What PCs did my school have?

(Note: This was adapted from my response to a forum topic on Not Another PC Community)

Now I’m homeschooled, but back when I was studying in a public school(the Singapore ministry of education calls them “niche schools” or “government-aided schools”), I saw a nice variety of PCs being used.

2005 | Primary 2 | age 8

I started in primary 2(instead of 1, because I was studying in an foreign school at that time) seeing teachers using Dell Latitude D600 laptops and boy, did those things look way cooler than the beaten-up NEC Versa M320 non-WiFi laptop I used at home at that time, and I should have wished for a D600(and a copy of Office 2002 Professional as well, because I loved the look of Word 2002 on the NEC I had) as a birthday present when all I got was a cheap RC car and a magic set, the former of which I played with for a few weeks and gave away, and the latter of which I never used because I had absolutely NO interest of magic at the time.


2006 | Primary 3 | 9 years

Going back to school(pun intended) in Primary 3, the school I attended received a nice big shipment(roughly 150 sets, and our units had a floppy drive below the memory card reader) of NEC Powermate VL series minitower desktops(for their 3 computer labs and selected teachers) with “NEC” Lite-on keyboards, “NEC” Logitech mice(identical to the one Kipkay hacked in his stink mouse video, but with an NEC logo in place of the Logitech logo obviously) and black Philips 105s CRT monitors(15 inch, 1024×768). Of course they ran Windows XP professional SP2 with a not-nice unfair amount of Group Policy lockdowns, so much so that there was no Control Panel, no access to Windows built-in games and they were locked to only using the Classic start menu(the real XP classic menu brought over from 2000, not the Classic Shell app), and the most fun memory of that was that after the examinations, the corporate web filter was shut down and during ICT class, there was no actual lesson, so I could finally play Neopets at school(I did not hear of YouTube at that time, and this was Neopets before they were bought by Viacom) and was able to show my virtual pets to my friends. I later shut down my Neopets account in 2008 to focus on school.

2007 | Primary 4 | 10 years

Now my memories of 2007 are a bit faint but back in 2006, the school put some of their old HP compaq dc5000 series minitower PCs(like the one on the left, but with a floppy drive in place of the upper silver blanking plate) into a spaceship-like structure in a space-themed free-access computer corner. Sadly the person from the IT department who designed it left the front of the HP CRT monitors exposed, and so the school bullies(the kind that has so much energy packed into their tiny bodies that they can run around the school’s assembly area before start of class and tire out their victims) jammed the power button of the monitors in the OFF position and threw buckets of water over the monitors, killing them. The next morning at the assembly area, the discipline master explained how much the monitors cost the school and that they would abandon the area altogether.

Going back to Primary 4/10 years old/2007, we would make fun of the PE(or gym class if you’re American) teacher’s name because his name shares the same initials as the name of SG’s train network, called MRT, or “mass rail transit”. So when we passed by him, we would say “Good morning Mr. (name removed due to privacy concerns) of MRT!”. Anyways some time in 2007 he got his hands on the 2007 plastic macbook and was using it as his work laptop, as he got tired of the school’s locked down XP system(at least that’s what I thought).

Learning from the damage caused to their space-themed corner(which I really loved, before the bullies ruined it), the school decided to encapsulate some Lenovo Thinkcentre (unknown model) PCs(the monitor had buttons on the front unlike the one on the left) and their included peripherals in an oddly-shaped wooden painted enclosure, with more bully-proofing compared to the previous one, including Plexiglass in front of the 15 inch LCD(sadly this screen window was misaligned so we could trigger the monitor’s OSD if we pushed the clear panel hard enough). If I had input into the design, it could have been better with relocated disk drives, an actuator that pushes into the original power button on the case, and 3.5mm audio/USB extenders to the front ports. Anyway, this was in 2007, and was the time when I just got my Acer Aspire 5050 laptop. But the thing is, they installed an additional web filter called “ChildWebGuardian”. Fortunately, there was a vulnerability: It was a web browser plugin rather than a proxy server like most parental control software. So I took advantage of the fact that Outlook 2002 was installed, and I could load web pages with it by entering URLs in the location box on the toolbar.

A lot of adults ignored the U3 feature, but for us students, it was a dream come true. We would have about 2 pages of apps in our U3 Launchpad menu, and even more apps in the Documents folder that were “ripped” from the Program Files folder on our PCs at home. So my friends were able to feel at home(my U3 drive came with a briefcase-type app that applied our home PC wallpapers to other PCs as long as the app was running, so I set my copy to auto start, and I would plug my flash drive in, open “LaunchU3.exe”, and in a matter of seconds, the Windows Vista “night” wallpaper would show up in place of the Windows XP “bliss”), the  we could surf the web using ArmorSurf(basically their HeartSeek browser with all the 18+ only content taken out) and play games like Counter-Strike Condition Zero(that was really a game my friends would play during recess).

Another memory of 2007 was the somewhat dramatic teacher we had in class(she was the head of the art department).

(Fun fact: You know when a primary/secondary school in Singapore is a public school when you see that the front sign is in the four official languages)

2010 | Secondary 1 | 13 years

Fast forward to 2010, when I entered secondary school. A new chapter began, and I was greeted by 3 Dell Optiplex GX620s(full tower) and 3 AOC CRT monitors. One of the things I remembered about it was that the logon background was plain blue, then when logging on, the Dell stone wallpaper showed up behind the logon “Please wait” window, after which the Explorer shell took over and switched the wallpaper to the Windows xp “Bliss”. Later they were just sent off for recycling and in came some new Acer Vertion PCs. (Yes I know MOE is somewhat wasteful and don’t want to donate PCs to us students) These had Intel vPro processors and originally had Windows 7 but were downgraded to xp. I can’t remember the PCs used in secondary school. At this time, the teachers were using Toshiba Portege tablets with Windows xp Pro tablet PC edition, but a lot of the teachers I’ve seen almost always use them as regular laptops.

Every PC in the school was finally replaced in 2012. Replacing the Acer and Dell desktops, There were Lenovo Thinkcenter PCs(unknown model, but most were minitowers with some small form factor units) pared with 15.6 inch monitors, which were a downgrade from the 19 inch Acer monitor. But hey, again as I said, MOE was (and still may be) wasteful with their PCs. The tablets were replaced with HP ProBook 6460b laptops, and there were 2Samsung MagicInfo Smart TVs replacing the CRT TVs in the foyer and cafeteria. One of the downsides to the new Windows 7 system was that there was an annoying “Schools SSOE” wallpaper which I thought was MOE’s way of saying “hate you” to the Windows 7 wallpapers as you couldn’t change the wallpaper. That was just one of the reasons why I hated public school, the computer policies.


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