[aprssig] OLPC $199 laptop again

Scott Miller scott at opentrac.org
Sun Nov 16 12:31:25 EST 2008

I've got one of these, and I have to say I've been a little 
underwhelmed, at least by the software.  The hardware's good for the 
price, especially considering how rugged it is.  But the keyboard is 
difficult for an adult to use, and even my kids find it annoying.  The 
rubber 'keys' like to squish to the side and don't give good feedback.

I found the Sugar interface clunky and confusing, and inconsistently 
implemented.  As much as I'd like to see this project succeed, I'm 
afraid I really don't have that much faith in it.  Not when regular 
netbooks are heading into the same price range.  Maybe if the software 
suite has really been drastically improved in the last 9 months, but I 
haven't heard anything about that.

Considering how long it's taken this project to get moving, Moore's Law 
is going to be their biggest problem.  The Simputer project ran into the 
same problem - by the time they had a product, commercial PDAs and 
handheld PCs were cheaper and faster.

If they'd just sell individual units to the general public for $200 or 
$250, I think I'd put more work into APRS stuff for it, but for now it's 
too expensive.


Robert Bruninga wrote:
> $199 Linux Laptop, OLPC again this year.
> This is the one designed for low power and out-door full sun
> viewable screen(high-res color), which is ideal in my mind for
> amateur radio emergency use. (limited to linux apps...)
> http://www.laptop.org/en/laptop/index.shtml
> Its sound card goes down to DC so that it can be used as a
> voltmeter for classroom lab experiments and it includes a
> built-in web-cam, wireless 80211, and applications for o'scope,
> pictures, even acoustic ranging.
> I have heard that you can get APRS XASTIR to run on it.  An even
> simpler application is Jack Zielke's APRSXO.  This tiny
> application gives the XO more-or less full APRS connectivity
> when you are in wireless range because it reports your position
> to the APRS-IS and gives full two-way messaging capability.  You
> can view the APRS map using any of the popular APRS-IS portals
> See: http://zielkeassociates.com/~jack/aprs-xo/
> If you use it for nothing else it makes a great wireless browser
> and email-reader.
> Oh, and I was VERY disappointed last year when I learned that
> the "November deal" was only a one-time deal, therefore blocking
> more hams from getting them as a long term project.  But this
> year they are offering it again and I see this sentence on the
> web page:
> "This year's Give One/Get One campaign will begin in November
> and will become an on-going program."  Now maybe "ongoing" means
> you can buy them at any time, not just during the holiday
> season?
> Anyway, to get one, you pay $399 for 2 of them and one goes to a
> kid in the 3rd world and one comes to you.  But $199 of what you
> pay is tax deductible.
> Anyway, just thought I'd pass it along.  Of course, it is LINUX
> and unless the Linux authors produce good ham applications for
> us, then its gonna only be a nice wireless web browser to most
> of us.
> Here was my original web page from which Jack wrote his
> application:
> www.aprs.org/APRS-OLPC.html
> And this is all part of the overall Universal Ham Radio
> Messaging System that encourages applications for all wireless
> devices (cell phones, PDA's and laptops) to have a APRS
> messaging application so that hams can communicate any-time,
> any-where, using any-device:
> www.aprs.org/aprs-messaging.html
> Bob, WB4APR
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