We like to keep the computers that we use for training - both the machines that we use for presenting courses, and the machines that our delegates use during courses - up to date. And that means that every couple of years we renew our fleet - pensioning off machines which in truth probably still have plenty of life left in them, and superseding them with models that will take us forward with a "wow" factor over the coming years.
When Well House Consultants bought its first fleet of systems - 10 years ago this year - we were amongst the first to elect to use laptops rather than desktop systems. Yes - they were more expensive per system, but it allowed us to train on site much more easily, and to save on shipping and hotel costs. And it also left more delegate's desk space free for book, manuals, and notes ... not to mention allowing a far better view of the tutor for everyone, rather than skulking behind a cpu box and screen. We've continued to use laptops - the "sea mammal" series, the Indian Cuisine series, the days of the week, the flowers and (currently) the Wiltshire towns series - and the formula has stood the test of time. But it's looking a little long in the tooth now - a little "me also" - so what should we do for the future?
More and more delegates have their own laptops. They want to use them during courses and (unless we're doing security / Linux Admin / Server Admin) it's good and sensible for them to do so. And to facilitate that, we provide DNS and DHCP servers to connect them in, with broadband routing so they're on line at all times. Gone are the "stand alone" days, and even when we're on site, we're usually on line through the mobile phone (3G) network. So do we need to provide all the computers? And what do we need to provide?
Let's say I'm traveling onsite with the current fleet, to train 8 delegate. If I'm carrying enough computers for 1-per-person, plus a couple of spares, that's 25Kgs of computers and 4Kgs of power supplies. Looking back 6 months, add to that two MacBook Pros (17") for my own use and that added a further 7Kgs. Then add in a projector, multiways, mice and manuals for each delegate - for a 3 day course, each manual may weigh 800 grams (250 pages), so that's altogether an extra 10Kgs. Network hub, cables, reference manuals - say another 8kgs and all told you're looking at 54kgs. Which is rather too heavy to fly, and even too heavy to go by train.
Let's see how we can change that; let's think about carrying smaller 'netbook' computers for delegates who wish to use our equipment, and let's continue the move to MacBook Air's for my own systems. Let's rely on wireless networking throughout too.
• Netbooks, including spares - 14kgs + 3kgs of power supplies
• MacBook Airs - 2.5kgs
• Projector, multiway, mice, manuals - still 10kgs
• Reference books, etc - 5 kgs
So we're down to 35kgs - there may still be some further small reductions, but we're not considering compromising the quality of the paper we use for the manual, nor the ability for us to provide machines for each delegate. What we are doing is using current (in some cases state of the art) technology to provide better resources, (which will cost us more), but then to save on travel and transport hassle and costs.
Historic Note - "First Alternative" [link]
days up to summer 2000
Sun SparcStation 5 - c.p.u. box 10kgs (I have just weighed one!)
Sony Triniton Monitor - around 30kgs (Too heavy to get out of the loft!)
Keyboard, cables, etc - say 2kgs
I used to travel in a "people mover" with a wide rangs of Sun Kit - Sun 3/50, 3/60, IPC, IPX, SparcStation 1 and 5 - up to 42 Kgs per unit; perhaps an average of 30 Kgs - giving a total weight of 8 systems (we never carried a spare in case of failure; too expensive!) of 240kgs. Add to that networking equipment and multiways (10kgs), viewfoil projector (5kgs), viewfoils(5kgs), manuals (7kgs - yes; they were smaller and on think paper) - and you've a total weight of some 270kgs.
The image accompanying this article shows the relative size od a SparcStation 5, a laptop of about the size of the ones we use, and my MacBook Air which is even smaller that the netbooks that we're considering. Click on the image to enlarge it ... (written 2010-12-26, updated 2011-01-13)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesG204 - Well House Consultants - Equipment and facilities 
New print centre for our manuals - (2005-09-01) 
Wheelchair access - can do! - (2005-09-25) 
Is enough enough? - (2005-09-27) 
New Network - (2005-10-10) 
Playing old games - (2007-02-22) 
MacFormat - Me and My Mac - (2007-03-31) 
One computer per delegate, or pair programming? - (2007-09-23) 
Korn shell course - resources - (2007-09-24) 
Better technology makes for longer commutes? - (2007-10-29) 
New trainee laptop fleet for our Open Source courses - (2007-12-30) 
Training Course and Business Conference Technology - (2008-07-07) 
Mobile Internet - an alternative to hotel WiFi - (2009-02-09) 
A (biased?) comparison of PHP courses in the UK - (2009-06-07) 
C++, Python, and other training - do we use an IDE - (2009-08-21) 
Simon says - (2010-06-05) 
A course review - for the tutor to complete - (2010-06-14) 
Fresh Paint for course presentation - including C++ - (2010-07-03) 
01225 707126 to 01225 344596 to 01225 899360 - Well House Fax - (2010-08-26) 
New Computers for delegates to use - (2011-01-13) 
Training Classes - should the training company provide a system for each delegate to use? - (2011-01-18) 
Sharing a single hotel internet connection without carrying extra hardware - (2011-02-18) 
No news is good news. - (2011-03-07) 
How fast is your Internet access? Do you need something faster for your business or home? - (2011-05-29) 
Python courses and Private courses - gently updating our product to keep it ahead of the game - (2011-10-20) 
Updated delegate computers - nine of the best - (2014-04-10)
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