ETS QC of Science Building Instructor PCs.
January 29 2023


This document has notes and observations from the recent experience of configuring the classroom Instructor PCs (IPCs) in the science building. The IPCs were inspected and checked during the January 2023 winter session. These notes are written as the basis for future QC procedures and a implementing more uniform and reliable system configurations of the IPCs. As these notes show there are issues with consistency, reliability, and stability to be improved on.

There are eleven classrooms in this building. Three physics labs and two lecture rooms are on the first floor. Six labs are on the second floor. Computers in the physics labs are AIOs, highly customized by professors with a substantial collection of purchased and custom built software packages for teaching and lab assignments. The first-floor lecture rooms have older and less powerful Dell i5-8500 3.0 GHz 6 core Optiplex 3060 desktops.

Three labs on the second floor have Dell 3590 laptops, one lab has an all-in-one, and one lab has an underpowered Optiplex 3060 desktop. Startup and BGi posting take longer on these under-powered Optiplex 3060 desktops than on the laboratory IPCs. Lab classroom 216 does not have an IPC.

This QC task was initiated because the BGi is an essential feature and was not working very well on most computers. The display showed dated information, errors, and it was visibly not updating. Computers left up for some time displayed the same information twice with a partial overlay. The primary objective of this task was to get BGi working properly.

Issues and problems

Issues and problems found during inspection of SCI IPCs are enumerated in this section and explain why a standard operating procedure of system configuration and inspection are needed. The issues are:

BGi launch failures: The main reason for doing this task and writing this document is because BGi is supposed to configured to run at every user logon. This was not working. BGi is an important application. It refreshes broadcast information each time a user logs in. Launch failures recorded in the Task Scheduler Event Log indicate BGi often does not run, typically because of an incorrectly specified running user, incorrect file specification in shell:startup, or other errors in the script.

Obsolete versions of BGi: Most of the computers had a dated version of BGi. The correct, proper, and newest version includes a Parker subfolder with updated scripts. This current version of BGi was installed on all computers.

Shutdown task failure: The Shutdown task, normally executed nightly at 11:00 pm, in Task Scheduler, on most PCs, was either disabled or failed at launch. In most cases the last successful launch was anywhere from four months to three years ago. In some cases launch failures are caused by an incorrectly specified running user. This shutdown task is essential to successfully maintain current daily broadcasts to instructor PCs regarding the day’s Administrator On Duty and contact information at the campus and Santa Clara County police departments. At the end of this effort it could be seen that Shutdown was not consistently executing on all IPCs. In some cases the Event Log showed error messages “The operator or administrator has rejected the request” but other messages in the same log say it executed and ran without error.

Task Scheduler History disabled: History and event logging in task scheduler was found to be typically disabled and must be turned on. This option enables logging of task scheduler event executions and carries essential information used to diagnose, troubleshoot, and fix launch failures. Without this information troubleshooting is difficult, execution failures can go unnoticed, and it is hard to determine whether the startup tasks are actually running correctly.

No Rollback: Rollback tasks in EAZfix were not always present. The standard procedure is to activate a rollback task and configure a path to D:\ Documents where professors can store files that need to be preserved.

Failure to deactivate Windows Update: On some computers Windows Update was active and on others it was not. The standard practice must be that the computers are updated by IT, update is then disabled, a snapshot is taken, and a rollback is activated.  

Inconsistent and broken scripts to deactivate Windows Update: Numerous instances were found of various scripts in Task Scheduler intended to disable Windows Update:

The only one that seemed to consistently take effect is disableWindowsUpdate. On several IPCs more than one instance of this script, under different names, was found in Task Scheduler.

In theory, if Windows Update is disabled and stopped from the service console, and a snapshot is taken, and a rollback runs at boot, then Windows Update should remain disabled. For reasons I do not understand, following such a restart, Windows Update was sometimes found to be enabled in service console.

Windows Update failure: The IPC in SCI 180 rejected some Windows updates because VM-Ware Workstation was installed and is apparently incompatible with certain updates.

Windows Update failure: The IPC in SCI-140 refused to take some Windows Updates and I was unable to determine why or get some updates installed.

Corrupt instance of BGi start: On the IPC Laptops in 170 and 180 there was an instance of BGautoinfo.bat in Task Manager > Startup that was triggering errors about Bginfo64.exe not found. Removing this instance corrected the error.

