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The True Cost of One Laptop Per Child

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the good-idea-falls-short dept.

356

An anonymous reader writes "The '$100 laptop' Negroponte is hoping to put in the hands of millions of kids in developing nations may actually be more like the '$900 laptop.' From the article, 'Jon Camfield says...once maintenance, training, Internet connectivity, and other factors are taken into account, the actual cost of each laptop rises to more than $970. This, he says, doesn't even take in to account the additional costs associated with theft, loss, or accidental damage. Camfield contends that such an expensive undertaking should at least be field-tested in pilot programs designed to establish the viability of the project before asking countries to invest millions, or perhaps billions, of dollars.'" Newsforge and Slashdot are both owned by OSTG.

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356 comments

when you want to change the world ... (5, Insightful)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168446)

... ask what cannot be done and then go do it.

Re:when you want to change the world ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168796)

here, here.

Not enough people saying this anymore. Sure do love all the apathetic, cynical, basement-dwelling, so-called geeks of the world.

Something tells me... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168456)

... the Nigerians won't have any problems paying for theirs.

Re:Something tells me... (0, Troll)

aetherworld (970863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168774)

Please take your unqualified ranting and put it you know where. kthnx.

Re:Something tells me... (1)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168944)

this is the joke

this is your head

Re:Something tells me... (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168820)

They'll probably end up getting theirs for free like everyone else, then sell them on E-Bay for 100 times their value,...

Re:Something tells me... (1)

Deflatamouse! (132424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169060)

Anyone that knowingly pays 100 times the value for anything is an idiot!

Laptop Worth (5, Insightful)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168472)

This is retarded. The laptops cost $100. I don't go around telling people my laptop cost me $1500 bucks when I only spent $700 on it. Training costs money. Duh. But this project is not about training. Its about providing access to a tool.

Re:Laptop Worth (1, Insightful)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168542)

Agreed. I guess if you offered this guy a free car but told him he would have to pay for gas, repairs and insurance he would turn the offer down and say it wasn't worth it.

Re:Laptop Worth (2, Insightful)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169090)

According to Edmunds.com, more than half the cost of a car during a 5-year useful life is gas, insurance, maintainence, etc. It may not be worth it. And - back to TFA - if you are a poor 3rd-world peasant, 100 dollars worth of food or medicine or electrical wiring may be the far better deal.

Re:Laptop Worth (1)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168710)

A tool you can't afford to learn how to use or maintain is functionally equivalent to no tool at all. If $100/laptop really just gets these countries a bunch of $100 bricks, it's better that they spend the money on things more useful to them.

The entire POINT... (3, Informative)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168756)

...is to be ABLE to train people on it, so they can learn more valuable skills, and also have access to more information. Further, "internet connectivity" isn't absolutely necessary; rather than run broadband to hundreds of points out in nowhere land, things can get started by setting up an isolated LAN with a single web server. Ship 'em a couple of 250 gig HDs full of goodies, like textbooks and freeware and novels and movies, and they'll be okay until the broadband is in place.

Re:The entire POINT... (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168856)

Ship 'em a couple of 250 gig HDs full of goodies, like textbooks and freeware and novels and movies, and they'll be okay until the broadband is in place.

So essentially, you set up a couple thousand isolated file sharing network servers in remote African villages, load them with software and other stuff, let the students freely download and share stuff on their village's server, and by the time the internet catches up to them, the **AA can sue them for illegal distribution of copyrighted content! Brilliant idea!

Re:The entire POINT... (3, Insightful)

Grouchysmurf (989259) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168938)

Shadow,

I understand the ideal and the sentiment, and no doubt in many places it'll work like a charm. But in one of the cities mentioned, Rio, they already have more than enough computers at the childrens center (in Rosina, the largest favela). The bosses of the favelas can't get people to risk the violence (which isn't even around the childrens center) to go give classes and training.

In Dhaka, another location I've heard mentioned, one of the industries is assembling computers. The problem there is that there's no sewers, no clean water, nothing in the slums (they walk through raw waste to go to work). There's a lot of decent coders there, as English is the administrative language, but for people in the slums??? There's no law there, and the children aren't educated at all. So for other than the upper middle class (which isn't much), the offer of machines that'll be sold or stolen is just exploiting their poverty.

I don't personally approve here unless there's more of a plan than hand outs for the cameras. The third world isn't a zoo, and unless the MIT people are going to go the full distance they shouldn't go period, as they'll cause more harm than good to the people they say they want to help.

Or drop back to Bikenet (4, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169104)

... "internet connectivity" isn't absolutely necessary; rather than run broadband to hundreds of points out in nowhere land, things can get started by setting up an isolated LAN with a single web server

Or good old "sneakernet", where you carry the disk (or memory stick) from one machine to another when you want to transfer some info.

I was here when broadband was a guy on a bus with a backpack full of floppies, dialing toll-call long-distance from Michigan to Indian Hill Il so I could exchange email (at dollars a call) was a breakthrough in connectivity, and changing resistors on the modem board to raise it from 110 to 300 baud was a major bump in bandwidth. We got a lot of stuff done in those days, too. It was MUCH better than NOTHING. This is the kind of thing people used as they developed stuff that was better.

Third-world countries have already done "networking" by mounting a battery-powered computer plus WiFi AP on a bike and riding a cricuit from town to town. At each town the local machine(s) swap files (including email) with the one on the bike as it goes by, and one of the towns has a connection to the rest of the world. The latency may be severe but the bandwidth of a big hard disk on a bicycle is more than adequate to support serious networking for a province, while the local skills are developed to put in their own successor network.

It's not just a toy. Email-by-bike is a major labor saving versus paper mail. That cost saving can be used both to enable more communication and to free hands for creating other value. And by creating a community of users who'd like more an d better, you KNOW that one of the first targets will be to improve it further.

How long before people in villages connected by "bikenet" decide they want something better, find out how to build pringles-can or big-ugly-dish antennas, and start hopping their WiFi over the hills between? B-)

That's how WE got the internet in the first place: being unsatisfied with the early, slow, expensive ways of networking and building ever better, faster, cheaper-per-bit upgrades. Why shouldn't people in third world countries be able to do something analogous on their own, once they can get their hands on the necessary technology?

