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Big Delays, Small Laptops: OLPC XO Recipients Mad

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the give-one-get-one-if-you-are-lucky dept.

Portables 165

PCWMike writes to tell us about the growing concern over the failure of OLPC to deliver laptops to some of its customers. PC World editor-in-chief Harry McCracken notes that record-keeping was poor for some of the people who paid via PayPal. A report on LinuxJournal also suggests that customer information was lost due to errors in the database software used by OLPC. Quoting PC World: "OLPC spokesperson Jackie Lustig acknowledges problems with the ordering and the fulfillment process, but says the biggest challenges are a short supply of XO laptops and the organization's ability to meet consumer demand for the XO laptop. Some also wonder whether chronic delivery problems for Give One, Get One donors may bode poorly for the 15 countries slated to receive nearly 500,000 XO notebooks. Lustig says delivering in bulk to just over a dozen countries is infinitely simpler than processing and delivering 80,000 individual laptops."

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Money transferred but no accountability? (5, Funny)

Malevolent Tester (1201209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180270)

They're really getting the hang of foreign aid. I applaud OLPC for their quick adaption.

Re:Money transferred but no accountability? (5, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180606)

Also, they've unashamedly fucking over their early adopters and strongest advocates. Have they been acquired by Apple?

Re:Money transferred but no accountability? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22181236)

I ordered a "give one, get one" on the first day and got it just a few weeks later.

Re:Money transferred but no accountability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22183390)

I'm just surprised the /. editors didn't get the name wrong:

PC World editor-in-chief Phil McCracken notes that record-keeping was poor for some of the people who paid via PayPal.

Why am I not surprised? (4, Interesting)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180278)

Starry-eyed desire to save the world is a good drive, but fulfilling the orders and delivering on the promises requires a lot of mundane work. One needs to get "all corporationy" to provide consistently good service...

Re:Why am I not surprised? (4, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180516)

Actually not true, in fact getting 'all corporationy' really means how far can you minimise service, support and the cost savings achieved do not exceed the number of customers lost, including the customary PR=B$ snow jobs, which attempt to convince the customer they are the only one with a problem and it was their fault anyhow and even so the corporation still cares about their problem and it will be completely resolved in two weeks, two more weeks, yet two more weeks, just two more weeks, honest just two more weeks, 'er', two weeks after a likely to be successful class action law suit is initiated.

All OLPC needs to do is ensure they are able to focus upon delivery or subcontract those services out to a logistics company that can achieve those goals at a reasonable price. The logistics route is often simpler as those companies can readily handle break down packaging from bulk to individual orders as well as final delivery to the recipient and if required keep the recipient advised if there are any delivery delays.

Re:Why am I not surprised? (3, Interesting)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180576)

Actually not true, in fact getting 'all corporationy' really means how far can you minimise ...

And the answer is not far at all... Just wait for these orders to finally arrive and people try to get support for them... Dell got a lot of flaming over outsourcing support to India — OLPC outsourced it to the even worse-trained rural teachers, etc. There'll be more horror-stories — watch this place.

All OLPC needs to do is ... subcontract those services out to a logistics company

Yes, I agree, that's one way to get "corporationy" — unless you can name a logistics co-op/commune, that is...

Re:Why am I not surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22181464)

All OLPC needs to do is ensure they are able to focus upon delivery or subcontract those services out to a logistics company that can achieve those goals at a reasonable price.
Part of the problem may have been the OLPC's desire to accomplish these goals at an unreasonable price: free. Rather than charging more for shipping, OLPC constrained themselves to use only logistics companies willing to work pro bono, arguing that they are passing the savings on to the children. I don't know the numbers involved, so I can't say if the cost savings was worth it. But with reported call wait times regularly in excess of 45 minutes, I get the impression that the logistics companies are using the work's pro bono nature as an excuse to provide substandard service. While I had no problems receiving my order, I feel bad for the people stuck in this customer relations nightmare -- both the customers and OLPC.

But other than this delivery problem and the sticky key problem, OLPC is doing amazingly well. I don't think there's ever been a non-profit hardware manufacturer before, and in just a few short years these guys have delivered a product vastly superior to the market leaders' offerings.

Re:Why am I not surprised? (0, Offtopic)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180844)


"Starry-eyed desire to save the world is a good drive, but fulfilling the orders and delivering on the promises requires a lot of mundane work."

Post-modern cynicism sounds really sophisticated and cool, but actually saying something meaningful requires some knowledge of the specifics and not merely sweeping generalisations.

And as another poster has noted, since when do corporations "provide consistently good service"??

Re:Why am I not surprised? (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181138)

Well, when is the last time you had a major reputable corporation just completely lose you order after you paid them? Not lose your shipment, not screw your order up, but COMPLETELY LOSE IT. This suggests a pretty basic level of incompetence.

Re:Why am I not surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22181332)

Newark electronics did it to be twice last year (On the same order no less).

Re:Why am I not surprised? (3, Insightful)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181574)

Well, I haven't had a major coporation lose an order of mine. However, I'm a small sample set.

I've just moved to the UK, and the incompetence of various companies has absolutely astounded me. I've just set up
Banking
Phone
Internet
Mobile Phones
Insurance

Not once - NOT A SINGLE TIME - has the company not cocked up something that has required me to phone them back (and queue on the phone) at least once. Several cases have require multiple such calls (the worst required me to ditch them and go with someone else). Seriously, corporations suck - in my experience they're much more hopeless than government organisations. I reckon that whoever says the opposite has an agenda.

Re:Why am I not surprised? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181090)

Does this mean that Mr. Negroponte is going to stop letting me wear my "Legalize it!" t-shirt to meetings? Oh, man...he used to be SO cool too.

