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Hardware Technology

New President for OLPC Organization 251

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the roll-the-dice dept.
haroldag writes "After Walter Bender's resignation as president of OLPC, Charles Kane enters to take his place as the new boss. Kane says 'The OLPC mission is a great endeavor, but the mission is to get the technology in the hands of as many children as possible. Whether that technology is from one operating system or another, one piece of hardware or another, or supplied or supported by one consulting company or another doesn't matter. It's about getting it into kids' hands. Anything that is contrary to that objective, and limits that objective, is against what the program stands for.'"
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New President for OLPC Organization

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  • Obligatory? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Rosebud...
    • No, something decidedly more sinister [wikipedia.org]...
    • Bite my shiny metal ass...
  • And "empowering" the next generation through educating them about the technology.

    Turns out it's just about getting toys to kids.
    • Direct quote from the summary:

      "Charles['Big Daddy'] Kane enters to take his place as the new boss. Kane says 'The...mission is...to
      get...in the hands of as many children as possible. Whether that...is from one...or another, one
      piece...or another, or supplied or supported by one...or another doesn't matter. It's about gett...in... it
      into kids' hands. Anything that is contrary to that...is against what the program stands for.'"

      Jesus, what kind of 'kane is being peddled to those impoverished youngsters?

    • And "empowering" the next generation through educating them about the technology.
      Turns out it's just about getting toys to kids.

      OLPC is about getting laptops in the hands of grade school kids. Learning about the tech is secondary to learning how to read.

  • "Whether that technology is from one operating system or another.."
    That sound you hear is a million One Linuxlaptop Per Child zealots so besides themselves they can barely type.
  • by camperdave (969942) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:19PM (#23278496) Journal
    Bender Resigned? I guess that means Flexo's in charge?

    Fry: Wait, hold on. I don't like the sound of that. Let's just go alphabetically.
    Leela: OK. First Bender, then Flexo, then Fry.
    Fry: Wait, let's go by rank.
    Leela: OK. First Bender, then Flexo, then Fry.
    Fry: Flexo outranks me?
    Flexo: That's "Flexo outranks me, sir"!
    • by nschubach (922175)
      That's alright, I wikied: Charles Kane

      Charles Kane: Charles was a teacher at Gordon Boarding school, where he taught Lara [Croft] the subject of history for two years. He has a personal interest in the old Iron Curtain countries and with the advent of glasnost seized his opportunity to visit the Eastern bloc whenever he could afford the time. He also helped Lara [Croft] out in her mission in Russia in 1995.

      That makes him the elder of a Tomb Raider!
  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:20PM (#23278506)
    The OLPC is never only about getting technology to children, at least that's not what I heard when it started. It was about building up the poorer nations with education and technology, not just "get the technology in the hands of as many children as possible."

    It was a mission to improve these nations and communities by making them competitive and independent.

    I guess Microsoft's billions can corrupt anything they want. It's now just about building markets for Windows.

    FUCK YOU OLPC!
    • by Gat0r30y (957941)
      Ah, MS going after that coveted impoverished 3rd world child demographic - classic strategy straight from Sun Tzu's Art of War. Oh wait, no that's stupid
      • by mlwmohawk (801821)
        MS going after that coveted impoverished 3rd world child demographic

        No it is trying to lock in its monopoly in countries where they have no penetration. Hoping that when/if they become prosperous, they do not escape the Microsoft monopoly.

        • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:56PM (#23278954)
          Microsoft doesn't care if they ever become prosperous enough to afford Microsoft software.

          It's the "barrier to entry" that concerns Microsoft. If the kids are given a laptop, then it is just up to them to learn to program with the FOSS tools for the FOSS environment that they've been given. The "barrier to entry" has been, effectively, removed. And NOT in Microsoft's favour.

