Best Introduction To Programming For Bright 11-14-Year-Olds?
When my "computer savvy but not programming" youngest was about that age he called me into his room with "Dad, do you know anything about a program called python? Look what I can do with it!" - and he showed me several small things he'd been able to create after reading the online tutorials. He found python intuitive, fun and useful - and that's what a first programming language should be all about.
An Ethical Question Regarding Ebooks
Go over to the Baen Free Library http://www.baen.com/library/ and read Eric Flint's take on book piracy and free books. Quite interesting and well thought out. His idea is that what little book piracy there is actually creates a bigger audience for the author's work - from which he will profit. For this reason they give away free electronic versions of many of their books, hoping to tempt you to buy more.
It's worked on me! I now look specifically for Baen books when I shop my local bookstores.
Suggestions For Cheap Metrics Eye Candy Software?
Big Brother has an html interface, with lots of blinking lights - interfaces into rrdtool for your graphs and basically does a really good job of monitoring your servers and network. Extensions are easy to write in shell script or any other language you like. And there is a FREE version! http://www.bb4.com/
Interviewing Experienced IT People?
If you want to get information on how your older geeks think, just ask them, "Of what project you've worked on are you most proud - and why?"
If their eyes light up and you get enthusiastic responses then you know they do this job for the love of the project - the thrill of the chase... And that means they'll be an enthusiastic and contributing member to your team. If you get dull responses then they are in it for the money - or are burned out and might not be the asset you want..
Low-Bandwidth, Truly Remote Management?
It meets all your requirements. it was designed to work robustly over a high-latency, low-bandwidth streams, and would be tolerant to intermittent network outages. Back in the early 80s I maintained a 'network' of disconnected machines via 2400 & 9600 baud modems and the programs in the UUCP package - worked quite nicely.. If it still exists 'waffle' is a uucp implementation for DOS - I have no clue if it will run on current the hardware/OS