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OLPC Project Rollout Begins In Uruguay 248

Posted by Zonk
from the go-get-em-kids dept.
Acer500 writes "The One Laptop Per Child project became a reality Thursday in Uruguay, as the 160 children of school number 24 in the humble town of Cardal received their XO computers. The learning tools came directly from the hands of president Tabaré Vazquez. It has become a matter of national pride that Uruguay is the first country to realize the project's goal. The target is that by 2009, every school-age child in Uruguay will have one, and an initial 15 million dollars have already been allocated to the project. From the newspaper articles: 'The happiness of having a PC in their hands, some of them for the first time, had the kids in ecstasy, which didn't wait to turn on their computers, introduce their personal information (required the first time they're turned on), choose the screen colors, and start experimenting with them. What initially made them more enthusiastic was the possibility of taking photographs and filming each others with the included webcams.'" More information below.
According to the unofficial blog of the Uruguayan project, named proyecto Ceibal, the infrastructure for wireless is not yet in place but will be provided in the next few days by the national telco ANTEL. No photos of the event have been posted online, but you can see an institutional video on Youtube. One interesting point is that it has not yet been decided that the XO will be the laptop of choice for the entire project. Two other companies want to be considered: Intel, with their Classmate PC, and Israeli-manufactured ITP-C. In a press conference, Intel manager for the southern cone Esteban Galluzzi went as far as to compare the XO to a Pentium II, and stressed that the Classmate is able to run Windows XP. As advisor and local guru Juan Grompone stated, 'who will ultimately benefit from this is education?' This will be an interesting test to see if the OLPC project meets its intended goals of 'learning learning'. Let's hope this project is the means that will foster among some of the children the desire to learn and to tinker."
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OLPC Project Rollout Begins In Uruguay

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  • by bl8n8r (649187) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @07:30AM (#19094653)

    The Web in the air of Cardal
    Near 40 niños of the Italy school they received its computers of the hand of several authorities of the government. In one week the niños podrà n to accede to Internet from all the points of the city

    In the middle of great expectation and much alegrÃa of the niños, president Tabaré Và zquez next to a great retinue of authorities left inaugurated the experience pilot of the Ceibal Plan in the Italy school n 24 of the city of Cardal (in Florida), the one that in the prÃximos dÃas quedarà connected to Internet by means of mbricas connections inalÃ, in order that the students can accede to the Web from their homes.

    In a brief speech during the act, Và single zquez refirià to "the importance" of the Ceibal project and asegurà that "cumplirà with the cronogram of arriving itself at 2009 to all the schools from paÃs". The agent chief executive prefirià to yield its time to one of the niños, that articulà words that moved to the presents.

    To I finish of the act, Và zquez was consulted by the present journalists on if to raÃz of cuts in the RendiciÃn de Cuentas it were going to be all the money for the plan. Và zquez asegurà that was not going to lack the money. "the USS 15 anticipated million està n in the budget", asegurà the conductor of the Uruguayan government.

    Under the glance of many parents, some from the windows or accommodated in algÃn rincÃn of the halls class, about 40 niños of 3 and 6 año received their computers X-O. DonaciÃn of Nicholas Negroponte is of 200 units. The rest of the students of that school of cardal recibirà its computers in these dÃas.

    AlgarabÃa to have a PC in its hands, some for the first time, dejà won the boys, who did not hope to ignite his mà quinas, to introduce their personal data (the first time that ignite it is necessary to put the one name and to choose the colors of the screen) and to put themselves to experiment with the X-O. What mà s entusiasmà was to be able to remove photos and to film themselves with webcam that come including.

    The niños by this week podrà n to sail in Internet from the Italy school, where instalà a servant to provide itself with conexiÃn in the classrooms, that in the prÃximos dÃas extenderà to the rest of the city so that the niños can be connected to the Web dese its homes. For mbrica it utilizarà tecnologÃa of conexiÃn inalà - it does not need cables that proveyà ANTEL with colaboraciÃn of UTE.

    One of that mà s divirtià giving the PC was the minister of EducaciÃn and Cultura, Jorge Brovetto. Ademà s of this jerarca, también was present the minister of Industry, Jorge Leprosy asà like the minister of GanaderÃa, José Mujica, next to their wife LucÃa Topolansky.

    También participated in the act the director of EducaciÃn of the MEC, Luis Garibaldi, the president of the ANEP, Luis bal YarzÃ, the president of the LATU, Miguel Brezhner, the Intendant of Florida, Juan Giaccetto asà like industralists of INTEL and Microsoft, that lanzarà n its own pilot in the department of PaysandÃ.

    ProducciÃn: Cecilia Pérez and Pablo Solari, envoys of the Observer to Cardal

    (It observes)
    http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/tr [altavista.com]
    • by rts008 (812749) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @08:45AM (#19094991) Journal
      Babelfish is the poor man's LSD, and it's even legal!

