back to article Alabama admits developing country status

Birmingham, Alabama may soon join the third world. As reported by the The Associated Press, Birmingham's city council has rubber-stamped a $3.5m deal with the One Laptop Per Child Foundation, ogling 15,000 laptops designed for less-than-affluent children in developing countries, including Rwanda, Libya, and Mongolia. This is …


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  1. Brian Miller

    "We should be in the learning business"

    No, really, Negroponte? Like that should be the real focus of education?

    I bought one of these XO laptops out of curiosity and to investigate software development for it. Wow! What a total clueless approach to a supposedly educational tool! The sofware development for it focused on their networking scheme, and not education. Hello, is someone missing a concept?

    The XO is really an interesting exercise in producing a cheap Linux laptop, and not much more than that. It really hasn't been about education at all.

  2. Webster Phreaky
    Jobs Horns

    Because OLPC MORE RELIABLE that any MacBook

    ... remember the buggy and flawed G3 and G4 iBook fiascos? No, well school districts won't forget those pieces of shit from Apple. Our school district in CA had 5600 of those POS G3 iBooks, 18% failed in the first 90 days, another 6% failed in another 90 days, by the end of the first year we had a total of 28% complete failures! 47% of those failed THREE TIMES TOTAL after being "fixed" by Apple. Our District will never buy another Apple product ever again. And there we hundreds of other school districts on the West Coast that had similar results and the same feelings about Apple!

    Even one of the Scandinavian countries or maybe it was Holland, band or sued Apple over the POS iBooks! Internet sites and "help me Mac" BBS's like are filled with complaints on the MacBooks and MacBook Pros

    THAT is your Apple quality, why Apple LOST the Educational Market and why likely Alabama went with OLPC. Now all the Apple Kool Aid Drinkers can scream in denial.

  3. Joe


    ...did you forget to take your pills today?

  4. Prunus Persica

    22nd state of the wealthiest country on Earth

    How is Alabama a developing country?

    It doesn't make sense that they need to watch their pennies like a 3rd-world country. Looks like cheap greed.

  5. James O'Brien

    Doesnt measure up to our standards??????

    Umm....paw my laptop doesnt measure upto Alabama standards. Its missing the gun rack and spitcup on the side.


  6. Chris Shewchuk
    Paris Hilton

    Does Webster Phreaky...

    ...ever have anything relevant to contribute that doesn't involve bashing his favourite company?

    There aren't any fanbois to come out of the woodwork on this one, so why are you trying so desperately to attract a response?

    We get it. You don't like Macs. Other people don't like Linux. Still others don't like Windows. Everybody's got reasons, and you're not about to change anybody's mind by screaming at them. You're as bad as any fanboi that you're trying to provoke. Can you leave the grade 9 tactics at home so that other people can discuss topics that are actually relevant to the story?

    Paris, because she's still stuck in grade 9 as well.

  7. Antidisestablishmentarianist


    You were quite easy on the usage of CAPITALs there Webster. Are you feeling OK?

    Please keep up your posts, no matter how tenuous the link to the original article. It's amusing imagining some zealot frothing at the mouth over the 'POS' Apple.

  8. Bob Bramwell

    Junk? I don't think so

    I got an XO through the G1G1 program and have been quite favourably impressed. There are problems and shortcomings, true, but there are a whole lot of very good ideas. The hardware is robust, well thought out and eminently suitable for environments where the power supply is iffy (at best). I would be interested to know how well the competing devices work in rural Peru after a year or so of use by an elementary school kid.

    Where, exactly, did Negroponte "admit" that the XO is a piece of junk? I didn't see it.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Undeveloped Alabama

    As a fellow Southerner (Southern California), I'd like to simply point out that Alabama is indeed a developing area, if not a country in its own right; we expect to see them entering the 19th century any time now. The fact that the school board is apparently intent on spending $3.5m on technology that they admittedly cannot afford or effectivelyuse tells you all you need to know about the contributions of Alabama to our national culture. I'm in favor of promoting their separatism and thereby raising the national IQ of the rest of the country, with the added benefit of increasing the average depth of the country's gene pool.

    IT icon because there isn't any there. Posted anonymously because I know Alabamans too well to put any identification on this. I kid because I love . . .

  10. Sam

    Yeehah, etc.

