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Squeak in Extremadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 10:00 AM EST

I was going to put this is News Picks, until I saw that Slashdot had an article from MSN on how useless the One Laptop Per Child project is. Of course, I would expect MSN would say that, and Microsoft has no trouble finding people in the media willing to express what I think Microsoft would like said. But please take a look at this video of a program already in use in Extremadura, Spain, one of the poorest areas of the country, that will also be included in OLPC, called Squeak. Watch what the children are able to do, how they can learn even on their own because of the design of the software. Yes. On their own. I dare anyone to view it and write such nonsense ever again.

I know. He still will. I believe if you look on Google, you can find his motive expressed by the author himself in a video. It will help you to understand why I refuse to link to any of his articles.

The Squeak video is a year old, but here's something newer about Squeak EToys, by Alan Kay:

Squeak Etoys was inspired by LOGO, PARC-Smalltalk, Hypercard, and starLOGO. It is a media-rich authoring environment with a simple powerful scripted object model for many kinds of objects created by end-users that runs on many platforms, and is free and open source. It includes 2D and 3D graphics, images, text, particles, pres-entations, web-pages, videos, sound and MIDI, etc. It includes the ability to share desktops with other Etoy users in real-time, so many forms of immersive mentoring and play can be done over the Internet. It is multilingual, runs on more than 20 platforms bit-identically, and has been successfully used in USA, Europe, South America, Japan, Korea, India, Nepal, and elsewhere.

I hope everyone at Microsoft notices from the paragraph how important it is to be inspired by other programmers' prior work, because that is precisely what is wrong with software patents, among many other things. They make ideas unusable, and that curtails innovation. Because there are large parts of the world that currently do not allow software patents, I think you could posit that software patents are endangering the US's ability to compete, and it will only get worse.

That's one reason why the GPL strives to create a patent-free zone, so programmers can work to create masterpieces like Squeak that benefit society.

What a concept. Benefit society.

And here is the paper, Squeak Etoys, Children and Learning [PDF]. And the Wiki, with a screenshot of EToys running on OLPC.

So, Microsoft. I have a question for you. What are you doing to match this? You have buckets of money, after all. Surely you can do something. I already know about PocketOffice on a cellphone. Puh-lease. Here's the description from the OLPC homepage for inspiration:

Introducing the children's laptop from One Laptop per Child — a potent learning tool created expressly for the world's poorest children living in its most remote environments. The laptop was designed collaboratively by experts from both academia and industry, bringing to bear both extraordinary talent and many decades of collective field experience in every aspect of this non-profit humanitarian project. The result is a unique harmony of form and function; a flexible, ultra low-cost, power-efficient, responsive, and durable machine with which nations of the emerging world can leapfrog decades of development—immediately transforming the content and quality of their children's learning.

Before you answer, note that the teachers and children using this software also can contribute their ideas and innovations, and they can because they can dig as deep as they please into the software source code, modify it (thank you, Steve Jobs for letting the license change to the Apache license) to make it do more precisely what they want it to do, and share those modifications, and because it's interactive software that inspires creativity. It's FOSS. That is precisely what Microsoft can't match -- the openness. Closed, proprietary software won't let do what FOSS lets you do. Those benefits are available to all users of FOSS, worldwide, by the way. And you don't have to be a child to love it. But if you are a parent, do you see how you and your kids could have some fun together with Squeak? And you don't have to be a geek to make it work. Here. You can download it for free. There are tutorials on that site. I'd rather my kids played with Squeak than watch cartoons or play violent video games. Wouldn't you?

I enjoyed personally from the video the little girl who said Squeak introduced her to computers and she found out she likes them. Is that not what education is supposed to do for children? As Nicholas Negroponte has said, it's an education project, not a laptop project. By the way, OLPC just won Popular Science's "Best of What's New" award for its innovative screen design:

In addition to cutting costs—by designing lower-priced circuitry and using an open-source operating system, among other things—it also improved on the standard laptop by slashing the machine’s energy use by 90 percent, ideal for a device that could be charged by hand-cranked power in rural villages. The biggest power hog is typically the display, so engineers invented a new LCD. Each pixel has one part that reflects light and one that lets light pass through a colored filter. Turn on the LED behind the screen, and a full-color image appears as rays stream through the tinted filters. Turn it off to save power, and light bounces off the reflective parts of the pixels to form a black-and-white image perfect for e-mail or e-textbooks. Even more efficient, the CPU suspends itself when the image is static. Expect the tech in full-price laptops in a few years.

