Wednesday, August 29, 2007

IT Advice

eWeek has published a brief but timely article that is applicable to our work in education:

10 More Stupid Things Smart IT People Still Do

Here is a sampling of easy trappings they recommend you avoid:
  • Cast a jaded eye on emerging technologies and modes of delivering technology.
  • Ignore investment in training and professional development.
  • Look at security purely from a technical standpoint.
  • Don't let vendors set the technology timetable, but also don't
    stay informed about forthcoming updates and their potential benefits.

  • Don't make time for reading news and analysis, especially for reading industry and peer-driven blogs.
  • Let your disaster recovery plan lie dormant.
You can view all ten items of advice at eWeek.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

To Hack or Not to Hack

Last spring I visited a laptop school in South Dakota. The kids were very open about their attempts to work around the system in order to access the information they want. The tech director agreed that it was a constant battle to keep ahead of the game. I wondered about the learning that was occuring through the attempts to work around the system. In Everything Bad is Good For You, author Steven Johnson proclaims that students are actually getting smarter because of their contact with computers, computer games, complex television shows and movies.

My laptop school experience came back to me this week when I heard about the iPhone hacker. Apparently a teenager did some fairly simple re-engineering and created a work around for the new iPhone. It allows it to function outside of the AT&T's wireless system. Perhaps all the practice he was getting at school paid off and now he will be recruited by engineering schools and cell phone companies. Now others are coming on the scene (as referenced in the linked article above) with more solutions for the iPhone.

So is it a good thing that our kids are learning to "think outside the proverbial box" or are we just spinning our wheels by trying to block them from what adults believe to be non-educational content? Can we expect students to learn the same way we do? Is our time better spent teaching them about responsiblity and proper usage of the internet or devising new ways to shut them down?

Friday, August 24, 2007

A computer in your Bic?

The evolution of technology is staggering, especially when you consider the short time frame. Twenty years ago, cell phones were not a standard. Today, almost everyone has one and is using it for communication, internet access, storing music, and watching videos, just to name a few. Can computers get any smaller? In fact, they can. The digital pen is a little-known tool that has been around for a while, but it simply has not been perfected enough to be popular in the mainstream.
In the article, "Is the Digital Pen Mightier?" it seems there is new hope for the digital pen. Don't throw away your Bic just yet, but be patient.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

IPv6--When's the right time to get ready?

The current system of IP addresses is slated to run out of addresses as early as 2010, so IPv6, the next generation of IP addressing, is gaining more attention. As noted in this PCWorld article, training for network administrators is growing in importance.

PC World - IPv6 Requires Learning Curve for Network Admins
The concerns were over the implementations and not the actual IPv6 protocol, she noted. "It's not intuitive to an administrator what's IPv6-capable and what's not, and what supports what, so we had to walk [the testers] through the process," she said. "That's not going to work and can slow a person down many days." She cited as an example one administrator who was setting up a file server with IPv6, a process that took about a month. The implications for businesses include the fact that IT managers need to do an inventory of what network nodes will remain on IPv4, and what will be implemented on IPv6 as a business grows, Johnson said. In addition, human resources departments need to be prepared for added training costs to prepare network engineers. "We got a lot of questions on how you set this up. We had to step back and say there's definitely a learning curve here," Johnson added. IPv6, the emerging IP networking standard, offers businesses worldwide the promise of a seemingly infinite number of IP addresses, and that will help make it possible to network the explosion of new servers, laptops, phones and printers.

When is the appropriate time for education tech coordinators to focus
on this standard and the implications? Because of the complexities of
mixing and converting to this standard, it may be prudent to acquire
awareness levels of reading and training now in preparation
for implementation down the road. Ideas/suggestions for where and how would be welcome here.

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