Exchange to Google Apps Transition

I haven’t written a whole lot about our recent experience in moving from Exchange 2003 to Google Apps because I ended up writing it up for a guest post on Michael Stephens’ blog, Tame The Web. I’m not going to re-write it here, but I would like to add a few notes about the experience from more of a distance, time-wise, at least.
As I said in the post on TTW, this was an amazingly smooth transition – from my staff’s standpoint. The vast majority of them came in on Monday, opened their browser, followed the directions from the 8 training sessions I provided and checked their email before starting their day’s work. Since I wrote that post, however, we’ve continued using the system and made some changes. I have uploaded many contact files (pretty easy – just saved the contacts from Outlook as a .csv file, and imported them into Gmail) without any major issues. We’ve also switched from an open-source, kinda clunky calendar system to manage our desk hours to the Google Calendar. Our address hosts all of the desk calendars and I shared them with the managers responsible for each desk. Once they entered the information and got them all up and running, I embedded each calendar into a web page on our Intranet and made them available for subscriptions if individual staff members wanted to add the desk calendar information to their own, personal calendar. The Circulation manager asked me if it was possible to share the calendar with her entire staff – I explained that this would put every shift on every staff member’s calendar and she said that was what they wanted. Since that is what they wanted, that is what I helped her do – share out the calendar with all of her staff so that they could see who was working the desk from their own calendars.
Responses from the staff have been overwhelmingly positive. I did have one staff member tell me that she was born too late, she didn’t like all this technology and she was having a hard time with the change. Despite having said that, however, she has been using it without any help from me (except to show her how to mute conversations – something she thinks might make all this change worth it…) successfully and is adapting well to the system. Other staff members have been stopping me over the course of the last week or two to tell me how much they like the new email. I’ve gotten many thanks from folks who really disliked Outlook and all the spam it let through!
All has not been wine and roses, however. The first Friday afternoon after the changeover, Gmail went down completely. Hosted and personal accounts were unreachable for almost 2 hours. All that cheerleading I’d done for how much we’d love our new email and the last couple of hours of the first week saw us down for the count. One of our staff members was having problems with accessing the secure Gmail option using Safari on her Mac, and in the course of looking for the answer, I found out that a hacking toolkit for Gmail accounts was being released. I set up the domain, that night, to require SSL security for all Google Apps that we use! I sent out an email warning folks that it may slow down their email and to let me know if they have problems. No one has, so far, but it did fix the issue with Safari… She just goes to the non-secure site, which comes up for her with no problems, then as she logs in, it redirects her to the secure site automatically. Problem solved!!
The changeover was, from my end, a lot of work and a lot of training, but from my staff’s perspective everything went quite well and most of them are more than pleased with the transition!


Busy Wednesday!

Today wiped me out. I almost don’t have the energy to write about it, but I’ll make one last push for productivity before sitting down and vegging all evening (between loads of laundry, of course…).
This morning I was going to get to work early to get the PCC ready before our All Staff meeting, but I ran into a former high school teacher (and chaperon on my high school trip to Italy) at the local coffee shop I frequent and had to sit and chat with him for a bit. Once I got to work (about 7:50am), I counted money, got change for our register and started up about half of the PCC computers before it was time to go to the meeting. At 8:15 on the Wednesday morning after the 3rd Tuesday of the month (stop laughing, I couldn’t make that kind of schedule up if I tried!), our director gets all the staff who happen to be in the building together to tell us about the board meeting the night before, pick a name from the pile for the Employee of the Month program (everyone who was given a “You’ve Been Caught” going above and beyond the duties of your job during the course of the month is in that pile – the winner gets a gift certificate and a prime parking space – and a spot on our Intranet announcing their win – I forgot to add our winner to the that spot today, but I’ve already added it to RTM to remember for tomorrow!) and generally keep the staff up on the news of the library. During the meeting, my participation in Uncontrolled Vocabulary (UV) was mentioned, so I’m curious to see if any of my co-workers decide to join us tonight on the call! After the meeting I talked to Bobbi (about scheduling a time to talk about our upcoming Summer Institute 4-day workshop on Web 2.0 stuff) and our Linn Library Branch Manager about the issues she’s been having with her projector’s color (I think it’s the DVD that’s causing problems – we’ll see for sure tomorrow) and with our Collection Development librarian about getting information on the web about our “Capital Read” program and the author of our chosen book. Finally, after all that, I made it back downstairs to turn on my computer and start the day. I got about halfway through my email when the Children’s department called – they had a non-responsive keyboard on one of their desk computers. I grabbed a replacement and went upstairs to change it out, but didn’t have to. It was a bad USB port – move the keyboard to a new port, fix the problem! Back down to the basement to finish my email (which I ALMOST did) and there is another call – the people using the Art Gallery for a program had video, but no audio, from the VCR. I went upstairs, cleaned the air filter (there was a popup on the screen saying it needed to be done, so I did it while I was there) and turned the stereo receiver to the correct setting to get audio from the VCR. Back downstairs to finally sit down and check my blogs…
Except that the director, who was going to give me a tutorial in the use of Norton’s Ghost application to speed up deployment of computers, showed up. 3 hours later, after installing, setting everything up, and burning through about 15 floppy disks to find 2 good ones to use for the boot disks, we discovered that the network card on one of the machines refused to play along with us. By this time it was 3pm, I hadn’t had lunch yet and I was so irritated at the floppy disk situation that I dropped the whole project (with a note to the director telling him where I was in the process) for the day. After all that, I finally checked my “daily” blog folder to see what was going on in the world and went through the email that had accumulated while I was valiantly fighting floppies.
[sidebar] I’ll note that not once in this very long narrative has there been a single mention of Twitter, Facebook or Twhirl. I was completely disconnected from my social network today and it was no fun. [/sidebar]
After I closed down and packed up my office and talked to the afternoon PCC clerk and asked him to relay information to the evening PCC clerk, I headed over to our Administrative building and tried out 4 different desk chairs before deciding on the one that I want at my desk. When that was done (at about 4:30 – deciding on a chair is a lengthy process with lots of discussion required), I got into my car and headed home.
Now that I’m done with my day at work, I’m going to start on laundry and really work on getting some quality vegging time in before I call into UV tonight. Hope to see you all there!

