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High School Students Develop Linux Imaging and Help Desk Software 116

Posted by timothy
from the but-did-they-learn-anything dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Pennsylvania school district is going Linux and building an open source high school with the help of student technology apprentices. As part of a 1:1 laptop learning program, 1725 high school students at Penn Manor School District are receiving new laptops running Ubuntu and open source software exclusively. Central to the program is a student help desk where student programmers created a Linux multicast imaging system titled Fast Linux Deployment Toolkit. The district posted pictures of the imaging process in action. Working alongside school IT staff, students also developed help desk software and other programs in support of the 1:1 student laptop program. The student tech apprentices also provide peer support for fellow students."
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High School Students Develop Linux Imaging and Help Desk Software

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:56PM (#46064169)

    Somewhere in an office in Redmond, chairs are being thrown.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:58PM (#46064183)

    GitHub link doesn't work.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @12:09AM (#46064251)

    In schools there is quite a bit of windows only stuff (part why macs are not as big in schools as they used to be) but the big part is lack of office on Linux and open office does not fully work with office files.

    • by Thong (218859) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @12:16AM (#46064301)

      For me the problem is always the other way around. Microsoft Office doesn't work well with .od? files.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:08AM (#46064573)

        I graduated from college recently. I've never even owned office, or used open office. I've been fine with basic rtf when I need formatting, or Latex for a couple things where that was the encouraged approach.

        Mostly I've needed to read PDFs (Ick!). The few word documents I had to open that have complex formatting crap were just things I hard to read, and thus broken formatting was fine. TextEdit or Google Docs worked well enough.

        Really, whats office for? Formatting text? Thats not an important part of my life.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @02:01AM (#46064773)

          I graduated from grad school recently (PhD in physics), also without touching Microsoft Office. I did use Microsoft Word on Mac a tiny bit, in versions that pre-dated Windows; but, by the time I was doing anything sophisticated enough to need more than a plain .txt editor, I was using LaTeX (via LyX). So, I can't answer what Office is for --- neither I, nor most of my colleagues, have any need for it (despite generating substantial quantities of documents requiring sophisticated typesetting). Formatting text is an important part of my life --- so there's not a chance in hell I'd ever be using Office.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @03:42AM (#46065103)

            It's nice that you took the hard way, but not everyone wants to do that. Most people want to focus on their degree and not trying to figure out how to make their computer do what they want it to do.

          • by Osgeld (1900440) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @05:20AM (#46065309)

            so you never touched office, cept when you touched office


          • by Axynter (684016) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @06:03AM (#46065407)

            I graduated from grad school recently (PhD in physics), also without touching Microsoft Office. I did use Microsoft Word on Mac a tiny bit, in versions that pre-dated Windows; but, by the time I was doing anything sophisticated enough to need more than a plain .txt editor, I was using LaTeX (via LyX).

            Really? Which particular versions are you referring to? Anyway, Office != Word, and as much as I hate storing data in Excel files, a lot of basic things are just much easier in Excel ("real" data and complex manipulation are a different thing, obviously). Then there's Powerpoint, which is actually pretty good for group presentations, teaching, etc, as well as OneNote, another fantastic tool (the enterprise features of office, such as Outlook/Exchange, I'm not particularly impressed with, but I can see many scenarios in which they make perfect sense). Yes, you have alternatives for all these tools, some of which may work better, but you sacrifice compatibility, and that is a really big deal for collaboration, administrivia, etc. I'd gladly replace Windows with Linux on my personal computer (I worked as a Linux/Unix sysadmin for over a decade before starting grad school), but the truth is that I just can't afford to use something that's incompatible with the formats co-authors, administrative staff, etc use. Besides, most open-source tools are available for Windows now. It really is a shame, but what can you do? Using a Mac is not an option for me because, although I do like the OS and some aspects of their hardware, I strongly dislike Apple's attitude.

