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Fun in IT Life.

By jc2it ·
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To Tab or Not to Tab that is the Question

by jc2it In reply to To Tab or Not to Tab that ...

Hmmm,  I would have to find a three button mouse to do that, unless there is a work around for a two button mouse. I will have to look it up. Thanks.

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Thin Clients, After all it is the time for New Years Resolutions

by jc2it In reply to Fun in IT Life.

Hmmm, It has been a while. <br /><br /><br />    One of the best inventions of all times is the thin client. If you are not using them in your company you are wasting time and resources. The PC is dead man. It is a relic of a recent past without spyware. The IT person does not have time to reimage 150 PCs every night. Even if they did, what would be the point? You might as well as have used thin clients and saved that step.<br /><br />    The thin client will allow an organization to save a few hundred per unit just in hardware costs, but the real savings is in the administration. Everytime you do not have to go to a site to do upgrades, security patches, and the like is time saved. Now there are those persons that are so religious about having local control at the desktop of everything. I will not get into a religious debate about the ability to use your USB ThumbDrive, but from an administration and pure business standpoint it only makes sense. Politics will always be the driving factor in many of the decisions that are made in a business. Which is to bad, because ultimately what will make or break a company will be how effective they use the time and tools they have at hand.<br /><br />    Thin Clients, PCs, Servers, and the software that runs on them are all tools that allow a business to operate effectively and efficiently. They are not usually the product of the company, nor are they anywhere near the main focus of the company. So why do so many companies spend so much on the wrong, or to many tools. Is it because they are sexy? faster? flashy? Are we more concerned with status and keeping up with the Jones, or do we need to keep the business running smoothly? The answer to this is of course the economics of the business must always come first. If they don't then the business will decline. <br /><br />    I am in the process of converting some users from green screen terminals to Linux based Thin Clients. My hope is to record that transition in this Blog. I know I will have some challenges, because this technology is foreign to everybody here. I think it will Ultimately have some success, in fact, we already have.<br />    <br />

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We had some fun with KDE

by jc2it In reply to Fun in IT Life.

<p>    As I mentioned before we started
fully implementing the thin clients in our customer service department. They
had been using terminals to enter data into the company database, but this will
allow them to interact with modern email, without the security problems.</p>

<p>    The best
way to handle these issues is to find someone excited about change and willing
to give you the benefit of the doubt. If I were to start this process over I
would have forced myself to use the thin client for about two weeks before
handing them off. There was a small learning curve for me also. </p>

<p>     I found
that the simplest problems took some time to fix. For instance, with my thin
clients because I configured them the way I did. I had to create new boot
CD-ROMS to change the screen resolution. We created a new user template, and
then discovered that evolution email broke when we used it. Of course this was
discovered only after the thin client was in use. </p>

<p>     Even though
we have had problems and difficulties, most of the serious ones have been ironed
out. I am looking forward to my next wave of installs where I will utilize a
purchased thin client from Neoware (I think, the demo is still on the way).</p>

<p>     We are way
ahead of the curve on cost savings. In this time we upgraded from OpenOffice
1.1.2 to 2.0.1 and we were able to upgrade all fifteen in about two hours. Try
upgrading fifteen Windows clients from Office 2000 to Office 2003 in that
amount of time. Good Luck, you would be lucky to get 3 upgraded. And to upgrade
another 15 thin clients would have taken about another 15 minutes.</p>

<p>     We are
going to save a bunch on administrative costs. Maybe I will get a chance to
upgrade some of the databases here after all. I may soon have the time to do
it. </p>

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Thin Clients Again...

by jc2it In reply to Fun in IT Life.

