OpenOffice +1

Because I am not giving up on this idea to get at least one computer lab at my school installed with OpenOffice (and a updated version of Firefox), yesterday I installed OOo on one computer to see if everything worked and didn’t break anything on the computer. I installed it, tested it out, and made sure nothing was broken and everything worked flawlessly. To comply with the school districts potential problems with it, I did not install the Update Component of OOo and left out the boot startup stuff that makes it supposedly load faster but uses up resources.

Next step: OOo Lab.

Marysville School District and OpenOffice

This is the situation at my school district and how I’m trying to change things.

Two years ago I tried to get my school district to let us install or install OpenOffice (OOo) on our school computers for a variety of reasons (they will be in here), and I kinda gave up for a while when the school received Office 2007. I have since started this vision again, but this time I’m going at it in a different manner.

To get this all going again what I did was contacted the director of Information Systems and Applied Technology, Ken Ainsworth, and asked what the problems were with doing what I wanted to do. His response to everything showed me how dumb the SD is with technology and how things need to change.

What Ken told me was that installing OpenOffice would create serious challenges to the standard district image and it would cause increased bandwidth demand. My first thought was what is this “standard district image” because I had absolutely no idea and just thought it was something he made up. Next was the bandwidth issue; I really had no idea what he meant by this so I assumed that he thought I was talking about “pushing” an OOo install from the central server to the school’s computers so I replied to his email asking the questions I had and for clarification.

In his reply back he sent me a lot more information. Heres his email (I cut two unimportant lines):

Hi Eli,

To maintain a support structure that minimizes our TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), we need to ensure that each of the 6000+ workstations have the same standard software suite. So when computers go sideways, often because of incompatibilities with third party software, instead of installing each application separately, we burn a new software image on the computer that includes our district standard suite of software. That includes the Microsoft productivity suite, but also a host of standard drivers that helps everything work together. The bandwidth issue with Open Office is not that we would need to push it over the network, it is that Open Office is designed in such a way that it hits the web more often does the Microsoft product. (Actually, by default Microsoft does the similar stuff, but we can do things down here to control the problems it creates.)

Open Office has some great attributes, and the initial price is certainly right. However, independent research by the Gartner Group has demonstrated that there are significant hidden costs when it comes to training and support. In an enterprise environment, it is more cost effective to stick to a single standard, and at this time, our standard is Microsoft Office.

-Ken

I did my research and it really pisses me off how far my district is corrupted by Microsoft. Lets start with this total cost of ownership thing and the reference to the Gartner Group. Im guessing these stats of his came from “research” from the Gartner Group. The thing is, Microsoft has corrupted Gartner Group with a source saying that [it] successfully lobbied and changed the Gartner Group TCO model to show Windows as providing the lowest overall TCO (Source). This makes me disregard his TCO statement and his entire closing paragraph as Gartner Group has been paid almost half a million dollars, according to the article, to not be on my side and to pressure companies from moving to anything but Microsoft products.

Ken also says he basically wants all the computers in the district to have all the same software installed. This is completely understandable from his point of view because a lot of people are really stupid when it comes to computers; and if those people start installing god know what on all these computers then there are going to be some serious issues with them. And what the SD is trying to do is restrict almost all access to adding new software on these computers for that exact reason. But (in my case) if someone who knows what he is doing and knows the right things to do then this shouldn’t be an issue but all it does is make it very hard to do so.

Another thing in this is that everything he is saying is sounding like he thinks that by installing OOo, Microsoft Office just goes away. Not the case. One of the main reasons I want OOo on these computers is because all the computer labs (except one) have Office 2003 or even Office XP. That means students are forced to use an office suite that is about 8 years old/outdated. In Kens first email to me he told me to instead install the Office Compatibility Pack on computers with earlier versions of Office.. That does not solve to problem, its just prolonging it! So basically to make everyone happy have the updated OpenOffice installed and have MS Office on there as an alternative. So his statement about “drivers” is now invalid.

