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1 Million OLPCs Already On Order

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the lots-of-happy-kids dept.

Portables 158

alphadogg writes "Quanta Computer has confirmed orders for 1 million notebook PCs for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project. The article goes into some background on the project, and lays out the enthusiastic adoption that the project is seeing overseas. The company estimates they'll ship somewhere between 5 and 10 Million units this year, with 7 countries already signed up to receive units. The machines currently cost $130, but with that kind of volume the original goal of $100 a machine may be viable. Even with the low cost, Quanta expects to make a small profit on each machine, making charity work that much easier."

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158 comments

OLPC phishing issues (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030032)

Seeing as how the OLPC web browser doesn't even show the URL bar, this is 1 million new targets for phishers and child predators.

The OLPC is not adequately addressing these issues, leaving many of the world's poor and desperate kids vulnerable.

Re:OLPC phishing issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030092)

You can't be phished if you don't have any money.

Re:OLPC phishing issues (2, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030094)

You're right. Just think of all those Bank of America accounts waiting to be robbed. Or the PayPal accounts. Or...

I don't think this will be a big problem. I don't think these children would be good phishing targets when relatively rich Americans, Europeans, etc are such easy targets.

What about from predators?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030944)

Umm but what about from child predators??

There will be sickos trying to establish contact with kids over there.

They will Jump out from the urlbar (0, Flamebait)

emj (15659) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031200)

Umm but what about from child predators??
There will be sickos trying to establish contact with kids over there.


I wonder how many child predators can hide in a hidden URL bar?

Targets? (2, Insightful)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030142)

Don't you think that the reverse would be true? Using OLPC machines to launch phishing attacks?

Re:Targets? (1, Troll)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030564)

They run Linux, so they won't get automagically infected like all the Windows machines out there.

Re:Targets? (1)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030826)

I doubt they are a target, but don't assume for a second that someone can't write malware for Linux. If there were a lot of machines out there running linux on desktops, you can assume someone will care to do it. What would be really interesting is how these numbers might play in with apple's sales figures... macs vs linux desktops. Many people think one is out there much more than the other... for once we have actual hardware shipped with linux we can count.

I don't agree with most people's numbers. Not all Macs run OS X. Further, with vmware and parallels you can run linux on a mac or windows box.. etc. Still its numbers that can help convince PC vendors to support Linux with drivers.

Re:Targets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030752)

The OLPC machines don't run Windows.

You're wrong. It shows the URL bar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030192)

Nice try at a troll though.
Very inventive.

I Want One (5, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030038)

I still want one bad. I want them to sell them to geeks like us. I've thought of a few ideas on that front:

  • Overcharging to help pay for them for other countries or invest in more production
  • Make them a different color so it is obvious that they were purchased for individuals and not by a government
  • Sell lower power ones to us so software we write or help develop HAS to be nimble to run on our machines and so it will run even better on the real OLPCs

My only hope that I know of right now is a contest [olpcnews.com] to design a game for them in which you can win an OLPC.

I really want one. I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it...

Can't wait to see what kind of cool things people do with these little laptops.

Re:I Want One (1)

President_Camacho (1063384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030170)

I really want one. I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it... Can't wait to see what kind of cool things people do with these little laptops.

Why not focus that energy on a Chumby [chumby.com] , in the meantime?

Re:I Want One (2, Insightful)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030282)

I want one as well, mostly for the high res B&W screen.

Early on in this project I thought the public would be able to buy one at an inflated price (something like $300), the inflated portion of which would be used to send more laptops to more kids.

OLPC can make mine any color they want and I'd happily give them 3x their cost today. I'd buy two or three for myself at that price if it helped further the project's aim.

Re:I Want One (3, Informative)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030990)

Early on in this project I thought the public would be able to buy one at an inflated price (something like $300), the inflated portion of which would be used to send more laptops to more kids.
that's because someone ran an unofficial petition of "i'd buy one for 3x the price, with the extra profit going toward a donation of 2 for third-world countries" that was promoted on Slashdot many, many times. only some of those times was it made clear that the petition was not at all affiliated with the real project, so i think a lot of people assumed that if they got enough signatures it might happen or that it was already a planned program.

Re:I Want One (2, Insightful)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031202)

Maybe *you* would (although, if you would, I suspect it's only to keep your word), but the rest of us probably wouldn't, especially if someone else was selling them for less, which is *exactly* what would happen if they tried to do what you suggest. Instead of keeping their laptops, people would sell them for the equivelant of a month/year's salary in their country. In fact, I think this is highly likely to happen as it stands. I think it will go something like this:

Laptops are distributed to villiage in Africa.
Local warlord offers $5 per laptop and/or just takes them.
Nobody has a laptop, and thousands of them spring up on eBay.

Nobody will buy an OLPC for $900 when they can get one on eBay for $50.

Until the potential recipients have their basic needs met, they're not going to care about these laptops. The best thing to do, IMHO, is to simply sell them to anyone at the same price, rather than trying to create some sort of artificial market (by trying to sell them to others for $900), especially when it's already going to be highly tempting for people to sell these things on the grey market.

Re:I Want One (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031620)

Not a lot of warlords in Brazil and Libya, yunno.