Re:Laptop Worth (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168778)

True. But it is fairly arrogant of a student in the west to assume that he knows so much better than the education ministeries that have decided that this is a good investment for their countries, particularly when his assumptions are badly flawed (such as assuming that these countries can't afford to pay for the OLPC boxes without taking out loans)

Re:Laptop Worth (2, Insightful)

Grouchysmurf (989259) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169024)

This is a fair point. To what extent is it appropriate to ask for accountability from the ministers in famously corrupt countries. If the machines show up in retail stores, or are re-exported, how should MIT respond?

Re:Laptop Worth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168822)

What? You mean we shouldn't calculate the TCO for these laptops? Clearly the cost of food for these children who are cranking power should be included in the total cost of ownership. And in the total cost of the food we should include cost of transportation. And because of that transportation will use coal / oil based energy, we should actually also calculate in the cost of global warming. In the long run these laptops will kill us all. What's the cost of whole world, all the people and everything? I say, priceless.

Re:Laptop Worth (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168868)


--this project is about politicians having access to some publicity. It is very similar tot he Toy Drives: "Bring your new, unopened toys to..." I worked a church charity that collected used toys, fixed and cleaned then distributed to POOR people. The kids were very happy. We did not provide extra room for photo-ops for bureaucrats, nor a form for tax deductions so I guess it was not a real charity. For many years I have fixed up Junker comps I get from co-workers, buy cheap at Goodwill and the like, slap 98SE, or an old WIN2K install on it, a browser and a email client and GIVE the thing to folks I know who could use it. poor folks. Again. kids get a happy look (put a collection of old EGA games like Commander Keen, or Major Stryker on them and you are now their absolute hero! :) I have heard that 90% of the eco waste from Hi-tech ends up in the 3rd world. You want to ADD to that? Why not refurb and reuse?

OLPC is a boondoggle (-1, Flamebait)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168474)

As I said a while ago [codemonkeyramblings.com] , with hardware that low-powered, it becomes mostly a replacement for pen and paper, not something to use as a foundation for really teaching much cool stuff. The fact that it is also going to end up being an extremely expensive program doesn't surprise me either. $970 per kid is a lot for this thing no matter how you look at it. From an American POV, we'd call that a wasteful social program. To a third world country or one that is very much struggling to really become a first world country, it's a very, very expensive program to not do a pilot program.

You want to help the poor do cool things abroad? Follow Muhammad Yunus' [wikipedia.org] example. His micro-credit system will probably do 20x more in the long run to raise the quality of life in the countries that follow his model than the OLPC could ever even dream of being part of.

OLPC at Least Gives Hope (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168590)

You want to help the poor do cool things abroad?
Yep! I sure do!

Follow Muhammad Yunus' example. His micro-credit system will probably do 20x more in the long run to raise the quality of life in the countries that follow his model than the OLPC could ever even dream of being part of.
So you want me to develop a micro-credit model for poor nations? Because I'm a computer scientist. When will you get it through your head that these are computer scientists trying to do something within their reach for these people? Seriously, we're not wasting an economist's time nor could your average economist even do that. I hate to break it to you, but what your hero Yunus did, I cannot. I apologize for my sever shortcomings.

I'm confused here, do you want me to become super rich and donate to these micro-economic programs? Are you telling me to just magically become an economic genius? I'm sure this guy is a great speaker too, are you expecting me to become that? This guy invented a great banking system, am I just supposed to copy him? Seriously, your comment leaves me quite confused.

Thanks for the suggestion. Keep trying to deter people who are only trying to do what they are best at to help other people. Spread the FUD, keep it up, bro.

Quiet Shill! (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168638)

The hardware is not that low powered. Secondly, you just take the $970 figure as fact with no scrutiny. You really must be a shill for someone. Maybe Microsoft? They are creating a competitor of OLPC now. This is not a wasteful program. It is a great way to get technology in the hands of poor students. It doesn't need an Internet connection because it is built to work as a mesh network. It will not need training because that is the point of these things. Students will teach themselves how to use these things. Once they learn how to use a simple User Interface this knowledge will carry over to other types of interfaces. Just like you and I learn to use a computer on Windows 3.1 and now use XP with no problem. So the whole premise of the article is ludicrous! This is not a purchase for a company. This is a purchase for students to learn on.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168674)

I learned to compute on a system with about the same computing power as today's handheld calculators. If you're going from nothing to a laptop that can handle Apache, g++, Java, perl, TCP/IP and comes with all the documentation you need to learn to use them, you've got everything you need to function as a programmer and to run your own network with or without Internet connectivity.

Micropay is nice for starting up businesses (employers), OLPC is nice for providing the IT workforce for businesses (employees). It shouldn't have to be either-or -- they complement each other.

Re:OLPC is a boondoggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168862)

> You want to help the poor do cool things abroad? Follow Muhammad Yunus' example.
> His micro-credit system will probably do 20x more in the long run to raise the
> quality of life in the countries that follow his model than the OLPC could
> ever even dream of being part of.

Yes, these micro-credit schemes are probably the most effective way of
improving the lives of the people that get the credits.

But a lot of people in really poor areas use them to buy a mobile phone with them,
that is either used as a base of their livelihood(e.g. by selling single phonecalls), or as a great improvement for their business (e.g. a midwife, or even a poor farmer that gets a call from his cousin in town when the price of produce has risen).

So why not let these people find out on their own how to use a technology that everybody in developed countries has found indispensable over time?

Re:OLPC is a boondoggle (1)

j35ter (895427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168884)

From my own experience, I can tell you that a "low power" machine tends to *teach* while a high end machine makes a great toy! A computing devices purpose is to ... compute. I cant wait to see some bright hackers squeezing the last clock cycle out of this machine. <br>BTW, how many "developers" still know how to code in x86 assembler...or even try to optimize some inner loop in machine language?<br>Anyone? No?<br> I for myself, mostly work in Python, Java, C++ and C# nowadays. I just miss the nearness to the machine I had when working in C and ASM. <br>Viva 6510,Z80,68000,8086 ... there you learn how to code, my dear .Net monkeys!

The FUDdiest FUD that ever FUDding FUDded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168492)

ULTRAFUD!

