Computers 4 Kids – Southern Suburbs
Weekly Newsletter – 13 June 2006
I have often been asked by educators what the plural of a computer mouse is, so I went onto the internet and discovered
that it is a question that has been asked by many. I found a very amusing website and have included in this week’s
There is also more on the FOSS saga for those of you that are interested in knowing more about Open Source.
A reminder that there are Youth Day activities that can be used with your learners to commemorate June 16th.
Another long weekend coming up.
Curl up with a good book!
Head Office News
Attached please find a document
regarding a set of reading materials for
primary schools. Please forward to any
interested parties at your school.
Two useful websites to bookmark: one
for printable maps in and around
If you are looking for a South African
postal code, do a search here:
A reminder to schools who have the
older copies of the World Cup Cricket
modules – they were designed to be
adapted for any World Cup series so
why not pull them out of the cupboard
and use them for the World Cup
Football. We will have the original
copies on our webpage to download by
the end of this week should you wish to
make use of them but have maybe Free Download:
misplaced them! DESKTOP UTILITIES
Hot Keyboard Pro
Kind Regards This utility scans your computer for all installed software and gives
you a list of functions that you can attribute hot keys to.
These include anything from adjusting the volume of your music
player to starting and closing programs. You can also adjust the
suggested hot keys to suit your taste.
By Andy Walker, Cyberwalker Media Syndicate
Question: We have a different kind of question for CyberWalker. What is the plural of computer mouse, "mouses"
Answer: I' been on the trail for an answer for this question for a week and in the process I was snubbed by the
very inventor of the computer mouse.
I started my search for the truth about mouse plurality with Douglas Engelbart, who invented the device at the
Stanford Research Centre in California in 1963. You may recall that he was recently named the winner of the 1997
Lemelson-M.I.T. Prize for his inventions, which besides the computer mouse, include windowing and
Well, he didn'answer my e-mail and I' a little indignant about it. I browsed his Web page at www.bootsrap.org
anyway and discovered that in his 1970 patent application for the device, he called it an X-Y Position Indicator for
a Display System. By extrapolation, Engelbart' plural of mouse is XY-PIDSes. Not exactly catchy. Good thing he
didn'go into product-naming as a career. Then again I shouldn'complain, if he had we might be eating the
Agrandized Multi-Layered Hamburger Sandwich at McDonald' s.
The next stop on the rodential syntax search was M.I.T. After all, they' a bunch of bright folks and they did give
Doug a half-million dollars for his badly named, but nifty invention. On their Web page was a media release about
the prize. In it they refer to the plural of the device as "mice," quotes included. That suggests to me that they don'
quite take the word very seriously.
s re s
At a bit of a loss, I headed for Logitech' home page at www.logitech.com.They' the world' largest makers of the
mouse. I sent them an e-mail too, asking for a definitive answer. None arrived. In their marketing material they
refer to the word "mice." But who can take marketers seriously? I mean on the same pages they refer to scanners
and video cameras as "imaging solutions." That' like calling your feet "transportation enablers" or your mouth a
"communication output orifice."
Completely frustrated and at my wit' end, I punched in a few search terms into the Altavista search engine and
came up with what may be as close an answer I as can find. His frankness and willingness to indulge me was
refreshing. He even checked a real dictionary, something I' neglected to do.
"Webster' 7th Collegiate Dictionary would appear to give mice as the plural for mouse in all instances," he
"However, the plural of this device should be determined by common usage. If this is the case then it would appear
that both mice and mouses are acceptable."
In researching his answer for me, he did a search on Altavista for both terms.
"Both turned up an abundance of hits," he said.
mouses' preferred because it avoids confusing a few peripheral input devices
"But one could even argue that ' is
with a few small rodents."
So there you have it. Both are appropriate. I endorse Mayer' final analysis though. "There is one way to avoid
confusion," he concluded. "I do not have two mice and I do not have two mouses ... I have one mouse and come
to think of it, I have another mouse."
Free/Open Source Software
A General Introduction
Kenneth Wong and Phet Sayo
How large are the savings from FOSS?
There have been recent reports about the tremendous savings from FOSS, most noticeably from giant corporations that have migrated
their internal systems to GNU/Linux. Intel reportedly saved US$200 million from a move to GNU/Linux from Unix, and Amazon reported
a savings of US$17 millioni from switching their servers to GNU/Linux. Major financial institutions such as Credit Suisse First Boston,
Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Charles Schwab are moving a significant portion of their infrastructure to FOSS systems to reap
these cost savingsii.
