One Laptop Per Child For An Adult

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, February 05, 2008 at 06:43 AM with 0 comments

One Laptop Per Child ComputerThe second gift I got from Dunkirk Systems for Christmas was a computer from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program. This comes from what was originally the US$100 laptop program. Now, they are $200, and through the end of last year you could have bought 2 for $400, one for yourself and one for a needy child. This article talks about how the OLPC computers have helped a village in Peru. For someone like myself who has had a computer since junior high school and made a career out of them, I bought into this program completely.

The notebook itself (sorry, I don’t like the term laptop) is interesting. It is white with green trim and looks like it was made by Fisher-Price. Its most prominent feature is a carrying handle – why hasn’t someone thought of this before? It is designed to be rugged. When you flip up the antenna on each side then the top, it is open for use. The top swivels like a tablet PC but the screen is not touch-sensitive. Right away by the size of the screen and keyboard you see it is for a child, especially with the spill-proof keyboard. Other hardware features include a camera, speaker and microphone. You can read more of its features on its Web site.

So what have I done with it? Not too much so far. I was able to get the MAC address of the WiFi card with help from the OLPC Wiki and set it into my wireless router and I was quickly on the Internet. I ran the gauntlet of several of my Web sites with the pre-installed version of Firefox and all looked generally good, though I could not get the Flash plug-in to start and sound did not come from the browser. I also tried some of the various applications pre-installed, from drawing to video, but only once.

When you connect to WiFi you look for it in the “neighborhood” and see dots representing each hotspot. If another OLPC is within range, you see a stick-figure icon that is the logo for the program. This is how children can link to each other and is part of the power – and fun - of this program.

So far I have yet to see anyone within range when I have used it, which doesn’t surprise me. Does anyone out there reading this have one? It would be interesting to get a group of people together with their OLPCs to connect and learn!

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