It *is* simpler (5, Insightful)

BlackHawk (15529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180286)

He is absolutely correct; a half-million units shipped to just 12 to 15 destinations *IS* simple by comparison. Just look at the complexities of UPS' operations in moving 80000 packages within the boundaries of the US, and that becomes apparent.

Re:It *is* simpler (5, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180432)

He is absolutely correct; a half-million units shipped to just 12 to 15 destinations *IS* simple by comparison. Just look at the complexities of UPS' operations in moving 80000 packages within the boundaries of the US, and that becomes apparent.
Yep. This is why any company that does significant amounts of shipping has an entire department and sometimes more than one department devoted to it. Some companies even have entire shipping divisions. Moving a large number of packages quickly is a significant undertaking and that's why there's an entire industry called the logistics industry devoted to it. A friend of mine works in the logistics industry and her job is to coordinate the shipping of packages and crates to various places around the world. It's a big job.

Re:It *is* simpler (2, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180472)

He is absolutely correct; a half-million units shipped to just 12 to 15 destinations *IS* simple by comparison. Just look at the complexities of UPS' operations in moving 80000 packages within the boundaries of the US, and that becomes apparent.

Sure, but they're not hand delivering the things themselves. All they needed was some decent software to keep track of orders, print labels, slap the labels on boxes, and ship the boxes via UPS. This, it seems, is what they FUBAR'ed.

Re:It *is* simpler (0, Troll)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180628)

Yeah, go with UPS. The $100 laptop which now costs $200, is actually going to cost $300 once you account for shipping costs.

Re:It *is* simpler (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181072)

Yeah, go with UPS. The $100 laptop which now costs $200, is actually going to cost $300 once you account for shipping costs.

Cheaper than FedEx. OK, so ship it priority mail. The actual carrier doesn't matter, the point is they are using one, and they're not hand-delivering the things with their own trucks.

Re:It *is* simpler (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181204)

Shipping out five or ten is simple. 80,000 is hard.
You have to hire and train the people to do it. They have to get paid, taxes collected, schelde, deliveries must be timed shipping bills must be paid, boxes bought. Then you must make sure that the people do the work correctly and that they don't steal the notebooks.
It really isn't as simple as you think it is. Let's face it these people are note stupid but they are having problems with this. It only seems simple from the view point of arrogance and ignorance. Just shipping out 10,000 CDs for a software update is a big job.

Re:It *is* simpler (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180514)

Shipping one unit to one location is simple.

Shipping 100 units to 100 locations is simple.

Shipping 80,000 units to 80,000 locations is also simple, though the volume is orders of magnitude higher.

The problem is that they did not appropriately plan and acquire/devote resources to distribution. Maybe they didn't think about the extra cost associated with tracking and distributing those orders.

There is no reason why distribution of pre-orders should present any kind of challenge to a company. This is not on-demand shipping, or just-in-time delivery. This is simply basic distribution scaled up.

Maybe I'm a bit harsh, but there is simply no excuse for someone to promise deliverables without a plan to deliver them. Did they not expect so many orders?

Re:It *is* simpler (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180586)

"Did they not expect so many orders?"

More likely they were more concerned with marketing and getting orders, and then simply forgot about the complexities behind the scaling of something usually so simple a PBH could do it. It's an easy mistake for a new business.

Re:It *is* simpler (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180846)

Yeah but all that kind of stuff is booooooring.

Re:It *is* simpler (-1, Troll)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181566)

Maybe I'm a bit harsh, but there is simply no excuse for someone to promise deliverables without a plan to deliver them. Did they not expect so many orders?

I guess not, kinda like with the Xbox Live [slashdot.org] Christmas new account surge.

Probably would be a good idea to keep Microsoft away from the OPLC. Oh, wait. [slashdot.org]

Re:It *is* simpler (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22182348)

Say as a shipper you make mistakes about 1% of the time. Shipping 1 package, you will probably get it right. Shipping 100 packages, you will make 1 or 2 mistakes. Ship 80,000 packages and you are going to make 800 or 1000 mistakes. If you have to deal with mistakes on an individual basis and can't deal with a bunch of them the same way you scaled up your distribution, you end up with quite a problem...

Re:It *is* simpler (2, Informative)

SkyDude (919251) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181966)

He is absolutely correct; a half-million units shipped to just 12 to 15 destinations *IS* simple by comparison. Just look at the complexities of UPS' operations in moving 80000 packages within the boundaries of the US, and that becomes apparent.

Tue, but UPS manages to do it effectively. So does Fedex.

By the way, UPS moves approximately 10,000,000 parcels per day, not 80,000. Fedex does around 7,000,000 per day. What's needed is professional logistics management, and that may end up costing more than this product will support.

Re:It *is* simpler (2, Insightful)

Lugae (88858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22182482)

You, sir, are correct. Consumer fulfillment can be done very effectively, but it takes a lot of setup time to fool-proof things. Since they're only doing one run of this consumer fulfillment business, they probably didn't do all of the setup necessary. I would think that their ability to deliver these to their target audience abroad will be much simpler by comparison, which is where the production issue comes up.

Please reconcile (5, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180298)

From the summary:

"OLPC spokesperson Jackie Lustig acknowledges problems with the ordering and the fulfillment process, but says the biggest challenges are a short supply of XO laptops and the organization's ability to meet consumer demand for the XO laptop....Lustig says delivering in bulk to just over a dozen countries is infinitely simpler than processing and delivering 80,000 individual laptops."

But how can that be, if the problem is short supply of the laptop?

