I work with my friend in order to sell these pretty useful Chromebook protectors. Another friend was discussing the covers with some of his friends who work in one of the 50 largest school districts in the nation. They laughed at the idea of adding protection to their Chromebooks. They told him that the devices don't break, but I know the breakage rate is probably around 10%. Then they said that if one does break, they just send it back to Google and get a new one. Easy, right? Not really, since Google (or their actual distributor) knows there's a standard breakage rate, and if free replacement is offered, that rate was considered in price quote or insurance plan that was purchased. In a large school district, these amounts not only add up but are also covered up because of the large scale and limited accountability.

My friend told me that another guy at their little meeting was in charge of updating technology in the schools, but because of the size of the district, they could only do one school at a time. When standards change yearly, that's simply insane. For example, in the district I was in, Smartboards were added (God knows why), along with projectors. This was in 2012, and the projectors were capable of ONLY VGA inputs and lower resolution outputs. That's because the purchase was really from several years before and had yet to be installed at my school. Sad. Later, as I taught a film class and asked if I could have a better projector with HDMI, but I was told we didn't have that technology. Really, in 2013, there were no HDMI projectors in the school? And it would not have really mattered, since the old-school computers they'd purchased for us also lacked HDMI, so it would have been a DVD player from home that I was going to hook up. The point is that the big school district could not be nimble and make decisions now, so all those tech upgrades were always years behind.

Big heads play as big a role as anything in school tech departments that fail. I'm not saying every school needs the Chromebook covers I mentioned, but most of the tech guys I've met believed they were God's gift to technology. You are a school technology director, for heaven's sake, not Steve Jobs. You didn't invent anything, and your decisions are not always right. Just because you can send 10% of your Chromebooks back to the warehouse and pay yearly fees does not mean that it's the best way, and just because you chose soft case covers does not mean some other way works, too. Your job, as someone who pays taxes to a school district, is to make sure these tech people are more than just smug guys who think every decision they make is beyond reproach. I've seen poor implementation of online teaching tools, purchases of horrible teacher websites, and so many purchases that seemed to be approved by no one. But those purchases need YOUR approval.

Can you fix these problems. The answer is not to just stop technology spending. It's to buy the right stuff. Maybe your district wants to pay extra for insurance rather than covers for Chromebooks. That's not a huge issue. But make sure the tech department is asking the teachers, students, and parents what THEY think rather than simply making decisions based on cheaper prices or cool factor. Cheaper items, like old projectors, might come back to hurt you later, and cool factor items might never live up to expectations. Buy one and have teachers test it out instead of buying 1000 and implementing it district-wide over the summer. Use common sense.

Jacksonville News

New Jax Witty

Articles, reviews, advice, and legitimate research to go along with some back-handed comments. Think of us as Jacksonville's mother-in-law.
  • Only In Florida: Millionaire Stealing From Kmart
    Where else would a guy who owns an $8 million private island and a Real World House decide to steal from Kmart? Nowhere else. Only in Florida. I thought that it was uniquely Florida when three guys walked right into a Walmart and stole the arcade claw machine, loading it into their pickup truck as if they were going to service it. But those guys were probably unemployed or at least poor, so it was just a badly-hatched plan. So was the plan to buy items at Kmart and then return different items in the boxes. But the Kmart plan was devised by a guy with enough capital to purchase an $8 million island, so it's even more odd.

    With how easily the man was caught, I have to assume he was not a career store scammer. There's no way that someone who tries to steal $300 from Kmart (minus the value of the items that were returned in the boxes) has pulled it off enough to become a millionaire.

    Maybe he figured he'd be safe once on his own island. He could use his new Keurig every morning as he watched the sunrise over the ocean. I assume his new island didn't have a basketball court, since that's the item he stuffed into the coffee maker box when it was returned.

    Normally, people who become millionaires don't steal small stuff, unless it's lots of small stuff, like fraudulent billing of patients of your healthcare company. I wonder if this man can plead the 5th and get out of any responsibility for stealing from Kmart. Perhaps that's all it takes to get away with stealing when you're rich; I wouldn't know.

    Anyhow, no man is an island entire of himself. He needs stuff, even if he is technically living on a private island. I suppose the monthly mortgage on an $8 million island might get a little steep. At 20% down on a 30-year loan, the island would run $30,260 a month. That's probably about what an average Kmart sells in a month. I'm kidding, I think. This guy was probably just strapped for cash after having spent over $1.5 million on a down payment, so he needed some necessities, like a Keurig coffee machine.
  • Followed Home in Jacksonville
    A neighbor was recently followed home by a white SUV, and the comments on Nextdoor were all over the place. I think there are several angles to consider here, even though most of the people commenting were fairly single-minded in how they saw the situation.

    Call the Police
    Most reactions were that of calling the police. This was 1:30 in the morning, and a man was being followed all the way to his home, and when the man turned away, he was also followed right up to the point he entered a 24-hour gas station. One comment was to call the police while being followed. That's good advice, so long as you weren't drinking at your friend's house until 1:30, which I have to assume was the case. When the police show up to help you out, the white SUV will be long gone, and you'll be asked to exit the vehicle for a little test.

    Back in Milwaukee, my car got broken into while I was at a friend's house. We yelled at the kids as they tried to hotwire the car, and then called the police as they ran away. We'd been drinking a little bit, so it was surprising that the cops got the car fully hotwired for me and sent me on my way, broken back window and all. That was 20 years ago and in Milwaukee (Beer Capital of America). I don't expect any breaks like this in Jacksonville, so my advice would be to do exactly what this guy did if you've had a couple of drinks.

    Ask The Police
    Another theory is that the car was an undercover police car "running tags." These folks suggested the man call the police and ask. The problem is that since following someone around and running the tags is probably illegal, even if that was happening, I doubt it would be confirmed. Therefore, asking the police would not get a definitive answer.

    I've personally seen this happen, back in suburban Milwaukee. Cruisers would be at a stop light behind a car and on a laptop. Even though it was considered to be against the rules, it probably happened all the time when those computers were first installed. I think this behavior has been cracked down on to some extent, but an officer might still follow a car with a broken tail light just to see if the driver seems to be swaying around in his lanes, especially at 1:30am.

    Be Relieved
    One neighbor, to the consternation of most other neighbors, said that there was no proof the occupants of the car were up to no good. It's certainly true that no obvious crime occurred, even if most of us would consider following someone at 1:30am to be unacceptable, criminal-like behavior. If nothing else, the intent was to frighten the man. Whether it was a criminal, a cop, or a concerned citizen, when you follow someone all the way home at that hour, you want to frighten the person (or sneak up behind him). Georgia has a stalking law that might be applicable here, but I did not see one for Florida, where stalking is more about "a person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks" someone else. That means that criminals can legally stalk a dozen potential victims each day and never be breaking any law.

    Man or Woman, Do This
    If this kind of thing happens to you, it might seem to make sense to get home. The problem here is that you are leading someone to your house, even if they bail. They might now assume you work a late shift. Maybe they were following you to seek revenge for cutting them off, and they'll tag your garage door later on. And maybe, they'll be faster to the weapon than you.

    Therefore, it's recommended that you lead them back out of your neighborhood, just like the man in the story did. Take them to a public place and call the cops. If you're a little intoxicated, maybe wake up a dozen friends and round up the posse. I'd try to get to a public place where I know there are obvious cameras mounted. Even when you get somewhere more public, it's probably not a good idea to reach for your gun or tire iron right away. At least fake dial and talk on your phone before you get out of the car. You could probably hit the old panic button on the car, too, since noise tends to ward off criminals. At least I'd do some of that stuff before I decide to escalate the situation.