Sunday, January 20, 2008

XO Laptop - Part II

Some more news from the XO front:

A friend from the US who has had an XO for some time now recently wrote me to see if I knew of any interesting 'tips'. I'm not much (read: not at all) of a linux hacker, so I had only managed a few pretty basic modifications, but they happened to be exactly what he was looking for (which made me feel good). I guess these two 'issues' are things people are pretty routinely frustrated by, at least in the North American market.

So in case you have an XO and haven't already figured these out, here are a couple of tips:
  • The XO has a feature whereby the 'desktop' will automatically be partially displayed whenever the cursor is at any extreme of the active window. I guess the rational behind this is to allow users to quickly tab between windows, but the effect is that it greatly minimizes the 'safe' screen real-estate on an already wonky touchpad (see point below). The solution for this is simply to comment out the two lines in the source that control this feature. Detailed instructions can be here: How To Disable The Auto Frame.
  • As mentioned above I also had problems with the touchpad being really finicky. Every time I lifted my finger from it the cursor position would reset. I fixed that with the 'Four Finger Salute'.
Als0, the XO has been in the news a lot lately and I found this story about how much of a difference 50 laptops are making in a remote Peruvian village particularly warming. If I see more such reports I'll definitely give serious thought to a second donation.

Finally one of the 'activities' (the XO equivalent to an application) that I was most excited about is called 'Turtle Art', a simplified version of my first computer love - Logo. While Turtle Art is very limited (only the most basic support for parameters, no incrementation, etc) one really interesting element of it is the graphical interface for the 'programming'. It is all done with a very intuitive 'puzzle piece' interface that limits the sequence of operations to those that (more or less) make sense together. See below for a screenshot.

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Blogger MSeverin said...

OMG Logo!

Here's a story for you that my girlfriend always laughs at me about:

When I was a kid, my parents sent me to a bunch of different Day Camps, since they both worked.

One of those camps was called "Tennis and Computer Camp". I have no idea why they thought these two things should go together...but we would spend the morning having tennis lessons and the afternoon playing in the computer lab.

Besides extended sessions of playing Castlevania, we played with Logo a lot, and I definitely credit it with giving me a basic programming knowledge early on.

I like the puzzle piece interface, it seems like that would be a great way to visualize a scripting language for gameplay programming.

-Matt Severin

2:52 PM  

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