In November I decided to take part in the Give One Get One program for the One Laptop Per Child. For about $400 one XO will be sent to a child in Haiti, Cambodia, or Rwanda, and another is sent to the donor. On Saturday, December 15, Federal Express handed me a small box just as we were leaving for Santa Cruz. While my wife drove, I unpacked the computer, installed the battery, and plugged it into a converter in the car. It boots slowly, but once on it detected a number of wireless networks as we drove past Los Gatos.
We were staying at my in-laws house which has wireles. I finally got the right configuration for the security password, and was able to connect to the Internet. Each application is called an Action. Browse allows one screen at a time, and the scroll bar is very narrow and a bit hard to use, but response was good. However there is no open source equivalent of Flash (though John Gilmore says they are working on Gnash) so you won't be able to view programs such as YouTube. There is an MPEG player in Etoys, another action, but I did not have very good luck using it. The News Reader could not detect the RSS feeds already installed.
The XO is tiny; you can't touch type unless you have the hands of an 9 year old, but I liked most of the design decisions. The problem is that documenation online is very uneven. Important details are glossed over, a sure sign that the writer knows the software but forgets that you don't and makes leaps when he should be going step by step.
One of the most popular applications with the kids (and me) is the camera
and mike for recording still photos, sounds, and video clips with sound. The 640 x 480 is enough to give some detail on landscapes, and closeups are even better. Again, consider what
they packed into this machine for less than $200. Both of these photos were taken in Santa Cruz near Natural Bridges State Park.