mm153: Buy a Laptop for a Child, Get Another Laptop Free

September 26, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

This week seems to be developing a theme: technology of the developed world reaching out to the developing world, with some intriguing results.

Any member of the ‘Sphere recognizes that the PC is the instrument of tremendous potential for creating change, especially the access to the Internet (and the universe beyond the dusty village) that it can provide,

The One Laptop Per Child project has been carefully followed in this space, and the original story has been subsequently augmented and commented on, most recently this week.

Here’s an update on OLPC, published this week in the NYTimes.

By STEVE LOHR Published: September 24, 2007

One Laptop Per Child, an ambitious project to bring computing to the developing world’s children, has considerable momentum. Years of work by engineers and scientists have paid off in a pioneering low-cost machine that is light, rugged and surprisingly versatile. The early reviews have been glowing, and mass production is set to start next month.


Orders, however, are slow. “I have to some degree underestimated the difference between shaking the hand of a head of state and having a check written,” said Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of the nonprofit project. “And yes, it has been a disappointment.”

But Mr. Negroponte, the founding director of the M.I.T. Media Laboratory, views the problem as a temporary one in the long-term pursuit of using technology as a new channel of learning and self-expression for children worldwide.

And he is reaching out to the public to try to give the laptop campaign a boost. The marketing program, to be announced today, is called “Give 1 Get 1,” in which Americans and Canadians can buy two laptops for $399.

Putting aside the question about how a $100 laptop has inflated to two for $399, the OLPC continues to break new ground even in marketing.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Buy a Laptop for a Child, Get Another Laptop Free – New York Times

This is a wonderful cause, and I would think that people who would find a $399 purchase with a 50% charitable component affordable might also wish, as the story suggests, to donate the PC they’re entitled to a (not third world, but certainly third rate) school in this country.

God knows that there are pockets of the third world within these preciously regarded borders of ours, many within our biggest cities. Then it becomes a $399 charitable contribution, serving to further education among the deserving needy in our own country as well as beyond.

If this promotion serves to prime the production pump, so as to assure economic deliveries to the nations like Peru and Mexico and Italy (for Ethiopia — now that’s fitting!) that have committed to the project, then it’s absolutely worthwhile.

As the giving season looms (the pumpkins are out, after all!), why not add OLPC’s “Give 1, Get 1” to your planning (orders to be taken Nov. 12–26); and as MUDGE recommends, just make that slight adjustment and you can call it “Give 1 (there), Give 1 (here).”

It’s it for now. Thanks,


mm111: Charmr: The Apple aesthetic meets the insulin pump

August 21, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Among the zillions of sites that this observer doesn’t get to nearly frequently enough, Ars Technica stands out.


Charmr: The Apple aesthetic meets the insulin pump

By Thomas Wilburn | Published: August 17, 2007 – 03:16AM CT

Editor’s Note: Hosted by user experience firm Adaptive Path, UX Week 2007 brought together application programmers, graphic artists, and web designers from around the world to discuss the challenges of everything from evolving Web 2.0 applications to redesigned pharmacy bottles. The event featured keynotes from professionals at Milton Glaser, One Laptop Per Child, and Nokia, as well as presentations from eBay, Yahoo!, and CNN, among others. From Washington, D.C., Thomas Wilburn provides an excerpt from the UX Week sessions.

One example of “sweet” design: Adaptive Path, organizers of the UX Week conference on user experience, showed off concept images for an easier-to-use insulin pump Tuesday. Dubbed the “Charmr” for its charm bracelet-like display component, the device would be a drastic change from the bulky pumps currently in use—a difference that designers highlighted by naming the conference session “Wear It During Sex.”

As one who has a loved one who wears an insulin pump, this one just jumped out at me. And note above the reference to One Laptop Per Child, another point of interest here.

And, in my professional life, it’s all about the user experience. Recently, I was (surprisingly to me) characterized the “manager of the web conferencing user experience” by an objective observer (who I’d never thought was that impressed with what I do).

The rest of the story is short:

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Charmr: The Apple aesthetic meets the insulin pump

Someone’s got to build this thing, pronto!

