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Connected at Last 
and an Early Christmas Present

16th December 1998
13:13 21/11/98
Spent some time down loading backgrounds and flickering .gif bars from free graphics sites mainly for the kids at Web Club. They love all these marbled backgrounds and other delights and I find it quite fun whipping them into my c drive. 

18:30 22/11/98
Yes, I finally decide to upgrade the index page with gently pulsing pink buttons and a deep blue textured background. Recolour the title gif and alter the colour of the spiral drawing, tidy it all up and it looks much better.

Upload the web club pages and after much fiddling manage to get most of them to work. I try to be tidy though and put them inside a folder which means that the ones already on the server don't connect anymore etc. etc. Hours more fiddling to come. I'll reconfigure all of the pupil pages into one folder and then put it up on the server in one go and strip the old ones out at some point. Probably.

Get email from colleague who has just gone online this weekend. Since starting this log two teachers and our technician have got new computers though one has not got a modem which boggles me. How can you not! And our science teacher has upgraded his machine beyond measure. The school web connection remains entirely theoretical still. It is supposed to be here by now but we haven't heard a peep. 

Visited a site called Sniper Country which is full of real tips on how to lead a patrol deep into enemy territory. Quite fascinating. Warns against making bird calls for one thing because the locals you are creeping up on will know the local bird calls and yours will stand out a mile. Everyone needs to be looking every way all the time and to be carrying one of the lovely(!) guns illustrated in the gun catalogue bit which is a bit weird. One for Net Nanny to catch however.

22:27 23/11/98
JH very pleased with his email of an etruscan pot. I find a couple of things about Anthony Green on the Web which will help me out of a hole with Y7 tomorrow. Y5 successfully paint, edit, cut and paste into a Word document. Long and dull meeting about taps. 

Friday 28/11/98
Fairly fed up with the whole html thing at school. Because what I'm doing isn't that obvious beyond the screen no one is very clear on what I'm doing. So I'm basically wasting my time on these web pages. I'm considering jacking in the web club as I'm not sure that it's getting me anywhere much. It is popular with the kids and some staff are interested. I'll make up a display with digital photos and all of the rest to try to get the message across a bit more.

A red mist come over me in Dixons and I bought myself an early Christmas present. I thus find myself at long last the proud owner of a Palm Pilot. I've read al the reviews, poked about on the net and decided that it isn't particularly justifiable but what the hell, I am just fascinated with the idea of a computer in my pocket. 
This opens up a whole new set of stuff for the online diary. The very fact that I can sit here in bed and write on my teeny tiny computer is in itself pretty remarkable but then I am pretty easily impressed I guess. So far I have to say Graffiti, the handwriting recognition system, is pretty easy apart from pretty dodgy 'G' shapes and the 'D' shape is resistant to being written out first time. And writing a V backwards is difficult to remember. 
All of the above entry has been written on the Palm Pilot.

6/12/98
Very cold & snowing. Not much of a computing weekend. In a misguided attempt to get this Palm Pilot & the schools digital camera to work on my computer at the same time I tried to sort out an iffy COMM Port. And the consequence was that I mucked up my modem as well & still didn't get the camera to download.
I've been tending to read the more esoteric IT magazines over recent months. Not that I entirely understand them but I seem to have out grown the more consumer magazines which are a bit fixated on the best scanner for £99 and how to make a professional set of condiment labels with your ink jet printer.
I seem to have entered a new category of Intermediate Grade or Someone Who Knows Enough To Do Damage But Not Enough To Put It Right Again. There doesn't seem to be a magazine for this level. If there was it would called "Oh God What Have I Done Now?"
An interesting whole staff ICT meeting at school this week. The full implications of the HMGovt plans for training teachers in ICT were pretty obvious to all of us but Tim is as much in the dark as the rest of us as to how the whole thing is supposed to work out.
It is a classic nineties national curriculum type roll out. A subject co-ordinator passes on what they find expected of them to an over worked set of teachers who find a whole new lot of things to worry about. It increases a sense of continual inundation with paper work and shiny new initiatives.
Mind you, I didn't realize how far off in geekland I now live -  is there a way back? Is this a good thing? Or is it a bit mad? Can I stop now? Would I be better off with paper and pencil? Not really the point is it - With paper and pencil I couldn't sit here in the car and scribble this and publish it on the web so easily to an audience of well not that many.
Reading the IT press which is full of training issues as well as high end technical stuff it makes most of the educational ICT stuff look naive. Getting every school online is a massive massive undertaking. Would a commercial organization do it in such a piecemeal way? 
Probably. In education we tend to believe the rhetoric that the market is good & that private companies are all paragons of streamlined efficiency as much as anyone. Then we try to get something fixed on the car & we still think private companies are more efficient in spite of that. Still. I'm sure that we might have something to learn from how these ICT types do it in business.
Letter from Denford today promising our connection in the New Year.

