Wednesday, November 07, 2007

One Laptop Per Mobile Geek

The One Laptop Per Child project is heating up, as production of the device has started, and in just a few days you'll be able to buy one. People have started to wonder, who, besides children in developing countries, should buy the laptop, and have even suggested that perhaps it might be an ideal device for seniors..

I've been wondering myself, if the device could be repurposed as a mobile laptop for geeks. As I've mentioned before, the hardware is really innovative, being: lightweight, drop-proof, water resistant, having outstanding battery life, supporting an e-book reading mode, having a built in tablet and having better WiFi than most real laptops (see a video showing this all, here). Throw in the fact that the device is cheap, and it seems like an ideal tool to be tossed into a bag and traveled with.

Before the laptop can be declared the ultimate geek machine, I think a bit of work needs to be done. First off, can the hardware be used by adults? Sure, it's optimized for kids, but can adults make do with the screen and keyboard? I'm used to typing fairy long blog posts on my Sidekick 3 - so clearly, where there's a will, there's a way..

Next, what software can reasonably run on the device? At this point I wouldn't concern myself with how useful it is to run the software, just catalog what does and doesn't work. Ideally, there'd be a procedure for wiping off all the kids software on the device and replacing them with more robust tools.

Finally, I'd love to see a series of howtos written that that suggest practical ways to use the laptop in a mobile context. Titles like How to run the perfect brainstorming session using the OLPC laptop, or How to Get Things Done on the road using the OLPC laptop would be ideal. This would insure that all these purchased laptops don't just collect dust as the once-must-have-gadget.

I have a feeling that plenty of kids and parents are going to be disappointed with the OLPC laptop, as it will hardly compare to their PlayStation 2 or Dell Desktop. But geeks, well, us geeks will appreciate any device that can squeeze out 6 hours of battery life from, even if it is neon green with little WiFi ears.


  1. I too would love to see a set of posts about how to Get Things Done on a XO in a mobile setting. Care to write one for OLPC News?

  2. I'd love to...I just don't have access to a laptop. I don't think I have the courage yet to buy one either (but after the project was done, what self respecting geek wouldn't want one?).

    I think the key would be to find software and practices that compliment the device, rather than just using standard Linux tools.