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Please reconcile (3, Interesting)

Captain Chaos (13688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180782)

The large shipments to developing nations take priority over G1G1 donor shipments. This was made clear while the program was running, but it appears some people must not have paid attention to that. I donated and I am still waiting on mine, but I'm not hopping mad like some people seem to be. I knew getting me my laptop wasn't the top priority, as was made clear on the site. I am anxious to get my hands on one, but I just got an update Wednesday, so it may not be too much longer since I am in the shipping queue for the next shipment.

Re:Please reconcile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22181646)

Have you ever considered that there might be more than one problem at the same time? This is not an MMORPG where you get quest after quest, you know.

Patience and Hope (3, Insightful)

jbrohan (1102957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180310)

This OLPC is going to change the world. I've got mine now and it is wonderful exactly what is needed IMHO. They are trying to do something that is very very hard and they need all the encouragement and kind words that are to be found. I hope they solve their delivery problems smoothly soon. No lack of talent in this group of people.

Re:Patience and Hope (1, Insightful)

legoman666 (1098377) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180414)

Change the world? Hardly. It's just a laptop; it doesn't cure cancer, it doesn't feed hungry mouths, it doesn't provide shelter, it doesn't provide electricity, it doesn't cure AIDS, and it doesn't solve a whole other myriad of problems. It is a laptop. One would think that people in thrid world countries recieveing the OLPC would have more pressing matters than giving everyone a laptop, but I guess not. There are a million better things to spend money on.

Re:Patience and Hope (1)

Twisted Willie (1035374) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180532)

The OLPC can (will?) vastly improve the eduction of third world children. It's better to teach a man how to fish than to just give him a fish. The OLPC is just taking this to a new level.

Re:Patience and Hope (0, Redundant)

legoman666 (1098377) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180560)

great, so they'll be hungry, sick, and cold. But god dammit, at least they'll be educated. Simply handing them 100,000 laptops is not education. There is more to it than that.

Re:Patience and Hope (1)

kryliss (72493) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180852)

It's a start. Apparently with all the agencies just giving food, clothing, medicine etc, that isn't enough. I think it's a pretty good idea. A computer itself isn't going to do it but educate them on how to use it and somehow getting them access to the internet so they can find information will be the start. Of course many of these computers may end up being traded/stolen etc, there will be some good out of this. They will have access to information that they would not normally have. Who knows.....

Re:Patience and Hope (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180970)

Not every third-world child is starving and sick. My wife grew up in the Caribbean, and while the school was open air and high-tech was chalk and a 20-year-old textbook, she received a very decent education. An OLPC, while not exactly the most pressing need, would have certainly given them exposure to computers that they do not get, even now (we visited recently - still no computers, but they at least removed the patch of bamboo that they formerly lashed the kids with).

Re:Patience and Hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22180988)

This is starting to get annoying. They're not selling them to countries that are having trouble feeding people; they're selling them to countries that are at the point where the next step is education.

It's insulting to imply that just because they weren't lucky enough to grow up in the first world that they don't deserve knowledge and the opportunity to learn, and should instead be relegated to some second class world citizenry that can never go beyond worrying about the basics of life. The countries that are ordering from OLPC have the basics down, they're ready for the next step.

Far too many first world people are so focused on trying to be "helpful" with concerns like yours, when all they're really doing is making things worse. In effect, you're reserving the best things in life for yourselves and your first world companions -- God forbid those in poorer conditions than you ever get the luxuries you spend your entire life in. Be careful -- the same paternalistic justifications you use to claim they're not ready for laptops were the same that were used to justify slavery and communism: that some classes of people just aren't "ready" or "able" to handle things beyond basic needs. That's disgusting and it's disturbing on so many levels that people in the first world, who are supposed to be so educated and smart, can think like this.

Re:Patience and Hope (3, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180650)

> It's better to teach a man how to fish than to just give him a fish.

And better yet to let a man fish [thp.org] . Or a woman, as the case may be (kind of insane to not allow the majority of your farm workforce to own property).

Re:Patience and Hope (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180930)

Say what? Let me look at what that's saying: there's sufficient food around, but people can't get it. If that were the case, then increasing crop yields via genetic manipulation is a solution to the wrong problem. In turn, that would mean that Monsanto et al are a bunch of money grubbing bastards.

I must be a luddite or a communist.

Re:Patience and Hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22181592)

It is written:

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.

Give a man a computer and he will post silly fish analogies on Slashdot.

Re:Patience and Hope (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181744)

I like "Give a man a Twinkie and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to steal Twinkies and he'll eat for life."

It's sort of appropriate too since they are shipping them to Nigeria, the place that invented 419 scam [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Patience and Hope (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22182462)

I do believe that the OLPC and the Internet is a step towards that. Figure that article alone would have to have an impact on these people, right?

Re:Patience and Hope (2, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180592)

Bringing a drastic improvement in education to poor countries in a very economical fashion is indeed a world changing thing. Doing it without locking someone into a corporation's interest just makes it that much more important to the rest of us who hate Microsoft/IBM.
There are better things to spend on, but long-term improving education is one of the best things to spend on for any nation including our own.

Re:Patience and Hope (1)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180752)

Change the world? Hardly. It's just a laptop; it doesn't cure cancer, it doesn't feed hungry mouths, it doesn't provide shelter, it doesn't provide electricity, it doesn't cure AIDS, and it doesn't solve a whole other myriad of problems. It is a laptop.
Change the world? quite possibly. It's just an education. It can help cure cancer, it can help feed hungry mouths, it can help provide shelter, it can help provide electricity, it can help cure AIDS, and it can help solve a whole other myriad of problems. It is an education.

