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Education Portables Portables (Apple) Apple

MA High School Forces All Students To Buy MacBooks 1217

An anonymous reader sends in this excerpt from the Salem News: "A new program at Beverly High will equip every student with a new laptop computer to prepare kids for a high-tech future. But there's a catch. The money for the $900 Apple MacBooks will come out of parents' pockets. 'You're kidding me,' parent Jenn Parisella said when she found out she'd have to buy her sophomore daughter, Sky, a new computer. 'She has a laptop. Why would I buy her another laptop?' Sky has a Dell. Come September 2011, every student will need an Apple. They'll bring it to class and use it for homework. Superintendent James Hayes sees the technology as an essential move to prepare kids for the future. The School Committee approved the move last year, and Hayes said he's getting the news out now so families can prepare. 'We have one platform,' Hayes said. 'And that's going to be the Mac.'"
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MA High School Forces All Students To Buy MacBooks

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  • by easterberry ( 1826250 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:36PM (#32541376)
    Yes. Completely voluntary. Until the first homework assignment comes around and the kids who don't participate have to stay late and work through lunch.
  • Wrong To The Root (Score:5, Interesting)

    by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:37PM (#32541384)

    Public schools should never require parents to pay for expensive items or programs. This is dead wrong. Many parents no longer have a job nor savings. How will their children get by in school? Further why in the sam hell would anyone push Macs on the kids? There are alternatives such as Linux that could save these families a fortune on PCs.

  • by lasmith05 ( 578697 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:40PM (#32541462) Homepage
    If we are training kids for the future we should definitely have them use a windows/linux variant. I remember back in the university our C++ class had a computer lab that was split between Macs and PCs. The PCs would always be all in use and I had to make do on a mac. I definitely did not enjoy having to do everything differently than the majority of the class, but my teacher appreciated me taking one for the team. If anything I think having a multi platform environment would be good for students having to deal with different platforms at different companies.
  • by bieber ( 998013 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:42PM (#32541496)
    The first three years I was in high school, the school had this ridiculous program going on where they issued every student an iBook. Teachers tried to make us use them, but seriously, how useful is a laptop in high school math? Admittedly, it was nice for language and social studies classes to have something to type/browse Wikipedia on, but the hassle of carrying them around, dealing with the constant breakage, and etc. far outweighed the benefits to the students. And when you look at the $2 mil that the school district spent on the program, the whole thing just seemed like a really bad joke.
  • ... I would say there is some wisdom is chosing apple for that purpose. If they instead opted for a Windows laptop it would be nearly impossible to standardize. Even if they said "everyone go buy a Dell model ABC123" you wouldn't get very good consistency, because inevitably some parents would try to substitute something else (and yet others would substitute by accident). On top of that you do have the problem with the Windows (in)security mentality that leads to crashing systems all over the place.

    So if the purpose really is for the kids to learn subject material that doesn't include how to fix the computer, then the apple probably isn't a bad choice after all.
  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:49PM (#32541632)

    If we are training kids for the future we should definitely have them use a windows/linux variant.

    Is using Windows so hard that you need training to use it? In that case, we shouldn't be training the kids to use it, we should train them to say "no" if their boss wants them to use windows. But you may not have noticed a subtle change: While the CTOs still use their Windows PCs more or less unhappily, their CEO bosses use iPhones and iPads and MacBooks Airs. When these kids leave school, the change won't be so subtle anymore.

  • by Anon-Admin ( 443764 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:51PM (#32541656) Journal

    My daughters school added the requirement that she have a laptop for school. The school here said that it must run Windows and have Microsoft Office on it.

    I gave her a new Toshiba with Fedora Core and open office. She is happy with it, then I get a note from the school that It must be Windows because they had software to install that required windows. I told then that if they would let me know what the software does I would be more than happy to find a similar package for Linux or to set it up in a restricted virtual environment.

    Never hear another thing from them. IMHO if the school wants to require an OS or Specific software packages then they need to pony up the money for the laptop and set it up the way they want it.

