Should School be Taught in the Cloud?

On March 5th, the U.S. Department of Education released its National Educational Technology Plan, which they named Transforming Education: Learning Powered by Technology. Some of the recommendations made in the report include things like having a computing device for every teacher – and student – so that they can access the Internet from both school and home, as well as wanting schools to embrace cloud computing, Creative Commons and open-source technologies.

The report focuses on what they are calling “21st Century Computing”. As a way to transform education, the department states that the plan is to “engage and empower learning experiences for all learners… by leveraging the power of technology to provide personalized learning instead of a one-size-fits all curriculum.” Overall, the plan calls for a challenge to the normal model of having an isolated teacher in every class. Instead, they want to promote the ideas of “always on” learning tools, with online communities for the teachers and students.

I know that this plan cannot possibly be enacted in schools across the country overnight. However, I’m excited to see things moving in this direction finally. What do you think? Is this a massive step forward for education in the United States?

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What’s the Best Hard Drive Enclosure to Buy?


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A few days ago, I heard whimpering from my closet. I thought one of the dogs had been stuck inside there. Low and behold, it was an old hard drive whining to be used once again. However, I needed an enclosure to put it in! When I had the opportunity to look at the NexStar 3 from Vantec, I jumped on it!

The sturdy cage protects your hard drive, and the aluminum case draws away the heat. This protects your drive from overheating. The NexStar 3 is available in two awesome colors: Onyx black and midnight blue. The colors are vibrant, allowing you to store your data in an enclosure that matches your style.

This enclosure will accommodate any SATA drive, no matter the size. It even has several connectivity options, which makes it quite versatile! One of the things that stands out about the NexStar 3 is that it has a removable stand, and can sit it whichever way works best.

The thing that stands out the most, however, is that the tray slides out. Once you’ve attached the hard drive to this, you simply slide the tray back in. There are no tools necessary, and it’s just so easy to get your drive up and running.

So there you have it: The NexStar 3 from Vantec is sleek and sexy looking, it has a ton of connectivity options, and it is amazing easy to use. Be sure to consider grabbing one of these for yourself if you need a hard drive enclosure.

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How Can You Connect SATA Hard Drives without an Enclosure?


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I have a hard drive without an enclosure, and I don’t really have any extra enclosures. I need to get to the data that is on this hard drive. I either need to buy an enclosure to put it into just long enough to access my data. Or… is there another way I can get access to the information on the hard drive without putting it into an enclosure? Luckily, I have the NexStar Hard Drive Dock.

The NexStar is functionally no different than any other drive enclosure out there, supporting both eSATA and USB 2.0 connections. It nicely supports both 2.5″ (notebook) and 3.5″ SATA I/II HDDs as well as Windows/Mac/Linux OSes. It also supports HDDs up to 1 TB in size, enough for most current HDDs I’m aware of. Vantec also has included all required cables, as is usual with their products. You get a USB 2.0 cable as well as an eSATA cable, along with a SATA to eSATA bracket to use inside your PC if your motherboard lacks an eSATA port.

The biggest difference is of course, how you put the drive into the dock. There’s no need to use screws or brackets of any sort; you merely slide the HDD into a slot at the top and it slides into the proper connectors at the bottom inside, sort of like a Super Nintendo cartridge. The drive protrude out from the top of the slot and to remove it, there is a convenient eject button that pushes out the drive from the bottom so you don’t have to messily yank it out. (Again, like a SNES cartridge)

Looking at the Vantec HDD Dock, it sort of resembles a small single-slot toaster, perhaps something like you’d expect from Apple if they came out with the iToaster. It comes well-protected and sits in the middle of the package, which is good, since the entire unit is made of plastic. Aluminum would’ve been a more durable choice for the dock’s exterior, as it currently feels a little lightweight and flimsy compared to other normal drive enclosures.

It really is easy. Plug it into a power source, and then plug it into the Mac or PC via USB. Slide the hard drive into the machine until you hear it click into place. Then, you’re ready to go. Turn it on and watch your data pop up onto your screen. How simple is that?

The next time you need to access data off of a drive that has no enclosure, try out the toaster-looking (but very easy-to-use) NexStar.

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SATA or IDE USB 2.0 Cable Converter with Power Supply


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As time goes on, hardware does evolve. It’s likely if you buy a computer these days, you may not be able to connect some of your older devices. I was recently in that position, and found myself looking for an uber adapter. I came across an unbranded SATA or IDE USB 2.0 Cable Converter Adapter on Amazon. I was worried at first, I admit it. I’ve long had a habit of not really trusting something that’s unbranded. But, I decided to give it a shot.

