OLPC name $100 laptop
August 14, 2006 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Al Jazeera have the scoop on the new name for OLPC's $100 $140 dollar laptop.<via olpcnews.com>
posted by davehat (32 comments total)

 
Had to ajust for the weak dollar. That's only 110 Euros.
posted by Paris Hilton at 8:36 AM on August 14, 2006


Linux is fairly resilient, but with the sheer number of flaws in the kernel of late, I predict that a good third of these machines will be virus-ridden within a year.

People aren't going to practice safe computing when they don't know ANY computing. They probably won't even know they've been compromised.
posted by Malor at 8:41 AM on August 14, 2006


It's intresting, I don't even think they're going to give these people root on the machines, or allow any 'real' programming other then squek and logo. So that's pretty lame.
posted by delmoi at 8:50 AM on August 14, 2006


yeah, olpc is pretty lame dude. what a lame idea.
posted by wumpus at 8:53 AM on August 14, 2006


delmoi, you're kidding, right?
posted by brain_drain at 8:57 AM on August 14, 2006


People with very little tend to be much more appreciative of less than a person with very much. like you delmoi. they probably won't find it lame at all, even if they don't get root. Do you think impovershed children working on $140 laptops will even know what root is, unless they don't already have access to faster, better computers?
posted by wumpus at 8:58 AM on August 14, 2006


Malor, perhaps rather less of these laptops than you think will ever connect to the internet. Having said that, who knows how viruses may propagate across the OLPC mesh network.

Delmoi, I've seen many criticisms of OLPC and I have many issues with it myself; this, however, is a new one. I can't really say that its a major concern of mine though...
posted by davehat at 9:09 AM on August 14, 2006


It's intresting, I don't even think they're going to give these people root on the machines, or allow any 'real' programming other then squek and logo. So that's pretty lame.

lol lies.

Do you expect that the kids will have root access on their systems?


Yes: we want children to be able to learn computing, if they are interested. For the kid's systems, we want them "easy to fix", rather than "hard to break". For the school's servers, a shared resource, we want them to be "hard to break" *and* "easy to fix", and are exploring technologies like those developed by Planetlab.
Being root on your own personal machine is fundamentally different than having any access to information on the network you should not have. Project Athena, at MIT (where such technologies as Kerberos, X11, the first network IM system, among others), demonstrated this even 20 years ago: on those systems having root access does not get you access to anything but the services you had access to as an individual user. The root password on those systems has been posted for years: it just doesn't matter, if you do your homework properly.

posted by public at 9:13 AM on August 14, 2006


Had to ajust for the weak dollar. That's only 110 Euros.

Weak dollar? As in 40% weaker since it was announced in 2005?

Looking at all the graphs for countries where the components for this thing are going to be sourced from, it's definitely not 40% weaker. Maybe 10-15%.

I realize it's ever such a tiny bit more complicated than that, but this almost definitely equates to an increase in price in real terms.
posted by public at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2006


public, thanks for that link. It adds a few more pieces to the puzzle that is the OLPC project.

Has no one else noticed the fact that this news is being broken in Al Jazeera? Its an unusual choice of publication for breaking tech news, no?
posted by davehat at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2006


Oh apparently this isn't really unexpected at all.

"It is a floating price. We are a nonprofit organization. We have a target of $100 by 2008, but probably it will be $135, maybe $140." -- Negroponte
posted by public at 9:34 AM on August 14, 2006


delmoi writes "I don't even think they're going to give these people root on the machines, or allow any 'real' programming other then squek and logo. So that's pretty lame."

It's not lame. Many people learned a lot about computing on hardware with less power than a modern wrist watch. Many basic school progams teaching stuff like math and language can easily run on modest hardware. Add storage and stuff like history, literturature, social sciences, hard sciences become possible. The educational software that my daughter runs on her P166 is pretty amazing.
posted by Mitheral at 9:35 AM on August 14, 2006


iBroke
posted by matteo at 9:56 AM on August 14, 2006


seriously, the Apple spoof ads just write themselves
posted by matteo at 9:58 AM on August 14, 2006


cm1 ... doesn't that just roll off the tongue and create all sorts of images in one's mind?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:00 AM on August 14, 2006


From their wiki: Internal microphone, plus a mic-in jack. Unique “sensor input” mode. The audio codec can be used in a mode where direct voltage measurements can be taken, enabling children to learn about temperature, voltage, and many other physical phenomena with cheap sensors without requiring any external adaptors.

This is cool.
posted by Mitheral at 10:02 AM on August 14, 2006


BTW, is that Negroponte related to the other Negroponte Nevermind, Wikipedia says yes.
posted by rzklkng at 10:04 AM on August 14, 2006


I'm sure "$100 Laptop" is more catchy and eyegrabbing than "MIT's OLPC that Was Originally Promised to be $100 but Will Actually be $135-$140 For At Least The Next Two Years", but that's no excuse for tech news outlets like CNET to keep using it as a title.

(from totoro on engadget)
posted by davehat at 10:13 AM on August 14, 2006


Chances are one is at work in every facet of your daily life - chances are, you are using one right now.

http://english.aljazeera.net

Wow. Glad they told me. Frankly, I wasn't sure...
posted by Samizdata at 10:22 AM on August 14, 2006


Previously on MeFi:

http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/45515
http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/46714

And most recently, this post links to an embedded flash movie of Negroponte's presentation at the TED conference, where he was very up front about the fluxuating price and also breaks down a bit of where the costs are coming from.