  • Absolutely SURREAL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by repetty ( 260322 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:51PM (#32541658) Homepage

    As a Mac user of 23 years, I've gotta say that this headline is abso-fvcking-lutely surreal.

    It seemed like Mac users pissed and moaned for decades about being forced to abandon their platform as schools moved toward cheap PC running Windows 3.1 et al.

    Is today backwards day?

  • by Kenoli ( 934612 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:57PM (#32541826)
    How many of them are just going to get robbed by other students?
  • Re:My two cents (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dhampir ( 1028742 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:57PM (#32541830)

    I also agree with this. While my high school years aren't THAT far behind, the technology you were allowed to use was limited at best. A fancy-smancy calculator that was banned in most post-secondary schools, and sometimes you could type stuff up to hand in. But almost everything had to be hand-written and you had to show your work.

    Try giving some of these kids an exam from back in 1999 for my 9th grade achievement exam, and I bet you any money over half would fail. Tell a kid to hand-write a story that's minimum 3 pages long, then hand-write two more business letters, and an envelope, and see how they do. Yeah, not gonna happen.

    They don't teach kids how to do things properly anymore, they teach them how to cheat and do it the easy way. Again, have them write something with ZERO technological aids, except a pencil, eraser, and pencil sharpener. Betcha most kids would look at that and wonder wtf is going on. And everything would be misspelled, too, because (a) kids can't read, (b) they can't spell, and (c) they rely on spellcheck to do (b) for them.

    Technology is making kids stupid and lazy. And it sucks.

  • Re:WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Psychopath ( 18031 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:59PM (#32541882) Homepage

    It doesn't require a lot of experience to switch between Windows and Mac. I'd expect someone with experience with one platform and absolutely zero on the other to be up to speed in a day or two.

    I switched from Windows to Mac on my work laptop about eight months ago, so I have personal and recent experience.

    It is not something that takes a day or two. It takes a month or two to regain all the lost productivity. Most people where I work that have switched to Mac have a similar experience. Just getting used to the keyboard with the extra meta keys, and missing keys you're used to, takes a long time.

    Once you're over the learning curve it's a better experience, but it's not as easy as you think it is.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:05PM (#32542034) Journal

    'We have one platform,' Hayes said. 'And that's going to be the Mac.'"

    It reeks of a specific someone who's either a) getting a kickback or b) is a big Apple fan and believes everyone should be using Apple because it's clearly the superior platform.

    Plus, it looks so much better on our well-to-do students. Superintendent Hayes is apparently tired of wrinkling his nose at those clunky and tacky PCs that clash with the school colors.

    This reminds me of another story not so long ago of a school that required Apple laptops and then used the built-in camera to snoop on students at home, in their bedrooms, in their showers. They might have gotten away with it, too, if they hadn't overreached and tried to bust a kid that was seen doing something in the privacy of his own home that violated a school rule.

    Seriously, is there any reason in 2010 to require students to use one platform over another? All they're going to be doing is accessing some system like Blackboard, which works fine in most browsers and maybe create some basic documents. It would be one thing if you used a vendor that specifically served the educational community. At one time, Apple cared a lot about education. I remember hearing how the bite in the Apple logo represented the educational market. They had sales and service reps that really worked the schools from kindergarten through university. I had the local Apple rep in my office so many times, asking about the work of my department and looking for solutions for us. He was pulled for a "regional" rep about 2002 and their dedication to education seemed to just evaporate. I think they abandoned that market when they became mainly a consumer electronics company.

  • Re:My two cents (Score:5, Interesting)

    by onionman ( 975962 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:09PM (#32542126)

    Is it really necessarily to require every student to have a laptop in order to learn? Are they saying it's nearly impossible to correctly teach students without this technology?

    And sure, while technology makes things easier to do, it almost feels like they're blaming the lack of technology for not being able to properly teach the students. But, that's my opinion.

