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  • Chromebooks easier and cheaper

    Home Forums AskWoody blog Chromebooks easier and cheaper

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      • #2338494
        Susan Bradley

        (Original story behind a paywall, apologies) Ashley Stewart on Twitter: “Microsoft’s education boss told employees at an all-hands meeting that the co
        [See the full post at: Chromebooks easier and cheaper]

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady

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      • #2338689
        Susan Bradley

        My school teacher friends indicate that it’s still a problem with some on Chrome, some on Apple and some on Windows.  My school teacher friends are hanging in there, but it’s not fun for them with all of the online classes.

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady

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        • #2338774
          AskWoody Plus

          This is a direct result of the “walled gardens” each tries to impose on their users. If open standards were developed, adhered to, and extends prohibited without becoming part of the open standard, then many of these problems would go away or at least be substantially less.

          My 4th grade teacher partner, who is currently teaching virtually, has a MacBook on the left side of their desk running Zoom and a Windows 10 desktop on the right running Google Classroom. They complain endlessly about the difficulties of going back and forth between the two operating systems. No current platform has all the tools necessary for virtual teaching.

          • This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by fk5353.
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          • #2338794

            I disagree as it sounds like a technically challenged teacher.  Zoom and Google Classroom are available for all three platforms (Mac OS, Windows 10 and Chrome OS ).   Though my pre-teen son prefers to use Chrome OS but is happy to have option to power up one of the beefier computers with Windows 10 or Ubuntu to play Minecraft.

            • #2338974
              AskWoody Plus

              Teachers allocate their time based on what is most important to them. Students come first, planning lessons comes second, dealing with parents comes third, everything else comes next, and technology comes in dead last. Teachers want and expect technology to work like textbooks and toasters – everyone knows how to use them and they are completely interchangeable. Most teachers work 60 to 80 hours a week as it is. To expect them to become technology experts is unrealistic.

              To put this in perspective, my “technically challenged” partner is considered VERY technically savvy by their peers and is a go-to person for technology issues.

              Frankly, looking at this as someone who is in the IT field, most of the tools we provide to users ARE overly complicated to use and very hard to master when IT is not the primary focus of your job. Very few solutions meet the standard of user-friendly for the average person.


              • This reply was modified 4 weeks ago by fk5353.
              • This reply was modified 4 weeks ago by fk5353.
              • This reply was modified 4 weeks ago by fk5353.
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              • #2338983

                Very true most computer tools are too complex for non IT folks.

                Keep in mind there are different degrees of technically challenged.    I might be considered a master on Linux command line by most standards but put me in front of Windows Powershell and I’m a Google search cut and paste script kiddy!

                Anyway back to original point there is no need for a teacher to have a MacOS computer for Zoom and Windows 10 computer for Google Classrooms.  That is just much valuable wasting time and resources.

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          • #2339261
            AskWoody Lounger

            I agree with @fk5353. But there are cross-platform tools, this situation lasts over one year, there WAS lot of time to find a way for schools how to do that, I think.
            Do you know what the real problem is?

            Frankly, looking at this as someone who is in the IT field, most of the tools we provide to users ARE overly complicated to use and very hard to master when IT is not the primary focus of your job.

            Good to hear, that someone is starting to think, that things are unnescessarilly overcomplicated.

            Because if you create simple and fast solution (in other words comeptition for big technological giants), you are not welcome. You will be described as unsafe and possibly dangerous.
            Or should I put it this way: “simple and easy solutions are not profitable”.

            Thats why I love opensource community, its a brave a nd free world. Im not saying Im programming and UNIX guru, but I like the idea of free world of information.

            Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

            HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

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      • #2339053
        AskWoody Lounger

        How and why I stopped buying new laptops

        Moderator edit: Removed HTML to fix link

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        • #2339238

          As anyone who knows the topics I write about will know, I am very much in favor of using older equipment as long as it still meets a given user’s needs. I find the planned obsolescence of consumer electronics to be abhorrent and unacceptable. When I buy an electronic item, I expect to use it for a bunch of years to come, not just one or two. Now, with that said, I don’t agree with the conclusion of the author of the linked article.

          This quote was from the article:

          Battery mass, memory, and hard disk drive mass decreased per unit of functionality but showed roughly constant totals per year. The same dynamic explains why newer laptops don’t show lower operational electricity consumption compared to older laptops. New laptops may be more energy-efficient per computational power, but these gains are offset by more computational power.

          In a word… Nonsense.

          There are models at any given time that run the gamut from very low power consumption (like my Acer Swift 1, whose CPU is so power efficient that there is no fan in the unit) to those that gulp a lot of power (like my Dell G3, which has an i7 that clocks up to 4100 MHz on six cores + hyperthreading and has a discrete nVidia GTX 1050ti, requiring two fans). Both of these laptops were current as of 2018, at the time I bought them both new. Of course, there are units that consume a lot more than my G3 too! Some high-end gaming laptops even require two large power bricks, as it uses more power than is practical to put into one power supply (or maybe they just wanted to use off-the-shelf items).

