Dumb Admins = Your Lost Data

This post fits nicely about my last one about always being sure to save your data… but as you will see, that’s not protection from ill-conceived computer network policies! [editor note:] To refine the headline, I know the admins are not “dumb” in the academic or technological sense, but upon implementing their latest technology features onto an unsuspecting userbase (with dire consequences) they have certainly failed to think about the users beyond themselves. So, I’ve been a student at UNO in the College of IS&T for a good 4-5 years (1 semester off to study abroad). I’ve always been proud of our network admins because we have several great features that make our computer labs better than the ones on main campus:

  • No student login/password required to use – so you can sit down and go straight to work – print that file or submit that homework assignment fast
  • Mozilla Firefox – for people that want a serious web browser with tabs
  • Other software – specific for IS&T students not found elsewhere on campus
  • Efficient printing w/o hassle – this was just last year, but you print, name the print job “whatever” and you swip your print card and choose the job to print, simple and fault tolerant
  • 1 Setback – No OpenOffice.org Yet – this really should have been out once OOo hit 1.0 in 2003, I should hope 2.0 final gets put on the desktops

Some other noteworthy properties of our lab:

  • Your files stay on the computer – even after you leave the lab, your files will be there all semester long if no one has deleted them, so a backup copy is in the lab if you ever need it
  • Lab closing announcement – the lab monitor always goes around 10-5 minutes before closing to tell students (usually in a middle-eastern accent) that the lab is about to close, so finish up your work

So, this is what I’ve grown accustomed too as I’m working on a presentation for school (to encourage students to study abroad in Norway) late last night in the lab. It took a good 1/2 hour to get the fonts, graphics, and spacing all set to make it another signature “Brian Wiese” poster (that I deem is of a high quality). So, just moments before 11pm (there may have been an announcement the lab is closing – not a very loud one at least) my friend Mohammad stops by and we chat for about 1-2 minutes. As I get a call from my mom, Mohammad says… “Brian, you better save your work – you’re going to loose it all.”

As I’m trying to figure out what he ment by this (my files were saved on the desktop, I was just waiting to zip them all up to email back home to myself) my system starts shutting down and I hang up the phone. Microsoft word gives me the generous yet useless prompt: Would you like to save Norway-poster.doc? Of course, I click “OK” but then without any way to intervene the system goes to a complete shutdown and begins to reboot. The system is now loading an entirely fresh install of the OS… all I can do is watch in disbelief as all my data is wiped away.

Notes about this incident:

  1. My data was saved to the disk
  2. Traditionally my data will stay there for days
  3. There was NO notice the machines now automatically shutdown at 11pm when the lab closes
  4. There was NO notice that these systems are now loading fresh images upon reboot
  5. There was NO way for me to prevent the system from shutting down as I was using it
  6. My Work NO longer exists

In addition to posting notices about these new procedures and policies in the lab – one really smart thing they could do now: change the reboot/reload time to 1:00am or anytime in the middle of the night when there are no students using the systems. As for me, I’ve just lost 2 hours of work and have serious disregard for the person responsible for destroying my data with these ill-conceived network policies.

One Response to “Dumb Admins = Your Lost Data”

  1. otinia Says:

    wow thats really not cool. i was a lab admin for 4 yrs and we never had that kind of insanity. we had logins though and each student would login and save their work on a server share. so each student’s work was accessible from around campus. when students printed they printed out with a user name cover page to seperate from other students work. it was fairly efficient except when newbies didnt know what to do. they’d save their work on the desktop and an annoying program would delete their work on reboot. then again if a computer got a virus that destroyed things then all we’d have to do was reboot to fix it. so, there’s upsides and downsides i guess. probably the difference between my school and yours is that the people at my school weren’t very intelligent (i.e. agriculture majors – no offense). they generally aren’t computer-oriented people

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