Florida School Officials Scrap Plan Give Away $350,000 Worth of Free iPods

For those who are suspicious of the massive stimulus payments to states, they need look no further than the Polk County school district where officials announced that they would give away $350,000 of free iPod Nanos. After media coverage, the school has backed down from its not-so-stimulating plan.

While the original story said that it was stimulus money, the district now says it was coming from a fund for special needs children. A correction was issued for the original newspaper reports. However, that does not improve it much for critics who view this as a huge waste of money at a time when school budgets are being cut and states are selling off public lands and buildings. It would seem a pretty hard sell for school officials to ask for more money given such give-a-way programs.

The district announced that it would be giving the devices to reward parents of children with disabilities who filled out a 10-minute online survey. Do you really need to give away iPods to get parents to fill out a survey to help their special needs children? That is pretty depressing in itself.

Assistant Polk County School Board Superintendent Nancy Woolcock said that they have been told that “the money has to be used directly for the students and not to the parents.” I hope that does not mean the iPods will now go directly to the children. Of course, it could be worse, they could be using stimulus money for tennis courts.

For the full story, click here.

24 thoughts on “Florida School Officials Scrap Plan Give Away $350,000 Worth of Free iPods”

  1. Duh,

    “Now who is Duhh?”

    I don’t know. A me wannabe I guess. You know what they say about imitation. 🙂


  2. AY,

    After reading “duhh’s comment, I’m not so sure that whomever posted it even knew that I existed. Just a coinkydink.

  3. “Now who is Duhh?”

    I don’t know. A me wannabe I guess. You know what they say about imitation. 🙂

  4. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

    JT’s picture is at the top-right of this page. You can left mouse click on it and save it. If you perform a hash calculation on it, the results are as follows:


    If you download it again, and give it another name, it will still have the same hash values.


    If JT was to put up a new image with only one pixel that was changed, it would not have the same hash values. This permits extremely good reliability that the original was not altered.

    The Flying Bit Hash Calculator is a free program for Windows. Once installed, you can left mouse click on any file you find in Explorer and have it calculate the hashes.


  5. Buddha,

    Not to mention it’d make Winston’s job in the Department of Truth obsolete…

  6. Buddha,

    We’re talking about two different things.

    A hash table attack is designed to present a worst case scenario where the system (network or CPU) is overloaded. That is not the same as using an MD5 and/or SHA1 hash to verify that a file has not been altered.

    Here’s a link that will help explain what I am talking about:

    And here’s a link that better explains what you’re talking about.

  7. Duh,

    The assertion hash tables can’t be manipulated (just like any digital file) is simply ridiculous as the assertion hashing is incapable of having collisions. Hashing is nothing more than an alternative indexing (admittedly faster with large data sets) to more traditional self-balancing binary tree coding. The goal is to make your hash tables as collision free as possible through key control but collisions are not only possible, but hash table attacks are a standard method used in DoS (denial of service) attacks. The hacker feeds in data designed to create excessive collisions by manipulating the hash tables operation and thus slowing or locking the machine up. Just because hashing makes “guessing” the functions to push difficult does not mean it’s impossible. Your assertion also discounts that the larger part of hacking is human and social engineering. A diligent hacker will know as much about the system he is attacking as possible before throwing out the first line of code (but especially your indexing schemes) – be it from dumpster diving or stealing data from employees.

  8. Please read the update on the original article:

    “Correction: Wednesday, Bay News 9 reported that our newspaper partners at the Ledger said it was federal stimulus money that was paying for the iPods. Thursday, the Ledger ran a correction saying the money is for programs specifically aimed at developmentally disabled students and is separate from federal stimulus dollars.”

  9. Buddha,

    It has nothing to do with computer forensic tools. While it is possible, though extremely improbable, for two different files to have the same MD5 hash (known as a “collision”), it is a statistical impossibility that two files would have the same MD5 and SHA-1 hashes. Just adding a comma would result in a different hash. I doubt anyone would ever take notice of an extra comma added to the text of 300 page book.

