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David Pogue Reviews the XO Laptop

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the little-engine-that-could dept.

Education 303

Maximum Prophet writes "David Pogue, technology reviewer at the New York Times, has taken a first-hand look at the XO laptop, also known as the 'One Laptop Per Child' project, or the '$100 Laptop'. His reaction is very favorable, having tested it out via several criteria. And ultimately, he writes, the laptop is about more than just technology for the people. 'The biggest obstacle to the XO's success is not technology -- it's already a wonder -- but fear. Overseas ministers of education fear that changing the status quo might risk their jobs. Big-name computer makers fear that the XO will steal away an overlooked two-billion-person market. Critics fear that the poorest countries need food, malaria protection and clean water far more than computers. But the XO deserves to overcome those fears. Despite all the obstacles and doubters, O.L.P.C. has come up with a laptop that's tough and simple enough for hot, humid, dusty locales; cool enough to keep young minds engaged, both at school and at home; and open, flexible and collaborative enough to support a million different teaching and learning styles.'"

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first tits! (-1, Troll)

Asshat_Nazi (946431) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857481)

boobs are a myth!

Re:first tits! (-1, Troll)

meme_police (645420) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857655)

My biggest fear is that the children that receive these laptops won't be able to use them as they wish to because of all the proprietary, undocumented hardware used in these systems.

http://linux.slashdot.org/linux/06/10/10/1232241.shtml [slashdot.org]

Re:first tits! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20857765)

What does this have to do with tits/ boobs, exactly?

Re:first tits! (3, Interesting)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857861)

Yes, in fact an ideal "change the world" computer should come with a complete schematics. Local tech industry can then get off the ground by manufacturing clones costing way less than $100 and eventually making more powerful versions for adults and even businesses.

Re:first tits! (3, Funny)

jdigriz (676802) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858065)

Nah, an ideal "change the world" computer should come with self-replicating nanoassemblers so it can then produce more copies of itself from garbage as well as provide food, shelter, electricity generation and anything else the user might need.

yeah (2, Interesting)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858127)

virtually all ham radios, even the new ones with the tiny pitch SMT soldered components, come with schematics. I'm on a mailing list for the Yaesu FT-817 [yaesu.com] and people have broken it open to swap out resistors to improve performance. Ham radio operators complain that nowadays we are just 'appliance operators': computer users haven't been experimentalists/hobbyists for the most part for 20+ years, although a few still do tinker. I wonder if it will come full circle someday and computers will be more of a hobbyist build, with schematics and more possibilities.

Re:yeah (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858511)

I wonder if it will come full circle someday and computers will be more of a hobbyist build, with schematics and more possibilities.
Perhaps when printed circuits are truely printable circuits. If the technology for using a printer to print out operational circuit "boards" complete with all the ICs, resistors, capactitors etc becomes advanced and inexpensive enough then how many geeks will be able to resist? Especially if the design software is OSS. Greatest hindrances possible would be patent law and printer jambs.

Re:first tits! (3, Informative)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858183)

How is any local tech industry going to manufacture clones for less? As Negroponte has pointed out, assembly costs for the XO are only ~$1 per machine. They'd need to import all the individual components, anyway.

Re:first tits! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858037)

That's your biggest fear? Keep in mind that the people receiving these can barely read in most cases. Providing them with powerful learning tools is much more important.

Honestly, sometimes I think people are so militant in the open source/non-proprietary movement that they fail to see the good that the market can sometimes produce.

Re:first tits! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858449)

Modded troll? Jeez, what a bunch of uptight, naive moderators.

I for one... (3, Funny)

Kiuas (1084567) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857567)

...welcome our new laptop using child hacker overlords.

LICK MY BALLS OLPC (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858171)

I love OLPC. I therefore want OLPC to teabag me.

Re:I for one... (1, Troll)

wsanders (114993) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858445)

You misspelled "... new laptop using YET STILL ILLITERATE child hacker overlords."

Although to be fair I think the OLPC project is more about replacing heavy, expensive, quickly-obsoleted textbooks than anything else.

Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (4, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857593)

What these well-meaning folks never seem to consider is that not all these kids are going to use their laptops for education and nice stuff like that. A third-world kid, given the internet might well decide to use it for things like scams [cnn.com] (especially when he is exposed to the vast wealth of the first-world) and, of course, porn [reuters.com] .

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857677)

And, of course, trying to take over the world!! Right, Pinky?

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857743)

I think so, Brain, but pantyhose are so uncomfortable in the summertime!

