In my last post I had just acquired my shiny Chromebook and all in all I could not have be happier. However next up was the workplace test. My college it must be said has pretty good IT. All the desktops and laptops naturally enough have Windows XP, Outlook and a full MS Office suite (.docx is the default format here). So no one expects rapid boots (my record from pressing the button to starting a lesson is 16 minutes) or indeed rapid anything but by and large everything works ... all of the time.
So here I am with my Chromebook ... will I survive in such a conventional environment?
Having arrived on-site for some three days training (late unfortunately due to a crisis in my other world of small business EDI support) I booted up in oh so slow 8 secs. Obviously the idea of joining the college’s Windows ‘Domain was ludicrous though admittedly only marginally less so than had it would have been with my previous Samba box ... but I was to have a good day nevertheless.
The Book found the campus WI-FI on its own and loaded the Intranet login page which merely demanded my normal credentials before allowing me on to the Internet/Intranet.
We have three major administration software requirements: E-mail, Student Data (registration, records, reports) and Course Management software. We also have Information Science resources including E-Books and an HR ‘Payroll/Holiday/Sickness’ package.
Hooray, no flies on this college ... the Internet has been invented!
My E-mail was fine using Outlook’s web interface and attached .docx and .pdfs all opened without complaint; ditto the Intranet-only student register software (It’s called Eclipse if you are interested); ditto good old extra-netted and now slick-looking Moodle which in turn linked to Heritage and Athens databases and ditto I-Trent’s extra-netted HR stuff.
- Could I print? Yes, I cloud-printed to an Intra-netted desktop in my lab which had a local printer.
- Could I scan, no, but the Library printers now have ‘scan to e-mail’ as standard so that’s OK then.
- Could I access those files that, for reasons that escape me, I had saved last year on the Windows network on P:? Of course that’s extra-netted too.
I was fully operational today ... in every respect using only a single sign-on courtesy of Open-LDAP. IT Support services only know about me as a result of their logs, I did not need to bother them with anything.
Thanks folks this is how it should be ... did you know the Chromebook was coming? Will I still be there when the last Domain logout is carried out ... hope so.
What it all means
Apologies for spelling this out but you never know, some of the Cabinet Office types may be readers (hi guys I’ll type real slow): My workplace was apparently as typical a turn-of the-century Microsoft setup as you could imagine you would get for fully funded by HM Gov ICT.
You might imagine it was just another impregnable fortress of UK Gov MSness but you would be wrong; not only does a third of our funding come from the private sector but, and maybe it’s not a coincidence, Free Open Source software lurks in every hidden corner of the infrastructure just doing a job better and for less money wherever it is the logical solution to a need.
Using the same rationale of commercial pragmatism, web-based services have developed alongside conventional networked services and more often now are the sole solution to a need. The happy result is that my Chromebook is a viable choice for a member of the College.
The significance of this is massive. Of course any web and wireless computer is in the same happy position but this is not the point. The College supports a bevvy of XP Dell Laptops which are available on request and believe me they need support..the same would apply to any choice be they Macs or Linux. BUT with the Chromebook there is no support overhead ... this will soon dawn on every one.
Finally Dear Mr Google, I have ‘sold’ three of these books today ... can I get commission?