One Laptop Per Child--and one per me

Peter Glaskowsky becomes one of the first to order from the One Laptop Per Child project by getting up in the middle of the night.

Peter Glaskowsky
Peter N. Glaskowsky is a computer architect in Silicon Valley and a technology analyst for the Envisioneering Group. He has designed chip- and board-level products in the defense and computer industries, managed design teams, and served as editor in chief of the industry newsletter "Microprocessor Report." He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure.
Peter Glaskowsky
3 min read

I had to wake up early to do it, but I was able to order an XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child Foundation (and donate another at the same time).

I was prepared to discover the project's Web site overloaded with visitors--one observer predicted the alloted systems would sell out "in 30 seconds." But I had no problems.

The XO laptop from the OLPC Foundation OLPC Foundation

I visited Laptopgiving.org promptly at 3 a.m. Monday, saw that the main page had changed to show the start of the "Give One Get One" program, and clicked the "Find out more" button. That took me to a page providing a small amount of additional detail on the program plus a link to place an order.

The ordering link took me to PayPal--so that could explain why the OLPC site wasn't overwhelmed; they're only providing two pages to most visitors. All the e-commerce overhead happens on PayPal's network. I was able to complete the transaction without delays, for a total of $423.95 including shipping.

Back on the OLPC site, I learned that T-Mobile is providing a full year of complimentary access to the company's HotSpot Wi-Fi access points for OLPC buyers. This service applies to any Wi-Fi device, too, not just the XO. T-Mobile values this donation at "more than $350."

That won't mean much to me because I prefer to use my Option GT Max 3.6 Express cellular wireless modem card on the AT&T network when I'm traveling. But for those who would otherwise pay for T-Mobile access, this is a pretty nice offer.

Here's an interesting note in the "Terms and Conditions" page for the purchase:

9. Neither OLPC Foundation nor One Laptop per Child, Inc. has service facilities, a help desk or maintenance personnel in the United States or Canada. Although we believe you will love your XO laptop, you should understand that it is not a commercially available product and, if you want help using it, you will have to seek it from friends, family, and bloggers. One goal of the G1G1 initiative is to create an informal network of XO laptop users in the developed world, who will provide feedback about the utility of the XO laptop as an educational tool for children, participate in the worldwide effort to create open-source educational applications for the XO laptop, and serve as a resource for those in the developing world who seek to optimize the value of the XO laptop as an educational tool. A fee based tech support service will be available to all who desire it. We urge participants in the G1G1 initiative to think of themselves as members of an international educational movement rather than as "customers."

Personally I still feel more like a customer than a member of a movement, but maybe after I've spent some time working with the XO, I'll feel differently.

I have no idea when I'll get the XO I just ordered, nor any idea where the second XO I've paid for will end up. But the project says it'll try to ship my system, at least, before the holidays. When it arrives, I'll write more about it here.