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Showing posts from October, 2014

Touchscreen Chromebooks - Acer C720p and the Lenovo N20p

We have been considering using some touchscreen Chromebooks in school and have just go two contenders in today - the Acer C720P and the Lenovo N20p.

A brief video tour of both devices: 

Touch is particularly nice when used with apps such as Google Earth and Realtime Board. So we are looking at it from the point of view being of writing equations on the screen and multiple users being able to interact with them.

Some key strengths and weaknesses of both devices:
Acer C720P
The good The could be better
Fast - Octane score ~11500 mark Does not do any folding tricks!
Relatively cheap - only about £20 more than the non touch version now. Power connector looks fragile.
Smooth and responsive touchscreen Keyboard not the best.
Decent if not exceptional screen

Lenovo N20p
The Good The could be better Does neet foldering tricks - so three ways you can use it. Not as fast as the Acer - Octane ~6700. However, it has 4Gb of RAM as opposed to the 2Gb of the Acer. A number of touch optimisations built in - so on scree…

Formranger - a look at what you can do with the new Google Forms Add-on

Formranger allows you to populate multiple choice type questions in a Google Form with lists of possible responses in a Google Sheet. In addition, it allows you to repopulate the list after form submission - so the options you have for the next respondent can change based on the previous responses.

This might be used for bookings or options for events. So examples might include booking time for a parents evening or students picking activities with limited numbers of spaces per option.

I've done a brief demo of how you can do this and some of the formulas you might use in the video below:
The first example is for a parents evening booking system - the formulas I used are shown below.

Clearly, you would need to add this for each member of staff involved - but hopefully it illustrates the principle.

The second example  is for students picking from a list of activities where there are a limited number of places per option. Its far simpler not to have the remaining places appear on the…

Snapseed on ChromeOS

There are an increasing number of Android Apps appearing in the Chrome WebStore. However, if your favorite app is not there yet, you can easily install it unofficially. I've tried quite few - some work fine - others don't. However, Snapseed, a great photo editor seems to work really well. Brief demo below:

Using Realtime Board and Screencastify to record video notes.

Just been playing with Realtime Board on a touch screen Chromebook (Pixel) to see if I could combine it with Screencastify to record video notes. It works quite well and is pretty easy to use + the results go straight into your Drive. I recorded my doodlings in the video below:

How to give access to Windows Apps on ChromeOS (or other devices) fairly cheaply

There has been some interest in giving access to a Windows desktop on ChromeOS in recent months. Some high end solutions involving VDI and server graphics acceleration are coming to the market. However, if you just want a standard rdp connection, you can do that now with using a terminal server and an appropriately deployed rdp app.

What do you need?

Server(s) with enough power to handle the number of users you have.An appropriate Microsoft Licence - e.g. a schools agreement with a spare server licence.A free external IP address - optional - only needed for offsite access.A mandatory windows profile you can use.
Our latest remote desktop server is made out of bit from Ebay - I have a separate blog post about it here. For decent performance, you need as many cores and memory as you can afford. In addition, a fast hard disk array - we now use 4 SSD's in RAID 10.

How you configure it is up to you, but we have ESXi 5.5 running on our servers and on this box the rdp VM runs on 8 co…

Asus Chromebox in the Classroom

We have just deployed some Asus Chromeboxes in a couple of classrooms as replacements for aging teacher PC's. I've been toying with the idea of ditching the old PCs in classrooms and replacing them with Chromeboxes for a while now and have elected to start with three rooms where the teachers are heavy ChromeOS users already.

So in my lab where I teach A level Chemistry the setup looks like this:

We bought the entry level 2Gb model as the 4Gb model comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse which are not really practical for the classroom. However, I picked up some cheap 4Gb DDR3l SODIMMS and have upgraded all the devices to either 8 or 4Gb. Upgrading one is a simple matter of taking the four screws out on the back (under the rubber feet) and popping in extra RAM. This, along with the included VESA mount sold the Asus over the HP model (only 1 memory slot compared the the Asus's 2) to us.

The setup shown is the photos has 8Gb RAM and is really very nippy to use (around 10700 …