Last week Apple Education announced that it was giving away OSX.2 (Jaguar) free to teachers. Being the cheapskate that I am, I quickly signed up for my free copy and encouraged the rest of the staff at my school to do likewise. Lo and behold, my disks arrived this morning. This is a nice gesture on AE’s part, but the real question is: Does this mean that Apple is ready to fight for the education market or is it just (pardon the phrase) window dressing. Lately, several Mac education columnists including my two favorites Steve Wood, and Jeff Adkins, have been on AE’s case regarding virtual non-existent sales and marketing effort. Steve Wood went so far as to place a link to AE’s teacher response page in an effort to wake up the powers that be. Well, I’ve decided to ask all of you Mac educators to send me your ideas to revive AE. So, to all you frustrated Mac supporter in education now is the time to vent your disappointment in a creative and positive fashion. In my next article I will post your suggestions.
As I mentioned in a previous article, my school has been undergoing the process of networking the computers. I am happy to report that after three Sunday work parties and only one injury the wiring and connection to AT&T Broadband is complete. I should mention that extended amount of wiring time was due to having to connect seven buildings. The lone injury occurred when one of the parent’s stepped off a walkway board in the rafters of 1920’s main building sending his leg through the ceiling tiles.
Once this part of the project was complete, I decided to connect the computers together using a server less approach in order to minimize potential bugs until Christmas when I will install the Linux server. Being totally new to networking I assumed that I could connect a NetGear 24 port switch to the cable modem, plug-in all the wire runs and be done. WRONG!! Only two computers were able to surf the Internet at a time, making my students interactive visit to PBS’ Lewis and Clark’s interactive web experience. After a week of scratching my ever-thinning scalp a parent informed me that I needed to purchase a router and place it between the modem and switch. Having been more than satisfied with my initial NetGear purchase I picked up a 5-port router. BINGO! All the iMacs in our lab were now able to surf at once.
The next step was to setup a wireless system for me and my teaching partner (she has an HP laptop). After reading various bulletin boards and watching the sales flyers she chose a D-Link wireless router and card. After having tried to help a friend install another brand system for his home, I was more than a bit apprehensive. Luckily, D-Link did an outstanding job with both the software setup and manual. In 10 minutes she was up and running as was I on my Ice iBook.
Brimming with confidence, the next day I began connecting the HP 6835 towers that are in grades 3-8. I started with the combined 7-8th grade room. There the problems began. After setting up the systems to use a LAN, the computers wouldn’t connect. Yet, when I used my iBook connected by Ethernet, no problem. After several more days another parent came to the rescue. The solution, run M$’ Home Networking program that comes with Windows ME. Sure enough, that solved the connection bug. In a rare display of common sense, M$ allows the user to make a pre-program disk that can be installed on Windows 95 & 98. With my newfound knowledge I raced around the campus and proceeded to connect the balance of the classrooms.
This exercise in software setup proves once again the vast advantage Apple hold in ease of use. Once the Ethernet cable was plugged in, the iMac’s (Bondi Blues) instantly recognized the connection and leaped into the speed lane of the Internet. M$, on the other hand took several steps and many frustrating hours of pointing and clicking. The power Windows user would argue that all the choices makes Windows a much more powerful OS, however, what percentage of windows users fit this category? One or two percent, at most. Once again, the real power of computing is in how much time one gets to spend being productive.