    "My daddy done marry his sister- but (twitch) it ain't (twitch) done me (twitch) no harm...(twitch), (twitch)."

    Sufficiently far from Alabama.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    Can you please stop posting.

    I don't like Apple. I hate Steve Jobs, the way they focus on design rather than decent specs, The whole hype it up beyond belief marketing, the lack of features (hello iphone) they try and make you believe you don't need, the 'look how stable OSX is' argument when it should be as they know exactly what hardware the machine has and don't have to worry about 3rd party drivers messing it up, the insane fan base who go nuts if you criticise Apple, the cheap foxconn components they use then have the cheek to put a premium price on things, the way they hide their failures even to the point of removing posts from their forums and for lots of other reasons

    However, all you do is make people who don't like Apple for genuine reasons look as bad as the Cult of Jobs with your rabid anti-apple rants. If you stick to the topic and present well thought out arguments without dropping to the point of irrational fanboyism, people may listen. Until that happens, even those that agree with you just laugh at you.

    Stop descending to the Apple fanboy level, especially on articles that have nothing whatsoever to do with Apple. You really do us no favours.

  12. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Beware Capitalist Strangers Bearing Gifts

    "Even Nicholas Negroponte admits it's a piece of junk. "We should not be in the hardware or software business," he tells BusinessWeek." ........ Well, It isn't really the hardware or software business at all, is it, but more a Hearts and Minds Big Brother foothold Op. in Naive Native Markets ..... Candy for Children from wicked Uncle Ernie types?

  13. Spleen
    Thumb Up

    In defence of Webster

    Having repeatedly tried make a friend's iMac usable and suffering through its repeated hardware failures and shit technical support, if I'd had to deal with 5,600 of the things then I would make Webster's obsession look like mild annoyance.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Alabama's "GDP"

    is ranked 25th in the USA and put is at roughly equivalant to Iran which is ranked 36th. So is Iran a developing country?

    ... mine is the one made of kevlar

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Alabama's a dump. It's third world, but is in denial...

  16. Anonymous Coward


    "Alabama's a dump. It's third world, but is in denial... "

    Nonsense, it's nowhere near Egypt.

    Oh, sorry. I seem to have misread.

    I'll get my coat.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Amanfrommars hits the nail on the head again

    Truly, the OLPC campaign is one of cultural colonialism, in which Americans are trying to farm new technology workers who will be cheaper than Chinese and Indian labor. Why else are the big technology companies providing financial backing? They prefer this to funding things that save human lives in places like Africa, because those poor human lives don't serve them or buy computers.

  18. Mark Nelson

    Without ALABAMA we would never have gone to the MOON People.

    Because Marshall Space Flight Center is in Huntsville Alabama. Along with NASA. During the APOLLO Project years the test firings of the Saturn V engines would shake the windows where I lived about 15 miles away from the test stands.

  19. Mel Collins

    Third world != developing nation

    During the cold war the term "third world" was coined to refer to those nations not aligned with Capitalist (1st world) nor Communist (2nd World) ideologies. Often because they weren't strategically valuable enough for one of the major powers to invade.

    The "developing" moniker is used for nations which aren't industrialised enough to exploit the peoples of other nations, instead having to rely on exploiting the local population.

  20. Curtis W. Rendon

    @Mel Collins

    You are incorrect about the definition of 3rd World. Developing are quite likely 3rd world.

    1st World is for the major economies (US, Europe, Russia)

    2nd for the middlin' economies: (Egypt, Jordan, S. Africa)

    3rd World for most of the rest,

    and then failed states.

  21. Brennan Young

    @Curtis Rendon: Definition of 'Third World'

    Umm... I believe Mel Collins *is* correct. 'Third World' is definitely a concept that arose during the cold war to specify countries on 'neither' side.

    Your definitions may be vaguely true today, and yet not. Where do you get them from?

    For example what is a 'failed state'? Doesn't that usually mean a state that the USA doesn't like, doesn't care about and doesn't invade? Like Haiti? (USA didn't exactly invade Haiti, but they did remove the democratically-elected party). Is Venezuela a 'failed' state or a 2nd world country? What about China? As far as I can tell, Venezuela and China are modernising themselves faster than any so-called 1st world countries, whereas the USA looks to be fixing for a mammoth stock market crash Real Soon Now.

