Friday, 9 November 2007

trips, earthquakes and nda's

After Educause there is life, or at least something resembling it. In this case a whole lot of vendor visits, all of which are under nda so I can't really blog about them except to say that I've been to

- Microsoft at Redmond
- Apple at Cupertino
- Google at Mountain View
- VMware in Palo Alto

all of which was kind of cool. VMware's building was opposite the original Xerox PARC which was also pretty cool. Now as Microsoft are in Redmond, which is a suburb of Seattle and the rest of them are back in the valley (ie Silicon Valley) this involved a flight from Seattle to San Jose.

And on the flight I sat beside a guy from Microsoft who was not impressed by Vista and it's performance. as it was a private conversation I won't name names or reveal details but let's just say it was pretty honest and pretty direct. Let's just say some engineers prefer XP over Vista.

Just after we landed in San Jose there was a magnitude 5.8 earthquake. Not that we felt it in the back of a banged up shuttle bus bouncing down the freeway - just another bump in the road. Nothing at all like listening to Grace Slick belting out 'When the earth moves again'. When we got to the hotel everyone was still standing about, half afraid it might be a precursor to the 'big one'

In the event it wasn't even though aftershocks continued the next day.

In the middle of this we went to Stanford to see what they were doing with educational technology, which was kind of provocative, not because it was massively hi tech but because of the very clear vision that they had that learning technology was there to build engagement, and that it was a set of enabling technologies, not an end in itself.

Two other interesting points were that while 92% of students own a laptop at Stanford, not a lot of them carry them round campus on a regular basis - battery life and weight tend to make your sexy macbook seem like a boat anchor by the end of the day.

The other interesting thing was that anyone at Stanford (staff and students) can hand out a giest account to anyone else to allow them to have web access - really as a way of getting round not having any infrastructure like eduroam in place.

And while we were at Stanford we took the opportunity to catch up with the CLOCKSS people - the ANU is about to sign up to become members of the CLOCKSS project and we felt it would be useful to touch base with them and ensure that our undertandings were aligned.

Like all such projects they're amazingly small - six talented people doing wonderful things with long term digital preservation and a digital content escrow service - I'll blog about CLOCKSS and our role in it separately in another post.

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