Seriously, this is the same goddamn spiel that Microsoft blows out its ass every time it attacks people switching to Linux. Learn to think for yourself, you piece of shit Masters holding GWU grad.

Fuddy Duddy (1)

The Monster (227884) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169068)

"Be vewy, vewy quiet. I'm making cwap up."

What next, we aren't counting the cost of feeding, clothing, and housing the child during the years he's learning enough language skills to be able to understand the computer training? Give me a break. Does anyone list any of this stuff when they advertize their hardware?

Fuzzy Accounting (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168494)

once maintenance, training, Internet connectivity, and other factors are taken into account, the actual cost of each laptop rises to more than $970.

Oh yeah? And if I replace all my locks, give the bum on the corner a buck, rent a whore off the side of the street for 2 hours in my back seat, buy a tank of gas, stop by the bar and buy a round for everyone, and get a bouquet of roses for my wife, I can buy a gallon of milk for $970 too.

Just kidding, this is /., of course I don't have a wife.

Re:Fuzzy Accounting (2, Funny)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168814)

Not only that, but if the laptops get stolen, then they have less maintenance cost. It's a win in that case.

A: I got one of those $100 laptops but it's starting to cost me a fortune.
B: Yeah I had one of those but it was stolen.
A: That must suck.
B: Nah man, your laptop cost you $970 in maintenance and stuff, but mine only cost $450 before it was stolen, so it's cheaper than yours.

Scope of OLPC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168506)

I believe the aim of OLPC project is to provide a laptop to a child. It's not to guarantee against accidental damage, theft, MacGyver rewiring the laptop to become a portable microwave transmitter with AES encryption, etc. I could be wrong though.

Nice to know (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168520)

That this sort of trite is more important than the life of one of the actual innovators of this program. Shame on you slashdot. Though, sadly, I'm not surprised.

http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jh tml?articleID=196602670 [informationweek.com]

A lot of people are assholes (4, Insightful)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168534)

Basically, by rooting for this thing to fail is basically saying you hate children. If you honestly think you can do better, THEN DO IT. This is the only effort on this scale ever attempted to use computers to educate globally. They'd rather kids either not have computers at all or have a full fledged computer that the TCO would be 10,000 dollars (by his metrics). Jesus christ people, if the thing is really as bad as people keep claiming it is, it will fall on its face immediately no thanks to you. You shouldn't want it to fail. However, it seems to be doing pretty well so far. They've got a lot of support from some really smart people. It seems uneducated armchair quarterbacks and competing companies have the biggest beef. Very few people whom complain actually have the goal OLPC does: To make the world a better place.

Re:A lot of people are assholes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168600)

Basically, by rooting for this thing to fail is basically saying you hate children.

Yes, I believe you would be correct in saying that.

Re:A lot of people are assholes (0, Flamebait)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168672)

Actually, I'm enjoying watching it fail because the guy doing it is a PR whore, pure and simple. It's an impossible thing to accomplish (you can't even get an MP3 player for $100), and it's goals are questionable. The only person benefitting is the guy who is trying to get this thing going (Nicholas Negroponte). There's really nothing admirable about this project, and I think that Nicholas Negroponte should get drummed out of MIT for this asinine project.

Re:A lot of people are assholes (1)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168754)

My MP3 player cost $60. Works quite well.

Re:A lot of people are assholes (1)

j35ter (895427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169128)

I saw a 256 MB player for cca. 20$ from Canyon. Being sold all over the Balkans ;)

Re:A lot of people are assholes (1)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168922)

Insightful? Evidence, please.

Re:A lot of people are assholes (1)

leighklotz (192300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168924)

>It's an impossible thing to accomplish (you can't even get an MP3 player for $100)
Huh? I just checked on eBay, "mp3 player," North America, Buy it Now and found tons of new MP3 players under $100.
In fact, this one caught my eye: "Palm Pilot Tungsten E PDA MP3" for $100.

It is pretty much the same thing as the OLPC proposal: if you consider that the Tungsten E is a couple of years old and the OLPC is expecting ~$150 next year and $100 in a couple of years, it looks reasonable. Probably about the same amount of memory within a factor of two or so, and about the same display cost (they're claiming cost reductions in display, but note that the OLPC display size is not that much bigger, maybe 4x).

So, take a run-of-the-mill PDA, add a keyboard, and make the display bigger, and that's pretty much it.
I really don't see why that's impossible, especially if they get orders for a million or so and get Quanta to make it.

Re:A lot of people are assholes (2, Insightful)

Idou (572394) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169146)

Alright, how do you see producing 1,000 units as failure? Would not that be a sign of some success?

I believe there are a lot of sub $100 mp3 players, here [walmart.com] is one.

I do not have enough information to verify the rest of your comment, but based on what I was able to verify, I have no good reason to believe your opinion. Do provide better supportive arguments if you wish to convince anyone here.

Re:A lot of people are assholes (0, Troll)

Poopypuppy (990723) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168832)

Yes true lots of people are assholes. The thing is that a computer does not make the world a better place. People do. All this support for OLPC seems misplaced to me. I also agree with the original post. The PC is not the only cost and whether it is $900 or $250 it is more that $100. Why does every one here seems so set that PC's and technology can save the world. I say bullshit. This world is not vastly better than in the past. In fact a good argument can be made that it is substantially worse. How wonderful it is that the technologically advanced elite know how to best help the poor and underprivileged they help create with their materialism. Why is it that you believe that computers and technology are really what is needed?

Difference between reason and emotion (1)

ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168910)

I don't hate children because I think a social project will fail. Throwing technology or money at a problem rarely solves it. Carefully spending money and implementing technology MAY solve a problem. A First World family can purchase a desktop and an Internet connection for a low cost. If desperate, there are computers with an Internet connection in most libraries. How many people take advantage of MIT's online courses to educate themselves? Certainly there are a few, but is it a majority of the populace? Most people in the first world would rather look up Britney Spears' birthday in Wikipedia than read through some undergraduate math courses. Access is not the same as use. If you can do something, it doesn't mean you will do something.

For most people education is about how much it will add to your weekly paycheck. In order to maintain your skills, you need to use them. In the Third World, there isn't the infrastructure to make use of highly educated people. This means that people with university degrees tend to emigrate to the First World. Hati has an emigration rate of about 90% among those with university degrees.