    It's amusing isn't it! Yet another example of technology being used to hide inadequate education. The real solution to most teaching problems is to hire good teachers, pay them enough to make them want to keep the job, and keep the class sizes small enough so that the teachers can actually interact with all of the students.

    I'm a math prof, and I've found that the best way to present complicated material is a chalk board. Sometimes I get all crazy and use advanced multi-media like "colored chalk".

    Really, though. Why do they need Macbooks? If they are teaching them computer science, then part of the learning is figuring out how to handle your own computer (whatever OS it might be). If they want them to typeset their term papers then they should just say that, not require a specific proprietary product. Part of being a savy computer user is developing enough skill with manuals and search engines to figure out how to solve $common_problem on $your_platform.

  • Re:My two cents (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paeanblack ( 191171 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:11PM (#32542174)

    Albert Einstein didn't have a laptop in school.
    Ben Franklin didn't have a laptop in school.
    Stephen Hawking didn't have a laptop in school.
    Thomas Edison didn't have a laptop in school.
    Nikola Tesla didn't have a laptop in school.
    Even Bill Gates didn't have a laptop in school.

    Oddly enough...

    Einstein dropped out of Luitpold Gymnasium (=high school)
    Franklin dropped out of Boston Latin high school
    Edison went to school for a grand total of three months
    Tesla dropped out of Graz University
    Gates dropped out of Harvard

    Hawking was the only one to stay the course...and yes, he did get a laptop.

  • Re:Honestly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by easterberry ( 1826250 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:19PM (#32542292)

    1: The ubiquity of windows in a work/real world setting makes forcing students to learn how to use it logical. OSX, less so.
    2: An equivalent windows laptop usually doesn't cost $900 (hence why you can't ignore the price issue)
    3: This is the first time I've ever heard of any school district forcing students to buy laptops at all let alone a specific made model and brand. I was required to have a computer for COLLEGE that ran windows but I fully free to pick the one I wanted. And laptops, while helpful, were not required if you didn't mind carrying a flash drive to move files from the lab to your home.
  • Re:Linux Netbooks (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:19PM (#32542294)
    You can get a Ubuntu netbook from dell for $400. 4 year fancy warranty with on-site service is still ~$700; and from my dealings with Dell, I know they will deeply discount you if you're a large enough account. They could have probably got the thing with full support for $400. Maybe less. They're looking to purchase a hundred or more laptops every year for the foreseeable future. Dell would have bent over backwards for them.
  • In the state of California, certain auto mechanics must be paid twice the minimum wage if they are required to use their own tools:


    (B) When tools or equipment are required by the employer or are necessary to the performance of a job, such tools and equipment shall be provided and maintained by the employer, except that an employee whose wages are at least two (2) times the minimum wage provided herein may be required to provide and maintain hand tools and equipment customarily required by the trade or craft. This subsection (B) shall not apply to apprentices regularly indentured under the State Division of Apprenticeship Standards.

    I know this because a buddy of mine, after being denied the raise he was promised, is meeting with a labor lawyer next week.

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:35PM (#32542590) Homepage Journal

    The school is hoping to be able to save money by not having to provide computer labs.

    A school district near where I live is doing exactly that, but the school is providing the macbooks, one to every student. And the teachers are also ditching the imacs from their desktops and getting macbook pros. Doing this allows the school to reclaim 7 entire labs into new classrooms to make smaller class sizes without building a new wing, so it's actually a cost-saving measure.

    They crunched the numbers, and talked with other nearby school districts that had done the same thing, to see if theft/loss/damage of the laptops was an issue, and surprisingly, it was not. (four damaged laptops in the entire year in one district they asked)

    But this is a fairly wealthy school district, they had the money to pull it off, and I think it's great.

    I suppose the next ideal evolution will be getting the textbooks onto the computers. That would be an entirely new level of awesome.