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (1)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857975)

Favorite Pinky and the Brain exchange ever: "Um, I think so Brain, but me and Pippi Longstockings, what would the kids look like?" (I know I know offtopic, but what the hell, I had to say it)

The scams I understand. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857817)

And porn is a bad thing because...?

Re:The scams I understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20857905)

Because a 2000-year-old book says that sexual pleasure is wrong.

Re:The scams I understand. (1)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858199)

This is either a pretty good troll, or one extremely misinformed person.

The book to which this AC is referring says no such thing. In fact, it says quite the opposite. (It just says that, handled irresponsibly, there are not-so-pleasant consequences. Which shouldn't be surprising, since handling anything irresponsibly - even low-cost computers - typically has not-so-pleasant consequences). After all, isn't one of the big controversies over OLPC / XO the "fear" that the technology will be used irresponsibly?

But, of course, this is Slashdot, where Misinformation and Assumptions Rule.

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (4, Insightful)

semiotec (948062) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857761)

What critics like you never seem to consider is that perhaps they _have_ considered the possibility and concluded that the benefit it will bring these countries and children outweighs the harm that some individuals might do?

Or are you advocating that we should just cut them loose entirely? embargo the entire continent until they've managed to pull themselves up to the first world standard, just in case any aid we give them backfires on us? (yes, I am well aware that I am exaggerating for the sake of dramatics).

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (1, Troll)

AaxelB (1034884) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857897)

I'm not sure exactly where I stand in this argument, but the natural rebuttal is that the money spent on computers for the children might be better spent on things like malaria research/treatment and providing more food. It's not so much "computers could be used for bad, so we shouldn't get them," but more like "computers come with a small number of bad things, whereas only good can come from giving starving people food."

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858083)

> whereas only good can come from giving starving people food

Not entirely true.

Merely giving handouts takes responsibility away from the
recipient. They begin to abdicate responsibility for their
own destiny. While superficially charitable, such handouts
can prevent people from solving their own problems in a
manner much more effective than "outsiders" would.

Give a man a fish and you may end up with a dependent mooch.

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (1)

hayek_fan (1167561) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858259)

Not really. Only bad things come from giving starving people food - they get used to it (hence expect further supplies in the future) and it costs you money without any possibility of ROI. Giving them a computer (not for porn / surfing the web, but to allow them to have more than one book per class), you give them education, improve GDP etc.

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858397)

whereas only good can come from giving starving people food

Especially if it is GM [guardian.co.uk] crops.

CC.

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858483)

Malaria is well addressed by spot application of DDT. Really. Sure, making it more treatable is wonderful, but there are excellent control methods available. As far as spending money on food goes, there is a growing movement who believe that poverty is often a result of structural economic problems, and better addressed politically than with gifts of food. Educating millions is a great way to influence politics.

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858635)

might be better spent on things like malaria research/treatment and providing more food.

Should we stop spending money on schools, and spend it on malaria research/treatment and providing more food instead?

Why not use a multilayer approach? Communication can be key to getting food, and to combating malaria.

Not everyone in the third world is starving in a malaria invested jungle.

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (2)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858069)

I know I'll be buying four of them for Xmas, two for poor kids, one for my daughter, one for my niece. She's only just turned seven, and is already designing video games in Squeak [squeak.org] , which comes with the OLPC, so I imagine this will work well for her.

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858557)

are you advocating that we should just cut them loose entirely?

Of course not. But it is, nonetheless, an issue that can get lost in OLPC "Making the world a better place" rhetoric. We shouldn't go into this with rose-colored glasses, with blind idealism.

When the very poor and uneducated encounter the world of the (relatively) educated and wealthy, it can inspire some of them to improve themselves. But, in others, it can inspire resentment and envy.

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858753)

When you say "we" I assume this means that you yourself have contributed something significant to the effort?

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857927)

OLPC is providing mechanism, not policy.
You seem to have the negative view of human nature posed by some of old:

"For two and a half years Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel debated this question.
These said: It would have been better for man not to have been created than for him to be created.
These said: It is better for man to have been created, than for him not to have been created.
They concluded: It would have been better for man not to have been created, but now that he has been created - let him examine his deeds." (Eiruvin, 13: 72).
http://kerenyishai.org/shiur_english/bereshit61.htm [kerenyishai.org]
I'd take the view that, if enough are helped, the urge to waste the gift may be minimized.
You at least have to give Negroponte et al. credit for doing something

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (2, Insightful)

Deadplant (212273) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858087)

and? your argument seems to be that people should be kept ignorant and powerless because some people will use knowledge and power for evil.
I don't think you've thought your cunning plan all the way through...

