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Portables (Apple) Businesses The Almighty Buck Hardware Apple

Henrico County iBook Sale Creates iRiot 850

Posted by Zonk
from the not-a-pretty-sight dept.
pikester writes "What do you get when you combine 1000 used iBooks being sold for $50 and 1000 people desperately wanting to buy them? You get an iStampede of course! Add into the mix one guy who watches too much wrestling and one gal who re-lived her first Backstreet Boys concert by wetting herself and you'll being looking for video of the whole thing. CNN has some extra details as well." From the article: "Officials opened the gates at 7 a.m., but some already had been waiting for hours in line. When the gates opened, it became a terrifying mob scene. People threw themselves forward, screaming and pushing each other. A little girl's stroller was crushed in the stampede. Witnesses said an elderly man was thrown to the pavement, and someone in a car tried to drive his way through the crowd."
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Henrico County iBook Sale Creates iRiot

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  • by N8F8 (4562) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:28PM (#13332550)
    The obvious point here should be that the countyr was sellign them too cheap. Wasting taxpayer dollars. They should have sold them on ebay [ebay.com] where they could have gotten much more than $50 without the liability of riots.
  • by bnenning (58349) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:30PM (#13332578)
    Exactly. Government officials ignorant of basic economics, what are the odds?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:31PM (#13332597)
    Meanwhile, in Sudan, Ethiopia, Niger etc. many people who are starving are patiently waiting for food supplies to be handed out.

    I just love how the worst in people is usually brought out by wants and desires, rather than need.

  • by deft (253558) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:31PM (#13332600) Homepage
    1. What about those laptops couldnt still run spelling programs? Are the kids teaching programs really running framerates they cant handle? :)

    2. Who is the moron that decided that the school didnt need the $? I'm sure those laptops could have paid for quite a few of the new computers they seem to need.

    3. Any left?
  • by Generalisimo Zang (805701) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:34PM (#13332638)
    They decided to switch from apple ibooks, to machines made by Dell... which is why they had 1000 Apple ibooks to sell.

    After seeing how popular the ibooks are, I wonder if they'll rethink the change to PCs? /hugs my powerbook. //it's shiiiiny. :)
  • by 'nother poster (700681) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:36PM (#13332664)
    I know a few of us U.S. citizens think the world revolves around us, but we usually acknowledge that the earth is a bit larger than just the U. S. :)
  • by ergo98 (9391) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:36PM (#13332668) Homepage Journal
    The obvious point here should be that the county was sellign them too cheap

    Exactly - this obviously wasn't an efficient marketplace. It's possible the county was doing it almost as a public service, underpricing for the citizens of the county. Of course most of those people rushing for the PCs probably plan on selling them anyways - watch for a rash of iBook auctions.

  • Government waste (Score:5, Insightful)

    by linuxwrangler (582055) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:37PM (#13332675)
    Weren't these iBooks school district property? I guess it's good to see that the schools in Henrico County are so flush with cash that they can dump their iBooks at what is obviously below market value plus pay for whatever damages and lawsuits may result from their lack of planning.

    I've been at similar mega-sales and all it took to prevent chaos was to pass out numbers to people as they arrive then let people enter in small batches. Problem solved and injuries prevented for the cost of a couple dollars of paper.
  • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:38PM (#13332681) Journal
    This is a very sad thing. It's terrible to see people behave like this, and I also fault the authorities for failing to provide adequate crowd control.

    -jcr

  • by supernova87a (532540) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [1relpek]> on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:38PM (#13332689)
    To this day, I am pissed off by people who organize things like this and cannot get beyond the mechanism of having people physically waiting in line for things. Isn't this 2005 already? We do understand how to allocate things based on first come, first serve, without having to actually be there in a crowd, right?

    People in charge of stuff like this never seem to forsee what's going to happen when the gates are opened. How much more effort would it be to have someone give out numbers to each person standing in line, then tell them to go away until their number is called? No one gets served without a number. Problem solved.

    It's like gas rationing back in the 70s. Who was the brilliant idiot who came up with cars waiting in line for gas? Just have one person standing there taking license plate numbers and telling people when to come back at a reserved time. Is it so hard?

