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Slashback: Moonbase, Schools, Entropia 205

Slashback tonight brings updates on the Chinese Moonbase, games kids play, and a few more bits on the Microsoft crackdown on public school licensing.

Perhaps in a bit, though. texchanchan writes: "From the BBC: 'China will not be launching a manned mission to the Moon in the foreseeable future, according to Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China's Moon exploration programme... he said he wanted to clarify news reports in the Chinese media that Beijing would be putting a man on the Moon by 2010..."We will explore the Moon certainly," he said from his office in Beijing, "but with unmanned spacecraft."'"

Can I sign up to be a robot brain surgeon? ascii7 writes "Remember that story a while back about Project Entropia, the free MMRPG? Well, now it's in the commercial trial phase, and free for all to download. Get it at"

Free Software Entrepreneurs, take note. llywrch writes with more information on the Microsoft effort to crack down on licensing in Northwest public school districts, as reported by Oregonian columnist Steve Duin, writing: "Most intriguingly, Microsoft's heavy-handed tactics have already started a backlash, with 16 school districts in central Iowa having 'completely dumped' Microsoft and migrated everything to Linux."

He sends some background details not in the column:

  1. This column generated the most feedback Duin has seen for any one of his columns to this time. (He has experienced the Slashdot effect first hand.)

  2. The Beaverton And Hillsboro school districts, two that have been targeted for the audit, apparently will comply quietly. Beaverton will because they have kept close enough tabs on software licenses to make it feasible (as well as officially banning all non Mac & MS Windows machines from their network). Hillsboro will because a certain microprocessor manufacturer based in that city can subsidise the costs of Microsoft software.

  3. Paul Nelson (one of the forces behind the Linux for public schools movement) has been urging more cooperation between public schools and local Linux user groups. ``My hope is that other LUGs out there would start hosting clinics. If you are from a school, contact your local user group and offer to host a clinic!" He is planning a demonstration of what Linux can do for schools this July 4, calling it Software Independence Day."

Apropos that, JDALaRose writes: "While it was discussed at some length in this Ask Slashdot, the Washington Post is running an article wherein a columnist gives his take on making the switch from Windows/MS Office to Linux/OpenOffice."

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Slashback: Moonbase, Schools, Entropia

Comments Filter:
  • Their FTP servers are already own3d. Bummer.
    • /.-ing Norway! ntropia/

    • Yea, anyone have any mirrors?

      On a cable modem im getting a blazing 364 bytes a second and I have about 63 more hours to download this 222mb file. This reminds me some ancient chinese torture of some sort =P..
  • by edrugtrader ( 442064 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @08:08PM (#3562577) Homepage
    my school district is still on apple ][ machines for word processing in the english department...

    needless to say, apple has not tried any heavy handed licensing tactics with them... YET
    • I remeber using the language... uhm.. was it called Basic? No... Logix? No....damn.

      Whatever, we had a so called project-week at school here in germany and our geography teacher, he really was an apple fan, taught us to do fancy graphic stuff with it.

      I remember the triangle which you could rotate and move with some commands to draw lines. We even went into functions, like draw a circle with radius x and so on.

      It was pretty impressive to our parents who were there on the exhibition day, and it was my first time in some programming language ;-)

      Maybe that was not interesting at all, but I just had to tell you...


    • needless to say, apple has not tried any heavy handed licensing tactics with them... YET
      You are not free and clear just because you run MAC's. If you read the original audit request, you will notice it's MS not Apple requesting the audit. A Mac is capable of running MS products. If any Mac or PC has any MS software (Windows, Internet Explorer, or Office) you have signed the agreement to allow an audit of all PC's and Mac's. You may want to rethink your district software selection next year due to the very high legal liability regarding some software license agreements.
  • Windows Only downloads....::sigh::
  • by ostiguy ( 63618 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @08:15PM (#3562616)
    You want to demo software on July 4th??!?!? Instead of drinking beer and bbq'ing? That will definitely show people that Linux users aren't communists!

  • Entropia? (Score:3, Funny)

    by ilyag ( 572316 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @08:17PM (#3562626)
    I wonder, why is it called Entropia? Because it brings chaos (entropy) into the lives of the poor people who download the client?