Why NOT sell them commercially? (5, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031030)

I want them to sell them to geeks like us. I've thought of a few ideas on that front

I think the OLPC project is making a huge mistake if they don't throw these laptops onto the commercial market, for anyone to buy.

Why? Because of the economies of scale, and extra funds raised. These laptops get cheaper the more you make. If you can sell another hundred thousand of them on the commercial market, produced numbers go up the same. Whatever number you were producing before, these will become cheaper as a result. Perhaps just a little, but when you're aiming for a $100 laptop, everything helps.

Secondly, you can sell them commercially for more, make a profit, and use that profit to give the charity/education part of the project a boost. Others have suggested to double the (commercial) price, and use it to send an extra laptop to developing nations. I think maybe extra funds would be better used for supporting OLPC's already out there, for example by supporting communication infrastructure, software projects targeting the OLPC, or developing new uses/markets for these machines.

And yes, I'd like one too. And not just geeks, I think this would be a perfect tool for grandma's and some percentage of ordinary home PC users. To many people, a PC is still a massive, complex, and intimidating machine. The $100 laptop is smaller, quieter, energy-efficient, likely more secure, and simpler to use. Limited in power/storage, but sufficient for many tasks. Perfect for young kids, to read recipes on in the kitchen, check your e-mail, look up a word for a crossword puzzle, or play a game of Tetris on the train. Why again are these $100 laptops NOT sold to everyone who wants one?

--
I'll have one in semi-transparent purple, with a couple of Gig more flash memory, thanks. Interested to serve as local reseller/support in my area.

Re:Why NOT sell them commercially? (2, Interesting)

emj (15659) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031440)

OLPC has stated that it doesn't want to get into the commercial distribution game, it's a tricky thing sales and distribution is a big cost for most companies.. You know, they just want to order them from a generic plant in Taiwan/China and then dump them in a container with a big fat "Lybia" sticker on the side. This is very different from the business of delivering and marketing a PC for the masses like DELL does.

When you order from Dell take a look at what they charge for shipping, I was going to pay 150euros for shipping a 200 euro computer.. that's alot...

Re:Why NOT sell them commercially? (1)

suggsjc (726146) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031880)

I know there are reasons, but they *might* end up having an interesting situation. Lets just say the gov'ts buy these things and give them to students. They like the concept of learning...until they realize they can put it up on eBay for $300 (there was a post earlier about how someone said they'd pay that for one).

The more they get out the door and the more generally available they become the more the prices will drop and a whole bunch of other good economy of scale type of things too (more people writing code, etc).

Re:I Want One (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031054)

I am sure that soon, on ebay, there will be heaps of them for sale. Then the opportunity to overpay and give to the poor will be there for everyone :)

a lot of folks do (2, Interesting)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031226)

I'd bet a buck that within a month or so of mass deployment of them that clones start hitting the market. And as such, they certainly couldn't charge a whole lot for them either. and maybe they will be easier to upgrade (more RAM and Flash memory, etc, as options). I mean, with millions out there, how are they going to avoid it? There's an obvious good market for something like these things, given all the commentary on every OLPC article here.

I know I'd like to have a low energy usage, built tough, self powered, mesh network enabled laptop thing like they are building, without paying full new laptop prices. Just the self charging aspect is pretty spiffy. I'd just think of it as a good $deal large PDA rather than thinking of it as a full fledged laptop and be done with it. At double their cost @ $260 then, they would be very competitive in the PDA market I think, given a little "adultfying" design tweaks, but keeping the same basic parameters. and ya, that innovative clear screen is one of those reasons..

And for that matter, is this manufacturer Quanta under any obligation to NOT sell variants? I have not read one way or the other on that subject. Maybe if there is enough interest they will offer a near-close clone machine.

Re:I Want One (1)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031386)

I really want one. I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it...

Don't worry. As soon as they drop, thousands of them will be up for grabs online. When unscrupulous persons discover that the "free" computers are worth $200-$300 USD or more to Americans geeks, they will find a way to cash in. Given the exchange rates in some of the OLPC countries (e.g. 1 US Dollar = 133.236 Nigerian Naira), there is no question. It's sad, but inevitable.

I'm not admonishing people that want one, or OLPC for "not doing anything" (what could they do?), but I would like to wag a finger in advance to all of the people involved (buying or selling) in the future XO black market.

Re:I Want One (1)

warm sushi (168223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031498)

This is probably the best argument for making them available in the developed world immediately: if you could buy a $200 version (including another free laptop for someone who really needs it) that would nail ebay transfer back to the USA...

The more I think about it, the more vital I think it is that the laptop be made available here.

Re:I Want One (1)

ZZfoxELITE (897076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031460)

I really want one too. a hundred dollars is not much, especially to me as that is about £50 here in uk. (although i'd probs have to pay a ton in shipping). The only complaint i have is its seemingly extremely low storage space. i guess i could always use a big pendrive too though. They should definately get these onto the commercial market, but distinguish them somehow from the 3rd world ones. the last thing we want is some mafia cartel in the third world stealing them from all the kids to put on ebay.

million? million to one (0, Offtopic)

JCOTTON (775912) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030060)

million to one that I get to see a slashdot article that hasnt had any comments yet.....Like winning the lottery

I don't get it. (-1, Troll)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030074)

Seriously. This is not a troll.

