Linked by David Adams on Tue 4th Dec 2007 19:27 UTC, submitted by MissinBeOS
Hardware, Embedded Systems From the WSJ: "The dream of cheap computers in the hands of millions of poor children is becoming a reality, though not exactly as its proponents imagined. For-profit competitors snatched the idea and have run with it."
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Good initiative
by irbis on Tue 4th Dec 2007 19:49 UTC
irbis
Member since:
2005-07-08

Well, from a global customer point of view the '$100 Laptop' Project has been a good initiative anyway as also competitors have seen the need to offer something similar. Good for everyone?

Reply Score: 3

v The article in short
by Almafeta on Tue 4th Dec 2007 20:06 UTC
RE: The article in short
by GhePeU on Tue 4th Dec 2007 20:13 UTC in reply to "The article in short"
GhePeU Member since:
2005-07-06

Bullshits. The XO hardware and software is superior.

And the results of the field tests are available to show that the children are very capable to run the XO, even in its beta incarnation.

Edited 2007-12-04 20:17

Reply Score: 9

RE[2]: The article in short
by GeneralZod on Tue 4th Dec 2007 20:30 UTC in reply to "RE: The article in short"
GeneralZod Member since:
2007-08-03
RE[3]: The article in short
by Bobthearch on Tue 4th Dec 2007 20:40 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: The article in short"
Bobthearch Member since:
2006-01-27

And here are the results of the field tests:

If I had my way, nobody would be allowed to comment on the OLPC project without reading them first :p


Those "results" are actually press releases from within OLPC, hardly unbiased product reviews. Who would have guessed that kids would rather use electronic toys than write in the dirt with sticks?

And they say nothing about how the OLPC machines compare with the commercial competing products, the point of Almafeta's post.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: The article in short
by renox on Wed 5th Dec 2007 12:43 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: The article in short"
renox Member since:
2005-07-06

>>And they say nothing about how the OLPC machines compare with the commercial competing products, the point of Almafeta's post.<<

But what do you compare?
The commercial competing products have one thing in common: they're not rugged, they use normal screen which are hard to read outdoors, they consume more power, etc. CPU speed is not the only benchmark..


That said, as the OLPC is an education project not a laptop project, even if they manage to sell many OLPC(*), it'll take years before it'll be possible to evaluate the results of the project..


*:the article was obsolete: they did sell a lot of OLPC to Peru,

Reply Score: 4

RE: The article in short
by Morgan on Tue 4th Dec 2007 20:29 UTC in reply to "The article in short"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I'll take an ultra-low-power, solar-rechargeable, durable laptop with a proven robust operating system that is simple to use over any offering from Intel and Microsoft. I'd be willing to bet that ten years from now, any OLPC laptop that is taken care of will still be chugging along while the Classmates and other knock-offs will be years in the scrapheap.

This was a somewhat biased article, which is a given being that it is on MSN, but the author was honest about one thing: Intel and Microsoft did indeed set out to crush the OLPC project just so they wouldn't have competition from AMD and Linux. It's childish and pathetic, but it's the way the business world works unfortunately.

Reply Score: 10

Notes:
by Bobthearch on Tue 4th Dec 2007 20:31 UTC
Bobthearch
Member since:
2006-01-27

Nigeria, for example, so far has failed to honor a pledge by its former president to purchase 1 million laptops.
No kidding? Even at the pipe-dream price of $100, that's $100,000,000 total. Did anyone really think Nigeria would spend that kind of money?

You'd have to be incredibly naive to believe that "Informal agreements" with 3rd World dictators would ever lead to product sales or paid orders.

How 'bout the 'deal' for American consumers, the $399 Laptop? extending the offer through Dec. 31 because "people want more time to participate." They mean that sales have flopped. How many Americans are willing to pay that much for a toy? For $100, sure why not. But $400?

Unfortunately many of the competing commercial projects haven't lived up to their low-price promises either. The $199 eeepc is now available everywhere, for $359 and up.

My guess for the future: Undeveloped countries will continue to happily accept donated computers for schoolchildren whether from Intel, OLPC, or whoever. But when it comes to coughing up the cash to buy additional units, sales will be few and far between.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Notes:
by stestagg on Wed 5th Dec 2007 00:21 UTC in reply to "Notes:"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

"Informal agreements" with 3rd World dictators would ever lead to product sales or paid orders.

