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Negroponte Responds to $100 Laptop Criticisms

samzenpus posted about 8 years ago | from the cheap-machines dept.


teefaf writes "Wired News is running an article on the most recent developments surrounding Nicholas Negroponte's (of MIT) $100 laptop project. The project aims to make 'cheap' computers available to children in developing countries. In the article, Negroponte responds to the inevitable criticism from Intel and Microsoft, "When you have both Intel and Microsoft on your case, you know you're doing something right", and elaborates on his vision for the future of the project, "He also said the display and other specifications could change as enhancements are made. In other words, he seemed to be saying to his critics: Don't get too hung up on how this thing operates now, 'The hundred-dollar laptop is an education project,' he said. 'It's not a laptop project.'". The article also states that the initial production cost of the laptops is expected to be $135; the $100 price-point probably won't be hit until 2008. It's possible that the cost could drop as low as $50 by 2010."

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This can't be true (0, Offtopic)

Xiph (723935) | about 8 years ago | (#15062987)

This can't possibly be the first post (fsm)

Re:This can't be true (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063185)

It is true.

You've made the big time.

god (1, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 8 years ago | (#15062998)

I think Bill Gates has a lot of nerve to critisize a project designed to help children and educate poor people in villages to do alot of great things.

What exactly has he done to spread technology?

Oh, thats right the project competes with their own Orgami sub $1000 thingie.

Sorry Bill but I dont give a damn about the price of your stocks or your selfishness

Re:god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063026)

"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the world's largest charitable foundation."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_&_Melinda_Gates_ Foundation [wikipedia.org]

Re:god (0, Flamebait)

Kickboy12 (913888) | about 8 years ago | (#15063055)

Still doesn't make up for the number of consumers he's manipulated; how many corperations he's destroyed; how many laws he's twisted; how many ideas he's stolen; how many patents he's broken; and how many governments he's lied to.

Re:god (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 8 years ago | (#15063083)

Not to sound too critical but Gates could have setup the foundation as a tax writeoff.

Maybe he does care. But when it comes to his personal bottom line and marketshare with the loss of control that will then happen and then he becomes brutal.

I know my grand parent post is controversial but I think its inappropriate to flame something designed to help the world be a better place. It shows alot about someone's character.

I mean its charity work practically?

Re:god (0, Troll)

vcv (526771) | about 8 years ago | (#15063117)

Yeah..that makes sense. Give away $28billion so you can save probably less than a billion on taxes.

Makes a ton of tense...

Re:god (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about 8 years ago | (#15063035)

I can't believe Bill Gates' comments regarding the sub $100 laptop. It just proves that all his donations to charity from his huge coffers don't really come from his geniune desire to help people in need, but rather to glorify himself.

Hasn't he got enough already?

What a Bees-tard.

Re:god (4, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | about 8 years ago | (#15063091)

I can't believe Bill Gates' comments regarding the sub $100 laptop. It just proves that all his donations to charity from his huge coffers don't really come from his geniune desire to help people in need, but rather to glorify himself.

Or, just maybe, he thinks fightng AIDS among Africa's orphaned kids fills a tad more urgent need than MITS phantom $100 laptop.

Re:god (5, Insightful)

Viking Coder (102287) | about 8 years ago | (#15063131)

How do you fight AIDS in Africa, with a sub-machine gun?

No, you fight it with education. "The hundred dollar laptop is an education project." I'm watching this program on PBS talking about AIDS in Africa, and this doctor is explaining the birds and the bees to this 19-year old kid who has just infected his wife, because he used to have unprotected sex with prostitutes while he was off fighting a war for his country (from the time he was 14). The kid had no idea how AIDS was spread.

Oh Please (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063213)

The kid had no idea how AIDS was spread.

Unless the start-up screen is an AIDS education video or something, these loptops are not going to be used for education. What makes all of you technophiles think that folks are going to get these and say "Great, now I can find out to prevent AIDS!" Fuck no! They're going to sell those things for food, a well or drinking water, booze, or whatever. And spending $100 on a laptop isn't the best way to spend the money on education - if that's really the problem. (I think that 19 yr-old your talking about was just propaganda by some NGO trying to keep the money coming in. Many of them have their own agendas - the only people they really want to help are themselves. They sure do love their Mercedes Benzes!) Pooling all that laptop $$$ can be used much more effectively on personal teaching. The laptops are a really stupid idea.

Re:god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063257)

No, you fight it with education

Come on, what more education do you need than "don't shoot up drugs with strangers and don't have sex with them"

The problems Africa has are unrelated to education and more in line with corrupt politicians and warlords. A $100 laptop ain't gonna solve that one bit, no matter if the poor kids there can now blog about how crappy their lives are.

Re:god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063287)

As Theodore Roosevelt once said [wikiquote.org] : "A perfectly stupid race can never rise to a very high plane; the negro, for instance, has been kept down as much by lack of intellectual development as anything else."

Re:god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063149)

Or, just maybe, he thinks fightng AIDS among Africa's orphaned kids fills a tad more urgent need than MITS phantom $100 laptop.

Oh, so I guess you are saying that Bill G. doesn't think both *can* be done? Or are you saying that Bill doesn't *want* both to be done? Or are you just saying that since Bill has donated money for AIDS that he *shouldn't allow* both to be done? Or are you just a blind worshipper of Bill Gates?

