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Libya Purchases 1.2 mil Wind-up Laptops 258

An anonymous reader writes "The government of Libya is reported to have agreed to provide its 1.2m school children with a cheap, durable laptop computer by June 2008. The laptops offer internet access and are powered by a wind-up crank. They cost $100 and manufacturing begins next year, says One Laptop per Child. The non-profit association's chairman, Nicholas Negroponte, said the deal was reached on Tuesday in Libya. Professor Negroponte told the New York Times in an email that the project mirrored Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's political agenda of creating a more open Libya and he also expressed interest in purchasing the computers for poorer African neighbors."
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Libya Purchases 1.2 mil Wind-up Laptops

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  • Ummm (Score:4, Funny)

    by 2.7182 ( 819680 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:28AM (#16406055)
    BTW, were these things designed to be sand proof ?
    • Re:Ummm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:36AM (#16406099)
      I am not sure if you are joking, but this is a serious problem in desert communities. Were not talking about just being out on a windy day. I was in Desert Storm and ALL of our equipment suffered sand problems.
      • Re:Ummm (Score:5, Informative)

        by Plutonite ( 999141 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:54AM (#16406271)
        You were more likely than not right in the desert, which is a lot worse than being in the city and operating out of air conditioned buildings. I used to live in kuwait and had less problems with sand&dust than many other places. If you can use the equipment in a closed area then you should be fine.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by pfoorion ( 215620 )
        I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger (Libya's neighbor to the south). Niger is very poor and the vast majority (99%+) of kids live in mud huts and sand gets EVERYWHERE. If Libya is indeed considering buying these for Nigerien kids, sand-proofing the machines would be key. Electronics in general do not last long at all in the harsh environment there.
    • So is the bright green laptop cases for when they lose it in the sand it's easier to find? It's a sweet green.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jg ( 16880 )
      Yes, as best we can. The keyboard is a rubber membrane keyboard (but much nicer than any you may have seen.

      When closed, we intend it to be rained on or survive a dust storm.
  • Terrorists! (Score:5, Funny)

    by crhylove ( 205956 ) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:31AM (#16406067) Homepage Journal
    God damn that Muammar Gaddafi, trying to make those African kids better with computers than our American kids. We need to get rid of these kinds of terrorists immediately, with their educating children and what not. What's next a Libyan bill of rights?!?!? Somebody needs to tell them that this is 2006, and the whole concept of a "Bill of Rights" is totally dated.

    • Re:Terrorists! (Score:4, Informative)

      by minus_273 ( 174041 ) <aaaaaNO@SPAMSPAM.yahoo.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:05AM (#16406339) Journal
      I know this is a joke, but Lybia essentially changed sides in 2003. [bbc.co.uk]
      • Re:Terrorists! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Silver Sloth ( 770927 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:30AM (#16406549)
        The recent history of Lybia is an example of how protracted negotiation with 'terrorist' regimes can result in a positive outcome. For many, many years Muammar Gaddafi was seen as the ultimate bad guy, worse even than Saddam Hussain. Now he's, if not exactly one of the good guys, not part of the axis of evil.

        If Iraq is a classic example of 'how not to do regime change' then Lybia is a classic example of 'how to do it right'.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Megane ( 129182 )

          "negotiation"? I don't recall us doing much negotiation with them. As far as I can tell, it was 1) we kicked their ass back in the day, 2) put them in esentially a permanent penalty box, and 3) they saw what happened in Iraq and decided they didn't really want to go through that. That's what really changed their mind.

          And it certainly wasn't accomplished though appeasement.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            How simple! Twenty years where nothing happened - not even in 2001.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            The important point is that the US didn't kick their ass back in the day. It could be reasonably argued the the US had far more reasons for invading Lybia than it ever had for invading Iraq (forgetting cynical explanations involving oil) but instead they held back. It is precisely this kick their ass and that will sort it out A-Team attitude that has led the US into the mess that is Iraq. I hear that the US is now destined to be there until 2010 at least.
          • Well no, because it was the UK that did all the negotiating, not the US. The main purpose of the US was simply to be trigger-happy and menacing, something it does far better than delicate negotiations.
        • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ThinWhiteDuke ( 464916 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:08AM (#16406937)
          If Iraq is a classic example of 'how not to do regime change' then Lybia is a classic example of 'how to do it right'.

          Regime change?

          So Gaddafi is no longer the boss in Lybia? No, he's still there.
          But it's a democracy now, right? No, still dictator for life.
          At least, he's not a terrorist, is he? Well, it's been proved that Lybia has destroyed at least 2 airliners.

          If the official story about Lybia was true, it would be such an asset for the current administration that they would be talking about it every day. Yet, Gaddafi's "redemption" receives a surprisingly low media coverage.

          When you read between the lines, you realize that Gaddafi got an exceptional deal. 1. He got pardoned for his terrorist acts, 2. economic sanctions were lifted, 3. the US has stopped trying to kill him. In exchange for that : 1. he gave up a non-existing WMD program, 2. he paid a token sum to his victims' families, 3. he gave up terrorist activities (which he had not been able to pursue in the latest 10 years because of the embargo). In exchange, US/UK got 1. drilling rights for Lybian oil, 2. a good PR case for their "War against Terror" (TM) brand.

          The irony is that, in 2003, Iraq and Lybia were very similar. Both were led by homicidal madmen, both were under UN embargo, both had no WMD, both were rich in oil.

          There were just 2 differences. Lybia was actually a terrorist state and Iraq was not willing to give access to it's oil.

          Guess which one was invaded...
          • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by chill ( 34294 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:26AM (#16407179) Journal
            WTF are you smoking? Libya turned over a crapload of chemical weapons, and unveiled their bio and nuclear labs that were a lot more advanced than our intelligence had suggested. Ghadaffi's redemption got plenty of media coverage when it happened. Iraq is an ONGOING event, so it gets tons more.

            Iraq gave plenty of access to it's oil -- it was selling as much as it could, as fast as it could to finance it's war with Iran.

            You forgot the teensy fact that we had tens of thousands of troops sitting next door to Iraq; had suppressed most of their military; and had all the logistics already in place. Iraq was primed, Libya was not. Iraq was a perfect buffer to Iran -- we don't give a shit about a buffer with Tunisia, Algeria or Egypt. Libya complied with the conditions set upon it by the World Court and U.N., Iraq did not.

            There are plenty of things to bash this administration about without having to make some up.
            • First, sorry for the spelling. It's Libya, of course. Now to answer your post :

              The reports I've seen about Libyan WMD were even more vague than those about Iraq. Libya is a tiny country which had been under severe embargo for 20 years. I've got a hard time believing they could have developped anything remotely functionning. Anyway, if you have sources about specific programs being dismantled, please post them.

              If true, Gaddafi's redemption is also an ONGOING event. Considering this administration catas
            • Crapload of chemical weapons? Libya had an aging chemical weapon program with nothing to show but precursors and aging mustard gas. [bbc.co.uk]

              Troops next door? What difference does that make? We have lots of troops next door to canada, does that justify an invasion?

              I dont think the GP is being naive, Ithink you are. This is how politics works. The Bush administration needed a high-profile "win" on the waro n terror. Quadaffi saw the opportunity and took it. The west got its oil and Libya is now open for business. Wh
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            So Gaddafi is no longer the boss in Lybia?

            Not only that, but Libya is no longer spelled "Libya" either.

          • he paid a token sum to his victims' families

            The amount is 2.7 billion USD. That's a lot of money here in Australia, which has (almost precisely) 10 times the GDP of Libya (US$64 billion). (For reference, the GDP of the US is $12 trillion.)

            So assuming that you could simply compare percentages of GDP for hardship (which you shouldn't, but it provides a guide) that would be roughly equivalent to the US handing over US$504 billion. No way is that a token sum.

            If you want to take it another way, the 2005 C

        • by rlp ( 11898 )
          If Iraq is a classic example of 'how not to do regime change' then Lybia is a classic example of 'how to do it right'. Gaddaffi had a change of heart when he saw news videos of the capture of Saddam and figured he could be next. He spoke to Italy's (former) PM Berlusconi and said: "I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid". He also came clean on his WMD program, and turned over equipment indicating that Libya was a lot farther along in a nuclear program
          • i think his son plays in the german soccer league (bundesliga). He certainly doesnt seem like a homicidial maniac.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pubjames ( 468013 )
      God damn that Muammar Gaddafi

      Personally I find it interesting that, in the build up to the current war in Iraq, the US administration tried to make out that Saddam Hussien had proven links to the funding of terrorist activities in the west - which now turns out not to be true - whereas Gaddafi is known to have directly funded and supported international terrorist operations for many years, and yet now he is our best mate. I wonder why that is..?
      • I wonder why that is..?

        Haliburton is now the official state-sanctioned construction company of Libya.
        • Give it a few years and we'll be bombing them as 'terrorists' just like we did iraq. We seem to decide our friends and enemies at the toss of a coin these days.
      • Oil. (Score:3, Informative)

        Companies are falling all over themselves in order to gain exploration contracts there.
      • by EQ ( 28372 )
        "... which now turns out not to be true "

        Really? Care to back that assertion up?

        Saddam Hussein's links to terrorism have been proven by documents showing he helped to fund the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

        The PFLP, whose history of terrorism dates back to the "black September" hijackings of 1970, was personally vetted by Saddam to receive oil vouchers worth £40 million.

        The deal has been uncovered by US investigators, trawling millions of pages of documents showing a network of diplom
  • New Meaning (Score:3, Funny)

    by Cytlid ( 95255 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:35AM (#16406093)
    Gives a new meaning to "cranking one out".
  • by minus_273 ( 174041 ) <aaaaaNO@SPAMSPAM.yahoo.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:36AM (#16406105) Journal
    Obligatory back to the future quote:
    "It's the Lybians!"
  • by arun_s ( 877518 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:37AM (#16406111) Homepage Journal
    ... about third world countries needing food and medicine more (god I can't stand those comments!), here's a very nice article [greenstar.org] I found through reddit about what happened when an Indian computer chap put a comp in a slum in the capital city.
    Its 6 years old but sure makes for nice reading. Stuff like that makes the OLPC worth it IMO.
  • Would be nice.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joshetc ( 955226 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:38AM (#16406115)
    If someone out there cared about US citizens. I am sure there are tons of kids out there that could use a $100 laptop, even some grownups. Were stuck with buying them in pairs of 3s and getting one of the 3 at some undisclosed time in the future.. anyone know if these will ever be sold retail in the USA? I'd take one of these over a PDA any day.

    Also I had heard they were going to remove the wind-up power, I guess they changed their mind again? I think these seem really cool and would love to get my hands on one...
  • Also (Score:2, Funny)

    by Se7enLC ( 714730 )
    A nuclear bomb made from pinball machine parts.
  • We dont have one laptop per child here, not even close. Why is it that we're not on top of this stuff, yet we're happy to catapult other countries ahead by selling them the laptops?
    • We dont have one laptop per child here, not even close

      because that would be socialism, apparently (which is way bad). strangely enough, spending $300 billion to fix iraq for iraqis is just peachy.
      • ``strangely enough, spending $300 billion to fix iraq for iraqis is just peachy.''

        That should be "over $300 billion" and "\"fix\"".
      • so why don't YOU buy notebooks and give them to poor children? because that would be spending your own money, apparently (which is way bad).
        try living in a socialist country like mine before spewing bullshit, thanks
        • so why don't YOU buy notebooks and give them to poor children?

          where's the profit in that?
        • by d3ac0n ( 715594 )

          giorgiofr, you forget you are speaking to an American Liberal. The kind of socialist that the leaders of the old Soviet Union used to call "Useful idiots". What else would you expect BUT bullshit from them?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:31AM (#16406557)
        The United States treats its socialism the way a priest treats masturbation -- it does it very rarely, with a great amount of guilt, and tries very hard to ignore the amount of relief it brings.
    • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
      who is this "we"

      OLPC makes the laptops and sells them to governments, they would be stupid to waste all their current capital giving the machines away and running out of money. If the US government wanted to buy these, or probably even a state government they would be available to american children

      another problem is that in america kids usually have too much computer access rather than too little.
      • another problem is that in america kids usually have too much computer access rather than too little

        While this is true, there are many children in the U.S. with very little access. These are the children who would benefit from these, not the average suburban brat. Politically, our current administration would like to get rid of public schools, much less fund an iniative to aid the poor.

    • Before this nonsense in Iraq is over we could alternatively have bought a laptop to every single person on the globe. Assume 5 million kids enters school per year in the US. At $100/ laptop we could give each a computer for what the what the war cost PER DAY
      • Yes but how would that help the poor oil companies? And Halliburton continues to need corporate welfare or the whole U.S. economy will falter.

        Foreign aid is best paid out in weapons.

        Damn socialist.

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (gmail.com)> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:40AM (#16406139) Journal
    I never thought I'd say this, but I wish India would follow Libya [theregister.co.uk] and reconsider--I mean this is the first time a humanitarian effort has strongly targeted learning tools. Food & medicine are important, but I sincerely hope we can show those we help how to continue to support themselves with tools like this.
  • Man. Those Libyians are going to be really pissed when they find out that their plutonium wasn't used to power the laptops.
  • I thought the OLPC people decided that the hand crank was too much stress on the frame of the computer and went away from that model? Does this mean that they are going back to hand cranks, or that the crank is detached from the computer?
    • Does this mean that they are going back to hand cranks, or that the crank is detached from the computer?

      I posted just one minute after you. According to this: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_myths [laptop.org] the crank has been dropped and ...

      The hand crank was there in early prototypes but the actual shipping units will use an off-board human-power system, connected to the power brick. Candidates include a foot-pedal charger similar to the Freecharge portable charger.

  • Wind-up crank? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jginspace ( 678908 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <ecapsnigj>> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:42AM (#16406159) Homepage Journal
    The laptops offer internet access and are powered by a wind-up crank.

    Is this more shoddy BBC journalism? I thought this had been dropped from the OLPC spec a while ago?
    • I believe it is. Also it seems they failed to mention that the laptops haven't reached the $100 price point yet and will start at $150, and that Libya is paying $250 million total for all the laptops and infrastructure.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jginspace ( 678908 )
      (Replying to myself...)

      ...it seems the OLPC site still mentions it ... when you hover the mouse over the FAQ. However it's not mentioned in the actual FAQ and this page http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_myths [laptop.org] puts things straight.

      Glad that's sorted.
    • It has a little windmill that connects via a cable and harnesses the power of the desert winds.... when they rise, the teacher can yell "wind up", so students can get them out quickly and do a lesson while it lasts.....

      okay, that was pretty lame. its not worth ruining my average postinthwhoops.asdflksubmit
    • by NekoXP ( 67564 )
      Yes. Journalist gets a Reuters news feed, remembers stuff he half-=read one day on the same subject, cobbles together article, publishes, collects paycheck.

      They haven't even met their $100 target even without the laptop. Maybe Libya will buy them for $100, but they don't "cost" that on the BOM even without the handcrank :D
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:42AM (#16406161) Homepage Journal
    Please do some reasearch. Libya is a huge thinly populated country with oil. It has the highest or second highest std of living in Africa. Most middle class people speak Italian (former colony). If anyone in a '3rd world' country can make use of cheap computers, it's them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ProppaT ( 557551 )
      I don't understand how having the highest STD rate in Africa means they could make use of laptops better than any other third world nation? Or even having oil for that matter... Not saying it's not nice for them and they won't make good use of the laptops, but that's roughly the equivelant of me saying "John Adams High School has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the state and the highest wealth per capita in the county, therefore if anyone could use new textbooks, it's them."
      • std of living = "standard of living", has nothing to do with sexually transmitted diseases.
        But now that you bring it up, extrapolating from AIDS [wikipedia.org] I'd say that the STD rate is rather lower in Libya than in most of Africa. Assuming that the data on that page is accurate, of course. The distribution in that graph [wikipedia.org] is a bit odd (notice which countries are colored green).
      • Grandparent is partially wrong, by the way, but he wasn't talking about AIDS. Libya's oil wealth gives rise to a very stratified society -- you're either cut into the oil profits (a socialist regime rewarding supporters and screwing the rest of the country -- stop the presses!), or you're in a situation such that "poor" does not even begin to describe your life. Like many African nations it STILL has a slavery problem. Thats slavery like "I own you and can sell you at will", for folks who are used to hea
  • by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:10AM (#16406365) Homepage
    Can't type, wind the crank, and wind the crank, all at the same time. An internet ready computer that can't be used for porn? Amazing!
  • What a brilliant name. It rolls off the tounge nicely.

    If was of a really high spec you could call it a tip-top wind-up laptop.
  • It's damn good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jackharrer ( 972403 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:18AM (#16407061)
    Have you thought how good idea it is? They have cash (oil) but it's pointless to just give it to people. But if you give computers to kids in 10 years time you'll have a lot very skilled computer scientists. And for quite cheap wage. Think how many western companies will try to invest in country like that. And it's much closer that India.
    Question is: Are those kids going to learn something or just ignore those computers? Thing is that there're not many things to play with in Libya. Of course if you don't count sand.
    That creates very intresting experiment. You have a lot of kids who have nothing to do except playing with computers. Almost 24/7. And they have friends who do the same... What kind of outcome we can get?

    I personally think that Qudaffi is not stupid. That's a great investment in future. And great chance - where else can you buy valuable education for $100? If I'm right, we will see many other contries to follow the suit.
  • Ok, is Gaddafi a good guy or a bad guy?
  • Exactly what SORT of connectivity are we thinking about here? It's all well and good for Libyan kids to have crankbooks, but what are they going to access? Is it really a good thing if Libyan schoolkids can do nothing more but read illustrated passages of Gadafi's Green Book [wikipedia.org]?

    The Libyan regime continues to be repressive and illiberal; the simple addition of a few handcrank laptops will in itself do nothing to change that. I know it's not popular to say this on /., but technology does not solve all probl

  • A good majority of the stuff running on it is python based....looks like we could have
    some more coders joining the ranks before long.
  • Slightly OT (very heartily approve of the wind-up laptops though) but a few years ago (maybe about 7 or 8 I guess) I was on a training course at Sun with some unix sysadmins from Libya's only ISP -- if memory serves they were a major and two lieutenants.

    Although there are now several commercial ISPs operating in the country I believe they're all still heavily monitored by the military. Providing ready access to the Internet for all your nation's school children is highly empowering -- potentially a very pos

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