Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One thing for the college student in 2012

I have been thinking about THE really nice thing to have for a college student to have this fall. Virtually all students have a laptop these days, and I still think this is a great investment. Prices are all over the place. The cheaper $500 models are probably alright, but don't expect them to last four years. If you spend about $800 for a business class laptop, you can be pretty well assured of getting four years from them. Many students are opting for the $1500 MacBook Pro and of course this will most likely make it four years as well (keeping in mind that accidents do happen.)

If I could buy just one more gadget this year I think I would buy the iPad 2. Yes, the iPad 2, not the 3. Why you say? Apple is still selling version two of $399 for the low end wifi model. Although it only has 16GB of storage and is not a 3G machine, it still has many of the features of the iPad 3 for less money.

Apple iPad 2

If you don't want to buy from Apple, you can buy it at the same price from Walmart.

Most colleges are already WiFi everyone, so connectivity is rarely an issue. Although the iPad is not the best work machine, it is great for research, movies, email, Facebook, listening to music, taking notes and keeping track of assignments. Most campuses these days are using Blackboard or some other learning management tool and these will often work fine on the iPad (if your school supports the mobile app for the software). You can buy the 3G model, but expect a data plan charge of $30 to $40 a month. Ouch.

BTW, I am not a big Apple fan, generally. I just hate spending the big dollars for Apple laptops, when another brand is often as good and much cheaper. That said, other tablet makers just don't seem to be in Apple's league at this point. Android tablets don't have the "instant on" and generally the sound is not as good. With Windows 8 coming, this might improve and present more options. The only downside to the iPad is the lack of standard USB ports. I have heard many people say "how do I get my pictures from my camera to the tablet? You can work around this with a card reader for a few more dollars.

I think higher education is just starting to embrace the tablet and it's still primarily a tool that is more fun than it is practical. I think this will change so if you have a few graduation gift dollars, I would take a hard look at the iPad 2 while they last. The price is right.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Technology Rage

Technology Rage, or rage against the machine, is a fairly new psychological disorder. I am not sure that the American Psychiatric Association has recognized it yet, but its a growing disorder in the work place and in education settings. Here is an extreme example:


The higher education world is an interesting mix of typical officer tech users, resident student users, faculty instructional users, and excutive users. With the growing complexity of college environments Tech rage is being seem more often. Who ever thought the technology and emotion would become so linked.

The video example only shows the distruction of a device. In the real world, Tech Rage is often seen when one person becomes agressive or even abusive toward another person. Usually the target is a technology support person or the Helpdesk. This is much like shooting the messenger. Increasingly malfunctioning technology, or a users lack of understanding of how a particular technology works, can result in explosive behavior or a series of what we call "the email bombs". The email bomb is the expression of one's feelings fired over email to a person or the world with full raging emotions contained in it. An email bomb is generally filled with things that you would never say to the recipients face, but the faceless email transaction enables the angry user to blow off steam without having to feel bad -- at least until the calm down and realize what they just did.

How do we avoid Tech Rage?

1. Take your fingers off of the keyboard
2. Close your eyes
3. Take 3-4 to four slow deep breaths
4. If needed, go to the restroom
5. Create a picture in your mind of the cutest small child you can think of
6. Wait at least 1 minute and slowly open your eyes
7. Think the person who might best give you advice on your problem and call them. DO NOT SEND EMAIL!
8. Using your church voice, slowly explain your problem and ask for advice.
9. If you are referred to another office and this frustrates you, repeat this process starting at step 1.
10. If your problem is not resolved to your satisfaction within 15 minutes, leave your desk and take at least a 10 minute break and then repeat steps 7 to 9.

If all of this fails, call it a day and watch your favorite movie or TV show on Hulu and before starting to work again, reboot.

Remember, IT is here to help -- really.