If a child is starving and illiterate, because he lives in an area where the people do not possess enough basic intelligence to feed themselves or create schools, what good is a computer?

Re:I don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030126)

Children will start to use the computer and learn. Learn to use the computer, learn to find information to make their world a better place. It's easier to learn with a stomach that's atleast partly filled, I agree with you there...

Re:I don't get it. (4, Insightful)

grommit (97148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030160)

You're right, you don't get it.

These laptops aren't for areas where there is mass starvation. It's for areas where people can, generally, feed themselves and get by okay but that's about it. Educating these children with computers so they can get a bit of a leg up on their parents would serve them to help areas in their country that *do* have starving people.

Just like the US (-1, Flamebait)

Skadet (528657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030358)

Educating these children with computers [...] would serve them to help areas in their country that *do* have starving people.
Oh, kind of like it works here in the US, huh? Seriously, ever since kids got computers, I haven't seen a single starving bum on the street. Praise technology!

Really, what in the world would make you think that?

Re:Just like the US (2, Insightful)

ADRA (37398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031320)

The parent is more of an extreme cynic than a troll and as such, I'll chime in to rebuke.

Ways that computer educated masses will help their more unfortunate brethren:

1. Some societies actually -help- one another if they have the means. I know it may seem like an alien concept, but it does happen.

2. Forget the altruism
If you have a bunch of kids that were never trained in computers during adolescence, they're less likely to develop computer skills that could actually get them employed in the future. Even if they got into the lowest of low end IT jobs, they'd still be making a lot more money than if they hadn't.

Now if some of those kids do end up getting computer literate and end up occupying better jobs than they could previously, a portion of their hard earned cash will flow into the government's coffers. One would hope (though not guaranteed) that this influx of money will be used to benefitting their country as a whole. So even if an individual has no interest at helping someone worse off than themselves, they're still locked into a system of helping them, though indirectly.

The only 'losers' in the whole struggle are those that compete for the same jobs. That of course feeds into the gigantic and very twisted discussion about globalism which I dare not enter without flame protection!

Re:Just like the US (2, Insightful)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031598)

I haven't seen a single starving bum on the street.

He may have been a bum, but he damn sure wasn't starving. He may have been hungry, but he wasn't starving. He may not have eaten in days, but he wasn't starving. If you saw him on a street in the US, he wasn't starving.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

whistlingtony (691548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030642)

One can do anything with enough patience and a good reference.

Ok, lets forget starving children.... Lets take me for example. I want to raise vege's in my back yard. It's not as simple as walking out back and throwing seeds at the dirt. I have to know how to create nutritious soil. I have to know when to plant what seeds. I have to know how to care for them as they grow. Etc etc etc. I wasn't born with this knowledge. I got it from people around me and a whole lotta good books.

What the OLPC is aiming to give people is access to their neighbors and access to a damn fine set of references.

Now the "starving children" can look up irrigation methodology, planting times, seed info.... They can read about composting and replacing soil nutrients. They can talk to people in other places to get market prices and conditions.

OLPC cannot give them patience, but they can give them a good reference. This will allow them to raise THEMSELVES out of the conditions they are in. Knowledge is power. It's hokey, but true.

-T

Food not lawns!!!

Re:I don't get it. (1)

jernejk (984031) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030730)

1. If you can "generally feed yourself" your top priority is not to learn something abstract, but to find food for tomorrow 2. Once every child has a laptop... maybe someone will think of the "OPSPC" project (one power socket per child) 3. WTF is a child going to do with a computer? Write software that predicts weather? Or track a staticstics "there is 30% chance that I'm going to be hungry tomorrow"? I don't get it.

Re:I don't get it. (2, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031212)

Have you been outside the US? There are some very poor towns. They have food, but no teachers, no schools, not much to do but sit around. The kids aren't going to starve, but they are also not going to learn anything. That's who these are targeted for. Let the governemnt build some coursework for this and pass them out in the towns.

I don't get it.

That makes me think you haven't traveled much.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031632)

2. Once every child has a laptop... maybe someone will think of the "OPSPC" project (one power socket per child)

The XO is powered by either a hand-crank or a pull cord. It doesn't need a power socket.

Re:I don't get it. (4, Insightful)

petabyte (238821) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030172)

If a child is starving and illiterate, because he lives in an area where the people do not possess enough basic intelligence to feed themselves or create schools, what good is a computer?

In most areas in the world where children are starving and/or are illterate, it has nothing to do with people "not possess[ing] enough basic intelligence to feed themselves or create schools".

If not troll, then flamebait or "insensitive clod" (which is being overly nice) might apply.

Re:I don't get it. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030568)

Actually it is backwards. In the most food rich countries, it is most people that would starve to death rather quickly if they couldn't buy their food as fast food or supermarket. The people that are barely able to feed themselves, are actually feeding themselves by themselves, not buying crap in stores.

Re:I don't get it. (0, Offtopic)

vic5 (472734) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030212)

I agree, in some countries 130 usd is equivalent to 4 months living cost.
If given to someone under these conditions, it will get traded for something they deem more useful.
Dare I suggest yellow fever or hep vaccinations would be more helpful.

