Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Santa Baby - OLPC Update

I was expecting a ton of blog posts on Christmas Day on how to use my new OLPC XO laptop. I was sure that proud moms and dads who had purchased the little computer under the Give One Get One (G1G1) program would have a lot to say, but no such luck. Are they are as puzzled as I have been?

I’ve been searching on a near daily basis for new info on the OLPC’s, but have mostly come up empty. About all I was able to find after Christmas were these directions for making a viewfinder out of Legos for the built-in OLPC camera--pictured above. As I mentioned the other day, this is a sort-of do-it-yourself laptop.

So who's getting the OLPC in the US under the buy one get one program? From the evidence, its technical sorts--or their kids. Some are clearly the children of software gurus. One mom blogs "One thing we [she and her husband] agree on: before we had a child we asked ourselves "When can she have a computer game?" and Michael's answer was always, 'When she can program it!' " I will refrain from comment . . .

Other people clearly have a hardware or engineering background based on this excerpt from an OLPC news forum post about an OLPC that was dead on arrival: "Get a DC voltmeter and check the output of the power supply. Maybe it is NG, in which case you can probably cobble up a replacement yourself faster than getting a new one from OLPC. Remove the battery and check the voltage on its terminals. Even if it is dead, there should be some voltage on the open terminals."

I don't have a clue how to do any of this stuff. But even a greater source of concern is that those technical sorts seem puzzled, too. I am beginning to think that maybe I should just stick the OLPC in the bookshelf for a while, based on this forum query: "Since the user guide for Pippy in the OLPC Wiki is pretty thin, I thought I'd ask if anyone had figured out how to save program code (there seems to be no way to do that reliably, and if there's a specific syntax guide or if any Python syntax guide would be sufficient. We're puzzled here..."

This is not a good sign . . . I am pretty sure that most of the villages where the OLPC's land won't have that level of expertise. In fact, my research turns up the fact that Peruvian children are mostly taking pictures. With OLPC Internet enthusiasm and idealism high, I am sure that the youth of the Andes, once they master Google and English, will find the picture on this blog a great help. But God forbid I question: I tried to leave a comment on the OLPC blog, and got back a page that said my comment appeared to be spam. When I used the back button, everything I typed was gone! Clever, eh?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our family decided to buy two, get two, give four. We decided they would be put to better use in hands other than our childrens and that a physical reminder of our altruism, while interesting, wasn't as interesting as furthering the goals of the project. Sounds like a good decision, for us anyway.

Dec 27, 2007, 1:55:00 AM  
Blogger Publia said...

Let's hope those children are smarter than me in using the little XO! By the time distribution becomes common I imagine they will have worked out the early wrinkles, and your gift for third world children will help their way to a brighter future! You

Jan 3, 2008, 2:24:00 PM  

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