Re:A lot of people are assholes (1)

Bugs42 (788576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169174)

Basically, by rooting for this thing to fail is basically saying you hate children.
Yep, that's the only possible reason people would be against OLPC. No doubts about the feasibility or anything, nope, it's just pure hatred of those rotten kids. Hell, I bet these same anti-OLPC^W anti-children people can barely find time to post on /. between kicking puppies, breaking toys, and reminding orphans that they have no parents.

$10 says porkThreeWays writes political campaign ads for a living. He's certainly got the blatant if-you-disagree-with-me-you're-pure-evil thing down.

Amazing! Just think of the Intel/Microsoft cost! (4, Funny)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168538)

Averaging the more expensive hardware with the reaming for software, I'm sure the alternative is $2000 or $3000 overall cost per laptop. Thank goodness for open source!

Re:Amazing! Just think of the Intel/Microsoft cost (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168696)

Yeah, you are fucking stupid alright. that's the only thing you got right about you.

According to the facts about how much this project costs you can buy a cheap gateway for about 500 USD. add that to the other elements in the article it's about 1350 USD if you went this route.

do you often feel the need to make up shit to make a point?

Sir, would you like... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168554)

an additional 3 yr warranty that covers for any damage and provides replacement for any failed parts totally free of charge. all these for just for additional $300.00
We also have 5 yr insurance plan for just $5/day towards any unforeseen mental or physical health damage that this might cause you.
We appreciate your business and we would like to offer you Negroponte Credit Card that provides 15% discount on any future products that you buy from us. Remember all this is available for limited time only

Total: $100 laptop + $300 warranty + $200 accessories + $500 insurance - 15% = $900

yeah and how much (4, Insightful)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168584)

Yeah and how much of that wad will go to local business people who figured out they can make a living off it? why is this a bad thing?

Re:yeah and how much (4, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169176)

Yeah and how much of that wad will go to local business people who figured out they can make a living off it? why is this a bad thing?

On behalf of people here in the developing world, I'd like to thank you for having a brain. 8^)

People in my region are currently negotiating for access to the OLPC project, and you can bet your booties that economic spin-offs are one of the top reasons for the IT community supporting this effort. Just about everyone in the private sector likes the idea expressly because of the fact that these things will require support.

The way costs are expressed in this article are extremely disingenuous. The $30 Billion price tag, for example, is assumed to be a monolithic extra cost that would unquestionably have to be borrowed, because, apparently, heaven forbid that a nation like China actually allocate some of the largest cash reserves in the world to this project. Likewise, I'm not sure how this would cause Brasil, India or even Thailand to break out the begging bowl.

Likewise, why is this investment in infrastructure not compared to the huge investments in basic infrastructure that every single developed nation in the world has made - and continues to make? Perish the thought that a developing nation might see the benefit of following the example of every single successful country in the world. Anyone care to make a similar holistic calculation of how much the US, Canada and Western Europe have invested to introduce computers into the classroom?

Sounds to me like the author slept through economics 101 class. Or like FUD, depending on what you consider the author's motive to be. Whatever this is, it is not science, and it's not logic.

It's a real Elmer .... (4, Insightful)

greginnj (891863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168606)

Pure FUDD... If you follow the nested links to the actual hatin' on the OLPC, you find out that most of the $970 figure is a $542 estimate of the cost of internet access, per laptop, spread over 5 years. The other estimates (training, lossage) may be reasonable, but this knocks it into lala land.

Funny How Numbers Work (3, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168610)

In this case, I wonder if it's to discredit the whole idea, or to inflate the perception of the price so Wintel can compete.

(shrug)

Re:Funny How Numbers Work (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168894)

Intel has their "Classmate PC"... which they claim will be $400. Most of the additional expense being the extra hardware needed to run Windows XP... oh and the Trusted Computing TPM that cheap laptops for poor kids absolutely MUST have. After all, what would they do without hardware DRM and iron control by Microsoft/Intel over what can run on the machine?

Are you freakin kidding me? (4, Interesting)

JimDaGeek (983925) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168620)



The "fine" article says

once maintenance, training,...

Training?... Uhh, we are talking about poor people here that would _never_ have a computer let alone training. This is not some stupid business expense that we can write off or do some MS-Magic(tm) and make it look like an MS-Solution(tm) would cost less. We are talking about humans that will get a pretty cheap laptop and will... you know... put in the time to learn what they have been given. We are not talking about "rich" Americans or Europeans where having a computer is expected. These laptops are going to people that would never have a laptop... ever.

It is pretty sick to me that some business idiot would try to justify costs going by typical business expenses.

I know what is coming next. Some MS-Study(tm) will show how the OLPC will be more "cost effective" if Microsoft were paid their fees instead of using Linux.



OLPC is pretty cool. I hope they succeed and do well. I hope the corporate greed of MS doesn't get in the way. However, with the recent activity of MS with regards to the OLPC, MS has their sites set on getting a piece of the pie. That can only mean corporate greed will take over the project and poor kids around the world will suffer because of it. :-(

Re:Are you freakin kidding me? (1)

MrNonchalant (767683) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168976)

He's talking about the support infrastructure. It's my understanding that what Negroponte wants isn't just a device, but also satellite internet and support personnel. I have a hard time believing this would amount to $800, but it will be set up in remote and underdeveloped areas so it's possible that the overhead on that will be high. In this light the suggestion of trials isn't too far off the mark, both to gauge overall feasibility and also to identify kinks early.

wrong context (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168644)

What these naysayers are forgetting is that resource constraints are different in the second world, which is the target market for these laptops. The thing preventing children there from owning computers is the relatively high cost of acquiring hardware, which carries first world prices. There are many, many people just as highly educated as in the first world who given the opportunity to own functional hardware will make good use of it. Most importantly, the lack of computer literacy is a function of the scarcity of computer hardware. A sudden supply of it may well drive demand, particularly if its inquisitive children who get a hold of them.

The most exciting thing is that their computing usage will evolve in a different direction to that of the first world due to PC resource constraints. This is what Microsoft dreads and RedHat dreams of.