update And I completely forgot to mention the work I did today on the Gmail migration – adding all the library user names, starting the DNS change process with MORENet and working out billing issues to get us upgraded to the Enterprise Edition. That was all sort of sprinkled in among everything else…



In response to my brilliant co-worker, Bobbi, I’ll be posting a running tally of just what it is I do all day during this week. I’m not sure this is a representative week, what with budgets due tomorrow and all, but this is the week that everyone else is doing it, so I suppose I will too! While the original concept was to illustrate what librarians do all day (or week, as the case may be), and I’m not really a librarian (I just play one on TV?), but a techie who happens to work in a library, this may not answer the original question. On the other hand, it may give a bit of insight into what exactly has to happen on the back-end for the front-line librarians to do their jobs!
So here it is, with no further ado, my Monday…

  • Come into work at 7:45am and start up the computer – go through mail while I wait
  • Check email, blogs and fire up Twhirl
  • Sent out email pointing to this week’s Library Learning 2.1 lesson
  • Check that backups ran and that none of the servers died overnight, make sure everything is working on the network
  • Count money in the PCC cash register
  • Talk to one of my staff who is going with me to Internet Librarian about what pre-conferences we can afford (not enough…) and get the one she wants from her
  • Spend an hour alternately chatting with Bobbi via GTalk, wondering why airline prices are changing by the minute, and buying airfare for the 3 folks going to IL while discussing hotel arrangements that Bobbi is making
  • Check email again before 11am meeeting
  • Budget and various other topics discussed for an hour or so
  • Fixed legal paper tray in Tech Services office
  • Lunch!
  • Added IP addresses from III (Millennium Automation System) so they could get into our server
  • Met with Children’s Programming Coordinator about reducing her network profile size
  • Went home a bit early so I could work on next year’s budget this evening
  • Added the winner of the You’ve Been Caught program to the staff website (way belatedly)
  • Registered myself and my staff member for IL 2008
  • Budget time!

The use of the Remember The Milk social task list helped a lot in remembering what I did all day! Check the LL2.1 blog post linked above for more information about that!!
More tomorrow!!


Big Day @ The Library, Pt. 2

After all the excitement with Jim & Shannon Butcher, I attended the library softball team’s 4th game. WE WON!!! 11 to 7!!! We got 11 runs!!! This is a first for our library – we’ve lost the last 3 games, so we were definitely due for a win. Very exciting stuff. It started off with the husband of our Circ supervisor, Troy, getting a home run on the very first at bat for the Dewey Decimators. It continued with lots of great at-bats, excellent plays that stopped the other team (the Dozers, sponsored by Twehous Excavating) in their tracks and some good luck thrown in. Yeah!!!! It was an excellent end to a fabulous day at the Missouri River Regional Library!!
Gary pitching

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