    At the worst, crowds turn into a nightmare like in India where several dozen people were crushed to death trying to get free clothing being given out. It's ridiculous that you could be crushed to death by other people in this day and age... So even in Virginia, some semblance of order should be possible.
  • by Mournblade (72705) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:40PM (#13332715) Homepage
    Virginia is not a state. It's a Commonwealth.
  • by ergo98 (9391) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:41PM (#13332724) Homepage Journal
    The taxpayers already paid for them once. Why should they have to pay twice?

    Because the underpricing doesn't benefit all taxpayers, but rather a small-subsection of them. If the county charged fair market value (which I wouldn't think would much more for a 3+ year old notebook, but the crowds say otherwise) then the funds would go in the general coffer, benefitting all taxpayers (as a tax-funded institution).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:41PM (#13332729)
    Perhaps this will help dispel the myth of Mac users being sophisticated, educated, or classy. What a bunch of rabid buffoons.
  • by EmperorKagato (689705) <sakamura@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:43PM (#13332751) Homepage Journal
    What you may not understand is that still in the united states not many people can easily afford laptops or computers at the price range of 500 to $1000.

    A $50 laptop for a low income user is very ideal.
  • Re:Disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shotfeel (235240) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:43PM (#13332753)
    Do the equivalent in just about any country, and you'll end up with the same thing.

    Sad? Yes. American only? No.
  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:45PM (#13332768) Homepage Journal
    It's terrible to see people behave like this, and I also fault the authorities for failing to provide adequate crowd control.

    If the people would have behaved themselves there wouldn't have been a need for crowd control.

    Unless you're trying to imply that human beings are incapable of acting like the most intelligent creature on the planet as some say we are.

  • by ergo98 (9391) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:46PM (#13332777) Homepage Journal
    But at least they would have maximized the cash flow, which is the most important thing, right?

    Uh...yes? Maximizing revenue to allow the schoolboard to fulfill its mandate, rather than acting as some sort of terribly inefficient, and undoubtedly seriously abused, charity computer distribution network. I'll bet that over half of those laptops end up on ebay in a day or two anyways, with no benefit to the schoolboard.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:50PM (#13332820)
    They went through the hassle of setting up the sale, renting out the location, dealing with the crowds, etc. - It seems to me it would have made more sense to offer them to another district that might be struggling to include computers in their budgets.
  • More Proof (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Billy the Impaler (886238) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:50PM (#13332825)
    ... that Mac = Religion

    I can think of very few other things that make people behave so irrationally. Money, women (or men?), power. Computers should not be on that list.

    How else do you explain The Cult of Mac?

  • by miahrogers (34176) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:52PM (#13332854) Homepage
    The computers should have been auctioned or a lottery could have been set up to allow only a certain number to purchase them. The way it was setup was very irresponsible -- like throwing 150,000 dollars cash into the middle of a busy street!! (Really, if you guess a $200 market value on each of these that's ($200-$50)*$1000=$150,000 dollars into the street).
  • Re:Actually ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rayde (738949) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @03:54PM (#13332880) Homepage
    it's true though! look at how much pent up demand there is for Mac OS X once it is affordable!! (Apple, are you listening??? Let people run OS X on their own hardware!) i'm guessing that a town selling 4 year old dell laptops would not cause quite as much of a ruckus. ;-)
  • Damnit Darwin! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by failure-man (870605) <failureman@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @04:00PM (#13332949)
    Idiots like these are supposed to die and not breed. Why did they all live?!

    What do we pay you for anyway?
  • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @04:03PM (#13332979)
    This is the dumbest allocation of taxpayer dollars I've ever heard of. They should just sell the things for market price (get somebody to eBay them for 250-300 bucks a pop) and put that money back into school coffers so that it benefits all the taxpayers.

    Doing this (giving away several hundred dollar laptops for 50 bucks) benefits the 1000 people who happened to show up earliest on this particular day to this sale at the expense of every other taxpayer in the county. And, as you pointed out, the cost when you factor in added police hours, chaos, potential lawsuits from trampling victims, makes this more likely to cost the taxpayers more than was earned back anyway.