Re:I don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030368)

I agree, in some countries 130 usd is equivalent to 4 months living cost.

There was once a time in America, not so long ago, when owning any computer meant a poor college kid would have to invest 4 months of living costs.

When you are ambitious to learn, "4 months of living expense" is not that big of a sacrifice.

In light of the opportunities it might open up, many people would see that as money well-spent.

Besides, it's their money! If these people (or governments acting on behalf of these people) want to buy them, who are you to criticize?

Re:I don't get it. (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031872)

Vaccinations - so more of them can die worse later? Most of Africa's problems are caused by uncontrolled medical spending, without providing anything else to in=mprove the conditions/housing/work/factories/farming/whatnot, leading to modern overpopulation in a medieval society.

Re:I don't get it. (5, Insightful)

plalonde2 (527372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030230)

There's a long continuum between "starving and illiterate" and first-world levels of comfort.

People think of "all the starving children" in Africa (and yes, there are many) but neglect to think about all the not-starving-but-not-getting-ahead children in developing countries. The OLPC gamble is to raise up the standard of living that part of the population and hope that trickle-down economics will raise the standard elsewhere. If the OLPC makes education easier (or more compatible with the 21st century), the result might well be a general improvement in standards of living in the developing world.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

emj (15659) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031566)

Think if all the Nigerian children [crimes-of-persuasion.com] had access to internet, perhaps then we would be oversaturated with 419 scams, and people would get some commonsense. [scamorama.com]

(I actually do hope they will take advantage of people in the rich world. Sadly I'm guessing almost all of these children are to decent for that)

That's right, you don't (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030260)

If a child is starving and illiterate, because he lives in an area where the people do not possess enough basic intelligence to feed themselves or create schools, what good is a computer?

OK, though I find this whole effort of limited usefulness, I'm getting a bit tired of these simple minded retorts. The point of the laptop isn't to give one to a kid living in a tribe that doesn't have electricity and farms and hunts for food. There are millions of kids that sit in that in between area of being in a minimum of a semi developed area (i.e. they have something resembling a centralized school system) whose only exposure to the "outside world" is through Gilligans Island reruns. My issue is that it would still seem to me much more beneficial to apply the money to strengthening other infrastructure (making sure the schools have money and trained teachers, having more tutors to help kids since there is a high probability that their parents are illiterate, building up colleges and universities, helping underlying economic infrastructure of their regions so having an education actually does you some good, etc). The choice isn't between a bag of rice or a laptop.

Re:I don't get it. (2, Insightful)

Lally Singh (3427) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030262)

You think it's a lack of intelligence that makes those conditions so rough? Try reading up on history & politics. Good God man.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030264)

If a child is starving and illiterate, because he lives in an area where the people do not possess enough basic intelligence to feed themselves or create schools, what good is a computer?

Not many communities are made up exclusively of starving illiterate children.

The kids that are terminally ill and too weak to benefit from a computer usually die sooner rather than later. It is the kids who are doing a little better, merely impoverished and frustrated, who will benefit from the education programs and work choices that computers promise. They'll grow up and make the community more skilled, more healthy and better able to prevent calamities such as war and famine.

Re:I don't get it. (2)

BionicPimp (562378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030468)

My guess that this is for poor villages, not hunter gatherers. Even in some of the poorest villages in the world, there is still at least some literacy. Sometimes it's a suprising amount of literacy. Where my parents come from, the Philippines [cia.gov] literacy is 92%. Not bad for one of the poorest countries in the world.

Anyway, I think the most powerful and wonderful possiblity of these devices is having access to the larger world of knowledge that we take for granted on the internet. Even if all they had was Wikipedia, it could radically change their world. Did you know that you can double the egg production output of chickens simply by leaving a light on in a chicken coop? I didn't know that until I read it on the internet. Twice as much food by simply having access to a lightbulb and the knowledge of what to do with it. I'm sure there are millions other useful pieces of information that that could help the lives of people in the developing world.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032468)

Computers anywhere don't "reach" everyone, even if many people own a machine. What they do is reach and enable a few, and those few make the difference.

Re:I don't get it. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030504)

You're making a false assumption that because some areas of the world do not have the ability to grow enough food or have enough information to make different choices that they're not capable of benefiting.

God damn.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030608)

If a child is starving and illiterate, ... what good is a computer?
Well, for starters, it's worth $130, which is a pretty substantial amount of food in these countries.

Some perspective from the field (5, Insightful)

JLavezzo (161308) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030678)

Considering the comments on other Slashdot articles about the OLPC project, I'm sure there are a couple dozen other Slashdotters ready to chime in, but I'll make a try at answering your confusion.

The way I see your misunderstanding here is that you're not seeing the range of development that exists throughout the world. International development efforts that have been going on for the last 60-70 years have produced some results. Here's an example of that range of development: one of the countries who has signed up is Brazil. I don't think I've heard any news lately about starving in Brazil. And for other parts of the world without as many resources as Brazil, the level of development, be it food distribution, levels of employment or availability of education varies greatly depending on what part of that country you might be in.

