Tag - netbook

Ubuntu Linux as a computing appliance

I have a lot of PCs in my house. No, I mean a LOT.

As a result of building software, testing, working with PC manufacturing partners, and owning personal computers, I have no fewer than 19 laptops, desktops, and netbooks in my home. Which prompts a number of problems … not least of which is “Daddy, can I have one?”

So a couple of weeks ago I took two netbooks that I received from Disney when working on the Disney Netpal project and slapped Ubuntu Linux, netbook edition, on them. And gave them to my daughter (14) and older son (10) … and sat back and watched.

The results have been unbelievable.

Sure, they’ve found and used the games. But they’ve also discovered how to install new software via Ubuntu’s Software Center. And the results are amazing. My daughter has downloaded the GIMP, and is playing with making, mixing, and editing images. My son is downloading games and other applications. They’re changing the desktop images, customizing their machines, and having a lot of fun.

The most fascinating thing for me, however, and the key to their whole computing experience is in how iPad-like Ubuntu can be. Think of iPad. Simple, tap, download, use, right? How could it get easier? That is almost exactly how my kids are using Ubuntu.

Of course, Ubuntu is a full all-purpose operating system with a user-accessible filesystem and all the grotty power of Linux, if you choose to go there. But on the surface, using it like a waterstrider bug walking on water … these kids are installing applications, creating documents, customizing their computers, and more. And if you ever tried to install the GIMP 5-6 years ago, that’s quite an accomplishment.

The OOBE (out of the box experience) of Ubuntu is impressive. Right from the desktop, it’s completely usable. With zero instruction, my kids were able to find games, open folders, use all their programs, and get new ones. That’s all enabled by a shell that basically displays all the computer’s functionality in an easily explorable way.

Here are my kids’ desktops:

I’m pretty impressed with Ubuntu … even for kids.

Sweet spot: eBook reader AND computer

“Most eBook readers, for whatever reason, are priced at about the level of a low-end netbook, which proves to be a significant barrier,” Mitchell said. “A tablet that is both an eBook reader and a netbook-like device would make it much more attractive to your everyday user. Plus, interactivity will bring new content and media that hasn’t been imagined yet.”

via Educators intrigued by Apple’s iPad | eSchoolNews.com.

The Prophet of Cheap – Forbes.com

Negroponte’s latest plan to save the world is a computer that would exceed anyone else’s expectation for performance while costing less than anyone else’s forecast of what’s possible. By 2012 he aims to build a touchscreen tablet PC for poor schoolchildren that uses less power than a modest lightbulb and is unbreakable, waterproof and half the thickness of an iPhone. The projected price: $75.

“Essentially, we want it to be a single sheet of plastic. No holes, no moving parts,” says Negroponte, director of the One Laptop Per Child nonprofit and founder of MIT’s Media Lab. “We want it to be so simple that it hardly has a design.”

via The Prophet of Cheap – Forbes.com.

Thank-you gift from Disney: $350 worth!

Over the past 6 months I’ve worked on a project with Disney to equip the Disney NetPal with software that makes it kid-safe and parent-friendly.

Today I got a massive box via Fedex, with this inside:

It’s Disney merchandise – they know I have kids – including MP3 players, cameras, Club Penguin plushies, playing cards, camera cases … you name it … from Jonas Brothers and other tween-friendly names that I’m not sure I’m familiar with, but probably will be soon. My wife checked it out and it’s no less than $350 USD worth on Amazon.com.

Very cool – thank you Disney … especially Jieun and Ryan!