First class kerblooiee

I can’t say it was successfully completed, though — it was a disaster. We’ve got this fancy video projection system that I already hate, and a step-by-step instructions on the wall are full of errors, and it was a struggle to get connected at all, and then the sound feedback was so horrid that I just gave up and shut it all down and just used words and gestures to communicate. How primitive.

Then I called our tech help to get assistance and get this damned thing working for the next day. I called the number on the wall to the Morris campus help desk, and who picks up? Some helpful guy at the Twin Cities campus, 150 miles away, who wasn’t familiar with our system. He tried to connect me to Morris, but it just looped back to circle around to the Twin Cities again. Three times. Phones, what are they good for anyway?

I am now the proud possessor of a numbered help ticket…to assistance at the Twin Cities. Man, I hope they don’t mind taking a 3 hour drive to help a professor with presentation technology. Otherwise, I’m going to be doing everything with chalk.

So how’s your day going? Getting a good start on the Fall term?

(Also, it’s true: none of the students wear a mask to class. Just me.)


  1. Ada Christine says

    5.5 hours through a 10 hour shift answering phones, half of which present me with an angry person on the other end. the company i contract for fired me a month ago and said the project would be done a week later. but here i am still doing the thing.

    i start a new job in less than 2 weeks. i can’t wait.

  2. Oggie: Mathom says

    Towards the end of my career as a Park Ranger, we introduced smart boards in the park’s classroom. I tried to use it about four times. Once, I was partially successful.

    You have my sympathy.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    The non-bogus parts of “mindfulness” may help you get through the day without doing something violent.
    Mebbe you can get the bloke on the phone to connect to somebody’s personal cell phone and get them to contact you.
    If you can connect with someone with real experience of the system, either communicate by Skype and go through it step by step, or get the *ssholes in admin to authorise the cost of a physical round trip (Yeah, fat chance)

  4. wzrd1 says

    I’ll attach my 10 pound technical support hammer to an email for you. It’s proved 100% successful in resolving such issues in a highly satisfactory manner.
    It’s also effective with problematic administrators.

  5. JustaTech says

    Our IT guy quit (left for a better paying job that was 100% remote, can’t blame him) and the Powers That Be decided not to replace him; that’s what the IT help line is for. And the IT help line is often all I need. But sometimes you need someone to troubleshoot a hardware problem, or install a new computer for a new instrument, and we haven’t gotten a clear answer on how exactly that will work. Or new computers for new employees. Or taking back computers when people leave. Or accepting back the equipment that was loaned out back in 2020.

    At least it’s not as bad as when they tried to not have a shipping and receiving person at the lab building that gets 99% of the deliveries, some of which are refrigerated or frozen or on dry ice and require special (immediate) handling.

    I’ve got the first of many, many trainings on our new, unified control system that’ll be rolling out in a few months. It will be a painful transition, but given that one of the things it’s replacing has a UI straight out of Windows 95, it’s past time. And at least this time they’re giving folks a lot of time to get used to the new system before taking it live.
    (A few of us are masked, but it’s a low population density here, and a stable population.)

  6. Snarki, child of Loki says

    You DID keep a store of colored chalk for just such a technological apocalypse, DIDN’T YOU?

    Excuse me, I need to find that damned slide rule, that is around here somewhere. And yes, I do have a file cabinet with lots of graph paper. Semilog.

  7. drsteve says

    if the projector isn’t good for anything else, the university should have no cause to complain if you repurpose it for practicing your spider shadow-puppet technique.

  8. ANB says

    Ahh. I miss the days of chalk and dust on my pants. And screeching on the board when it suited my needs.

    And the smell of mimeographed paper.

  9. robro says

    I work on computers all the time and because I’m working remotely full-time, everything is through the joys of Cisco WebEx. I’m also working on an AI/ML/NLP project, so there are struggles a plenty and meetings are a constant source of amusement.

    And then there’s this article in the NYT about Dall-E 2. Oh the places we could go, the things we could do if we just had a little magic.

  10. Tethys says

    I like high tech things, but malfunctioning equipment is worse than useless.
    Everyone’s time gets wasted, in addition to all the electricity needed to run all those fancy, expensive gadgets.

    My pencil and notepad never has these issues.

  11. leerudolph says

    Snarki@7: “Excuse me, I need to find that damned slide rule, that is around here somewhere.”

    Ah, but is it a circular slide rule?

  12. bcw bcw says

    feedback: first thing is to turn off the microphone and speakers on your computer. F4 F3. usually. mac, dunno.

  13. Akira MacKenzie says

    So how’s your day going?

    Oh, besides the heightened anxiety for the kidney surgery that’s finally coming up on Monday, I’m…fine?

  14. Akira MacKenzie says

    Back in the late 90s I took a history of Journalism course that was held in what was at the time UW-Milwaukee’s new business building. The professor was starting the class and was struggling to get the new AV system to work. He finally turned it on. What he did realize the room was hooked up to the cable TV network which got EVERY channel, including Playboy. The professor was wondering why we were all laughing until he turned around and saw the image of a buxom and very nude woman seductively writhing on a bed being being projected on the screen.

  15. Rich Woods says

    So glad I retired when I did. I can’t even remember what it’s like to have high blood pressure.

  16. whheydt says

    Re: Ray Ceeya @ #21…
    Properly speaking, he may have either a CS major or EE major (or other Engineering…when I was a student, the College of Engineering didn’t officially make such distinctions until until one was upper division) available. The CS major will moderately likely wind up in IT, though probably on the software side and may be useless with hardware. The EE would probably be the better choice as said person is more likely to be comfortable tinkering with hardware.

  17. KG says

    In such a case I generally ask my son to help. I understand you have three offspring, PZ. Are none of them willing and able to assist?

  18. John Morales says


    Are none of them willing and able to assist?

    When my wife’s mom was getting sick and wonky, she relied a lot upon my wife.
    So, my wife would drive ~90minutes to pick her up from home and take her to the hospita l(~10 minutes), then sit around, then take her back to her home, and then drive back to her home. Adds up.

    So yeah, one can rely on one’s children, if those children are amenable.

    (But it’s an imposition)

  19. Snarki, child of Loki says

    I don’t like using the circular slide rule.

    When all you want is a square root, and you have to do laborious conversions from “MegaTon blast yield” and “crater depth”? Not worth it.

    Got to use the right tool for the job, y’know.