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General Chat Thread, Unfriendly Article vents at Edugeek and its members in General; Not read the article yet - his brief biog was full of errors to put me off alone: Dr John ...
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    Not read the article yet - his brief biog was full of errors to put me off alone:

    Dr John Spencer began his teaching career in 1981 armed with a Sinclair ZX81, thereby demonstrating two things at once: Firstly he was in at the very start of ICT in the classroom and secondly he is a sucker for duff technology.
    First of all the "start of ICT" was certainly not in 1981. Some of us saw computing in the classroom well before that.

    Secondly, the ZX81 was certainly not "duff technology".

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    OK, I've now read it and after the dig at Edugeek it does develop into a incoherent ramble. Isn't the phrase something like "obvious troll is obvious"?

    But the comments posted after say much more than the blog ever did. One comment he posted said "My max has been 1000 students all spoiled little s***s " which shows one of the many chips on his shoulders.

    Remember the old teacher knocking phrase: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach become management / OFSTED inspectors."

    I think we have a new one: "Those who can do IT do it. Those who can't, write about it."

    As for the article, what does he want? Us to replace XP? But not with another MS offering? Easier said than done.

    I'm now ready to embrace Win 7 and Office 2010 now that the bugs are being ironed out. In fact I've been ready for Office 2010 since the day it came out but there's a slight problem - my machines aren't powerful enough to run it without any serious lag.

    So what do I do? Blow taxpayers money on scrapping a working system just for the sake of a new OS which does the same as the old? Now the budget cuts have kicked in I don't even have that option any more.

    It techies certainly do not hold back new technology. Just ask them to empty their pockets or go round to their houses. Maybe even look at what systems and apps they're running in their offices. Some of our best software is open source.

    So, get rid of XP and stick on Linux? I'd love to but the whole educational framework around computers simply won't accept it - from teachers to the crappily written apps (quick nod to ICT4LIFE).
    Last edited by Gibbo; 23rd February 2011 at 09:08 AM.

  3. #78

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibbo View Post
    As for the article, what does he want?
    This has been my point in the comments. Anyone can go about saying 'what he have now is crap, we should replace it' but without actual ideas on how to accomplish that within the framework we have (taking data protection, child protection, budgets, LEA control, culpability should things go wrong, training etc...) it is no better than someone shouting at a TV when they see criminals being given a 300 fine for killing someone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    I'm a bit lost here ... are you saying that just because the advice is public we should not question it? I may have read what you put wrongly and apologies if this is the case.

    Surely if anyone believes the advice is questionable then they should critique the advice, make better proposals and then show that the new proposals is better advice? My point was that people were slagging off John in a rather unprofessional way ... it goes back to the old techniques in the civil service ... if you cannot discredit the advice then you discredit the man ... a very low thing to do.
    Jinx we were saying the same thing twice over, I was questioning if you were saying that we should not question it in your original post and attempting to imply that we should question it which I expanded upon in my later post. Both of the things you put forward in the first bit of your above post. I may have been a little vague though.

    As to the insults, I do agree that it is best to attack the point and not the person, I think that I tread the line finely but on the side of debate rather than the alternative. I may not have marshaled my language as well as I could though and I can see the viewpoint of those venting their frustrations also.


    On to your point about poorer schools and phones, I think that this view has some holes. Working in several schools rated at the very lowest socio-economic rating that can be given I too see this. Kids with no food but a playstation 3 at home, using this as evidence to suggest that all of the families are that way is unfair. Some actually feed their children and don't have such things. The school pushing all students to have them and rewarding their use will put extra pressure on the families doing the right thing. After all why feed your own kids when the school can so that you can buy the latest phone, some real good life lessons there for children.

    There are also things like theft that will increase inside the school and out if such a plan became the norm.

    @Torledo - You are right, the single point of failure could be reduced but it would take huge investment, as Localzuk said eairlier, you should be running through two ISPs, through two different ducts to two different exchanges and back to the net through different backhaul links. It is doable if schools stop all internal investment in IT and give it all to the phone companies in most cases to actually build these systems. There are schools that could do this tomorrow as they are well situated, even one of my schools could do it but it would require spending, in our case 125 times as much (approx at last check) as we do a month in order to get this service.

