Libya Reduces Gaddafi Foundation OLPC XO Orders

   
   
   
   
   
olpc Libya
Muammar al-Qaddafi
Do you remember the hype around One Laptop Per Libyan Child, the MOU between Muammar al-Qaddafi and OLPC? Do you recall that Libya was to buy 1.2 million OLPC XO's for $250 million dollars, or a total cost of $208 dollars per laptop?

Now that the price of the Children's Machine XO hardware has increased from $150 to $175, it seems that Libya might be rethinking exactly how many computers its going to buy. Reuters is reporting that:

Last week Nicholas Negroponte told Reuters in an exclusive interview that the Gaddafi Foundation had cut its order for the inexpensive laptops by 700,000 units to 500,000, possibly delaying the launch altogether.
And what did Nicholas Negroponte say? Here's the interview transcript from OLPC Talks:
Negroponte: Libya, interestingly enough, is entertaining giving its neighbor 125,000.

Interviewer: They ordered a million, didn't they? That was put out in the press release.

Negroponte: That was put out in the press release, but again press releases are worth..when the time comes, that is in August, we'll do a smaller amount in Libya.

Interviewer: What are you thinking?

Negroponte: 250,000

Interviewer: Oh, really?

Negroponte: And then 250 outside.

Interviewer: But Libya is going to pay for those.

Negroponte: Yes, at the moment the Khadaffi Foundation will pay.

Could Libya now be buying 500,000 laptops for $250 million, or $500 per laptop? Or has their investment in computers decreased also? And it's interesting to note that half of Libya's OLPC XO purchase will be donated to other countries. Is this Qaddafi's hope to be Africa's statesman?

Regardless, Libya is still interested in One Laptop Per Child and we're still waiting for a OLPC4Libya Comprehensive Implementation Plan.

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17 Comments

The OLPC project is being killed by the lack of answers.

Negroponte's only hope is to observe a 7-step recovery program that consists of

1. Talk to prospective clients in simple language that clearly answers their questions

2. Abandon the "constructivism" nonsense. If the hardware specs are real, this little computer might be equally attractive without the baggage.

3. Setup a REAL quick test that at least shows the world how the mesh network really works.

4. Publish a list of available content in the form of E-books. Telling people that you have "great applications that include Tam-tam, Squeak" or whatever crap is available will not get anyone interested.

5. Stop catering to geeks and begin worrying about real people with legitimate concerns: parents, teachers and politicians. They all share a very clear goal: they want a tool that will help kids with homework. They DO NOT expect or BELIEVE that the XO machine will make their kid into a programming guru. Their expectations are much lower.

6. Address REAL WORLD issues:

how can kids save their work at home and without an internet connection? How can they print at home? Can they install additional software?

7. Stop the hype.

Troy, I do not understand you points:

"1. Talk to prospective clients in simple language that clearly answers their questions"

The partners are governement officials and ministers. Do they require simple language?

"2. Abandon the "constructivism" nonsense. If the hardware specs are real, this little computer might be equally attractive without the baggage."

So you advocate to "sell" it as just a piece of hardware?

"3. Setup a REAL quick test that at least shows the world how the mesh network really works."

This is an official standard: IEEE 802.11s
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11s

You think the hardware doesn't work according to this standard? They DID deploy the laptops with full communicative functions. You think they hid that they didn't work in Nepal, Brazil, and Nigeria?

"4. Publish a list of available content in the form of E-books. Telling people that you have "great applications that include Tam-tam, Squeak" or whatever crap is available will not get anyone interested."

You mean, Brazilian, Nepalese and Libyian text books? But these are copyrighted by the respective companies/governements. How can the OLPC legally get at these books? And the programs you mention are not human excrements, but things children like. But Google has some book scanning options. Not exactly childrens study books though.

"5. Stop catering to geeks and begin worrying about real people with legitimate concerns: parents, teachers and politicians. They all share a very clear goal: they want a tool that will help kids with homework. They DO NOT expect or BELIEVE that the XO machine will make their kid into a programming guru. Their expectations are much lower."