Apparently, most of the cost is the dual-mode TFT display, which is one of the coolest aspects of these machines. Why can't my laptop (or my cellphone) have one?
posted by camcgee at 10:24 AM on August 14, 2006


I don't think it's lame at all. My first introduction to computers was BASIC, standard BASIC, goto's and all on a green screen Commodore PET. I pretty quickly went beyond that but the simplicity of BASIC enticed me into learning programming, first by hacking the Dungeons program to name the monsters after my sister and her friends (hey, I was in grade school). I didn't have anybody to look to for advice or encouragement, my parents thought computers were a passing fad, my teachers weren't any better. These kids will probably be even worse off, not only won't they have any face to face assistance they won't be able to fall back on libraries or afford a subscription to Compute or Byte (Compute's gone but it offered a number of programs per issue you could type in and learn from. Byte's still around but it used to be a technical magazine)
posted by substrate at 10:47 AM on August 14, 2006


Porn terminals for the world!
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 11:06 AM on August 14, 2006


Media outlets still routinely refer to the OLPC product as the "$100 laptop" which is misleading. Even the TED link you provide describes the product as such below a video which apparently states the opposite (I say "apparently" because I couldn't watch it; streaming media is not really viable where I live)
posted by davehat at 11:10 AM on August 14, 2006


Thanks for linking up the old threads camcgee.

Interesting to read a couple of the power management details available in the FAQ/wiki:
I don't see the hand crank on the latest designs, is it not part of the laptop's design anymore?

The hand crank is still there, it just moved to the AC adapter. It didn't make ergonomic sense to have it on the laptop, and it put mechanical stress on the laptop itself. A discussion of a candidate system can be found in this Technology Review article. It also means that power generation is entirely independent of the laptop which invites other charging mechanisms to be used such as Freecharge portable charger, car batteries, bullock-driven generators, etc.


How is it possible to get the cost so low?

First, by dramatically lowering the cost of the display. The first-generation machine will have a novel, dual-mode display. These displays can be used in either high-resolution black and white in bright sunlight, or in a lower resolution color mode indoors - where the color is created by an LED-based backlight. By rethinking the LCD display: through the removal of color filters, change of the pixel layout, improvements in the optics of the backlight and liquid crystal mode, and in the drive circuitry for the display: We have lowered the typical display cost in a laptop down from $150 to approximately $35. Perhaps more importantly, we have designed a display that is more readable than today's LCDs: a 200dpi, ~20% reflective, sunlight readable display, with huge power savings. This is critical because half of the world's children do not have electricity at home, and need to be able to charge up the laptop batteries themselves with some type of human powered device like the Freecharge portable charger.
posted by Chuckles at 11:18 AM on August 14, 2006


delmoi is just waving his Linux penis about; it's a common reaction in any Linux discussion. See Slashdot for thousands more of examples.

matteo is just jealous that he's broke and can't afford a shiny translucent Apple computer. It's the whole "attack what you can't enjoy" thing.

StrangerInAStrainedLand, it's just too bad the laptops don't ship with built-in webcams. Can you imagine the wealth of fresh amateur porn that would result? Woo hoo!
posted by nlindstrom at 11:30 AM on August 14, 2006


Also, I think rather than Squeak (a Smalltalk), the plan is a Squeak-like environment (objects all the way down!), with Python underneath.

Alan Kay's EuroPython 2006 keynote speech: 1 2 3

And what's not Linux about that? Looks wicked. Man, I wish I was a child in a developing nation.

(I don't wish I was a child in a developing nation.)
posted by wilberforce at 11:39 AM on August 14, 2006


@Malor

And you were born being computer savvy and that people in rich countries buying computers that cost $3000 are so savvy that they never hacked?
posted by zouhair at 11:46 AM on August 14, 2006


It's intresting, I don't even think they're going to give these people root on the machines, or allow any 'real' programming other then squek and logo. So that's pretty lame.
posted by delmoi at 11:50 AM EST on August 14 [+] [!]


Totally. Now they'll never be able hack the Gibson...
posted by Pastabagel at 12:07 PM on August 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


Perhaps more importantly, we have designed a display that is more readable than today's LCDs: a 200dpi, ~20% reflective, sunlight readable display, with huge power savings.

Does this have any relation to the display in the Sony Reader?
posted by chrominance at 2:01 PM on August 14, 2006


I want one like crazy. In fact I want two. This will make such a great electronic text reader.

These things are totally 'VolksLaptops".

Something I can carry on the train and not care too much about dropping or having stolen.

Right now I could get a P3 laptop that is heavier and more expensive or I can wait for these things.
posted by sien at 4:09 PM on August 14, 2006


I can wait for these things

Don't hold your breath. They are being sold at cost by the OLPC and their whole manufacturing/pricing model depends on them huge quantities (like governments ordering a hundreds of thousands at a time).

Maybe we'll see something similar for the consumer market shortly after these things are out of prototype, but it certainly won't be $130.
posted by camcgee at 4:50 PM on August 14, 2006


(like governments ordering a hundreds of thousands at a time)

The minimum order lever before production starts is 5 million. It appears tat the minimum order lever per participating country is 1 million laptops.

If you want to buy one, ebay will no dougt be flooded with the damn things precisely 5 minutes after they are distributed.
posted by davehat at 10:57 PM on August 14, 2006


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