Erm, Nigeria has an elected president backed by a Senate, and House of Representatived. Unless you think that America is a dictatorship (and this is possible) then you cannot claim that Nigeria is one. Of course, Nigeria doesn't have the kind of spare capital needed to hide all the corruption from the independent adjudicators, but otherwise, the political system is very simliar to that of America.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Notes:
by griffinme on Wed 5th Dec 2007 12:53 UTC in reply to "Notes:"
griffinme Member since:
2005-11-09

Around here you can get a dual core laptop with a gig of ram and 120gig hd for 299-400. While I am sure the XO is nifty, I will take a regular laptop for those prices.

Reply Score: 1

I would buy one
by tuttle on Tue 4th Dec 2007 21:10 UTC
tuttle
Member since:
2006-03-01

I would even pay a little more as a donation. They should be happy to get some economy of scale by selling them on the open market.

But apparently the OLPC people think that selling their product on the open market for a profit is somehow dirty. Selling them in bulk to third world dictators is of course much more noble...

The "buy two, get one" program is not available in europe, and also a limited time offer. So apparently they do not want my money.

Reply Score: 3

v Negative scoring?
by Bobthearch on Tue 4th Dec 2007 21:16 UTC
RE: Negative scoring?
by Johann Chua on Tue 4th Dec 2007 22:23 UTC in reply to "Negative scoring?"
Johann Chua Member since:
2005-07-22

Yes, because they have nothing better to do than mod people down on a message board.

Reply Score: 6

Better teaching them agriculture
by Tanner on Tue 4th Dec 2007 21:33 UTC
Tanner
Member since:
2005-07-06

WTF, to me they don't need computers, but people interested in teaching them agriculture techniques and water balancing...

Damn, they want food, not electronics.. wake up please.

Reply Score: 2

ctwise Member since:
2007-02-28

This is an attempt to provide a fishing rod instead of a fish. You'll notice that providing food and agricultural support to poor countries around the world has done exactly nothing to improve them.

Reply Score: 4

stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

Wow. I like reading comments like this, it helps to remind me just how stupid and ignorant most of the world's population actually is.

We do not live in a world where you are either rich enough to live in America, or too poor to eat. There are hundreds of millions of people living in sustainable livelihoods (i.e. not starving) who's only chance for improving their situation in the long-term is through education.

Reply Score: 6

sergiusens Member since:
2007-09-01

as a person living in a third world country (where many locals believe we are a 1st world one), I'd have to say, that education is exactly what we need and OLPC is just another tool to accomplish that.

Reply Score: 4

evangs Member since:
2005-07-07

Is that Malaysia by any chance?

Reply Score: 2

Different Member since:
2007-07-03

Hehe Malaysia user is very tech savvy

Even their entry level machine is a Core 2 Duo ;)

Reply Score: 1

evangs Member since:
2005-07-07

I was merely responding to the OP who said he lived in a 3rd world country that claims to be first world. I know for a fact that Malaysia is one of those countries. The government there seems to forget that there is more to Malaysia than the Klang Valley (which could be passed off as first world).

Reply Score: 2

sergiusens Member since:
2007-09-01

It's Argentina. I live here/there

Reply Score: 1

Competition is good for everyone ...
by tomcat on Tue 4th Dec 2007 22:12 UTC
tomcat
Member since:
2006-01-06

... and if/when idealists complain about the "unfairness" of competition, then you know that something is very, very rotten in Denmark. In my opinion, they're more concerned about losing the credit for putting cheap laptops in the hands of children than in actually seeing it happen. Some other opinions...

1. I think it's laudable that people want to help the peoples of developing nations. That's really a great instinct. But I'm not sure that cheap laptops are the answer, though. My guess is that a lot of people will sell or exchange their laptops for, say, a cow or a sharecrop. What?!? Didn't think about that? Tsk, tsk.

2. Some of these people have more pressing concerns, such as regional conflict, forced conscription of children, HIV/AIDS, poor/nonexistent sewage, lack of clean drinking water, etc. It's funny how people tend to look at the world entirely through the own narrow prism of their experience. When you sell hammers, nearly every problem looks like it can be solved with the use of a hammer ("Gee, I know tech -- so providing tech must be the answer to African poverty...". No, dumbass, get back in your Range Rover and go back to the suburbs.)

