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(WNYC)   Five years after giving laptops to school kids, Hoboken scraps the whole thing. Anybody want 10,000 used laptops?   (wnyc.org) divider line 83
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8196 clicks; posted to Main » on 31 Jul 2014 at 2:25 AM (30 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-07-31 02:28:24 AM  
*checks link*
Dell

NO THX
 
2014-07-31 02:29:08 AM  
No.
 
2014-07-31 02:31:03 AM  
Good idea, bad execution.
 
2014-07-31 02:32:38 AM  
I'm surprised they got any of them back. They tried something similar back in 2000/2001ish at my HS with PDAs. I don't think any of them got returned.
 
2014-07-31 02:35:36 AM  
Oh lawdy,  the 2nd and 3rd comments under that article are derpy;

"Maureen
Thank you Hoboken, you are a smart school that chooses to remove these costly distractions. Not even to mention the toxic non-stop pulsed MICROWAVE RADIATION which comes from WiFi. Please consider removing this untested and unstudied health hazard around children."


Double posted of course.

img.fark.net
 
2014-07-31 02:41:32 AM  
Plan?  The plan is to give all the students laptops,  then everything in their lives will be better.

We won't bother to integrate them into the classroom learning plans or teach them how to use them,  that'll take care of itself.

And they won't ever need upgrading either,  we can reuse them again and again like our science textbooks from 1977.
 
2014-07-31 02:46:18 AM  
5 years old?  They're end of life anyway.  They thought they'd still be functional?

Oh, and any school district buying anything but Macs is doomed to failure.
 
2014-07-31 02:48:41 AM  
Idk, I guess I could wire them together to farm bitcoins, which I could sell to someone stupid enough to pay actual money for electronic currency?

/ and that sentence right there is gonna look simplistic and idiotic in 30 years
 
2014-07-31 02:49:33 AM  
www.showbizmonkeys.com

Anybody need some laptop batteries?
 
2014-07-31 02:51:50 AM  
We will now use the power of the continum transfunctioner to bannish you to hoboken, new jerss.....
 
2014-07-31 02:55:54 AM  
Boo_Guy and DarkVader covered the important points, but here's my $.05 to repeat what they said:

You can't throw tech at a problem and expect a solution just because you bought machines.

Implementation is always supposed to be part of the solution. Who picks the machines or tablets to buy? Who controls how and when the machines are used? What software do you have? Do the teachers know how to use the programs you provide? Do they have to buy their own programs? Do the students?

This has been a problem with computer technology at schools for the whole of my life. Waaay back in 1980, there were two Apple II computers in the gifted-and-talented classroom at my elementary school, which probably cost $2500 or more each, including the monitors, and all we used them for were individual command demonstrations (DRAW and HDRAW, and could you make a shape?) and Apple Panic. The teachers didn't know how to program anything, there weren't many programs available anyway unless you belonged to a local user group, and what nine-year-old needs VisiCalc for anything? It was fun, but a waste of money without teacher training and giving them time to learn how to use the computers well. I'm sure it got better - that was the first year for the program in the school - but there was no support for improvement that I ever saw for the computers. Nowadays the problems aren't much different, except that someone who knows how to use a machine can't get one they can work with, because the buyer for the school likes iPads and you will by God like them too. And if you don't want to use iPads, you can keep using the nine-year-old laptops and thirteen-year-old desktops we have here in the broom closet. You can get them to work, can't you? Sooooo frustrating.

The Apples were good machines, though. I still have one, and there are educational programs I have for it that I've never found available on any other system. If anyone can help me put those in an emulator on the PC, I'd appreciate it.

/Long live Haber-Tech!
 
2014-07-31 02:59:55 AM  
Were any of these laptops used in one of those web-cam scandals and full of unintentional child porn?

Just asking, you know, for a friend.
 
2014-07-31 03:01:18 AM  
All you really need....

www.vcalc.net
 
2014-07-31 03:03:06 AM  
Hoboken? Ooh, I'm dyin'
 
2014-07-31 03:07:11 AM  
It's just as stupid to simply dump them all, never mind to pay to do it. Have a class in basic computer repair and teach kids how to take them apart and put them back together, then let each student take one off the books for you at the end of the semester once they've learned how to fix it. There must be enough working parts to keep a semester-long class stocked for a few years.
 
2014-07-31 03:18:04 AM  

Clint_Torres: Good idea, bad execution.


ARGH, so much this.  I'm an IT guy by trade and there are so many things about this program that jumped out at me as sketchy, stupid, or overly expensive.  A few examples:

Crocamo installed software to block pornography, gaming sites and Facebook. He disabled the built-in web cameras. He even installed software to block students from undoing these controls. But Crocamo says students found forums on the Internet that showed them how to access everything.

