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Comment: Re:shocker (Score 1) 320

by jbolden (#49498301) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

Well I want to thank you for being polite. I was being dismissive when this started.

I agree with you strongly on the value of open source prek-college textbooks with lesson plans... I think that's a huge advantage. And I agree there isn't much value in the proprietary stuff no reason the content couldn't be open source. Open source content would obviously want to be something like HTML5, though specific versions like interactive iBook format could also be created as derived works.

Even the apps that have tablet specific version, no doubt share much (if not the vast majority) of the software. They may be separate apps for commercial purposes, or saving space in terms of higher resolution icons, sprites, etc.

That's not the case at all on iOS. They are genuinely different versions with different functionality. Here is a link to an article with 20 apps iphone vs. iPad version side by side. You can see this is a different GUI:

When done right, the apps written in cross platform environments are not noticeably slower than apps written specifically for one architecture in all but the most resource hungry apps.

It is not just slower it is things like memory usage, and how they tie with other applications. For example an iOS application you generally are going to want to use iCloud integration to automatically tie information between: iPhone, iPads, Macs and (potentially) the watch. On Android you are going to want Google integration and tie it into Google's excellent application framework. Those two systems are nothing like one another in how they handle data.

Or for another example on iOS you are expected to draw icons and controls at specific resolutions while with Android you are expected to use vector graphics.

Comment: Re:shocker (Score 1) 320

by jbolden (#49497085) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

They also Pearson to make the software. (i.e. they weren't just buying existing software). They could have commisioned software to be made on any platform, or even for it to have been cross platform.

True. The Pearson was mostly static, though some would be interactive. As far as I understand almost all of the Pearson software was designed for multiple districts it wasn't custom to LAUSD. Pearson was targeting iPad because most tablet using students in the USA have iPad and for districts that weren't buying that would matter.

Certainly for what they were paying they could have built the Pearson stuff for Android had they been inclined and likely have ported a few dozen titles as well. Once they were willing to manage a development project rather than just be a customer Android opens up, I won't disagree with you there.

They have video game level graphics. This is also why I pointed out unity as an example of a popular framework that targets all the platforms I mentioned (that you seemed doubtful of). Unity is marketed as a game engine, but you can make whatever apps you want that require performant graphics.

Unity is definitely fast enough. Titanium, Phonegap, Xamarin... would also likely go fast enough. I was disagreeing with HTML5 by itself. Those aren't really designed for authors though. Apple has: which doesn't have the full on game but does work well. Again you could easily build something like this for Android but today it doesn't exist and products using it don't exist.

Developers actually prefer android for development, but prefer iOS for profit potential.

Likely true regarding developers, iOS is pretty terrible to develop for. Hopefully Swift makes it better though Swift still has a lot of leaky abstractions from objective-C. However textbook authors I think prefer iOS. BTW the profit potential is exactly my point regarding software.

While you may feel subjectively that phones and tablets are very different, the people developing the apps that run on them are targeting both platforms simultaneously.

No they aren't especially on iOS / Apple. Take a look at how many iOS applications have tablet specific versions. See Facebook, Filemaker Go, Office, those interactive books I was talking about (different if they exist at all for phone). I work closely with developers for mobile all the time including MicroStrategy (largest mobile development house) and IBM. They share some code but users demand that tablet apps do things that phone apps don't and make use of the addition screen real estate.

Developers don't like writing different software for phone, tablet, and desktop, windows, mac, linux, and all combinations, and now with modern tools, they really don't have to.

They never had to. JavaScript porting languages always existed. The problem is that users notice cross platform's lowest common denominator and don't like it. Just for example between iOS 6 and 7 there was an upgrade. iOS 6 applications that didn't have the new iOS 7 interface started getting graded .8 (on a 1-5 scale) lower 6 months after iOS 7 came out. And that's still within the same system.

roperly designed software can easily abstract the functionality from the presentation, like in a MVC (model view controller) design.

Of course the engine can be shared. But that still means 2 interfaces (at least).

Comment: Re:shocker (Score 1) 320

by jbolden (#49496019) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

I am not changing the requirements. I'm raising my objections to the requirements once it became clear what they were.

OK that's fine. But then you should have been clearer because it ceases to be about Android at all but rather educational policy. The superintendent felt that interactive books were the future of education and content absorption. Your use of the word "video game" for these titles I think means you haven't seen then.

The web is more interactive than a book. That allowed for vastly more content and student led exploration. Interactive books do the same thing. For example a science book my daughter has allows her to conduct the experiments associated with a concept in a simulator right after learning the concept. That helps retention and understanding.

I don't see any reason why the games you cited are more educational that the games on android.

1) There are more of them.
2) On average they are better written.
3) They can be more easily written because there are a limited number of platforms
4) There are better authoring tools.

They are the same. Tablets are just bigger phones

No they aren't. And the way you can tell they aren't is by looking at variables on usage. For example average phone application interaction is 30 seconds. Average tablet interaction is closer to 5 minutes. The fact they run the same OS doesn't matter the fact the glass is bigger does.

Comment: Re:shocker (Score 1) 320

by jbolden (#49495197) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

I question the educational value of what you call "interactive textbooks" over other materials. The money wasted in ipads could have been used on something much more useful.

You are now changing the requirements. I'm going to stop here. The argument you originally raised was that Android had an equally good selection of interactive textbooks. You are now admitting it doesn't and/or showing that you don't know what they are.

