- 1 System Overview
- 2 The Console
- 2.1 Session Management
- 2.2 Printer Management
- 2.3 Computer Settings Setup
- 2.4 Setting Program Options
- 3 The Waiting List
- 4 The Engine
mConsole is a robust software system that helps small to medium sized libraries manage their public workstations. Patrons are assigned a timed session on a workstation. When the time expires, the patron is signed out and the workstation is made available for the next patron. Patron print jobs are held until staff members release them to the printer.
mconsole consists of three programs:
1. The Console, for monitoring and control. 2. The Engine, for public computers that are being monitored. 3. The Waiting List, to automate the signup and session management.
When using mConsole, public workstations will always be in one of four states:
1. Unlocked-the workstation is being monitored but is completely available for use. 2. Locked-the workstation keyboard and mouse are locked and the Locked Workstation and the Locked Workstation Instructions are displayed. Locked workstations are ready to have a session assigned to them. 3. In Session-the workstation is in a timed session which begins with the Acceptable Use Policy' being displayed, acceptance of those terms, and finally the remainder of the session where the patron is using the computer. A session timer is displayed in the lower right corner of the screen showing the time left in the session. 4. Unknown-the workstation is checking in with the system.
Workstations move in and out of the four states as the system is used. Staff members monitor and control the system via the Console Program. Optionally, sessions can be automatically assigned using the waiting list. The system can be configured to hold all patron print jobs until a staff member releases them, giving the staff members an opportunity to collect printing fees before the job is printed.
The Console software can be installed on as many computers as needed. The Console is used by staff members to monitor and control public workstations. The console software has three major functions:
1. Monitor and control timed sessions 2. Monitor and control the waiting list 3. Monitor and control printing jobs
(Screen Layout picture here)
Changing a Public Workstation's State Using The Console
To Use the system efficiently, you should be familiar with the four states that a public workstation can be in, and how to use the Console to change a workstation's state. Once the system is up and running you should practice the following technique to make sure you are comfortable with the process.
As with most Windows programs, there are multiple ways to accomplish a particular task. You will undoubtedly find a method that works best for you. One of the easiest methods of operating the console software is to right click on a workstation (or a collection of workstations) and select the desired function from context menu that pops up. Commands that affect the state of the workstation, and most other commands as well, give you a confirmation screen that lists the workstations being affected and the command that is being executed. You have the option to cancel the command before sending it off to the workstations.
Locking a workstation is now trivial:
- Right click on the workstation - Select Lock from the context menu that pops up - Confirm that you want to do it
Unlocking a workstation follows the same pattern.
Starting a session on a workstation is the same procedure, but there are more options on the confirmation screen that are detailed below.
Starting a Session Using The Console
To start a session on a workstation, right click on the workstation's icon and select Start Session from the context menu that pops up. The following confirmation dialog will pop up (picture of session start here)
The dialog should be filled in as follows:
- Minutes: the length of the session in minutes - Guest: highlight if patron doesn't have an account - Login: put the patrons login information in here - First/Last: the patrons first and last name - Blank Box: put any additional information here - Normal Setup: closes previous programs and caches when the new session starts
Extending a session follows a similar path. To extend a session, right click on the workstation and select Extend Session from the context menu. from there you can select the number of minutes you wish to extend the session.
It's important to understand all of the fields on the start and extend session dialog. Even if you are planning on using automatic session assignment, it is important to know how to use the dialog. There will certainly be times where you will want to quickly add or extend a session using the console.
Printer management in mConsole is straight forward. The printers on the public workstations are normally paused. Patron print jobs queue up and will be reported on the console. Staff members can release the print jobs to the printer or cancel them. This provides an opportunity for staff members to collect fees or to cancel jobs that were created by accident.
Releasing and Cancelling Print Jobs
Print jobs can be released or cancelled by right clicking on them from the Console. The context menu that pops up has the options needed for printing.
Computer Settings Setup
To access the settings, right click on the work station and select Settings from the context menu that appears. A new window should appear that looks something like this
(insert pic of settings menu)
The fields are defined as follows:
- Location: where the computer is located - Type: name of the computer type - General: gives default session parameters - Authentication: workstation security settings - Before Starting A Session: processes that happen before a new session starts - After Session Ends: processes that happen after a session ends - Shutdown Times: Determine available times for the workstation by days of the week
These fields are initially set to default values, but you can change them yourself by deselecting the Use System Defaults tab and putting in your desired settings.