Re:god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063176)

ya and the billions of dollars that he donates towards programs and projects that help educate and prevent AIDS in these poor countries isn't as good as a crippled 100$ "laptop"? right. Personally I don't think these laptops will have any significant affect at all besides being used in some schools or being traded for grains and chickens

Re:god (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about 8 years ago | (#15063206)

I'm not going to disagree with that, or take anything away from what B.G's money will do to improve people's lives (which is, either way, a good thing).

Having said that though, the whole thing just smacks of hypocracy. IOW, it's ok for Bill Gates to help people in need, but helping people in need stops once somebody gives them cheap hardware without Windows on it. What makes it worse is that Microsoft wanted to develop a sub $100 PC, and now that someone is doing that, they're knocking it. I just get the feeling that their heart isn't in the right place.

So what if the machine doesn't have a harddrive? Ever heard of compact flash? There have been many functional computers in the past that didn't have hard drives... and besides, there's compact flash.

Re:god (1)

oirtemed (849229) | about 8 years ago | (#15063250)

here we go again..Dont dictate what form charity should come in.

Someone wants to do a program in their field of interest and their field of expertise, let them. It is going to benefit *SOME* people, right? Maybe everyone should stop donating money to ANYTHING other than those starving to death in foreign countries. Certainly they need your money more than the Republican party.

Bill Gates is only criticizing this for the same reason he criticizes software that is free and open to the public: IT IS A THREAT TO HIS MONEY MAKING.

Re:god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063293)

From Wikipedia ahref=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_&_Melinda_ Gates_Foundationrel=url2html-4028 [slashdot.org] http://en.wikiped ia.org/wiki/Bill_&_Melinda_Gates_Foundation>

"The foundation's grants have provided funds for underrepresented minority college scholarships, AIDS prevention, diseases that strike mainly in the Third World, and other causes. The Foundation currently provides 90% of the world budget for the attempted eradication of poliomyelitis (polio), the World Health Organization having "moved on" to other diseases. In June 1999, Gates and his wife donated US$5 billion to the foundation. They have donated more than US$100 million to help children suffering from AIDS. On January 26, 2005, it was announced that the Foundation had made a further contribution of US$750 million to the international Vaccine Fund to help fight diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, poliomyelitis and yellow fever. As of 2005, the foundation has an endowment of approximately US$28 billion. To maintain its status as a charitable foundation, it must donate at least 5% of its assets each year. Thus the donations from the foundation each year would amount to over $1 billion at a minimum."

I think that speaks for itself.

Re:god (0, Redundant)

rochi (930552) | about 8 years ago | (#15063301)

as much as I hate to defend Bill; the article said "inevitable criticism"; Bill hasn't done it yet, it's just that he will in the near future.

but (1, Troll)

mlehman (888159) | about 8 years ago | (#15063005)

who wouldn't criticize this machine; it's a great idea but it has a crank battery hehehehe!


Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063331)

Anyone who didn't get the joke does not know how this machine works...

Will it have a "Vista Capable" sticker on it? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063009)

Just wonderin'.

The critics ignore reality (3, Insightful)

mhollis (727905) | about 8 years ago | (#15063013)

Everyone is very quick to speak ill of Negroponte's efforts here which are all about building a project that works and places computers onto the desks (or laps) of the "have-nots." Based on what I have read of the man he's an original thinker and very creative.

Usually, the entrenched tend to be very frightened of those types.

Re:The critics ignore reality (4, Interesting)

ezavada (91752) | about 8 years ago | (#15063078)

I find it particularly amusing that Bill Gates is one of Negroponte's critics. Of the two, Negroponte is much more of a visionary. This is really obvious if you compare Gates' book Road to the Future with Negroponte's Being Digital. Negroponte identifies things that make you smack your forehead and say "oh, wow! Of course!" (Not that I had a sore spot on my forehead after reading it or anything like that). Gates talks about minor evolutions of things that most people in the industry wouldn't find terribly surprising or imaginative.

Re:The critics ignore reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063212)

You know Gates so well that you can't even get the title of his book right?

That would be "The Road Ahead". I'm not so sure I'll accept an 'insightful' comparison from someone who doesn't remember the title. The rest of your knowledge of the book may be just as hazy.

Re:The critics ignore reality (3, Interesting)

macshit (157376) | about 8 years ago | (#15063300)

Gates talks about minor evolutions of things that most people in the industry wouldn't find terribly surprising or imaginative.

That's what I'm always hearing about Gates' books. I assume the reason B.G. "wrote" books (I don't know the degree to which he actually wrote them) was not because he really wanted to, but because people were always saying to him "Bill, you're the richest man in the world, why aren't you writing a book to share your secrets?!?!"; at some point if you become famous enough, people expect you write a book...

B.G.'s response was probably "Er, ok, I guess (sigh)...." (starts looking up ghostwriters in his address list).

Not to be logically fallacious... (4, Interesting)

MarkChovain (952233) | about 8 years ago | (#15063079)

You should realize that this Nick Negroponte is the SAME GUY that whored himself to Swatch to promote their ridiculous "Internet Time" initiative.

Re:Not to be logically fallacious... (1)

sh00z (206503) | about 8 years ago | (#15063317)

Hey! I still use my "Internet Time" Swatch as an alarm clock, you insensitive clod!

It's an Education Project (4, Insightful)

ezavada (91752) | about 8 years ago | (#15063016)

I thought the most interesting thing about this was Negroponte saying "The hundred-dollar laptop is an educaton project. It's not a laptop project."

Given that, it hardly matters what OS it runs, as long as school systems, educators, and students have the ability to write and run the educational software they need on it.

IMHO, the real value of a machine like this in a students hands (especially if they are taught programming) is that they learn problem solving, not just information.

Re:It's an Education Project (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 years ago | (#15063108)

Negroponte had previously said the flexible devices will have a 7-inch screen that can be read in sunlight. It will save on costs by using the Linux operating system, peer-to-peer wireless connectivity and a 500-megahertz processor -- which was top of the line in the late 1990s.
Would it be okay if MS stepped up and offered (for free) to bundle some super stripped down version of WinXP or Win2k/ME/98SE.

Because if MS did that, it'd be a real coup to get Windows into all those developing countries. And as a bonus, he'd be getting to 'em young.

Re:It's an Education Project (2, Informative)

znu (31198) | about 8 years ago | (#15063163)

It's doubtful Microsoft would have been taken up on the offer. Apple offered OS X [wsj.com] , but the project organizers wanted something that was totally open source. I'm a big OS X fan, but I think that choice made sense, for this application.

Re:It's an Education Project (3, Interesting)

The Warlock (701535) | about 8 years ago | (#15063281)

Not really. What if, when the price of the hardware went down, Apple decided that the free ride was over? What if Apple stripped it down to a crippled edition, like Windows XP Starter (or whatever Microsoft's braindead scheme to compete with rampant piracy in second-world nations is called this week)? What if Apple didn't feel like rooting out hardware bugs, and nobody else can because they own the source?

Or, most likely, what if Apple refused to allow the device to be sold in the US? That would be an excellent way to raise money for the project, of course: sell the laptop for $250-$299 over here, and bang, every sale over here is one more laptop you can give to the poorer countries.

No, it's much better to deal with software that you control on a device such as this.

Some people will complain about anything (4, Interesting)

Baseball_Fan (959550) | about 8 years ago | (#15063017)

The project aims to make 'cheap' computers available to children in developing countries. In the article, Negroponte responds to the inevitable criticism from Intel and Microsoft, "When you have both Intel and Microsoft on your case, you know you're doing something right",

They are making a laptop that will cost $100, and perhaps $50 by 2010. Who cares about the specs, it will not be a buisness machine.

Even if they stuffed a PII 400 mhz and had a 12" screen, it would be very usefull. People could write reports, surf the web, and compile programs. When I was in school, I compiled Java programs on a PII266 without any problems. Sure, I could not run a fancy IDE, but it was good enough to get the job done.

I think a $100 laptop is important. The poor get screwed, and go without. Many poor families will be able to afford a $100 laptop. Also, if I was a charity with $5000 to give away, I would much rather give away 50 basic laptops than 5 thousand dollar laptops.

Why (3, Insightful)

cubicledrone (681598) | about 8 years ago | (#15063020)

skeptics have questioned whether the device can meet Negroponte's goal of inspiring huge educational gains

Why do skeptics decide? Of what value is the opinion of a skeptic? Why do people listen to skeptics at all? Offer something constructive, or SHUT THE FUCK UP.

"Geez, so why criticize me in public?" Negroponte said.

Good question. Why everyone isn't on this guy's side is beyond me.

Microsoft did not immediately return calls for comment.

Wait, wait. Let me guess. A meeting! Right?!?!

In time, Negroponte expects the $100 laptop to be a misnomer. For one thing, he believes the cost -- which is actually about $135 now and isn't expected to hit $100 until 2008 -- can drop to $50 by 2010 as more and more are produced.

This man should be given a standing ovation everywhere he goes. Anyone who criticizes him should be ashamed of themselves and their companies. This is a worthwhile, workable project, and it should be supported.

Re:Why (1)

c_forq (924234) | about 8 years ago | (#15063165)

Good question. Why everyone isn't on this guy's side is beyond me

Because some people think there are more important things, like curing/controlling AIDS, building infrastructure, and enabling access to clean water.

Re:Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063229)

Educate (Feed and Doctor) the poor and famished and you just might see them earn money for their family/town/country. They will turn into a decent economy eventually, right?

ya, everyone agrees with you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063244)

Because some people think there are more important things, like curing/controlling AIDS, building infrastructure, and enabling access to clean water.

Yup education isn't important. Just keep em disease free and strong so they can make stuff for us. Yup, you sure know what's important.

Re:Why (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | about 8 years ago | (#15063299)

Because some people think there are more important things, like curing/controlling AIDS, building infrastructure, and enabling access to clean water.
All things that can be done by outsiders, yes, or by the people themselves, once they are properly educated.

And once they are properly educated, they won't need outsiders anymore.

Throughout the History of Humanity, social progress was always resisted by the few powerful that stood to lose their power to the masses, and a very potent mean to crush the masses is to keep them ignorant (hence the communist crackdown on free information flow, or the capitalist crackdown on educating the people on their rights).

Re:Why (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063205)

Why do people listen to skeptics at all? Offer something constructive, or SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Believe it or not, not everything is a good idea. Despite what you have been taught in school, trying hard isn't good enough. It has to actually accomplish something!