    It is much easier to create a forged a paper document that would not be indentified as such than it would be to manipulate a digital file after hashes have been generated.

    If greater security is needed, SHA-256 and SHA-512 are available. Both of those, due to their complexity have resulted in zero collisions.

  10. Duh,

    Any hashing system can be bypassed or altered just like any other digital security procedure. Bits can be rewritten to singular precision with the proper tools. Would forensic computer tools reveal the manipulation? Perhaps, depending on how the previous writes were implemented but that beside the point – analog evidence is prima facie a better quality of evidence. AY’s disproval scenario becomes moot if you have an actual signed document. While being a “soft” tool, computers very strength – the ability to be tasked to different jobs by changing code – is great for analysis (which requires manipulation) it is an anathema to the truth because of this very ease of manipulation. Nature is analog and analog tools are better for some jobs than digital tools. Data manipulation is the very nature of a computer. This makes them suitable for analysis (i.e. running transformations on a data set). But long term data storage? The very malleability of the medium makes it unsuitable for long term storage and as best evidence when analog documents and direct testimony are available.

  11. Buddha,

    That is why the courts will take in emails for the truth of the matter asserted. Some courts will give credence to them (the email) unless they are disproved. Because they are easily manipulated.

  12. “When you add the ability to digitally manipulate data with ease into learning texts, you decrease their value as sources of veracity by adding post publication editing.”

    That’s why I suggest the use of hashing. Generating both an MD5 and SHA-1 hash for the digital publication would prevent editing from going unnoticed.

  13. When you add the ability to digitally manipulate data with ease into learning texts, you decrease their value as sources of veracity by adding post publication editing. No good propagandist would let such a tool lie misused.

    Efficiency paid for by sacrificing truth is called expedience.

    Or in the words of Lao Tzu , “When virtue is lost, benevolence appears, when benevolence is lost right conduct appears, when right conduct is lost, expedience appears. Expediency is the mere shadow of right and truth; it is the beginning of disorder.”

  14. Buddha,

    Couldn’t history be preserved by associating a hash with the digital book?

    I download a lot of public domain books from Google Books and then perform OCR on them to make them searchable. While a scan is not the same as a book originally published in digital format, the ability to perform a keyword scan is a great research tool. Doing that on a book written in 1812 saves a lot of time.

    I guess there are goods and bads to everything.

  15. I’m a big fan of technology.

    I, however, loathe the idea of digital text books.


    Idiots like David Barton are why.


    Digital textbooks make the “job” of historical revisionism that much easier.

    And yet none of this changes that the Florida plan was massively stupid on its face. How about using that money to, oh, I don’t know, educate kids to be able to perform more complex tasks than asking, “Do you want fries with that?” and not being able to properly count back change without electronic assistance.

  16. Stimulus was a Fibulous.

    U.S. Department of Energy statistics show 79 percent of the $2.1 billion in stimulus money allocated for wind energy has been paid to foreign manufacturers.

    It’s suppose to create jobs right here in the good ol U.S. of A.
    But of course when you have Wind turbines placed in cities across Minnesota to generate power aren’t working because of the cold temperatures I can understand why maybe we would turn to somebody who might know what they are doing.

    The Minnesota Municipal Power Association bought 12 turbines for $300,000 each from a company in Palm Springs, Calif.
    Special hydraulic fluid designed for colder temperatures was used in the turbines, but it’s not working, so neither are the turbines.
    There is a plan to heat the fluid, but officials must find a contractor to do the work.

  17. Actually the IPOD can download books. I read a report that some school districts are considering going to this format as costs in the long run are cheaper.

    The only problem with this is you can’t rip a page out and study it. Only kidding. But you have to have fairly good memory comprehension to make this work and you say this is for special needs children?

Comments are closed.