Time Travel, Apples in Maine, & VOI

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While some sites strive to provide breaking news stories, the Wayback Machine lets you surf the internet of the past. A part of the Internet Archive, the Wayback Machine allows you to enter a URL and then presents you with its archived pages for that URL. So you can see what Apple’s un-Aquafied homepage looked like on 14 July 1997, when the Newton was still alive, Apple was taking pre-orders for OS 8 and the ‘the world’s fastest home computer’ ran at 300MHZ.

This September, the state of Maine sent out 17,000 laptops to 7th-graders across the state. The delivery of these laptops is part of a four-year $37.2 million contract between Maine and Apple, under which Apple has agreed to provide the state with laptops, wireless networking gear and training. Under this contract, all 7th and 8th grade students in Maine will be using Apple computers by 2006.

This project was created as a way of addressing Maine’s ‘digital divide’, both the divide between it’s students and those of more affluent states, as well as the internal divide between rural and urban students. As such, it will be interesting to see how the program fares. Will the simple act of putting a computer in a student’s hands have a drastic impact on how that child learns? What changes will teachers have to make in their curricula in order to adapt to this tool? Could this program
be ported to other states, other countries?

It is not clear what the fate of this program will be, as the budgetary surplus that led to it’s inception has now been replaced by a budgetary deficit. If you want to follow the program though, here are some information sources:

One final interesting aside, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations has given Maine $1 million for this program. Bill Gates buys the students of Maine Apple computers 🙂

Another interesting story that has recently cropped up: In an effort to prevent telephone company revenue losses due to internet telephony, the government of Panama is requiring all ISPs to block 24 UDP ports. These ports are those most commonly used in internet telephony as well as some others that might potentially be used for this purpose. This means that any data being sent through these ports, whether being used for internet telephony or not, will be blocked! The government decree also states that that “all routers, including those not carrying traffic from Panama, but that might be traversing Panama, have the 24 UDP ports blocked.” This could have implications far beyond Panama’s borders, as numerous undersea cables connect in the country, making it a substantial hub for international IP traffic.