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Mac Thread, New Mac Suite in Technical; the great thing about the 2 simple range is that there available online too...
  1. #16
    stevenwba's Avatar
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    the great thing about the 2 simple range is that there available online too

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    Only some of the 2Simple range is available online at the moment, I'm hoping and waiting that they will all become available online.

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    Quote Originally Posted by richardp View Post
    Hi we have 30iMacs for users and 4 laptops for staff here.

    I would say that the old argument for getting macs that they are better for multimedia stuff doesn't really hold up much these days. A lot of the applications now have windows versions (comic life, i can animate etc...) plus they do crash and do as many "funny" things as windows does when you are trying to manage 30 of them in a mixed network environment. For example I believe it is still the case that safari cannot access https pages when you are routed through a proxy (not used safari for ages because of this so maybe it is fixed) so any sites that use secure pages will not be usable unless you install another browser. Also I have had problems with the time getting out of sync for some bizarre reason so it prevents you from logging in with a AD domain account until the time is synced as local admin. This was much more regular when we were dual booting them with windows, which we have abandoned for now until imaging a dual boot system becomes easier. Also randomly I will sometimes have to unbind then bind some macs back onto the AD domain for no reason to allow login with an AD account. I have definitely found that once you go beyond a single user environment with a mac or go outside what apple have predefined for you (such as idvd templates etc...) things get more complicated and therefore prone to problems. Even if everything runs smoothly you are adding in a completely new system which means more work.


    Having said all that the primary and secondary kids we have had in using the macs seem to get a real buzz out of using them also I believe it is a very good idea to expose them to other operating systems and software. I personally like OS X as an OS but not to the point where I am blind to its problems. It also can only make your CV look more impressive with imacs and os x server on it. There are problems with support as it seems almost impossible to get any kind of onsite support from apple in the uk. I know of one council who spend approx £40,000 to get better support from them but that still does not get them onsite. If you can justify the expense and see real benefits for the students and can cope with the extra work then go for it.

    Richard

    Hi Richard,

    I don't understand your phrase "it seems impossible to to get any onsite support from Apple in the uk"

    Apple have never supported their products direct to end users in the uk, they rely on a network of Authorised Service Providers such as ourselves. Have you not spoken to one of these in your area ?I'm sure they would welcome the chance to talk to you....

  4. #19

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Personally I think that all schools should be looking to make use of more than one OS, whether we are talking about Windows, OS X or *nix. The same way we should be looking to have more than one application for doing jobs to make sure learners have choice and can work on those transferable skills.

    But back to the question in hand.

    Mac Mini as a server works for the workgroup manager side of things, but you might want to look at external storage attached to it for hosting images (considering how frequently / infrequently you will rebuild machines). Also have a look at threads on here about DeployStudio and Apple Remote Desktop too.

    Also consider dual booting them as well. I know it is additional expense when it comes to licensing arrangements but it also give you more flexibility too. No more "but we can't do this on the macs as it only runs on PCs" or "If only we have Macs to run that on as we need to do something a bit different". Again, a number good accounts of deploying dual boot in recent threads too.

    HTH

  5. #20
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    TrickyDicky, we've supplied a number of Primary Schools in the Birmingham area with Macs over the last few years, and they're really loving them. If you want me to give you a couple of contacts so you can maybe go and have a look what they're doing with them, let me know. I ought do do that privately though, rather than publicly, to be fair to them.

    The posts about running traditional Primary applications is true, but that's not what people are doing with them. They're using iLife, Comic Life, iStopMotion and so on to create rich media and embed literacy and other core skills into some fun activities. The work the kids are producing is amazing.

    In most cases they have deployed a Mac server as well, and we've been happy to work with the Windows service provider in a couple of schools as well to make sure there are no glitches.

    Let me know if you need to talk to some other Primary IT support guys and I'll hook you up.

    Rob

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    We are a primary school in West Bromwich (sandwell) that has been running mac systems for over three years now. The head has been delighted with the transition.

    We had a suite of 25 PCs when i arrived and we went the mac route to give users the benefit of utilising different operating systems. We have a good mix of software, Some PC-based and some mac-based. But some PC-based stuff can be 'edited' to run on a mac as they are only flash based.

    I think i mentioned this before in another thread with regards to software. Try to buy online based content for the VLE as most software vendors are now porting their apps. This allows you to use the software across all OSes no matter what they are.

