Oh Lord, again?

Then, after the pandemic, he wants a review that could lead to every child in England being given a free laptop as standard state-school kit. The campaign is backed by 2,000 head teachers in the WorthLess? network as well as cross-party MPs including the Conservative chairman of the education select committee, Robert Halfon.

Itoje, whose father is a special needs teacher, says he is inspired by the Manchester United striker’s successful campaign for free meals for children in the school holidays. Rashford, like Itoje, is represented by Roc Nation, the talent agency founded by the hip hop billionaire Jay-Z, which has backed social improvements in America. Both black British sports stars are using their social media platforms to influence change. Itoje has about 260,000 followers on Instagram and 90,000 on Twitter, and has started to post messages using the hashtag #digitaldivide.

Can you imagine how shit a government laptop is going to be?

56 thoughts on “Oh Lord, again?”

  1. I started my career in IT by doing support for an ISP in the late 90’s. New Labour thought it was a great idea to give the chronically dyslexic free laptops on the basis it would magically help them. Cue hundreds of people who couldn’t even read words on the screen calling in to “fix” things, mostly without success, in the service of I don’t know what: I know word processors can be useful to them, but not by themselves. And don’t get me started on the teachers, many of whom were also given free laptops, endlessly “breaking” their mail by using 16K member email lists to talk to all their colleagues…

  2. @JuliaM : actually, Chromebook’s would be £200 each, and my experience is that they last 3-4 years or so. Of course it locks you into Google, but it might be a tradeoff worth making. However, it’s never as good as full on teaching, and given that children are at almost zero risk from COVID you have to ask why you should bother. Plus, teachers don’t seem to get it from the kids, see link.

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveypilot/6november2020

  3. actually, Chromebook’s would be £200 each

    You can be certain that the government would manage to spend £2000 minimum on each one.

  4. “Both black British sports stars are using their social media platforms to influence change.”

    I wonder how much of their own money they’re using. Also, why is it necessary to note the colour of their skin?

  5. Someone, somewhere needs to hammer home to the the idiots that read this kind of shit and think “that’s a good idea!”, that there is no such thing as ‘free’.
    I knew someone connected with supplying IT services to Birmingham schools. Poor he is not.

  6. However, it should be noted that the BBC Model B was great.

    You could give a Raspberry Pi & case to every child in the country for about £50 each. This would have the added benefit that none of the little squits would be able to use it.

  7. Bloke in China (Germany province)

    Yes, we did actually once have a government laptop in schools. Who else is of the correct age cohort here (as either pupil or teacher) to remember?

    It had 32 kb of RAM, cost £400, and there was one per class, if that. You could program it to make little robots move around, and even download software off teletext (a kind of rudimentary one-way internet).

    It was actually pretty cool.

  8. So Much For Subtlety

    The only use students will use these laptops for will be downloading porn. Computer literacy begins with reading, writing and ‘rythmatic. Precisely the things the government is woefully unable to teach the little sh!ts.

    But if it is so important I notice Jay Z has made some money out of selling social dysfunction. And this campaign seems supported by a few footballers who are paid a quid or two. I don’t think these lap tops are important. Why should I pay for them? But I am happy, if they do, to let them pay for them all.

  9. One advantage of this scheme is that the rest of us could pick up a cheap laptop, as the market will be flooded immediately.

  10. Both black British sports stars are using their social media platforms to influence change.

    I’m not racist or nothing (Boney M were on regular rotation in my Christmas playlist), but what are the odds both African gentlemen’s idea of positive change is… more free shit from Big Bwana.

  11. SMFS, who I’m pretty sure DID NOT have Boney M in his Christmas playlist (racist), alleges:

    The only use students will use these laptops for will be downloading porn.

    Which is absolute bullshit. They’ll also be used for cyberbullying.

  12. Haven’t most of the little buggers got smart phones anyway? What’s a cheap laptop going to add?

    BTW how’s micro:bit doing? Got them all assembler hacking yet? (Snigger)

  13. “I wonder how much of their own money they’re using”.

