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OLPC XO-3 To Debut At CES, Starting Under $100 (But Not For You)

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the yes-I-want-one dept.

Displays 119

Computerworld is one of many publications heralding the expected arrival next week of the long-awaited OLPC tablet, and making much of one very cool feature: the price. The initial XO laptops from OLPC never quite made it to the hoped-for under-$100 level. But at least with an ordinary LCD screen, says project founder Nicholas Negroponte, the new XO-3 actually has. (An optional daylight-readable Pixel Qi screen bumps the price up, but it's not clear quite how much.) Both OLPC and Pixel Qi will be at next week's CES; hopefully I'll get a chance to provide some first-hand details, and ask whether there will be another round of the Buy One Give One program, so users outside the reach of big government buying programs can both further the project and play with the product; so far, the word is that these will only be available for large government buyers. (TechCruch has better pictures of the new device.)

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119 comments

What does it mean to have a price? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38625996)

If you can't buy it, it's kinda nonsensical to say it has a $100 price. It doesn't have a price at all.

Mass production (2)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626094)

In manufacturing it's all about volume. If you make 10 times as many the price per unit drops by half or so. Make it and sell it everywhere. Let first world developers help out the third world ones. I'm willing to pay a little extra for charity, but not twice as much (give one, get one). And don't bump up the specs for windows. History is filled with cheap computers that changed the world.

Re:Mass production (-1, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626380)

I'm willing to pay a little extra for charity, but not twice as much

You're a regular prince.

Re:Mass production (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626438)

The GP is being reasonable there. We don't all have the disposable income to pay for two so that somebody else can get one for free. It would be nice to be able to afford such things, but many people can't afford to pay double the cost just to feel good.

It's really short sighted of them not to set aside a few units so that they can bump the volume and reduce the price on all of them.

Re:Mass production (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627620)

Then wait for them to hit ebay. You will survive havingto wat ot buy one 3 moths later.

The laptops started hitting ebay at $99.00 less than 5 months after they did the buy one get on program. A lot of people bought it and really had no clue as to what they bought, were unhappy with them, and then sold them.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/OLPC-XO-1-Laptop-Computer-Runs-great-/150730806444?pt=Laptops_Nov05&hash=item23184194ac [ebay.com]

There's one for $75.00 I would buy one for my bug out bag if they would take AA batteries.

Re:Mass production (2)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#38628704)

Well, now we've got both problems of non-commercial production, although really they're both the same problem :

In commercial for-profit ("capitalist" although that's not a perfect match) products the customer is in charge. "In the limit", the product that's made is the one customers want, subject to the limitations the environment provides (ie. laws, like copyright, and technical and economical) limitations. The products made, due to competition are the best that are technically and economically possible, and they are available to all.

Products made by charity, dictatorships, communists ... are also all similar : they are what the producer likes to produce, not what the customer wants (historical extremes include: twigs instead of paper/gold money (not kidding), soviet nails (google it), pine needle tea). They are politically motivated and are thus only available to whomever is deemed "worthy" (and it just never happens to be you), or people who use other kinds of motivation to get them (in other words, they'll kill you if you don't produce them. Variations on killing are possible, like burn your house down, or send you to siberia, or kill/kidnap your children like the muslims did, ...). Fortunately, these products also suck. The intent, after all, is not the product. Not even indirectly. The intent is making American politicians, who don't use the product and never will, think as good as possible about the product, while making the product itself as worthless as possible. The purpose is PR, as pure as possible, not good products.

The intent of these products is political gain for their producer. The products are not the best possible ones, they're actually the worst possible ones. They must necessarily be as cheap as possible, entirely without considerations like usability. Especially if the people they're given to are not the people were political gain is coming from (e.g. this case : Negroponte gives them to hamas, obviously expects political gain from the democrat party and expects that gain to translate into sponsoring to his "research". It probably will do so. It will also probably damage the chances of Gazan kids, because the product is inferior. That's how it's designed)

Both of these are extremes. In a capitalist society companies might decide to lobby the government thereby changing the environment for both themselves and the competition. Additionally taxes dictate that products that aren't at least x% better than their raw materials don't get made (in practice today, that's somewhere around 2500% in America, more in Europe). In dictatorships/communist countries/... the products produced must still be good enough to prevent a mass-lynching of the dictatorship/party/mullahs/... So both extremes are tempered somewhat towards a middle ground that is the hated imperfection that plagues the human race.

You must understand the incentives here : what is good for Negroponte and what's bad for Negroponte :
1) good : convincing American politicians his product is good (this gains him money/people/resources, these people decide his pay/whether to fire him/...)
2) bad : actually providing a valuable product to the people he claims to help (since this costs him money/people/resources)
It is a good thing that he does sell it to Americans, but it would be very bad indeed if he sold it to many Americans, who will then invariably point out how inferior it is, which damages him. Regardless of that, the fact that he sells it in America has a tiny chance of keeping him honest, but ... I doubt it. Giving demonstrations, probably with many, many "this feature is coming" statements ... that's extremely good business.

That's the choice that's there. Either things like copyright (or some better compromise)/markets/trademarks/... exists and producers stand to gain financially from their customer (and producers is people investing in product/content production, which overlaps but is not identical to "authors"). In this case the product/"content" is meant to be good for customers. You should look at this from the perspective of those customers (so porn = good, "deep" but worthless in practice philosophy = bad, think along those lines).

Any other alternative means the product must be good for the producer directly. This may work through the product itself being political propaganda, the product being outright deception (think Nigerian prince mails, and other assorted spam, barely better executed), products being produced and given in a racist manner (creating scarcity and thus value), ...

In both cases there is a certain, tiny, part of the population that will produce for the common good at no advantage to themselves. They will produce/help/service/... no matter what. You might think that stealing these people's inventions happens a lot by greedy capitalists, but think about it for a second. In the second alternative you can bet the government goes after them with guns, and if they don't stop providing (thus threatening established interests) they'll end up nailed to the cross for very familiar reasons (I'm not trying to be religious here, I just think this would be a good example).

Re:Mass production (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38627678)

So, people can afford to pat twice as much or more to get one for themselves, but not for a give one, get one deal. Classy.

Re:Mass production (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630454)

Well, troll, I don't happen to have that much extra disposable income. I live in an expensive part of the US and rent around here is very expensive. This is a recession and a lot of people just don't have the money to pay that much extra for a device so that the idealists can feel good about themselves. It wouldn't be a problem if they were charging something extra, but doubling the price is way too much to justify.

Re:Mass production (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38628394)

We don't all have the disposable income to pay for two so that somebody else can get one for free.

