Mac Lab Report

Update on Antioch School District's Mac vs. Windows Platform Debate

- 2003.04.03

The follow-up to last week's Need Macs for Your Classroom? Write a Grant isn't finished yet, so we're providing an update on the platform debates in the Antioch School District covered in Defending the Mac in Three Minutes or Less and other articles. This article was written on March 22. dk

The articles I have written about the ongoing platform debates in the Antioch School District have now been picked up by the mainstream press. MacCentral reports on a Contra Costa Times article posted several days ago on our local paper's web site. I have since been contacted by the author, Rowena Coetsee, and updated her at her request. Also, our local Apple rep has contacted me about getting a little Apple assistance behind our efforts.

The whole experience has made me feel a little as if there is actually something to the "weblog points the way for mainstream media" viewpoint you read about. Just remember, you read it here first.

At one point in our correspondence, Ms. Coetsee asked me to explain why people get so worked up over an operating system. This is my reply.

"People like Macs for a variety of reasons.

  1. They like the interface better. In general, it's cleaner and requires fewer clicks to do the same job. For example, installing the OS on Windows requires many minutes, filling out name forms, answering wizard questions, restarting, answering more questions, etc. Setting up a Mac OS takes name and address, connection method, no restart. No serial numbers. No activation if you reinstall 3 times.
  2. Not as much as it used to be - but there are still programs that are not available for the PC. There are two I use, which I will have to abandon if the district removes my machines.
  3. Some of us - myself included - believe competition is good for the industry. If there were no Mac, then MS would be less inclined to copy features and call it innovation. Keeping the Mac alive is a battle for the very future of computing. An all MS world will stagnate, as there will be no impetus for change. Some of us call Apple the MS R&D department.
  4. No viruses.
  5. Rooting for the underdog.
  6. Ethical reasons: MS is an illegal monopoly, unpunished by a shortsighted Justice Department. Hopefully Europe has more sense.

If you want to see more, I refer you again to the article archive I mentioned earlier, www.lowendmac.com/lab/. Look at the "75 advantages" section. It's a little dated, but you'll get the idea. Another good site to read is www.macvspc.info."

I am considering starting a Macintosh User's Group for our school, for teachers and students who want to know more about how to use their computers and to organize advocacy at the board meetings for our favorite computing platform.

I never wanted to be in the middle of this debate in my own district. I really don't have the time to do the job properly. I have been asked a couple of times how I want this to turn out. My response has been the same each time: Either help me do my job or get out of my way while I do it myself.

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is a longtime Mac user. He was using digital sensors on Apple II computers in the 1980's and has networked computers in his classroom since before the internet existed. In 2006 he was selected at the California Computer Using Educator's teacher of the year. His students have used NASA space probes and regularly participate in piloting new materials for NASA. He is the author of two books and numerous articles and scientific papers. He currently teaches astronomy and physics in California, where he lives with his twin sons, Jony and Ben.< And there's still a Mac G3 in his classroom which finds occasional use.

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