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Lessons To Learn From The OLPC Project

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the keep-it-small-keep-it-cheap dept.

Portables 261

FixedSpelling writes "Whether you're impressed with it or not, the XO-1 could have a major impact on notebook design. The concept behind the OLPC's development brings outside-the-box thinking and cost-consciousness to a level that we rarely see in portable computing. There are a number of lessons that can be learned the from its unique design and we can already see that some of these concepts have been noticed by manufacturers. 'The biggest attraction to the OLPC project has always been the price of the system. You don't have to be a cynic to understand that the impact of a $100 notebook could be huge and the price has generated the majority of the interest in the project. Notebooks break, they get lost, and they are replaced frequently, so the cheaper, the better. The low price was originally important so that the XO-1 could be produced in large quantities without putting too much of a burden on the buyer but the low cost appeals to everyone.'"

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first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20875879)

wtf is an olpc?

Re:first post (2, Informative)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875909)

wtf is an olpc?

Well if you don't want to RTFA, or search google, or wikipedia: Its One Laptop Per Child http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olpc [wikipedia.org]

Re:first post (2, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876259)

Perhaps. But basic editing means you explain what acronyms are unless you are 100% confident you audience knows the term. Granted, I bet 90% of us do. But even when I first saw it, it did not jump to mind. It took a second or to.

I know that Slashdot prides itself on not filtering user submissions. But as long as Slashdot refers to its... its... ermmmm... people who hit the approve button as editors, they should be held to editorial standards.

Re:first post (1)

SpectreBlofeld (886224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876431)

In defense of the editors... the OLPC made the front page of Slashdot several times per month at least over the last year or more. Pretty sure you're the only one who hasn't heard of it.

Re:first post (3, Insightful)

laparel (930257) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876545)

It's a pretty safe assumption that all of slashdot readers know what OLPC means. This is after all news site for geeks at heart and it's not the 1st time we've heard about it here. If you fail to understand it, just read the article is that too much to ask?

If I want RIAA, ISP, RAM, OLPC, etc. to be spelled out for me I'd go read news sites geared toward the general public.

Crank it up (3, Insightful)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875883)

I like the crank. If only I could power my laptop, cell phone, etc that way.

Re:Crank it up (2, Informative)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875963)

The OLPC no longer has the crank. It can be charged by solar or by a pull-string charger but unless you have your own crank, you can't charge it that way.

Re:Crank it up (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876045)

>The OLPC no longer has the crank. It can be charged by solar or by a pull-string charger but unless you have your own crank, you can't charge it that way.

I have my own pull-string, or it can operate as a crank. Any women interested in charging it?

Re:Crank it up (3, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876273)

Any women interested in charging it?

Only women interested in charging you would be interested in charging it if you get my drift.

Re:Crank it up (1)

shanen (462549) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876065)

My own crank? Sounds like a boss I worked for some years ago...

How complicated will it be to get a suitable crank? I'm wondering if there will be a big market for accessories for this thing.

Porn Power Computer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20875991)

What I want is a laptop powered by wanking.

It could use the energy from the wanking to power the laptop.

The faster the user wanks, the brighter the porn is.

If you stop wanking, a picture of Richard M. Stallman nude comes up to warn you that the battery will die in fifteen seconds.

Do you think we could get the OLPC to help build this?

Re:Porn Power Computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876087)

How about a Stallman [wikipedia.org] , Torvalds [wikipedia.org] , and de Raadt [wikipedia.org] lemon party [lemonparty.org] ?

here ya go (5, Informative)

zogger (617870) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876197)

You might like some of the stuff these guys make [freeplayenergy.com] , including a universal human powered charger for small gadgets. We have a couple of their things, the original crank and spring (clockwork) powered multiband radio, and a later, crank to generator model, excellent build quality there. The OLPC guys are still contemplating going with their foot pedal push generator thing, along with the yo yo string puller last I heard.

Re:Crank it up (3, Informative)

GTMoogle (968547) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876549)

It's intended to be able to charge other things through usb.

And the pullstring is better than a crank because you can put your foot through it and just keep tapping while you work.

Maybe they should have patented it all (1, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875889)

And then used the money to lower the price. Not something I would personally do, but seems like a popular fad.

Re:Maybe they should have patented it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20875939)

There is not much to patent.

Re:Maybe they should have patented it all (4, Interesting)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876013)

There is a tremendous amount to patent, but I don't think the OLPC project owns the rights to most of it. Six hour battery life for active use, closer to 24 just using the screen in black and white to read. Pull the string for 1 minute and you get 10 minutes of use. The interface is totally different than anything I have ever used before. A tremendous amount of innovation went into these laptops, and whether I think the project will "succeed" or not, everyone who worked on this project has my respect.

Re:Maybe they should have patented it all (2, Interesting)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876763)

I see a flaw in your plans: Patents don't actually bring in money [slashdot.org] .

