Laptop Update + New Eee PC

No, I haven’t bought one (yet). I notice Ollie has now pre-ordered another interesting mini laptop though – the Elonex One. However, I got really excited when I saw the machine on the left – this is the new Asus EeePC sporting – wait for it – a 9″ screen, with 1024 x 600 resolution.

There’s no word yet on when exactly it’ll be available in the UK, but industry sites and magazines seem to suggest around June – perfect for the summer hols.

Prices are expected to be around the £300 mark, making it around £80-£100 more expensive than present models. However, as well as the larger screen you are also likely to get a larger 12GB SSD and 1GB RAM for your money. Now for the bad (?) bit – Microsoft helped launch the new EeePC as it will come with Windows XP preinstalled, as well as Microsoft Works for office tasks, and Microsoft Live services for the web-end of things. No word on whether you will be able to buy a linux version only (thus saving some money). I suspect not.

I suspect I will be ordering one of these as soon as they come out – unless something even better comes along in this fast-moving area. Better start saving! 

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Google does it again?

I spotted this on the PCW website today – google are releasing an online web authoring package as part of their online apps. Not had a chance to try it out yet, but it looks like an interesting tool for collaborating with classes.  Might just brighten up revision in the run up to the exams!

If anyone gets a chance to try it out before I do, drop me a line and let me know how it goes.

The PCW article is available here, and google sites is available here.

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New Laptop

I’m currently in the market for a new laptop, which is proving more difficult that I imagined! I need something lightweight for taking to and from work (and using with my other work for BASP), with decent specs for using graphics, video and sound packages, and also reliable. Seems a tall order. My options seem to be:

  • Buy a new PC Laptop.
    Pros: I know my way around them, wide variety of choice, will run all the apps I use.
    Cons: Windows Vistargh (does anyone actually like this horrible OS?), cheaper portables seem to break easily.
  • Buy an Ibook.
    Pros: It’s an apple. It just works, and doesn’t mean enduring Vistargh. Reliable. Dual boots if I really want it to
    Cons: Spec could be better for price, not as familiar with OSX .
  • Buy an Asus EeePC.
    The ‘dark horse’ of my options. I really like the concept of the EeePC. It’s lightweight (tick), runs XP or linux (tick), reasonable specs for mobile computing (tick), costs hee-haw (tick). However, I’ve always been very concerned about the screen size. Storage isn’t a worry – USB pen drives cost so little, and even portable hard drives are a good option now.
    As a result, I’m nipping over to MGS to see Robin Strain today, who’s the proud owner of one of these devices, to have a closer look and work out just how usable it is. I do fear though that Asus have made the perfect mobile computer but just skimped on the screen. If only the rumours about a forthcoming 10″ version were to be confirmed, I think we would have a winner.

Comments and thoughts very welcome! (anyone know a good mobile laptop!)

Posted in Computing, East Lothian Council, Subject Support | Comments Off on New Laptop

Subject Promotion posters

Now that course choices are starting to get nearer I have decided to make up some flyers/posters this year to promote the subject. I’ve posted the PDFs below if anyone wants to use them – I can send the MS publisher files on request if you wish to adapt them.

Happy selling 🙂

Posted in Computing, Dunbar Grammar, East Lothian Council, future of computing, Subject Support, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

My $0.02!

As I mentioned below, I have written a letter to the TESS following up on the article about Computing Science Inside.  In the letter I (try to!) outline what I feel is a big problem with Computing right now – the misunderstanding at all levels as to what the subject is actually about.  Comments very welcome as always, I’ve got the asbestos suit on!

“I was very pleased to read your article about “Computing Science Inside” in last week’s TESS.  I am a self-confessed convert of Dr Cutts’ refreshing work.

I did feel however that the article only touched on what is perhaps a real problem facing Computing in Scotland: a lack of understanding of what the subject is actually about.  It’s not just the fact that “…we are becoming a nation of tool users, not tool builders…” but also the case that the two areas – ICT skills and Computer Science – are seen as one and the same by those who are responsible for the curriculum.

For several years now, there has been a great focus on developing ICT use amongst staff and pupils; the so-called “digital literacy” that enables people to communicate and make use of the technology.  Unfortunately, what this has not addressed is a real need to foster “digital creativity,” i.e. the ability to understand and further develop the technology.  This is what really matters to businesses, giving them the ability to develop new IT products and maintain a technological advantage.

This confusion of ‘true’ Computing with ICT skills has led to the typical situation in many schools around the country where Computing is taught in the first and second years as part of a general ICT course. The normal topics are based around application use and the time is shared between two or even more departments.  Some pupils don’t even see a Computing department until Standard Grade!  Ultimately, Computing has lost it’s identity as a distinct – and scientific – subject. 

On this problem though the ball is firmly in our court: Computing teachers must reassert this lost identity, and CPD such as that offered by the “Computing Science Inside” project is a step in the right direction.  What would also be a positive step would be for national subject promotion and development opportunities: several subjects already have this to varying degrees.

If Computing is to develop in schools and the decline in students applying to study at universities is to be reversed, it is vital we promote the difference between IT and Computing.  Senior Management and Local Authorities can help us too: they must take on board this crucial difference and give Computing its’ rightful place in the curriculum.”

Posted in Computing, future of computing, Subject Support, Uncategorized | 5 Comments