Opera OLPC

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) computers fall a little short from being a hardcore gaming machine, so they need to include an efficient Web browser that can handle the job without consuming all of the available resources. Opera is working on a custom version of their browser for the laptop but, as this post states it really isn’t anything different other than a custom skin and toolbar. However, if you feel the urge to dip your hands in some of the Opera OLPC goodness you can head over to here and download the custom version of Opera (only for Linux).

You can see what it looks like in the screenshot above, and the first thing that came to my mind was BIG! The buttons remind me of something that you would see on a kiosk so that it could be easily controlled with your fingers. One thing that I did think was kind of cool was the transparent menus:

Opera OLPC Transparent Menus
Images courtesy of Saito’s My Opera Blog

There is one other thing that I wanted to discuss…and that is how Opera acquired a OLPC laptop to try their software on. Here is the conversation that appears to have happened over the phone between a developer and the accounting department when the laptop arrived at their facility:

There’s a package for you waiting here. I’m looking for the invoice for customs purposes. Can I open it?

Sure, I said, hoping to quickly return to whatever I was doing.

There’s no invoice inside. Strange. The value has been declared to be 100 dollars

100 dollars?

Yes. There’s a machine inside the package. It’s cute. Green.




If you didn’t chuckle or at least crack a smile at the last line then you must be having a bad day. I thought that was pretty funny, and it probably would have been even better if you were there in person. Oh, and don’t worry…it appears that they took the time to plan a stress test for the machine’s durability:

The Opera geeks gathered around it at the Friday night beer bash. Someone suggested testing to see if the machine could keep running in rough environments. For example, would the rubbery keyboard withstand beer?

Last, but not least…from the sounds of it this is a chick geek magnet:

It attracts people more than any other unit I’ve seen. (Only Wii comes close.) People want to see it, touch it, and feel it. They want to know why the USB ports are placed where they are (on both sides of the screen), how the SD card can be inserted (the SD port is under the screen), and where the crank is. The crank, meant to generate power to run the machine, was part of an early design. It has been replaced with a foot pedal which is still under construction. However, it seems that people somehow got emotionally attached to the hand crank and want it back.

Actually, I just learned something there. I didn’t realize that the crank was no longer part of the design. That is a little disappointing, but a foot pedal would probably be even easier (in terms of physical work) to use. I really can’t wait to see one of these in person because it would be insane to see a laptop that costs so little to make. Actually, I’m still in awe that “normal” laptops are widely available for around $500 when just a few years ago it was tough to get one under $1000!