Last but not least, the bandwidth issue! I still had no idea what he was talking about after the second reply and I also had no idea that OOo contacted anything through the internet during use; so I was VERY suspicious about this. To figure out what he was talking about I posted in the OOo support forums asking if they knew. The thread is here: http://user.services.openoffice.org/en/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&p=82665. Basically all I got as an answer was that he could be talking about the updater? If he is then that is so insignificant as that can easily be disabled.

In all, I dont know the people who work at the district but with the way everything is run I assume that these ‘head guys’ are around 50 years old or something like that. A lot of those people only know about Microsoft and think that that’s the main or only solution for everything. They have no experience with Linux so they just use what they know. Tell me why anyone would want to pay such huge license fees and buy $xxxxxxx (I dont know the numbers) worth of software and operating systems when the exact same thing can be done with free software. I’ll tell you why; its because all the people working for the district only have experience with a windows infrastructure and things have not really change much in the time they worked there. So if they start changing stuff around and using software they don’t know about or start switching to Linux then those peoples usefulness go out the window and their jobs are replaced.

The software we are forced to use on our computers at school is pitiful. Most of them only have IE installed so we are forced to use what we got. It sucks. I was able though to get Firefox installed on all the computers in the lab that I tough my Web Design class.

To finish this off I want to add that the lies Microsoft tells you are not true. Recently French police switched from Windows to Linux and they said:

Moving from Microsoft XP to Vista would not have brought us many advantages and Microsoft said it would require training of users. Moving from XP to Ubuntu, however, proved very easy. The two biggest differences are the icons and the games. Games are not our priority

This is a great article about a fantastic success story of and cost saving benefits of making the switch to an open source alternative. And to think this happened after they switched from MS Office to OpenOffice.
Read http://www.linuxreaders.com/2009/04/27/french-police-switch-from-windows-to-linux/ for more info on this. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

The only way I can see anything changing is if we all speak out about this and we come up with and alternative plan to present to the district or if someone is hired that has the same position I do and with the same motivation for change.

Passed my Senior Project!

For the past like 6 or something months I have been working on my senior project of teaching my schools web design class. And as the final part of the project I have to present it to a panel of 4 judges.

So yesterday I presented to my panel and oddly I got a panel of 6 judges instead of 4. but yeah, I thought I did well and today I was told that I passed!

So I’m done with my Senior Project! And tomorrow I learn what my score is! πŸ˜€

Edit: My score is 67/71! From everyone I talked to that makes me the 3rd highest score πŸ˜€

Stressed

Well the title basically sums it up. I have a project I need to get done, I have to start filling out college apps again, and I am taking my drivers test on Saturday.

To top it all off I am lonely. Sad but true.

I guess as things start getting done I will have more and more time to relax. But with ever increasing assignments in school and my senior project components that need to get done, it might take a while.

I guess in good news, I have stabilized my server (by ‘my’ I mean the vlexo server but im just going to say its mine as its easier). I got suPHP installed and did a bit of security optimizing. I really wish I was getting payed for this sysadmin job, but you cant have everything (nor do you want everything).

Life goes on

Well I guess I’ll talk about whats going on with me.

A week or so ago I installed the newest version of Songbird which since the last time I used it has very much improved. So because I always hated having to go into windows and into iTunes to manage my iPod, I transfered my entire music library to my Linux and loaded it all into Songbird. Now no more windows to manage the iPod.
I also managed to edit a file and mess it up on my computer so when I restarted, Arch would not boot. And this is where I learned how to boot into the CD and mount my root Linux partition and revert the messed up file. Without the mistakes how will we ever learn new things πŸ˜› .

Right now I’m ‘winning’ at my senior project with having 37 out of my required 40 community service hours done with. In the end of everyhting I should have far over my required hours. In the Web design class that im teaching we are just getting into CSS and to me its fun since I know all this stuff well enough to teach an entire class.

About three days every week I have to stay after school for NHS, ASB, and Mentoring. Hopefully all this is going to be worth it when I’m applying for a college. And I have registared for the SAT that will be in November. I really need to study.