  • Re:iNelson (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jitterman ( 987991 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:42PM (#32542698)
    Wait... you expected more of IBM than that they give us a standard connector for mice and keyboards that didn't require thumbscrews, a socket the size of a light bulb, or multiple adapters, which lasted from its creation until a general phase-out only because of the introduction of USB? Yeah, you're right I guess. They didn't really contribute anything worthwhile to computing. Silly me.
  • Re:My two cents (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SamSim ( 630795 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:52PM (#32542856) Homepage Journal
    Besides which, a calculator is useless for real mathematics work.
  • by shawn(at)fsu ( 447153 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:07PM (#32543076) Homepage

    I wouldn't want my child using one of the school laptops either. What if it's gets damaged while in the student possession. Will the parent be responsible for repairs? If I can't afford to buy my child one I won't be able to pay for repairs either.

    And why mac books? I don't like windows anymore than the rest of the /. crowd but if you want them to be prepared for the high tech future why not get Dells with Windows 7 at half the cost.

  • Re:I never get it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kthreadd ( 1558445 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:09PM (#32543090)

    I don't get why school/educational institutions use Macs. 99% of businesses use Windows. Don't they want there kids to be prepared when they leave schools? This is once again a dumb school administration making a decision in a vacuum


    A few years ago when I was in high school we had a similar program. I say similar because it differed in two ways. 1. We had iBooks and 2. the school completely funded it, like they already did with everything else that we used, like pencils, meals, bus tickets etc.

    It made me think a bit closer on why we have these programs and my conclusion is that most people actually get it wrong at first. It is not about making students familiar with computers. It is not about teaching them Office. It's not about writing papers in Word. It's not even about programming.

    It's about better education.

    Ask yourself why we are using pencils in schools. It's not about teaching people about pencils. Sure there may be an introduction for very young pupils in how to use it but that's far from why we have them. It is simply a really good tool for learning.

    A computer can also be an insanely good tool for learning.

    A lot of teachers get that. Some schools don't and they usually buy netbooks. I'm not saying that netbooks are bad, but when you are basing the decision only on "equipping them with computers" and trying to get away with it as cheaply as possible you are likely to make a bad decision. I have seen quite a lot of schools where they bought cheap laptops, loaded them with locked-down copies of Windows and Word and never really gave it much deeper thoughts on how they could be used in the actual learning process. They only thought of it as a digital pencil. Guess how well it usually turned out.

    The important thing is that a computer is so much more than a pencil.

    My experience is that these programs is much more effective if you buy decent hardware. It doesn't have to be the most expensive but at least don't go for the cheapest. Then give the students root access and the reinstallation discs just in case they need them and say "Go Play".

    It's incredible how creative a student can be when it comes to finding good use for a computer if they have tools that are designed for that.

    Apple gets that and I think that's why so many schools use them. They have been doing this for a long time. The other players are starting to get it just now while Apple has already been talking about it for over ten years.

  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:09PM (#32543098) Homepage Journal

    schools is where they begin to indoctrinate the young people to step the line, not to do anything that is even remotely different.

    How is it at all sensible for a school to require everybody to buy a laptop, especially a laptop with a non-Free operating system?

    this is insane, if a laptop is really required it must be a laptop with an operating system that is Free to look at the code and probably free to own.

  • by Bungleman ( 955072 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:14PM (#32543146)
    Yeah, my wife taught at a high school that bought every student and teacher a Macbook Pro. Yes, Pro. At the cost of several million dollars to the school district, no less... oh, but that wasn't the REAL cost. The REAL cost was that the teachers could no longer buy books to teach with. They were supposed to use only the laptops. Oh, and at the end of the year, the school laid off 50 teachers.

    They closed down one school in the district entirely, electing instead to privatize it and lay off all of the teachers to "save some money." The private company that came in was supposed to "specialize in teaching underperforming students using technology." Good luck with that... Remind me again when technology became better than books and teacher interaction for students.

