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back to article ‘Anonymous’ hacks Oz Uni’s email to protest bulk iPad buy

Email servers at the University of Western Sydney, which last year announced it would hand iPads to all staff and over 10,000 incoming students, have been hacked by someone using the name ‘Anonymous’. The University is known to use Microsoft’s live@edu hosted email service. The attacker has used the University’s servers to send …

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JDX
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stop abusing and exploiting their student body

Did they ask the student body if getting free iPads made them feel abused and exploited, or make that decision on their behalf?

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Re: stop abusing and exploiting their student body

"Oh no - The University has ‘fessed up to the incident on Facebook, where commenters report having received 300 or more unexpected emails."

Oh fuck - we are doomed...

300 "unexpected" emails....

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Re: stop abusing and exploiting their student body

If Anon had been around in the eighties:

"It is scandalous that schools have bought overpriced BBCs when everyone knows Spectrums are better!"

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Anonymous Coward

Android Fanboi

clearly is very angry.

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They're not free

No they - the University - didn't ask. That's exactly one of the points made, if you RTFA: "the author criticises the ... lack of consultation with students".

Also see “If only they'd have surveyed how many students own luxury cars,” the author wrote, “they may have decided to gift students a free Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG instead." (The fact that people take ipads for free is not exactly a ringing endorsement anyway - even if people hate it, they can sell it.)

And they're not free. If Apple paid, then fair enough - about time that Apple paid for its marketing rather than getting it for free. Otherwise, if the University is state-funded, it's coming out of tax. If it's paid for by tuition fees, the students are being lumbered with this cost, whether they want it or not.

IMO the problem isn't a one-off decision by one university, but that this seems to be a repeating pattern where Apple gets a load of free money and advertising, because Universities decide all their students need one (I've heard about this from people in the US too). If this was MS, people would (rightly) be frothing at the mouth here.

People make the argument that MS only got their dominance on computer OSs because it was handed to them, yet we're now seeing the same thing for Apple on tablets, despite there being overwhelming evidence that consumers prefer Android devices. Everything from the vast amounts of free media coverage before it was even announced - whilst other devices go ignored - to the absurd number of "Win a free ipad" adverts I see. Now we have god knows how many orders being given to Apple for free. Just sitting here with the TV on, whilst writing this there have been countless free Apple adverts, not actually from Apple (did Sky get bought out by Apple when I wasn't looking? Sorry, like most people I don't have an ipad, preferring to use more popular platforms, and I'm not interested that my money would be used to provide services for the minority of Apple users).

It's not too much to ask for a bit of competition in the market, is it.

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Re: stop abusing and exploiting their student body

Ah yes, the good old BBC - 10 PRINT "HELLO" etc. Oh wait, good luck doing that with an ipad.

Well they could at least install a BBC emulator. Oh wait.

I don't think that argument works - the BBC had support in UK schools, but that was it. Compared to the vast amount of free advertising that Apple gets in everything from the media, companies offering services, to schools and universities in many countries. Plus it was at most one class with BBCs, or maybe one BBC per room - not one for every one of 10,000 students, which all have to be paid for either by tax or the students themselves, ultimately.

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Re: They're not free

I don't know the justification for the purchase, but it may well be as simple as costing paper printed textbooks versus costing ipad, and ipad wins. Just because some crap Android tablet might be cheaper, and may have other features, doesn't mean its actually a viable solution. This hacker is just a fanboi who doesn't understand, probably.

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Re: They're not free

Microsoft has done this in the past. In 1997, I had a sabbatical at University of Michigan, then one of the biggest Mac users in the world. While I was there, Microsoft and Intel clubbed together to pay the cost of replacing most of their Macs with Wintel boxes. It ended costing the university money because they had to hire so many more support staff.

And no, I don't recall a lot of frothing at the mouth, even though this was a blatantly ant-competitive act.

While the iPads are being paid for somehow there is nothing in the university's terms and conditions that says you can't sell yours once you've had it past the date when your enrolment for becomes irrevocable for purposes of calculating tuition, so there's nothing to stop you selling it.

As for the benefits educationally, meh. I've read countless studies of computers in education and can't say I've seen any that make a compelling case.

