I'm not sure if I can take credit for the idea, as it was envisioned some time ago. Basically, each lab machine in the residential labs uses active desktop to display a small 'lab notices' page which allows us to easily post important lab related info, like when MyWestern goes down.
So this has been in place for some time, and works fine and dandy. The innovation came when we figured that we could easily adapt this to get near realtime stats on which machines were in use, and the duration that someone was logged in. This can help us monitor the labs for possible problems. Not that we don't actively check on the lab machines, but if we see a machine hasn't been used in a week, then its probably prudent to give it a quick checkup.
Last friday I had some free time so I put together a small php script that logs this info into a database, and a created a nifty color coded interface to view current machine usage. Once finals are done with I'll have time to start generating some pretty graphs, which should be quite interesting.
I spent some time today working on a nice backend interface for managing the SNMP print monitoring we do. Now it's a breeze to add new printers for monitoring, as well as configure things like duplex support. Now that the backend is complete, I can tie in my original printer stats code to use the new config data and shared class.
Even though we don't maintain the printer in the Fairhaven lab, it's still neat to watch it as a comparison. Of all the residential computer labs, Fairhaven goes through the most paper. The Ridgeway lab is second highest, but it only does about 65% the volume of Fairhaven.
I've got my first official project as a ResTek WAD (Web Application Developer for those who don't know the lingo)
One of our consultants did an awesome job translating the registration and quarantine pages into japanese. Now they need to be integrated and tested before the new exchange students arrive in a few weeks. Definetly looking foreward to putting it all together.
Thanks to the snow and the resulting closure of the school, we now have status info for our lab printers. With all that free time friday, I started pulling snmp data from the printers, allowing us to monitor any aspect of them we want. Obviously, the most important to us is the toner and paper levels. The newer LaserJet 2300's are advanced enough to monitor the toner level, however the older LJ4050 and 5m are not.
edit: turns out that the 4050's do monitor toner levels (w00t)
The hardest part in all this is deciphering the snmp data. AFAIK, there is no standard or guide to specify what the value in say... mib-220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 is, so I have to sift through all the values and try to correlate them to get the info I want.
I've got toner level graphs working, but I'm still gathering data to figure out paper levels. I have the keys indicating cartridge capacity, but the current level still eludes me.
If I can get access to our testing server I really want to start logging paper usage in the labs. Graphs of that data would be very very sweet.
Today I got a chance to play around with BartPE; a very cool tool for assembling a WindowsPE environment from a standard Windows XP disc. I was very impressed with the functionality that the WinPE provides, and it really got me thinking about how we could potentially leverage this when helping students with virus or spyware infestations.
You get all the advantages of being detached from the file system, yet you can still run the latest versions of adaware or mcafee. Typically we have students boot into safe mode and run the tools from there, but getting them to press F8 at the right time is sometimes tricky, and they always freak out when they get a black screen with big icons. It would be waaay slick if they could just pick up a cd, pop it in, and have the whole process automated.
Also, I can't help but start wondering if I can somehow use this to rid myself of my dependency on the dos based ghosting software. The ghost client itself isn't too bad, but ghostwalk is atrocious. Ghost32 is certified for WinPE environments, so I think I'll download the trial and see how it goes.