I'll give an example from Malawi, a country that's been in the news lately because of Madonna. I have been there a couple times and have family and lots of friends there. A child in the lower Shire valley may have parents who are subsistence farmers, be very susceptible to food shortages due to fluctuations in weather and not have a very functional school, or not be able to afford school fees.

However, a child in or around Lilongwe, Blantrye, Limbe or Mulangi may have one or more members of his extended family with a steady job, and enough money to put food on the table and live in a house with clean running water. The child is likely to go to a school Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings, too. Problem is, the education materials are not available to give this child a very good education. There may not be enough books to go around. The books might be poorly written or just too old to have good information in them. The school might not teach certain subjects because the materials are not available. Forget about a library. And, the school certainly doesn't have a computer lab.

This is where the OLPC computers shine. They're text books, research tools, communication and collaboration devices and, a technology education. I think the cost-benefit ratio makes them a good deal. They're not getting air-lifted by the Red Cross to Darfur refugees. But they are something a Minister of Education can put into his budget, along with proper funding for training and maintenance.

I hope this helps put their efforts into perspective.

Re:I don't get it. (1, Troll)

monkeySauce (562927) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030948)

Give a child a loaf of bread, and you feed him for a few days.
Give the child a laptop, and you have fed him for life.

Ridiculous? Consider just some of the profitable ventures you can start with a computer...
- Become a 419 scammer
- Sell shit on ebay for much more than it's worth (and charge $75 shipping)
- Install an smtp daemon and become a spammer
- Write viruses and sell them on the black market
- Start a tech blog, with plenty of advertisements. Search for content on other sites, and get monkeys to post summaries of it. If you have trouble finding articles, dup your own.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

cyb3r-crash (1064734) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031734)

I agree with the first part of your statement, though I think the second part (the list) is being a bit unfair. Granted, the amount of damage you -could- do with that kind of a mesh network could be pretty widespread, but that doesn't mean it will. First of all, while they have the ability to ad hoc to each other, there is no provided internet connection with them. Most of the places these things are getting shipped to have limited internet access anyways. Second of all, the point of this is project is for education. The target is young kids. If the kids are taught from an early age that these computers are tools for education and productivity they are less likely to use them for less than savory activities. This is a chance for these kids, an opportunity to break out of whatever loop their communities are stuck in and enter the information age, and actually make an impact. I believe, while there will be a few "problem children" here and there, the majority of the kids will realize the monumental opportunity they've been given.

Re:I don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031690)

Seriously. This is not a troll.

But it is indistingushable from one. It's the same dumb sh*t question that gets asked on every single OLPC article here. The answer must be in a FAQ somewhere. Now take your downotes like a man.

Eureka! The Missing Step! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030148)

  1. Make a $100 laptop
  2. Charge $130
  3. Profit!

Great! (3, Funny)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030328)

Now every child, even the poor ones, can have access to the vast porn resources of the internet!

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031278)

If it will keep them from breeding like rabbits, that would be a positive start. Having more than 1-2 kids is irresponsible.

The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (4, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030340)

Now every kid can be molested through MySpace.

What age are these targetted at? I honestly feel that, at least here in the US, computers are already too prevelant at the elementary level. Teaching kids computer skills is a noble goal, but IMO, not one they're ready for until, say, grade 9-ish.

What ends up happening is they teach the kid to use a crutch. Instead of practicing arithmetic, they let kids in grade 3 (!) just use calculators. My kids only know the times tables because I *made* them learn it. Flashcards and practice, just like I did (I had a hard time with it too). They already forgive me for it. My son is seen as a "math prodigy", to use his teachers words - and quite frankly (not to denigrate him), his abilities are what I would consider average for his age. He isn't like moved on to precalculus on his own, or anything like that. He can add, subtract, multiply and divide simple numbers in his head. This makes him a prodigy in the modern US education system. ouch.

Repeat for spelling. The school could give a shit. Here's how spelling is taught - "OK KIDS, CLICK SPELL CHECK". They're, there, their, who cares.

Eventually, yes, computer skills become important, fundamental even. I just worry how they're to be used in class, that's all. I sure hope they aren't going to be expected to replace teachers, and I hope budget-strapped schools favor good staff over 100 dollar laptops.

"One Laptop Per Child" just sounds so much like "No Child Left Behind" the mere association makes me raise an eyebrow.

In the long run, though, it could be good for the US, if we can make the rest of the worlds children as stupid and ill-prepared as our own. The question is, how to instill that false sense of entitlement in kids around the world.

Re:The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (0)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030446)

What ends up happening is they teach the kid to use a crutch. Instead of practicing arithmetic, they let kids in grade 3 (!) just use calculators. My kids only know the times tables because I *made* them learn it. Flashcards and practice, just like I did (I had a hard time with it too). They already forgive me for it. My son is seen as a "math prodigy", to use his teachers words - and quite frankly (not to denigrate him), his abilities are what I would consider average for his age. He isn't like moved on to precalculus on his own, or anything like that. He can add, subtract, multiply and divide simple numbers in his head. This makes him a prodigy in the modern US education system. ouch.