How do you get one of these? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20875897)

... and when will they be available for sale in the US?

Re:How do you get one of these? (5, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875941)

You can buy two for $400 [xogiving.org] starting november 12th. One for you, one is donated to a 3rd world kid.

Re:How do you get one of these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876111)

For 200.00 I would buy one for my son but I am not going to waste money to help an UNSPECIFIED third world country at some UNSPECIFIED time in the future.

Re:How do you get one of these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876347)

Here Here!

They taunt the people of this country with the promise of an affordable laptop for a lower class and then turn it in to a bono-esque fashion accessory for the upper class who have no interest in cheap low end laptops. This project's support has been grounded in people like you and me from the beginning.

This is a founder's syndrome inspired bullshit effort to squeeze blood(charity) from the poor.

Re:How do you get one of these? (4, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876231)

Correction: One is donated, if, and only if at least 5,000 people sign up for the deal.

Without any other committing statements contradicting this, I take it to mean that if 3,000 people sign up, they'll send out 3,000 very overpriced XO's to those who order, and the poor kids get no machines.

And no mention about who is going to pay for the infrastructure needed for the machines either, if they reach the 5,000 goal. Not only do they need a support apparatus, but the machines themselves need electricity (the crank never came out, and the other battery charging implements are still not in production, if they ever will be) and Internet (the applications on the XO are leased and have to be renewed over Internet every so often). Just handing out machines like it was bread won't do people any good.

Re:How do you get one of these? (1)

indrax (939495) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876721)

Can you link a sources for that? I've been wondering why the crank hasn't been getting mentioned, and wether the leasing would apply to the US models.

Re:How do you get one of these? (1)

uzybear (1168417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876725)

well, i love my ibm thinkpad x30 i just bought locally for $200; pentiumIII-m, runs ubuntu like magic ;) wifi, best keyboard ever, love it

Re:How do you get one of these? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876257)

Wow. $400 is expensive even for TWO $100 laptops, heck, even 3. Probably would be a good price for 5 of them though, and a downright bargain for 6 of them.

Re:How do you get one of these? (2, Informative)

e9th (652576) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875945)

Here's one way. Not cheap, but you're doing good. http://www.xogiving.org/ [xogiving.org]

Re:How do you get one of these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876083)

Sorry. That was sloppy (and, I see, redundant). Linkish not my first language.

"Notebooks break, they get lost, ...." (1, Insightful)

rozthepimp (638319) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875917)

"Notebooks break, they get lost, and they are replaced frequently" By what percent of notebook users? This does not happen all the time in my universe. Unsupported generalizations in a submission make me want to mod the whole thread down.

Re:"Notebooks break, they get lost, ...." (1)

cindysthongs (1168367) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876175)

I accidently spilled water on a laptop once, it was never the same lol. the worst part about it was that it was a nice sony vaio that just finished its warranty.

Re:"Notebooks break, they get lost, ...." (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876219)

Frequently on a geological scale. I used to get hand-me-downs that were already a year old, and were not replaced during my time with the company. The only time I got one replaced while in the same company was when my first one was stolen, and they gave me a different hand-me-down. I only got my first brand new laptop about a year ago, but it was bought without my input from Compusa (an HP). It sucked hard. Kept turning off with no notice, and when you rebooted, it would get so far and turn off again. Nobody believed me. I got them to get me a Dell after much whining, and they gave the laptop to somebody else, who had the same problems. They replaced the motherboard, and after that it still had the same problems. They need to drop it off the sixth floor roof. But I believe it is still making the rounds in our company, sadly.

Not broke, not lost. (1)

Dog135 (700389) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876407)

I've had the notebook that I'm typing on right now for about 5 years. The battery's shot, but the power supply works (though patchworked with new wires) and the laptop itself still works fine. Sure, 500mhz won't play many games, but it works fine for going online.

I also have my other laptop from the late '90s. I've never lost or broke a laptop. So in my experience, it's 0% lost or broken.

"Your experience is statistically insignificant" - mutant from cut Futurama scene.

Re:Not broke, not lost. (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876553)

I've had the notebook that I'm typing on right now for about 5 years. The battery's shot, but the power supply works (though patchworked with new wires) and the laptop itself still works fine. Sure, 500mhz won't play many games, but it works fine for going online.

I also have my other laptop from the late '90s. I've never lost or broke a laptop. So in my experience, it's 0% lost or broken.

My experience with laptops has been compleatly different than your's. My first laptop had to have it's hdd and motherboard be replaced in the first year. The LCD on my second one cracked when I had it only a few months. Even though I got an extended warranty with it when I got it the LCD wasn't covered. I'm hoping the laptop I'm typing this on will last me at least 3 years.

Falcon

Re:Not broke, not lost. (1)

KIDputer (796668) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876735)

Let 20 kids play with them and in about 10 minutes both your machines would be toast. BTW-power supply rigging would not be acceptable for repair of kids equipment.

