Thursday, December 28, 2006

Welcome Back!

We've now reached the end of our second day back from the Christmas holiday and the Reference Department is very busy. Our hundreds of regular patrons have been joined by their out-of-town friends and relatives to make extra time on the PACs, hard to come by.

Tuesday morning, Kim V and I replaced the old firewall with new hardware and software. After two days of extremely heavy usage, the update is a booming success. While functional, the old system had some limitations, wasn't easy to configure, and didn't have advanced monitoring tools. Those deficits have been remedied and it's now time to move on to other improvements.

The PACs use a product from Team Software Solutions, Public Web Browser 2, as a "front-end" for Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Several weeks ago Microsoft released their first browser upgrade in half a decade: Internet Explorer 7.0. We've been running it on one of the PACs (you'll have to guess which one) for about a week with good results. So, sometime this weekend we'll be looking at upgrading the other 32 (don't forget the four in Youth) WPL PACs.

We'll also be checking the configuration of each of the Reference Department PACs. I noticed this afternoon that at least one machine (PAC #5), "forgot" its session information after a restart. The result? Instead of getting a 2 minute grace period during which the user could resume the session, our patron had to get back in the queue. It turns out that several others have also suffered from this phenomenon.

The good news? We're confident that we've identified the problem. The bad news is that to remedy it we'll have to visit every machine while we're closed. Right now, we're thinking of doing it some evening this weekend. If not, we'll start early Tuesday and hope for the best.

On a more cheerful note, have you noticed that the printing is going faster? We're using a new print driver, have added system memory, and updated the firmware. Testing shows that complex color jobs now complete in less than half the time needed by the old configuration. Many thanks to Matt, the new ASI technician who made the suggestions.

c 2006 Waterloo Public Library

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