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Gates Mocks MIT's $100 Laptop 816

Posted by Zonk
from the at-leat-they're-trying dept.
QuietLagoon writes 'Reuters is reporting that Bill Gates is making fun of the one laptop per child initiative to revolutionize how the world's children are educated. 'The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen,' Gates said at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in suburban Washington. 'Hardware is a small part of the cost' of providing computing capabilities, he said, adding that the big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support. 'If you are going to go have people share the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can help support the user, geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type,' Gates said.'
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Gates Mocks MIT's $100 Laptop

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  • We are at step 2 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dc29A (636871) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:33AM (#14933278)
    1 - They ignore you
    2 - They ridicule you
    3 - They fight you
    4 - You win
  • by cybrthng (22291) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:35AM (#14933315) Journal
    You don't solve the problem of 3rd world technology and computing by dumbing it down and providing a tool that does a few things. You go in and build infrastructure, support the communities and develop them from the ground up.

    The future of computing isn't wind up "puters" that can send email, it's rich clients, broadband and infrastructure. For the cost of R&D, support, delivery and maintenance on these you could easily give these countries wireless broadband infrastructure, jobs and start building up economies and getting "real" services in instead of giving them a bone and hoping they're happy with it.

    i could go to toys r us and buy toys more powerful and less costly than these wind up devices.

    good idea.. i guess so for what they're trying to do but it seems like a horrible waste of talent to dumb things down because we don't want to help these countries get where they need to be but find some way to make money off them and hope they enjoy a dumbed down device.

  • by db32 (862117) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:36AM (#14933327) Journal
    It seems that almost all of the technology that Gates has mocked has come back and bit him on the ass. We all know that the Internet is just a fad, noone needs that much memory, and so on. While some of the claims to quotes are questionable, the pattern still exists. He mocks alot of things he didn't come up with first. I fail to understand the hero worship this asshat gets from the general populace. They assume he is some kind of computer genious. He really is little more than a very good business man/thief.
  • this proofs (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:37AM (#14933349)
    being rich does not make you understand others.
  • Re:Throwing Stones (Score:5, Interesting)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:39AM (#14933368) Homepage
    Fscking rich snob. You know, this git travelled around the world, donates money to fight diseases in 3rd world countries, but seems to have this wild belief that these backwaters are going to have telecommunications to each school and house, let alone broadband

    Actually, in earlier stories on Gates' view of the $100 laptop, he is clearly aware that they don't have adequate telecommunications, and said that what they need is not laptops, but cell phones and the associated infrastructure. He said what we should be making and giving them cheaply are basically cell phones that you can hook up to a TV and keyboard and use as a computer.

  • bill melinda called. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blackest_k (761565) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:49AM (#14933513) Homepage Journal
    seriously melinda isn't going to be happy with him
    she spends all that time trying to make him a decent human being and he throws it back.

    you know what would have had wow factor if instead of mocking this project he put some money into it.

    so what if it doesnt run windows surely there's no need to assimulate or destroy everything.

    now that would have been good publicity and maybe improve microsofts image.

    wonder what mr jobs take is on the 100 dollar laptop..

  • Are you kidding me? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcostantino (585892) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:58AM (#14933625) Homepage
    Seriously, are you fucking KIDDING me? Sure it's useless to families who can afford to buy $1000 computers and call tech support when their computer blows up from spyware and they can't connect to the internet because their DSL is down. Yeah, it's next to worthless to people who can afford better.

    This is for 3rd world and 2nd world countries where they can't afford "real" PCs with "real" OS's and most likely don't have a phone line to use dialup internet or even be able to call up Dell or HP or whoever. This needs to "just work" and by "just work" be able to relay to others who have net access, be able to work without batteries or mains power and be able to perform its tasks without spyware and viruses corrupting the OS.

    Obviously he wants to pitch a solution with XP or CE because that's where he makes his money... hell, even if hardware were a minor cost - which apparently it ISN'T since there is a huge difference between a standard laptop and this one - is he really going to give away XP/CE and Office? Hell no! He wants his piece of the pie and there's nothing wrong with that. The problem is that he doesn't understand that the target audience for this laptop are people who have probably never seen a laptop, much less used a computer.

    I'd hate to be there when the villagers are using their HP notebooks and the battery craps out. They would probably use it for kindling after that.