See what happens when you innovate, instead of denigrating others' work or trying to shut down the creative work of others with vicious patent strategies?

And the rest of us need to understand fully and completely that when Steve Ballmer starts threatening to tax Linux to pay for some illusory Microsoft "IP" -- whatever that is -- it thinks it might have but won't identify specifically, it is this kind of innovative humanitarian work it is endangering also. There are programmers working on the OLPC project who are doing it on company time, you know. Paid programmers. OLPC runs on Red Hat Linux (and you can help). Those programmers are the kind Microsoft would like to sue, and the Novell-Microsoft patent agreement threatens to do just that. It sets them up as patent defendants. I hope Novell gives deeper thought to what it is doing.

Please think it over, everyone, and decide just how much damage you are willing to let software patents do, just to benefit a few companies, who by the way made their billions at a time when there were no software patents to get in *their* way, and at the expense of everyone else on the planet with them.

And please look at the Squeak video and the children's faces as they talk about Squeak before you decide.

P.S. Psst. They already built the first model. $130. And here's a cluestick from the FAQ for the worrywarts that fixate on how networking can't possibly happen:

When these machines pop out of the box, they will make a mesh ether network of their own, peer-to-peer. This is something initially developed at MIT and the Media Lab. Connectivity to the Internet will be from the mesh through gateways at the schools. (We are working with the local governments and the private sector regarding how to reduce the cost of Internet access. The Motoman project is an example of how you can make a little connectivity go a very long way.)

See? You MSN types worried for nothing. And to help you not to write further Silly Stuff about OLPC, here's their latest news page.


Squeak in Extremadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling | 317 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: feldegast on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 10:06 AM EST
If needed.

My posts are ©2004-2006 and released under the Creative Commons License
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Squeak in Extramadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 10:06 AM EST
I think the goal is a worthwhile one even if the end result doesn't quite live
up to the orignal hype. It is important to remember that this is laptop V 1.0.
Giving every child/family/village in the world access to the global library of
information would be transformative event.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Squeak in Extramadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 10:08 AM EST
Well said, thanks.
There is a Scots Gallic saying which in translation says something like; 'You
will know a person by the company they keep'

[ Reply to This | # ]

Close tthe Gap Project alternative to OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 10:08 AM EST
Desmond Tutu loves it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: feldegast on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 10:18 AM EST
Off Topic posts here, please make links clickable if you can.

My posts are ©2004-2006 and released under the Creative Commons License
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Squeak in Extramadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 10:57 AM EST
Here's <a
>another video</a> from intel, less about the software, and more about
kids's reaction in Nigeria to using them (must be a early test release of the
laptops). I hope this project has long term staying power, I think the success
depends largely on it's management and continued support by local governments.
Just the access to email and google is one big selling point, in my mind.

Maybe someday we'll hear from somebody using a OLPC laptop right here!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Max Headroom
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 10:59 AM EST
Ah, the world of Max Headroom or of M$, take your pick.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dvorak and that special kind of journalism
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 11:09 AM EST
Thank you for that video link on Dvorak - very educational. I have always
thought it strange the number of times /. link to Dvorak columns. Does anyone
know whether /. pick up revenue for these links? I like to have some belief in
the news sites I visit.

[ Reply to This | # ]

About Dvorak's video
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 11:26 AM EST
Am I missing something or did Dvorak proudly confess that he is a troll?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Squeak in Extramadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 11:31 AM EST
Poor George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Their
educations were so weakened by their lack of access to computers. If only we
could go back in time and give them laptops so they could have developed their
mind more. Just think about what they could have done.

And oh my, the American public education establishment is loosing 40% of its
kids to drop-out and the other 60% are poorly suited to compete in a global
economy. Why? A lack of laptops I'm sure.