It’s it for now. Thanks,


mm101: Technology / Water — It’s a theme!

August 14, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Two fascinating stories came our way today, courtesy at least in one case and possibly both, of blogroll2.

[Don’t know what’s going on with Digg lately, but reddit just has better stuff, and Digg seems to be proving that its flavor of Web 2.0 doesn’t have a clue when it comes to news one can use, and MUDGE hereby expels it from the blogroll.]

So, they both involve water, in a micro and a macro way, with technological solutions to pressing and urgent global challenges.

Story the first:

Watercone – An Ingenious Way To Turn Salt Water Into Fresh Water

Written by The Naib


The Watercone is an ingenious device that can take salty water and turn it into fresh water using only the power of the sun. The nice thing about this device is it is bone simple, uses the sun instead of fossil fuel, and is cheap to make and easy to use.

water cone

So simple as to beg the question — can it possibly work? So simple as to beg the question — this costs $27.00???

But, take a look at the full story.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Watercone – Ingenious Way To Turn Salt Water Into Fresh Water

What’s utterly lovable about this concept is that it’s high tech in the service of low tech.

2. Absolutely, low concept and low tech.
As opposed to other types of solar stills which feature electronics, photo-voltaic cells, tubes, filters, many parts, etc. the Watercone concept is understood within seconds with absolutely no need for academic background. Additionally it (cone & pan) is made from Bayer Makrolon, a high-tech ultra-rugged and highly recyclable polycarbonate, virtually insensitive to UV exposure or breakage, an all too common result of rough transport.

They tell us that, for the 21st century, water is the new petroleum — highly valued (can’t live without it, until Nestle comes up with bottled synthetic water, manufactured from spent uranium or something!); limited supply.

So, we can provide a solar powered laptop to the children of the third world, and if they’re coast dwellers, solar created potable water to help them reach a thriving adulthood. Extraordinary.

On to story the second, also a technology story involving water.

East River Turbines Face Upstream Battle


The alternative energy company that has plans to install hundreds of turbines in the East River to harness tidal energy and generate zero-emission electrical power is running into trouble due to the massive amount of energy they are dealing with. The small number of turbines already placed in the East River by Verdant Power have been temporarily removed as the strong currents continue to overwhelm the physical construction of the underwater “windmills.” The six turbines that were placed in the water last December and were capable of supplying 1,000 daily kilowatt hours of power and serving the Gristedes supermarket on Roosevelt Island could not withstand currents.

turbinefield.jpgThe East River is not actually a river; it’s a tidal strait, and one can easily observe the current moving in opposite directions with the tides. Verdant Power’s plan is to install a field of turbines anchored to the bottom of the East River and use the currents to generate pollution-free electricity for the city. The currents have proven so strong, however, that the turbine propellers have been sheared off a third of the way down, and stronger replacements were hampered by insufficiently strong bolt connections to the turbine hubs.

So, when I first saw this post, I have to admit, I was skeptical — was MUDGE being punked? Does elderly MUDGE even know what punked means?

Yup, of course it’s real, this blog links to a story in yesterday’s NYTimes, which even mentions MUDGE‘s current presidential fixation, Michael Bloomberg. So, okay, I’ve just injected a bit of unreality, but bear with the story, please!

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!] Gothamist: East River Turbines Face Upstream Battle

So, here’s an example of cutting edge high tech overreaching. Or, shearing edge. Hard to imagine that the tidal currents are so strong as to incapacitate these water mills. Harder to imagine that they’ve spent a lot of time (and of course some public money) and couldn’t predict the power of water — exhibit A.

And there you have it, an example of MUDGE‘s weird penchant for tying together disparate threads into a unified theme. So, which do you think makes the liquid grade today? Drinking water from a $27 piece of plastic and the sun? Or, hydro power for NYC from a tidefarm that had better be made from materials stronger than granite?

An interesting race that we’ll watch with interest.

In our rush to improve the first and third worlds with all of this wonderful technology, let’s not forget to FIX ALL OF THOSE GODDAMN BRIDGES ALREADY!

