Are you wondering what's happening in the OLPC volunteer community? I have been asked often recently what do I do? My close friends and colleagues know that even though I’ve had some health challenges to address, I'm still occasionally volunteering to support the efforts to enhance the experience that children and teachers have with One Laptop Per Child rugged XO laptops. You might say, these laptops are 2007 technology. Old and slow. Why don't you give out tablets.
Many of us have tried the tablets for our personal lives and have added keyboards or migrated back to a netbook type device for serious work or learning. The original XO laptop design unveiled the first flash technology netbook to the world. And it is still really useful for children of all ages, especially in the developing world. There are 4 models, the XO-1, (1GB), the faster XO 1.5 (4GB), the lower power with customizable memory and keyboard 1.75 and the XO-4 with those features and a touchpad.
Many of us from the OLPC volunteer community have continued our work through Unleash Kids. www.unleashkids.org
There are about 3 million XOs around the world. A dedicated core group has been working together to enhance the performance and utility of the existing XOs. Meeting remotely and weekly, these volunteers have created a new software platform that will expand even the oldest XOs with an OS installed and run from a 32 GB SD card. They have developed a school server which can pair with the XOs and will allow users to save and transfer work to and from their teachers. The server can host an “internet in a box” which can provide a classroom or library with a searchable intranet that functions like a mini Internet for remote locations that are still without Internet access. This is a very exciting development and will enhance the utility of the already proven rugged hardware of the XO laptop.
The Volunteer Contributors program has already repaired, refurbished and redistributed over 350 XO's. It is still accepting and receiving used units. Working XOs or those that need repairs are welcome.
Adam recently called me. He said that a team of volunteers from EMC in Hopkinton, Massachusetts had offered to help refurbish XO's as a community service project. Would I come and help him with that?
I am good at XO repairs and I couldn’t say no. I drove my trusty Element down to the place where Adam had XOs, from New Hampshire. As he loaded more than a hundred XO's into my car; laptops, chargers, parts machines etc. I scolded him. I said "Adam, in 2 days, we will never get to half of those XOs. You are putting 1500 + pounds in my car for me to drive with."
On the appointed date, we arrived at EMC at 8:00 AM. Unloading was easier than loading, as there were many willing hands to help. We met Joe Paradise, the EMC Team leader who enthusiastically pursued this project and had recruited a terrific team of volunteers. Each volunteer came for at least several hours. Some for longer. EMC is a generous company, encouraging its employees to participate in community service projects by providing 3 8 hour days of “paid volunteer time” annually. Most often, projects take place in the local community and off site. This may have been the first project to bring the volunteer opportunity to the EMC campus. Joe handled the logistics seamlessly.
Adam and I set up stations: Charging, Cleaning, Diagnostics and Triage, Disassembly and Reassembly, Reflashing and Repairs.
Former OLPC employee wizard Paul Fox joined us and shared his expertise for the entire first day. Together Paul and I got the De-Bricking table going. We taught disassembly and reassembly and firmware up dating and re-flashing. Jessica, another UK volunteer joined us for the second day.
A few years ago, I had discovered that “Mr. Clean Magic Erasers” easily cleans the dirt and grit that accumulates on XO ears and keyboards. (They are melamine and they work by actually sanding off the dirt and grime.) While we brought most of the needed supplies, the EMC volunteers generously provided the pricy “Magic Erasers.” And they also did the “dirty work” cleaning well used XOs that had been re-donated. And, we volunteers enjoyed donuts and lunch donated by the EMC Team!
Throughout each day, the stack of XO's labeled "ready to go" grew taller. The refurbished XO’s many of which started out really dirty look brand-new. I was surprised at how much we accomplished on the first day.
Adam and I hope everyone had a fun and meaningful experience. On the second day we had new groups of volunteers. I was so pleased to see that Ray and Dave returned to help again! We attacked some more difficult repairs. With volunteers Holly and Aniruhda we managed a successful keyboard and touchpad repair. It’s a difficult repair and it took us 2 hours to do 3 XO's. But we now know how to do it. It will go faster the next time. And we can share that knowledge at some site where one additional XO will make a big difference to a child.
My foot is in my mouth. Adam, you were absolutely right to fill the car!
This was the most successful repair sprint ever. In just 2 days we took home 167 previously unusable XO's, XO-1’s and 1.5's, now tagged “Ready to Ship.”
Thank you Joe Paradise and each one of the talented, earnest volunteers. What a wonderful Community Service project. We hope we can repeat it.
Are you looking to volunteer? Do you have a project location and need XO's?
Draft a Stellar Project Proposal:
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