September 02, 2011

$25 PC - Delicious Raspberry Pi

Taking the cost of computing down to the cost of a textbook is the plan for the Raspberry Pi Foundation.  This is not just an educational tool for developing countries like what the OLPC project is doing, it is a platform for discovery and experimentation in the developed world as well.   Think of it this way: Do you want little Johnny taking apart the home computer that houses your tax returns which you never backup?  Or would you rather plunk down $25 for a computer that he can experiment with that can integrate with old CRT TV's that you were going to recycle anyways?  Oh, and it can run Linux, which is awesome.

(Picture from Raspberry Pi Blog)




January 25, 2011

Free library at your fingertips

Every time I take a long trip I try to bring a book along to read on the airplane just to pass the time.  With the advent of e-readers like the Kindle, you can bring a huge library of books with you with just a few ounces added to your carry-on bag.  One resource that I have found to be amazing is the library at Project Gutenberg.  You can download books that are now in the public domain and read them in various electronic formats.  The price cannot be beaten (free) and the amount of books available increase every day.  They provide the books in file formats that work on the iPad, Kindle, Nook, OLPC and various other reader units as well as regular computers.


As a plus, these books are in the format the author originally published them, not edited or censored.



May 21, 2010

Internet in a (big) box

The shipping containers that are used to shuttle cargo all around the world via ship, rail and road have a lifetime of about 20 years.  Other than melting them down for scrap, what can they be used for?

Computer Aid International found that they could use these containers for house computer labs to provide Internet access to developing countries.  Using solar power and low powered netbooks like the XO, they are able to bring an oasis of information to the desert.  Very cool!


(Photo Courtesy of photohome_uk / Steve Gibson on flickr)


January 02, 2010

Sweet XO-3

It looks like the One Laptop per Child team may beat Apple at the tablet game.  Take a look at these sweet concept demo pictures of the OLPC XO-3 tablet.




February 27, 2009

Ubuntu on the XO


I had read several articles on the web about loading different operating systems on the XO-1 hardware platform.  I have been really short on time lately due to our first son being born two weeks ago, so when I found XO Explosion offering a turnkey Ubuntu on XO-1 solution, I exercised my Paypal account immediately.  This vendor also has a lot of great spare parts for the XO-1 unit including displays, power bricks, batteries, and other addons.

After ordering, I received my SD card in mail a few days later.  I was able to drop my developer key right on to the SD card and within two minutes I had rebooted and was up and running on Ubuntu.  I know I lose a little bit to geek street cred for not going through the who installation process myself, but for $49 this is a great deal.  Once I work through the WiFi WEP connection issue on the XO, I'll be totally set.


January 07, 2009

OLPC layoffs, boo!

With the technology market and the web 2.0 in the toilet (oh, and the rest of the economy is going to hell in a hand basket), the OLPC group has announced that they will be laying off people.  Best of luck to everyone involved is this amazing endeavor.

Sad logo for OLPC layoff. 


From the OLPC Wiki:

Like many other nonprofits that are facing tough economic times, One Laptop per Child must downsize in order to keep costs in line with fewer financial resources. Today we are reducing our team by approximately 50% and there will be salary reductions for the remaining 32 people. While we are saddened by this development, we remain firmly committed to our mission of getting laptops to children in developing countries. We thank team members who are departing for their contributions to this important mission.

This restructuring is also the result of an exciting new direction for OLPC. Our technology initiatives will focus on:

  1. Development of Generation 2.0
  2. A no-cost connectivity program
  3. A million digital books
  4. Passing on the development of the Sugar Operating System to the community.

With regard to deployments:

  1. Latin America will be spun off into a separate support unit
  2. Sub-Saharan Africa will become a major learning hub
  3. The Middle East, Afghanistan and Northwestern Pakistan will become a major focus

Separately, OLPC will be dedicated to bringing the cost of the laptop down to Zero for the Least Developed Countries — the $0 Laptop.

Restructuring brings with it great pain for some of our friends and colleagues who are being let go. These individuals are people who have dedicated themselves to the advancement of a noble cause, and to say that we are exceeding grateful for the time, the ideas, the energy and the commitment they have given OLPC does not — cannot — adequately express our admiration or our gratitude. The fact that there are 500,000 children around the world who have laptops is testament to their extraordinary work and is already a key part of OLPC's legacy.

The future brings with it some uncertainty, some difficulty, but also the excitement that comes with the rededication to a cause, and a new path that will allow us to realize the moral purpose of OLPC. I hope that each one of you will remain supportive of OLPC, and its mission of opening up a universe of knowledge to the world's poorest children living in the most remote parts of the Earth.

— Nicholas Negroponte


November 10, 2008

New G1G1 Program Starts Today

The rush is on, as I  just received an update e-mail:

Subject: [One Laptop per Child] Welcome to One Laptop per Child: Give One Get One Program
Monday, November 10, 2008 10:11 AM
From: "" <>

Spread the word.

Thank you for signing up for Give One Get One. At our website,, you can see the excitement of children from the
Andes to the Gobi Desert getting their first computers, thanks to last
year's support and purchases by the countries themselves. Here is one
example from Peru:

Last year Americans bought 100,000 laptops for children across the
world.  This year, we mean to give 1 million.  So please spread the
word, invite all of your friends to participate.  And join us in one
simple goal: to change the world.

Thank you again,

Nicholas Negroponte
G1G1 mailing list



November 03, 2008

XO Update

Since I purchased my XO-1 a while ago, I have been playing with it when time allows.  While I really like the display and solid construction of the unit, the keyboard is somewhat of a deal killer for me.  I know this unit is built for children, but when I type on this thing I feel like one keystroke will press five keys.  Other than that, this thing is brilliant.  Anyways...

Since I purchased this thing, I had been running release 708 of the software which I downloaded from the OLPC website.  Over the weekend I decided to try upgrading to the 8.2.0 software (release 767).  I tried using the olpc-update 767 method, but even after 3 hours on my home DSL connection the OS hadn't been updated.  I decided to download the new image and re-flash my XO-1.  Bingo!  The user interface tweaks make the system a bit more usable.   I haven't spent enough time with the new software to see if the battery charge lasts 20% longer as they are saying.

Stay tuned for the new B1G1 program starting November 17th.



September 05, 2008

New OLPC G1G1 Program in November

It looks as if the One Laptop Per Child program has partnered up with Amazon to administer the Give One Get One (G1G1) program in November.  This program allows interested parties to purchase a laptop for a child in a developing country as well as getting one of the same models for themselves.  With the G1G1 program started up again, interested parties (like the author) won't have to scour eBay for used units anymore.


August 26, 2008

Electronic Childhood Regression

Recently I was reading an article in Computerworld about Richard Stallman and his zeal for open source computing, and happened across RMS's disgust towards the OLPC project making it possible for Microsoft Windows XP to run on that platform.  Operating system and tools preferences as a political statement is interesting, but not the point of this posting.  The fact that Stallman was using the XO-1 laptop as his portable of choice at one point was most interesting factor to me.   

I spent some time surfing through the XO Wiki to find out more information and ran across a full Livebackup ISO file that I could load onto my current laptop to try out the user interface.  After about half an hour I was sold.  I was already in the market for a smaller laptop for travel, so it was off to eBay to see what was available.  After a few days of bidding and losing, I found a nice XO-1 in Washington D.C. for about $200.  I know, I know, for $300 I could get a brand new ASUS EEE PC with twice the memory, twice the flash and I could run Windows on it.  That's not the point.


(Courtesy of Irregular Shed on Flickr)

So, I get this unit in the mail yesterday.  Right out of the box it is on my home Wi-Fi.  It has the feeling of the fun I had the first time I got my hands on an Apple ][.  I'll follow up with my experiences.