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OLPC Wins Popular Science Award

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the little-puter-that-could dept.

Open Source 74

paulmac84 writes "Popular Science has released their Best of What's New 2006 awards. In the computing section the One Laptop Per Child project took home the Grand Prize. From the article: 'The goal of the XO is simple and noble: to give every child a laptop, especially in developing countries, where the machines will be sold in bulk for about $130 apiece. But the One Laptop Per Child nonprofit, formed at MIT, didn't just create a cheap computer. In addition to cutting costs — by designing lower-priced circuitry and using an open-source operating system, among other things — it also improved on the standard laptop by slashing the machine's energy use by 90 percent, ideal for a device that could be charged by hand-cranked power in rural villages.' The Innovation of The Year Award went to 'the alpha nail that makes your home twice as tough'. Sometimes the simple ideas really are the best."

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So when do we get to see the actual product? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803414)

Winning a Popular Science Award is not necessarily a good thing, as most of the prizes tend to go to vaporwares!

Re:So when do we get to see the actual product? (2, Informative)

burns210 (572621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803540)

A late stage beta system (full display, case and hardware) is being built as we speak. The first 1000 machines will be in hands of developers, test countries and the like before the end of the month.

Re:So when do we get to see the actual product? (1)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803692)

AFAIK, guys from linuxbios (I'm lurking their mailing list) already have it.

Re:So when do we get to see the actual product? (2, Informative)

burns210 (572621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803716)

There are "A-test" out in circulation. About 500 in the world. B-test boards are pretty rare (relatively) and are mostly in the lab still. The full laptops betas (case, display, etc) are being assembled for the first time this month.

The A-test board is likely what LinuxBIOS has, because b-test and the new systems are using an OpenFirmware-based solution.

A better goal: One water well per village (0)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803422)

Yup, I understand that some people think OLPC will make for a better world. But this is geek thinking. However for the poor in rural villages, there's much more need for more basic things like clean water and other non-geeky needs.

Abraham Maslow never mentioned laptops (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803446)

For 130 dollars you can probably immunize a child against most contagious diseases.

Re:Abraham Maslow never mentioned laptops (3, Insightful)

patrixmyth (167599) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803522)

So go spend $130 on immunizing children. If you don't like what they're doing to make the world a better place, then go make it better your own way. Maslow didn't tell us how to make our world better, just what motivates our basic self-interest.

Re:Abraham Maslow never mentioned laptops (1)

dalutong (260603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804836)

Yes, but it won't include any capacity building. These laptops can help you learn and use that education to make more money in the future. It's a "teach a man to fish" kind of thing.

Re:Abraham Maslow never mentioned laptops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16806076)

These laptops can help you learn

Teachers help you learn. Not laptops.

Re:Abraham Maslow never mentioned laptops (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16806668)

Teachers help you learn. Not laptops.

Anything that delivers information to you helps you learn. Books help you learn. Computers help you learn. Looking at the world around you helps you learn.

Teachers are (ideally) people who focus on delivering knowledge in the way that facilitates efficient learning, by adapting the information flow to the level and capabilities of the learner. A perfect teacher would choose between directed and self-directed approaches based on what is best for the particular student.

For self-directed learning, a computer is the most powerful and flexible learning tool yet invented by man. It can store vast amounts of information, and provide tools for quickly and efficiently navigating between areas of interest, searching for relevant details, etc. The primary challenge in configuring a computer as a self-directed learning tool is figuring out what information to put in it. If the computer is connected to the Internet, then that problem nearly disappears as well.

For directed learning on a computer, you need educational software that can either adapt automatically, or can be adjusted by the student (or a teacher) as the student progresses. It's likely that a computer will never be as good at this as an expert teacher, but computers are a lot cheaper than teachers, and if used properly can significantly increase the ability of a teacher to handle multiple students. Of course they can also be used to waste time. It's all in the application.

For both types of learning (and the continuum in between), computers not only provide information resources, and tools for testing learning, but they can also provide virtual laboratories that allow students to experiment without expensive apparatus.

If they can get these laptops into the hands of the children and their teachers, and keep them there, and running, I think this project will be of tremendous benefit to the quality of education in impoverished areas of the world. Particularly after one generation of kids grows up with computers and becomes the new teachers.

Re:Abraham Maslow never mentioned laptops (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#16810488)

You seem to know very little about teachers and laptops. Are you, by chance, a teacher?