    Also, how long will it take the Entropia world to create Project Reality (the peak of technology, real world emulator!)?
  • Why would they go out of their way to do this? Is this a condition Microsoft set? This sounds an aweful lot like one of the points their conviction was based on, their forcing OEMs to use MS products.
    • Lord forbid any children be exposed to those awful satanic Sparcstations!!!

      (J/K of course).
    • No, but if MS knocks on the door, it will be very easy for them to say "Here look on our network, we only have windows machines on it". They then proceed to explain to MS that they only use windows machines, so they will not have to pay for an extra license for that Mac in the corner because they chose to go with this education license. BTW, im pretty sure that license makes you buy a copy of windows for every computer (excluding small computer stuff like watches and calculators, they are referring to personal computers like windows machines, macs, etc..). By taking them off the network it will make this audit go a lot smoother im sure..

      So, in short, MS is not directly making schools use MS products, but in the roundabout way they are.. Im just suprised that they continue to do this type of stuff (licensing stuff, similar to above) when they are in trial..
    • Is this a condition Microsoft set?
      The ban is to prevent having to deal with the audit. A single mac running MS Internet Explorer is enough of a license agreement to provide permission for MS to request an audit on all PC's and Mac's owned by the district and the personal machines owned by the employees used in their job. Read the license agreement. It was made clear in the audit request of the Washington and Oregon schools. Yes it does include machines not owned by the districts, but owned by it's employees. It reaches far beyond the one machine the software is installed upon. This is the reason for the ban. Your software license on your personal machine may be giving away my rights to privacy on my personal Linux machine.
  • Snowcrash (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jezreel ( 261337 )
    Anyone remember the novel "snowcrash"?

    Like Entropia some ppl built up a whole cyberworld where you could meet friends and have 3-D access to other applications. And of course one would be able to participate in fancy sword-fights and supersonic motorcycle races. Legalized mafia and dragster-style pizza delivery where you could legally kill the pizzy guy when he failed to deliver your stuff on time.....

    Sadly somebody wrote a virus for it that affected the people behind the characters. I hope that won't happen anytime soon.

    • Re:Snowcrash (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dreamweaver ( 36364 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @08:54PM (#3562792)
      1) Entropia is a multi-player game. The Street in Snowcrash was essentially the Internet, since Snowcrash was, in fact, written before the internet.

      2) The motorcycles in the book were neither super-sonic nor racing; it was a chase scene. Though given some of Hiro's commentary, I'm sure there Were super-sonic motorcycle races

      3) The mafia wasn't legalized. In those small pieces of land still ruled by the United States of America organized crime was still illegal. The rest of what was once the USA, territorially, was owned by franchies; Uncle Enzo being one of those franchisers.

      4) You couldn't kill the pizza guy. You could certainly Try, but part of The Deliverator's coolness was his essential invulnerability. If the pizza was late, Uncle Enzo would arrive on your lawn and present you with a free trip to Italy.

      5) Snowcrash was a device-independent viral meme, not a computer virus on the Street.

      So the question would be, do You remember the novel Snowcrash?
      • The Street in Snowcrash was essentially the Internet, since Snowcrash was, in fact, written before the internet.

        Uhm, no. Snow Crash is a 1992 book. The Internet is just slightly older than that.

      • 1) Let's see..Snow Crash was published in 1992, and Al Gore was inaugurated VP in 1993..oh, I see. Whatever. The Internet started in the 70s. Even within the context of the book, the Metaverse was just a very successful protocol that sat on top of the existing Internet (which was primarily through Rife's fiber network), like AIM, or IRC.

        2) There were several motorcycles in the physical world in the book, most notably Raven's motorcycle with fusion bomb sidecar, and Hiro's brand new Yamaha with smart wheels that he drove up to Oregon on, and which later caught Snow Crash and died when he arrived in the port city in Oregon before boarding the Kowloon. In the Metaverse, while Hiro was logged in from the raft, there most certainly was a supersonic motorcycle race between Hiro and Raven. Because of the speeds involved, the first person to hit a metaverse monorail support (and hence come safely to an instant stop) essentially lost the race: Raven would deliver his deadly payload unhindered, or Hiro would stop him easily by arriving first and alerting everyone.

        5) Snow Crash was a meme that manifested itself by causing the affected to speak in tongues and exist in a lower state of consciousness, and so be open to whatever programming Rife wanted. The delivery vectors were a computer virus, a drug, religious sacrament, and blood.

