Bitter Recriminations in Cobb County iBook Fiasco

by Chris Adamson

Related link:

Since it's dropped off the radar of most Mac news sites, here's an update on the proposed Cobb County, Georgia iBook program: a grand jury has convened to determine if the $100 million contract was illegally granted to Apple. This is an extremely unusual development, as the use of special grand juries in educational issues in Georgia is rare, and moreover, seemingly no one is claiming any illegal behavior in the bidding process.

There are two separate issues in this controversy. The first is whether the bidding process unfairly favored Apple. That's what the grand jury is investigating. But that's not what scuttled the plan: what brought it down was that it was to be paid for by a voter-approved SPLOST (Special-Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) that was sold to the voters as a general-purpose educational technology and infrastructure upgrade. Taxpayers balked at the idea that it would instead be used to pay for laptops to be used by students: many didn't believe assurances that the computers could be kept safe, functioning, and easily replaced, while others got into a predictable and short-sighted "use Windows because that's what businesses use" snit. They sued the county - represented by an ex-Governor, no less - and a court issued an injunction against continuing the program. At that point, the county abandoned the program, regardless of the suit's outcome.

Curiously, you can still find Apple's news release announcing its selection as the supplier for the program. Memo to Apple: it is long since time to begin the cover-up and pretend that this never happened. Y'know, like OpenDoc.

C'mon, shoot the messenger!


2005-10-11 08:58:32
What a horrible page!
I know this is slightly off topic, but what a horrible page -

- that is!

It's boring and colorless, and the pseudo-aqua navbar looks dated and clumsy. Moreover, the line-length is far too great for comfortable reading:

There is also a character entity in there that's illegal for the character encoding that's claimed, namely, 146 (U+2019). And even more embarassing it is a non-standard *MICROSOFT* character:

More seriously, what are Apple doing in the 21st century serving a page with a transitional doctype, with an imbedded bgcolor tag, and with tables misused as a layout device? All three are evidence that the whole argument about the necessity for separating content and design has gone completely over Apple's head. (See, for example: )

Good grief, even Slashdot has got with the project:

But not Apple.

Apparently, the W3C can make the argument for the separating content and style and properly structuring one's HTML till it's blue in the face; Apple just ain't listening.

It's particularly worth remembering that blind users must perforce proceed linearly through pages. Apple not only hinders them with unnecessary tables; it doesn't even provide any way for a blind user to skip over it's navigation area.

It's worth noticing that even the Beast of Redmond has started delivering well-formed, valid, properly-structured pages, laid out with Cascading Style Sheets, and coded to the W3C's latest standards:

But not Apple.

Apple's pages - and that one is a fair example - would be all right coming from a someone selling shoes or china, but from a computer company they're a disgrace.

2005-10-11 09:02:41
Really effective shot at apple there at the end, yawn... I think you should invent flamebaiter markup language, FBML and a firefox plugin that locates the flamebait tag and reads the text out loud in a really whiney annoying voice - perhaps your own.
2005-10-11 10:55:58
Place your bets
How much do you want to bet that, after this all blows over, that Cobb County will purchase Dell (or some other Wintel) laptops for the schools? The majority of the complaints that they used to reject the Apple purchase will still be relevant, and yet, I expect a blind eye towards a Dell purchase.
2005-10-11 11:03:03
Place your bets
Very possible, but through this entire ordeal, nobody has indicated what the laptops would really be used for. I got some hate mail flaming me because without computers, kids have to lug 40 pounds of textbooks, but at no point did I ever see replacement of textbooks by e-docs as part of the proposal. In fact, the whole time, the laptops have been seen as an end in themselves, with little idea of what they'd actually be used for. Dell may yet buy this deal, but the whole thing seems like a very expensive exercise in pointlessness, in a school district best known for putting anti-evolution disclaimers in science textbooks.
2005-10-11 11:51:38
Place your bets
And that's pretty much my point (or my fear): All those complaints will still remain, but they'll approve it anyway.

P.S. Greetings from DeKalb County!