          • by fisted (2295862) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @11:00AM (#46066233)
            Well I engineer enterprise grade software, and this wouldn't be at all possible if there was no MS-Office, and hence no VBA.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:38PM (#46066961)

          When it's just you producing the document in your cloister for submission to the Obscure Journal of Esoteric Research, nobody cares what tool you use. When you have to pass the document around at work and have 13 people edit different sections, it helps to have everyone be able to do it. For better or worse, MS Office is the dominant product in the real, income-producing salary paying world for most areas of commerce. So you need to be able to effectively read and write MS Office documents. If you give me a Latex document or a pdf from the Latex, I'm going to have to cut and paste it into Word, so that I and my coworkers can edit it. I'll do that once, and then after that, I'm going to ask you to give me a .doc or .docx file.

          No amount of your claiming it makes YOU more productive to use that tool will avail. Nor appeals to the inherent superiority of the tool for the task (which I may agree with) If we were all using punch cards and NROFF it would be the same.

            What's important is the group's productivity, and if 15 people are using word, and you are the only rtf/latex holdout, either you get with the program or you find other work, because I'm not going to pay for those 14 people to adapt to you. YOU are a nail sticking up and you will be hammered down, because I have deliverables to deliver so that I can get paid and you can get paid and the other 13 people in the group can get paid.

          Furthermore, you're going to have to edit documents produced by other people, and they will be in some fairly recent flavor produced by Word or PPT or Excel.

          OpenOffice/LibreOffice and all the others are marginally OK, as long as all the document metadata (figure, table cross references, indexing, fonts, formatting) is transparent. But the first time I have a formatting problem at 11PM when I'm trying to get the document out by 7AM the next morning, and you cry "FREEDOM - I demand to be released from the Shackles of Bill and use this open source product to promote peace, love, understanding, and the vision of RMS, praised be his name" I'm going to point out the economic realities of buying $1000 software packages vs $100/hr labor costs for all the time you cost your co-workers. The second time you insist on doing it your way, your way will be the highway.

          Now, if you're lucky enough to find employment in a Linux only shop or in academia, then more power to you. But recognize that this is substantially less than 5% of the total employment market for people.

      • by symbolset (646467) * on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:48AM (#46064733) Homepage Journal

        What about viruses, anti viruses, malware and antimalware? Novell network compatibility? Flash and Silverlight, IE and Exchange compatibility - and persistent mutual incompatibility? Patch Tuesday and its need to intercept updates, test against your set of mission critical apps before rolling them out and then triage and treat the inevitable undiscovered issues? Recurrent planned obsolescence? SharePoint and pirated Photoshop? Landsharks? Goblin invasion?

        It appears they have chosen to operate in a domain where these problems don't exist. Good on 'em.

      • by Osgeld (1900440) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @05:19AM (#46065303)

        office was chosen over dozens of competitors, but somehow its a problem when od files are not the norm, when 99% of the world doesn't use them

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @06:19AM (#46065453)

        You've clearly never tried to open a .doc(x) or .xlx(s) in open/libre office then.

        The majority of the time the formatting is way off, WAY off - background colours wrong, offsets wrong, margins wrong, spacing wrong.

        About the only thing it gets right are font sizes, font types, and the actual text - which is fine for near-plain text documents, but anything with serious formatting, images, tables, etc - it's just horrible.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @10:43AM (#46066165)

          Oh my, that sounds as if the Open/Libre developers completely ignored the publicly available definition of .doc(x) standards provided by the nice people at Microsoft and instead tried to reverse-engineer it. What a waste of time and effort, right? /s

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:24PM (#46066905)

            Oh my, that sounds as if the Open/Libre developers completely ignored the publicly available definition of .doc(x) standards provided by the nice people at Microsoft and instead tried to reverse-engineer it. What a waste of time and effort, right? /s

            Oh, you mean the publicly available .docx standards provided by the nice people at Microsoft with such helpful and detailed implementation specifications as "DoLikeWord95"?