3. Nearly all of these laptop designs are going to fail within 5 years. I don't care how much you insist they're going to take care of them. I've seen kids go through notebooks at an alarming rate. Technology is brittle. That same technology in hot, humid conditions is even more brittle. When you carry the tech around a lot, it becomes that much more brittle. I've never had a notebook last more than 5 years with normal use -- and I've had some that were built as solid as tanks.

4. It might be more effective to create regional computing centers -- or place them permanently in schools -- which would provide free computer time to poor people. This way, you can avoid the resale of laptops, you can handle maintenance and network connectivity in a centralized place, and you can ensure that people still get access to computers, information, textbooks, etc. Quite frankly, this makes a lot more sense to me but, then again, I'm not looking for credit and a Nobel Peace Prize like some people.

Reply Score: 4

bm3719 Member since:
2006-05-30

A shame to see such a thoughtful comment voted down by the salivating mobs. For some reason people just don't want to hear this (what I consider a rather sensible) opinion about the OLPC.

I especially agree about the computer labs. Why not round up some of the millions of 3-5 yr old MUCH more powerful desktop boxes the US/Europe throws away every year and make labs out of them? I guess when you binge-shop at Walmart, the only solutions you see are ones that come in a brand new Chinese-made plastic case.

Reply Score: 2

bornagainenguin Member since:
2005-08-07

So stop modding it down and think about it, you "$OFFENSIVE_WORD"s.

Modded down for use of offensive words.

Actually I'm hoping the mods are paying attention and will start adjusting the scoring system here again because obviously its still not working and waaay too many people are convinced this is Digg or Slashdot...

--bornagainpenguin

Reply Score: 1

Bobthearch Member since:
2006-01-27

Why not round up some of the millions of 3-5 yr old MUCH more powerful desktop boxes the US/Europe throws away every year and make labs out of them?
There would be advantages to that for sure. Computers and components could be aquired for free. There's an incredible amount of free software, even free OSes, that can be used on older PCs. The parts are mostly interchangeable. And if they aren't being dragged around, they are suprisingly long-lived.

But the disadvantages probably outweight those advantages. I bet that shipping a computer and monitor from North America to Africa costs more than the price of a OLPC. There's an almost infinite number of components and software combinations, that means setup and maintainence would be more time consuming. The kids couldn't take them home where the independant learning, experimenting, and exploring will take place. And they need reliable, steady sources of electricity that isn't available in places that the OLPC is targeting.

IMO, older computers are best left here where they can be recycled for raw materials, rather than dragged all over the planet at great expense.

Reply Score: 4

GhePeU Member since:
2005-07-06

1) bitfrost activation
2) "narrow prism of their experience." You have clearly no idea of the conditions in the OLPC target countries and you dare speak of "narrow prism"... mote and beam, anyone?
3) again, the XO is radically different from the standard notebooks. There's a reason if they worked for three years to design it.
4) crap crap and again misinformed crap: you know nothing, you imagine things and then you speculate on your fantasies...

It's funny how people who don't know anything feel that they can pontificate freely on the net. Ten minutes of searching with google or reading the olpc website could've saved you from writing all that crap...

Most of all: do you really think that all the people involved with the OLPC project are stupid? Didn't you figure, just for a moment, that "maybe" they're not a group of idiots and that "maybe" they considered what they were going to start? Do you really think that you're so incredibly smart that you're the first one who figured out the potential problems of the project?

Edited 2007-12-04 22:42

Reply Score: 10

tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

1) bitfrost activation


Rrrrrright, and activation schemes can't be cracked, right?

You have clearly no idea of the conditions in the OLPC target countries and you dare speak of "narrow prism"... mote and beam, anyone?


Ah, so you're an adherent of the "you can't possibly know that suicide is bad unless you try it, firsthand" school of thought. Get over yourself. I don't have to visit OLPC-targeted nations to understand that they have serious problems which go way, way beyond anything that the OLPC could possibly do. Let's take Nigeria, as an example.

Check out https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ni.....