   We have finished our thin
client testing, and here are the results...    I
like the reusing aspects of using the PXES CD-ROM boot Linux
distribution. It is based on RedHat, but the database software that
we use requires a bell notification. This works through the PC
speaker and on the older PCs that we have the volume is just not loud
enough. We would like to experiment with adding sound at some time to
the Thin Clients, and I have heard this is possible, but it is really
just a bonus, and not really needed for our work. However the
Terminal Bell is critical in our database application. It notifies
the user of important events, during operation.     The
other drawback of PXES is that it has to many dependencies for Red
Hat ES 4. We are extremely hampered at this point in creating boot
CD-ROM images. The GUI works well, but the configuration takes too
much time to customize. I burned about 15 CD-ROMs one day trying to
get everything correct, and It does work ok, but there are a few
things I would like to change, and they are just too time
consuming.    So what to do?  
 The only course of action that really seemed logical was to
test manufactured thin clients. This setup has proved to be the best
all around. We settled on a Neoware C50 with a Linux OS. The NeoLinux
is based on Red Hat, and the configuration screens are simple to
setup and configure. In about 10 minutes I was able to connect to our
three servers. It was just shy of intuitive for this admin. I will
admit I looked at the documentation to adjust the terminal bell, but
once I got that configured, I was able to Change the pitch, volume,
and duration very easily. It worked out well, and we are ready to
start implementation.     Buy-In has been
great. We are changing out our older green screen terminals and
setting up the customer service with email and some with web access,
in addition to the OpenOffice 2.0.1. Using the KDE desktop on Red Hat
was not the easiest choice, but it was available, and we had the most
experience with it. If I was to start over I would probably use
Kubuntu or Mepis instead. I think they are better new user desktops. 
We are significantly altering the Red Hat desktop to make it less
cluttered and only offer the options that our users actually need.
This is advantageous in that it promotes focus and limits options to
the user. As they become more familiar with the desktop we will add
features. There are two that I am looking at right now Tomboy (a
post-it note style desktop wiki) and Speedcrunch (a scrollable,
keyboard optimized calculator).     Overall I
am pleased with our progress. The learning curve has been steep, and
there are few things to learn yet. Much of the learning curve was
from starting with PXES instead of a manufactured Thin Client. If I
was to make a recommendation to anyone I would tell them to forgo the
PXES experience and go straight to the Manufactured Thin Clients.
This is great if you are using Neoware, and are planning to purchase
thin clients anyway.

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SpeedCrunch - The Fast, Math Manipulator

by jc2it In reply to Fun in IT Life.

    So I was going to try out SpeedCrunch today on my Windows box, and I got busy ordering some new Thin Clients for our Thin Client Project. After it slowed down a bit I saw that TR was advertising some Windows Calculator + (I may try that yet too). I thought this would be a perfect time to try it out and post a review.<br /><br />So, Here it goes...<br /><br />    The first thing that I like about SpeedCrunch is it is Open Source. If you don't know what this means then go <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source">here</a>. The next obvious plus is that it has a current windows installer (which works flawlessly) and it is also available in various Linux flavors (Although I would probably build it from source). It is also programmed using <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qt_%28toolkit%29">Qt</a> (pronounced cute). I fell in love with the idealism of Qt when I first began researching it. The idea is to create a toolkit that allows you to write a GUI program for many windowing OS, but I digress. <br />    So I started using SpeedCrunch, trying out a few moves I learned in High School algebra and trig. I wish I would have had this tool back then (I did have a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TI-85">TI-85</a>, which was great). I quickly found that if I drag 'n' stretch the app hieghtwise I would not have to scroll as much to see what I had previously done. As a bonus the GUI tracks all of the previous calculations and the operators or functions that you performed. This comes in handy for back-tracking any mistakes. Not only does SpeedCrunch have the built in variable pi, there are many built in functions. <br />    What I found to be the best information was the simple and easy to use documentation on the webpage. Just by learning crtl+f you can pull up as dialog with all of the functions that you might need. Or ctrl+i for pi or the last answer.<br />    I think that SpeedCrunch provides a much better calculator for this user at least, that is easy to use, fast, and much better than the standard MS Windows calculator.<br />    Oh, and if you are multi-lingual it comes in English, French, Portugese, and Russian (with a Spanish translation on the way)<br /><br />Here is the website: http://speedcrunch.digitalfanatics.org/

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