Monday, August 24, 2015

There's no "team" in "IT"

So, school is now underway.  I’ve met my students and walked them through the expectations and procedures for my class.  I’m feeling pretty upbeat about this new school year.

Except when it comes to tech support. 

Remember how I said tech support here is a bit lacking?  It’s more than a bit.  Granted, it’s just a minor part of the day to day processes at Debut Academy, but it still has me worried. 

During the first two days of school, the attendance program didn’t work.  We were all trying to enter our attendance during each class period, but it didn’t work.  The computer cursor kept blinking and cycling.  After third period, I was frustrated enough to quit trying to make the program work, and instead just called the office with my attendance.  I had to leave a message on the clerk’s voicemail because 30 other teachers were doing the same.

Since attendance is KIND of a big deal, I emailed IT during my off period to let them know that mine wasn’t working, per the office secretary’s suggestion.  Teachers kept popping their heads in my door as they passed to ask, “Is the attendance working for you?”

Luckily, Kevin, our doughy IT guru, got back to me pretty quickly.  Nothing could have prepared me for his baffling response. His email said, and I quote, “Did you try hitting Send?”

I resisted the urge to email him back and say "Oh my gosh, that NEVER occurred to me!  And you're saying I need to open the program before trying to use it?" What are the odds that every teacher in the building was so clueless that we all screwed up attendance at once, for the entire day, in the same way?  Wouldn’t that suggest a system problem?  But hey, he is the “expert” (I think it’s appropriate to use quotation marks here.)

Attendance issues aside, this wasn’t the first sign that IT isn’t functioning well.  I found out the other day that Debut's IT doesn’t fix or improve our technology; it actually makes it worse.  Adam, another teacher in my department, can’t use the computer docking station provided with his school-issued laptop.  You use the docking station from your computer to control the ELMO, smart board, LED projector, printer, and even the microwave. 

I’m just kidding about it controlling the microwave, but seriously, I still can’t figure out why each room in the school comes with a microwave situated right next to the docking station.  I use mine to heat up my chimichangas.

Adam tells me that every time he docks his laptop, the screen turns blue and begins a memory dump.  Apparently, he kept bugging IT about fixing it last year, and as a result, Adam’s laptop disappeared for weeks so the tech guys could fix it.  When it came back, several files were missing, and the printer driver had been reconfigured so that it would only print to an inkjet on the other side of the building.  Oh, by the way, the laptop STILL wouldn’t work with the docking station. 

Yesterday I was talking to Adam in my room when Dave, one of the IT guys, came by to ask if everything was working okay.  Personally, I think he was just there because he smelled the chimichangas cooking.  “Everything’s good here,” I said.  Dave nodded and turned to go when I remembered.  “Oh yes!  Adam still can’t use his docking station.”

Adam gave me a frantic look that said, “Shut up, you moron,” but it was too late.  Dave looked concerned and stepped back into the room.  “Oh, I’ll need to take a look at that!”  Adam quickly assured him that he’d bring the laptop by later when he finished with what we were doing (nothing).

Dave left, after telling Adam to make sure he came by before 2 pm.  Adam turned to me and said, “You know what?  Don’t help.  Really, just don’t.  He’s not tech support; he’s a butcher.”

“So why is he still around?” I asked.

Adam shrugged.  “He responds to emails promptly.”

Adam still can’t use his docking station, but on the upside his microwave doesn’t work either, which could explain why he’s the only member of the 9th grade team whose rear end doesn’t spill over the sides of his ergonomic desk chair.

IT is the one non-bright spot so far at DA.  But if that’s the only tradeoff for working in a decent place, I’ll gladly take it.  I don’t mind tackling the occasional computer problem myself.  Anyone know what startup error code 0x00000074 means?