Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Back to basics

I have somewhat fallen out of love with my little eee PC.  Looking back through my blog, the clues were there a while back.  I never really did get over the performance blips at the time, and over time it became slower.

I did, over Christmas, spend a lot of time looking at alternative Operating Systems, but all of them needed me to scrub the XP systeem.  If I was the only person to use the machine this would have been fine, but I had to think about the legacy of the machine, there’s a chance that this will be handed down to someone else, and there’s no chance that they would cope with a non-windows machine.

So today, with some time on my hands (I spent too long yesterday in my study on uni and PhD work), I decided to go ‘back to basics.’

I removed all google software, including notifier, gears, chrome and google earth.  (Nearly) all microsoft software went too (yay!).  iTunes and Quicktime went into the recycling bin.

The only software installed on the machine is IE 8, Twihirl (and the associated Adobe Air framework), and Glary Utilities.

I have all the other applications I would need on a laptot via PortableApps.com siting on an 8 gig memory card, which has recently been upraded and contains everything I need (apart from a twitter client, come on guys!).

A few other tweaks, I’ve gone into the performance settings through my computer and adjusted for best perfomance, though have kept font smoothing on, as the screen does not look ‘right’ otherwise.

I’ve got boot up speed from turning on, to opening Internet Explorer (FireFox runs off the memory card so it a little slower) to a little under two minutes – not bad and I reckon about half the time that it was creaking along.

So, new life in a machine without installing the OS, and I’m using it now to type this posting.

So go on, love your laptot… at least until the iPad prices are released!

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Torn between two lovers…

…feeling like a fooool! as the old song used to go.

I was worryingly excited about the launch of the iPad yesterday.  Not only was it an Apple product, it was going to solve my ultimately disappointing experience with netbooks, and solve the problem of whether or not I should purchase a Kindle/Sony e-reader.

So why, after the initial euphoria, was I not hammering down the door of the Apple Store this morning (despite knowing it’s not going to be available for at least another couple of months).

Well, for one it’s the price.  Most commentators seem to be saying it’s a bargain, and compared to the Kindle DX, the closest equivalent product in the Amazon store it does seem to be.  But the cheapest model is coming in at $499, with the UK vat and other premium the general feeling is that it will come over here at £399 – that’s a lot of cash, even if my personal circumstances weren’t as uncertain as they are now.

The other question I’m asking myself is ‘Can I live without the iPad’?  I could not function without my MacBook, or Big Mac at home, and increasingly my iPhone, though at the moment it’s acting like a petulant schoolkid when out of Wi-Fi range (you want to access BBC Sport website to see how Andy Murray is doing – Computer Says No!).

So I’m conflicted, and saying ‘wait until you can touch one’ isn’t an option for me, as I’ll fall helplessly in love and want one – it happened with the iPod touch and iPhone.

And financially, I could buy a small Kindle (Kindlet?), and put the £200 into a fund for the a new Mac Pro in 18 months time.

Or wait until the Kindle is officially launched in the UK, which can only be a matter of time… can’t it?

Some local photos

I went for a walk at the weekend, enjoying being able to walk without slipping everywhere was an interesting change.

I took some pics on my iPhone.

That went well!

A quick post, though I should be fast asleep I’m still not tired. The outreach session went really well. The pupils were enthusiastic and asked reasonable questions, the project plans created actually looked how I expected them, and the raffle (you had to be there, but there was a good reason for a raffle) went well, with a clamour for even the ‘dodgy’ prizes.

There were a number if technical glitches which maybe took longer than they should to solve, and I maybe left too long at the end for the evaluations to be completed. But overall it was a good experience, thanks to all of those who helped, and sent me ‘good luck’ messages.

Something new..

Despite the constant change at work, it’s not often that I get a totally new teaching experience.  Like all good professionals I update my lecture notes, and teach new things, and the coming semester is going to have a lot of that coming up(!), but tomorrow is something new for me.

The university, in common with many HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) in the West Midlands hold outreach events with local schools and sixth forms.  This is an attempt to demonstrate to students what university life is like, and hopefully take some skills which are can be of use for their remaining time in sixth form.  These are called ‘Masterclasses’, not by me you understand, but the marketing department which looks after this sort of thing.

So tomorrow I’m teaching a group of 25 upper-sixth form students how to use Microsoft Project, and give them a feel for what being a project manager is like in the real world.  I’ve got some nice presents for the students in the form of pen-drives, and also some really duff prizes for a raffle I want to use to demonstrate the concept of risk in a project.

Sounds easy?  The organisation which has had to go into this has been incredible, from booking rooms, obtaining temporary logons to machines, making sure that the students are kept fed and watered, and given a tour of Millennium Point, which I have to admit can look impressive with some of the labs including robots scurrying around and lots and lots of machines.

Let’s see how the day goes – no doubt I’ll tweet as the day goes on.  It would be useful for me to reflect afterwards – but that may be a personal introspection!

In other news, preparation for my PhD work continues apace, with accommodation and trains booked for the first residential period, and a steady influx of emails from the administrator.  Communication has been excellent, and I have enough pdf’s of information to keep me busy for a very long time.  As mentioned before, the PhD has a taught element, with a very stringent requirement (and high pass mark) required to progress to the second stage.  Any doubts that I had about the academic rigour of this route have been well and truly dashed.

Finally, in other, other news, the new Open University course (T215) has also ramped up, with my students being allocated, course website being made available and (gulp) access to some Cisco Academy online tutorials.  This course really looks well put together, there’s a lot which is new and innovative.  I’m really looking forward to tutoring this.  I’ve pontificated before on why I think having a foot in two academic ‘camps’ is useful, though now with my external examining position and studying at another university I guess I’ve got two feet and both arms in different camps… maybe that’s pushing a metaphor too far!