Why all the fuss? I’m hoping this will be my last posting on the subject I’ve been blogging about. [UPDATE: 4 linked postings here]
NO, I am NOT going to argue that this is the revolutionary educational box we’ve been waiting for. I’ve ranted against “the next big thing fallacy in education” elsewhere.
YES, I am composing this entry entirely on the gizmo itself.. booted from a cold start a few moments ago.
Here are the reasons I think this is a big deal:
1. Alignment Of The Planets: many factors are now in place, at last, to bring about the computer I first saw when Alan Kay showed a cardboard mockup at Xerox PARC in 1972. That’s 35 years… but now the hardware, software, developer and end-user ecosystems are at last aligned to have “good enough/ cheap enough” ubiquitous computing technology at our disposal
2. GNU/Linux: it’s essentially free, and eminently hackable – and the next generation of kids will noodle their away around this stuff with no problem
3. Web Apps: Web apps have matured into stuff we can really use a LOT of the time for a lot of our computing needs
4. gOS: The ‘almost Google OS’ we see on the Everex PC, essentially combinations of 2 and 3 above with Firefox and other goodies such as Skype, makes a robust, powerful, and usable environment
5. Cheap: Hey, you can buy 3 of ’em. Or, another way to look at this is to think of it as Your Third Computer. Forget about Desktop replacement, laptop replacement, or PDA replacement… keep those, all good in their niches – this is a perfect Third Computer.
6. Solid state: it’s quiet… no moving parts – hooray!!! Psion’ 7 and Windows HPC and others have tried and failed before… that’s partly because they didn ‘t have all the ingredients above… partly because no one wanted to fork out so much money when they could have a full-spec Toshiba laptop for the same price.
7. Does ‘enough’: it does 95% of what I do on a regular basis
8. Grandma: it has a friendly enough interface to satisfy the constraints of my fantasized “Grandma-friendly computer”
9. Kitchen: well, use it ‘wherever’ … in precisely the places where other computers would be inappropriate or too worrying.
10. No-thinkee: you don’t have to think “shall I take this with me”
That’s it… 20 minutes from cold bootup to posting this entry. I’ll need 2 more to upload the photo I just took. Only 1 beef is that the right shift key is in the wrong place… I’m a demon touch-typist, and the keyboard is tiny, of course, but fine.
UPDATE 19:35, same day: I’m adding this update paragraph from a conventional big-keyboard machine… everything you see in this posting above, as well as the Technorati Tags below, was done on the Asus Eee itself. I wrote down my start time when I opend the stone-cold machine: 15:38. The blog posting was live by 15:54, so that’s 16 minutes from a cold start, with no prep, no notes, and only 2 minutes playing with the machine a few days earlier. It then took me about 5-6 minutes of fiddling to upload the photo from my camera: the SD card worked perfectly, and the image opened up immediately… but it took me a little while to make sense of the menu choice in the image handling package I selected. No big deal. Also, I forgot to say that I opened a handful of tabs in Firefox to do quick copy/pasting of the embedded links to my old blog entries and to copy the Technorati tags I use (the ones below are the originals, copy/pasted live on the Asus Eee at the time I wrote the above notes). During all my frantic window juggling, Firefox crashed!!! I was halfway through the blog posting, but delighted to find that when I re-started it, the option ‘restore session’ brought up WordPress with all of my as-yet-unsaved draft completely intact (whew). So I reckon that the 20-minute-total time from cold start to live blog entry with photo is approximately correct – 22 minutes max, including crashed Firefox recovery. When I had finished, Mark Gaved then tried the Asus with a 1280×1024 external monitor at full resolution: it looked great! All in all, ‘full marks’. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that (a) this was a pretty exceptional, intensive and fast-paced 10-finger typing exercise, and (b) it’s now almost 4 hours later as I’m adding these notes, and my right hand aches. That’s almost certainly why this needs to be a ‘Third Computer’ for me – but in that niche, I love it. 😉 Finally, check out these cool additional resource links from Ninelocks’ blog.
Technorati Tags: rm, asus, eee, minibook, laptop, linux, olpc