The Hi-Speed USB 2.0 to Serial ATA (SATA) or IDE 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drive adapter creates a bridge between one USB 1.1/2.0 port and one SATA-based mass storage device port. This adapter turns any SATA or IDE hard drive into a convenient external drive.

Now you can easily transfer files from computer or notebook, back up files, or store large file archives on hard drives. The high-speed USB 2.0 interface has a plug-and-play design for easy installation. Plus, the power adapter uses 2A AC power supply to ensure enough power for the most power-consuming drives. This adapter is compatible with any SATA or IDE drives of any brand or any size. It requires a PC running Windows 98SE, Windows 2000, Windows ME, or Windows XP; or a Mac running OSX. (A driver is necessary for Windows 98SE only.)

The kit comes with the AC adapter cable, and the power adapter. There’s a univeral USB 2.0 to IDE and SATA adapter. It even comes with a little micro SATA, which is nice. You have the driver’s and utilities disc, of course. For only $20.00, it was worth a shot for me to try it out. The big reason I bought this, is because I had a smaller hard drive that I had pulled out of an mp3 player. I needed to get the mp3s off of it, but didn’t have any way to do so. Certainly, there may come a point when I need something like this again.

If you know of other good kits that may help you with legacy devices in this day and age, please pass them on. I’m sure as technology evolves faster in the months and years to come, we will find ourselves needing more things like this.

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Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

As time goes on, hardware does evolve. It’s likely if you buy a computer these days, you may not be able to connect some of your older devices. I was recently in that position, and found myself looking for an uber adapter. I came across an unbranded SATA or IDE USB 2.0 Cable Converter Adapter on Amazon. I was worried at first, I admit it. I’ve long had a habit of not really trusting something that’s unbranded. But, I decided to give it a shot.

The Hi-Speed USB 2.0 to Serial ATA (SATA) or IDE 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drive adapter creates a bridge between one USB 1.1/2.0 port and one SATA-based mass storage device port. This adapter turns any SATA or IDE hard drive into a convenient external drive.

Now you can easily transfer files from computer or notebook, back up files, or store large file archives on hard drives. The high-speed USB 2.0 interface has a plug-and-play design for easy installation. Plus, the power adapter uses 2A AC power supply to ensure enough power for the most power-consuming drives. This adapter is compatible with any SATA or IDE drives of any brand or any size. It requires a PC running Windows 98SE, Windows 2000, Windows ME, or Windows XP; or a Mac running OSX. (A driver is necessary for Windows 98SE only.)

The kit comes with the AC adapter cable, and the power adapter. There’s a universal USB 2.0 to IDE and SATA adapter. It even comes with a little micro SATA, which is nice. You have the driver’s and utilities disc, of course. For only $20.00, it was worth a shot for me to try it out. The big reason I bought this, is because I had a smaller hard drive that I had pulled out of an mp3 player. I needed to get the mp3s off of it, but didn’t have any way to do so. Certainly, there may come a point when I need something like this again.

If you know of other good kits that may help you with legacy devices in this day and age, please pass them on. I’m sure as technology evolves faster in the months and years to come, we will find ourselves needing more things like this.

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Windows Vista and SATA Drives

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A recent caller to the 888-PIRILLO line had trouble with his Vista Home Premium machine just after applying Windows updates. It began showing his internal hard drive and DVD write drive as removable devices… such as a SATA drive or USB device.

I had a friend who happens to work at the company that had given us Vista. He was explaining a situation that he had encountered with the same round of updates. His mom’s machine no longer can connect to the Internet… and they cannot figure out why. Keep in mind, this man is a power-user, and very knowledgable with computers.

A chat member asked if they are SATA drives, and they are indeed. It could be a Motherboard issue, picking them up as External instead of Internal drive. He’s using an NVIDIA Nforce chipset. I’ve seen many conflicts between Vista and NVIDIA, unfortunately. This may not be the root of the issue, but that could very well be the case.

If you click on “system” in control panel and click on “device manager”, click on “hardware” tab, you should see your SATA drive under “disk drives”. Click on the sata drive name. Click on the “Policies” tab and you will see two radio buttons that could be ticked. If the top one is ticked, you won’t have the USB icon in the tray because it is set for quick removal. If you have the bottom one ticked, it is set for performance and you will see the USB icon. You can choose whatever you want, just check the disk performance if you choose the top, quick removal button.

Hopefully, this will help fix up the issue for him, and others!

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