It is with great sadness that I say good bye to my XO computer from OLPC. It is not enough computer to do the things I want to do with a computer in Africa.
There is not enough hard drive space which is a mystery to me since hard drive space is so inexpensive these days. It is so slow booting up which is multiplied by the times I have to reboot. When using the touch-pad the mouse goes crazy and I can’t control it any longer so I must reboot. This happens at least once an hour. For unexplained reasons the computer just slows down to a crawl and I have to reboot. Sometimes it just freezes and I have to reboot.
The supplied browser crashes frequently but it’s the only web-browser that uses the evince PDF reader so I have to use it to read PDFs. But it won’t open PDFs with more than two or three pages, instead the browser crashes or the computer freezes. Flash has the same problems.
I use Opera most of the time for my browser but flash works sporadically at best and Opera also crashes or freezes. Many of the free online apps I love don’t work in either browser or are funky. Typing in Zoho writer is a jumping jumble.
The file system is primitive and after only 3 months I find it incredibly frustrating to locate projects, text or photos I have stored. And I have figured out how to name my files and how to show only specific type of file in the journal.
And very important to me I could not get an alternative power supply. The yoyo manufacturer would not sell me one. Even after I pleaded my case OLPC would not even sell me one let alone give me one. I could not find the elusive $12.00 solar panel charger. And OLPC support is cautious about recommending one to me.
I do feel OLPC is sending an inferior product to the third world. It displays the attitude that second rate is good enough for the third world. The educational tools on the computer that don’t rely on the Internet are mostly focused on computers and programming. I think the most important general education tool on this computer is the internet so the internet needs to be working up to 2008 standards. Running this computer takes me back to the old frustrations of running a Windows 95 machine. And the support for the computer is also internet based. Its very frustrating to try to solve a problem when your problem solving tool is buggy. Keyboard response time reminds me of a windows 95 machine as well. There is significant lag time between hitting the key and the input showing on the monitor.
The media capabilities are very limited. Its very cool that there are video and audio recorders but only seconds of record time and no way to edit the recordings? Its a given that I have to have an external hard drive to store my digital photos. Then it’s very clunky to view those photos. The browser is the only photo viewing tool. I can’t open photos from the browser so I must switch between browser and journal for each photo. There is not enough disk space or RAM to install a photo editing tool. The online tool Picnik does not run but freezes the computer.
I was a huge fan of this computer. I loved the educational mission. I loved the commitment to open source. To fulfill either mission OLPC needs to create a better box to put it in.
OLPC lost the chance to have an ardent supporter living and working in just the type of place they want to sell their computers. I will be teaching computer science to Ghanian teens. Too bad I won’t be demonstrating the cool little XO computer to everyone I meet there. I won’t be singing the praises of the XO to my fellow teachers and the government of Ghana.
I’m buying the latest Eeepc instead.
This post was typed on my OX the spacing and line breaks are part of the funkiness when using online apps.