"This is not a laptop project; it's an education project," - Negroponte

Re:Patience and Hope (1, Funny)

legoman666 (1098377) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180856)

So if I hand random hungry person #341652 an OLPC, he will suddenly have his hunger satisfied?

Of course, silly me, he looked up fishing on wikipedia!

Re:Patience and Hope (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181034)

So if I hand random hungry person #341652 an OLPC, he will suddenly have his hunger satisfied?
No, he won't. But in 20 years, his children will be have the kind of education that will allow them to either produce enough of their own food or otherwise contribute to the economy in exchange for food. I know it's rare these days, but some people are still looking farther ahead than tomorrow.

Re:Patience and Hope (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22182370)

or, if the equivalent amount of money went into real infrastructure investment, he'd be eating now, and maybe generating increased income at the same time. Then, in 20 years, his children might already have an actual education...

Re:Patience and Hope (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181206)

Not at first. But ultimately, his new laptop will open him up to the wonderful new world of online scamming [cnn.com] .

Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him a good grift, and he'll eat for weeks on his mark's dime.

They said it themself (2, Insightful)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180312)

They don't want to do distribution, shipping tens of thousands of things all around a continent isn't that easy.. Just getting payments information from paypal can be a hard thing to do.

Saying this will happen to governments orders as well is very strange, and uncalled for.

Re:They said it themself (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22183558)

They don't want to do distribution, shipping tens of thousands of things all around a continent isn't that easy.. Just getting payments information from paypal can be a hard thing to do.

Horseshit. If you've put the systems in place and have an infrastructure even half thought out - it's pretty simple.
 
 

Saying this will happen to governments orders as well is very strange, and uncalled for.

Why? The existing evidence implies that they haven't put much thought into their logistics pipeline.

I hate being so untrusting... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22180328)

...but PC World, questioning OLPC's ability to deliver? And goodness me, look here: Intel and Microsoft with their alternative. No doubt Classmate sales-pitches will involve a lot of paraphrasing from articles of this type.

It seems that a lot of recent OLPC stories are being drummed up to try and discredit them, and it is a bit sickening.

No, I still don't have my XO... (3, Informative)

gorim (700913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180406)

And I can't even track my order in their online tracking database. First email went unanswered and second one got a response, but was missing any indication of when they would ship, just that they were overwhelmed with the response.

...And I ordered on last day...and was charged (1)

gorim (700913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180454)

I ordered on the last day and paypal definitely took my money and gave it to OLPC. Those folx are doing something good but they are definitely disorganized.

Re:No, I still don't have my XO... (1)

pscottdv (676889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181148)

I ordered five of them and have been putting off calling about not getting them because I understand that they are not a business.

At least when I track my order at www.laptopgiving.org I have moved up from the "invalid reference number" to a message that tells me that I can track my order at www.laptopgiving.org!

Re:No, I still don't have my XO... (1)

aviators99 (895782) | more than 6 years ago | (#22182664)

It's worse for me. I ordered mine on day 1, got a letter promising it to me by December 24. On December 21, I received an apology letter explaining that they were overwhelmed and I would not get mine by 24th after all--but I would receive it by January 15. It has still not shipped. 3 days ago, on January 22, I received another e-mail saying I would receive it *by January 15*! I don't expect to ever see it, and I'm perplexed on how much I should actually write off on my tax return ($200 or $400???). They also informed me that if I want a refund, I can only get $200 of the $400 back.

Look, I don't have a problem with fulfillment issues, and I want to support the cause, but the lack of tracking, communication, ridiculous e-mail, etc. is unacceptable. I've also paid a total of $30 in T-Mobile HotSpot day passes when I was supposed to have gotten a year for free as part of the package.

but blaming Microsoft is better? (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181382)

Get real dude.

Sorry but the majority of the OLPC bad press is because THEY DESERVE IT.

Did you ever think that some of their foolery needs an evil Microsoft just to dodge the issue? In other words - imply something that is not true but sounds good?

IOW - Political speech 101.

Talk about FUD.

Well trust *me* then... (3, Interesting)

Gordo_1 (256312) | more than 6 years ago | (#22183322)

All I want is for OLPC to survive and make a positive impact worldwide -- and that's why I participated in G1G1. But let me tell you, it's amateur hour as far as logistics go. They naively thought that because the laptop hardware was ready, everything else would magically fall into place, so they rushed all starry-eyed into shipping laptops before Christmas. As it turns out, their completely untested shipping and support infrastructure was inadequate given the load.

I've received a total of 3 different tracking numbers for my single laptop over the past 2 months. All 3 are invalid according to Fedex. I've called, verified that they have my correct address and been told my laptop was in the queue to ship a month ago. I was subsequently promised a delivery by the end of the year, then by January 15th, both of which have come and gone. Then they promised to reveal the shipping date by this Wednesday in an email sent on Monday. On Thursday they backed off of that claim, and said that hardware supply issues were at fault and assured me that I would receive another email at some point in the future with a shipping date. And so the saga continues...

Look, I'm cutting them a lot of slack because they're a non-profit trying to get off the ground and the primary goal here is to get laptops into the hands of needy children... but the problem is that they've been a model of evasive, unhelpful and secretive with regard to logistics problems from the start. If they had said, "hey we'll do our best to get you a laptop by March 2008" from the beginning, I think we all would have gone on with our lives, but for a not insignificant number of us, it's been one story after another -- all of which leads some of us to wonder whether the organization is hiding something with regard to our charitable donations.

