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.

olpc7926

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,

–MUDGE


mm149: India’s take on the ‘$100 computer’

September 23, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Technology today is democratic and catholic (in the lower-case ‘c’, universal definition of the term): as education (often imparted to deserving and lucky students from around the world in the peerless U.S. university system) spreads, implementation of technology effortlessly transcends traditional borders.

We’ve written here before (also here) about efforts to create inexpensive computers: the initiative to further democratize education by bringing the power of technology to every under-served corner of the planet.

Here’s a story about an effort out of India that has just received some U.S. venture funding:

cnet

Novatium Solutions, which has come up with a thin-client computer for emerging markets, has landed an investment from New Enterprise Associates (NEA).

The company has mostly installed its computers around Chennai (formerly Madras) in southern India. The systems work on the thin-client model. Most of the actual computing and the Internet connection goes through a central server. Users then tap into the server through desktop units.

With thin clients, updates and security patches are easier to manage, according to Rajesh Jain, one of Novatium’s founders. Energy can also be conserved. In a novel twist, Novatium’s clients use a digital signal processor rather than a standard processor. NEA did not state how much it has invested in the company.

Of course, no one is really hitting $100 per computer:

Even though Negroponte popularized the “$100 computer” name, no one is actually hitting that number. The XO will cost about $188 after a series of price hikes. Taiwan’s Asustek is working on a $200 computer based around Intel’s designs.

Of course, $100 isn’t what it used to be either. George III has seen to that. Sorry, all of you folks who used to run across the border to Canada to purchase stuff on the cheap. Those days are over.

Guess $200 is the new $100. Ouch.

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

India’s take on the ‘$100 computer’ gets U.S. venture funds | Tech news blog – CNET News.com

India represents such a contrast in culture and capabilities. Bengaluru and other hotbeds of technology (and technologists) are advancing so quickly that the world of technology outsourcing is rapidly seeking other, cheaper alternatives (current darling, the Philippines, which shares with India a history (hundreds of years shorter, of course) of widespread English as second language).

Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of Indians live one step up from the stone age, where barefoot entrepreneurs use Nobel prize winning microcredit to put a communal telephone in place in order to start the climb (getting shorter all the time) to connect their villages to the outside world.

So, they need a cheap computer solution, as do the 900 million rural Chinese who similarly await the industrial revolution, as do millions of sub-Saharan Africans, as do uncounted numbers of children in dusty corners of the Middle East whose exposure to technology stops at AK47s, as do millions of U.S. children unaccountably left behind (smoke and mirrors without substance: who’d have guessed the Bush administration capable of that?).

So, even at $200, initiatives like Novatium’s and the XO and their counterparts elsewhere can’t get out there soon enough.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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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.

Wow!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE