31900: College IT Support
Improvise, Adapt, Overcome... oh and make banana bread I wake up at 7:00am watch iplayer BBC news for a while before showering, taking todays hay fever meds, grabbing a banana and opening my desktop machine which is in the spare bedroom. I notice my hair is getting long again and it's only a matter of time before I will have to use the clippers I got on ebay for a risky second time. I have a laptop on the bed, one ear headphones so I plug my cellular Bluetooth headset in at the same time, an iPhone and an iPad. I also have a backup 4G router as the local power has been a tad flaky lately, taking out the local village internet network.
8am and I have my machine on and I'm running through system messages and some user problems. We have two IT staff at my College and we generally will use a Microsoft Teams video chat to do the morning meeting. I'm wearing my bod card in a lanyard to remind me that although I'm not wearing a tie or jacket, I am still "On deck".
By 9am I am running through the various jobs and already thinking about lunch. The first few support calls are dealt with quickly, but some people seem want to linger once their problem is solved. You swap stories and snippets of media you have seen or heard. Isolation is hitting some people harder than others, we are almost six weeks in, some are starting to flounder. I confess to drinking lots more tea than I used to and trying to do my best not to eat too much haribo.
By 10am I see I can't remotely fix a failing wireless controller and realize I might have to go into College. I try not to go in at all, but sometime there is no choice. Not all the students could leave the College when the lockdown happened, lack of flights left them stranded, dodgy WiFi would leave them truly isolated. I have other things I could do at College too, so I get my bag ready for a trip. The bag contains a laptop, a mask, hand sanitiser, gloves and a letter from my Head of house saying that I'm doing work. I'm glad about the latter as the maintenance manager was stopped by the police going home from the College two weeks ago.
11am I'm suggesting noise cancelling headsets for students working at home and trying to talk to someone in Cape Town about reinstalling Microsoft Teams, whilst helping someone else with a web page mark-up problem. I'm on my forth tea when I see South Africa is fixed. One thing with Teams is that even though you can manually change your status people have become a lot more used to expect instant access. So, you can be on your redirected chorus call, answering emails and in an IM chat when someone wants a video call. Multitasking like this can exhaust you, so I try not to do too much at once, but it's "the new normal" I guess.
12ish Lunch is no longer the hall gathering where you can informally get things done, bump into people or lay the seeds of a project. Lunch is now just fuel, to be consumed. I grab my bag, make a sandwich and take coke out of the fridge. My village is very quiet apart from some dog walkers. The journey takes less than half the time it used to, even though I drive slowly and feel guilty when people see me in my car.
1pm I arrive and wave to the porters, they are the worst hit by this lockdown I think, as they are usually so customer driven, they languish in their lodge. The WiFi controller turns into a bigger problem than expected and whilst I'm there I also have two visitors. As student with a machine that is messed up (liquid spill) and the director of music wanting to record music in the chapel. Social distancing measures are adhered to, along with the constant washing of hands. The Organ is being rebuilt in the chapel, but the piano works fine for the recording. Otherwise the College is quiet except nearby construction work. I take the opportunity to water plants, check mail, take photos of the flowers in the quad and make sure the aircon is still working properly. The Chaplin at least has some music for her virtual services now.
3ish I jump into my car and get ready for the equally quick trip home, still worrying about being stopped by the police. I always feel guilty when I go through airport security too, yes I know it's irrational. I see much more wildlife than I used to on my commute, more bird life, deer, foxes and other creatures than in a long time.
4ish I Arrive home and someone has a problem with a "fuzzy monitor" at their home. What would normally take a two-minute trip to their desk takes the best of part of an hour to solve.
5:30pm Teams meeting with College Office staff, another geographically scattered team, some on poor networks so there are dropouts. I almost say where is X, but then remember X was furloughed a weeks ago and I feel a bit foolish, for not remembering.
5:45pm I take my lanyard off and switch everything off.. I have had a ridiculous craving for sushi as I can't get it in the village. So I end up making it myself with risotto rice, that's all I have. I do have nori, make some fake wusabi with horseradish and use smoked salmon from the freezer.
6:30pm I take the bins out and as I have joined the facebook group "take your bins out in your ball gown" I do it in a Dinner Jacket and post photo's. I settle into a jigsaw and the radio4 comedy to find it's a tribute show about Tim Brooke-Taylor who recently died of the corona virus. The show "47 years without a clue", it makes me laugh, but it's possibly laughter in a minor key.