My wife doesn’t know this yet, and she’ll probably punch me, but I bought two laptops today. This purchase was based on a long-term, well-thought-out impulse buy. So what’s up? Well I’ll tell you and maybe you’ll buy two laptops as well. But you don’t have much time to get this kind of laptop. Oh and it’s a $400 direct hit on the wallet.
Over a year ago, I heard about an initiative called the “One Laptop Per Child” (OLPC) project created by a guy named Negroponte. His mission was to create a way to help educate children in 3rd world countries. He decided he could create a communications and learning device to do this. But he knew he’d have major challenges bringing this to fruition. A device would have to be electronic, but work with all the problems that poorer regions have. His idea became a laptop that would overcome as many of these difficulties. It would be low power and have a means to self power, with a hand or foot crank. It would be shock resistant, easy to use and a very open platform. His initiative grew to an organization and is working with governments to see about getting as many of these into schools as possible.
People, myself included have said that these countries need water and basic necessities, not computers. Not true. In fact, that kind of thinking is very one sided. You see, there are thousands or more villages that have school houses, they have systems in place where kids learn. But they can be given a great resource. I’m a bit concerned that this initiative will make the machines vulnerable to theft. This could be true, but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tried.
The organization originally was only going to build the laptops and supply them in bulk. But they decided that the demand was so strong that it would be a great idea to allow western countries get them too. But with a limit. There is only a two-week window which the laptops can be bought. And the two that I bought, I only get one of them. The other is a donation to somebody. After reading about the laptop, it appears to be something I can use and may even solve a problem I’ve had lately with a project I’ll be releasing in the next couple months.
I like being as philathropic as I can, but I’m fairly selfish too. I’m of course writing off half of this purchase as a charitable donation. The other half will be written off under my company, as it’s a work related expense for special projects I’m doing. In particular as a communications device as well as the tablet stylus features I’ll need.
Some really cool features of this laptop:
- Laptop and E-Book reader formations
- WiFi with mesh network capabilities
- Stylus writing area
- Linux Open Source OS
- View Source button to see code
- Gaming buttons
- Opera Browser for surfing net
- Low power use
- 3 USB ports
- 1 year free donated T-Mobile area WiFi (starbucks, cafes, airports)
There’s a lot more to it, and once there’s a hefty community here in the US, more things will be shared and configured among the techy and education crowd. Plus the world over using it will introduce more cool configurations and possibilities. If I can write articles from it in the car and on trips, it’s really valuable to me. It can also be a good platform to program learning games using flash for example. It might just be great to have in the living room to boot up and find out latest movie times.
If you want the best overview on this laptop, read David Pogue’s review in the New York Times and watch the embedded movie with the article.
This is a huge win of a purchase for me. I don’t know who’s going to get my 2nd laptop, but it’s an even bigger win for them. $400 is a lot of money and of course I won’t be eating for a few weeks. But how cool is it to contribute to a good cause, get a new gadget, change a few lives? It’s really cool damnit!