        • you've never tried opening an .xlsx file from 2014 in 2007 or earlier have you? The formatting, colors, margins and everything else is fucked up if you can even open the file. I get Word and Excel files from folks who're using the latest greatest from MS and many times they're fucked up as I'm only using 2007 and am not going out and upgrade for no good reason. Hell I'm moving all of my older files to RTF as it's the only one other then PDF that I can ensure is cross platform.

    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @12:17AM (#46064305)

      I look at it the other way. Microsoft products do not fully work with open formats. Public institutions really should be using open formats.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @12:53AM (#46064505)

        And yet the rest of the world could care less about open formats.

      • by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:29AM (#46064665)
        Open Office and Libre Office *really* need the Excel equivalent (Calc) to be able to print better (like zooming, fit to page, select a range).
        • by stoploss (2842505) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:42AM (#46064723)

          Open Office and Libre Office *really* need the Excel equivalent (Calc) to be able to print better (like zooming, fit to page, select a range).

          How about having a chart as a sheet to itself? Has either project ever gotten around to that?

          Polynomial regression trendlines? Passing an entire column as a range to a function (e.g. SUM(A:A) rather than SUM(A1:A1195756262959999287362))?

          Calc makes me a Sad Panda.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @02:08AM (#46064813)

            If you're going to be summing up to A1195756262959999287362, then you shouldn't be using Calc. Or Excel. Learn a proper programming language for data analysis --- there are great tools in everything from Python to C, plus specialized mathematical/statistical environments like R, Octave, or Maxima. Spreadsheets of any variety are a poor choice for serious work; once you go beyond adding a couple dozen numbers, you'll be wasting more time fighting against the inherent shortcomings of spreadsheets than the learning curve of a proper data analysis framework.

            • by stoploss (2842505) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @04:12PM (#46067879)

              Thanks. I already use R as appropriate. Your overly generalized comment about spreadsheets being inappropriate will be taken under advisement.

              The satire of the row offset is based on the fact that once there is enough data that there are rows offscreen, *I don't want to have to care* what the final row in the data is... I want to apply the function to the entire column. Excel makes this easy with full column references like B:B, whereas with Calc one has to come up with a guess for a final row number that will include all the data (current and future). Hence, inputting some farcically large final row reference, which, incidentally, makes the damn formula unnecessarily long.

          • by jabberw0k (62554) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @06:25AM (#46065461) Homepage Journal
   [] In Javelin, you defined a variable (like Electric Usage or Product X Sales) as having a period (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly...), you had a screen for entering values into a variable at any time period, and you could use those variables in functions that automatically split or combined values appropriately. Then you'd lay out a worksheet (not a spreadsheet!) for whatever combination of variables and time periods you liked. Charts and graphs existed independently, and would automatically adjust to data and dates. Javelin won over the (then) new Excel as Infoworld's best Software Product of the Year 1985. It is a great mystery why no-one in the last 30 years has replicated this functionality. Instead all we get are Lotus 1-2-3 clones like Multiplan, err, Excel.
            • by sirlark (1676276) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @05:07AM (#46071545)
              No Mystery. Managers and executives are exempt from having to learn to use the tools of their trade, which are generally reporting tools. Most of the time, even a small business would be WAY better off with a web based client-server core business system (be it stock management, documentation tracking, transaction handling, etc) with reporting baked right in. Instead, they all use Excel and Email. This is understandble for a very small business, in which there simply isn't time to deal with IT and getting uch a system set up is a hefty capital outlay, but in business of 15 or more people where management heirarchies start emerging, the managers ought to know what tools are available (i.e. software packages), and how to use them. Statisticians, mathematicians, mining scouts... you name it; if there is specialised software for the field, students of the field are expected to learn how to use at least two or three different options in an undergraduate course. But MBA's aren't taught how to capture/store/generate their own data. Jesus! Acess would better than excel and relational algebra is NOT THAT HARD. Would you contract the services of a builder who only knew how to use a hammer and used it for everything?
        • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @02:06AM (#46064805)
          If that's all you can find you are reaching. Most of that is the fault of the MS Windows mess in the print system where most printer vendors have to roll a lot of stuff their own anyway. I could easily find worse problems in excel charts (it's been shit at XY plots since day one and still has stupid defaults) and I'm sure there's worse in libre/openoffice too.
          I suggest try libre/openoffice with a different printer, or on a Mac or linux and that problem will most likely go away.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @03:17PM (#46067545)

        Why should public institutions use open formats? Why shouldn't they use the tools that allow them to get their product out most efficiently and the lowest cost?