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Re: They're not free

The thing that Apple have and that Android doesn't (yet) which is attractive to education is the authoring tool iBooks Author, which allows academics to generate their own multimedia course materials which can then be pre-loaded onto the devices. Similarly Apple have the tools for large institutions to develop custom apps and load them onto the devices. It's more than just the devices themselves, it's the whole package.

Universities in the UK are experimenting with similar projects, though as far as I know only on a small scale/pilot basis so far, particularly for distance learners.

Marketers can then add the iPad provision in as a recruiting tool as a side effect, but it's the other stuff that currently is giving Apple the edge.

Naturally nothing is stopping anyone from developing similar tools for Android. For all I know, they may have done it already, but if so they aren't as widely known. Apple's stuff is however, and increasingly is being used.

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Devil

..and this is the problem with vigilante groups, or those pretending to be them.

At first their causes are noble, standing up against injustice and defending basic human rights. But over time, they start to diversify into areas which - frankly - are hardly crimes against humanity.

Seriously Anon (if that is indeed you) - what the f* has this corporate IT spend decision got to do with you?

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Anonymous Coward

> At first their causes are noble,

Their causes are never noble. The anonymous skiddies didn't take up this activity because of some cause.

They took it up because they feel that having the ability to run some scripts and break in other peoples property empowers their shallow lives.

The causes they claim to follow are their excuse for what they do not their reason.

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@Silverburn

I think the point of "anonymous" is that it can be anyone or any group of people. It's quite likely that in this case the "culprit" has every right to an opinion on the matter as they probably work for or study at the university in question and are (rightly, imho) pissed off at said institution spunking good money on pointless frippery given the apparently poor state of their existing (and non-pointless) IT infrastructure. The method of protest is a bit dim (especially the spam part) but you can't argue with its efficacy.

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Their causes are never noble. The anonymous skiddies didn't take up this activity because of some cause.

Lol @ "The anonymous skiddies" - you don't actually get it do you? It's not a club.

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Maybe he's a taxpayer.

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hard to argue with what the anon guy said

But I'm sure some fanbois will make an attempt.

icon: for anybody arguing against the anon guy statement

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Re: hard to argue with what the anon guy said

icon: for anybody arguing against the anon guy statement

All hail our benevolent, fault-free and glorious Anonymous Overlords! For they know all, and are wise beyond human comprehension!

How long before Chris goes the next step and actually registers Anon as a proper religion. He's got the dogma and blind faith right down to a tee.

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Re: hard to argue with what the anon guy said

This anon crusade was a pointless, juvenile and selfish act of a self-righteous, egotistical arsehole.

I'm not a fan of Apple products and I'm very happy with my Android phone. I don't own a tablet, nor feel any particular desire to. However, if my kids get presented with a "free" iPad when they start university then I'm sure they'd be delighted.

I can think of many advantages for a university's IT department in having one device to support for so many users. And they are, unarguably, very user friendly devices. These things cut costs considerably, so the initial cost isn't the only factor. The Apple choice may have been simply because of prestige, but it could also have been because they deem them a better fit with their existing equipment or their staffs knowledge.

I'd agree that tablets are rubbish input devices, but there's plenty of scope at a university for using them from newsletters, timetables, contact information to distributing course notes, presentations, tutorial notes & questions, past papers and endless other material that would normally be shoved around on paper. So another cost saving.

It sounds quite ideal to me for a student to do their work on paper, a desktop or laptop with the slab being used as a question paper or handbook.

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Re: hard to argue with what the anon guy said

>I'd agree that tablets are rubbish input devices,

Before eInk readers were cheap enough for consumers, they were used by pilots who are required to have a large quantity of documentation on board. This documentation was heavy and also subject to frequent updates, so justifying the cost of the device ($1,500 at launch).

From 2006:

http://www.engadget.com/2006/07/27/hands-on-with-arincs-iliad-based-eflybook/

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Trollface

Re: hard to argue with what the anon guy said @silverburn

Thank god for your reply - I was beginning to think I'd lost the ability to troll :)

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Not wrong.

"[The] 800-word rant ... suggests tablets have no proven impact on the quality of teaching or learning. The author also believes the decision to buy iPads was made by the marketing department after research found plenty of would-be students would like one. 'If only they'd have surveyed how many students own luxury cars,' the author wrote, 'they may have decided to gift students a free Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG instead.'"

