Hello, and welcome to the partial list of project pages for the UIUC engagement with The Family Resource Center in Centreville, IL.
After our initial visit, we quickly got to work on our nine computers, and made the mistake of not getting in touch with Thelma for a few weeks. Although all ended well, we should really have asked Thelma to test the printers earlier than we did. Thelma uses email, and since we are all so inextricably connected to our email accounts, we figured this was the best way to contact Thelma and give her the run down of our progress. As it turns out, we overestimated the regularity with which Thelma checks her email. We wrote Thelma an email to let her know that out work on the computers for the lab was going well, and asked her to let us know which of the numerous printers at the site were functional, so that we could figure out how to get optimal use out of the resources they already had, without incurring additional costs.
After about a week, we had not heard back from Thelma, and decided to call her at the FRC just before Thanksgiving. Due to the holiday, Thelma was not at the FRC for a few days and thus did not receive our voice message. The cell phone number that we had recorded as an alternate way to get in touch with Thelma was disconnected. Thelma got in touch with us via telephone after Thanksgiving, and reported that she had indeed received our email, had tried to test the printers, that only one was working, and that that one functional printer was printing poorly. This sent us into a chaotic couple of days (detailed in the section entitled Printing, under the heading Major Challenges, on the Summary of Problems and Solutions page). During this time, we communicated numerous times (vie telephone) with Thelma as we were trying to resolve the printer issue. Somewhat miraculously, it all worked out, and the funding which Thelma requested to buy a printer ended up not being necessary (again, see Printing section for details).
We realize in retrospect that it would have behooved us to communicate with Thelma sooner. We assumed that the bulk of our challenges would be with the computers themselves and networking them together, which turned out not to be as big a deal as we anticipated. While we believe we acted wisely in getting an early jump on partitioning, formatting, networking, and installing software on the computers, we should have considered the printer issues sooner. Although everything ended well with the printer issue, if Prairienet had not had a number of donated LaserJet printers sitting around, the FRC computer lab would probably not have a functional printer. But alas, it does.