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OLPC - follow-up

olpc2.jpgI was obviously remiss in not providing more detail about the Second Coming of Christ ... I mean, the arrival of what may be the first shipping of an OLPC XO. I was flogged in the OLPC news blog for a less than delirious reaction to the new computer, and had lots of questions from Blue Skunk readers which I will answer below.

In my defense, I had been attending the state tech conference all day Monday and Tuesday, presenting both days, had a long drive home, cooked supper and unpacked before I could get to the new machine. Readers, remember I am a geezer with a geezer's energy and enthusiasm levels. Sorry. The first machine should have gone to someone more geek-worthy.

Anyway, the picture at the left shows pretty much the whole package. The small box included the computer, the power adaptor, 2 sheets of paper with minimal instructions, and the battery which had to be installed. The package was shipped FedEx from Libertyville IL on Dec 7 and arrived on my doorstep at exactly 4:30PM yesterday, Dec 11. I had no advance notice and did not need to sign for the package.

In response to comments and questions regarding yesterday's posting:

HOW CUTE!!! (talking about the cat!! I have an orange and white tabby who also sports this look--half an orange mustache and a brown dot -- or mole dare I say?--on his nose!) I can't wait to hear about the new toy as well--it is cute too.

Thank you, Cathy, for the nice words about the cat. She is lovely thing, but given to upchucking on a regular basis. Like most creatures, she is a mixed blessing.

.we'll have to compare notes. 

Dean, I hope your XO arrives soon, and I'll be happy to compare notes. I am hoping a user community will grow up around this computer, much like one has around the ASUS Eee.

Is this a real G1G1 XO laptop? Might you be the very first to get one? Do tell!!

Wayan, yes, as far as I know, this is a real XO. I am surprised to learn that I may be the first to get one. Had I know this, I'd have been far more reverential. Maybe even thrown a little party.

Did you ever get a message from UPS that it was on its way? Or did it just suddenly "show up"? I haven't heard of anyone else even knowing for sure if they had shipped yet (I mean something besides the somewhat weak implication in the weekly news). Where did it ship from? I figured it would be coming from one of the coasts, but to get yours first in Minnesota? Are you just a G1G1 like the rest of us, or do you have some other connection to olpc?

Jared, I think I answered your shipping questions above, and no, I have no special connections with MIT, Negroponte, or FedEx. Come to think of it, I don't know that there is any place in the world I get preferential treatment, which is kind of depressing if you think about it.

Normally, I would be concerned having a laptop, a drink, and a nearby pet cat that could knock the glass over and spill its contents onto the laptop's keyboard. But not with the OLPC XO!If this was a G1G1, did it come with the code to activate the complimentary T-mobile hotspot access?

Con, I do preach care of technology at school and would be horrified if anyone else had a drink and cat near his/her laptop. Thank you for pointing out that I am setting a bad example for others. You are correct. The XO does look pretty damage-proof. It is tough to keep the cats from sleeping on my Mac laptop, given the warmth it generates. I so far have not located how to get the T-Mobile connectivity.

How do you find the screen, in its various modes? I am trying to keep my expectations slightly lowered, but it's difficult ;) I've been downloading various free eBooks with which to keep it occupied, too. Do the included directions give any directions as to how long to charge it (if at all) before use? (That cat is thinking of ways to destroy the laptop, but that's not evil, it's just QA.)

Timothy, the screen in the regular mode is nice and bright. I've yet to figure out how to get it to go into the passive mode. (There is not exactly a wealth of information that came with the machine or on the web about what all the buttons mean on the keyboard or case.) No instructions that I could find on how long to let the battery charge. I just plunked it in, plugged the computer into the wall, used it, then let it charge overnight. I will let it fully discharge today before plugging it in again. The cat loves the laptop - see previous paragraph.

 I'm not a First Day Donor but I'm hoping their "conservative estimates" will still mean I'll get mine by January if I'm lucky!

Fricka, I was a first day donor of the G1G1 program. I called in that morning and talked to a nice lady. 

 I can't wait for mine :) I've got on being sent to a friend in Canada - then have to wait until she comes over in the Spring. ...

Emma, you are welcome to live vicariously though my experiences until yours arrives.


