FreakoutITGeek's Blog

Random IT postings from Freakz

Tag Archives: IT

Missguided youth

When I was growing up I was lucky enough to see the first generation of home computers to appear in the UK and see what they were capable of.

I remember being in primary school (probably part of the youth club at the time) and playing games on all the different computers, and games devices from companies such as the Spectrum, Amstrad, Atari etc.

Later on my family invested in an Acorn Electron and later still the BBC Master ( the follow on and bigger brother of the BBC model B) which I taught myself how to program using one of the more popular computer programming magazines which was about at the time. The magazine was not platform specific, as most are today, but provided details on how to write the same game using all the most popular home computers at the time, something that was handy as my friends had different makes of computer.

I later went on to look into how these program’s were saved on the BBC and Acorn Electron to tape and later to disk using basic techniques to hide the code from prying eyes like mine and I even tried to send a ripoff version of PacMan to the BBC in a vain attempt to create something for Red Nose day.

Once in high school I was introduced to my first Mac within the Secretarial Studies department and was amazed at the small floppy disks it used and how it loaded a full word processor package and OS from just one or two disks.

Being used to playing with computers I took a few computing courses in the school and via day release at college, my first introduction to PCs, but most of the time I was ahead of the teachers or bored with business programs and wanted to know about networking the BBC micros in the lab rather than writing code in COMAL, BBC Basic or whatever we were using at the time.

Anyway, to get back to the reason for my post. Nowadays the schools I see are not even giving kids the chance to explore IT like I did back in the day.

I see kids stuck on Windows XP machines, using MS Office and programming in Visual Basic (and an old version at that).

Where is the diversity and choice I had as a kid? Why can’t schools offer up to date programming languages? Why aren’t they being shown how to program iPads or Android phones? Surely there are options available for Scottish schools, even with their limited budgets.

I’d love to see someone like Apple or Microsoft taking a small struggling Scottish school and giving them the chance to see what real IT is about.

I fear that it’s not just the budgets that are to blame but the short sighted view of the education system that hasn’t moved with the times and appears more concerned with central purchasing and saving money instead of providing an exciting and rewarding experience for their learners.. Maybe they think IT is just dull and boring?

There is such a wide range of possibilities with technology today, if you can think it up it’s probably possible if you just sit down and sort it out.

I think Apple have got it right with their iBooks to try and engage pupils with interactive books that draw them on and enable them to learn, rather than trying to teach them.

I sense that there’s still barriers to the uptake of Apple kit in Scottish schools because of the focus on cost saving and central purchasing. This is a shame as the pupils will miss out on all the wonderfully opportunities available to them and will leave school with a jaded view of IT and it’s capabilities.

I guess I’m just a dreamer and I think that life could be soo much better, but I guess that life is just not like that. 😦

Update (23/04/12): Today is the 30th Anniversary of the launch of the ZX spectrum, from the legendary inventor Sir Clive Sinclair. It’s great to see that Google have honoured the event with a Google Doodle and reading about this iconic machine brings back many fond memories. Wonder what we will think of our current tech when we look back in another 20 years?


Safe and secure on Windows & OS X

For a few years now I have had to use a secure USB device for storing files ( drivers, installs, etc) as it’s company policy and the PCs have security software to prevent anyone (even us in IT) from using non secure devices.

My main issue with this has been that we support both Windows and Apple systems so have had to use Integral Crypto devices for the PCs and non secure devices for the Apple OS X machines.

I always thought it was a poor situation and I’m sure I ranted about it at the time.

I have just found that Integral now not only now produce a Mac version of the Crypto but have recently launched a Crypto Dual device, which works on both Windows and OS X!!

The device also has some handy extra features, including a unique code etched into the device for easy identification (something that was really needed in the original versions), The ability to have all the devices in your organisation to have a company hardware ID set on the devices ( allows security software to identify the devices that the company have purchased and which ones users have purchased and brought in ) and lastly, it allows for an administrator account password to be set in addition to a user password, allowing IT departments to recover data when the user has forgotten their password, so long as they have not exceeded the 5 allowed attempts which I believe still results in the data being deleted.

I have done a bit of checking and the devices are all available in the UK from Insight prices are roughly (Inc VAT) for the 32 GB versions..
PC basic version: £127
Mac 140 version: £147
Dual version: £132

Alternatively for PC users I have seen the PC only version as PC World in the past. For Mac users the Apple store sells the Mac only versions (well the on-line store does at time of writing this)

The Security level may vary slightly between these versions so I would suggest checking the prices on Insight and the specifications on Integral.

If anyone from Integral is reading this feel free to contact me with full details or to give me a review model so I can give the Dual version a try!! Hey if you don’t ask you don’t get!! 😉


For those unfortunate enough to have a Windows PC at work and an Apple at home and have been given one of the Windows only versions (ie you are in a Windows only workplace but have a Mac at home), I have tested a solution to your Issue.

On my Apple iMac ( Intel Duo circa 2006) at home I have installed the free VirtualBox software from Oracle (was Sun) and installed Microsoft Windows 7 onto the virtual PC created by the software. By installing the VirtualBox add-on pack into Windows 7 you can set it to allow access to the Secure pen drive. This works like a dream and I can copy files off and onto the device without any issues.

I assume that Bootcamp, Parallels etc will do a similar job, but I can not test this as my iMac uses an external
monitor due to a damaged LCD panel / controller so I can’t use it for bootcamp and I don’t have parallels or it’s competitors.

I assume that this will only work with Intel Macs (ie I suspect that older PPC apple devices won’t be able to get it to work as they don’t have the Intel chipset)

Of anyone wants to know more feel free to contact me.