So, using this mystery math... (1)

theGreater (596196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168664)

... what's the cost of a regular laptop, or the competing project from Intel? Sounds like a Haggard Sony Enthusiast [penny-arcade.com] to me.

-theGreater.

Re:So, using this mystery math... (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168714)

The only mysterious math here is the $100 for a working, rugged, wireless, mesh-enabled laptop. It's pure media whoring. Always has been, and that's all it's going to amount to.

$970?!!??! (0)

bostons1337 (1025584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168680)

What the hell are they putting in those? Dell has laptops starting at $599. They're obviously doing something retarded.

Re:$970?!!??! (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168896)

It's like quoting the cost of a car over 5 years as "list price + 20k miles / year fuel + servicing etc. etc.".

However, most of the cost over 5 years is "Internet" which is based on "the global average of 20 hours/month of connectivity" (however you have to get it). I can't see that 1 satellite connection per school (once you've got the kit in place and have been using it for a year for $1) is going to cost USD$36.91 or up to USD$56.31 per child.

Some Thoughts (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168694)

Some thoughts:

"The cost is more like $900 per laptop"

What was the hidden cost of rolling out a dozen million Apple II and C64 to a population almost entirely untrained in using and maintaining computers? Has the US economy recovered yet?

"Teachers must be trained on how to use a computer and the internet"
And this is bad how?
Gosh, if we give free books to the kids, we will eventually have to teach them to read ! Shudder...

"Extra money will have to be spent on the network infrastructure"
Why not spent the money on something useful, like fighter jets, or a new, shiny cathedral ?
Once this telecoms infrastructure is in place, these kids will compete for our jobs in call-centers and software development.
Shouldn't we teach them something practical instead, like carving wooden figurines they can sell to tourists?

Important Notes - Original source beyond biased. (3, Informative)

Wanderer1 (47145) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168704)

If you RTFA, and then RTFA the article from which the Newsforge article is derived, you'll find that the source is beyond biased - the news they post makes Fox look "fair and balanced," which I don't believe Fox is.

Newsforge, please allow John Dvorak to do his job. Riling up the geeks is easy to do, but the market isn't that big and John needs to make his paycheck. If John hasn't spouted off about how OLPC will do nothing for the developing world, you can expect him to do so.

$970 for a laptop. That is one hell of a total cost of ownership (TCO) argument. The number is preposterous, and in my experience, most total cost of ownership arguments are bunk because the cost estimates are so inaccurate as to be useless.

W

The "real" real cost of the laptop (2, Insightful)

feranick (858651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168720)

Consider this scenario. You are a windows user. You have been convinced to switch to a Mac. Your new Mac laptop may cost about 1000USD. Then you find out that: 1. All your windows software doesn't work. So you need to buy the version for Mac (office, photoshop...). 2. You decide to run windows on it, so you buy a windows license. 3. Training. Count all these options, and the price of your laptop is twice the original. Does it mean the actual price of the laptop is 2000USD? No. The same goes for OLPC laptop. The machine itself costs 140 USD, period. The infrastructure (networking) and training are something different. Similarly, if you want to upgrade a public library, the cost of a book is the price on the cover, not the price of that plus the price of the infrastructure itself (the building, bills, etc).

Re:The "real" real cost of the laptop (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169122)

Upgrading a library... Have you considered the astronomical cost to train 20 million people in New York city to read, so they can actually use the library?

Two problems I always thought (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168726)

I can buy a decent laptop at Fries Electronics for $450. I'm guessing wholesale has to be around $300. Yes it's three times the price but it's also 10X the machine and it runs Windows which for all it's downsides is the world standard.

The far bigger problem is what's the point of giving some one starving a $100 laptop then telling them they can't sell it when that much money would feed some poor families for 4 months? Seems criminal in some ways. 90% have zero hope of making a living with computers so it seems well intentioned but a real let them eat cake program. Trust me they'd rather have the cake, or some rice, than a computer.

Re:Two problems I always thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168808)

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. I see the computer as a fishing pole, and you're being awful pessimistic about how many will use it to make a living.

Re:Two problems I always thought (4, Insightful)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168844)

Yes it's three times the price but it's also 10X the machine and it runs Windows which for all it's downsides is the world standard.

It's also: A machine that will break easily (disk drive with mechanical movements), requires far to much electricity to be viable in areas with unreliable electrical supply, isn't rugged enough to withstand rough treatment from children etc.


The far bigger problem is what's the point of giving some one starving a $100 laptop then telling them they can't sell it when that much money would feed some poor families for 4 months? Seems criminal in some ways. 90% have zero hope of making a living with computers so it seems well intentioned but a real let them eat cake program. Trust me they'd rather have the cake, or some rice, than a computer.

And you are yet another one of the people falling in the trap of assuming that this is being given to starving people. Get it into your head: ONLY A TINY PERCENTAGE of people in developing countries are starving. MOST have enough to eat. MOST have somewhere to live. This isn't targeted at those who have nothing, but at those who can sustain themselves and who are in a situation where anything that can help their children get a better education to improve their life is high priority.

NONE of the countries signed up so far have any significant starvation problem. NONE of them are among the most desperately poor.

All you've done is yet again repeat stereotypes of the developing world that has no root in reality.

Re:Two problems I always thought (0, Troll)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168990)

ONLY A TINY PERCENTAGE of people in developing countries are starving. MOST have enough to eat. MOST have somewhere to live.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, more than 25,000 people die of starvation every day, and more than 800 million people are chronically undernourished. On average, every five seconds a child dies from starvation. ^ [wikipedia.org]

NONE of the countries signed up so far have any significant starvation problem. NONE of them are among the most desperately poor.

So I guess the countries that won't be signing up any time soon are the ones that include the 800M people quoted above? Sux to be them, huh?

All you've done is yet again repeat stereotypes of the developing world that has no root in reality.

And you make the oft-repeated mistake of assuming "starvation" has to look like this [wikipedia.org] to constitute a valid argument. You obviously have no idea what it is to live on 400 calories a day. But hey, at whomever does is not "starving", right?

Re:Two problems I always thought (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169144)

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, more than 25,000 people die of starvation every day, and more than 800 million people are chronically undernourished. On average, every five seconds a child dies from starvation. ^

Which means that 12-13% of the worlds population are undernourished. How exactly does that contradict my claim that only a tiny percentage of people are starving?

