back to article OLPC czar shames Intel into board seat

You can usually gauge how thrilled Intel is with a given announcement by examining the length of its associated news release. Today, we find Intel joining the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program and managing a grand total of five paragraphs to tout the achievement. That's about, say, seven or eight fewer paragraphs than you …


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  1. Edward Mokurai Cherlin

    Well, duh! But...

    Sure Intel has better technology (on some points) in its Edu-Wise laptop than the OLPC XO ( Intel also proposes to charge $400 for that better technology, (There are those who doubt that they will reach that price point.) and pushes users toward proprietary software. Let's see what Intel can do for $175, without the low-power AMD processor and OLPC's 200 dpi, sunlight-readable screen.

    Anyway, OLPC has confirmed pre-orders (no contracts until production starts) for several million units going to children in eight countries in South America, Africa, and Asia, ( and is in serious negotiations with dozens of other countries and US states. Intel, in contrast, announced a deal for 300,000 units for teachers in Mexico, but none for the children.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    first world chauvinism

    Is Otto writing other columns besides his own? "watch skateboarding dogs they would rather eat". Well, it fits with the choleric tone of the article.

  3. Alex H

    What the hell kind of reporting is this?

    For a number of years I've been reading the reg, under the mistaken impression that it was a tech news site of sorts.

    But this wasn't a news article, it was pure unadulterated shit.

    Yes, the Intel offering may be more powerful than the OLPC. But it'll also be a lot more expensive. In case you haven't been paying attention, the whole point is to provide computers for the POOR.

    If you've got shares in Intel then good luck to you.

    But grow the fuck up.

  4. Graham Lockley


    'If you've got shares in Intel then good luck to you.

    But grow the fuck up.'

    Im missing something here, this seemed like the standard El Reg article complete with jaded sunglasses view, did I miss the Intel puffery bit ?

  5. Jon Blake

    OLPC is a much more advanced then Intel Classmate!!!

    Hey get a clue and list the feature sets of both laptops. Here are some hints:

    1. Intel battery life < 4 hours

    2. OLPC Battery life >10 hours

    1. Intel has no draw pad

    2. OLPC has draw pad

    There are a ton of innovations on the OLPC that the Intel classmate does NOT have. Intel solution is crap, and there is NO innovation and at twice the money.

    Hey Intel, why can you come up with things like iphone or a innovative inexpensive laptop? Cause all your good at is making CPU's and that is all you will ever be good at.

  6. Matthew Gaylard

    Yes, some journalism please

    If I want unsubstantiated posturing I can consult my cat.

  7. Nick Galloway

    Food & Water

    This article hits the nail on the head. Why do the poor of the world want laptops for their children when they can't even get clean drinking water or safe food let alone a stable electrical supply.

    I can see it now, a $100 laptop needing to be plugged into a UPS unit charged off a diesel (or wood fired) generator without a phone line.

    I think there are a few of lifes little essentials come well before digital technology in the under developed world. Wanting to eat the dog is probably not too far off the mark.

  8. Richard Neill

    Not the 3rd world, but the "2nd" world

    Re: "Why do the poor of the world want laptops for their children when they can't even get clean drinking water or safe food let alone a stable electrical supply."

    That's quite correct in principle. But it's a common misunderstanding that these machines are intended for countries in abject poverty. The OLPC is aimed at countries which already have adequate basics (food, water, shelter etc) for almost everyone (eg India, Brazil). What these countries don't have is a 1st class education system, and it's here that the OLPC can help.

  9. Tom Silver badge

    Dangerous move...

    The last thing Intel want is for the OLPC to succeed - can you imagine what will happen when its discovered that you dont need high powered chips running bloated operating systems to do useful computing.

  10. Don Mitchell

    One Boondoggle Per Child

    A refreshing look at the MIT Media Lab's latest boondoggle. Handing out these crappy laptops to 3rd world children is roughly equivalent to sending them bibles, and just about as useful for them. While the "evil" Bill Gates is spending billions to send vaccines, the Negroponte is talking about the importance of introducing poor children to Linux and saving them from Windows. What's next? Will be argue about whether starving children should be using emacs or vi as their text editor?

