MobiGo

MobiGo’s are the presentation devices that you’ll find in most seminar rooms.  They are basically a PC (windows XP corporate desktop) several types of  media player equipment connected to a large screen projector which can either be dumb presentation devices or in some cases interactive whiteboards.  They also have the facility to connect laptop and switch the presentation to echo out the laptop screen.

 

There are a few issues with the current setup that adversely affect the users, both students and staff.

  • Slow to boot requires an account to log in.
  • Out of date OS, the thin client option that has been rolled out to the University is not suitable for this kind of use as there are issues with media streaming and attaching / reading from DVD devices.
  • The Mobigo is tethered to the wall by it’s comms cables this limits the delivery styles available to presenters.

The objective is to investigate and suggest possible alternate approaches and technologies that would address the current issues and fit better with the way people work today.  You should not assume ANY limitations, other than the requirements stated.

The requirements of an alternative to the MobiGo are:-

  • Rapid start and up login.
  • Authenticated access to all university provided software
  • Authenticated access to university provided storage,  network shares etc
  • Authenticated or trusted Internet access
  • Play out and access to portable meida eg DVD, USB drives etc
  • Secure

2 Replies to “MobiGo”

  1. After going through the project requirements and expected solutions of the MobiGo project, I think most of the problems and most importantly, the important ones could be solved by using a remote access system (Using a Cloud based system). MobiGo solution requirements are already pointed out and broken into small problems; the following is my analysis and suggested solutions (this analysis was conducted based on my personal views, and it does not involve information from students or lecturers).

    Slow booting /login and out of date operating systems:
    The simple obvious solution to this problem is regular maintenance and upgrading. However, considering the number of existing devices in addition to the expected machines to be installed as a result of feature expansion (Lincoln University is planning to add new schools. if I am right!), this will require manpower as well as money (for example new software licenses) . Furthermore, I believe systems upgrading and slow booting issues are recurrent problems and the ICT department has to deal with it every now and then. From my point of view, remote access to a well maintained, up-to-date machine will solve these problems by:
    • Providing high performance (one powerful machine, instead of lots of semi-capable machines )
    • Less money (no need for multiple licences , advanced hardware on the client side and huge number of staff for maintenance and upgrading )
    • Providing application stability, monitoring and control.

    Mobility and authentication:
    Since the lecturers and students applications will be hosted online, it could easily be remotely accessed by a simple interface /web service using a phone, pc, iPad, or android tablet at any any time through unique individuals authenticated login channels. A wireless projector connection will give lecturers the freedom of movement within rooms. By applying these, lecturers and students will:
    • Will be able to access their individual online spaces/ applications at anytime from anywhere using different device (phone, tablet, Pc) through an authenticated channel (using username /password).
    • Move freely in the lectures rooms

    Different operating systems:
    As far as I know, cloud computing, gives the user the freedom to access their data from PC, Mac, iPad or Android Tablet.

    Portable media (DVD, USB):
    As technology advances, I believe media storage tools will gradually vanish and gradually move to online storages options. Lecturers should be advised to upload their materials to their online space and use it remotely. However for the time being the Mobigo could be used for this purpose.

    Security:
    With cloud computing there are always concerns about security, particularly about handing information /data to the other parts. Privacy in cloud based systems, as stated by Jonathan Strickland in [http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing/cloud-computing3.htm ], mostly goes by the reputations of these companies. As a solution for this problem, I think the university (ICT Department) should think of building their own Cloud System(using existing servers) and even they can provide hosting services for the local education colleges/Universities exist in Lincoln such as (Lincoln college, Bishop Grosseteste University and so on ) .

  2. As it stands I believe the MobiGo as it stands functions well once its up and running so to speak the delay due to pc and projector warming up I believe could be solved by optimizing the processes, do the computers in these seminar rooms need to load all the drivers and software they currently do? Is the operating system actually partially to blame?

    One idea I came up with was to add an additional mini basic pc system little more than a Raspberry Pi capable of running minimally required tasks such as loading presentations and opening documents, being solely for this purpose this would allow lecturers and users of the room to have a quick to bootup simple system to present off via usb contents whilst they await the PC tower to turn on as rarely does a lecturer require internet access or video play back at the very beginning of a lecture / talk. A simple usb input option would allow files to be remotely stored but also ease pressure off system, a little docking area not too dissimilar to those found in the Lecture theatres could do the job. This ‘mini’ systems wouldn’t require login information necessarily due to limited capacity and reliance on users having content stored on usb devices whilst pc option is till available.

    Also a way to combat the tethering issue could be to ensure all PCs are fitted with some form of remote access card or supplied with a presenter, I know its possible to use iPads as computer controllers via wifi / bluetooth but feel this may be too advanced for some of the lecturers to get to grips with initially which is why any additions / changes should be done incrementally.

    As for DVD’s they shouldn’t require pc access and should be as simple as a switch to be able to play on projectors which may I say are partially to blame for late starts. In the future instead of projectors maybe smart screens or monitors on the walls could be more beneficial potentially if costs continue to decline and a solution to space regarding whiteboards could be found.

    As I understand timetabling have a record of when rooms are booked so in theory there is nothing stopping (except time and manpower) somebody turning on the PC’s prior to rooms being used as shutting down does not take as long as turning on also a remote turn on/off switch for PC’s could be considered to this regard.

    There are alot of potential solutions and maybe asking lecturers what they feel most comfortable with and would want from the MobiGo’s could prove beneficial cause as computing students we tend to think about what we know about computers and such whereas the average user may be confused and not fully aware / trained in optimal use of systems.

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