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Gates Mocks MIT's $100 Laptop 816

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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  • by babbling ( 952366 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:46AM (#14933471)
    That's a load of crap. When Microsoft was trying to get involved in this project [silicon.com], he thought it was great.

    Now that the organisation making this laptop has rejected Microsoft, it's crap? Forgive me for being paranoid, but I don't think that's genuine concern...
  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:49AM (#14933520) Homepage
    Gates is just spreading the usual FUD. He seems to "misinterpret" the simple facts and spins till they're dizzy.

    Shared: It's "One Laptop per Child"; no sharing.

    Diskless: The machine has peer-to-peer networking built in; disks would be slower.

    Tiny screen: It's a bigger screen than my PocketPC. And I bet 6 of those screens are bigger than his 6x more expensive "alternative".

    Network cost: It's got builtin wireless networking; no network expenses needed.

    Application cost: That's why they didn't choose Windows.

    Support cost: It's a total package; if it's broken in either HW or SW, replace the entire machine and fix the broken one centralized.

    Broadband connection: Because these educational systems are meant to be used for downloading the latest movies? Besides, the wireless network will probably be a lot faster than the 56k6 modems a lot of people are still using.

    Reading what you type: That's where the dual-mode LCD screen comes in; something a "decent computer" hasn't got...

    Crank: ...and being able to actually power it without an outlet would help readability too. The crank is only one of several ways to provide power, it can also get powered just like a "decent computer".

    I think that debunks all of Gates' lies.
  • His quote is actually a Chinese Proverb. (Reference Link [worldofquotes.com]) The Bible talks heavily [twopaths.com] about giving to the poor. In my interpretation, this is because the poor are not always a result of their own doing, but may be born into a situation that takes a lot of time and effort to get out of. The poorer parts of Africa are a fairly good example of this. None of those children asked to be born into their situation. But given the chance for an education (which requires food and medicine so that they may stay alive) they may very well learn to "fish for themselves". :-)

    I do have to say, though, I've often heard Biblical Proverbs misattributed as "old sayings" or said by famous figures like dead Presidents, but this is only the second time I've heard it the other way around. The first time was the Greek Proverb, "everything in moderation."
  • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:57AM (#14933620) Journal
    Let's see... several months ago he offered to supply a custom build of Windows free of charge for this machine. I don't see how he'd make any money off that venture.

  • Re:Urge to Kill .... (Score:2, Informative)

    by voteforkerry78 ( 819720 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:01PM (#14933658)
    He definetely has nothing against MIT. He donated $20 million towards their Stata Center and got a tower named after him. The Stata Center contains MIT's CS and AI Lab, Lab for Information Decision Systems, and their Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy. It has really crazy architecture, and computer scientists aren't very fond of it because of "wasted space."
  • Re:Not really. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Vo0k ( 760020 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:06PM (#14933709) Journal
    "how is some poor backwoods village supposed to figure out how to use some ancient HAM equipment? "

    Just the same as they were were using it for the last 60 years, using the same equipment Africa Corps left in their village during IIWW. Such people are very resourceful and as long as you don't forbid them to solve problems, they can solve them themselves. For most of Africa HAM radio is the primary method of world connectivity, and likely using it for some low-bandwidth connectivity would be quite possible. Of course not that every single family would have a radio, but, say, the school downloads updates and software then distributes it on a floppy to the kids with laptops. Enough to help learning...
  • by dtsazza ( 956120 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:16PM (#14933834)
    Correct - it was the Chinese mystic philosopher Lao Tzu [wikiquote.org] who first said it.
    ...and playing Civ 4 pays off again! (It's the quote you get when you research the Fishing tech, naturally...)
  • Re:Useless for Vista (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:16PM (#14933837)
    so now they're FUDing it.
    Exactly. He's just pissed that the computer is going to run only Free Software.

    The reality is that Gates is blatantly lying when he says that applications and network connectivity are a bigger part of the cost than the hardware. First, the applications are (big and little-f) Free. Second, the network connectivity is free as well, because these things are designed to make their own mesh network.
  • Re:Valid Point (Score:4, Informative)

    by utexaspunk ( 527541 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:48PM (#14934221)
    these devices have mesh networking. that means after all the kids go to bed, their parents can crank them up, get on their local AfricaDot or whatever, and discuss how they will go about building infrastructure, starting a business, overthrowing the government, etc. could be handy...
  • by jacoplane ( 78110 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:53PM (#14934261) Homepage Journal
    From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]: "Steve Jobs had offered Mac OS X free of charge for use in the laptop, but according to Seymour Papert, a professor emeritus at MIT who is one of the initiative's founders, the designers want an operating system that can be tinkered with: "We declined because it's not open source"[4]. Therefore Linux was chosen. Microsoft's Bill Gates has attempted to convince Negroponte to use a version of Microsoft Windows on the laptop, but Negroponte turned him down. Some of Negroponte's friends told him Microsoft might then attempt to craft its own version of the laptop, but he responded such a development would be "great", as it would speed up the process of delivering cheap laptops."

    Maybe Microsoft is ticked off with MIT because they were too insistent on OSS, and they view that as a threat.
  • by bobintetley ( 643462 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:09PM (#14934442)

    ...start making the damn things.

    I think [searchenginejournal.com] they [pocket-lint.co.uk] maybe [yahoo.com] already.

  • Re:Useless for Vista (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:11PM (#14934467)
    Wow, not only are you wrong, but you're also an asshole! According to the slashdot summary, Gates mentioned 3 things: network connection cost, application cost, and support cost. He said these separately, meaning that he claims there is a per-copy cost to BUY the software. This claim is false. I made no mention of the third part, which is support cost; you're the one who read something in my post that wasn't there!
  • by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:25PM (#14934607)
    People are ignoring the message because the messenger is Bill Gates.

    Giving third world children crappy laptops is not going to do anything to help them. First of all, there WILL NOT BE ANY OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE for these laptops... the specs are too different from a normal PC to use normal open source software off the bat, and since the laptop is restricted for purchase to governments, you are not going to have any open source community of hobbiests or developers working on it. ONLY school kids and government officials will have access to these things. Where is the internet connectivity going to come from? Part of giving people laptops is allowing them to contact people in other countries, to establish possible buisness connections, to keep them up to date on weather or medical info, to help them trade seeds and capital goods to spur development, etc. It is a glorified e-book without internet connectivity.

    What happens when a family, who makes $200 a year, decides that selling their $100 laptop and buying food is worth more than having a glorified e-book reader? How long is this laptop going to last? What happens if people lose it or it is stolen? What infrastructure is there to repair these things? Are these private property, or owned by the government?

    If we really wanted to help the third world, we would stop giving huge amounts of aid and resources to local dictators, and end restrictions on trade and our huge farm subsidies that western countries use to undermind competition from farmers in the third world. The $100 laptop is a feelgood solution looking for a problem.
  • by stanmann ( 602645 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:31PM (#14934675) Journal
    Actually, most of those people are starving because the food relief sent from US/ASIA/EUROPE Rots on the docks because the ruling government wants those people to starve, they are also starving because of drought famine and disease eliminating what little crops they can grow.
  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:18PM (#14935229)
    This is not private citizens electing to fund a private charity. This is the United Nations
    No, it IS NOT the UN.

    http://laptop.org/faq.en_US.html [laptop.org]
    The $100 laptop is being developed by One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a Delaware-based, non-profit organization created by faculty members from the MIT Media Lab to design, manufacture, and distribute laptops that are sufficiently inexpensive to provide every child in the world access to knowledge and modern forms of education. OLPC is based on constructionist theories of learning pioneered by Seymour Papert and later Alan Kay, as well as the principles expressed in Nicholas Negroponte's book Being Digital. The founding corporate members are Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Brightstar, Google, News Corporation, Nortel, and Red Hat.

    The majority of users of this laptop will NOT be in ultrapoor countries. I've heard China and Massachusetts.

    Of course not. People who are actually starving have more urgent needs.

    We're not being told exactly what support hardware, technology and support will be needed

    The ideal is none. Thus the crank on some models (not all) to charge the battery, that Gates thought was for losers.
    Otherwise, connectivity, "When these machines pop out of the box, they will make a mesh network of their own, peer-to-peer."

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost