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Re: [bytesforall_readers] Computing power to every home: Questions from Punjab villages

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  • Satish Jha
    I recently visited a Punjab village, about an hour from Chandigarh. Was impressed by the roads. the lush green fields with not an inch looking empty. And in a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 30, 2011
      I recently visited a Punjab village, about an hour from Chandigarh.
      Was impressed by the roads. the lush green fields with not an inch looking empty.
      And in a community of some 2000 families, an estimated 200 had laptops at homes. The traditional laptops that is.
      They asked some questions about OLPC and I found them interesting.
      For whatever insights that may offer to curious, I thought I will share it with this group.

      (The point is, the contrast with Bihar is very instructive. A village, 20 kms from Patna, with about 1000 families, had just a couple homes with laptops)

      I thought the monthly fees should include the broadband cost too. But even if it did, it will be too expensive- should villagers have the capacity to use computers today. Computers are not like cell phones and need just a little more skill to operate. They are not even like driving a car, a skill that requires no literacy. Computers require literacy and more.

      Novatium mimics, if not imitate, Minitel of France, a hugely successful initiative in the 1980s that died spelling financial ruin for many of its users and the company that promoted it. That was a very innovative idea that did not get the pricing and the product design as right as Steve Jobs manages as a matter of routine leading to an experience that is most unusual in human history, where EVERY Apple store is overflowing with customers from before the shops open until after then begin to close.. where just FOUR stores in China do a business of some $3 Billion in about 7000 sq meters of 30 feet high ceiling, state of the art space alone.. 

      Questions from the village folks of Punjab on one laptop..

                  #1    What will be the future of the Laptop for a student of class V this year; will it be upgraded for class VI also?


      The OLPC laptops are good for any age. Just that these are designed for children, to work in challenging environments for “learning learning”. They grow with the child or the learner and are an excellent tool for learning in general, including adult education. These are being used in several countries in high school as well. Several professors at universities such as Harvard and Berkley use these laptops for their work also.


                  #2    What if it gets spoiled? From where to get it repaired?


      OLPC laptops are designed to be maintenance free. However, should there be any challenge, children can be trained to repair it. We normally ask every child to open and close it three times and that gives the children confidence to maintain it. Should there still be a challenge, we create a framework where we can keep 1% laptops in reserve and when a laptop has a challenge, we replace it with a fresh one and then repair the faulty so that students always have access to the laptops.


                  #3    Will it be replacing the text books and text copies of the syllabus or just an additional source to learn?


      Laptops do not replace the text books. But al the text books can be digitized and uploaded on the laptop. So, should the school want, a student does not need to carry any text books physically (they can be stored on the laptop) or any copy book as all the work can be done on the laptop.


                  #4    Will it replace the School bags, as was shown to the parents in the clippings  on 24th July that the children were coming and going to the school with a  Laptop only?


      It can replace the school bag altogether, should the school choose to do so and as President Abdul Kalam would tell you, if you ask, we should take the weight of school bags off our children’s backs. But that is entirely up to you and we recommend it.


                  #5    How to learn other subjects if the keyboard is made only for English  language?


      We can give keyboards for any language. Even if the keyboard is in English, we can simulate it effortlessly for any language. We already have “keyboard skin” for Hindi, Marathi, Bangla, Tamil etc and we can provide you with an application that will help you use any skin of choice.


                  #6    Will it be useful for a student of class Nursery of age 4years?


      It is recommended to be used as early as possible. So a 4 year child, like Nintendo, can start using it effortlessly.


                  #7    What is the configuration of the machine?


      It is configured to take care of all the applications it comes loaded with, everything a computer can do and multitasking and there is a large document you can download by querying on google “OLPC XO 1.75 configuration” and you can get a complete pdf file.  


                  #8    Will it not be effecting the eyesight of the children?


      OLPC has the healthiest screen in the computing industry designed to be most harmless of al computer screens. Children in 41 countries have been using it and in any case, in every aspect, its less harmful than every other screen as of today.


      On Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 9:14 PM, Ashok Jhunjhunwala <ashok@...> wrote:

      I thought that the monthly charges of Novatium was essentially a unlimited broadband cost?

      ashok jhunjhunwala, iit madras
      Sent from my iPad

      On 25-Jul-2011, at 4:53, Satish Jha <satish.jha@...> wrote:


      I just added up the cost of owning it over 5 years.

      $184 + $660= $844?? + the broadband connectivity cost.

      For no computing power at your end and complete dependence on broadband connectivity at ALL times??
      Would you buy it?

      An Mac Airbook, perhaps the finest device in its class in the world costs less with all the computing power a household may generally need with a quality that is beyond any other PC of laptop in that price range.

      Why would one pay the price and NOT have the stuff at hand?

      As a computer, at $184 plus $2 a month a child can have OLPC instead that has a lot more than what the report says about Novatium. And it comes with everything a child needs to learn and what Novatium seems to offer.

      Little wonder only 40,000 people have taken it in a couple years. What may be interesting to know is who are these people and what use are they putting it to and if they are happy using it.

      That will be a more meaningful story to know as if its creating value for money, then everyone can know about it and weigh its utility.

      2011/7/22 Frederick FN Noronha फ्रेडरिक नोरोन्या *فريدريك نورونيا <fredericknoronha@...>

      Satish Jha 
      T: 301 841 7422
      F: 301 560 4909 

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      Satish Jha 
      T: 301 841 7422
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