Insofar as the above statements go, they are not wrong. I have always felt that the idea of computers as educational tools is, except under very specific conditions, highly dubious, if not actually fraudulent.

Of course, if anyone can cite a large body of research suggesting that computers do improve the quality of teaching and learning, (as opposed to some one-off study that looks like the work of shills or Schneiderists) it would be interesting to read.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not wrong.

Let's turn that the other way, what evidence do you have that they DON'T improve education?

I'm not saying you're right or wrong, just that you're making just a vague statement as the original quote yet you too have given no evidence to support your argument against.

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Re: Not wrong.

There is also no evidence that gifting all new students a brand new shiny Merc won't help them suddenly become wonder students, but I don't suppose you suggest that is tried out.

Perhaps before blowing N-Million dollars it would have made sense to do some research, that is after all one of the reason Unis exist.

In the mean time it seems more like someone fancied a new toy and wanted their boss to pay for it for them. The mega give away to students just seemed the ideal excuse.

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@AC Re: Not wrong.

Asking someone to prove a negative. Slow claps for you sir.

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JDX
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Re: @AC Not wrong.

No evidence computers aid education? What?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not wrong.

> Let's turn that the other way, what evidence do you have that they DON'T improve education?

So let's get this straight, when you're spending a lot of money you ask yourself the question "is there evidence I shouldn't buy this?" rather than "why do i need this?" .... really? Really!

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Stop

Just consider one simple use case

Textbooks. Rather than carting around 1/2 a hundred weight of dead trees, the contents of which are guaranteed to be outdated in a year or less, the students can carry a single electronic device the size and weight of a single pad of paper that holds all of them and picks up updates almost as soon as they happen.

There is definite evidence that textbooks benefit students. Providing them in a more compact, more up-to-date form is a usability benefit and also a cost benefit (the electronic versions being typically 1/3rd of the price). Given this why does the iPad need to be any BETTER for teaching? Providing it's no worse than using a text book then this by its self is a win.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just consider one simple use case

I think its the ipad decision that he has a problem with, and I agree with for a uni it is a DUMB move,

For any serious educational need, something that can handle a memory card & has full file access abilities & plenty of free apps for the poor student... something with USB OTG available, something that can be

I would have gone for the Note 10.1 if I was making the decision.. over £100 cheaper each... I paid £270 for mine new including rebate, so I am sure a large order of 10K should be able to negotiate a similar price...

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Stop

Re: Just consider one simple use case

Even a basic 16GB iPad has far more space than you need for textbooks. All this talk about memory cards and file systems is an irrelevance to what it's needed for. Don't forget that Google's Nexus tablets also lack card readers.

The Note 10.1 is a huge step down compared to the iPad for this kind of work (much lower Rez screen, more than two hours less battery life, but most importantly it hasn't got the text book creation and distribution platform of the iPad). Add to that you're saddling the students with an additional GSM data contract and saving much less money than you're talking about (factoring in just the standard 10% educational discount and looking at the best Galaxy Note 10.1 prices shown by Google your saving is £15, and I expect they're getting a better discount than that).

Oh, and there is LOTS of free stuff in the Apple App Store for students to download. Google are far from the only provider of this.

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Re: Just consider one simple use case

"I would have gone for the Note 10.1 if I was making the decision.. over £100 cheaper each... I paid £270 for mine new including rebate, so I am sure a large order of 10K should be able to negotiate a similar price..."

Exactly this. I just bought a Note 10.1 for use at university, and it's very useful, both for being able to take lecture notes, and read lots of articles/books/etc. So much so that my netbook, which I used to take notes on and read articles on, is barely used any more. One of the other lecturers has an iPad, and I showed him what I can do on the Note and he said he will definitely dump it for a Note.

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Re: Just consider one simple use case

>For any serious educational need, something that can handle a memory card & has full file access abilities & plenty of free apps for the poor student... something with USB OTG available, something that can be

The device the student uses for text input (i.e a laptop) will handle that sort of thing. You don't need those things on a textbook replacement. WiFi will be sufficient.

