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Justifications for Technology Choices

Hardware Choices

  • 6 Desktop Computers, computers, mice, monitors, keyboards

At the beginning of the project, we had a hard time gauging how many computers we could reasonably fit in the space. Originally, we had thought 5 computers would be reasonable, but after more brainstorming (and input from Martin), we expanded our vision and decided that with the movable, wheeled desks, we would have space for 6 computers. 6 computers will better serve the after school program better. Kids will be able to do independent work or work in pairs at the desks. The church also has tables, so those who cannot use a computer at the beginning of a program can work on other homework.

  • 6 Wireless NICs

None of our computers were equipped to work with the wireless network the church already had. We installed wireless cards on all six computers, and we configured them so that Windows would manage the Internet connection after experiences problems with the software that came with the cards.

  • 6 20 ft. Reel Extension Cords

This was Bishop Underwood’s contribution. Because we needed the lab to be extremely mobile, it is great to have extension cords that will allow the lab to move virtually anywhere in the space.

  • 1 Surge protector power strip

Bishop Underwood also purchased a power strip so that all computers can be plugged in at once.

Software Choices

When we were deciding what software to put on the computers, we took a dual approach. First of all, we wanted to install basic programs that will improve computer security and enable basic computer use (like word processing, Internet browsing, and document reading). To accomplish this, we decided to use the installation CD provided by Dr. Wolske which included the following software:

  • Open Office – programs for creating standard computer documents like letters, essays, spreadsheets, power-point presentations, etc.
  • Firefox – a free, well-protected Internet browser.
  • PDF Creator – a free program used to create PDF document files (like this one). Once installed, you will be able to create PDFs from programs such as Open Office by clicking on “File” then “Print” and select PDFCreator as your printer.
  • Panda Cloud Antivirus – to detect and get rid of viruses
  • Ad Aware – to detect and contain malware
  • USB Vaccine – to scan foreign USB drives
  • Peazip – file and archive manager
  • Putty – will help with formatting across computers

Secondly, we also wanted to include programs that would foster the creative use of the computers that the Underwoods expressed as a need during our first meeting. A few of these were included in the installation CD. Google Sketchup, for instance, was recommended by a young member of the congregation. A full list of creative softwares are below:

  • GIMP – a free software similar to Adobe Photoshop that can be used to edit and manipulate your digital photos.
  • Audacity – a free audio editing software that you can use to record and manipulate audio recordings on your computer.
  • Google Sketchup – a 3D Google-created software
  • Quick Time – media player
  • Real Player – media player

To help improve the security of the computers, we created three separate user names: a GSLIS admin account, a New Free Will admin account, and a general user account. The GSLIS account is primarily for any person from GSLIS who needs to provide continuing support. This is the primary admin account. The New Free Will account is primarily for the adults of the community who may need to make changes to the open user account. Perhaps they can also use it for any secure information they want to have on the computers. The open user has no administrator privileges and is primarily intended for the kids. Hopefully this will help contain any viruses and also prevent the kids from changing anything major on the computers.

Web Resources

Originally, we thought we would link individual websites from the desktop that would lead to educational resources for kids. It quickly became apparent that the desktop would be cluttered and inefficient. At one of our meetings with Bishop Underwood and his wife, a website for the church was suggested. In the last two weeks a website came together, giving the church a presence on the web as well as a place we could link suggested sites for the kids as well as computer tutorials for adults who may end up using the lab, but who have not used a computer before.

This page of links is set as the homepage for Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox on all the lab computers. Please see the website here: http://sites.google.com/site/newfreewillbaptist/home-1

~mkl