Help! They're brainwashing my kid . . . !

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by nhcowboy1, Aug 31, 2008.

  1. nhcowboy1 macrumors 6502

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    NH
    #1
    My 12-year old started 7th grade last week - at a new charter school specializing in science and technology.

    Despite all the wonderful things I'd heard about the school when it opened last year, I was appalled to discover, when I visited, that the school's laptops are all PCs - either because of an unfortunate decision by the school's original director (who's no longer there) or because that's what someone was willing to donate.

    Now that classes have started, I'm realizing all the ramifications of their in-house PC-use. Homework is accessed through a program called "GoCourse" - which has only a partially functional online interface - and a fully functional downloadable interface accessible only to Windows users! Homework assignments - as well as email attachments sent out to students and/or parents - are generally in .docx format - also not readily accessible to MAC users. And the worst of it is that they've convinced my kid that his computer (a very nice little 14" iBook) is inferior to their Pieces of C*** because it can't readily deal with the stuff they're sending him. (Someone has also convinced him that his MAC is inferior because it doesn't have all the nifty virus protection their PCs have!!! :mad:)

    The school's programming courses also seem to be Windows-based . . .

    I know I'm not going to be able to get the school to switch to MACs - unless someone is willing to donate 5 dozen of them to the school! But I would like to have a coherent response when my son comes home and tells me he wants to toss his iBook and get a PC laptop instead.

    I could also use whatever shortcuts anyone might be able to suggest to make accessing my son's homework a bit easier. I've already downloaded a program to convert the .docx files to .rtf format - but audio files remain a problem. The kid needs to record words for his Chinese class - and the best I can come up with is to record in garageband, save to iTunes, and then convert to a Mp3 (or similar). Anybody got a better idea?

    I can, if I have to (and obviously not inexpensively), set up a Windows platform on the iBook . . . Anyone have any thoughts on this? (The iBook is a 1.33 G4, currently running Tiger.)

    Homeschooling, by the way, is not an option! :D
     
  2. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    Canada, eh?
    #2
    A MacBook running Windows in Boot Camp?

    Or you could just suck it up and get him a cheap Windows laptop so he can experience the system the same way everyone else does (warts and all). Otherwise anything that goes wrong, they'll just blame it on "well, if you had a PC like everyone else..."

    Besides, as you already know, it's good to be multi-lingual. Like it or not a working knowledge of Windows is a real asset, despite any moral high ground you might wish to take.
     
  3. 18jedi macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    #3
    I agree with notjustjay. Get him a cheap Acer notebook with vista on it. He'll realize how HORRIBLE it is and will become his foremost gripe when it comes to do homework. "But I don't want to use windows!"

    After he's done, you can take your little acer notebook and put linux on it. That'll come in handy if he does indeed want to learn programming.
     
  4. nhcowboy1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Okay, so what you're saying is that running Windows on his iBook is not an option?

    Alright, then, off to look for a "cheap Acer notebook" . . with Vista.

    :( :( :(
     
  5. zap2 macrumors 604

    zap2

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    Washington D.C
    #5
    If you have the funds, this is what I suggest.

    Buy a MacBook(give it some extra RAM so it really "goes!"), buy Parallels, get a legit install of Widnows, install Windows(Vista or XP, I'd suggest XP because its gonna run fast, but if he needs Vista, go for it)

    And your son is set!

    Your son can go "Well I need Windows for school, but due to the fact it sucks, I choose to run it inside OS X, so I can use OS X when I like, and Windows when I must. BAM!"
     
  6. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #6
    I suggest that you don't waste your time with this option. It will not be worth the effort. Nor will the results be satisfying.

    You could get a new MacBook and run Windows natively via Bootcamp. Your son would need to reboot to switch from the Mac OS to Windows and vice versa.

    Or you could run Windows using Parallels or VMware. These will run Windows fairly fast, but not as fast as using Bootcamp. This way your son can run both environments at the same time.

    Or you could just go ahead and get a cheap PC laptop that has everything pre-installed. The cheapest solution for sure. Plus it will work and if it doesn't the school IT folks will have to solve the issue where as with the Mac they will just say that the platform is none supported.

    One important issue, is how is your son with computers? Is he a geek or just a user? Some basic users find that running Windows via VMware or Parallels confusing.

    If nothing else, if you get the PC laptop, your son will become more knowledgeable in computer OS'es.
     
  7. nhcowboy1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Okay, now, wait a sec . . . Do I really give up that easily?

    There are advantages to the iBook . . . the most obvious of which is that I can keep an eye on him from my MAC at the other end of the house. Once he switches to a PC, I have no way of monitoring where he's been or what he's doing . . . . :confused:
     
  8. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    #8
    Zap2's suggestion isn't necessarily the cheapest, but it is the best for what you want to do, and XP running with Fusion or Parallels is fine with the RAM maxed out, otherwise you boot directly into BootCamp.

    Other than that, a cheap PC lappie is all you've got
    The iBook with Tiger is not really a solution for BootCamp

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
     
  9. Cabbit macrumors 68020

    Cabbit

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    #9
    Get him a macbook with vmware. You can then save the vmware image to a dvd or something as backup for all the times windows will need reinstalled.
     
  10. nhcowboy1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I'd have to say geek . . . Honestly, that was pretty much a prerequisite for getting into this school.

    Okay, so my choices are to upgrade to a MacBook and install Windows on it (using Parallels or Bootcamp) or just get a cheap PC . . .

    Since time is of the essence, the latter option seems easier and quicker. And he can carry it back and forth to school if he wants to - without me having to worry about it. A MacBook, I'd probably be more cautious with . . .

    But what you're saying is that, if he's as smart as I think he is, he'll quickly realize that's he's dealing with the devil . . . and will be a loyal Mac user for ever after. ;)
     
  11. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    #11
    Oh yeah... that's a given ;)

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
     
  12. nhcowboy1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Could someone please explain: VMware, Parallels, Fusion, Bootcamp?

    Thanks . . .
     
  13. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    #13
    Check out this guide: Booting Windows on a Mac

    It should answer all your questions

    Boot Camp partitions your drive and allows you to install Windows
    You will need a licensed copy of XP SP2 or Vista
    You can boot directly into Windows using BootCamp

    Parallels or VMWare Fusion are virtualization software
    They allow you to run your BootCamp partition of Windows while still in OSX
    Both are good, both have their fans

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
     
  14. lamina macrumors 68000

    lamina

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    From Canada, living in Seoul
    #14
    Sorry to come so late to this thread. I'm in Seoul and it seems I miss a lot of the good stuff. :)

    Your son will be compiling stuff. The G4 is an able machine for the basics, like web stuff, iLife (minus video editing), etc. But when it comes down to number crunching, the Intels beat the G4's hands down. I went from a $3200 17" G4 PowerBook 1.67GHz to a 2.4GHz black MacBook, and the difference is night and day. The current lineup of MacBooks are "Screamers"™. Invest in a MacBook and have him run Boot Camp. Or, if you'd still like to keep an eye on him, have him run Parallels.

    The programming thing (well, compiling) really does make use of every CPU cycle though, so in this case Boot Camp would be the best bet.

    Sorry if someone already pointed this out, which I'm sure they have. Just thought I'd share my experience with G4 versus Intel.
     
  15. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #15
    Just to add...

    With VMware or Parallels you also have the option to create a container (virtual machine) for Windows. In this case, you do not need to have a Bootcamp installation. Both VMware and Parallels run Windows at decent speed. Not native, but relatively fast.

    In fact, you can create as many containers as you have HD space. You can only run one at a time, but you can have multiple ones installed. For example, currently I have:

    - Windowns XP
    - Ubuntu
    - Vista

    I will be adding a few more in the future. Being able to do this really provides a flexible platform.
     
  16. yoyo5280 macrumors 68000

    yoyo5280

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    Feb 24, 2007
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia & Bay Area
    #16
    Same problem at my school

    The good thing is the NEW IT head dude is really cool and a mac user. Except the rest of the IT staff arent going for it.

