Last week I heard a student talking about the difficulties she had experienced in using Powerpoint on a Mac when she was used to using it on a Windows PC.
Later that day I talked to a non-technical colleague about this, and she said that she had never had the opportunity in her degree course to use Linux or Mac and that she wished she had.
Neither of these had studied at Reading, but it left me wondering if we should be offering our staff and students a chance to experience other operating systems then the one they use every day?
In the School of Systems Engineering our students (and many of the staff) do use a range of Operating Systems, but I am sure our courses would be too technical for the majority of the rest of the University.
In Biology too we use Windows, Mac, Linux plus sytems supporting graphics tablets. Generally I see people sticking to the system they like – Mac users, Windows users, Linux users… but even then the depth of use varies. Use of the command prompt in windows rather than the GUI is a more challenging transition for many people than swapping between the GUIs of Windows 7 and OSX.
Having recently been given access to a new desk in CDOTL, I must admit the main challenges I found (and I recognise that I am not the “usual” type of user!) were that there was no printer set up for users on the machine by default, and that without admin permissions on the computer, getting my usual suite of tools was a little tiresome. The one that Alistair’s post particularly made me think of was that standard machines don’t come with an SSH client (Windows doesn’t come equipped with one, which always amazes me). A command line, and preferably the opportunity to use a command line on a remote machine, is such a useful way of getting a lot of work done it astonishes me that it isn’t more widely used. But then, as I say, I’m not the average user.