Updating the XO

Submitted by Jon on Mon, 04/14/2008 - 13:50

I updated my OLPC from the shipped build 656 to the release candidate for the muh-anticipated Update.1, here's what I did and what happened:

  • from a root terminal, olpc-update candidate-703

How low-cost portables can compete

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 04/10/2008 - 11:03

Wayan at OLPCNews.com has an article up on what he's terming "3P computing" (Power, Price, Performance). Some of the commentators and myself would also add "Portability" to the list.

More on Low Cost Laptops

Submitted by Jon on Wed, 04/09/2008 - 20:09

Slashdot's wading in to the discussion on what is a low-cost laptop and what features should it have. At least this time no one's calling me a child hater.

DC International Development Events Calendar

Submitted by Jon on Tue, 04/08/2008 - 17:42

Big thanks to GWU's Organization for International Development for importing their events calendar into google calendars. I was getting pretty close to doing that by myself.

Now, if SID/W and World Affairs Council would do the same, I'd be scheduled for life!

Innovation is not adding more of the same

Submitted by Jon on Mon, 04/07/2008 - 16:51

You might say that I've at times been critical of the OLPC project, but rarely do I have anything bad to say about their actual technology. Intel has a new hardware revision out for their Classmate, and it reveals that while they get the implementation angle, they continue to miss the innovation needs:

Intel Corp. unveiled new features for its line of low-cost laptops for schools Wednesday, adding bigger screens and more data storage capacity as the chip maker ratchets up its rivalry with the One Laptop per Child organization, which sells a competing machine.

Well, admittedly, the new screen is nice, since their old screen was really tiny, but where are the much more relevant features of dust and dampness resistance, being able to read the screen in full sunlight, and rugged construction designed to get past the challenges of the developing world? Competing on screen size and harddrive space is what got us to the current state of bloated, heavy, overheating computers today, and it'd be a great thing if we competed on innovation instead of agglomeration in the low-cost laptop market. I, at least, want to see the market for ultra-portable, low-cost, low-power, reasonably-high-function laptops expand, and not merge into merely an ultra-portable market.

Good People Day 2008

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 04/03/2008 - 22:45

I like the good people day idea all about giving props where due. Since I'll be nose-down in work preparing for the upcoming Global Youth Service Day April 25-28, let me point out the amazing youth around the world who do the real work on GYSD as some people who rock. Last year we had over three million youth in over 100 countries taking up projects to improve their community -- and expect the same or more this year.

Twittering for Global Youth Service Day

Submitted by Jon on Tue, 04/01/2008 - 11:13

So coming up on 25th-28th of April is the 20th annual Global Youth Service Day, and I'm trying to see if I can do something fun with Twitter; like having youth from around the world send short SMS updates about their projects. I'm looking at various ways to include others without risking problems of needing to monitor the account for inappropriate content and so forth, so SMS-style JOIN GYSDs, #tags, TwitterMail, and so on.

TurnYourWorldAround's Connect-a-Kid and the OLPC

Submitted by Jon on Sat, 03/29/2008 - 03:13

Disclosure: I work at Youth Service America, where Tara Suri is a member of the National Youth Council, a collection of amazing young people who make the likes of most of us tired with just seeing the amount of good they get done on a daily basis.

I have to ask...

Submitted by Jon on Wed, 03/26/2008 - 13:36

To reveal the fathomless depths of my geek depravity, one Friday a month I get together with fellow alumni and current students of my International Science and Technology program and we have a journal club, where we've read some papers on a specific topic (last month was science policy and the presidential candidates, this month is genetically-modified food). It's a fun way to spend a Friday night, as it naturally ends up at a bar or restaurant for continued discussion.

Using the OLPC - Day 2

Submitted by Jon on Sun, 03/23/2008 - 15:52

Installing xo activities is a snap, up there with OSX's .dmg install process. Installing anything else can be a bit of a pain, as it's command line installation using RedHat's yum system (which at least has fixed dependency checking since last I used it (I started with RH5.2, then left Linux, then got back into it with Debian and have been a Debian/ubuntu user mostly ever since).

LiveBlogging my OLPC

Submitted by Jon on Sat, 03/22/2008 - 12:00

So I got my OLPC around 11am Saturday morning. Finally. Note: the FedEx AltRefTracking never registered that it was on its way, and I never go to the LaptopGiving Status that indicated that the laptop had been shipped.

Web 2.0 '08 Predictions Update

Submitted by Jon on Fri, 03/21/2008 - 14:02

I predicted in January that Facebook would "hit its limit. I predict some more ad snafus a la Beacon, and the 3rd party apps become overwhelming and all-too-reminiscent of MySpace.", and today the Sillicon Alley Insider predicts a Facebook decline: For some early users, the thrill is gone.

