OLPC’s Many Misfortunes

The Wall Street Journal has a sort of tragic story about the trouble the One Laptop Per Child project has had selling its XO laptop to developing nations. OLPC has faced competition from Intel and other low-cost laptop manufacturers and several of the nations that had initially committed to purchasing laptops now seem to be going with Intel. The story ends on a bright note, however. Intel and OLPC now intend to collaborate on an Intel-based laptop and OLPC is in good financial shape.

Personally I don’t have a problem with commercial competition for the OLPC, I just think it’s a shame that the nations buying the Intel laptops are putting Windows on them. The extreme hackability of the XO is one of its most important innovations and you miss out on that if you load up your laptops with proprietary software. I ordered an XO through the Give One, Get One program. Mostly I hope it will make a good ebook reader and maybe I’ll play some Micropolis on it.

Google’s Phone Plans

It strikes me that the problem with Google’s open phone plans is that the carriers all still suck and are the opposite of open. Google should just buy one of the carriers and run it in a reasonable manner. If it turns out that you can’t make money running a high-quality, neutral network and being nice to your customers then they would still make up the difference by driving lots of traffic to their web apps.

Robert Reich on How to Fix the Budget

You have to give Robert Reich credit for tackling the big problems.

Bottom up means giving all Americans what they need to be productive – universal and affordable health coverage, good schools, a chance to attend college, job retraining, affordable child care, and good public transportation to and from the job, for starters. But as we learned a decade ago, this requires money – even more, now. So the question is how the nation can afford it and ALSO give the soon-to-retire baby boomers the Social Security and Medicare they expect, pay for homeland security and national defense, invest in non-fossil based fuel technologies, and repair the nation’s decrepit infrastructure (recall the pipe that blew out in New York last July and the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis). I haven’t even mentioned the trillion dollars necessary to shield the middle class from the Alternative Minimum Tax. Even if we cut corporate welfare, eliminated subsidies to agribusiness, and banned all earmarks, we wouldn’t have nearly enough.