Re:"Notebooks break, they get lost, ...." (0, Flamebait)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876521)

I dare you to mod the thread down now :)

my favorite lesson (4, Insightful)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875923)

The greatest lesson to be learned from this is that not everyone thinks that a super, ultra, mega, turbo powerful and equally as powerful processor is what they need. It was exactly what i was telling somebody at work today. If you are into playing games, rendering video, editing really hi-res photos, or doing music editing...need a REALLY powerful machine, with a LOT of ram (actually if you are doing any of these as your job, you should probably be using a mac). However, if you are like me, and your laptop is more or less a thin client that connects to other machines via either Remote Desktop or SSH, then the cheapest, most durable, lightest, and most efficient laptop is EXACTLY what you need.

If I could buy a pallet of these things and run rdesktop and OpenVPN on them, half of my users would be using them from home.
hell, $100 bucks is cheaper than my friggin blackberry! and i bet it doesn't get confused when you throw anything but txt based email at it!

Re:my favorite lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20875957)

turbo powerful and equally as powerful
meant to say, turbo powerful, and equally as power hungry....sorry, got distracted by the dog.....

Re:my favorite lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20875995)

If you are into playing games, rendering video, editing really hi-res photos, or doing music editing...need a REALLY powerful machine, with a LOT of ram (actually if you are doing any of these as your job, you should probably be using a mac)

No comment.

Re:my favorite lesson (2, Insightful)

donnacha (161610) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876611)

If you are into playing games, rendering video, editing really hi-res photos, or doing music editing...need a REALLY powerful machine, with a LOT of ram (actually if you are doing any of these as your job, you should probably be using a mac)
No comment.


Well, I have a comment: Games are what Bootcamp is for.

For everything else on the list - video rendering, high-res photo-editing, music production - you want to boot right back into OS X.

Re:my favorite lesson (0)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876155)

You don't think the issue has anything to do with the most popular os?

Re:my favorite lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876217)

If you are into playing games, rendering video, editing really hi-res photos, or doing music editing...need a REALLY powerful machine, with a LOT of ram (actually if you are doing any of these as your job, you should probably be using a mac).

DISCLAIMER: If you are thinking about getting a lucrative, high-paying job playing games full time you probably shouldn't get the Mac.

Re:my favorite lesson (2, Informative)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876375)

$100 bucks is cheaper than my friggin blackberry!

Of course, the main problem is that to own one as a US citizen, you apparently need to pay more like $400 [olpcnews.com] .

And for $400, you can get a nicer laptop online or even at your local walmart [walmart.com] .

Wake me up again when I could actually buy them for a non-profit charter public charter school for $100, or even $150 each.

Re:my favorite lesson (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876685)

And here is exactly the problem: It's NOT a $100 laptop. All the press and all the promo advertises a $100 - $150 machine. Clearly that has never been so unless the distributor sells it below cost, in which case, so what?

Bull (2, Interesting)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876591)

I call bullshit.

First, if you go about recommending peoeple build their game rigs around macs, I hope they have the sense to tell you you're talking shit. Video editing - maybe, and picassa looks exactly the same on windows and mac, which is what most people nowadays are happy to use rather than face Photoshop's steep learning-curve and/or price.

Second, I too am a sysadmin, and I too use my lappie for things that can be done by a 700MHz P3 like RDP and SSH.

HOWEVER, and this is where you're off the mark by a mile, the big difference between a P3 and the L7500 Core2Duo I'm writing this on now is the fact that the latter consumes WAY LESS power, and offers me insane (by P3 standards) battery life (Thinkpad X60t, before you ask).

Your computer needs don't sum up with the CPU&GPU either. Last year I was laptopless and cashless for a while, and borrowed a Dell lappie from work for several months. Let me tell you something. You won't get work done on 800x600, and my recent move to an SXGA+ (1400*1050) screen DID make a hell of a lot of difference in my ability to get shit done. These won't come standard on Asus EeePC, nor will you find them on entry-level laptop machines.

You're right in that CPU SPEED is not a factor. You're wrong that for someone who wants to do non-CPU-intensive stuff like office work or internet browsing needs the dirt-cheapest lappie he can find. His parameters are different, yes, but they're not non-existent.

And I haven't even mentioned a word about *carrying* (for those that actually take their machine with them) around a frigging battle cruiser, which is what cheap typically amounts to.

Re:Bull (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876785)

And I haven't even mentioned a word about *carrying* (for those that actually take their machine with them) around a frigging battle cruiser, which is what cheap typically amounts to.