It's Late March, where's my G1G1 OLPC Laptop?

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 03/20/2008 - 11:44

One month ago today was the last time I heard anything from OLPC about my laptop, ordered back in December:

Rethinking the OLPC Distribution: A "Base of the Pyramid" approach?

Submitted by Jon on Mon, 03/10/2008 - 10:49

What would a "bottom of the pyramid" approach for the OLPC look like? While the OLPC vision is bottom-up and child-focused, their actual deployment has been top-heavy. There's occasional discussion about releasing the One Laptop Per Child XO laptop into the market to achieve a more bottom-up development, and the OLPC's original selling point to its manufacturers was that even though the profit margins would be slim, the market would be the next billion users (WSJ). So why not go all-in and focus on this record of success in the technology creation/diffusion realm, and apply it in the international development context?


Submitted by Jon on Fri, 03/07/2008 - 10:05

Disclaimer: If you take this post seriously, you need to relax.

UPDATE:There are some LOLPCs hiding away at lolnptech!

Negroponte stepping away from the OLPC helm

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 03/06/2008 - 10:27

Naturally, it failed. Nothing is that independent, especially an organization [...] staffed by highly individualistic industry visionaries from around the world. Besides, altruism has a credibility problem in an industry that thrives on intense commercial competition.

By the end of the Center's first year, Papert had quit, so had American experts Nicholas Negroponte and Bob Lawler. It had become a battlefield, scarred by clashes of management style, personality, and political conviction. It never really recovered.

Martin Langhoff and the XS-ive OLPC School Server

Submitted by Jon on Tue, 03/04/2008 - 03:50

The XS School Server list has been a hotbed of activity the past few weeks with management changes as well as some disgruntled people seem to realize that the XS Server is not quite what they were hoping for in terms of functionality, ease-of-use, or ruggedness; despite some goals in these areas.

Twittering for Good

Submitted by Jon on Fri, 02/22/2008 - 12:50

There's increasing buzz on using Twitter for non-profit goals; from the familiar sources of Idealist, NetSquared and of course Beth Kanter. It seems mostly cautious and curious at this point.

Fujitsu joins the tiny laptop market

Submitted by Jon on Sun, 02/17/2008 - 10:37

The new Fujitsu LifeBook u810 looks, frankly, a lot like the OLPC.

Slacktivisism for Fair Trade (Updated)

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 02/07/2008 - 09:46

My friend over at Esperanza en Accion in Nicaragua, has let people know that someone is attempting aland grab against a cooperative clothing factory, Nueva Vida, that'sone of her suppliers. Nueva Vida's supporters are asking that we email Nicaragua's first lady, Rosario Murillo, who has been "a strong defender of poor women throughout the country" asking for her support. They also ask that we forward the story widely so that others can do the same.

MS offers to buy Yahoo?

Submitted by Jon on Fri, 02/01/2008 - 10:06

Engadget is reporting that Microsoft has posted a formal offer to buy Yahoo (and by proxy, flickr, del.icio.us, and steer the development of Flock (...into the ground).

Google, step up your game

The OLPC's Stone Soup

Submitted by Jon on Fri, 02/01/2008 - 07:58

Birmingham, Alabama has had possibly the first of many rude awakenings worldwide as they realize that the XOs don't come with an Internet connection included in the price tag:

OLPC Learning Club DC: Tonight!

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 01/31/2008 - 10:51

Provided I can sneak out of work early enough to hit the gym and make it over; I'll be at Greater DC Cares tonight as they host an OLPC Learning Club event, including topics of OLPC laptops for social change, developing content for the OLPC XO and power options and accessories for the XO, as well as (mesh) networking.

I only wish I had my own XO to bring and play with!

Rubber, meet Road...

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 01/31/2008 - 09:01

The original goal for the G1G1 project was hoped to be around 40 million dollars, making for almost 200,000 "get one" laptops -- and they set that goal well; with a final count of $35M and 162,000 laptops donated (and another 162k sent to donors).

