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New Job – 49 days in

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OK. 49 days into my new job, I have decided to see if I can make semi-regular posts about my experiences. Who knows, there may be someone out there reading them who’ll find a little humour from them. Or (just possibly) some useful info. But please, don’t expect amzing revelations or words of extreme wisdom. This *is* my first full-time job, after all…
A quick “bring you up to speed”-type thing:
On 1st September this year, I began work as an IT support technician at a secondary school. This is in England, by the way. Just this summer, I graduated with a 2.2 in Computer Science. So, technically, if I was some kinda title fetishist, I could put BSc(hons.) after my name. Or before. Whichever it’s supposed to be. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter, because I don’t do that.
The school is a state school. We aren’t exactly rolling in funds. We do have a total of six computer rooms, but the majority of the machines are only running Windows 98, and are not capable of running Windows 2000. We even have some running Windows 95, that would not be able to run Windows 98(!). It wouldn’t currently be feasible to swap the whole lot over to something like UNIX or Linux, useful as that may be, and even though the current network setup is pretty straightforward, it keeps us quite busy.
Every computer in the school gets its ‘net access through the same point; a (i think it’s dual) dual ISDN connection. Our service provider also runs a filtering service for us (wholly necessary in a secondary school).
Well, today the afternoon was pretty quiet, so I was able to take a look at our configuration pages for the filtering service. Over the past week or two, my co-worker and I have been discussing with our departmental boss a few issues that have been present since the beginning of term. One of these issues was simply that there were more sites that needed blocking, and so looking at our list of currently-banned pages/address parts (the system allows you to enter anything as a “blocked URL”, so if you enter a non-URL than any URL that includes that text will be blocked) and the list of other sites that needed blocking, I was able to work out a few text chunks that’d block many sites in one go. One of the rules of our computer rooms is that the kids aren’t meant to play computer games. Of course, they’re kids, so you can expect them to try, and recently one site in particular had become popular, that wasn’t blocked at the time. This is where the evil guy inside me lets off a cackle…the site is now blocked, along with quite a few other games sites (in fact, any site with “arcade” or “games” in the URL). We also have an “allow” list of URLs, to add URLs usually blocked by the filtering, so if there are any sites that contain those words but that are essential to some subject, the specific site can always be unblocked.
Another target was MSN’s really handy web-based version of Messenger. It took me long enough to uninstall Messenger from all the machines that had it on, but then I had to block this site too.
I’m not really a hard-ass. This wouldn’t be happening if there wasn’t a big problem with kids
1) skiving during lessons. Lessons in the IT rooms can be particularly hard for a teacher wanting to watch every pupil all the time
2) Using PCs for personal use when they’re meant to be used just for work.
The problem is, it wasn’t just a few kids being kids. It was almost every pupil.
Well anyway, now we have put a temporary stop to this. I agree with my co-worker, that it will be funny tomorrow lunchtime when the open PC room fills with students hoping to play the game they all know about, only for them all to be greeted with the page that tells them the site is blocked by the filtering.
This is how you can tell you’re well and truly getting old, when you take joy in punishing kids. Ah well, it’s all part of the job.
Tomorrow, I think we’ll be looking further at our “side” project – moving the current network setup over from an NT 4 server to a Windows Server 2003 server. The server is actually up and running, as is the backup one, but we need to “migrate” (as MS calls it) the accounts and permissions and so on across to it.

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