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Comment: Not really... (Score 3, Interesting) 219

by Retron (#48376225) Attached to: Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks

I work in a school. We've been through the whole "every pupil gets a computer" phase and it was a disaster - we used eeepcs running Xandros and initially there were complaints about how crummy the programs were. (IE people expected Office, but they got OpenOffice instead).

Then after a few days the breakages started - minibooks left in bags, being dropped, screens smashed, drinks spilt on them etc. So that meant that teachers couldn't rely on everyone having one any more and the whole point of them was lost. They stopped being used and we ended up getting about 30% of them back after the year was out, the rest were damaged or lost. It was an absolute waste of money and it still goes on with other schools today (those who are foolish enough to give tablets to all their pupils, anyway!)

We still use desktop PCs running Windows and Office, as it's what the real world uses (for now, at least). We provide access via UAG to our network for staff and pupils to access their documents remotely.

Google Docs, OneDrive etc are blocked for pupils. Chromebooks are pointless from our point of view due to Google Docs being blocked and lack of intergration into a Windows domain. They also don't run the programs which pupils use in school (which include some digital textbooks, additional educational needs programs, maths programs, Photoshop etc). iPads are beyond useless for our needs, as it's a faff to create spreadsheets or word process on them. Yes, it can be done, but a real keyboard and a decent PC make it much more pleasant.

So, like most schools around this part of the UK, we have several IT rooms with desktops. We have a media suite running Premiere (having phased out Macs a few years ago), a music suite running Cubase and a DT suite running SolidWorks. We have a couple of hundred staff laptops and a couple of hundred curriculum laptops, safely locked away at night.

We are looking at at BYOD implementation, but the powers that be aren't overly keen to have teenagers running around with expensive laptops, tablets etc. And there's the whole network file access issue, we can't add the machines to the domain so they'd have to go through the somewhat clunky UAG system to access their files. There's also the line of who has responsibility to ensure the machines accessing our network are patched and up-to-date, as we don't have the resources to look after people's personal equipment.

All in all, there won't be much change in the school where I work for the foreseeable future: Office and Windows look like remaining the main platform for a while yet. It's the same in the other schools in the area, Chromebooks and the like are simply not useful to the way that schools work around here.

Comment: Re:Minimalism Overkill (Score 1) 305

by Retron (#48170449) Attached to: OS X 10.10 Yosemite Review

WIndows 95 eh? At least that had 3D buttons which "pushed in" when you clicked on them.

Of course, the old Windows 95-esque theme is *still* there, even in Windows 10, but they do try and hide it from you. You can see it if you run Word, embed a Graph object (which borks DWM, so you get Windows Vista's Aero Basic instead). Change the screen resolution and bam, DWM completely dies and you get left with the Windows 95 style controls and theme. (Well, technically it's more like Windows 98 as it has the gradient-shaded title bar, but the thought is there!)

Comment: Zero-day? Really? (Score 1) 97

by Retron (#48141199) Attached to: Windows Flaw Allowed Hackers To Spy On NATO, Ukraine, Others

Blimey, get with the times!

22 years ago at school we were all using Object Packager in Windows 3.1 to smuggle in arbitary EXEs - long before any of this current hoo-ha erupted. Of course, we were more concerned with smuggling in games rather than using it for spying...

The only surprising thing is that it's taken them over 22 years to realise that yes, allowing random EXEs to be packaged up isn't really a good idea!

Comment: Re:One huge customer - schools (Score 5, Interesting) 345

by Retron (#48124577) Attached to: ChromeOS Will No Longer Support Ext2/3/4 On External Drives/SD Cards

I work in a school's IT department and we won't be touching Chromebooks with a 50-foot bargepole. We use a mixture of desktops and laptops running Windows 7 and Office 2013 - which costs far less than it would commercially. We also use SCCM to manage the 1,000 or so PCs and laptops (generic i3s and Core2 Duos from the likes of Lenovo and HP) we have in the school.

Data is kept locally and is backed up in various ways (ranging from blu-ray to SANs), with the data stored in various parts of the site. Nothing gets stored on the pupils PCs other than temporary data when they're using the PC - their work is all accessed from our network servers.

Cloud access is something we work against for pupils, as it's an excellent way of them wasting time with Flash games etc - kids are very inventive when it comes to playing games (I know, I was exactly the same at school in the 90s!) and it's easier to curtail games on our system than it would be with Chromebooks.That's leaving aside the privacy situation, which doesn't fill me with joy: on a personal level I won't put anything of importance in the cloud, as I simply don't know who'll have access to it. Whereas data on my own network here is much easier to keep tabs on...

Comment: Re:clockspeed really? (Score 1) 338

No 4.0GHz (stock) P4 was ever released. Note the fact there is only one sample in their database and it's only appeared in 2011 - years after such a chip, if it existed, would have been released.

At best it's a lone engineering sample. At worst, it's just a hack someone's done.

Comment: Using one right now... (Score 1) 304

by Retron (#48093501) Attached to: The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

...I bought one on eBay 7 years ago (with PS/2 connection) and I'm using it on the fourth PC I've owned since then, a brand-new Haswell-E build. It's still as clacky and tactile as it was back then. The only slight snag is no Windows key, but I don't really miss it.

22 years ago I first used a buckling-spring keyboard, the one that came with an IBM XT. That "Model F" keyboard was (and is, as I kept it) built like a tank and, if anything, it's even clackier than the Model M. Sadly it won't work without expensive adapters on a modern PC. The layout is odd by current standards (ctrl is where caps lock is and vice-versa).

