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[ale] Source for flat-panel displays for a school

Especially after the Atlanta Public Schools masterpiece/debacle 
(depending on how you look at it) that Jim, Aaron, and I did a few years 
ago, I would advise this school to tread very, very carefully. That 
donation from SSA can turn into a leaden albatross very easily - perhaps 
so easily that there is no way to avoid it.

The basic problem always seems to come down to trading up-front cost and 
labor avoidance for some combination of up-front and follow-on labor 
cost. It's the latter that really hurts because it accrues over time.

Let's assume all the PCs are the same, were procured at about the same 
time by SSA off either GSA or some other blanket procurement, and they 
all function perfectly when you receive them. If you deploy so as to 
depend on the disk drives in each one, the far end of the so-called 
"bathtub curve" distribution of drive failures is out there waiting for 
you and when you arrive at it, you'll be sinking a lot of labor into 
drive replacement and system recovery that you could avoid by designing 
to get rid of the disk drives (a separate calculation would help to 
determine if it is worth it to remove or just unplug the drives; in this 
day and age I doubt it would be worth it to make a single massive array 
out of them and use the array for infrastructure).

We deployed 2200 thin-client seats in seven schools, up to 500 per 
school, and we were trying to stick to one app server for every 100 
seats (we would likely have that number at 400-500 today). Even at just 
53 machines it would definitely call for some sort of 
netboot/central-app arrangement like the one we built or the labor 
intensity would just be ridiculous.

But more to your original question, I would first compare the goods and 
labor cost of monitors against that of 53 all-up monitor/thin-client 
combos before even agreeing to take the donation. When we tried to bid 
for the job of building out the rest of the APS district, I worked out 
many of the details that would be associated with assembling 
monitor/thin-client combos at industrial scale - tens of thousands of 
seats' worth. When you do that, you have to sweat the labor intensity of 
every single step in the process (e.g. screwing monitors to thin 
clients, loading trucks) and plan things so as to keep costs from 
scaling with volume to the greatest degree possible.

Recall that the CCF backlights in monitors dim over time and if you 
source monitors that are already five years old or older, that's a lot 
of CCF life that's already behind them. If you were to go for refurbs, 
you'd want to know if new CCFs were part of the refurb.

The power consumption of an idling tower PC is a lot greater than that 
of a thin client; the latter of which only needs to run a little dippy 
CPU and not much RAM if all that it's really doing is running Xorg and 
perhaps a few other daemons to handle sound and so forth. Even the power 
supply fans in PCs, if you get 8-10 of them in a classroom, make a fair 
amount of noise.

On 10/4/16 9:04 AM, Vernard Martin wrote:
> An acquaintance of mine that runs a small private school has recently 
> given the opportunity to acquire 59 computers from the Social Security 
> Administration but no monitors. I'm not sure that they have an OS 
> currently loaded on them and I am, of course, strongly suggesting that 
> she go with an open source Linux-based solution either way. However, 
> their immediate needs are a supply of flat-panel monitors or the units 
> aren't very useful.
> They are based in the Atlanta area. Since I'm no longer living in 
> Atlanta, I'm doing all this remotely. Its a challenge as you can 
> imagine :) Does anyone have any suggestions on where I can call around 
> looking for donations? And barring that, does anyone know where I can 
> purchase around 60 refurbish monitors in bulk? I figure 14" 1024x768 
> would be the low-end units that would work, especially if they are 
> being donated. Anything less just might not be worth it in the long run.
> Any leads would be appreciated.
> Vernard
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