OECD on Web 2.0 and Copyright

Submitted by Jon on Wed, 01/23/2008 - 09:43

You normally don't expect such staid bodies as the OECD to go and start talking about Web 2.0 and user-created content (or "UCC" in their terminology), but then they go and create a huge report doing just that (Via DG):

Social Technology is also Social (in real life)

Submitted by Jon on Tue, 01/22/2008 - 12:52

Wired is running a story on how social networking technologies support, rather than diminish real-life networks of people:

Inside the XO-1 Laptop with Bunnie Studios

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 01/17/2008 - 05:32

Bunnie Studios (e.g. Andrew Shane Huang), who just finished his Ph.D at MIT's Project Ares group, has published an insightful review of the hardware design of the XO

A Review of One-to-One Laptop Programs in the USA

Submitted by Jon on Sun, 01/13/2008 - 11:29

Being the geek that I am, I got a copy of Mark Warschauer's latest book, Laptops and Literacy, having been a huge fan of his insightful commentary on the "digital divide" in Technology and Social Inclusion.

You might remember Mark from his New York Times article which he clarified here at OLPCNews, as well as his recent posting of a case study-like look at the Intel Classmate at the Newport Heights Elementary in Newport Beach, California.

Laptops and Literacy Overview

More on Intel and OLPC

Submitted by Jon on Sun, 01/13/2008 - 11:09

Even NextBillion.net has weighed in on the Intel/OLPC divorce and included the full interview with Negroponte, even as Slashdot dredges up last year's "scandal" when some other bloggers found out that Wayan's (former) organization had Intel as a partner, calling OLPCNews an astroturf, Intel-backed anti-OLPC blog.

News Update: Competitors have a hard time partnering

Submitted by Jon on Wed, 01/09/2008 - 16:39

The GeekCulture comic mashes up the OLPC/Intel spat with the well-worn, "heartfelt" Chris Crocker - LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE! video that made the rounds a few months back.

Computer Choices FAQ

Submitted by Jon on Tue, 01/08/2008 - 12:54

People often ask me, as a technology geek, what kind of computer they should get, so I'm putting this post together as a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) to address the most common things people ask about when they're considering a new system:

OLPC Give One Get One: A Learning Experience?

Submitted by Jon on Tue, 01/08/2008 - 12:26

Over at OLPCNews, Wayan's written a wrap-up of the Give one, Get one (G1G1) program by the OLPC Foundation to date, and its successes and shortcomings. Here's my two cents (actually now 5 cents due to changes in the post, system upgrades, and increases in the raw cost of nickel):

Web 2.0 '08

Submitted by Jon on Wed, 01/02/2008 - 10:48

A few predictions for what we'll see online in 2008:

Other Web 2.0 resources

Submitted by Jon on Wed, 01/02/2008 - 10:15

A recent thread of emails over on the 501 Tech Club DC email list brought more Web 2.0 resources to light. So in the spirit of sharing:

NetworkForGood has an excellent set of short articles on using social sites for fundraising.

http://www.cmswire.com/ Offers news on content management

Imported JonCamfield.org blogs

Submitted by Jon on Tue, 01/01/2008 - 16:21

Imported blog entries from MT3.2 blog on the pre-drupal JonCamfield.com via RSS/XML with FeedAPI and Feed API Element Mapper

Google Maps Mashup

Submitted by Jon on Mon, 12/31/2007 - 12:03

Change.org has a wonderful mashup of 501 c 3 nonprofits arranged on a Google Map, as an example of a Good Idea (tm) for Google Maps usage. You can start at Exhibit to begin creating your own mashup code!

Web 2.0 Guide for NonProfits

Submitted by Jon on Fri, 12/28/2007 - 11:35

A quick rundown of my recent posts looking at the value of using Open Source in combination with Web 2.0 tools for non-profits / NGOs and the like:

The Power of Open - an introduction to the economic background knowledge important to discuss how Web 2.0 and Open Source work (also discusses what Web 2.0 and Open Source mean).

Twitter - A sidetrack to peek at a new Web 2.0 service.

OSS and Web 2.0: The Natural Partnership of Peer Production

Submitted by Jon on Wed, 12/26/2007 - 08:19

In an earlier post I took you through some of my favorite desktop F/LOSS projects, and I've blathered on about the Flock browser separately. If you really want to embrace the social web, though, you should bring some of it home to your organization.

Immigrants take all the best jobs

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 12/20/2007 - 13:25

For example, I bet there's a long line of good ol' american workers who would love to have solid, agriculture jobs in Florida, like the one described in this article:

Write Once, Post Everywhere

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 12/20/2007 - 11:38

I've been dancing around how open source software, strong standards, and the various web 2.0 technologies actually help your organization out. So let me show a few examples. This blog entry, and in fact all joncamfield.com/blog entries get written once, here at this website.

