Into the closet, into the ether

The ringing in my ears brought on by the stuck keys on my OLPC has reached a crescendo, and I’m throwing it into the closet. Well, maybe not throwing it, but it’s definitely being removed from my immediate presence for the time being.

I’m not sure which is deeper — my frustration at being unable to type a single command, because every key is sent through as a command character; or my disappointment that a crippling flaw like this appeared after only six months of incredibly light use … and has only gotten worse over time. I mentioned before that I’d hate to see how these machines fare in a developing nation, when something that sat on a shelf for six months suddenly began misbehaving.

To be honest, and this is rather extreme, but I may simply abandon it to eBay soon. I’ve looked into several options for “repairing” it, but none of them is particularly enticing, and I’m not sure I want to dump time and effort into a machine that broke with so little use. But as it is, the “fix,” if it can be called that, is more work than I’m willing to perform. I have lost confidence in the machine, and as a result I’m not inclined to try and fix it. Why spend the time reinforcing an eggshell?

It makes me sad. Not because I spent almost $400 on it — that’s a pittance by my standards; I could easily afford a machine ten times as expensive.

No, what makes me sad is the fact that for all the pomp and bombasity, the noble goals and smooth marketing that surround the project, developing nations still seem to be receiving substandard products as castoffs from the first world. And so, like so many other development projects I have worked with, this one leaves a sour taste in my mouth. So much for the munificence of the Western world.

I can only hope that the other one I bought — the one that supposedly went to a child somewhere else on the planet — has fared better. But I worry.

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4 Responses to “Into the closet, into the ether”


  1. 1 Justin 2008/10/23 at 10:58 AM

    I was very glad when I read this article, not that your laptop is dying, but that you care enough to think about other people. I would be angry that is was dying, not even thinking about the fact it was made to help the underprivileged. I’m just glad people like you are out there.

  2. 2 delphi 2008/10/24 at 7:35 AM

    Looks like an ideal project to solve your problem:

    Installing a USB Keyboard into an OLPC XO Laptop
    ( http://www.instructables.com/id/Installing-a-USB-Keyboard-into-an-OLPC-XO-Laptop-/ )

  3. 3 K.Mandla 2008/10/24 at 9:42 AM

    That would be perfect. I don’t know if I have the patience, time or dexterity to accomplish that though. For the mean time the closet is the best place for it, although it might be more appealing in the future. Thanks for the link, that’s one I’ll be checking again. Cheers! :D

  4. 4 mulenmar 2009/06/25 at 12:41 PM

    If you still have that thing, and were willing to ship it all the way to the Midwestern USA, I’d be happy to take it off your hands…ha ha. Seriously, though, I’m sure you could figure out a way to ssh into it and set up the core system to do all the music streaming. Bonus points for doing it from LFS or CRUX. :D


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