        I will agree that for archival data (e.g. email records are a good example) that they should be archived in a published format (meaningfully published not a "conforms to .NET API in 2012" format). But that could be accomplished in many cases by "printing to pdf".. less than optimum, but widely readable.

        However, is your argument that public institutions shouldn't be paying MS license fees? Why not? MS produces a useful product, the price is reasonable (as witness millions of reasonably satisfied customers), etc.

        Would you also argue that maintenance workers should use only tools that aren't patented and that have their complete designs published? Good luck laying that sewer pipe at reasonable cost without the backhoe, hydraulics, and so forth.

        What about fire fighters? You do know that Nomex and other fire resistant fabrics are patented and subject to license fees? The pumps and nozzles are also patented. Or, are you advocating wool and leather shirts and bucket brigades with oaken buckets made using hand tools?

        So let's parse this argument down a bit. What *specifically* is wrong with MS? Is it that you think they are an evil, immoral company and therefore we should not support them with tax dollars? I don't think that's a reasonable approach: modern civilization depends on many things, and not all of them are produced by benevolent, moral entities. Is it because MS products have obscurities and promote vendor lockin through complex file formats? Well, then, what societal good is achieved by NOT having lock-in? The archival retrieval is a valid argument, but if MS came out and said, "you can save all MS office files to this format which allows all the information to be retrieved without any "secret" information" wouldn't that fit the bill? (and hasnt MS done that).

        Is it because MS lock-in makes it difficult to change software environments? Well, my car runs on gasoline, not any hydrocarbon fuel, as do most all consumer vehicles. Gasoline was produced by a virtual monopoly (Standard Oil), but it seems we've survived that aspect of lock-in. If you're worried about this, it's a sort of speculative fear: MS might go out of business next year and we'd be screwed because we couldn't read our files. The probability of this happening is small though. Is it because of a market power: because MS is dominant, there's no incentive for alternate solutions to arise, since you can't make a living producing them, and that means MS can hold cities, counties, states, provinces, etc. for ransom when it comes time to buy the next year's licenses? Well, that's a legitimate concern, but can also be addressed by existing anti-gouging and anti-trust laws. If it were bad enough, the "state" could nationalize MS or seize it under some theory of eminent domain.

        Ultimately, I think you want public money and resources to be used for open-source as a "philosophical" statement. Perhaps you believe that it is in some way, better than closed source, in a "freedom of action" sort of way. That could well be true, but it's also the domain of politics, not technology or economics. You can advocate for government spending their money in a way you prefer, and get other like minded folks to agree on the basis of a sort of woolly "because it's nicer to society" basis, and make it it happen.

    • Link to a document that does not open correctly in up to date Open/Libreoffice.

      It is harder than you think. It has been on par for a while now.
      And if the entire school uses it then there is no Office anyway.

    • If the school's going to make a commitment to Linux, Open Office is usually compatible enough. Yes, you can probably build a spreadsheet or word doc that doesn't render correctly on OpenOffice, but you don't need to do that if you have people doing most of their new documents in open software.

    • by Noxal (816780) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @02:35AM (#46064903)

      It works well enough. I work for a city that has been using Linux exclusively for many years and between WordPerfect, OpenOffice, and LibreOffice shit gets done just fine. Sure we have the occasional formatting problem but it's better to rack up some small help desk charges here and there than shell out for a ton of M$ Office licenses (and Windows licenses....and Windows Server licenses....)

    • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @10:24AM (#46066101)

      My mother was upset when her new copy of Word wouldn't open her Word files that are so important to her like her will, all of the family recipes, etc. She feared that she had lost everything.

      I opened them in LibreOffice with no problems at all. In this respect, older files, Word is the one program that is not compatible with Word. OpenOffice/ LibreOffice can handle older Word documents; Word cannot.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @12:13AM (#46064285)

    Does this image system do UEFI? Clonezilla does

    Clonezilla also can do Multicast as well as PXE and Wake-on-LAN

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:37AM (#46064703)

      Does this image system do UEFI? Clonezilla does

      Clonezilla also can do Multicast as well as PXE and Wake-on-LAN

      Exactly. We implemented CloneZilla at the office and it does this sort of stuff no problem. I suppose it doesn't actually execute "scripts" after imaging but something like chef would. I don't understand why they needed to write this (other than for the obvious learning opportunities afforded by reinventing wheels; many of which I've done).

    • Apparently their system works with the hardware they have. They don't have to borrow trouble. In the future they can choose hardware that works with it.

      My quick reflex was to ask "whar Clonezilla" too. I use cz to image systems by the thousand and ltsp to netboot guest thin clients. They are both great stuff. Apparently they considered the lessons Clonezilla gave and leapt from there. Don't forget that as useful as clonezilla is the primary purpose is to image supercomputer nodes, not end-user laptops.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @12:18AM (#46064313)

    Anyone know of an open sourced equivalent of Dell KACE K2000? I currently use the appliance (runs linux under the hood as I understand) and it freaking rocks!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @12:48AM (#46064481)

    While this is a great project for a high school student, I think anyone who has worked in a large organization already knows that manufacturers have been loading custom images onto machines out of the factory for nearly a decade now. Grass roots projects like this are great when you don't have the clout to do things properly for large scale projects.

    What year was linux on the desktop supposed to take over the world? Yeah, still waiting for that.

  • by rogoshen1 (2922505) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @12:48AM (#46064483)
    Refreshing to see a HS teach something tech related that's actually useful, and will teach these kids to find work later in life.
    so often it seems the answer is just "throw some money at it, give the little shits an iPad" with no real .. technical chops being conferred.
    any idiot can use a computer for lowly office grunt work. Basically, that is to technology what working at McDonald's is to culinary training.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @05:50AM (#46065385)

      Great part is because it is open source they will learn to program, and not have a few students being exploited be there closed software overlords {Um hmmm MS, Apple]. The will be able to share and hopefully be open minded enough to accept any criticism or help in being able to better there programming, and in turn add to the community him/herself...

      Kudos to the school!!!!!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @12:48AM (#46064487)

    That's why it's broken.

  • THAT'S education (Score:5, Interesting)

    by emaname (1014225) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @12:53AM (#46064509)

    Kudos to that school's admin staff. This is a real educational experience. You can't beat hands-on. Plus the students are engaged in the operation of their school; IOW they have some ownership or at least a partnership.

    I agree with the comments re compatibility. MS is the odd-man-out. They've been forcing their proprietary stuff on the world for too long. And innovation has been stunted as a result of their dominance. My peers and I witnessed time and again in the 80's when someone would come out with a great idea and then MS would buy them and the great idea would disappear so there would be no competition in the marketplace.


    open office does not fully work with office files

    To be more specific, that comment must be with re to macros because I've never had any problems and I still don't.

    I did a lot of support work for a one of the divisions of a large, world-wide corporation. One of the things I did was edit/fix Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. I pulled the files into OpenOffice, fixed all the formatting, spelling, grammar, calculation, and punctuation mistakes and then exported the files back to the appropriate MS Office file format. Nobody knew and I always received compliments re how nice everything looked. As a matter of fact, I did most of that work on a Mac and later on Linux. And, of course, that corporation was Windows only.

    It still brings a smile to my face. They were paying huge sums of money for their licenses and here I was using an open-source solution to fix all their problems.