(I think I'll just bite my tongue on the porn issue for the moment)

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (2, Insightful)

Braino420 (896819) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858093)

Ya, it's a good thing that scams and porn don't happen on America's internets. Because if it did, that would definitely outweigh ANY benefits whatsoever and should definitely be shut down. If it can be used for bad, I DONT WANT ANY. Seriously though, are you joking as much as I am?

I love it when people take initiative to do what they think is the right thing, and then the people sitting on the sidelines are like, "Oh, you're doing it all wrong, you should do absolutely nothing like me." It really makes life entertaining for me.

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (2, Insightful)

whistlingtony (691548) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858215)

Ha!

If those kids become socially, technically, and linguistically educated enough to run the scam, I'd say the laptop is a success. The kids will have learned english gooder... :D They'll have figured out the wonders of email, not to mention begun a lifetime of tinkering with the backgrounds of things instead of taking what's presented to them, and they'll have savvied up to American culture. They'll be reading more, writing more....

It's jaded and crappy, but how is that not a success still?

And Porn? Well, you could make a case that porn, put in the hands of a kid that doesn't understand that the context, could warp normal sexual relationships. I think the rampant religion has already done that though, so no worries.... Remember, sex is BAD kids! The dinosours died because you touch yourself at night.

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (1)

GnarlyDoug (1109205) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858545)

Hmmm. Fire can be used for evil as well. I guess by your logic that whole fire thing was a bad idea as well.

Re:Don't assume they'll be just be used for good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858727)

FIRE BAD!

BREAD GOOD!

$100 laptop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20857603)

More like $399 laptop, AM I RITE [slashdot.org] ?

It doesn't matter (1)

superbrose (1030148) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858205)

If the dollar continues its current trend [yahoo.com] then it will be even more affordable, maybe the project will be renamed to NLPC!

Yo, Editors: (2, Informative)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857615)

"Pogue" is the spelling.

Of course there's fear. (2, Insightful)

Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857637)

If you take a path no-one has taken before, you're basically risking your reputation (and I guess in the countries in question your life as well) on something that isn't proven to work. Or, in the case of Windows, isn't proven to sort of work.

The real question becomes, then, how afraid are you? Innovation always involves fear. But it involves ridiculous rewards when you're right.

When you consider that the course of action in question involves the betterment of an entire generation of children, and quite possibly their children as well, you can't be faulted for at least trying something new. Even something untested, because face it, your old and busted way isn't working very well.

Re:Of course there's fear. (1)

NearlyHeadless (110901) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858045)

Hopefully, trying out XO will involve a few dozen pilot projects in different countries. Given what studies have shown in the U.S. about the value of computers to education, I expect the pilot projects to show that the laptops would be a tremendous waste of money .

Re: Of course there's fear. (4, Insightful)

Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858089)

If it were merely education in a classroom setting, I could see it as a distraction, a detriment of some kind. But the XO is about a different kind of education entirely, one not driven (necessarily) by classroom learning. It's about enabling a generation to become familiar with computers, with computing metaphors, and even better, UNIX.

It could be like a quantum leap for an entire generation of kids. They might take it to the next level. Punch it up a notch. Fly high. Other metaphors and similes.

Eh? (4, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857653)

Big-name computer makers fear that the XO will steal away an overlooked two-billion-person market.
Why should anyone care what they think? If they're not going to produce a similar product that that two billion person market can afford, to heck with them. Of course they'll loose the sale if no one can afford their product.

THEY WILL LOOSE THE SALE... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20857745)

...and let lose the dogs of war!

Re:THEY WILL LOOSE THE SALE... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20857847)

I think you mean the chihuahuas of rigged capitalism. (Outsourcing to cheaper countries is fine, but when the little guy does something better than you, time to bite the proverbial ankles)

Re:Eh? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858629)

I hope they loose a sale. I'm always on the hunt for a good deal...

xoxoxo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20857671)

pougue, noun:

1 :to flail with a keyboard
2 :any of various techniques inferior to actual editing

Can I flash the thing (3, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857695)

I'd possibly buy one for $400 but I wouldn't want the software that comes with it. I hope Bitfrost is disabled and you can flash an alternative OS onto it. Otherwise it's the Asus Eee PC for me. To be honest I really need something like these PCs. A normal laptop is too heavy, too expensive, too fragile to take on short breaks or travelling. These things fit the bill perfectly. I can see an enormous market for them.

Maybe they should even sell a proper commercial OLPC (in black perhaps) to consumers expressly for this purpose. Use the profits to subsidize the educational version.