Anyway, I fully comprehend that G1G1 logistics issues do not imply that they'll have problems fulfilling orders overseas. And in fact, the G1G1 program was for the most part an afterthought with regard to OLPC's primary mission. However, I think they've hurt themselves a great deal by not getting their act together with G1G1. Third-world purchase estimates have been cut by orders of magnitude since the heady days when Dr. Negroponte went around boasting that they wouldn't even talk to countries who weren't willing to buy a million laptops. The G1G1 program has become an instrumental tool in seeding laptop programs in places where reluctant national governments have backed off of early purchase promises. By pissing off G1G1 donors, they've essentially bit the hand that feeds them, and this will make it that much more difficult to realize Dr. Negroponte's original vision of one laptop per child.

That's a real name? (2)

EB FE (1208132) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180352)

McCrackin!? Hahaha... OK, so I'm immature.

Database Software Problem? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22180386)

But but but....The database sotfware is open source...It couldn't have screwed up since there are so many eyeballs looking at the code.

Re:Database Software Problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22181242)

but it's not. I cant find their specific DB software for download. Please point me to the link.

and if you think the DB server is the software, you must be a high level Microsoft Programmer.

Re:Database Software Problem? (1)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181424)

I know you're just being snarky, but really, the database itself is probably not the problem. Apart from the fact that they can't seem to decide if it's an order management screw-up or short supply (or both), any "database" error was more likely in the application used to track the orders. Even if that's an OSS application, the number of eyeballs will probably be much lower than your average OSS database.

Focus on what they do best? (2, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180412)

It looks like this eager and well intentioned group of people is trying to do it all but perhaps is best at developing the software and hardware. Perhaps they should focus on that and leave sales and distribution to people who are experts with these much different skills.

Re:Focus on what they do best? (5, Informative)

adriccom (44869) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180488)

Oddly, that is who OLPC partnered with to do G1G1, and who share the blame for the screwups.

Please see the draft flowchart, if you like:
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/How_laptop_delivery_works [laptop.org]

Seems a bit mean-spirited... (5, Insightful)

Obstin8 (827030) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180468)

This article, and others like it that I've read, seem a little bit mean-spirited. OLPC is, after all, a charity organization - a noble one at that -, and not some high-volume order fulfillment logistics operation. All these articles suggest a crass, inflated-expectation, instant-gratification, "I WANT IT NOW!", type of consumerism to me.

I'm in Canada, and waited 7 weeks for my XO to arrive. No biggie. I've waited almost as long for Dell to ship correctly configured servers on occasion. Those were biggies. Were my expectations appropriate for each company? I think so.

I'm sure that OLPC will honor all their commitments and get these orders out as soon as they can. Sometime s**t happens, and things falls through the cracks. People should just take a deep breath, and ask themselves if they'd rather have their XO right now, or have the one they donated delivered first.

G1G1 doesn't stand for "Get one, give one".

No, most people would be patient... (4, Insightful)

gorim (700913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180534)

If the online tracking database worked. As of now you type in your email address or order number and it can't find you. This leads one to believe that the order was lost even though payment was already extracted. At least with your Dell shipment, Dell could tell you the order was in the system and will ship in X time.

Re:Seems a bit mean-spirited... (4, Insightful)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180544)

Exactly. OLPC project is not a fucking business.

Their core job is not to make and sell laptops to individuals. What would be great here (and if the free market really actually worked...), would be for a dedicated company to step in and sell the things directly to people in over-developed countries. That way the project can get on with developing and distributing to governments, and someone else can distribute to individuals.

Of course, they might cost slightly more because of the profit motive, but heck, most of them are seemingly being bought by geeks who already have 3 computers and can afford an extra $50 or so.

Re:Seems a bit mean-spirited... (2, Insightful)

DMoylan (65079) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180746)

but why even use a company when there are organisations like the red cross who are global could handle the shipping to major cities for collection and make a nice profit from the sale of each unit. just a random thought.

on a personal note, living in ireland meant that i couldn't order one of these unforunately. so i went for an asus eee. the demand for those this side of the pond was incredible. ordered december 4 arrived jan 22. i had to get mine from the uk as our company hardware supplier gave up after ordering 200 and only receiving 16. demand for cheap micro portables was insane.

Maybe the problem is the non-profit part (1)

amerinese (685318) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181936)

So maybe the whole problem is that it's not for profit. Maybe non-profit is the way to go when you are coming up with a vision and getting donors.

But maybe you should ask PC manufacturers like Asus (manufacturer of the OLPC), people that, oh, I dunno, know a little something about logistics, cost management, customer service to put up bids when you actually want to get it done instead of running everything yourself.

Like what is the problem here. It seems that they had no idea or experience in doing logistics, order fulfillment, customer service. They can't pay professionals to do this? They are funded. They have to pay people to do this anyway. It's like the "not invented here" problem for the non-profit "industry".

Re:Seems a bit mean-spirited... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22180722)

Not only that but look at where this article is from and who supports them. Likely OLPC competitors.

Re:Seems a bit mean-spirited... (1)

funkify (749441) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180780)

Sometime s**t happens

This is Slashdot. It's OK, you can say "shit" here. It's really OK, I promise.

Re:Seems a bit mean-spirited... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181028)

Noble intentions do not excuse incompetence. Poor kids would be better served by someone with not-so-noble intentions that could actually deliver. An incompetent paladin is not the best man to have in your party, no matter how good his farts smell.

Re:Seems a bit mean-spirited... (1)

jnowlan (618290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181444)

Agreed.

Our family got ours here in Canada last week. Still trying to find time to explore it, but as has been noted elsewhere it was our little daughter who figured out how to open it!

Re:Seems a bit mean-spirited... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22181734)

I've been laughing at this "charity organization" from its beginning, and this is yet more reason to laugh. How is laughing mean-spirited?

Re:Seems a bit mean-spirited... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22182010)

This article, and others like it that I've read, seem a little bit mean-spirited. OLPC is, after all, a charity organization.

We provide sheltered work programs and services for the disabled.

But we are in the business of bulk mailing, corporate promotions, fulfillment - and that is how we are judged by our customers. That is how we survive.

Re:Seems a bit mean-spirited... (1)

wrecked (681366) | more than 6 years ago | (#22182526)

As a fellow Canuck XO-donor, thank you for your breath of fresh air. We received our XO for our kid, last week as well. She, a grade-schooler, did not expect the XO until Feb/Mar (the original Canadian shipping estimate), and has shown more patience than all of the complainers on the forums. You're absolutely right; the complainers seem to share a loathsome consumerist mindset and seem to have forgotten caveat emptor.

OLPC initially insisted that they did not want to go into retail ("we're an education project, not a laptop company"), precisely because of these logistical challenges, until they caved into the demand of us geeks; then they warned us that it may take months for the orders to be fulfilled. And, oh yeah, the XO runs Linux, not Windows. It's amazing that some people just do not seem to pay attention.

it wouldnt have anything to do with (0, Flamebait)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180542)

It wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that India seems to be the ones handling the support, and that they are the worst for such things, oops we lost your information...but don't worry it's ok. Just means you will have to wait extra long while we laugh at how stupid some big corporations are by outsourcing their work over seas seeing as their quality control is different then ours

I know someone in the textiles industry and you would not believe the stuff they pull, shipments of 10,000 units with one pant leg 5 inches shorter then the other, then they say something like, we can give you a small rebate or try to fix it after the fact, which means you miss your deadline, which means penalty, which means revenue loss.

And try to make them pay for it, your shipment will get stuck at the border on purpose, and stay there indefinitely. India is a piss poor country, you think they care if your shipment makwes it on time, when they have to worry about being able to get food to their homes, and find a way to
pay the rent as the 1$ an hour job doesn't cut it...India sucks

Guys, guys, OLPC are a charity! (1, Troll)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180568)

They don't have the funds to act like a real serious company. That would take millions of dollars of investment.

Oh, wait a second...

80,000 G1G1, at $400 per unit = $32,000,000. Since the "Give One" money really just goes into their general coffers, that's $16 million clear profit up front. A real startup would sacrifice its directors' children to be turn $16 million clear profit in 6 weeks.

[Some OLPC hippy] says that the OLPC made a decision that getting laptops to developing nations was more important that[sic] delivering them to consumers.

You Goddamn hippy retards. You. Do. Not. Fuck over your strongest advocates. Do these people actually want OLPC to fail? Because they seem to be doing their damndest to make that happen.

Re:Guys, guys, OLPC are a charity! (1)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180892)

"You. Do. Not. Fuck over your strongest advocates."

Err.. surely their "strongest advocates" would be keen to get the laptops to the children, which (after all) is the whole friggin point of the exercise!

For some reason, the term "fair weather friends" is coming into my mind...

Re:Guys, guys, OLPC are a charity! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22181306)

Err.. surely their "strongest advocates" would be keen to get the laptops to the children, which (after all) is the whole friggin point of the exercise!
Knackers to that. Who pays the piper calls the tune, and those who are getting a freebie can just fucking well wait their turn. Ungrateful wog bastards.

Re:Guys, guys, OLPC are a charity! (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181792)

So... did those advocates just give OLPC $400?

Headline clarity issues (2, Interesting)

Robwiz (864947) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180570)

Doesn't "Big Delays, Small Laptops: OLPC XO Recipients Mad" imply that some XO Recipients are mad because the laptop is small?

The actual article is "Big Delays for Small Laptops", it's some of the people who haven't received them yet who are upset.
I was expecting mine (in Canada) some time in February based on the initial delays in shipping to Canada. So I was quite pleased when it showed up last week.

I guess that make me somewhat ineligible to advocate patience if you're still waiting for yours, but I can say that I wasn't disappointed in mine once it arrived.

Fish bowl (0, Flamebait)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180682)

there are probably less hassles with this group than is seen in a normal business, but since they are being attacked by MS and Intel, they are in a small fish bowl. I wonder if and how many of the orders were purposely done incorrect to make sure that there were issues? It is the perfect form of an attack and certainly within the scope of how either company operates.

First Day Donors Got Theirs (2)

argmanah (616458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180698)

I donated the very first day they opened up the Give One Get One program and got my XO Laptop the Friday before Christmas (they sent an e-mail November 28th saying they were prioritizing first day donors and was trying to make delivery by Christmas).

The machine itself is really neat. The battery life and outdoors readability is much better than my personal laptop and it covers 90% of what I use my laptop for when I'm on the go anyways (Web browsing and using ssh to connect to boxes at work/home). If it weren't for the fact that the keyboard is too small for an adult for long periods of use, I might have replaced my laptop with an OLPC one.

Re:First Day Donors Got Theirs (1)

Captain Chaos (13688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180968)

Not all first day donors have received theirs yet according to postings at the forums on olpcnews.com. Many of them are probably among the 5,000 orders that had problems. I'm still waiting for mine, but I held off ordering until 12/30 due to overspending on Christmas.

I'm really looking forward to the battery life and the outdoor readability myself. I've got a MacBook Pro right now and both of those are rather lacking. The outdoor readability is more due to my selection of the matte screen since I found the color more accurate and hated the reflections on the glossy screen when I compared them side by side. I'm also anxious to try the XO's ebook mode. I prefer my books printed on paper, but I've heard good things about that mode and may not mind reading some books that way.

