Does Operating Systems Matter

Operating Systems

I have been working with computers since the early day’s of DOS, yes we didn’t even have a graphical user interface. When you wanted the computer to do something most of the time you would have to be able to write a program and then do the project.

Then came Apple and Windows with their pretty point and click graphical user interface. You wanted to open an application you simply double clicked on it and it opened. What was even more impressive was the fact that you could have multiple applications opened at the same time. Which I believe was the beginning of giving all of us a little OCD. This is because we could be working on one project and quickly switch to another application and look at the news. You may do this today? You are working on a large project and you open another tab and check your email or facebook?

At one time the operating system meant that you choose it because of the application you are used to using. Such as running Microsoft Windows because you are a Microsoft Office user. Or using a Mac because you enjoy using Final Cut Pro. Or you might have been a FREE type of person and you went with Linux?

In today’s modern computer world the operating system is really the less important thing on the computer. Why is this? Easy most software vendors have found that programming for the web is the best choice for their applications. I am working on a large database program now and after careful consideration, I decided to write it for any web browser. Why would I choose to do this? I am like the big guys. I want my application to work on any operating system as well as any device that may could be invented for years to come. As long as there is a way to view the Internet I can adjust my program to run on that device.

We see in schools today most of the daily work is done inside of the browser. We have Google Suite and Office 365. Kids take their tests using a web browser. Teachers are teaching from the web browser. So you can see that the operating system basically boils down to what you want to look at all day.

One last thought of today’s post. This is why when Google released the Chromebook it is such a great hit. Because people who use a computer know that the only place they will be spending their day is inside of a web browser and most people choose to use Google Chrome so why not buy a full function laptop for a few hundred dollars and put the saving into some other form of technology.

Cloud Storage

Cloud Storage

When it comes to cloud storage I often ask myself which one is the best for your day to day working environment? The truth is they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

As many of you know I work in a public school setting and we are always looking for ways to better serve the students and staff while still maintaining a balance of reliable technology for everyone.

I look at my own cloud storage and find that I am using four main ones. Google Drive for all my school-based work, Onedrive for all of my company work, iCloud for most of my personal work and then DropBox just because I have had it the longest and I still have a lot of my work on their servers. So how do you pick just one?

I have been struggling with this for some time and I think I have found the true direction to guide people in. Use whatever ego system you are working with the most. If you are a 100% Microsoft shop and work in the Office products all of the time then you would use Onedrive. This will allow you to work on files on your computer and then on the road jump into Office 365 and pick up where you left off. If you use Google Apps all the time then use Google Drive. If you are using a Mac most of the time I would suggest iCloud and also suggest buying more storage from Apple. If you use many different apps and don’t relay of web-based apps then I would suggest DropBox or Box. The real trick is to work within the ego system you choose.

At the end of the day, all of the companies out there providing cloud-based storage are very good at what they do. Your work will be safe and sound no matter where you keep it. I would however always suggest using some form of backup. I dump my files onto an external drive for safe keeping. In today’s world, nothing is beyond hacking.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Drop me a comment and let me know what if any cloud-based storage you may be using?

The Power of Google Suite

We all know that Google Suite is the tool for educational institutions everywhere. I think this is because Google started off on the right foot when the allowed all educational institutions to use Google Suite for free. When Microsoft first got into the game they were trying to charge per student. Microsoft then wondered why everyone was not running to 365? I know working for schools for over 20 years that they are strapped for funds. If you can teach typing, spread sheets and presentations for free how can you go wrong? I am with a new school district now and find myself deep into Google Suite once again. I am also proud to say I am a certified Google Admin. Today I will dig into renaming accounts using the balk tool GAM or Google Administration Management. 

Our school still teaches Office and will continue to do so since students need to learn more then one tool. Think of it this way, in shop class we don’t only teach the student to use a hammer. Schools have also embraced Google Chrome books but that thought will be a post for another day. 

Google Chromebook or Windows Cloudbook

ChromebookorCloudbook

I have been reading across the web that Microsoft is releasing a Chromebook killer their words not mine on May 2, 2017. Will this be a knife in the side of Google or a knife in the side of IT Administrator in schools trying to rush to buy this new product? I wanted to give you my thoughts from the IT Administrator side. I have been working in the IT field in education for the past 20 years. Again these are my views on the subject.

I have been using Microsoft products since I started in computers some 30 years ago. I have watched the company struggle to innovate on every level. I am not saying their software is not great, I am saying they normally are not the first ones to the table or playing field. Does anyone remember Bill Gates saying “The Internet is just a Fad”? Well that statement didn’t work out to well. To catch up to other big players in the Internet field Microsoft began to give Internet Explorer away with Windows. If you can’t build something better then NetScape, just giving yours away and try to crush the computation.

