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Travelling with the olpc laptop

Last week I spent four days in Melbourne. I don’t think it is possible to travel anymore without a netbook and this trip I wanted to challenge myself to travelling with only one backpack to keep me as mobile as possible. I took the olpc laptop – the XO – as my travel laptop.

I wanted to use the operating system that olpc deployments use with a few tweaks. So I lived in Sugar and the Gnome desktop. I installed Skype, xchat for irc, empathy for jabber, and a few packages to make it all work. (Details here – http://wiki.laptop.org/go/User:Tabitha)

The hardest bit was touch typing on the membrane keyboard. I normally type up to 80 wpm with 99% accuracy but I think I was reduced to about 40wpm and 60% accuracy initially, though I did improve during the four days.

The XO laptop was light and easy for me to transport. Its robust so I was never worried about breaking it by squashing or dropping my bag. It easily connected everywhere I went and had enough battery (I took a spare just in case) for what I was doing.

One of the aims was to ensure I was ready for my volunteer trip to Samoa on 30 July where I will only use the XO as part of supporting olpc deployments in two primary schools on Savaii. I feel prepared now. Another advantage to using the XO for the trip was that people came up and asked me about olpc so it was a great conversation starter. A lot more Australians know what is going on in their own country now (there are deployments to aboriginal children) and it is great to get that awareness level up.

If anyone wants to play with the olpc laptop they can contact me. You are most welcome to ask me questions about olpc and Sugar (the learning platform), from the technology side and the educational philosophy behind these not for profit organisations. If I can’t answer your questions I can point you to places where you can find answers.

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