First Day Donors Got Theirs, NOT! (1)

SpaceGhost (23971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22182358)

I purchased mine by noon on the first day. Paypal charged my amex the same day. Still no laptop. I emailed 2 weeks ago, got a bounce that said they'd get back to me in 3-5 days, and nothing else. I called yesterday, and they said my paypal address was wrong, which they corrected online, and said I'd get an email with tracking info once thay have it.
It sounds like a programming error is messing up some addresses (I've bought at least 5 packages on ebay with the same paypal shipping address since November.) But the donation went through immediately.
I'm not mad, I expect to really enjoy the device, and am glad that some kid got one too. But is it that hard to dump out a list of names and make some "we know it's not there yet" emails? I'm not that surprised by the delay, but am by the failure to address this proactively, and hope that these are only growing pains.

A lot of FUD here (1)

Sir_Kurt (92864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180706)

I ordered two of the laptops the morning of the first day by paypal, which charged my credit card. I received the laptops right on schedule. It is true that some folks did not, and some of them are screaming bloody blue murder. But it is also true that many of the bloggers who are making noise, are putting forth a very inaccurate story of what is going on. There is a concerted effort to smear the OLPC organization over this when the faults in the ordering process are clearly with third party companies. The OLPC organization is small, does not have a proffessionl department to manage spin, and is certainly being taken advantage of by people trying to take cheap shots to increase their hit rate.

The other side of the coin is the concerted effort by Intel and Microsoft to smash the OLPC and the XO laptop, because the thing is great. Really great. Very low power, Very high functionality. Great screen. Great open source software. Extremly sturdy. Excellent wireless abilities. And designed for children. Really not much to complain about when you get down to it.

Kurt

Re:A lot of FUD here (1)

driftwolf (843548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180804)

I ordered mine late. OLPC has been really good about keeping me informed. Frankly, I bought it for two reasons. Yes, I want to have a closeup look at the design. But I also wanted to donate. If they put a priority on getting laptops to those who actually need them, I'm cool with that. I'll get mine eventually, that's all I need to know. I just hope that they don't get all corporate on us and start finding excuses. The best bet is to just tell the truth and go from there. As for those who are jumping all over their arse because it's "LATE", I don't recall seeing any promised delivery dates when I bought mine. So perhaps those folks should just chill out. It's a charity we're dealing with here, not Amazon or Tigerdirect. I'd rather they put their energy into delivering things to where they are needed (rather than just wanted) instead of diverting efforts and funds to becoming a retailer.

The should have just ... (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180754)

... sold them through 3 or 4 hand picked online retailers, such as Amazon and Newegg and others. That way they could have bulk shipped them to those retailers and let the retailers handle the details like they are well experienced in doing.

They maybe shouldn't have listened (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180760)

They listened to all the market begging to release it to individuals. They do, and now it sucks. They should have maybe just kept to plan.

Does anybody know... (1)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22180776)

A bit off topic, I know, but I'm sure I'm not the only one interested in knowing:

Does anybody know if there is a chance for the G1G1 thing to happen in Europe too?

I could have gotten one of my inlaws in the US (yes, my wife is from the USofA) to get one for me, but then the issue had been getting it over here... Norwegian Customs would likely have slapped a big fat import tax on it :(

Re:Does anybody know... (1)

adriccom (44869) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181516)

It's being looked into. There were some extra regulatory hurdles for EU.

No such thing has been announced, mind you.

mod d03n (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22180806)

go to the source (2, Informative)

KatTran (122906) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181008)

The actually source of all these stories might be interesting to people, instead of articles about the source. Since when did people stop being able to read primary sources and start being able to only read "news" articles.

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

m2od up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22181136)

and m0rtifying [goat.cx]

G2G0D1 donor, still waiting, but not mad. (2, Insightful)

Hobart (32767) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181390)

I've shelled out $423.95 x 2 and am still waiting. And it's a shame that it's taking so long. But I'm happier that working-class kids in Mongolia [laptop.org] (no, not "starving to death" people) have laptops, and I can wait. (I'm posting about it on THE INTERNET so clearly I'm not exactly struggling for 'net access.)

They had pro-bono donation of services from three (or more) different companies to handle ordering and distribution. Not having a logistics manager or dealing with the process openly *is* a shame. Lots of individuals unaffiliated have been volunteering their time, trying to help, but have been powerless to actually *do* anything, since the volunteers don't have access to all of the data sets.

Hopefully the next time they offer G1G1 they'll manage the order/delivery status themselves, they *should* be able to track each laptop from Quanta, to the shipping carrier, to the port, to FedEx.

You can't get replacement parts either (1)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181392)

My XO developed a crack on the LCD after less than a day of normal use. I've been trying to get it replaced under warranty, but have yet to actually talk to a human. At this point, I would be happy to just go and buy the replacement LCD and put it in myself, but I've searched extensively and you just can't get spare parts for this thing....

Don't worry there will be plenty on eBay soon (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181542)

delivering in bulk to just over a dozen countries is infinitely simpler than processing and delivering 80,000 individual laptops

That's because individuals want what they paid for.

When a few pallet loads go missing, containing units that don't belong to any specific person, that's just another bureaucratic "meh"?

I suspect you will see plenty available on eBay once the bulk shipments get going in earnest.

It happened to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22181948)

I have three children, but I started with one laptop order because I'm not particularly wealthy and my youngest might be too young to benefit from the little lean green machine.

Anyhow, I'm one of the unfortunates that entered a P.O. Box in the delivery address on the paypal page on November 12th. Luckily, I did pay with American Express though. More on that later.

On 12/2, I called the OLPC folks to find out if I would be getting a confirmation number for the order, as the only response I'd received so far was an e-mail from paypal. At that time, a customer service rep was sharp enough to notice the P.O. Box and 'fix' the issue.

