postheadericon TECH TALK: So What's New - in Nepal?

I was chatting with a pal of mine (in person for a change) who works for Neoteric Nepal here in the Valley. I asked him, “So what’s new in Nepal right now.”

He’s an apple dude, so his reply was a bit predictable; “I just ordered a Magic Trackpad on Harilo.”

Harilo? I covered that website in a previous Tech Talk, and if you caught that review you should remember that Harilo is a new Nepali website that allows you to order anything online from the States, and get it delivered to your KTM front door - for an average 25% mark-up that covers shipping, duty and a small profit for the Harilo folks.

Apparently Harilo has really taken off, as even my Nepali bhini recently ordered and received a pair of cozy Ugg boots from Amazon.com, via the Harilo ordering system. So anyway, my pal is waiting for his Magic Trackpad, which is Apple hardware that works with any kind of computer, and is geared for those still stuck using a desktop computer, but that want to take advantage of all those cool trackpad gestures that laptop users now take for granted...like swiping, scrolling, and rotating without the use of any buttons or wheels.

The Apple Magic Trackpad is a multi-touch trackpad just like the ones built into high-end Apple laptops, but is now a separate component that connects to any PC, and wirelessly through Bluetooth. If you are familiar with Apple wireless devices like the Aluminium Keyboard or the Magic Mouse, you will know how fantastically these devices connect, and stay connected until your two or three “AA” batteries die. The Magic Trackpad runs a few weeks on a set of two batteries, with rechargeable batteries recommended.

And like all other Apple products, this one looks and feels like a shiny little precious bobble, with an all aluminium and glass design – no buttons, no plastic, and very few seams. The Magic Trackpad also has that trademark Apple price – high – at $69USD.

I already own a Magic Mouse, which is Apple’s newest wireless mouse that has a multi-touch trackpad built right into the top, and this unit looks and feels more like a glass bar of soap then a computer mouse. I am completely hooked on using the Magic Mouse’s trackpad features on every computer I sit down in front of nowadays – you can’t beat scrolling up and down through web pages with a swipe of your forefinger over smooth glass, and scrolling left and right through a video clip in the same fashion. The Apple Magic Mouse is hardware that resembles a piece of art, and costs as much: $69USD.

Yet I consider that $69 the best spent in 2010, as I don’t ever see myself using a mouse with less multi-touch features ever again.

But getting back to my pal from Neoteric and HP’s new offering called MultiSeat. My eyes kinda glazed over when he began describing HP’s latest foray into thin-client computing, as I’ve been there before in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. But the MutiSeat Solution from HP could have an impact on Nepal’s education scene. Let me explain...

The MultiSeat Solution consists of a box that looks like any other newer HP desktop box, but comes packaged with as many “seats” that you need. A “seat” consists of a thin-client blackbox, 17” monitor, keyboard, mouse and cables. So for example, a school can order 8 seats for their computer lab, and they get 8 computers in one, sort of. All the seats in the system are running off of one server box loaded with RAM and a beefy dual-core processor, and at the heart of the system software-wise is the latest version of Windows Server 2008.

The entire setup can be configured in minutes, as it’s all plug and play USB connections, with just one Internet line needed into the server box to give all the seats a bit of Internet. Every user of the system first creates an account (just like you would do in Facebook) and the administrator of the MutiSeat Solution has complete control over what applications each user has access too, and even what websites each user can reach. The admin, or teacher in this case, can either have all seats see just what the teacher sees on his or her monitor, or have the students work independently.

And the price per seat? Well, my pal left a sales presentation with me that indicates that each seat costs between $300 USD and $350 USD, depending on options selected for the server box (i.e. RAM, CPU speeds, hard drive size). That is all inclusive of everything, including a 3-year replacement warranty on anything that breaks or frazzles.

The benefits from such a system are immediately apparent: low price per user, low maintenance (as compared to say maintaining 6, 7 or 8 separate laptops or desktops), and perhaps better performance then having that many computers running over a slow or wireless LAN. All in all, I was slightly impressed, but then again, only things made of aluminum with a fruit logo prominently displayed are going to turn my tech crank.

So that’s what’s new from where I sit - what about for you?

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Jiggy Gaton
lives in Kathmandu and is an aging technologist - has been since the days of Woodstock - so in the words of Roland The Gunslinger "he is from a world now gone by." However, Jigs is extremely up-to-date on all things tech and is also available for hire.
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