Molt Be Blog

Friday, December 28, 2007

This Post Is 100% XO

Behold, the XO laptop.

XO Open

I got my hands on one of these through the give-one get-one program that OLPC is running. Basically, you pay double the standard donation; one laptop goes to a kid and the other comes to your house to play with.

If you don't know about the XO yet, read up on olpc's vision. Some people have called the idea of giving laptops to kids dumb, but I have enough arguments for it that I gave it a try (giving is good, education is important, connectivity in a global economy is vital, etc.).

A few notes:
The laptop comes with no instructions except for some graphics on proper use (do not dispose of battery in fire; do not drop). These seem obvious to me, but I've used electronics before, so I have to understand.
XO and Mac Keyboard Comparison

This thing requires small hands to type on... I mean, it's for kids, but this is ridiculous. After years of MasterType in elementary school, I was surprised to find myself inclined to hunt and peck when the XO was first under my fingers. With a little concentration I've found that I can type OK if I just keep remembering that my hands need to be about one key closer together than I'm used to.

While original reports talked about a hand crank for the XO that was built on, it was taken off due to concerns about wear and tear on the case [olpc wiki about this]. Mine didn't come with any kind of human or solar power device and it's been tough to find much information on where to get such. I hope that whatever kid received this got a bit more information than I did.

The machine browses like a champ. It's based on FireFox and can do all the JavaScript goodness of gmail, flickr, and blogger just as well as my Mac. It lacks the tabbed browsing of modern day browsers, but this is supposed to be made up for with something called "web sessions" involving bookmarks, which I've found to just make things more difficult. Maybe the whipper-snappers will understand it with a quickness.

You can put an SD card in, but what you can actually do with the contents of it is pretty limited. I can't browse it and upload a photo to the blog, and I can't save anything new to it.

There's a little video/still camera and full mic and audio. Once the VOIP app is out, kids'll be Skyping in no time.

No documentation forces me to play and play until I figure it out. Kids are great at this and, after trying to play with it for a while and resorting to the Wiki for documentation, I'm realize that I'm not as good at playing as I used to be.

More Minutiae:
  • I'm a big right-clicker and it's really hard to do on this thing. Nothing appears to be right-clickable (i.e. the work "clickable", which the browser has underlined as a spelling error, but I cannot right click to correct.

  • No two-finger scrolling or tap-click to be found on this touchpad

  • The touchpad appears to have three separate touch areas and some kind of pen/tablet ability, but I can't find any documentation on it and the lack of instructions don't make things any easier

  • There are tons of awesome music programs on this thing. This little laptop is going to produce some kickass artists

  • There's a Python interpreter on this thing! It's going to produce developers who will take my job

  • After 20 minutes of typing on this keyboard I'm still retyping every 7th keystroke and really know where the "erase" key is. I feel like I'm 10 again.

  • They got rid of the Caps Lock key!!! Hooray! What a useless developer-oriented key that was. Caps Lock is straight out of the 80s. Below, please find an image of Caps Lock accidentally turned on on my other laptop. How many times have I hit that key accidentally vs. purposefully? 222,221,323 vs. 5. I have to admit, I didn't realize all on my own that Caps lock was dumb. made me see the light.

Caps Lock = Useless


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Yeah, yeah

It's been a while... over a month since the last update. Things have been really busy around here. Thanksgiving came and went. We had a birthday party for R with pre-cake at Cakestro's place and dancing at DC9, MZ returned from Florence and had her own dance party at the BlackCat. This week also found me on the winning trivia team at Ventnor's Sports Cafe where I also happened to run into a few old coworkers.

I'm now working on two major projects at work and two side projects at home, so I'm finding little time to do anything else (the camera is as dusty as the blog). I've also been spending more time out and about at various happy hours, tech gatherings, etc.

This weekend is seeming particularly active. After working last night until about 8, I went straight to Bar Pilar with some friends, and then from there to BeBar via my place to drop off lappy here. At 7:30 this morning, R and I were up to go on an 8:30am tour of the White House with MM. A friend of hers who works for the Dept. of the Interior had extra tickets and R was the first person she found on gchat.

Flustered by the insane list of rules for White House attendance, MM accidentally left her keys in her purse which she then locked the trunk before we went on the tour. Her fluster (is that a word?) wasn't unjustified. For your pleasure, here is point #4 on the White House Tour Instructions:

4. Prohibited items include, but are not limited to, the following: handbags, book bags,
backpacks, purses, food and beverages of any kind, strollers, cameras, video recorders or
any type of recording device, tobacco products, personal grooming items (make-up, hair
brush or comb, lip or hand lotions, etc.), any pointed objects (pens, knitting needles, etc.),
aerosol containers, guns, ammunition, fireworks, electric stun guns, mace, martial arts
weapons/devices, or knives of any size. The U.S. Secret Service reserves the right to prohibit
any other personal items. Umbrellas, wallets, cell phones and car keys are permitted.

There are a few interesting items in there, but I especially like that they say "car keys" and not just "keys". What about house keys? I took mine in! Take that, suckers!

After the tour, we went to grab a coffee while MM called YZ who lives in her building and could bring her the spare key to the car. Once dropped off back at home, R and I immediately headed over to Glow's place with CG, who needed a costume for an xmas present he's working on. Yes. Glow has a basement full of costumes. No. They are not his. His landlord purchased the entire inventory of a soon-to-be-closed costume store with plans to sell it on the web. It now hangs on racks in the basement with bins that are labeled things like "santa stuff", "noses", "Uncle Sam Goatees", "pirate stuff" and, my favorite, "beatnick cigarette holderd". Yes. He has a box of them.

We found some choice material for CG and had quite a delightful time browsing through the inventory. As we searched, I happened upon a box of costume make-up and similar supplies which included this gem:

I liked the box, so I claimed it. Now I just need to find some applications for these 12 adhesive strips... or a toupee.

Things are only going to get busier with christmas coming up. I still haven't finished what shopping I need to do... which means it's too late to do everything online and I'll likely end up at a *shudder* mall sometime in the near future.