Re:Can I flash the thing (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857863)

I'd possibly buy one for $400 but I wouldn't want the software that comes with it. I hope Bitfrost is disabled and you can flash an alternative OS onto it. Otherwise it's the Asus Eee PC for me. To be honest I really need something like these PCs. A normal laptop is too heavy, too expensive, too fragile to take on short breaks or travelling. These things fit the bill perfectly.

I got a Compaq for $350 a few weeks ago. 15" widescreen, NVidia accelerated graphics. Just over 5 pounds, feels sturdy in my hands. I use it to cart numbers between work/school/home as I work on my PhD. The XO weighs over 3 pounds and is worse in every techinical respect (processor, memory, hard disk space, drives, etc). Does 2 pounds really make or break portability to you?

Re:Can I flash the thing (4, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858079)

Bad comparison. Is you Compaq designed to take all sorts of abuse, and be able to withstand water and dust and such? How long does your Compaq run on battery? Does it have no moving parts other than the keyboard? Or is it rather fragile.

This is not designed to compete in the regular laptop market, but if they upped the keyboard to adult size it would probably work for 90+% of US citizen's real needs.

Re:Can I flash the thing (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858279)

Is you Compaq designed to take all sorts of abuse, and be able to withstand water and dust and such?

For the average adult? Yea. I wasn't saying the XO should be replaced by a Compaq, I said for this particular user.

And yes, my two year old son spilled a cup of water on it two weeks ago. Still alive and kicking :)

Re:Can I flash the thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858591)

Obviously they aren't going to sell locked laptops to individual consumers. That was a feature that was reluctantly added at the request of several countries, with the intention of unlocking the laptop when the child leaves school.

But you should evaluate the size of the laptop carefully... If you are not going to give it to a child (and if you have moderately sized hands and intend to do a lot of typing), it may not be for you; the keyboard is quite small.

I'm not sure how the Asus machine compares... If the Asus is the same size, its keyboard may be equally cramped, but the keys may be easier for an adult to use; the XO's are sealed rubber which is more rugged but may be less comfortable.

I think the XO would work pretty well for less keyboard-intensive things, like its "game"/tablet mode, but I don't think there's a lot of software support for that yet. The tablet mode is one thing the Asus doesn't have, though.

Photoshop? (4, Informative)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857727)

The Linux operating system doesnt run Microsoft Office, Photoshop or any other standard Mac or Windows programs.
Wait--I got ripped off. My computer came with windows, but it didn't come standard with Microsoft Office or Photoshop!

In all seriousness, though, the OLPC comes with OpenOffice and Gimp, which seem like fine alternatives to me for a bunch of African kids getting the laptop for free.

Evidently, you have never seen one! (1)

feranick (858651) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858551)

"the OLPC comes with OpenOffice and Gimp" No, it doesn't. They both fall into the "bloated" software category, and they would run really poorly on the device (possibly the GIMP, for sure openoffice.org.

Steal away an overlooked two-billion-person market (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20857733)

How can you "steal away" something that is being overlooked?

It sounds like they may be defining a new marketspace that others will be free to join and compete in.

If OLPC was so good, it would be sold in US (2, Interesting)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857755)

After all, children do not stop needing cool, rugged laptops just because they have clean water and no malaria. Many US families are by no means reach and those pedal/crank/cord charging schemes would come very handy on scout trips. It's a bonus that the laptops will not run most viruses or "mature" 3D games. A modest market at somewhat higher price in US will lower costs through mass production as well as directly subsidize free - not even $100 - laptops for truly poor countries.

The fact that the OLPCs are not offered in US toy stores even before pushing them abroad makes me suspect that they are seriously underpowered machines without much available software and are not as fun and cool as the project leaders would have us think.

Re:If OLPC was so good, it would be sold in US (5, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857991)

That's flat out moronic. It's an amazing machine.

So why not sell them in the US?

  • "It don't fit my hands?"
  • "Where do I put the CD?"
  • "Where is the start menu?"
  • "Why can't my kids play XBox on it?"

These are ingenious little machines. It would be very smart to sell them to US consumers, but frankly I think the US computer market (something that includes me) tends to be... on average... far too ignorant to be able to buy these effectively. They will consider them all broken because they aren't "normal" computers.

All this is ignoring the fact the whole point of this project is to help 3rd world people, not give Americans another way to IM their friends.

They aren't underpowered, they have plenty of power. You don't NEED a dual CPU 2.x GHz laptop with 2 gigs of RAM to compute. This think would kick my Mac LC II around the block so bad it wouldn't be funny.

Re:If OLPC was so good, it would be sold in US (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858605)

Dung Bettle races and Throw the Dead Monkey beat Tertris every damn time, outside of the US, of course. However, where the OLPC will really shine is with that new 3rd World MMORPG, Rich Ignorant White American Pretend Time with Private Bathroom and No Flies!