Rule... okay, not one, but at least something above ten, of security software: google "disable <security software name>" when considering a product to use.  If you find anything that actually works in the first 5 pages of results, don't use it.  Another rule: if you can't prevent web searches that consist of "disable <security software name>", don't use it, at least not for kids with that much control over the laptop.

All this security software also bogged down the computers. Teachers complained it took 20 minutes for them to boot up, only to crash afterwards. Often, there was too little memory left on the small netbooks to run the educational software.

Now this is Rule One of security software: if it bogs the computers down to the point of being unusable, don't use it.  While the ultimate security is, technically, making the computer completely unusable, that's not really what you want to do.  There are plenty of reliable security suites meant for systems with minimal resources.  It's also quite possible that the security software could have been configured accordingly, but wasn't because <insert dumb reason>.

"A lot of people knew the username and password," Toback said. "So a lot of people were able to walk by the building and they would get wireless access. Over a period of years, you had thousands of people. It bogged it down, it made it unusable."

First off, this is why your network admin makes you change your password every few months.  You can argue with them about the ridiculous "must contain a symbol and number and at least one uppercase and lowercase" requirement, but there actually is a reason passwords need to change frequently.  WiFi passwords on a widely used network are no different.

Secondly, if the network was meant for school equipment and nothing else, it probably would have benefited strongly from WPA-Radius, or at least WEP-Radius.  For those who don't know, Radius is a dynamic wifi key system that uses individual logins and passwords for specific users.  Importantly, it's been integrated into Windows since XP and Server 2003, meaning it can use your Windows login and password.  If it's set up properly in advance, a laptop user will never have to remember a wifi pass, they'll just log in to the computer and it'll automatically hop on to the wifi if it finds it.  If Radius is linked with a Windows domain it's amazingly easy to manage user access that way.  A bunch of people logging onto the Wifi using one person's account?  Disable only that account, which stops the problem without shutting down the entire network.  Worried about people remembering logins/passwords they see?  It's a Windows domain password, so you can force it to be changed every so often.

Basically it's a good way to manage per-user access to Wifi, and sounds like it would have stopped this problem pretty well.  That, or changing your goddamn wifi password every so often.

This summer, Hoboken school staff will go through the laptops one by one, writing down the serial numbers and drafting a resolution for the school board to approve their destruction. Then they'll seek bids from recycling companies to figure out how much it will cost Hoboken to throw them away.

This, more than anything, pisses me off about the whole thing.  Destroy it?  How about you strip out the hard drives and resell the goddamn things for a small profit?  Nevada's higher education system (UCCSN) does that with all of their computers, and while they don't make out like gangbusters they do make some money, versus paying someone else to destroy perfectly useable computers.  A farking waste all around.
 
2014-07-31 03:25:04 AM  

Ambivalence: Were any of these laptops used in one of those web-cam scandals and full of unintentional child porn?

Just asking, you know, for a friend.


I don't know, but when my baby sister was in high school a few years ago, one of her classes was treated to a bit of porn that was placed on the school's network by the superintendent's son, from their home.
 
2014-07-31 03:26:53 AM  
Oh yeah, forgot this:

Additionally, licenses for the security software alone were running more than $100,000 and needed to be renewed every two years.

$100,000 for security software that you just said was so bad it prevented the computers from actually being used?  And you're actually going to keep paying for it?  Look, I know you need security, but I'm pretty sure you can do better.  A lot better.  And cheaper.

/Let me guess, it was Norton?  You paid for Norton something or other because Norton, right?  That or McAffe.
 
2014-07-31 03:29:22 AM  

Hoopy Frood: It's just as stupid to simply dump them all, never mind to pay to do it. Have a class in basic computer repair and teach kids how to take them apart and put them back together, then let each student take one off the books for you at the end of the semester once they've learned how to fix it. There must be enough working parts to keep a semester-long class stocked for a few years.


I don't know if teaching a repair class on laptops would be a good idea or not.  A lot of what's in most laptops is soldered in there, and to get at it you have might have to tear the whole thing apart.
The only easy to get to parts are the RAM,  maybe the battery,  and maybe the hard drive.  After that you'll have to remove 10 screws and/or pry plastic snaps open.  It's not like a desktop where everything is a card that can be pulled,  although even in those more is being integrated into the mainboards all the time.
 
2014-07-31 03:29:58 AM  
Came here for the reasonable post-mortem. *Check* Bravo!

Now I'm waiting for the luddites to check in. Popcorn time.
 