The OLPC weighs 1.5 kg.

very few people DO any of that whizbang stuff (4, Insightful)

victorvodka (597971) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876661)

Most people use the web, send email, and word process. I know it's common in Slashdot to talk about your week-long 3D rendering sessions, but the number of people who do that is extremely small. Seriously, I spent some years visiting houses and fixing computers and maybe one person in all those people did stuff with video. I told him to upgrade his RAM from 256 to 512. The point is that one of these basic laptops is ideal for what people really do with their computers, and hardware bloat is just as serious as software bloat (because it makes irrational demands on batteries and heat disposal). Hell, 99% of what I do with a PC can be done on an OLPC. On a related note, Vista was created mostly to give Americans a distorted picture of the hardware they needed to live out their pathetic computational lives, lives that would be satisfied on a Pentium MMX running Windows 98.

One thing I learned ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20875961)

That due to the economics of inflation a $100 laptop really costs $200.

Oh, come now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20875999)

Notebooks break, they get lost, and they are replaced frequently, so the cheaper, the better.

Wouldn't you rather pay $2,000 to have your $100 laptop sent to a special clean room facility to recover the data?

Re:Oh, come now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876167)

Wouldn't you rather pay $2,000 to have your $100 laptop sent to a special clean room facility to recover the data?

How exactly does that work on flash-based storage?

Re:Oh, come now (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876827)

Wouldn't you rather pay $2,000 to have your $100 laptop sent to a special clean room facility to recover the data?

How exactly does that work on flash-based storage?

Very profitably, actually. Why do you ask?

computers in education, smalltalk (4, Interesting)

russellh (547685) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876011)

What I love the most about the OLPC is the key that lets you show the source code (in python!) of the app in use. Which you can modify. and if you mess it up, revert. I'm astonished to see this concept from smalltalk and Alan Kay live on. It couldn't be a better idea. We were having a discussion in a strategy session at my daughters' small montessori school (which goes thru 6th grade), where we were bemoaning the lack of imaginative uses of technology in the classrooms. Beyond a student-produced newsletter and using word processors to write reports... nothing. Nobody seems to know what to do. But the OLPC is taking the lead in saying kids can and should be allowed to do so much more - the mere fact that here you are given a facility to modify your complex tools should be revolutionary.

Re:computers in education, smalltalk (4, Interesting)

theguyfromsaturn (802938) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876233)

What I love from the specs of the OLPC is the cranking recharging, and networking abilities. From a civil engineer's perspective, it's great for lots of field tasks where you may want to syncronize the compilation of guys working in different ends of the field, while at the same time giving them the ability to keep the device working with occasional cranking ups when the battery is dead and it is not practical to go running back and forth to the truck for recharging. It's ideal for civil engineering field work where you spend 12 hour shifts on site.... Add to it solar cells in ADDITION to the crank and it's wonderful. There are many tasks where you don't need the ultra PC. But the ability to turn into a TABLET added to those other features that I mentioned make it an ideal field computer.

Re:computers in education, smalltalk (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876247)

I agree, absolutely. My 7 year old son, under the guise of ICT, is being taught how to "use" Microsha$t Office. Whaaaat? I questioned the head, & I quote "We're getting them ready for employment".

Tossers.

Re:computers in education, smalltalk (1)

chris_sawtell (10326) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876689)

Go to Squeakland [squeakland.org] There are executables for Mac, Linux, and Windows. It's exactly what a child needs as an introduction to Comp. Sci. There is even a button to expose the Smalltalk text of the code.

After getting proficient with the E-Toys, they might like to progress to Blender [blender3d.org] , which has the Python programming language built-in.

An important lesson: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876019)

If it's too cheap to be true, it probably is.

Linus is right (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876023)

I am with Linus on this one. For the life of me I can't understand what this sucking up to RMS is about. Linus himself does not think GPLv3 is a good thing. So why do people keep adopting it.
Without Linus FOSS is tossed. Not following Linus is dangerous for the survival of FOSS.

Are you going to try the twofer offer? (3, Interesting)

shanen (462549) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876039)

I'm seriously thinking about it. It's possible that the machine will be so nice that I'll use it for my regular light duty stuff (email and basic surfing). Given the current state of the Internet, I actually feel like it's less likely that the donated machine will help the target kid, but it's supposed to be the thought that counts, eh?

However, I wish the twofer offer had a provision for donating the second machine if it's too far from tolerable for my uses. I can afford to donate the 400 bucks to charity...

Re:Are you going to try the twofer offer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876085)

You can also donate 400 bucks now.

File the OLPC as TNBT under old news.. (1, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876125)

"Notebooks break, they get lost, and they are replaced frequently, so the cheaper, the better."

They also represent a dieing phase of mobile-hardware evolution.

By the time OLPC positives coalesce, apps & data for the masses will all be ubiquitously net-available, meaning anything more than a terminal will be/is outdated.

Of course, the OLPC is still a viable tool for the left-behinds.

Re:File the OLPC as TNBT under old news.. (1)

Germik (955292) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876653)

Can you show me a cheaper portable terminal with all the features that would make it suitable for a kid to use it?

One ? per child? (-1, Flamebait)

moehoward (668736) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876149)


I think that they are on to something with OLPC. But, maybe ahead of their time. I'm sort of in the Clifford Stoll school of camp regarding computers in the classroom for pre-teens.

