Life in the Cloud: Day Six (or The Issue of Load)

Living in the cloud!  It’s so liberating!  So exciting!  It’s so… freaking… slow…

I will be the first to admit that during the course of everyday work, I put my computers through some serious abuse.  Most folks would never have any need to do the horrible things I do to my workstation on a daily basis.  At the end of the day, my workstation can often be heard sighing with relief as I shut it down for the evening, assuming, of course,  that I’ve not had to leave it powered on overnight in order to process some batch job or another.

Today, as I labor to do everything possible in the cloud, I’m finding that my workstation is running much slower than usual.  Okay, my first confession is that I’m using Storyline to convert some PowerPoint presentations into web-ready presentations, something which cannot be done on the cloud.  My second confession is that my workstation is going through its weekly virus scan.  My third confession is that I’ve got 12 tabs open in Chrome, one page open in Firefox, and am playing Viotti’s Violin Concerto No. 23 on Spotify.  (I’ve never knowingly listened to Viotti until today, but it’s good stuff.)

But, I’m also working on a workstation that’s a little bit more powerful than what most folks are accustomed to, and one would think that even with this great load of work processing that my machine would be able to handle whatever punishment I dole out.  Apparently not.

Which brings me to the point of today’s episode in the Experiment.  We are a community college and we serve a wide variety of students from a diverse set of economic circumstances.  Some of our students have Alienware machines which are designed to run resource-intensive games without problem, while other students are on Windows XP machines that can barely run Internet Explorer 7 and an instance of Word 2003 simultaneously without surrendering to the Blue Screen of Death.

How do we direct students to work exclusively in the cloud when the machines they’re running can’t handle the load?  What ARE the minimum requirements, the absolute bottom from which they can work?  Will a more modern netbook do the job?  Would the same XP machine work with a Linux OS instead of XP?  If so, how do you instruct students to make such a dramatic shift?



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