2014-07-31 03:34:28 AM  
When I was in school we only had 2 electric IBM typewriters in our typwriting (not keyboarding) class.  Only the teacher's pets got them.

Get off my lawn!
 
2014-07-31 03:34:29 AM  
No kidding - not sure why they need to destroy every laptop - damn, sell them without hard drives if your really that concerned about information being leaked out.  My old bulletin board system runs on three computers, two of which have school board stickers on them - they work and run perfectly for what I need them for - wiped the drives and reinstalled WinXP and my bulletin board software and they are absolutely perfect - at least 3 systems here are not going into the landfill and 300 people on the internet are happy too - a win all around and for $30 bucks a computer too (don't need monitors - i just remote desktop into them when I need to work on them).
 
2014-07-31 03:42:59 AM  

yukichigai: Oh yeah, forgot this:

Additionally, licenses for the security software alone were running more than $100,000 and needed to be renewed every two years.

$100,000 for security software that you just said was so bad it prevented the computers from actually being used?  And you're actually going to keep paying for it?  Look, I know you need security, but I'm pretty sure you can do better.  A lot better.  And cheaper.

/Let me guess, it was Norton?  You paid for Norton something or other because Norton, right?  That or McAffe.


Norton / Symantec should be taken out back and shot.  I don't care if 30 years from now their stuff is so good that it's blessed by the pope and comes with a gold bar,  I won't ever have their crap on my computer.  I'd rather go without virus protection and no firewall than use anything from them.

Now Mcafee at least their corporate level stuff seemed to work properly,  even when their consumer stuff was shiat.  Although it's been awhile so maybe all their stuff has gone to hell these days,  I wouldn't know.
 
2014-07-31 03:50:14 AM  

Harry_Seldon: Hoboken? Ooh, I'm dyin'


As a fellow American down on his luck, I approve this comment.
 
2014-07-31 04:03:27 AM  
My mother--a third-grade teacher--has five desktops in her classroom. They all run Win7 with 1GB of RAM each and other pitiful specs. Takes them ten minutes to boot and another five to be useable. And then the school board decided to upgrade the software to include MS Office 2010, which just bogged down the systems more.

At least she has a laptop (school district-issued) that has a reasonable 4GB of RAM and...an old Intel Core 2 Duo. That smart board, though--that is awesome. Even managed to get Doom working once.
 
2014-07-31 04:04:57 AM  

Boo_Guy: yukichigai: Oh yeah, forgot this:

Additionally, licenses for the security software alone were running more than $100,000 and needed to be renewed every two years.

$100,000 for security software that you just said was so bad it prevented the computers from actually being used?  And you're actually going to keep paying for it?  Look, I know you need security, but I'm pretty sure you can do better.  A lot better.  And cheaper.

/Let me guess, it was Norton?  You paid for Norton something or other because Norton, right?  That or McAffe.

Norton / Symantec should be taken out back and shot.  I don't care if 30 years from now their stuff is so good that it's blessed by the pope and comes with a gold bar,  I won't ever have their crap on my computer.  I'd rather go without virus protection and no firewall than use anything from them.

Now Mcafee at least their corporate level stuff seemed to work properly,  even when their consumer stuff was shiat.  Although it's been awhile so maybe all their stuff has gone to hell these days,  I wouldn't know.


My experience with McAfee corporate has been pretty awful in recent years, so yeah.
 
2014-07-31 04:05:24 AM  
img1.wikia.nocookie.net
 
2014-07-31 04:13:44 AM  

Harry_Seldon: Hoboken? Ooh, I'm dyin'


Nicely done!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cy1SyXuWBt8
 
2014-07-31 05:07:40 AM  
They shoulda bought rustproofing. Those Colecos will rust up on ya!
 
2014-07-31 05:33:08 AM  
 
2014-07-31 05:35:36 AM  

Boo_Guy: Hoopy Frood: It's just as stupid to simply dump them all, never mind to pay to do it. Have a class in basic computer repair and teach kids how to take them apart and put them back together, then let each student take one off the books for you at the end of the semester once they've learned how to fix it. There must be enough working parts to keep a semester-long class stocked for a few years.

I don't know if teaching a repair class on laptops would be a good idea or not.  A lot of what's in most laptops is soldered in there, and to get at it you have might have to tear the whole thing apart.
The only easy to get to parts are the RAM,  maybe the battery,  and maybe the hard drive.  After that you'll have to remove 10 screws and/or pry plastic snaps open.  It's not like a desktop where everything is a card that can be pulled,  although even in those more is being integrated into the mainboards all the time.