To me, sounds like they just went with tech-jargon-BS and said that the computer is the best way to move to a better education. If all the money they spent, and want to spend, on 3rd-world education went to just.. um... BOOKS, then they would have probably accomplished twice their goal by now.

They seem simply to be wanting to make a "point" with the OLPC. The fact that 3rd world countries look at it economically/socially and reject it makes them go to the "make the 1st-world-feel-better-by-donating" attitude. Still wrong. When you have dug yourself into a hole, stop digging. The 3rd-world does not want steal-able OLPC's at a subsidized rate. They want food and books and teachers. Let's not jump ahead of frickin' simple Sociology 101.

Moe

Re:One ? per child? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876243)

I find it ironic that the OLPC project is always regarded with such high praise, while any mention of a school district investing in laptops is always met with disdain and remarks such as "why does a kid need a laptop anyway? He'll just break it/lose it/trade it for drugs".

laptops required (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876459)

I find it ironic that the OLPC project is always regarded with such high praise, while any mention of a school district investing in laptops is always met with disdain and remarks such as "why does a kid need a laptop anyway?

More and more colleges are requiring laptops. Some even require a specific brand or model with a specific OS, usually Windows. Some colleges include a laptop in the tuition, others require students to get one themselves.

Falcon

Re:One ? per child? (2, Insightful)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876403)

To me, sounds like they just went with tech-jargon-BS and said that the computer is the best way to move to a better education.

I must of missed it, can you show me where they say a computer is the best way to improve education?

If all the money they spent, and want to spend, on 3rd-world education went to just.. um... BOOKS, then they would have probably accomplished twice their goal by now.

Text books in the Third World are expensive, especially when they have to be replace yearly do to editing of corrections and updating them. With a net connection an e-book on a laptop these can easily, quickly, and cheaply. A child have even be able to carry a number of e-books on one XO, then when they finish one class the text used can be placed with new text. Then you can have not just one BOOK but a bunch of BOOKS.

Falcon

Re:One ? per child? (1)

bitrex (859228) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876709)

Text books in the Third World are expensive
They're pretty expensive here in the first world, as well.

With a net connection an e-book on a laptop these can easily, quickly, and cheaply.

I've seen very few textbooks released in e-book format; most of the ones I have seen were in very specialized subjects and released under the GNU FDL. I doubt that textbook publishing companies will jump at the chance to release e-book versions of up-to-date, popular textbooks, undercut their own profits, and put themselves in the same position as the RIAA with regards to piracy, regardless of how much it benefits impoverished children. Even pharmaceutical companies jealously guard their IP when it comes to having low-cost generics manufactured overseas, and in that case there are lives at stake.

On the other hand, publishers might release e-book versions of textbooks a generation or two old at a low price - that could help deal with the problem of piracy by consumers in the first world (since many courses, particularly in college, require the latest edition), and selling some e-books at a reduced price would be better than selling nothing at a high price for both parties involved.

Two things I liked (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876161)

Were the day glow green color and, in the original specs, the hand crank. I wanted to take notes on my bright green notebook during one of those interminable sales demos, then right in the middle plug in my hand crank and charge up my laptop. Sorry, just charging up, go right on.

Then they took the hand crank out of the design and my whole sales demo interrupt fantasy just fell apart. But by that time I was already hooked on the idea of cheap laptop with built-in mesh networking.

I think I'd use the less powerful and more portable laptop more than a power brick that costs $3,000.00. If it linked in to my desktop when in range, all the better.

Too bad about the hand crank, though.

a new hope (1)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876701)

But now it is suppose to be using a pull string.

"Go right ahead sir, I'm just charging my computer", as you stand
up and pretend to be pull starting a chainsaw.

or tie a little handle on the end of it and pretend you are at
the gym during the sales pitch.

I think there is still hope for this machine

The $175 Laptop (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876181)

I may just be pulling the exact number out of my ass, but I thought it stopped being the $100 laptop and became the $175 laptop a while ago. Why are people still calling it the $100 laptop?

Re:The $175 Laptop (2, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876289)

It is intended to be down to $100 by 2008. For the record, some casual browsing turned up a brand new AMD powered Compaq for only $400. I bet by 2008, we'll be down to $350 or $300. Of course, you can find your fill of used laptops on eBay for $100 that offer several multiples of the performance of the OLPC. But I guess it's about the widgety kid-tailored interface.
Somehow, I suspect by the time OLPC manages to research its way into a $100 laptop for kids, the majors will be beating down the doors with the same product. Oh, well. Best of luck to 'em anyway.

Re:The $175 Laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876631)

Like most things technology, the real marvel of the OLPC is the software. Have you looked at all the cool apps they're making for that thing? For one example, TamTam [laptop.org] is this little music app and you can use the keyboard as a midi controller. There are also paint apps, games, programming exercises.

