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IT Trends of Interest to Farm Managers. Jeff Balvanz Information Technology Services Iowa State University September 13, 2006. Microsoft Windows Vista. New version of Microsoft Windows Will appear on new machines in November/December 2006 time frame

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IT Trends of Interest to Farm Managers

Jeff Balvanz

Information Technology Services

Iowa State University

September 13, 2006

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Microsoft Windows Vista

  • New version of Microsoft Windows

  • Will appear on new machines in November/December 2006 time frame

  • Available for purchase January/February 2007

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Greater security (with some getting used to)

  • Difference between users and administrators

    • Administrators can install software, change settings

    • Users can run software but can't install software, change things

    • This was actually in way back in Windows NT but no one used it because legacy Windows applications wouldn't work with it.

  • Installing software requires entering a password even for administrators

  • Running system utilities must be done as an Administrator

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New user interface

  • New Start Menu, Explorer

  • Search integrated into everything

  • Sidebar Gadgets on desktop

  • What you see depends on how much machine you have

    • 3D, transparent, flipping windows

  • Many commands, etc. will be in new locations

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Five different versions

  • Windows Vista Home Basic

  • Windows Vista Home PremiumIncludes Aero, Media Center

  • Windows Vista BusinessAero, image-based install, backup

  • Windows Vista EnterpriseHardware encryption, Virtual PC

  • Windows Vista Ultimate

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Apple Macintosh

  • Mac OS X -- alternative to Windows

  • Disease-resistant

    • Less susceptible to viruses, Internet worms than Windows

  • Includes many useful applications in the box

    • Mail, iCal, iChat, iMovie, GarageBand

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Macs Running Windows

  • Now using Intel processors (same as Windows machines)

  • Several ways to run Windows applications

    • Boot Camp -- allows you to boot Windows on a Macintosh

    • Parallels -- runs Windows and Mac OS X in parallel (virtualization)Multiple operating systems on the same machine

    • Crossover Mac -- runs Windows applications in Mac OS X

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  • Cell phones with computers are getting smarter...

    • Windows Mobile 5.0 -- compatible with Exchange, Office, normal Email (POP,IMAP)

    • Many connect via wi-fi as well as cellular

    • Built-in cameras, Bluetooth (headsets & keyboards)

  • ...and cheaper.

    • Motorola Q ($200 with 2-year contract, Verizon)

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Not-so-smart phones

  • Even “ordinary” phones can connect:

    • Text messaging e-mail addresses

    • POP3 mail (Soda-Pop Mail)

    • Mobile AOL Mail

    • AOL Instant Messenger can send text messages to “registered” cell phones

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Web 2.0 (a.k.a. Software As A Service)

  • Applications delivered over the Internet

    • Groupware (Email, Instant messaging, Calendar, Contact management)

    • Mapping applications

    • Photo and data storage

    • Word processing

    • Spreadsheets

  • Examples

    • Zoho --

    • Google Apps –

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Web 2.0 Continued

  • Data stored on network servers, accessible from anywhere

    • Can share with co-workers, customers

    • Don’t need to manage network infrastructure

  • Platform independence

    • Windows, Mac, Linux, PDA, cell phone

  • Service offered for free or nearly free

    • Ad-supported, subsidized, subscription

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The Last Mile(Rural Broadband)

  • Many new and critical services require fast Internet

    • Web 2.0 applications

    • Software and OS updates

    • Audio and video

    • Voice over IP (VOIP) phone

  • DSL, cable are limited by distance from switching station Chart

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Alternatives to Regular Broadband

  • Cellular Internet Access

  • Long-range Wireless (802.11a)

  • Satellite Internet

  • Ethernet over Powerlines

  • Mesh Networks

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Cellular Internet Access

  • US Cellular EasyEdge

    • 40-60 KB/sec for $60/month (with voice plan)

    • Covers most of Iowa except part of NW, W

  • Verizon NationalAccess

    • Up to 2.4 MB/sec for $59.95/month

    • Available in Verizon National Enhanced Services Rate and Coverage area (about 1/2 of state)

    • Wireless PC card available

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Cellular Internet Access

  • Cingular EDGE

    • 70 - 135 Kbps for $59.95/month unlimited

    • Spotty coverage in Iowa, mostly E and SW with some in NW

    • Requires PC Card modem (or some Sony Vaio laptops)

  • T-Mobile Total Internet

    • 70-135 Kbps for $49.95/month unlimited

    • Spotty coverage, mostly E and along Interstates

    • Also includes free use of T-Mobile Hotspots

    • They recommend Sony Ericsson GC89 network cards, which also do Wi-Fi

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Long-range Wireless (802.11a)

  • 256Kbps or faster

  • Range 8-10 miles depending on terrain

  • Typically $50-100/month

  • Antenna on outside of building, narrow beam, must remain stationary

  • Can route to an 802.11b/g access point for local distribution (some ISPs don't permit this)

  • Numerous providers in Iowa

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Satellite Internet

  • Up to 2 MBps download, 200 KBps upload

  • $60-200/month after activation, equipment fees

  • Stationary/mobile antenna

  • Hughesnet (

    • 700/128 Kbps unlimited access for $399 equipment plus $59.95/month

  • Agristar (

    • 700/130 Kbps unlimited access for $599.99 equipment, $59.95/month

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WiMAX (802.16)

  • Up to 70 Mbps up to 70 miles away (depending)

  • Requires licensed frequencies, most of US license owned by Sprint Nextel; more available when analog TV goes away in 2009

  • "Subscriber stations" currently cost about $500, but will probably be cheaper

  • Intel has single chip solutions that drop in same location as current wireless chips

  • Sprint Nextel is beginning to deploy 802.16 in USPilot projects in 2007, will cover 100 million people in 2008

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Ethernet over Powerlines

  • Recently approved by FCC in US

  • Still requires frequent booster amplifers

  • So far most utility companies haven't shown much interest except in Texas

  • System can cause interference with radio frequency communications, including emergency communications and amateur radio

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Mesh Networks

  • Nodes ("meshboxes") share Internet connections via 802.11a/b/g wireless

  • Clients can connect to the nodes via wireless

  • Adding a node extends the network; adding a gateway increases the bandwidth to the Internet

  • Ideal for communities, cooperatives

  • Southern Minnesota network covers 75 square miles with 20 nodes


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Questions and (I Hope) Answers

  • This presentation is available on the Web at