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4:24pm on Monday, 12th October, 2009:

9:15am Start



I got to my CE217 lecture in ample time, only to discover that the audiovisual control box had a sturdy lock on it and I hadn't brought my key. I'd actually checked the room out on Friday and knew it had an audiovisual control box, but had noted it was unlocked. These things typically remain unlocked for decades, so I thought I was safe. I wasn't: between Friday and today, it was introduced to a key and clamped up. Now normally, the locks on these things aren't at all sturdy and can easily be forced; tediously, though, it would seem that someone with the authority to order replacement locks had noticed this and instigated a programme of upgrades. Damn them.

OK, so I ran off and got an emergency key, and as a consequence was able to switch on the power to the projector. I plugged my laptop into the cable and pressed the necessary keys, and lo! Nothing happened. The screen continued to show the desktop from the built-in PC, not my laptop.

After multiple attempts to persuade it to talk to my laptop all failed, most probably because the cable was missing two pins, I decided I'd have to go with the built-in computer instead. I had a memory stick with my lecture on it, so was able to load that. However, my lectures are all in a non-standard font. I carry the font with me too, but the audiovisual people don't like anyone meddling with their computers so they won't let you install new fonts (or, indeed, anything else). The result of this was that instead of looking like this:

my slides looked like this:

It was 9:15am by the time I actually started to speak. I still managed to be onto slide 3 before one late-comer arrived, though.

The lecture was scheduled to be 2 hours long, and I did manage to fit it all in (by rushing through). I then had to go straight to another lecture, EE314. This was in a room known, for I'm sure perfectly rational reasons, as LTB B. I've taught there before, and am confident that my laptop works in it.

Well, worked. They've installed a new system in there to simplify it. My first problem was that the button to switch the projector on failed to switch the projector on, but, my having taught there before, I knew the reason for this: there's a hidden wall switch with a tape on it that says something like PROJECTOR  — DO NOT SWITCH OFF. Someone had hunted it down, read it as saying PROJECTOR — SWITCH OFF, and switched it off. I switched it on, and the projector sprang to life.

The laptop cable was much shorter than it was last year. OK, so it was probably the same length, but it was taped to another cable which was much shorter, which meant I had to move two old-fashioned overhead projectors out of my way just so I could get access to the cable for my laptop. I plugged it in, set it up dual screen, and pressed the button on the new control panel marked "laptop". The button duly flashed. The screen duly remained showing the built-in computer's screen. I then noticed that another button was flashing, saying "DVD". Someone earlier in the day, or perhaps last week, had pressed it. It was awaiting a DVD. It was awaiting a DVD not in the computer, but in a special DVD player also in the audiovisual box, protected by a cage from all human and electro-magnetic interference. I had foolishly neglected to bring a DVD with me, so was unable to furnish its desires. I therefore also had to start my second lecture late, in bad font format, and rushed through that, too.

I rushed so much that I had some time left at the end to run a demo, so I did. I connected to Metaplace. I ran my own game, Teenage Daughter's Bedroom. A message came up saying there was some kind of packet blocking going on and Metaplace couldn't get a login key.

Well yes, of course not: we wouldn't want anyone using the audiovisual equipment for anything other than Powerpoint, would we? Or, come to that, Powerpoint: when I tried to run it, the PC had to install it off some server on the intranet.

After the lecture, I went to the lab where I'll be teaching on Thursday, to make sure that Metaplace could be accessed from there. It was with some relief I determined it could be, and indeed worked fine. Vista took 5 minutes to boot up from login, but that's Vista for you...

Ah, it was ever thus on the first day of term.

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).