Reminds me of how impressed I made a girl because I could calculate what everyone owed for a meal without thinking too hard about it. The dumb age has officially arrived, not only are people using spell check to go between there their and they're, they don't even know the difference in some cases. I start to feel like a rare minority some days, and I don't consider myself exactly exceptional as far as mathematical ability, grammar, spelling or really anything is concerned. I just don't need a crutch, as you said.

Re:The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030786)

Reminds me of how impressed I made a girl because I could calculate what everyone owed for a meal without thinking too hard about it. The dumb age has officially arrived, not only are people using spell check to go between there their and they're, they don't even know the difference in some cases. I start to feel like a rare minority some days...

Perhaps you need to stop hanging around so many stupid people. That, or learn a little patience and tolerance.

Think back to your school days. How many of your classmates got a "C" or worse on their math and grammar final exams? In most cases, a "C" grade means 70%. If they drifted all the way through public school while only mastering about 70%, how literate can they really be? This is why newspapers are written at about a 5th-grade level. This is why splitting up a restaurant check with a bunch of "average" rubes is going to result in remarkably incorrect tallies?

Re:The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (2, Funny)

Golias (176380) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030538)

What ends up happening is they teach the kid to use a crutch. Instead of practicing arithmetic, they let kids in grade 3 (!) just use calculators. My kids only know the times tables because I *made* them learn it. Flashcards and practice, just like I did (I had a hard time with it too). They already forgive me for it. My son is seen as a "math prodigy", to use his teachers words - and quite frankly (not to denigrate him), his abilities are what I would consider average for his age. He isn't like moved on to precalculus on his own, or anything like that. He can add, subtract, multiply and divide simple numbers in his head. This makes him a prodigy in the modern US education system. ouch.

Repeat for spelling. The school could give a shit. Here's how spelling is taught - "OK KIDS, CLICK SPELL CHECK". They're, there, their, who cares.


Likewise, home economics classes should not use gas or electric oven ranges. The kids should first learn how to rub sticks together to create fire, and roast mastodon meat on sticks from beasts which they speared themselves. What hope do they have to get by in the modern world without such basic survival skills?

Repeat for history and philosophy. Okay kids, open your "text book" and READ about the wisdom of Aristotle. No need to be paired up with (and sexually molested by) a tribal elder who will teach you everything via oral tradition! What a joke!

Call me old fashioned if you must, but I jist don't cotton to these new-fangled "printing presses" and what-not. All you need for education is a good teacher and a solid stick of hickory!

Schools today are going to hell in a bucket, I tells ya!

Re:The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (2)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030972)

Look, you laugh (I hope your post was just a joke and meant as a valid point), but it's true.

I can't spell all that well, I've always known that. My grammar skills are similarly lacking. But I can do math.

My little sister (14) can't. She can't spell (a family trait compounded by computer use since she was little thanks to the "computers are the magic bullet" theory of modern education). I suspect her grammar is similar (I haven't read a paper she has written in a long time).

But her Math skills are terrible. I don't expect her to be a genius. I understand she is someone who isn't great at it. But they are trying to teach her and her classmates simple algebra (just problems with Xs and Ys). She can't do them without a calculator. I can understand some problems (what's the square root of 147.3?), but for even simple things (56/7) she needs the calculator. She'll hem and haw at it, and I really don't think she could do it in her head. She basically refuses to do 15/3 in problems without running it through the calculator. Her classmates that I've seen are very similar. I have been asked what could be done to help her. My suggestion is always the same: get rid of the calculator.

By the time I was allowed to use calculators, we were expected to know how to do math. People seem amazed at the math I can do in my head. You can't pave over a problem (poor math skills) with something else that depends on it (a calculator) because when something goes wrong (they write a formula down wrong or something) it all falls apart, they are TOTALLY LOST.

I hated not getting to use calculators as kids. I'm sure everyone did. But I think most of us here agree that it was a VERY GOOD THING that they forced us to do that and we weren't allowed to use them until much later. My little sister has been allowed to use them for a few years now.

Re:The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030734)

I agree that the computers in the US are largely wasted. But there are a few things to remember. First is that computers are taught as something you need to get a job. You won't get a job if you can't use Word and Outlook and Powerpoint (so the theory seems) so they teach them. They are basically the replacement of the typing classes that they gave in the 60s and 70s. In the areas where these are going to be distributed that's not the case (I'm guessing). Computers in education in the US exist so little Johnny can type his report.

Second, these are meant to serve more purpose than being glorified typewriters. They are to allow them to learn. Where a kid in the US is told to go look up thing X as an assignment, the people who get these laptops probably won't have physics books, math books, history books, etc. If they do, they probably don't have enough or they are old and out of date. These laptops are meant to be used, at least in part, as the source material to be taught from (like US kids use their textbooks).

Then there is point 3. I kind of alluded to this in the first point. The US education system DOESN'T GET IT. I'll ignore all my other qualms with out system, they don't know what they are doing with computers, that's why they have been relegated to the role of typewriter or library. Negroponte said recently something about this when asked why they are being sent to Alabama or other places in the US. It's because the US educational system just DOESN'T GET IT. Not only that, there are all sorts of people (teachers unions, school boards, parents, etc) who are too afraid of you changing the status quo too much. We admire places like Taiwan or Japan who's students score great on tests through tons and tons of rote memorization. That's not the only way. The OLPC countries are willing to try something different.

I like the idea. I want one myself. I hope it helps the 3rd world. But I REALLY hope it ends up forcing us to re-evaluate the way we teach students in the US if it becomes a great success.

I can tell you from tons of first hand experience, the "computer" education my little sister (14 now) has gotten in all here schooling in a rich school district in the US is practically worthless. Nothing but typing, how to use powerpoint, etc. They are not computer classes. At least they dropped that farce and now call them "Business Technology" or something like that.

Not that they teach how to keep a ledger or use a fax machine or a copier or any other business technology.

Re:The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031160)

I have no problem teaching kids computers, I just have a problem "using computers to teach" with every subject.

I'm not talking about everything has to be rote memorization, but quite frankly, it's the only effective method to teach some things.

Like mathematics. I see no other way to be able to do arithmetic in your head, without the pages and pages of problems I did as a kid. It was boring as hell (and GOD FORBID a child get bored and restless in school), but now I know how much change I'm due at McDonalds, even before the register tells the clerk. I know my times tables, I know if I buy 7 boxes, each containing 6 items, I end up with 42 items.

The problem with just showing the kid the "X" key on the calculator, is they not only don't learn how to do it, without that repetition, they have a hard time grasping the *meaning* of multiplication. Then they dont "get" why Area = Length x Width. When you say "if I buy 4 dozen eggs, how many eggs is that?" They don't know what it *means* to multiply. Go ask some random grade 5's what multiplication is. They'll describe the button on the calculator.

As far as verbal math problems of old (train A is going 60 blah blah), hell they don't even exist so far as I can tell. They not only require a knowledge of math, but an ability to read and comprehend the problem, and formulate a solution: AKA, thinking. Some kids just aren't good at thinking, and NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND means we penalize those who are.

We're shortchanging our future so the teachers unions can brag about low failure rates.

Meh, at least I got out when they were still doing a little bit of "education".

Re:The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (2, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031702)

> they have a hard time grasping the *meaning* of multiplication

I had to memorize the "times tables" in grade school. I came away from my education grasping about as much meaning as the kid with a calculator. All the finger-wagging old farts have been fucking up math education for more than a hundred years, so I can hardly see how technology could do more damage.

Re:The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (1)

vhogemann (797994) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030780)

Well,

These laptops can connect to the net, sure... but I think the main network they'll be acessing is the mesh network formed by the other kid's laptops.

Also, they access internet trougth a gateway placed at the local school, a simple content filter for squid-proxy like Dans-Guardian or Chastity will do the trick. They can filter who can access the internet by filtering MAC or IP addresses, so the laptops owned by children under a centain age wouldn't pass.

These laptops won't be directly connected to the internet.

Re:The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (1)

josephdrivein (924831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030912)

The same applies to Europe, sadly. Computers are overestimated, kids are often better off without them at those ages.
Good post, I wish I had mod-points.

Re:The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031694)

Eventually, yes, computer skills become important, fundamental even. I just worry how they're to be used in class, that's all. I sure hope they aren't going to be expected to replace teachers, and I hope budget-strapped schools favor good staff over 100 dollar laptops.

It's hard to learn how to spell when there's one dictionary every 20 miles...

It's hard to learn to learn arithmetic when your school can't afford to buy more than a handful of math books.

It's hard to learn about a lot of things, when you don't have the tools to do any of it. This computer can take the place of a great many tools that simply non-existent in the 3rd world, not the least of which is books and calculators.

Unlike the US, where "computers" means learning to format Microsoft Word documents, and being otherwise restricted, these computers can perform an infinitely valuable service, both for education in the class, and perhaps more importantly, education outside the class as well.

Re:The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031800)

Yeah computers shouldn't be a crutch. But c'mon, there's no point in *not* teaching kids how to use one. My 6 and 3 year old children surf the net, draw in paint, IM and email me at work and shoot each other in CounterStrike. With the right software you can even help them learn times tables and spelling etc.

Re:The Equal Opportunity World of the Future (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031928)

I think that this is more for situations where they don't have good enough teachers around to excel or even to become interested in something. The olpc interface is nothing like modern interfaces so it can hardly be considered purely teaching "computer skills", and this isn't going to the first world. I agree with your point about computers in first world schools, however I don't think it's quite on-topic here.

Charity or Profit Center? (1, Interesting)

cmeans (81143) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030374)

Quanta expects to make a small profit on each machine, making charity work that much easier.

Can it still be considered Charity [wikipedia.org] if one is making a Profit [wikipedia.org] ? Does it count as charity if you're just not making as much profit as you'd like?

Seems to me that they're confused.

Re:Charity or Profit Center? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030494)

You are a moron. Not just because you linked to Wikipedia, but that figures in.

Depends on where the profit goes (4, Insightful)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030528)

If the profit goes back into the charity to do other work or R&D on a $50 version, then that does not make it any less of a charity.

Making things for a nonprofit doesn't make you one (4, Insightful)

ClayJar (126217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030936)

Quanta is building the laptops for OLPC, but that doesn't mean Quanta is a nonprofit. A church pastor can eat at McDonalds without McD's turning nonprofit. Habitat can get building supplies donated, but if they have to buy something from Home Depot, HD doesn't have to write off any profit on it (although giving a discount would be nice).

