Wednesday, December 19, 2007

OLPC XO Computer Arrived Today!

It's here! My very own XO computer! I keep discovering wonderful things about it.

It has an SD slot and a built in camera. They ship it with the battery already charged. I need to find my microphones so I can make music. It's awesome!

It is little as in "child-sized." Here you can see the cute little keys. I have thin fingers so it is not a problem.

The biggest problem I had was how to shut it down. Mouse over the XO and a menu pops up with shutdown as one of the options.

More to come (I left it at home so I would focus better on work I must do now).


Michael Cammer said...

Curious whether it really works or just frustrates kids that it can't do the cool stuff their wealthier friends are doing. Can you cruise the web with it?

Please keep us posted!

Marjorie said...

Hi Michael! The XO information says the computer is for children 6 to 12. I let my acupuncturist's children have a try at it. They are around 2 and 5. They were too young, although the older girl found it more interesting when we went to the Disney Channel on the Internet. Evan was more interested in turning the antenna and his pushing and pulling did not always correspond to the motion they are capable of. Hands went from the mouth to the screen with more saliva than I wanted to witness.

Yes, it does access the Internet. However, it is not so easy. I cannot get onto the wireless connection at Queens College because they do not have their security certificate updated. The security functions on the XO are apparently pretty tight. I cannot get onto my own wireless access to the Internet because I may have the password wrong. I have to check the password, which I cannot do from home. I can get onto the Internet at any Starbuck's using the T-Mobile Hotspot account that has been donated for one year to each person who participates in the Give One Get One. But even on T-Mobile, the access is slow. The pages are slow to appear on the machine. There will be an update to the software available this month that will improve performance. For example, battery life is not up to 10 hours now, but will improve after the update. They say battery life is 3 to 6 hours now. I get 3 or 4 hours now.

There is one big kid, me, who gets frustrated using the computer because there is no manual and I am learning by trial and error. If I knew the software better, maybe I could have shown the children something more interesting to them besides the drawing program and a little Internet. The memory games involve more knowledge of numbers than these two children have (although they are advanced for their age). I do not know how to use the music programs although I can get sound. I just cannot get the drums going or change the voices of the synthesizer. The instructions on the Internet appear to be for an earlier version which is not the version on the final computer. Many people are working on producing an online manual. I have to be patient and visit Starbuck's a lot. The computer has great potential over time as more and more people write software for the computer. I like that it is possible to improve the computer by download. I have photos taken on the computer that I will eventually download.

Marjorie said...

I had the wrong password. The XO gets onto the Internet fine.

In addition, the support group is working with me to get a work around so I can use the XO computer at Queens College.


Renee said...

I think it is a wonderful program! Have fun with it. :-)

Marjorie said...

I am adding some correspondence about the OLPC here:

My response follows the copy of your email. Please scroll down.

On 20 Jun 08, 2.22AM EDT Miguel Ariel Contreras Drake-McLaughlin said:

Also, I was looking at your account and see you got a OLPC machine - it looks like you have some teaching experience, so I'm sure it is a really interesting tool. I'm considering purchasing one as a gift for someone I know who works in international relations in the field of developing countries and I'm curious about your experience. Do you purchase one and a machine is donated in a target area and a second is given to you? Please let me know, or if you've posted about it I'd love to read more.



Hi Miguel,

As far as the OLPC computer, I was a little disappointed in that the machine is not so good for very young children. It is better for maybe 5th and 6th graders and optimal for middle school kids. It is also better if other kids have the machine and then they can easily create a community. It may also be that there is more software available for the computer now. There was supposed to be an upgrade for the hardware available in January that would also extend the battery life. I have had circumstances in my life that have taken precedence over the computer. Perhaps this summer I can get back to it.

You might also have noticed that I have not posted many pictures lately. I have been taking some photos, but even those are not getting posted.

I did find that there are not many directions for using the OLPC computer so it was a little frustrating using it. I have learned by trial and error. I had also hoped to use it as an ebook reader. Early information on the computer was about a prototype that was different from the one sent out. I would assume that the efforts of writing a proper manual have been completed by now and that much better information is on the Internet.

It is a shame that ultimately, the concern for children in developing countries has been subjugated to how various companies can earn more money. The various companies are not working together and they seem to have developed separate proprietary standards in the hopes that their company's computer will become the standard and they can make the most money. Even the OLPC has fallen prey to this sort of thinking as there will no longer be cooperation between Intel and OLPC because the OLPC people wanted Intel to stop competing in the market of developing countries.

I am very excited about the concept of OLPC. The computer I got was from the first wave of computers that could be purchased in the USA where I paid $400 to get one for $200 and another one (@$200) was given to a child in a developing country. I am not sure that the arrangement was called "targeted."

I am really afraid that the developing countries are going to leap-frog the children of the USA such that they will know more about computers than our children do. Our children are too much involved with video games to learn about computers. I think several developing countries are already surpassing our country in what they offer their citizens. It is interesting reading about it.

Yes, I am a teacher. I have been teaching children in grades 1, 2, and 3, but this year I was shifted to grades 3 and 4, which will continue next year. I teach in Mount Vernon and in April I moved to Yonkers.

I have been looking at the state-of-the-art ebook readers and am interested in pursuing ebooks again. Maybe I will be able to get the OLPC up and running as an ebook reader.

Thanks for your questions.

Marjorie said...

The message I sent back to Miguel Ariel Contreras Drake-McLaughlin was dated June 25, 2008. That got left out of the preceding comment.