Some day before 31-05-03

And so the madness has begun. Started with a period of 48 hours at the beginning of last week. 20 pages of coursework, 1 exam, cumulated 2 and half hours of sleep and a blood to caffeine ratio of 40 to 60. Wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

And then the first maths exam, looks like there are re-takes on the cards for next year. Hmph. Oh the joys of modular qualifications.

The only thing that keeps me sane during this period of inhuman fetes of cramming and caffeine consumption is Douglas Adams, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect along with plotting ways to make monstrously rich companies lose money.

Plan One. Introduce Open Source to school. You wouldn’t believe how much Microsoft charge for educational licences for their software. I wondered, just how much could a school save on IT costs by using a FREE (as in beer) operating system? And what benefits would there be of using FREE (as in speech) software? At least by the time students leave school they won’t have been turned into a Microsoft Drone who think Internet Explorer is the internet and you press “Start” to shut down your computer, because that’s just the way it is.

When the Doict* showed a distinct interest in trying something new on a few PII 233 boxes that will soon be surplus at school I wrote a spur of the moment email. The email was sent in the direction of the Open Source Community in the form of two local Linux Users’ Groups’ mailing lists (ALUG and PLUG) and outlined the idea of introducing Linux to school and asked for advice on how to go about it. Within literally a few minutes the replies started flooding in. Advice on which distros to try, what to expect from the system and how to plan the project and implement it in such a way that would be compatible with the existing Microsoft based infrastructure of the school network. Even offers of phone support and weekends given up to help set it up! It shouldn’t be this easy, should it?

And so the proverbial ball is rolling and the IT Annexe at the epicentre of the school is set to become a Microsoft Free Zone. The My Computer icons and office assistants are set to be replaced by a sprinkling of red hats and lots and lots of penguins!

Plan Two. This is the naughty one. In the blue corner we have the monopolising British communications company. In the red corner the bargain hunting consumer who quite likes the idea of accessing the internet without redialling every few minutes and having all their friends listen to an engaged tone trying to get through, and at a speed that less resembles a tortoise on a treadmill.

OK, so this is how it goes. Someone buys broadband from the telecom company in the form of a shiny new “Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line” for a ridiculous sum of money. Then what? Well we have this great thing called Wi-Fi which allows networking without wires, and its set for a revamp in a month or so when we get a pressie from the IEEE, the 802.11g standard.

So what are we going to do with it? Well we’re going to use it to share our new broadband internet connection with the next door neighbours and split the cost. What a nice thing to do, caring and sharing. If they like the idea, perhaps the neighbour’s neighbours would like to stick up a wireless access point and chip in. You get the idea… same contention issues, fraction of the price. (I told you it was naughty didn’t I?)

The disadvantages are obvious. Too many people catch onto the idea and BT “has to” put the wholesale price up a notch, or worse still starts suing its own customers. And there’s always the problem of deciding whether the teenager sitting on your back lawn with a laptop is there to look at the pond or whether he is taking advantage of a free internet connection and sniffing a few of your data packets on their way to your online banking account.

OK OK, I’m going back to my revision.