Sunday 28 June 2009

Triple boot Windows 7 RC (64bit), Ubuntu and Windows XP

After a relatively successful beta test of Windows 7 and the warning from Microsoft to change to the latest iteration, it was time to try the release candidate...

Ok, how did I do the triple boot?
I already have Windows XP on an old PATA 200Gb Maxtor drive and was reluctant to over write this. The main drive is a SATA 1 Tb Samsung, which I intended to use as a dual boot with Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.04 (64bit). To start with Microsoft requested a complete clean install of Windows 7 Release Candidate, and considering that I had Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) on a dual boot previously, I thought it was time to upgrade both.

The first step was to back up all the important files you need for later. I then used GParted Live 0.3.4, a really excellent (free) Linux based partition tool. I wanted to split the 1Tb drive into 3 partitions, the 'main' partition for windows 7 at ~500Gb and the the other two approximately 250Gb each for Ubuntu and for 'an other' (I'm always looking to test other operating systems).

Just a note on the GParted save headaches...I found it was in fact easier to format just 2 partitions to NTFS, Ubuntu will work out the partitions later and you are left with the ability to set your final partition to 250Gb with a simple slider ;) (hey presto - 3 partitions). Why? I know you can format any which way using GParted but I found that Ubuntu airs on the side of caution and tries to add another partition if you have already catered for Linux operating systems, its just nice to keep things tidy. After all, I'm going to try to break the software in testing later.

From previous experiences I prefer using the Grub boot loader, advantageously this installs as standard on Ubuntu. This made for an easy decision on installation order, install Windows 7 first then Ubuntu last. The reality? It worked, Ubuntu 9.04 had no problem recognising the old PATA 200Gb (with XP), plus Windows 7, it then installed itself and quite happily set up grub. All that was needed was a simple tweak in Grub to set which operating system boots first, ...enter the terminal and sudo grub.

Grub tips
There are a lot of useful tips on the ubuntu forums and Grub site when I did the install, but recently I found this handy post that simplifies the process. Remember that if you put one 'section' of code above another, that will shift the order closer to the top of the boot loader window. The first section of code (one at the top) always boots first by default (e.g. just below: ## ## End Default Options ##). If you you want to tweak a little further, rename the 'title' to something more meaningful for your purposes.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Did you know you could PebblePad Mobile?!

All you need to know about using PebblePad on mobile devices is available here.

First impressions:

There are three ways of mobile devicing, the first I tried was SendR, which is essentially a small Java application that you have to download. Remember there is a cost for downloading items onto your mobile phone! This application allows you to log into PebblePad (Plymouth) and then upload assets to your main PebblePad. Its a little quirky to use and be aware that Java applications functions better on some mobiles than others. Not to dissuade you from a handy little application, but you may encounter errors on this one...

PebblePDA on the other hand a little more slick to use. You simply downloaded the file to your PC, activesync'ed your PDA and then double clicked on the file to install. Its about 2Mb in size. The PDA version allows you to bring down files from your main PebblePad area and also upload. What I liked about this version was you could do all of this via activesync. Saves on Internet costs. However, if you want to use it remotely (no activesync), you will still have to pay to upload or download.

Finally, the simplest version was Pebble Mobile, point your internet mobile browser at and bobs your uncle you can log in as usual. Very neat.

...Remember you will have to pay whatever your mobile ISP charges to surf the web.

Are British universities loosing the edge on technology enhanced learning?

An important document was published by JISC today...we should indeed be focusing more on new technologies...

The JISC Press Release summarised this document quite alarmingly:

"British universities will lose their leading international standing unless they become much more radical in their use of new technology, a JISC commissioned report says today."

The full 81 page report is available to download here: The Edgeless University: why higher education must embrace technology.

Friday 19 June 2009

tulip showcase day - what happened?

The full listing of the event is available from tulip. We were welcomed in by Anita Jelling (Dean of Students) and then received a number of excellent presentations from academics using: SCOLAR (e-submission), Blogs and Wikis.

There was also an announcement from Mandy Goss (Services Man anger, ILS) regarding the new changes and additions to tulip, coming this September.

We were also presented with a range of posters showing off tulip teaching and learning content created by academics and learning technologsts. An excellent networking opportunity for those that attended:

Wednesday 17 June 2009

JISC RSC South West Summer Conference 2009

Another excellent conference from JISC RSC South West. The conference was held at Rookery Manor, near Weston-Super-Mare.

As always I was happy to be one of a number from Plymouth University, which certainly emphasises out commitment to technology enhanced learning.

Regionally speaking, it's always rewarding to see just how good we are getting in this part of the UK. I was pleased to see some very enthusiastic people working on improving their teaching and learning experiences by experimenting with open source software.

Full details and powerpoint for all the presentations are avaialble on the JISC RSC South West website

Thank you again JISC RSC!