It was all hands-on deck Thursday morning, as staff and faculty distributed hundreds of new tablets to returning students.
It was the last of three rollouts for the new-model Fujitsu T935, with faculty having received theirs last week and new boys on Wednesday. As per School policy, the 2012 models were retired for the latest version; one that is not only thinner and lighter, but also has an amazing touchscreen. Writing and drawing in OneNote is even better with the new digitizer that is more sensitive and responds to the pressure you apply just like a pen.
“It was a beautiful thing,” says Steve Rush, Director of IT, of a process that’s been repeated six times since the School first introduced its computer program in 2003.
“Every student was up and running on their new tablets in time for a BBQ lunch.”
After the old tablets were dropped off in Bedard Gym on Thursday, students queued up along McLaughlin Hall. Names were called out to waiting staff who retrieved tablets from science classrooms that resembled supply stores. A computer bag with an ID tag and two power supplies were also placed into each smiling student's hands. Clutching their precious cargo, the boys followed their advisors to the classroom where they fired-up their machines and ran through short instructions.
While it all appeared seamless, the lead-up was months in the making, beginning last year when Steve and his IT team sourced and then worked to refine a tablet that met SAC’s needs.
It took two full-time employees all summer to customize the tablets as well. Brendan Bellaire, Help Desk and Laptop Coordinator, and Chun-Chow (CC) Chang, Help Desk Specialist, worked long days, and even some weekends, to make sure they’d be ready for the beginning of school.
“They deserve a lot of thanks and recognition for the role they played,” says Steve. “The amount of work that goes into this is phenomenal.”
The duo did everything from unboxing the machines to building a prototype image to replicating it 735 times, 10 tablets at a time. Since everyone receives a computer that is pre-loaded with about 20 software programs, all software on the prototype machine had to be checked for compatibility, with fixes made when problems arose. Microsoft didn’t release Windows 10 until July 26, so Brendan customized Windows 8 to give it the same features and comfortable feel as version 10.
The last piece, done manually, involved logging into each tablet to assign a username and password, and then attaching ID tags to each backpack. These bags, incidentally, are built to allow tablets to suspend in a neoprene pouch so they never touch the floor when set down or dropped accidently.
Though Steve admits to being on “pins and needles” until the last tablet was handed out, he is thrilled that everything went so smoothly; well aware that the 2018 rollout is only three years away.
Story by Cindy Veitch