Technology changes

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The world changes. People used to crank cars to start them. They used to put washing through wringers to get rid of the water. There were lamp lighters in the street. Times change and life and things change with it. Apple’s iconic white MacBook is now vintage. Given it was plastic that might be the right way to go. There is speculation , though, that Apple will move away from its Macs altogether and go with tablets and phones. Macs have been popular with artists , musicians and advertisers. If Apple then improves the iPad Pro will that be enough? A lot of people use their phones and tablets in preference to a laptop or desktop. They like the portability of their device now. A year ago Apple had problems with its new OS Sierra which ought to have been dealt with by now. It’s just brought out a new phone with a different look at the mobile world. Apple never stops inventing and pushing the boundaries.

Meanwhile Microsoft has been working really hard on the Surface which is a laptop/tablet hybrid. It has had to improve the tablet functionality but it is now an  extremely successful device and the iPad Pro could line itself alongside and drive change through competition. iPads have a strong following and are familiar, reliable devices.

What then will  happen to those who need the serious capabilities of a computer? If you like MacBooks, then something like Linux Mint is an option. Apple Macs are built on Unix and so the change to Linux is quite easy. It’s not as slick as Unix , though, but it is easier to customise and can be made to be very slick. It really depends on what you want to do and the world is appearing to make device changes so that everyone has the device they need and that it’s a good one. Some mainly want to stream and look things up. Some need business applications and software. Some need high end graphics capabilities . Some need developer options and so on. We are all different and we are all in need of a good device which suits us. It’s also why you can’t be and know everything about technology. You have to share and you have to pursue what appeals to you . That is how we are moving the world forward now. Yes, there is competition , but collaboration has become a  far more important driver of future thinking and development.

Don’t just sit there!

The Ergonomic TimesBack to ergonomics, courtesy of The Ergonomic Times. I subscribe to it so I get all the latest information and research on a daily basis. That is how fast the world is trying to cope with the problem of ergonomics and technology. Problem? Yes. It costs money if you don’t get it right. We also have some very alert researchers who are trying to get some solid data so we can adapt to technology and not cause strain and injury. Standing seems to be the trend these days. There is a case being made for standing workstations. I prefer this option where you get a choice. The article explains its arguments and rationale well but the bottom line is you have to help people change their habit of sitting with technology and you have to offer options. One of the options needs to be to go for a walk. People can be sitting for a long time with technology so they need a chance to be able to have a standing workstation, an opportunity to walk around a bit and get outside, even. What is commercially available may be too expensive, but a bit of thought and consideration can offer some workstation flexibility. This article on GeekWire emphasises how you can manage technology during a working day and what to avoid. It mentions dual monitors and to have them together at the same height. Well, at home, I put up a second monitor which is a bit higher so I have a standing option. I wanted to try it and it helps. It also helps to have a second monitor so I change what I am looking at and where.I am not just sitting there immobile. The more we think about it and work together , the better we shall get in creating technology work environments which do not provoke physical problems.

Trip down memory lane – Tecra 500CDT

Tecra 500CDT 1996 was a good year for business technology. Toshiba brought out the Tecra 500 CDT with 1.26GB hard drive and 48 Mb of memory. I am surprised it goes!! They were using them in primary education in South Australia at the time. I picked this one up second hand in 2001. It is still going 17 years later on Windows 98. The video shows how neatly made it is and how easy it was to replace parts. Laptops then were designed so that a failed part was easily removed and replaced. Not any more . The Tecra is very solid. It hardly rates as portable these days. Pretty heavy and virtually a furniture item rather than a business machine. It was top of the range in 1996. 17 years later it is hard to imagine how cool it was at the time. It seems so clunky and solid. I can still use it. I have things on there which I can do and I guess I do it to remind myself that the world changes and that technology will become something we cannot even imagine and that it is pointless clinging onto “new” technology. The video demonstrates very clearly how well it was made and how it had so many connections. How many devices these days will cater to all your needs connection-wise and when are we going to get to the stage where either we can dispense with connections or have a one size fits all? Ditto laptop cables. One cable for all laptops. One transformer and preferably none at all. My Tecra is also living proof that no matter how old the technology – you can find a use for it. I have plenty of things I can do on that ancient Tecra and for the modest things I do I don’t actually feel limited. It is in a little world of its own, far from the madding crowd where I can use software and type away or set up my diary. It comes from the before USB and social media days where we computed in our own personal world and shared by email. We were still master of our cyber universe. Blogs didn’t really take off until about 5 years later. It is important to get the old gadgets out now and again to remind ourselves we have to keep moving with technology. We have to keep updating and we have to keep passing on our skills. My Tecra isn’t something to cart around. Why we thought that is beyond me. These days I cart around my smart phone and my tablet. Today was a good example. While I was visiting friends I was using my phone to show them things and get a picture of their beautiful show dog and they were showing me things on their iPad. 17 years down the track we’ll look at iPads and wonder what on earth we were thinking, so stay flexible when you are teaching. Enjoy what is there and value the trips back down memory lane but keep those tech skills current.