As such, questioning whether this will further their stated aims is perfectly appropriate and useful. Negative feedback is not intrinsically bad unless you have a severe case of crybabyosity. It's not the world's job to pat you on the back for every stupid idea you have, even if your intentions are good.

I'm sorry, but I can't stand people who think that doing something is intrinsically good in itself, whether or not that something is actually useful. It's not. Some things are just fucking stupid ideas that should be buried.

Not that my personal opinion is that this is a stupid idea, just that your attitude is a prime example of fuckwittery at its worst.

Re:Why (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | about 8 years ago | (#15063274)

Offer something constructive, or SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Was there anything worthwhile in your post? You rail against "skeptics" (despite the fact that there is nothing wrong with being one or for them to speak out), make a silly and utterly useless comment about why Microsoft didn't return calls for comment, and say anybody who doesn't agree with him (and you by extension) should be ashamed of themselves.

It seems to me that you did no better than those skeptics, only your post was a fanboy comment instead of a skeptic comment. If you're going to bitch about other people and companies saying things without offering any reasons or information otherwise worth the time it takes to read it, perhaps you shouldn't do the same thing. At least not in the same post. It's just unseemly.

There is one question left unanswered (0, Flamebait)

jazzman45 (86593) | about 8 years ago | (#15063021)

Why do these countries need a widespread distribution of $100 computers? Have people forgotten that the computer is not necessary? I'll go out on a limb to say that computers have done 3 notable things over the years: 1) increase the powers of various militaries to create weapons which kill better, 2) make the wallets of porn mongers fatter and 3) help those of us with sloppy handwriting get A's on various projects/presentations.

I work with computers part-time (php/mysql and the like). My job is worthless. So is yours, but it puts bread on the table, alright? For some of the people that these $100/sub-$100 laptop/desktop/playskool looking devices are directed towards, there is no bread. There is no medicine, there is no fill-in-the-blank.

Just plain fuKt up if you ask me.

Re:There is one question left unanswered (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | about 8 years ago | (#15063037)

Why do these countries need a widespread distribution of $100 computers?

So they can learn how to read, for starters. Reading is important. It's the reason we know how to build computers in the first place.

Re:There is one question left unanswered (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063110)

Shit you're right!
NO ONE ever learned to read without computers! In fact the advent of computers has ushered in a golden age of literacy as far as im concerned! I duno wht id do w/out cpus!

Re:There is one question left unanswered (1)

jazzman45 (86593) | about 8 years ago | (#15063201)

I second what the anonymous guy said. I have tried to use the computer to help educate myself. ie getting help on physics problems, looking at code examples, using online dictionaries for help with foreign languages, whatever it may be. You know what was the best technique as a college student? Opening up a BOOK, starting at page 1 and finishing where it says "The End."

Computers are unnecessary in 99% of jobs. Just today I was reading that the head of our local paper still uses a 1930s typewriter. (pop=80,000+)

Re:There is one question left unanswered (2, Insightful)

MarkChovain (952233) | about 8 years ago | (#15063047)

Not every community in Africa is starving and lacking teachers.

Think of what benefits would result if every student in a small Kansas town were given a $100 laptop with Net access.

Re:There is one question left unanswered (1)

theGreater (596196) | about 8 years ago | (#15063148)

Actually, rural Kansas (at least Kiowa county) makes pretty good use of that USF surcharge on our cellphone bills. I know for a fact that several folks outthere have DSL at about 1.5mbit speeds, and Haviland telco offers this at least 20miles outside Mullinville, KS.

In addition, I can recall several students discussing the relative merits of PCs vs. Macs in an intelligent fashion, reminiscing about growing up with 2 PC's in their classroom, and a media lab near the library. They were from Greensburg, Kansas. That's near Joy, and Protection. Okay, forty minutes from Dodge.

My point? Not every community in rural Kansas is sans net access and lacking PCs.


Re:There is one question left unanswered (1)

cptgrudge (177113) | about 8 years ago | (#15063314)

Actually, rural Kansas (at least Kiowa county) makes pretty good use of that USF surcharge on our cellphone bills.

Not disagreeing with you, but that USF charge will not cover desktop or laptop computers. They fall under an ineligible type of technology for that program. Look here [universalservice.org] to see what can be used with the program.

I think every school would jump at the chance to provide every student with a laptop instead of making a cart of 24 "normal" laptops available.

Re:There is one question left unanswered (2, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 8 years ago | (#15063061)

THe sole reason why undeveloped countries stay that way is because of the large unproductive workforce that is uneducated.

If Africans (just an example) learn basic computer skills and children use education programs and can learn and connect with the rest of the world and be better informed the result would be tremendous!

Many employers could then setup shops and hire people. One of the reasons India is hot and Sudan is not is because the Indians speak English and are more educated then the Sudanesse.

Computer skills are essential and its silly in the US because any kid knows how ot use a computer but back in the mid 80's here in the first world, it was serious a problem with training. Not everyone knew how to be productive with a spreadsheet for example.

Re:There is one question left unanswered (1)

jazzman45 (86593) | about 8 years ago | (#15063155)

Computer skills are useless. Teaching advanced techniques in agriculture will help far greater than any laptop.

How can you associate the ability to speak English and a better education with computers? Do you think that people didn't learn anything fifty years ago?

How is being productive with a spreadsheet productive? I fail to see the correlation.