          Microsoft wants to keep the "barrier to entry" just high enough so that Microsoft platforms look most appealing to anyone who manages to cross that barrier.
    • by plague3106 (71849)
      Huh? How exactly are laptops going to help build up poorer nations? So they can know everything and still not be able to use it because there are virtually no natural resources to use to build an economy?
      • by mhall119 (1035984)

        Huh? How exactly are laptops going to help build up poorer nations? So they can know everything and still not be able to use it because there are virtually no natural resources to use to build an economy?
        The point is that you can build an economy on information resources, not just physical resources. Take a look at India's explosive economic growth over the last decade.
      • by Romancer (19668)
        A natural resouce doesn't need to be physical any longer. The children that start out learning to program their own laptops to do what they want can become valuable assets to a nation looking to improve itself. Combine that with a dose of pride and the technology will go to them. Offices will be built and companies will invest in their economy to use the services of the people that can do the job. I don't hesitate to say that they might rival our local programmers in this area since they aren't growing up w
  • The Price Is Right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:23PM (#23278538)
    Whatever Nicholas Negroponte's price was, Microsoft seems to have found it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rbanffy (584143)
      I really wonder if there is anything Microsoft touches that doesn't get corrupted to its core.

      OLPC was about empowering children. Now it seems poised to be about giving flashy black-boxes to kids.
    • Yeah, a price like "keeping the company running." Or do you have some other clever way to pay all the employees and costs? I'm surprised they stayed up this long, I've no idea where they got the money.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jo42 (227475)
      The problem is that Nicholas Negroponte is only one person and OLPC is a small organization. When you have huge global monopolistic organizations such as Intel and Microsoft, which employ tens of thousands of people, you can afford to send out dozens or hundreds of them to run interference against OLPC at all levels over the world. Sooner or later they will wear OLPC down to nothing and thus continue their [evil] domination. If Google was worth more than a wet fart, they would get behind OLPC in one way or
    • by westlake (615356)
      Whatever Nicholas Negroponte's price was, Microsoft seems to have found it.

      It would be more honest - but less satisfying - to say that the market has met OLPC's price.

      That it is - or very soon will be - possible for the OEM to build a fully competitive educational laptop, pre-load Microsoft's Student Innovation Suite [microsoft.com] and sell it for less than the XO.

      You want Squeak? [squeak.org] You can have Squeak.

      The Windows platform demands no ideological or religious commitment whatever.

      You can load and run software under an

      • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday May 02, 2008 @05:38PM (#23280518) Journal
        It would be more honest - but less satisfying - to say that the market has met OLPC's price.

        That it is - or very soon will be - possible for the OEM to build a fully competitive educational laptop, pre-load Microsoft's Student Innovation Suite and sell it for less than the XO.


        Then why haven't they? The other laptops are still more expensive and have the wrong feature set. Why on earth would for-profit companies target the lucrative people with not enough money market? Remember, the OLPC effort is not a for-profit company.

        You want Squeak? You can have Squeak.

        What has that got to do with anything?

        The Windows platform demands no ideological or religious commitment whatever.

        Yes it does. It demands a commitment to NEVER be able to see the source code and find out how it works. It demands you agree to a commitment to never copy it and give it away. Perhaps it's a commitment you don't care about?

        You can load and run software under any license you chose. Without ever once being drawn into a theological argument over how many angels can dance on the head of a GPL pin.

        Ah, so you're Trolling! I should have guessed. Unless you're really so stupid that you believe that this is somehow not the case with Linux.

  • Wow, this attitude really sucks. Giving "technology" to kids means nothing unless you also teach them how to use and give them a reason to do so.

    Anyone can give a kid a laptop. In 5 years will the child be using that laptop to enrich her life, or will it be a nice heavy doorstop? Software and teaching will make the difference. OLPC used to be about that, but apparently it's just going to be a numbers game now.

  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:27PM (#23278596) Journal
    Why don't they use OS X? I seem to remember seeing an article here on /. that Steve Jobs had offered OLPC a version of OS X for free, would definitely be closer to Linux than Windows XP.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ShieldW0lf (601553)
      Why don't they use OS X? I seem to remember seeing an article here on /. that Steve Jobs had offered OLPC a version of OS X for free, would definitely be closer to Linux than Windows XP.