    That kind of money excides out current IT budget entirely and does not even account for routers, wireless and any computers (osolete and pointless as they may be in this envisioned future).

    This is the exact kind of thing that I was talking about with the feasibility and this is what is not addressed at all.

    @CyberNerd
    afterall we are successfully running a network where we have a mixed economy of devices (and yes, flash, sims etc does work on iphones via a citrix web client)
    I love this kind of justification, you can do everything on the iPhone/iPad just add citrix and a Windows box and it can do the stuff it needs to. So let me get this right, iPhone work out in this scenario as long as they are being used as fancy remote controls to Windows/Linux boxes. Kind of kills its moniker as a smart phone and means you need a whole thinclient infrastructure just for the phones/any thin clients you have.

    This renforces my point, its not just the phones, its the whole ecosystem and infrastructure behind the scenes required to get the benifit of these devices. There was no mention of this in the article, simply a statment that phones were the answer with no genuine thought (at least none conveyed in print) as to how.
    Last edited by SYNACK; 23rd February 2011 at 09:33 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post

    @CyberNerd

    I love this kind of justification, you can do everything on the iPhone/iPad just add citrix and a Windows box and it can do the stuff it needs to. So let me get this right, iPhone work out in this scenario as long as they are being used as fancy remote controls to Windows/Linux boxes. Kind of kills its moniker as a smart phone and means you need a whole thinclient infrastructure just for the phones/any thin clients you have.
    Like I said, it works for us. We've had the thin client infrastructure for a long time, so it only cost an external connector TS license, and some citrix cals which are concurrent. Plus thin client means the administration of regular PC's costs us less. Theres a bunch of reasons why people use thin client, being able to support more/different devices is just one of them. Students still get their email/apps provided from google, so we only use the citrix for the 'awkward' windows only things.

    As for the Single Point of Failure - it's the same with everything else, getting complete redundancy in datacentres is expensive. not many schools have complete redundancy so anything could break and it still works, do they?

  6. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    Like I said, it works for us. We've had the thin client infrastructure for a long time, so it only cost an external connector TS license, and some citrix cals which are concurrent. Plus thin client means the administration of regular PC's costs us less. Theres a bunch of reasons why people use thin client, being able to support more/different devices is just one of them. Students still get their email/apps provided from google, so we only use the citrix for the 'awkward' windows only things.

    As for the Single Point of Failure - it's the same with everything else, getting complete redundancy in datacentres is expensive. not many schools have complete redundancy so anything could break and it still works, do they?
    I was just pointing out the limitations of the iPhone platform. It is great that your system works well for you and that your particular setup works well with these kinds of devices. Those external connector cals are very expencive though, when we investigated they cost the same as our entire server load of CALs for Windows, Exchange, TMG. Its all varient though and depends on the situation and implementation as to what works out to be cost effective. You guys also already have it in place which is a completely different ball game to those that would need to implement and entirely different system in parallel to their existing one to make it work. Not that this is a major issue it just requires extra time, money, thought and planning, stuff which there is a general shortage of at the moment.

    I am not arguing for complete redundancy on all systems just clarifying the points that others have made. The other thing with redundancy though is the quality of the service to start with. Most SANs have dual PSUs, NICs, controllers etc and so even though it is only one unit it is high quality and hopefully much less likely to fail.

    Internet access seems to be a much more 'best effort' endevor and so the need for multiple providers is greater thanks to iffy service. It is also the degree to which it would be relied upon, if practically everything goed through the link then it all fails when the link does. If one server from a couple fails and you have limited fault tollerance you may loos some services but probably not all as you would with a single net link and everything helpfully trapped at the end of a long broken pipe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    So ... high percentage of free school meals? How many of your students applied for and received a device via the Computers for Pupils scheme? When was the last time your school did a survey of students / pupils to find out what they had at home and what sort of mobile phone they had? It any of this ever taken into account when planning what can be done with tech and kids?

