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Discussion Starter #1
Disclaimer: Those of you that are more tech savvy then me probably know a lot more about this thing.

I saw a commercial on Speed for the "Give one, get one" laptop program from OLPC (One laptop per child). They are a nonprofit that has developed a laptop (the OLPC XO) which is intended to be inexpensive but will withstand the harsh nature of a 3rd world country. It is programmed with open source code, so you can't use Microsoft software. But, it looks like it could be a good electronic companion for the mototraveler who wants to surf the web or send emails. It has no moving parts, can withstand high heat, has low battery consumption, wi-fi, a sealed keyboard and even an available hand crank charger or solar charger (though I don’t think comes with either). One big down side is no support is available. If it is as durable as promised, it might just be a good devise to keep in the topcase?

Apparently, they weren’t going to make these available to the general public. But now they are doing a promotion where you buy one for you and donate one to a child in an impoverished country. It's about $425 shipped. I know you can almost pay for a Zumo with that kind of money, but half goes to charity (and is deducatable). It sounded like a good cause to me and an interesting toy to have, so I ordered one. It also comes with a year of T-Mobile hot-spot access for free. More info is available at http://laptopgiving.org/en/index.php.
 

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sounds like a perfect on the road handy toy. The one problem i see is pictures. I guess you could use the SD card for storage and upload from there to a web storage account etc.

Once you get it ... I would also be very interested in your report on this little laptop!
 

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I ordered one as well, but hadn't thought about it as a moto-friendly item - interesting idea, Shaun.

It's using an open-source OS and apps, so you won't be putting any of your favorite Windows or Mac software on it, but it appears to be a version of LINUX. I'm betting you'll start seeing all kinds of user-produced software in coming months/years.

I have been a fan of Nicholas Negroponte since he wrote 'Being Digital'. I participated in the 'donate one/get one' program mostly to play with the device and see what they came up with. I was figuring I'd donate the one I got to a local kid's charity. But now you've got me thinking...
 

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I love that assumption that children in third world countries have access to wifi.
What is the definition of a third world country? Canada?
 

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I love that assumption that children in third world countries have access to wifi.
What is the definition of a third world country? Canada?
Wifi also allows them to communicate with each other, as well - so they can easily trade files, etc. They can set up their own little networks.
 

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The built-in networking of the XO allows kids within a radius of each other to network -- if ONE person within that mesh has WIFI access, then all the kids in the mesh can share the WIFI access. Very cool.

Giving kids these laptops is roughly what it meant for our parents to give us dictionaries... though in this age, the laptops can open the kids to vast new worlds.

Here's the New York Times article reviewing the laptop.

This is a Xmas gift with tremendous heart -- weather you "Give One Get One" or just Give One.
 

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OK now you've got me thinking...

I might just buy one of these during this deal. The question is what software would we WANT on such a device?

I have an Vehicle log book application (Velobo) that I've written and use on my handheld linux PDA. I'm thinking it would be just as nice on that device. I would have to change from using Qt to Gtk but it's already written in Python and uses Sqlite3 for a DB backend. My app logs refueling and maintenance. It already has all of the scheduled service entered in from the manual for a DL650 and a DRZ400s.

Simple tools shouldn't be that difficult to create. Something like GPS mapping software would be great, but probably unlikely. Being able to download from a Garmin probably isn't out of the question. Anything that can be done with gpsbabel should be possible.

It would be a win for me if it could view PDF manuals, browse the web, get and send email, and allow me to program in python. The only trip I've taken that was long enough to consider taking a laptop was my 10 days tour of Nova Scotia 2up. I did have my pda with me, but I'm not sure I had room for even this little laptop??
 

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The Asus eee (pronounced simple as a single "e") is is a bit of a break-through machine -- and in the context of the US market, probably far more appropriate for a "moto-travel-notebook."

In reading reviews of the little sucker, it's apparent that by using open source code, the machine rather is damn quick despite humble specs.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I got my OLPC XO on Friday and figured I'd post an update. My first impression of the thing is that it's small, but seems really well made and feels durable. I was surprised how heavy it is for the size. It certainly feels like it will withstand the rigors of less than delicate use (kind of like my Wee).

I can't say yet whether it'll be the perfect moto-travel laptop. Out of the box, it is not very user-friendly, with only two sheets of paper as support. There is a bit of information on the web, but it’s not easy to navigate. The software's not intuitive for the Windows user, but it’s not difficult to use. I’ve managed to surf the net a bit and send a web based email. It was designed for educational use which is pretty obvious from the software that’s preloaded. The programs (or Activities as they are called) are more like lessons for kids then tools for adults. There does seem to be a large group of fans online that are chomping at the bit to get their XO and update it regular use.

The bottom line? I’m glad I bought it. I still think it is a good cause and it will be an interesting toy to play with. I’ve always liked messing with things to see how they work and the xo welcomes you to do that. I imagine, over time, user developed software will surface that will allow users to turn the device into a useful little laptop. But it will never rival a full-on PC or Mac notebook.

As I get more time to play, I'll let you know how it evolves.
 

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As a result of this thread, we placed an order for an Asus EEE -- which we received about three weeks ago.

Also Linux based, the OS is pretty straightforward, allowing easy access to the rudamentaries of computing, especially web access. The small keyboard is a challenge, as is the screen. At $400 and 2lbs, however, the laptop is proving itself indispensible -- it has displaced our 15" Compag and offers everything we need.

EEEuser.com
 
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