  11. Brian Watson

    RE: Food & Water

    You just don't seem to get it. Nicholas Negoponte hit it on the head on the OLPC wiki page "It's an education project not a laptop project". To help the poor in this world get out of abject poverty, they need education. Getting a laptop in their hands is probably the most ideal way to do this. Instantly, they have access to a vast amount of information (either by direct internet connection or by a proxy server, the school server, containing cached web pages).

    You can give people food, but they will come back later for more. If you give them some food and the tools to grow or make more, then they will come back less.

    As for drinking water, and safe food, the way you get this is by making wells and educating people on the safe storage of foods. Also, agricultural advice, weather and climate information (not real time if not connected to the net, of course) are all important on getting people out of poverty.

    As for generating the electricity for doing this, well, I'm sure there's a few web pages out there that show how to generate electricity cheaply and, hopefully, with local resources.

    This project is a start. I think a lot of people see it and assume that's all it's going to be. It's going to evolve over time but it has to get a start somewhere and I think this is the right way to go. Educate the children first, they will then be the educators and parents of the future with far more knowledge than their parents had before them. Sitting on your hands doing nothing gets us nowhere. Just giving out nothing but the food to eat saves people from starving but does not allow them to become self sufficient. Knowledge does. In the LONG TERM it is much more cost and resource effective to educate. This is not a short term project.

    As the OLPC goes as a laptop, I have not yet handled one, but I know that I would not mind having a light, small, low heat, long battery lived notebook to sit and surf the net.

    As for the original article, what a load of gobshite. Fire this "reporter". The article was just crap. Just nothing but a teardown of a project that, if anything, should be getting supported by an "I.T." web site. To the editor "Come on, wake up!, did you not read this bullcrap before it was published?"

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "With Intel's help, more children may soon receive the embarrassing OLPC system, so that they can watch dogs, that they'd rather be eating, skateboard on YouTube."

    This paragraph seems to have been beamed in from another planet; the tone is all wrong. It would have been better to say something like "so that they can watch Paris Hilton's pet ocelot feeding an iPhone into a blender", or something uncontroversially witty, rather than sniggering at foreign food.

    Besides, I thought the stereotype was that Korean people ate dogs; and Korea has no shortage of computers, people are issued them at birth over there.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Full of generalisations and flawed, this article brings no value to the subject at hand

    The article is full of generalisations, brings no depth to the subject and is mocking some of the issues behind the initiative.

    Your journalist's reasoning is full of flaws -

    First of all, it seems that this person is of the opinion that nobody in a third world country has access to basic facilities such as public utilities. This is not correct. You will find that most countries have a middle class, a lower class with some (limited) purchasing power, and finally another group of people that are below the poverty line. You will find that, depending on the level of wealth present in a country, most of the demographic groups have no opportunities to purchase a computer. This down the line affects their employability, opportunities to create their own business (within the IT industry and otherwise).

    Second of all, not all of the countries targeted by this initiative are third world countries (as stated above) - the fact is that computers are not part of primary and secondary education in all over the world.

    In third place, as anyone who has been around during the last 10 years or so, has lived anywhere in the Western World and has been exposed to mass production, the higher the number of computers produced by the OLPC, the lower the manufacturing price. Hence, every time that a second manufacturer produces a computer to compete with the OLPC, the most likely it is that its price will have to increase. As it already has.

    In fourth place - and with regards to electricity. Could I remind you that the unit has its own electricity generator, which can be activated by turning a crank or a pedal repeatedly? In the worst case scenario, most schools have electricity, and if a particular child doesn't have electricity at home and the battery runs out, the crank/pedal can be used to recharge the battery.

    In fifth place - some international companies have social responsability programs in third world countries where they operate. I have seen these type of programs provide education (among other facilities) to their company employees and to local communities in the surrounding areas. I have observed this mostly among mining companies - they are usually located in remote areas, employee families have little access to facilities and need enticement to recruitment. Additionally the companies invest in the surrounding area, to obtain everything including food, contractors, electricity and water. Social responsibility programs would be an ideal target for this type of computer, as funds are limited and usually invested where they can get the best value for money.