So I guess the countries that won't be signing up any time soon are the ones that include the 800M people quoted above? Sux to be them, huh?

That is up to the local governments, but presumably the local governments in those countries have more pressing concerns than paying for laptops. Yes, it sucks to be them. How that affects the value of this project for the countries that CAN afford these laptops and that DO want them, and that DON'T have significant starvation problems is something I can't see. Or are you saying countries like Nigeria should spend their money on food aid instead?

You also conveniently ignore that access to technology has been shown to be a major factor in improving the local economy in many developing countries by improving access to farming information, information on market prices etc.

And you make the oft-repeated mistake of assuming "starvation" has to look like this to constitute a valid argument. You obviously have no idea what it is to live on 400 calories a day. But hey, at whomever does is not "starving", right?

No. YOU are jumping to conclusions about what I consider starvation. Your own number validated my argument: Only a tiny minority is starving. And yes, I would consider living on 400 calories a day to be starving.

Re:Two problems I always thought (2, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169002)

Is the off the shelf rugged enough? What happens when they connect to the internet and get a spyware infection? Windows does not have a good reputation in this direction.

Is windows so entrenched in their region that they could not use OO.org or a lightweight office application? Can they read the screen in the sun? Does the more expensive laptop use it's wireless to automatically link up with other laptops?

Once the battery is depleted in a couple years, can they get a replacement battery cheaply? Can they can power (manually crank) the laptop with a seperate device like the OLPC can?

Do you believe in giving people only food, like giving a man a fish, or would you like to give him a useful tool that could help them compete economically and perhaps lead them to self-sufficiency?

Re:Two problems I always thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17169066)

Trust me they'd rather have the cake, or some rice, than a computer.


Nicholas, are you here? Why don't you listen to edwardpickman the Slashdotter number 965122? Trust him. He knows his shit. Don't believe those stupid studies and first hand information, instead trust the edwardpickman. Those starving children in their mud houses, you know, the ones who don't have even clothes but will soon have brand new laptops with high speed internet connection, would much rather have some rice to eat. At least let them ebay their laptops, will you?

Thank you very much, edwardpickman. Your incredibly insightful knowledge will save the world. Consider yourself a hero.

Re:Two problems I always thought (1)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169150)

I always thought OLPC was a misnomer and it would end up being 1-5 laptops per village. I did think some of the choices were influenced too much by companies involved, but that's the way the world works.

This is news? (1)

complexmath (449417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168728)

It's been said from the beginning that the cost was just for producing the hardware.

Frankly, I still don't entirely understand why there is such a huge push to distribute laptops to the world. Books are far more durable and require no training or infrastructure (though teachers help). And then there's medicine and other necessities. Even if laptops end up being distributed to many of these locations, I expect the majority of them to go unused either from lack of interest or infrastructure, or simply to break. I think the idea of offering resources or education to impoverished areas is a noble goal, but this particular plan has always seemed tremendously impractical.

laptops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168732)

Er, who decided this was a good idea? Not the widespread access to computers and internet access -

the laptops.

Laptops are luxury items outside of major urban centres. I don't say that based on their cost or what you use them for. I say that based on, you have a very hard time getting replacement parts, compared to a desktop system. You have a very hard time getting someone who knows as much about repairing a laptop, compared to a desktop system. And you need both things more as laptops have a shorter lifespan than a desktop system. Peripherals at least are mostly standard between both now.

So they're portable, big deal. Have I mentioned that they're also stolen much more often, and many people don't really use the portability very much (partly because of that)?

Wonder how he's doing those calculations... (2, Insightful)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168744)

Nigeria is one of the countries considering the OLPC. It is not uncommon for people to live on $1/day in Nigeria. A cost of $840 to train and maintain those boxes simply isn't realistic unless major components break on a fairly frequent basis. There'd be an initial training cost to get a core of local people trained on maintaining and using them, of course, but once that's done, local training and maintenance would be extremely cheap even assuming much training would be needed.

It's typical of adults to underestimate how quickly kids learn to do stuff like that themselves if they have the chance - I was replacing components on my C64 by the time I was 8-9 years old, based purely on having diagrams in the manual, despite the fact it was in English (English is my second language - I didn't know a word of English apart from BASIC keywords at the time). Of course not everyone would learn that way, but you don't need everyone to - just a reasonable percentage.

I also note that the article repeats the same old bullshit about lack of access to electricity etc. as a hindrance for internet access - blatantly ignoring that this isn't really the case for the countries signed up so far AND the fact that the unit depends on mesh networking of the boxes themselves to expand the reach of the network, and falling back to the hand crank as a last resort for providing electricity to the unit itself exactly to reduce the infrastructure requirements.

He's also coming out with ignorant statements like "naturally all the countries will be taking out loans to cover this purchase". Ignoring that one of the poorest countries to sign up so far - Nigeria - repaid $10 BILLION in debt over the last couple of years, and as a result got developed nations to forgive another $18 BILLION, saving them many times the cost of the OLPC purchase they'll be making EVERY YEAR in interest payments. The $10 billion was paid back thanks to increasing oil revenue, which is now also freed up for other purposes after the debt repayment is over.

The countries signed up so far aren't the poorest in the world - they are developing countries with reasonable economies. There's no reason why they'd need to take up loads to cover a purchase costing them a few hundred million.

Any opinions as to what this is really about? (2, Insightful)

Grouchysmurf (989259) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168758)

I don't know one way or another whether they can provide $100 laptops to children in third world slums (MIT, right?).

BUT having spent a fair bit of time in some of the worst places on earth, including favelas and S. Asian slums... I can't see what makes them think this is a good idea. Maybe I'm cynical.

First, are all those people supposed to just magically pick up a computer and know how to use it? We're talking about very very poor people who make $1-2 a day and can't read or write on average. This fact can't have been lost on the MIT people, so what gives? I know for a fact that in Rio the problem in the favelas isn't getting their hands on computers, but rather getting instructors and teachers to come train kids how to use them. This sort of upsets me, as I really like Brazilians in general and it seems like when they explicitly ask for teachers rather than things, we should listen. Couldn't MIT do a training exchange program instead, or even at the same time?