The Note's stylus would be useful in the classroom (I had a play its feature that recognises stylus input of mathematical formulae), but a device with the resolution of a Nexus 10 or iPad would be better for textbooks.

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Re: Just consider one simple use case

True, but students usually need to buy their own textbooks. Spunking AU$4-6m on ipads when (in my experience), most university IT rooms are over-crowded and under-equipped with a dearth of basics like working printers seems like an horrific waste of money. You could lay out a series of superb IT rooms for that money.

Also, the joys of digital distribution means students are now required to buy textbooks "new", depriving them of the time honoured tradition of buying second hand from older students and flogging them on to the next generation (most academic textbooks are not updated on an annual basis and good for a few years).

Of course I suppose one can argue that with no print costs, and increased revenue from everyone having to buy new, the per-download cost of textbooks will fall, and authors can issue updates on an annual basis (or indeed with whatever regularity they like) without the publisher having to do another print run.

In other news, kangaroos might fly, probably on the private tropical island now inhabited by academic book authors who have seen digital sales go through the roof...

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Happy

Some of the evidence you asked for.

"what evidence do you have that they DON'T improve education?"

WARNING - PDF

http://economics.mit.edu/files/22

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Silver badge

Re: Just consider one simple use case

If resolution is what's important, then the Nexus 10 is higher and cheaper. Just saying. Although, I suppose giving it's immense popularity, there is the problem of getting hold of one - Apple tablets on the other hand are given away free all the time.

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Re: Just consider one simple use case

Also, I'm surprised no one has mentioned e-readers. Actual e-readers (which the ipad is not).

An ipad to replace a book? Sure, there's nothing like helping studying than staring at an LCD for hours on end! Resolution has nothing to do with it, e-readers have a much better display. They're easer on the eyes, and can be used anywhere, including outdoors, easily. They also have vastly better battery life, on the order of 10s of hours (the idea that you consider a device that needs charging every day to have good battery life is interesting).

Of course, they don't do videos or Angry Birds, but the claim was about textbooks. The only deficiency is color, but for most subjects and use cases, this isn't an issue - most books aren't even printed in colour, after all. For most purposes, an e-reader would do the job much better, despite no colour (and why not offer a choice?) Yes, a tablet can do some things that an e-reader can't, but then a laptop can do plenty that a tablet can. A laptop and e-reader covers far more uses.

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Stop

Re: Just consider one simple use case

Funny, I and most office workers stare at LCD screens all day long without any serious problems. eInk may be better in full sunlight (most teaching happens indoors in case you hadn't noticed), but the small screens don't match well with the format of textbooks, their resolution isn't great (600x800 typically) and screen response is sluggish for things like links and cross references.

You still haven't answered the central question of the tools for creation and distribution of textbooks (Amazon's ebook format isn't good at complex typography for formula etc).

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FAIL

Re: Just consider one simple use case

If they were just after a textbook replacement why not a Kindle?

They're MUCH cheaper, are built exactly for that purpose, have close to the widest range of books, can't be misused as easily meaning less security concerns to the uni network and have much better battery life.

Bonus points for most of these arguments applying to almost any non-apple tablet.

Extra credit goes to those who recognise that online textbooks aren't quite all encompassing yet either. Having jsut finished my degree over half of the books that I needed did not have digital versions, what use is a tablet there?

Also in my first degree I worked with exceedingly large files, if it was there as a data storage device as well 16GB would not even begin to cut it...

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Vic
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Re: Not wrong.

> what evidence do you have that they DON'T improve education?

The 1990s?

Vic.

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Vic
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Re: Just consider one simple use case

> Textbooks

They're available on the iPad, are they?

I've just had a look for Horowitz and Hill. I can't find it...

> Providing it's no worse than using a text book then this by its self is a win

If you're reading Electronics, the iPad is definitively worse than a textbook by virtue of it entirely failing to contain any of the same material. I've not checked for any other subject - it fell at the very first hurdle.

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

What's the alternative?

Android tablets where google can plagerise all your work, or track you like the case in Texas or maybe students being able to install Malware on the tablets..... or Microsoft Surface RT that is just as expensive as an iPad with poor software / a bad copy of Office that can't be used properly without a keyboard + mouse anyway.