And for $13,000... (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805016)

You can
-immunize 100 children against those diseases
OR
-give 100 people the ability to access, share and store enough information that they can learn how to develop vaccines themselves, and immunize as many as they need to, not only against currently-known diseases but many others that could crop up... ...you're aware that vaccination is centuries-old technology, right?

Re:And for $13,000... (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16806550)

How would a laptop with no internet connection that's given to a mostly-illiterate population do anything? In case nobody realizes, the only reason a few governments are buying into this program is because someone found a way to steal money from it. This is the only reason ANY third world country buys into ANY foreign aid/infrastructure improvement program. If they actually wanted to increase the educational level of their population, they would be printing books and funding libraries, not buying obsolete computer hardware that will almost certainly collect dust. Teaching third world kids how to program computers seems about as useful as teaching them how to maintain and repair BMWs.

Re:And for $13,000... (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16806914)

heh... yeah. Printing books and carting them out into the jungle is way more cost-effective than loading up, I dunno, a few thousand onto a 5-ounce chip and meshing it with 100 other 5-ounce chips that can instantly duplicate the entire library if you turn the crank a few times.

By the way, what does "obsolete computer hardware" mean in the context of a society with no electricity.

And where did you get the idea that these machines were for software development/programming?

Re:And for $13,000... (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16810582)

Yeah, it's real expensive to print books. That's why I get 3 different phone books and tons of unsolicited catalogs in the mail. And a $100 computer with a cheap tiny LCD display is the best way to read books, especially while you are cranking it. And of course it is absolutely necessary that every computer has a built-in library, because people read hundreds of books at the same time.

Oh, and you must have missed that whole thing about the view source button and whatnot.

Re:And for $13,000... (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 7 years ago | (#16822380)

How would a laptop with no internet connection that's given to a mostly-illiterate population do anything?

... ceterum censeo, those are not 'mostly illiterate population' ... they are the guys that are already successfully competing with you, but you don't realize because you still believe the world is still in shambles after WWII and only US of A is left standing, and if some poor schmuck from the sticks is taking your job it means the evil corporation are quitting on you and going for the lower bidder.

The countries that promised to buy the OLPC gadget are quite developed, and only the difference in the prices for services, which are much cheaper there than in USA, might make you believe they are earning only one tenth of your income. The OLPC is targeted at primary school children from relatively affluent countries, that live relatively comfortable and are quite well fed, but don't see a reason to invest 1000+USD into an overpriced and under-performing device called laptop.

Re:Abraham Maslow never mentioned laptops (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805248)

Well, Brazil aready has the widest immunization program on the World (it reaches a bit more than 90% of children). Can we have the OLPC now, or you'll put other priorities?

Wells don't have DRAM or OLED displays. (-1, Flamebait)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803448)

Yeah, but building water wells in far-away villages doesn't open up a vast new market for computers, electronic components, and software; not to mention creating new economies of scale for products not headed for the Third World.

And besides, water wells are passe; giving some poor kid a laptop looks much more magnanimous -- it looks so much better in the nice glossy annual report under some facile slogan like "Caring for the world." The fact that he'll probably use it as a flashlight more than anything else can be easily ignored.

There are other reasons besides altruism why a whole lot of money got poured into OLPC...

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803454)

Ok, here's an idea.

Maybe we can help villages to drill wells AND we can also help them to get some computer power!

The well and the computer are not mutually exclusive. (Unless the kids in the village decide to throw the computer down the well, of course.)

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803610)

The well and the computer are not mutually exclusive. (Unless the kids in the village decide to throw the computer down the well, of course.)

      Actually, I think that's termed inclusivity.

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803468)

Whenever OLPC pops up someone makes that comment.
What people have to realize is that not every child-in-need has no water and no food. It's all about who you're aiming for, and OLPC is excellent for those who already have can live without too much trouble, but lack the knowledge to escape poverty.

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (1)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803912)

OK, here's a question that occurs to me.

It looks to me like a good deal of money and effort is going into this OLPC project. It's non-profit, but presumably people are being paid for their time, and manufacturing so much hardware must cost a lot.

Was this project preceded by a published study that shows that this is the best way to spend all that money in order to benefit the intended recipients? Or did the people running this project just decide to "do computers" because that was the field they happened to be working in?

