School Daze In Henrico (10/1/01)

Speaking of Apple "press events," remember that one back in May at which the company trotted out its spankin' new iBook? In addition to getting in a dignified potshot at Dell's ninety-pound consumer laptop, Steve also spent a lot of time playing up the iBook's unparalleled suitability for use in schools. After all, why make the kids go to a computer lab when they can all have iBooks complete with mobile wireless network access from anywhere on the school grounds? Sounds good, right?

It sounded good to Henrico County, too-- at least, we assume it did, since, in what was apparently the "largest portable computer sale to education ever," that school district snapped up a whopping 23,000 of the sleek white portables before they even hit the open market. We're talking literally one iBook per middle school and high school student, and one per teacher as well. And they're all tied together wirelessly with AirPort. What could possibly go wrong?

Sounds like a question for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, whose answer in a nutshell is "everything." Three weeks into the school year, that whole "an iBook in every bookbag" plan isn't going quite as smoothly as it might have; given that this is reportedly the "largest wireless network every attempted by a school system," you have to expect a few glitches, but it seems the schools are plagued with "chronic network problems, hardware flaws, shortcomings in availability of promised software, and concerns about homework theft."

The article as posted is maddeningly short on details, so it's hard to tell if these are just the standard sort of issues that would arise with any large-scale deployment of high-tech equipment to a slew of teens and teachers, or if Apple really needs to get on the stick and fix things to prevent any bad publicity that could scotch its attempt to retake the lead in education sales. As for that whole "homework theft" thing, well, hey-- at least these kids are learning valuable job skills in the field of high-tech corporate espionage. Surely that's more marketable than anything they can pick up in pottery class, right?

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The above scene was taken from the 10/1/01 episode:

October 1, 2001: It wasn't necessarily easy to get, but Mac OS X 10.1 is finally here-- and it rocks. Meanwhile, ethereal visions from beyond hint at an "Apple event" in mid-October packing new PowerBooks and a chewy candy surprise, and Henrico County's 23,000 iBooks apparently aren't quite as easy to manage as those folks originally expected...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3332: Definitely Worth The Wait (10/1/01)   Ladies, ladies, ladies-- Mac OS X 10.1 in the HIZ-ouse, yo. Forgive our giddy ebullience, but this update has finally made us remember why we were excited about Mac OS X in the first place. Funny how all it took to get us excited again is a release that actually works....

  • 3333: It'll Be... "Oh, My Nose!" (10/1/01)   So there we were, clicking happily away in Mac OS X 10.1, when we discovered two features of which we had not previously been aware. The first is that the Keyboard Preference panel lets you set up the ability to navigate the menubar, the Dock, the toolbars, etc...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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