        Do *you* remember Snow Crash?
        • Hiro's brand new Yamaha with smart wheels that he drove up to Oregon on, and which later caught Snow Crash and died

          Computers can't catch snowcrash, only people. What killed Hiro's bike was buggy firmware.

  • Could it be possible that the move towards "Free Software" is a result of its cost effectiveness rather than any particular sin of Microsoft? When you calculate the cost of licenses to cover an entire school district, $50 (if you buy an COTS version of RedHat, for example) beats $75 (guessing) x # of seats.

    The kids still will be ill-prepared to work in any normal job, though, as Linux is nowhere near standard in the real life world.
    • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @09:09PM (#3562844) Homepage Journal
      Blockquoth the poster:

      The kids still will be ill-prepared to work in any normal job, though, as Linux is nowhere near standard in the real life world.

      I don't buy it. First of all, the whole point of commercial products (according to MS and their bannermen) is that the interface is "intuitive" -- which means it can't take all that long to become a power user. Second, anyone who's grown up on a complex and responsive system like Linus will find Windows a breeze -- plus they'll have actual problem-solving abilities. Let's face it: One reason that Unix conceded the desktop world to Microsoft involved the inability of any seasoned Unix user to take Windows seriously. Yeah, that was a mistake, but going from Linux to MS definitely does not tax the brain...

      Besides, this isn't about preparing students for the real world. Students are remarkably flexible and adaptable. This is about the inconvenience to the old dinosaurs who can't conceive of a computer as anything more than an intimidating electric typewriter...

      • anyone who's grown up on a complex and responsive system like Linus

        Linux really is too complex to ever be useful to a normal user. The glorified typewriter is exactly what a computer is to the majority of people. Sure it can do other things (and is doing other things behind the scenes for the user like formatting, etc), but all the user needs to know is whether to press button A or button B. In short, I really like the responsiveness of Linus, but I could do without the complexity.

        It really irks me to have to stay up half the night listening to him cry about how selfish a lover I am. For chrissakes, I'm putting my dick in his ass! Does he think I don't think it's a little gross?
      • anyone who's grown up on a complex and responsive system like Linus will find Windows a breeze

        Similarly, anyone who's grown up living in a house will find a cardboard box much simpler... if a bit restrictive and uncomfortable.

        The more I learn about *nix, the more I find myself contemplating violent action against my Windows box.

    • > The kids still will be ill-prepared to work in any normal job...

      Is that because anyone that took the time to understand a unix system could NEVER catch up to the someone who only ever point-and-clicked?
    • Either is anything MS puts on there computers, since it will all be changed by the time the get out of school.
    • Could it be possible that the move towards "Free Software" is a result of its cost effectiveness rather than any particular sin of Microsoft?

      Um, Microsoft's cost prohibitiveness, and tendency to put the screws to their customers, is one of their particular sins. So no, I guess that isn't possible.

  • July 4th. (Score:5, Funny)

    by surfcow ( 169572 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @08:32PM (#3562694) Homepage
    He is planning a demonstration of what Linux can do for schools this July 4, calling it Software Independence Day.

    I like it. "Open Source: beating down the forces of tyranny." "Give me OS liberty, or give me ... well, Windows." "I regret that I have only one CPU to run with my OS." "We must all hang together, or certainly our PCs will all hang separately." And so on.

    Perhaps we need a Boston Tea party sort of thing where we burn hundreds of Windows licenses.

    Or not.


    • Aren't all the schools on holiday on July 4th? Who's going to be around to watch?
    • by kesuki ( 321456 )
      I would like to fix your qoutes...
      "Give me OS Liberty, or give me Blue Screen Of Death" and
      "I rerget that I have but one CPU with which to run my OS"
      and one of my own...
      "zero if by CD, one if by network"
    • Perhaps we need a Boston Tea party sort of thing where we burn hundreds of Windows licenses.

      I'm sorry, you can't legally do that unless you also burn the computers with which the OS was bundled.

  • Some 600 years ago, China ruled the eastern seas, but then they decided that ther was nothing outside of home. And they burnt their fleets, and went into a long hibernation, that only the modern world has roused them from.

    Is this the beginning of the next hibernation?? FWIW, I play civ3 in much the same way, but while I am not playing the politics game, I'm revving up everything else.