It’s it for now. Thanks,


mm099: A $99 Desktop Comes With Software, Backup and Too Many Catches

August 11, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

A few posts ago, we looked into the One Laptop Per Child laptop. Walter Mossberg of All Things Digital blogroll2 and the Wall Street Journal took a look at what might be construed as the first world’s version…

All Things Digital

Personal Technology

A $99 Desktop Comes With Software, Backup and Too Many Catches

Published on August 9, 2007
by Walter S. Mossberg

For just $99, you can now buy a desktop computer that’s preloaded with full versions of 20 popular types of software. This computer comes with free, automatic, online backup of your files, and a design that cuts energy use way below that of a standard computer.

It gets better. This new PC, called Zonbu, from a new company of the same name, automatically receives free updates of its software when new versions come out. It doesn’t require antivirus or other security programs because it runs on the Linux operating system, which has attracted very few viruses or spyware programs. And it takes up almost no room — it’s a tiny little box.

The full article has an excellent video from Walt Mossberg. Check it out:

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

A $99 Desktop Comes With Software, Backup and Too Many Catches

And, it’s green! This year’s buzzword.


Zonbu is an interesting shot at a subscriber model for computing — pay for what you need, as you go. It’s not there yet, as they are asking for a 2 year subscription with payment in advance, but it’s a first step.

Competition will fix that. The cellphone people have figured out how the subscription model subsidizes the hardware, especially for commodity instruments.

Although based on Linux (and MUDGE is certainly not there yet) much of the included software, especially Firefox and OpenOffice MUDGE has long since adopted for personal use in his Windows system.

And the software that’s missing, like a personal finance package? I’m sure Google has one of those, or will have soon, on line like its office suite package. Would I like Google to keep my personal finances on line? Hell, no! But, it’s a concept.

Mossberg concludes:

I strongly support Zonbu’s goals of making computing simpler, cheaper and more energy efficient. But this product has too many compromises.

So, it’s officially a trend.

  1. Cheap hardware components undoubtedly sourced from (where else) China.
  2. Linux (open source) operating system, which has the bonus of not yet serving as a target of opportunity from all the East European hackers and criminals out there.
  3. Open source software installed, even in Linux versions having achieved some critical mass of acceptability.
  4. Memory, and I’m certain soon, and software available via Internet access. Network computing taken to its next logical step.

One Laptop Per Child (remember, it gets lots of its power from its hive network) for the third world; Zonbu and its certain to be improved successors for the first and second.

Maybe someday, even MUDGE will pay less than $1200 for a PC. Never happened yet, since as prices per component go down, the sheer number of additional must-have components seems to have kept the price level, or growing. Maybe this paradigm shift will finally break that pattern.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


mm088: Meet the XO – eWeek

July 28, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Things I found on the way to finding other things…

We’ve been reading about the One Laptop Per Child initiative for some time now, and it’s utterly fascinating to see it closer to fruition, courtesy of eWeek. The story is lengthy and comprehensive and worthy of your time. Click any of the links to pursue this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 2:50 PM/EST

Meet the XO

Click here to see photos of the XO laptopThe OLPC's XO laptop

eWEEK’s Emerging Technology Looks at the OLPC’s XO laptop

See the XO’s Sugar Interface in Action. Get a first hand look at Sugar features such as the Mesh and see some of the applications bundled with the XO’s Linux-based operating system

The Hardware of the XO laptop – While at the OLPC offices we had the opportunity to get hands-on with the XO laptop

Podcast: The Tech of the XO Listen to a podcast of my interviews with OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen and OLPC President Walter Bender.

One Laptop Per Child’s XO (commonly referred to as the $100 laptop) is designed to change the world by bringing computing resources to children in the developing world. But the many innovations in the XO may also end up changing the world of technology.

Emerging Technology – Desktops and Notebooks – Meet the XO

What a tremendous achievement it will be if OLPC can really deliver these status quo shattering machines at a status quo shattering price!

As a lugger of classic laptops (often two at a time), I am more anxious than most to see the technology transfer promised in eWeek’s analysis.

And as a concerned citizen of the planet, I am anxious to see this playground leveling and globally empowering device placed in millions (billions?) of deserving hands — the sooner the better.


It’s it for now. Thanks,