Tuesday 8/12/98
Teaching ICT giving me the strange feeling that people might be listening to me. The year 5s have gone from user name confusion tg quite high levels of confidence in a gratifyingly short time. Now they are coming in & logging on without a pause - well, most of them are anyway. They are finding last weeks work in the server and we are now drawing in Paint & copying & pasting into Word. It's been nice to see the progress so clearly. 
On Friday I sat down and showed T in Y7 how to make tables in html, a thing I hadn't done as yet as they seemed pretty complicated to me. I tapped in the code to the art room PC and it worked which looked all right. I resize a couple of photos for him and off he went with a book and his disc. On Tuesday he came back with his web page rejigged into two columns using a table he'd written in. I was stunned. Absolutely outstanding stuff.

Wednesday 9/12/98
Spent some of the evening online trying to find out a bit more about how to make this Palm Pilot work a bit better. I still can't get a picture off it very well if at all.
Got a magazine called "Web Pages Made Easy" from the garage with a disc on it full of handy applications to make web pages easy. Not sure that much of it does. The magazine spends of lot of pages showing you how to do exactly the same thing in several different programs when it could just show you how to do it once in html. It's no more difficult.
I'm still looking for an editor or a WYSIWYG program that might be school friendly. So far most of them seem to need a substantial amount of learning about how the program works before learning about how to make the web page. And the programs are easier to understand with some ideas about html. I will have to try some with the Web Club. Apparently Splash is very user friendly & beginner friendly. I'll try that one.

 Thursday 10/12/98
So Peter and I have a look at Splash on the art room PC and we are not that impressed. The interface is just trying way too hard. I come home and switch on Star Trek Deep Space Nine and there's a bloke with a knobbly head using a computer with the exact same interface as Splash. Far too complicated for kids. The search continues.
Get a phone message from Denford to expect the BT engineer to come along next Wednesday to install our ISDN 2 line.

Monday 14/12/98
Letters & telephone calls today to tell us that we can expect to be all connected up this week after all. Tomorrow the computer & all the gubbins will arrive. We are under instruction not to open the boxes! On Wednesday a BT engineer will arrive to install an ISDN2 line. And on Thursday a chap from Denford will come along to install the equipment and the software. We hope he comes in the morning as we have the Year 7 christmas disco in the afternoon which will be borderline chaotic and very noisy.

Wednesday 16th December 1998
An auspicious day for the school as we at last get online and capable of video conferencing to boot.
A friendly BT engineer arrived a little before lunch and spent the afternoon installing an ISDN2 line into the tiny chamber which houses our server in the ICT room. This is basically a little grey box attached to the wall.
He had just finished and I was busy trying to sort out exactly what sort of deal we had with BT on the telephone as we had expected to get the complete full monty education open all day internet service with this but apparently we won't. So I was trying to sort that out when the chap from Denford arrived to take the computer out of the box and get it all up and running.
As he is a nice chap and might well visit this page from his rather dinky Nokia phone from his hotel room in Great Yarmouth I will make little reference to his remarkable youth. He rapidly got the machine to work and we waved to a chap in Brigend and they drew pictures together for a bit and I made a digital photo to mark the occasion and that is that.
Apparently the confusions over deals on the ISDN line packages are not unusual so I chilled out after a bit. It'll get sorted out on way and another.

We have got a link at last which is an achievement in itself. End of term very near, a bit of a disco tomorrow afternoon and a carol service on friday and it's all over bar the shouting until the new year.

Nice.


 
The helpful engineers who put us online today.
Our cheery BT engineer installs the ISDN line and Tim from Denford configures the computer. 
Our cheery BT engineer installs the ISDN line
Tim our Denford engineer

 
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