Wednesday, January 7, 2009

OLPC in 2009

Is it just me or has this blog seem to be in more of a sate of reacting to other work, rather producing its own lately?

I've been dwelling on a few things lately, as one should at the start of a new year. One of them is my involvement with OLPC. This article here (Our One Laptop Per Child Hopes for 2009) hits on a lot of what OLPC has been able to do last year, but also points out where they need to move forward.

Perhaps rightfully so, he starts off with Sugar - as I myself will. From my first encounter with the OS - trying pathetically to figure out what I was doing with that ridiculously tiny keyboard and mouse - to writing guides on how to use it, I have to say that overall I'm happy with Sugar. Version 8.2 was yet another milestone that I was pleased with, but my biggest gripe with Sugar is that I was never able to get a few key features to work. Mainly getting two or more of the XOs to 'talk' to each other. Also getting the XOs online at times is merely frustrating. I would love to see Sugar improved in those two areas, since wireless communication is a principal need of the XOs.

Next up is the design. Ever since I first got my hands on the XO, I was quite impressed with how it looked and I'm not alone - almost everyone finds the machines to be engaging just my the mere sight of them. One of my wishes for OLPC is to make the two stylus areas surrounding the track pad actually usable. As of now - as far I know - there hasn't been software that took advantage of their presence.

Continuing with the subject of the XOs' design, some of you may remember the conceptual designs of the next XO and I really hope to hear some news about bringing those plans to life this year. However, I remain a bit sceptical on how those plans can be well done and still stay in the same price range as the ones we have now. With more information released, I along with the rest of the community can determain for ourselves if they would really be able to succed.

The last thing I want to hit on is the software. When I was at NECC back in 2007, I was asked by a teacher if she should try and get the XOs for her students, or if she should go with the Classmate or any other netbook. The best I could tell her was that if her students were in elementary school, then the XOs were a great choice, however reaching up to the middle school and high school age ranges, another choice maybe better to go with. I said this because I saw as the XOs geared to those younger age ranges. The thing is with that is doing so limits the usefulness of the computers and creates a stigma of being a 'child's tool'. What I would love to see this coming year is the XO having more mature learning software for older adolescents. The (somewhat) recent addition of Microsoft Xp being implimented on the machines may allow for such a thing, no matter how painful it was to watch that deal be set in place. Expanding to at the very least middle schoolers may be what allows the XOs from being stomped out by the competition.

All in all, I can't see my participation with MOUSE in regards to the OLPC ever really changing. Though I'm at a lost for how to further my involvement at the moment, I'm sure I'll be able to come up with something in the upcoming months.

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