SoaS deployment hardware: the ideal set

February 6, 2010 – 1:16 pm

One of my two jobs for the week for Lynne May’s SoaS deployment is getting hardware for all this to run on.

The first (and largest) purchases we’ll have to make are the netbooks. Peter Robinson, our resident Fedora netbook guru, looked earlier for something that fit our specs and price range ($1000 USD for 3 netbooks) while being sturdily-built (mechanical design is important; we’ve got first-graders here) with a good battery life. One requirement was known compatibility with recent versions of Fedora, since SoaS is Fedora-based (the next release will be a Fedora Spin) and we’re trying to stack the deck in favor of the software and hardware working together as smoothly as possible. Based on these criteria, Peter recommended the Acer Aspire One 532h, which is about $300.

(photo cc-by from ndevil)

Lynne May also wanted a little video/still camera to capture the students playing with Sugar – they’re still learning to read and write, so having an easy way to record verbal presentations (and demos/screencasts, for that matter) in the classroom means we’ll get that much more documented output. (We will, however, need to get permission from the parents of individual kids to share the video material.) But right now we just need to get the hardware – so I pointed her towards the Kodak zi8 which can be had refurbished for about $150 USD and has gotten a big thumbs-up from Mo Duffy. Seriously, I borrowed it at the office two months after she got it and she was still raving about it, so it’s got to be good stuff. Waiting for the +1 on funding for that.

(One of the things I’ve learned while writing this post: finding CC-licensed photos of hardware is hard. I couldn’t find one for the zi8.)

And of course we need the sticks themselves. We need 14 sticks (9 students, 1 teacher, 4 testing/backup) and need them to have caps that aren’t removable, because that’s just asking for lost caps in a classroom full of 6-7 year olds. Other than that, we don’t really care what we get, so this should be easy to source once we get the (very small) amount of funding needed for them. (Yes, when you’re working with a classroom, $100 can be a blocker.)

(Original images cc-by from molotalksuperdry, red bull/honda, ship, and banana. Also, this picture should make it painfully obvious why I need friends like Nikki to fix my wince-inducing color schemes.)

I’m going to be placing orders early on Monday morning, so any last-minute feedback (including running screaming in our direction going “noooooooooo this is a bad ideaaaaaaa!” if applicable) would be muchly appreciated.

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  1. 2 Responses to “SoaS deployment hardware: the ideal set”

  2. I bought a lot of cute sticks on eBay and they seem to fail sooner (totally unable to reflash) then the simpler ones.

    So far I have been using 2GB sticks from Microcenter and throwing away the caps. They are good price and you can buy as many or as few as you need any time you want to.

    Negatives: The light that tells you if its writing is very small. They are not easy to mark with names.

    Don’t forget extender cords! I can just give you 3 of them, I bought them in bulk. The reason you might want them is you don’t want to wear out the built in USB slots.

    I also have a ton of lanyards in different colors.

    By Caroline on Feb 10, 2010

  3. I bought a lot of cute sticks on eBay and they seem to fail sooner (totally unable to reflash) then the simpler ones.

    Yeah, I think we are going to be getting a bunch of 4G SanDisk drives from Costco, though they’re pricey ($12/ea) and that makes me wince. Mostly because I hear those drives do well with wear-leveling, but I can’t corroborate – and it might be the filesystem and the software rather than the drives themselves, I don’t know how much difference there can be by manufacturer, etc…

    One thing that would make a good student project, I think, is to get a number of sacrificial thumbdrives (multiple of each type, all brand-new) and do http://www.bress.net/blog/archives/114-How-Long-Does-a-Flash-Drive-Last.html on each – research project. I’ll blog this as a suggestion – thanks for reminding me!

    So far I have been using 2GB sticks from Microcenter and throwing away the caps. They are good price and you can buy as many or as few as you need any time you want to.

    Heh, maybe I’m just paranoid about having caps. :) My brain goes “but what if the kids dip the tip in paint, or glue, or clay…” but they’re smart kids, they should know how to take care of thumbdrives (of all things).

    Negatives: The light that tells you if its writing is very small. They are not easy to mark with names.

    I’ve got a little labeler that we can print name-stickers out on – you’re welcome to borrow it if you want, I got it years ago and hardly ever use it (I used it like a maniac when I got my first apartment and suddenly had to Buy Things and mark mine as distinct from my housemates’, since we all could only afford the same cheap stuff.)

    Don’t forget extender cords! I can just give you 3 of them, I bought them in bulk. The reason you might want them is you don’t want to wear out the built in USB slots.

    Ooh! Yes please – swap you lanyards for bug advocacy, perhaps? ;)

    By Mel on Feb 12, 2010

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