In my lab, I have been using a piece of software that I call "50 First
Dates." It allows the student to do anything they wish, but it resets
the computer's configuration at each bootup. It has resolved an
incredible number of problems that we experienced previously and now I
only have to reimage machines when we want to do software
upgrades/installs. The student could reformat the hard drive if he wants
to (it always seems to be a "he"), and the computer would still be ready
for the next user, presenting a consistent interface and predictable
The particular software we have been using is Centurion DriveShield,
not that I would recommend it over others. If I were going with that
company again, I think I would purchase the more expensive hardware
version, not the software-based one, just to get away from their
preoccupation with licensing. There are similar products by other
manufacturers that are less expensive and which I suspect do the same
thing. The nice thing about this solution over a product that "locks
down" the workstation is that there are no application issues and the
student doesn't get treated like a restricted user. Heck, go ahead and
make them administrators if you want to. They are only kings of their
sandbox for a day.
There are many tools that harried network support people can use to
simplify their lives and improve service. I encourage you to consider
this simple solution. You'll probably spend $15 per machine to implement
it, but it might be the best investment you can make.
Stephen Barner
South Burlington High School
550 Dorset Street
South Burlington, VT 05403
(802) 652-7015
(802) 652-7013 (Fax)
[log in to unmask]
"When we study music, we practice... because there is no other way to
become a musician. Neither can we become engineers by just studying a
textbook, because practical experience is needed to correlate the
so-called theory with practice." Charles Franklin Kettering

>>> [log in to unmask] 11/11/2005 8:38:19 AM >>>

I just read vince's  last paragraph regarding single users vs  
multiple users on a given machine....
I often try to describe my tech support challenges with the metaphor  
of managing a fleet of delivery vehicles.........
with many different teenage drivers taking out different vehicles  
each time they drive, some leaving the lights on, some locking the  
keys inside, few checking the oil, and all with very different  
driving styles...riding the clutches, burning rubber, gunning the  
engine etc etc....
service and tune ups and ongoing driver ed are just part of my job
Most fleets buy a quantity of a specific model ( bread truck, police  
car, delivery vans etc) which mean that the motor pool can easily  
swap out parts, canibalize entire vehicles,  and recognize/isolate  
similar problems to make and model... new brakes 28kmiles.... new  
engine 193k miles..... decommission 201kmiles
I on the other hand ( given my small budget ( small school) I buy a  
few new computers each year to add to the mish mash mix... and  
consequently have multiple makes and models, all with different  
dashboards ... rearranged furniture, and idiosyncratic  
behaviors....P3, celeron, G3, G4, G5, Printers, copiers, cameras,  
scanners, switches hubs etc and many different engines Windows 9x 2k  
ME xp OS9x 10x jaguar, panther, tiger.......... now ipods,
Plus my 300 plus drivers have all manner of driving experience and  
confidence..... I still get new customers pointing a mouse upside  
down and asking "what is double click?" ( I actually told one user   
to "go file ... open new document" and they said " file... open...  
new document" and waited for something to happen....
not that I see buying a whole new fleet of like computers every 3-5  
years as a likely solution.......
There is a calculus somewhere in here but I don't have the time to  
try to figure it out...... except to say that here at my understaffed 

motorpool (i mechanic) there will always be a percentage of rigs in  
for repair, rigs doa, and service calls to users to tell them that  
"the battery cable was loose", "you have to depress the clutch before 

turning the ignition" and "yes it is important to check the oil" and  
"no gas.... no go"
I don't have time to go back and reread but often think of the book  
"Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" which I first read prior  
to touching my first pc... but described different user/operator  
styles with a different technology...... I am sure there are very  
appropriate passages to capture the joys and frustrations of our  
multi hat responsibilities.....

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