    We use Open Office on both Windows, OS X and iWork '09 on OS X. Pupils choose what they feel comfortable with. Staff choose Windows and want to choose Office

    Administering macs is good fun i think as well as frustrating at times. But no more so than Windows/linux etc based machines. I learnt most of what i know on the job so it's not too bad

    Using a Mac Mini as a server is a good way to start off, i.e. for learning purposes and deployment of images (which IMO is easier than Windows) but i feel when the kids start getting more familiar with the OS and it's apps, you will want to push things further. This will mean you will probably start pushing the Mac Mini to it's limits. But saying that i have used one of these new little things and must say, they are quite nippy.

    We currently have an Xserve with 8GB RAM and it serves up home dirs over AFP (fully networked accounts) and also runs as an OD Master, SMB Server, FTP Server, NetBoot Server, software update server, a mail server for the pupils to learn email and a web server. We have coupled this with an XRAID with 1TB RAID striped and mirrored, for our storage.

    We have the AD side of things re-directed to our OS X Home dirs documents folder along with other shares stored on the XRAID.

    We started off with Garageband as we have sandwell Music come in and teach the kids the fundamentals of music using ICT and this worked well. In fact three years on we still do this.

    We now use iWeb to teach KS1 how to create web pages and for kids to interact with each other's sites to produce our own inter-networked encyclopedia.

    In total we have nearly 100 macs (iMacs, Macbooks and Mac Minis) now in school with StudyWiz installed on one of our own XServes and a 2nd XServe serving up our School website and mail (We have 2 servers elsewhere in Co-Lo).

    I am investigating the possibility now of deploying Linux as a 3rd OS to expose the kids even more to variety of platforms.

    I think what it comes down to is what you want to achieve. If your school has visions and goals that they feel OSX can help them reach then it may be well worth the investment.

    On the flip side though, don't just hand over the cash to get shiny equipment. Think it through. Find out what they can bring to your school.

    And if you want to see how i have implemented this stuff then by all means, pay us a visit.

    Please note though, it's just the way I've done it. I'm not saying it's the right way, just my way

    Oh and my experience of the new edu iMac hasn't been the best. They have Nvidia chipsets for the networking. Now, it may just be that the machines start quicker than the older models therefore the networking hasn't started yet but they seem to take longer for then to connect to the domain in XP. This causes a little confusion. Be warned


    Well, that's my 2p worth.

    Hope it helps.

    PS. Try to get a good company on your side as well. We got a great deal with KRCS for our macs and support is brilliant. They have helped me out many a time. Thanks antonio

  7. Thanks to HodgeHi from:

    Tricky_Dicky (25th February 2010)

  8. #22
    Robbocop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardp View Post
    There are problems with support as it seems almost impossible to get any kind of onsite support from apple in the uk. I know of one council who spend approx £40,000 to get better support from them but that still does not get them onsite.

    Richard
    That's what us ASE Resellers are for Richard! We don't just sell the boxes, but pre-qualify what you want to do, then supply, install, integrate and configure, troubleshoot, test and then support and repair. I'm sure the other resellers on the forum would agree, so there are plenty of us to talk to

    Rob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robbocop View Post
    That's what us ASE Resellers are for Richard! We don't just sell the boxes, but pre-qualify what you want to do, then supply, install, integrate and configure, troubleshoot, test and then support and repair. I'm sure the other resellers on the forum would agree, so there are plenty of us to talk to

    Rob
    Hi yes sorry I do understand that there are plenty of resellers out there that can offer great support (we use one ourselves) but I just wanted to point out that apple do not provide that service directly (although some of the info on their site can give you that impression unless you read the small print). Also that it is something else to take into account for any budget proposal etc...

    I also completely agree that we should be promoting the fact that there is more than windows out there as an option and that it doesn't really matter which OS or Software/Hardware you use so long as you can achieve your objective/project. From my experience the students are really not phased by the fact they are using OS X rather than Windows but I do find the teaching staff reluctant to use them as they do not have the experience / confidence. However since we have had our mac suite here and a number of schools have been to use them we have had two secondary schools purchase macs because they were impressed with how the students got on with them. Also we have even hosted a Final Cut Studio training session with some teachers and staff from those schools which seemed to be well received, with one of the schools coming back to do a video project off the back of it.

