SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, February 14, 2007

News & Product Updates

Back to the Future: Harvard Stocks up on Thin Clients

The Harvard Physics department has replaced its graduate department PCs with thin clients. The switch the Wyse 500 thin client systems was driven by the need to reduce "at the desk" support time and lower energy costs associated with powering PCs, campus officials said. The department also wanted to protect students from viruses and malware prevalent on PCs.

Maggie McFee, a senior systems administrator in the department, said the switch enabled the department to administer work requests centrally, which has cut the number of support calls by graduate students in half. "Our small IT staff no longer has to spend the entire day servicing PCs dispersed across different floors. We can now centrally manage everything," she said.

The impact on security glitches has been noticeable, McFee added.

"University-wide networks are a Petri dish for everything out there, but ... now don't have to fight Windows viruses every day, since nothing can be saved onto the computer, and security software is also easier to maintain and update on our one server compared to dozens of desktop systems."

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Pittsburgh Art Institute Launches Social Network

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh will open an online social network to facilitate collaboration among students and between students and faculty. The network will enable participants to create personal and professional profiles, discuss ideas, and share artwork. The network, named AiConnections, is based on technology from WebCrossing Neighbors.

Doug Stein, vice president of The Art Institute Online's Educational Services, said the network is designed to provide students a "sense of community that traditional students get everyday on campus." AiConnections currently hosts about 1,500 online and residential students and faculty participating in more than 100 groups.

WebCrossing Neighbors is a hosted platform with common areas for interest groups, personal user spaces, profiles, blogs, discussions, photo and file sharing. The network is scalable and can be customized. Individual spaces on the network link students and colleagues via a tagging engine, with support for "degrees of friendship." System-wide search is indexed.

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Sharp To Launch Large-Venue XG-PH70X Projector

Sharp Electronics next month will begin shipping its new XG-PH70X, a DLP-based XGA installation projector designed for large venues like lecture halls and auditoriums.

The XG-PH70X features a contrast ratio of 1,200:1 and a dual-lamp mechanism producing a brightness of 5,200 ANSI lumens in normal operation mode, 4,300 lumens in "eco" mode. The projector can also be operated using a single lamp to reduce cost of operation and extend lamp life.

The XGA projector (1,024 x 768 resolution) uses the Sharp CV-IC II (Computer Video Integrated Composer) System to enhance imagery by smoothing edges, cutting down image noise and creating a "perfectly" rectangular picture with keystone correction. It also uses Texas Instruments' DDR DLP technology, which includes a four-segment 3x color wheel and sealed optics.

For software, the new model includes a built-in Web server that allows direct control of the projector through an RJ-45 connection without additional software. It's also compatible with Sharp's Display Manager Software, which connects one or more LAN-enabled projectors to a network for remote control, asset management and diagnostics.

The unit offers a choice of six lenses, supporting throw distances up to 116 feet. Five of the optional lenses are powered, allowing for remote adjustment, including horizontal and vertical lens shift.

The XG-PH70X is expected to be available in March for $8,495 with lens, $7,995 without.

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