    I am sure other non-governmental organizations could be targeted by the OLPC.

    I personally couldn't care less who contributes with the OLPC innards - whether it is intel or AMD. I hope that Negroponte succeeds in providing cheap computers to those that don't have access to them.

    The sarcastic comments of your 'journalist' bring no value to the conversation. He fails to state why the Intel option is better. Even more, even though he states that poor people would 'rather be eating [dogs]' that having their taxes spent in computers, he states that the Intel option is better - even though IT IS MORE EXPENSIVE.

    Did you have this 'article' proofread? What was your editor thinking??

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Joe

    The bad old days

    I remember growing up in Britain in the 1980s, with only four BBC Micros for the entire class! So deprived was my generation... How did we ever manage to learn anything without our own individual personal laptops?

  16. Bruce Sinton

    The Bad Old Days

    Mr Joe,

    Only four BBC Micros ! Mein Got , you should have been around in the 1930s and 1940 when I was a Boy.

    Computers didn't even exist in Science Fiction.

    I don't know how I learned to reed and right.

  17. Colin Millar

    If it looks like a duck and farts like a duck......

    If the article doesn't appear to be addressing this issue seriously it's because it doesn't deserve to be addressed seriously.

    Educating people in poverty needs teachers - not access to wikis and blogs with their democratised version of truth.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Brian Watson

    Give a man a match and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

  19. jaarius

    RE: Not the 3rd world, but the "2nd" world

    Isn't the '2nd world' a Cold War term for former soviet sates etc.

  20. Brutus


    One of the major bonuses of this program that Ashley _so_ artfully flames is to provide access to the textbooks of the world. We can't manage to provide books for schools even in the UK without the help of major supermarket chains!

    As for the general tone of the article- well, I've always thought Ashley's 'reporting' of slightly less than the high standard we get from the UK based reporters, but I generally blame that on his being in California, where everything is wonderful and you can look down upon the rest of the world from your Olympian Techno-Utopia, where everyone would rather argue about the relative merits of processor speed and iPhone battery-life than think about people struggling against economic and cultural adversity.

  21. Lee Humphries

    And still they don't get it

    And have either of these two camps thought about who is going to pay for the connectivity?

    Let's describe the scene, you're a child in a remote village and you've just received a wind-up laptop. Great, no worries about power - now what are you going to connect it to to learn about the outside world? There's no network for 3 days travel in any direction and getting a satellite connection to your village will require a generator and a monthly subscription fee that's not much short of the annual income of the entire village.

    There's this pathetic assumption of the general availablity of internet connectivity. Some of these guys have noble ideas but they need to be dropped in some of these remote places, without power, without a reticulated water supply and sewerage system, without their money, without any connectivity to the outside world apart from dodgy radio or hopping on a boat or walking for 3 days and see how practical their ideas are.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is the first time the Reg has done something that has caused me be annoyed with its publication.

    I can honestly say, this article was so rabid that even though it is written in text I could see the Intel Fanboy foam frothing out your mouth.

    I had to keep looking at the page header to check to see if I was in the right place. Does the reg actually embrace Intel? Are you paid by them? You must be, otherwise there would be some neutrality in the reporting, not nonsense negative PR.

  23. Rajesh

    Two views

    One view I hold now is that the article in question is not sufficiently serious, given the pretending, posturing, etc.

    The other view I hold is that the OLPC is not a realistic enough project for one to be serious about.

    I gather the first results in more apathy than the second. In the latter case, at least someone's pushing technology to become cheap and useful to someone. It may make a difference to some of the children who can afford INR 4000 or $100 (which is way above their wages or means in many developing/underdeveloped nations).

    To exercise some discretion, I feel this article is simply not serious enough about something which could potentially become important. Flippant comments are all very well, but not into every line of the article, because that is not conscientious reporting, however funny it may be. If one wants to publish hogwash, one may as well do it on one's personal blog or site or whatever.

    Anyway this article bops Intel one for staying out of a somewhat positive initiative. Thats the good bit!

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