Monday, October 12, 2009

TalkTalk trouble -3

Yesterday's modem crash caught me unawares. It was fixable fairly quickly, except for Clare's Linux installation. It had worked fine for ages, but the last upgrade I did wasn't 100% perfect. Linux is so rubust, it just worked anyway, without problem, until I had to change the router access password and couldn't find any way to access the desktop software which makes changing it a trivial thing. I resolved to re-install Linux, normally a half hour job, but not this time. The up to date install disk I had didn't work properly. I downloaded the .iso file, burned another disk. It didn't work properly, faulty disk. Burned another, it didn't work either. A poor batch of CDs. So I burned the .iso on to a DVD, and finally it worked flawlessly. All this tied me to machine minding for most of a day I try to spend quietly until I go to school. Not a happy experience.

I was glad to get out for a couple of hours, even if it was only to a Governors' meeting. I was pleased to draw the meeting's attention to the school's new IT classroom suite, the fruit of our enterprising Head Teacher's activity since last summer term. He's great a getting value for money. I'd love to see the introduction of free open source software into the school, with the potential to save lots more on IT resources. But the County Education department isn't keen, because they are tied into all the standard maintenance contracts which won't touch anything but Microsoft products and are even doubtful about the Mac. All the curriculum material and training for its use seems to be built around the use of branded products. Open Source products that can do the job just as well don't get a look in, and won't untill educational designers cut loose and start training users to work on ability to deploy different IT resources. It's almost impossible not to go with the dominant market flow in these conditions.

Finally, when I got home and logged on, a reply to my urgent request to TalkTalk of Saturday, timed at four o'clock this afternoon. All apologies and promises of immediate investigation, as ever. That's 53 hours after my first attempt to acquire a key to unlock my Anti-Virus program re-installation, 58 hours at the time of posting.

If I wasn't so obsessive about computer security, and let this matter slide, there's no way of knowing what nasties might slip on to my speedy new computer with its temporarily flawed defences, in the 4-5 hours I spent in that time, emailing and surfing. I've spent enough time over the years diagnosing and cleaning up the accidentally infected computers of friends, that it's made a zealot of me. I hate to see the angst in people who know there's something wrong and are helpless to know how to start doing anything about it. It makes me hate the whole business, relying so heavily as we do on these unreliable communications tools. No wonder modern life is so tense for many people! Sometimes that means me too.

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