    I'm not even saying it is the role of each and every member to look at this, because for a good number it either isn't in your job description (if you have one ... but that is another much covered thread) or it is in the control of others in the school who do not include you in the planning / discussions. The bit where I agree with John is that in many schools the IT Team are all about limiting choice rather than creating it. Sometimes it is for good reasons ... but for a good amount it is about power and control.

    If I had the cash to go and do the research I would be looking to see if there is any correlation between those who fight to protect things and those who have SLT / teachers who consistently fail to abide by rules / good practices. From anecdotal evidence it would seem to be that there could be quite a strong one.

    I know I still have a lengthy post to do about my previous rant on this ... and I will get on to it, but the same attack is being made on John, except it was getting darned personal and making some hasty assumptions because of bad experiences some members may have had perhaps ...
    Apologies, 70% was a typo it should be 60%.

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    A quick note on SPoF.

    All companies, academic institutes, public services, etc have to take a measured approach about the need for eliminating all single points of failure. This is mainly centred around risk management and I hate to say it, but a heck of a lot of places don't do it, never mind failing to do it properly (and allow it to influence decisions).

    All schools should complete a risk management exercise as part of their business continuity plan ... and yes, that does involve things like partial failures such as you single 'net connection going down.

    So ... how many people bemoaning about the cloud, and the SPoF being the internet feed, have a business continuity plan and/or have completed a formal risk assessment which outlines why the cloud is a bad idea? Who has shown it to their SLT who have then made the decision? If so ... I would be interested in seeing your documentation on it as it is likely to help others in doing theirs.

  9. #84

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcs808 View Post
    Apologies, 70% was a typo it should be 60%.
    That is still a high proportion ... do you have any idea about the numbers that applied and got the kit?

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    So ... how many people bemoaning about the cloud, and the SPoF being the internet feed, have a business continuity plan and/or have completed a formal risk assessment which outlines why the cloud is a bad idea? Who has shown it to their SLT who have then made the decision? If so ... I would be interested in seeing your documentation on it as it is likely to help others in doing theirs.
    Continuity plan, no, there has been no time or money allocated to this. Documentation, there are certain things that are so obvious that word of mouth will get it across just fine at least in some environments.

    Stage direction: Smoke thickens into a cloud of imagining then thins to reveil
    Stage direction: Tech enters stage right and begins:
    Tech: I hear that you are looking at using cloud services for everything?
    SMT: Yes, it was in this magazine
    Tech: Thats cool but let me paint a picture of how it works
    SMT: Everything is on the net right?
    Tech: Yes, and so you need to use the net to get to it, in that case it means our net connection, you know the slow one limited to 40GB a month costing $2 per GB over.
    SMT: The one that drops out randomly
    Tech: Yes thats the one and remember that we had to put more network cards in to the server because it needed more bandwidth, each of those cards was 1000mbits a second.
    SMT: Whats our internet speed like?
    Tech: 10 one way and 1 the other.
    SMT: Oh
    Tech: and at $2 per GB of data that is going to cost a lot and be very slow
    SMT: Can we get more reliable net
    Tech: Yes, we just need to spend the $10k to get fibre and connection to the roadside and then another 80K to get fibre to where the phone company left it at the end of the road. It is then just a small matter of at least $5k a month.
    SMT: Eek
    Tech: Theres one more thing, we should probably get two in case one fails.
    SMT: How much is another server?
    Tech: $10k
    SMT: Get two of those, its cheaper.

    Oh and as for DR even though it has not been fully planned we do have offsite backups, powerful laptops that could be quickly used to spool up individual VMs etc.

    Really if there has been a huge disaster the school will be shut anyhow, whether little motorbike, dave or whatever have a detention is probably not that important.
    Last edited by SYNACK; 23rd February 2011 at 11:55 AM.