          Compare both of those to my Asus F8Sn from 2008. It cost around a thousand dollars then, while my G3 came in at $700 ten years later (both were on sale at the time). The F8 was a fairly decent unit then… not really high-end, but not at the bottom of the performance barrel either. Its discrete nVidia GPU makes it into a gaming laptop, effectively, though it was not sold by that description at the time. The G3 is sold as a gaming unit, and also has a discrete nVidia GPU, though in this case it also has Optimus, which allows the power-efficient Intel integrated GPU to perform non-demanding tasks. The F8 runs all graphics through the GPU, as in the normal manner for a desktop. The G3 is a fairly close match in terms of market positioning in 2018 as the F8 was in 2008… both middle of the road, bang-for-the-buck type units when you consider the laptop market as a whole. The G3 is on the low end if you look at just gaming laptops.

          If you were to compare my Swift to the F8Sn, you’d see that their CPU performance is similar. The Swift’s N4200 quad-core SoC bests the dual-core Core 2 Duo in the F8 in some benchmarks, where the two extra cores can be used to full advantage, while the Core 2 beats it in others, where single-thread performance is needed. Overall, they’re quite similar in performance.

          In terms of the graphics, the F8 still manages to outperform the Swift slightly, but only because it has a transplanted GPU that is noticeably faster than the one with which it came. With the stock one in place, I would expect the Swift to best the F8 in 3d benchmarks too.

          When you decide to use the laptop as a portable device, that’s where the similarity ends. Both laptops are in the same screen-size class, with the F8 at 14 inches and the Swift at 13.3 (though the current model of Swift 1 uses a 14 inch display and is the same size externally). The F8 weighs in at 5.8 pounds (slightly heavier than my 15.6 inch Dell G3 gaming laptop!), and is 1.5 inches thick. By contrast, the Swift weighs in at 2.9 pounds, half the weight of the F8, with a thickness of 0.6 inches, less than half of that of the F8.

          When it comes to power consumption, the Acer blows the F8 out of the water. Idle power consumption on the Acer (with the screen at ~40% brightness, wifi on, bluetooth off) gets down into the neighborhood of 3.5 watts. The F8 gulps down about 22 watts at idle, and even more with the non-original GPU I installed. Battery life on the F8 tops out at about an hour and a half even if all you’re doing is simple stuff like typing a post on, and gets worse from there. Yes, it does have swappable batteries, and I have a bunch– and I would need them all (considerably adding to the weight and size of the laptop bag) to equal what the Swift can do with its one internal battery.

          The Swift will go nearly 7 hours streaming full HD (1920×1080, 24 fps) video over wifi, and when it comes to simple tasks like what I am doing now, it is good for 8 to 10 hours (estimated by the power consumption as measured down to about 75% battery life).

          I get roughly the same performance from the Swift that I would from the F8, but I get 6 times the battery life, half the weight, and less than half of the thickness. I also get an IPS display, while the F8 uses a typical display from the era, a TN unit that has the expected terrible vertical viewing angles (and is the type normally found on current low-end models, with the Swift being an exception). The F8’s display is also at a lower resolution, 1440×900. It does have the “plus” of being a 16:10 unit rather than 16:9 like the Swift and G3, and the F8 also has 8GB of RAM despite Asus and Intel (maker of the PM965 chipset within) saying it can only go to 4GB (the Swift is 4GB, non-removable), but otherwise, the Swift is just better at being a laptop.

          The idea that a laptop uses more power because it has a more powerful CPU is only true when performing tasks that are CPU-intensive. Newer architectures have more advanced power saving features that slow the power consumption greatly when the machine is idle, as it is for most of the time while people perform typical tasks on laptops. It may not seem so, but in between each keypress I am entering now as I type this, the CPU is idle, and can enter a low power state for fractions of a second. The CPU can park CPU cores that are not needed, and it can reduce the CPU clock and the voltage for non-demanding tasks like this one. The amount the CPU is able to consume at full bore is not really relevant in this use case… it’s about how low it can go in power consumption, and modern hardware can go pretty low.

          In a sustained environment of heavy load, like gaming, rendering a video, doing protein folding, searching for Mersenne primes, or other such things, of course a laptop is going to drain the battery very quickly. Those kinds of things are really not what laptops are meant to do on battery.

          On the other end of the scale, laptop performance is constrained by the need to have a cooling system small enough to fit into a laptop case. That’s the upper bound of the power consumption on a modern high-performance laptop. It’s all about the ability to get the heat out, and when you are talking about a laptop of a given size, the amount of heat that can be rejected by a cooling system that fits in that space remains relatively constant regardless of what happens with CPU technology.

          Most typical CPU loads for “regular” tasks are very bursty… there are spikes of high CPU demand, but they’re very short. A CPU that delivers more power per watt can crunch through those brief tasks and return to a low power state sooner than a slower CPU that draws the same peak power.

          In addition, there are tweaks that can be made with aftermarket programs or power settings within the OS that can be performed to tweak the performance envelope. If you want to have your new laptop top out at the same relative processing power as your old one instead of the same TDP, you can limit the boost clock. You’ll have the same peak performance at a lower power consumption level.

          It’s simply not true that all of that extra power efficiency is “wasted” on higher performance. It’s a balancing act, and the advance in technology is on your side when it comes to battery life even if you don’t need more raw computing power than in the older model.


          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.1 User Edition)

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