Print 26 comment(s) - last by Chase Tacos.. on Nov 28 at 10:02 AM

The XO Frame and Desktop

Very simplistic word processor

Web browser is Firefox
OLPC interface simple but lacks enthusiasm

More updates have been released on the OLPC XO machine which has yet to be fully deployed in any country but is still going forward. The XO machine itself is already commencing production in China, and the project is on its way to be test-deployed across several countries. Despite all the recent news about the XO however, the user interface remained at large, until now.

A video on YouTube revealed the Linux-based XO machine to have somewhat of a clean interface, although perhaps too clean. The interface is comprised of two main parts, the desktop and the "frame." The frame is the main interface mechanism for applications and system navigation, which appears around the edges of the screen. From the frame, an XO user can launch a word processor, messaging client, web browser and a host of other applications and games.

At first, navigating the system seemed to be quite user friendly, but some applications appeared to be toned down in terms of usability. The word processor for example, was very simplified and it did not appear like tables, charts, and other more advanced elements could be created. Basic text formatting and page formatting functions were available but other than that, the application seemed sparse. Despite the simplicity, the target audience for the XO may not ever require more features.

The web browser that the system uses is Firefox, and appeared to work quite fast. Most web browsing controls appeared in tact although it's unclear whether the system has much in terms of storage capacity for downloads. Other things included with the system include a number of typical games such as chess and a version of Minesweeper.

With initial first impressions, the user interface appeared simple and easy to use. Considering that the XO is targeted towards young school kids however, the interface appeared to be cold and lacked any sort of color coding. Almost everything is black and white, which makes the machine appear more like a simple terminal than an actual user friendly computer.

DailyTech previously reported that Thailand backed out of the OLPC project despite being one of the first countries that expressed interest. Representatives from Thailand mentioned to reporters that it was considering developing its own OLPC-like project. On a positive note, Brazil is now expressing interest in the XO, but the country has not yet released a confirmed order.

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Target still unclear.
By lemonadesoda on 11/24/2006 6:57:22 PM , Rating: 1
If this thing is being targeted at kids... then where are the games ?

It needs an email client, a messenger/chat system, and something to help with the schoolwork: ie. a PDF reader, dictionary, something for math, (and graph), and something to write. I hope it has all these things.

Or is this device supposed to help the schoolkids get tech savvy, in which case an IDE is required, php, mySQL, etc.

Do these countries have free broadband. Or are the parents going to lose their phone lines and run up huge bills on internet access?

I still haven't seen a truly credible raison d'etre for these things, other than political vested interests.

In a developed country this "thin" device is too crippled. In an underdeveloped country, the issues relating to power supply, internet, printing, etc. cripple the device.

I'll gladly accept contradictory arguments. I'm actually looking for them... and the reason for the post.

RE: Target still unclear.
By TheStudent on 11/24/2006 7:21:23 PM , Rating: 2
I believe the device in question is actually a sort of _personal computer_. This means that, (and this is purely theoretical, by all means), you may be able to, (and I really like this part) download the necessary software. Incidently, the only thing that IDE teaches you, is, how to connect IDE. I was doing it when I was around 10, and it hasn't helped me do anything else, I can tell you that.

Broadband is unecessary if there is any sort of Wi-Fi available (actually a possibility, as Cellphone networks have replaced wired access in the poorer countries) or if schools can upload software to the machine using limited networks. The mile network, if it works out, could possibly allows these machines to make a type of network themselves, although it would obviously be somewhat limited.

RE: Target still unclear.
By rmaharaj on 11/24/2006 7:40:01 PM , Rating: 3
Incidently, the only thing that IDE teaches you, is, how to connect IDE. I was doing it when I was around 10, and it hasn't helped me do anything else, I can tell you that.

I believe he meant IDE as in integrated development environment, not the hardware interface.

RE: Target still unclear.
By Live on 11/24/2006 7:45:14 PM , Rating: 3
Watch this speech and see what this computer could be used for and by who. If you don't want to watch it for that watch it because its very cool and thought provoking:

RE: Target still unclear.
By judasmachine on 11/24/2006 9:02:30 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting speech.

RE: Target still unclear.
By iNGEN on 11/25/2006 10:55:16 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, a lot of the OLPC idea is to correct for the difficiencies you mentioned. The target use is a shool child in a poorer, but industrialized nation. The unit itself is very tolerant of unstable power, the system itself always runs off the battery. The local software was intentionally designed to be highly dependant upon the availability of distributed client resources. The thin client usage model facilitates further cost reductions in the hardware.

Many of the user applications you mentioned are already completed and deployed or being ready for deployment. They will be distributed using the web-browser as the primary terminal client. That is why only the most basic functionality is available without an internet connection.

Yes, the internet connection will be provided at no additional expense to the user in most cases. Though each country will provide the Internet connection by a manner of their own choosing, schools, even in remote areas, can use satelite, wireless, or even multiplexed X.25 for connectivity. The applications themselves are very low bandwidth and can be served from anywhere in the world. So hosting can be accomplished in areas where the availability of material and human resources are not so unreliable.

Recently, several faith-based organizations have even volunteered to put up wireless hotspots to help extend connectivity beyond the schools.

Your statement that "In a developed country this "thin" device is too crippled." is accurate. To, the following comment, "In an underdeveloped country, the issues relating to power supply, internet, printing, etc. cripple the device." I must reply; The OLPC is the current answer to those problems, specifically.

RE: Target still unclear.
By stmok on 11/25/2006 11:18:54 AM , Rating: 4
If this thing is being targeted at kids... then where are the games ?

*jabbers on with other crap*

Idiot. Did you even try the VMware image of OLPC? Clearly not.

Like most tryhard techies here, none of you have actually tried the GUI, but have no problem criticising it. Well done. Judge a book by its cover.

How about you folks grab VMware Player and download the OLPC image to see for yourselves.

RE: Target still unclear.
By Chase Tacos on 11/28/2006 10:01:14 AM , Rating: 2
I dont know much about this at all but i think that you should wait till the thing comes out before you start bashing it because it doesnt have the requiered things to make it all child like.

Im sure when it comes out itll have messengers, email clients and all that jazz but untill then lets wait and see what its still to have coming with it because its like common sence to add those things to it.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007
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