Do You Need to Setup Computer Types?
When deciding whether you need to use computer types, ask yourself the following questions. First, will all my public workstations be treated equally?. And also, Will the default session length be the same on all workstations. If you answered YES to both of these then you probably don't need to use computer types. If, however, you answered NO, then computer types should be used. Computer types are convenient if you have situations similar to the following.
- An express computer with a short default session length - Genealogy workstations with longer default session times - Word Processing workstations with custom session lengths
Setting Program Options
A complete list of programs and descriptions can be found in the Installation Guide. The settings listed below are core to the system and care should be taken to configure them properly.
Defining Your Acceptable Use Policy
The acceptable use policy (AUP) is displayed on computers that have been assigned a session. The AUP must be accepted by the user before they can use the computer. the user will accept or decline the AUP by selecting the desired box on the side of their screen (note: declining to accept the AUP will end the session)
What you include in your acceptable use policy is up to you. Access to the AUP editor is via Settings(top of your screen) ->General ->Acceptable Use Policy. Enter the desired content for your AUP on the window that pops up. You can copy and paste text from another document there if you would like.
you may want to include your entire acceptable use policy if it is fairly short. As an alternative, you may want to just conclude the important points in a list and direct patrons to the front desk if they want the full list.
Defining Your Locked Workstation Instructions
The Locked workstation instructions (LWI) are displayed on workstations that have the keyboard locked and are awaiting session assignment. Use the LWI to instruct potential computer users of your policy for gaining access to the computers.
Items you might want to include in your LWI include:
- physical locations of any waiting list (sign up) computers - instructions to see a staff member if appropriate - library hours
You can set the locked workstation instructions via Settings(top of your screen) ->General ->Locked Workstation Instructions . A window will appear for you to enter your LWI or paste them from another document.
Whenever you wish to update the software for all your computers contact us at mConsole. We will schedule an appropriate time to remotely load the update to your server. Afterwards, Microsoft One Click will automatically transfer these updates to the correct computers. Once the updates have finished loading, simply reboot the mConsole software and it will be automatically updated(note: workstations probably will require you to reboot the computer).
Understanding PIN Numbers
PIN numbers are four digit numbers that are used to identify what workstation a patron is using. they can be assigned randomly/ or based off of patron information such as account number or phone number. A patrons PIN number is used to for a variety of tasks, such as gaining access a kiosk (or a workstation if you so choose) or to get back onto a computer after leaving for a while.
For smaller libraries PIN numbers may not be important. However, if authentication issues (i.e. people using workstations no assigned to them) start to arise at your library they can be used to help prevent them. You can change how PIN numbers are used via Settings(top of your screen) ->Authentication.
The Waiting List
The waiting list is a way to make a schedule for patron use of computers. To create a new waiting list, go to the top right most bot and click on the +. A popup will then appear where you can input patron info, computer type, and assign a session time. Once you create an entry, a tab will appear in that box with the patrons name, PIN, and time since the entry was made. to assign a waiting list entry to a workstation, click on the entry and then click on the Monitor Icon on the top of the box. From there you can select which workstation to assign them to.
You can have as many waiting list (sign up computers) in your system as necessary. However if you choose to make automatic assignment, only one of your waiting lists can be configured to make them. Having two waiting lists configured to make automatic assignments will lead to sessions being dropped or skipped.
(insert waiting list pic)
Configuring Automatic Computer Assignments
To Set a waiting list to automatic assignment, go to the top right of the screen and click on the box to the right of Assignment:'. There you can choose to turn this feature on or off.
Enabling automatic assignment will cause the following to happen:
- The waiting list will monitor the list of patrons waiting and the list of available computers - Patrons are assigned a computer on a first come first serve basis - The automatic assignments made are optional announced on the screen and an audible tone is played.
The Engine software runs in the background on all public workstations. It interacts with the workstation by accepting and processing messages that are sent to it
The Session Clock Window
The session clock will display on workstations when they are in session. It will display the remaining session time and provides a button for logging out of a session early. There is also an additional info tab that displays the PIN number and allows the patron to take a break