  • Shipping Cost (Score:4, Interesting)

    by good soldier svejk (571730) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:58AM (#14933627)
    I recently acquired a couple of older laptops to send to aquaintances in Zimbabwe. They both run pretty well, except for dead battaries of course. However, DHL wants $300 to send the heavier one to Victoria falls. I paid a total of $100 for the two computers. Parcel Post would only be $80 (for six week deilvery), but you can't send things through the Zimbabwean post office and expect them to reach their destination. Hopefully I can get the cost down by removing and mailing the batteries, paring down the pachaging and just shipping the valuable bits by reliable carrier. But for now, the barrier to me giving away laptops in south central Africa is shipping cost.
  • by Imsdal (930595) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:03PM (#14933680)
    Of course it doesn't. But you seem to imply that this also applies to Gates' donations. That is flat out wrong. Every credible soure I have read have praised the thoughts behind his donations, and I can't recall even once reading something negative about the scope and implementation of his vaccination schemes.

    This is of course in rather sharp contrast to most everything else written about him, his company and his company's products. (Some of that is obviously well deserved, I'm just pointing out that despite being critisized a lot, no one blames his donations.)

  • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:04PM (#14933695) Journal
    PRIVATE American citizens donated almost 15 times more to the developing world than their European counterparts, research reveals this weekend ahead of the G8 summit. Private US donors also handed over far more aid than the federal government in Washington, revealing that America is much more generous to Africa and poor countries than is claimed by the Make Poverty History and Live 8 campaigns.

    Church collections, philanthropists and company-giving amounted to $22bn a year, according to a study by the Hudson Institute think-tank, easily more than the $16.3bn in overseas development sent by the US government. American churches, synagogues and mosques alone gave $7.5bn in 2003 - a figure which exceeds the government totals for France ($7.2bn) and Britain ($6.3bn) - according to numbers from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which deal a blow to those who claim moral superiority over the US on aid.

    http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=7306 52005 [scotsman.com]
  • Valid Point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by XMilkProject (935232) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:20PM (#14933894) Homepage
    The man makes a very valid point.

    Hardware is an insignificant part of the problem. The infrastructure should be where the focus is.

    If we could get cheap electric generators, water purifies, and telecommunications (sat uplink?) then I'm pretty confident we could find them some hardware to take advantage of those things.

    There are millions, make that billions, of old computers laying around that can be donated or sold for far less than $100, and why do they need laptops anyway? So they can carry them to their big business meeting? A schoolhouse with some desktops and an electric generator is much more useful.

    I really can't see the purpose of getting people these $100 laptop when there is no communications infrastructure. What good is the computer if they can't get online. The huge benefit of getting them on the web is so that they can have access to piles of information that was otherwise completely inaccessible to them. Books, news, events, all uncensored and up to date.

    Without the communications infrastructure they can use the computer for what? Typing? Why would they need to make nice documents or excel files when they don't even have electricity? Couldn't they just use paper?
  • by edunbar93 (141167) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:20PM (#14933896)
    Many of the world's poor live under the thumb of a small group of elitists who think they can help the poor through force.

    You misunderstand capitalism. Most of the world's poor is now and has always been under the thumb of a small group of elitists who want to crush the poor and get richer by breaking their backs. Poverty to them isn't something that they want to rid the world of, it's something they want to exploit and exacerbate, if anything.

    See also: Coal mines America in 1900, gold and diamond mines in Africa in the present, the ivory trade in the 19th century, the fur trade in the 18th century, the oil trade in the present, and so many more examples that I can't even begin to count them.
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:28PM (#14933987) Homepage Journal
    I think they'll play with the computer for a minute, see that it doesnt dispense food or water and it'll end up in the corner or sold somewhere.

    I agree, but it still boils down to accountability along the entire program. Governments buy these things, will there be accountability in the taxing to afford it? As typical in taxation, I'm sure it won't. Companies will be paid to ship and distribute these, will there be competitiveness and accountability there? Is the cost of distribution included in the $100? I doubt it -- a horrific loophole. Someone will be in charge of setting up the networks and maintaining that infrastructure. I doubt that cost is in the $100 cost, and I'm sure this is also a glaring loophole.

