Installing the Helix-based Watch and Listen activity allows both MP3 and OGG files to play, but not streaming audio. It doesn't support playlists, despite having buttons for previous and next track.
The Fedora Core Linux installation includes the Totem media player, but it's not integrated into the Sugar UI or Journal. It also doesn't include MP3 or AVI codecs. The OLPC Wiki claims this is for legal reasons, but why can they include a MP3 codec for Etoys and Watch and Listen, but not Totem? They also observe that some codecs are legal to distribute in some countries and not others, so the codecs installed will vary by country.
A couple of days after this review was finished, the XO started acting... well... wonky. Typing produced weird behavior such as the screen rotating, apps closing and the GUI restarting - which made the laptop useless. The BIOS diagnostics have a visual keyboard map which showed that the ALT key was coming on at random times. This is a known problem, and OLPC recommends that owners RMA their laptops.
I called for an RMA number and after a half hour on hold, was told it could take up to a month to fix, plus 2-4 weeks shipping, but keyboard issues typically had faster turn around times. This raises some questions about support: will the 30-day warranty be extended after repairs, or for customers who develop the problem after the warranty expires? What about laptops already shipped to third-world countries? OLPC shouldn’t be faulted for a batch of bad keyboards, but how it handles the warranty will be telling.
There's a lot to like about the XO laptop. It's tough, it's great as an eBook reader, it has a big (for its category), high resolution screen. It runs silent and cool, has good battery life, and the clean design of the Sugar interface is easy to use.
But several areas need work.
The browser should be replaced by Firefox, and the Journal needs to support folders to match how people actually organise their work and play. Multimedia performance needs to be improved, which can hopefully be done through software. The XO needs a unified media player that supports all media types, along with playlists, and should be integrated with the UI.
Most of these changes come down to the OLPC organisation placing more emphasis on real-world usability and less on their ideals of a perfect interface. If they can manage to do this, the XO laptop could be a great tool for learning and play.
Brian Hurley has been a system administrator since 1984, and involved in internet radio since 1999. He lives in Detroit, Michigan.
The OLPC XO laptop
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...