Recycled PCs handle bulk computing at Buller High (October 2005)
students working with Excel spreadsheets in one of Buller High
School's labs equipped with recycled computers.
At 1:3 and rising, Buller High School's ratio of computers to
students is higher than the national average. It has achieved this
largely through a policy of buying recycled computers.
Howard Murray, the school's full-time network manager, says the
recycled machines easily handle the school's core computing needs. "With
the software we're using – MS Office suites and so on – we find we just
don't need the flat-out 3Ghz machines they're pumping out now."
Buller High does have faster machines in a laptop suite, but it's
three years since a new desktop was bought for student use. This was for
high-end graphics, but even at that level of school computing, recycled
equipment has caught up somewhat. Recently Buller High bought
second-hand Pentium 4 machines from CANZ recycler The Ark.
The bulk of school computing takes place in two labs. One has 29
Pentium 450s and the other has 25 Pentium 733s.Ten computers are in the
library, one classroom has a suite of five desktops and individual
desktops are dotted here and there. A few years ago the school also
began leasing ten laptops, under the Ministry of Education's programme
to install mobile wireless-networking using Smart Tools controlling
software. This group of laptops is rolled from classroom to classroom.
All computers are networked via a fairly standard system based on
four servers – terminal server, video, file and print server, and
communications server. The mobile laptop group is able to link with the
same system. All computers receive the school's basic software 'image'
via the Ghost system.
The current network, which Howard says is working well, replaced an
older Citrix-based thin-client system which was never satisfactory.
Apart from day-to day maintenance by Howard, the school's computers
receive periodic attention from Christchurch ICT specialists IDS Ltd,
who maintain many computer sites on the West Coast.
Howard thinks the school will stay with recycled computers for most
of its needs. "They certainly handle the work. And out of all the
recycled computers we've bought, we've only had to replace about 2-3
power supplies and perhaps one monitor a year.
"It's a good way to go – we can put a small lab into a classroom for
close to the price of a single new computer."
He doesn't rule out the possibility of buying new desktops for
high-end graphics work in the future, but sees no need at present. The
next major purchase is likely to be a set of desktops at around 1000Mhz,
to replace the oldest lab machines when the school moves from Windows
2000 to Windows XP.
Howard can be contacted at
Photo caption: Year 10 students working with Excel spreadsheets in one
of Buller High School's labs equipped with recycled computers.
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