Saturday, January 02, 2010

Not the Apple iTablet or iSlate -- the OLPC XO-3

My XO-1 was the proto-netbook, an innovative low-power mini-laptop with wifi, mesh networking, a rotating screen with a "panel" mode (but no touch screen, alas), and a daylight-viewing mode I still haven't seen matched... as well as some fascinating educational software concepts.

And that was the point: One Laptop per Child had/has a goal of getting teaching machines into the hands of children around the world.

Alas, that first XO also had a keyboard that was a royal pain -- not just built for child-size fingers, but prone to "stuck" membrane keys for "ctrl" and "alt," which rendered my XO useless, especially after "pinching" a key to unstick it caused a rip in the membrane. (Presumably school systems met with the same problem acquired bushels of replacement keyboards, along with these easy-repair instructions.)

I wasn't surprised to see the XO-2 "concept" design last year featuring only a touch panel in place of the keyboard half of the laptop, eliminating the XO-1's weakest link and creating an intriguing two-page "electronic book," with either half usable as an iPhone-style touch-panel keyboard or display.

But now OLPC has taken the conceptual evolution another step, simplifying things even more with the

XO-3 concept design

That first typing-surface image made me laugh, reminding me instantly of the screen-keyboard configuration of my second computer, circa 1985, the Tandy TRS-80 Model 100. It ran on four double-A batteries, had a text editor, communication ports and a programming language, and I used mine for about seven years, including some news-reporting trips on the backroads of coastal New England.

Meanwhile, I'll keep watching the Apple tablet gossip. (There's even some speculation that the XO screen I like so much might play a part.) Whatever happens, I certainly hope they don't seriously call it the "iSlate," no matter how much the name might appeal to procrastinators.

As for the thin just-a-panel XO-3, while folks like Forbes magazine speculate about roadmaps and practicality, I have a mental image of thousands of school kids holding panels above their heads, wirelessly networking their screens together to build a composite-image reminiscent of sports-stadium audience card-stunt displays... but a thousand times more creative... and saying... whatever the 21st century generation wants to say to the world.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year traditions...

Welcomed with a new calendar from the Floyd County Historical Society (bought at the last Floyd ContraDance) and some ritual foodstuffs I learned about when I lived in North Carolina, here's to 2010...

I didn't do anything wild on New Year's Eve, but, if the mountain roads stay driveable, I may try for the “Howl At The Moon” benefit concert with Windfall and others, Saturday, January 2, at 7 p.m. at the Floyd Country Store, although not on its calendar.

How else to celebrate?

(If any of my Web production students are reading... take a look at that Floyd County Historical Society page, figure out why it's in the condition it's in, figure out who is in charge, and make them a redesign offer they can't refuse!)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Alternative to Auld Lang Syne

I think this song would be a fine one to ring in any old new year... and the video alone is hypnotic... fine for an alcohol-free holiday (or a free-alcohol one).

YouTube - AIN'T WE CRAZY - Harry "MAC" McClintock - 1928

The lyrics are here and here.

And if you need an encore... another from Mac...

Thanks to for putting all of this audio history online.