So you advocate laptops that are out of the control of the children, parents, teachers, schools and governements? And you cannot do your homework with abiword? And you think learning how their OWN computer works is bad for children?

"6. Address REAL WORLD issues:
how can kids save their work at home and without an internet connection? How can they print at home? Can they install additional software?"

Save in the computer, there is spare room in the memory. Using the mesh if available. A printer is extra, I believe. And the supplies would be rather costly. But you should be able to plug in a printer in one of the USB ports. Maybe at a shop/school if needed. But as homework can be delivered over the network at school, printing needs might be reduced.

And your last question is odd given your arguments against Open Source in 5. Of course they can write, buy, download, or copy and install software. That was the whole point of chosing FLOSS in the XO.

"7. Stop the hype."

????? You are telling them they should stop to be so enthousiast that many of them work almost for free? They should put on grave faces?

Troy, maybe it is my non-native English, but I often have difficulty understanding you.

Winter

Winter wrote:

"Troy, maybe it is my non-native English, but I often have difficulty understanding you."

Don't worry, Winter. Most other people do get it, so it is no big deal...

Winter & Troy:

For being verbose commenters who trade views so often, I am still surprised that neither of you have joined the OLPC debate through a full post on OLPC News. I for one, would be interested in your opinions.

Might you direct your energy into a guest writer post? http://www.olpcnews.com/commentary/olpc_news/write_for_olpc_news.html

Hi, Wayan

Thanks for the invitation!

I'm preparing a post which I hope you will find good enough to publish. I'll need a few days, though.

It is always my pleasure to participate.

I was planning a "get-well plan" post, but Troy has said pretty much what I would say, and Winter has provided the essence of some peoples' objections. I encourage Troy to combine these into a post which carries his argument further by replying to the objections. This is how valid debate proceeds.

Now we're getting somewhere! The goal is to educate all readers and not simply to bash the opposition rhetorically.

#7 - STOP THE HYPE

From Walter Bender:

"If every laptop and desktop user in the world
switched to an XO right now, about 85 terawatt-hours of energy could be saved. The energy-bill savings alone could fund the outright
purchase of 50-million XO laptops. In addition, 50M barrels of oil
could saved, which is an additional US $500M in carbon-offset dollars,yearly."

Source:

http://mailman.laptop.org/pipermail/community-news/2007-May/000056.html

********************

That's the type of misleading statement that is sinking the OLPC project. Let me show you:

Let's assume for a second that the claim is true (I'd love to know where the numbers are coming from, though...).

Yes, if everyone switched today, those "SAVINGS" would come at a CATASTROPHIC COST in LOST PRODUCTIVITY, with everyone holding an essentially useless laptop (remember that most people don't buy computers to use TamTam or to become programming gurus, most people don't store files anywhere else, let alone Google's Gmail accounts, most people don't have kid-sized fingers, most people don't use 7-inch screens, most people...etc., etc.).

And to save time, I'll give this simple hint to those willing to argue that the XO is not less functional than a regular computer: Mr. Bender and the entire OLPC team are still using regular computers...

BREAKING NEWS!!!! BREAKING NEWS!!!!

Nigeria becomes first nation to officially join the OLPC project!!!!

Letter just received by OLPC Officers:

***************************************

Lagos, Nigeria.
May 15, 2007


Attention:
The President/CEO of OLPC Project

Dear Sir,

Confidential Business Proposal

Having consulted with my colleagues and based on the information gathered from the Nigerian Chambers Of Commerce And Industry, I have the privilege to request your assistance to transfer the sum of $47,500,000.00 (forty seven million, five hundred thousand United States dollars) into your OLPC accounts. The above sum resulted from an over-invoiced contract, executed, commissioned and paid for about five years (5) ago by a foreign laptop contractor. This action was however intentional and since then the fund has been in a suspense account at The Central Bank Of Nigeria Apex Bank.

