This only peripherally addresses your question, and goes against what you said about re-assigning computers, but I thought you'd find it interesting as a different approach.
The idea was synthesized from two facts: 1) the techs didn't like wasting time transferring a users data to a loaner and then back to their original machine when it returned from repair, and 2) someone said, "we are big enough that we could insure ourselves." [We purchased around 800 new computers to replace/supplement older ones last summer.]
We still billed an insurance fee on each computer, but instead of purchasing Apple Care for our computers, we decided to put the money into buying additional units (and attempted to standardize on just a couple of models)*, and have instituted what we call the exchange program. When a unit comes in that is malfunctioning, the user is given an identical unit. We transfer data when we can (or use mobile/ network accounts), but have told users that they are responsible for backing up their own data.
Then, the original unit can go for repair (or warranty work if it qualifies.) When it comes back, it is re-imaged and placed onto the exchange pile. We do not have to hunt down the user and get a loaner back.
We really need to formalize a policy for removing computers from workgroup manager and marking them as in for repairs in Casper, and, if you do an exchange program yourself, you need to keep the exchange units out or sight and out of mind, or risk politicians sabotaging your program by saying, "Why do we have twenty MacBooks just sitting here, when they could form a new lab?"
We are only six or seven months into our exchange program, but it seems to be working fairly well.
* We also took back the older computers we were replacing, and redistributed some while keeping spares ready for exchange purposes. [Well, except for the oldest ones, which we discarded.]
I have over 6,000 of the same macbooks. We label them with names of the student and assign them the laptop in our inventory system. I see so many failed HDs on these models it is insane. I sometimes send over 50 machines out for repair per a week, from just one building. The building I work out of has over 1400 laptops in it. I am not sure how you do it at your school, but each machines has a tattoo metal sticker on it with a unique Asset tag number. If the sticker is ripped off there is a tattoo under it that says STOLEN in huge red letters. I have to scan each machine in and do about 3 to 4 minutes of clerical work on the inventory database to un-assign and reassign a laptop, which I do on some circumstances.
I have probably over 100 spare laptops in my building that are used for repairs or they can be checked out for certain events by staff and then brought back to me. So I have to manage 100+ spares plus my 1400 in my building, plus the 6,000+ district wide. My department is like 6 people, that is an average of 1 person per 1,000 laptops. We are just too under staffed to be dealing with paper work stuff all day. With the budget cuts we aren't getting any more staff any time soon.
We have things in place where they can save their school work, both from home folder sync and school loop. Plus I am thinking about putting drop box on the image for next year which will give them 2gigs of free space to sync whatever they want over the Internet.
I do kind of wish I had a stock of spare parts and a HD cloner, then i would just clone 20 HDs and when one comes in with a bad HD, swap out the drives then just order the part through GSX, but we don't have that in place.
How do you guys that work in 1:1 handle your spare machines?
Let me add to some of our structure of sorts that Tom didn't mention.
Our district wants each student to have the use of one machine for their entire
high school career. This eliminating a student not taking care of their own machine
over that time. If they choose to leave it filthy and it goes to repair, they will
get the same filthy machine back from repair. Not giving out decent machines to those who
choose not to take care of them. This would be a disservice to those who treat their laptops
w/ the greatest of care. We have a loaner program in place if the repair allows for one, if not
then a deductible has to be meet before a loaner can be issued.
I work w/ Tom in the dept supporting him and 4 other tech where the 1:1 exists as well
as the other 40 buildings in the district. We are definitely under manned but we get by.
Each day is a challenge and job security for the most part is not much of an issue here, there's plenty to do!
Mark Hughes, Apple Technician
TIS Department, KCKPS USD500
mahughe at kckps.org
Good heavens! I thought we were undermanned.
We do have asset tags on our computers. I really like the idea of having "stolen" written underneath them. I also love the idea of students keeping the same laptop and reaping the rewards of how well they care for it. Our 1:1 project has the laptops staying with the grade and being handed on to a new student each year.
When one of our one-to-one units has a failure, and it is not a harddrive failure, we will swap the harddrive from one MacBook to an exchange unit, be certain the new unit is properly reconned and in the right work group in WGM, and get it back to the student. If the HDD is toast, we'll give them a new unit and have them sync to their mobile account. [We only have 175 one-to-one students, and thus face two-magnitudes of order few problems.]
In Workgroup manager, on the basic tab, it has an option called: "User can [ ] access account". I would find out how to replicate that change from the command line (via a local node if necessary), and use that as the basis of disabling the account.
I'd also consider seeing if there is something you can do to automate or speed up the work you do updating information in your inventory database. And yet, I feel all too keenly the plight of the farmer, who, when going for wood was asked, "Why don't you sharpen your saw? It'll make it easier" and who replied "I don't have time to sharpen the saw! I've got all these trees to cut!"