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

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