We are now ready to transfer the fund overseas and that is where you come in. It is important to inform you that as civil servants, we are forbidden to operate a foreign account; that is why we require your assistance.

The total sum will be shared as follows: 70% for us, 25% for you and 5% for the development of a classroom integration plan for the XO laptop.

The transfer is risk free on both sides. I am a Constructivism Application Officer with the Nigerian National Education Ministry (NNEM). If you find this proposal acceptable, we shall require the following documents:

(a) your banker's name, telephone, account and fax numbers.
(b) your private telephone and fax numbers — for confidentiality and easy communication.
(c) your letter-headed paper stamped and signed.
(d) an advance sample of the XO machine

Alternatively we will furnish you with the text of what to type into your letter-headed paper, along with a breakdown explaining, comprehensively what we require of you. The business will take us thirty (30) working days to accomplish.

Please reply urgently.

Best regards

General Mugabi Ubontu,
head cf Schools Assistance Enforcement (SAE)

Troy,

I love your energy rebuttal - you're right, the OLPC is not meant to replace traditional computers and the OLPC team is not using XO's for their daily work. In fact, the increase in electricity usage as a result of XO computer usage at the OLPC scale is not insignificant.

On the other hand, if/when the instant suspend/resume power management features and power-sipping chip technology enters the commercial market, energy usage by computers should drop remarkably.

"Yes, if everyone switched today, those "SAVINGS" would come at a CATASTROPHIC COST in LOST PRODUCTIVITY, with everyone holding an essentially useless laptop(remember that most people don't buy computers to use..."

I see you're still on your evangelical anti-OLPC crusade, Troy :)


By far, most people (forget OLPC, or any other, developers) use computers for simple word processing, Internet browsing, emails and IMs - given its simplicity, power saving and dual display technology, it's safe to say OLPC would do those task for an average user at least as well if not better than most notebooks for a fraction of the cost. No wonder Quanta Computers are planing to release a notebook based on OLPC technology for a general public...

Now, Winter has made very good rebuttal to your points - how about a sensible post with a reply to Winter's points ?

Wayan wrote:

"On the other hand, if/when the instant suspend/resume power management features and power-sipping chip technology enters the commercial market, energy usage by computers should drop remarkably."

That's a very big IF, Wayan.

In any case, my point is that Bender's statement is quite misleading, because it assumes that he is comparing similarly capable systems. The ONLY reason the XO machine consumes less energy than any other computer is that the hardware is very limited compared to a regular unit. That's exactly the same reason my cell phone, running Windows mobile with Outlook, Internet Explorer, Excel, Games, etc., can operate on a fraction of the energy used by my desktop pc.

Delphi asks:

"Now, Winter has made very good rebuttal to your points - how about a sensible post with a reply to Winter's points ?"

Delphi,

Winter doesn't understand what I write, as himself confessed in his post. I believe this is true, because he confused the word "HYPE" with "ENTHUSIASM":

*********************
"7. Stop the hype."

????? You are telling them they should stop to be so enthousiast that many of them work almost for free? They should put on grave faces?
*********************

Another instance that shows his lack of understanding:

*********************
"6. Address REAL WORLD issues:
how can kids save their work at home and without an internet connection? How can they print at home? Can they install additional software?"

Save in the computer, there is spare room in the memory. Using the mesh if available. A printer is extra, I believe. And the supplies would be rather costly. But you should be able to plug in a printer in one of the USB ports. Maybe at a shop/school if needed. But as homework can be delivered over the network at school, printing needs might be reduced.

And your last question is odd given your arguments against Open Source in 5. Of course they can write, buy, download, or copy and install software. That was the whole point of chosing FLOSS in the XO.
************************

He forgets or doesn't understand that the issue of installing software or printer drivers/supporting files is not very clear, given that the XO machnie has no hard drive and the storage space available is very limited.