Apple has a great selection of text books and education apps that no other platform (apart from standard Windows) can match.

This site is so full of anti-apple people it's just funny.

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FAIL

Re: What's the alternative?

Pencil and paper? It's worked at the best universities for the last 800+ years. No Spam either.

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Re: What's the alternative?

How about putting a computer in every dorm room? Or a laptop? Something they could actually use to write some school work with? Perhaps spend the money on improving the IT structure in the school (and no, fondleslabs do not count)

The problem with any technology is that it is prone to misuse. Yes, there may be all these great apps for learning and textbooks to read, but that is like saying that there are great educational shows for kids to watch on tv... but it doesn't mean they are going to watch them.

I have worked in IT in education before and unless it is done in some sort of structured way (ie. Today class we are going to sit in front of the computers and do this task, then we are going to watch this video and then you are going to watch me do something and repeat it. A very boring example I know, but you get the idea), then it is very prone to noneducational uses.

A perfect example I can offer was that we used to service the laptops in schools, this would from time to time include laptops that were on loan to pupils to take home for them to do their schoolwork. The amount of smut/games and other stuff I dare not mention was phenomenal. Even the teachers laptops were nowhere near as bad.

And the same will be in this case. When you take that structure away and say, oh, you have a fondleslab in your hand while I am trying to hold a lecture... you must be taking notes or learning in some other way, so that's ok, then it is counterproductive to learning.

I would be interested to see the average test scores of the pupils there pre and post the iFlood.

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Re: What's the alternative?

@AC 08.53 GMT

I'll take your statements a face value. I really don't know how valuable these devices would be to a student. And I don't just mean iPads but any tablet. Personally I can't see how much use one would be.

Rather than the usual ranting does anyone know? Have tablets added to student learning anywhere?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's the alternative?

> Pencil and paper? It's worked at the best universities for the last 800+ years. No Spam either.

My text books don't run out of batteries either.

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Re: What's the alternative?

Playbook. It's cheaper, has flash and offers lots of functionality both the students and university would find useful and it would be less likely sold on to buy beans and beer.

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Re: What's the alternative?

I am a fondleslab lover. I probably spend more time on a fondleslab then any other device when I'm not working.

I never use a fondleslab (or its mini smartphone equivelent) for work except in emergency when a conventional desktop/laptop or even netbook is not available. You really can't be seriously creative without a keyboard and (if you are artistic) at least a mouse. One wonders if this particular University thinks education is the consumption of information rather than the production (or at least value added reprodoction) of information.

If I was an Ozy this would move this University way down my wish list.

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Thumb Up

Re: What's the alternative? Aduio rcording and paper/pen

I have been to OEMs to get 'factory training' for equipment being sold into Canada by my then employer. In return for this 'vacation' I was expected to document the training I received.

I used both audio recordings and paper notes. Another fellow used a laptop.

On the way home his laptop got pinched but, seemingly my paper notes and audio recordings had no attraction for the thief(ves).

I love paper notes, with pencil writing, because not even a good soaking in water will obliterate them.

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JDX
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@Phil

>>Pencil and paper? It's worked at the best universities for the last 800+ years#

I do love it when people post this stupid argument, thinking it proves a point. Before pencil and paper, slate and chalk worked just fine too.

The reason we used pen[cil] and paper for so long is ONLY because it was the economical, easy approach. NOT because it was the best. Phil has also missed the point that the top universities no longer use pencil and paper. Or even pen and paper... when did anyone last use pencils... other than a few subjects like maths, computers are the norm for writing essays and projects.

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Re: What's the alternative? Aduio rcording and paper/pen

All that proves is that the fellow who used a laptop has no concept of making a backup.

For any important document that I create, I make sure that I have it backed up or synced - often in a variety of places.

The USB drive that I carry with my keys is one such place, as is my phone, but I'm also not averse to using Dropbox, Google Drive, or Evernote.

Your paper notes and audio recordings are far more at risk from loss than a properly backed up electronic version.

Now I'm just waiting "Tin Foil Hat" brigade to chime up about how unsafe it is to keep my data in the cloud...... ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's the alternative? @ Stuart

get a Galaxy Note 10.1, while the pen is not quite as good as a Wacom tablet on its own, it IS good....

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