OLPC versus eeePC

I am now the lucky owner of both an OLPC XO and an Asus eeePC. I wrote about the eeePC before, now I got a chance to compare these two Linux-running, cheap ($200), kid-friendly, mini-PCs.

Let’s look at size first, since that’s a major differentiator for both:


From this angle, they seem about the same size. The keyboards are both 8″ x 3″ (the XOs keys are smaller and the rubbery type). The screen is slightly larger on the XO.

Computers Firefox Technology

The Firefox computer

Jon Callaghan has some thoughts on how easy it was for him to switch from a PC to a Mac.

This made me think about the Windows Vista launch and the inevitable OS X vs Vista comparisons, and how come I’m deeply uninterested in any of it.

I run a PC at home and a Mac on the road. Their respective operating systems just don’t get me very excited these days. The only thing I care about is that they run Firefox. That’s because my digital day is currently spent in the following apps: WordPress, Yahoo Mail, Bloglines, 30boxes and Google. And they all run perfectly well in Firefox. So as long as I can get to Firefox, I’m pretty much surrounded by everything I need for my work. The only desktop app I use regularly is an IRC client and occasionally I’ll use Open Office to edit a Word document (I bet I could move both of those to web based apps as well).

This leads me to the following conclusion: I want a Firefox computer. A nice, sleek, solid state notebook with a big screen that you open up and it just runs Firefox. I bet this could be had for a reasonable price, it could have a nice long battery life and start up almost instantly. I’d still have a PC or Mac at home to store my photos and music, but for my everyday work life the Firefox computer is all I need.


Datacenter in a container

This is cool – Sun is putting data centers into shipping containers that can be easily transported and located anywhere:

Computers MacBook

MacBook update

Some thoughts after using my MacBook for a few weeks.

What I like:

  • Wake up and shut down work really well when you open/shut the lid. It’s fast and reliable. I’ve always wanted this on a laptop and it’s never really worked on any of my PCs.
  • I loaded all my photos into iPhoto and am using the laptop to show slide shows on our TV.
  • I’ve had no need to install Windows apps. Everything I need is there (I live 80% in Firefox, so this is no big surprise).

What I don’t like:

  • It’s a little heavy and bulky to carry around.
  • The bottom definitely gets worryingly hot.
  • Quite often, an app can take a long time to boot up (feels like over minute) and the OS is pretty unresponsive during that time. For example when Acrobat starts up to view a PDF file, things kind of grind to a halt for a while.

Thinkpad X41 thoughts

I’ve been trying a Thinkpad X41 for a couple of weeks. I have to say this is one groovy tablet PC. It has a few shortcomings (battery life and extra bulk) but overall I’m tempted to get one. It’s just the right size with a 12″ screen and about 11″ square sized body. It works perfectly fine as a regular laptop and the tablet mode is more or less icing on the cake. To use it as a tablet you slide out the digitizer pen, flip the screen around and fold it down over the keyboard. The display automatically rotates from horizontal to vertical mode and the tablet is ready. Other than being generally fun to hold and play with, tablet mode works very nicely for things like web browsing and RSS feed reading. It doesn’t work that well for text input (because the handwriting recognition is slow and annoying), so the tablet mode is definitely not a laptop substitute.

As an interesting aside, my young kids were totally into the tablet. They had a great time using it to draw pictures and took to it without any help:


The only downside of the X41 is the pretty short battery life (a couple of hours). With the extended battery it gets about 4 hours which is OK (still a little short) but it also makes the whole machine a little heavy and bulky for my taste. Oh, and the other annoying part is a bootup time of several minutes (from cold start). Other than that, it’s a really nifty device.