Refurbishing PCs

Friday, November 21. 2008
New life for old PCs
Microsoft has teamed up with six local computer refurbishment partners as part of its secondary PC programme to make computers affordable to the poor. Ali Hoballah, Middle East and Africa regional GM of Microsoft Unlimited Potential Group, met with South African PC refurbishment partners to discuss the way forward for delivering cost-efficient, reliable and environmentally responsible computing.

Its nice to see that people are doing more to bring down prices on PCs. That said some of the figures they are quoting is still going to be too high for a number of South Africans, but certainly more people should be able to afford computers. My interest is as to whether it will be sustainable. There will probably always be second hand PCs for refurbishment but will Microsoft products be cheap or free? Why not just give them Linux instead which is completely for free?
"In SA, for every three new PCs, there's one secondary PC available. Ultimately, the biggest benefit of the programme is its social economic impact; it generates job opportunities and skills development."
How? Are they going to have a training program? Cheaper PCs do not automatically equate to sudden skills and job creation and the article says nothing about any kind of training/skilling. That part I think is rubbish. Skills creation is not automatic or by osmosis, you actually have to put something into that. I doubt that the computer will be quite the catalyst that they imagine.


Tuesday, November 18. 2008
One Laptop per Child XO Laptop (Give a Laptop, Get a Laptop) - Buy a laptop from Amazon and one will be donated to a poor country somewhere. I am hoping we'll buy a bunch for research and feel-good-ness :-)

Going nowhere

Tuesday, November 18. 2008
E-Rate for schools a joke
The Democratic Alliance (DA) recently announced that they are deeply disappointed by the slow implementation of the schools e-rate. "More than seven years after the Communications Ministry announced the introduction of a special "e-rate" for schools that would halve the cost of their Internet calls, a reply to a parliamentary question shows that not a single public school, and only nine Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, have so far benefited from this promise," the DA said.

Instead "we" can waste time and money challenging VAN self-provision instead of working on this issue that schools are not getting what they are legally entitled to.

VMWare server on Ubuntu

Monday, July 28. 2008
For now it still seems to be relatively hard to get away from Windows and just have Linux, more so seems to be the case in the schooling environment with a lot of education packages being based on Windows. The thing is that I don't really want to run Windows and in schools where money is tight and licenses are expensive its preferable to run Linux. So I am looking at various methods of running Windows inside Linux. So Linux is the base system, its your home and the place where you spend the most of your time, while windows becomes a Linux "application", if you will, which you use from time to time to accomplish things that need to be done. One of the methods is to use vmware server. Its a breeze to set up, you really don't need much technical know-how at all. Ubuntu tutorials has some great tuts on getting things done. If you are using Hardy like I am and 1.0.6 of vmware server then check out Install VMware Server 1.0.6 on Ubuntu 8.04 “Hardy”.

I totally get this!

Wednesday, July 23. 2008
Only when you don't need them

Not too shabby

Friday, June 13. 2008
Playstation chips + Red Hat = speed record
IBM’s Roadrunner supercomputer, built using the Cell chips that power the Sony Playstation 3, has smashed its way into the supercomputing record books. The Roadrunner, which combines 12 960 of the Cell chips with 6 948 standard dual-core AMD Opteron chips and 80 terabytes of memory, is the first supercomputer to top 1 quadrillion calculations a second, or the equivalent of one petaflop.



Friday, May 30. 2008
The story of Helmer: A linux cluster in a IKEA Helmer cabinet. This is seriously cool, a cluster machine in an IKEA cabinet.

USAASA welcomes laptop pledge

Monday, February 18. 2008
USAASA welcomes laptop pledge
The Universal Service and Access Agency of SA (USAASA) has welcomed education minister Naledi Pandor's pledge last week to provide SA's 340 000 teachers with laptops. The agency says it fully supports the initiative.
Related to the previous post here.

Teachers to get laptops

Tuesday, February 12. 2008
Teachers to get laptops
Education minister Naledi Pandor wants every one of the country's 340 000 teachers to have a laptop. Pandor told a Parliamentary media briefing this morning she plans to put the proposal before Cabinet and National Treasury by year-end. Even with a bulk discount, the price tag will run into several hundred million rand. "I want an infusion of information technology throughout the education system, which will include ensuring that every teacher has a laptop computer," she told journalists.

I think this is a good idea, its important to start ICT literacy with the teachers. They can't teach the learners if they don't know what they are doing, however, its really really important that they then offer literacy courses in each province or something so that teachers can actually learn how to use this new tool they have been given and also get some support. Teacher development really needs to be coupled with this idea.

Although Pat makes an excellent point when questioning a project like this when there are teachers without proper classroom facilities, textbooks, lesson plan notes, paper and pen facilities, bathroom facilities, etc. I suspect that perhaps priorities should lean stronger towards these basic facilities that should really be in place, however, I would like to see it that these things are happening simultaneously. Why should some schools have to wait for the building first, why can't it happen together? I know it never will, lets face it. So perhaps the right thing to ask her would be can't she spend the money first on infrastructure and with what is left over look at ICT facilities? I'm nervous to say spend money on infrastructure for schools who need it and laptops for schools who are already good in that respect as it could just perpetuate the digital divide.

Papers, papers, papers

Monday, February 11. 2008

ZOMG I have so many things to read. Sheesh. Now I know why they call it "reading for a degree", too right! And the worst part is that most of the papers are random, well not random, but the part that you want to take from it is like a paragraph or line here and there but you have to read the whole thing to just find these little snippets of "Yes! That's what I was looking for". I think what I am going to have to do is type up chunks of things, quotations and other useful bits, so that I can find all the parts that I wanted with a bit more ease. I am already highlighting as I go along but perhaps searchable terms might be easier? I'll have to see. Back to the reading though.

P.s. If you suffer from insomnia or have trouble sleeping, just one of these puppies will put you to sleep in next to no time. Seriously, I can read a book til late into the night, two pages into an academic paper and I'm all dozy, why is that?

PhD page and new looks

Friday, February 8. 2008
I have finally added a PhD page to my collection of sites -- a requirement within the Computer Science postgraduate programme here at RU. So I can tick it off and call it work ;-) While adding it I decided that I was bored of my old css style and that I wanted a new one, so while at it you will notice that I have changed the style of pretty much all of the associated web pages in the site... just fixing my CV remains, which is actually in dire need of a fix, but I'll do that over the weekend or something. Now its off to write up a proposal for a CoE project for Alfredo, which had to be done yesterday...