    Completely imbecilic idea.
  • Dumbass. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s20451 (410424) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @04:06PM (#13333014) Journal
    Meanwhile, in Sudan, Ethiopia, Niger etc. many people who are starving are patiently waiting for food supplies to be handed out.

    1. When the UN provides food aid, they are usually smart enough to bring along well-armed peacekeeping soldiers to prevent riots.

    2. In those cases where the UN did not bring said peacekeepers, food riots have often occurred.

    3. In those cases where the food riots did not occur, it is usually because the people were so chronically malnourished that they were too weak to riot.
  • Seriously, check out the group mentality of baggage pickup.

    Everyone stands a little ways off, but the MOMENT the belt turns on it turns into a shoving match where EVERYONE MUST BE NEXT TO THE BELT!

    Instead of standing 3 steps back, waiting till luggage that looks like yours comes by, walking up, checking it, leaving or pulling it...

    Now they get into shoving matches to yank the luggage free and knock their 'neighbors' (whom get pissed off) while trying to remove said dead weight.

    So yes, people act responsibly? Never. It's not possible. Any single person will act responsible, but the moment you remove the threat of punishment a free-for-all mentality of "I can get away with this, and tough shit" is born.
  • "there are some areas of public life where market or commercial approaches haven't completely encroached"

    unless you are a farmer growing your own food, market and commercial approaches have completely encroached, to use your phrase

    read: even BEFORE the invention of money this behavior existed

    all that is required are two magic ingredients: little supply and lots of demand

    presto: this "disgusting American behavior"

    hell, i amend my initial comment: it's not even a human attribute, it's an attribute of all animals hard at work getting scarce resources

    ever see a feeding frenzy around a dead carcass on the dicsovery channel?

    how about animal behavior around a watering hole during a drought?

    how out of touch with reality can you possibly be?

    based on your words, am i to suppose that when ants go crazy over a dead bug carcass, they've been corrupted by american consumerism? ;-P

    please try to understand the reality you live in a little better!
  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @04:29PM (#13333252)
    Henrico Co. Schools of VA decided to change laptop suppliers ... The result was a couple thousand laptops of no use.

    Excuse me, but how does a decision to change suppliers of future purchases make currently owned equipment "of no use?" Do the iBooks figure out that their new brothers are not Apple and suddenly stop working? Does the software on them suddenly stop functioning?

    Failing to plan for a herd of vultures rioting to get almost free computers is not the crime here. The crime is the attitude that perfectly functional computing hardware is suddenly "of no use", especially coming from a taxpayer funded institution. And certainly when that institution typically cries because they don't have enough money.

    There is no reason not to use the iBooks until they croak, and then replace them with new Dells. It would teach kids that there really is more to life than Microsoft and Intel, and allow them a choice of which OS they preferred. Schoolkids are not processing gigabyte datasets that requires terrabyte disks and gigahertz CPUs. They're browsing the web and typing book reports. I'm sure an iBook can handle that.

    If I were a resident of that county, the next time the schools put a millage up for a vote I'd remind my neighbors of the profligate waste demonstrated by this nonsense and campaign for a no vote. And a replacement of the moronic school board.

  • Re:Eh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Sure. Just sell the gas at market value. As a result, only a very select minority of people would be able to drive their cars, and everyone else would be essentially out of luck.
    Well, either it'll be greedy rich people fueling up their jetliners to fly to Paris for cocktails. Or, it'll be greedy rich people trying to make more money by putting the gas towards better uses, like say, for truck's bringing produce to market. (Oh, and you're living in a dream world if you think rich people wouldn't just pay people to have a portion of their ration (what problem were we trying to solve again?))
  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @04:34PM (#13333305)
    This gives you an idea of just how fine a line there is between civilization and complete anarchy. Imagine a fuel crisis much worse than the Carter era, where only a select few can have access to gas each week. Or food shortages. Or a mass bio-hazard.

    Better yet, the bird flu. A mass epidemic. Imagine the scene at hospitals. This is why crisis management and homeland security dollars are important - too bad they are being treated by politicians as just another thing to pork barrel. We spend money buying firefighters in Wyoming HazMat suits and trucks - but a nuke in NYC would be catch us completely un prepared.

