Yet another reason to get angry with Bill...

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at
Sun Mar 19 14:39:42 GMT 2006

On 19/03/06, Duncan Anderson <duncangareth at> wrote:

> > fair enough, i must not ahve looked at the picture properly. Seems the
> > idea is a good one, but how much power can be supplied by winding a
> > crank? How long would the laptop last?

Gives you good exercise ;-). Chances are if you're able to afford a
laptop ($100) you're also getting enough calories to support minor
exercise so you'll be able to crank it. I imagine a few minutes worth
of cranking could keep it going 20-30 mins and an on-screen reminder
would tell you to recrank before the charge is used up. Plus, if you
don't recrank there'll be an automatic "write to disk" to ensure you
don't lose whatever it was you were working on.

> > Even so, those communities could not possible have the internet without
> > electricity. An idea was suggested earlier that the communities could
> > use a central wifi station or a cable network, but both would require
> > power to opperate. The only real option for many communities woudl be
> > solar power, but that is quite expensive at the moment.
> The centralised wifi "hub" is achievable, because, typically(and here I am
> talking about South Africa) there is someone within a couple of kilometres
> who has electricity.

SA is an anomaly in sub-Saharan Africa in that it has a fairly well
developed infrastructure and moderately wealthy government and
populace (only 10% live on less than $1/day (I wonder if this includes
Lesotho and Swaziland) ;-(. There are only a handful of other
mid-sized sub-Saharan countries (Ghana, Uganda + smaller ones like
Botswana & Namibia) who are at a level of development where the
infrastructure exists to allow for effective deployment of these
computers (that said, I don't know the story of individual countries
so there might be some anomalies there).

> I think the OLPC campaign is aimed at getting the Governments to buy the
> laptops and issue them to all schoolgoing children. The governments in the
> Third World are often at a loss as to what to do with some of the money which
> gets donated to them by "First World" countries. (The politicians,
> unfortunately, are often more than happy to make the surplus funds
> disappear.)
> > The idea of the laptop is very good in principle, whether it proves to
> > be practical is still unclear.
> I think it will be easier to implement than you imagine, but perhaps not as
> easily as some people think... ;-)
> If I use my own country, South Africa, as an example, I think it would not be
> too difficult to implement the scheme. The SA Revenue Service(the tax people)
> are always boasting about how much money they are raking in through their
> efficiency. The national Lottery rakes in millions twice a week and it is
> fairly easy to get funding from them for this kind of project.
> The big obstacle here would be Microsoft, who have invested a lot in training
> schemes for underprivileged young people, with a view to turning them into
> diligent brainwashed Windows victims, thus ensuring that a future market
> exists for their products. Just one of their TV adverts would pay for at
> least a hundred or two of these laptops.

Seems like MS is everywhere. Fortunately, you've got a home grown
Ubuntu & Canonical who can take on the behemoth.


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