Then I called back on the 20th because I hadn't seen hide nor hair of that little green temptress, and they had to 'fix' the P.O. Box issue again. At that time, I was told a supervisor would call me back. I wasn't particularly happy that I would be missing out on the laptop for Christmas, but I did feel like customer service was doing what they could. Until the supervisor never called. And I started reading blogs from other folks mentioning the 'supervisor will call you back' line and the failure to actually get callbacks.

Finally, I tried to call both the G1G1 ordering line and the support line on the 8th and 9th of January but the line was continuously busy. On the G1G1 line, I got the message "All customer service reps are assisting other customers, please hang up and try again later". On the support line, I got "All circuits are busy". Great.

So on the 9th I sent an e-mail to the support line saying I'd give them until Friday to initiate a cancellation of my order, or I'd start a charge back process through my American Express. Man oh man am I glad I used a credit card. I feel sorry for all those chaps that paid using their paypal or checking accounts. So I did start the charge back on 1/11. And I'm glad I did, because American Express has a 60 day policy for initiating charge backs, so I barely came in under the wire!

To this date, I haven't received a reply to the cancellation request e-mail.

The kicker is I did get through to G1G1 on 1/18. I wanted to let them know the charge back process was ongoing and give them the option of canceling. The best part is the customer service person told me 'No supervisor is available, but I can have them call you back' when she misunderstood that I was 'going' to do a charge back. Once I explained that I had already initiated the process, and that I was calling to be polite because I thought it would be easier for them to refund the money than have to deal with amex, she put me through to a supervisor immediately. The same supervisor that wasn't available 1 minute previously :)

And of course, the supervisor promised to contact me Monday morning to let me know she'd started the refund process. And of course, she never did. It's like the cherry on the top that makes the dessert complete :)

The grand finale is that the refund came through yesterday! Yeah baby!

And now I'm shopping for XO competitors with that cold hard cash. And I think I'll keep my donations to local charities instead of pie in the sky groups for the immediate future.

p.s. - Before I forget, I did get the following on 1/18, the same day I spoke with the supervisor to cancel. So now I'm worried it'll show up on my doorstep and I'll have to keep working with OLPC to figure out the mess...

from OLPC Customer Care
to +laptop@gmail.com,
date Fri, Jan 18, 2008 at 11:26 PM
subject Your XO Laptop Is On Its Way
mailed-by bounce.resultsmail.com

Dear Donor,

We are contacting you to provide an update on your Give One Get One donation and the shipment of your laptop.

We are very sorry for the delay in the processing of your donation. This email confirms that your donation now has been successfully processed and has been sent to our warehouse for shipment.

Your XO laptop will ship next week and we will send you a tracking number when it does. The laptop should arrive within five days of shipping for U.S. based donors and 1-2 weeks for Canadian donors.

We appreciate your generosity and patience, and hope you enjoy your new laptop.

Sincerely,

OLPC Donor Services

Not mad at all (2, Interesting)

Gruuk (18480) | more than 6 years ago | (#22182240)

I'm a December 14th donor; while I'm a little disappointed that it hasn't reached me yet, I've no problem cutting OLPC quite a bit of slack, as what matters most is the "GIVE 1" part of the G1G1 program. There are plenty of articles showing that kids in less fortunate areas have started using them and they are a hit. Because OLPC is fulfilling that part of the promise, I will be patient and forgive them those delays, although I am somewhat less forgiving of the subcontractors (but not terribly so).

I can wait a couple more weeks; the only thing that bugs me is that I can't play with it right now, as I've seen and handled an XO and it is so neat :)

the silence is the problem (4, Interesting)

xeno (2667) | more than 6 years ago | (#22182688)

I ordered two -- in the first hour of the first day of the promotion -- to be shipped to my house in the US. As of today, I have nothing. No laptops, no email, no nuthin.' I phoned and confirmed that my order number does exist and indeed I have been charged for both the laptops (in November) and $50 for shipping (the day after Christmas).

But it's not the lack of laptops that's turning me from an interested and cheerful donor, to mild annoyance when it didn't show up before Christmas, to contemplating reversing the charges. It's the lack of information. Sure, there are delays. Sure, there are priorities for getting big shipments out to major educational recipients. But I gave these folks $850, and I don't even get the courtesy of a *status* message?

According to the schedule, mine should have showed up a month ago -- at the absolute latest. Before Christmas. I made the mistake of telling my kids about it, thinking I would teach them something about partnerships and donations, etc etc, and that's my own fault. But *still* even after phone calls and tracing and corrections... when I check the laptopgiving.org page, it tells me the order number is invalid, and that my email address is not found.

The kicker is that I work for a UN agency that manages large refugee aid programs, and I had to borrow an OLPC from a friend to show it to the Education & IT department directors. They're very interested in the OLPC, as it fits some of the educational needs pretty nicely. What am I going to tell these guys when they ask whether the project is well-run, has decent governance, and can deliver?

Sheesh.

-Jon

Normal to receive only a PayPal confirmation? (1)

Richard Mills (17522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22182742)

I placed a G1G1 order near the end of 2007, and the only confirmation I ever received was a PayPal payment confirmation. Can anyone tell me if I should have received some sort of confirmation email from the OLPC Foundation itself?

I consider my G1G1 order to mostly be a charitable contribution, so I'm fine if it takes them quite a while to ship my laptop. But I'd like to have some sort of confirmation from OLPC to let me know that they even realize I placed one. Did other folks receiving any other sort of confirmation before being told that their laptop was supposed to ship at X date? I've tried contacting the OLPC folks, but I have never been able to reach anyone.
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