    I always enjoy these little reminders of how close the American public is to hysteria.
  • by VAXcat (674775) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @04:34PM (#13333306)
    Yah...remember, the Bill of Rights may not be perfect, but it's a lot better than what we have now...
  • Re:Disgusting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bullfish (858648) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @04:41PM (#13333373)
    This could happen anywhere. In the past I would have been shocked, but reality TV (which is popular most everywhere) has punctuated for me just how low people are willing to go for money or things. The lure of getting something for nothing or next to nothing is just too great.

    Honey, just swim across that swimming pool full of chicken manure suspended in wesson oil without upchucking the four rancid gopher meat burritos they fed you and we get a new SUV!

    Sad really
  • by tgibbs (83782) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @04:41PM (#13333380)
    The Henrico county residents convinced the school officials that they were entitled to the laptops because their taxes had paid for them in the first place. That's why the purchaser's had to bring proof of residency in order to buy them.

    However, in reality it looks like it happened the other way around. Initially, the sale was announced with no restrictions. Only after locals protested was the sale restricted to residents.

    After four years of use by public school kids, I wonder what kind of shape the iBooks were in. In my experience, kids are very hard on the things they get their hand on.

    I'll bet they're in pretty good shape. iBooks are pretty robust, and I doubt if they are including any that have gross damage like smashed screens or broken hinges (if they are, they may have another riot on their hands). Worst damage is probably a few bad CD drives and old batteries that don't hold a charge too well.
  • by dal20402 (895630) * <dal20402 @ m a c .com> on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @04:52PM (#13333499) Journal
    Apple computers seem to hold their value too well.

    On identical hardware OS 10.3 ran *faster* than 10.2, and 10.4 would have been faster still if not for Spotlight.

    That goes a long way toward explaining why Macs hold their value better than average Windows boxes.

    (And, yes, I know that the old Windows boxes are still good for all kinds of applications using other OSes -- but that market is awfully small even compared with the market for used Macs.)

  • by Golias (176380) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @04:52PM (#13333501)
    Completely missing from the story is one important detail:

    Who was the DUMBASS from this school's administration that decided to sell 1000 laptops for less than 1/15th of what they could have fetched on eBay?

    Hell, even a rip-off joint like Computer Rennaisance would have given them about $200 a pop for those things.

    Whoever made this call should be fired.

    Not just for causing a riot which anybody should have seen coming...

    Not just for dumping those spiffy iBooks and making the teachers there settle for crappy Dells (probably Latitude 600 seris, if they are very lucky...)

    All that, yes, but also for throwing away more than $700,000 dollars worth of school assets.
  • Re:Disgusting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sa1lnr (669048) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @04:53PM (#13333504)
    Its happened here in London UK but not for computer kit. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4252421. stm [bbc.co.uk]
  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @05:02PM (#13333643)
    Don't think for a minute that they're in the kind of shape that you'd keep your computer in.

    So let's assume that 50% are in working order.

    If the school buys 1000 Dells to hand out and keeps the iBooks, they have 1500 computers. That's 500 more than they would have if they sold all the iBooks. If that's 500 more than the number of students, well, gee, they've now got computers they can put in the library and classrooms or to hand out as replacements when these rowdy high schoolers destroy the one they've already been given. They'd have 500 computers to use in the elementary schools. If half of those iBooks break in a year, they'd still have 250 more computers than they have now.

    The point was, it is silly to think that a computer is of no use just because the next computer you are going to buy is from a different manufacturer. Those iBooks were usable; someone at that school could use a computer. Lots of someones could use 500 of them.

    Oh, and they sold for so cheap because that's what the taxpayers of the county asked the school district to do.

    That's irrelevant. The school board is elected to manage the accounts and keep the schools running. I'd love it if I could simply ask my local school board to give me things for free (or "really cheap"), but they're not doing their jobs if they agree.

