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Re: [school-discuss] Teacher Needs Help

On Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 3:58 AM, j. Tim Denny <johndenny@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

here you could ask about the computer...  what year, make and parts are in it.  Knowing the computer capability goes a long way in what recommendations can come about for configuration. 
I e-mailed her.  Didn't get the details on the two computers she has other than they were older.  She's going on break for the holidays, so I hope to hear more from her when she gets back.  However, she mentioned she didn't think she had administrative rights to install anything.  (They're school computers.)  I mentioned the possibility of portable apps to her (like those at portableapps.com).  That way she could put useful software she needs on a flash drive and also run it from there if necessary.

I have quite a bit of  experience with so called old computers -  often more than not it is less the age of the computer and more the way folks set it up or fail to maintain it that results in an increasingly slow computer. 
Agreed.  Also, some extra RAM and a few upgraded parts can go a long way to keeping an older machine going.  Some of the new netbooks recently available don't seem to have any more horsepower than some of the older machines.
FLOSS in itself  not a solution to the problems brought to our attention here, in fact if not treated carefully i can become an even bigger problem... for instance if someone is to convince her to switch applications that are not supported nor understood...  a case in point is on my current job where they advocate school switching to Ubuntu...   while I am personally all for it in terms of licensing issues it also introduces complexities whereby you really need a seasoned user on hand or small problems easily become bigger in no time at all. 
You can have that problem with commercial programs as well.  We're using a commercial IBM product.  We're paying for the highest support level.  Support is atrocious.  Am using lots of work-arounds and I had to come up with them because the tech support couldn't.
I personally happen to like the philosophy of having small applications that each do their own job well.  Some people prefer one program that does everything.  I do try to look for user friendly software when I recommend it.  I try to stick with software that's easy enough to use to be intuitive to someone who's somewhat familiar with computers.  For those programs that are useful but less intuitive, I try to document how I use it.  Otherwise, when I don't use the program for a while, I won't remember how to work with it.  I also personally prefer recommending Open Source when possible because of the licensing.  Anyone can try it and continue to use it if they like it.

here I suggest not pushing too much on others as we must recognize that the learning curve with computers is quite high for most people. 
Hopefully, if they're seeking out schoolforge.net or other more advanced computer users, that means the people want to learn.  I think that's the key ingredient, willingness to learn how to do things more effectively and to automate processes.