Some of us don't like niggers, neither.

Re:Mass production (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626736)

Don't be a dick.

Re:Mass production (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626992)

I'm willing to pay a little extra for charity, but not twice as much

You're a regular prince.

Wtf... feeling a little holier-than-thou, PopeRatzo? You have no idea what his situation is.

"I'd donate to charity."
"That's not a big enough donation."

Re:Mass production (-1, Troll)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38628064)

You're a regular prince.

Wtf... feeling a little holier-than-thou, PopeRatzo? You have no idea what his situation is. "I'd donate to charity." "That's not a big enough donation."

The guy isn't planning to donate. He wants to get access to their hardware. And he's acting as if it's a big favour for them ("in manufacturing it's all about volume") and ("Let first world developers help out the third world ones").

The truth, though, is that in manufacturing it's all about patents and support. On the patents side OLPC is getting away with selling these cheap as long as they don't stamp big time on the feet of the big players. Microsoft made that very clear last time around by setting out to destroy the whole program and by getting in the way of a bunch of the government OLPC programs. On the support side, OLPC has set up an organisation for supporting these for schools with lots of volunteer help. If they sell them to individuals that opens up a whole load more costs and they aren't able to apply volunteers because their volunteers are interested in education, not general computing

This could have been put more politely but currently_awake isn't willing to pay his way. Maybe he doesn't realise that, but two times price is not nearly enough and he shouldn't feel he's making a donation if he does get to buy it at that cost.

Re:Mass production (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38628182)

I think your attitude quite clearly shows what's wrong with this whole OLPC program.

They're too late and way overpriced for the market (4, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626382)

$52, but throw in a $20 government subsidy and people are getting them for $35. each. How a Montreal company won the race to build the world's cheapest tablet [theglobeandmail.com] - it runs linux and android - the cost - $52 each. Here's just a small part of the story.

Published Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 6:40PM EST

In the morning, Suneet and the remaining three bidders return to the same room. At the front, a 12-person committee shows off the submitted tenders, time-stamped and sealed with wax, before reading off each companyâ(TM)s bidâ"including the lowest estimate of what it would cost to make the Indian governmentâ(TM)s dream: the cheapest tablet in the world.

When the presentation is finished, Datawindâ(TM)s price tagâ"$52â"is the lowest. The next cheapest bid is for $64. âoeI went white,â Suneet says now. âoeI thought, âWeâ(TM)ve missed something.â(TM)â

Feeling nauseous, he staggers out into the antechamber, where rival bidders lob wisecracks in his direction. âoeAt that price, weâ(TM)ll buy some,â one businessman says, laughing. Frantic, Suneet calls Montreal, where it is nearly 3 a.m., knowing heâ(TM)ll wake up Raja. But his elder brother, who at times forgets how many patents he has to his name (more than 50) but never forgets product specs, reassures him that the final price accounts for every single component in the device. Thatâ(TM)s when it sinks in: Theyâ(TM)ve nailed this.

So far, Datawind has manufactured about 10,000 of its ultracheap devices, and has subcontracted more factories in India to gradually churn out a volume of tablets that still seems unbelievable to the founders. The Indian state plans to subsidize the tablets down to between $20 and $35 (U.S.), to be sold to college and university students, and wants to roll the devices out to around 12 million users over the next 12 months. After that, the goal is to place one of these tablets in the hands of each of the countryâ(TM)s 80 to 100 million high school students. The process, despite the hype, is still in a nascent stage, unfolding slowly.

But things got stranger. Shortly after the announcement, Suneet was invited to meet with Thailandâ(TM)s Minister for Information Communications Technology (who was so interested in purchasing 10 million tablets that he attended their meeting even as flood waters descended on Bangkok). Calls arrived from Turkey (which wants 15 million tablets), Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama and Egypt. At one point, the Swedish embassy in Canada called: Would Suneet possibly have time to meet the Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt? And would it be possible to send out a press release to announce that the meeting was happening?

Another story: from pcworld [pcworld.com]

And for an extra $10, you get a much better cpu, a better touch screen, more battery life, etc.

So, forget Canonicals' secret plans to unveil a cheap tablet running linux next week - these run both linux and android, and they're already being sold.

Re:They're too late and way overpriced for the mar (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626542)

Hmmm, where have I read about Indian cheap computers coming available within a month before?

Oh, right, it was here http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/02/10/07/1233208/indian-linux-pda-for-300 [slashdot.org]

The site's product page talked about how it'd be useful for everyone, Rural Indian, European Student, American Businessman, blah blah. Listed prices and everything, I was never able to buy one.

OLPC at least has a history of getting reasonable priced things into my hands (original BOGO was slightly more than a netbook, lower speced, but far more rugged, portable, and usable outdoor). For $200 at the time (the cost without charity, but unavailable in small/medium quantities, I think 500 was the minimum to buy at cost), it was a great deal, though less general purpose than a more expensive netbook.

I imagine that the XO-3 will be more rugged, more sun view-able, bulkier and slower than a typical tablet, but even at $200 be a decent deal.

Re:They're too late and way overpriced for the mar (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626664)

Not the same thing at all. First, the one I cited has already been shipped, unlike either the one you linked to, or the OLPC XO-3. So, not vaporware - unlike most OLPC announcements that don't measure up to the initial hype.

Second, if you read the OLPC article, they don't actually plan on building a tablet if competitors can do it for less ... so that's pretty much the end of that ... the OLPC project is pretty much dead at this point.

Think of it - the iPad didn't even exist 2 years ago. Today, you can buy a linux+android tablet for under $60. Why would any government get involved in a $100+ tablet when they can get them for half, AND manufacture them under license locally, creating jobs in their own countries?

Simple answer - they won't.

Re:They're too late and way overpriced for the mar (2)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38628114)

Why would any government get involved in a $100+ tablet when they can get them for half, AND manufacture them under license locally, creating jobs in their own countries?

More "sophisticated" answer:

OLPC systems are designed for education. The hardware is designed to be tough enough to last years in a school environment where most hardware is designed to survive just beyond the guarantee period as long as you treat it right. The batteries are designed with different compromises; the don't charge to the maximum so they last much longer, but have a worse headline performance. The main operating system has the full source code under an open source license so the students are guaranteed to be able to modify it if they want to learn how it works. They come with a whole integrated anti-theft system which, combined with their abnormal hardware, makes them much more likely to stay with the school than other systems.

Overall this means that OLPC systems deliver much more for much less total cost. You or I may not know or understand this. We aren't specialists in educational systems. On the other hand education ministries have people who know exactly this stuff. The question then becomes; "why would an education minister buy anything else". The answer to that is either that they have different circumstances (OLPC is not really designed for use with rich students who can be expected to have their own computer at home) or, more often, that the politicians are in bed with big business.