PJ, I think you analysis of law and technology is better than your analogy of

I am a technophile, and very proud of it. In my home are five computers plus
PDA/phones, and so forth. I've been working on computers since I was 7 years old
and am now pursuing a PhD in Computer Science. I'm stating this so it is clear
that I do not have a phobia of technology (for the record, my wife is an
electrical engineer, so neither does she).

Furthermore, I have attended Alan Kay's demonstration of squeak myself. I know
what its capabilities are and I know how it is being used by students.

My analysis: it helps students who have bad teachers and part-time parents.
After the public schools have driven all creativity and love of learning out of
their little bodies, the Squeak program comes as a welcome relief. After they
are still having arithmetic shoved down their throats in fourth grade, I'm sure
that studying acceleration and the pull of gravity using Squeak as a tool must
seem like deliverance.

Ok, my rant is over and I'm off the soapbox. I'm ready for the flame. Let me
have it,

-- SJN

[ Reply to This | # ]

Open letter to MS (repost)
Authored by: Winter on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 11:36 AM EST

Earlier, I posted a call for an open letter to MS. I think this is still relevant. Ideally, MS officials should be asked these questions in every interview. The reference is to the Novell blog.

From the previous article:
"For the people who don't like the microsoft /novell deal. Please put your questions and remarks here"

I posted the following question at their blog:

The deal between MS and Novel implies that the OLPC project is constructing a laptop which will infringe on MS' patents. The OLPC project is NOT covered by the covenant.

This means that millions of children might be denied their laptop after these have been produced and shipped at great cost.

Don't you feel morally obliged to inform the OLPC project about the patents they infringe?

Couldn't we (PJ?) formulate an open letter to MS where we ask them whether they want to protect their precious IP and tell the OLPC what patents they infringe. Or whether they just want to use patent threats to crush all competition and deny millions of children in the developing world acces to cheap laptops. Laptops developed and produced at great cost by NGO's and poor developing nations.

And then watch how they spin this in the run-up to Xmas


Revenge, Justice, Security, and Revenge, chose any two.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patents and Threats
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 11:56 AM EST

I wonder how much the issue of patents really threatens FOSS. Since the source, including the history of the source, is freely available, it would be interesting to see how many of these "original" patents were actually implemented in FOSS code before the patent was actually filed.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Extr_A_madura, or Extr_E_madura
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 11:57 AM EST
Which is correct?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Pardon my rant re: SW Patents
Authored by: Liquor A. on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 12:01 PM EST
<rant type=ignorable method=hypocaffeinated>

I've recently taken a little time to look at some of the SW patents. (Frankly,
reading them makes me think that the Patent Orifice should charge by the claim,
whether accepted or not, instead of by the accepted patent.)

If I understand correctly, a patent must not be 'obvious' to a person 'skilled
in the art', but yet the description in a patent's claims must be sufficient for
that selfsame skilled person to produce the subject of the patent.

It seems that most of the claims in Microsofts patents are so obvious that
anyone who can write a few lines of basic could come up with them - and yet the
description itself is so generic that a programmer with years of experience
still could not implement them from the description.

And this pattern seems to repeat in ALL software patents.

In my mind at least, this should be sufficient to make the it patently invalid.

None that I have seen have included any sort of reference implementation - which
I would consider to be a minimum requirement - or anything as informative as an
RFC to describe the operation.

Of course, if a reference implemtation was provided, then 'spectral analysis'
could have been used to show that there is prior art for ALL of the claims I

Ah well, </rant>

Liquor A.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Squeak in Extramadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 12:45 PM EST
Actually Squeak is not GPL but covered by the Squeak License.

Squeak was originally developed at Apple and Disney. Here's the license:

[ Reply to This | # ]

Squeak in Extremadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Authored by: DFJA on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 01:17 PM EST
Here's an idea - someone with an interest in GNU/Linux should sue Microsoft
claiming unfair marketing practices surrounding their patent FUD (is this Lanham
act in the USA?). Could they be forced to disclose what patents they are
referring to in order to defend themselves against such a claim, or would they
be able to keep these secret from the public? The number of redacted documents
in the SCO cases makes me fear the latter, although clearly whoever sues would
be a party to these. My worry is that of course Microsoft have enough money to
make such a case drag on sufficiently to bleed any company dry should they try