  • Donated computers... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I think it was on /. a while back that someone mentioned MS policy on accepting donated computers in schools.
    It used to say that it's "a legal requirement for the the original operating system that came with the computer to stay with that computer."
    I guess realizing how utterly stupid a claim that was they have since changed the site [].
    Now they just say its a bad idea to accept computers without the original OS.
    • by madfgurtbn ( 321041 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @09:44PM (#3563009)
      Now they just say its a bad idea to accept computers without the original OS.

      They don't say it's a bad idea, they say that a school should decline to accept a FREE COMPUTER just because it doesn't have an OS. I think that is just utterly unethical. They should be recommending not to decline the donation, but to make sure that all computers have legitimate licenses, or get a legitimate license. It's some of the worst FUD I've heard from M$, yet they seem to think we should be happy that they have at least stopped trying to tell schools that it is illegal to remove an OEM install of Windows.

      Schools and the people who donate computers to schools should not be led to believe that it is in any way improper to donate or receive a donation of a pc without an OS. Large companies with donation programs often wipe the hard drive for data security reasons.

      M$ doesn't want schools to get cheap old boxen because they know that sooner or later the schools will figure out that they can install k-12 LTSP and save themselves a lot of headaches and expense. It's the headaches of maintaining PC's in a student environment that will drive this more than the cost savings. Students rapidly break any security and change the settings so the computer labs all have Slipknot screensavers and so on.

      M$ has no excuse anymore for the donated computers FUD, because it has now been cleared at high levels in the corporation. When the original "donation" site appeared on slashdot, I wrote to them to complain. Shortly after they changed the site, M$ wrote back to me explaining that they had changed the site to clear up misleading language.

      They have not responded yet to me regarding the just as misleading suggestion that schools should decline to accept donated pc's without OS's. They cannot say that the site has "unclear language" or anything like that anymore, because it has obviously been reviewed and approved by someone with some clout.

      I cannot imagine the fantasy world they are living in that they think it is a good idea to recommend that schools refuse perfectly good computers just because they don't have an OS. And what makes matters even worse is that they are in the business of selling OS's !!!!! . If that isn't evidence of something being seriously rotten in Denmark, I don't know what is.

      Think about that for a while. I'll repeat it again...

      1. M$ sells OS's
      2. M$ recommends that schools refuse to accept FREE computers unless it comes with a valid OS.

      If you were in the OS business, wouldn't the logical thing be to recommend that schools BUY an OS for their donated computers?
      • When you donate your computer, put on a fresh linux distro and tape a copy of the GPL to the lid. Or do the corresponding thing for BSD. Either way, the school then has a computer and a license to go with it.
        • When you donate your computer, put on a fresh linux distro and tape a copy of the GPL to the lid. Or do the corresponding thing for BSD. Either way, the school then has a computer and a license to go with it.

          You have been assimilated. Why in the world should there be any hurdle, no matter how small, to donating your old computers to schools, charities, and people who need computers? It would be great if donators install or include a free operating system with their donation, but if they do it because of something M$ says, then it is wrong.
      • If you were in the OS business, wouldn't the logical thing be to recommend that schools BUY an OS for their donated computers?

        Only if I sold my OS product by getting users to to choose it over competing OSes. Microsoft hasn't done this since ... the mid 1980s?

        If I were in Microsoft's shoes, I would try to get revenue from the sale of an OS. The only way to do that, is to get someone to buy a new computer that has my product preloaded regardless of the desires of the user. So their advice makes sense, given their competitive disadvantage and the business model built around it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I work for a small company that sells educational software. We recently lost a large sale because Microsoft was turning the screws on the district that wanted to buy our software, and they didn't have any money left over for ours.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Well I work for an educational software company and we lost a large contract because a school switched from Windows to Linux and nothing would run.
      • Perhaps that provides some incentive to make your application run cross-platform? As always, business must stay agile to stay alive.

        If your business runs into this situation a few years from now when Linux is an accepted market, you can kiss a large part of your market share goodbye and if you don't adapt, you'll just have to live with it.