Re:They're too late and way overpriced for the mar (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630344)

OLPC systems are designed for education.

The systems that the Indian government commissioned the competition for, and which they are buying millions of these $52 devices, and subsidizing them, as so that all students in India at every level of education will get one. In other words, India is now closed for dealing with the OLPC.

The hardware is designed to be tough enough to last years in a school environment

At $52 for a color touch-screen tablet, they can buy two, so if one breaks ...

Also, they're already offering a next-gen device for $10 more. Expect the trend to continue, so that 3-4 years from now, you'll be able to buy the functional equivalent of an iPad2 for $80-$100.

The main operating system has the full source code under an open source license so the students are guaranteed to be able to modify it if they want to learn how it works

The $52 tablet runs linux and android. So what's your point again?

They come with a whole integrated anti-theft system

The Indian government is making sure that everyone can get one - which is why they're subisidizing it to the point where students (university first, then high schools, and then grade schools) will be able to buy them for between $20 and $30. What's the point of stealing one when everyone has one?

makes them much more likely to stay with the school

The whole point of the program is that these are not JUST for use for "school work". They're to end the digital divide for the entire Indian population.

Overall this means that OLPC systems deliver much more for much less total cost. You or I may not know or understand this. We aren't specialists in educational systems. On the other hand education ministries have people who know exactly this stuff.

And they're the ones who decided that this was the right way to go - that the OLPC is not suited for the real-world needs of university students, etc ... a low-cost, general-purpose tablet device for every student, loaded with educational software and ebooks, access to the net, etc., and eventually every citizen, to do with as they wish. So, again, what's your point?

So the OLPC just got kicked out of the second-largest market in the entire known universe. And it's not going to make any headway in the largest market. And the countries that WERE considering it are asking to get on board the $52 tablet instead. If they had 100 million devices, they could sell them all this year, the demand is that high. Even Sweden wants them.

OLPC is finished. So is Canonical after the weeks' CES ("oh look at the Ubuntu tablet that our partner is going to be selling") , but that's another story. Think of it - 2-1/2 years ago, Canonical announced that they would have android running on Ubuntu. Then they had to abandon it, because they don't have any real software engineering expertise. Along comes a company with 150 employees, 50 of whom are engineers, and in a matter of months, they develop a cut-down version of linux that can run android on a $52 device they designed in-house. Who has more linux street cred? Canonical, who have to re-badge Amazon EC2 and sell it as "Ubuntu Cloud", get someone else to re-badge and run "Ubuntu 1 Music Store" or whatever they called it, etc., or a company that has actually designed, produced, and shipped linux devices?

OLPC and Canonical are so last-decade.

Re:They're too late and way overpriced for the mar (1)

Maow (620678) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626906)

Great story in your G&M link!

I had missed it, so thanks for bringing it to my (everyone's) attention.

Re:They're too late and way overpriced for the mar (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627038)

I'm tempted to head down there and interview them. They've got a compelling story, they're actually in production, the world is beating a path to their door, and it was something that they decided to cough up the $100,000 bid bond to enter the bidding war almost on a whim at the last moment.

What's really interesting is the Ubislate - $10 more ($60) - a Cortex A8 cpu, a video accelerator, HD video, and Gingerbread. Sure, it's not ICS, but Gingerbread for $60???

And of course, we all know what that means - within a few years, ICS for under $100.

Re:They're too late and way overpriced for the mar (1)

Maow (620678) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627096)

What's really interesting is the Ubislate - $10 more ($60) - a Cortex A8 cpu, a video accelerator, HD video, and Gingerbread. Sure, it's not ICS, but Gingerbread for $60???

I wonder how open / hackable they (Aakash & Ubislate) are? Could one theoretically buy a device and install their own Android / Ubuntu on it? Seems like they've got kernel hackers tweaking away to make it work properly, so I doubt a standard kernel would work, but maybe they'll open source it? (Ask them if you interview them.)

And of course, we all know what that means - within a few years, ICS for under $100.

Ah yes, but ICS will be at least 2 versions old by then. OTOH, hopefully Android will be better polished (I thought previews of ICS looked fugly) and Google will have done something to block the carriers from preventing updates, etc. by then.

Maybe CyanogenMod could be loaded onto them? That would be cool.

I've got Fresh Zodiak Fruit ROM on my Wind Huawei 8100 Android phone and mostly love it, except for the randomly appearing apps in the task list. I'm always killing apps that appear in there that I didn't launch. :(

Re:They're too late and way overpriced for the mar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38628730)

I wonder how open / hackable they (Aakash & Ubislate) are? Could one theoretically buy a device and install their own Android / Ubuntu on it? Seems like they've got kernel hackers tweaking away to make it work properly, so I doubt a standard kernel would work, but maybe they'll open source it? (Ask them if you interview them.)

They have to opensource it. The Linux Kernel is licensed under the GPL, which means that if you modify it and use the resulting binaries in a relased product, you must provide the source code for your modifications.

There still can be other barriers:
* locked bootloaders - migh not be present in such cheap hardware
* binary only drivers - though they have to release the source to their kernel changes, they might not release the source code for certain device drivers

Re:Mass production (3, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626674)

In manufacturing it's all about volume. If you make 10 times as many the price per unit drops by half or so. Make it and sell it everywhere.

You're ignoring the costs of marketing[*], supply chain management, vendor relations, legal compliance. technical certifications, tax and tariff issues, etc. etc.

If you're an existing computer seller (e.g. Dell, Lenovo), you've already got a significant investment in these areas, but if you're a small organisation whose target is the developing world, bootstrapping a global distribution network might seem like a distraction.

Of course, there are a number of ways to work around this, like forming a strategic partnership with a large distributor. But if history is any example, the large vendors are anything but enamoured with OLPC. Nonetheless, there are ways to achieve what you describe. I just don't think they're as trivial as you make them out to be.

-------------
[*] I don't mean cheesy advertising shills, I mean marketing in the sense of determining how the whole supply chain is going to be managed, figuring out who to talk to, what volumes to anticipate, etc.

Re:Mass production (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38627950)

I'm willing to pay a little extra for charity, but not twice as much (give one, get one).