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824754)

I think most of the people at MIT that are working on this are heavily into both computers and education. That said, this whole thing is essentially a big educational research project. Presumably the individual departments of education of the various nations are doing pilot studies, since they're the ones who are spending most of the money.

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803490)

I bet a neat idea for the crank handle (since it will be external) is to hook a light or battery/light up to it. (LED for best efficiency). Now not only can you use the crank to power the laptop, you can have home lighting!

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (1)

Sebastian Jansson (823395) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803534)

How about we give them computers, so they can learn how to make their own wells?

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (3, Insightful)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803536)

Exactly. Hell, laptops don't even seem to help students in industrial nations. One of my cousins goes to a private school (in Sydney) where every student is required to have a laptop, from what he says everyone just uses them to waste time gaming :p. I go to the university of Sydney and suprisingly few people carry laptops around. Nobody in my 3rd year physics classes does, and only one (out of 20 or so) in my computational physics class does. However, USYD has ready access to computing facilities for all the students anyway, perhaps if that wasn't supplied students would feel more of a need for their own laptop.

One of the things we need to realise is that we use computers mainly as tools for dealing with a modern world. We need to do banking, so many of us use internet banking, many shop online because the service is available, we type reports on computers because we're involved in work/studies which require them. None of these things are required by a mostly agricultural society attempting to exist without enough clean drinking water.

OLPC is a great idea, but only because the people who came up with it exists in a world where laptops are a usefull tool. If you want to help their education send them books. I've heard reports form people working on a Christian missionary ship the Doulos and quite often when they arrive in a poor country teachers will go to the ships bookshop and whatever they've got end up being that year's material.

Anyway, there's probably someone on Earth who will benefit from OLPC, and it seems a lot of good engineering was achieved through the project, but I believe it's too early for it to be usefull to most of its intended audience.

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (5, Insightful)

Drogo007 (923906) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803616)

"If you want to help their education send them books."

Isn't something like OLPC the perfect medium for distributing books? Instead of one book in that volume of space, dump hundreds or thousands on it. Suddenly distributing useful books to the world becomes much easier.

People go on about how useless these would be to the average third world person. But combined with some basic education and the proper set of software, these could be the most incredibly useful things concieved of. Health problems? Pull up the medical journals/textbooks stored on the OLPC. Agricultural Problems? Pull up information on farming, wells, animal husbandry, etc.

The way PopSci described the laptops, they're low power tools that don't share a whole awful lot in common with what your average slashgeek thinks of when you say the word "laptop". But as the parent poster alluded to, they make an absolutely perfect way to get useful information to the third world in a very widespread way.

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803660)

Not true! I know of at least two people in that class usually carry their laptops around.

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (1)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803570)

Yes, but what do we do for the villages that already have wells? Do we let them wait until our global hunt for the last village without a well has finished?

My dream scenario: (1)

mano_k (588614) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803576)

Give the laptops to the girl children and point out some websites about emancipation, human rights and birth control!
That would be a big step in solving one of the biggest problems humanity faces.

And it would realy annoy the fundamentalists...

Non-geeky needs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803600)

Are you trying to say that exposure to the vast collection of pr0n on the internet isn't a basic need these poor children must have in order to survive? Oh the humanity!

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (4, Insightful)

Denial93 (773403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803618)

Most poor do not live in rural villages. Estimates put around 1 billion of them into suburban slums. So they can buy water and food if they have money. But the rampant lack of it means no one has interests to protect against those who thrive from the situation, i.e. gangs. What these people need most is some means of income that doesn't involve crime and, chiefly, is accessible to a larger fraction of the population than just the mobile, young, single males who work as day-laborers downtown. I.e. they need some viable economy, and while they don't need to compete with the big inner-city businesses, they need to be strong enough to warrant some police protection and allow some resistance against gang rule.

I do think processing power is an important part of that, because it makes possible small businesses and social organization (unions, churches, even soccer leagues), thus creating a stable society where it plainly doesn't exist now. Most significantly, masses of laptops are more likely than individual valuable items (like wells) to escape seizure and monopolization by those with the means to just take things. Even if One Laptop Per Child only allowed teenagers to mass-produce copies of current movies and sell them downtown, that's a move into the direction of equal distribution of wealth, and a stable society.

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (2, Insightful)

jbrader (697703) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803656)

I am really tired of this argument. Of course its geek thinking the people who thought of it are geeks, so they're using the expertise they have to help out. If your a doctor than stop bitching and use your expertise to help out in some different way.

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (1)

yurnotsoeviltwin (891389) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803794)

Yup, I understand that some people think OLPC will make for a better world. But this is geek thinking. However for the poor in rural villages, there's much more need for more basic things like clean water and other non-geeky needs.

In the short term, this is true, and those sorts of needs can't be ignored, but things like the OLPC project are aimed more at the long term. If we don't give these countries the intellectual resources to become self-sufficient and use their natural resources well, then the western world will have to keep on supplying clean water and vaccinations for the next couple centuries. Of course, you need to strike a balance in order to make sure there are people left in these countries by the time the long-term charities take effect, but you certainly can't claim that long-term projects don't do any good.

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (2, Insightful)

Alef (605149) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804136)

Yup, I understand that some people think OLPC will make for a better world. But this is geek thinking. However for the poor in rural villages, there's much more need for more basic things like clean water and other non-geeky needs.

This argument is repeated over and over again. Yes, there is no doubt there is a need for clean water in many areas of the world, but there is also a need for education and basic access to information technology. Why is there a problem that some people are trying to mitigate the second problem? It is not like we don't have enough resources to do both -- if we really wanted to, and there weren't a lot of political and sociological problems impeding it.

There are endless other places where we throw away resources that could have been used to help people in need. The OLPC project isn't exactly the first I would complain about.

How to dig wells (2, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804202)

Try to give a poor country $100 million to dig wells and see where the money goes. A ministry for water would be created, contracts with earth moving companies would be signed, and before the first well were dug the money would be gone. The problem with pure water isn't the investment needed. The biggest problems are the corruption of the government that keeps people poor and lack of education on the importance of pure water.


So, why are these laptops different? Because of two fundamental things. First, no money is being given to Third World governments, only the technology to use the investment. Second, computers give poor people something they need much more than clean water: information and education.


After all, it's not like cheap water purifiers don't exist. With a computer they can buy their water purifier online [paodeacucar.com.br] for the equivalent of less than US$18.

Re:How to dig wells (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804748)

Yes, I suppose they buy it online with their PayPal account, which is linked to their debit account at the Bank of Fucking Imaginary.

Re:A better goal: One water well per village (1)

dalutong (260603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804888)

Look at Grameen Bank, whose founder just won the nobel peace prize. It provides micro-loans so people can start businesses, etc. The guy started with 27 dollars but now Grameen Bank has millions and millions of outstanding loans. How did he manage it? He didn't go, "oh, these people need water. Here's 27 dollars, go get yourself some water." He said, "how do provide the poor with opportunities to make more money?" So he gets more money because from the interest on his loans and he is then able to provide more loans. In 20-something years he has helped 40 million people move away from poverty.

That's what this laptop has the potential to do -- give people education, IT training, and access to the world that will allow them to help themselves. There was an article (I even think it was on slashdot) long ago about how a man had setup a kiosk next to his office somewhere in India and, within days, the local kids were proficient in using it. That kind of computer access provides you with computer skills (which are necessary for employment in the 21st century) and with information to feed curious minds.

What's really exciting is that it's a piece of technology that is built with the underdeveloped world in mind. It doesn't depend on the kinds of infrastructure we're used to, like having system admins available and having reliable power. That's why it has automatic ad-hoc network setup and a foot pedal to provide power when the power goes out. For too long people have assumed the rest of the world needs the same exact technology we need. Or, if they need something different, they need some junky crap from the past. The reality is that they need just as modern stuff, just with different considerations. Look at Motorola's Motofone -- uses e-ink to keep power usage down (since power is unreliable around the world so you can't charge your battery as much.) Even has an accessory to attach to your bike wheel to charge it.

Cost Cutting Methods (1)

58797A7A79 (795378) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803460)

It'd be nice to see some of the cost cutting ideas carry over to computers sold over here; I'm by no means poor enough or remote enough (or young enough for that matter) to qualify for olpc, but at the same time, the idea of sufficiently upgrading my current system has been well outside my grasp for some time now.

Re:Cost Cutting Methods (1)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16806586)

the idea of sufficiently upgrading my current system has been well outside my grasp for some time now.

The OLPC are very low end laptops, not remotely like a full featured one.

They serve a minimal purpose, they are just a first step.

You might read the specs and find the PC your using is better than a OLPC unit.