For a parent, this is exciting stuff! You can pay a lot for a mountain of LeapFrog toys, which are probably a good thing from ages 0-3. Or you can pay $30 a pop for educational software on Windows or Mac, most of which are kind of narrowly designed (not-so-kid-friendly hardware not included). Or you can buy one of these laptops and get nice open ended educational applications with equally really nice kid friendly hardware. Even the typical middle class family spends tons of money on educational toys. They charge a premium for stuff that will hold the attention of a kid, educate them, and not cause serious injury. And parents eat it up because they're crazy like that.

As the software matures, OLPC looks like it could be the educational toy of choice for middle class to upper middle class parents in the United States.

But they aren't $100 genius (-1, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876189)

last i checked, the OLPC is well over $100.

http://www.engadget.com/2007/09/15/100-olpc-xo-1-to-cost-at-least-188-over-200-in-uruguay/ [engadget.com]

so i guess that the moral of the story isn't to cook up such stupid ideas, put a price tag on it and THEN try make the project fit the price tag. it's poor managment if i ever saw it.

things cost as much as they are going to cost. I can annouce the $100 aeroplan with 100% first class seating for all, but it's still going to cost more then $100 no matter how much i wish otherwise.

Re:But they aren't $100 genius (1)

SpectreBlofeld (886224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876413)

Why is he modded as troll? The summary says they're $100 and he's pointing out they're not, even in Uruguay. Look, he cites a source and everything.

Re:But they aren't $100 genius (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876511)

This is what happens when you dare to speak the truth, don't worry i'm plenty used to it by now. As you said i cited a source, gave my reasons. yet i'm still a troll.

Re:But they aren't $100 genius (2, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876731)

I figured that the lesson learned from the $100 laptop was how to get other of people to pay for your commercial R&D while praising you for being a humanitarian by claiming that your product will be much cheaper than is realistic, claiming that you are doing if for charity, and maybe selling a few thousand at cost when you get it far enough along to be manufactured.

This project is a scam. If the goal is to teach kids about computers, there are much cheaper, and far more durable ways to do it. I can't find it know, but when the "$100" PC was first announced, I went out and priced what it would cost to build a PC based around a C64 as a core, and I could get the parts RETAIL in single unit prices for ~$90. The only thing that was not included was the wireless networking, but it did include the hand crank, as the DTV (C64) runs off of 4 AA batteries. It shouldn't be that hard to generate 6 volts with a hand crank.

Power & display (1)

rustalot42684 (1055008) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876195)

The two things I like best about the OLPC are:
  • The battery that lasts for 24 hours
  • The tablet screen that gets 200dpi and is readable in direct sunlight

Re:Power & display (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876241)

I sure like that the battery costs about $10 to replace..

Re:Power & display (0)

bananaendian (928499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876417)

The tablet screen that gets 200dpi and is readable in direct sunlight

Aargh! Where does this craze for higher and higher pixel density come from! Whats the point of more pixels on the screen if the screen is still the same physical size.

And the problems 200ppi causes. It fucks up your eyes trying to see and read graphical text and fixed elements which most of the internet still uses. Already I have to frequently use the 'increase font size' on my browser to get the text to a reable size - and my display is SXGA/19"= 86ppi ! And the problem is getting worse as the ignorance of webdevelopers increases. We started the internet at 72ppi and now we are maybe a 100ppi on average...

A 200dpi display given to billions of children around the world surfing the web with it! I'd look for an increase in spectacle sales!

Re:Power & display (3, Insightful)

spuzzzzzzz (807185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876581)

Laser printers print at 600dpi and above, but you don't need a magnifying glass to read the output. The point is that the size of a character on-screen should not depend on the dpi of the display. If the GUI is properly designed, the fonts will be large enough and the high pixel density will allow the fonts to be smoother.

Re:Power & display (1)

pantherace (165052) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876793)

Microsoft thanks you for your devotion to their fixed pixel sizes. Linux, or Mac, I've not really had a problem excluding some old apps (think xlib programmed things). Windows on the other hand...

Re:Power & display (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876825)

Aargh! Where does this craze for higher and higher pixel density come from! Whats the point of more pixels on the screen if the screen is still the same physical size....Already I have to frequently use the 'increase font size' on my browser to get the text to a reable size - and my display is SXGA/19"= 86ppi !

A trivial problem. A browser preference to use a minimum font size will fix that. In any case, hardly any fonts on a PC are bitmaps (i.e. defined by pixels). Most are outline (defined by curves, like Truetype). Higher resolution just means sharper edges. or nicer anti-aliasing, at the same size.

Your particular problem could be solved by a browser tweak, like Greasemonkey in Firefox.

Cynic...? (0, Redundant)

barl0w (516673) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876211)

> You don't have to be a cynic to understand that the impact of a $100 notebook could be huge and the price has generated the majority of the interest in the project.