Surprise! That is what you normally do, actually, you usually pay several times more then what something cost to manufacture. Much of the "real" cost of a ware is distribution and marketing. OLPC likely have very small costs for marketing (sponsors and volunteers do that) and distribution (the buyer do that), they likely have very small developing costs too (volunteers and sponsors), but developing is usually a minuscule part of the cost for a product anyway. They likely don't add a lot of profit to the prize either. In comparison to most wares, food have a relatively low profit margin and have a profit margin (shared by all the producers and distributors) of normally about 300-3000% in the food store (in EU, I have been told it is worse in USA, since US food is generally of poorer quality (a.k.a. lower production cost and distribution cost (e.g. food with more preservatives have lower distribution cost))), even higher for some brand products (e.g. all rolled and steamed oats in Sweden is the same product, made by the same factory (Frebaco in Lidköping), but the price of the most expensive brands is 20 times higher then that of the cheapest brands for the consumer, and even the cheap brands have a high profit margin). Widely sold software have a very high profit margin (most of the cost of production is fixed), e.g. a piece of software that comes with almost no support and is highly distributed (sometimes at negative cost of distribution, since it is included, whether the end customer want it or not, in the prize of a new computer), like MS Windows in Europe, likely have a profit margin above 1000.000 times the production, distribution and support cost; of course a big share of that margin is spent on marketing, lobbying and bribing, as well as compensating for non-profitable (hardware) MS products.

Re:What does it mean to have a price? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626104)

Guess that makes it priceless... :)

Re:What does it mean to have a price? (5, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626110)

If you can't buy it, it's kinda nonsensical to say it has a $100 price. It doesn't have a price at all.

Um, no. There are a lot of things I can't buy, but nevertheless have a price. If anyone at all can buy it, it has a price -- there's no logical implication in the definition of "price" that guarantees that you personally can purchase something. Indeed, it's often the price itself that excludes that possibility, although there are countless other reasons why you may not be able to buy something that nevertheless does have a price and can be purchased by other, qualified individuals or organizations.

Re:What does it mean to have a price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626848)

What a douche. You know what he meant.

Re:What does it mean to have a price? (1)

oxdas (2447598) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627246)

Price is a concept relative to the purchaser (which is why different groups pay different prices for the same good). Since the poster is unable to purchase this product, its price to them does not exist, hence "doesn't have a price." Now, I would agree with you that the object may have a price to someone, but the concept of price, in relation to this good and this individual, does not seem to exist.

Re:What does it mean to have a price? (1)

Riktov (632) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626882)

So the price is $100 and proof that you are part of a large government organization. The price of the second element Is variable, and is a combination of time, money, effort, and circumstance.

Thirst post (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626038)

Dammit, posted from my ipad 2 and it did it wrong. Maybe I should get the OLPC tablet, would be better than this gunk.

Good for them (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626040)

But what do I care? I cant buy one

Re:Good for them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626112)

I know right? Cooooonsuuuuuuuummmmme.

Maybe Apple will buy these guys out and jack up the price so you can have your toy.

Re:Good for them (1, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626638)

Funny you should say that. Because you know who started selling the same thing as them at a higher price?

Everyone except Apple.

It's called a "netbook". Fear of low-cost competition from the OLPC project is what pretty much caused the creation of the netbook.

Re:Good for them (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626188)

But what do I care? I cant buy one

You shouldn't care, you obviously have access to a computer :-)

Re:Good for them (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38628212)

This site's subtitled "News for Nerds", not "Shopping Tips for Nerds". A long running non-profit organisation releasing the newest (and long awaited) version of their charitable computer hardware, and the fact they're finally hitting their old target of a sub $100 price tag, are all newsworthy.

If you only read news articles about things you can buy, you might not end up reading much news at all.

Idiotic (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626056)

OLPC really screws the pooch each time by not offering their tech for geeks in the first world. It would greatly increase the volume of production and drive software development, as well as generate a huge volume of fixes and improvements in the appropriate wikis.

Re:Idiotic (1, Insightful)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626316)

OLPC really screws the pooch each time by not offering their tech for geeks in the first world. It would greatly increase the volume of production and drive software development, as well as generate a huge volume of fixes and improvements in the appropriate wikis.

I think you meant "as well as generate a huge workload on the few volunteers dedicated to the project". If you want to help OLPC, be dedicated, and join a local developer group. Then you will also get your hands on a device.

If they started distributing devices to everyone, they'd loose their focus, and the viewpoint of the project would become skewed. Don't forget, the OLPC project is about education, not technology!

Re:Idiotic (2)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626338)

Also they'd have to spend money hiring support personnel, because it wouldn't be just tech geeks who'd buy the things. A couple hundred dollars or less is in the Walmart demo's price range.

Re:Idiotic (1)

Pi1grim (1956208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626410)

Then sell it with no support whatsoever. I'm pretty the geeks will buy them anyway and as for the rest — it's just 52 dollars.

Re:Idiotic (2)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38628132)

Then sell it with no support whatsoever.

For very good reasons, most consumer protection laws don't allow this. If the customer says the system was broken when deliered you have to replace it. At that point, you need to provide enough support to find the power switch otherwise your costs will rocket. At that point, you are providing support no matter what.

Re:Idiotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38627088)

Raspberry Pi foundation is releasing a $25 computer for educational purposes and making it available worldwide. They seem to think a gajillion people buying them, creating things with them and writing software for them will help the overall situation.

I, for one, would imagine they're right.

Re:Idiotic (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627220)

RPs aren't general-purpose laptops, idiot, and the general population isn't apt to use them to get on Facebook.

Re:Idiotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38627708)

Neither are these, jackass. Both are low cost computing devices meant to help educate the less fortunate.

The fact that they're not identical devices is irrelevant to what we're talking about.

Re:Idiotic (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629080)

It's a laptop, and it's able to get on the Internet without further modification. People don't need to put them together first.

Don't be thick.

Re:Idiotic (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626490)

Sure. It's so much better to focus on doing nothing. That way you don't even need to hire much personnel!

Right now OLPC is a massive failure. It completely underdelivered on its promises. What's there to focus on?

Re:Idiotic (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38628174)

Things may not have turned out to work exactly as they imagined, but OLPC promised to deliver cheap computers to schools in developing nations. It delivered cheap computers (over 2 million!!) to children in developing nations.

In the meantime, as a side effect OLPC created the netbook market and drove the creation of the devices which are now leading to leading to $50 tablets.

That seems pretty much like delivering to me. That they didn't deliver anything to you personally isn't their failure. The world does not owe you.

Re:Idiotic (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629212)

2 million is nothing. They planned to be at least one or even two orders of magnitude larger. So they're failing by their own criteria. Kickstarting the netbook market (now dead) was not their goal, but a nice side-effect. And $50 devices are just a logical continuation of the trend of cheap tablets/notebooks.