Give up my desktop? No way!

desktop Give up my desktop? I don’t think so. There is talk of desktops going because sales have gone down. Well, yes, the market has been entranced with the new smart phones and different sorts of tablets. All these come at a price. As do laptops and some of the prices on those have been pretty impressive so I dare say people have thought to renew and update their laptops to something shinier and invest in the newer smartphones and tablets. My desktop is my work horse. It works without complaint. I renewed it the year before last and upgraded it this year. It’s brilliant. I can see the keyboard clearly, the HD monitor is nice and big , it manages everything quickly and well, even video rendering and I am comfortable at my desktop. In my classroom my MacBook sits on my desk connected to the whiteboard and that is convenient. It’s portable, it doesn’t disturb the line of vision to my class and it goes where I go. The MacBook Pro has a better screen than the white MacBook so I don’t get eyestrain as much. I’d still prefer a larger screen, though, and it is not so easy to keep good posture with my laptop. I have two other laptops. One runs Windows 7 and has a TV tuner which is very handy. The other runs Linux Mint 14. Sometimes I am happy to sit in a comfy chair and use a laptop, but it’s far better for me to be at my desktop. Younger people might like to be on the floor or their bed with their laptop. Some put them on their laps or on a soft surface neither of which is a good idea. There has been considerable discussion about desktops vs laptops but , in truth, you need both and a tablet! They all have their uses but a desktop is more affordable and parts can be replaced more easily. The size of the monitor is also a real advantage if you are working at a computer for a while or if you have vision issues. This article on CNET discusses the issue but the comments underneath are really what make it worth reading. The truth is , a desktop is of very real value in the real world  for some people and jobs. People like to build desktops. Gamers like to have really exciting desktop layouts and peripherals. For the last five years I have had small cases for my desktop. I could and have carried them around easily. I have one older small case desktop hooked up to my HDTV and with a wifi keyboard it’s a really good way to compute. With a laptop hooked up I’d have extra keyboards and screens on the laptop which would be annoying in my book. As it stands, it is a neat, tidy arrangement which serves a purpose. This article discusses some of the essential uses of a desktop. England.edu looks at the advantages and disadvantages of laptops and desktops in a very comprehensive way. For me, I don’t have to make a choice. I see the merits of both but my desktop is the computer which is the best for me to use. The set up I have takes up little space and I can work so comfortably and have good sound on the speakers I have connected and access files on the external drives I connect. Some would be happy just with a tablet. The thing is, we have choices now and we can choose what suits us and our lifestyles. A desktop is one of those choices so I’d hate the world to go silly and forget there are people who need and want desktops.

Universal Mains Adaptor for laptops

macbook One of the most annoying things about laptops is the cords on the mains power supply are flimsy. If the mains power supply goes then you are looking for a new one and it is my experience lately that things are in and out of fashion very quickly. It’s a nuisance but can be quite costly. I have often wished for just one mains supply adaptor which would fit any laptop. The next best thing has appeared on the market and that is a universal mains adaptor. This probably is not the only one on the market but at least the world is realising there is an issue to be addressed here.

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