On Wednesday Alex received his school laptop. All of the students in the high school engineering program get a personal laptop to use for the school year. There’s a $75 fee but overall it’s a fantastic deal. And they’re brand-new Macbooks, fully loaded with all of the software you’d expect a high school student to need.

Of course the school says the students shouldn’t install anything on their laptops, because if they screw up something then it’s a problem for the school to fix it. Apparently there’s some fee you have to pay if you need the school’s IT department to re-image the machine. So they strongly discourage any sort of tinkering with the system.

So, predictably, Alex brought it home and immediately came down to my office and asked for the wireless network password so he could jump online and start downloading software. He wanted to get some “widgets” for his desktop: things like a weather app, a cool clock, a scientific calculator, a dictionary, etc.

It struck me as funny because that’s exactly how I behave. As soon as I get a shiny new toy, I want to pop the hood and see how it works, make some changes, tweak the settings, whatever. So I was completely supportive, and enjoyed watching him mess with the computer.

I think this will be a great experience for him, and really get him into computing more. He’s been saying for years that when he grows up he wants to be a programmer, but he doesn’t really do anything about it– like learn some languages or actually write programs– so I’ve been skeptical. Now that he has “his own” laptop he might start down that road. We’ll see.