OLPC upgrades

Tiago Marques tiagomnm at gmail.com
Mon Feb 2 17:38:43 EST 2009

On Thu, Jan 29, 2009 at 4:03 AM, Mitch Bradley <wmb at laptop.org> wrote:

> Guess what? The people at OLPC, who aren't stupid, already considered
> every point in the message cited below, a long time ago. So why aren't
> we doing them? ...* *On Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 9:57 PM, Carlos Nazareno
> <object404 at gmail.com>wrote:

Nobody's saying anyone is stupid. It is perfectly natural for people to
complain about things they don't understand. I also wish I could, from time
to time, to ask this or that, to understand many things I don't comprehend,
to know what I can do to help. This without getting into any kind of fight
with the people involved with the project, who are the only ones who can
answer those questions.
As with any critical comment I may issue in this mailing list,* please take
it as something constructive*, to help (if it does, in any way) and not to
criticize the people who are hard at work. That, I think, is what Carlos was
trying to do.
I got my XO three weeks ago and there's a lot I was surprised to learn that
some of the more important features are WIP or simply don't work, especially
given the news that I've read, already detailing prototypes of a second
version, when there's still a lot to do with the first one.
Sugar is a fantastic window manager/desktop/user interface/learning
tool/whatever. I don't understand how can *any* government give 6 year olds
anything that's not Sugar - it is wonderful, it integrates very well with
the XO and I would like to be able to use it more but it doesn't really
blend well with the rest of the Linux software ecosystem.
This, among other things, may be the cause that the G1G1 program wasn't
successful this year. There are too many better options, for a regular user,
currently available, and cheaper. Most people don't care for a reflective
screen if they can't have Youtube. They already can have 5 hours of battery
life(or more) in some netbooks, a lot more flash memory/HDD, better *color*
screen. Even then some people claim the performance of netbooks isn't good
enough - imagine what they would say about an XO.
I'm surprised how much stuff still doesn't work in the XO. I can't, for as
much as I think about it, how can you be shipping these things without space
for swap memory. I can open a PDF and a browser without the XO being
apparently crashed and this is the most basic stuff. I know why the system
"crashes" but you can't expect a politician to understand why Intel's
offering doesn't crash and yours does all the time, *it just makes it look
like crap*, which it certainly isn't. Doing SWAP in the embedded flash is a
bad ideia but there's an SD card slot and having the XO crashing all the
time is a worst case scenario - it may be a compromise in Africa but not in
the least developed country.
There's no stylus support yet, there's no view source working(AFAIK) and the
wireless range isn't as awsome as announced. My mother has an Acer One
which, apparently, has a significantly better wireless signal, at least from
small experiences, I haven't messed with it much, it's an initial impression
- which for most people is the one that matters.
Worse is the battery life, I can't get more than 3 hours out of my XO and
all seems fine with the battery. If I was to heavily depend on the 24 hours
touted(when not even 24 in suspend), I would be very disappointed, let alone
6 hours which I also don't get. Experimental results isn't something that
the project should be shouting about all the time - that's just vaporware.
Worse, it makes the OLPC Foundation loose credibility as a whole. No company
can be constantly over promising and underdelivering, let alone a non-profit
Currently, aside from the screen and mesh networking, you're loosing by big
points in all the rest. The advantages the XO still has are things that
don't matter for most potential buying governments, the ones who have the
big bucks.
I don't know where the foundation got the numbers in the first time, but 50
million laptops was far from anything that can be achieved. Especially
without retail availability of a $170 laptop. IMHO, or the XO-1 has retail
availability soon, that can(finally) bring that number to the desired
target, or you eventually loose out to Intel (with dire consequences). After
all, retail availability has been bringing production costs down for them.
Either you make it unprofitable for them or they make it unfeasible for you
to follow the vision.
You can't expect most people to pay $399 for a laptop (spectacular for third
world countries) of no (or limited) usefulness for a regular person. Not
with faster netbooks available at $199 (have you seen an acer one
booting???) - not everyone is so good at their heart to give one away, when
they can save $199 for themselves. Not everyone knows that your battery
lasts four times more, that it costs only $25 to replace, that all parts are
cheap, if they ever break! That doesn't matter for most people, even though
they should, and that leaves the XO in a competitively bad position. And
that's what you should also talk about, nowadays everyone knows they're
ripped off in their laptops, iPhone, PSP, whatever battery, that's part of a
good image that the project can benefit from, if retail availability ever
Python is killing the XO, what's being done in that regard? The $100 laptop
will always be hardware limited, how can python be a benefit and not a
*huge* burden? I for one can't get my head around that.
I got my XO to help someone also, if I didn't, I would have bought a PSP, a
DSi, a Eee 701, something cheaper with wireless. All I wanted was a smaller
wireless device with good battery life to read books, browse the web and
little more. This could've come cheaper but I like my XO - I already knew
how underpowered it would be.
I could also go on and on of what's about great about the XO, and there's a
whole lot, but that's not something that can be improved, that's already
great as is, and you know what it is!
What's bad is what needs to be improved, to be talked about, it's necessary
to fix the rest so there's nothing left hampering a bright future for the
machine, and for the project.

Best regards,

                            Tiago Marques
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