Frankly, if Quanta wasn't making at least *something* on each, there would be a solid business reason *not* to build them for OLPC.

Linux market share (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030466)

Heh. That ought to boost Linux marketshare considerable.

Though we'll never hear about it from the likes of Gartner and the other so-called market survey companies.

Anyone know what the total number of Windows and/or Mac PC's are out there, worldwide?

Re:Linux market share (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030918)

>Anyone know what the total number of Windows and/or Mac PC's are out there, worldwide?

Well over a billion. It wouldn't even be a blip on the radar.

Re:Linux market share (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031754)

10 million would be a 1% gain. Most estimates that I've seen these days put Linux and Mac at about the same (5% +/- 1% but that's for the U.S.). 10 million would indeed be a blip on the radar, but not much of one.

Though I really don't believe people are counting world-wide marketshare of PC; or at least not in third world countries, where Linux adoption is higher.

I can use a small stack at home (3, Informative)

viking2000 (954894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030580)

I'll buy a stack of these for things like:
-Universal remote
-home automation
-kids games
-nursing room monitor
-Entrance door camera/display/speaker/mic
-Asterisk PBX
-Picture frame for grandma
-etc

An even Better Use (2, Interesting)

monopole (44023) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032238)

Distributed Grid Emergency Response:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6364301.stm [bbc.co.uk]
They're cheap, take a lot of punishment, automatically form ad-hoc wifi meshes, and can be recharged via hand cranking or solar power. With a firmware add-on and an emergency mode switch they could be used for emergency broadcast, first responder requests, and local disaster coordination.

Toss on a dirt cheap low power cellphone GPS for location awareness, and implement traffic control (and using compressed text messages) to optimize bandwidth. Local meshes which have been separated from the rest of the net can be reattached by airdropping battery powered wifi repeaters into the affected area.

Distribute broadly and you have a highly resilient emergency infrastructure which degrades gracefully.

Let us subsidize them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18030698)

They should let us subsidize them. I'd be happy to pay $300 for one of those. For each such sale in the U.S. or Europe, someone in the third world would get a machine for free, with profit left over for the middleman.

The Right Way To Use Moore's Law (4, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030850)

Instead of faster, faster, faster, the OLPC is using Moore's Law for cheaper, cheaper, cheaper. Currently the OLPC costs about $130 per unit.. if demand keeps up, in 12 months we can expect that to drop to the goal of $100, but then what? That's right, those components which fall under Moore's Law (the ram, the cpu, the flash) will just keep dropping in price.

Re:The Right Way To Use Moore's Law (1)

harrkev (623093) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031342)

That's right, those components which fall under Moore's Law (the ram, the cpu, the flash) will just keep dropping in price.
Not really. Once the silicon gets very cheap, you will find that the cost of the packaging (plastic, pins, etc) will become as expensive as the silicon itself, if not more so. Also, you can only shrink the silicon down so far. The die still has to be big enough to put the pads on it. In this case, shrinking the transistors just means more unused silicon area. It will probably be more a case of being able to buy RAM for $3, or double the ram for $4 (just to pull numbers out of my rectal database).

Re:The Right Way To Use Moore's Law (1)

One Louder (595430) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031992)

That's right, those components which fall under Moore's Law (the ram, the cpu, the flash) will just keep dropping in price.
Not necessarily - at some point it's no longer worth the fixed costs to manufacture, inventory, and sell, and the product line is simply discontinued and no longer available at any price.

to just have (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030902)

I would buy one for my son, hes only 10 but, i think it would serve very will for him, its ment to be child like ( anything under 20 ) they would make a good "Computer Toy" for him to play with and have some fun (And cant break as easy as my computers - Damn Spyware...)

just call it the 99 EUR laptop (5, Funny)

cesc (121088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031024)

I can't believe this guys are so bad at marketing, how can they sell a $130 anything? It's marketing 101 guys: prices must end with 99!

Poor guys, where so unlucky, who would have thought back then that Bush would sunk the dollar with his toy wars? I'd recommend them to switch their pricing to a solid, stable currency which enables them to express their price in the usual x99 format. For example the Euro. According to Saint Google:

130 U.S. dollars = 99.3807813 Euros [google.com]

Meaningless currency notes (2, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031216)

The machines currently cost $130, but with that kind of volume the original goal of $100 a machine may be viable.

Really, this kind of comment is rather meaningless for a product that will ship to countries outside of the US. The rise in relative price from $100 to $130 could just reflect the decline in the $US [x-rates.com] on International exchange markets.

Gee, Brain, what are we going to do tonight? (2, Funny)

Gordo_1 (256312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031432)

The same thing we do every night Pinky, build a million OLPC botnet and try to take over the world!

It fits the politicians' need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031738)

It is not about the starving kids need it or not. It is the politicians want it. See, this provides a good reason to spend the tax payers' money. Unlikly PC, there won't be that many vendors competiting with each other. It is just a lot easier to take good profit on a project like this. And you get good publicity.

We Are The Borg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031808)

Resistance is useless.

Your distinctiveness and your OLPC will be added to our own.

Your life will be lived to service us.

We Are Borg.
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