Screaming In Digital: XO Laptop Meets Heavy Metal

olpc heavy metal

Wayan thought I should field test the XO laptop I won on OLPC News in the pit of the upcoming Don Dokken/Queensryche concert.

After all, fellow Queensryche fans were the reason I had his XO - they stuffed the contest ballot that won the XO (In interests of disclosure, I did tell him about my rocking of the vote before he awarded me the xo). I told him I'd try to get pictures of the band and the XO on the internets.

My concert was a game-day decision for me, based on weather. My hotel partners decided not to go, but I found other fans willing to split a room with me. Me: "I'll bring my XO." Him: "Cool; I'm bringing a book on Linux." The world of heavy-metal fandom has gotten much more sedate since I've gotten older. Apparently, we want to rock and roll all night and code every day.

XO Advance Planning

As I packed and left quickly to avoid the incoming sleet, I didn't really do much XO advance-planning. I threw it in my laptop backpack and drove, leaving my much-beloved Gateway 4026 at home for the first road trip in recent memory. I worried about the pack in the land of general admission, where you can find yourself visiting with nice couple from across the country or end up standing between two large beer-bottle-brandishing men as they threaten to kill each other. Both have happened to me at Queensryche concerts.

A backpack would put my XO where I couldn't see it and where back-riding perverts could crush it into my spine. I wished for a strap to clip to the XO so I could wear it over my shoulder, but at the venue, I discovered that the XO fit nicely in my purse. ROCK!

I found myself the first one in, grabbing spot on the rail. Double ROCK! It was 6:30. Opening act was to play at 8. Queensryche not till 9. The XO may be light, but not weightless. I cheated on the pit test -- I found a place on the other side of the rail to hang my purse. It was not for lack of faith in the XO's hardiness - it was lack of faith in my own.

olpc queensryche
LesleyT and a new XO fan

"What's with that thing?" people asked. I explained the best I could over the cheers and whistles and roadies tuning guitars.

Rocking the XO

Queensryche took the stage, choosing pieces about computers as 2 of the 3 first songs, which made me flat out laugh, considering the green machine that kept getting banged against the barricade below. Screaming in Digital, a mid-80s sci-fi dialogue between a computer and creator (think 2001's Hal with badass guitars), will now forever make me think of the face and voice of the Speak application.

Four sweaty hours from when I'd first taken the rail, I was upstairs in the venue's lounge, waiting for the band to appear. I'd scored a meet and greet from the fan club and was determined to get a shot with a band member and Wayan's XO. Restless, waiting for the band, I decided to do more field testing. I took out the XO.

Fellow fans stared at me. "What the hell is that?" I had printed off Walter Bender's XO promotion cards to hand out but had forgotten them in my room. Oh well. The camera on the Record activity was useless in the shadows of the lounge, but did better when pointed at the stage below.

Queensryche came out. I fawned like the fan girl I am at heart and used the Record activity to snap the a rather dark photo of Mike Stone, guitarist, and fan Bobby. Michael Wilton, the guitarist, and I discussed the XO and OLPC a bit, the best we could in the middle of a meet-and-greet.

olpc queensryche
LesleyT and another XO fan

I found my camera-wielding friend to take photos of band members, me, and the XO. I also used Write to jot down phone numbers of fellow Rychers. Useful. Easier than trying to program them into a cell phone.

XO After the Party

Back in the hotel room I shared with two fellow Rychers, they uploaded photos to their laptops and I did yearn a little for the ease of my Gateway. Exhausted, I didn't even try to figure out how get my XO photos from my friend's SD card. As I started to type, I struggled with disappearing text whenever I imported the photos from Record.

But I couldn't remove the photos -- trying to highlight and hit erase would shut down Write, leaving any edits in the sugar interface where I couldn't retrieve them. Google docs was not an option -- we didn't spring for the wireless in the room and I haven't figured out if I my HTC Apache Pocket PC 6700 will act as a modem for the XO yet. I'm not sure yet whether the XO will be able to take the place of my Gateway when I travel.

