22 July 2020

Running into the limits of my laptop

I had managed all my work on my old laptop so far! When the University closed, we were told not to take our desktops home. So I didn't. My laptop does work. And I did manage to record lectures, with capture of my face and all. But then there was accessibility. We want everybody to be able to do Ocean Sciences! Well, within reason, of course. We want to be able to teach people with visual, hearing and mobility impairments, and all other physical impairments I can't currently think of too. And, of course, all mental challenges, but that's not what this post is for. Anyway; by the time students are deaf and blind and in a wheelchair I suppose it becomes a bit beyond our skill set, and beyond what we have experienced, but you get the gist. So if we teach we want to have both visual and auditory material. And for lectures, that means we always publish our lecture slides. But ideally, we would have a transcript. And when we record everything anyway, we may as well just produce a transcript on the go. Software can do that! And you can even make it swap language. 

I had recorded the first two short lectures without transcript as there had been enough to think about already, with me already having to get the newer version of Office. But then I decided I should step up my game. And looked for the 'dictate' button. I now had Office 365 and that can do it. But no! It wasn't there. A bit of light googling revealed you need at least Windows 10 for that, and my laptop runs on 8.1 (yes really). So that didn't work! And Word can do it too. A colleague suggested I just run the recording and let Word listen in. But no luck there either. I suspect it's the same with Word: it cannot do this in too old an operating system. But I will not change my operating system. That is too thorough a change! I won't do that unless I have support, and the university does not support private computers. So that was a no-no. 

So then what? I contacted IT. Maybe they had a laptop lying around? And I wasn't surprised to hear they didn't. I have no idea what percentage of staff has a desktop but I guess it's high. They must have had loads of requests! But the IT person suggested I arrange to go into the office, take the computer, bring it to him (he would have to be in the office; no idea if that's the default these days or not), and then he would make it home-compatible. And then I could take it home. And then I would have a newer version of Windows and all would be possible! 

That option sounded like a good one but it did make me ponder. Then I really couldn't go back to the office! Not until I would go back fulltime. What good is an office without a computer. I had hoped to do a bit of both at some point! But well, it was this or bust I suppose. Home office, I am here to stay! I would also be tempted to bring some furniture so I could have a more ergonomic space here. There is enough! Not quite sure how easily that would fit into my little car. Maybe borrow a School vehicle? I'll have to ponder that. 

Later, I checked if perhaps I could use Panopto to record with webcam. And that didn't work. My Panopto couldn't find my Powerpoint. I couldn't troubleshoot my way out of that, and as I said, the helpdesk would not be able to do anything. So I suppose that seals the deal. And I hope I can get a university webcam with the computer as I need one, and I  think I have spent enough money on my home office, buying a chair and peripherals. Time for the university to pitch in! And they buy them in bulk so they'd get them cheaper... 

Nope, no more Powerpoint via Panopto for a while!

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