Saturday, August 12, 2006

Data Projectors and Wireless Mice

The pace keeps getting quicker as I figure out more of my job. One interesting thread this week has been data projection. Over the summer, data projectors were installed in the classrooms. The classrooms already had Touch Media boxes. Those allowed teachers to order video on demand from a central location and display it in as many classrooms as needed. For example, all the grade four classes could watch an oceans video at 10:00 from their homerooms. The new data projectors are tied in with that, so teachers are able to display their television or their computer through the data projector. It is a slick set up and I can see it getting lots of use.

Of course, being good teachers, they immediately began pushing at the edges of the situation. Before the first day was over, I had requests for wireless mice and keyboards. That seems like a logical request, since their computers are in a fixed location and in most classrooms that location is not near their projection screens. All teachers know how effective it usually is to be standing behind the class while trying to interact with students-- many of them want to watch you rather than the screen.

I brought up the request at a department meeting and was told that a different division had done a pilot project with Bluetooth mice, but the signal bleed through into the next classroom. I can imagine all sorts of merry mishaps when one teacher is inadvertently controlling the computer in their colleague' room.

Since Bluetooth was out, we decided to test a few radio frequency mice. In a highly scientific study that involved me roaming around the room and down the halls with a wireless mouse and my teammate sitting at his desk watching to see in which situations the cursor moved, we determined that the wireless mouse worked all over the classroom and into the hallways but not into the next room.

My next step is to find a good price for a bulk purchase on wireless mice. The price here seems significantly higher than it would be in the US. I need to see if that is indeed the case or if I'm not yet getting the "best price", as we ask for here when bargaining.

(Anyone know a good place in Singapore to buy a lot of wireless mice? I'll get quotes from Parasilk and Challenger. Anywhere else I should be checking?)

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