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New eMac lab replaces old technology

Students walking into the computer lab for the first time this year have noticed something new. The old green iMacs have been replaced by sleek white eMacs.

According to technology director David Martens, it was time for a change.

“We have a schedule,” Martens said. “Every three to four years we upgrade the lab.”

With a total cost of $15,000, the lab is pricey but, according to administration, lower maintenance costs more than compensate for the initial expense.

“We have stayed with Apple because they cost less to administrate compared to PC’s” Tim Wilkins, superintendent, said. “They cost more to purchase, but they last many more years.”

The new computers are much more powerful than the old ones, which allows newer software to be run.

Video productions teacher Christopher Schultz is excited about the new opportunities the eMacs provide.

“The high speed processors in the new eMacs allow us to use iMovie in the lab,” Schultz said. “We only had three computers that were powerful enough to work with last year, so this is a great benefit.”

Along with greater speed, the design of the eMac is also easier to administrate.

“The management software that we can run on them now is a lot better,” Martens said. “They are also better built and more stable. Apple has made a lot of improvements.”

These improvements include a great increase in stability, an often-cited problem last year.

“When I was teaching web design last year, with the old iMacs, they were crashing numerous times a day. That is not happening now,” Martens said. “This allows the students to work without interruption which increases productivity.”

Despite these improvements, problems still exist in the new computers. After less than one month of school, two computers are already out of service due to display failures.

“Apple hasn’t said that this is a known issue,” Martens said. “Hopefully this problem will not spread to the other 13 computers. Those have stayed reliable so far.”

In the near future, the eMacs will be the base for a boost to Apple’s latest operating system, MacOS 10.2. Administration has committed to being at the forefront of new technology, which this operating system will provide.

“Going to OS 10.2 is the obvious choice,” Martens said. “It is built on a much more stable base, and is the future for Apple.”

The campus video production lab has already made the move to OS 10.2.

“I like being in the 10 environment because it is ultimately easier to work with,” Schultz said. “It takes some getting used to at first because it is very different from what Apple has done before. Once you get over the changes, it becomes pleasing to work with.”

A full deployment of the new operating system will take some time, however. The last step before updating involves resolving a few server issues. Although the school purchased a new Apple “Xserve” last year to manage student accounts, it still has some problems running OS 10.

“We are currently working out some Xserve issues,” Wilkins said. “These are known problems, and once they are resolved, we can move the eMacs to 10.2”

This upgrade appears to be far in the future.

The necessary software was only recently released by Apple, and has some critical bugs and glitches that could prove disastrous in a school environment.

“I expect it will be at least a year until the management software is ready for our use,” Martens said. “Software development takes a great deal of time and testing. The first version was released about a month ago and it needs to be deployed on many systems before all the problems are worked out. I am confident that Apple will fix them, however, and we will be able to use their latest technology.

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