      That would be much better. You can't have kids running around with ball and chains that aren't trendy, or all the people in the chat rooms will tease them. What kind of an iLife is that for a child?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sentry21 (8183)
        Never mind the fact that OS X is built on large amounts of open-source software, and can play host to a large amount more; in contrast, vast amounts of open-source software and tools either don't work or don't work properly on Windows, even with Cygwin installed.

        It may not stack up to your ideals, but it's a damn sight better than anything Microsoft has to offer, even ignoring that OS X apparently scales down very well.
  • It's an education project, not a technology project. The point is not to get technology into kids hands. The point is to create a system for better education of the entire world's children. If it could be done with books, then so be it.
  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:36PM (#23278724) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    Negroponte says [...] "The mission is learning and children. The means of achieving that were, amongst others, open source and constructionism. In the process of doing that, open source in particular became an end in itself, and we made decisions along the way to remain very pure in open source that were not in the long-term interest of the project."

    Open source was not only a way to get cheap software for the laptop, it was also a means to enable constructionism. A key idea of OLPC, from the very beginning, was that children would have complete visibility into the software. At higher levels, Sugar and all of the OLPC applications are interpreted, so the "View Source" key on the keyboard allows for dynamic modification. At lower levels, of course, you need compiled code for performance (especially on the OLPC's low-power CPU), but with Linux kids who were interested in digging down to that level could.

    Abandoning open source means abandoning constructionism to some extent as well, since whatever closed-source binaries you use are opaque and unavailable for exploration. If industry buy-in is necessary to get the machines deployed, and if using Windows is the way to achieve that, then fine, but it should be done with a clear understanding of what educational goals are being damaged by the decision.

    "When I went to Egypt for the first time, I met separately with the minister of communications, minister of education, minister of science and technology, and the prime minister, and each one of them, within the first three sentences, said, 'Can you run Windows?'" Negroponte says.

    I had to laugh a little bit at that part. I mean, there's no way the OLPC is going to be able to run the common Windows software packages that I'm sure the leaders think are desirable. It just doesn't have the storage, RAM and cycles required by those heavyweights. But if you run Sugar and the OLPC apps on top of a Windows kernel you've gained nothing at all, functionally or educationally, and you've lost some educational value.

    Honestly, if Egypt is worried about teaching its kids to use Windows, then the OLPC is the wrong choice for them, regardless of what kernel it's running. They should focus on the Intel ClassMate. It's not as flexible or as cheap as the OLPC, but it is more powerful, powerful enough to run modern Windows applications, albeit slowly.

    • by stubear (130454)
      "Honestly, if Egypt is worried about teaching its kids to use Windows,..."

      Last I checked, teaching kids Linux was not the goal of this project either. Honestly, I'm getting a little tired of you OSS people whining about EVERYTHING Microsoft does. Ballmer takes a different route to work and you blame Microsoft for the Cuban Missile Crisis. Gates has a salad for lunch instead of a sandwich and all of a sudden Microsoft is to blame for worldwide food shortages.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by oever (233119)
        When Microsoft comes up with a cool project that is not meant to destroy all competition but to help people to learn to help themselves, we will not complain. However, Microsoft always works from the mindset that there can be only one operating system and only one company. They crush competition in the bud. Some competitors are allowed to live a bit to appease some governments that are not 100% under the companies influence.

        So if children in the development world are not brought up with this mindset, they m
      • Last I checked, teaching kids Linux was not the goal of this project either.
        No but their goal was to empower the countries and not make them dependent on outside help, this simply isn't possible with any proprietary operating system.
      • by swillden (191260)

        "Honestly, if Egypt is worried about teaching its kids to use Windows,..."

        Last I checked, teaching kids Linux was not the goal of this project either.

        WHOOOOOSSSHHHH

        That was the sound of my point going right over your head.

        Just for you, though, I'll try to make it simpler.