I've bought two OLPCs during the original G1G1 program. I was even ready to start contributing to the project - it really needed help at that time. The software was not really usable, it was slow and laggy and not very easy to use.

But instead of trying to use the wider community to actually make OLPC worthwhile, Negroponte decided to befriend Microsoft. We all remember how it ended. And now it repeats yet again, I can't wait to hear that OLPC tablets are going to run Win Phone OS.

Re:Idiotic (5, Insightful)

manekineko2 (1052430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626506)

I think you meant "as well as generate a huge workload on the few volunteers dedicated to the project". If you want to help OLPC, be dedicated, and join a local developer group. Then you will also get your hands on a device.

If they started distributing devices to everyone, they'd loose their focus, and the viewpoint of the project would become skewed. Don't forget, the OLPC project is about education, not technology!

From Charles Kane, OLPC president's own mouth: "the mission is to get the technology in the hands of as many children as possible."

Somehow, they seem to run the one consumer electronics project that doesn't benefit from additional customers. It is probably not a coincidence that this is the one consumer electronics project run by a non-profit.

I used to be a huge OLPC project fan, now I think they're a bit of a joke. The democratization of computers is not going to come from a top-down project like OLPC. They had their chance, and due to the lack of market pressures because of their educational non-profit status, that ship sailed a long time ago.

The democratization of computers is going to come from real companies that are creating real products that are shipping into real peoples' hands right now. The cost of a Chinese-made Android tablet is frequently significantly lower than $100. And they don't have to deal with the baggage of living in some sort of bizarro world where more sales is a liability.

The only benefit that OLPC provided over commercial projects to sell low-cost computers was the open-source nature of Sugar OS specifically designed to teach children about how computers worked and how they could be programmed, thus teaching fishing instead of giving fish. Then they jettisoned that, and clarified their mission is just to be fishmongers that sell special fish for kids, and it escapes me how they could do a better job with this than their for-profit competition.

for education, still open source (3, Informative)

spage (73271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627878)

OLPC's customers are educational organizations that can implement "one laptop per child".

A lot of the OLPC software effort is easing the hard work of a deployment [laptop.org]: managing reflashing hundreds of machines at once with a new distribution, restoring to a stable image, device backup, school servers, service & repair, etc. That's more involved than "selling low-cost computers" and it's different from "the democratization of computers". Android and ChromeOS have some similar facilities and someone could base large educational rollouts on them, but there's little money in it, so it seems if a non-profit is still the way to go.

You're confused (or writing poorly about fish). OLPC never "jettisoned" Sugar. The OLPC software distribution now offers a choice between the Sugar UI and a Gnome desktop, and supports running a version of Windows XP from SD card; OLPC provided these choices in response to those education customers. Of the 2.5M XO laptops out there, no large deployment is running Microsoft Windows. In many Sugar activities, pressing View Source (Fn + Space) opens up the Python source code (it's pretty cool!), and the source code from the firmware up is readily available.

Re:Idiotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38627570)

Actually, it's the opposite type thinking you're espousing. The first pass of Raspberry PI computers are explicitly FOR that crowd so that they can build the ecosystem to support their goals- which while, different as stated, are rather similar in many ways to the OLPC project.

Seriously...this is the Cathedral versus the Bazaar thinking... And there's a reason Hurd's still where it is and it's your mentality that kept it where it is...

Re:Idiotic (1)

RonTheHurler (933160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629562)

Agreed. They could learn a lesson or two from Toms Shoes. (buy a pair and Toms' donates a pair to a child in an underdeveloped country)
Consequently, when you add in the retail overhead, the shoes cost about four times what they *should* cost, yet people buy them like crazy. Kind of like Macs.

This is the device I'd be most likely to buy (5, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626076)

While I await my Alan Kay designed fantasy notepad-sized stylus tablet, I really believe in OLPC's fundamental mission.

If I develop for any vendor specific device, it'll be this one. Not the market-hyped iPad.

I hope they have the buy-two-get-one program again. Hopefully I can scratch up the coin to see someone who can't afford a device piggyback off my purchase.

Re:This is the device I'd be most likely to buy (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626176)

fundamental mission

aka: It would be nice if this worked, despite evidence to the contrary

market-hyped

aka: What everyone actually wants

I love the philosophy of OLPC, but I don't think it is a particularly useful actual project. The original project worked for years on the cutting edge trying to make a cheap laptop that everyone in the world could access. And by the time the technology became readily available for their goal to be achieved... the technology was readily available for everyone else to do the same thing. Now the big manufacturers and Chinese OEMs are making netbooks and laptops and such far cheaper than OLPC ever dreamed of.

Now they want to do a tablet? Why? By the time the supply chain is in place for them to make a super cheap tablet... the supply chain will be in place for anyone to make a super cheap tablet.

The software is what matters, not the hardware. OLPC would be better off working with the CyanogenMod people to make a customized android install that runs on all hardware and supports the OLPC ideals. Let the ten million companies out there make heap hardware. They already are, and will regardless of what OLPC does or does not do. Let OLPC focus on opening it up and connecting and educating the users.

Re:This is the device I'd be most likely to buy (2)

Locutus (9039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626350)

I'm not sure you know much about the OLPC project and their software since you mentioned nothing about Sugar and only mentioned the Android ROM vendor. OLPC is about education and their software platform consists of an OS layer which has low power and mesh networking as it's key requirements. Then there is the application layer which is the Sugar interface and application system.

Besides, those netbook vendors who came out with devices after the OLPC XO while the press claimed they were comparable they were not. No mesh networking, not power efficient, not sunlight readable, and not ruggedized. Did you know that Intel had to ship and install a diesel generator outside of a classroom they setup as validation of their ClassMate PC because the laptops could not run for a full day of use with intermittent power?

And those other cheap devices you're reading about are also not in the ball park of any OLPC device. Cheap yes but not the same.

LoB

Re:This is the device I'd be most likely to buy (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626874)

Well, there is one concern in the slightly more developed nations: smart phones.

Certainly for populations where the income levels allow it, most people would prefer a smart phone to an OLPC device.

But those people can also pay for app development, which is why if I work on any such device, it'll be this one. Understand I'm not talking about corporate projects, but for fun and satisfaction projects I'd post under open source with no hope or wish of ever making a dime off them.

There are enough people developing for vendor-specific devices. I'm not needed, and I have more productive things to focus my work efforts on than being another dreamer of the next "Angry Birds" product.

And you are COMPLETELY misunderstanding the point of the OLPC designs -- unlike every vendor's smart phone or tablet on the planet, you do not need an AC power line to charge an OLPC device. If you think the areas serviced by OLPC have power, you have no idea what their lives are like. For God's sake, many of them don't even have clean water and sanitation, never mind luxuries like a power grid.

