Fighting for the computer

Spouse and kids driving you mad by wanting to use the computer and whining until you can’t bear it anymore, and you let them have it just to shut them up?

Handing over your computer and buying yourself another one is a possible solution but they’re very likely to prefer your new one, and use that anyway. I came across a very nifty idea the other day when I went down to the recent SmartCity ICT Conference and Expo at the ICC.

The boffins were having a good chat about how telecommunications and broadband Internet access can improve our lives. It’s going to be great once our SmartCity project gets underway and we can start using the city’s network to access the Internet and make local telephone calls, rather than relying on Telkom.

Prowling around the exhibition outside the conference, while scanning the lunch counter for a juicy morsel, I noticed a brochure for the Xtenda X300 on the MIB Technology stand. It’s nifty piece of kit which allows up to seven people to share a single computer at the same time.

For around R3600, you get three black boxes, three pieces of network cable and a card which slots into the back of the computer. You can then plug a screen, keyboard and mouse into each of the black boxes, connect the black boxes to the card in the computer with the bits of cable and, hey presto, four people can use the computer at the same time.

You can increase the number of users to seven by getting another Xtenda kit, slotting that card into the computer as well, and connecting more of the black boxes. Everyone can use the programs that are installed on the computer and any peripherals, like printers or scanners, that are connected to it.

According to MIB director Vivian Naidoo, users will hardly notice that they are using terminals without their own processors and hard drives. The operating system, such as Windows XP and Linux, allocates disk space on the central computer to each user for storing their files.

This is all is made possible by the fact that modern computers only use a small percentage of their capacity when doing office tasks, like word processing or browsing the Internet, and can quite happily cope with multiple users at the same time. The system would not be suitable for more demanding tasks, such as video editing or image manipulation.

I hear that the municipal libraries are going to be using Xtenda X300 system to enable more people to use PCs which they’ve had donated to them.

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