        • The goal is to teach lots of things, among them computer programming
        • Putting Windows underneath Sugar limits some of the programming education options. Unless, of course, Microsoft is willing to provide source code and permission to modify it and share changes?
        • Putting Windows underneath Sugar does not enable kids to learn applications that would be very useful on a more normal
    • Abandoning open source means abandoning constructionism to some extent as well, since whatever closed-source binaries you use are opaque and unavailable for exploration.

      So what? The purpose of the OLPC is to provide the kids (and their families) with access to the tools and information they require to improve their economic lot. From that point of view 'constructionism' barely makes the 'nice to have' grade.

      Open source was not only a way to get cheap software for the laptop, it was also a

      • by swillden (191260)

        Abandoning open source means abandoning constructionism to some extent as well, since whatever closed-source binaries you use are opaque and unavailable for exploration.

        So what? The purpose of the OLPC is to provide the kids (and their families) with access to the tools and information they require to improve their economic lot. From that point of view 'constructionism' barely makes the 'nice to have' grade.

        This statement is at odds with everything I read from the OLPC project, back to the very beginning, including from Negroponte. In everything I read, constructionism was crucial. Why? Because they recognized that the kids were essentially going to have to learn on their own. Few, if any, teachers were going to be in a position to be able to instruct them effectively, and most would not be able to pick this new technology and its ramifications up as fast as the kids.

        I'll readily grant that all that's

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Frenchy_2001 (659163)
      I mean, there's no way the OLPC is going to be able to run the common Windows software packages that I'm sure the leaders think are desirable
      Seriously, what is it with geeks and power? XP is 7 years old. It ran quite correctly on P3 with 256MB RAM, why would it NOT run on the OLPC? Turn down the effects and tune down the services that wont be used on this computer and you mat have a solid basis.

      I agree with the rest of the comment, by selecting XP over Linux, they are giving up some of the transparency and
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I think the parent's point wasn't just that XP wouldn't run all that great on the hardware, but that the apps that people typically associate with windows would definitely not run well, especially not on top of XP. Think more along the lines of Office.
  • by Evangelion (2145) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:37PM (#23278736) Homepage
    When I say that I hope this new president fosters growth within the OLPC organization.
  • Microsoft today announced a takeover bid for OLPC Inc. Management at OLPC is receptive to the idea and is negotiating a stock price that will ensure that its investors receive a fair value. "This is really the best outcome, because now we are all RICH! FILTHY STINKING RICH!" a company spokesman was quoted as saying.
  • "It's about getting it into kids' hands."
    Barf!
  • "get the technology in the hands of as many children as possible" is "technology" when you are given a black box and told how much you have to pay to stay on the upgrade path? Told you are breaking the law when you develop a competing product? Told...

    I thought OLPC was about using technology to help kids to learn technology so that they can do any number of things that technology can potentially offer them. I though that that was why Free software seemed to make so much sense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jc42 (318812)
      I thought OLPC was about using technology to help kids to learn technology so that they can do any number of things that technology can potentially offer them. I though that that was why Free software seemed to make so much sense.

      Well, apparently you thought wrong. By "learn technology" they didn't really mean to give the kids the understanding to develop their own computer industry. The technology that the kids are supposed to learn is using Microsoft software, so that their present and future masters wi
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      I thought OLPC was about using technology to help kids to learn technology so that they can do any number of things that technology can potentially offer them.


      OLPC was about that.

      OLPC is about something else now.

  • Rosebud (Score:2, Funny)

    by wootcat (1151911)
    Would his middle name be Foster? And does he want to give them technology-based sleds?
  • The source code button on the laptops. Those won't be very useful once Windows and it's "free" selection of closed-source apps jump onboard. "My button is broken" "No, that's just Windows"
  • ... stop bitching and contribute to the project. The release schedule gets met, or the competition comes in.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday May 02, 2008 @03:28PM (#23279340) Journal
    ... the mission is to get the technology in the hands of as many children as possible.

    I was under the impression that "the technology" included the source code. And "in the hand" included the ability to make improvements to it and build new things based on it (thus including an appropriate build, execution, and interpretation environment).