    Richard

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    Robbocop (24th February 2010)

  11. #24

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    A Massive thank you to everyone who has commented on this thread! It's been really interesting listening to everyones opinions.
    I think (please correct me if I'm wrong) but the general concessus is that Macs are very nice doing what they do (iLife, comics etc) but they are not the be all and end all of IT problems and in fact create several of their own so think things through carefully before buying them.
    Just before everyone gets bored of the topic I was just wondering what experience people had with dual booting the Macs to give the best of both worlds. I'm starting to think this might be the way forward.
    Thanks again
    Rich

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tricky_Dicky View Post
    I was just wondering what experience people had with dual booting the Macs to give the best of both worlds.
    We dual boot here. Setting up a dual-boot system is a relatively simple process. The only part i am struggling with is the automated process of the Windows Xp side. I do this manually as i don't have the necessary skills/knowledge yet to script this part. What i mean by manual is renaming each machine uniquely and joining to the domain.

    The mac side is taken care of more or less completely by the imaging process. Once deploy studio is installed, configured and running as it should, then the imaging process, configuring the OS X partition, and deploying a dual-boot setup is as easy as deploying a single OS. There's a little bit more work on the Windows side but that's only because of my limitations. I'm sure others fully automate the process.

    Also using Boot Picker gives users an excellent way to choose between OSes. Its a simple window that starts up before the login window, that has 2 images 1 for each OS. You can list points about why each user would want to choose a certain OS. Then the user makes the decision and clicks the appropriate image.

    Again the Boot picker is as simple as deploying the installation file. ARD is a great tool to do this type of deployment, but installation files can also be installed as part of the imaging process using deploy studio.

  13. Thanks to HodgeHi from:

    Tricky_Dicky (25th February 2010)

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    Robbocop's Avatar
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    Well when you boot a Mac into Windows (dual boot) basically it IS a Windows PC, so you can deploy them exactly as you would any other Windows box. You don't normally see any issues at all with that. This can make a lab of Macs easier to justify, as you can use it for "normal" ICT or whenever you need to use Windows only applications. It's worth thinking about whether you need to do that or not. You don't get Windows with a Mac (of course) so you'll need to buy those licences on top. We did get one school who discovered after a year that the Macs were never being used under Mac OS at all (in other words, they'd been a waste of money!), which happens if you don't arrange a bit of training so that your staff feel comfortable using them as Macs - they just naturally stick with Windows because it's more familiar. We organised an INSET day for them on the iLife suite and now the opposite is true - Mac OS pretty much all the time! One school we set up in Sandwell uses Parallels so that they can run Mac and Windows at the same time. At Primary level that works really well, as you'll never be pushing the power of the machine.

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    Tricky_Dicky (25th February 2010)

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    We have two suites of apple macs, and really regret it! You can buy two pcs for the same cost.

    Seeing as your in a primary school I dont think your users will benefit from having macs at all. Plus to install windows onto them you will have to buy additional licenses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbrunt View Post
    We have two suites of apple macs, and really regret it! You can buy two pcs for the same cost.

    Seeing as your in a primary school I dont think your users will benefit from having macs at all. Plus to install windows onto them you will have to buy additional licenses.
    I disagree.

    We are a primary school. We give the pupils the choice of which OS to use. At the moment, we have Year's 5 and 6 all preferring to use OS X instead of their XP counterpart. Also we have someone who visits every Thursday to teach pupils the fundamentals of Music through the use of garageband.

    The teachers are also now starting to come onboard. We have a Reception teacher who uses a lot of photographs of the pupils doing different activities as evidence of them developing. She now uses the face-recognition in iPhoto to sort her images and then creates an album from them. She then uses iWeb to upload the albums to our server. You could say you can do all of this with Windows. But we did it in around 10 minutes from start to finish and learning on the way.

    Primary Schools don't have a lot of time to complete tasks. In fact lessons seem to be getting shorter and shorter with the amount of additional crap they have to keep doing. Unless that's just us

    Also if you buy Windows boxes, you still have to buy the licenses. You buy a mac you get OS X thrown in and iLife (for the cost). Still buying Windows is not really much of a problem IMO.

