XO Laptop Order Consilidation Mashup for Schools

   
   
   
   
   

This is Ajay Kumar, and I am going to talk today about a chicken and egg situation faced by the champions of OLPC at the grassroots level.

When we talk to the schools and the kindergartens, after a lot of skepticism, and answering a lot of questions, and showing them the sugar interface via virtual machine images, they are finally ready to try their hands on the OLPC. And they say, "I am happy to order 10 for a small pilot and if everything goes well, I would order for an entire class the beginning of next year".


Make more kids happy!

The chicken and egg problem here is that they would not place a large order until they have tried their hands on some devices, and the project would not give them the devices unless they place a large order. While I can understand their aversion to risk, I can equally well understand that the OLPC's value preposition gets diluted if the entire ecosystem is not equipped with the devices.

What I don't like in this is the fact that the entire process gets stopped, and OLPC gets a kick for good in favor of Asus Eee or Intel CMPC. An approach to solution can be for the OLPC champions from a geographical area to come together and place a collective order.

Take a look at the quick little mashup we are bringing up at ClassGrid.

You can go and place a pin on the map stating the location of the school where you plan to do a pilot, and the numbers you require. Please try to keep the order number to be above 5, because you will find it very difficult to demonstrate the power of the network below that number. As they say, the value of the network grows as the square of the number of people connected in it.

All in all we hope that this would help the OLPC give-many gain some more orders, and the possibility to get even larger orders due to increased mindshare. And more importantly, this would enable you to help the schools get warm and cozy with the technology and solution the OLPC proposes. Please do pass on the word about the mashup, and put it to some good use.

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21 Comments

NichoLies Negroponte has more than enough money to cover any necessary pilots. Here's how:

From the WSJ article of a few days ago:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119586754115002717.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

"Robert Fadel, its director of finance and operations, says the nonprofit has enough funding to last years. Its dozen corporate benefactors this year contributed $16.5 million, and it will be using $1 from each computer sold to cover administrative costs.

Last year, it took in $7.6 million in revenue, mainly from donors, and its budget this year is about $9.5 million. As of September, it had $8.7 million in cash on hand, an internal document indicates."

Right there, you have 20,000 XO's that can be bought ($4 millions) and provided to interested/qualified institutions for testing.

But that's not all. We have much more money in Negroponte's piggy back. Much more...

According to NichoLies' own numbers (talk about the ass biting his own ass!), the XO is seliing at a 2million/day clip. That's a 1/million per day profit or enough money for 5.000 units per day!

Given that the project has been such resounding financial success, it follows that as of today, NichLies has enough money for 150.000 laptos, from the USA sales (G1G1 program) of the XO alone!!!!

Then, how come NichoLies won't provide the laptops to those who want/need them, assuming they qualify?

There's no chicken/egg situation here. There is only a general reluctance by the usual sycophants to acknowledge what is right in from of their noses. There is only a lack of honest questioning of NichoLies shady claims and practices.

Wake up, boys, and smell the monte...

Besides,

Wow, with such a small community on here and especially given the altruistic nature of the entire project, finding a troll like that is particularly sad. I can only hope that you are paid well by Intel or MS, because if you wrote that for for free then your life must be very empty.

Andy wrote:

"Wow, with such a small community on here and especially given the altruistic nature of the entire project, finding a troll like that is particularly sad. I can only hope that you are paid well by Intel or MS, because if you wrote that for for free then your life must be very empty."

Good point, Andy...which only confirms what I said in my previous post: sycophants like you won't ask the obvious questions. That's the nature of groupies and intellectual dishonests.

If Intel is so bad, how come NichoLies is in bed with them?

Why is the Nutty Professor in bed with the enemy?

I know...I know...too legitimate a question...so legitimate it doesn't merit a legitimate answer...

I think the "charity" philosophy behind OLPC is great. But at the heart of it, charities don't sell products. OLPC is selling a product, and so they should start thinking like a business. If they want people to buy in, to be brainwashed by the OLPC philosophy, then they need to gain people's trust. You can't do that without allowing for some pilot programs.

The fact that Negroponte has the funding available to create a pool of pilot machines, and isn't doing so shows his poor business acumen. (And that a 3rd party is trying to create this same pool is pretty sad.) Perhaps he should resign himself to being a figurehead, providing fanatical support and vision. But ultimately, I think the rest of the operation should be handled by people more accustomed to selling products. You don't have to make money to be a good business.