    I've given money to efforts to bring water and food to other countries, and I know the charities wasted a good portion of the money. I stopped giving, because I found in my own community (the next town over, Zion, Illinois) there were people who didn't have a healthy source of nutrition or even electricity in their homes. I now work with an organization called Love, INC that interviews poor people and connects them with people willing to give charity (money, time, food, clothing, shelter, work). First of all this makes sure that the people are not the regular abusers of the system (going from church to church and welfare organization to welfare organization with the same lies)). Second of all it makes sure that each and every person who is willing to help in some way will be able to help people and make sure the people receiving the charity are not using drugs or beating their children. This is separate from the government waste. Lastly, the number of people in that community alone that need help is in the thousands -- this is in a town just 10 miles away from where I live. How can I ignore helping people whose growth I can see when I've seen time and again how my money is badly spent when I ship it elsewhere?

    I'm not saying don't help others, I'm saying make sure your time and money is spent wisely. If you're creating more problems because you can't hold anyone in the system accountable for their actions, you might not be really helping.
  • by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:28PM (#14933990) Homepage
    I just returned from a trip to the Philippines, where Internet cafes were plentiful and seemed to attract plenty of customers. Some of them were filipino nerds and others were filipinas looking to snag a Western husband or boyfriend. Still, they are beyond the reach of most; employed Filipinas make about 200 pesos [US$ 4] a day, making Internet fees of 25 pesos [$0.50] an hour prohibitively expensive.

    Cellphones are generally prepaid and you buy "load" in packs of 100 pesos [$2] and up. A text message, the most common mode of communication, costs one peso [$0.02].

    For middle class Filipinas, cellphones are major status symbols. I met several people with cellphones that cost 13,000 pesos [$260] and up. These phones are actually quite a bit nicer than the cellphones I've seen in common use in the US. The most common seems to be the Nokia 6630, with a nice big clear color screen, a camera and bluetooth. I could imagine using it for SSH in a pinch. Its user interface looks slick but I found it quite difficult to learn how to use. A lot of tiny buttons with almost invisible labelling made it very difficult to figure out how to get to places you might have fumbled yourself to minutes before. I suspect that if I'd had more time using it I really would have liked it, probably more than my T-Mobile Sidekick.

    A Filipina is never without her cellphone. It is such a significant part of her life that westerners with romantic or even friendship connections with her can get jealous of the phone! I started calling it Celly, and treated it like a member of the family. I even took pictures of Celly like she was another family member. My picture of "Celly Eating" while she was on the charger got laughs from everyone! My Filipina friends laughed and enjoyed being asked about Celly's health!

    Celly's health is a real concern; my friend with the 6630 got a multimedia message system virus. "Celly is very sick," I told her. I suggested we go to the Internet cafe and I would try to cure Celly. The mobile.f-secure.com web site has eradication tools as well as anti-virus software for Celly. Everyone was very impressed that I was able to cure Celly even though all I did was download and run the removal tool! The most difficult part of all this was trying to figure out how to access the web browser on the phone's convoluted user interface.

    My friend, of course, later complained about her cellphone bill for data access, which skyrocketed thanks to Celly's illness. (The virus, of course, sends copies of itself to everyone it can find). I'm glad I was able to cure Celly for her before she faced even worse problems.

    Of course most of the actual multimedia use of Celly was sending jokes, photos and funny cartoons and animations around to her friends. And most of her computer use was talking to foreigners in her quest for an American husband. My friend read her Yahoo mail on Celly but otherwise didn't make much use of the Internet features.

    Sometimes I wonder about how these high-brow people pushing the $100 computer would think of the use real people make of this technology. Endless chats on the computer with foreigners, trying to lure them to the Philippines with promise of romance might not seem like the most idealistic use in the world. But I can tell you, it's the use that's going to be made as technology seeps into the third world.

    Engagement in world affairs may be the exclusive province of people who still believe in some way in their government. Shortly after I left, there was a coup attempt in the Philippines which lead to a state of emergency. I was far more engaged in this than my Filipina friends. "That's just something going on in Manila [the capital]" was a typical comment.

    In the US, I don't know if we really believe in our government all that much, but at least we consider the news as a source of entertainment. In the Philippines, the people have warmer relationships with each other and seem to have less need for this. They are desperately poor, a
  • by Illbay (700081) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:31PM (#14934027) Journal
    It seems to depend on the messenger.

    A few days back we were arguing that a university shouldn't require students to purchase laptop computers, because "they only help you do schoolwork more efficiently, not better."

    Ah, but now Bill Gates weighs in, and says the "hand-cranked" laptop would be useless for kids in impoverished countries, and we slap back at him for that.

    How is it "bad" for a university student in the U.S. to be required to have a laptop computer--with the argument that it really doesn't "help him learn"--but it's GREAT to give this "$100 laptop" to a kid in the third world?

    Is it because the second is "compassionate"? Or is it really because we don't want to be on the side of Bill Gates for any reason whatsoever?

    Me, I say give each of these villages where the kids live, a small library with basic learning books in it. It would probably end up costing about $100 per kid anyway. But more to the point: A kid who is at the START of the learning curve is going to benefit more from the books than from the computer.

    And yes, I DO believe the kids going to the U.S. university ought to have a laptop. It's an "age appropriate" learning tool.

  • by 'nother poster (700681) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:37PM (#14934093)
    Would I want patronizing ass wipes to say how sorry they were, and how unfortunate I was? No. Would I want access to the technology and a chance to use it for a better life? You bet your ass I would.

    The laptops in question are not meant to play games. They are not even meant to be a machine to use for business accounting. If you can replace $200 worth of text books with a $100 computer and a handful of SD cards and such, I
    it is cheaper to get the educational tools and information to the students. The kids also no longer need paper and pencils to do most of their work. They can type it in. The built in peer to peer networking will allow colaboration between the students and an easy way to turn in assignments. Maybe some of those texts can be on how to build sanitary latrines, low tech farming techniques, and how to keep pests from eating 60% of your harvest. That may just be beneficial for the poor people in some parts of the world.
  • by medarby (757929) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:39PM (#14934111)
    This is a private initiative that people can choose to be a part of or not. You don't like it, fine, don't be part of it. But as far as no real opportunities being created? These laptops are information tools. These are essentially portable, electronic libraries of information. Libraries are useless? People educating themselves, communicating with others instantly, expressing their ideas and opinions to the world are not opportunities? This is giving the poor a cheap fishing pole and hook so they can learn how to fish.
  • by sandmaninator (884661) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:48PM (#14934219)

    I would add: What percentage of Gates' yearly income does he devote to charitable causes? In the US at least, it is the poor that give the highest percentage of their income to charitable causes:
    http://www.newtithing.org/content/NTG_research_FIN AL.pdf [newtithing.org]

    "If affluent young and middleaged [tax] filers had donated as high
    a proportion of their investment asset wealth to charity in 2003 as did their less affluent peers, total individual charitable donations that year would have been over $25 billion higher, an increase of at least 17%."

    I wish he would focus on funding the underlying causes of problems instead of the results of those problems. Instead of extending someone's wretched existance a short while longer, why not improve the infrastructure that these people live in? That would be a longer-term benefit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:49PM (#14934224)

    A compassionate article -- but some of your points seem overreaching and thoughtless to me.

    The Internet won't help here -- it isn't here to educate

    I obtain all of my current education from the Internet. Perhaps you could argue that I'm actually educating myself -- but without the Internet, it would be much more difficult for me to do so. The reality of my life is that the Internet is here to educate me, and it does so in a spectacular way.

    Computers don't make opportunities.

    For me, computers create the opportunity to educate myself. Without computers, I would be much less educated than I am now, and I would have fewer opportunities. Perhaps you could say that I am creating my own opportunities -- but without computers, it would be much more difficult for me to do so.

    I would never give an uneducated person a computer or an education.

    You would never give an uneducated person an education? That seems to contradict the point you were making in your "teach a man to fish" argument. I realize that computers might not always be the right way to help educate someone -- but the fact that you apparently refuse to funnel your charitable giving toward education is very disappointing to me.
  • Gates getting Old? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HaydnH (877214) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:57PM (#14934311)
    OK, either gates doesn't know anything about computing, which he obviously does starting M$ etc... He's getting old (possible, but unlikely)... or it's just FUD to try and sell the new MS based products over there instead:

    "The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen," Gates said at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in suburban Washington.

    "Hardware is a small part of the cost" of providing computing capabilities, he said, adding that the big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support.


    Firstly, not having a disk is a perfect way to save money in a shared environment. These things aren't going to get perfectly looked after in the harsh living conditions some of these developing countries, and crime is common place. The hardware needs to be as cheap as possible so that if it gets damaged it can easily be replaced (straight swap instead of support needed) and to deter the thought of stealing them - imagine the security costs for all the computer ctr's in the developing world - further with regards to support, if all the applications are remote the support for those is easily managed in one place with good security!

    The applications can be free - although he does have a relatively valid point re: screen size... but I don't think it's too much of an issue!
  • Sure and my having a PhD in Mathematics in a farm based community has helped my opportunities.

    Perhaps not, but having a PhD in farming would do wonders for your area. You'd be amazed at how much things like crop rotation, harvesting patterns, fertilizer distribution patterns, and new harvesting machines can have on improving yeild and quality. Having grown up in a farm community myself, I often witnessed farmers from other countries come over to the states to learn how to improve their own yields. Even the stuff being done in genetic testing of livestock can have profound effects on things like milk yeild and quality.

    I feel honored by the fact that one of my earliest jobs allowed me to work directly alongside some of the cutting edge researchers in the farming industry. Without them, we'd still have trouble producing enough food for ourselves, much less 25% of the world's supply.
  • by DrXym (126579) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:24PM (#14934591)
    Lot's of people do not want a hand-crank $200 device because it doesn't look cool, and it won't do EVERYTHING their $600 laptop can do.

    I think it looks cool and I sure as hell know that millions of others would too. But putting cool aside, it's how practical it is that wows me. I'd never take my laptop away with me unless I was doing business work. It's too bulky, needs wires, a case etc. I absolutely hate leaving it in the hotel room. When I'm on holiday I still want some computing access in the hotel but I don't want to haul a laptop so my solution has been to use my PDA which does wireless browsing. But the browsing is pretty horrible and of course I can't type, making it a pain to enter a url or even respond to email.

    I see these handcrank machines as being the perfect compromise between a PDA and a laptop - a machine with a keyboard & controller that is more than adequate for browsing, email, wordprocessing, spreadsheet, games etc. but in a small, light, rugged form factor and requires no cables. Toss them into your backpack. You could take a cable to charge it, but if you don't want to, you can still crank it. Better yet if its instant on as it probably would be if everything runs in memory.

    I truly believe these things could take the market by storm. That assumes the OS and software works of course, but if it's running Linux, something like QTopia and has a few apps like an Opera or Firefox browser and KWord then I don't see why not.

    If you want or need to use a $600 laptop then that's fine, but a lot of people wouldn't. And I specifically said Origami. I reckon that Bill perceives these cheap handcrank devices as a threat to his latest pen based windows device. These things cost a frigging fortune and every single previous pen based effort has flopped - the last one leaked so much memory you had to reboot it every day. The last thing he needs now is a device costing a tenth that does everything most of what a large portion of prospective Origami / laptop users actually want to do. The pen part is a gimmick anyway for most people. Of course there are other reasons he doesn't like it, but the timing suggests Origami as being the reason for this comment.

    Of course all my enthusiasm is based on supposition. I'm hoping there will be a consumer version sometime this decade. I'm hoping that they won't screw it up in some way, or hike the price to $400. I'm hoping the OS won't suck. It might suck big time. But assuming they do everything right, and actually release and sell a commercial product cheaply enough, I think these things will be as ubiquitous as iPods.

  • by mcvos (645701) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:31PM (#14934663)

    The grandparent was exactly right, and you are completely wrong. This is the socialist line of thinking that keeps people in poverty, keeps people dying, and is actively destroying hope where it exists.

    I'm afraid you're the one who's completely wrong. Africa is not the result of governments taking care of their people. Sweden is. Western Europe is. Africa is the result of colonial powers serving only their own interests, followed by African leaders serving only their own interests, and the WTO serving western interests.

    Infrastructure is not the problem. Education is not the problem. And most of all, money is not the problem. It is when we understand this that there is real hope.

    Ignorance certainly is a problem. Could you expand on why Africa doesn't need education, infrastructure or money? Money (especially in the form of microcredits [wikipedia.org]) is certainly already doing a lot of good there, and I find it hard to believe that illiteracy is not an obstacle to finding opportunities and taking advantage of them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:38PM (#14934747)
    Is not people who will be doing self-hosted development. They'll be looking for information on how to build a simple reverse osmosis filter to provide clean drinking water in their village, or how to build a wind generator to get a few dozen watts of power to have a couple of lights at night.
  • Re:Useless for Vista (Score:5, Interesting)

    by natrius (642724) <niranNO@SPAMniran.org> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:43PM (#14934814) Homepage
    For some perspective on how far the software is from done, read this blog about some of the issues the OLPC team is facing. [gettysfamily.org]
  • Re:Throwing Stones (Score:2, Interesting)

    by booyabazooka (833351) <ch.martin@gmail.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:59PM (#14934976)
    What is it about cell phones that he thinks will be innately better than other machines? I think the majority of us don't realize that the "cheap" phones we carry around are generally several-hundred-dollar devices that we've paid for through inflated service costs.

    Some sort of wireless infrastructure, yes. But phones? How about just taking that $100 laptop and slapping an RF transmitter on it?
  • by kindbud (90044) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:34PM (#14935431) Homepage
    Fat client:

    "The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen," Gates.


    Thin client:

    Earlier this year, Google founder Larry Page said his company is backing MIT's project. He showed a model of the machine that does use a crank as one source of power.

    "The laptops ... will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data," according to the project's Web site.


    Only this round, it's Larry Page instead of Larry Ellison. But the song and dance from both sides are the same. Microsoft wants to sell OS and software for Intel fat clients, and Oracle/Google want to sell hosted services for thin clients, so they can hold all the data. Fat vs Thin clients.
  • by flyingsquid (813711) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @03:30PM (#14935987)
    It's fascinating where the generous and charitable Bill Gates ends, and the ruthless businessman Bill Gates begins.

    Maybe they're the same guy. He may be right about $100 laptops not being terribly useful- personally I think they are the solution to the wrong problems (in the short term I would say the needs are clean water water, improved productivity of farms, roads, medical care, and electricity; in the long term, security, better governance, literacy, economic growth). Laptops would be useful, but may distract from more pressing issues, so I think that's a legitimate worry.

    However, I wonder if part of him longs for global domination on the charity/nonprofit front just as much as on the corporate front. Maybe his hypercompetitive nature just can't stand a rival, even when it comes to giving stuff away instead of selling it.

  • Re:Useless for Vista (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrchaotica (681592) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:07PM (#14936285)
    The network connection on these things is mostly intended to be used for stuff like email (as opposed to web browsing or games or VoIP), so it will use store-and-forward like UUCP. In other words, even if the mesh isn't connected to the Internet at the time you send your message, your message will be stored (presumably on a "master node" or something) and will be forwarded the next time it does have a connection.

    The example used on the website about this I read involved a kid riding a bike with a server strapped to it between villages, transferring messages as it goes.
  • Re:Useless for Vista (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nebedaay (961714) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @05:56PM (#14937118)

    I've spent several years in developing countries and I can confidently say that most people think about a lot more than just where to get their next bowl of rice. Many young people spend a lot of their time and money at cybercafes and trying to learn about computers. I had a research grant that allowed me to employ a number of people part-time, and the first thing nearly all of them bought with their salaries was a crappy computer.

    I don't know if this current initiative will work, but I think it is important to give interested people a chance to participate in the information age. And if people in the developing world are exposed to Linux and open source before they're exposed to Windows and proprietary software, they won't be tied to Windows by habits and legacy problems as many computer users in America and Europe are. I personally applaud this effort to bring the benefits of Linux to the masses and to get the world started with a sustainable operating system instead of letting them get addicted to Microsoft.

    Gates probably doesn't care as much about whether he's making money off these particular people as that this threatens to introduce a whole generation to something other than Windows.

  • by Steve Cowan (525271) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:01PM (#14937574) Journal
    The "average cell phone" costs well over $100. The only reason you ever see it cheaper is because of subsidies by cell phone providers, who are willing to cough up some of the phone cost in exchange for committing customers to their networks.
  • by apoc.famine (621563) <apoc,famine&gmail,com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @09:52PM (#14938534) Homepage Journal
    But for many people, it's not about entering data - it's about *transimitting* data. Data about how they are, what they like, when they will come home, what the food is like here.

    I spent an hour the other day talking to a woman who had recently been in the back side of India, doing radio astronomy work. (yeah, she fucking rocked.) One of their problems was that even though the locals were still cooking on open campfires and drawing water from a comnunal well, they were doing this while chatting on cell phones, and that was causing a lot of interference on their dishes.

    These people weren't worried about storing data - they were interesting in transmitting it. How they were doing, what they were doing, and how their cousin in the big city was doing. All this was data transfer, but it was voice. Imagine, needing to stay in touch with your relatives in the big city being more important than clean drinking water and a stove and refrigeration.

    While the $100 laptop/tablet might be something, I'd put good money on it being an IM platform and an email client more than anything else. Because I think that we as a race, we are hooked on communication, more than anything else in the world. If it can offer a better communication ability than a cell phone, it will take off like wildfire. If not, it is doomed to failure.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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