  18. #29

    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HodgeHi View Post
    we have Year's 5 and 6 all preferring to use OS X instead of their XP counterpart.
    Now thats an unfair comparison, comparing the model T of XP to the later versions of OSX. If you were using 7 or at least Vista on the other side then at least they would have a fairer comparison. Besides a lot of the preference is dictated by the opinions of those pushing, if the teacher like OSX better and have the students use it more often then of course they will have more of an inclination to go with that as they know it better in that environment and will probably be looked upon more favorably for using the platform the teacher is more comfortable with.

    Almost all of this is easily possible with Windows using tools like the live photo gallery, Picasa etc which are all free. Garage band is probably one of the few that there is no real alternative for free on Windows and is usually held up as the main use-case for having Macs.

    The use of Macs in a school can be a good thing as it does expose the users to another platform but does add complexity and cost making them work with existing systems and by allowing for a divide between the various teachers and resources. If you are getting Macs just make sure that all the costs and benefits are taken into account rather than buying into the rosy hallucination helpfully provided by apple marketing and their faithful. Get them for platform exposure and because they actually do things that you need them to do well. If there is a good answer to the often unasked question of "Why do we specifically need Macs?" then go to it as you will have success criteria and a direction for the usage of the hardware in the future.

  19. Thanks to SYNACK from:

    browsw (26th July 2010)

  20. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Now thats an unfair comparison, comparing the model T of XP to the later versions of OSX. If you were using 7 or at least Vista on the other side then at least they would have a fairer comparison. Besides a lot of the preference is dictated by the opinions of those pushing, if the teacher like OSX better and have the students use it more often then of course they will have more of an inclination to go with that as they know it better in that environment and will probably be looked upon more favorably for using the platform the teacher is more comfortable with.
    But since we are talking about cost. We have no real need to upgrade Windows XP to 7. For this point there is no real advantage to spending the cost. Yes it looks different but overall the usability is more or less the same. Granted more stable, and efficient but from an end-user's POV the same. If you can use XP then you should be able to find your way around Vista/Win7.

    I have been thinking about the possibility of upgrading XP to 7. Still am. I do see that the younger pupils need to start using the OS that will be theirs in the future.

    The teacher preference is quite a funny thing at our School. You see, the teacher who taught our Year 5's didn't know anything about OS X until she started working here. She got familiar with them at the same time as the kids through topics based on learning OS X. That year 5 is now Year 6. They are taught by a teacher that still moans about her blackboard being taken away, at every opportunity each day. But yet the pupils still prefer to use OS X over the windows side. But it is their choice. The teacher would prefer not to use either

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Almost all of this is easily possible with Windows using tools like the live photo gallery, Picasa etc which are all free. Garage band is probably one of the few that there is no real alternative for free on Windows and is usually held up as the main use-case for having Macs.
    I can honestly say i have never tried to use these pieces of software or seen them. I have heard of them however. How to they integrate? Because I think that's what gives OS X a slight advantage over Windows. The integration is tighter. It may sound like I'm just iterating the Mac Ads but it is true. You see creating the albums in iPhoto them allows you to just drag them right onto your iWeb site. They come right from iPhoto. There's no need to mess around with imports/exports. Just an example.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    The use of Macs in a school can be a good thing as it does expose the users to another platform but does add complexity and cost making them work with existing systems and by allowing for a divide between the various teachers and resources. If you are getting Macs just make sure that all the costs and benefits are taken into account rather than buying into the rosy hallucination helpfully provided by apple marketing and their faithful. Get them for platform exposure and because they actually do things that you need them to do well. If there is a good answer to the often unasked question of "Why do we specifically need Macs?" then go to it as you will have success criteria and a direction for the usage of the hardware in the future.
    We looked at them and looked at the costs involved. We also looked at what benefits they would bring. We had the money at the time. We also didn't have the room for any more ICT suites (so buying 2 PC's for one mac just wasn't going to work for us ). We also purchased a 5 year warranty with each mac. So we know for sure that they are going to last at least 5 years without needing to spend any money for repairs.

    We are happy with our setup and are happy with how our ICT has developed. We can teach our kids email, we now run our own mail server for staff also. We have full control over our Website. We have a VLE which should be more economical in the long term to run. We have a lot of things that we would have needed additional licenses for if we went with the MS alternatives. Yes you can do it with open source but then you would need the skills/time to configure and build them.

    Sorry if this sounds like a rant or a defensive attack. It's not supposed to.

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