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

On another note to get PC parts cheap, you might hit Ebay.com and www.pricewatch.com

This Nail ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803462)

... looks a lot like that (c) [maxbahr.de] Colornagel.

CC.

Re:This Nail ... (1)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804724)

You mean a ring shank nail? You're right, nothing new there. RTFA to see the other features (max dia middle, twisted top, larger head) and why they're important.

What's New This Year... (0, Offtopic)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803470)

Last night we crossed over 16,777,216 comments in the database. The wise amongst you might note that this number is 2^24, or in MySQLese an unsigned mediumint. Unfortunately, like 5 years ago we changed our primary keys in the comment table to unsigned int (32 bits, or 4.1 billion) but neglected to change the index that handles parents.

Slashdot editors discovered a lost mediumint that prompted the community to flog itself in unthreaded frustration. Commander Taco reassured the community that no dupes will come out of this event. But inquiring minds are not sure about that.

Linux wins again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803484)

Talk about an embarrassment of riches. In any case, winning is better than losing. Way to go Linux.

Too bad children won't be able to view the videos- (1)

itismike (582070) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805290)

- on the PopSci.com website because they're encoded with proprietary codecs... When will web designers decide to publish using open formats? I'm straying from the topic, but is there a favorite video format for us to rally around? Flash is nice, but also proprietary - has anyone used the Democracy Player http://www.getdemocracy.com/ [getdemocracy.com] ?

The best idea of all... (1)

brado77 (686260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803500)

One laptop per child who works, saves money, and pays for it.

So how long till Jack Thompson... (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803554)

.. writes a furious letter to Popular Science, complaining that this is giving children access to violent video games and that he's personally go round to each child's house and stomp on their laptops?

Re:So how long till Jack Thompson... (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804692)

Sounds like something he'd do, not bothering to do enough research to see that Linux doesn't support "games"

Re:So how long till Jack Thompson... (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805356)

Hey, I hope you're not underestimating the mind-corrupting potential of Tux Racer.

laptops in developing countrys? (1)

avb85 (1007803) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803584)

Are these laptops edible? Do they come with anti-theft protection?

Re:laptops in developing countrys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804828)

Are these laptops edible?


Americans... Not everything is edible.

Re:laptops in developing countrys? (1)

int19h (156487) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805146)

If you keep feeding a person, do you really help that person and yourself in the long run?
OLPC is a great supplement to helping developing nations. They are not edible, but over time they might be helpful in putting food on a few tables.

Re:laptops in developing countrys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16805426)

give a person a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a person to fish and you feed him for a lifetime

Re:laptops in developing countrys? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#16813578)

Build a man a fire, he'll be warm for an evening..

cover him with gasoline and strike a match over him, he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

I just don't get the point (3, Insightful)

Kuciwalker (891651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803598)

I understand and agree with the point that many of the places where these are going already have fresh water, food, etc. and investments in education are absolutely critical to their growth. But how are laptops really going to help at all? Computers are magical educational devices. You need good teachers for computers to be effective at all in the classroom. I don't know how much training teachers in these countries have using computers as educational tools. And then, why not just have a few shared computers? I don't think there's a single Western country that even approaches one laptop per child, and that's because they aren't the alpha and omega of education like some think them to be.

Re:I just don't get the point (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803826)

Computers are magical educational devices. You need good teachers for computers to be effective at all in the classroom. I don't know how much training teachers in these countries have using computers as educational tools

Firstly young kids are amazingly tech savvy. Secondly the most important use case for this laptop is as an electronic book reader. In an environment where paper text books the ability to share electronic copies of reference material is very valuable.

In any event, we will know how this went in a year or two. I can't wait to find out how it goes.

The point is they'll be able to read slashdot... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 7 years ago | (#16813278)

The point is that they'll be able to read slashdot and be just as ejumacated as YOU!

Re:I just don't get the point (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#16813686)

Third, it will teach these children that "firstly" and "secondly" aren't words.

- RG>

Re:I just don't get the point (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 7 years ago | (#16806274)

I would imagine that it takes them about as long to be useful for all those things as it took the industrialized nations. Possibly less.

As it currently stands, there are already people who have used and know computers, just very few of them, and their job opportunities are limited by their general lack. Once these start coming into use, the population segment that is most tech savvy (many children, some adults, pretty much anyone who is already familiar with computers) will start developing its own infrastructure and spreading usage to others.

I realize that sounds awfully optimistic, but that's essentially what happened here. It's a lot less unlikely than it sounds.

