HOWTO help children imagine they are at home *OR* HOWTO setup a home computer like they are at school (for adults)Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008
I recently spotted a message to the BECTA Safetynet Mailing list from Miles Berry and Terry Freedman.
The message mentioned how they are doing a presentation at BETTS conference in January (apparently some big education conference thingy!) and since they are doing it on
What are your kids learning when you’re not looking?
where they explore things young people learn using computers and IT outside the formal education sphere and activities widely recognised as being educationally beneficial.
To get some hard figures on this they set up a questionnaire for young people to fill asking them of their experiences of how they could and do use computer facilities at home and in educational establishments.
Ways to make The School Internet Experience™ more like The Home Internet Experience™:
- Install Windows XP home on a Celeron 900mhz with 192mb of RAM
- Network using wifi to the unecrypted wifi AP at the other end of the building
- Get the least expensive “unlimited” broadband package. (1GB/month is enough for anyone!)
- Install 5 different p2p programs, 3 of them spyware loaded versions and set them to start on startup.
- Install 30 day trials of several different antivirus packages but completely ignore them.
- Install Windows Live Messenger (latest version) and MSN Plus (with the adware)
- Install the version of Microsoft Works you got with the computer. save all documents in .wps
- Make sure the only browser you have is IE 6.0 with 3 visible third party tool bars including smiley central and coolwebsearch.
- Arrange the desktop so the default wallpaper has icons for programs and assorted forgotten files all over it.
- Never empty the recycle bin
- Install iTunes, buy some songs, transfer them to iPods(tm) but complain, confused to non-technical people when these songs don’t work on phone mp3 players.
- Buy a box of tissues for the poor guy who is called to fix it. He will need post-trauma counselling.
Ways to make The Home Internet Experience™ more like The School Internet Experience™:
- Buy a a RM Branded Stone desktop with 8GB RAM and a 2.8 GHZ Pentium 4 loaded with Windows Vista [Ultimate] and MS Office [student version] 2007 for twice market price (even with Tesco vouchers)
- Buy Windows XP Professional and Office 2003 from RM and install.
- Leave the ‘designed for Vista’ sticker on.
- Buy RM’s Safetynet Content filtering system and install
- Block anything fun.
- Block anything useful.
- Block anything that might possibly contain unverifiable facts. (blogs forums).
- Block anything that might use lots of bandwidth
- Block anything that might allow people to communicate
- Block anything you don’t agree with
- Forget to block foreign language websites
- Whitelist all the popular advert providors and block the rest.
- Whitelist a few file extensions to download from the internet and block the rest.
- Block everything with the word ‘free’ in it
- Block URLs containing a word, chosen randomly by week – this week it’s “dragon” ?!
- Block anything that might be offensive to everything from fleas to ants.
- Fail to block web proxies through URL patterns and just block domains
- Block anything that isn’t http traffic (including https)
- Block school webmail for several days by accident (no one can email you to report the problem)
- Ask RM to buy you the software they think your computers might need and install Adobe/Macromedia megasuite + Symantec Antivirus Corporate Edition.
- Remove most useful functionality from the start menu
- Make all users sign an AUP which is hard to break if you are to do your job/complete your course.
- Display full screen message if USB devices is inserted saying it should be removed instantly citing security concerns.
- Remove computer access from anyone who attempts to outsmart you you
- Buy and Install remote desktop spying software (RM re-branded Citrix product)
- Install IE 7
- Refuse to install OpenOffice.Org or Firefox and cite “Security Concerns”.
- Put out a few press releases exclaiming how much you have spent on IT facilities and thus infer you will get your best ever results next year and massively exaggerate what ICT means to you.
With all due respect, I wish Mike and Terry the best of luck with their seminar, and look forward to seeing the results! I think the outcome should be especially insightful after the recent study released by the MacArthur foundation.
Blog Post on Educational and Home Computer Systems © Tim Dobson 2008
Dual licenced under Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike 2.0 UK: England and Wales (licence text) and
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice, and the copyright notice, are preserved.
You may choose to distribute the article under either, or both of the licences.
I’d like to share a few thoughts with you about a book I’ve been reading recently, which has really inspired me whilst being greatly amusing.
At Barcamp Manchester, they were giving away copies of this book; I picked up one to look at later – I could always ebay it later. Never before has a book of such calibre caused me so much amusement, I seriously recommend this book for it’s outstanding range of comic delights.
“The Microsoft Jokebook”.
The book, whose copyright is owned by Microsoft, describes itself as a book for Application Architects, Testers and Quality Assurance Specialists and Developers and alleges to capture and summarise the key security processes which “should be” in your development process.
The book is themed in the style of the highway code, with random icons with captions such as “12 hours’ coding – need a coffee” and “Warning – unstable coding ahead”. Presumably this is meant to interest and entertain the Developers and System Architects reading the book, however unless they are between the ages of five and fifteen (and sometimes I think they are), the icons do nothing but assist with visual puns comparing coders to roadsigns in a manner which would make even the Black Death seem like stand up comedy.
Whilst reading through the book, several things struck me; it was full of useful tips for developers. And it’s incredibly convenient for them to provide URLs for detailed reference linking to the Microsoft Developer Network. Indeed, no one can doubt that this must be extremely handy…
I mean, every developer loves copying out URLs like
I can just see them, reading through the book and thinking,
I don’t know very much about the
/GScompiler switch to detect buffer overuns in C++. I know I’ll type in this 50+ character URL for a quick reminder. At least I know it will be just as much fun as this awesome book is because they have thrown in a random string of characters to test my memory skills!”
As a book to improve security awareness of developers, I was highly impressed with it’s awareness of good security practises. Even as someone with limited knowledge in the security field, I was happy to see that it was suggesting that development teams should use custom cryptographic algorithms. Everyone knows that the most secure systems are those with custom security schemas, brand new patented encryption algorithms, not to mention proprietary authentication systems which give them a competitive edge over other systems.
Because I’m a generous person, and love to donate treasured possessions to good causes. I have already perfected my .NET programming skills to the most secure method possible and thus wish to donate this book to someone else and let it inspire them like it inspired me.
Leave a comment if you are interested in having it…
- Custom crypo systems are seriously bad. Read Schneier.
- The safest way of coding .NET is not to code it.
- This is funny. Laugh.