The fact that OLPC has not had as wide spread an impact as they hope does not mean the project is a failure AT ALL. Ask someone who has and uses one of their earlier devices if THEY consider it a failure. They're the only opinion that really matters. Yours is neither needed nor wanted.

Re:This is the device I'd be most likely to buy (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626924)

Understand I meant no insult. But you have the money and the infrastructure to access the internet. How can YOU possibly hold judgement from that lofty position on people who have NOTHING?

If you really want to get your hands on one (4, Informative)

object404 (1883774) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627016)

Hey everyone.

Although units are very hard to get a hold of, if you're really sincere and interested about developing, OLPC will ship and lend you units free of charge with the promise that you will pass them on to the next developer when you're done with your project.

msobkow, all you need to do is to make a good project proposal and apply for the contributors program:

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Contributors_program [laptop.org]

They really do send these out. I applied and OLPC sent over some units all the way to the Philippines

You guys can check what's happening with the different OLPC mailing lists here:
http://lists.laptop.org/listinfo/ [laptop.org]

And the developer mailing list which is the most active:
http://lists.laptop.org/listinfo/devel [laptop.org]

I've also been able to do some hands on testing stuff on a prototype XO-1.75 which is the Marvell Armada-driven ARM version meant to succeed the XO-1.5 (as well as being the basis for the XO-3). It's been a really interesting experience with the prolonged battery life, but not without its quirks as a "real mainstream linux" OS running on an ARM machine (it's running Fedora ARM, dual bootable to the Sugar UI paradigm or Gnome). If anyone wants to contribute to Fedora-ARM development, this would also be an excellent avenue.

Try to check if there any local groups near your place and check em out. The local group near where I'm at right now (NZ) was kind enough to lend me one of these rare prototypes (and will be returning it soon).

Cheers!

-Naz

Re:If you really want to get your hands on one (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627292)

Thanks for the info, I'll keep it in mind. But I wasn't talking near term, I'm kind of swamped right now, and I haven't put any thought into what I MIGHT actually do with such a device, so asking for free hardware to work on it would definitely be premature. :)

Re:If you really want to get your hands on one (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627306)

After all, they only announced the finalization of the design today -- they haven't even shown them at CES yet!

But I'll be a thinkin...

This is why prototypes are fiction (1)

DavidinAla (639952) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626086)

It's just a tad thicker than the prototype unit they showed two years ago, isn't it?

http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/22/olpc-shows-off-absurdly-thin-xo-3-concept-tablet-for-2012/ [engadget.com]

Re:This is why prototypes are fiction (2)

Locutus (9039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626194)

that would have been more of a concept model than prototype IMO. Prototypes are usually somewhat functional models and not just a fake mock up. They completely missed the thin/thickness aspect of the concept version. The solar panel option seems silly to me considering people would want to use the device during the daylight hours and having it attached to a cable and that solar panel covered lid doesn't seem to fit the use case for a tablet device. Maybe if there was a 2nd battery or something it could charge while detached from the tablet then it might work.

And too bad they couldn't get the $100 price with the PixelQ display. The outdoor readable display would be a must IMO. I hope they do the buy2get1 deal on this.

LoB

then why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626098)

should i give a romeo alpha?

Not the real world (4, Insightful)

jamesl (106902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626102)

In the real world, a product isn't a product until it has a part number and a price. The part number is tied to a specific configuration with a committed level of performance. The price signifies that the vendor is putting his money where his mouth is. OLPC is so far (once again) all talk.

Re:Not the real world (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626240)

yep, how hard is it to setup a webshop for orders? not very. but olpc business plan relies on subsidies and big no-risk government orders.

and at the same time chinese noname factories are pumping 80bucks tablets to the real world.

I really don't believe that olpc's hyped(by olpc) "unique charging circuitry" is really _that_ unique. basically they're saying that you couldn't buy a solar charger for regular phone from dx(or a crank charger). sure, it takes a lot of time to load it up, but you could recharge a damn kindle with those still.

Re:Not the real world (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626414)

In the REAL world, India is already selling tablets that run both linux and android for $35 each [theglobeandmail.com] to all their students. (cost is ~$55, but there's a subsidy if you're a student, the goal being to get one into every students' hands). So, like everything, the market has changed since OLPC started. 2 years ago, a touch-screen tablet was a non-starter. The iPad didn't even exist. Now? Why would they order laptops when they can get touch-screen tablets for a lot less than $100?

Re:Not the real world (0)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626484)

You can't really compare a laptop with those piece of shit Indian Android tablets. Sure, if you're an absolute dead-end fucking goat herding peasant it might suffice but regular Slashdot readers are going to spew coke out of their noses when they check the spec and wait for something else. Or get a Raspberry PI and build your own Linux kit. Or just save up a little and get a netbook.

Re:Not the real world (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626584)

Did you even read the headline of the stupid article?

1. TheOLPC device is a tablet, not another laptop.
2. The OLPC will NOT be building this device - ever - because others are already doing it cheaper. FTFA:

One other really interesting thing that came up in our conversation was that Negroponte left open the question of whether OLPC would ever really have to make the XO 3. âoeWe may not ever build it,â he says. Thatâ(TM)s largely because competition in the tablet and education spaces is so intense that commercial computer makers might fill the void themselves.

âoeThe interesting thing about now versus five years agoâ"five years ago, we had to build a laptop, because there wasnâ(TM)t a laptopâ geared for the developing world, he says. Now, Negroponte says, itâ(TM)s possible that âoewe donâ(TM)t have to build a tablet.

So, now that competitors are building them at half the price the OLPC project was aiming for, and governments have already committed to buying millions of the cheaper non-OLPC devices, what's the point? OLPC is dead.

Re:Not the real world (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#38630332)

> Did you even read the headline of the stupid article?
>1. TheOLPC device is a tablet, not another laptop.

The "One Laptop Per Child" device is not a laptop. Perhaps they need to rethink the name, huh?

I read the headline, but that was all. A few years ago, when I first head about all this, I was quite interested. Never seen one, though. The cheap netbooks/tablets I HAVE seen are pieces of shit. I can imagine that that $35 Indian tablet is an absolute joke and if these things are the same price then they'll suck too so I've lost interest completely.

Re:Not the real world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38627886)

regular Slashdot readers are going to spew coke out of their noses

Whichever definition of "coke" you intended, this definitely qualifies as a "first world problem." These tablets aren't intended for first world consumer use, either.