      *fires up Steppenwolf's Magic Carpet Ride and re-reads post*

      Wow, mannnn! It's like colors and stuff!
    • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Saturday May 12, 2007 @08:53AM (#19095023) Journal
      Sorry, but I think the venerable fish is becoming exhausted. Here's World Lingo's version, with my own small tuneups.

      The Web is in the air of Cardal
      About 40 children of an Italian school received its computers by the good will of several authorities of the government. In one week the children should be able to connect to Internet from all the points of the city.

      In the middle of great expectation and much joy of the children, president Tabaré Vázquez stood next to a great retinue of authorities of School #24 of the city of Cardal, which inaugurated the pilot program of the Ceibal Plan in the Italian school (in Florida). In the next few days it should be connected to Internet by means of wireless connections, in order that the students can accede to the Web from their homes.

      In a brief speech during the act, Vázquez talked about "the importance" of the Ceibal project and assured that "she will fulfill herself the deadline of 2009 to cover all the schools of the country". The agent chief executive preferred to yield his time to one of the children.

      At the end of the act, Vázquez was consulted by the present journalists on the matter of cuts in the budget, and if she were going to be able to supply all the money for the plan. Vázquez assured that she was not going to lack the money. "the US$ 15 million are predicted in the budget", assured the conductor the Uruguayan government.

      Under the gaze of many parents, some from the accommodated windows or in some corner of the halls class, about 40 children of 3rd and 6th year received their computers X-O. The donation of Nicholas Negroponte is of 200 units. The rest of the students of that school of Cardal will receive its computers in the next few days.

      The chance to have a PC in its hands, some for the first time, excited the boys, who did not hope to ignite their machines, to introduce their initial preferences (the first time that boot the machine it is necessary to put the machine name and to choose the colors of the screen) and to prepare to experiment with the X-O. What further it excited them was to be able to take photos and to film themselves with on-board webcam.

      Later this week, the children should be able to connect to the Italian School, where an official arrived to provide the school with connection in the classrooms. In the next days this coverage is supposed to extend to the rest of the city so that the children can connect themselves to the Web from their homes. For this, wireless connection technology will be used, supplied by ANTEL with the collaboration provided with UTE.

      • by Acer500 (846698)
        Thanks for the translantion. I just wanted to point out that president Vazquez is a he :) and that the school's name is "Italy" not an italian school (many schools are named after a country here)
    • "AlgarabÃa to have a PC in its hands, some for the first time, dejà won the boys, who did not hope to ignite his mà quinas"

      That sounds fishy! ;-)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      From a fellow Uruguayan. Here are the article acronyms:

      ANTEL: Administracion Nacional de TELecomunicaciones (Government owned telephone company)
      UTE: Administracion Nacional de Usinas y Transmiciones Electricas (Government owned electricity company)
      ANEP: Administracion Nacional de Educacion Publica (Public schools administration)
      LATU: Laboratorio Tecnologico del Uruguay (Technological Laboratory of Uruguay [Equivalent of NIST in the USA])
  • 50% of the kids were taking pics of the other 50% playing football and the day after that they were all back to doing whatever it was they were doing before they got their laptops.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by caseydk (203763)
      Fast forward to 2012...

      "And in breaking news, it appears that Uruguay is now the #1 place to outsource technology jobs."
  • by innerweb (721995) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @07:45AM (#19094703)

    Lets see. OLPC is a little less than $200 per laptop, or the Classmate PC at about $400 per laptop. Multiply it by 2 million children... more than a 400 million dollar savings! I wonder which way the more cash strapped countries are going to go?

    I would love to get my hands on some of these to see how well they work as a learning tool. The price point puts them in line with many other learning tools on the market for children. The open source platform makes them much more expandable. And, as they become more widely used, the software available for them will become much more diverse and powerful. I wonder if the Intel proposed alternative includes an Operating System in the price.

    InnerWeb
    • by Zouden (232738) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @08:45AM (#19094989)
      Not only is it more than twice the price, the Classmate PC is vastly inferior. Let me list the ways (stats taken from Wikipedia):

      -XO has a 1200x900 screen which can be flipped around (tablet style) and converted into ultra-high resolution grayscale for displaying text. The refresh rate can automatically adjust (down to 0hz) to save battery power. The Classmate PC has an ordinary 800x480 LCD.
      -XO has a camera. Classmate doesn't. This article shows that the kids obviously like the camera.
      -XO has a large trackpad that can be used as a graphics tablet. Classmate has a standard trackpad.
      -XO operating system interface was designed from the ground up for this purpose. Classmate uses Windows XP Embedded.
      -XO promotes the concept of Free software. Classmate has a freakin' Trusted Computing Module installed!
      • true, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by N3wsByt3 (758224)
        While I agree with you on every point, they give it another spin. For instance:

        "-XO operating system interface was designed from the ground up for this purpose. Classmate uses Windows XP Embedded."