Alternatively, could they be forced by a court to make a declarative statement
of the patent claims they wish to make, in such a way that they forfeit any
rights to anything they don't declare? A kind of "if you ever want to use
it, you must declare it up front" approach. I seem to remember a legal
precedent was recently set to do with submarine patents, but my memory fails me
as to which it was now. That's essentially the threat that Microsoft are

43 - for those who require slightly more than the answer to life, the universe
and everything

[ Reply to This | # ]

Glad to see you say "illusory" Microsoft IP
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 01:22 PM EST

Microsoft is looking more like SCO/Caldera every day -- just empty claims they
don't dare test in court.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Squeak in Extremadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Authored by: Sean DALY on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 02:07 PM EST
I was astonished when Bill Gates criticized the OLPC project. At the same time, I can't help but think that this way of thinking is a direct result of the Microsoft monoculture. It is one of Microsoft's greatest weaknesses, this habit of using Microsoft Everything; it has been so long since they cared about interoperability, the automatic response is to fit the hardware to the bloated software instead of really innovating.

I have a colleague at work, a senior manager oversseing sales in a part of the world which includes Africa. He has a favorite saying: "IT projects are too important to be decided by IT people". I can't agree 100% :) but I take his point.

I hope the armchair pundits who loudly opposed the OLPC project will understand that innovation comes from searching for a solution to a problem, rather than worrying about lost potential profits in underdeveloped regions of the world.

Sean DALY.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I want to say give him time but I know he doesn't want to give it to us.
Authored by: jplatt39 on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 02:19 PM EST
M$ wants to sell a luxury product. It may have people who are willing to
discuss it as a commodity, but the truth is, software has to cost a lot less
than they think they can afford for it to continue the kind of amazing work it
has done. Plus Gates is a hardware junkie: he wants his fix. And he assumes
that we all do. He's going to play this patent thing for all it is worth.
After all, he's not going to jail over it is he?

He's stepped into the fight against Malaria, and his views have changed,
substantively. One can only hope that he sees, eventually, that either this
kind of tool has to get out there, and I mean something more efficient than his
crippled Windoze, or they are just going to have to deal with piracy and
whatever versions of Open Source are out there.

I know. They're going to have to deal with whatever versions of Open Source are
out there anyhow. And that's a good thing. But if we're going to have a
comfortable lifestyle we will have to deal with them on more equitable terms,
and that means understanding that IP "piracy" is as much a response to
the political control of the flow of information as it is the economic control.
This patent "sabre-rattling" is only helping to create a situation in
many poor parts of the world where real piracy with guns and extortion is
becoming more of an attractive option for people whose governments don't seem to
care whether they get fed or not.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thank goodness for SCO!
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 03:35 PM EST
As others have mentioned, SCO's non-case has been a net benefit for Linux; it's
made Linux stronger against legal attacks. Before, Linux obviously hadn't been
vetted. Now, it has. And better yet, public perception has been vaccinated
against nebulous accusations of intellectual property infringement.

So, while Microsoft certainly has legal resources, I expect my reaction is
typical: "Where's the beef?"

If they have something, present it. We've long known that patents are the most
likely legal threat, so it's not like Microsoft is making any great revelations.
Give us specific allegations. Linux will respond on the merits. Until then,

If this is just the FAT32 long names patents again, I'll be annoyed.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Better video link directly from google video
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 04:30 PM EST
this one can be downloaded as an avi file easily played by most Free Software media players.

At least on countries which are free of Software Patents....

[ Reply to This | # ]

Can't get it to speak English
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 04:33 PM EST
I downoaded the qqueak-vm and squeakland debs and installed them on etch. The
whole thing comes up in German and I can't find any instructions to get it to
speak English, so I'm not getting anywhere with it right now.

Can anyone offer me some pointers?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Squeak in Extremadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 04:37 PM EST
I work for a large professional services company, mostly we sell 'solutions'. We have a huge pile of patents ... hardware, software, and business process. Anything that is patentable, we have some.

I asked the patent attorney once, 'why ?'

He said 'commercial freedom'

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Microsoft/RM education lockin in the UK.
Authored by: Brian S. on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 05:23 PM EST

So, Microsoft. I have a question for you. What are you doing to match this?

A deal with Novell.