Had high hopes for Pixel Qi (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626340)

I hoped that Pixel Qi could have made a screen that was readable like eInk for ebook readers, but worked well enough in active mode in color with a backlight. I haven't seen a screen in person, but the reviews I've read over the last couple of years said that the Pixel Qi screen is kind of the worst of both worlds, not the best. Not great color or definition in active mode, and not that great in passive, reflective B&W mode either. That was disappointing to me to hear.

Has anyone seen a recent Pixel Qi screen on a device? How well does it work? Is power usage good?

Re:Had high hopes for Pixel Qi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626374)

All I want is a color e-ink display with vivid colors that can be cut to any custom size. Refresh rate of 0.5 or even 1 second would be more than enough.

Re:Had high hopes for Pixel Qi (2)

object404 (1883774) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627040)

Don't be misled by those reviews. I was able to borrow some OLPC XO units via the contributors program http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Contributors_program [laptop.org] and let me tell you they kick ass.

If you reduce the brightness of the unit to zero, it will automatically go into gameboy/calculator black and white LCD mode. When the backlight is on (which will activate color), it's still readable in sunlight, will just look black and white.

The only quirk it has is that it uses parallel diagonal strips of red, green and blue pixels separately so there's a dithering effect in backlit color LCD (only 1 R,G or B light per pixel essentially instead of the usaul mix of all 3), but it trumps any of those black & white only no-backlight screens like e-ink.

Re:Had high hopes for Pixel Qi (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629566)

The problem with the OLPC screens is that their "sunlight readable" really means "only readable in sunlight". Black&white mode is mostly useless indoors, as you get way to little light onto the screen to be able to read anything (if anybody remembers the original GBA, kind of like that). Now of course in actual sunlights the screen are great and their 200dpi resolution is still pretty impressive to this day, but even there its more like reading something printed on really dark recycling paper then on actual white paper. With $100 Kindle's being easily available (much lighter, much longer battery life, etc.) it's also not quite as impressive as it used to be. In color mode the screens are pretty bad and extremely depended on viewing angle, so much that it's hard to even find a position where the screen looks proper, in B&W mode that problem however completely disappears. I find the screens most usable when having a lot of environmental light and backlight set to the minimum, this reduces the view angle dependency and leads to pretty readable results.

All that said, the new PixelQi screens are not OLPC screens, so they should be better, but judging from the reviews, the core problems seem to be still the same.

Re:Had high hopes for Pixel Qi (1)

arose (644256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626902)

Of course it's not the best in either class. The question is whether it is good enough.

Re:Had high hopes for Pixel Qi (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627782)

I hoped that Pixel Qi could have made a screen that was readable like eInk for ebook readers, but worked well enough in active mode in color with a backlight. I haven't seen a screen in person, but the reviews I've read over the last couple of years said that the Pixel Qi screen is kind of the worst of both worlds, not the best. Not great color or definition in active mode, and not that great in passive, reflective B&W mode either. That was disappointing to me to hear.

Huh? As far as I know, Pixel Qi screens have a color reflective mode. I think the sunlight-readability (with fast refresh, unlike e-ink) is a kick-ass feature on its own. :)

Re:Had high hopes for Pixel Qi (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38629310)

No the promise of the Pixel Qi was a triple-resolution black and white display in passive mode. A casual google search reveals that indeed it is black and white in outdoor mode. From what I've read the Pixel Qi isn't that great in sunlight or with blacklight, at least folks that were reviewing the Notion Ink.

Don't give a single fuck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626342)

I wouldn't buy one anyway. Just another shitty open sores tablet that is worth less than the price tag associated with it.
 
Maybe when you bitches have enough money to afford a real tablet will you finally stop doting on that open sores bullshit.

Re:Don't give a single fuck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626802)

Open sores? That's funny, I got open sores after fucking your mother.

Techno navel-gazing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626360)

The OLPC projects strikes me as fundamentally useless. On the list of things keeping children in poor countries from getting an education, lack of laptops is way towards the bottom. Now assuming there is a benefits for kids already in school to get access to a computer, a laptop strilkes me as a terribly inefficient way to go. You'd get far more bang for your buck with desktops. And most of all, every time I read about OLPC, it's always about the tech and the specs, not how it actually helps kids. That strikes me as techno navel-gazing at its worst. Until I actually read or see a story that details the benefits to real children (and please, feel free to send those links), I'll keep assuming that this is first and foremost about people finding ways to make themselves feel good about what they do.

Re:Techno navel-gazing (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38628210)

On the list of things keeping children in poor countries from getting an education, lack of laptops is way towards the bottom.

The thing which is missing is access to information and various tools. A computer is a good and cheap way to deliver information when textbooks aren't available and is a good and cheap way to deliver tools such as calculators; word puzzles and so on when those aren't available. These aren't really that much available in a standard base OS install that you would see, but OLPC provides a custom environment where they are available.

You'd get far more bang for your buck with desktops.

I suggest you have a look at the OLPC FAQ, which explains this stuff. Desktops require large amounts of continuous power, which just isn't available in the environment these places are designed for. Laptops with batteries and low power usage just work better here. These students often simply don't have a space where they could put a desktop anyway.

And most of all, every time I read about OLPC, it's always about the tech and the specs, not how it actually helps kids. That strikes me as techno navel-gazing at its worst.

You are reading about OLPC on Slashdot "techno navel-gazing at its worst" is our hobby. Perhaps you should go and read about this from the people who are actually doing it.

Until I actually read or see a story that details the benefits to real children (and please, feel free to send those links), I'll keep assuming that this is first and foremost about people finding ways to make themselves feel good about what they do.

The OLPC has a stories page [laptop.org] on their front page. That's probably a good place to start. Beyond that they have a bunch of mailing lists [laptop.org] where you will be able to find a whole load of stories. However, be aware that there probably hasn't been much reason to direct detailed information towards those like yourself who aren't involved or volunteering so you will find that you have to dig through all the individual country level lists in different languages. These seem to be more active than the top level ones.

under $100 doesn't sound so cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626496)

Buy from India - http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/05/us-india-tablet-idUSTRE7940YV20111005 - mark up to $100 - easy.

The first OLPC overpromised and underdelivered (4, Informative)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626524)

I was one of the original G1G1 participants, and I'm sorry to say that the gap between what was promised and what was delivered would never have been forgiven in any commercial enterprise. The "20 hour" battery life turned out to be 3-4 hours, and despite much talk about improvements to the power management software, nothing ever came of it.

