Not such a nice Vista

I’ve got a real problem on my hands. One which I’ve not encountered in eighteen years of purchasing machines. The Windows Vista Operating System is so increadibly not fit for purpose that at a recent management team meeting where I presented my expenditure plans  I was confronted by a group of people that were wishing to switch totally away from Wintel specifically because of the issues presented by Vista (which the laptops we buy may come installed with). The issues which are forcing people into this decision are

1. It doesn’t work with some of our OU applications in particular with my machine SPSS and the MITEL (YourAsssistant VoIP software) both fail to work. Other apps work but need to be ‘fixed’ to work and some just pretend to work then crash after a while with memory leaks (I’m having this problem with Remedy AR). This is reflected by anyone who has upgraded and believe me these are technically savvy users, I wouldn’t let just anyone upgrade so we’ve only provided it for ‘special’ users to try. We’re running Vista Enterprise version.

2. Office 2007 and other recent Microsoft tools have been less, not more easy to use. The switch in thinking that needs to take place when upgrading is not an easy one and the move to shoving things under the windows icon is, in my opinion, a poor one.

3. People have got their hands on both Asus Eee’s and MacBook (Pro’s and non-Pro’s) and they love them.

So in summary Microsoft need to do with Vista what they did with Millenium Edition, forget it ever happened and more forward quickly with something that will constitute a major leap forward in Desktop O.S. provision. I feel let down by the fact that Vista was promising much, in particular to have all the ‘network awareness’ within the O.S. I feel that it’s been rushed out. I also feel that if I was paying for Vista myself then I’d want my money back.

Learning from the past

I’ve been clearing out my office this week as I’m moving to my super new building next week and I’m full of excitement and expectation about how it will work. I’ve even sneaked in and had some time in my new bit to get a feel for it and I’m very impressed with it. They’ve given me some nice comfy chairs in my ‘space’ to have guests come and relax around a coffee table, all very funky and trendy. I can’t turn that lights off yet (need a remote control for that apparently) but that’s getting sorted out, as are the vents for the air which is flowing in through an undercroft and makes odd noises very occasionally (I feel a bit like that part of Total Recall where they start to turn the vents off on Mars). Actually Martin Weller described my move as landing on Mars and there are certain similarities because it’s quite odd moving to such an open environment. Yes I have an ‘office’ but it’s glass fronted and surrounded by open space (the Nexus). I’m very comfortable with it having been in more open environments before and I like the idea that we can brainstorm at any time should we need to and that the team can connect quickly with me and see if I’m free to chat without having to knock on a door.

Anyhow that isn’t the point of my post. The point is that when clearing out my office I’ve come across what could variously be described as either a load of old trash or a goldmine of information from the past. I tried throwing things out and I think I’ve got rid of most things before the last decade but it’s very difficult as I keep getting distracted by stuff that was about ‘the internet broadband revolution’ or ‘the ways people will engage with online learning environments’ or a myriad of other stuff that came out of EU or JISC work. The strange thing is much of it is still applicable today. The issues have switched a little away from connectivity issues in the UK to connectivity issues in emerging nations, the scope has increased but some issues still remain the same.

For example I did work in the nineties about Interactive TV. the theory we described back then is very topical now, much more so than back then when we were working largely from a theoretical viewpoint. I was involved in the MITV (Microsoft Interactive TV) trials so there was some actual hardware albeit limited but the research was very much ‘what if’. Now it’s more like ‘why not’ and ‘how much does it cost’.

I’ve also been reading some old magazines which refer to interesting stuff, an example is  this Open Source article from IT Week from March 2007. I didn’t read it at the time but it’s actually very relevent to our work now as with OpenLearn at the OU and the move to OER and aligns with the move by some organisations away from Vista and towards Linux there are trends developing which support the viewpoint that open source should rightly be explored by public sector organisations and promoted from school level upwards. I’ve nothing against Microsoft here I just think that non profit organisations should be trying to explore not for profit software and tools (and content and other resources) to help them.

Dell enters the Eee arena

I spotted this article (not because of the woman on the beach you understand!) and thought it worth passing on. Dell is going to create a rival to the very popular Eee PC. I presume the Dell and HP machines will both be running Windows (although I haven’t checked this) and I’m wondering now what portion of the Eee’s being sold are Linux compared to Windows? It would be interesting to see if people are happy to live with Linux and its lighter touch OS or whether they want to have the familiarity of the Windows system.

I for one enjoy the Linux environment on the Eee and find it refreshingly simple. The kids love it too and it’s simple to rebuild and since I’m doing everything in the ‘cloud’ these days I don’t need to worry so much about having anything on the diddy machines that’s going to get lost if the kids do a crash and burn job on it by downloading the latest Cartoon Network alpha release plugin.


All work and no play…

…make me a poor blogger. I’m writing this on an Asus Eee and like others who have tried it I just love it. I also tried the iPOD touch this week and I enjoyed that too. the iTouch is a great interface for web browsing on a limited screen. The way you can zoom and move around complex sites without having to look at the ‘mobile’ version is fantastic.

Having said all this I wouldn’t buy one. The interesting thing here is that the iTouch and Eee are around about the same price. I wouldn’t buy an iTouch because I already have an iPOD nano for running and the iTouch is too bulky, secondly the web browsing is great but like all small devices the input method (although better than many) is still not good enough to do any serious input work. I do love the simplicity of use and the browsing aspects (super simple Wifi connectivity). It’s just not something I do enough to warrant it. If I need to browse the web I go to the office or home, or use a laptop or if none of those then use the N95 (rarely).

Why I love the Eee more? – Because it’s Linux and it’s cute and small but the input (keyboard) is good and the IO functionality is there. It’s a nice screen and it is portable enough to make it a no brainer for sticking in a bag or carrying under the arm. It’s very cheap and it boots up in 15 seconds which is fantastic. I’ve only started using it tonight but so far I’m impressed. I think it neatly bridges the gap between mobility and usability. iTouch is great but in the long run I think Eee will be the device that can really create a paradigm shift in bringing computing to the masses and in providing something which can help in bridging the technology divide.