Oz of prevention = lb of cure

So now I'm sitting in another hotel room in beautiful New Haven, Connecticut. The plan, of course, was to be home by now and writing this post from my basement office.

So now I'm sitting in another hotel room in beautiful New Haven, Connecticut. The plan, of course, was to be home by now and writing this post from my basement office. Best laid plans and all that. Turns out that the leaf springs on my trailer rented from an as yet to-be-named company (we'll see how well they resolve my problems) hadn't been checked out for some time and were badly worn by the time I got the trailer and filled it with booty from some family friends who are moving to California. When I stopped for gas in the middle of Connecticut, I noticed that one of the tires had almost worn through the fender and it appeared that the leaf spring was toast (as was the tire shredding on the fender).

It only took 2 hours for roadside assistance to appear and tell me that the spring was, in fact, toast, and that the trailer, and the enclosed loot, weren't going anywhere tonight. The kids were delighted (*sarcasm dripping here*). So what do my trailering mishaps have to do with educational technology? Quite a lot, actually.

According to the mechanic who helped us out, a routine inspection should have noted cracks in the springs and taken the trailer out of service right away. Obviously, these trailers get used and abused by a lot of people, much like the computers we administer in our schools. Lab and classroom computers obviously see a fair amount of wear and tear from students who are none too careful, and staff computers take their share of abuse as well, especially laptops that travel between classes and back and forth to home. Aside from physical beatings, these computers probably see a fair amount more malware than the average corporate machine. Content filters don't exist at home and kids find new proxies and workarounds faster than we can block them.

Is your antivirus and antispyware software up to date? It seems like a silly question, but I get too many phone calls from people outside my network with obvious malware problems ("I don't know where all these popups came from - my kids must have been playing with my computer..."). How about that content filter? Are the subscriptions up to date? Looked at your password policies recently? I seem to be losing AC adapters left and right to bad internal connections (maybe a design flaw, maybe from being jammed in a bag or dropped on the floor, or yanked out of the wall by tripping students). Summer is the time to go through all my machines and check for problems like these and make sure that everything is spit spot for the fall. While some teachers may hang onto their laptops, many are available and certainly aren't engaged in mission-critical work. One bonus to our recent thin client rollout? Aside from a quick hardware inspection, I have two servers to spiff up, not 80 individual machines to either reimage or otherwise clean up.

The last thing you want is to be inundated with support calls on September 1st. A bit of preventive maintenance just might keep most of your users out of New Haven, so to speak.