when you can't anticipate
Sunday, March 29 2009
I spent another day with a fake computer lab sprawling across the floor of my laboratory, mostly trying to figure out how to simplify the process of imaging a hard drive and propagating it to other computers so as to turn Windows XP Home machines into Windows XP Professional machines. At some point I realized I was going to need a thumb drive or
some sort of USB-attachable storage medium for moving data such as hard drive images around, but that it was too late to put it on the gate clearance.
When getting things into a prison, you have to think well ahead and list all the items you're going to need. But when you're working with devices as complicated as computers, particularly when you're constantly changing your strategy during the course of your pre-prison-visit prep work, it's impossible to anticipate what you'll need. There's always some tool you forget to list, and you've often neglected to mention a crucial cable. When getting software into a facility, the task is much easier because all that matters is what the CD or DVD has written on it. Prison computer work causes me to mislabel an obscene number of CDs, usually because I will have thought ahead enough to declare a need for three Windows XP installation disks, but at the last minute I'll decide that I actually need two Windows XP installation disks and an Office XP 2003 installation DVD. Unless all those disks are labeled Windows XP installation, they're not getting in, at least not into Eastern. (I've also learned the importance of squiggly decoration to obscure the difference between a CD and a DVD.)
Today my realization of a need for a thumb drive was so great that I actually went out and bought one at Best Buy. An 8 gigabyte model was only $29 and was so small it could be smuggled in undetected if necessary. I'm sure a lot of thumb drives get smuggled into prisons these days. Indeed, that's the only way to account for the presence of pictures of Jennifer Lopez on the prison computers.
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