60% of the population of Nigeria is below the poverty level. Rates of major infectious diseases are "very high". Nearly 1 in 10 babies dies at birth. Their health care system is crumbling. Attendance in public schools averages 29% of the eligible population. Where do you suppose the remaining 71% of children are? Working? Farming? Military? Hanging out, smoking weed? Oh, rrrrrright. They're probably sitting around, waiting for their shiny OLPC laptops to be delivered. LMFAO!

Also, check out
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigeria

"Haphazard industrial planning, increased urbanization, poverty and lack of competence of the municipal government are seen as the major reasons for high levels of waste pollution in major Nigerian cities. Some of the 'solutions' have been disastrous to the environment, resulting in untreated waste being dumped in places where it can pollute waterways and groundwater."

I didn't invent these issues. They exist. Right now. In OLPC countries. Raw sewage. Poor drinking water. High rate of illiteracy. Poverty. Corruption (get any Nigerian emails lately?).

3) again, the XO is radically different from the standard notebooks. There's a reason if they worked for three years to design it.


I've seen the specs, and I don't agree. I've had notebooks which are more hardened than the XO fail within 5 years. You can stick your head in the sand and poo-poo that possibility, but you're fundamentally wrong.

4) crap crap and again misinformed crap: you know nothing, you imagine things and then you speculate on your fantasies...


I'd be happy to discuss any rebuttal that you have, as soon as you provide one. Labeling a reasonable proposal "misinformed crap" and then failing to explain why is just typical of the kind of hit-and-run ideological skirmishing around here.

Most of all: do you really think that all the people involved with the OLPC project are stupid? Didn't you figure, just for a moment, that "maybe" they're not a group of idiots and that "maybe" they considered what they were going to start?


They're not stupid, simply misguided. Big difference.

Do you really think that you're so incredibly smart that you're the first one who figured out the potential problems of the project?


No, I'm simply trying to have a reasonable discussion, and you're getting all emotional.

Reply Score: 5

ralph Member since:
2005-07-10

Rrrrrright, and activation schemes can't be cracked, right?
Who said they couldn't? Oh, wait that's not the issue here. Your condescending claim that nobody thought about people selling or exchanging the XO is.
How about informin yourself the next time around before commenting?

Ah, so you're an adherent of the "you can't possibly know that suicide is bad unless you try it, firsthand" school of thought.
Nope. He's clearly an adherent to the "you should inform yourself before posting on an issue" school of thought. Nobody thinks or claims that the XO will solve all the problems in the world and everyone is aware that there are a lot of problems that can't be solved with it. However, people argue that it can help a lot of people in a several ways, for example by making better education accessible to more people.

Now, if as you claim you are really interested in a discussion, you should address these points, not build some strawman argument in order to be better able to tear it down. Yes, people who starve won't be helped by the XO. Nobody claimed they would.

Reply Score: 5

alexis Member since:
2007-05-21

First, I live in Uruguay. We are in the third world but far from Africa in some metrics of human development (check the wikipedia). We have potable water, more than 90% of our population know how to read and write. So in our case OLPC it's the best thing invented since sliced bread.

If the childs decide to change XO for food/cows/crops/candy/playstation it's pity but at least exist a "technology injection" in the society.

Much of the infrastructure problems that you refer, will not be fixed merely by giving XOs to the kids, but as I see it is a medium to help this kids construct a better place to live in the future.

Enter in the OLPC project is up to each country, don't subestimate the decision, we are not stupids just poor.

ps: sorry about my english

Reply Score: 9

stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

I'm a believer in positive thinking

Don't just belive, try to apply some for a change.

Reply Score: 2

stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

My point: If you can't see the benefit of giving unrestricted computing power, and some pretty advanced networking, to millions of the world's children as being beneficial to them, and us, and as a way to help solve poverty, then you seriously need to apply some positive thinking.

Reply Score: 4

Bobthearch Member since:
2006-01-27

Alexis, I enjoyed reading your post, and your English is as good as many Americans'. ;)

In regards to the Wall Street Journal article, I'd like to hear some opinions from your perspective:

Would the Urugruay government realistically spend millions of dollars buying laptops for schoolchildren? Or would they only be interested if the machines were donated?

Would they lean towards a Windows-based machine, or do you think they'd prefer the OLPC? Or whichever machine costs less?

Reply Score: 1

sergiusens Member since:
2007-09-01

As someone from Argentina (a close neighbor with a similar situation), I can say this will be welcome (OLPC).