    1st, 2nd and 3rd World are anachronisms since 1989. (The end of the cold war).

    For example: Millions of Americans live so far below the poverty line, that thousands of Indians would be able to look down their noses at them. It's quite proper that poor American states start to define themselves as 'in need of help' from the likes of OLPC, because the US state apparently has ideological qualms about any kind of 'handouts'.

  22. yeah, right.


    You know, I think the real culprit is El Reg, for trying to pretend to be a "news" provider, when it's just another blog by opinionated, ill-informed, pretentious idiots.

    So, when are we going to be able to filter out the opinionated, ill-informed, pretentious idiots we don't agree with, and therefore limit our reading to the ill-informed, pretentious idiots whose opinions match our own ill-informed, pretentious, idiotic opinions?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    back to OLPC

    I'd ask what the school board could do with that $100 per kid. A judiciously spent $100 at the local bookstore could fetch perhaps eight decent paperbacks--say Penguins or Oxford World Classics for humanities, Dover for math on the cheap. With the buying power of a school board, $100 would go a lot farther. And the paperbacks would last longer and stand up to harsher use than the laptop.

    (And for the 'Bama Bashers, I checked--there are 3 Borders stores within 25 miles of Birmingham.)

  24. Mark Nelson

    The main problem from what I see is $$$$$$$$$$ from the state.

    Most High School teachers make about $20,000 a year and that is with 4 years seniority. The parents typically have to buy their kid the following: Pencils, Pens, Books, Toilet Paper, Art Supplies. You know all the stuff that the school board supplied back when we were kids. And that is in the cities that are wealthy in the state. In the poor counties they have even less.

  25. Gareth

    America is the richest country on earth but it's citizens aren't...

    The US might be the richest country on earth, but it's also a land of quite staggering inequality. In many ways it's more like the EU - 52 semi-independent states with very different economies, politics and attitudes.

    Despite the shiny trinkets and vast cardboard McMansions, much of the US outside the big cities and big states is approaching third world conditions. Factor in that much of America is utterly addicted to spending more than they earn by loading up credit cards then third world inhabitants with a mud hut and a goat actually have (on paper) a higher net worth than their American counterparts who may be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

  26. Dana W
    Jobs Halo

    @ Webster Phreaky

    You really need a hobby, forget what computers people like and try going out with girls "or guys, whatever works"

    Nobody wants to play Mac Vs PC anymore, its worn out and nobody cares.

  27. heystoopid

    Hmmm .

    Hmmm , one can say Amerika is actually in worse condition financially then many third world countries when you take into account the absolute debt level of both Government and Civil Debt which works out to be over $160K for every man woman and child, which effectively means the average debt exceeds two thirds of the assets and reserves within the country and the average GDP income is a mere $46K so the day of reckoning is not far away and make the '29 crash look like a picnic when she comes .

    Further , a previous article pointed out whilst apple fans are raving fanatics and blind to the obvious, that at this point in time for every 25 laptops sold only one is an Apple product , thus they are and will always remain a tiny but irrelevant side player .

    Thus the market has spoken Apple will always be a very small minor bit player no matter how hard the fan boys say or do otherwise !

  28. Snert Lee

    Local View

    Birmingham Board of Education: Where interpersonal politics is King!

    Many years ago, did a goodly chunk of my journeyman computer guy work in the many schools there. (Netware 2.x, IBM PS/2s, and baseband networking.) That experience, plus concern for my daughter's education, is why I moved to a suburban satellite town just south of B'ham proper.

    Although the Reg says, "Birmingham's city council has rubber-stamped a $3.5m deal", the AP article pointed to as a source says "Birmingham's school board still must agree to the deal". Personally, I thought the announcement was just a PR move to gloss over other woes such as the recent vote to close 16 schools to avoid state level gov't swooping in to run things, or the report with pages that went missing between being received by the soon-to-be most recent ex-Supertendant of Ed. and his passing the report along to the rest of the Board.

    Just a shiny, distracting, feel-good exercise, like most pushes to throw technology into education. It might be interesting to see what good would come of it, but it doesn't seem very likely that they'll actually spend the money.

  29. tony trolle
    Black Helicopters

    engine testings

    so they tested Saturn V rocket engines there, if you think about it there has to be a reason.

    NO ONE cares about the dump/state.

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