Have you ever considered living in a world without modern technology? We wouldn’t have the personal computer you are sitting in front of now, much less cell phone networks, satellites, weaponry system, or any other device that relies on micro technology. What would the world be like if all the technology we’ve developed, discovered, and invented over the last 100 years suddenly stopped working? This week at school we had a very small taste of what it would be like.
Last Friday, some bright computer technician at our Educational Support Center decided to mess with the domain-level server, and for some unknown reason, the server didn’t a like him. Whoever it was tinkering with the server caused a huge problem: they changed something that made the server “cry.” Unfortunately, computers are very fragile in this regard – they don’t yet have the A.I. technology necessary to say “Hey Idiot, that probably isn’t a good idea!” Well, when the domain server went down, the problems just kept on rolling down the hill. They multiplied – the result of one problem causing another because of network dependencies – and ended up shutting down the entire district’s network access. They worked on the problem throughout the weekend without solution. Below is a diagram of our school’s network infrastructure:
So, as you can see, once the domain server was taken offline, so was access to any internal network resource – including the Attendance and Grade Server, the Web Server, and the E-mail server. Since the domain is controlled by Group Policy on the domain server, users were unable to logon to access network resources.
On Monday, since no one can get on, it makes a lot of things impossible to do. If you think about it, our high school alone has 2,100 students and over 100 instructors/administrators. Keeping attendance is near impossible – without computers – on that scale with the small number of secretaries we have. All grades are kept on the server, so unless the teacher keeps paper-based grades (which few do), grading is also near impossible. This created quite a mess, because the students knew that teachers couldn’t mark them absent or late, so students started showing up 10 or 20 minutes late to every class.
Our teachers also keep many notes and presentations on their computers to show via projectors in the classrooms. Also, many classes are computer-based in the labs, so they rely on those computers to be online to complete classroom materials. I think you can begin imagining what chaos ensued. Many people do not adjust to change well – especially a school district with 11+ schools with at least 400 students in each.
Now, think if something took out more than just a local network server. Say, it disrupted our radio communications, or it rendered magnetic storage useless. What would people do? Think of all the things we use current technology for. The answer is: just about everything. Here’s a short list of what I came up with in about 2 minutes.