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  12. #86
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    Interesting article on today's Reg:

    German Foreign Office kills desktop Linux, hugs Windows XP
    German Foreign Office kills desktop Linux, hugs Windows XP ? The Register

    The key bit:

    But by the end of last year the FO's IT commissioner Dr Michael Gro told ministry staff that a decision had been reached in August 2010 to revert the entire desktop estate back to Windows XP due to "massive user criticism" about "unsolved interoperability problems".
    We had this same problem when we ditched MS Office for StarOffice some years back - despite pupils being very happy with it and it running faster. One teacher even complained we shouldn't have it because its "not industry standard".

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    The bit where I agree with John is that in many schools the IT Team are all about limiting choice rather than creating it. Sometimes it is for good reasons ... but for a good amount it is about power and control.
    I find that comment very insulting tbh and flame bait like as per what John wrote. I would think the minority would be about power and control not a good amount. IT should be about standardization and equal consistent access for all and NOT those that can afford get extra's with device specific content etc as that is simply wrong. All should have the ability to use the resources equally and if all cant get it dont push it, your creating a situation where those that can afford get the advantages such as say an iPad app for science supplied by the school, get better taught then those that cant. Its not like budgets/grants arent being nerfed left right and center which all prevents the schools supplying the ipads to those that cant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibbo View Post
    Interesting article on today's Reg:

    German Foreign Office kills desktop Linux, hugs Windows XP
    German Foreign Office kills desktop Linux, hugs Windows XP ? The Register

    The key bit:



    We had this same problem when we ditched MS Office for StarOffice some years back - despite pupils being very happy with it and it running faster. One teacher even complained we shouldn't have it because its "not industry standard".
    So basically, they switched back because people couldn't send them documents in an open format, and because their users whined. Great, just what you need in a government office, leaders who bow down to pressure over some whining...

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    The bit where I agree with John is that in many schools the IT Team are all about limiting choice rather than creating it. Sometimes it is for good reasons ... but for a good amount it is about power and control.
    .
    Power and control over what ? Data ? The internet ? Word Documents ? Excel Spread Sheets ? I'm trying to picture just how much power these documents can give someone !!
    Maybe some IT teams limit the choice because of budget restraints, maybe they limit it because of the lack of training avialable [ costs of it ], maybe they limit it because what they have in place is much more easier to manage than a collection of different OS's, each with it's own set of querks and problems. But power ? Thats a rather shallow statement in my opinion. I can imagine there are such people working in the industry like that but it's down to the relevant powers that be to get rid of them or take some elements of their role away however, I just can't see what you can do with this power though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroHour View Post
    I find that comment very insulting tbh and flame bait like as per what John wrote. I would think the minority would be about power and control not a good amount. IT should be about standardization and equal consistent access for all and NOT those that can afford get extra's with device specific content etc as that is simply wrong. All should have the ability to use the resources equally and if all cant get it dont push it, your creating a situation where those that can afford get the advantages such as say an iPad app for science supplied by the school, get better taught then those that cant. Its not like budgets/grants arent being nerfed left right and center which all prevents the schools supplying the ipads to those that cant.
    I agree about standardization - but not in the way you mean. Standardizing equipment does limit choice as GD says. It is exactly the one size fits all approach that most of edugeek was complaining about re managed BSF services a couple of years back -the perception was that they discourage innovation, because it is too much standardisation.

    We just took a different approach; Where we decided to concentrate is the services we provide rather than the desktops we provide. The majority of our services are web-based, or via terminal server, which of course can be limiting in itself, but it gives greater flexibility especially when a teacher wants to use a mac/android/ etc. It also allows students to get the same user experience when they are at home as when they are in the classroom; thus extending teaching beyond the four walls of the classroom. It's not the wrong way to do it, but it works for us.

    I would find it a tad churlish to prevent a student using their own device if they already have them, esp as it saves us money on Desktops. I'd see it akin to preventing a student using a subject textbook that they have paid for.

    Quote Originally Posted by mattx View Post
    Maybe some IT teams limit the choice because of budget restraints, maybe they limit it because of the lack of training avialable [ costs of it ], maybe they limit it because what they have in place is much more easier to manage than a collection of different OS's, each with it's own set of querks and problems.
    Sometimes it's just limited due to a lack of imagination

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