Category: "Activity log"
The Russian instructor brought some issues to our attention in Lab C, and they also proved to be the same in Lab B. The problem was initially confused by the fact that she was trying to access audio on her own site, which turns out to be partly down, so her audio files were not actually available. But when we started looking at other sites with audio, it quickly became obvious that there's something wrong. This is the issue:
On Firefox, the default media player for a wide range of material, including MP3s, is VLC. Unfortunately, VLC is broken on this build. If you try to load an MP3 file from a browser link, you get nothing (or sometimes you get a QuickTime logo with a question mark, for some reason). But nothing happens. If you try to start VLC manually from the Start menu, it fails with an error to the effect that it can't load its skin file. The skin file is there, but it won't load it, and it prompts you to choose another one. If you choose any of the available skin files, nothing happens -- the app just disappears.
On IE, I'm not sure what is configured as the default MP3 player, but you get the same behaviour: the QT logo with a question mark, and no audio.
For the instructor today, I showed her how to save a file to the desktop from a web link; once you do that with an MP3 file, it opens in Sanako, so that's fine.
There are probably two different ways to fix this, depending on your attachment to VLC. If VLC can be fixed, then great; but if not, then another player needs to be chosen as the default for all the media types currently assigned to VLC; the browser could either shell out to Sanako, or perhaps use QuickTime.
Also, Lab C station 20 is broken. It starts up, and it will let you log in, but once you log in, you just get a purple screen with a mouse cursor, and no desktop; after that it won't respond to anything.
Tested new machine in Lab B this PM. It's a dual-boot, with Server 2003/2000 and Sanako apps installed. Went through 3 reboots and a series of logins/outs in both OS's and everything seems to be OK. I'm tentatively calling this a H/W problem.
Martin has suggested that I get a serial port card and try that. I might do it, as long as I can get a half-height card and it comes with it's own drivers, after what WO told me about new OS's and old tech.
Spoke to WO last Firday regarding the flaky desk issue. He suggested that I consider the COM port being poorly supported by the OS. He says that modern machines do not support COM very well and it's possible that we won't resolve the problem with the current OS/hardware. I did a bit of research and discovered that the possibility is certainly there, but as I have no really specific info about the way the COM port talks to the OS in this case I have no simple way of diagnosing the problem.
Wayne's recommendation is to rebuild the older box and see if it has the same problem. I'll get right on that.
This morning, more joy with Lab B teacher station, which had been running and logged in all night. Attempting to log off proved fruitless -- the system presented the log off dialog box, but just did nothing when I clicked on the button, apart from dismissing the dialog box -- and it was impossible to shut it down either. My guess is that many users are simply giving up on this and leaving it logged on. I had to shut it down with the power button and restart it.
This morning I followed the ELC instructor into the lab to make sure everything was working, and experienced the same problems as before: Starting the teacher program results in an RSRV error. This happens even after confirming that RSRV.exe and RSRVAny.exe are running. The only thing that fixes it is to turn the console off and back on again before starting the teacher program. This suggests it's something to do with the sequence of events; the sequence that works is to start RSRV, then power up the console, then start the teacher station.
The station is also lacking any obvious links to the teaching materials. I was able to navigate easily to them, but it would be hard for a teacher. In the past, we've put a link to the materials folder in the actual directory in which the teacher station always opens up its dialog box (which if I remember rightly is somewhere in its program folder). I'll do that if I get a chance today.
HP came in with her class, and among other things needed to do the telephoning activity. When we started up the Sanako teacher application, we got the same RSRV error as the other day. I was still hitting the same problem after starting RSRV.exe manually several times. Eventually, after confirming that both RSRV.exe and RSRVAny.exe were running, I turned off the console and turned it back on, then restarted the application; that finally did it. My guess is that RSRV.exe has to be running from boot time, not logon, otherwise it has trouble connecting to the console.
Even after everything was running, and we switched Group A to the Telephone activity, we had trouble getting stations to connect to each other; stations which were not connected to anyone were still reporting themselves as Busy when called by another station.
This teacher station is pretty much unusable without one of us physically in the room to get it going, and even then it takes a while and is flaky. I wonder if it might be better to roll it back from Server 2003 to Server 2000, like Lab C, which as far as I know is working OK.
Late yesterday afternoon, HP called me from the ELC about her class today, in Lab B. She wants to show a video. I checked the TV cart in Lab B this morning, and it has no VCR on it (has it been stolen, or was it never there?). I decided I'd move the one from lab C, which is set up and working, but the cart has been padlocked to one of the desks, so that's out. There is another TV+VCR cart in the materials room, so I've rolled that into Lab B in the hope that it will work.