        They are effectively promoting their PC as a 'real' one (vs.a plaything of the XO) because it can run XP, while the XO doesn't.

        The XO is clearly a more interesting concept, though. I wish they would mass-market it in the west too. I wouldn't mind paying $200 for it, even if just to see how it ticks.
        • Re:true, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by burnin1965 (535071) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @11:56AM (#19096215) Homepage

          They are effectively promoting their PC as a 'real' one (vs.a plaything of the XO) because it can run XP, while the XO doesn't.

          The XO is clearly a more interesting concept, though.


          And there in is the reason the XO is a superior solution. All the criticism of the OLPC XO and the benevolent offers of "superior" Windows based machines with $3 OS licensing fees is based off the need of a few greedy thugs to build their markets. The objective of OLPC is not to build a market for Microsoft and Intel to sell their products and introduce developing nations to the proprietary software licensing treadmill, its about instilling the ability to learn at an early age so these children will grow up with the ability to improve their living conditions. As Negroponte has already stated "An educated and creative population is, without a doubt, the best path to global health, wealth, and peace."

          While I'm sure a more expensive Windows based machine could be used for the same purpose, the initial experiments that led up to OLPC used Windows based laptops, the XO and its software were designed from the ground up to serve the specific purpose of "learning learning" while the so called superior solutions being pushed by multi-billionare corporate CEOs and the like are designed to help themselves break into new markets where their current products are simply too expensive.

          These wealthy individuals who lack the knowlege and experience of the people who developed and run the OLPC should simply STFU and let the professionals do their job.

    • by MikeFM (12491) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @01:36PM (#19097083) Homepage Journal
      As someone that has a XO (OLPC) I'll say that it is way better than any cheapie laptop I've seen. If it was available for retail purchase here in the US I'd buy several to pass out as gifts. The quality is great and it really has a lot to offer for such a low price tag. I mean it comes with the ability to participate in a mesh network and be connected to a normal wifi AP at the same time, has a decent built in camera, has a pad for pen input, is very durable, is very lightweight, stays cool, has a decent battery life, has features that make it usable as an ebook or handheld game, the software is custom written to take advantage of the laptop and work within its limited specs, and is just pretty damn cute. Every kid I've tested it on has loved it as have most adults. And remember that they actually plan to get production costs down to under $100 per laptop and then start distributing low-cost add-ons such as an OLPC printer. Your average cheapie laptop is not going to be the same.

      That said, I can't believe they are distributing the XO to kids already. The software is not done at all. IMO the software is barely usable thus far. Work on the software is progressing pretty fast, and in fact that is why I have an unit, but I would not yet be distributing them with the software in it's current state. I hope they have easy access to the units being distributed so they can be updated as needed.
  • by FraterNLST (922749) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @07:45AM (#19094705) Homepage
    I find it interesting that Intel immediately jump in with "the ability to run win xp" as a major advantage. Leads me to ponder.

    A lot has been said about the OLPC project sticking to open platforms, which may partially be a cost issue and partially an idealistic one. The real question is what is really best for the project? Sticking to open platforms, and open source or completely custom solutions, or a system that allows the use of windows xp?

    I say windows and not os x, not because it's particularly better, thats an argument for a different time, but for the next question - is it better that the platform be completely open and/or custom, or that it corresponds to the most used operating system? The system that is used by a large quantity of consumers, the largest perhaps, and the platform that is the target of choice for people trying to make money of these consumers.

    The real question is what is better for the students in this country. Not what is better for Microsoft, Intel or indeed Linux and the Open Source movement. Is it enough to give these students a computer, or should we be giving them a computer that gives them the potential to learn the systems in use by a majority of the world?

    I guess the other side of the coin is this - if computing technology is about to find it's way into the hands of a lot of people who previously had no access to it, is that going to swell the marketplace such that what was previously a huge market share advantage could well be diluted by the choices made by this project? Every child in Uruguay is a lot of people - and its only a start. When other countries continue, the choice of operating system to learn might not seem quite as trivial as it may right now.
    • Windows has the problem that it makes children learn the route muscle actions required to do things. They rarely understand what they are actually doing. Windows also does not make a nice LaTeX environment, and programing on Windows is a pain. The command line on windows is crippled and you need to install Cygwin to avoid it, but by then you should have just gone with Linux.
    • by infestedsenses (699259) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @08:06AM (#19094783) Homepage

      From a practical standpoint: The OS was designed with ease of use in mind. From the demos I've seen, it does exactly what it's supposed to. Windows and all the other major operating systems are intended for general use, with loads of hardware and software to support, and as such have a huge array of things the OLPC devices will rarely need.

