Updates from May, 2010 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Andrew T Schwab 7:29 pm on May 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: netbooks computer lab edtech   

    Desktops or Netbooks 

    We have a computer lab that is due for an upgrade. I’ve been struggling with which direction to go because I really don’t want to buy desktops anymore. We are trying to move to a 1:1 but the budget is a big hurdle, especially here in CA right now. I was thinking about using the EEE Boxes as thin clients because at $199 they are the cheapest thing I have seen.

    But then today I saw a presentation by Fresno Unified School District where they had a picture of a computer lab made up of netbooks plugged into keyboards, mice and monitors. A little light bulb went off. We can buy 36 netbooks, connect them to the existing keyboards, mice and monitors and in a year or two pull them out and use them in our 1:1 initiative.

    Problem solved.

  • Andrew T Schwab 6:53 pm on May 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    The Netbook Summit 2010 

    I just got back from the Netbook Summit in Burlingame, CA.  I was skeptical about attending at first. I mean seriously, a summit just to talk about netbooks?  But after two days of meeting new people and listening to where vendors think these devices are going, I’m glad I did.  I think the organizers of the event did a great job of opening it up to Educators and thanks to Jim Klein, Andrea Bennet and CETPA for arranging the Educator Discount.  Netbooks are getting a lot of traction in Education, primarily because of the features that make them netbooks; cheap, portable, durable and long battery life.

    I came away confident that netbooks are here to stay and that the platform is only going to get better.  The video capabilities of chips like the NVIDIA Tegra and AMD Fusion are going to bring HD Video to netbooks in a big way.  Tablets are coming and were talked about in several sessions.  It seems that a lot of people think that computing is moving into the mobile space and that the days of the Desktop are numbered.  I would tend to agree.  I don’t want to buy Desktops for my school anymore, in fact I want to go 1:1 (discussed more in depth in my podcast – Small School, Big Tech).  But even at netbook prices, finding the money to make that happen is a real challenge. I’m really waiting for sub $300 pricing. Hopefully we’ll see it soon.  We’ve managed to hit the $280 mark on our recent netbook purchases by buying the previous generation models of Acer netbooks.  Since Acer upgrades their models every few weeks, this hasn’t been too hard to do.  But I can only play that game for so long before I miss an upgrade cycle. To be sustainable, prices need to come down (or we need real tech funding in education). And not to leave out tablets, the iPad was mentioned but at $499 I don’t see it as a viable 1:1 solution for education.

    Really what I think is missing from netbooks, iPads and Android tablets is a real focus on Education.  Not just a device but an entire ecosystem of connected devices build around the classroom.  The market potential is huge.  Intel has the classmate (Intel was absent from the summit), but I’m not sold on the features or the price.  I think too often tech for Enterprise and Consumers in shoehorned into the Education space without truly addressing the unique needs of the classroom environment.  I don’t count microbial resistant keyboards and rubberized shells as innovations for Education.  The little light on the Dell 2100 that shows when a student is using a browser (is that only for IE I wonder?) is a gimmick.  I mean wouldn’t you expect your students to have that light on all the time?  There was one purpose built device on display being marketed to education that combined an E-Reader with a touch based android tablet.  I’m sorry but it looked too fragile to survive a day in a classroom.

    The tablet is an interesting form factor, but kids are still going to need to type.  A portable tablet with a KVM (keyboard/monitor/mouse) charging doc seems like the perfect paring to me.  Some $200 touchscreen device that kids can take with them wherever they go, like a portable library, interactive response system and camera and a lab full of docs where kids go to type papers.  Even better, make a second doc with a GPU built into the monito for hard core multi-media that the kid’s touchscreen can plug into and pair with.  Of course, this isn’t something we’ll see anytime soon, not for lack of imagination but mainly because the currently Operating System paradigms don’t really support this model of computer.  Maybe Android and Apple iPhone OS will change that.

    Of course my thoughts on all this may change tomorrow after iPad training and I take one home and really see what it can do.

  • Andrew T Schwab 8:12 am on May 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: backupify cloud eml downloads security untangle   

    How Intrusion Prevention killed my Backupify .eml Downloads 

    A few weeks ago I wrote about Backupify.com, a cloud backup service that backs up data from your cloud apps into other parts of the cloud (or is it to different clouds all together?). To recap, I ran into a problem at work accessing my gmail backups. Backupify makes the backup of individual emails available as .eml downloads. I was getting 0KB files that were empty shells with no email data at work but at home it was working fine.

    Turns out one of the security modules (Intrusion Prevention) in our Untangle security appliance at work is set to block (or in this case strip content from) .eml files downloaded via http. I discovered this after a helpful email from Untangle support suggested I turn off security modules one by one to determine the culprit. There are half a dozen different security modules in Untangle for everything from SPAM to Ad blocking and of course it was not until the last one was flipped off that I was able to download the .eml file. As soon as I knew it was the Intrusion Prevention module I was able to look at the log and see the specific rule that was causing the problem (#1233: WEB-CLIENT Outlook EML access).

    And actually I think blocking .eml downloads from the web is a good thing so I will be leaving that particular rule in place. If I need to restore an email I can do it from home. It would be nice to be able to download my backed up email in a zip file or some other format that is not commonly identified as a security threat but I really can’t complain about a free service that is protecting my cloud data from the possibility of spurious dissipation.

    If I want to think about deploying Backupify to my staff to protect their Google Apps accounts, now that is another matter.

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