        Actually, why the heck am I explaining this to you? Your company loses business and mine gains business. Perfect. :o)
  • by galaga79 ( 307346 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @08:42PM (#3562741) Homepage
    After trying Linux Mandrake out a couple of months ago, one thing that crossed my mind is how ready Linux is for schools. Linux distros these days contain all the basic tools needed for productivity. You have several different office applications (Abiword, KOffice, StarOffice, OpenOffice) to choose from for word processing and spreadsheets and then you also have scientific tools like Scilab (a clone of Matlab I am told). Though admittedly I am not sure if there are Powerpoint and Access alternatives for Linux, perhaps someone could shed some light on this.

    Now consider the Windows alternative, that would entail getting a site license for Windows, Microsoft Office, Matlab and who knows what else. This would not only cost quite a bit of money but I imagine would also create a pile of added paperwork due to the multiple licenses. Then with Windows you have to contend with issues of kids installing software on the school machines such as games, and macro and email viruses which from past experience spread like crazy in schools.

    As far as I am concerned Linux is more than ready for schools. Sure it may be different to Windows which most children would be accustomed to using at home but children these days are quite tech savvy and I assume they would pick up Linux interface quite quickly (perhaps faster than adults?). The only major issue to consider is inoperability issues such as opening Word 97/2000 files but this could be resolved by encouraging children to save in RTF format which presents no problem.
    • Yeh, there's a M$ Access alternative. It's called mysql or postgresSQL.

      None for powerpoint that I know of, but the world would be a better place without that piece of crap (or even substitutes).
      • come on... mysql or postgresSQL are not alternatives to access. they are far superior databases, but access provides features that let users make tools to use the database.

        and there is certainly many powerpoint clones, and like it or not, big wigs NEED to see powerpoint presentations. it is not a piece of crap.
        • Yes both mysql and postgres are superior. Is there a problem with using a superior substitute? If so, maybe since it's open source, we could dumb it down to the level of Access.

          Seriously, they also provide features that let users make tools to use the database. Those tool-making features are called bash and perl. Duh.

          • Seriously, they also provide features that let users make tools to use the database. Those tool-making features are called bash and perl.

            Neither of which are graphical nor easy to use in any way. Better luck next time.
            • Yes, I know they aren't graphical. I did say superior, did I not?

              Maybe we oughtta get you an etch-a-sketch too.
          • The main keys to the popularity of access are that it's reasonably quick to make a range of nicely formatted reports, and it's quite quick to build a data-entry dialog.

            Glade can do the second one (with a bit of interface coding). But what is the equivalent of Glade for creating reports?

            And reports are really the key feature. HTML pages don't cut it (though they sure help!). But managers don't see databases. They see reports. And if they don't look pretty, they won't be read. One of the people that I work with even said (I don't know how seriously) that he didn't care whether the data was accurate as long as it was entered. Which meant as long as he could print reports that included it.

            This isn't totally unreasonable. I still find that for a long document I REALLY prefer to read it from a book than from a screen. Screens tire my eyes in a way that a book doesn't. And screens restrict distribution (you can only show it to people who will read it on a screen). And many places still have requirements that reports be submitted on paper.

            A month ago I had to print out the contents of a database in an imitation of a preprinted form. (That was well over 1000 pages. Perhaps 5000.) The place that it was being sent to wouldn't accept my files specs, and wouldn't give me any file specs that I could adapt to. Finally they said that they would only accept filled out forms. So it was important that I be able to print out a good imitation of their custom designed form. (This part is bold, that part is 8 point, the other part is indented 2 inches, etc.)

            I'm not saying that these requirements are reasonable. Merely that they exist.

      • by Telemakhos ( 548307 ) <> on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @09:20PM (#3562897)
        As a teacher, I can say with great sadness that database use is not a priority among most middle or high school classes. I can't think of any colleague who has used Access all year -- in fact, even the training inservices had trouble developing situations in which it would be useful in the classroom (due to time constraints on lab use and a the greater efficiency in using simpler textbook-based strategies to teach the same material).

        Word processing is by far the most common use of technology, followed by the web browsing (for those deluded into thinking that reading a book is a waste of time and that the interent, home of frauds and nuts a-plenty, is the best possible source for valid information on any subject).

        Giving schools tools liks scilab or mysql (or the internet) is easy. Training teachers to teach useful ways to implement the technology -- to use the right tools in the right way for the right job -- is harder. I know some who struggle to save their gradebook spreadsheet files in the right place or keep their printers running; these will never figure out how to teach children to use sql queries to track data.

