MeeGo user interface coming to Acer, Asus, other Linux devices

MeeGo user interface coming to Acer, Asus, other Linux devices.

Looks like there is a new distro to try out for Netbooks. This is the nextgen of the Moblin project which I had tested earlier in the year. Moblin did not seem ready for primetime when I used it. The biggest issue for me was that interface departed so much from a traditional Gnome interface that it made it difficult to find my way around the OS. I’m curious to see if this has been refined in the new MeeGo interface.

EeePC 1000HE Continued

I’ve installed UNR 9.04 several times on this fine netbook so far. In fact, I travelled very comfortably with just the netbook on a quick trip to Denver last month. Ubuntu worked quite well for notetaking and checking email. Performance was not so great watching videos on YouTube or Hulu though.

Over the past week or so though I have installed Windows XP Home using the recovery partition that’s built-in on machine. (I left the recovery partition in place when I installed Ubuntu, just in case.) Well, I’m pleased to say that this device runs just as well, if not better than with Linux. Why? Couple of reasons:

  • Drivers and software to control the performance settings on the processor. With Windows, I’m able to select from Super Perfomance Mode, High Performance Mode, or Power Saving Mode. Can’t do that (at least out of the box) with Ubuntu. I bet there are some kernel tweaks and some tools for managing this that I just need to find out on the net. However, it’s hard to beat it just working in XP.
  • Chrome — my new favorite browser runs on Windows but not really on Linux yet.
  • Outlook — I know, I know. Unfortunately at work, we’re still on Exchange server and Outlook is still the best email client (outside of Gmail) that’s available on the PC. Evolution’s performance in Ubuntu is unreliable. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
  • Audio/video drivers just work. We use the iVocalize web-conferencing system at work and 1) the pulse audio system causes problems and won’t work with iVocalize’s Java based system, and 2) you don’t have full functionality with the applet on Linux. Running iVocalize on Windows worked just fine–no driver issues for either video or audio.

So, would I prefer to be running on Ubuntu. Absolutely. Right now, though, the sheer practicality of things just working on Windows is out-weighing the benefits of Linux (course, I don’t know that I’ll be singing the same tune after getting a virus or spyware).

First Impressions of the Eee PC 1000HE

Eee PC 1000HEI’ve had my new Eee PC 1000HE for a week now and have a some first impressions to share. First off, it was well packaged and came with a small power adapter and a decent wetsuit style slip case. Unfortunately, the slip case needs to be a bit larger to accommodate the power adapter and the Eee PC. Asus could also do something similar to Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro power adapters and offer both a long power cable from the adapter to the wall in addition to a smaller, right-angle plug-in adapter to save on space when packing this unit up in tight spaces.

I powered on the unit with the included Windows XP Home OS installed and the first thing that I noticed is that Windows XP is not optimized for netbook use. While the screen is more than adequate to display the XP interface, XP just seemed to not be up to the task. Additionally, XP certainly was showing signs of age and just felt old fashioned. I next rebooted and upgraded the 1000HE to Ubuntu’s 9.04 Netbook Remix (UNR). I was very pleased with the Netbook Remix additions to the Gnome desktop provided by Ubuntu and found that their new application launcher just made sense on a netbook device. Another feature of UNR is piece of software that auto-maximizes every app that you run. This coupled with the fact that UNR minimizes the number of widgets and window decorations yielding an efficient GUI. Switching to other tasks is very easy and does not take a lot of space due to UNR’s approach to the application switcher. Instead of displaying the icon + name for each running application, it just displays the icon thereby minimizing the amount of precious screen real estate used on the 10″ display.

The 1000HE is on UNR’s Tier 1 list of supported Netbooks. Some have reported issues with pulse audio, but I have not encountered any trouble…yet. Getting connected to wireless has been a snap and UNR 9.04 includes a very nice Growl-like notification system to let you know when you are both connected and disconnected from your network interfaces.

So far, so good. Next on the list is to install Skype and test the audio/video conferencing capabilities of this little unit.

First look at the OLPC

So I’m getting first lookat the OLPC laptops that just arrived. This is pretty exciting to get our hands on one of these. I thought I’d share my first impressions of the device.

  • The keyboard is a bit tricky to get used to. In some ways the HP 200LX keyboard was a bit better than this, however with with a modified  keyboard/finger stance, I can type relatively quickly.
  • The trackpad works pretty well. It did start doing something erratic in that every time I would start to use it, it would reset the cursor location the bottom, right-hand corner of the screen. Reboot fixed it but it seems to recur after a while on this one.
  • I thought I’d try hooking up an external keyboard and mouse to the laptop today and my ability to navigate the OS greatly increased. Much of my frustration or lack of efficiency with the interface seems related to the clumsy keyboard and trackpad.
  • The screen is great on these little laptops — I love that the screen goes into a reflective mode when the backlight is completely off which means this thing should be useable in broad daylight.

That’s it for now. I’ll update with more info later.

A new perspective on educational technology

I was talking with one of my colleagues about her educational perspectives class as I’m going to be sharing with them next week. It seems to me that technology and providing access to technology is a way to open up doors and opportunities to people. The critical thing is that as educators, we must change our perspective regarding the types of tools that we are using. For instance, there is quite a movement underway right now in the whole arena of digital storytelling. Much of this centers around the use of, you guess it, Apple products. It’s brilliant really…Apple has repositioned itself and people are flocking to iLife as the solution for communicating and presenting video, images, and sounds. Now, I can’t talk much as I have an iBook and love using the Mac OS, yet I think we need to step back a bit for the sake of those who can’t afford the premium that Apple charges to play.

So what am I talking about? Things like Linux and Open Office. Really geeky things that could serve to empower those with old PCs laying around their school. For those with the cash to pay for a Microsoft Campus Agreement, life is good. You get Windows and Office on any organizational computer. However, what do you do if your are a struggling district that has just slashed all of your art and music departments to pay the bills? This is where open source steps in. Installing an operating system like Edubuntu enables anyone with an older PC (500 MHz processor & 128MB of RAM) to install a reasonably secure, virus and spyware free, visually appealing, and functional operating system complete with an office suite and other educational software.

This is the new perspective that I think educators need to hear about. Very few people know about the opportunities that open source software holds. What do you think? How are you using open solutions in education?