2 PCs/day stolen in Racine schools, why not try Sun Ray?

I saw this in my hometown newspaper the other day:

RACINE — Eleven computers were stolen from two 
Racine Unified elementary schools Monday night, 
bringing the total to nearly 70 computers 
taken from schools in a recent rash of burglaries.

Sad, school has only been in session a month and already 68 computers (enough for two or three classrooms) are gone. The Racine school system is already facing budget shortfalls and declining tax revenue in light of the recession (which always hits Racine at least 4 years before Wall street notices.) The unfortunate thing about this and similar Federally funded educational computers systems is that Federal funds seem to focus on hardware and completely ignore software, systems integration and training. Educational PCs tend to be underutilized for a couple of years and just when teachers begin to understand how to integrate them into their curriculum, some local politician will push an agenda "IF only we used PC instead of Mac, Windows 98 instead of Windows 95, Apple IIe, Apple instead of Atari... then Johnny would be able to read!" I've heard of brand new computers sit in boxes for two years, becoming completely obsolete before they are ever used. It's possible that the excellent Apple audio/video capabilities which made these computers so attractive to thieves hadn't been used in the classroom yet. Some of these computers were purchased under a grant for the purposes of exam administration. I happen to know that the deployment/upgrade system was really well designed (by my brother ;-) and similar to a system I helped put together for an Irish bank. But Sun Rays might have been better for some of these purposes and would free up the Apples for the multimedia functions they excel at. Sun Rays have a much longer "shelf-life" than a typical P.C. or Mac. The first ones made in the late 1990s would be able to administer exams and display XP, Vista, Linux, Solaris applications just as well as the brand new ones. Upgrades would be system-wide and nearly instantaneous. Bad or stolen hardware could be swapped out by the teacher and ready to use in less than 5 minutes. The fact that Sun Rays are useless without a server should make them less likely to be stolen (with the caveat that Racine thieves tend to be extremely stupid, the last item stolen from me there was the back wheel of a rusty 35-year-old Schwinn bicycle.)

When an Apple Computer or Wintel PC is stolen, the data usually goes with the hardware (unlike Sun Ray which retains no data!) So be on the lookout for "like new" iMacs, iBooks and eMacs containing files, student names or other references to Racine Unified's standardized test system.

Comments:

You seem to write a lot about Sun Rays, but you'd do Sun a much bigger turn if you were out there trying to sell them to all these people, rather than just sitting at your desk writing about them...

Posted by guest on October 13, 2008 at 02:52 PM GMT+00:00 #

Someday I need to write down the reason I'm such a Sun Ray advocate, it doesn't have as much to do with my being a Sun employee as you'd think. It has more to do with the fact that I've seen how corporate and government organizations (mis)use fat clients. The horror!

I do try to promote Sun Ray in person whenever possible. I also wrote some glue code to help get this school system on Sun Ray:
http://blogs.sun.com/joehartley/entry/back_to_a_new_school

Posted by bnitz on October 13, 2008 at 03:24 PM GMT+00:00 #

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