Editorial: The Real World
By Peter Cohen,
September marks the start of the academic year. Now that our kids have been in school for a few weeks and a routine has been established, the schools open their doors for open house events so the teachers and parents can finally meet. There’s a new teacher and a new classroom, but not a lot has changed at my older son Robert’s school since we were last there before summer vacation started — except for a computer lab that has made the switch from Mac to Windows.
It’s been coming for a while. The administration of the school and the town bureaucrats seem to be under the sadly misguided notion that Windows-based PCs better prepare kids for “the real world,” and the faculty and IT staff haven’t exactly rallied to the Macs’ defense. Ongoing budget cuts certainly leave no money for a one-to-one iBook initiative or even a mobile iBook lab. So a fleet of aging Power Mac 5500’s was retired over the summer, replaced instead with a fleet of already-aging PC-compatibles running a version of Windows that’s a few years old.
My son is entirely comfortable with computers — he shares his room with a little brother, too many toys to count and a Power Mac. We don’t have any PCs in the house, but Robert was able to pick up and start using the Wintel box at school without any problem, which would seem to poke some holes in the “real world” theory. With his computer teacher’s permission, Robert has been helping other kids with less experience to log on to the classroom network, fire up a Web browser and use Google to perform simple searches.
When my wife announced to the computer teacher that “We’re Mac people,” I saw the teacher’s eyes glaze over as he recited a rapid-fire stream of wrong-headed assumptions, like they’re more expensive and slower than PCs — a point I’m sure the Wall Street Journal’s
Walt Mossberg would debate. I didn’t bother to correct him — he’s toeing the party line, and besides, this was the first time I met the guy. I didn’t want to scare him. Yet.
The computer teacher has tagged each PC monitor with colored dots. We asked what the tags were there for, and he explained that they’re used when one computer crashes or gets a virus infection. He can direct the afflicted student to use another machine by just telling them which color to go to.
You could almost hear crickets chirping as my wife and I glowered at him without saying a word.
We’ve asked Robert about his computer class, and he tells us that he likes it a lot. Except when he has to wait for the computer to reboot after it crashes. Or when one of the computers gets a virus and can’t be used while it’s being disinfected. He likes it better at home, he said, because there, the computer just does what he wants it to.
Welcome to the real world, kid.
Are Macs being used at your kids’ schools? Is their faculty and IT staff any more open-minded than the ones at my son’s school?
Drop me a line and let me know.
600 Power Mac G5s clean up Star Wars
When the original Star Wars trilogy comes out on DVD tomorrow, many fans will notice image clarity unsurpassed by any previous home video release of the enormously popular movies. Such pristine images are the result of four years of work by Lowry Digital, the company that digitally cleaned up recent DVD releases of Snow White, Citizen Kane and the Indiana Jones trilogy. An article recently posted on the official Star Wars Web site describes how Lowry put 600 dual processor Power Mac G5 computers to work scrubbing every frame of the films, removing dirt, deterioration and other damage and ending up with transfers “nearly as good as the director and cinematographer were seeing when they shot the movie,” according to company owner John Lowry. Read the article to learn more.
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