prone to overshares
Friday, March 6 2009
I was at Woodbourne this morning to announce to the inmate-students that they would need to start using their own password-protected folders within a week or risk losing their stuff. I'd set up those folders earlier in the week, but today I had the worse luck connecting to them. Part of the problem was that I'd been given the passwords in handwritten form, and that is no way to accurately specify something that is sensitive to case and the position of spaces. But part of the problem was Windows networking itself, which had to have been designed by a trained monkey. In Windows, a failed connection usually results in an unhelpful error, and often takes a good thirty seconds of precious time to happen. And a successful connection to a file server means that no other credentials can be used for that Windows log-in session, requiring either a log-out or a reboot. Of course, while I was trying to debug the login problems, the students kept distracting me with their questions. If you know about how computers work, you're familiar with the idea of stacks and interrupts. A computer works on a process and, when it's interrupted, it puts its register contents on "the stack" and deals with the interrupt request. And if that request is itself interrupted, it will again put its register contents on the stack. In today's experience, my humble brain quickly hit a stack overflow, but in humans the way this is handled is to dump the material at the bottom of the stack. Soon I was left in a constantly-shifting sea of mental mush. It was a disaster.
Further complicating matters was the fact that even if I'd been successful, the inmates would have been unhappy. The new regime would mean the end of individual user profiles on the workstations, and these profiles had allowed the students to organize their computing experiences the way they like them. But I'd been given no way to implement roaming profiles, the most obvious solution to this problem.
Later, back at the house, Gretchen tried out her library's new heating system for the first time. Since her library sites on a concrete slab (which contains the other heating system available to it), it takes a long time to heat by even a few degrees, so Gretchen moved her comfy chair over to the heater vent (it's a kickspace heater that I'd mounted about three feet above the floor). She soon found that the heat was blowing over her head and, when next we talked about it, acted as if I should have known better and located it nearer the floor. In addition to seeming ungrateful (not a good attitude to experience after the spectacular disaster at the prison earlier today), this seemed a bit presumptuous; nobody could have predicted what direction the fan would blow the heat. But I soon came up with a solution that was a bit better than the one Gretchen suggested (moving the heater). I cut out a deflector from a piece of cardboard and stuck it in the heater's grill. It through the hot air downward, precisely what Gretchen wanted. With that working, I went out in the shop and cut out another deflector using sheet metal salvaged from the gutted Honda Civic (a gift that keeps on giving).
This evening Jenny and Doug from the Woodstock Farm An!mal Sanctuary came over for pizza and beer. This particular set of people is unusually prone to overshares, especially by me and Jenny, although Gretchen and Doug aren't far behind. There was also a certain amount of celebrity gossip. For example, one celebrity we gossiped about was known as "stinkypants" for the horrendous odor coming from a pair of trousers he had worn. This led into a general discussion of trousers and underwear and how many times they can safely be worn without paying social consequences.
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