Friday, January 30, 2009

Going on a Desktop Diet #1

Going on a Desktop Diet

By Michael St. Jean

This article, written by Michael St. Jean, is directed at the staff of school districts. The article is about a school district in Rhode Island that needed new software as well as an overall update in their computer department. Because they did not have the funds to buy new, updated computers, the staff decided to convert their old, out of date desktops into “thin clients”. A thin client is “a network computer without a hard disk drive, designed to be especially small so that the bulk of the data processing occurs at the terminal computer”, or central computer. Before this choice was made the staff had to propose their idea to the school board. They presented the budget for their converter program as being a $90,000 for terminal computers. Then they presented the estimated costs difference of new computers including all of the updates and constant software updates as being $800,000 to $1 million in long term difference. The school board agreed and the school district was able to proceed.

The terminal computers were just as innovative as well as functional. They could handle most of the necessary requirements for the students, teachers, and administration. These terminal computers also proved to use less electricity in the lab so the energy costs decreased at the school sites.

Q1: If the terminal computers are able to perform the same functions as the typical desktop computers, how would it use less energy as well as not crash the terminal server?

I think the terminal computers as well as the thin clients have the newest technology. Most of the new technology is energy efficient including light bulbs and heating systems. I don’t completely understand how the terminal computers don’t crash because it is handling all of the requests from about a hundred other computers, and at the same time!

Q2: If this saves so much money for the bankrupt school system in Rhode Island, how come all the other bankrupt school systems are not using this technology?

Some schools get grants from local businesses like Qualcomm and IBM. Other schools get donations and do fundraising for many years to earn the money to buy new computers. But there are some school districts that do not have computers for the students to use at all so maybe the school districts don’t know this kind of technology is available.