Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 17th Jan 2008 20:44 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems El Reg has an in-depth review of the XO laptop. They conclude: "There's a lot to like about the XO laptop. It's tough, it's great as an eBook reader, it has a big (for its category), high resolution screen. It runs silent and cool, has good battery life, and the clean design of the Sugar interface is easy to use. But several areas need work. The browser should be replaced by Firefox, and the Journal needs to support folders to match how people actually organise their work and play. Multimedia performance needs to be improved, which can hopefully be done through software. The XO needs a unified media player that supports all media types, along with playlists, and should be integrated with the UI. Most of these changes come down to the OLPC organisation placing more emphasis on real-world usability and less on their ideals of a perfect interface. If they can manage to do this, the XO laptop could be a great tool for learning and play."
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RE: So ... - Sugar = UI unlimited by language and exp
by jabbotts on Fri 18th Jan 2008 17:14 UTC in reply to "So ..."
jabbotts
Member since:
2007-09-06

Sugar was designed specifically for the XO to transend language barriers and the hurtle of never having seen a mouse and GUI setup before.

It's all picture icons so that one does not have to first learn english or translate the XO into the local languages. It also allows children who have not yet or are still learning to read there native language to understand the UI through it's basic icons.

XO is going to be used by kids who have never even concieved of the mouse and GUI concept before. Not all kids will be like that but many will be seeing a computer for the first time when they are handed a XO. while it seems perfectly natural for someone like you are I to sit down at a GUI and expect the pointer to move when we push the mouse; this is not the case for a first time user. For that reason, Sugar was designed to be fairly basic in it's presentation. Even now, it's hard to teach most people a new program on the same old UI they've always used (MS only users, I mean you) without them feeling overwelmed; a kid who's never seen a mouse and is suddenly dropped into a full KDE/GNOME/IE or osX UI is going is not going to just pick it up.

Try to remember back to the first time you saw a Windows machine. For me, it was after years of Dos (and Apple 2e before that) text input interfaces. I remember sitting down infront of a win3.1 UI at the highschool library and being completely lost with that little I-beam cursor in wordpad. Granted, the lost feeling didn't last long but that was after many years mucking with computers.

Any of us techie types evaluating the Sugar interface based on our own experience can only provide broken analysis because most of us can not clearly remember that first time seeing a mouse and resulting cursor movement. Heck, these days, the younger techie types can't concieve of a non-mouse interface (anyone remember lightpens?).

In short, none of us here can accurately evaluate the Sugar interface. Remember also that it's *nix underneath; how long do you figure it will take for the XO owning kids who share our love of computers too change the UI to something the prefer more?

Reply Parent Score: 1

mat69 Member since:
2006-03-29

Even now, it's hard to teach most people a new program on the same old UI they've always used (MS only users, I mean you) without them feeling overwelmed; a kid who's never seen a mouse and is suddenly dropped into a full KDE/GNOME/IE or osX UI is going is not going to just pick it up.

It seems you are mostly talking about people that allready adopted to a system and are maybe older than 30. I'm talking about children. Children can manage DOS, they can manage Windows they can even manage to learn different languages at the same time.

Children can do a lot more you seem to think.
So instead of teaching them a "language" (UI principle) none speaks they should learn something "international", not that they have to adopt later on when learning is not so easy anymore.

And I bet a child you show how to start a little game/a program to toy with will remember the steps to do so very fast.

It's true that it is not that easy to navigate a computer without reading skills, but children will remember the icons and the shape of the words they have to press in the menu to get to a game they like very fast.
Hell, children beat most grown ups in playing memory, they won't have a problem to remember such little pieces.

Overall: Children rule. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 1

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

"
It seems you are mostly talking about people that allready adopted to a system and are maybe older than 30. I'm talking about children. Children can manage DOS, they can manage Windows they can even manage to learn different languages at the same time.
"

I remember learning Dos and thinking I broke the secret code when I discovered that the neat menu system was a collection of batch files I could edit. I'm also watching my first born go through the natural learning process currently. Oh, I don't doubt how fast kids will learn and that's why I say that the kids who take interest in computers will very quickly and easily be able to change the UI. Not all of them are going to be interested in computers though, for many, the device will be a tool that provides them with content on the topic they are interested in.

But the point is still that the basic UI bridges language barriers and provides an overwhelming introduction to computer use for people who have never considered the concept of mouse and GUI. It's for the youngest school children and initial introduction to them and older school children as well as there parents.

The interface provides access to the devices native functions in a manner that doesn't require children to learn words from other languages. I personally think and understanding if not more complete knowledge of multiple languages is very beneficial but that also shouldn't be forced. (there is already some uproar over us westerners forcing our version of history and other texts on the recipients. a language neutral UI helps overcome that initial fear)

I'm not saying all kids are dim and need to be hand held. I'm just saying that maybe Sugar is very well designed for it's purpose rather than simply slapped together and as restrictive as us full UI users are accustomed too.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

I remember very, very clearly how confused I was the first time I sat down at a Windows 3.1 PC. And when I imagine the same situation sitting down at a PC with the sugar interface, where all of the icons are *EXTREMELY VAGUE* and there are no words to tell me if an icon is going to do something good or totally f@!k everything up, I get the impression that the Sugar interface will make the feeling of being lost significantly *more* pronounced, not less.

Then again, I can't say, because even if I were to try Sugar out now, I'm not a real first-time user. The only way to test it out for real is to use real kids who have never touched a computer. Why they didn't actually test things in this manner *before* releasing this device to the masses is beyond me. It seems like things ended up being more about politics and getting to market in time to beat the competition, than about truly coming up with the ideal tool. (Of course, the main competition-- Microsoft--did absolutely jack-squat to make their product more suitable, so it's not like they're any better.)

Don't get me wrong, the hardware is incredible, no doubt about it. It's just the software that strikes me as half-baked. Hopefully it gets better *very soon*.

Edited 2008-01-19 19:27 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

True, the software can always improve. I'm also waiting to see how it develops when it gets out into real use other than the few test deployments. Just think about those few kids who are going to take to comp eng. Watch the next Linus come form some remote village in five years and blow everyone away with programming learned through self directed exploration.

Reply Parent Score: 1