Making Windows 8 usable again

I’m possibly not a great person to talk to about Windows 8, whilst I have used it I don’t have it installed on my PC and still struggle with it every time.  Metro styling on a phone seems fine but I still don’t like it on my PC and too much is hidden for my preference however … it does seem that Microsoft are working on it and may have an announcement soon.

In the mean tine the windoe=ws customisation company Startdock ahve come up with 2 really useful sounding tools – Start8 and ModernMix.

Start8 returns the full power of Windows 7 back to the user and allows the machine to boot straight to a desktop environment (complete with start menu).

ModernMix allows an App to run in a window – perfect – what is the point of an app taking a 21 or 14 inch screen?

I’m going to be upgrading soon I think …. now that these tools are here

Get an overview here

Is a risk assessment needed?

With todays announcement from Dropbox that user data was actually stolen I was wondering if people thought that it was necessary to carry out a risk assessment before using the variety of services out there to hold pupil data – whether this be Dropbox, Google apps or any of the educational companies that are available (remember Sparkle Box?)

Dropbox Pro accounts get doubled for the same price

Engadget Article about dropbox

The Elephant

Michael Morpurgo was asked yesterday why pre school children could read words like ‘elephant’ but not ‘the’, his reply was that it was because an Elephant is interesting.

People sometimes ask about how to engage pupils in ‘spreadsheets’.  The answer is the same – make it interesting.  Who could fail to be fascinated when data is communicated with clarity.

In this TED talk Hans Roslings makes the point is that there is no link between religion and childbirth (the hypothesis suggested by the title) but the result is awesome and affects us all.

Digital Me and Mozilla Badges

Digital Me recently presented to #sldm schools in Wiltshire and seemed to gather a lot of interest in the projects that they are developing.  It was announced today that they have been accepted as a candidate for Mozilla Badges and will be in the forefront of this work (along with several US  Universities, the Smithsonian, Taking IT Global (a Microsoft Backed initiative), STEM, the OU and many others).

I think that this is a really exciting development and holds a great deal of promise for the future.

Press Release

Badge details for S2R

(if anyone is keen to develop S2R then this is done through Radiowaves – and I can help with this if you like)

More on data sizes

There is some interesting information on  The Refrigerator Door.  One list to catch my eye was the origins of some of the common prefixes we use:

  • Kilo comes from the Greek khiloi and means, curiously enough, 1000. It is interesting enough, the only prefix with a direct numerical meaning (and a different meaning for data and everything else)
  • Mega comes from the Greek mega meaning "great", as in "Alexandros O Megas"  (Alexander the Great).
  • Giga comes from Latin gigas meaning "giant".
  • Tera comes from Greek teras meaning "monster".
  • Peta comes from the Greek pente meaning five. This is the fifth prefix (for 10005).
  • Exa comes from Greek hex meaning six. This is the sixth prefix (for 10006).
  • Zetta, often mistaken for the Greek Zeta, is the last letter of the Latin alphabet.
  • Yotta is the penultimate (next to last) letter of the Latin alphabet.

There is a good attempt to describe data sizes in the “How Much Data is That” page but it does show how difficult this task is without relying on mathematical symbols.

Although it’s not ‘Technology’ (other than the MIT link) I also like the ‘Sunscreen’ speech.  Read the first 3 paragraphs, I sure that they will hook you to the rest.

Optimised Desktop

This is a revolution in the way that schools will be setting up computers from now on.

A bold statement maybe but let me try and outline some features and see what you think.

1. Your desktop is completely delivered ‘as a service’ rather than permanently installed.  For schools this means that you no longer download all your settings (through a roaming profile) – no more big delays when everyone logs on at once, no more broken profiles.  Also easy to change the service so they can be managed.  Want an XP desktop?  no problem, Want Windows 7 – hang on whilst I click this button …..

2.  Application virtualisation.  No software is deployed on your computer, rather applications are run ‘virtually’.  Each person can have have a separate set of applications depending on their role.  Because applications are now virtual they are separated – want 4 different versions of Office? – no problem.  Only want to buy an expensive application for a small group? – no problem.  Applications are automatically deployed as needed.

3. Applications can be run from a server – giving high spec performance on low spec machines.  It appears as an application to the user – they don’t need to know that it’s now running on a different server.

4. Printers are deployed as needed by the user – not installed on the machine

5. Errors are now captured by the virtualisation software meaning that a crash only stops that application and gets sent to the help desk automatically – the rest of the machine is unaffected.

6.  All settings follow the user between operating systems (your office XP settings move seamlessly to Office 2010).

Clearly this is a huge move towards cloud computing.  Greatly increased reliability, flexibility and getting applications where they are needed.  Get all your applications in school from your home machine.  Need access to SIMS from home?

OK – this is ‘techy’ but it’s going to be a really important in allowing schools to do the things they been wanting to do for ages.  When you start to build in the new ‘stuff’ coming in Office 365 – there is going to be a revolution in ‘corporate’ ict services,

If you’re up for a fairly light technical overview you could watch the YouTube clip

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