Now let’s move forward some 20+ years. Google releases a Chromebook, at first not a promising product. I remember watching their product release and the Chromebook didn’t boot well and sometimes hung when trying to use it. After some years of work and getting the Chromebook to shine they started getting the attention of people like me, IT Administrators in schools. Why not give this device a try? Google has been supplying our education market for years with Google Apps and FREE email services, which I jumped on that wagon 15 years ago. This is a company that is building on a foundation and building slow and steady. Now let’s jump to today.

Now on May 2, 2017 it is said that Microsoft will launch a Chromebook killer? Microsoft has always tried to do this build off of everyone’s success. Remember they don’t innovate! I really don’t think the schools that have adopted the Chromebook will drop them to run back to Microsoft. I also don’t think that a brand new product to hit the market will be accepted with open arms by very many IT Administrators in schools. Will they get a few nibbles? Maybe? But I know the field well and I know the people doing this very stressful job and none of them need or want a new player in the field of Internet based devices.

A final thought on market share for education. The Chromebook has played a major role on cutting Apple and Microsoft into lower shares of the education market. Is it only price that sets these devices apart? I as a person who has had the pleasure of managing Chromebooks have to say it is also the ease of administration. I can go into one web based console and manage every aspect of the Chromebook. Recently we looked at changing from iPad’s to Chromebooks as a budget move. In our final minutes of crunching numbers Apple made a smart move, they lowered the price of the iPad. This will help them maintain some market share. Microsoft made a move such as this a few years ago by giving Office 365 to education for FREE. This will keep office products in the reach of shrinking budgets across education. But bringing a Cloudbook to the education market might just prove to be a little late to the game? Anyone remember the Windows Phone?

Google Suite Or MS Office 365

Google and MS Office

I remember not long ago we were talking about Mac or PC, before that we talked about Netscape Browser or Internet Explorer and longer before that we were talking about Beta or VHS tapes. Now we get a new debate that is on the minds of every technology person and director in the world. Should we be using Google Suite or Microsoft Office 365? We are now talking about more then cloud storage we are talking about the applications people use everyday. As a long time manager of Google Suite which use to be Google Apps I understand how to manage the platform. And with a Chromebook I find it the perfect match for schools either K-12 or Higher Ed. But then you need to listen to the students. Still today most high school students grew up using Microsoft Office. If you introduce Google Suite into your Elementary schools you have a chance to allow those students to grow up in the Google Suite fashion. But what would you want to use for your business? Both of these services act and work almost the same. We can use any computer platform we want and be able to access all of our documents and spreadsheets anywhere and at anytime we have an Internet connection. I have seen a lot of colleges moving over to Google Suite, I would like to ask colleges that have made this move one simple question. Why? I think as a person who has been working in education for almost 20 years I enjoy change. I really believe that if you are in the technology field and can’t change you might need another line of work. But we as people working in education have to make the correct decision for the students future. If you are reading this and you have made the choice let me know why you made the choice you did? My last question is would you just supply both and allow your students and staff choose which one they would like to use?

Google Apps

Google Apps

Do you use Google Apps? If not have you ever tried Google Apps? Let’s start with what is Google Apps? Google Apps is a free set of tools that allow you to create whatever you created with Microsoft Office products. What is even better when you create your work it is saved in the cloud. This allows you to reach your work from any Internet connected computer in the world. They also make it really easy to share your work with anyone even if they do not have a Google account. We talked about the Chrome Box the other day, there is also the Chrome Book which is a low cost below $200.00 laptop that is light weight and the battery lasts all day. These devices allow you to log in and access all these great Google tools. But WAIT! You don’t need a Chrome computer to access these great tools. You can use any computer with any operating system to access all of your work, even mobile devices and all for FREE. What I like best about Google Apps is the clean interface and the easy flow of my information. I really hate having all of my work stuck on some server that I can’t work on in the evenings. You can start a document at work and on the way home stop for coffee and work on the document there and when you get home you can finish your work. Move from the desktop applications to the cloud and free up more of your time.