For example, the government and Sun ventured themselves into this project to help foster education in rural places: http://www.sun.com/sunray/sunray2/perspectives.xml (search for this text within that page: "Sun Microsystems is bringing technology to students in rural Argentina.")

I believe that OLPC will be rather welcome since around 70% of Argentina is rural (take it with a grain of salt, I'm not aware of the actual number). Some kids walk 100km everyday to go to school and live in a place, where with luck, have electricity.

The paper referenced below states that 40% of the population is poor and 30% can only cover basic needs. The paper is old, but a google search for updated values will prove to be similar, I just linked to this one since it's an academic paper :-)
http://www.perio.unlp.edu.ar/problemas%20sociologicos/textos/ot...

Enough writing :-P wikipedia covers Argentina rather well :-)

PS: and for anyone who ever visited Argentina -> Argentina != Buenos Aires - Capital Federal.

Reply Score: 2

Michael Member since:
2005-07-01

1. ... I'm not sure that cheap laptops are the answer, though. My guess is that a lot of people will sell or exchange their laptops ...

Who said it was the answer? The problems of the third world can't be solved by some single, well chosen act. Would teaching a child skills which could enable them to earn a decent living, even by US standards help in countries where the per capita GDP is less than $2000 help? Will some people sell the laptops in spite of that? Maybe, but there's no market for these things outside the developing world, so it's gotta help someone.

2. Some of these people have more pressing concerns, such as regional conflict, forced conscription of children, HIV/AIDS, poor/nonexistent sewage, lack of clean drinking water, etc. ... When you sell hammers, nearly every problem looks like it can be solved with the use of a hammer ...

It won't cure AIDS but that doesn't mean it's not worth the money. Heck, I'm sure there's plenty of people in the developing world who'd be very grateful for a few good hammers. It's all good.

3. Nearly all of these laptop designs are going to fail within 5 years. ...

That's pure speculation. The guys who designed these things did know about the sort of conditions they'll be used in. Even if it's true, that's a computer for $20/year. How else could you spend that much money and get the same boost to a child's education?

4. It might be more effective to create regional computing centers ... This way, you can avoid the resale of laptops, you can handle maintenance and network connectivity in a centralized place, ...

You basing that on an assumption that these things are going to be sold off, or break in large numbers. I just don't see the basis for any of that. Like I said before, there's no other market for these things, and they're being used in exactly the environment they were designed for. I say, give it a chance.

Reply Score: 3

Developing countries do need computers too
by irbis on Tue 4th Dec 2007 22:50 UTC
irbis
Member since:
2005-07-08

Some commentators here have been saying that, oh, offering cheap PCs to developing 3rd world countries is not that important as developing countries live in such a poverty and there're more important problems (like violence & crime, poor health services, poverty etc.) However, that is not even half true.

Heck, there's high tech and need for high tech in every part of the world today. Think about India, for example. The 3rd world people do not live in stone age you know. As to agriculture, they may have had highly developed agriculture centuries before Europe and the USA had it. If the agriculture and economy does not serve the interest of common people, it is often the result of politics. Like when 3rd world dictators get their license to power by allowing greedy western companies (and countries) to freely exploit some 3rd world resources regardless of people's good.

Here in the rich western world we may often get a bit twisted view about the reality in the 3rd world because of the overwhelmingly negative news we get from the 3rd world. But 3rd world people also live normal peaceful lives, they study to become engineers, secretaries, bosses, they need to write their work applications like any of us here in the west, they use email nowadays, they do use computers and Internet too, even in the poorest of countries these days. Sure there are also still people living in mud cottages, but that's not the whole truth. Computer technology is important also in 3rd world countries, for their development, education system etc.

Besides, it often seems that crime, violence, AIDS, drugs, poverty, poor public health care etc. may often be much bigger problems in the richest country of the world, the USA, than in many of the so-called poor 3rd world countries...

There, something to think about?

Reply Score: 6

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

The 3rd world people do not live in stone age you know.


A large part of the population in them pretty much do. Try living in a garbage dump on less than $1/day and then say it's not stone age. Or live in a cardboard box on the street with your 8 person family.
And yes, I actually DO live in a 3rd world country, and has done so for about 9 years, so I know what I'm talking about.

