Station Naming Strategies
Naming stations is a very important step in preparing
your inventory data for TEC-BASE. Deciding on your strategy should
be one of the first things your do.
How you name your stations can determine the degree
of specificity you can get in your reports. There is only one rule
for station naming: station names must be unique across the entire
The best way to explain station naming strategies
is to explain the way I do it at my district.
I create a location record for each room in the district.
Classroom, office, computer lab, etc. all get a location record.
Basically, every place that might someday hold a computer or another
piece of technology equipment should have a location record.
Each location name includes two parts: a building
code and a room number. I use two letter codes for each building
and/or department (e.g. HS for the high school, MS for the middle
school, TO for the Tech Office, etc.). I also try to keep each room
number to a consistent four digits—affixing leading zeros
For instance, a computer lab at the high school has
a location name of "HS-A101" and my office has a location
name of "TO-0001." You'll notice that I use a hyphen to
separate each section of name. It is not necessary, but I find it
very useful. Other characters like underscores should also work—but
beware of symbols reserved on certain operating systems like slashes,
back slashes, and colons.
I separate each location into multiple stations. In
the same high school computer lab there are many stations. Each
station number is affixed to the end of the location name: HS-A101-01,
HS-A101-02, HS-A101-03, etc. Each computer in the lab is "placed"
in the appropriate station. Each monitor is placed in the same station
as the CPU to which it is attached.
My computer is placed in station TO-0001-01. Likewise,
my USB printer and scanner are also placed in TO-0001-01.
I change the network names of each computer to match
the station name in which it is placed. This allows network management
applications like Network Assistant, Remote Desktop, and DameWare
to coordinate with TEC-BASE—meaning a technician should be
able to use information in TEC-BASE like installed software, user
assignments, jack connections, etc. to provide more effective service
to the computer and its users.
I also create special station names for network printers.
Since a networked printer requires a network name I place it in
its own station. For a laser printer in the high school lab, I name
the station HS-A101-P1. For a second network printer, I use HS-A101-P2.
All of the above stations are, of course, related
to a location. It may seem redundant to name both the location and
each station with the same information (i.e. "HS-A101"),
but in most cases I find this to advantageous. It makes searching
more useful and helps produce more specific reports.
Often you'll have items that don't necessarily fit
the station concept and they seem to fit more with a certain location
in general than to a specific station. I find this to be true for
digital cameras, video projectors, and shared items. For these,
I create a general station for the room (e.g. HS-A101-00) and place
all such items there. This "00" station is also good for
temporary placements—you know something is going in that room,
but you aren't sure which station, yet.
Extending this general station idea further, I have
created a building general station (i.e. I know it goes to the high
school, but I don't know specifically which room). The station name
for this is "HS-0000-00." Every tagged piece of equipment
should be placed somewhere, and these general stations give you
If you are not yet ready to specify stations for each
item, and all your inventory is currently "location-based,"
you could begin by placing everything in the general station of
Servers usually require their own special name on
the network, and if you are like me, you'll won't want to rename
your servers just for TEC-BASE. I have been naming new servers with
a similar convention to all my other stations, for instance, HS-Data-01.
I name the station to be the same as the server. In this case, "data"
is not a room but the type of server. I also have older servers
with less structured names (e.g. hslibserv). In these cases, I also
name the station to the server name—assuming that someday
I'll have the chance to rename it properly.
Each server station then gets assigned to the location
in which the server resides. For these cases the station name and
the location name don't match, but that is OK.
I have a few combination buildings: two schools, one
building. At times, computers and users from one school are temporarily
occupying space "owned" by the other school. Instead of
renaming the locations, I just change the station names. For example,
computers owned by the middle school would be in MS-1234-xx stations.
These stations would be in the ES-1234 location.
Why? If I wanted a report of how many computers were
in use at the middle school, I could now search current placements
in stations beginning with "MS-". If I searched by location
name, my numbers would be inaccurate. But if I wanted to know how
many computers I had to support in that side of the building, then
the location search would be best.
Although somewhat confusing, I have found this strategy
to be very helpful when submitting DOE reports.
For computers on laptop carts, I create a station
for each slot and a location for the cart itself. If the cart is
called "HS-MLM1" (Mobile Lab Macintosh 1), then each laptop
would be in a station like HS-MLM1-01, HS-MLM1-02, HS-MLM1-03, etc.
In this situation, the physical location of the cart is not known
beyond the building name—something I can live with.
If you have other special situations that you'd like
suggests for, please send me an email message (email@example.com).