What better way to learn? You're not frying a customer's motherboard or PCB if you screw up your first time with a soldering iron, you're frying scrap. Semester-long class, teach 'em how to swap out cracked screens and dead drives other broken parts, knowledge they can adapt to fixing smartphones and tablets as well. Maybe in the summer some of them get IT internships or jobs on tech benches instead of flipping burgers or mowing lawns. Fatten up those college applications.
 
2014-07-31 05:44:41 AM  
I RTA and had flashbacks to places I worked as technology went forward in the 1980s and 1990s. For a long time it was a small shop and myself and the one other guy who owned our own PC's were the internal technology "consultants." But we weren't programmers, developers, or network admins, and had no interest in doing that stuff. We just wanted technology that worked and helped us do our jobs.

I could turn out better documents faster on a 286 with a scrounged IBM "green screen" monitor than the head guy's secretary with her new machine. I had one of the early Windows 3.X "Pen" computers (because they went on same at then end of life and we had some left-over $$ in the IT budget).

The biggest single problem was user training - they bought the computers, rolled them out and then decided it might be a good idea to, you know, bring people in for training.

More recently, one of our major training suppliers told us "we are moving all of our training to computer-based training." Us: "We don't have individually assigned computers for everyone." Them: "Well, all of our similarly situated employees do, so we just thought everybody did." Us: "No. And we have no business reason to get everyone their own computer." Them: "Oh."

About the same time, they spent untold resources porting one of the major applications to iOS, when the Windows version still wasn't right, and none of us were going to move field employees to iOS devices. "All of our senior management has iPads, so we had to."

The IT guys in the article (and the IT folks here with similar stories) have my sympathy, and to extent I could in my organizations, my support. I've never been high-up enough to do more than call foul, though. We all have too many pointy-haired bosses who think they understand technology.

At my new place, the end-user computers are so locked down, I can't install a printer without having IT remote-in with Admin rights. Fortunately, our in-house help desk really is helpful most of the time.
 
2014-07-31 05:56:53 AM  
FTA: "It began five years ago with an unexpected windfall of stimulus money from Washington, D.C., and good intentions to help the district's students..."

And people wonder why I'm against stimulus and any government policy that comes from good intentions. Fix the roads, throw violent people in jail, and leave us the fark alone.
 
2014-07-31 06:21:26 AM  
The line of questioning at every IT place I interviewed for that was worth a dam, basically asks 2 questions.

1. They present a problem that is in reality users lack of training.
2. they ask about managing, maintianing, and scaling something in an environment.

places that ask "what's your biggest weakness". end up being jobs likethis article, they can't keep up the real issues like free wifi for all and system security because they're fighting antivirus and doing basic repairs like they're best buy.
 
2014-07-31 06:21:50 AM  
"It began five years ago with an unexpected windfall of stimulus money from Washington, D.C., and good intentions to help the district's students, the majority of whom are under or near the poverty line"


Pretty much everything started that way fails.

Another stimulus success story.
 
2014-07-31 06:25:42 AM  
Not from the place that kept mugging the Fugees for sneakers.
 
2014-07-31 06:26:11 AM  
The laptops will be "recycled" which since it's New Jersey means we'll pay a school board member's cousin to take them off our hands than he can turn around and sell them for the pittance they are worth.
 
2014-07-31 06:34:52 AM  

maram500: My mother--a third-grade teacher--has five desktops in her classroom. They all run Win7 with 1GB of RAM each and other pitiful specs. Takes them ten minutes to boot and another five to be useable. And then the school board decided to upgrade the software to include MS Office 2010, which just bogged down the systems more.


Do her a favour, download a copy of Ubuntu Linux onto a live cd or USB.  She can put it in, boot the computers, and see how well they run.  If everything works, cool, keep using it.  If not, no harm, no foul, and no IT desk gotta know nothin.  I believe Ubuntu comes with Libre Office, which is certainly good enough for any third-grader.  For real low-spec computers, try Lubuntu instead.  My netbook, which gagged on Win7 Starter, ran sweet as a nut on Lubuntu.  Viruses?  I ain't immune, but haven't run antivirus for six years and have had zero trouble, and that includes plenty of questionable sites.
 
2014-07-31 06:54:40 AM  

Rapmaster2000: They shoulda bought rustproofing. Those Colecos will rust up on ya!


you woulda' thought when they got that extra security undercoating that would have been enough, but noooooo...
 
2014-07-31 07:13:13 AM  
I wonder if it would be possible to salvage the hardware, then install linux on 'em?  I can think of a few things to do with the hardware....a cheap beowulf cluster comes to mind.
 
2014-07-31 07:25:55 AM  
DarkVader: Oh, and any school district buying anything but Macs is doomed to failure.

Yeah, no.