  • by Ralph Ostrander (2846785) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @12:57AM (#46064519)
    This off. I know I once tried to explain it to one. Group think works better than one god.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:31AM (#46064677)

    before every class the boot menu (network boot) option had either the current OS or the option to install the other (XP or RHEL5). iirc it was using partimage from the main laptop (teacher's dual-boot system). this allowed for switching between ms office and rhel training on the fly; and also install images for specific situations...

  • Sooo frustrating! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pav (4298) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:39AM (#46064711)

    There has been a powerful infrastructure almost ready to do this (plus much more) available for ages : A GUI + LDAP based web interface called GOsa [] and a more active fork called FusionDirectory []. It does almost everything, but noone has pulled the trigger on an important piece to allow imaging and/or OS installation - this requires a plugin for their messaging daemon. This messaging daemon is either called GOsa-si, or Argonaut in the two projects respectively). This has worked in the past... though bitrot and lack of interest has broken that particular piece.

    Right now it allows GUI administration of DNS, DHCP, Samba, your choice of SMTP and POP/IMAP daemons, multiple groupware, Squid, rSyslog, Asterisk, Nagios and much more... with the ability to extend the interface via plugins. If/when the messaging daemon bits get completed it will be able to deploy clients and servers... using FAI/puppet for Linux and OPSI for MS. This HAS worked in the past, and I even believe the Munich Linux project may have had this working for years - but they've only packaged it for their own distro.

  • It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ikhider (2837593) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @02:01AM (#46064775)
    Finally, someone is getting it right. Students have access to run great programs, the source code, the ability to modify the programs AND share. This is how it should be, in public schools and the rest of the public domain. Now kindly extend this policy to the rest of the schools throughout North America. This is far more empowering than either of the proprietary routes.
  • by RandomUsername99 (574692) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @03:08AM (#46065001)

    The people that point out existing technologically superior software solutions are being unforgivably obtuse.

    Of course there are existing open source and commercial options out there, that make this high school student implemented project technologically obsolete; there are also existing craftspeople and professionally run woodworking shops that make the products in wood shop class obsolete, as well as many tailors, restaurants, fashion schools, and culinary schools that crush what home-ec classes teach... Not to mention the many science-oriented-businesses with technology and products that dwarf the technology that you would find at a high school science fair. See it for what it is: a learning experience!!

    If there was some alternate dimension where I had had a chance to work on a project like this in high school, I probably would not have gotten kicked out for boredom fueled truancy, and would have worked my way into a decent comp-sci program at a college rather than working my way up in my 20s through shitty tech support and lower level IT positions... I Would have been making my current, totally decent software dev salary YEARS before I actually earned it in this dimension.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @04:51AM (#46065263)

    Not a great choice, sorry.

    1. []
    2. []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @05:14AM (#46065297)

    This is a good move for the children. It goes beyond IT education and will impact their lives with very good outcomes.

    Since i switched to linux in 2005 all the command line skills and fundamental understanding of the OS and how it works has changed very little. Hence no new UI rewrite can hurt my productivity. Linux is a 'you have to learn it not guess it' system and taking the time to learn regular expressions, a bit of bash and back in the day deal with package management problems or compile your own drivers with binary blobs being at the hard end of the spectrum.

    The software is mature enough for office tasks, image editing, vector graphics, 3d graphics and animation. And a super platform if you're doing in class programming or 'set up your own web server' style of skills.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @07:51AM (#46065625)

    In school level student has study about window and other little things, In high school they teach about programming and linux etc.
    but with the passage of time students has study in junior school for all about computer and programming.
    Promotion Gifts in Dubai

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @09:58AM (#46066013) Homepage Journal

    So the kids created 'yet another lame management tool'.. *yawn*

    The community needs to stop re-inventing the wheel and work on improving existing ones. Hard to take over the world when your car is always on blocks.

