View from the Classroom

Busman's Holiday

Yes, Virginia, There Are Santa Clauses!

- January 12, 1999

Busman's Holiday? What does a columnist do on his day off but write another column!

Reader responses are a mixed bag. Five readers will tell me I have expressed publicly what they desperately wished someone would say about Apple, or Company X, or.... Another reader of the same column will send a one or two line zinger or a three page tirade. One of my favorites was an empty email with the subject line, "Last Rights - Last Rites," in reference to my poor proofreading on "Christmas Bloat and New Year's Mayhem." (Thanks to Calvin E.) One of my least favorites starred in the column, "Losing Educational Market Share: One Apple Rep at a Time." The email is always lively, and I relish the good relationships and information it sometimes fosters.

In late November I received the following short email in response to SE Fever: The Lure (and Reward) of Vintage Computing":

I have 2 or 3 SEs and 1 or 2 accelerators for them. I'll donate them.


You never know quite what to think of such an offer. Not wanting to appear greedy, and being rather smug that I have never accepted any goodies from those I review, I suggested he might donate them to his local school. But, I also offered to foot the postage if his local school demurred.

I received the following message the next day:

I would like to give them to someone who can "support" them. In town here, I'm afraid they'll just sit in a corner. Send me ship to info...


I didn't hear back from TR on that subject for over a month. I had totally forgotten about it, when I received the following inventory of what was coming our way:

Qty item Qty item
2 1 030/25 accelerator 2 Hi Res Display Cards
1 68881/25 1 Techworks ethernet card
1 68030/20 1 SCSI HD
1 68881/20 5 Apple microphones
1 Mac IIsi accelerator, cache, math card 1 030/50 MHz
1 MPEG Media System 1 PB 140/170 6 MB
1 Apple Avid Video System 1 PB 140/170 modem
1 SCSI Hard Drive 4 4 MB 30 pin
1 SCSI Hard drive for Portable 25 1 MB 30 pin
2 Duo 280c logic boards 1 MS Word
1 Duo display 1 Faxcilitate
1 Mac IIfx 5 Mac OS 7.5
1 Mac Portable 1 Mac OS 7.6

I was stunned.

I told our school's technology coordinator what was coming, and he immediately offered to help. He had space where the items could be stored until we decided what to do with them all.

Eight large boxes of parts arrived about a week later. Some were so heavy that I just scooted them onto a cart before moving them to the techie's office. Then the fun began as "the evil NT techie" and I, equipped with our inventory sheets, tore into the boxes. Another staff member finally excused herself from the office amid the comments of, "Gee whiz, look at this! Hey, this is a graphics accelerator! Look at that display! Is this a 40 chip upgrade? What will it fit?" I think she was totally geeked out:-).

To the casual eye, this might appear to be a computer garage sale cleanup. But if you look closely, there's a lot of value in what we received. I immediately put an Ethernet card to use in a "new" Mac IIfx in my classroom. A display (not pictured) will go with a Mac IIsi that was donated by an eBay vendor. An SE/30 case with a very good monitor was quickly combined with a motherboard and drives I'd been intending to work on. One classroom teacher who has another SE/30 has already spoken for it.

I can tell the Mac Portable is going to be running again, soon. "The evil NT techie," oops, our technology coordinator, is totally taken by it and kept fiddling with it and the various extra parts while we were sorting. (Maybe there's a Mac future for our techie, after all?) We sorted through the boxes identifying parts for which we had an immediate or future need.

Obviously, not everything will fit into our computing situation. He volunteered to handle most of the distribution within our school and also began assembling a list of other Mac-oriented schools in the area with which to share the bounty. Schools are pretty limited by state regulations on selling surplus items, but swapping with other techies and schools may slide by the state board of accounts. I immediately thought of something Dan Knight had told me some time ago and I finally found the email he sent:

I'd like to add a new section to MacInSchool where needy schools can post what they're looking for and who to contact. Once I collect a decent list, I'll send a note to the 8 Mac email lists I manage soliciting donations of spare computers.

While I'm sure we'd all call ourselves needy, Dan really does have a good idea here. My school is extremely fortunate to be about in the middle of the pack - somewhere between hardware heaven and extremely needy. I've kicked up a good fuss over reliability of some of our machines, but we do have at least one fairly good computer in each classroom.

One thing I'd like to push is for schools that already have computers and are upgrading to donate one older computer for each two they receive. Not a hard and fast rule, but a way they can spread the wealth. (There are schools where an Apple II would be a blessing.)

This is a real biggie! I have seen working Apple IIs cast out when teachers received their new Macs! (And boy, were some of them sorry.) Now, it seems to be the SE and SE/30s that are being pitched (and saved by me). I know a guy who uses SEs in tandem with Apple IIs who could use a couple of my off-inventory machines!

Dan might not appreciate this part, but a general computer listing and exchange might be a good move. In an ideal world, it would make sense to just have a posting site for all computer platforms, including the Evil Empire machines. But he's starting out right - not too big and trying to serve the Mac community which he knows so well. I hope Dan can pull it off, as there are people out there, such as TR, who wishes to remain anonymous in this column, who can and will supply usable materials to schools that will actually put them to good use.

I offer my heartfelt thanks to TR for his generous gift. I'd also ask that if readers have materials they'd wish to donate to needy schools, they contact Dan Knight , as he has already shown an interest in heading up such an enterprise. I'm not going to have time to do any such thing. I'm too loaded down with parts to use!

Send your feedback to

Previous Busman's Holiday Columns by Steve Wood

Site Guide

Tools & Such Great Education Websites & Programs

MSDWT Manuscript Freebies


Welcome Addition & Subtraction Multiplication Subtraction

About This Site Why Register? Register Who's He? Download Sites


About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Custom Search

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Favorite Sites

Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac

Low End Mac's store


Open Link