_If_ the notebook was really $100 then maybe I wouldn't be so cynical.

The only way to get one of these in the US is to participate in the Give One Get One program [xogiving.org] , where you buy 2 and give one away to help a child that would otherwise not receive an XO. It's a noble cause, but now you've upped the price for one (to the general public) from $100 to $400. We're still very far away from the realization of a $100 notebook, in my opinion.

See one of these XO notebooks next to a common Dell laptop. They are extremely smaller in size:

http://flickr.com/photos/barl0w/1101266148/ [flickr.com]

Re:Cynic...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876495)

OLPC is a child education project, not a laptop project.

All of this could be ripped off... (2, Informative)

freezingweasel (1049610) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876215)

From http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Home [laptop.org]

OLPC espouses five core principles: (1) child ownership; (2) low ages; (3) saturation; (4) connection; and ***(5) free and open source.***

Someone else can run with option 5, to make an equivalent, for adults laptop. Depending on performance, we may finally see a machine mass-produced, showing acceptable speed and avertising that it's doing so despite "under-powered" hardware.

If this was mass-produced, people would finally have reason to question: why do I need this super-great/expensive machine for the latest OS? Sure we have plenty of tiny OSes out there, Puppy Linux, D*** Small Linux and various others from scratch. The problem is the same that kept Linux from the spotlight... it's not pre-installed on PCs sitting on store shelves.

(Sure the above efficiency question is asked frequently from one version of Windows to the next, but default installs of Linux flavors trying to be mainstream-ready are a bit slow on older hardware as well.)

I can't wait to see the results on the marketplace...

Re:All of this could be ripped off... (1)

jdp816 (895616) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876557)

It is almost there. It's called the ASUS Eee PC - a Linux based ultra portable laptop, slated to retail fro $199-399, with flash based storage. Given the current specs, implementing the rest of your idea is not a far leap at all.

Re:All of this could be ripped off... (0, Flamebait)

KIDputer (796668) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876835)

Thank God some company is taking a stand to end this socialist not for profit manufacturing campaign. Socialist (open source) software has some logic, but if you think we would have the technology we have today if the real companies like Intel and AMD were trying to make multi-billion dollar wafer fab plants from a socialist movement, look no further than North Korea. Yes NK could produce great open source software, 100 year old nuclear technology, but they could NEVER make a multi-billion dollar wafer fab plant without the free market to fund it. OLPC=socialism, e.g. not for profit manufacturing e.g to take away market share from people that took the risk to create the market.

Standard Laptop Cases, Please! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876229)

What's needed are some standard laptop cases, so components of standard sizes can be used to build systems. Use something like a PC-104 design with flat connectors, so you can choose whether to add a more powerful graphics card or something else. Have a DVD drive sized area where you can choose whether you need a DVD drive, more hard drives, more batteries. There obviously will be a need for several different sizes due to various portability-vs-power needs, but there can be more flexibility for machines...and more competition.

Re:Standard Laptop Cases, Please! (1)

satoshi1 (794000) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876671)

If you want all that, then you've missed the point of this project.

Re:Standard Laptop Cases, Please! (1)

KIDputer (796668) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876747)

And just what is the point of this project??? Maybe to put laptop manufacturers out of business through a process of socialized not for profit manufacturing? Can you say Communism?

(plus oNe Informative) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876313)

shall we? OK! to make suRe 7he posts. Due to the which don't use the

the lesson is: you probably don't need a laptop. (2, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876439)

Notebooks break, they get lost, and they are replaced frequently, so the cheaper, the better.

No. The more reason to drop the laptop fetish. Laptops absolutely have their appropriate uses- but desktops work just fine for a huge percentage of people. Their components are cheaper, more easily replaced, and usually superior in performance. Nevermind that forcing you to sit in front of the computer, as opposed to being available to you in bed, on your couch, on your porch, etc- means you're more prone to wasting more time on the internet.

Yet...very few people I know will even consider a desktop. It drives me insane in business settings- I can do all manner of repairs and data recovery very, very easily on a desktop. Laptops are a total mixed bag ranging from "the company will have a tech here tomorrow morning" to "ARRRRG its going to take an hour to get the damn thing apart."

Thinkpads and Dells are the best, from my experience; HP sells a lot of consumer-ish crap. Apple gets a failing grade in almost every regard; iBooks, Powerbooks, and Macbook Pros are MISERABLE to disassemble for hard drive replacement. iBooks require damn near COMPLETE disassembly to get to the drive. The only plus is firewire target disk mode, but that is near useless in case of hardware failure.

Re:the lesson is: you probably don't need a laptop (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876669)

Macbook Pros are MISERABLE to disassemble for hard drive replacement.

Translation: you've never actually seen one.

Re:the lesson is: you probably don't need a laptop (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876777)

No. The more reason to drop the laptop fetish. Laptops absolutely have their appropriate uses- but desktops work just fine for a huge percentage of people. Their components are cheaper, more easily replaced, and usually superior in performance. Nevermind that forcing you to sit in front of the computer, as opposed to being available to you in bed, on your couch, on your porch, etc- means you're more prone to wasting more time on the internet.