    Then again, I guess I can't expect much, given my state's history in education. (Hint: We're the dumbest, poorest state in the US.)
  • by RocketRabbit ( 830691 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:37PM (#32543436)

    "School administrators that I worked with (I did Novell support for a few schools, and integrating their MacBooks into NetWare was nontrivial, but went pretty well) complained the most about having to re-image drives. They spent quite a bit of time optimizing that process, but there are only a few ways to re-image a MacBook, and none are fast enough. I could not get ZenWorks to do it, despite some heroic work by Novell engineers as a pet project. Oh well..."

    Jeez, why not use Apple's own Disk Utility software, which works great for re-imaging single machines, or their Server tools which allow you do the same thing for multiple ones.

    Sounds like you were trying to use every method but the one that's obvious.

    "Our little business did well providing non-warranty repairs until both Apple and Apple dealers realized they were being cut out of the loop in a big way. I left before Apple got hard and cut off parts access. That was the end."

    You can't order your parts from a distributor like every normal person?

  • Re:My two cents (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lars512 ( 957723 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:47PM (#32543530)

    Is it really necessarily to require every student to have a laptop in order to learn? Are they saying it's nearly impossible to correctly teach students without this technology?

    I went to a privileged school, and when I went to high school years ago they brought out their first laptop policy. In many ways, the laptops were "wasted" for official classes, and it was quickly learned that 95% of classes didn't need or use the laptop. For the other 5%, it was really very useful. The side effect of everyone having laptops was a lot of tinkering by all the students, and that had real benefit too.

    Laptop schemes are nothing new. There are two questions in this case: why standardise on MacBooks, and what will they do about the underprivileged kids?

    As to why they standardise at all, that's clear. It will save them a lot of support effort. They may also be able to do some bulk deal for all these laptops, instead of families having to purchase them at retail price. Whilst I'd love them to demand laptops running Ubuntu instead, I think choosing Macs is reasonably defensible.

    As for underprivileged kids, the school clearly needs a policy where their laptops are subsidised or bought outright. If they do something like this, then far from screwing the poor parents they'll be doing the kids a huge favour, likely giving them access to some tech literacy that only comes from having your own machine you can use night and day. Will they do the right thing? I don't know, but it's far better to focus pressure on this particular issue than on the broader issue of requiring laptops.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:50PM (#32543582) Homepage Journal

    Because they want tools that work, not tools where you have to work so they get the fuck out of your way and let you get something done. Seriously, by the time I'm done installing some software on W7, I'm already done installing, launching and have started working on a document on OS X.

    Plus: Especially because windos dominates the corporate world, education should show kids that there are also alternatives. It is not the job of education to support monopolies. It is the job of education to show kids the possibilities out there, so they can make informed choices.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:52PM (#32543608)

    I own an HP 17" laptop. One day the screen split clean down the side, leaving me a big dead section on the right. There was no external physical damage and it was sitting open on a table at the time, no-one touched it.

    Ghosts? Sure. Or maybe the cold from the non-insulated wall behind the table, in a heated room. I no longer doubt the people who say it, "just happened," because now I know sometimes it does.

  • by Kitkoan ( 1719118 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @07:18PM (#32543956)

    And why mac books? I don't like windows anymore than the rest of the /. crowd but if you want them to be prepared for the high tech future why not get Dells with Windows 7 at half the cost.

    I completely agree with you here. These are students being taught for their future and will need the skills required for their future jobs. Pushing the Mac platform is a horrible idea and a form of playing russian roulette with their computer skills and future job possibilities.

