Happy New Year! I’ve been busy organising the assets and logistics for the February launch. Unfortunately Entry 29 won’t be ready in time for the February launch. Fortunately I found a lot of good deals and another place that has potential. Furthermore, over the last 2 months, I received people who are interested in helping as mentors and many more developers interested in becoming lead instructors, co-instructors or teaching assistants. Some are even interstate!
The big one would be computers! I’ve considered multiple options because are there are many different ways I could structure the class with the computers.
- No Computers, just BYO laptops. – This has the advantage of no capital costs required, but has the disadvantage of different working environments. Everybody’s computer is different and is probably running on different operating systems. This uncontrolled environment might become an issue with software incompatibilities and bugs in various systems. This can be offset by using cloud development environments such as Cloud 9. However things that has to be done on the desktop such as graphics editing Photoshop, cannot be sufficiently “clouded”.
- Single server and multiple thin clients. – I have a 60 kilogram industrial server under the bed. I got it for about $350, when it was being sold. It was probably worth $5000. It has about 60 gigabytes of RAM. Then 15 thin clients can be connected to the server, the operating system can be virtualised so everybody just runs their workspace on one server. This has the advantage of low capital costs, but there’s too much complexity involved in setting this up. There’s also a single point of failure, if that server goes, everything goes with it. In the end I still need monitors, keyboards, mouses… etc. Thin clients aren’t very cheap either.
- Google Chrome Box – The Chrome Box is an operating system that is geared towards the cloud. Essentially everything you are running should be running over the internet. This has similar problems to the No Computers, just BYO laptops, since it still requires the cloud and I cannot run Photoshop.
- Cheap Linux boxes – After talking to a supplier, it is possible to get a computer box at $350 with no operating system. While this is cheap, it has 2 disadvantages. Firstly with that many tower boxes, it’s going to be noisy and not very portable in such a small classroom. Secondly I still cannot run Photoshop natively (without using Wine).
- Macs – Macs are too expensive. Nuff said.
- All in One Computers – Computers in Australia are abnormally more expensive than ones in the US. So I was considering shipping them from the US. Even though the shipping cost combined with the retail prices would still save me money, it wasn’t going to arrive in time. At least there was no guarantee, and this is business critical if I need computers here by February. At any case I found 2 options that can be bought in Australia:
The Lenovo all in one is slightly cheaper than the Dell all in one, it has roughly the same kind of specifications though. However it requires external optional arm in order to have it stand up on the table. I personally don’t like the monitors with no feet. It offers keyboard and mouse bundled together.
The Dell has a very large screen. It’s quite good looking too. Both of these All in Ones can run Windows and Linux. They both will be quiet and portable. This also offers a wireless keyboard and mouse bundled together.
So I’ve decided on a logic chart like this:
- If I get 15 people or more signup to the course and pay their deposit, I’ll get Dell all in Ones.
- If I get 10 people or more signup to the course and pay their deposit, I’ll get Lenovo all in ones.
- If I get 5 people or more signup to the course and pay their deposit, I’ll have to remain on BYO laptops. I’ll use cloud IDEs to develop, and for graphics editing we can use GIMP. Or buy Photoshop via the Creative Cloud.
A classroom also requires a whiteboard and projector. So why can’t we combine the whiteboard and projector? In fact we can! So I’m planning to get the Epson EB425W projector at a short throw distance and combining it with a whiteboard that doubles as a projector screen. I’ve found a dealer that’s willing to offer this all at $2000. Oh and the short throw mount means less shadows!
Furniture is another interesting issue. Depending on the location, I may have furniture supplied to me by the people who own the place, or I may have to bring in my own furniture. A Canberran company called Office Furniture Direct can offer me 8 Ronda Tables (fitting 2 people each) and 15 Mesh chairs at around $2800.
Because Entry 29 won’t be ready, I’ve had look for other places willing to offer a 3 month or 6 month lease. Currently I’ve found a place at 7 London Circuit. That’s right, it’s the same building where NICTA lives. This is a grade A office. It should be expensive. But it actually fits my budget! That is if I can get 10 or more people signup and pay the deposit. If I get lower than 10, I’ll have to move somewhere else, or only execute the 11 week program, as a shorter time means shorter lease. This place however is very very cool.
Mentors & Developers
I’ve secured a partnership with ReadSpeaker. It’s a company that focuses on turning web content into audio. They have major clients in the Government. They’ll open up their API so the students of Polycademy can learn web service architecture! The managing director of the Australia New Zealand division is even interested in speaking at Polycademy regarding entrepreneurship.
Oh and I’ve got about 5 other developers around the country who’s interested in becoming mentors for the students. The deal is a minimum of 1 hr a week. Each student or team part of Polycademy will have a mentor where you can discuss the weekly programming problems or entrepreneurial problems. They'll all be up on a Partnership page soon.
I’ve interviewed over 30 potential teaching assistants. About 10 of them are in the pipeline for the second interview. The second interview is actually a challenge, where they must create a video that teaches me something they didn’t know before. The results of this shall come around 20th January.
Since posting the co/lead instructor jobs around the intertubes, I’ve received interest all around the country. Seems like such a job would be quite an interesting experience. There must be at least 15 students to justify the cost of bringing in another instructor. I myself will also be the lead instructor along with some teaching assistants.
To those coming to the event on Jan 15th, make sure to register an account on Cloud 9 and use firebug if you’re using Firefox! If you like to be adventurous, also register an account on Github and Appfog.
The company account will be opened soon with Commonwealth Bank, so as per the terms and conditions I’ll be asking for deposits after the 15th January. The deadline will be 18th January.
Oh and today and tomorrow is the last chance to enter the scholarship competition. Remember to be eligible you need to apply on the course page as well. This is so that I know your preferences.
For the rest of the month, I’ll be focusing on developing the course material and putting it up onto a DevHub page on Polycademy’s website and sourcing more people. If I unfortunately don’t get enough people to sign up and pay the deposit, I’ll refund and have to move to another city :(.
Oh I recently also scored an interview with Digital Sydney regarding Polycademy.