Re:If OLPC was so good, it would be sold in US (4, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858019)

The fact that the OLPCs are not offered in US toy stores even before pushing them abroad makes me suspect that they are seriously underpowered machines without much available software and are not as fun and cool as the project leaders would have us think.


They aren't designed as toys. They are designed as educational tools to be used in an environment where they interact with others with similar hardware, school servers, etc., and to support centralized distribution of software and content by the agency purchasing them.

I also don't think you understand the marketing costs and risk associated with a mass retail marketing effort, particular of a product which is designed for the specific needs of a very different one than you are trying to market it to at retail.

Re:If OLPC was so good, it would be sold in US (2, Informative)

MathFox (686808) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858149)

I'ld like to add that they need to produce millions of near identical computers to get the economy of scale to produce it at $150-200 cost. A run for the US toys stores would be too small. It is possible that some surplus will end up in regular "western" sales channels.

Re:If OLPC was so good, it would be sold in US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858381)

although their target consumers are outside of US, they can at least ,perhaps do a passive marketing here and still use the revenues to subsidize. I really dont understand why they cant sell OLPC for $250 or something like that in here and use that to subsidize the price elsewhere

Re:If OLPC was so good, it would be sold in US (1)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858133)

Yet another person who completely missed the point. The point of the OLPC is to provide education in areas that have hundreds of children per teacher, and the classrooms are horribly lacking in the standard teaching tools we take for granted.

American children already have well funded, well equipped, and well staffed (all relative to third world countries, mind you) school systems. Thus, the purpose of a computer in an American school is often less for the purpose of education in general than for education of the specifics of the computer. As in, learn how to write a Word document, use a spreadsheet, do research online, etc.

The OLPC project on the other hand, is not about giving a child a laptop, its about giving a child a real education.

Even so, the OLPC is going to be offered in the US [xogiving.org] , in a plan much like what you described. I, for one, am going to order one the first moment I can.

Re:If OLPC was so good, it would be sold in US (1)

Ilan Volow (539597) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858305)

Perhaps. But it's also hard to rule out the possibility that the market in the US is stagnant, risk-averse, and unimaginative.

If OLPC succeeds, maybe people in the US will start questioning why they can't bring computers to scouting trips, or why $3000 worth of engineering in a laptop didn't add another $3 of sturdier plastic that would have prevented it from shattering after a fall of only 3ft.

Re:If OLPC was so good, it would be sold in US (1)

ChaosDiscord (4913) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858407)

The OLPC project's primary interest is helping children in the poorest parts of the world. I expect that providing US children with an inexpensive toy is pretty low on their list of goals.

Re:If OLPC was so good, it would be sold in US (1)

Deadplant (212273) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858505)

In fact you will be able to buy them in the US.
Your purchase will also subsidize the free ones for poor countries.
google for 'purchase olpc'

I got to see one in person at the Ottawa Linux Symposium and I'm planning on buying one.

Re:If OLPC was so good, it would be sold in US (1)

Deadplant (212273) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858763)

It will be for sale in the US for a limited time.
Here is a better URL:

http://www.xogiving.org/ [xogiving.org]

A child?? I must have turn the logo the wrong way (5, Funny)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857767)

FTFA: "The laptop is now called the XO, because if you turn the logo 90 degrees, it looks like a child."

90 degrees in which direction? If you turn it the other way it looks like a skull and crossbones.

Re:A child?? I must have turn the logo the wrong w (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20857907)

90 degrees counterclockwise.

Head.
Arms.
Legs.

Re:A child?? I must have turn the logo the wrong w (2, Informative)

MagicM (85041) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858177)

The skull and crossbones is the child. See the website [laptop.org] .

Re:A child?? I must have turn the logo the wrong w (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858229)

And if you turn it the other way, it looks like an O with an X on its head.

Or maybe John Madden was trying out as spokesman and had too much fun with the telestrator :)

And turning it the other way ... (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858615)

I can't help but being reminded of this guy [randyrants.com] . I think this is a strong enabling sign for children -- he represents a symbol of someone who doesn't need to take crap from scrawny weaklings like you people.

Going against slashdot trend (1)

valkabo (840034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857791)

I for one think this thing is amazing! You have to relize that some places getting these laptops may have almost no other computer capabilities. These things may be it, along with one or two old pc's at school. This could really change a lot

No food? No problem! (0, Flamebait)

serginho (909707) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857805)

"Critics fear that the poorest countries need food, malaria protection and clean water far more than computers. But the XO deserves to overcome those fears."

What a great argument. Of course people in poor countries don't need medicine, clean water and food. They have other priorities, such as laptop computer. And of course they'll just work it all out with these new wonders of technology! It's like the iPhone, only for barefoot, illiterate, sick, starving people.

Maybe Pogue should care to see first-hand what misery is really like before making these outrageous statements from the comfort of his suburban home.

Re:No food? No problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858359)

Maybe you need to get over your Hollywood and National Geographic inspired image of Africa. Almost all the countries and communities in Africa might be devastatingly poor by your standards (unless you've grown up in rural Mississippi), but food and water and basic medical care are actually available to many million of children in Africa and Asia. Prospects for a competitive education and sustainable employment, on the other hand, are much less common. There's an incredibly large niche for the XO. By all accounts an XO is likely cheaper than trying to equip schools with paper books; that alone is as a compelling argument as any.

Also, more money and donations don't always work. You could increase the dollars going to the Sudanese refugees by many billions and not change things in the slightest. Of course, neither would the XO help them. But the point is that all the worlds problems can't be solved by rich people donating the detritus of their wealth to the starving, lamentable masses.

Re:No food? No problem! (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858367)

It's like the iPhone, only for barefoot, illiterate, sick, starving people.
Because barefoot, illiterate, sick, starving people should never be given anything that might make them less illiterate (and thus, eventually, less barefoot, sick and starving).

The XO is a way for teachers to stay in touch with illiterate parents. The XO is textbooks that won't be burnt for heat. The XO is exposure to the same kind of ability to learn valuable skills that first-world children have been enjoying for decades. The XO is, in short, a chance at a better future.

Only the extremes exist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858393)

This laptop is for poor kids whose basic necessities are taken care of. Do you have a problem understanding that? LET ME REPEAT IT -- This laptop is for poor kids whose basic necessities are taken care of. There are poor people without adequate access to education, who ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH to eat and basic health care. Education is needed so they can have even more things so they won't fallback into extreme poverty.

Re:No food? No problem! (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858703)

What is your fear, exactly? That poor people will learn to read and write and no longer need to work for you as gardeners and housekeepers?


Maybe *you* should leave your air-conditioned apartment in Leblon or Morumbi and learn first-hand what poor people really need.

tradeoffs (3, Interesting)

LwPhD (1052842) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857825)

Despite some of my reservations (some of them in common with Pogue) I really hope that this "little laptop that could" becomes widely adopted. If it is, it will be game changing on so many levels. It is so much more than a teaching tool. Not only will it redefine who gets to participate in the market of ideas, it will change the pricing for laptop prices across the board. Perhaps even quicken the convergence between cell phones, PDAs, laptops, and other media centers. The little device is just wicked cool.

However, there are some darker sides to it. Online addiction [bbc.co.uk] is epidemic in China. Also, if the OLPC is actually successful, some suggest that their owners would man a CAPTCHA solving army [olpcnews.com] .

In the end, I think these risks are worth the benefits. And wide adoption is the least of the project's worries. It seems as if adoption is taking off a little too slowly.

Less is More? (2, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857843)

A rather thin article to be sure, but this machine does offer something appealing - less of everything.

More and more, after years of Windows, then a Mac, then dabbling with various Linux distros, I find myself questioning just how much of the junk on my computers is essential or even useful.

Less moving parts, simpler and fewer applications, and limited capabilities, all sound like positives, not negatives, if only because it could slow the endless stream of updates and fixes, each of which seems to introduce other problems.

I can see an OLPC machine as really good daily machine for e-mail, browsing, and some everyday tasks like word processing, at least with a bigger hard drive. With the option of maintaining a desktop PC, even a generation older, to handle the heavy lifting of Adobe and similar tools, I could probably get by nicely with this little unit.

Re:Less is More? (1)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858023)

With an external hard drive at your desk (next to your window-mounted solar panel), some manner of file share on your home network, or even a large thumbdrive, you might not even need a conventional-sized hard drive.

It's a matter of perspective, I guess (1)

g1zmo (315166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857903)

FTFA:

The laptop is now called the XO, because if you turn the logo 90 degrees, it looks like a child.

It looks more like the symbol on poison labels and pirate ships, if you ask me.

Terminal + ssh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20857935)

All I need is a terminal + ssh and vi(m).

So teh question beckons!!!

It's called the "Web", guys (4, Insightful)

Turing Machine (144300) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857937)

Critics fear that the poorest countries need food, malaria protection and clean water far more than computers.

'Cause there's no way that you could possibly use one of these things to learn about sustainable agriculture [wikipedia.org] , malaria prevention [cdc.gov] , or safe drinking water [who.int] , right?