The last thing I got is that tomorrow morning I have to go the the college and take the ASSET test which if I pass I will be able to get 5 collage credits for my english class. If I dont pass this I am going to be really dissapointed. So hopefully I’m going to do well.

Nothing to do but wait.

Time is running out and and the end is drawing near. Less then a week left until school starts up again.

It seems that I have ran out of things to do on the internet and so im bored.. Sucks huh? But its a good thing I have a great girlfriend (Hailey) to hang out with and keep me from living a lonely life.

But apart from me being bored and all that stuff, WordPress 2.7’s new admin interface seems to be really nice ;). And the new plugin fresh from the Mozilla Labs for Firefox called Ubiquity is really really useful. So im going ot add that to my top 3 FF plugin list!

  1. Adblock Plus – Not seeing all those ads makes life so much better.
  2. Ubiquity – Even in 0.1 alpha this thing is godly.
  3. Foxmarks – Makes life easy when you have multiple OS’s and a portable firefox.

Theres the list, enjoy it πŸ˜€

Also I added a theme to this blog…. And recoded it to be XHTML 1.1. Would you expect anything less?

Whats happening with Eli?

It seems that I haven’t posted anything about whats happening with me in a while. So I guess I’ll fill you all in about everything going on with me recently.

I will start this off by talking about my new OS. So I have been using Ubuntu linux for all of my Linux life, but I was always being held back, and I wanted more control over what I had installed. You see with Ubuntu when you install it it comes installed with a pre-built desktop environment and a bunch of applications that are useful and a bunch more applications that are just useless for me. Also a big thing that I didnt like was that most of the files are out of date. I love having the newest of everything and Ubuntu just wasn’t cutting it for me. Now I know that Ubuntu is made for Linux “noobs” and up to date software means bugs and complaints from the people who have absolutely no idea whats going on, so I guess its good for that reason. So. I looked around the web for the best distro that would suit my needs, and I have found it. ArchLinux. This distro installs with only the minimal amount of apps and with no desktop environment. Its is great because I get to install, setup, and configure everything I want the way I want. One of the best parts about this is that ArchLinux is on a rolling release cycle, meaning all the software in the repos are up to date all the time.

Another thing that I have been doing (or not doing) is my senior project. I have to create lesson plans and the entire curriculum for the web design class that I’m going to teach. I REALLY need to get working on this! I need motivation. Someone motivate me!!!!

I also need to start studying my SAT book… I need to take the SAT!!!!! AHHHHHH!

The last thing is I have just installed Rockbox on my ipod. Again. Hopefully this time the battery will last.

Hello Senior President!

A few months ago I decided I wanted to run for Senior President for my school. And guess what. I did!! I ran a good campaign and in the end it all payed off. When all the ballets were submitted, I came out on top. So far on top that I had 100% of the votes for my position. This is because I was running unopposed. It was quite disappointing that this wasn’t a challenge, but theres nothing I could have done about that.

So now I have two positions at my school, Webmaster and Senior President. I wonder how many more I can get πŸ˜›

If anyone cares, here is my speech:

Hello,
My name is Eli Loewen, and I’m running for Senior Class President. I’ve been given the opportunity to say a few words about what I believe in and what my vision is for this school. My vision is very simple: I believe that as a high school in our community we should be leaders in the community. I believe that we have a responsibility as students, and as human beings, to evaluate what we’re doing as a society and to try to improve on it. We have the power to make a change in the world, if we can only direct our efforts towards a common goal, and as a school we have a lot to offer. We have talent, motivation, and intelligence, and if we take those things and apply them towards a purpose, then we can effect a change. Whatever else high school may mean, whatever things that we are being prepared for, one thing is certain: when we leave here we will be entering a broken world, a world that we will be expected to fix. What will we do now to make this job easier on ourselves in the future? We at A&T have the ability to begin to make a difference right now. And as senior president I will make that difference. Thank you.