      From an idealistic standpoint: I think it's great to provide the kids with a neutral OSS system tailored to the laptop, where they can decide for themselves later on which OS they will use. The point of the project is to provide EVERY child with a laptop. Hooking every child to a certain, commercial OS from the youngest years onward is not something a government should be doing. The kids will learn Windows, OSX and whatnot soon enough, as you did too. Not necessary at this stage, which is about giving children access to technology, not preparing them for cubicles.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @08:31AM (#19094927) Journal
        It doesn't seem to get mentioned a lot, but one of the secondary aims of the project is that countries should not buy very many of the units. If they are a success, it is hoped that they will start manufacturing their own. The designs are available royalty-free, and so is all of the software. The only thing you need to reproduce it is a supply of the components, and many of these can be produced locally if there is a demand. The core ICs are about the only components that will need to be imported, and if there's enough of a need then setting up a chip fab might be in the country's best interests.

        The OLPC project hasn't just been sold as an educational tool to politicians, it's also been sold as an economic one.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by suv4x4 (956391)
          It doesn't seem to get mentioned a lot, but one of the secondary aims of the project is that countries should not buy very many of the units. If they are a success, it is hoped that they will start manufacturing their own.

          That's interesting as an insurance (you can always make your own in case something happens with the current manifacturer).

          But would you spend $300 making it on your own, or $150 buying it. Since those are targeted to poor countries, I somehow don't think they can make use of existing skill
          • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @09:17AM (#19095143) Journal

            But would you spend $300 making it on your own, or $150 buying it.
            You are not thinking on the sale of a country. Paying $300 to make your own might be better if the home-built one only needed to import $100 of parts. The rest of the money remains in the economy, and is an investment in education of workers, since you then have a workforce that is experienced in building computers and can bid for international contracts or start manufacturing home-grown designs.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              You are forgetting a one very important question, namely: would the money spend at otherwise have a bigger return. It may be trendy to produce your own computers and keep as much money as you possible can circulating in your own country, it even may boost your national pride, but it will probably not be the smartest move to make. The smart move to make, in developing and under developed countries is to use the money to industrialize, namely: opening mines, building factories, building dams, building power p
              • The smart move to make, in developing and under developed countries is to use the money to industrialize, namely: opening mines, building factories, building dams, building power plants, building roads and railroads, these all have very much higher returns for the whole economy

                Of the things on this list, building factories and power plants are directly required for building their own versions of the OLPC. Mine construction is driven by demand, and producing more things locally drives this demand, and transport infrastructure have the same impetus. The idea isn't that they will specifically create factories to manufacture OLPC machines, they will create factories (and the other infrastructure) that can build OLPC machines, but will also be used for building other artefacts of a

        • by zensonic (82242)
          But its hard to beat the price of $100 if you can't scale. It really does make sense to produce these units at a centralized place, ie at quanta facilities, probably the worlds largest and most effecient laptop manufacturer.
        • by chthon (580889)

          The thing with open systems is this : it is a matter of practicality, not a matter of idealism.

          There is a whole body of open software available. If you can run a C compiler on your platform, then you can run a whole lot of software (which might need tailoring).

          Choosing for something closed that runs now is short sighted. Yes, it has a short term advantage, but a long term disadvantage. My experience has taught me with several kinds of closed systems, that they might solve short term problems, but you have

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dave420 (699308)
        The Classmate isn't running XP Professional, but XP Embedded, which gives you a stripped-down version of XP, including only the components you want (in great detail). It doesn't have to have anything it won't need. Though with Windows, you get to run Windows software *and* open-source software. The only reason to go with anything else would be licensing costs, not functionality-wise.
    • by bortizc (828055) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @08:14AM (#19094835)
      You know what? I completely disagree with you. You are assuming that once you learn ONE os at an early age it is set in stone. As if you couldn't learn to use another. Or even two or three. You underestimate kids. People who grew up in the 80s know for a fact that this isn't true. My school's computer lab had 3 NEC with some kind of propietary os that we all learned to make BASIC programs. Then came the Apple IIe's and we had to learn DOS 3.2 and 3.3. My mother bought me my first computer, an Apple //c, and then I had to learn ProDOS. Next there was a Mac plus on which I ran MAC-OS 4 thru 6. Then a Mac quadra 605 (system 7-8). As soon as I started working it was MS-DOS, and all the windows. Three years ago I switched to linux. It wasn't so hard mainly because I was used to switching OS's. In fact the most difficult switch was from mac to windows 3.11. I now find myself costumizing gnome to match a lot of the original mac-os functionality (although not the windows decorations). But you know it isn't that difficult for me to figure out how to make gtk and metacity themes, had it not been for those BASIC programs I made in the NEC's and the apples. I hate that they teach children today to use powerpoint and word. The argument that it is what they will need when working is absurd. If that where true I would have been terribly hindered by my lack of knowledge of wordstar, lotus and dbase when I got my high-school degree. I learned to use computers. And I can adapt myself to computers. I think this project aims at that type of experience that will make children better computer users and not merely software consumers. By the way this I'm describing happened to me in Colombia. So the preconceived notion some of you have about the third world use some updating.
      • I grew up using toasters and can use any brand today. Yet I have no clue on their inner workings. A toaster is a mysterious magical "black box" to me and thats ok. I don't know what has to do with the merits of power point however.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770)
        Look, I have pretty much the same experience as you but you must also remember that those who spent the 80s and early 90s on computers were those who chose to learn computers. It didn't take long after I got my C64 to write my first hello world program. I wanted to play around with it and loved the idea of a machine I could instruct on what to do, and playing games and seeing all the cool things you could do with it. I absorbed in everything from BASIC to Tiki PCs to DOS to Windows to OS/2 because it fascin
    • *shrug*

      Food for thought: If you give an OLPC to each child in the developing world (lets exclude 1st world for a moment), the majority of computer users world wide will be running Linux.

      Also, I think one of the project goals was to distribute laptops which would have easy to modify "guts". These things are supposed to be a breeze to do simple programming on, and I think that will be far more valuable to these children than learning how the Start menu works. Once you establish certain computing concepts it becomes far easier to transition to other environments.

      This also excludes the whole discussion of whether or not its valuable to put them on XP, especially given that XP is no longer the "current" MS OS. Soon, 1st world users will not be able to buy systems with XP; why would we sling it off onto 3rd world users?

      Not to mention the security debacle it would be; how would you deploy security updates?
    • by bit01 (644603)

      should we be giving them a computer that gives them the potential to learn the systems in use by a majority of the world?

      The same could be said about Vista. Why doesn't the world stick with XP? Or MSDOS? Or even Multics?

      Any reasoning based on the premise that because it's been used yesterday and today it should be used tomorrow and so on forever is bogus. Every change starts somewhere and the OLPC is going to be distributed to sufficient people to create their own market.

      The OLPC has been designed

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      The important (for the children) part of the OLPC is not the OS that it runs, but the user interface. Something centered in activities, something that was meant for collaboration between them from the start, something that dont add complexities but let them focus in doing what they must. Behind that interface, could have been Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, DOS, whatever.

      Of course, that be linux had some advantages for the big people behind. Was free (cost of the whole thing was important, and maybe more importan
    • by Tom (822)

      I find it interesting that Intel immediately jump in with "the ability to run win xp" as a major advantage. Leads me to ponder.

      Here's what I ponder:

      "ability to run" != "comes with"

      Buying XP licenses for all those machines will about double their price, depending on how much of a volume discount MS is giving them. Maybe if MS is really, really generous, it'll only add 50% to the price. If the budget is fixed, that means somewhere between a third and half less machines are going to be distributed to children.

      • Remember the $3 "starter" licenses that MS announced - with XP Starter Edition and a stripped down MS Office. It'd be nice if Microsoft priced themselves out of the computer market in most of the world, but unfortunately they've decided not to. Not that a *nix system isn't obviously better than an intentionally crippled version of windows, but...

    • OS is growing (Score:2, Interesting)

      by El_Isma (979791)
      There's a law (in progress, ie: not yet approved) that would require the public offices to use (as far as possible) OS software and force them to use open formats. So in that respect, the education that kids are getting is positive and useful. Up until now, Windows was taugth. Not to mention that not every school had PCs.

      Also, other South American countries which are on very friendly terms with Uruguay (such as Venezuela) are too pushing OS into the public offices. In Venezuela's case, the law is in place a
    • by jimicus (737525)
      or that it corresponds to the most used operating system?

      Seeing as these are mostly being sold in second and third world countries where there aren't millions of people leaving school in order to work 9-5 in an office where they sit in front of a Windows PC all day, I wouldn't think that's a particularly big deal.
    • by jbengt (874751)
      " . . . or should we be giving them a computer that gives them the potential to learn the systems in use by a majority of the world?"

      We're talking about young students here. What system will be in use by a majority of the world a few years from now? (hint: it won't be XP)
      In my opinion, it is almost always a mistake to teach skill in particular technologies over teaching the fundamental ideas that allow you to think on your own and adapt to changes.
  • by Funkcikle (630170) * on Saturday May 12, 2007 @07:48AM (#19094713)
    So how many of these new adventurers at the thin end of the open source wedge have contributed source code?

    Come on, children! THOSE LAPTOPS WERE FREE FOR A REASON! ~cracks whip~
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by harry666t (1062422)
      Of course they do contribute...

      One of these little hackers in training already contributed a rewrite of ed:

      #!/bin/sh
      while :;do read x;echo \?;done
  • by Nymz (905908) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @07:49AM (#19094719) Journal
    As a geek I luv computers, don't we all? But my gut tells me that tossing devices that, let's face it, require many branches of support like a species at the top of a complex food chain, will be about as successful as tossing paper money on them, them being poor children.

    Don't misundertand, this isn't the arguement that we shouldn't travel to space, or not do other things, because somewhere in the world is a child is starving. No, my concern is for accomplishing the goal of this project, which I assume is, to help them prosper. You know, teach a man to fish instead of just giving him one fish.

    Computers are excellent at doing many types of tasks, but lousy at others. People aren't poor because they don't have a laptop. In fact, I think most studies have shown that laptops actually have little or a negative impact on helping children learn. No, people are poor, in our current world and time, are poor because they don't have opportunity. Opportunity to exchange their own effort, work, or goods with other people.

    Why? Because either someone prevents them, by means of a gun and or a system that makes it impossible to be free to do such exchanges. Sometimes I think people toss that word around like it's some etheral ideal that everyone knows they are supposed to say they value, but then go right on and act in contray ways. No, freedom is a very very very important ideal, an ideal that cannot be replaced by a 100 dollar laptop.
    • > In fact, I think most studies have shown that laptops actually have little or a negative impact on helping children learn.

      Most of the failures reported so far are due to children using the computers to browse porn. If porn wasn't illegal and taboo for adults, then children wouldn't be so interested in it. I think porn reform is needed first before computers can be introduced to schools.
      • I think porn reform is needed first before computers can be introduced to schools.

        Fear of porn is definitely going to set back education by years, but waiting for things to change is just going delay education further. Just give the damn kids the computers, and (optionally) yell at them if you catch them with naked chicks on the screen.

      • by N3wsByt3 (758224)
        Do you think the 'funny' moderation you got is to the point? Or would you rather have 'insightful'?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by evilbessie (873633)
      I agree with you in part, regarding the studies showing laptop aided development in developed countries has little, or even negative impact. However in areas where there is no ready access to technology, and other teaching materials such as books are expensive, then the concept of having a cheap way of distributing content to children and of giving them access to technology may actually be very beneficial. Although this shouldn't be seen as the only thing we should be doing to close the digital divide.
    • by nursegirl (914509) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @09:04AM (#19095083) Journal

      You're right that giving someone a laptop might have little effect on helping them learn. But, that's because we're thinking of a laptop just as a laptop, as a way to surf the net and type an essay.

      All of these things will actually help kids learn:

      • Universal access to good quality, appropriate language, frequently updated textbooks
      • Access to experts in kids fields of interest (I remember one of my elementary school friends becoming pen pals with a zoo keeper from our local zoo)
      • Access to training tools for teachers
      • Unfiltered access to a variety of sources discussing history, geography, politics and economics (that's to help towards the path to freedom -- people must know that freedom can exist in order to fight for it)

      All of those things can be fulfilled by a series of networked laptops for kids, at a much lower cost than doing things the dead-tree way. People will have to make some serious investment on the software side of this project for it to work. But, it could work. And if it does, it will seriously turn the world upside-down. Not because they have a laptop, but instead because they have access to textbooks, communication, and unfiltered information.

      • Give one of these laptop to every TEACHER in a given country. People often forget that the teachers are just as poor as the children. If a teacher can have access to up to date curriculum that would be awesome in itself. The possiblities for teachers to swap ideas and support one another is also endless. The quality of teaching could increase immeasurably.
    • by arcite (661011) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:06AM (#19095437)
      Look at the impact CELLPHONES are having in developing countries. Its exploding everywhere, SE Asia, Africa. Cellphones are changing millions of lives in significant and simple ways,

      They allow people to communicate, simple but for most who earn a $1 a day or less this was previously impossible.

      They are spurring innovation in Banking, micro-finance, and enabling new kinds of transactions

      Text messaging, SMS, is still the cheapest way to get a message across - be it a pricing report for harvested crops, or a simple message to a family member in an isolated village.

      True that developing countries are plagued by tyrants, corrupted governments, and other nasty people, but when people are given the power to communicate they can mobilize and share information, get organized, and that is real power.

      Access to the internet is the obvious next step. "FREEDOM" just doesn't materialize, people have to fight for it, and in order to do that they need the tools. Even if there is one OLPC laptop in a village, that single laptop will open MANY doors to many people who previously had no opportunity or voice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by El_Isma (979791)
      I've heard that the plan was to put the textbooks in the laptops, which, if done, is economically viable. Each textbook is around 200 pesos (8USD), each year you require 4 of them (sometimes more) and there's 5 years of schooling. That sums up to 160USD. The laptops may be a bit more expensive now, but I think the plan is to "recycle" them (once kid gets out of school, give the pc to a new student). Also, you're getting other advantages that plain old textbooks don't give, like net access, PC education, gam
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by burnin1965 (535071)

      I think most studies have shown that laptops actually have little or a negative impact on helping children learn

      Fret not, as Nicholas Negroponte has stated "It's an education project, not a laptop project."

      This is not some new hair brained lets throw laptops at 3rd world countries plan as many try to make it out to be. If you do a little research into the project you'll find that it was started years ago with various test implementations using standard laptops running Windows software. The OLPC is an extens

  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Saturday May 12, 2007 @08:17AM (#19094853) Homepage
    Any news on when the rest of the world can finally buy the XO Laptops? Since, well, a 200dpi display for less then $200 sounds like a damn cool device for ebook reading and I really want one.
  • Wait how enthusiastic they will be when they get India-made crappy pda-like devices for $10 with DNF included!

  • by mattr (78516) <mattr.telebody@com> on Saturday May 12, 2007 @08:21AM (#19094883) Homepage Journal
    Now for just a little more the government can hire half the Uruguayan software industry to create fabulous educational software in collaboration with talented teachers and researchers, and since they are the first then they can release for free or even sell it (making money to invest back into educational software development while also being cheaper for another country to buy than make themselves).

    It would be fabulous to release that as open source, if only the programmers and others involved in making it can be somehow reimbursed or have their living expenses paid for which might not be a bad idea either. Also, it would be probably very cheap compared to first world rates. I'm thinking computers can be much more useful in education and maybe this will even result in a computer-based, self-paced learning curriculum in many languages.

    Maybe a lot of geeks here wish that sort of thing was available when they were in grade school. If it could be released as open source then talented kids could learn in more depth or follow their interests, or even learn in more than one language at once, so instead of the problems that come from skipping grades there could be perhaps ordinary lessons plus self-paced directed or inquiry-based learning. Not just browsing wikipedia but enough for a child to learn from.

    A similar thing written at adult level would also be fabulously useful. It appears some of this idea is in the encyclopedia of life that just won funding based on a "wish" speech at TED. The first thing needed is linux hacking for elementary school kids. Maybe before that an auto-restore, auto-backup extra partition?
  • Webcams? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday May 12, 2007 @08:33AM (#19094939) Homepage Journal
    What initially made them more enthusiastic was the possibility of taking photographs and filming each others with the included webcams.

    COOL! We're raising a new generation of myspacers!

    Go, Uruguay, go!!
  • Two other companies want to be considered: Intel, with their Classmate PC, and Israeli-manufactured ITP-C.

    What?? Where is India's $10 laptop?!
  • by suv4x4 (956391)
    I saw this institutional video someone posted here, with the kids playing with their new $150 laptops [youtube.com].

    And for some reason they kept poking the screens with their mischievous little fingers, as if trying to reach for something and pull it out. They just had the machines for one hour or so.

    At first I thought "yugh, fingerprints".

    Then "god damn it, the glass".

    Then "jesus christ they'll wreck the matrix..!".

    So, let the bets begin: how many days do you give em before they any of those:

    1. can it work under water?
    • I saw this institutional video someone posted here, with the kids playing with their new $150 laptops.

      That video was disturbing. First, why did every shot consist of like 15 kids crowded around one tiny laptop? Isn't this supposed to be "one laptop per child"? Second, why did every shot focus on giant external mice? Aren't these things supposed to have awesome touchpads? Wouldn't that increase the price from $150 to like $160?

    • by skam240 (789197)
      3. how does it look on the inside?

      This end may not always be a bad thing. I'm sure allot of slashdotters (I would certainly be included in this group) got their start into learning about computer hardware by asking just such a question as a child.
      • by suv4x4 (956391)
        This end may not always be a bad thing. I'm sure allot of slashdotters (I would certainly be included in this group) got their start into learning about computer hardware by asking just such a question as a child.

        Maybe you didn't read their tagline: "ONE laptop per child". One. Not a couple of hundred.

        When I was a kid and took apart something, it could officially be called garbage. I gained knowledge all right (that I better not do that again).
  • Only a PII? O RLY? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@@@gmail...com> on Saturday May 12, 2007 @09:18AM (#19095151) Homepage
    My first computer in the classroom was an apple ][, followed by the various 68000 based macs. If I can play math, language, and geographical games on a low end 6502 or 68000 based machine, surely to god kids can learn today with "only a P2." And none of them ran Win XP either.

    I know why Intel spreads the myth that you need power to use a computer. They're in the business of pushing high end processors that most people don't need.

    Tom
    • I know why Intel spreads the myth that you need power to use a computer. They're in the business of pushing high end processors that most people don't need.

      A more powerful computer will be more useful. The "myth" that you're spreading is that no-one will ever want to do anything unexpected with their computer - computers are general purpose tools, and you rarely know everything that you might want to do with one when you get it.

      But... that doesn't change the fact that the XO is probably strictly better th

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tomstdenis (446163)
        Hint: There is a reason why Intel and AMD are focusing strongly on improving their idle power usage. And it ain't because they have nothing better to do.

        Most of the time my E6600 sits here at 1.6Ghz even with firefox, audacious, etc going. For MOST of my tasks the box is just plain too fast. Of course, as a software developer I do put it through it's paces. Point is for most people who read webpages, listen to music, watch a movie, whatever, processors are VASTLY overpowered for what they do. Not ever
    • Don't diss the P2. A friend of mine used a P2 350mhz as his MAIN computer until about 3 months ago.
      I was amazed to see it could reasonably run XP, IE7 and a java applet inside it.
  • by aldheorte (162967) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:04AM (#19095425)
    I find it disturbing that such focus is put on third world children when a significant number of children in the U.S. and other developed countries do not have access to a similiar device or good educational opportunities. It's a shared failure of Western governments and projects such as the OLPC to favor others over their own for the sake of political correctness and what I can only describe as some sort of institutional guilt over priviliege combined with well-intentioned, but nonetheless clueless, naivete.

    When it comes to technical leadership, it is sort of like the airline safety instructions you get - if the airmasks drop down, secure your own first so you can help others without losing your ability to do so. Think about it while you go to mod me down.
    • Um gee lets see. Could it be that children in developed countries already have great access to the latest technology and therefore do not need a low cost version?

      I would accuse you of being selfish if it wasn't so clear that you are just horribly misinformed (and dare I say ignorant).

      Carry on.

    • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:39AM (#19095669) Homepage

      The OLPC project is trying to make the world a better place, not make the United States more dominant.

      On the other hand, uneducated farmers working 60 hours a week to feed themselves in Cambodia don't help the US economy much - do they?

    • So? Set up your own programme to bring OLPC-style devices to the US.

      This isn't funded by Western governments, but by people who want to bring low cost, low power devices to non US kids. What's your problem?
    • I find it disturbing that such focus is put on third world children when a significant number of children in the U.S. and other developed countries do not have access to a similiar device or good educational opportunities. It's a shared failure of Western governments and projects such as the OLPC to favor others over their own for the sake of political correctness and what I can only describe as some sort of institutional guilt over priviliege combined with well-intentioned, but nonetheless clueless, naivet

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ant P. (974313)
      This is a cheap hardware project, not the world police force. OLPC is no more responsible for the US government not giving a shit about its citizens any more than it is responsible for the other corrupt third-world governments.
  • by z_gringo (452163) <z_gringo AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:46AM (#19095709)
    What initially made them more enthusiastic was the possibility of taking photographs and filming each others with the included webcams.'"

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • There's one huge advantage for governments who go with the intel classmate and run XP - it's likely that the Gates Foundation will give grants to the governments to buy them as long as they don't run Linux. Watch and see.
  • OLPC does support XP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Charbax (678404) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @11:51AM (#19096171) Homepage
    Just put a 10$ 1GB SD card in the SD card slot under the screen, and the OLPC can boot into a light, customized 3$ Windows XP OS. Microsoft has been working for the past year on adapting a Windows XP light version to run on such cheaper hardware, the OLPC hardware specs are totally sufficient for running a thinned down version of Windows XP. Microsoft certainly has the means and the will to provide such Windows XP on a 1GB SD card option, which each child could after some time and as SD card prices drop get one, and have a choice a boot-up for which OS to use.
  • by pflores2 (1101283) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @02:26PM (#19097477)
    Hi! I am the mantainer of the blog referred in the article, http://olpc-ceibal.blogspot.com./ [olpc-ceibal.blogspot.com] First of all, I'd like to invite you to see some pictures of the launching of the project in my last post [blogspot.com] (I decided to include some contents in english on the blog).

    I have seen many interesting comments here. Many of them are part of a discussion that exceeds uruguayan experience, as they are the technological apsects (using XO, Classmate, ITP-C...? [blogspot.com] using laptops or desktops...?), educational aspects (which contents to use, if all the children will be interested) and, obviously, economical aspects (is it worth spending so much money?... how much will the project really cost?). I just would like to make some comments:
    - Not only the educational aspects of the project have to be analyzed. The project also changes the "digital gap", taking into the information society many children and their families.
    - The technologies used are not as important as the agreements we have to do for using these technologies. License costs and their renewals, as well as intelectual properties of the contents generated must get up in the table.
    - The real effect of a project like this will not be seen in the next days, months, neither in a few years. Maybe in 10 years we will be able to start doing a comprehensive analysis of results. Now we are making "futurology", so it is normal having different views. What is important in this step is the conviction and honesty of stakeholders to try to make things as good as possible.

    Regards, Pablo Flores

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