******************

One more instance of not understanding the simplest of statements:

*********************
"1. Talk to prospective clients in simple language that clearly answers their questions"

The partners are governement officials and ministers. Do they require simple language?
*********************************

Of course, non-technical people require answers presented in simple language. If Winter doesn't know or doesn't understand that, we are in trouble!

So, rather that endlessly explaining the same things to Winter, I chose to respect his right to an opinion and remain silent. That's the reason, and not a lack of arguments, as you can see.

"...he confused the word "HYPE" with "ENTHUSIASM":"

I only see genuine enthousiasm at the OLPC, and marketting by their leadership. But that seems to be a question of perception.

"Of course, non-technical people require answers presented in simple language. If Winter doesn't know or doesn't understand that, we are in trouble!"

Maybe I am guilty of overestimating the professionalism of the leadership in the target countries. So be it. But I do know from personal experience that each of these countries have a very capable body of scientists, developers, and educational specialists. Trying to talk "down" to them would not only be very impolite, but also couterproductive.

"He forgets or doesn't understand that the issue of installing software or printer drivers/supporting files is not very clear, given that the XO machnie has no hard drive and the storage space available is very limited."

I think there is some confusion here. If you go to the OLPC wiki pages, you will see that the concept of "installing programs" have been dealt with in depth. As are repair and reinitialization. Also the storage limitations are well understood. So, wihtin the hardware limitations, everything has been done to keep the children in control while also protecting them.

As for printer drivers on Linux, I would suggest to have a look at how modern Linux distributions handle this matter. In general, under Linux there are few if any problems with this.

In short, installation of anything on the XO is much easier than using Ubuntu update or synaptic. Which already can handle almost all applications.

Winter

"Winter doesn't understand what I write, as himself confessed in his post."

I think it's not understanding 'why' and not 'what' you write. But the 'why' seems rather obvious now - I'd suggest you spending a bit more time reading what OLPC computer actually can/can not do... After all, they're very open about it compared, say, to Classmate PC.

Rob Winter,
I just read Seymour Papert's "the connected family" in which he mentions a certain Robert Winter. Is that you?

"I just read Seymour Papert's "the connected family" in which he mentions a certain Robert Winter. Is that you?"

Sorry, a coincident, but it is definitely not me.

Winter

From Walter Bender:

"If every laptop and desktop user in the world
switched to an XO right now, about 85 terawatt-hours of energy could be saved. The energy-bill savings alone could fund the outright
purchase of 50-million XO laptops. In addition, 50M barrels of oil could saved, which is an additional US $500M in carbon-offset dollars,yearly."


With the additional instant result that no one, anywhere would be able to print, exchange meaningful data, or survive the plunge into a digital stoneage. The OLPC folks have no way for a user to connect a printer, not even via USB. "We didn't think anyone would need to print," they told me! If this "little" user need was overlooked, what else has been overlooked? Well, actually some of the posts here answer that. But, those posters get slammed.

I am a real user. I have donated and ordered the XO for classroom use. I am trying to plan for their arrival, setup and use. But, I've gone from hopeful to scared. Why? Because, so far, I have not gotten a single helpful answer for any practical-use question from the OLPC people. Q:Print from the XO? A:No way you tree killer. Q:User services like software library or user document storage? A:Add them to your existing server? Q:What do you mean, my existing server out here in the bush? A:We will sell a server. Q: What will it cost, be able to do, or ... When will it be available or even specs? A: TBD

The OLPC folks may be dedicated, but they don't appear to have thought the product out from a classroom user's viewpoint. Try asking them anything that a real user would ask. They have only non-solutions, that come with attitude. It is scary how much talking to them is like the video parodies I've seen of users trying to talk to data processing departments, twenty years ago.

The OLPC dream is still alive, but is the XO the answer? So far, in our classroom, the XO represents a nightmare. A nightmare about technology in the classroom (we've got plenty of those, already) and a nightmare about the most expensive flyswatter in the world!

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