Second. Handing a 10 or 12 year old slum kid in asia a computer worth a couple months salary isn't going to help him unless one has a way to make sure he can hold onto it. What's to stop the slum bosses from stealing all the machines that are handed out the moment the westerners leave? I've been hearing about this grand plan for a while, and it doesn't seem very well thought out.

Re:Any opinions as to what this is really about? (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168866)

> First, are all those people supposed to just magically pick up a computer and know how to use it?

With kids, that actually works pretty well. Of course I'm wondering: how the hell do they reinstall the OS when they brick them?

This whole project just seems to be some fuzzy little dreamland idea of techno-utopianism, and more than a bit condescending. But that's pretty much how the MIT media lab has always worked.

Re:Any opinions as to what this is really about? (1)

feranick (858651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168960)

quote: "First, are all those people supposed to just magically pick up a computer and know how to use it?" You could say the same about a book (mostly considering what you are saying later). quote: "Couldn't MIT do a training exchange program instead, or even at the same time?" This is exactly what the program is all about, giving the chance of training the kids. Do you have any idea how a preschool kid learn? If structured as a game, they adsorb everything (a language, how to use a computer etc). THey just need the proper input. And then again. Brazil is not only favelas. US have their own "favelas" too (New Orleans?), but that makes it hardly a developing country.

Re:Any opinions as to what this is really about? (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169042)

I could program BASIC before I could read or write my native language (Norwegian). Either you are assuming that kids in the developing world are less intelligent than kids in the developed world - if so you're an asshole - or you have a very limited view of how quickly kids pick up new technology, in which case you're only naive.

I've seen 3-4 year olds operate computers better than their parents. Most of my friends picked up computer skills at between 5-8, and we very quickly exchanged tips and tricks. A reasonable percentage of us learned to program - mostly self directed. Our MAIN limitation was the lack of documentation - we couldn't afford or find books on assembly programming until we were much older, for instance. That is much less of a problem these days.

If anything, these kids will be in a much better position to learn computing than I was when I was a kid.

Needs and Gifts (1)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169178)

The OLPC project is NOT aimed at every poor person. They are targetting people who have food, water, basic education, but little else. There are a lot of such people, just as there are lots of people in the conditions you describe. Everyone has different needs and gifts. Don't disparage someone just because their gifts, and the people who need them, are different from yours.

It is not enough to have just food, clothing, and shelter. The US is full of inner city kids with (too much) food, clothing, shelter, and basic education (such as you get in public schools). Yet they are trapped in a life of despair, with seemingly no way out. Welfare by itself, without motivation and opportunities to make something of yourself, does that to people. "Give a man a fish ..." and all that.

Factoring in friends .... (1)

debuglife (806973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168764)

from TFA

'maintenance, training, Internet connectivity, and other factors are taken into account'

maintenance - Most breakdown are software. The neighborhood geek fixes it (nice for budding slashdotters - be nice or your olpc doesn't get fixed).

training - most kids teach themselves, their friends.

Internet Connectivity - The basic idea is to have a mesh network for olpc's. I can imagine a lot of peer to peer content and web sites. Hmm . interesting research.

other factors ? -- probably even less compelling that these.

Re:Factoring in friends .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168816)

Mesh Networks for web sites ????

Welcome to real life (0)

Murmer (96505) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168768)

So the assertion there is that the cost of the hardware isn't just the cost of the box, but the cost of supporting and connecting that box to other boxes over a period of time. And that these costs outstrip the actual cost of the box by a factor of large.

Well, yeah. Without even going into the validity of their numbers, the thing is that everyone knows that. Welcome to enterprise IT, here's your sign.

The special thing here is that the hardware is as close to being completely disposable as possible, and that the training is as close to universally available as possible, and that as a result it's just possible that the poor nations of the world aren't condemned to the grim meathook future [zenarchery.com] that's lying in wait for people who aren't well-educated enough and well-trained enough to be a part of the information age.

I don't like to comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168782)

But this is a little over the top. The wrong numbers were used, if they want to find the cost of Internet access they should have looked at Somalia. Also, I imagine training will be available locally for the cost of say 10-20 US cents an hour.

Internet? Network? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168826)

Extra money will have to be spent on the network infrastructure
This alone reveals that the author of this "article" didn't even bother to check the facts on the project: The laptops are set up in such a way that they automagically build wireless mesh networks.
Aside from that, with all that whining about "training" etc. he really comes across (to me at least) like a spoiled first worlder: "No way those kids are going to benefit from this without a $1000/hour consultant to whine at about broken "cup holders", an office with A/C, water cooler and a personal secretary."

Not every body need customer services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168828)

Yes, I buy my super new 1200$ PC, and I have all warranties, It includes internet conectivity, training, maintenance and all other factors. hey guy! where do you live???? Sorry, but not every people need this thigs, people need a computer to learn and develop their countries

WTH? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168880)

How on earth is a first post redundant?

Training? Internet? (1)

Idou (572394) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168892)

I thought the point was that the kids would be able to teach themselves.
Wasn`t that the point behind the intuitive Sugar interface?

And I am not sure how wise it would be to give direct Internet access
to each child. I thought the laptops were able to create mesh networks,
so you could just load one laptop with textbook files (on a USB drive?), and
they would be available to every OLPC in the area.

Even ignoring the above, high training/Internet costs in these countries are due to the lack
of infrastructure. Infrastructure represents fixed costs that can be diluted
with volume, decreasing the price per unit. "Per unit" should just be the variable
cost (or "marginal cost", for those economic geeks out there), since the OLPC will be
implemented in large volume.

 

Let's Not Do Anything (5, Insightful)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168898)

Jon Camfield, a writer for OLPC News and master's degree candidate in the International Science and Technology Program at George Washington University, says that once maintenance, training, Internet connectivity, and other factors are taken into account, the actual cost of each laptop rises to more than $970. This, he says, doesn't even take in to account the additional costs associated with theft, loss, or accidental damage.

To extend the reasoning, we shouldn't give food to the poor, because the cost of kitchen cabinets, cookbooks, culinary training, pots and pans, and refrigeration hasn't been adequately factored in or demonstrated as being cost-effective in a real-world test case.

We shouldn't give away free books because the cost of opthalmologists and optometrists haven't been considered, let alone the requisite infrastructure of bookshelves, bookmarks and tables and chairs and reading lamps. Also, the health risks of children carrying heavy loads to and from schools, and the economic livelihoods of book publishers may also be adversely impacted.

It's easy to say something won't work, I guess. On the other hand, I wonder wherein lies the motivation for so many people to go to so much trouble to crush something that offers nothing but endless possibilites. It's fashionable to be a cynic, but when it comes to kids, that kind of thinking should be left at the door.

Amazing. (1)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168900)

I'm amazed, dumbfounded, dismayed, and flabbergasted at the resistance OLPC is getting in certain circles. If it isn't someone complaining about the "hidden" costs of the thing, it's people whining that these kids would be better off with food and water or medicine or solving the AIDS problem or, etc, etc. Never-mind that these things are really targeted to the much better off but highly neglected second world and not the far more talked-about third.

And then there's those who try to be all "technical" and say it's too underpowered, too simple, too different, too hard. WTF? Just how spoiled are some of these people? I learned computers on 8-bit hardware connected to a B&W TV with no network, no disk drive, no mouse, and no high-res graphics and even *that* was luxury compared to what some of the older folks out there cut their teeth on. This product is designed to be dropped into a world where computers are rare or, perhaps, nonexistent - which reminds me a lot of my own childhood! I got a computer when I was a kid entirely because my dad liked gadgets. He didn't know what to do with it, and I hadn't been told it had no purpose so I spent years CREATING a reason to use it without any training whatsoever. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything and I expect these kids to take part in a similar journey. Who knows what applications they may come up with? Any serious amount of training or hand-holding is going to rob them of the magic of discovery and achievement and freedom that can only come from having never been told what's impossible.

Platform with no apps? (1)

guanxi (216397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168916)

Considering it has a unique UI, customized OS, unique networking, unusual capacity (memory and storage), and more I'm sure, I'm wondering where users will find compatible applications?

I've posted this question to previous OLPC stories, but nobody has really answered it: Where are the applications for this platform?

How about having a look at sourceforge.net ? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17169164)

You mean like linux, where there is an installed base of only a
couple of million machines, and virtually no professional software development?

Maybe you want to have a look at http://sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

Think of a number, double it, add some more... (1)

MisterSquiddy (905066) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168930)

Camfield knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

ms tco analysis (1)

AlgorithMan (937244) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168932)

is this another MS-based TCO "analysis"?
the 100$ laptop was supposed to run linux, didn't it? ;)

100799 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17168974)

100$ it's a lot of money for the people of a lot of countries but ever will be less money than the price that a laptop PC have in developed countries. It's better this than nothing

Who are these people? (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168994)

From their advert filled page:

Your independent source for news, information, commentary, and discussion of One Laptop Per Child's computer ...

Should I take it that they have no connection whatsoever to OLPC?

Who are they then? Their "People" link has nothing but advertisements.

Do I smell yet another M$ funded "independent study"? It has all the hallmarks, FUD from an unheard of source with a name very close to one you trust. It's no wonder that this story was submitted by an AC and I'm afraid we will be hearing more from them.

The bottom line is that OLPC is going to be cheaper and easier than textbooks, which also have a lot of "training," transportation, fragility and replacement issues and costs. Anyone who can't see that has completely missed the implications of electronic publications ... another Microsoft trait.

ROTFLMAO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17169100)

Do I smell yet another M$ funded "independent study"?

OMG, talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Yes, the only people in the known universe that have ever questioned OLPC are Microsoft (or, "M$" as you so hilariously put it). Accordingly, anyone who questions OLPC must be full of shit. Correct?

Good lord where do you people come from?

The bottom line is that OLPC is going to be cheaper and easier than textbooks

This is your opinion. Correct? Is this any more qualified than the person who created this article? And why?

The real cost should be -$32873.23 (1)

Deflatamouse! (132424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169010)

I just made up the negative amount. But if you were going to account for all the other stuff, why not account for what these OLPC laptops were designed to do. And if it does work (big IF), by helping to educate the poor and let them help themselves out of poverty, we will potentially save X amount of aid to those countries.

And what makes you think all technical support has to come from the west or the government? A quick learning smart kid could grasp the ins and outs of this laptop in say 6 months, and can start supporting his/her neighbors.. possibly free of charge. Or if he/she does charge for it, you are igniting a potential industry and economic activity that doesn't exist prior to these laptops.

Re:The real cost should be -$32873.23 (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169162)

Didn't you mean to say -$32,767? -$32873.23 would overflow maxint and cause an error. Oh wait, . . . that's the point! ;-)

true cost of my bed..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17169052)

My bed costs $1800. Annual rental cost of the area occupied by my bed is $1000. Should I add this to the cost of my bed? What exactly is the point of the article?

True cost of a book? (5, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169074)

If you factor in all the training costs to teach a child to read, the true cost of a book must be several thousand dollars. So we should stop teaching the children and close all schools.

The "Al Gore" Challenge (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17169102)

This whole story reminds me of the Civilization IV "Al Gore" Challenge - Beeline the Internet [civfanatics.com] . Essentially, you start in 4000 BC with a Settler and click on Fiber Optics (the tech in CivIV that let's you build the Internet Wonder) in the tech tree at the beginning, then don't change anything and research all the techs up to that.

While it's an interesting challenge in a game of Civilization, the reality of it is quite interesting. The people that these, "laptops," are intended for are a lot more like that tribe in 4000 BC. They are more concerned with hunting, fishing, and farming (and in some cases, learning how to do that), and other things like just living. True, a lot of these people have bits and pieces of technology that's been acquired at various times, and some might even have computers. But the vast majority of them wouldn't know the first thing to do with a laptop that's given to them.

Look at the Nigerians, for example. Somehow, they got access to computers and the internet. But their development of other (CivIV calls them "technologies") aspects of their culture, like basic ethics, is pretty far behind the curve. Hence, we get flooded with zillions of 401 scam emails per day! We need to be more aware of what these people's needs are and not necessarily compare them directly to our own. Just because a good percentage of Americans own computers and laptops (and that number isn't even 100%) doesn't mean that people in Africa need them.

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