Following the hurried Becta Report on interoperability(4 page pdf) produced over the Summer in the UK.

This will enable the UK government to allow the install of Novell desktops in the poorer schools in the UK and achieve their desired 100% Microsoft controlled lockin.

Of course, that plan could be thrown off course by events over the next few months.

I await with interest to witness the possible approval of the first Red Hat/Ubuntu/or other alternate desktop against the wishes of Sir Bill.

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Squeak in Extremadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Authored by: raindog on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 06:37 PM EST
You know, I don't agree with Dvorak on this (or many other things) but I really
don't think he's acting as a shill for MS here or he would have been championing
that Intel/WinXP knockoff of the OLPC laptop. I didn't even see this story on
MSN (which I don't exactly frequent), I saw it on

I think this is just another variation of the tired old "why give them
laptops when they really just need some beans and rice" argument. And it
is dangerous to assume that the laptops will end up in kids' hands when other
forms of aid end up going to the wrong people or just sitting on docks or in
warehouses. But the idea that tech people shouldn't try to help in their own
way just because other people have failed seems like a fallacy to me.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dvorak Video
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 06:37 PM EST
I almost get the idea that he was being sarcastic, or satiric.


If not for the fact that Dvorak is, IMHO, full of himself. At one time, I
purchased PCMagazine regularly, and read every word of his column, particulary
"Inside Track". This was way before he got on ZDTV. I think that
somewhere he lost track of the fact that his job is to *report* on tech, and
began trying to influence it.

But still....he may have been joking. I hope he was.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Dvorak Video - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 09:05 PM EST
  • Dvorak - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 03:10 AM EST
    • Byte - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 03:17 PM EST
      • PCMagazine - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 04:55 PM EST
  • Now who does that sound like? - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 08:33 AM EST
Squeak looks neat
Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 06:38 PM EST

Going to install it right now and play with it.


[ Reply to This | # ]

OLPC is not fully open
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 01:11 AM EST
The full hardware docs have/will not been released.

There is no way to replace the installed OS with anything else.

You'd better hope the OLPC project maintains the code in perpetuity, because
there is no way to maintain it yourself without the docs.

Don't give me a BLOB driver, don't even give me source code.
Just give me the docs.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 02:31 AM EST
Here's some knowledge that is needed in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd worlds.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ratified by the United Nations in
1948, but surveys show the vast majority of people have never heard of it.

On the web site there are 30 ads could be shown to people to educate them as to
what there human rights actually are! Imagine what educating people on these
rights would do!
Access to information like this is one very interesting potential benefit of the
OLPC project.
For examples, see Human Right #26 'The Right To Education' and Human Right #28
'A Fair and Free World'.


"Human rights must be made a fact,
not an idealistic dream. -- L. Ron Hubbard

[ Reply to This | # ]

Squeak in Extremadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 05:04 AM EST

I hope everyone at Microsoft notices from the paragraph how important it is to be inspired by other programmers' prior work, because that is precisely what is wrong with software patents, among many other things. They make ideas unusable, and that curtails innovation. Because there are large parts of the world that currently do not allow software patents, I think you could posit that software patents are endangering the US's ability to compete, and it will only get worse.

The best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating systems." - Bill Gates quoted in Programmers at Work, copyright 1986 by Microsoft Press.

Something else that doesn't often get quoted in full; Back in 1991 Bill Gates was more concerned that some other company would take out a software patent on some obvious technology and use it to hold Microsoft to ransom.

If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today. I feel certain that some large company will patent some obvious thing related to interface, object orientation, algorithm, application extension or other crucial technique. If we assume this company has no need of any of our patents then the have a 17-year right to take as much of our profits as they want. The solution to this is patent exchanges with large companies and patenting as much as we can. - Challenges and Strategy, Bill Gates, May 16, 1991

[ Reply to This | # ]

Squeak in Extremadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 07:40 AM EST
Ah, yes. A sort of Rush Limbaugh, Hate For Hire, of computing. He writes, acts,
in contempt of his audience, even as he relates with relish *to* that audience
exactly how he hates them. And what exactly is contempt, and where does *all*
contempt come from, why is it so poisonous? Read Alice Miller, "The Drama
of the Gifted Child." Then search out her essay, "What is
Hatred?", on the web.

