Our primary considerations for Pirtle’s Ice Cream Parlor fell into several categories:
- Filtering–we decided not to implement filtering because the expected audience at Pirtle’s is composed mostly of adults.
- Reservation system–these systems can be more trouble than they are worth, and we decided that it would be best to leave the computers available for open access at this stage.
- Office and Publisher–we provided commercial software and open source alternatives (see below).
- Software and information for small business development / entrepreneurs–we installed several open source applications and provided bookmarks to further information.
- Information for families in transitional housing–we provided many bookmarks with a variety of information, along with a variety of educational games for children.
- Mr. Pirtle signed up for AT&T DSL, received a combination wireless router / DSL gateway.
- Internet connection is ADSL, 0.63Mbps d/l, 0.42Mbps u/l
- Installing a printer and scanner for Mr. Pirtle’s business computer–we provided a Lexmark Z816 printer and networked it to the lab, and also attached a Canon scanner, installed scanner software, and trained him on the scanner.
- Dell computer systems with Intel Pentium 4 processors (please see the Technical Documentation section for specific hardware and software details).
These are reliable and well-built computers from a major PC manufacturer. After receiving them as donations from large business centers, we put them through a thorough testing and configuration process to ensure they work as efficiently and securely as possible. This process included checking the different hardware components for errors and optimizing device drivers.
- Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3
Windows XP Professional is one of the most widely-used operating systems in the world, and has the highest degree of compatibility with hardware peripherals and software applications. It is an excellent choice for a publicly-accessible computer lab intended to meet a range of uses and information needs. Due to its widespread use, it is the operating system with which many people will be most familiar, and will therefore need the least amount of training and supervision to use.
We outfitted the computers with a range of open source software. Open source software was chosen because it is generally reliable, compatible with a range of document types and formats, capable of playing and editing most types of digital media, and free.
Free / Open Source
- Open Office–(http://openoffice.org/) OpenOffice.org is the premier open source office suite, comprising a huge range of capabilities and compatible with a range of file formats. It is modeled after Microsoft Office, so is familiar and easy to use for most people.
- Scribus–(http://www.scribus.net/) Scribus is a powerful desktop publishing application with a range of professional features.
- Gnucash–(http://www.gnucash.org/) Gnucash is a professional quality accounting program for personal and small business use.
- Ad Aware–(http://www.lavasoft.com/) Ad Aware is a free anti-spyware program.
- Panda Cloud–(http://www.cloudantivirus.com/en/) Panda is a provider of free antivirus software. Panda Cloud is a cloud-based (online) antivirus program that automatically keeps itself up to date.
- Panda Security–(http://www.pandasecurity.com/homeusers/downloads/usbvaccine/) An anti-malware application that prevents infected flash memory drives from automatically installing viruses.
- Firefox with custom profiles–(https://www.mozilla.com/en-US/) Firefox is the premier open source web browser. It is fast and efficient. We created and installed custom profiles with bookmarks for a wide range of websites of interest to Pirtle’s Café patrons.
- Pigeon–(http://www.pidgin.im/) Pigeon is the premier open source chat and instant messaging client, compatible with most widely-used protocols.
- Peazip–(http://www.peazip.org/index.html) An excellent open source file compression and archiving program.
- Quicktime–(http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/) A standard application for viewing digital media.
- RealPlayer–(http://www.real.com/realplayer) A popular application for streaming digital video and audio.
- Adobe Reader–(http://get.adobe.com/reader/) A free application used to read the most common standard for text file distribution.
- Adobe Flash/Shockwave–(http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/, http://get.adobe.com/shockwave/) Used to display many popular games and web-based applications, as well as digital media.
- Achievo – a Web-based project management and tracking tool for small- to medium-sized companies, aiming to become a fully featured ERP-like system in the future. Features include a time registration module, scheduler, project management, todo’s, and several statistical tools.
- VLC Media Player–(http://www.videolan.org/vlc/) A powerful application for viewing almost every digital video format.
- Google Earth–(http://www.google.com/earth/index.html) An application providing an unprecedented look at the earth, for geography, navigation, or general interest.
- Tux Typing–(http://tux4kids.alioth.debian.org/tuxtype/) A fun typing tutor.
- Tux Math Command–(http://tux4kids.alioth.debian.org/tuxmath/) A math tutor / game.
- Tux Scrabble–(http://new.asymptopia.org/staticpages/index.php?page=TuxMathScrabble)
- Tux Wordsmith–(http://asymptopia.org/staticpages/index.php?page=TuxWordSmith) A fun version of scrabble.
- Childsplay–(http://childsplay.sourceforge.net/index.php) Educational games for young children.
- Gcompris–(http://gcompris.net/-en-) An educational software suite.
- NessyTales–(http://www.nessytales.co.uk/) A popular reading tutor.
- Math Ninja–(http://pjwalczak.com/mninja/) A fun math tutor game.
- Microsoft Office 2003 Standard
Microsoft Office is the premier office suite, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook. It is an excellent complement to OpenOffice.org, being more familiar to many people and possessing a range of professional capabilities needed for business and professional writing.