three hours at the library

I spent a few hours at the library yesterday, somewhere between three and four. Almost all of this time was spent doing Windows updates to the three semi-public machines. The library got broadband a few months ago and updates were basically impossible before then. So I came in, unlocked the Centurion Guard (quick aside, can anyone tell me if this is really in any way more secure than a good software firewall like Deep Freeze if you’re just using the machines as PACs?) and did the updates which involved downloading the updater, doing an express install of the most urgent updates, and then doing a more complete install of the 53 updates that had been made available since the last update.

I also installed Firefox on the exec and patron-facing profiles, did some helpful configging of it, taught the librarian how it was different (tabs!), and hid Internet Explorer as much as I could without uninstalling it since I still need it for more Windows Updates! While all these downloads were happening, I ordered a $40 wireless router, replaced the “you can not IM here” sign with one that said “Use Meebo for IM” and explained to the librarian how Meebo worked, and even used it to IM with someone the librarian already knew, who happens to be a local buddy of mine.

Since the downloads were still going on, I gave the librarian and the trustee I was working with a pep talk about the importance of having a website and my firm assessment that once we built a little website, most of the maintenance and updating could be done by them. The library was a little hub of activity the entire evening. 1,300 people live in the town and probably twenty of them came into the library in a three hour period. I got introduced to almost all of them.

Nothing else really to add here except that a lot of this work just fell under the heading of 1) good advice and 2) deferred maintenance. Neither of them always seems like the best way of spending your limited time and money. Yet at the same time, the whole “getting to yes” part of library tecnology may be, at the end of the day, the most important part of a solid technology foundation.

9 thoughts on “three hours at the library

  1. Centurion Driveshield is superior to Guard (if I remember correctly, Guard involves the irritating lock and key, no?). We migrated all of our machines to Driveshield and have had 0 (and I mean 0) downtime due to viruses and spyware (even on our ‘obscured from sight’ PCs).

  2. Are you using meebo because it is less of a hassle than downloading the various insta-speak programs?

  3. Yes. Because I only come by the library once a week and they use some serious security on their computers, having all the clients downloaded and updated is a hassle. I’m partial to clients that can access all the networks (trillian, adium, fire) but there is the problem of making sure people don’t leave their passwords in, etc. Plus, the actual band name clients from Yahoo and MSN and AOL are truly terrible with out of the box configuation and are full of ads and other pushed content. Meebo is simple, pretty easy to figure out, still usable with our security system and requires no updates on our end beyond making sure javascript is enabled.

  4. Also, a follow-up just because it made me happy. The wireless router came in less than a day, somehow. I got a note alerting me to that, and then this note a little while later from the librarian.

    I’m here rushing about doing stuff as fast as I can,
    and wrote you about that router, without a peep about
    all your super help. I can’t thank you enough. You
    make so many things possible that would at best be
    nightmares, and more likely just wouldn’t be able to
    happen. And you are sweet . . . And funny . . .
    Most warmly,
    [the librarian]

    This job could pay me in sand and I would love going to it every single day.

  5. I’ve used DeepFreeze on public computers for some years now and had no problems at all. If you are working with small libraries, there should be no reason to have anything in addition to it. The plus is that patrons will have a lot more freedom in what the computer allows them to do. The staff will just have to reboot the computer to get it all set back to normal if someone plays around a bit too much.

  6. All I can say about Centurion Guard is that it is very, very annoying. I’ve been trying to learn to run the Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit (with some success), which is what the IT person decided we were going to use, but one of our computers still comes equipped with Centurion Guard, and getting things to stay installed on that computer is a major pain. Then, of course, there’s the computer on which we cannot change any settings because the person who set it up is long gone, and the administrator login information went with him, so it defaults to the MSN homepage. Grr, grr, grr.

  7. Found your site kind of on accident (looking for a “Genius” sticker a la your Wile E. Coyote image) and had a good time reading. I absolutely LOVE libraries!

    You should install the IETab extension for Firefox, then you can hide IE altogether. Windows Update away within the Fox.

    -Ryan Meyers

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