But 3rd world people also live normal peaceful lives, they study to become engineers, secretaries, bosses, they need to write their work applications like any of us here in the west, they use email nowadays, they do use computers and Internet too, even in the poorest of countries these days.


The people who have these opportunities do not need the $100 laptop though. Not that the $100 laptop is a really bad idea it's just that it's a laptop. It's a thing you can sell for money, money that can buy you the more immediate necessities like food and clean water. Unless you back this $100 laptop thing up with a support structure, better education in general and better teachers (or ANY teacher, for that matter) etc it's going to go to waste. You cant just sell it to the government and hope things work out.

Besides, it often seems that crime, violence, AIDS, drugs, poverty, poor public health care etc. may often be much bigger problems in the richest country of the world, the USA, than in many of the so-called poor 3rd world countries...


As bad as we may think our western countries are in those areas they're not nearly as bad. Not by a long shot.

Edited 2007-12-05 04:06

Reply Score: 1

It never fails to amaze me...
by rafial on Tue 4th Dec 2007 23:00 UTC
rafial
Member since:
2007-12-04

...how doing something generous is an infallible way to bring the haters.

So just for the record, I shelled out by $399 for the Get One Give One program on day 1. I've played with the OLPC software images, and I'm really excited to have one of these little green guys to hack on for my own. And it's great that a kid somewhere will have a laptop as a result. Enlightened self interest baby.

Turns out that I also get a year of free T-Mobile hotspot service with my laptop. The theoretical value of THAT almost pays for the laptop right there. Now in practical terms for me, I didn't need the service that much, but I bet it'll come in handy a few times next year. Yay me.

So from where I'm stilling the XO laptop is a rousing success!

Reply Score: 6

RE: It never fails to amaze me...
by tomcat on Tue 4th Dec 2007 23:25 UTC in reply to "It never fails to amaze me..."
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

...how doing something generous is an infallible way to bring the haters.


Hold on a second there, champ, before you throw around terms like "haters". I think that most people here would agree that doing philanthropic activities for the disadvantaged is a good thing. I think that what many people are questioning is (A) Will it accomplish anything more useful than making a bunch of guilt-ridden westerners feel better about themselves? and (B) Is it cost-effective, or should alternative approaches (ie. centralized regional computing cafes) be tried? I don't have a problem with competing ideas. It has been my experience that, when people want to shut others out of discussion (for example, by labeling them as "haters"), it's really just a self-defense mechanism for avoiding a reasonable examination of their proposals and motives.

Reply Score: 1

stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

centralized regional computing cafes

So this starving miserable uneducated aids-ridden regularly-robbed 3rd world junkie that you are trying to claim is typical of anyone not living in America or Central Europe is, according to you, so poor that they would rob their kids to trade for a cow, or some grain, is going to walk (on average) around 100 miles to get to their nearest 'regional computing cafe' so they can sit down at a machine that they've never used before, and don't understand, so that they can spend an hour or two on a computer?

Yes, I can see your reasoning there.

Reply Score: 5

stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

Don't put disparaging words in my mouth. I never said that.


So I used some artistic license, here are excerpts from what you actually said:

Working? Farming? Military? Hanging out, smoking weed?
Rates of major infectious diseases are "very high".
regional conflict, forced conscription of children, HIV/AIDS, poor/nonexistent sewage, lack of clean drinking water, etc.


Who ever said anything about having them "walk (on average) around 100 miles to get to their nearest 'regional computing cafe'"? You pulled that out of your ass. Here's a reasonable alternative to your nonsense: Presumably, the kid is going to school. Why not locate the computers in the school?


Apart from in urban areas, most of the worlds poor live in isolated villages, and small communities, far too small to afford [or their government to afford] a 'regional computing cafe', therefore these 'regional' centers will have to be placed: regionally. In low population density areas this will mean that the centers will be widely spaced. I admit that the 100 miles figure is not based on research, but is not a totally inaccurate figure. The point is that many third world communities are far more isolated than 1st world people imagine.

Gee, I don't know how poor dumb Westerners did it before laptops were available. They actually had to traipse over to the computer lab on campus and, gasp, use computers that they've never used before. Oh, the horror...


Westerners, i.e., rich 1st world people can afford a far higher computer/population density than we are talking about with regional computing cafes. Also, computers are used to supplement a first-rate education that means that most people, when sitting down at a computer have decent literacy/numeracy. This baseline knowledge allows them to understand the semantics of what they are faced with much more easily.