Now go back and watch, or remember the last time you watched, a video of Steve
Ballmer talking where you could really watch the depth of what shows in his
eyes. And then be glad he's only in charge of a corporation and not a country.
Watch the clip of McCarthy's response to Murrow. Now do the same thing with a
video of Cheney. He *is* in charge of country.

When illegitimate hatred is the underlying animus of a person, all of his or her
relationships are bent to its exercise, because illegitimate hatred persists as
long as its bearer remains oblivious to its true origin(s) and object(s). If
that person happens to be a CEO or VP or civic leader or parent or teacher or
columnist or _______, the power over people and things and events that goes with
that position are bent to amplify the exercise of that animus. >> Brrrr

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sociological effects of OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 08:12 AM EST
The discussion of the effects of OLPC are likely to be mostly of a kind I
haven't seen discussed anywhere. If it is at all successful in its educational

goals, OLPC will have a profoundly disruptive effect on the cultures of the
people whose children use it. Among other things:
- it will greatly reduce the authority of parents / elders who are not familiar

with this new source of knowledge.
- it will open masses of kids to people peddling all sorts of ideas, some good
and some evil. Note that many of these kids will not have had the kind of
training in detecting lies / spin that Western kids have from watching TV (eg
from getting an advertised toy and seeing the difference between ad and
- it will make it clear to these kids and their elders just how little they

In other words, major culture shock, comparable in kind to the effects on a
isolated hunter/gatherer culture when it comes into contact with the modern
world, or to the effects the European invasion of North America has had on
the native cultures, but involving millions of people. The effects will be
tremendous, many for the good but potentially also very bad. I don't think
anyone can confidently predict what this project will cause.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Squeak in Extremadura, the OLPC project, and Patent Saber-Rattling
Authored by: jsusanka on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 01:38 PM EST
PJ, I commend you in recognizing this gibberish.

What good is a nation when it is measured by GNP.

When we keep shoving shoot em up and beat them up games down our children's
throats all in the name of innovation and getting rich and the "american

When the divorce rate is higher than the staying married rate and our families
and children are destroyed and desensitized all in the name of innovation and
getting rich and the "american way".

I applaud the one laptop per child project and will do everything I can to
support them.

I enjoy your website and your thoughts - you really make a lot of sense and
hopefully more people will listen.

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SO FULL OF FUD: microsoft’s hold on linux, Dan & David Show
Authored by: SilverWave on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 02:42 PM EST
I think taxing Linux is on topic :P


Dan & David Show
OMG this is so slanted and full of FUD

Here is a rough transcript:

#Dan: I guess the big story of the week was this on going Novell ms agreement
that has turned into paying a tax to ms for running Linux.

#David: Hah, what Redhat is calling an innovation tax. So Steve Ballmer at a
sever conference in Seattle
he took the rhetoric up a couple of notches, in terms of whether or not ms may
come knocking on the door of either, distributors of Linux beyond Novell, such
as Redhat or users of Linux themselves. And he made it clear that both, what I
mean by both is, users of Linux and other distributors have perhaps *a liability
on their balance sheet that need to be dealt with* and he also made it really
clear that he was going to look for deals with other distributors, that the deal
he made with Novell is not exclusive. So the basic indication there is that ms
believes that is has or very clearly believes that it has Intellectual Property
that is being *misappropriated* in Linux