Re:It's called the "Web", guys (1)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858091)

My god .... somebody on Slashdot GETS it. My brain is going to explode.

Re:It's called the "Web", guys (1)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858353)

Yes, you could theoretically use that to learn about those things. But computers don't bring in resources that aren't currently in a geographic location. Those are protected by people with guns. That's what people often forget: education is great and all, but without hard physical resources that education is useless.

I'm all for education, but these people need education and resources. In fact, most people will tell you that having more resources makes it simpler to learn, because less time is spent trying to survive and is therefore available to learn. The current state of many "poor" countries is that there is an immediate tradeoff between "hrm, should I study for an hour or spend an hour protecting the few vegetable plants I have from rodents or theives?"

I think that there is a necessary balance between education and the resources to mobilize that education. Education itself doesn't do anything unless it somehow brings in resources that aren't available in these areas.

So, great - these folks will have an education program. Now how do we get them raw materials and factories to construct an infrastructure without having the local warlords or whomever steal or destroy them and avoid the rest of the international community saying "hey quit being a bully state!"?

Remember, again, that most world problems today aren't technical, but political.

It's gotta be better (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#20857997)

than my Osborne I.

Oh- wait, Adam Osborne was from Thailand.....

$12 PV panel? (1)

Two99Point80 (542678) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858119)

Sounds too good to be true. Hope I'm wrong...

looks like a child? (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858219)

The laptop is now called the XO, because if you turn the logo 90 degrees, it looks like a child.
The fuck? Where are they handing these things out, Love Canal?

What "need" does this fulfill? (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858273)

I'm still trying to figure out what social ill these things are supposed to cure. I won't perpetuate the popular stereotype of straw huts and rampant starvation and disease, but I don't buy into this assumption that African progress is being hindered by a lack of cheap computers, of all things.

Re:What "need" does this fulfill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858663)

It's not. It's a money-making enterprise and nothing more, wrapped in a faux-philanthropic advertising package. I'm so sick of hearing about this crap $100 laptop that will retail for $200 or more (so sayeth Negroponte himself) and how it's going to change the world. What's worse are the /. evangelists who defend the concept in the face of any criticism whatsoever, while the product has yet to be seen (is this the first review? I haven't seen any others yet).

ridiculous technocentric exuberance (0, Troll)

drDugan (219551) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858293)

At the risk of getting flames from a tech-oriented /. crowd, I still don't agree or possibly don't fully understand the mentality behind a push to get laptops into the hands of children in poor countries. I see it as folly, and missing the point of what people really want.

Strip away all the bullshit of society and people are very simple emotion-driven machines: they want the good feelings and they avoid the bad feelings. That's it. At the deepest level, there is nothing more - everything else people want is an artifact or support within a (very) dysfunctional cultural system. Good feelings come from learning, food, sex, (long term) safety, love, and gratification (self worth). Bad feelings come from physical pain, attachment, sickness, hunger, sorrow, guilt, shame, anger and hate. These lists are incomplete and gross simplifications - but no where in there is the latest technology, the fastest ipod/palm pilot/pc/ whatever. No where on the lists is the fastest Comcast download speed, a cool car, or any of the other techno-pushed bullshit that people think is important.

The only reasons people want this stuff (new technology) both in 1st worlds and 3rd, is that these people get the emotions they want in society when they have them. Expensive do-dads are signals of status and status gets you laid, it gets you security through a job, it gives (sort of) some access to learning, and from ones job, it gets you food and a safe place to live. I can't help but think that pushing laptops into children of third world countries we are exporting our own techno-centric unhealth, our materialistic orientation on how to have the feelings we really want, but that new technology does not and can not give us.

There is extreme irony that the same technology that reflects signals of status also supports online systems of non-economic status that is increasingly important (explicit reputation), and cannot be easily purchased. Reputation- explicit, online and public is enabled in a connected world, and (I think) will become more powerful than the petty materialism people revert to in order to have self worth within a culture that thrives on most people having low self worth and working hard to make up for it. In fact, these systems are already here, people just have not realized it yet - as it takes years for people to understand how the rules of society change.

You are short sighted. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858773)

The reason for giving these to people in 3rd world countries is to allow access to information. Information that can help them improve their lot. Educated societies are needed to have continuous and reliable infrastructure.

"No where on the lists is the fastest Comcast download speed, a cool car, or any of the other techno-pushed bullshit that people think is important."

oh really?
Lets see:
Being online allows one to communicate with LOVED one. -- Love
It gives a person options to improve you FAMILIES lives. -- Security
It allow you to educate yourself -- Learning
Can be used to pool resource of food -- eating
Can be used to find out what your government is doing, tell you what water sources are bad -- Long term safety.
By helping you improve you, and your families lives improves gratification.

