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OLPC at South Africa’s Digital Freedom Expo

Morgan Collett, an Ubuntu specialist from South Africa, has posted his impressions of the OLPC XO, which he helped to demo at South Africa’s Digital Freedom Expo.

The hardware design must have been very well received, as Collett was asked whether it had been made by Apple! The videocamera really impressed the crowd (as it has impressed those students around the world who are currently testing units), and the software part of the user interface also seems to be very good.

Collett covers a few points regarding user interface innovations in the XO:

  • There are no menus. Functionality is generally implied pictorially by icons. The icons are culture-neutral to some extent – for example the camera is denoted by an eye, rather than a lens or picture of a camera.
  • There is no “save.” Work is saved on the fly, and can be accessed by a Journal activity. This means there is no worry about “where” you saved something or whether you remembered to save it at all. Tagging is implemented in the Journal to aid categorizing and finding things.
  • There is no “open.” You can resume an activity from the Journal, which acts like a type of version control, so you can go back in time and resume earlier versions of whatever you are working on.
  • While Internet is not assumed, the mesh network is always in operation. Most activities can be shared with the child’s group of friends, classmates, or others in the area. Most content, such as pictures, audio or video can be shared.

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