    Anyways, your options are
    Get a cheap PC running an old windows OS to show people its crap
    Get a cheap PC running XP and install that software that skins THE ENTIRE operating system to look like mac (I will find it for you)
    Hunt around for Microsoft Virtual PC for mac. That lets you run windows on your power PC mac. Try ebay
    Buy a new mac, with bootcamp.
     
  17. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    #17
    I still think the best option is a MacBook running Boot Camp (or VMWare)
    If you are going to spend the money on a system, get one you want
    Virtual PC is incredibly s l o w

    With VMWare you can load Ubuntu as well and get the best of 3 worlds

    Just max it with 3rd party RAM

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
     
  18. Mikebike125 macrumors 6502

    Mikebike125

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    #18
    Are these files something that can be opened and saved in Neo Office? I am not sure if they are simply emailing him Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, but if that is the issue, Neo Office will do the trick. BTW it is FREE!!
     
  19. nhcowboy1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    NH
    #19
    Thanks, lumina, sushi, MacDawg, yoyo, et al . . . . I really appreciate your insights!

    Sounds like a MacBook with VMware would be the best option, but . . . the kid is only 12 years old. That's just way more than I'm willing to spend. I'd like him to be able to carry it around with him - and that just isn't gonna fly with a MacBook. Maybe later, when I have the time to do some shopping, and maybe get a good used one. But not halfway through Labor Day weekend!

    So it looks like an older PC will be the way to go. I've already checked craigslist, and there's an "Acer TravelMate 2480" for $300 not too far from here. Windows XP Pro, Office 2003, and 2 gigs of ram. If that's a decent price, and it's still available, that may be it. And I'll consider it pretty much disposable . . . just a stopgap 'til we can do something better.
     
  20. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    #20
    .docx doesn't seem to be the only problem, and in fact, the OP has already solved that one with a converter

    The other issues are deal breakers for staying with the iBook for me:
    "GoCourse"
    Programming in Windows
    Recording

    I would go with a MacBook as I have said before, and run Fusion

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
     
  21. nhcowboy1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Thanks, Mikebike - Neo Office actually came with the kid's iBook, so that's one thing that we do have!
     
  22. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040

    ezekielrage_99

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    Oct 12, 2005
    #22
    Funny, I just helped my mum's school update their IT.

    The school ended up with 25 Macbooks in a portable lab, so they are a part of a trolley that cant be moved from room to room it has a built in airport hub and 1 TB RAID 1/0 disk for a network back up. It means that every class could get a whole lab without having to build a purpose built centre. It's really cool the student love it but the teachers didn't at first....

    The major complaints from the staff were:
    - There are no virus scans on a Mac.
    - You can't get disk defrag on a Mac.
    - Vista is more secure.
    - There is no Aero theme for Mac.
    - Powerpoint doesn't work on a Mac.
    - There is a different internet for Macs and it has less content (yes they were serious and I couldn't stop laughing).
    - Adobe doesn't make software for Mac.
    - Apple sells less than 10,000 computers world wide each year so it will go out of business and we wont be able to support our equipment. (kind of funny because they are leasing the stuff, so it wouldn't make any difference).
    - Macs don't have M$ Moive Maker.

    The thing was that the teachers were so misinformed about Apple and what they can offer, the worst bit was convincing them. Most long term users of any system get a mindset and it is very hard to change even if there is a far better system.
     
  23. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    #23
    I understand your reasons for passing on the MacBook, and I don't disagree
    It will be a great learning experience, and I would dare say your son will still spend his free time on the Mac :)

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
     
  24. nhcowboy1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    NH
    #24
    Okay, before I jump into buying a cheap PC, maybe I should ask . . . just how much would it cost to put together the Mac system you're describing - MacBook + VMware + XP? I was thinking it would be well over $1000, but maybe I'm wrong . . .

    In the good old days, I would have just checked the Marketplace [grumble, grumble] . . . so now I'll just ask what anyone's best guess would be.

    Meanwhile, I'll run and do some quick price checks on ebay. Thanks!
     
  25. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    #25
    You can actually run Virtual Box instead of Parallels or Windows, and it is free

    You will need a copy of Windows.
    link removed

    Depends on how much you can get a MacBook for... you might want to try the refurbs ($899 right now on Apple's website)

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
     

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