[K12OSN] Making K12LTSP 'school friendly'

Les Mikesell les at futuresource.com
Thu Feb 10 17:06:08 UTC 2005

On Thu, 2005-02-10 at 09:03, Julius Szelagiewicz wrote:
> > If the contents mattered, you could easily have copied them every 10
> > years onto media that cost 10% of the previous iteration and takes
> > 10% of the space.

> Well, Les, obviously I had other things to do that just came up at the
> time I was about to do a 10 year content move to new media and format.

It's really worse than that and there is something to learn from the
experience: the vendor of that old system had reasons to make it
difficult for you to move your data to anyone else's system.  You
probably didn't avoid the copy/maintenance step just for lack of
time - it also wasn't as easy as it could have been.  Today's
technology supplies standards-compliant ethernet for the physical
layer and internet protocols for cross platform connections because
consumers demanded it.  Every major vendor has tried to ship proprietary
networking protocols to keep you from easily switching to something else
for as long as they could get away with it.

> Les, if you find an ipod 5000 years from now, you probably won't remember
> what the heck it was, it will be somewhat fossilized and the base will be
> nowhere handy and there might be some changes in the delivery of
> electrical power. Of course, you would have by then diligently moved the
> contents to new media 500 times.

Exactly: a design goal anytime you store data with any long-term value
should be ease of moving it to the next platform.  Realistically,
technology is going to change. Change is only difficult if you let
some vendor lock you into their formats to keep your business.  I
used the ipod example because it is the extreme design case: it
takes *no* user intervention to copy data or even extra time compared
to just recharging the device.  USB disk keys are another example whose
time has come.

>  Btw, your assumptions on time it takes to
> move data are widely optimistic - the set up alone can take a while if the
> memory of the process is somewhat foggy after 10 years (of course we could
> consult the manual and as we know, that takes no time at all).

Agreed, but it is a predictable requirement and no more valid to
complain about than not being able to find your records when you
have to file your taxes.

> > If people don't bother with the (now) easy process of copying data
> > from technology on its way out to the currently cheaper replacement,
> > it is probably because no one wanted the content.
> That is just pantently not true - we don't have time to mess with copying
> data and we tend to wrongly assume that it will be readable "later".

Maybe the education process is missing something then. Some people have
to learn from experience, but there are better ways.  

>  You
> find out that you need stuff, when you need it and the level on concern
> about stuff we might need is much lower that on the stuff we -will- need.
> With older tapes 10 year interval was not sufficient and often the copying
> process was destructive. I *have* witnessed a self destruction of a DVD
> during copy - mechanical failures still happen.

Yes, you appear to understand the issues, but you have to deal with the
fact that they aren't going to go away and are going to increase in
scale.  I'm more paranoid than most because when I started using
computers they were much less reliable.  I've always liked to have 3
backup copies of anything important, and would never let the person that
destroyed the first 2 touch the last one.  And, I like backup mechanisms
that are capable of restoring cross-platform because sometimes the
move to the next one happens as a result of the old equipment breaking.

> All I was trying to say is that you disdain old, quaint, slow, but well
> known, well working and very robust technology and want it immediately
> replaced with the new technology that is in its infancy.

I think you are missing the point: the change is happening and is going
to speed up, like it or not.  There are things to like about it and it
is fun to take advantage of the best parts as soon as you can.

> Don't get me
> wrong, I'm just as geeky as the next guy on the list, but I am old enough
> and lazy enough to know that the technology is supposed to work for me,
> not the other way round.

How well something works usually depends on how well you plan for it
to work and how much you protect yourself from vendors promoting
technology that you know isn't going to last (all of it...). The
current battle should be in data formats for documents, spreadsheets
and database contents. It is no longer a problem to move things
around physically, but the vendor lock-in is still a big issue
with the content.

> What we have now does *not* warrant the wholesale
> abandonment of books, on the contrary - the book learning is now
> desperately needed to get kids to actually think and write.

Well, that's a different argument, and one I'll defer to experts.
I can take a pile of books and a quiet space and learn something
from them.  There are people who can't, but can learn in other
ways that technology is just starting to deliver. 

  Les Mikesell
    les at futuresource.com

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