Tech Report

Date: January 20th, 2009
To: Michael Green
From: Steve Rippl
Subject: Tech Dept. Executive Summary

We're getting ready in the Middle and High Schools for the transition from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice. Staff have been briefed again, HS students will be given an orientation through it this week by the English departments and Tim Brown will be working with the MS students. I'm aware that the majority of people are not crazy about software changing on their computers when they're very used to a certain application, but I'm pretty confident that OpenOffice is a small enough change that most people will get over it very quickly!

We are now experimenting with "public" wireless access in the HS/MS library. This is a heavily filtered connection that will allow students to bring their own laptops into school and work in the library. They'll have (filtered) access to the internet, their own documents and our websites (including the Moodle site) as well as their school email. If it's a success and something that teachers want we can look at providing this kind of access in classrooms as well. The access points are cheap home units that we run an open source firmware on, giving us much greater control, signal strength and stability.

As we tighten the budget strings we'll be reigning in purchases of new hardware to only what is strictly needed and keeping existing hardware on peoples desks for longer. We do have a plan afoot to try to bring life back into very old machines that we have in our office. While they are so old that they make very poor client machines (a base install of windows can take minutes to log into) they do make very responsive thin clients. While we're not achieving the space and energy savings by using this kind of hardware for thin clients, we are extending their life significantly. We've been talking with Aaron Blackwelder and Dan Uhlenkott about finding enough spare furniture to make Aaron's room a computer lab, probably to be shared with the rest of the English department. As the English dept are the heaviest users of the Library I would hope that this would relieve some of the pressure there. Trying times call for inventive measures, and I think this is where open source software can really be of benefit to us.