The biggest disappointment for me was that the much-heralded "show source" button, didn't. I never quite worked out the tortuous explanations/excuses, but one of the original premises was that all of the machine's source would be available for inspection and modification--to kids, if sufficiently bright. In reality, all the enthusiastic video demonstrations of the "show source" feature were just showing ordinary browser HTML source, and as nearly as I could tell, the "show source" button never did anything more than that.

"Sugar," which I'd hoped would educate me in a brand new model for computer interaction, was, at the time, a bad joke with poor usability. The only way to locate journal entries was by remember to enter text tags for each one when complete, and doing text searches on the tags. It was explained that "fortunately kids like to describe everything they're doing." All usability objections were answered with the retort that I was not part of the machine's intended user base--true enough, and I have never verified for myself whether eight-year-old kids using the OLPC laptop really do type in text tags to enable them to locate their documents.

The one practical use I meant to put it to, as an eBook reader for PDF documents, didn't work because the PDF reader program was buggy, crashprone, and--even when it didn't crash--didn't save your place in the document (and didn't have any bookmarking mechanism). If you stopped reading at page 56, when you reopened the document, you'd be at page 1 and would have to remember what page you were on and scroll to it.

Hopefully all of these problems have long since been dealt with, but it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Re:The first OLPC overpromised and underdelivered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38626944)

My complaint with OLPC is rather than try to optimize the original hardware design to make it cheaper and more capable, they simply designed a completely new device. They were a non-profit organization that was attempting to function like a for-profit organization.

Re:The first OLPC overpromised and underdelivered (1)

spage (73271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627794)

Anonymous Coward wrote
My complaint with OLPC is rather than try to optimize the original hardware design to make it cheaper and more capable, they simply designed a completely new device.
The original XO-1 with AMD Geode LX was followed by the faster more powerful XO-1.5 [laptop.org] with Via C7-M, an option for a non-membrane regular-style keyboard, and now an Marvell Sheeva ARM-based XO-1.75 [laptop.org] is nearing beta. All use the same Yves Béhar/fuseproject industrial design and reuse some components such as the battery as the XO-1, so these worthwhile revisions didn't get much coverage.

According to the deployments page, there are "2.5 million XOs in the field as of November, 2011", mostly in Uruguay and Peru.

Re:The first OLPC overpromised and underdelivered (2)

spage (73271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38628084)

In the latest stable release [laptop.org] on my G1G1 XO-1, pressing View Source (Fn + Space) opens up a nifty project source code browser for Chat, Paint, Read and other Python activities I tried (it's pretty cool!).

The Sugar Journal is just different. If you don't name you get Paint Activity, Chat Activity, etc. which is no worse than having New document.odp, New document(2).odp, etc. It's BETTER for kids because there's no folders to navigate. The Sugar developers have smoothed a lot of the rough edges and improved things, e.g. the default when you start an activity is to resume your last document.

PDF support was terrible, but you can blame Evince and Poppler for not managing memory better on a device with only 128kB RAM. These days the Read activity remembers the last page you're on and has bookmarking with notes! You can flip the screen and close the keyboard and still use the arrow and game keys work to move/zoom/page around, so maybe it works better as an e-reader. (Also you can now open PDFs within the browser, but that doesn't work as well.)

As people work on the software it slowly improves, and new releases incorporate improvements in Fedora, GTK, Abiword, etc. The constructionist (or is it constructivist, I get my pedagogical terms confused) activities like Scratch and Turtle Blocks are impressive. But I don't think many adults would enjoy using an XO over a conventional laptop or desktop. I had run Sugar under qemu so I knew I wouldn't be blown away by my G1G1 laptop, regardless of Nicholas Negroponte's sales hype. I think OLPC has it exactly right these days, provide laptops [laptop.org] to anyone with a credible project that advances their educational aims.

$35 Tablet (2)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626536)

The original OLPC made lots of sense, even if they botched the execution... I'll point to the massive success of the EEEPC as proof that they were only slightly off the mark. Personally, I thought going with a dirt cheap B&W LCD screen to start would have solved most of their problems, but I digress.

But this tablet makes no sense. The Aakash / UbiSlate tablets cost half as much (for real, in production) and is designed to serve exactly the same purpose as OLPC. In addition, Android smartphones (with qwerty keyboard, making them vastly more useful) retail for $100 here on the shelves in the US (no contract, not subsidized, not on sale). We're talking about full-featured mobile devices, much like what I use for 90% of my computing purposes, and am typing on right now...

OLPC's main reason to exist last time around was extreme power savings, due to the great expense of electricity in the third world. But now, normal mass market mobile devices now rival OLPC's energy targets, as well as having more than sufficient durability designed-in.

  http://www.virginmobileusa.com/cell-phones/samsung-intercept-phone.jsp [virginmobileusa.com]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aakash_tablet [wikipedia.org]

I don't see any reason for OLPC to make custom hardware anymore, rather than just becoming a software company, possibly + logistical support.

Technology + Poverty = (1)

dysco_dave (2548136) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626658)

Hackers. Lots of them. Is OLPC even really a good idea?

Re:Technology + Poverty = (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38628198)

Technology + Poverty = Warez + script kiddies

So what's the point of a large gadget we can't buy (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#38626684)

It's nice and all, but the XO-3 might as well just be vaporware.

They should have named it XO<3 (2)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627338)

XO<3 is like a little kid with a heart above the head. "kids love OLPC!"
They even fail at marketing.

If there is another Give-one-get-one program (1)

NotesSensei (997996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38627510)

I'll buy again. Heck I even would buy a give-two-get-one. The original machine had huge gaps between promise and delivery, but worked nicely reading blogs in bright sunlight. What I would wish for howerver is some documentation which batch my donated machine(s) would go to. I actually would be ready to chat with the receiver from time to time. Sutra Mitra had identified this as a booster for learning. And IMHO learning is key to anybody's future.

Microsoft and OLPC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38627726)

Did M$Âalready hijack the project or what's the score exactly nowadays?

White create - blacks destroy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38628902)

So WHITE people (and Asians) create technology for sub-70 IQ blacks, who are too STUPID to create it, WE working class whites have to pay for these useless losers to be given free computers, so they can 'rise up' and improve their miserable lives.

Will the OLPC magically improve their DNA so their IQs will rise above 70? Of course not.

I know! Let's just allow all the blacks on the planet into previously WHITE countries, and then they can benefit from the luxuries of a first world civilisation, without actually having to produce it themselves! And then they can turn our first world countries into third world hellholes, like the shitholes they came from! Yeah, that's great!

How many of you idiots will give knee jerk reactions about how 'racist' I am? Can't you even THINK about what's going to happen to YOUR children, when they are a white minority in their OWN country, which YOUR parents and grandparents built? What happened to the whites in Haiti?

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