Thursday, September 30, 2010

School Daze

It is ironic that just the other day, I forwarded a "reminder" link to my boss, mentioning the success of another school district in adopting open source and Linux (and on further inspection, I actually sent info on the wrong district -- this was yet another that had adopted open source and Linux successfully).  Today, I ran across this blog post, and it has refreshed my confidence in all that is open source and that it is the right way to do things within a public institution.

In researching this post, I found that quite a lot of B.C. school districts are taking the step of adopting Linux and open source as their computing environment of choice.  So the question stuck in my mind (as it has been for over a decade now) is why does my school board make more use of Linux and open source; not just for savings, but for the expanded options it gives to the end users: the students.  Now, I know first hand there are a lot of users in a school board that need computers, but you have to remember, without the students, what the heck are they doing?

To me it just makes sense to build the whole ecosystem around acceptance.  Really, it's not unlike including French in the curriculum, or even the grudging acceptance of Macs, netbooks, iPods, iPads and other gadgets into our computing environment.  Linux adds diversity and provides options the vanilla Windows experience can't touch.  Using Linux can help students (and teachers, and administrators, and even us techs) see things in a different light.  I'm not saying it's a problem-free environment -- it still has a ways to go, just like any other operating environment -- but the problems are different and how you go about fixing them, coping with them or discovering different options to provide the same function are miles from any other environment.

We have run a pilot project to test out how well the Linux Terminal Server Project works (using the Ubuntu implementation, Edubuntu).  It has been running for 5 years on the same hardware, and just this year someone thought to buy a few new PCs and netbooks for the classroom of 15-20 students (on average).  Maintenance is generally the security updates run at the beginning and end of a semester and the "start-up" creation of user accounts.  All other computer service calls to this location are to support the Windows-based teacher laptops.

I'd say this project is a start, but it's been forgotten about.  It works out too well, so it doesn't get any attention.  When it became time to add the new equipment to the classroom, the suggestion was to just put our basic Windows image on the computers and leave it at that.  I just don't get why the acceptance of any alternative is that difficult, even when it's been working so well.

Can anyone enlighten me?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing

It seems politics trumps technical decisions no matter what you try. Regardless of my attempts to automate anything, it was never an option. Our goal, as it turns out, had been to automate the process I was looking into; politics has stagnated that process. Maybe one day I will detail what went on and explain the whole thing, but for now I think things are best left alone.

Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.0

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Courting Disaster

Sometimes it just seems I don't know when to leave well enough alone.

Like when I know a process can be automated and can't see a good reason not to. I don't consider things like cost, or job security; I tend to think about making life easier through the removal of redundant, repetitive tasks.

And other people don't always see eye to eye with my way of thinking.

If you could cut hour of manual labour out of your job today and in the long run it would save your company money, you'd want to do it, right? I know I'm being vague here, but I'm dealing with a real world situation that probably has more variables than I'm seeing.

And I don't want one of those variables to include a reprimand for stating my opinion, no matter how logical. Is it really that important to play politics with the people you work with at the expense of improving the technological well-being of your customers?

Hell, I'm going for it, so let's hope this system works. Maybe more details after successful implementation - or the reprimand.

Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.9

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ordinary People

You and I, we're not like ordinary people. From my experience, ordinary people don't read blogs, let alone even know what they are.

Ordinary people just want to live their lives, use their computers to keep in touch with friends, scan the news, maybe even do some work -- or play games. A computer is just another tool, the Internet their workshop (or playground) and life is no different for ordinary people than when kids used to play outdoors until after dark and you could leave your doors unlocked at night.

But we, dear readers, are not ordinary people. We know that if you let your guard down, the mainstream media misses the important stories. We know that the e-card cousin Jan sent was actually a virus, and that Bill Gates is not, in fact, tracking your email to send you some of his fortune.

Please, do not bring this post to the attention of ordinary people; it would probably offend their sensibilities. They'll look at you like you have two heads and say, "What the heck was that all about?" Ordinary people get to live their lives in the comfort zone the rest of us allow them. You know who you are, you've come this far.

And if you still think you're an ordinary person, think about me while you're cleaning up after that next virus, or removing spyware embedded so deep it IS the operating system. Ordinary people. Yeah.

Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.9