OLPC Summer Contributors Program Workdays

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
Trip End Dec 31, 2016

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Flag of United States  , New Hampshire
Sunday, June 30, 2013

It’s the monsoon season in NH. June has brought us more than 7 inches of rain. It’s not the typical New England pitter patter of an all day gray drizzle , Rather, we have had tropical rain with character reminiscent of my childhood in Florida and my visits to SE Asia. We’ve have had thunder and lightening storms with tropical downpours, followed by intermittent periods of sun peeking over the mountains through the beautiful dark clouds. Our garden loves it and is well ahead of the usual summer growth schedule. The wet humid weather has made it easy to spend the day in our cool basement workspace, refurbishing XO-1 laptops for redistribution to small projects around the globe.

In May, I met Adam H in Cambridge on two occasions.  We worked in the OLPC office to sort and move Contributors XO-1s to ready them for distribution. Huge thanks to the OLPC (Boston area) staff for all of your heavy lifting, and for making sure that we have the parts we need to refurbish the many Get 1 XOs that have been re-donated for this program. Wad, Paul, Richard, and Sharon, we couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you, Gracias, Korp Kun Kah, Muito Obrigado, Xie’ Xie’, and so on!

Who  re-donated these XOs?  They came from thoughtful people all over the US. On this trip, I unpacked: 1 each from FL, CO, MI, MO, GA, HI, CT, WI & Puerto Rico, 2 each from NJ, VA, & Canada, 3 from California, 4 each from PA, MA, TX & AK, 12 from NY, and lots of well used laptops from Illinois, thanks to the Forest Park School District who participated in the collection of XOs for Haiti after the earthquake.

Special thanks to each and every child, family, school district, and developer who have taken the time to re-donate your XOs. You are the best! If you have an XO that is not being used to donate, even if it does not work, we need it. We’ll fix it and get it into the hands of a child or teacher in the developing world or might not otherwise have any opportunity to learn computer skills or to teach or learn in a hands on collaborative way. You can find out where to send it here:

Adam came back with me to NH to help fit everything into my workspace. We organized our workspace and that spring day, the weather was too gorgeous to work inside. I put the kayak racks on the car & we had a lovely afternoon at my favorite lake.

The following week, OLPC Volunteer, Sandra T came north for a day to help with repairs. She wanted to learn to debrick XOs and I happened to have a big pile that needed this repair:) When the XOs sit unused for more than about 3-4 months, the clock battery in the motherboard completely discharges. Some XOs had a security feature built in, which prevent them from booting when this happens.  Affected XOs show LED power lights on the battery and power button when plugged in and turned on, but the screen remains black. Other XOs will boot with an “invalid system date” which needs to be reset, from the root terminal for the XO to perform optimally. The full instructions for these repairs can be found at:
We were really productive. Together, Sandra and I repaired at least 20 XOs.

A new volunteer, James M sent us a stellar Contributors Program Proposal for XOs for a school in Haiti that James had worked at last summer after his high school graduation. James has had an interesting gap year and starts college this fall. Soon, James will be bringing 10 Contributors XOs to The Ferrier School in Haiti. This school, while not very far from Port au Prince, has no electricity and James has planned the solar project that will provide the energy to charge the XOs. James also spent time helping update and repair re-donated XO-1s. Thank you James! We look forward to following the progress of this great project! http://ferrierschool.org/

This weekend, Adam and a new volunteer, Yanxia F. came up for a 2 day sprint. Yanxia is a doctoral student at Tufts, soon returning to her native China. I loved meeting her and together we were really productive. 30 more XOs are “ready to go.” Volunteering is not all work. Yesterday, I took Adam and Yan to Hanover. We visited the famous Orozco murals at Dartmouth College (named for the 2nd Earl of Dartmouth by it’s founder Eleazar Wheelock). And we all ate Hanover’s Morano Gelato, the best Gelato in the US (Forbes Magazine and I both say so.)

Contributors XO-1s are now available to “seed” new small projects around the globe, until our supplies run out.  We award generally up to 5 XO laptops, sometimes up to 10, for project proposals with a likelihood of success. You must commit to sharing your project on the OLPC Community Map (link) and updates and photos via a blog or website. The laptops are free but you must pay the shipping costs and we can only ship within the USA. OLPC Volunteers have found that carrying up to 10 XOs into countries around the world works better than trying to ship them internationally. And this avoids risk of theft and most customs issues too.
If you have always dreamed of a “voluntourism” adventure, or if you work with kids in the developing world, go here: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Contributors_program and use our proposal form here: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Contributors_program/Project_proposal_form

I can’t ignore the OLPC News post this week which asserted that OLPC is “falling apart,” or the reply posts from OLPC Association that states otherwise. 

I’ll share my “two cents” on this discussion here. Over the past few months, it has appeared to me also that OLPC is winding down as an active corporate non-profit. Perhaps OLPC is just changing its focus. Its leadership is still committed to digital education, but the distribution methodology looks different and the hardware and software appear to target a different population. Businesses, even non-profits, have to pay their overhead. Technology businesses must evolve to keep up with the rapid business climate changes in this sector, or be left behind. OLPC appears to be trying to move forward. They may ultimately wind up altogether, who knows? I am thinking about the volume and variety of personal devices that OLPC’s achievements and its XO laptops have inspired. When the XO laptop debuted to the world, it was the very first affordable portable flash memory netbook the world had seen. In just 6 years, we have seen a proliferation of devices, notebook and netbook laptops, smart phones, tablets, and children’s toys, many of which were built upon the open source hardware technology shared by One Laptop Per Child. Affordable opportunities for digital learning are now available on a large scale through the “marketplace." Perhaps OLPC has accomplished its primary goal.

We all know that the mission of bringing education to the world’s under-served, is unfinished. The global OLPC Volunteers are still at work. Some of us continue our work, individually or under different small non-profit organizations that support our various endeavors. If you want to help out, there is work still to be done. Don’t forget your umbrella.

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