Prairienet Banner

Primary Technology Infrastructure

Computer Hardware

The East St. Louis Park District currently lacks the funding to purchase new computers, therefore the 11 computers that were donated by LIS 451 were built from various spare parts. Many of the computers lacked sufficient RAM and hard drive capacity; some even had hard drives that did not work. Due to these issues with many of the computers available to us, we were forced to harvest and collect spare parts to construct 11 working computers that had sufficient RAM, and working hard drives with sufficient capacity. All constructed computers have Pentium 4 Processors, at least 20 GB of hard drive space and at least 1 GB of RAM. Along with the RAM and hard drives, we needed at least one computer with a functioning DVDRom so that DVD movies could be played and projected with the projector. When all was said and done we were able to collect 7 DVDRoms and install them into computers. The East St. Louis Park District’s vision for the site entails that mainly children that are part of the after school and SPROUT program will be using these computers for homework, educational games and some basic level digital media creation. Because the demands of the users are fairly basic and the Park District lacks funding, the computer hardware that was provided makes perfect sense for the site. Even though the computers do not contain high speed processors and large amounts of RAM, they will certainly meet the needs of the Park District. The piece of hardware that concerns us the most is a hard drive failure, however we estimate that the computer hardware will fulfill the Park District’s need for at least 2-3 years.

 

Operating System
The East St. Louis Park District currently lacks the funding for the purchase of operating systems to put on the computers that we constructed. Nonetheless, two demo computers, one running Linux and one running Windows XP, were configured and presented to Park District Director Irma Golliday and SPROUT program counselor Knetra Nelson. Zac put together the Linux demo computer running Ubuntu 10.10 and an Edubuntu software package. Ms. Golliday and Ms. Nelson were captivated by the array of free educational software, the free cost of the operating system, and further the lack of a virus delivery method for a Linux operating system. Considering that these computers will primarily be used by children the lack of a known virus delivery method for Linux is a huge plus for the Park District. It only takes one child to accidentally and unknowingly input an infected USB drive into the computer to bring that particular system down. Not having to worry about the cost of virus protection and further keeping that protection updated is a large benefit of Ubuntu Linux. Despite the many advantages of Linux, we were hesitant to pitch the idea at first because many people cringe at the idea of switching from a more mainstream platform such as Mac or Windows to Linux. However, after further consideration, we determined this would not be a problem at all. Because this site will primarily be used by kids, we feel that using Linux computers will not be as big of an issue as it would be with a computer lab for adults. Typically kids have more open minds, are quick to learn and are not strictly set in their normal routines as most adults are. A transition to a new operating system will hopefully be a smooth transition for most younger kids. Such a transition could be beneficial to their technological future and help teach them how to adapt to new technologies. Another positive aspect of the Linux operating system is that it offers free upgrades. Once the community center has internet service, the computers will be fully upgradable as new Ubuntu distributions are released. However, the Park District will not be forced to upgrade if they are happy with the 10.10 version that they currently have. A difficulty we faced when considering Windows operating systems was whether to suggest Windows XP or Windows 7. We feared that Windows XP was not a viable option because it is soon to be unsupported by Microsoft. We also were reluctant to pull the trigger on Windows 7 as it often requires higher quality computer hardware, and we were unsure if ours was capable of handling Windows 7. For more reasons than one, Linux Ubuntu with the Edubuntu software package proved to be the very best choice for the East St. Louis Park District. These operating systems will work as long as the computer hardware is continues to function.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Community Center Wireless Network
Although the community center does not have an internet service yet, we still installed a NetGear WNR3500L router that is capable of broadcasting a wireless signal. Linksys Wireless WMP54G PCI network interface cards (NIC) were installed in every computer. These NIC cards allow each computer to connect to the wireless network and further connect to one another. We also connected a wireless printer that each computer can print to. There is more info regarding the wireless printer in the following section. The biggest benefit of the wireless network is that it is equipped and ready for an internet service. When Charter runs the hard wire internet service to the community center the network is all ready to go. At that point it will simply be plug and play with an Ethernet chord and the internet will be broadcast over the existing network. We secured the wireless network using WPA2 encryption and left detailed instructions on what the password is and how to change it should Park District admins want to change it. The router also has a Guest network which is open for anybody to connect to. This wireless network best fits the needs of the site because the Park District stressed how important the mobility of the computers are. Having them wirelessly connected to the network allows great mobility without having to drag an Ethernet chord around with each computer. Further, we set up the router to connect to an established OpenDNS account. We also left instructions on how to configure the OpenDNS so that it is able to stop users from visiting illegal and adult content websites. As with the computer hardware, the wireless network is sustainable as long as its hard components such as the router, and PCI cards function properly.

Printer
The printer we chose to install in the East St. Louis Park District is an HP Color LaserJet CP2025n. We connected the printer via Ethernet cable to the router so that it became part of the Community Center network. This enabled all computers to print via the wireless network to the printer. Unfortunately we discovered that printing larger files over the wireless network often took several minutes. We made sure to make note of this and inform the Park District and its users to be patient when printing larger sized files.  This printer was a good choice for the site because it allowed us to connect it to the computers and it is compatible with the Ubuntu Linux distribution that we elected to use. Two digital cameras were also purchased for the site and the CP2025n fits in nicely with the cameras because it can print color photos on a specific type of photo paper. Along with the computers, the mobility of the printer was of great importance to the Park District. For this reason, we used the 12th desk we built to hold both the printer and the router so that the Ethernet connection between them could be moved with the entire desk. As with the other computer parts, the color printer and its connection to the wireless network will last as long its parts continue to function.

Technology Infrastructure

 

Home