[Oberon] Re: OLPC - One Laptop Per Child

John Drake jmdrake_98 at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 15 06:42:18 MET 2006

--- easlab at absamail.co.za wrote:

> Yes and 'village _PCs' shouldn't use more than about
> 6 times as much 
> power as cell phones, that's why I think ARM is the
> way to go.
> The hand-cranking scheme seems absurd because there
> is no new 
> technology that can make a mechanical watch
> competitive with 
> a semiconductor one.  Ie. making a cost-effective
> reliable suitable
> power generator would be more of an engineering
> miracle than
> making the rest of the OLPC project.

How about a hamster power generator?  :) Here's a 
kid who designed one for a cell phone.


I agree with the assertion that an ARM would be
a better chip.  As for handcranks I suppose the
big question is how many minutes of use to you
get for one minute of cranking?  Also maybe a
"foot pedal" might be better.  Solar charger
would be optimal, but that would almost double
the price.
> OTOH I don't have figures for the OLPC's  Goede CPU
> power 
> consumption.  A big colour display is also a power
> user ?
> And wifi ?
> As previously stated the simputer had the right idea
> re. hardware.
> Unfortunately they failed in the important 'fuzzy'
> but vital area:
> IMO aviation, radio, micro-processors [hence the
> computer industry]
>  was pioneered/driven by mostly
> enthusiasts/hobbyists - mostly US.
> The collaborative [without immediate remuneration]
> model, 
> which is essential for certain projects, is
> culturally a no-no for 
> non-westerners.

Ok.  You've brought up the failure of the Simputer
a couple of times now.  I'm sure you've followed
this closer than I have.  But I'm not sure how
your categorizing the failure?  From what I've
seen they managed to get a completed product
though they didn't get the sales they wanted.
So when you talk about the lack of collaboration
are you talking about in development of the
Simputer itself...or lack of third party 
development...or something else?

> Technology is moving so fast that limited-resource
> is becoming insignificant ?

Well the "power/performance" curve is always there.
As the saying goes "Intel giveth...MicroSoft taketh
away."  Check out Vista.  It adds some features
like semi-transparent Windows (something BlueBottle
has had for some time now as well as some other
alternative OS's) but what a cost!  1 GB of RAM
and 256 MB for the video card just to comfortably
run the OS?  Of course the other touted feature
of Vista, better security, may be worth the upgrade.
Oberon, to my knowledge currently lacks a 
security model.  I think one could have been built
back when the object model was "slim binaries"
because that model could differentiate between
"safe" and "unsafe" modules.

And there are IMO a lot of people who might be
interested in a "volksputer".  Something that's 
going to run decently, let them do some 
internet surfing and home office work,
maybe some educational stuff but not cost more
than a cheap DVD player.  But I think the keys
are managed expectations and system responsiveness.
It doesn't matter have fast a computer is.  What
matters most is how fast it SEEMS.  For instance
I love Oberon's almost instant bootup.

> As MIT-OLPC said they are not in the computer making
> business, but
> in education.    It's about the 'digital divide':
>   until recently smallpox was a problem - AFAIK
> mainly USA fixed it;
>   they could have fixed polio too, except for the
> Nigerian Islamists 
>     saying the innoculation plan was a racist scheme
> to sterilize
>     their females.
> Then there's bird flu which travels globally and is
> going to kill you.

Side note, I'm not at all worried about "bird flu".
Studies have already shown that the Korean dish 
"kimchi" may be effective against it.  That and
garlic which is a strong anti viral.


As for vaccines, I quit trusting vaccine makers 
after U.S. Senator Bill Frist tried to set up a
vaccine agency that would be excempt from the 
freedom of information act.  Note that even the
CIA and FBI aren't excempt.  They also have 
mercury, a deadly poison, in vaccines for children.
Some say that causes autism.  I don't know.  But
autism rates are exploding in this country and
nobody knows why.
> Undoubtedly computers & the net facilitates the
> cheap spread of
> knowledge. Hence the OLPC.  It was
> planned/advertised to be
> supplied for US$100 - ordered 1 million minimum
> quantity.
> Now it's said that Lybia bought a packet for US$135
> each.
> Some reports tell of costs escalating to US$150.

So the OLPCs are already being sold?  I didn't know
the project was at that stage yet.
> Of course with India & China's population, a million
> is not much.
> But then you must have non-mains-electric operating.
> OLPC don't seem to give current consumption figures
> for their 
> 'goede CPU'.
> But AFAIK the low power capable CPU is the ARM.
> Which is what the simputer chose.
> And which is apparently also mature for linux. 
> Obviously the whole project centers on linux.
> The simputer designers had a nice idea: 
>    each user would have his own 'flash card' [the
> flash-mem
> technology had not yet exploded at that time].
> By that method each scholar/user could have his own
> data
> for minimum cost, and they could time share.  Like
> buying
> a bus ticket when you need it instead of owning a
> car.
> Chris Burrows wrote:
> > Oberon will have its time and place but perhaps
> not exactly in its present
> > form. Maybe a universal limited-resource device is
> the sort of launching pad
> > that will make a significant difference.
> I could never see why Oberon should be more 
> 'limited-resource' than eg. 
> C.
> Probably the non-preemptive OS ?
> Isn't BB/Aos preemptive ?


> OLPC apparently describes a round-robin scheme too ?
> I used to think N-O's round-robin scheme was fine, 
> but for
> inet, I see it's painfull: when I call news and it 
> takes 60 secs.
> to reply, I've got to pay telco costs while a have 
> useless waits.
> By contrast with linux, I can just send off for 
> 10 http pages
> via a lynx script, while I'm fumbling manually 
> with mail/news.

Native Oberon doesn't HAVE to be that way.  Oberon
V4, which also uses cooperative multitasking, can
do background web fetches.  You can keep doing 
whatever you want while a page is being downloaded
and rendered.  It takes a bit of thinking to turn
a normal procedure into a task that can be run in
the background with single process multitasking
but it can be done.

On the flipside preemptive multitasking can be
done on resource constrained machines.  The Amiga,
for example had preemptive multitasking back in
the 1980s.


John M. Drake

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