Morgan, yes, it has a little program called Pippy, which is supposed to be a stripped-down version of Python. The icon is a snake - sort of cute. The whole row of icons on the bottom look more like talismanic figures than computer icons. Mystic!

olpc3.jpgSo a couple initial reactions:

Just a reminder that I am delighted to receive this computer. As you can tell from the photo at left, I can hardly contain my excitement. (Do remember that we Minnesotans tend to be more inwardly expressive.)

This seems to be very much a computer made for children, not adults. From the short time I've played with it, the stripped down feature set of the web browser, text editor, and operating system, are designed for simplicity, not extensibility. The ASUS Eee, on the other hand, feels like a machine made for adults. This will NOT be a replacement for a regular computer for grown-ups, I don't believe.

Everything seems to work out of the box - the keyboard, camera, screen. It took only a few seconds to get connected to my home wireless network. I am having some problems with a spastic track pad when on the web. I think I read that there will be a fix in the next OS release for the problem.

This is a VERY different operating system. Nothing is in the same place you'd find it in a Linux, Windows or Mac OS. The learning curve may be longer for adults with computer experience than for kids with no tech experience at all. But again, I've used this for about an hour and a half and won't get back to it until this evening. (Darned day job.)

So, that's all the news for now... Maybe I will ask the LWW to video me doing a happy dance sometime.


My OLPC XO came today

Did yours?



Scrapbook Sunday

Once again it's time to clear out all those "starred" items in the GoogleReader and put them here - just in case.


bookgem1sm.jpgYes, I am one of those pathetic individuals who reads at meals when dining alone. So the Book Gem caught my eye. No more dropping the paperback in the soup, perhaps.


35% of kids 8-12 (tweens) own a mobile phone, according to a forthcoming study by Nielson.  5% access the Internet over their phones. And filters are going to keep kids from accessing inappropriate materials???


I enjoyed Ian (The Committed Sardine) Jukes comments on the NEA "To Read or Not to Read" study, arguing that technology has actually "forestalled the death of the typographic universe – and its replacement by the society of the image – as predicted by McLuhan and Postman." And yes, I liked the post partly because great minds think alike ;-).


OK, I really, really, really want one of these. I've long envied European's their access to such transportation. Of course, if a guy were to drive such a vehicle, he couldn't count on it to compensate for his insecurities in other areas.


Ryan Bretag posted this darned left-brain/right-brain test awhile back. I have no clue if it has any validity or not, but it sure is interesting. To me, the dancer spins clock-wise (right brain), then reverses course after a few seconds, and reverses it again after a while.

 Dave Warlick asked "How Much Does This Really Matter"?

According to the National Science Foundation (NSF,, the average U.S.
citizen understands very little science. For example:

  • 66% do not understand DNA, “margin of error,” the scientific process, and do not believe in evolution. 
  • 50% do not know how long it takes the earth to go around the sun, and a quarter does not even know that the earth goes around the sun.
  • 50% think humans coexisted with dinosaurs and believe antibiotics kill viruses.

On the other hand, according to the NSF, the general public believes in a lot of pseudoscience.

  • 88% believe in alternative medicine.
  • 50% believe in extrasensory perception and faith healing.
  • 40% believe in haunted houses and demonic possession.
  • 33% believes in lucky numbers, ghosts, telepathy, clairvoyance, astrology, and that UFOs are aliens from space.
P.T. Barnam said years ago that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. This is why when I hear the plans to privatize Social Security, I shudder.


mordac.jpgThanks to Tim at Assorted Stuff for providing this link to the Dilbert strip about Mordac, The Preventer of Information Services, in his blog. Next time I get a 'pointy-haired boss" cartoon taped to my door at work, I may need to find this one again...  I've heard of a school IT department being called its "Prevention of Education Department."

Along those lines, Tim Wilson at the Savvy Technologist quotes from an eWeek article:

IT professionals will make more meaningful relationships within their organizations by ceasing to say “no” by default, and instead asking, “How do we allow good things to happen safely?” ... 

What a concept! 


Scott McLeod shares on Dangerously Irrelevant, the results of a poll showing 80% of Amercian voters believe students today need different or somewhat different skills than they did 20 years ago. What happened to,  "If _______ in school was good enough for me, it's good enough for today's kids?" Would it be wildly optimistic to think the same American public that believes cavemen had dinosaurs as pets might also believe kids need to learn to use technology well to be gainfully employed?


On that happy note, I am off to our state TIES Conference. Hope to see some of you there. This finished, I am DONE with my speaking engagements until January. Home for the holidays.