Re:I just don't get the point (1)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16806540)

But how are laptops really going to help at all?

Have you ever sat down in front of your computer by yourself
and gone online and learned something ?

I think the best lesson is teaching ppl to teach themselves,
until recently that required shipping tons of books all
over the planet and cutting down entire forests.

Also understand this is not the final version/incarnation of OLPC,
better things are to come, this is in truth just phase 1.

Wifi via stratosphere based solar powered balloon platforms may be next, etc etc.

This program will be exploited (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803678)

So I guess they plan to give or sell these laptops to schools, not individuals right, because giving poor kids laptops would be a waste. We will see OLPC laptops on ebay the day they start giving them out if they aren't very selective in who gets them.

If they don't have electricity I really don't see how they are going to need laptops.. cmon MIT get practical.

This is a classic case of how industrialized culture is completely out of touch with developing nations. These people need an entire infrastructure to use computers. It's like giving them cars but not building them roads or gas stations.

Seems to me what they need are libraries and schools, not laptops. In most developing countries people access computers at libraries and internet cafe type places. Developing cultures are much more community based so they don't mind sharing as much even in industiralized areas like Cario internet is still expensive so community internet shops are the way average people can use computers. In this day and age what point is it to give someone a computer if they can't get on the net? They are missing the entire experience and the most powerful and useful feature of computers. DOWNLOADING PORN !!

I guess it is a nobel effort at least, probably misguided however. We'll see.

 

Re:This program will be exploited (1)

zeropointburn (975618) | more than 7 years ago | (#16821004)

A couple of things to remember:
It's powered by a hand crank. That's why they had to cut the power consumption by 90%.
Nobody in the so-called 'developed' world would buy one of these. Read the specs.
One of the concurrent avenues of program development was in open-source e-textbooks. The recipients of these machines will be getting an ebook reader with a whole scholastic curriculum and then some. It can hit the net, but most of these places won't have net access for quite a while.
Incidentally, packet radio is seeing an upswing in Africa. Since the machines are using Linux, they have kernel support for such devices. Thanks, Linus, for having the foresight to not throw out any useful bits of code.

I dig the tape (1)

Fonce (635723) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803766)

From second TFA: finally, a tape that no hooker can break!

Sorry, I saw Borat tonight, I'm a little punchy.

the West developed fine without laptops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803782)

We have rational philosophical foundations, rule of law, and a culture recognizing that you can't just exploit people to death. We have freedom.

MIT has come to symbolise technocracy; that is its right, but it does so in its rational self-interest: so that the institution, and its members, may earn reputation and money. The moment it pretends to be altruistic, it becomes just another bunch of intelligent elites paving the road to hell with good intentions.

The world is full of single-minded crusaders, but they are curtailed in the West by a rational culture; it is only when they have the chance to exert their philosophy in the underdeveloped world that the chaos begins.

20 years of laptops, and 10 years of global Internet, have not made the world a much better place. They are tools, sometimes useful, though much of the time introducing nothing but unnecessary complexity for its own sake - that's fine if you enjoy it, but crusading is just that: imposing what you love because you think everyone needs it.

A parting consideration: what use is a tool that cannot be fixed? In the past 20 years, electronics have finally reached the stage where it is not just difficult, but impossible, for consumers to do anything but the most elementary repairs. This lack of self-reliance is harmful enough for us, but much more disabling in a developing nation.

table has turned (1)

rogtioko (1024857) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803924)

Funny how these 100$ systems don't seem like the type to take tons of time loading. I remember 13 years ago watching Doom II install on a mac and take an hour and half more or less. With what a person who has never done computing might do it'd seem blazing fast and like a movie.

Re:table has turned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804124)

It wasn't 13 years ago, and that's likely due to either a crappy Mac, or crappy porting of the game, or you were using floppies (crappy Mac, in that case?). It should have taken less than ten minutes, including sound and control setup.

As far as load times go, we've actually gotten worse as time has gone on, of course. But, it's all bloated software. Try a HDD install of Puppy to see how fast things can load when the bloat is gone, and the HDD mostly removed as a bottleneck.

With no flexibility in the hardware (except having pretty much every USB device driver in the kernel, I hope), and the use of flash for main storage (fast seeks), the OS and apps for the OLPC laptops should load pretty fast.