        PowerPoint is used often in classrooms as a way to produce projects for presentation to classes -- things that once were called "oral reports" or "posters." Even worse, children are encouraged to use as many sounds, animations and transitions as possible to "arouse interest." The lesson taught: bells, whistles and shiny baubles are interesting, not content. Again, the more fundamental problem is not finding a replacement for PowerPoint (KPresenter would do nicely), but finding the right way to use it (to present content).
        • I don't even know what to say to that. Christ, I'm depressed enough already, do you have to say serious things like this and make it worse?

          Teaching is easy, if you yourself want to learn. A teacher that can't find the time or be bothered to learn how to save a file and find it later, shouldn't be allowed to teach a class that has anything to do with computers.

          Why did you become a teacher, and can you give any insight into why the other less clueful teachers did so? I'm just curious.
          • by Telemakhos ( 548307 ) <> on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @10:03PM (#3563081)
            I became a teacher because I saw in it, and still see, an opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others, and thus on the world, that will last far longer than my own mortal dust. I suspect that attracts most teachers. Certainly it's not the pay (I make $30K/year), it's not the hours (I was at school from 7:30 this morning until after 8:00 tonight, grading papers until 6:00 and then attending a varsity girls' softball game), and it's not the prestige (ha). Sure, I get two months off in the summer, but I'll be taking classes then at my own expense at a college three hours from my home. Honestly, the only reason to teach is to satisfy a desire to help others.

            The ability or lack thereof to implement databases doesn't really affect such a motive, unless your field of specialization is teaching computer science. I teach Latin, and frankly there are more effective ways to teach vocabulary or history than with Access or mysql.

            Teaching children to value content over presentation, on the other hand, is a broader and more fundamental lesson, part of learning to filter signal from noise -- something each of us does every day, some more successfully than others. Personally, I have a problem with colleagues who don't teach children to sift the useful from the shiny, but I realize they do so from a lack of analysis of their own actions rather than from intent. They still *want* to help children learn, but they need to be shown the logical consequences of their implementations. And that, of course, is why we have inservice training.
            • Sorry if I implied you should be teaching sql databases...

              I don't think I'd mind taking your latin classes, but I can't imagine that the computer classes are anything but absolute drivel. No offense.

              And the system is now too big for it to ever fix itself successfully. Shame.
              • Programming classes at the high school level, epecially in conjunction with a concerted effort across disciplines to emphasize analysis and logic, could be enlightening. On the other hand, they can indeed by drivel. It depends on several factors, including the preparation of the students (have they been taught logic, or have they been taught that systematic thought stifles their creativity?) and the teacher's approach (teach with specific examples, step by step, or assign the whole book to be read and then start applying everything at once halfway through the year, like one teacher I know).

                And the system is now too big for it to ever fix itself successfully. Shame.

                No system ever fixes itself. People create systems, and people have the power also to destroy, subvert or fix systems. Yes, life often sucks -- so find a small corner of it, make it yours and make it better. Inspire others to do the same. That's the whole point behind becoming a teacher -- good teachers always work to improve their schools and the educational system.

                Microsoft is a huge system. It's not immune to change. The Justice Department and the States are working on it through legal channels, and the Linux community is chipping away at it by providing an alternative and demonstrating to the masses that the alternative is viable. If these school systems can expose Microsoft's licensure scheme as the extortion racket it is, if they can demonstrate that alternatives to Office and Windows are feasible, and if they can teach those two points to children, the parents and the media, they too will have changed a system.

                That subject line is, incidentally, as infuriatingly grammatically incorrect as the original quotation. ROFL. Early this year, I used a Flash version of the "All your base are belong to us" game intro to demonstrate why grammar is important to understanding a language.

        • Re:Training teachers (Score:4, Interesting)

          by texchanchan ( 471739 ) <ccrowley@gmail.cDEBIANom minus distro> on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @10:49PM (#3563266)
          When I was an ISP support tech, I found that people from these professions were hardest to work with: journalists, teachers, lawyers, psychologists. Preachers and writers were up there too. I took to calling these "the word-oriented professions." The most dreaded customers to deal with, other than the habitually furious, were schoolteachers. Public school or private made no difference.

          In general, they had great difficulty comprehending even the most basic concepts such as the difference between the Windows desktop and the interior of a web browser window. (There was one exception, a coach at some local country school who had an excellent computer lab going from the sound of it.)

