Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Starting the Semester off Sprinting + STUG

I've been busy. I don't even have anything started full swing and somehow I manage to be swamped. Yet somehow, I enjoy it. I go crazy unless I'm constantly busy. My days are packed with more things to do than I can count but I'm still coasting on the beginning of semester momentum. I'm sure it will die off soon and I'll want to sleep all day, but for the mean time, I'm content.

What I really want to talk about are the Speed School freshmen. I've volunteered the past few days helping the students get their tablets up and running. There are a variety of problems that need to be solved and I've definitely learned a lot and had the opportunity to use some of the various models that students purchased.

Wireless: This is such an easy problem for me to fix now. I remember last year when everyone was using the SecureW2 how things barely worked. The client less solution on Vista works amazing. Yet somehow, the university managed to convince a select few students that they should download Odyssey under Vista. I've yet to see someone get Odyssey to work under Vista. Ironically, the client less solution under XP doesn't work unless you are using Intel ProSet wireless manager. I've not seen XP work without that or Odyssey. I appreciate the irony, but wish the university would not tell people to install Odyssey under Vista.

The main problems freshmen were running into is just configuration missteps. It is to be expected, as it isn't always clear to new users how to connect. I was more than happy to lend a helping hand. I believe everyone that was having problems with wireless had their problems resolved.

Another problem in the wireless realm is students who lock themselves out of the wireless. This happens when they type their password in incorrectly too many times. They simply need to call the Help Desk and have their account unlocked. This problem was common, but almost always resolved within a reasonable amount of time. Luckily, Vista does a good job telling you that you are locked out if you know what buttons to click.

DyKnow: Problems with DyKnow are a little more interesting and the success rate at fixing these problems was much lower. Often it was just a configuration problem, but some computers were just crazy! It seems like the Gateway models have some problem connecting to the server. They can ping the server, but DyKnow won't connect. The only solution I've found is randomly changing the settings and then correcting them. This problem is very difficult to reproduce and has only appeared on the Gateway tablets. Many of the computers suffering this problem simply started working for no apparent reason. Very strange...

Also, the biggest problem with DyKnow was that student’s accounts were not activating properly. This was a server problem and wasn't something that I could fix, or something that would be fixed on the spot. These problems sometimes fixed themselves; otherwise students were pointed in the correct direction. Sometimes changing the passwords corrected the problem, but that only worked a small percentage of the time.

Printing to OneNote 2007: This is a complicated problem that wasn't expected. Many students simply did not have the OneNote printer on their computer. Meaning, they are unable to send files from programs (such as DyKnow) into OneNote so they can be inked on. The first part of this problem is that it isn't possible to print to OneNote from the 64bit version of Vista. Microsoft simply decided it wouldn't be possible. The other problem is that the printer isn't listed. This is fixable, but the issue wasn't resolved for everyone. My favorite error was one student who kept getting an "Out Of Paper" error when trying to print to OneNote! Even after repairing the install or uninstalling and reinstalling, some 32bit computers wouldn't have the OneNote print processor making it impossible to correctly configure the printer. I still need to look into this problem further. It is really frustrating that Microsoft doesn't have a standalone patch to correct a OneNote printer mishap.

I've definitely learned a lot helping out the freshmen. This has been a very insightful experience and has several topics which I need to make episodes of Tablet Tips for in the future. I've gathered the desires of many to try and find a way to avoid these IT problems at the beginning of the semester. The most obvious way is to provide a stock tablet preloaded with software. I'm absolutely opposed to this. I strongly believe that an engineering student should be required to learn how to use a computer. If it was another major, I would feel less strongly. No matter what major, an engineer should be able to connect to a wireless network and install applications. This is a very useful skill and should absolutely be a requirement to graduate.

While these skills cannot be thought explicitly, they can be learned through the pains of entering Speed School as you configure and set up your Tablet. I've noticed, while it isn't always fun, it will be beneficial in the long run and is simply a necessary annual headache.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jared.

We here at DyKnow think your blog is a great resource and have some insights we think might help you and the STUG. We'll be sending you an email here shortly with some insights to the DyKnow issues you mentioned (e.g. although it is possible to ink in DyKnow, those teachers and students that are unable to print their DyKnow notes to OneNote might consider using the DyKnow Notebook Writer to...etc)

Thanks for your time, great work with the STUG, and most importantly good luck with your Junior year!

Anonymous said...

I can connect to the university's wireless using the new client-less solution fine without using Intel ProSet Wireless...

Anonymous said...

Fellow UL Speed student:

Recently lost the OneNote printer randomly. So far, I've gotten it to work to the point that the printer will show up in the printer selection and it will follow through with the actual printing process, but never opens OneNote and puts the specific print into OneNote. It just finishes the print and does nothing further.

Have you come across any other solutions lately?

Unknown said...


I have experienced that problem myself and have found that it can easily be fixed using the following instructions I posted on STUG's website:

Anonymous said...

I ended up finding that solution on a forum about an hour after I left that comment. Thanks for the help though...didn't think to look at the STUG website :P

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