Re:There is one question left unanswered (1)

0racle (667029) | about 8 years ago | (#15063182)

Most of the work force of any country, including the United States, is more or less uneducated. They know little more then what is required to do their job enough not to get fired. A few years after completing High School, if they did in the first place, the majority would be unable to do so again. Very very few jobs in the world require much of an education.

Computer skills are in no way essential, the fact that you can still find a huge portion of people 20 and over who are afraid of the magic white box is testament to that. The majority of the current work force are not computer literate and the great countries of the world got there before there was universal education and computers.

The idea that you give people a computer and magically their lives will be better is one of the worst jokes currently being pushed on the uneducated public who believe everything they are told. These people have more pressing matters of survival to address before they need to get quick access to porn. A computer is going to let them write a report about what it feels like to die in 12 point Times. Maybe they'll even print it out before they're gone.

Re:There is one question left unanswered (1)

Mutilated1 (836311) | about 8 years ago | (#15063259)

One of the reasons India is hot and Sudan is not is because the Indians speak English and are more educated then the Sudanesse.
Well and then there's that pesky genocide thing [darfurgenocide.org] , busines people tend to try and avoid that

Re:There is one question left unanswered (1)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | about 8 years ago | (#15063334)

Actually, there are many reasons such places stay poor. A good education is useless if you can't apply those skills anywhere because there is no industry at home and you can't communicate with anyone where there is. An entrepenurial drive is useless if warmongering kleptocrats steal almost anything you make and destroy the rest. Your education won't get you far if the Big Man has decided destroy the country's agricultural infrastructure and you're spending your days foraging in the bush for food.

There are many reasons places are poor, but bad government is often a better indicator than average education level of the populace. One of the most valuable contributions that the $100 laptop could make is private communication and connection to sources in the outside world that will demonstrate that things don't have to be the way they are in your country. At least we can work for that outcome, though I realize that there are cases (*cough* Kansas *cough*) where it doesn't seem to have taken hold.

Re:There is one question left unanswered (4, Insightful)

qortra (591818) | about 8 years ago | (#15063066)

This project is designed to benefit countries as a whole. Some countries have populations with no high-level skills. By providing these cheap laptops (along with a wireless infrastructure) to their citizens, they can prepare them for more high-level work, which will attract business, which will create jobs, which will put bread on the table.

Ergo, $100 laptops will [indirectly] put bread on the tables of those who need it.

Re:There is one question left unanswered (5, Insightful)

periol (767926) | about 8 years ago | (#15063100)

In 1990 I was given an old x86 machine that ran DOS off of floppy, and then Word off of floppy. I took to that computer immediately, and 17 years later, after many different jobs, I work in IT. Without that x86, I wouldn't have pushed my parents to get me a 486 for my birthday, or tried to get a job at the college helpdesk before I arrived at college. Maybe I would have still ended up here, but I doubt it. Putting a computer in the hands of a child can be a powerful thing.

Why knock it?

Re:There is one question left unanswered (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063109)

It reminds me of a picture I saw in a sociology book that showed half a dozen people crowded around a T.V., and all of them were poorly clothed, and they were sitting on a dirt floor.

They talked to the leader of the village and he said how people told him how television was going to bring the village knowledge and information (the weather for example), but now all everyone does with any spare time is sit in front of the T.V. and watch shows (sit-coms).

So, how long before these lap-top users hit /.?

I don't even think it's worth it anymore trying to apply any critical thinking to this laptop situation, at least not here. You'll either be modded down, or be bombarded with the responses of karma whores. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HELP THE POOR! IT BRINGS KNOWLEDGE SO YOU CAN TRADE PRICES WITHOUT HAVING TO TRAVEL! YOU CAN SEE THE WEATHER!

T.V. can do a lot of things, though no dynamically, that these laptops can do. So can radio. But they don't. And before someone goes off saying about how I can't compare T.V. and radio to the vast expansive future that the internet offers, consider this.

Radio. How long before this turned to shit? T.V. How long before this turned to shit?
Internet? It's shit.

But whatever, I guess Negroponte can do whatever the hell he wants, and spend money he raises anyway he wants, the same as some guy with eleven houses and 12 hummers is free to.

Either way, when it comes down to it, it's not really under our control anyway.

Linux (2, Insightful)

MadUndergrad (950779) | about 8 years ago | (#15063025)

If this project really takes off, it would be interesting to see if it gives Linux a foothold (dominant market share?) in developing countries. Ten years down the road we might see people in these countries sticking with Linux over Windows when they get a decent computer because that's what they grew up on. Surely this is the main reason Gates is pissed, that it could lose Microsoft the foothold in these developing markets.

The specific criticisms (1)

dilvie (713915) | about 8 years ago | (#15063027)

"Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has criticized the computers' design, including its lack of a hard disk drive -- though many people in the tech world believed he was more irked by the laptops' use of Linux, the free, open-source system that competes with Gates' proprietary Windows systems." I tend to agree that a really functional computer needs a hard disk. "Intel executives, meanwhile, have suggested that Negroponte's laptop is a mere gadget that will lack too many PC functions. Last week, Intel announced its own plans to sell an inexpensive desktop PC for beginners in developing countries." Probably true, as well. On the other hand, the specifications will obviously mature as the project continues. The concept itself is very admirable.

