With Judy and Stew, went through the procedures for the AP test again, to check the instructions, and make sure the new build works OK. Found one problem machine, STN 23, which had its registry settings configured for STN 1; went in as admin and fixed those. All student machines now work except the hors-de-combat STN 1.
Following the testing instructions, though, we found inconsistencies. It's impossible to follow the instructions as they were written, because once you start playing the practice material, the test Start button is disabled and you can't get it enabled again. Basically, you have only one chance to press the test Start button, and that's after you've pressed the Replay button following a hear/record test. Reading the Sanako manual, it appears that the testing system was set up for a test in which the CD plays the whole time, and all that happens is that you pause and un-pause student recording.
So the only practical way we found to administer the test was to go through the Sample / Record / Replay sequence with the Teacher as source, then switch to the CD and queue up the test. Then press Start, and immediately pause the student recording. When you pause the student recording. Then let the intro/practice stuff run its course, and when it's time to record the students, unpause student recording. (When you do that, the CD may pause itself, so you'll possibly need to press Play again). Keep riding the Pause student recording button so that they get to record themselves at the appropriate points. The Stop and Collect.
Judy's documenting this in detail, and we'll post the procedure on the blog when it's done. Scott is going to be running the real test on Monday, but we'll need to be able to do it for the future.
As Martin and I have said before (here, here, here and here), the problems in the lab in terms of its ability to handle embedded media in web pages is a thorny one. Simply uninstalling Sanako stuff does not have the desired effect, so I built the spare lab machine (ex-Casper) with a clean install of Win2K (not without a power failure at 98%, though! Power failures at that point in an install, by the way, are difficult to recover from.).
After doing all the updates and only installing WMP9 I tested all the sites (CTV, CBC, CNN & BBC) and had no problems. Chuffed, I went back to each in turn to try again. This time CTV froze the machine. After waiting several minutes to see if it to recover I rebooted it. I then went back to the sites and had no problem with CNN, but CTV froze the machine.
Adjusting the collection of cookies seems to have some kind of effect but it isn't reliable enough for me to say that it can be resolved. The worst offender seems to be CTV, though, so I guess we could just tell everyone not to use it.
I also installed Firefox and got very similar results (turn off cookies and things seems to be better, but not reliable enough).
The machine I built is on my bench, and is set up to use channel 4 on the KVM if someone wants to play with it. The only account on it is Administrator. It's updated, but no AV or firewall.
Long story short, we're at the very end (maybe a wee bit past) the end of the line with these machines (or the OS on them) and I think it boils down to this:
1) Do we tell instructors that using websites with embedded media is likely to freeze the machine, and we can't support the machines for that use?
2) Do we install XP ($6000 approx.) and start fresh? I'm pretty sure that the machines will handle XP as I ran XP on a less robust machine with no difficulties. That said, it was before WMP10 and 11, service pack 2 etc. so no guarantees.
Obviously these are questions that can't really be answered by me, so...
Every time I install VMWare (of any type - workstation, server, player) I need to edit some source code in order to get the network module functional. I've done it so often I figured I should document it.
1) Run the installer. It will try to build a network module (vmmon) and it will fail. The problem is that the Ubuntu kernels are a target that moves too fast for VMWare to keep on top of.
2) When it fails, head over to /usr/lib/vmware/modules/source/ (this path will be different if you are installing the server or player versions) and
3) Unpack the vmmon source code thusly: sudo tar xvf vmmon.tar
4) Go into the resulting vmmon-only/include directory and sudo gedit compat_kernel.h
5) Edit the compat_kernel.h file to include the text in bold (below).
* compat_exit() provides an access to the exit() function. It must
* be named compat_exit(), as exit() (with different signature) is
* provided by x86-64, arm and other (but not by i386).
#define __NR_compat_exit __NR_exit
#if LINUX_VERSION_CODE < KERNEL_VERSION(2,6,19)
static inline _syscall1(int, compat_exit, int, exit_code);
6) Just to be safe, go up the tree and backup the old vmmon.tar: sudo mv vmmon.tar vmmon.orig.tar
7) Repack the edited module: sudo tar cvf vmmon.tar vmmon-only
8) Run the config again: sudo vmware-config.pl
*** an effective alternative is the use the any-any patch from here: http://platan.vc.cvut.cz/ftp/pub/vmware/
Look for the file that starts with "vmware-any-any-update"
Following Greg's experiences in the lab, and in the absence of any non-lab "normal" install of Windows 2000, I did some testing on a computer I have at home with Windows 2000. The computer is fully updated, with Moz 220.127.116.11, WMP 9 and RealPlayer 10.5. These are the results:
- BBC on IE with WMP: OK
- BBC on IE with Real: OK
- BBC on Moz with WMP: OK
- BBC on Moz with Real: OK
- CTV on IE (WMP): OK
- CTV on Moz (WMP): OK
- CTV on Moz with Real: OK
- CNN on IE (WMP): CRASH AND BURN!
- CNN on Moz (WMP): OK
So I think we can deduce two things: First, the CNN site is completely broken for WMP 9 and IE6. That's really no loss; it's one of the most cookie- and ad-laden sites I've seen in ages, and it tries to spawn popup windows all over the place. Second, the other sites should be OK on Windows 2000, so problems in the lab with those sites are most likely caused by the Sanako player.
The media player issue is worse than we knew.
Streaming video from CTV, CBC and CNN all fail when run in Firefox because they require Windows Media Player. When I install WMP 9 (the latest version for Win2K) the machine crashes when the media player plugin launches. I find no fix for this. There are alternate players and I will investigate them, but they have not, in the past, been a complete success.
As far as the above sites go, the problem is that the pages with embedded players do not allow the user to choose a player. The BBC does, and as long as you choose Real Player everything is fine (WMP crashes as described above).
1) install alternate media players and hope for the best
2) tell instructors that they can't use CBC, CTV or CNN in their classes (cost = $0)
3) upgrade the labs to Windows XP (cost is $127 per machine = about $6100)
So far I have spent most of the last two days on this (and related) problem(s).
I've finished the network adjustments for Lab B and it is good.
* Teacher B is set to DHCP on the machine, static-dhcp at the switch. Crossroads services have been set to the static-dhcp IP address and everyone seems to be able to communicate.
* Student stations are pure DHCP (no node in the DB) with static machine names set at the local level (that is, there is no instruction set at the DHCP server level that sets a machine name, rather it uses the same method of setting a machine name as before)
The testing I've done so far consists of pushing files and restarting all lab machines from the teacher's console. I'd like to do some audio network testing, but I see no reason why it won't work.