There are few TCO studies showing the total cost of running FOSS systems versus proprietary systems. These studies analyze
multiple cost factors other than software licensing costs, including maintenance, personnel and opportunity costs from service
disruptions. Several have been very positive towards FOSS:
• A TCO study performed by the Robert Frances Group showed that GNU/Linux costs roughly 40 percent of Microsoft Windows
and as low as 14 percent of Sun Microsystem’s Solarisi.
• NetProject reported that the TCO of GNU/Linux was 35 percent of Microsoft Window’s TCOii. Even more interesting was that
the savings was due not just to licensing costs but also to various other costs, including reduction in the number of support
staff and software updates that results from using GNU/Linux.
• Gartner reported that using GNU/Linux in a “locked” configuration resulted in a roughly 15 percent lower TCO compared to
Merrill Lynch, a major financial management company, recently reported that using GNU/Linux could reduce costs dramatically. The
unusual part of their TCO study was that the largest costs savings was not from software licensing costs but from personnel and
Direct Cost Savings – An Example
Cybersourcev of Australia has done an analysis of FOSS savings based on a comparison between Microsoft products and FOSS-based
software that provide similar functionalities. The study, “Linux vs. Windows: The Bottom Line”, looked at potential savings for three
hypothetical companies (A: 50 users; B: 100 users; and C: 250 users). All numbers are in US dollars:
Solution Solution Savings
Company A: 50 Users $87,988 $80 $87,908
Company B: 100 Users $136,734 $80 $136,654
Company C: 250 Users $282,974 $80 $282,894
Note: The savings achieved from implementing the FOSS solution instead of the Microsoft solution actually increases with the number
of users—the bigger the outfit, the greater the savings. The financial incentives for migrating to FOSS increase with the size of the
The Cybersource study is straightforward, comparing nothing more than the costs of software packages. The following two tables list
the prices of two software solutions, Microsoft and FOSS, for a company of 50 users.
Microsoft Solution Software Cost
FOSS Solution Software Cost
Software Copies Cost
Software Copies Cost
Norton Antivirus 2002 50 $2,498
Linux Distribution (eg Red Hat 9.0) 1 $80
MS Internet Information Server 2 $0
Apache (Web server) $0
MS Windows 2000 Advanced Server 5 $19,995
Squid (Proxy server) $0
MS Commerce Server 1 $12,333
PostgreSQL (Database) $0
MS ISA Standard Server 2000 1 $1,499
iptables (Firewall) $0
MS SQL Server 2000 1 $4,999
MS Exchange Standard Server 2000 1 $1,299 Sendmail/Postfix (Mail servers) $0
Windows XP Professional 50 $14,950 KDevelop (IDE) $0
MS Visual Studio 6.0 3 $3,237 GIMP (Graphics) $0
MS Office Standard 50 $23,950 Open Office (Productivity suite) $0
Adobe Photoshop 6 2 $1,218 $0
OSCommerce (e-Commerce suite)
Additional Client Access Licenses 30 $2,010
Note: The cost of the GNU/Linux software solution remains fixed even when the number of users
increases. This is because the licensing for GNU/Linux is not limited, whereas there are additional costs
per user in licensing Microsoft and other proprietary software.
Public sector organizations often have far more users, which means even more dramatic savings. For
example, the government of Sweden has identified savings of $1 billion a year while the government of
Denmark has identified savings of between $480 million to $730 millioni.
Glover, Tony, “Microsoft losing market grip as rivals go on the offensive”, 18 May 2002, Scotland on Sunday; available from
http://www.scotlandonsunday.com/business.cfm?id=562032003; Internet; accessed on November 8, 2003.
Orzech, Dan, “Linux TCO: Less Than Half The Cost of Windows”, 7 October 2002, CIO Update; available from
http://www.cioupdate.com/article.php/10493_1477911; Internet; accessed on November 7, 2003.
“netproject – Cost of Ownership” [home page online]; available from http://www.netproject.com/opensource/coo.html; Internet; accessed
on November 7, 2003.
Maguire, James, “Windows vs. Linux: TCO Feud Rages On”, 01 August 2003, Newsfactor Network [home page online]; available from
http://www.newsfactor.com/perl/story/22012.html; Internet; accessed on November 8, 2003.