08 February 2010

Fire alarms and computer lab techs suck.

Leaving class today I had pretty specific plans. I had a 3 hour, 45 minute break in which I needed to watch a 2 and half hour movie, and get some other things done for other classes. I'd scheduled my break during my last class, which included a stop at the student store for tampons (more about that later in the week) and before heading to the ARC computer lab to hopefully nab a Mac to watch Mulholland Drive while also typing up some other things.

As I walked up to the ARC I noticed that there was a decent sized crowd just standing outside the doors, and while I saw people coming out, I didn't notice anyone going in. I asked someone, and the fire alarm was going off inside, so the building had been evacuated. 15 minutes later, we saw a couple of students walking around inside and went for it, only to be told we had to leave again within about 2 minutes. The firemen hadn't officially cleared the building I guess, and it took another 5 minutes before we could get in.

At this point I wasn't really worried about my timeline, but I was aware that I had less time to fudge the schedule and go back if I missed something in the movie because I was focused on writing something else. I guess that's good practice for what I'm going to need to be doing the rest of the semester though!

Things were fine until I tried to play the movie on the Mac I was logged into. The region code needed to be set on the computer, which is pretty simple to do, but you have to be an administrator to do it. So I went to talk to the lab tech in hopes that he had a log in that would allow him set it and get my movie playing right away. I'm sorry to say that he lived up to every expectation I had for him based on previous lab tech experiences.

While he did come over to look at it, he had no idea what was going on with it. He then made a call to someone who apparently told him that they were working on the problem. I tried to explain that what he said didn't make sense because it wasn't a network thing. All that I needed was a supervisor who had a login to come and set it, which would take less than 27 seconds. Instead of hearing what I said and going from there, he suggested that I log in on a PC and use Windows. I told him that was ridiculous, and that I don't do Windows.* He pretty much gave up and told me he couldn't help me, so I went to the IT Helpdesk to find someone who could.

The fix in the end was actually to switch to a different Mac, that did have the region code set. Sure, I could have tried that on my own, but the bad thing about the Macs on campus is that they take forever to log someone in, so I didn't want to do that if I didn't have a reason to believe it would work. All that I needed was someone who knew that it may not be all of them that need the regions set.

Maybe this is totally elitist of me, but I believe that if one is employed to work in a computer lab that has both Mac and PC computers, one should know some basics about them. It's just knowing your job. Never have I found a lab tech here who has known anything about a Mac that I don't.

Between the fire alarm and the ridiculousness in the computer lab, I will be cutting it really close with this movie ending and class starting, but I will make it. Even if I'm not understanding what the hell is going on at the end of this movie.

*Sorry for the PC users, but since using my Mac, I really can't stand using Windows, especially whichever version is on the PCs on campus. I have a really difficult time navigating the newest version of Word on Windows and I hate that I can't use my keyboard shortcuts.


*Jo said...

Well that whole thing sounds awful. :(

I just wanted to agree with you 100% that, yes, lab techs SHOULD know and should be EXPECTED to know both kinds of computers. I'm not saying that have to know both inside and out--we all have our preferences. They do, however, work in a computer lab that caters to a wide range of students who have an equally wide range of preferences for computers, not to mention a very, very wide range of computer knowledge. It seems common sense but, unfortunately, it's not.

Good luck with your semester but it sounds like you have it mostly under control. :)

mallory! said...

Several things:

First, the disagreeable ones.

As an IT worker on campus, and a previous lab monitor, I can't speak for your school's training or what the lab tech is supposed to know, but I know I got trained on NOTHING and they just expected me to be able to answer basic questions about Word and refill the paper in the printer. It's not ideal, I know, but I would hold it against the system, not the actual guy who didn't know what he was doing.

Second, I hate Macs and can't navigate them well at all, but if I HAD to use one for the purposes of getting things done, I would do it. I hear this kind of thing from Mac users a lot and I don't get it.

Third, Mulholland Drive is an awful movie that I hate. Why do film classes always make students watch it? Luckily even if you do catch every second of it, it still doesn't make any sense so if you were multitasking while watching you probably understand it just as well as you ever could.

Finally, while I'm being contrary about most things in this post, don't take it too personally please - it's only because I woke up to a foot of snow on the ground and it put me in a fighting mood! I actually do have sympathy for those times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong does!

LiLu said...

I got my Macbook Pro ONE WEEK ago.

I am already a Mac snob. And I love it. ;-)

*Jo said...

To mallory!

Believe me, I work on a campus too and am well-versed in the whole "no training for jobs" thing; it's really quite silly. I certainly don't hold it against the student help/IT workers: I see this shortcoming as a fault with the system not with the people filling the slots. Unfortunately what I see the most on the campus where I work is that students who fill the help/finaid work slots usually have no interest in the job they are doing, instead seeing it as a way to get money. I wish what I saw more of was people genuinely interested in what they are assigned, i.e. student help "IT" positions going to people who use it as a means of career prep.

I know, I know: I'm an idealist. I am also bitter because of 5 years at a CC got me nothing in the way of financial aid or work study; instead going to people who--I firmly believe--deserved it way less than I, or others like me, did.