    Rather like the old “ how can you tell if someone is a vegan” joke the fact that it hasn’t been reported should tell you all you need to know. I did find one article stating that at the beginning when money wasn’t coming in too fast Mr Rashford generously topped his appeal total up to £50k following which it took off. Even the full £50k would have been less than 0.5% of his annual basic salary before bonuses and endorsements.

    The news that both are represented by the same publicity company comes as little surprise. You can’t question Itoji as a player but I wish he and Rashford would set a better example by parting with meaningful sums of their own money rather than asking for ours like little Geldof clones.

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    Steve January 17, 2021 at 11:05 am – “who I’m pretty sure DID NOT have Boney M in his Christmas playlist (racist), alleges:”

    1. I will have you know that Boney M are great artists and everyone’s play list should have at least Sunny and River of Babylon. (In fairness their Christmas album is … well … not quite a crime against humanity but getting there) and,

    2. I regard Boney M as the logical development of Black Face. So, yes, very racist. But in a way a monument to German music. They can do better than Kraftwerk and whatever that song about balloons was.

  15. I don’t think in the future it will be necessary for Google to interview people for jobs. they’ll just pluck their preferred ones from their google classroom and chrome, chrome book databases.

  16. whatever that song about balloons was

    The 99 balloons lass had something that stirred my blood (and if were still stir-able, would even now).

  17. How fast will the little buggers lose them or have them stolen? And I swear that 20-30 years ago the French gov’t had a great idea that they’d provide every household or adult in the country with a PC – get them a huge leg up on the new IT revolution & think of the economies of scale! Took forever, cost a fortune & they ended up with the PC equivalent of a Yugo. Other than that…

  18. Bloke in China (Germany province)

    Bach, Beethoven, Boney M? Never thought of it before but indeed, on reflection, I agree with SMFS, they are a fine exponent of the high traditions of German music.

  19. Easier to demand money from white people than take black people to task for their culture of failing to provide for their children.

  20. I think free laptops for school children is a great idea. How about we fund it with a 10% super tax for earnings over £250,000 a year, applied only to sports stars and their agents?

    Roc Nation, the talent agency founded by the hip hop billionaire Jay-Z, which has backed social improvements in America. Both black British sports stars are using their social media platforms to influence change.

    Translation: Roc Nation stirs racial and social unrest in order to make more money for people who are already millionaires*.

    It is so utterly transparent I am amazed anyone falls for it.

    * apart from Jay Z, who is a billionaire…

  21. @Steve “I’m not racist or nothing (Boney M were on regular rotation in my Christmas playlist)”

    It’s true that Boney M were vastly under-rated. Jolly good tunes and educational (I would never have known that Ma Baker taught her four sons to handle their guns without Boney M) but it should be remembered that the male voice on their records was supplied not by the prancing bloke in the group but by the group’s German record producer Frank Farian (who was white).

    Farian was later behind the Milli Vanilli miming scandal.

  22. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke in China (Germany province) January 17, 2021 at 11:50 am – “Bach, Beethoven, Boney M? Never thought of it before but indeed, on reflection, I agree with SMFS, they are a fine exponent of the high traditions of German music.”

    Bach? Beethoven? How many Grammys did they win? Milli Vanilli won one. Actually in a couple of weeks it will be thirty years since they won.

    Dead White Guys. It is racist to even refer to them by a single name. Apparently. I think Prince would agree.

  23. When i worked for the civil service I saw some of the billing that our it providers submitted. £370 to get a spare pc out of central store and deliver to site. £119 for a dial up modem 9so you can see how long ago it was and other extortionate demands. I imagine the cost of providing a laptop to every schoolchild would be ginormous. Meanwhile my old laptop could do with being replaced – where do i get my free laptop?

  24. ‘Haven’t most of the little buggers got smart phones anyway? What’s a cheap laptop going to add?’

    Try writing an essay or making a ppt on a smartphone then get back to us.

    A lot of schools now have the parents buy a laptop or tablet in year 7 (which means it’s on its last legs by year 9 if you’re lucky), with freebies for the hard-up ones.

    Regarding Rasberry Pi’s, a starter kit is now £99 including a keyboard, mouse, etc so they could be a cheaper option than a laptop (can plus into a tv so don’t need a monitor).