Re:The specific criticisms (1)

Zardus (464755) | about 8 years ago | (#15063105)

My first laptop (not that long ago. This was early 2003) had a 700 meg hard drive. I think that's somewhere around the amount of flash they're putting on this thing (wiki article says between 512 megs and a gig). I had a very workable install of Debian in 300 megs (X, IM, web, programming, a few games), and had the other 400 megs to play around with. This was my main laptop and I pretty much used it for most things. Only things it couldn't do that my laptop could was speedy compilations and non-simple games. Granted, the latter is a big thing in the US, but in developing countries, if that's your only option for computing, you'll happily play simple games if you must.

The rest of my laptop's specs were inferior to this thing (with the exception of the screen). It had 16 megs of ram and a P90 (IIRC). 90mhz with 16 megs of ram isn't flashy, but it was very usable. The 100$ laptop has 128 megs of ram. That's like perfection.

Re:The specific criticisms (1)

Zardus (464755) | about 8 years ago | (#15063116)

Got an ammendment to make here: I couldn't play videos on that laptop either. Music, web, word proccessing, programming worked great, though.

Re:The specific criticisms (1)

Spit (23158) | about 8 years ago | (#15063290)

My first Linux system was a Compaq SLT386/20, 20MHz 386SX with 387FPU, 10MB RAM, 100MB HD and mono display. The last install I had on it was Debian 1.3 which ran fine, the biggest problem was lack of disk.

Re:The specific criticisms (2, Insightful)

The Warlock (701535) | about 8 years ago | (#15063153)

Well, it's not like it's running from straight ROM. It has a gig or two of flash space. A hard drive would be too fragile for the conditions this thing is built to endure.

Sidenote: If they throw a single USB port on that thing, I'll buy one in the US for whatever they'll sell them to us at (probably roughly $250).

Petty Jealousies (1)

Proto-Squirrel (907910) | about 8 years ago | (#15063028)

From the article [wired.com] at Wired:

Negroponte expressed frustration with Gates in particular, saying that the $100 laptop designers are still working with Microsoft to develop a version of the Windows CE operating system that could run the machines.

"Geez, so why criticize me in public?" Negroponte said.

Because the laptops are running linux, a major sponsor is Google, and it's not about the computer. It's about the education value.

Laptop versus desktop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063029)

I'm just wondering what the argument is for using more expensive laptop stuff when a desktop could provide more computer for the same price?

Hell, I could make a $100 laptop too using PDA components but that doesn't mean it will run OpenOffice.

Complaints about Linux (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 8 years ago | (#15063040)

I read a related article earlier which was saying Tux needs to go on a diet.
It appears people are making comparisons between linux distributions and MS bloatware.

I tend to agree, I would like to see the consolidation of the best features from all the programs, sort of a best of breed contest without things like 7 different browsers and 43 editors all doing a very similar job but just not quite managing perfection.

heres the article link [com.com] .

Re:Complaints about Linux (1)

mgar (890522) | about 8 years ago | (#15063146)

There nothing stopping this project from using a custom Linux distribution with a custom Kernel. The distribution could be customized by region to reduce the size. The open source modular concept seems much more attractive for this kind of project than any flavor of Windows with all of its attached baggage.

Loss of the crank is good (1)

jhines (82154) | about 8 years ago | (#15063054)

The power could be supplied by ac adapter, solar panel, windmill, treadmill, or many other alternatives, since it doesn't need a whole lot of power.

Re:Loss of the crank is good (3, Interesting)

Arthur B. (806360) | about 8 years ago | (#15063151)

Are you kidding me... I have an expensive high-end laptop, yet I would definitely buy a crank for it if it were available. Ok I am a nanoscopic niche market. But still... Other than the cool factor (I am a geek, yes I DO find it cool) there were so many times where I was left battery-less, I would really buy a crank. My only concern is the size of the thing. If they could make it light (carbon fiber) and foldable to the size of a laptop battery, I'd be the first customer.

$100 laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063060)

I have been reading but not posting on slashdot for a long time. I feel strongly enough that I want to communicate my view. Every piece of criticisim for the $100 laptop really troubles me. I feel that it could change so much that anyone who has a criticisim for the $100 laptop should be told " OK then do somthing to fix it" rather than complaining about how it wont work. If major heads of technology have any complaint they should get on board and fix it. A low cost laptop with mesh networking technology and e-book support could change the way underdeveloped contries are taught. Think of the out of date textbooks that could be replaced and distributed to students for study. VOIP technology could be used to communicate between villages. This needs to happen. And imagine a beowolf cluster of those things and can it run linux and all that welcome $100 laptop overlords stuff. Peace.

People've been wrong before (1)

EtherAlchemist (789180) | about 8 years ago | (#15063063)

MS and Intel can say what they want, I mean, didn't Jobs say once there was no market for portable computers or notebooks?

The important thing to learn is not to be an ass just because you don't like an idea. Big companies can find themselves struggling to catch up to the "stupid ideas" that took off like a rocket because they thought they had everything figured out.

Re:People've been wrong before (1)

DAldredge (2353) | about 8 years ago | (#15063097)

Don't know if he said that. But I do know that he thinks apple stock is going to tank as he sold about 300,000,000 dollars worth a few days back. View the insider info for APPL...

Re:People've been wrong before (1)

ckd (72611) | about 8 years ago | (#15063246)

He sold stock that had vested, so that he could pay the tax on the stock vesting (which is treated as income).