  • by morcheeba (260908) * on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @05:05PM (#13333678) Journal
    If you want to get technical, Virginia doesn't call itself a state -- it's a commonwealth. The US has three other commonwealths [kentuckytourism.com] - Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.
  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @05:09PM (#13333724) Homepage Journal
    severe demand+short supply=ugly behavior

    true across all humanity and even the animal kingdom

    to illustrate the absurdity of your position, are you telling me the same scene wouldn't happen in brazil or india or china?

    and if it did, would you insist it was because the people there got corrupted by american capitalism?

    gee, that's funny, why haven't they been corrupted by medieval venetian capitalism? or ancient sumerian bazaar mobbing?

    methinks you simply don't understand that this behavior is extremely close to intrinsic human behavior, even animal behavior

    no modern buzzwords apply: you're simply out of touch with the reality of human behavior

  • by Suppafly (179830) <slashdot@s[ ]afly.net ['upp' in gap]> on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @05:22PM (#13333845)
    Do they define citizen differently in your world?
  • by Desert Raven (52125) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @05:22PM (#13333851)
    If I read the articles correctly, the local taxpayers asked the school district to sell the Laptops for cheap, since the local taxpayers already paid for the laptops.

    Which is complete crap reasoning.

    What really happened was a few taxpayers decided that *they* should get a gift at the expense of all of the other taxpayers. The only way it could have been fair was if every taxpayer in the county got one.

    What should have happened was for the county to sell them at fair market value, and place that money into the treasury, thus maximizing the value of the taxpayer's dollars.
  • by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @05:28PM (#13333896)
    Well, since it was taxpayer money that paid for them, they probably were just disposing of them rather than trying to get top dollar. Sort of a community service if you will...

    Personally, if I had known that sort of riot would happen, I woulda just camped-out with refreshments and a video camera and enjoyed the spectacle (don't need an ibook).

    And they could've easily avoided creating a problem in the first place by just giving people numbered tickets in the order they arrived - then calling them out in order when they were ready to sell. If someone doesn't respond within a few minutes of the number being called, they lose their spot and someone else farther down the list gets called. Simple and smart.

    Doesn't take a rocket-scientist to figure out how to do this without causing a riot...

    N.
  • by Mr. Maestro (876173) * on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @05:33PM (#13333942)
    I was part of a program where compaq gave hundreds of free computers to low income families. I set up classes and taught the families all the basics.
    Within months almost all of the computers had been sold to a nearby pawn shop.
    I'm not making a social commentary, these are just the facts.
  • by t_allardyce (48447) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @05:38PM (#13333988) Journal
    Absolutely, in fact its said that in reality a 'dirty bomb' would be pretty harmless, but the biggest cause of danger would be the panic and anarchy it would create, hampering the clean-up operation - people become selfish at the slightest hint of opportunity or trouble if they think they can save themselves or get something for free. In some cases they are better off doing what they are told, but in those scary scenarios like a nuclear attack you're going to steal the nearest car and not take your foot off the pedal for 50 miles.
  • by digitalderbs (718388) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @06:43PM (#13334542)
    Who was the DUMBASS from this school's administration that decided to sell 1000 laptops for less than 1/15th of what they could have fetched on eBay?

    The same person that was first in line.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @07:23PM (#13334841)
    My exact first thought when I read that: "This dumbass just confessed to multiple counts of assault and battery on CNN!"

    It might even be aggravated assault, considering he used a weapon (of sorts), and you could even throw in a couple disorderly conducts and inciting to riot.

    I hope the local sheriff filmed the event, which most law enforcement officials will do. Time to review the tape and look for dear little Jesse in action. Then off to the D.A's office.
  • by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot&stango,org> on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @07:34PM (#13334929) Homepage Journal
    It's a racetrack, for Christ's sake-- you're telling me they didn't have turnstiles with counters on them at the entrances there, like every other friggin' stadium and other large public venue in the country does?

    What a total fiasco. I can't wait until the first civil suit gets filed by one of the people who got injured. You know it's coming, and a nice settlement will result.

    Even if they wouldn't put the things on eBay like anyone with a shred of sense would have, there were still a million better ways to do this than a friggin' battle royale-- for example, why didn't they give out numbered tickets to everyone who showed up before a certain time, and then draw "winners" at random from that group?

    If there will be more of these iBook fire sales, I hope they put some more thought into the execution than they did for this one.

    ~Philly

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