Sunday, December 16, 2007

Trouble with my OLPC

Updated! Scroll Down.
I took advantage of the "give one, get one" One Laptop per Child (OLPC), and I have been pretty excited about this little computer's arrival. It came yesterday, and it's very cute. It weighs more than I thought it would, though. Two of us at our house have tried to figure out how it works, but we can't figure out anything.

I was able to play some notes on the Tam Tam music making program, but some of the keys didn't work. While I watched the Youtube Tam Tam tutorial about a week ago. I was unable to switch between instruments. Granted, I haven't read the instructions (available on the Internet only), but for the life of me I have no idea how the children will be able to learn. Theoretically, there is free Hotspot access for one year for purchasers, but there is no information about that, either. I wasn't able to connect to the Internet, but I didn't realize that you have to click on an icon that looks like a Tinkertoy.

Trying to figure out how to use the little computer was so frustrating, I think it may be a while until I try again. If this doesn't get easier pretty quick, maybe I can donate it to a disadvantaged child. However if the children for whom these were designed experience the frustration level that we have experienced around here, I can't imagine how they would ever have any interest in computers at all.

If you have purchased one of these little OLPC laptops for a child in your life for Christmas, run, don't walk to the toy store and buy a few more gifts. If this is your child's big present, and you have planned for hours of pleasure from this new toy, it's going to be a grim, grim Christmas.
UPDATE: We are making progress! We have now managed to make some sounds in Tam Tam that rival that mini pocket piano that I bought for a dollar a couple of years ago! We have also managed to make the little XO OLPC meow like a cat and moo like a cow! One of the neighbor children had a book with little keys on the right hand side maybe a dozen or more years ago that did exactly the same thing. We feel very clever, but with the OLPC too big for a paperweight and too light for a door stop, we feel it must have more to offer to avoid third world child rage.
UPDATE 2: We note that the OLPC laptop has easy keyboard access to the double s character for the disadvanged German children and an o with a slash in it for the children of the less developed area of Scandinavia. How cool is that?
UPDATE 3: We have managed to figure out how to take a picture with the OLPC. Unfortunately we can't figure out how to save it, but keep in mind the only resources we have are 2 additional laptops (which manage to connect to the Internet pretty easily, as opposed to the OLPC which can find the wireless connections but can't connect) and 19 collective years of education beyond 8th grade. We remain optimistic that the children of the world must be far smarter than we are.
UPDATE 4: I have managed to connect to the Internet, but pages load so slowly it is enough to make you wish for dial-up! I found a Googlepage once before I was able to connect, but now I can't find it at all. Also, I now have learned that troubleshooting the OLPC will be done by the children themselves, and they will help each other find solutions. This is pretty impressive. Since the laptops have apparently been shipped already to Peru, if you know any OLPC kids there, say perhaps the smarter ones (hopefully already possessing Ph.D.'s from MIT or University of Texas at Austin) would you please ask them to post up their info instanter? Also, please make sure they have an English version. I am in very bad need of their advice.
UPDATE 5: Having failed to find a pint-sized PhD to lend a hand with the OLPC, I've been looking around at the OLPC Wiki. There I learned that even though the OLPC has a built-in microphone, the "internal one doesn't work at this time," so its necessary to plug one in. I also discovered that Opera, a very nice browser, can be used on the little XO. Unfortunately, these are the instructions: "Installing Opera on test machines is easy. From a shell, run these commands as root: . . ." Right. Easy enough for those open-source Linux types, but for me? Apparently, the idea is that if you don't find what you need in your OLPC you'll just write up a little program to solve the problem post-haste. Even more puzzling is this: "If you are having trouble with rpm, just grab a tarball." Well, enough for the OLPC now, I'm off to go look for a tarball, whatever that is . . .


Blogger El Rider said...

That is a pretty cool looking laptop but it doesn't seem the least bit intuitive. Strangely it seems to me that the screens would be less intuitive for a third-world kid. Maybe that's why I didn't go to MIT. I found the screen shots here:

Dec 16, 2007, 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Publia said...

Well I certainly didn't go to MIT, but I am a sucker for an electronic gadget. I am pretty confounded by this one, however. I think your cell phone might have more functionality.

Dec 16, 2007, 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Pytlovany said...

I love your graphic with the santa cap. Did you create it?


Dec 16, 2007, 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

Bill, I can't claim credit for the graphic. I used a google image search and I took it from Techgadgets, a site in India. I don't know where they got it, India not being a big fan of the concept of copyright.

Did you get connected to the Internet yet? I'm still trying to do that; somehow the OLPC doesn't like my secured password and there aren't any other wireless connections close enough to try it with.

Dec 16, 2007, 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Dec 16, 2007, 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous xwxw1234 said...

I got my OLPC yesterday, and these are my comments:

- nice looks, is a very cute gadget.

- nice size and good screen resolution.

- good battery life.

- b/w energy saving mode.

(Hardware guys A+)


- difficult to connect to the internet (I'm sure a lot of kids would give up faster than we did).

- veeeeryy ssssslllloooowww.

crippled internet browsing (flash doesn't work) most multimedia pages don't work.

difficult to browse (if you are not a linux pro you would never know where are your files or how to save them)

Probably not the best choice of software for children in developing countries (I Know because I was born there).

(Software guys C-)


- MEPIS Linux instead of sugar OR Windows CE OR Customized XP.

Jan 3, 2008, 5:06:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

Thanks for your comments, XW; they are right on the mark, and describe what I couldn't do so well as I'm not a computer professional. I'm going to continue to blog about my experiences and keep experimenting. It seems to me if hardware is A+ and software C-, that talk about an OLPC Windows might be a pretty good idea. Then again, all I know about Linux is the people who use it seem to be mighty smart.

For my part, I beginning to become very thankful for Microsoft.

Jan 14, 2008, 12:04:00 AM  
Blogger momofthree said...

I agree with you guys. The OLPC hardware is perfect for my kids but we cannot get it to connect to the internet so it's a REALLY expensive nick-nack sitting on the shelf. Wish I had spent my money a different way. Does anyone know how to get it to connect to a non-wep d-link wireless router in your home?

Jan 19, 2008, 9:47:00 PM  
Anonymous sp said...

I got this laptop in December and now, some 60 days later, with not a lot of use, the screen fails to turn on even though the power is on. And there are posts related to battery problems and keyboard problems. I wish I hadn't donated so I wouldn't have wasted so much money and time on an item that doesn't appear to be able to accomplish its mission.

Mar 9, 2008, 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

No one can disclaim a warranty of fitness for intended use, so I would find out how to contact the OLPC people so that they can make this right with you.

Mom of Three, Keep trying to connect; that seems to be the key. I found that on a blog somewhere and it worked.

Readers, I haven't fired up the little OLPC for weeks . . .

Mar 9, 2008, 8:11:00 PM  

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