Robert,

While you bring up good points - Negroponte could make smaller pilots possible within current resources - your tone in making that point is borderline. Please tone down the name calling and tone up the logic behind your thoughts.

- If Negroponte does have the resources to supply smaller school pilots, why doesn't he do it?

- Why does OLPC require Ajay to consolidate and order through Give Many with its $50-200 in above-laptop-cost markups?

My wife is an elementary school principal here in Silicon Valley. Be assured that schools in this affluent region have some of the same problems (not all) that schools in developing countries have. Much of it has to do with integrating technology into the classroom.

For advocates of the XO I'd offer this piece of advice. Try to understand the administrative protocols about gifts to a school, about proposing projects, and whom you need to work with. Way back in the last century the notorious NetDay project thought they should bypass those pesky teachers and administrators and go right to the kids. In the years after the volunteers who wired the school left, paid network installers had to come in to correct the well-meaning but screwed up work left by the NetDay crowd.

Keep in mind that there are parent support groups that raise money for a school. Find out who leads the group where you want to place some XOs.

Also, some schools don't introduce computers to little kids, and I agree with that, so that policy is important when you are planning a donation.

OK, i'll feed the troll:

In no particular order, here's some things they might want/need to spend that money on...

Wages, for all the people on the project just doing a job who couldn't afford to be their otherwise, regardless of charitable feelings.

Hardware research - designing and paying for prototype costs of solar panels, networking kit, pull cords, hell maybe even newer and better versions of the OLPC itself in the future.

More software research - despite being free software the cost of development is not free, but you probably think that things like Firefox just fall from the sky too.

All of the above, and i'm sure more than i can think of too, are exceptionally obvious areas in which to spend the limited funds they have available. I didn't list them before, not because your question was "too legitimate" but because the answers should be painfully clear to anyone with an IQ greater than their shoesize.

And now a question for you - have you ordered through the G1G1 scheme? What skin do you have in this game? Because I would love to know your motivation for writing your post, the spelling and grammar are too good for some troll kiddie but yet the message is so devoid of intellectual thought and reasoning (plus using "Nicholies") that one can only think you have an axe to grind here.

The mashup concept seems to have some problems. I wasn't aware tha OLPC would agree to sell to:
1. "champions of OLPC at the grassroots level"
2. local entities, be they schools, school districts, cities, mashup groups etc.
3. Any XO deployment program in a developed conuntry such as the US.

I'm also pretty sure that while the give many program allows you to specify where the xo's go, I think that only means you can select among the exiting OLPC pilot programs (Chile, Uraguay, Nigeria etc.)

Perhaps someone with better knowledge of OLPC foundation policies can correct my assumptions.
--D.

Andy wrote:

"In no particular order, here's some things they might want/need to spend that money on...

Wages, for all the people on the project just doing a job who couldn't afford to be their otherwise, regardless of charitable feelings.

Hardware research - designing and paying for prototype costs of solar panels, networking kit, pull cords, hell maybe even newer and better versions of the OLPC itself in the future.

More software research - despite being free software the cost of development is not free, but you probably think that things like Firefox just fall from the sky too.

All of the above, and i'm sure more than i can think of too, are exceptionally obvious areas in which to spend the limited funds they have available. I didn't list them before, not because your question was "too legitimate" but because the answers should be painfully clear to anyone with an IQ greater than their shoesize."

Equally "painfully clear" should be the need for allocating funds/resources to pilot projects, so that the current carnival is avoided.

Why don't you just include "pilots projects plus associated costs" in your list, Andy?

Problem solved.

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

"And now a question for you - have you ordered through the G1G1 scheme? "

No, I havent. And I won't. Because I don't want or need an underpowered computer that:

Doesn't have a drive to store any work (yes, you can buy one, but why re-invent the wheel at extra cost and inconvenience?

Doesn't let iusers easily install an off-the-shelf printer

Has a browser that doesn't even provide bookmarking capabilities (does it get any more basic than that?)

Doesn't have any 3rd. party software available (I'm way too old for tam-tam and my children, like most children in the USA, prefer real computers).

Doesn't come with any clearly written warranty/repair policy.

I could go on and on, but I'm sure by now you understand and sympathize with my reasons for my decision.

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

"What skin do you have in this game? Because I would love to know your motivation for writing your post"

Good question, Andy.

I just call the game the way I see it. My motivation - I would call it a "reward" - is the knowledge that I have my own mind and can objectively see what's in front of me. It's called "freedom of thought". There is no groupie in me, Andy.

