Thursday, July 31, 2008

Research poster frustration (take 3)

Here's yet another chapter in the continuing saga of the large format poster printer I have the "privilege" of having access to.

Next Monday there is a conference co-hosted by RI-INBRE and RI-EPSCoR, two federally-funded state programs that, among many other things, provide support to undergraduates to do research. This conference consists of poster presentations for all the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURFs) from both programs throughout the state. As such, I am printing 10 posters for the SURFs here at RWU.

Not too bad, right? Each takes about 15 minutes or so to print, so I block off a few hours and give myself another day just in case anything goes awry. Am I prescient or what...

1) Poster files were due in to me by 10 a.m. this morning. How many did I have by 10 a.m.? Exactly 1. This was expected of course so not too big a deal.

2) The one laptop that is reserved for use with the large-format poster printer is kept in the Dean's office (this way we can maintain strict control over who uses the plotter - we don't want just anyone trying to use it and end up f-ing it up). However, the Dean is not here today. Neither is his secretary. The other secretary in the building doesn't have a key to his office. Luckily, security does and happily opens the door for me (wonder if the Dean knows about this).

3) The printer sits in a little room off the back of a computer lab. I have a key that opens up both the computer lab and the little room in the back. So, I unlock the computer lab and attempt to unlock the room in the back. My key doesn't fit. I try again and again and again, thinking it's just a bit sticky. Nope. No good. My key clearly does not go with this lock. Another call to security...

4) Security shows up. Long story short...their keys don't work either. WTF!?!? Security calls the locksmith. Turns out that the lock has been changed and the only folks with a key are over in IT. Apparently they're using the room for the storage of new PCs until they get a chance to swap out a bunch of old ones. Security bids me adieu and wishes me good luck. Great.

5) I call IT. Finally I get connected to someone with the key. I tell him what I need and he says...nothing. Just silence on the other side. Then I get a "Hmmmm. Huh. Ahhhhh. Can I call you back?" Sure. Why should I have expected a simple, "OK, I'll be right there"?

6) He calls back. I can't get access to the printer. I repeat, I cannot get access to the printer. Turns out the printer has been taken offline, moved to the back of the room and buried behind boxes of new PCs. It is literally inaccessible. Apparently, IT had been (direct quote here) "hoping that no one would need the printer this summer". Wah? Hoping? Other than IT (and the locksmith I guess) no-one knew this was happening. They didn't tell (or better, ask) anyone. They just were hoping it would be OK. Wow.

Everything is not lost however. The guy from IT has given me access to the computer lab in the School of Engineering. There's an older large format printer over here that I am using...once I changed the paper, figured out the proper settings, and fought with the paper loader because the roll I have is too thick so the rollers get jammed. But I'm printing now and, knock-on-wood, everything looks good.

And I remembered rubber bands this time!


Eric Heupel said...

Wow, "hoping" no one would need a plotter in an academic-research setting... yeah... brilliant!

If I ever took our plotter offline without approval from all department heads... they would collectively have my head.

Jim Lemire said...

I know - insane isn't it?