Teens and Social Media

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 12/20/2007 - 10:57

Pew Internet and American Life Project has a new report out on Teens and Social Media; finding that girls are the leading content creators (excepting video posts), and:

Good thoughts on code bloat

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 12/20/2007 - 10:47

Steve Yegge writes on code bloat:

I recently had the opportunity to watch a self-professed Java programmer give a presentation in which one slide listed Problems (with his current Java system) and the next slide listed Requirements (for the wonderful new vaporware system). The #1 problem he listed was code size: his system has millions of lines of code. [...]

So I was really glad to see that this guy had listed code size as his #1 problem.

iPod shuffle, gtkpod, and winamp

Submitted by Jon on Wed, 12/19/2007 - 13:52

I just don't like doing things the right way, OK? The right way is boring. You don't learn anything. It's... it's just too easy. So I refuse to use iTunes with my new iPod shuffle (a Chronicka gift) (Chronicka is my new Christmas-Hanukkah Portmanteau). I also dislike iTunes' harsh treatment of my carefully named and organized files (I have a huge "electronica" directory -- in a perfect world, my music would all have quality idv3 tags and I wouldn't need that, but seriously).

So I'm using gtkpod on Linux and winamp on Windows. gtkpod works perfectly, but doesn't seem to automatically transcode my ogg files (not that winamp is doing that well, but I think once I get the LAME mp3 encoder working it should be better), and while it manages the Shuffle's playlist correctly, the interface is a bit kludgy for moving whole groups of songs around on the playlist. Even with multi-select, it only moves one song at a time.

So back to Winamp, both for my larger media collection (though that's transferable, at least temporarily, using my external HDD), as well as for a slightly less grumpy interface.

Winamp's built-in portable media plugin, however, is limited in what it can do. I mean, it's powerful, has an autofill based on playcounts/ratings, syncing, and so on .... but it can't create a customized playlist order -- everything goes in in alphabetical order by file name. Uh.... Not ideal at all.

Replacing the built-in iPod support with ml_ipod, an open source, higher-functionality version, basically just fixes this.

Who's to blame for a bad loan?

Submitted by Jon on Wed, 12/19/2007 - 10:16

A good friend of mine has condensed a lot of good, critical thoughts on lending -- from the subprime market to the World Bank, into one good blog post, riffing off of an exploration of the subprime disaster at salon.com.

A Better Browser II

Submitted by Jon on Wed, 12/19/2007 - 06:21

Hopefully you're enjoying Flock now. If you already had accounts on Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, and/or del.icio.us, you've seen how amazingly easy it is to integrate those tools so that your friends updates just pop up automagically in the "People" sidebar (you can also update your Twitter/Facebook status, and check to see if you have any special notifications from these sites at the same time!).

Vista Loses 2007

Submitted by Jon on Tue, 12/18/2007 - 12:14

All I can say is ouch:

It's just that Vista isn't all that good. Many of the innovations the operating system was supposed to bring--like more efficient file and communications systems--got tossed overboard as Microsoft struggled to get the OS out the door, some three years after it was first promised. Despite its hefty hardware requirements, Vista is slower than XP. ... We have no doubt Vista will come to dominate the PC landscape, if only because it will become increasingly hard to buy a new machine that doesn't have it pre-installed. And that's disappointing in its own right.

PC world certainly gives a bleak outlook for Vista. Can I recommend people jump ship and consider Ubuntu Linux or Mac OSX?

Actually, the entire article on the top 15 tech disasters of 07 is enlightening, tho a few are there just to incite debate (the iPhone? Not a disaster). PCWorld seems to be of the opinion (which I share) that Facebook and the social networking crowd are getting long in the tooth and in need of some low-level, seachanging improvements:
We got it. Making connections between friends is cool. Sharing photos and videos, even cooler. But it's all so... 2006. Haven't you got anything new to show us?

Here's a safe bet: Two years from now, 90 percent of these networks will be gone and their founders will be back working at Starbucks. I'll have a double mocha frappucino, please.

A Better Browser

Submitted by Jon on Tue, 12/18/2007 - 05:14

The problem I face most often when trying to show someone a new powerful open source tool is that they just can't believe that the things I tell them are possible. Microsoft has had such a vice grip on the everyday computer experience that it's akin to telling someone that while they've been walking their whole life, it's actually possible for them -- for anyone -- to leap up and start flying like Superman.

Twitter Account

Submitted by Jon on Mon, 12/17/2007 - 13:02

In case you hadn't noticed, I now have a Twitter account which you can follow, have SMSed to your cell phone, and so on. I wrote a longer entry talking about what Twitter is and can be. It's basically microblogging providing interoperability between IM, cell phones, and the web - which, if you think about it, is ridiculously powerful.