The Chrome Box

Chrome Box

The Chrome Box do you really need anything else? This is one of those inventions that when I first seen it demoed some years ago I thought who would want that? But after working with one and finding out that it does almost 98% of what people do on a full computer I now know that it will work for most of you reading this. As computer users we spend almost 98% of our time on the Internet just watch how much time you spend during the day using e-mail and browsing the web. Even our calendar programs are online. I use Ever Note for all of my note taking needs and when I use their web based version it feels just like being in the desktop program. I am writing this post using a web browser while connected to the Internet. And the applications are endless. I have found photo editing apps, I will admit they are not as robust as Photoshop but they will get the job done. And what ever you do on the Chrome Box will be saved like magic in the cloud, so when you log onto a Chrome Book all of your work is there waiting for you to access it. And the price $189.00 for the Chrome Box, it does not come with a monitor a keyboard and a mouse but those can be picked up cheap. I have met teachers buying these for their desks just to have another computer to use through the day. You can even use Microsoft Office programs online just as you would the desktop programs. So you say what is the draw back? NONE! The Chrome devices are fast, the laptops batteries last up to 16 hours and these devices start up in less then 5 seconds. I would say pick up a Chrome device today and free yourself from the growing high price of computing.

Choosing A Cloud Based Storage

Cloud Storage

Drop Box, Google Drive, One Drive, Amazon Drive, Personal Cloud, Box, and now Sync. How can anyone choose one online cloud personal storage solution? I am using five of these now and need to get my digital life in order. So how am I going to decide which one to use?

First thought and this is the biggest one I think. Price. If it costs you more then buying a new external hard drive then it might just be to much money? I am seen many of these charging $99.00 for 1TB. You can buy a 1TB flash drive for less. But wait, it will not be backed up. It might now always be were you are when you need it? You could lose it? So back we go to square one.

Then we have to wonder what we are aloud to keep on the storage in the cloud? And what should you keep anyway? I know I want to keep my pictures safe. I want to keep all of my work files there so I can access them from any where. And wonder if I have files I want to keep secure? Can anyone at these companies look at my information?

Another thought is that i want to access my files from any device. If you are a Chrome Book user then Google would be the best choice. But if you use Microsoft office and Windows then it would be One Cloud. So if you are a Mac user should you be using iCloud? So you see why I am in such a bind? I use all of these plus my iPhone and sometimes a Android tablet. So how could any of us choose just one service?

I wrote a automator program to allow be to send all the files I want to store to all of the services I have installed on the computer. But is that the correct answer? And most of these services will not allow you to run or do they have a backup program. You need this because as humans we can forget. It would be nice to know that a program running on our computer will send the file we are working on the the cloud for us. As well as when I snap a photo with my phone the picture should go right to the cloud and be locked down from the public.

So yes I like many of you are loosing hope that any cloud service will do all of this for me? I can tell you if you have an Amazon prime account you already have unlimited FREE photo storage with them. And for $59.00 a year you can have unlimited everything storage. I am leaning towards Amazon but I am still playing with their features to see if it is a correct fit.

Good luck in sending your files somewhere. Each service has it’s good and bad. Please email me and let me know what your choice finally was.

Acer 15.2″ Chromebook

This is one of those little gems that I find from time to time. I had a chance to spend a little time with this larger then normal chromebook at a store. It is a little hard to get the full effect of the laptop with the some stores out there not providing Internet for a really good run.

I was able to test the keyboard and found it to be very easy to type on. The keys are very smooth touch and have a very short travel range. The track pad is good and has a lot of finger jesters from pinch to zoom and clicks very easily. The screen looked good even under the bright lights of the store. The battery life is suppose to be up to eight hours. I didn’t listen to the speakers but have heard they are very good.

The truth about the chrome operating system. Many people may say that you can’t use these laptops with out an Internet connection. This is not true. There are many programs that can be used offline. Programs such as the word program, the presentation program, email, calendar and many games can be used offline. The way it works is that you do your work and when you get back on the Internet the work will be synced onto your cloud drive.

Overall for $180.00 you will be hard pressed to find such a great little machine. Besides that most stores will give you up to 30 days to return it if you are not pleased with it. But I don’t think there will be many of these laptops going back to the store.

Chrome Box

Chrome Box

This little guy will do so much for you and do it fast! The ASUS Chromebox $159.00 is a powerful little desktop computer. I have been running one of these and doing all of my computing with it. Why is it so different? It does not run Windows or OSX. It runs only the Chrome Operating System. And it is only getting better and more powerful. There are now stand alone application. I have found FREE photo editors, remote desktop programs, money programs. And yes you have all of the powerful Office application, Docs, Spread Sheets and Presentation software. You also get FREE 100 GIG of storage of Google Drive. This means all of you files are stored online on Google servers.

I have been putting this little box through the paces. I now have two monitors connected to the box so that I can do twice the work. I have plugged USB microphones into the box to record audio for podcasts. I have also found a FREE screen casting program to allow me to do a lesson about the Chrome desktop. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=147DqJm8MaY&list=UUVu39bEcGeY0F7k24IA5zxw.

If you would like to buy one use this link and pick up yours today.