#David: What specifically is it that's being misappropriated has that been
declared yet?
#Dan: Well you know, its hard to say, he wasn't really clear, he wasnt specific
about what in Linux could be infringing upon MS's Intellectual Property he
mentioned the word Linux
#David: Guy: Does he mean kernel?
#Dan: Well its hard to say you know technically speaking the word Linux refers
to the kernel, and to refer to the entire package thats typically distributed
around the world, you know, by the different companies and distributors, that
has all of these other pieces of software around it is GNU/Linux. And so if you
ahhh, you know depending
on who ever you are talking to, if somebody says Linux it means the Kernel
somebody else, a lot of people drop the GNU and just call the whole thing Linux.
I don't know what Steve Ballmer's style is there so its hard to tell whether he
is referring to the Kernel or not.
Now what else beyond the Kernel could be something that is infringing upon MS's
Intellectual Property rights, well ahh, one of the speculations has been, ahh
around samba. samba is the software that comes with most distributions of Linux
that , amongst other things allows a Linux box to pretend that it a MS based
file and print server, ahh, it runs the SMB protocol, which is a protocol
associated with MS's file and print server's, has been for a very long time,
dating back to lan manager. ahhm but some scuttle but thats going around the net
that says that er perhaps ahhm, when IBM, released 500 patents under a big
patent covenant to the open source community that it covered samba's butt. When
it did that so, maybe there's prior art in IBM's Intellectual Property
portfolio. That er would prevent anybody who is using samba from getting sued by
What else? Open Office is another one. You know maybe open office which is also
distributed with most copies of Linux. Maybe that infringes upon some of MS's
Intellectual Property and MS Office.
But a lot of people believe that MS starts lowering the boom on anybody who may
be potentialy infringing on MS Office Intellectual Property the European Union
will go nuts because there are so may users over there. And the EU is all ready
coming after MS.

#Dan: So why does MS want to take this point when it seemed that the company was
becoming more friendly to open source?
#David: You know its an IP based economy Dan. I mean at the end of the day. Ahh
MS's entire business model, is based on it abillity to protect its Intellectual
Property. Om and as is many other companies and so ah, say what you will about
what it takes, you know the ability to get patents and stuff like this in the
the US now. We're not just talking about patents here we could be talking about
copyrights. We still don't know exactly but ah, its an an IP based economy.
Thats what, thats what, you know, makes doing business here great. And ahh, MS's
not ready to move to the other models that, lets say, Redhat's pursuing, or lets
say SUN the one, you know, the way SUN is transitioning.
MS is clearly not a hardware company outside of a few products like Zune &
some mice & keyboards. So ah, you know they have to to protect its
Intellectual Property I dont think they have a choice.

Just lost the will to live - Overdosed on the FUD.
Anyone else want to finish it...
and point out and refute the various FUD?

GPLv3 *OR LATER* has been vindicated
The "OR LATER" is vital
A GPL set in stone will be eroded over time. -SilverWave

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Question on "infrastucture" for the OLPC project
Authored by: LaurenceTux on Sunday, November 19 2006 @ 05:01 PM EST
One of the things that folks point out is "How are these kids going to get
an Internet Connection when there is a large lack of ISPs in #pick remote
area?" So my question is how many parts of sending say a Sun Blackbox and a
support trailer with a satcom link +hotspot are availible

(im thinking that if you need to water cool the Blackbox the output (after
cooling or before use) would solve one of those "But the villagers need
(basic living needs not Hightech)" items.)

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Definition of Poverty is Flexible
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 20 2006 @ 05:05 AM EST
`Poor' in Spain is a rather different kettle of fish to `poor' in Ethiopia. I
that Americans don't do geography, but `poor' in Spain is substantially better
off than, say, `poor' in LA -- that pesky socialised medicine, for example, and

that pesy welfare state. I'm quite prepared to believe that knowledge of
computers could be a rung out of relative poverty in rural Spain. I'm still not
convinced in places where perinatal mortality is >20% and starvation is a

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Squeak is not OLPC, and inherent OLPC problems
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 20 2006 @ 10:39 AM EST
I don't think that success with Squeak (which is a fantastic tool) has any correlation with the potential success of OLPC.

The main problem of OLPC is that its designers have completely missed the realities of their intended target audience. For MIT this seems to be an interesting technical endeavour, but have they really considered questions like:

Of the 1,000,000 laptops delivered, after one week, how many will not have been sold, stolen, or broken? How about after one month? Who will pay for the maintenance and replacements?

As background I might mention that for example in South Africa, all computer labs are protected by iron bars and locks, or alternatively have been robbed empty. When $100 buys you one year's food, how tempting will it be to just sell your child's new laptop?

More information here: The $100 laptop: manna-vaporwave

I'll finish with an interesting thought: Nicholas Negroponte's (chairman of OLPC) b rother is head of US national intelligence. I can just picture Nicholas and John chatting over beer and going "Man it would be great if all those terrorists were online, so we could track them." Enter the OLPC.

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