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Mushroom rings May 5, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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Fairy rings   When I used to live in a place with thick lawns to mow, one of the things that surprised me was the occasional sudden appearance of rings of mushrooms in the dewy morning grass. They had not been there the day before and their perfect circular appearance was a great treat for the eye. Then I mowed them down.

As I walk about the computer lab, marveling at the way students had pushed the computers askew, streaked the screens with marks of fingers, and caused the general migration of yellow chairs from one part of the lab to the other, I encounter my own version of mushroom rings. Despite my admonitions, I see the green Limewire icon on the desktop. I find Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo toolbars. I see news and strange desktop images and strange new clusters of icons from recently installed programs.

Some experts in the field would have already urged me to lock the machines down but since this is a college of education and I want students to get to learn how a computer works, I made the decision to tolerate occasional infractions of lab policy and simply took a few seconds to remove the offending software. We finally have a solution that is affordable and manageable.

Next week we will purchase Deep Freeze. This software solution is akin to putting on rubber gloves, messing around with all sorts of gore, dirt, and paint, then stripping off the gloves. This software effectively “freezes” the set up of the computer so you can add programs, move icons, change data, reset the machine any way you wish. When you re-boot the computer, everything is set back to the way it was.

Of course, there are ways to add updates for the operating system and the anti-virus. If some one in the lab were to bring in a virus or download some nasty software that would disrupt the desktop, a simple re-boot will bring everything back to the way it had been. I visited a lab on campus that was using the same system and it had totally changed the way she maintained her lab.

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