new content folder using the Blackboard software we use at the college when suddenly it stopped dead on its tracks and warned me of an unidentified error. I tried to copy an existing folder to see if I could coax the system into cooperating, but still — no love.

I asked a colleague about whom I should call to clear up the problem, and after a couple of tippy-taps on the keyboard, and navigating through a maze of vaguely worded headers on the Interweb, we came upon a sole PDF file proudly displaying a phone number for faculty to use in case there were some kind of problem with the system (DON’T SHARE THIS NUMBER WITH STUDENTS, a legend blazened below the digits).

I returned to my office and sat to follow the same rigamarole path that led us to the PDF, but before doing so, I decided not to call the IT desk number provided, but rather called myself to see if I had any answers. I extended my thumb and pinky finger on my right hand and cradled a make-believe phone on my chin and dialed my number. I already knew what I was going to ask myself, so I quickly told myself that yes, I had already logged off the system and logged in again, I had quit the browser and restarted it and yes, I had even turned the computer off and then back on again.

What I did not expect was my next question: “What browser are you using?”

“I use only Chrome,” I answered, with such disdain that surely I would quit answering the phone when people called for IT advice. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

My response sent chills down my spine, because not once during the 20 to 30 minutes of having this issue had I even considered what I recommended: “Have you tried opening the page using Internet Explorer?”

No. Not at all. Not for a second.

I sat and clicked the Start button to find IE, since I don’t even have the shortcut embedded in my taskbar anymore, and upon pasting the offending URL and requesting a new folder, a shiny icon popped to inform me of the successful build on the system.

“I hate you,” I spoke into my my hand, and quickly air-slammed the receiver above my desk. “I hate all of you.”

New school year, new password

Hello, Monday (Wednesday — actually, Friday)!

As we all get ready for the new year, and then again 90 days from now, and in yet another three months, ad nauseum — the computer system will ask you to pick a new password to access the information you so desperately need right now.

Although this may seem like a burden — and by all means, maybe it is — you should take a couple of minutes to take care of the computer’s request to change your password and pick a secure code that is hard to decipher and easy for you to remember.

There are applications available that will remember passwords for you (like LastPass or KeePass) although some of us (not me) have survived for decades writing down passwords on small pieces of paper and storing them somewhere “safe.”

When considering your new password, be sure to read the system’s requirements for new passwords, choose a strong passwordbased on those specifications, and make sure your new entry key is not one of 2015’s worst passwords. Here’s the top 10:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 123456789
  7. football
  8. 1234
  9. 1234567
  10. baseball

It’s the new style

It’s new to me, anyway.

Starting with the Spring 2016 semester, I’ll be moving toward more open-source software options in my classes, ergo my Photoshop may include some GIMP, my Dreamweaver will have some bootstrap, etc.

Gotta get some reading done.

2018 EDIT: I can’t believe I never saw these guys live:

The Day Github Came to Town

So Python is now in the books; by which I mean, we got it into the dual-credit curriculum, we have it on our machines, and we had a lot of fun making it work.

Next, CSS frameworks will replace Dreamweaver in Web Design II. And what better way to implement them than this?

Python or bust!

And so after months of harping about how great it would be to switch from DarkBASIC to Python in my game design classes, the time has come to put up or shut up and start designing the class itself. It will be split in two, starting with Python and ending with JavaScript.

Now to figure out how all this is going to work…

Once upon a time

I always wanted something. And at one time, that meant I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t know what that meant. Not one bit. But then, there came the time when the keyboard was faster than my mind. And it all changed.

The Digital Calculator Blues

Last night, as I was tippy-tapping on my ipad and retweeting weather updates and listening to voicemails and reviewing information about the next day I thought about how mundane the whole experience was. I was suddenly reminded of that time in 1973 or 1974 when my father showed me what was then an absurd purchase, a pocket calculator with bright green digital numbers, that could add, subtract, multiply and good grief, divide with the push of a couple of buttons.

From TV and movies I hear that the first heroin high is the best and probably the only one you’ll ever enjoy. Other than the first 10 hours of “Combat” on the 2600 and the joy of BASIC programming, I’m not sure technology will ever again excite me as much as that little box with glowing numbers.

The Story of the Race to Develop the Pocket Electronic Calculator

The intercom

  1. 300 baud modem? Check. 
  2. Compuserve? Check. Forget that — bulletin board services (BBSes)!
  3. Watched Wargames at the theater? check. (Also Top Secret!, Real GeniusRaiders of the Lost Ark, etc.)
  4. Teenager in the 80s? Check.
  5. Atari 2600, TRS-80 Model III, Commodore 64, Tron. Activision — for crying out loud!
  6. Internet Relay Chat at the Tech library basement in 1987. Mac Plus at the Carpenter computer lab the same year.
  7. Wasted youth, check.

Good grief, I’d do it all over again.