Battery and boot-time
Battery life is good. The XO ran an average of just over three hours in three separate tests with the screen on maximum brightness and in continuous use. This is comparable to the Eee. The system gave no on-screen warning before halting, but the battery icon on the case turned red about 20 minutes before shutdown. According the OLCP Wiki, the battery should last 3-5 hours, and OLPC is= working on software updates to improve this.
The XO takes its time booting. It takes about 1 minute 42 seconds to boot the Fedora Core 7 OS and Sugar UI, compared to about 22 seconds for the Eee. It boots to the Home screen, which is used to launch and terminate applications, and is headed Activities.
Next up, let's see the radical new GUI - and find us some wireless.
The center XO represents the laptop. If the mouse is hovered over it, a menu pops up to shutdown or reboot the system. The immediate area around the XO is called the Activity Circle, which serves as a task list. A single click on the icon will switch to an activity. To shutdown an activity, mouse over the icon and it will give an option to resume or close the program. The space occupied by icons in the Activity Circle also gives a very rough idea of how much system memory is remaining. There's no way within the GUI to tell exactly how much memory is available, but the online manual warns: “Take care not to fill the circle."
The bottom icon on the task list is reserved for the Journal, which is a combined activity log and file manager. The Journal is always running. More on this later.
Below the Journal are icons showing battery life and wireless signal strength.
The black border around the screen is called the Frame. The top part represents places: left to right, the Neighborhood (all wireless access points, and other XO laptops), Group (eg. a child's classroom), Home and Activity (the last used application on the Activity Circle). There are handy shortcuts to all places, plus the Journal, along the top row of the keyboard.
The Frame is always visible on the Home screen. It can be invoked in any other screen or activity by mousing to any corner of the screen, or pressing the open rectangle key on the keyboard.
The right side of the Frame shows the XO laptop user, and any other users the child is collaborating with.
The bottom row is used to launch activities. Invitations from other users to join shared activities will show up here too.
The left side of the Frame shows items copied to the clipboard. Hovering the mouse over a clipboard icon shows the options to Remove, Open, or Add to Journal.
Next page: Wireless
Eee PC FTW.
Maybe what they should do is ruggedize/childproof a low end EEE PC instead, or just rework the installed software. As much as I dislike the fact the EEE PC base 'nix is Xandros, it does work quite well.
It sounds like the bundled software on this OLPC is far from ideal.
Read the "Case Study" of Arahuay Before Opinionating
As posted by "Jansen":
I find it impressive in detailing the XO's impact, but it also highlights the importance of structural preparation and support within the country receiving the XO's. There has to be some kind of educational infrastructure and context in which to integrate the XO. These machines cannot just be "thrown" at the students in hopes something magical will happen - it does take supporting effort, and it seems Peru is making that effort, as well as providing valuable feedback to OLPC to improve the XO, which it seems to have taken seriously.
My wife teaches first grade at a North Carolina inner-city school, and had her eyes opened a bit as to what "underprivleged" means in a non-American context. She has kids on welfare with no parental interest (or often even presence) who would be considered "wealthy" by the Peruvian kids who have received XO's with a great deal of gratitude and keen interest.
I doubt a number of her students would be nearly as appreciative or motivated by an XO because they have been spoiled by ready access to technology for purely entertainment purposes even if they don't have decent housing/clothing/medical care/etc by (US "standards"). It is all a matter of context.
We have ordered an XO with the "Give One, Get One" program to see if it could be of use in her context. I can provide the Linux support, and she uses Mint Linux at home on an almost constant basis (strictly as a "Gnome end-user" ;-), so it should be "interesting".
Think outside the box, but focus on the objective here of bringing the enabling technology to those who have not had any such exposure before. The Arahuay example is very instructive in how much can be accomplished when done right. It remains to be seen how sustainable the effort is, and how well it can be replicated in other locales. It needs CONSTRUCTIVE criticism to succeed, and not just nay-saying based on pre-conceived notions.
I maintain the effort is *useless* without proper support -- training, maintenance, reposition, content creation in Portuguese -- do you trust our government to do it? Without it how is it going to reduce the digital divide?
It is just yet another waste of money from a government that likes to be seen doing things.
xjy got it right -- solving illiteracy is way more important. Ability to learn and use knowledge is a far more effective tool for citizenship than a shiny nifty probably-unsupported toy.
Politics not technology
Supplying technology like this is a charity solution. The problems facing the people in exploited countries are political, and can't be solved by charity. However, the impact of any useful technology, however it's acquired - like pens and paper, or literacy - in a fertile political setting can be explosive. Brazil is a perfect example of this, with excellent theory and even some practice in place for getting the most out of the desire of poor people to empower themselves. Like Freire's work.
Like China, Brazil could easily design and manufacture its own solutions to technological challenges. But to do this it would need to throw out the multinational leeches (who try and threaten workers in Sao Paulo with "outsourcing" their jobs to the poor north-east of the same country), and repudiate its fake debts to the imperialist banks. While Lula is president this won't happen, and Brazil will just be another India. Damn it all, haircuts cost you more in Sao Paulo than they do in f**king Epsom.
The Amazon isn't a puddle in the street, but charity would like us to see the problem of international poverty in that way. Fortunately the people on the sharp end of imperialist gouging are more realistic about charity than those of us in the first world who just get ground down by the blunt end.
Re: We should be ahsamed
Soif you really ARE from a country where the XO is meant for,why the feck should you be saynig "we"???
Ooh, yeah. I loce the smell of fresh MS astroturf in the morning...