Building a More Perfect Penguin
Linux, the open source operating system offered by vendors as a Microsoft alternative, has long piqued the interest of schools because of its low price tag and hardware flexibility. But one of its primary limitations, ironically, has been that different versions of Linux weren't necessarily compatible with each other. That may change, however, with last month's release of Linux Standard Base 2.0, an industry standard created by the Free Standards Group that will streamline application development and compatibility. Major players including Dell, HP, IBM, and Intel have voiced their support for the standard—a good sign that we'll be seeing a more unified, and possibly more mainstream, Linux in the near future.
What would happen if everyone learned how to program computers at the same time they learned to read and write? That's the question asked by a team of scientists, artists, designers, and educators who want to "equalize current disparities of gender and ethnicity" in computer science. Their project, Real-Time Applied Programming for Underrepresented Students' Early Literacy (RAPUNSEL), builds on social and perceptual skills to raise kids' comfort level with computers and motivate them to learn programming. Participating students start by building small interactive modules; eventually the software they've created will be a multiuser game.
QUOTATION of the MONTH
"Education, the number one information industry, ranks last in IT resources."
—Software and Information Industry Association president Ken Wasch, during a press conference mobilizing stakeholders to urge Congress to vote against the proposed 2005 $91 million cut to the federal Enhancing Education Through Technology Program. Key points made at the event, which featured broad bi-partisan participation from CoSN, ISTE, NEA, AFT, and numerous districts and businesses, include the direct correlation between EETT and at-risk student achievement, and the devastating impact on education in California and New York, which stand to lose $2.5 million and $9 million respectively.www.iste.org; www.cosn.org; www.siaa.net
What's Your Opinion?
What has been your own experience with computer reliability and customer support in the past year? Are you more satisfied than you've been in the recent past with the service and value you're receiving in these areas? Click on T&L QuickPoll and let us know what you think. We'll report your responses on the Back Page.
The Users are Pleased
A recent survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index shows that consumers are at an all-time four-year high with satisfaction on the reliability of their computers and the support they're getting from companies who make them. ASCI speculates this may be attributed to lower prices, upgrades in power and capabilities, and a more experienced, savvier base of computer users.