It feels good to be intelectually free. Try it sometime. I'll give you a few little toy questions to play with - let's see if you can unshackle your mind:

Why is Negroponte in bed with the "enemy" (Intel/Microsoft)?

Why didn't it occur to you that "pilot projects" (as in providing a few dozen computers to qualified institutions) should be part of the OLPC budget?

Robert,

There are other ways to bring up your concerns. Even if you feel sarcastic about program like this, you have to ask yourself a question. Why are you bringing up these points? Are you just trying to make a noise? Or are you actually trying to make a constructive point and get a debate/discussion going?

I used to have similar sentiment toward any programs that seems to have much money being donated to. But, trying to set up my own business operation, I see where all the money can go initially. I am talking about a business that is much smaller in size. How much more when you have a full on development team that is dealing with hardware and software development as well as manufacturing and marketing them world wide?

About MS and Intel's involvement, what is MR. Negroponte supposed to do? Fight against one of the biggest company in the world that is known for monopolizing? Who do you think will win purely out of having sufficient resources for prolonged legal and marketing battle?

Can Mr. Negroponte put in his own money? Of course he can. But what makes you think he hasn't? And even if he did not, why is that a point of moral judgment? Is he committing fraud by stashing the donation money for his own consumption?

Also, take into consideration that they did something that everyone said it's impossible within couple of years with a very solid product.

I think they need more encouragement. Not biased coriticism.

I have no problem with them spending some of their money on pilot projects and i always assumed that they'd paid for the projects in foreign lands out of their own budget, although i could be wrong in that regard.

Purely from a business perspective though, i doubt that just giving away small quantities of laptops to whichever group asks for them is tenable. If small groups want to pay for small numbers of laptops then i do think they should be shipped, which currently it seems they cannot do, but personally i think that more controlled, larger demonstrations for governments or big NGO's is the better way of moving this product en masse, and the better way for OLPC to spend it's money. Say they did just send out devices scattergun style, who would check that all these thousands of institutions were legit? Who would pay for the resultant support costs? The call center cost alone would bleed them dry.

That is all debatable, but the entire crux of your post, aside from the childish namecalling, seemed to be that OLPC spend ALL their money on just giving away free devices, as if keeping any goes against being a charity, which is patently ridiculous. I work in software, for a company equatable in size to OLPC and also roughly equatable in profit margins and capitalisation. At the end of the year there is not some vast pile of cash lying around which we all roll about in and gloat about how much we have suckered the proles for, the majority goes into new development and growing the company - and we don't even have to worry about hardware development! I don't have an MBA, perhaps someone who does could give more insight, but i don't see how giving away all your working capital in the vain hope that a few people make an order (which would be small in this case too, as we are talking about individual schools etc.) works from a business perspective.

As for Intel and MS, my understanding was that Intel might make chips for OLPC in the future, i see no problem with that. As for Negroponte being "in bed" with Intel, i would have thought that their very public spats would be evidence against that. I also thought it was clear that MS would not have an OLPC sanctioned version of Windows on the device until it was open source - i see no problem with that standpoint either.

Don't misunderstand me, i don't agree with every step that OLPC has taken. What i do disagree with though are ridiculous, spiteful, strawman attacks where you hold a group of people that are doing good up for pillory because they don't meet your fanciful definition of charity.

Ah, I recognize that rant. Its Tr0y, now back as Robert. Good to see you keeping to your themes over the past year, and better that you're keeping polite.

I again give you the opportunity to upgrade your disagreements & concerns with OLPC to a logical, civil post. And I remind you that uncivil trolling will get you deleted/banned again too.

I've got my G1G1 on order, because this is a unique product, and I'm interested in exploring business applications for a cheap, tough, open architecture device.

Looks like something akin to the Indian Census Bureau is too.
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Infotech/Hardware/XO_laptops_find_application_as_census_number_crunchers/articleshow/2613040.cms

One Other Note, Groklaw has an Offtopic section in their comments manager.
There seem to be some candidates for such labeling, perhaps for my earlier post that wasn't related to the mashup either.

The mashup concept seems to have some problems. I wasn't aware tha OLPC would agree to sell to:
1. "champions of OLPC at the grassroots level"
2. local entities, be they schools, school districts, cities, mashup groups etc.
3. Any XO deployment program in a developed conuntry such as the US.

I'm also pretty sure that while the give many program allows you to specify where the xo's go, I think that only means you can select among the exiting OLPC pilot programs (Chile, Uraguay, Nigeria etc.)