At least they bought the Lattitude line and not the Inspiron. I really like the Lattitudes, Been using them for better of a decade. They are sturdy workhorse laptops.

1-1 initiatives aren't designed to be Forever Laptops. The best 1-1 are when the district leases the laptops and at the end of 4 years, the parents have the option of purchasing the remainder of the lease and the kid gets to keep the laptop. Once you have that 4-year cycle going, the kids should have a steady cycle of good laptops every year.

3 things that went wrong:

1 - Their admins were idiots. Only way I can describe this. I did IT admin for a K-12 district. We managed to secure our systems without a whole lot of work being only 3 of us. So many things wrong with how their IT was handled and it was stupid mistakes. A Radius server tied to AD/LDAP would have fixed the wifi issue in a day.

2. They weren't charging people when the equipment was destroyed. No consequences, from what I have read.

3. IT was understaffed. Probably underpaid and underqualified. With that many laptops and that large a city, you're going to need at least 5-6 people dedicated to nothing but those laptops.
 
2014-07-31 07:58:21 AM  
Do people really expect an intelligent decision from school officials?

That would be like Stephen Hawkin running  a marathon.
 
2014-07-31 08:06:15 AM  

DarkVader: 5 years old?  They're end of life anyway.  They thought they'd still be functional?

Oh, and any school district buying anything but Macs is doomed to failure.


i1.kym-cdn.com
 
2014-07-31 08:10:42 AM  

Boo_Guy: Plan?  The plan is to give all the students laptops,  then everything in their lives will be better.

We won't bother to integrate them into the classroom learning plans or teach them how to use them,  that'll take care of itself.

And they won't ever need upgrading either,  we can reuse them again and again like our science textbooks from 1977.


This. The technology acolytes in education seem to think that getting tech to kids is the be all end all no matter how poorly integrated or inefficient said tech is compared to other methods. As though kids don't take naturally to new tech, and could never figure it out without a teacher.
 
mhd
2014-07-31 08:11:43 AM  

Weaver95: I wonder if it would be possible to salvage the hardware, then install linux on 'em?  I can think of a few things to do with the hardware....a cheap beowulf cluster comes to mind.


Wow, haven't heard that line since early oughts slashdot...
 
2014-07-31 08:12:14 AM  
If it's true that edutainment really got the kids learning, every new Carmen San Diego game would be as breathlessly anticipated as Call of Duty. Kids know when they are being tricked.
 
2014-07-31 08:13:09 AM  
snowshovel:

[i1.kym-cdn.com image 500x389]

You must work in IT.
 
2014-07-31 08:16:10 AM  

DrPainMD: FTA: "It began five years ago with an unexpected windfall of stimulus money from Washington, D.C., and good intentions to help the district's students..."

And people wonder why I'm against stimulus and any government policy that comes from good intentions. Fix the roads, throw violent people in jail, and leave us the fark alone.


Uh Oh, I hear a stampede of do gooders to explain why such evil libertarian thinking is a sign that you want to live in Somalia, rather than the urge not to piss money down a rathole.
 
2014-07-31 08:18:14 AM  
Pro Tip: If you're going to purchase a ton of laptops with bare-minimum specifications for students, they had best be running Linux.
 
2014-07-31 08:52:23 AM  
"More recently, one of our major training suppliers told us "we are moving all of our training to computer-based training." Us: "We don't have individually assigned computers for everyone." Them: "Well, all of our similarly situated employees do, so we just thought everybody did." Us: "No. And we have no business reason to get everyone their own computer." Them: "Oh."
...
Went through a similar situation when I was working at our company's Central American location some years back. We had quite a bit of Company-specific safety, etc, training  which was mandatory for all employees. Naturally we employed a local instructor to present classes to 10-15 people at a time, in the local Spanish.

Then the company moved all the training to individual computer-based lessons with Q &A to ensure that students didn't just click through the pages.  It was a disaster. First, of course, the lessons were in English.
Next, we only had a few computers we could dedicate to this purpose as there was no need for most employees to ever touch a computer....and finally almost none of them HAD ever touched a computer and had no concept of keyboard typing or using a mouse. The Instructor had to hover over each student and translate each question, and then tell the student how to use the keyboard to answer. Where before she could effectively instruct 15 students per hour, she now took 1.5 hours of intense work per student and most of the instructional content was lost in the confusion.

The real shame is that sadly, it took me nearly two months of fighting with Corporate to get them to grasp the situation. They could not conceive that there was a place in the world that differed from Dayton Ohio.

I suspect the same was true in Hoboken. The guy who made the deal to put those laptops in the school lives in Manhattan and has never even visited a school in Hoboken.
 
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