Wednesday, July 8, 2009 Virtual Computer – not quite ready for education

image If you haven’t already tried this out, there is a free virtual computer that is available online. 

This is like having a personal computer that you can have anywhere that you get internet access.  The VC has chat & email applications and can store plenty of files in its 15 Gb of space.

Features that work well

  • The interface, in general, is excellent.  It is flash based and unlike most flash content on the web today doesn’t have the functionality such as the right-click. has a rich interface with many of the Windows like functionality under the right-click such as new files, copy and paste.
  • Mail – here is the email client, it works very well and is featured similar to Gmail or hotmail and can of course send to addresses outside of  You can also configure the client to pickup your email from any POP or IMAP server.


Technical issues

  • zoho word processor and spreadsheets.  It was a great feature that included Zoho applications in the Virtual Computer.  However, despite multiple attempts and re-boots I’ve never been able to run the zoho word processor or spreadsheets.  The first few attempts there was an error message, now nothing happens.

Here is a picture of my desktop.  I’ve got my personal background, sticky notes, CBC top news RSS feed and quick access to my files.


Some unusual facts about that educators should be aware of before having students use this service.  There is a powerful set of tools to share files.  You can share with ‘friends’ which would work well for teachers and students in a class.  It is also possible to connect your account with your Google Docs.  When I did this all my Google docs showed up in an explorer view, it even displayed all my Google folders.  As an educational environment, my concern is about the publically shared files.  A quick browse of ‘most viewed’ and ‘most stared’ returned a lot of pornography and cracked files.  Seems like this might become an alternative hacker community.  At this point in time there doesn’t seem to be a safe search filter.

Learn more about

I’d be interested to connect to other educators using ghost.  My ID is jmcconville

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Perfect Student Computer: part IV

We had our first warranty repair on one of the six netbooks that we purchased.  For those of you that have been following this series of posts, the Computer Using Educators of BC purchased six netbooks to test the use of and promote student computers in education.  We were looking for low-cost, high-use computers.  Archive of previous posts: part I, part II, part III.

Another highlight of this project is that we will be giving the six computers away to delegates at our fall conferenceRegister now for ‘Turning the Classroom on the Edge of 2.0’, a conference about using the best of the web in your classroom.

Problems with the Acer Aspire One netbooks

Here are the notes from Dennis in regards to the recent repair.

    1. Went to the website found the warranty/support link.
    2. Entered in the serial # and purchase date of the computer.
    3. Acer sent me an email with instructions on how return the product – choice of drop off or pickup; I chose pickup by Purolator. Repair depot was located in Burnaby
    4. Sent an email when the repair was finished and couriered it back by Fed Ex
    5. Picked up on May 4, delivered on May 14. Total of 10 days. A little long for a repair I thought considering the repair depot was in Burnaby.
    6. Acer paid for all shipping costs.
    7. Repair comment on the invoice: “Replaced Battery” and “It has been thoroughly tested”

The bottom line was that it was fairly quick and very easy to get it repaired.  Kudos to Acer.

Here are the notes from a problem that Anita had.

  • I also wanted to update you on my Son’s Acer Aspire. I wrote the following out for Staples when I brought it in – I am just passing it along to you FYI as I know you have been collecting info about them. I had to take it in to Staples as it has been giving him trouble lately and now it will not boot up at all. They are looking into it. What has been happening:
  • On boot-up a “checking file system” screen would come up (looks like the screen that happens when you run a ‘check disk’)
  • It would run through and then boot up fine (thought Graham says it has been quite slow)
  • The last time this happened prior to bringing it in it indicated:
    • “windows is verifying files and folders”
    • “Windows found problems with the file system that could not be corrected”
  • Following this it just cycles through the “checking file system” screen again repeatedly
  • A while back I found out that Graham has been powering off with the power button rather than going through the correct processes – I am wondering if this has damaged it.

Would be interesting to hear from others on your model of netbook and issues that you have experience.