You think you thinking is about some enlightened state, but really you just lack imagination.

Online reputation is meaningless. It's to easy to mess with. Astro-turfing being the most blatant example. The only reputation that matters is the same as always: How they treated you, or people you trust.

An alternative (1)

suitti (447395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858389)

My five year old Palm has become unreliable, and i'm replacing it. I've purchased a Nokia 770. It was about $150, but there were deals as low as $130. It's on closeout - the 800 is out. That's something like $100. It runs Linux. It's not a laptop. It's more shirt pocket form factor.

It comes with a video player, audio player, web browser (it does WiFi, BlueTooth, and USB), email, chat, PDF reader, wordpad (HTML instead of RTF), games like chess, mahjong. There are a bunch of apps that can be downloaded for free, so, presumably, it could be distributed with a good collection.

OK, so there's no keyboard. There's a microphone, but no voice recognition. But that's just a matter of software, right?

More serious is that there does not appear to be a word processor. You can deconvolve Word and read it...

Anyway, with some serious software porting, this device could really kick.

64 MB RAM, 128 MB flash onboard. A slot comes with a 64 MB flash card. I've got a 2 GB flash on order...

You might say that it isn't a laptop. But for me, it is. I intend to use it as i used my old laptop.

120 Euro laptop? (2, Funny)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858525)

Price has been nearly constant in Euros since the project was conceived :-)

Sold. (1)

Triv (181010) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858639)

Okay. Seen reviews of the software, the hardware and the man behind the project. I'll pay 300-400 dollars for one Right The Hell Now. So where do I get one?


Triv

Review Reminds Me of the Old Days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858687)

Reminds me of the early days where the power of tech's rapid growth was really starting to impress itself on people. Back in the day when we read the first few issues of Wired, where they would feature true rebel / revolutionaries of the digital world, rather than the bloated titans of industry that we mostly get now. Back when there was a palpable exitement about tech in the air. When we all thought that computers and the internet and unimagined digital wonders would really and finally make life better for everyone -- bringing power to the people, spreading the word, the freedom of information, and all that.

Those old days are gone for us, but for a couple billion third world grade schoolers, they are just beginning. And I envy them for that.

I, for one, welcome our XO overlords (1)

Cervantes (612861) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858707)

I'm happy to see this getting off the ground, finally. And I'm happy to see a limited US run. I hope many of the well-to-do schools decide to sponsor a Third-World school and do some fundraising to that end. I mean, seriously, Little Suzy can raise thousands of dollars so her Girl Scout group can go to Disneyland... I'm sure at least a few benevolent people will try to do something a little more valuable to the world.

And to all the damn naysayers out there... Information is Power. Even a little bit helps a lot. Even one laptop and a little bit of internet in a village will help that village learn, will help them find answers to their problems, and will help them communicate with the outside world. Things like the solar panel add-on and the pull-cord power generator are just plain smart, and the Mesh network is also a great idea. I hope this takes off enough for someone to develop a simple cell-network-based dish assembly (with solar power and pull-cord generator) to provide internet access. Sure, it may be dial-up slow, but who cares? For many of these people, this may be the first real exposure they have to technology, and the first real chance to experience something outside of their little slice of the world.

Plus, now there's a chance for better learning, even for those who don't have net access. There's always relief orgs and missionaries crisscrossing the continent. Now, instead of having to carry piles of books... bring a pack of memory cards loaded with some useful books and teaching materials. It's a whole new chance for people to learn a whole new world. And whether it sells millions or just thousands, it doesn't matter. At least a few people will benefit, at least some parts of the world will change for the better. Everyone whining about the specs or the market or the "I can buy a better Compaq" is missing the point entirely.

I only wish I had $400,000,000, and the extra $$ to distribute these to the neediest sections of the world and train everyone up on it. That, unlike Disneyland, or Save the Dolphins, or Sweet-16 breast implants, really is a way to chance the world.

And on a seperate note... I hope they do take off a bit in the US. It'd be nice to see schoolkids with a platform like this for collaboration and learning. With the low cost, robust construction, and targeted software, it'd be a great way for kids to learn about computers without sitting in front of a quad core p4 playing a stupid Flash game while secretly browsing Victorias Secret in the background.

$200? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20858729)

OK its a $100 laptop. Then why does it cost $200 to send one to a child. I know shipping to remote locations, perhaps by hand...but if I sent 50 of them they can send them for less you'd think right?
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