So, all in all, the XO passed the pit test, although to be fair, as we sat in the hotel room, all in respectable p.j.s, taking advil and putting on breathe-right strips, I realized we're not really the sex, drugs, and rock n roll crowd one might have expected. The XO was shielded through most of the concert, although I have faith it would have stood up to the sweaty back-riding strangers at other shows. I refuse to regret the crowd was well-behaved at this show -- perhaps a much younger tester should take the XO on a stage dive.

Ryche fans are a diverse group and not fazed by much. Fan with a rubber chicken? Fan dressed as a nun? No problem. But my little green machine did cause a stir. And while I was too tongue-tied to give the band the OLPC pitch and try to get some sort of endorsement, they tend to be a very socially-aware group. Bringing the XO to their attention and the attention of their fans can only be a good thing. So the mission succeeded at least on the publicity front.

LesleyT is exploring assisitve technology with her XO laptop. Interested? Join the ATXO User Group and expand the OLPC impact.


That sounds like a great time! :)

Make sure that you email this link to the band's website and to any of your fellow fans who asked you about the XO and provided contact information!

Hey, we had a guest post a few days ago from the creator of Flat Stanley. Maybe there can be an XO version of that -- places where we've brought/used an XO. This post is a good start. :)

Wayan gave away his XO for a while?? Wayan? And encouraged the lender to take it to heavy metal shows???

wow. This is unbelievable...

This is great.. no, I don't own an XO but I've had two calls this week from new owners needing a little Linux orientation.

At my blog I'm suggesting that LUGS and Linux folk in general should volunteer for supporting these if they can. That will help the future success of this project AND help evangelize Linux in general.

LesleyT, it is so fun to read what you write. Nice work all around!

Oh, the people in the pictures --
1. Michael Wilton guitar god from Queensryche

2. Geoff Tate -- lead singer from Queenryche

credit where credit is due -- i don't believe the user with forum id "Bender", who created the OLPC promotion cards, is acually Walter Bender, of the OLPC project. i was confused at first as well.

There's the sales pitch for the XO:

> As I packed and left quickly to avoid the incoming sleet, I didn't really do much XO advance-planning. I threw it in my laptop backpack and drove,

The computer that fits into your life, not the other way around.

>credit where credit is due -- i don't believe the user with forum >id "Bender", who created the OLPC promotion cards, is acually Walter >Bender, of the OLPC project. i was confused at first as well.

oops! Sorry man!

>The computer that fits into your life, not the other way around.

HAH! And my purse!

=Bender= is actually David Bender. *grin*

It's funny, because I go by "Bender" to keep from getting confused with all the "Davids" out there. Go figure I get mistaken for another "Bender"!

No worries - I'm thrilled that folks are finding the promotion cards useful and are actually using them!

Link to promotion cards:

= Bender =

As a longtime Queensryche fan and editor of a e-zine about the band (appropriately titled Screaming in Digital), I got a real kick out of this article - not least because there's an OLPC (from the Give 1, Get 1 initiative) sitting not 8 feet away from me!

It'll soon be in the hands of my daughter, who has thus far only met Mike and Mike (Messrs. Wilton and Stone), but who, last time I checked, was a fan of Scott Rockenfield, since he gets to bang on lots of drums, and banging on lots of drums is an activity supported or endorsed by kids everywhere. :)

SHAG! I hope you read this! I've been trying for MONTHS to reregister on the newly ressurected scream site but it won't let me!!!! (I've run into you under my various 'net incarnations but not in a few years. I've never been smart enough to pick a consistent username)

I debated really heavily on using Screaming in Digital as my title because of my love for SiD when it used to appear on my vax terminal in the early 90s, but in the end, I decided to go for it, since the band DID perform that, Welcome to the Machine, and NM156 as their first three songs.

Dude, drop me a pm or email or something so I can get onto

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