  • by NapalmV (1934294) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @10:42AM (#46066159)
    How did this get transformed again into a discussion about Office... if these young gentlemen are preparing themselves for an IT career, Office is as relevant as eyes on a tapeworm... we could as well discuss Photoshop or some video editing package...
    In "Enterprise IT" most of your communication will be done through e-mail or a ticket management system... you may have to read some documentation in PDF format... or WORD but guess what... it will be some text about application footprint/interfaces/configuration that needs no special formatting whatsoever and could be done as well in Notepad or vi.... you may also have the odd XCEL file with a list of servers/datacenter location/patches to be applied (where the only usefulness of Xcel is to enable you to sort the list by various columns)... and the yearly Powerpoint document from HR describing changes to your healthcare / pension plan... and that's all folks, so once again... Why was Office brought into this discussion?
    • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @02:05PM (#46067117) Homepage Journal

      I have to disagree, as regardless of what you personally like or dislike, MSO is still prevalent in the business world and if you are going to be in IT and actually have a job, you have to at least have a clue of what your future companies end users are working with. Once ( if ) you grow up and get out in the real world, you will find out how things actually work out there. .

      Hell, most likely you will start working the help desk and supporting it, to prove you have skills.. so better suck it up, and shut up. Good luck.

      • by NapalmV (1934294) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @05:24PM (#46068403)
        If you're manning the help desk, MSO is just one of the standard corporate apps. You don't need to understand how to exactly use it to the last detail/function or be proficient at it. That would be the users' concern. Your concern will be to check if MSO is installed and able to start/work on the user's workstation. If not, you'll schedule an installation or re-imaging of the workstation.
        • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @05:32PM (#46068461) Homepage Journal

          In any large organization i have worked for, if all you did is blow the customer off and call for a reload because they asked how to do something simple in MSO, you would not be there the next day. ( this would apply to both level 1 and higher levels, and in some cases you are expected to know a hell of a lot more at higher levels ). If all you do is say 'is it installed' then you are a call center robot, not a help desk.

          Do you need to be at a expert level? Most often not, but a working knowledge is required. Now, that out of the way, what i was responding to was a statement that it was completely unimportant which of course is not true in the real world.

          • by NapalmV (1934294) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @07:01PM (#46069053)
            You either must have worked for some really nice organizations or this was a long time ago... What I see these days are IT Depts starved to death by "cost cuts" initiatives to the point that they can offer only the bare minimum level of support.
            A typical scenario these days would be that the level 1 guy is located offshore and all he does is to capture whatever you're telling him over the phone, using the enterprise ticket management system; then assign it to the proper queue and give you a ticket nr. Then someone else gets to look at the ticket; if it's a question about how to use a particular function in a particular application, he will decide that you need more training and close the ticket with some "user error" resolution. Otherwise he will try to decide if the the problem affects just your workstation or if it is a company wide issue. In the first case, they'll get your workstation re-imaged - no one has the time and resources these days to hunt individual obscure corruptions of Windows registry or similar stuff. If it affects more than one user, then and only then there will be some further investigation.
            Yes, it's all like in the good old Bastard Operator from Hell stories. All caused by "profit maximizing" aka "cost cuts".
            • by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @09:42AM (#46072243) Homepage Journal

              You either must have worked for some really nice organizations or this was a long time ago...

              Still valid as of of yesterday. ( we have Saturday staff ). Been doing the IT thing for 30 years. ( not the same company all that time )

              Perhaps i'm spoiled/lucky, but i haven't experienced these companies you speak of that don't care about their users ( not caring about internal staff, sure.. ) .. And sure there are always limits on how far we go, which vary from place to place, but no where near the limits you have seen apparently.

              Sad really. Without the users there would be little need for IT staff in the first place... And we are all end users to someone...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @12:22PM (#46066579)

    this is the first time that I've heard of a laptop being able to run Linux. I assume that Linux has the proper drivers for the proprietary hardware in the laptops. No need to worry about PCMCIA slots any more because all laptops and netbooks have USB connectors.

    Its cool to see young people developing software. Thanks for sharing the article.

Theory is gray, but the golden tree of life is green. -- Goethe