EAZfix disk space shortage: On some computers EAZfix was over-populated with snapshots causing errors to post about shortage of disk space. As a consequence some of the older and seemingly redundant snapshots were deleted.

Under-powered computers: The desktop computers in 120, 140, and 220 are under-powered Dell Optiplex 3060 desktop computers. They boot slowly and BGi takes up to a full minute to run. There may be complaints about this slow performance. It is a feature not a bug.

Poor screen resolution: Screen image resolution on the IPC in 230 is poor. The display lacks clarity. There may be complaints about this. It may be correctable with some sort of setting change.

QC Procedure

Based on experience and observations from the January QC, following is the new standard procedure for QC and configuration of IPCs in the Science building

1. From EAZFix take a snapshot. This is in case you screw something up real bad

2. If there is a rollback task in EAZfix then delete it.

3. Check and make sure the computer is properly named.

4. Run Windows update. This may take several iterations. When finished click to services.msc, disable Windows update, and stop the task.

5. Start all the browsers and click OK to any update prompts. Make sure each browser loads the Mission College Biology, Chemistry, or Physics department home page, depending on which lab you are working in. If you can’t figure out whether you are in a Biology, Chemistry, or Physics lab or classroom you should not be working here.

6. Export a copy of the Shutdown and BGi scheduled tasks in Task Scheduler, from a computer that has known-good and working instances.

7. Take a copy of the current autoBgInfo folder from a computer that has a current and known good copy of this folder. Any computer that was recently imaged will be suitable.

8. On the target computer rename the existing bgInfo folder to _old and then bring in a fresh copy of the folder. Note this folder has a sub folder named BGIfor Installer Parker which houses the install script.

9. Run C:\ Users > ETS > autoBGinfo > BGIfor Installer Parker > install.bat. Run it as administrator.  Among other things this script plants a copy of LoadingBGinfo in Task Scheduler. Delete it. Inspect Task scheduler for other earlier or older instances of BGi. Some are under a slightly different name. Delete all these instances if found.

10. From C:\ Users > ETS > autoBGinfo > copy BGInfoAutoUpdate.exe to shell:startup

11. Delete the BGi and Shutdown tasks from Task Scheduler

12. Import the new copies of Shutdown and BGi into Task Scheduler. Check and make sure they are set to run as SYSTEM user.

13. Turn on History in Task Scheduler

14. Inspect Task Scheduler. There should only be five tasks in there:


15. If there are other instances of a disable Windows Update script in Task Scheduler then delete it. disableWindowsUpdate is the correct, proper, working, and tested version.

16. Inspect Task Manager > Startup. Make sure no instances of a BG info startup are present.

17. Copy the AV Files folder to the desktop

18. Make a desktop shortcut to D:\ Documents

19. Configure Shutdown to execute a few minutes ahead of the current time. Observe the computer and make sure it works. After reboot inspect the log files in Task Scheduler. You are looking for indications of a successful execution and no errors in the Task Scheduler event log. If there are questions or doubts about how Shutdown is working or when it is running then look in the Windows Event Viewer System Log for event codes 10704, 6005, 6006, and 6008. These event codes reflect shutdown and startup under varying and different circumstances. Once shutdown is provably working, re-configure it in Task Scheduler to run at 11:00 PM every night.

20. Check services.msc to make sure Windows Update is disabled and stopped. Try running Windows Update and make sure it is blocked.

21. Reboot the computer, log in as instructor, and examine the desktop screen. Within 30 seconds a current BG info screen should be posted and if not then fix it. The common errors and resolutions are described in the introductory section of this document.

22. Take a snapshot and enable a Rollback that runs at every startup.

23. Reboot the computer and log in as instructor two more times. Make sure BGi works and the screen is refreshed.

24. Shut down and power off the computer. Start it back up. Log in as instructor. Make sure BGi works and the screen is refreshed.

25. Leave the computer on. Come back the next morning. Make sure it is off. If it is not then Shutdown in Task Scheduler is not working and needs to be fixed. Power up and log in as instructor. Make sure the BGi information display is refreshed. Look at the History log in Task Scheduler and make sure BGi and Shutdown ran without posting errors. Check Windows Update from the services console and the Windows Update control panel and make sure it is turned off.