For end users with specific software in mind the question is whether the platform supports that software. If they want to run mainframe applications they buy a mainframe, if they want to run Unix client/server then generally they run them on a Unix platform... As for the conflation of phones and tablets as far as software. That's precisely the problem with Android tablet software it isn't designed for tablets but rather is quite often phone (i.e. designed to run on a 4-6 inch screen) software running on a tablet.

Comment: Re:Deflection (Score 1) 320

by jbolden (#49492175) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

Well this was the cheaper failure. Excluding the 75k iPads for administrative staff (no content from Peasons) they only deployed about 40k not the 450k.

In this case it absolutely was governance. The priority changed from this being top priority to being lower priority and budget got pulled. This happened because the superintendent who wanted LAUSD to be a digital environment left. So for example Pearsons wanted to give every teacher 2-4 days training at a cost of $4m. The district wasn't willing to pay that after he left. Every school had to have good wireless capable of handling hundreds of simultaneous users. That wasn't put in.

At the same time it does appear Peason's didn't deliver everything they promised. With a flexible approach that could have been compensated for. With an inflexible approach it doesn't work as well.

I'd say the real failure was a shift from top priority i.e. a willingness to deal with hassles to get this in quickly disappeared but the project plan didn't shift along with priority shift.

Comment: Re:Also what kind of idiot buys at retail price? (Score 1) 320

by jbolden (#49492139) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

iPads around 2012 or so were being sold at close to cost and were often cheaper than their Android equivalents. 2013, when the contract was signed that started to change and now the margin is more like the usual.

Moreover iPads run iOS while the Androids don't. If you want iOS features you pay for Apple or you don't get those features. Whether you get a discount or not isn't terribly relevant. As for "shinny toy" and "fanboy"... the reality of the situation is that iPads are used primarily to run software while Android tablets are used primarily as a replacement for televisions. It is a bit rich to accuse the other of being a toy.

Comment: Re:Pearson (Score 1) 320

by jbolden (#49492119) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

They have a lot of issues like a failure to deploy adequate wifi in all the schools. They also didn't pay for the 2-4 day training course Pearsons recommended for each teacher. Obviously Pearsons needs to provide the content. But LAUSD is licensed from them for the content. In addition to the content though there are applications used to interact with that content that they have complaints about, for example lack of menus in languages other than English. That they could fix on their own.

Pearson's isn't just providing raw content.

I have seen Pearson's stuff on iPads (though it may not be what this contract is about), and the real value (if any) is in the contents.

In which case they weren't using interactive content which kills the whole point of iPads.

If the schools signed the contract without going through ALL of the contents first,

The did. But the superintendent changed and thus the priority changed. The buyer in this case changed his mind about his priorities.

Comment: Re:shocker (Score 1) 320

by jbolden (#49492103) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

Do you have a particular app in mind? An interactive textbook could be done as an html5 app that is completely platform independent.

Virtual History ROMA
The Elements by Theodore Gray
Here On Earth by Arcade Sunshine Media,


An interactive textbook could be done as an html5 app that is completely platform independent.

Maybe I'm not sure. HTLML5 has a long history of offering latencies on mobile which people find uncomfortable and offering lowest common denominator compatibility problems. But even if they could be authored that way that's not really relevant. What is relevant is are they being authored that way. Lots of business software that exists for Windows could be easily written around the Qt/KDE framework but the fact that it isn't still makes Linux desktops a worse choice for many business applications.

I hope you aren't under the impression that computers running android are not interactive.

No I'm under the impression that the interactive textbook market has evolved on iOS and Apple has pushed it heavily in a way that Google has not.

Just a complete mobile computing platform, same as apple.

Your claim was that Google had invested heavily in tablet software. You have to deal with the reality that the total base of tablet software spending is heavily skewed towards iOS. You are shifting the goal in this response from there is no reason for an end user to prefer iPad to a theoretical discussion of whether in an alternative universe in which Android had been successful in attracting the same level of development resources for tablet applications things would look similar to today. I happen to believe that there are good reasons iOS was successful where Google was not and that the current market is a sensible reaction to their alternative strategies. But even if I'm wrong that's irrelevant to what LAUSD was facing. They were facing a world where interactive textbooks mainly do exist on one platform.

Comment: Re:shocker (Score 1) 320

by jbolden (#49490967) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

. If you define iOS as essential to education, then by defintion any device not running iOS will be inadequate.

I don't think anyone is saying essential. But the 2013 spec the goal was highly interactive textbook applications and these mainly exist on iOS. That's not arbitrary.

I could define open source software as essential to education, but I would be required to justify such a claim.

The justification in this case were:

a) Interactivity leads to greater enjoyment thus higher literacy and lower refusal to use
b) iPad and Chromebook are used by California testing and thus familiarity with these two devices is a plus.

If you haven't already, you should check out this small startup company called Google. They have actually invested quite a bit of money into tablet software, if that's what's important to you.

As a percentage of the total tablet software, no they haven't invested very much.

You can develop software for any platform whether it's iOS, android, windows, macOS, linux, etc. In fact people have developed software that makes it possible to develop software for all these platforms simultaneously.

I'm not sure that's really true in practice having used cross platform toolkits for 18 years. Certainly not quite that range. But regardless what can happen is not what does happen.

Whoever dies with the most toys wins.