Reply Score: 4

stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

I think that you think that all schools are like those in 'The OC'. the sorts of schools that the OLPC people are visiting have: No security, usually not any power, or reliable power, and maybe service <100 kids.

This means that they do not qualify it for any kind of regional internet cafe unless you are talking about computers of roughly the price of the OLPC scheme.

The lack of physical security in these places makes it MUCH safer to keep the laptops with the kids. What would you rather do? steal one computer from your son/daughter, or break into a school that you have no emotional ties to and run away with 10 computers, or 30?

Reply Score: 2

The pipedream of a strong dollar
by TheBadger on Tue 4th Dec 2007 23:30 UTC
TheBadger
Member since:
2005-11-14

Bobthearch: "Even at the pipe-dream price of $100, that's $100,000,000 total. Did anyone really think Nigeria would spend that kind of money?"

Well, it's not Negroponte's fault that (a) his $100 is now $188 (at the last quote) given the devaluation of that currency, and (b) Nigeria, despite being the third largest oil exporter according to revenue, manages to squander that income.

I guess some people in Nigeria don't have problems spending money - let's hope that the stuff they haven't managed to waste isn't all invested in dollar assets.

Reply Score: 1

Bobthearch Member since:
2006-01-27

Well, it's not Negroponte's fault that (a) his $100 is now $188 (at the last quote) given the devaluation of that currency, and (b) Nigeria, despite being the third largest oil exporter according to revenue, manages to squander that income.

Of course it isn't, and I never even hinted that it was his fault.

Edited 2007-12-04 23:38

Reply Score: 1

........
by islander on Wed 5th Dec 2007 00:22 UTC
islander
Member since:
2007-04-11

I might get flamed but I will say it anyways.I was never in favour of these laptop ideas and not only OLPC though I consider them to very noble.The Via project in Samoa seems to be a better alternative.

http://www.viapc-1.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=44...

Centralized infastructure where broader skillsets can be taught other than just learning to use a laptop.For example the teaching of hardware maintenance,repairs and upgrades creating a greater sense of self sufficency,innovation,and entrepreneurial spirit.

Reply Score: 2

RE: ........
by stestagg on Wed 5th Dec 2007 00:52 UTC in reply to "........"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

That's an interesting site. Apart from committing the sin of playing music at you without prompting, it's a project that puts technology in the hands of underprivileged children, which is always a good thing.

However, the pictures shown make me slightly uneasy. Pictures of more than 20 young children crammed round a computer being operated by a white adult do not inspire me with hope in the same way that the OLPC project does. read http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/docs/Paper02.pdf it is an amazing experiment, and shows that 'minimally invasive education' is by far and away the best method for mass-education in situations where structured teaching resources are limited.

The children in Samoa may know that the correct term for the white arrow on the screen is a 'cursor', but the children in Delhi (read the hole-in-the-wall link) actually understand how to interact with computers.

Reply Score: 3

OLPC & Competition
by Hank on Wed 5th Dec 2007 01:18 UTC
Hank
Member since:
2006-02-19

First, I am one of the people who did the G1G1 program. I count it as a tax deduction to a charitable group. Ever since seeing this I'm dying to get my hands on one of these things. Ruggedized, works in broad day light and uses so little power that it can be charged by hand sounds pretty darn neat to me. Negroponte agreed that competition was good, but real competition. What you are seeing instead is the market aberration that marketing can mask a product that is worse for you and convince you why it is good to buy anyway. The Classmate and other knock offs aren't as ruggedized, use far more power and don't have displays that work in broad daylight. That, and they still cost more. If it was true competition and not FUD marketing slicks then I'd say their entry in the market is a good thing. As it is, it is the typical anti-competitive practice of spreading FUD to deep six another company's product until either you can come up with something comparable or make it so that they go out of business and it doesn't matter anymore. Yes that's capitalism, but it's one of its dark sides.

Reply Score: 2

v RE: OLPC & Competition
by tomcat on Wed 5th Dec 2007 02:13 UTC in reply to "OLPC & Competition"
RE[2]: OLPC & Competition
by Hank on Wed 5th Dec 2007 14:28 UTC in reply to "RE: OLPC & Competition"
Hank Member since:
2006-02-19

Well, Hank, if what you say is true, then competition should ultimately solve the problem by making the better choice obvious.

