Senior Laptop Check-in

Our senior laptop check-in has gone smoothly so far this year. In two days, we worked up 60 machines, about half PCs and half Macs. Naturally, the PC process was more intensive, since they were integrated more tightly with our Windows network. Unbind the machine from the domain, migrate the user files to a local profile, unmanage Symantec Antivirus, uninstall Catlin applications. With the Macs, uninstalling was a simple matter of click and delete, and there was no domain to leave!

The best news is that we got through all of the machines in the two days’ time that the seniors spent on Mt. Hood. We take pride in getting through large tasks such as this without breaking a sweat or working additional hours. It helped that we used some leftover salary funds to hire additional help — thank you, Christopher!

Working on so many machines provides interesting insight into student use patterns. The machines varied widely in age and condition. Some the students had just purchased to replace dead units, whereas others lasted the full four years of high school. Some were terribly dented (but still running), and others were in nearly perfect condition. All students customized their desktops, but some went further, changing color schemes, installing a notification service, and plastering the cases with stickers. Some desktops were spotless, others cluttered with years’ of files. Limewire showed up consistently, despite warnings about spyware infections. Some machines were running smoothly (even the oldest ones); others badly needed a reimage.

Simultaneously, we are accepting orders from families for laptops for the upcoming ninth grade class. Check out our laptop program page for specifications and process details. Two early observations are worthy of note. For the first time in the program, students are purchasing Macs more than PCs. The word is out that Macs are less troublesome to manage (though they more easily suffer physical damage), and the MacBook design gets bonus points for cool design right now. I have also been struck by the desire of most parents to upgrade some part of the machine — RAM, hard drive size, or even color (witness the black MacBook). We are discouraging parents from buying the MacBook Pro because of the soft aluminum case, but some buy it anyway, and to be fair, some students are known to take excellent care of their machines.

This week, we return the laptops to the students and close up school. Seniors keep their network files for 30 days and their network accounts for a year. We also quietly announce the alumni web site, which we hope will soon grow into a hub of activity for alumni of all ages. The tech department is just gearing up for a busy summer of course, what with infrastructure, database, web, and deployment projects to complete. We are once again hiring two summer intern veterans for the summer and welcoming a parent volunteer or two at times. For me, it is terrific to finish up my first full year at the helm of the department and look forward to moving through the rhythm of the year a second time.

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