    If this is not included, it is not "the technology" that has gotten into the children's hands. Instead they hold a product of the technology, while the technology itself remains in the hands of a rich foreign elite.
  • by Gunark (227527) on Friday May 02, 2008 @03:40PM (#23279498)

    Whether that technology is from one operating system or another, one piece of hardware or another, or supplied or supported by one consulting company or another doesn't matter.
    What Mr. Kane seems to be missing is that software it not a commodity. So lightly dismissing all the nuance in this issue reveals flat out ignorance... this is the sort of thing that may lead to the OLPC's ultimately failure.

    For one, with each software platform comes a culture. Switching to Windows robs the OLPC of the much-needed innovation and freely-available talent attached to OSS. Most OSS developers just won't want to touch this thing, and with that dies much of the unrealized potential behind the OLPC -- without this, the OLPC is just another cheap, underpowered sub-notebook. It will almost certainly never move past its basic function, and as such can never become the disruptive technology it could have been.

    Think of where this could have gone... software designed to take advantage of the OLPC's mesh networking could have formed the basis for a new communication network in developing countries. Can you imagine the potential in terms of free speech, and free-market growth this alone could have had? (Free-market, in the sense that for example it could have allowed new ways to communicate about pricing and availability of local goods between villages and settlements)....
  • I intended to pick one up at Christmas, did not get around to it in time, was waiting for the inevitable re-introduction of the give-one-get-one program. Thankfully I can forget about that now and be $400 richer. Hmm, I think I will spend it on a Nokia n810 [wikipedia.org]
  • Short translation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by symbolset (646467)

    Stick a fork in OLPC. It's done.

    They were hoping for 100M units this year. They've reached 0.5% of that. Turning over the entire leadership team to corporate pawns and stripping out everything that makes the platform special is not going to help.

    With its social mission dead, I don't see any positive outcome for the product. I'll agree with the other poster who said it's an overpriced under performing subnotebook without the parts (including open systems) that made it special. With the market about to

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      Turning over the entire leadership team to corporate pawns and stripping out everything that makes the platform special is not going to help.


      The OLPC project may now have a long life ahead in its new rule, supported "charitable" corporate donations, operating basically as a notionally charitable marketing firm for certain large commercial software firms.

      So the change may help, just not help the people the OLPC project was started to help.
  • Hey (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alex Belits (437) * on Friday May 02, 2008 @04:25PM (#23279952) Homepage
    I got my XO laptop.

    I have ported Ubuntu Hardy on it. It easily runs Firefox and OpenOffice.org. [livejournal.com]

    I am working on an easy to install version, and missing controls for screen/power/...

    I went as far as making a Ubuntu-ish green gtk and icons theme [denver.co.us] to match UI colors with laptop controls.

    I am going to add a way to easily switch between screens running Sugar and "mainstream" window manager.

    This is pretty much the most "mainstream" laptop configuration imaginable. For any practical use on this laptop, educational or otherwise, it is already superior to anything that would involve Windows. Heck, I am POSTING FROM IT!

    If the goal is anything other than spreading the disease that is Windows, they can just take this configuration -- and I am willing to help in improving it.
  • Given that the G1G1 program was basically a charitable gift, I kinda feel like I should ask for my contribution back. I mean, I gave my gift to an educational organization, not a laptop manufacturing firm.
  • I contributed to the G1G1 program on the premise that this was an open source project, that kids would have complete "freedom to tinker," and that the XO had a "view source" button that would allow the source for all of the code in it to be inspected. That's what I thought I was "buying" with my donation.

    If OLPC never thought this was important to their project, they shouldn't have made such a big point of mentioning it in all of their public descriptions of the project.

    To have this happen within months of
  • New OLPC mission:

    the mission is to get the technology in the hands of as many children as possible.

    It used to be that Negroponte was always saying that the focus of the project was education, that the laptop itself, the software, the content were all means to that end, and getting laptops, or "technology" more generally, to people wasn't the goal, but a means to the goal.

    Now, the OLPC mission is, apparently, exactly what Negroponte used to deny it was: its a technology project, not an education project. Whe

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