That's how it works in the classroom. Often times that's not how it works in the real world.

Negroponte et al clearly don't have deep pockets, so they're whining about "competition".

Actually Negroponte was whining about FUD marketing and false pricing by the other groups not competition. The article highlighted as much when they quoted him saying, "From my point of view, if the world were to have 30 million [laptops made by competitors] in the hands of children at the end of next year, that to me would be a great success...My goal is not selling laptops. OLPC is not in the laptop business. It's in the education business."

Edited 2007-12-05 14:42

Reply Score: 3

v RE[3]: OLPC & Competition
by tomcat on Wed 5th Dec 2007 19:04 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: OLPC & Competition"
A few observations and comments
by trev on Wed 5th Dec 2007 02:52 UTC
trev
Member since:
2006-11-22

A few observations with comments.

1: Some posters seem to think poor countries don't need laptops (or at least it is not critical to them). The PC is one of the most flexible tools humanity has created. Wouldn't providing greater access to this tool LIKELY produce some tangible benefits. Additionally, Intel, Asus and Microsoft seem to think there is enough demand to create solutions for exactly this segment. That seems to indicate a demand for PCs for this segment.

2: There is likely little fairness to the Intel/Windows offerings. Microsoft selling a version of Windows/Office for $3 is selling it at a loss in an apparent means to drive out competition / gain market share. This is illegal in many countries and in the long run will likely reduce the availability of technology solutions to this segment (this is why anti-trust regulation exists in most countries).

3. There is a perception the cost has skyrocketed. It did not hit it's mark but missed by less than 15% when measured in Polish Zloty and Euro (2 currencies I am familiar with both now and then). The remaining price increase is caused by the weakened dollar. Had this been the 120 Euro ($100 equivalent when it started) laptop it would be much closer to hitting it's target than being the $100 dollar laptop.

4. Some posters have serious concerns about maintenance and support i.e. long term sustainability. It seems to me using a base of open source software and hardware with freely available specifications will give a better long term (5+ years) solution for the money than relying on Microsoft and Intel for support. Both companies charge a significant amount in the local currency for support whereas even a fairly small amount of local talent, that can learn to support their machines online, would provide much more cost efficient support.

5. A poster suggested regional computing centers which likely already exist in some fashion (internet cafe's, schools, etc). This solution will also likely give decent returns, however, due to the accessibility to computing resources and controls on "playing" with the technology those returns will probably be much smaller and slower than the OLPC approach.


When I first heard about the program I was skeptical as many posters are. In my opinion the benefit of increased computing skills and the development of sustainable self-supporting technology cultures in these places outweighs concerns about the very short term (1-2 years). The development of this culture will be MUCH quicker if the choice is open source and fully specified hardware.

I believe Microsoft and Intel realize that development of a culture that demands open source and detailed tech specs will decrease their profits. Their near monopolies in these segments are necessary to maintain the high profits. This is probably why they strongly compete with OLPC in the developing countries OLPC is most active in.

Reply Score: 3

rafial Member since:
2007-12-04

You say that as if there were something wrong with profit.


I hear you can make a pretty good profit killing people for money.

Reply Score: 1

rafial Member since:
2007-12-04

And don't even try to equate selling software with killing people.


I'm not. I'm just pointing out the idiocy of praising profit irrespective of how it is obtained.

The issue was profit, not how you earn it.


If the two can be so easily and neatly separated, then I guess the Mafia have been a bunch of legitimate businessmen all along.

Reply Score: 2

Sales and Marketing
by kjn9 on Wed 5th Dec 2007 22:45 UTC
kjn9
Member since:
2006-01-17

From TFA:
"I'm not good at selling laptops," Negroponte has told colleagues. "I'm good at selling ideas."

The Intel Classmate has one critical component that the OLPC does not. It is not the Intel CPU or the $3 cut-down version of Windows and Office. It is a professional sales force.

The OLPC idea is well and truly sold - not only to governments, but also to OLPC's competitors. If OLPC wants to sell the laptops, it needs a sales force that has experience of selling hardware. One of OLPC's commercial partners might be able to fill this role.

Reply Score: 1