  25. When I hear these reports of kiddies working from home complaining:
    “The WiFi’s crap” – so don’t use WiFi, plug in a network cable!
    “The laptop’s crap” – so don’t use a laptop, use a proper computer!

    WTBF are people trying to do real work on wifi-connected laptops? Or, in some cases – MOBILE BLOODY PHONES!

  26. Rupert,

    “@JuliaM : actually, Chromebook’s would be £200 each, and my experience is that they last 3-4 years or so. Of course it locks you into Google, but it might be a tradeoff worth making.”

    It isn’t.

    If there’s one benefit of getting kids a computer, it’s that the little tikes can hack around with the thing, do stuff they like doing.

    Computers for Schools has always been an Underpants Gnomes project. Give kids computers (?) learning! No-one can ever explain how. And yes, there’s things like basic Word and Excel, but even those are declining as more is done through a browser.

    The one benefit that computers ever brought was in the stuff kids wanted to do with them that wasn’t school. Like the after-school club where a teacher and few kids learned to program, or a kid getting a bootleg copy of some music or drawing software and learning photoshop or reason. Kids spending their time learning something useful rather than the 80% crap that they’ll never use again, which only exists to justify the babysitting and state indoctrination.

    Chromebooks are even easier to lock down than a Windows PC, so you’ll get nothing but what teachers want, which is a waste of money.

  27. “Farian was later behind the Milli Vanilli miming scandal.”

    I never understood the fuss about that. That it was a white dude doing the work doesn’t affect the music, does it. Do people buy records because of who is on the sleeve? I can imagine why a guy might knock one out to Taylor Swift, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy the product.

  28. Dennis, Neither Polyamorous Nor Well Endowed

    Can you imagine how shit a government laptop is going to be?

    Don’t worry… They’re planning to throw in a free copy of DOS, Wordstar and Lotus 1-2-3.

  29. @BoM4

    I think it was because Mr Milli and Mr Vanilli got some sort of award for their singing. Which they then had to hand back.

    But I agree with you. If you were listening to their songs what difference did it make and if it was a live show, well it would look the same whether they were singing or not. Presumably had it been an aging white German dancing around on stage it wouldn’t have looked as good.

  30. Try writing an essay or making a ppt on a smartphone then get back to us.

    Twenty quid for a Bluetooth keyboard will enable easy essay writing on a smartphone. It’s not ideal but I’ve done it. MS Office apps are available for iPhone and Android. Casting / mirroring onto larger screens is feasible.

    Irrelevant to the celebrity school laptop issue, but worth pointing out in case anyone wants a cheap backup system in case desktop / laptop / broadband not available.

  31. “Can you imagine how shit a government laptop is going to be?”

    Having nearly given myself a coronary trying to get several “Lightweight” flavours of Linux working on my old PC’s, I hope to God they don’t hand out anything with that O/S installed, PARTICULARLY if they expect the recipients to get them working via WiFi. Still, kids will probably be better able (than me) to cope with touchpad or mouse pointers which are WAY too fast even on the slowest settings…

    I now await much incoming abuse….

  32. Who wants to wager…

    Will the government forget to block porn sites on these laptops, or will the government block everything relating to dissent?

  33. The aforementioned Ma Baker who brought up four sons to handle their guns was only slightly before her time.

  34. A government “Victory” laptop would be like Alexei Sayle’s “British Walkman”

    Made of teak covered in leatherette and with earphones from a Lancaster bomber

  35. @Bloke on M4: Chromebooks have a Unix shell as well as being easy to lock down 🙂

    Use said shell to interact with VM’s on classroom mini-servers. Do what a lot of dev/sysadmin people do which is trial-build on the VM, and if they screw it, wipe and start again. If they are that keen, second hand PC’s will do very nicely and are cheap as chips.

  36. @dave ward – i tried ubuntu on my old laptop – wifi works fine, though unable to install a vpn or bittorrent despite multiple attempts. Even loads a version of chrome – chromium so all my passwords transferred over.

  37. Linux on laptops can be a black art. Depends on the brand. I’ve never used them but older Dells were apparently quirky. Having said that I’ve had little problem with HP, Toshiba and more recently, ThinkPads. Usually it’s just a case of loading the live DVD, booting it and then selecting ‘Install’. Older laptops may need a slimmer distro. Google for ‘Linux small distro’.

