The story: it was the end of second trimester, 2011, and someone returned a COW that was less than satisfactory. But part of the rigorous training for any library person, media specialist or media aide, is twenty years' quiet contemplation in a Tibetan monastery. My training came in very handy on this day...

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Pictures are too blurry, training can only go so far, and I could not calm my camera hand.

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But you get the general idea.

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Ah, thinking about those meadows, and the mountain streams, and all of the goji berries that we had to live on. There was this one weird guy in our class, he was obsessed with bats. The kind that fly around. I wonder whatever happened to him!


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And finally, peace again. As Ralphie says many times in my house each December, all is right with the world.

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Field Guide to COWs
Signing up:
In Outlook (or in Webmail), click on Calendar in the lower left corner. There are four (4) different COWs, numbered 1-3, and then Careers.

Here is what you are signing up for:
Each COW is comprised of two (2) carts, A and B.
COWs 1 and 2 (identical):
  • Two carts
  • 30 laptops, 15 of which have webcams
  • One printer
COW 3
  • Two carts
  • 30 laptops (no webcams)
  • Currently, no printer.
Careers COW
  • Two carts
  • 32 netbooks (with webcams)
  • Two printers
How to connect:
Each cart has a wireless access point (a box) on it with a network cable. Only one (1) of these should be plugged in! Connect the cable to a working “drop” in your room. The drops are the orange network plugs.
If you need to print, the cable from the printer also needs to be plugged in to a drop.
In other words, you will have either one or two (if printing) cables to connect, never more than that.

Advanced connecting: when a computer won't find the tree or server, it almost always means it is trying to connect to the FPSGuest network, the network that anyone can access with a personal wireless device, without any passcode. FPS computers are only meant to access the FPSPrivate network. Each computer has already been programmed with the passcode. To re-find FPSPrivate, you have to connect the computer to the network with a cable and log in. This means you need a cable and a drop. (It is often when you, understandably, send the computer to the Media Center for help. But if you had the cable and the drop, this is how you could "fix" the computer in your room.) Once you are logged in, you have to rearrange the order in which networks are accessed so that FPSPrivate is top on the list. A little bit of magic that does not sound so magic when I tell you how to do it.

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Background
We have three mobile computer labs – Computers On Wheels, or COWs – paid for by the FPS Technology budget and one Careers COW (the most ambitious of the COWs, being career-minded), paid for by the Career Education budget. Who paid is important, because COWs 1-3 are available to anyone, but the Careers program has first priority for using its own COW.
A little history: the Careers COW was the first one we were using; it contained those clunky black Dell laptops that you could use as a liferaft, if you had to, but not anymore! Now it contains 32 svelte little netbooks. It also contained two printers. Last year, following the Farmington Technology Plan, every school received one COW of silver HP laptops, plus two printers. Because of having to convert computer labs to classrooms in 2010-2011, East and Dunckel each received two more COWs. (Note: this money came from the Technology budget, and could not have been used to decrease class size, or anything.) In an effort to save money, printers were not included in the newest COWs, the thought being that we could find ways of avoiding printing (publishing work in a digital space), or that we could connect to some other existing printer on the network. Good thinking, but there was no reason to have two printers in one COW, to begin with.
Each COW consists of two (2) carts, containing 30 laptops (or 32 netbooks). I have redistributed the printers so that COW 1 and 2 both now have one each. COW 3 still has no printer. The Careers COW still has two printers, because Career Ed money was used to buy them, so I originally felt the need to keep that COW intact. But I will try to move one of these printers, when I can.
Every laptop was supposed to have a webcam. The laptops purchased in 2009-2010 do have them; those purchased in 2010-2011 do not, but they were supposed to (the vendor made a mistake). How and when we will get the proper laptops with webcams has kept veteran IT watchers riveted. In the meantime, COWs 1 and 2 now have 15 webcams among their 30 laptops, and COW 3 has none. (Do you really want an explanation of why I did not redistribute laptops with webcams? It is a librarian’s nightmare, to recatalog these as they are shuffled, and I chose not to accept the challenge, since if we get the correct laptops, they are going to have to be recataloged, anyway. If you want more webcams, we can work something out.)