Apple withheld over 4.5 million of the shares, worth $295.7 million in total, to cover the minimum taxes required on the vesting of the restricted stock the company awarded to Jobs in 2003. [macnewsworld.com]

Sell about half, keep the rest...not a bad deal for Steve.

Re:People've been wrong before (1)

DAldredge (2353) | about 8 years ago | (#15063298)

Job's net wealth increased a lot when Disney bought Pixar. He could have sold Disney stock to cover the taxes, yet he did not. Unless he is an idiot he did this because he expects Disney stock to increase in value more than Apple stock.

In short - he thinks APPL is a worse bet than Disney.

Re:People've been wrong before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063313)

Couldn't tell the truth if you had to, could you? Fithly antisemite. Why don't you come to Israel so me my IDF buddies can kick your retarded ass?

One possible reason for the criticism... (1)

QRDeNameland (873957) | about 8 years ago | (#15063065)

...maybe Gates is a little bit miffed that someone could get out a $100 laptop in less time than it's taking Microsoft to squeeze out Vista.

Re:One possible reason for the criticism... (1)

westlake (615356) | about 8 years ago | (#15063179)

...maybe Gates is a little bit miffed that someone could get out a $100 laptop in less time than it's taking Microsoft to squeeze out Vista.

and maybe you should wait until the MITS laptop goes into production and we see what it can do and how much it will cost.

if this $100 laptop, now a $135 laptop, becomes a $200 laptop and then a $300 laptop, it could go the way of the Simputer.

priced out of reach of its intended market.

I want ONE! (2, Insightful)

tgraupmann (679996) | about 8 years ago | (#15063081)

Where can I get a crank for my laptop? I'd buy just the crank if it could recharge the battery.

Response to criticisms (1)

backslashdot (95548) | about 8 years ago | (#15063085)

"When you have both Intel and Microsoft on your case, you know you're doing something right," Negroponte

That's his response to the critics? How about responding to some of the specific criticisms instead? Or maybe he did in his speech .. the article didnt really say. I wanna know some of his responses to the specific criticisms of the OLPC plan's effectiveness.

Re:Response to criticisms (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 8 years ago | (#15063095)

They critisize because the device competes and therefore devalues their own products.

MS would rather have them buy their orgami devices or used pc's but pay MS for more software licensing fee's.

They make portable equipment and basic economics101 teaches that it devalues teh price of yoru product. This is true even for people with money who live their and never intend to buy these devices.

Re:Response to criticisms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063247)

you're kidding yourself buddy, it's not gonna devaluate anything, the only people that would actually consider this laptop as anywhere near decent are people who've never seen a computer before, anyone else would consider it completley unacceptable, MS and Intel have nothing to worry about

Publicity (2, Insightful)

Brandybuck (704397) | about 8 years ago | (#15063129)

It is just me, or does it seem that this project is much more interested in publicity than in actually producing cheap computers? If it were all about cheap computers for poor nations, just publish the specs and be done with it. Or just collect and ship used throwaway computers overseas. Instead I get the sense that more effort is being spent promoting Negroponte as a wonderful humanitarian than is being spent actually helping the poor.

Re:Publicity (1)

ralph alpha (956305) | about 8 years ago | (#15063228)

The project is interested in both, like any charitable venture. More publicity is more money, and more money is more charitable.

Re:Publicity (5, Interesting)

humphrm (18130) | about 8 years ago | (#15063269)

Actually, it was Bill Gates who raised the publicity flag first, by mocking the project. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060316/tc_nm/microsof t_gates_dc [yahoo.com] . But if you're talking about MIT announcing the project, and daring to keep working on the project after Bill Gates mocked it, and responding to his criticism, I guess those soulless bastards are guilty. Frankly, I think Gates feels threatened in two ways: someone is out-tech'ing him, and someone is out-charitying him. Poor guy. He must feel like such an insensitive clod. Too bad he's clueless, this isn't about someone paying $100 bucks for a PC, a poor African child can no more afford that than a $3000 PC. It's about making a PC cheap enough that an NGO can afford to give them away. And that's a far cry from anything even the holy Bill and Melinda Foundation are trying to accomplish.

"I can't do it for anything less than a thousand!" (1)

fermion (181285) | about 8 years ago | (#15063168)

The thing is that behemoth ineffecient corporations always claim that it is impossible to deliver goods and services for less than they are willing to charge. In a way they are right. For the corporation, with outrageous overhead, thousands of mid level managers, hundreds of accountants paid well to fabricate a loss while meetting wall street expectations, not to mention free trips for congressmen to French Polynesia, one has to charge a premium. It was this way with IBM, and now with MS and Intel. Even Sun has managed to get a Sparc desktop down to the $1.3K range.

Who know what an effecient firm, using commodity parts, can do with a laptop. I mean Apple, which sells in relitively small quantities, and has to pay premium for parts and engineering, can create laptops that sell for under 1K to the education market, yet Dell which gets the best price of everything, can use the cheapest part for the entry machines, and probably end up getting money from MS when all is said and done, can only knock 25% off that cost for a similiarly equipped machine, and still needs to play games with rebates to create the impresion that it has respectible sales?

These ineffecient dinosaurs are in for a rude awakening if even the $200 laptop comes about. Are people really going to pay 25% of the cost of the machines for the OS? I bet if the MS machine is $200 and the BSD machine is $150, the BSD will begin to quickly gain marketshare.

