Two missing weeks -- October 28, 2000to

On October 12th I wrote that I would be posting pictures from my trip to Norway real soon; they'd probably be up on the 14th or 15th... and I settled in that Saturday night to download the pictures from to my hard drive and then upload them to Geocities... I managed to get most of them uploaded but then realized that I was missing a few from the start of one of the sets, went back to and found that they were missing from there... I had hardcopy prints but there were three pictures missing from the online file. One result was that I did not complete putting up my page of pictures that night, it took me a week to find time to post that entry (even though I left it with the October 14th date); another result was that that Sunday I stopped at Staples and picked up a new scanner. I bought a scanner about three years ago (that's how some photos have ended up online) but it was not easy to get a good scan of a photo as they tended to tip at an angle as they fed through. My new scanner is a flatbed scanner and once I found time to figure out how it worked (okay, okay, time for my daughter to show me how it worked) I was able to scan in those missing pictures and make them available to members of an email discussion list I belong to (the pictures were of my meeting with two other members of that list who live in Oslo).

But in the meanwhile, I have just not had any time to update my journal... thus, two missing weeks...

The first week was because I was teaching. I was just extremely busy all day long... no time during the day to write anything.... it would be almost seven by the time I got home from work and then I had to fix dinner, etc. and I would end up without time or energy to write an entry. I did manage to keep up with reading all of the journals where I'm on a notify list... thank goodness for notify lists, just have to click on the URL in the email note and I get to read the entry... plus one or two other journals... but I've not managed to read more than one or two of Pamie's entries in the past couple weeks and I don't think I've gotten to any of C.J.'s entries. I've also been quiet on the email and forum fronts as well... so many times I've said to myself that I just had to send a note to someone regarding something they've written but I end up never finding the time to write that note.

This past week has been even busier than the week before. I should have had time since I was not teaching but getting ready for the class I'm teaching next week has just eaten up every spare moment. It's not a question of preparing myself to present the material -- I wish I had had the time to do some reading and review this week -- I've been going nuts just trying to get the classroom ready. This is a new classroom (and I can't complain about it because I'm the one who pushed for its construction) being converted from what had been "The Demo Center" -- a room that had been filled with computer workstations, phone switches, etc. to create a miniature call center for demonstrating various middleware, call center, or Internet software applications and systems. It was no longer being used for that purpose and I felt we needed a new classroom for some of the new courses we will be teaching.

Be careful what you ask for, you may get it.

The new computers were on backorder for a long time, but they finally arrived, just after I got back from Cleveland. The new furniture, however, didn't arrive until a week ago. This past Monday the electricians were supposed to wire the room and the desks for electricity, data network and telephony. The desks are all set to have not just the computers themselves but also the monitors contained within the desk. Each desk has a large glass opening in the desktop allowing the computer monitor screen to be viewed. I have been in a classroom that used that kind of desk (back in January when I was up in Massachusetts taking the UML course and the Rational Rose course) and I thought it worked rather well. The classroom I use most often here has an instructor workstation that is a podium height version of that kind of desk and I like it except for having some problem with reflections of the ceiling lights on the glass surface. I'm hoping students will not have that kind of problem in this new classroom.

Not having given it much thought, since I was too busy with other things and also because I had never set up a classroom for WebSphere (always having walked into rooms that were already prepared), I had been assuming that I would be given a CD containing a system image (using Norton's Ghost software package) that I would just install onto each machine. Wrong. This kind of thing, it turns out, is too hardware dependent and the image should be based on an identical machine. So what I had to do is install everything on one of these machines and get that image burned onto a CD.

Okay, open up a box and set up the machine. Hmmm, it's Windows 2000. I need WinNT 4 service pack 5. Yes, I know Win2K is supposed to be equivalent of the next release of WinNT but I checked with Pittsburgh and tech support there does not support Win2K and besides which the intallation specifications say WinNT 4 service pack 5 and who knows what might crop up unexpectedly due to some unanticipated incompatability. Okay, get our local tech support to change operating systems. This took awhile. Now the machine is mine again and I can start to install stuff. DB2. Java 1.1.8. (Why not Java2? you ask... Because the course is based on WebSphere 3.0.2 and the new release of java isn't used until WebSphere 3.5 which has been released but the courseware has not yet been updated to the new release.) VisualAge for Java. (Install, set up, configure to run WebSphere Test Environment.) That may not sound like a lot but believe me it takes a lot of time, we are talking about a windows machine here, many, many restart the system so the changes will take effect type stuff. Copy over additional software (HTTP Server and WebSphere Application Server) that I won't install... the first student exercises will be to install and configure those two servers. I also add some webpage building software (like WebSphere Studio) that we don't actually use in this course but which are specified in the installation instructions because some other courses do use them. Then download the actual course exercise infrastructure. Okay, it looks good to me. Hey tech support, you can upload the system image now.

There is something strange about the Token Ring cards on these systems. Tech support has difficulty finding drivers that will make this card allow this computer to connect with our network so she can access it with the Ghost software and burn a system image on a CD. This goes on for a long time. Then it turns out that my system image is around 750 megabytes. One CD holds 640 Mb. She struggles for awhile and then gets the image split across two CDs.

The classroom is not available to install the PCs. The electricians finally showed up on Wednesday and worked Wednesday and Thursday and are still in there on Friday so I have to find someplace else to work. All of our other classrooms were in use through Thursday, but classroom 2 is free on Friday. I set up stacks of computers next to two sets of monitor plus keyboard and mouse. Hook up electricity, monitor, keyboard, mouse to one box. Boot with diskette, feed it the first CD, enter various commands for a couple minutes... sit and watch... eventually it asks for the second CD... give it the second CD... and take the boot disk and the first CD over to the other pile of computers, hook up one of them to electricity, monitor, keyboard, mouse and get it started.... Sit and watch... First one is finished, reboot and test it. Okay, unplug that one and connect another one to electricity, monitor, keyboard, mouse... Rinse and repeat.... This is how I spent much of Friday afternoon. My, what an exciting job I have.

So now I have a dozen computers all configured. I also have a classroom with wires hanging down out of the ceiling and electricians crawling under desks. We had installed the monitors in the desks on Thursday while the electricians were taking their lunch break. (Of course, the guys in on Friday were not doing electrical work, that had been done on Wednesday and Thursday; these guys were running the data and telephone communications connections.) As of five-thirty Friday they were still working and we decided that we would just have to come in early on Monday ("we" equals me and my manager and a colleague who volunteered to help) morning and install the PCs before the students arrive. So I managed to escape from work and hit the road for home just a bit before six o'clock... of course I'd arrived at work before 7:30 that morning.

I haven't mentioned that I'm sick. I've picked up a bad cold, sore throat, voice cracking... and I have to be able to lecture all next week. We were supposed to go to a Halloween party tonight -- we were planning on dressing like our kids -- Nancy was going to wear Jennifer's super baggy cargo pants and I was going to wear Sean's super baggy jeans, complete with lengths of chain, etc. -- even got cans of red (for Nancy) and blue (for me) spray on hair color. The party is about fifty miles away -- someone I work with who lives in the opposite direction from work. It should be a good party, costumes mandatory... but I'm really feeling rotten and so this afternoon I phoned our regrets.

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That's Elin and me and Yngve in the botanical gardens in Oslo.