Emerging Tech

Watch two kids repair the XO laptop


In what must be the ultimate endorsement of the design of the OLPC's (One Laptop Per Child) XO laptop, two children -- ages 10 and 8 years old -- were put to the challenge of replacing the motherboard of one such device.

It was hardly surprising that they are able to do so, since the "maintenance plan" for the XO is really to have the children do 95% of the technical support.

These poor, uneducated children in the developing world would belong to a group not intimately familiar with computers and laptops by age 12, who has no Joe-hardware-guy next door to ask for help, and are not blessed with parents who are in a position to help.

You can read the original posting: Children's Reviews of OLPC XO Technology.

I certainly hope that the video gave you the warm fuzzy feeling that it gave me! Share your views on the OLPC XO here.

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

11 comments
The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

if you were in a school you would see this and more.

martin
martin

Hello, Looking for large quantity replacement parts and accessories for the XO. Need wholesale suppliers within USA. Please contact me at: martin at bbdtec.com Regards.

DannyL
DannyL

No warm fuzzy feeling here either. Just the right example to set for the cynical mainstream western IT community needs to see - reduction of overhead through the propective use of 3rd world child labour. Like the others I am more-than sympathetic to the idea of OLPC but tire easily of the well-minded shots the OPLC-types continually aim at their own feet.

M.W.H.
M.W.H.

No, it didn't give the warm and fuzzies. Although I support the movement and it's principles, this time-lapse video of two kids from Quebec (hardly the third-world) messin' with screwdrivers, and clearly being told what to do by an adult, doesn't convince me that kids could do 95% of the tech support in the real world. Proper diagnostics and parts supply are problems that come to mind. When I was a Service Manager for Sony, we just replaced whole units if the product cost was below $100. I'm not sure how environmentally friendly that is but I'm sure that the cost of shipping motherboards to the third world is more than $100. I didn't see how long it actually took them and I didn't see it work in the end. Lame!

donaldcoe
donaldcoe

I setting here reading the responses that children are being exploited from 3rd World countries and that these 2 are only able to disassemble a laptop only because they have immediate directions off camera. I am truly ashamed of the feeling that someone would think this is not possible. I watched this video at least three times and I got the distinct impression and confidence that these 2 children knew what they were doing, showing confidence and tool handling capabilities far above their age group and were able to take guidance and instructions whether off camera or on. Having worked in repair shops and on assembly lines, where everybody has an off-line supervisor, there for overall quality assurance. When my child was at the age of 7, I too was teaching her the precautions of electronics and tool usage, but it was always a game and fun, not a force of labor. I ask what we envision when we see a Made in China or Argentina label on a product, does a question of quality, price, and what age person assembled it come into play. I feel fortunate to have resided in Asia and Europe, some parts of the Middle East and have learned a valued lesson not to judge a book by it cover (you get my meaning). When I was at these children?s ages my thirst for learning and creative building with my first crystal radio and assorted electronics projects then offered by Radio Shack and Heath Electronics was paramount above even baseball. I have a message to the technical savvy to stay involved with that child within us and stop the petty jealousy of what children may or may not be capable of. We are all teachable but if we allow those neurons to short circuit we will all become a box of rocks and worth nothing.

M.W.H.
M.W.H.

Please post your comments under the correct post. I never accused anyone of exploiting child labour. My son was programming at 5 and came second in the class when writing the Grade 12 Computer Science exam when he was in grade 7 so don't preach to me about under-estimating the mind of a child! The original post said that the 'video gave you the warm fuzzy feeling'. I was trying to point out that although the intention was to show how easy it was to change the mobo, I feel the video failed to do that. All it shows is some kids fiddling with screwdrivers. This hardly indicates 'tool handling capabilities far above their age group'. I would also like to reiterate that these kids are not from a 3rd world country. They are from Quebec... you know, the province in Canada that borders on New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. ( http://tinyurl.com/2cotlu ). Just because the kids don't speak english does not mean they grew up in poverty and a sub-standard education system. I'm pretty sure these kids have seen a screwdriver before. ;) Oh and by the way, when I see a Made in China label, I now envision lead paint on kids toys. Thank you Wal-mart for demanding quality standards so low that our kids are now being poisoned for the benefit of your shareholders!

msmolsky
msmolsky

My 4.5 year old son and 6 year old daughter can repair computers, replace light swtiches in the house and replace fuel lines on the lawn mower when I SHOW them the proper screws, etc. to remove. I think it is great that children, as shown in the video, are capable of replacing a motherboard but come on someone was standign off camera (occasionally pointing)showing them what to do. I hope someone has factored in a technician showing children what to do in the 95% maintenance plan. Oh and are the OLPC people going to send along a set of precision screwdrivers (as pictured)? I Like the OLPC idea, however the propoganda of this video is a little misleading.

paulmah
paulmah

Share your views on the OLPC XO here.

darre1
darre1

The majority of the comments so far have been quite critical, when at the end of the day its got to be a positive thing to see two kids performance maintenance on the XO or any other computer. When I swapped out my first motherboard I was 13 (I think) and was shown hands-on 100% how to do it, then did it myself next time with supervision, then with less supervision next time, etc. I don't think these kids are showing any higher or lower level of learning potential than any modern child - but surely thats a good thing, a key point being equal opportunities. I think it was foolish for the OLPC to present this video as an answer to a technical challenge though. Its too easy to criticise the claims, saying "but they had help", which is completely correct of course. I think it would have perhaps been more tactful for the OLPC to have labelled it as a simple example of some of the progress so far, without trying to draw too many other conclusions from it. People can be left to form their own opinions then. On the other hand, I suspect that releasing the video would have got people talking about it, both praising and criticising, whatever the OLPC labelled it with... Personally, the 'warm and fuzzies' worked for me - I think it's nice to see these kids tinkering with the XO. I find the comments comparing this to child-labour very extreme - I know the problem exists, but that's clearly not what this is about. I remember taking my first watch apart (and getting into a little bit of trouble for it!) purely for fun and to satisfy my curiousity at the time, it had nothing to do with the economy, and I'm sure I learn a lot from it. If i'd had a laptop at the time, I'd have opened that up I imagine... Darrel. IT pro, but still a big kid at heart. PS: Sorry about the position of the text, I wanted it to be added to the bottom of the thread, got that wrong some how, and don't know how to move it...

Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore

A load of it, too. As mentioned we never saw the board swapped or unit working when they were done. They were not working without an adult and were also consulting another laptop's display while working. Tool set is a joke, work needs to be accomplished with one single tool that can be found anywhere. If the product designers couldn't design a device that the mobo could be replaced in under 20 minutes with only 4 screws removed then they are idiots as well. It is a heck of an idea and it sure would be nice if it works and I'm wondering how many 3rd world folk were consulted before the 1st world folk designed it.