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Wireless Networks Thread, Laptop Trolleys/Wireless...Yay or Nay in Technical; Hello all At my school our network is small , with about 140 networked (cat5e) workstations, 3 servers 12 printers ...
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    Laptop Trolleys/Wireless...Yay or Nay

    Hello all

    At my school our network is small , with about 140 networked (cat5e) workstations, 3 servers 12 printers and 60 laptops. The cabling is 10 years old, XP/2003 and it all works.

    The powers in charge are thinking about upgrading/replacing the network with Dell laptop trolleys and moving over to wireless.

    I think the idea could be a waste of money and some of the money should be used to just upgrade the existing cable network....but the powers to be think otherwise.

    Could members just give me a " yah or nay" if they think wireless and trolleys is a good idea. (No need for a reason). Its so that I can tell my powers what the professionals think.

    Ta John

    Thanks
    Last edited by brickwall53; 4th February 2011 at 10:14 PM.

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Maybe we should rename the title. It suggests that the wireless hardware is Dell.

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    I dont know what type of wireless but Dell has the contract to do the lot

    Ta John

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    I wouldn't ever use wireless where you could potentially use wires. It isn't 100% reliable even when you invest in managed wireless systems. It also introduces new security risks unless you set up something like a radius server to authenticate the clients onto the network. Wireless drivers are subject to updates and clashes with firmware changes in access points. Laptops will get keys pulled off, get dropped, have a a higher failure rate just due to the nature of the device. Battery life will gradually reduce over time. Also it might sound like a small thing, but unless staff supervise getting the things in and out of a laptop trolley, power cables will get yanked, wires will get frayed, trolley doors will get buckled...
    Keep it wired.

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    brickwall53 (4th February 2011)

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    I take that as a nay

    Ta for your time

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    glennda's Avatar
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    I would say no - we had over 200 laptops and around 600 desktops - we found that 80% of our helpdesk calls where related to the 1/4 of the machines (the laptops!). We have since replaced all laptops (apart from 2 sets) with 200 desktop pcs which are a hell of a lot more reliable.

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    brickwall53 (4th February 2011)

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    Also using laptops means that you cannot do automated builds or software updates overnight. If everything is wired you can do complete rebuilds and updates overnight without any disruption to lessons.

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    RabbieBurns's Avatar
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    We have now got about a trolley of 20 laptops in pretty much every classroom. Various models of Acer, Travelmates, Aspire Ones, and Tablet styles.

    We have a full managed N wireless with an AP in each room. And the lessons finish at 3.30pm and we work till 5pm so rebuilds and updates are done in that window, or in holidays.

    We only really have 1 or 2 labs of hardwired PCs left. All the laptops run CS5 perfectly.

    I reckon we have about 900 laptops in total now (excluding the staff ones) and everything is working perfectly. Only took us 2 days to ghost them to WIndows 7. (Wheeled the trolleys to a wired room, plugged em in, ghost did its thing, back in the trolley, back to the classroom)

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    just to add, all the chargers are cable tied in the trolleys so theres only about 2" available for the students to plug in, and the teachers are all trained and accountable for their laptops. We have had a couple of cases of kids in the Junior campus ripping off keys, but that has been nipped in the bud since I put a logon tracking system in place. Havenet had an issue with battery life either...

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    Thanks
    What logon tracking software do you use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brickwall53 View Post
    Thanks
    What logon tracking software do you use.
    We use fog for deployment which has additional features of login tracking mapping printers machine shutdown etc plus its free

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    I would open up discussion with management as to why they have decided that's the best route for the school, and try and establish if they have really thought it through and not just 'jumped on the bandwagon' so to speak. We have a LOT of laptops in our school, and while I really dislike our heavy reliance on them and the work it causes us, at the end of the day the strategy is very much down to senior management and how they wish to use ICT within the school. In our case it's down to space, and the fact virtually every room is used in a timetabled slot all day every day, there are very few free rooms and therefore departments require ICT that works in their rooms whenever they require it, rather than having bookable facilities which we simply don't have space for.

    Whatever you do, if you do go down the laptop route get a 3yr warranty as a minumum as hard drives and screens do tend to fail in laptops when they get much older than 2yrs, and make sure management are aware that generally speaking an estate of laptops will have a larger financial burden on the school in terms of maintenance and will probably need replacing before an equivalent desktop PC will. Batteries rarely last longer than 2-3 yrs maximum before the runtime becomes too small to be of any use, and vandalism in my experience is not only higher, but costs more to fix. Also remember that a laptop even with the best battery in the world won't last much longer than 2-3hrs on a single charge (although some machines are able to run longer than this) and they must be charged or they will be useless to anyway (getting them put away on charge is our single biggest problem)

    If managed well laptops can work, but they do require a different approach to desktop PCs and a realistic expectation of what they can actually do.

    Oh and a decent managed wireless system is an absolute must!

    Mike.
    Last edited by maniac; 5th February 2011 at 05:54 PM.

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    The answer is not just a yah or a nay, it all depends on the situation and reasons to use laptops.
    First find out why they want to use laptops, is it because of flexibility, is it because the classrooms layouts are much handier when used with laptops etc.
    Second find out what they want to spend and how much they think you have to spend the years to follow on battery replacement, replacing parts which are not covered by warranty (vandalism) etc.
    About every 3 years you have to buy new batteries, or if your supplier has battery chargers, you can buy extra batteries which hopefully will extend the live of the standard battery so you could use them 4-5 years. (a battery cost about €80-100)

    6 years ago we started with laptops (100), 25 laptops in 4 classrooms, in a trolley, in every class room 3 access points (unmanaged Cisco`s, because managed systems where relatively new at that time over here), all AP`s set at 1mw and on their own channel (1,6,11), security on 1st on wpa-psk, later on wpa2-aes.

    Everything worked flawless for the past 6 years, in those years 4 laptops where broken or smashed and could not be repaired, we also had to buy new batteries after 3 years.
    Everyone is so full of managed AP`s, but unmanaged AP`s worked for us very well.

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    brickwall53 (6th February 2011)

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    rad
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    I think the NM has now decided that laptop trolleys on our RM CC4 network don't work well. We have 2000 students, about 100 workstations (inc 100 laptops) and find the laptops do not get used as much as the pc's would.

    The department that recently got laptops tend to book spare ict rooms in favour of their own laptops as they know the students will get on to their accounts quicker than the booting of the computers. This could be the way the RM builds are done, but also find teaching teachers to respect and use the trolleys is a school matter.

    Depending on the way the school manages, I think wired is a more managable infrastructure over wireless

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    Quote Originally Posted by brickwall53 View Post
    Thanks
    What logon tracking software do you use.
    Code:
    echo %username% logged into %computername% at %date% %time% >> \\servername\share\logintracker.txt
    Added to the login batch files for students.
    Last edited by RabbieBurns; 6th February 2011 at 08:16 AM.

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