          Teaching teachers about computers is already hard. Introducing the idea of a different kind of operating system would, I think, confuse most of them very much.
      • None for powerpoint that I know of, but the world would be a better place without that piece of crap (or even substitutes).

        I've seen Grade 4 children (no exaggeration) give a really compelling Powerpoint presentation on why space exploration is important. It struck me that this tool was really helping them:
        1) organize thoughts
        2) cover an entire agenda
        3) stay on topic
        4) present in an entertaining, fun way

        It would have been equally great to see them use a non-MS tool, but without a doubt, presentation tools are a Very Good Thing for people who have ideas to communicate. Sure, the kids (and some execs I've seen!) used a few too many crazy/colorful slide transitions, but that kept the kids interested and let them have some fun while presenting their content.
      • StarOffice Impress. Applixware. HancomOffice. KOffice. There are plenty of replacements for Powerpoint's functionality, on Linux and other platforms as well. See MSBC's The Alternative [] for a longer list.

    • If you're looking for a matlab clone, I would recommend GNU octave over scilab. But this doesn't make a difference, as I don't see how matlab could be useful to high school students. Even for university students, it's more of a "work horse" tool for when you have vector/matrix data which you need to process somehow - not too much of an educational tool.

      When people say "Linux is ready for the desktop" I stop listening. They've been saying that for years and I'm still keeping Linux as far away from my aging mother as possible. However, when you say "Linux is ready for schools," I'll agree. Honestly, I don't see why high school students would need more than the most basic word processing needs (unless you're taking a vocational class to get an office job or something, in which case MS Office is required - but that's an exception, not the norm).

      The way I see it, schools need the following kinds of software:

      1. Basic word processing software, in case a student needs to type up a paper. Abiword or Staroffice should work fine.
      2. Web browser for "research." Mozilla and Konqueror are more than adequate.
      3. Specific "educational" software - that is, programs that teach typing, multimedia foreign language stuff, and perhaps some sort of math/graphics program to use instead of a graphing calculator (matlab and mathematica are far too complex to put into a high school calculus course - you'll spend days just figuring out how to use the damned things).

      Point is, this third class of programs is OS-agnostic and these are the type of programs which "itch" - eg, you won't find me spending my free time writing tax software, but writing a learn-to-type program might be lots of fun.

      As for MS Access, I'd say keep that as far away from students as possible. When the non-geek types see Access, they figure it's just like Excel with some more programming stuff thrown in. Access stunts the understanding of relational databases and basic set theory. Same thing for Powerpoint - we don't need a generation who can only communicate in bullet points [].

    • Children today are not tech savvy. The vast majority know enough to operate a computer. perhaps they learn faster than an adult, but rarely do they learn more.
    • Right now, your average distro just loads on the options. Eight different text editors, six different shells, five ftp programs, and countless other duplicate items.

      This is in general a good thing (tm) but when it comes to putting it in a school or giving it to a home user, it's overwhelming. I know because I am not an average user and all those options in the toolbar menu drive me up the wall.

      Advice to distros. You want to put your product in schools and on home desktops? Make a distro that let's you pick (and set up for automation) one text editor, one word processor, one shell, etc... and then display the installed options prominently on the desktop and in the toolbar menu.

      And on that note: call the text editor "TEXT EDITOR" and the word process "Word Processor". Don't call it Emacs unless you call it "Emacs - Text Editor" or better "Text Editor - Emacs".

      If you look at a MS PC (even one that's been used for years) it's usually got one program for each task. Why? Because everything costs money, so the user picks one, pays for it, and sticks with it. It's not economical to buy multiple products with overlapping usages.

      To make an analogy that's close to my heart, imagine you're driving a long way into an unfamiliar territory. The highway you're travelling on lists every possible route to any destination at each exit. Even if that route involves driving around back roads or dirt trails. Even if you knew what you wanted to do, there'd be so much signage and so many options that they'd be at best worthless and more than likely damn confusing. That's what Linux looks like to the new user.

      Meanwhile, Linux is perfect for the classroom. It's a native programming environment. It's a lab in a box. A place for experimentation and exploration.

      Kids don't want to make powerpoint presentations. Challenge them, do CS 101 in elementary school. Do Algorithms in high school. Then you'll be graduating problem solvers, not flow-chart-dependent middle-managers.