Kudos to Mr. Negroponte (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 8 years ago | (#15063173)

While Microsoft and Intel are looking to the project as little more than a means to increase their bottom line, Mr. Negroponte is steadfast to his vision of the education and benefit of children.

Goddam Gates (1)

melonqueen (963023) | about 8 years ago | (#15063191)

Bill Gates gives me the sh*ts. How can he condone criticizing a nonprofit organisation that is going to bring education and knowledge to children who wouldn't otherwise receive it? I think the article is pretty accurate when it claims that Gates was probably more irked by the idea that Linux was being used rather than Windows. But I mean, using Linux makes more sense, because can you imagine how much Microsoft would have asked for for the licensing rights for Windows? This guy needs to be applauded and awared a medal! This program will create a more skilled population in Africa who is able to help build up their respective countries and create better jobs and employment. So go stick your head in the sand Gates, and come back when you've done something as worthwhile as this

I would be scared if I were MS / Intel too... (1, Insightful)

Null Nihils (965047) | about 8 years ago | (#15063192)

Let me get this straight... this laptop is $100, can be manufactured, distributed, and purchased by huge numbers of impressionable, ingenious young people, can form a mesh network with its peers, and comes with a variety of useful F/OSS software.

So when the kid grows up, and maybe due to his computer fluency perhaps starts living in a "higher" society that uses MS software, overpriced "Extreme Edition" hardware, and ISP's that want to rape their customers and extort service providers while providing service an order of magnitude poorer than can be found in places like Japan... well, perhaps this person will be less inclined to even think of putting up with this crap?

...I think this laptop idea is brilliant.

Ghandi had the right idea (4, Insightful)

Chairboy (88841) | about 8 years ago | (#15063209)

"First, they ignore you.

Then they laugh at you.

Then they fight you.

Then you win."

It appears that we are currently transitioning from 2 to 3.

A Potential Downside (2, Insightful)

Hellboy0101 (680494) | about 8 years ago | (#15063221)

While in theory, I wholeheartedly support this, in practice, this could have some unintended negative consequences. One aspect of this that is often overlooked, is whether or not these laptops will be used at all. Remember, $100 in the US (and many other countries) is very cheap. In the countries that this is intended for, it's a lot. Perhaps even several months wages. When you are looking at not being able to feed yourself or your family, that laptop will most likely become a bartering tool, or sold outright to get food on the table. Taking it a step further, you may even see people losing their lives over this. In some under-developed countries, it's nothing to take someone's life over something worth a small fraction of the value of these laptops.

Ego, Ego, Ego (2, Insightful)

tinkertim (918832) | about 8 years ago | (#15063265)

Gates doesn't have a problem with a sub $100 laptop. His problem is that someone other than Microsoft will receive the praise associated with it.

As Microsoft continues to trip over their dicks geting VISTA out the door, I for one am glad these kids will get these laptops prior to becoming senior citizens.

I'd like to take a minute to remind everyone that there are areas in the US that aren't much better off than the third world, and could benefit from devices similar to this. Here's a parts list if you'd like to try your hand at constructing one :

P III ULV Single Board Computer with 10/100 NIC, USB and I/O riser for IDE and LCD : $65 , these usually come with a power supply.

128 MB SODIMM $30

Linux (free)

LCD : $10 - $15 depending on what you can find on e-bay.

Enclosure : You can use almost anything you want thats non conductive. Get creative.

Throw in a small travelstar drive , keyboard and mouse and you're slightly above the $100 limit, however only by $20 or so. Still much cheaper than conventional. Easy to build.

If you are an educator, you may consider having some of your kids strive to build a project similar to the one featured in this article. I'd love to see Gates go after an army of 12 year olds. Start a pen pal program to go along with it and send their creations where they are needed.. be it Indonesia or Kentucky.

Teach kids to enrich culture, compassion and not (always) their wallets so we limit the amount of future 'Gates' produced.

Is he trying to piss off the world? Or just so self absorbed he doesn't notice he's doing it?

Re:Ego, Ego, Ego (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063322)

And let's not forget that he wants to give laptops to a bunch of illiterate people. "Oh here's your free laptop! Just type in AIDS on the keyboard and you can learn all about it!"

Third world illiterate: "Keyboard? What are all of these symbols?"

Dumb, dumb idea! Technology can't solve all problems! Folks need to understand that!

Why always 'developing countries' (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 8 years ago | (#15063283)

We have people here in our country that cant afford a computer. I guess they dont count?

Not that i think everyone needs one to be 'human' like some people do, but i fail to understand the basic rational of helping others before you help those in your own back yard.

Uhoh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063328)

I got a 4.3 on the processor upgrade rating, but my ram only got a 2.1! Will Vista Home run on this?


$100 PC? Nintedo DS is the answer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15063292)

A few more years and economies of scale, the Nintendo DS will be the $100 PC. Just add a $6 usb keyboard and tweek the lcd to a fullsized 640x480.

Plus you'll be able to play mario cart ds over wifi. Sorry to say but all these mit/benevolent groups have already lost the race.

Or in other words (1, Insightful)

aCapitalist (552761) | about 8 years ago | (#15063306)

Microsoft and/or Intel have no right to criticize because they are Microsoft and/or Intel and we are doing this for "poor children", and we're using open source and we know that open source is great and it doesn't matter what the outcome is because as long as it "feels good" to us MITers and as long as its open source and....
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