That old XT keyboard gave me the taste for "clacky" keyboards and over the following decade I got thoroughly fed up with the spongy, lifeless keyboards that became the norm. I then found out about the Model M, looked into getting one from Unicomp but thanks to import duty, VAT and delivery the cost was over the equivalent of $170 - way too much to spend for me! So I snagged an old second hand IBM model M on eBay for a fraction of the price, cleaned it up and I've been using it ever since. Hopefully PS/2 keyboard ports will continue to stay on motherboards for many years yet!

Comment: Re:Lost opportunity? I doubt it (Score 1) 554

Bingo. I work in a school where we rolled out the x64 version of Windows last year and even with the likes of SCCM and the other enterprise bits and pieces in the background, the commit charge on a freshly built machine is around 1.2GB.

We have plenty of laptops and desktops with only 2GB RAM and they run just fine - bearing in mind most people use their machines for email, interactive whiteboard use, YouTube (which is insanely popular with teachers, it seems), light Office work and general web browsing. There are some other programs used, virtual textbooks and the like, but they really don't take much RAM.

If a 4GB machine is a "complete dog of a machine", something is badly wrong with the way Windows is set up. Either that, or the person using the machine is running several heavyweight programs at once, or something like 60 tabs in their web browser...

Comment: Re:No they won't (Score 2) 554

They just run under NTVDM, which is a bastardised version of SoftPC, as was the case since Windows NT 3.1. Ever wondered why a command /c ver returns MS-DOS version 5.0.500 under any x86 version of NT? That's why - it was the latest version of MS-DOS that was around when the version of SoftPC they licensed was written.

Have a look inside NTVDM in Notepad (or a hex editor) and you'll see:

"SoftPC-AT Version 3 (C)Copyright Insignia Solutions Inc. 1987-1992"

Fun fact: the x64 and ARM versions of Windows still come bundled with a copy of MS-DOS 8, complete with Windows Millennium copyright message. It's in DISKCOPY.DLL. They also come with icons for Lotus 1-2-3 and other obsolete programs, in MORICONS.DLL (which was from Windows 3.1, 22 years ago).

Windows is full of legacy stuff if you look.

Comment: No 9? (Score 5, Interesting) 644

by Retron (#48028999) Attached to: Microsoft Announces Windows 10

When I was a kid I remember reading that in Japanese, "4" sounded like death and "9" sounded like suffering. A quick bit of Googling 25 years on and:

"[In Japanese] Nine is also sometimes pronounced ku, which can mean suffering."

I'm guessing they skipped Windows 9 because they didn't want it to sound like "Windows Suffering" in parts of the world!

Comment: Effectively no winter last year, so... (Score 1) 148

by Retron (#47916135) Attached to: I think next winter will be:

....voted for notably more severe. It was one of the mildest winters in years where I am (SE England). We had around 2 seconds of sleety rain at the back end of a thunderstorm in February and all of 2 air frosts during the whole winter.

Normally there would at least be a couple of days with snow falling and there would be a dozen or more air frosts.

Of course, it *had* to be the first year I'd bought winter tyres for my car! (The previous year had the typical couple of inches of snow causing chaos...)

Comment: Re:TCO (Score 2) 158

by Retron (#47548635) Attached to: Valencia Linux School Distro Saves 36 Million Euro

It's nothing to do with pay, more what managers expect from their staff. Some schools are happy to put up with poor infrastructure and so on, while others, such as the one I work in, pride themselves on offering an up-to-date network for the students. (We skipped Windows 8 though, sticking with Windows 7 x64 - and getting old educational programs working with that was no mean feat!)

You won't have any problems around here recruiting tech support staff for £12 to £14K. I was effectively running the school network on a salary of £17K last year and I wouldn't describe myself as a monkey. Far from it, unless you count administering Exchange, AD, creating build images, SCCM etc as monkey work (which is isn't).

Comment: Re:TCO (Score 2) 158

by Retron (#47547849) Attached to: Valencia Linux School Distro Saves 36 Million Euro

It's actually nowhere near that, at least in the UK. (Disclaimer: I work in a school in the IT department).

The actual cost is based on the number of full-time *staff*, not pupils, and the rates are far lower than the $1000/year you quote. This gets you Office, Windows, all the CALs you need, SCCM and lots more besides. You still have to pay for server licences (Windows and SQL), but they're deeply discounted.

I don't know what it's like in the States, but in the UK school sysadmins (or network managers, to give them their more usual titles) will be on salaries of around £16K to £30K - or $27K to $50K, more biased towards the low end rather than the high end of the wage bracket. Or, at least, that's the going rate down here in the far SE of England. In our case, that involves using VMWare products, such as vSphere and ESXi, in addition to the various Windows servers.

NB, I got into this by playing games, as an earlier poster mentioned - it's a common thing to use Windows at home for games, as I did over 20 years ago, then start networking PCs, move on to running a home server or using server products on a home PC and so on. I made the jump with Windows 2000 (when I was at Uni), as Microsoft kindly sent out CDs of their server products to anyone who asked. Yes, they only lasted for 180 days unless you tinkered with registry files, but it was enough to ignite the spark. These days of course pupils and students get the full thing from Dreamspark.

I don't have an MSCE. Never saw the point of them, I prefer academic qualifications as it shows you're capable of learning anything rather than a specific method of one vendor's products. I'd never rule out a move to Linux, but for now our Microsoft-based network is serving us well.

Comment: Re:Best Wishes ! (Score 1) 322

by Retron (#47520929) Attached to: Microsoft's CEO Says He Wants to Unify Windows

No evidence of that whatsoever - indeed, the earliest leaked versions of Windows 95 include a great deal more 16-bit code (such as Explorer) when compared to the final version. There are plenty of sites out there with screenshots and details of the early versions of Windows 95 - search for "4.00.58s" to find them.

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

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