Perhaps someone with better knowledge of OLPC foundation policies can correct my assumptions.
--D.


Dave, I think the Give Many program allows you to purchase 100 XO's for $300 each and have them (in lots of 100) sent anywhere you want. I guess this mashup proposal would be a way for people to pool their orders to get to the 100 minimum buy, an excellent idea by the way. Then I guess they would be distributed by the pool members since they live in the same geographic location.

If the Give Many program does not work that way then you're right.

Robert:
"There is only a lack of honest questioning of NichoLies shady claims and practices."

Your posts fail to make clear exactly what it is that is so evil that Negroponte allegedly is trying to accomplish, much less his motivations.

"Doesn't let iusers easily install an off-the-shelf printer"

Tr0y, that indeed is a dead giveaway. This uninformed theme has run through all your incarnations. It has been answered so many times in the past. The fact you still bring it up indicates that you really have no clue about the technology. Which, of course, too has been shining through all your posts.

Eduardo Montez wrote:
"Your posts fail to make clear exactly what it is that is so evil that Negroponte allegedly is trying to accomplish, much less his motivations."

If you look back to the posts of Tr0y and his many incarnations, one thing becomes completely clear. Although this person has never shown any interest or knowledge in education policies, third world development, nor information technology, he (or she?) has a very burning hatred for mr Negroponte.

Tr0y will always try to smear his name under any guise and any pretext.

We can only guess that Tr0y might have been badly affected in one of mr Negroponte's many failed initiatives.

Experience has shown that s/he has extreme difficulty participating in any orderly discussion. In the past, Tr0y has never responded intelligently to facts or opinions at odds with his/her own prejudice.

We can only hope that s/he has learned and will try to commit to a constructive discussion. The above posts seem to indicate Tr0y still has problems keeping his/her temper down.

Winter

Winter wrote:

"Tr0y, that indeed is a dead giveaway. This uninformed theme has run through all your incarnations. It has been answered so many times in the past."

Well, thanks for the confusion, winter :-)

In any case, here is the official answer to the question:

******************
We've not yet exposed a printer interface in the UI. Most network printers and many USB printers should work with the XO, but we haven't had the time to qualify these solutions yet. Perhaps someone in the community can get started on this in parallel with our efforts....Printing has not been part of our design target, since printing will be handled by school servers rather than the laptops...We do recognize that "give 1 get 1" XOs are going into the first-world community which is rich in printing services, but WE DON'T THE TIME RIGHT NOW TO WORK ON THIS PROBLEM... --Joe and Quozl 04:11, 23 November 2007 (EST)

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

Source (next-to-last item):

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Ask_OLPC_a_Question/New#Give_1.2C_Get_1_-_warranty.2Fsupport

Tr0y wrote:
"In any case, here is the official answer to the question:"

Now we are getting somewhere. Another discussion can be found here on OLPCnews:

http://www.olpcnews.com/sales_talk/products/olpc_product_printer_child.html

And in this laptop sale discussion we find the following comment:

http://www.olpcnews.com/countries/usa/olpc_xo_laptop_sale.html

"... There is no Parallel port on it, but you could hook up a printer through a USB port, though I believe that Sugar does not have driver support for printers so you may have to install them yourself."

As you quoted so nicely, "Most network printers and many USB printers should work with the XO, but we haven't had the time to qualify these solutions yet."

So the XO could print, but sugar probably has no drivers installed. Fedora has, btw., more drivers than anyone would care for.

I have yet to see a Linux laptop that couldn't be got to print. But as you already expressed your opinion on that part, I advice you to wait buying your G1G1 XO until all your periferals will be sure to work.

In short, you likely can hook up a printer, but no one has tried yet because there are not many off the shelf printers where these laptops were intended to go. Now that they are sold in the USA etc, a printing solution will have to be installed.

Winter

As we can see, I was absolutely right when I said (in my response to Andy):

"[The XO] doesn't let users easily install an off-the-shelf printer"

:-)

Tr0y wrote:
"As we can see, I was absolutely right when I said (in my response to Andy):

"[The XO] doesn't let users easily install an off-the-shelf printer"

:-)"

Indeed, it looks like that might be true. We only have a single remark in:

http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=4093

Where it is claimed:
"The top parts of the screen has four icons that show you other OLPCs in the local community. The first .... double-clicking on one of them. My screen found a ***laser printer*** and my wireless access point. "

But as you wrote, no evidence that you can actually print. Now what can we conclude from this?

Winter

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