      While I'm telling them what to teach in grade school. Teach English! Well! Enforce mastery and require that all your graduates can write a two page essay that could, say, get them a job or a raise or an A in college.

      Those two things, if you taught kids computer programming and english and that's all, they'd be ten times as prepared as I was. They wouldn't need to go to college to get a good job, because that's all employers are looking for right now. And college can go back to being a place for future scientists and researchers (and rich kids who have nothing to do after high school).

      Argh! I'm all riled up now!

  • According to the Netcraft [] poke, [], the public webserver for the Beaverton (Oregon) School District, runs Linux/Apache []. Interesting. Guess the ban on non-Windows and non-Mac machines doesn't extend to things that actually require stability. :)


  • Hillsboro will because a certain microprocessor manufacturer based in that city can subsidise the costs of Microsoft software.

    Intel is actually not based in Hillsboro, just has a few billion-dollar fabs there. And yes, they subsidize the district's IT budget.

  • Part 3 of the MS -)
  • You just couldn't leave it alone could you? Their FTP server was already screwed, and now they get mentioned on /. again?? I STILL DON'T HAVE THE CLIENT!! (Oh yay, .3 - 1.8kb/s... And I'm on cable...) T_T
  • The cost of a working moonbase would be well over $300 billion dollars, and would take at least twenty years.

    Remember you have to supply and staff the thing, and thats after you construct it.

    No nation right now has the capacity to effectively do this. ISS is feasible because shuttles can dock directly with it.

  • Windows only? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by user138 ( 568586 )
    Beaverton seems to be running a apache/linux server (according to netcraft). and made the switch from ISS in '00.
  • by geekotourist ( 80163 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @02:26AM (#3564006) Journal
    Is there a site where people can document the full effects of Microsoft / BSA letters? If not, I suggest it'd make a good project for some Slashdot readers. The ChillingEffects model is strongly applicable here- only if you see that others fought can you yourself feel that fighting is worthwhile. As I wrote earlier [], the initial effect of a M/BSA letter must be pure horror- with the $150,000 per installation threat, it must seem as if M/BSA has all the power. No one but the largest company could afford to fight... it seems. But if you can read about companies that fought- how they did it, and what the outcome was- then M/BSA loses the power to make you immediately surrender.
  • Well, I had a good excuse to install OpenOffice on a Windows 98 laptop, and discovered (after installation, working around some interface bugs, and creating the documents) that the Japanese version which is supposedly 1.0 does not print Japanese correctly on two popular printers. Had lots of trouble finding a bug report related to Japanese too. In the end I had to translate my documents and apologize.

    My experience is probably not unique, even if English is the main focus. It might be useful for some of these evangelists to find a sample school or office that has actually changed over and will vouch that it works fine in their environment. Until then you will have a lot of disappointed people. Conversion to Windows is happening too fast - there are still obvious bugs in the interface and people are going to have to become beta testers of features which they would otherwise expect to work since they are accessible through the menus.

    Other things seem they might be features, not bugs, but it was not obvious that this was so. Perhaps OpenOffice needs something that could be selected to notify users when something is different from Office and not a bug.

    Until then, I'll try to help in my free time too. I will recommend this for English spreadsheets and documents used by an NGO that works in Japan and Cambodia (Japan Relief for Cambodia) which started a newspaper, builds schools [], and built an orphanage [] and hospital [].

    While I have in the past installed a free spreadsheet program (mysteriously hard to find) on a laptop used in the NGO office in Japan, I have hopes that free software can help in other areas. You may notice from pictures that the orphanage is filled with Macintoshes. This is one of the biggest collection of computers in the country.

  • Hmm.. What a strange experience..

    1) Am I the only one finding it strange that one is presented with a click-thru NDA? Not a license-agreement, but an NDA with a running period of 2 years..? Bells and whistles are going off left and right here.

    2) What amateurish installation is this? First a normal setup runs via Windows Installer. Fine, no prob. That means I'm going to be able to uninstall this app. Wait a minute.. Extracting file xxxx of 16003 ?! Hmmm.. Well, after having decided that the account-server is probably /.'ed from here to eternity and back I decided to uninstall Project Eternity. Guess what.. 16000+ files totalling 445 MB was left on my disk following uninstallation. That definitely could use some serious work..

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.