Sunday, October 24, 2010

David Pogue on Office 2011 for the Mac

He's not a fan. I really like his point about the ribbon and the loss of screen real estate.

Office for Mac Isn't an Improvement -
The new Office suite has gotten rave reviews from my colleagues at other publications. Clearly something must be wrong with me; I think that, in day-to-day usability, Office 2011 is a big step backward.

The Mac suite now includes the Ribbon, a horizontal toolbar that’s built into Office for Windows. What I don’t get is this: Last time I checked, computer screens were all wider than they are tall. The last thing you’d want to do is to eat up that limited vertical screen space with interface clutter like the Ribbon. Don’t we really want those controls off to the side, as with the Formatting Palette in the previous Mac Office?

Microsoft says that it’s aware of all the bugs I’ve listed here, and intends to fix them early next year. (Most of the missing mail commands, however, will remain missing.)

O.K., what? You *knew* about these bugs, but you’re selling this software anyway?

Sure, other companies do that. But that doesn’t make it any less sleazy when Microsoft does it.
[emphasis added - MQ]

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Walt Mossberg on Windows Phone 7

Review: Windows Phone 7 Novel but Lacking | Walt Mossberg:

I couldn’t find a killer innovation that would be likely to make iPhone or Android users envious, except possibly for dedicated Xbox users. Even the built-in Office can be replicated with third-party Office-compatible apps on competing platforms; and the iPhone and Android phones also can interoperate with Microsoft’s corporate Exchange email, calendar and contact system.

So for now, I see Windows Phone 7 as mostly getting Microsoft into the game, and replacing the stale, complicated Windows Mobile system that preceded it. It will get better. The company is already working on a copy and paste system, and said it is coming early next year. But, today, I see Windows Phone 7 as inferior to iPhone and Android for most average users. It’s simply not fully baked yet.


Friday, October 08, 2010

If You Ban Cell Phones from Your Classroom ...

... here's a legal opinion to share with your students.

No Constitutional Right to Bear Cell Phones Exists:

“neither the State nor Federal constitutions include any express ‘constitutional right to bear cell phones.’

BTW - I don't ban cell phones from my classroom and don't you should either.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Spectrum of Students

Interesting day today.

I was giving a test in my afternoon class. Out of 24 students, 4 showed up with no book, no notebook, and worst of all NO pen or pencil. Honestly, in 14 years of teaching, this is a phenomenon that's new to me. I was more disappointed than I was angry. I was tempted to tell them to go home - and come back when they were ready for class, but instead I found a few pens for them to use. I'm sure many faculty will disagree with my approach, and maybe next time I'll take a more draconian approach.

Contrast that with my evening Linux class. Each student has their own Linux server that they are configuring and maintaining, and I have one in the front that I use for presenting and demonstrating. Part of tonights lesson focused on making remote connections to a server using ssh. I used ssh to connect to and login to a student's server. I also explained public encryption and how we could better protect the remote connection. As I was moving from demonstration back to presenting, my machine spontaneously rebooted itself. At first I thought it was a power issue - we've had power issues in that classroom before. But as I investigated, it turned out that as I was explaining ssh, my students were using ssh to connect to my system and using last weeks lecture on managing processes to kill or restart processes on my machine. We had a good laugh about it after I figured out what was going on and changed my password. The students created a bit of chaos, but in the end they were learning and applying what they learned. Hard to argue with that outcome!

Driving home, it occurred to me that an interesting way to teach the course would be to secure the instructor machine (my box) and have the students try to attack (get into) my system. I would then implement additional security and the cycle would continue. The students would love this approach, but I'm pretty sure they'd defeat me every night!

Photo by Paul Garland

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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