I used think along those lines before I got my first Thinkpad. While I still sit and work at a proper desk, I prefer doing everything possible on the laptop. The keyboard is better, no reaching for the mouse (for the click-and-point stuff), the noise doesn't get any lower, and the compact size allows me to to use my desk for "real-world" things, not to mention I can look out the window without having to turn my head. And, if needed, I can get up and take it elsewhere.

I think your objections have everything to do with the cost and engineering involved in making something so small so that it can function like a larger machine -- higher priced parts makes for higher price replacement parts, for example. That people tend more and more to prefer laptops (for whatever reason) should be expected. As for the goals of the OLPC project, the traditional desktop/keyboard/monitor approach is out of the question.

Going to a conference (2, Informative)

Daishiman (698845) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876525)

My local LUG is having a large conference tomorrow, where one of the highlights is an introduction to programming on the OLPC.

At least in Argentina, where a deployment is being scheduled, the entire Free Software community has the hots for this. Whether it succeeds or not as en educational tool, it's pioneering a new paradigm of computing; the truly small, truly cheap, truly rugged laptop.

OLPC system images (4, Informative)

snark23 (122331) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876551)

Here's something that might interest those who are thinking about the $400 two-fer, but want to play with XO first...

You can emulate most of it with qemu or vmware. It's easy.

    See: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Emulating_the_XO/Quick_Start [laptop.org]

Seemed a pretty sluggish on my wimpy Core Duo 1.66, but lots of that may be due to a lack of hardware accelerated video in qemu.

Anyhow, check it out. Good times.

(It does seem odd to use Python as the primary language on a slow CPU with little memory, but it seems to work okay...)

Wireless Mesh Network! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876633)

The wireless mesh networking capability will be awesome! I'm in the US, if all my neighbors had wireless mesh networking, low power, and open then there would always be a network connection available. It would also be free. The users would create their own internet.

Industrial PDA's (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876635)

Could probably sell thousands per year as rugged, portable laptops for field service techs.

Serious question: (3, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876659)

Why are they using x86? ARM or SHx are both much more power efficient, work with linux (and get more done per clock cycle). Did AMD give them a good deal on low end chips they couldn't get rid of?

OLPC add engine....slashdot (-1, Flamebait)

KIDputer (796668) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876687)

Like it or not Slashdot has become the online advertising campaign for the OLPC scam. Now it is a $175 laptop and don't forget we ALREADY had $175 computers, they are called Pocket PCs and already contain many thousands of learning applications like ePocrates. Lets total that up: OLPC Laptop: $175 Power Supply: $50 Carrying case: $29 Broadband Connection: $480/yr. Avg Repairs over 3 years: $58 Extra software that cost money: $100-$500 Music Downloads: $100/yr Porn/Malware Blockers: $30/yr. External Hard Disk: $50 Obviously, a regular laptop is actually cheaper: Recent price at Dell.com $399 with rebate, includes battery, power supply and for $39 a carrying case. Now here is the real killer: MANY companies are poised ready eat the $200 cost of producing a similar unit in exchange for a monthly service charge like a cell phone for stuff like you know updates, support, repairs, etc. They are just waiting for the market to materialize from the vaporware state. So exactly how do you turn Slashdot into your personal advertising campaign, I have many ideas I need to sell as well???

Oh dear $100 is a lot of money (1)

diegocn (1109503) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876695)

From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry of India has rejected Nicholas Negroponte's offer of $100 laptops for schoolchildren. The Ministry has stated plans to make laptops at $10 for schoolchildren.
Consider the average annual income in those countries is usually less than $1000, unless one day we can make it under $10, I don't see how it can be affordable. As for western consumers who are looking for light-weight/cheaper alternatives, a 2nd hand laptop from ebay will usually does the job, and cost well under $200.

How stupid can people here be? (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876797)

I have now seen a load of comments along the lines of "you can get a cheap Walmart laptop for $400" and it's so much better.

No, it is not better. It does have more RAM, a faster CPU and a larger disk. However, it does not have a 24 hour battery life, the ability to run without a mains supply, a rugged design that will allow it to last a long time in a tough environment or a screen which will work in direct sunlight. It also doesn't generare oits of heat, so it doesn't need one of those awful laptop CPU fans which are so unreliable on low end machines.

So yeah, you get lower speed specs, but you get other much higher specs instead. And it's still 1/4 of the price or 1/3 or whatever the price ends up being.

So, no that $400 Dell is not even nearly equivalent. Come to think of it that $4000 Dell isn't equivalent either. Something with that portability, ruggedness and battery life would be vastly more useful to a lot of people than a high end, high power, fragile and very expensive computer.

Remember, a computer is more than just the CPU speed.
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