  38. One of the most amazing things about Boney M is that they could make a massive hit out of singing Psalm 137. Schutz, Telemann, Bach, Handel – THAT’s how it’s done.

    Nena is still going, about 60 now, saw her last as a judge on the German version of The Voice. She’s still lovely, but strikes me as a bit bats, which is actually my experience with most German women come to think of it. I only have 4 of her albums…

    Just seen that Phil Spector has died at 80, not Epsteined apparently.

  39. TG

    Yeah Lenovos tend to be the most receptive to Linux in my experience, no names are usually the least sophisticated and so the generic Linux drivers have a better chance of working.

    I’m using a Dell now, but I was given it and although it is relatively new, I really don’t like it and so I won’t tempt fate and leave it on Win10. I certainly wouldn’t buy one out of choice.

  40. Needn’t be a shitshow , but…

    The Laptops would need to be thin client rigs to satisfy the ThinkoftheChildren/Privacy crowd. The fact that this renders them also next to unuseable for anything but school stuff ( if done right ) and thrashes their resale value is a bonus.

    However… This requires the thing to be set up by people who are actually competent, reliable, and have a serious streak of BOFH to ward off the nannies and busybodies. Oh, and are willing to work for the measly bit of salary the schools offer for their level of competence…
    So the job will most likely land in the lap of Crapita et.al., which have….shall we say… a track record in these things.

    And then there’s the bit about recurring seats for programs/suites ( sorry, “apps” ) which aren’t free, and will have sales representatives salivating. The actual cost of the things is not the hardware, it’s the software and associated costs that’ll make them expensive. There’s a gravy train right there, which doesn’t change with the choice of hardware.
    And that’s for the standard stuff.. There’s also the drama of whatever the school uses as IT for attendance/homework/grades/NotestoTeacher.
    FOSS software is not really an option, because the aim is to teach the kids to use stuff they will encounter in Real Life™, which means the Big Tech offerings. The Linux/FOSS field has.. matured.., and is nowadays actually useable, but it has not been adopted at any scale in any industry, so for practical purposes remains a curiosity when it comes to teaching kids the skills they need later.

    It’s not that it isn’t technically possible, or can’t even be done right.
    It’s just that the whole current setup of both government and school system is wholly inadequate and/or incompetent to even deal with something like this.
    (and not just UK. The Disease is almost everywhere.)

  41. Will the government forget to block porn sites on these laptops, or will the government block everything relating to dissent?

    Or?

    Regarding cost of such a programme. If we assume a basic laptop costs £200 and that there are around 3 million pupils in state secondary schools, then we can estimate the total cost to taxpayers will be somewhere in the region of £9 billion a year.

  42. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke on M4 January 17, 2021 at 2:09 pm – “I can imagine why a guy might knock one out to Taylor Swift, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy the product.”

    Probably because the music industry has more people who would know one out to Rob Pilatus than to Taylor Swift.

  43. Andy ex-Taiwan,
    “Try writing an essay or making a ppt on a smartphone then get back to us.”

    If you have the the little buggers do essays on computers they just cut and paste stuff off the internet. Nobody wants their child to grow up to be the kind of person who uses PowerPoint.

    People have ridiculous ideas about children. I’ve taught IT to kids, the boys used paint to draw dick pics and the girls downloaded Frozen and my little pony. I try to forget about it.

  44. Bloke in China (Germany province)

    The software thing is easy. Just get the government to write it! It’s worked so well in the past…

    BTW, would be nice if Tim would occasionally fish boney fide posts out of the spambin now and again.

  45. “Can you imagine how shit a government laptop is going to be? ”

    Won’t have to imagine. The pawnshops will be full of them.

  46. @A,
    Or Rashford could just pay his taxes……….

    Does he not?
    I know jaff all about him, aside from what a quick scan of google results just told me. Plays footy for some club or other.

    Any links to articles about his tax affairs or anything?

  47. FOSS software is not really an option, because the aim is to teach the kids to use stuff they will encounter in Real Life™,

    Unfortunately you are correct. However, the aim should be to teach the little bastards the concepts of what they are doing, not just work through the manual for the current version of MS Turd.

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