It's an investment in communities & their chil (1, Insightful)

maggard (5579) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805296)

Yes, Children need housing, food, water, medical care, parenting, etc.

Nobody has ever argued against this.

But children also need an education.

They need it, their communities need for them to be educated, as a global society we need them to be educated.

Furthermore, not all developing nation children are starving refugees in camps. Many are rural children living in stable housing, going to school part of the time. Or urban children in comparable circumstances, with water & food but facing little upward mobility.

The OLPC projct is a way of getting these children tools. Electronic texts. Texts that they can download for free. Text in their native languages. Reference texts, ones they can use to apply to their, and their families, lives. It's about providing them with spreadsheets and a basic mathematics curriculum. The latest news in their communities, in their languages. It's about them communicating with their peers. It's about browsing the web and learning about the world beyond their immediate view.

The budget for educating these children is typically small, often less then US$20/year.

The OLPC project is a way of stretching that money, by delivering a tool that can read many things, updated, freely, throughout a community. It will focus attention on children and education in their communities. The children will have, for the first time, a tool they can use to make their own materials, to share with their peers & parents & teachers, and to pass on to the children after them.

I'd have thought the /. community would understand the importance of access to tools one can learn with, build with, get into and interact with, finding other folks passionate about the same areas of interest. What has driven /.'ers also drives developing world children.

It's an experiment. But it's an experiment based on solid research that has gone on before it. The goal is not usurping funds for other priorities but building on local and international resources to provide the children with a multiple use tool that can they & their communities can use to directly address their educational needs.

I know it is asking a lot of some /. posters, but before mindlessly posting with complaints about what you think the OLPC is about how about investing 5 minutes into going their websites and learning about the research that has gone before it and the thinking that has gone into it.

Oh, and this isn't only for developing world children, also the children of Massachusetts.

Re:It's an investment in communities & their c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16806498)

The budget for educating these children is typically small, often less then US$20/year.

The OLPC project is a way of stretching that money, by
... consuming the entire budget for a primary school education, and then some for one finicky electronic gadget, before any loaded content is even paid for. Sounds like a good plan, when you put it that way.

Re:It's an investment in communities & their c (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16807440)

The children of Massachusetts need food, clean water, and shelter before they need $100 laptops! Many children on the mean streets of Wellesley, MA die of starvation or exposure every day, or join local warlords as child soldiers so they can get a few scraps to feed themselves. How are these laptops going to help them?

-A MA resident

Alpha Nail... (0)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805910)

The Innovation of The Year Award went to 'the alpha nail that makes your home twice as tough'. Sometimes the simple ideas really are the best."

Yes, simple ideas are best... LIKE USING SCREWS INSTEAD OF NAILS.

You'd think for hundreds of thousands of dollars, construction companies would spend one second longer to actually make your house hold together... But no.

Tell all the libertarians, this is their system (no goverment forcing them to improve safety/quality), at it's best.

Re:Alpha Nail... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16806392)

Yes, simple ideas are best... LIKE USING SCREWS INSTEAD OF NAILS.

Actually, nails are used for their shear strength, not their tensile strenth. Screws are mostly good for tensile strength, and realistically no screw is going to have more tensile strength than the proper way to attach two non-horizontal butting surfaces which is with metal plates or hangers that are nailed or bolted to each surface. Framed houses are basically "foundation (floor walls)+ roof". Siding is nailed to the framed walls to provide rigidity through the shear strength of the nails, and the load is transmitted directly through the top plates of the walls down the studs to the bottom plates, and on to the next level. The floors are nailed down to the walls to provide shear strength against sliding off. Siding overlaps floors to attach the walls below and above.

linux weenies (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805972)

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Image:EToys_-_new_displa y.jpg

Logging in and running X (or equivalent) as root.

Stop with the WATER WELLS (1)

Tama00 (967104) | more than 7 years ago | (#16809600)

Obviously if they have electricity to charge and use the laptops they are gonna have Water. Most of you people think most 3rd world countries dont have food/water. Well they do, or they would be dead. You got this image in your head from what they feed you on TV. Donate to X chartiy to save Y kids from dying due to lack of water. Im not saying that everyone does have access to clean water. But im sure if they have televisions and microwave ovens then they got water. The next step is to boost these kids education through the use of computers.

That LCD screen type would be nice on my cellphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16830506)

... since currently I can't see anything on it when using it outdoors, and they don't seem to offer old-good black and white screens anymore ...
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