    Regardless of anyones personal opinion of computer OS's, Windows still rules in both the personal and business OS level. And I don't care what anyone else has to say on the level of 'but, but, Macs are slowly gaining.' Thats great for Mac. But here's a good dose of reality. OSX was released in March of 2001. Its now June of 2010, just over 9 years later. Mac has been able to improve its market share from 1-2% to 6-9%. That means less then one in 10 computers is a Mac even after 9 years and one hell of an aggressive marketing campaign (we've all seen those 'Pc vs Mac' commercials). This idea is set to be set in motion for 2011, and considering it takes on average a person to graduate from HS a total of 4 years your looking at someone graduating with Mac-only education in 2015 being 5 years from now. I don't see Mac being over 50% market share by then to even consider itself the OS leader let alone getting over 33% if the market can even fragment enough to split evenly between Windows/Mac/Linux (without going into others like BSD, etc...). That means you will have students that can work with a small segment of the computers which will seriously hurt their chances. Any employer that has computers needed in the job will just look at the young adult and see that not only will they need training on the basics of the job, but how to use the basics of their workplace OS that is the business leader. And training isn't free, it's expensive and they will be more likely over looked for someone with Windows experience which means less training and money saved.

    The school is also mentioning security as an issue, but thats getting more and more of a questionable problem. Fact of the matter is, Windows 7 is pretty secure (but not the most secure). And computer security is no longer as simple as how fast a virus/worm can spread. This keeps being shown on the Pwn2Own contests, as security is now based on what else is running on the computer. The biggest security risk seems to be running Flash on the system. If I remember right, Flash is not installed by default on Windows 7 and since many businesses won't let you install programs from the internet by default, that makes a big security hole gone. Not so on OSX where Flash is installed as factory default, a huge security hole. Another thing to consider as mentioned by Pwn2Own winner Charlie Miller: Windows 7 or Snow Leopard, which of these two commercial OS will be harder to hack and why? Windows 7 is slightly more difficult because it has full ASLR (address space layout randomization) and a smaller attack surface (for example, no Java or Flash by default). [oneitsecurity.it] So in the end, security to no longer one sided, each OS is now more secure in same ways then its competitions and less secure in other ways.

    Also to consider is things like hardware compatibility. Most hardware is written to support Windows, with some to little to no support for Mac. Sure, Macs play great with other Mac hardware but if Apple doesn't make it things get iffy (again, depends on what it is your talking about exactly). These students go home and will want to use their laptops with their devices at home. Have a blackberry phone? Good luck doing anything but the basics of syncing (and no, showing me some complex set of instructions doesn't count. We are talking students of different interests and backgrounds, not the slashdot crowd). Printers and scanners? Again, depends on which ones and how old they are

  • Re:iNelson (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mkrup99 ( 1586809 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @08:05PM (#32544504)
    I'm from the area, and I can assure you that this is not true. Sure, Beverly has some very affluent sections, but it also has some very poor sections. They were also in quite a bit of hot water a few years ago when budget shortfalls precluded required maintenance that put the high school on the brink of loosing its accreditation. They now have a new high school, but it's been a very rough road. My guess is that this is a case of reactionary posturing to try to paint a picture of some grandiose recovery... but with OPM (Other People's Money).
  • by hexed_2050 ( 841538 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @08:30PM (#32544776)
    Great post. My feelings exactly. I'm not a fan boy of either. I grew up coding basic at 5 years old on an Apple II.. so I know full well about Apple's beginnings. Since the early 90s I've used mainly PCs. And now? Well I have a mac mini, and iPad, iPhone, and I7 PC. I use them all because I need to know everything that is tech as I'm a computer consultant. However, everything that is useful in business except for graphic design and web design is run on a PC using Windows XP or Windows 7.
  • by sprior ( 249994 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @08:51PM (#32544966) Homepage

    No ragging on the PS/2 - those machines were TRUCKS. Several times in 1988 I checked a PS/2 Mod 80 as baggage on American Airlines without packing it in anything, just lugged (and I do mean lugged) it through the airport by its handle. And it arrived working just fine.

  • Re:lol yes .. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @12:09AM (#32546308)

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Morality [wikiquote.org]
    "I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world."

    * Bertrand Russell, in Why I Am Not a Christian; this has often been misquoted as "The Christian religion has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world."

  • by freaker_TuC ( 7632 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @07:24AM (#32555964) Homepage Journal

    ok .. buy the Apple ..

    Install windows on it and see how the school administration freaks out ... great plan!

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe