Wednesday, October 8, 2008

OLPC back with Get Once/Give One program starting Nov. 17

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) [1] is an amazing initiative: use technology (sometimes develop new ones) to bring education materials to kids in poor countries.

When studying at the university, I acquired experience in building chips (building blocks of npn gates) to extension cards (with Transputers and TMX chips). I build pieces of software to optimize pipeline in CPUs (on Cray XMPs, for example) up to OS process scheduler. Now, I am just an end-user application developer but that is a different story ;)

The first time I heard about the OLPC initiative, I was impressed by one specification: a computer made to last in tough conditions! And the result does match this requirement:
  • There is not fan and, when it is closed (with the “ears” covering the USB ports), dust and humidity cannot reach the core.
  • The CPU is under the flat screen, so kids having the laptop on their knees cannot be harmed.
  • There is no moving part (no CD-ROM drive, no regular hard drive, just a solid state drive-SSD).
  • Minimal poser consumption and many power sources [2]: the grid power, a hand crank charger, solar panel, and a pull string generator!
Check the in-depth review of the hardware conducted by Mr. Huang beginning of 2008 [3].

Today, I have been able to see the interview of Chuck Kane, OLPC CEO, by Robert Scoble.

Interview by Robert Scoble

After the hardware, the feature I like the most is the mesh network. Scoble also interviewed Michail Blestas, VP of Advanced Technology and Connectivity, who gives few details about it. Among the features I like: independent of any wifi infrastructure, laptops relay packets even if they are “turned off” (if there is sufficient battery charge or mains input), peer-to-peer communication protocol, etc. [4].

Interview by Robert Scoble

Now, what should I do? Ideally, I would like to help sending these laptops to African kids, especially in Democratic Republic of the Congo, in relation with my involvement in the Diku Dilenga organization [5]. But it will not be tomorrow :( So this year, I am going to participate to the “Get One, Give One” program that will start November 17, and will be served by Amazon [6]. I will acquire one XO (name of the laptop) that will find its way up to Kananga, Occidental Kasa├», DR Congo. The second one will be donated by OLPC to a South American kid...

I am going to continue following OLPC progression, especially the XO-2 which promises to innovate even further [7]. Who knows, maybe big corporations (like Intel, Microsoft, and al.) will stop pursuing their individual goals (place more chips or licenses, so augment the revenues, and maximize shareholder's profit).

A+, Dom
  1. One Laptop per Child website.
  2. OLPC power supply.
  3. Review by Andrew “bunnie” Huang of the OLPC hardware.
  4. Details on the OLPC mesh network.
  5. Diku Dilenga: delivers micro loans to entrepreneurs, support education and healthcare initiatives.
  6. Amazon will distribute OLPC XO for the 2008 program “Get One Give One”.
  7. Preview of OLPC XO-2.

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