Green ears

still in the box The FedEx guy left a box at my door yesterday. A Saturday delivery? Yes, indeedy: the XO laptop that I received in exchange for my donation to the One Laptop Per Child project.

ready to be chargedThe machine is just adorable. If Elle Woods had designed a computer to go with her chihuahua, she would have come up with this (perhaps in pink).

browsing With the help of the getting started guide, I was connected to my wireless network in two shakes, and I was browsing in half a shake more. The web browser is pretty basic, as far as I can tell so far. Bookmarking doesn’t quite work the way we’ve come to expect after 15 years. A positive side effect is that it effectively comes with its own Flashblock. Oops, looks like the New York Times web site just crashed the browser.

The chiclet-y keyboard is is easier than any phone I’ve ever used. My lack of touch-typing skills will serve me well. There’s a little heat dissipated from the back of the screen.

Lots more to play with here, including figuring out what some of the keys do (like the mysterious Hand keys between the Control and Alt analogues). Maybe the games on the XO will entice Leta away from playing FreeCell on my Windows machine.

Becoming reality

Brian Hayes’ XO laptop has arrived.

If the styling has a whiff of Fisher-Price about it, there’s also some thoughtful ingenuity at work here, and designers of machines for grownups might learn something from it.

* * *

The wifi transceiver is amazing. I never knew I had so many well-connected neighbors—people named linksys and netgear, for example. No other computer I’ve had in the house has ever detected any of these networks.

* * *

…the software is just not finished yet. Some basic capabilities (printing, a sleep mode) are not yet implemented, and there are various buttons that don’t yet have functions. The web browser is primitive (no tabs, very limited facilities for bookmarks). There’s an RSS reader that doesn’t seem to work.

Still squeezing

So I hit the souvenir shop row along the the block with Ford’s Theater looking for a replacement squeeze coin purse, as the one I had from New York was getting hard and cracked. In the third shop, I found what I needed—only a choice of two colors, the popularity of this item must be sagging greatly. I squeezed it open, expecting to see some sort of “made someplace else” mark, but there was the old familiar pentagonal QUIKOIN U.S.A. mark.

This week’s photographic narcissism

what's in my pockets
My entry for Lifehacker’s Show Us What’s in Your Pockets gallery:

Arranged in the top of the handmade jewelry box that I use to collect it all at the end of the day, here’s what goes in my jeans pockets, shirt pocket, and on my wrists. Starting at 3 o’clock and going clockwise:


  • Casio multifunction watch. With this I can time a rehearsal, or check my elevation gain when I’m hiking.
  • Wrist band worn to remind me of Leta’s celiac disease.
  • Palm Tungsten E2 organizer in a scratched-up case. This is the third Palm I’ve owned, but I don’t like it as much as the Tungsten T that it replaced. I keep the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary loaded on an expansion card in the PDA. I use the two storage slots in the case to hold weekly backups of my must-have documents (since I back up my computers to disk as well, these are backup backups).
  • Souvenir coin purse. Absolutely essential to my well-being. I go through one of these about every ten years, and when one wears out and cracks apart, I try to find the cheesiest one I can to replace it. I still have the fragments of the first one I owned, which I brought back from the 1964-65 World’s Fair.
  • Rollerball pen. Rollerballs rule!
  • Pencil/stylus/ballpoint combo, the kind that twists to change tips. I’m hard on these things, and it’s becoming more difficult to find replacements. The combos that use gravity and a button don’t do it for me.
  • Keys to the house and one of my cars, on two rings. On the house key ring is a Leatherman Micra multi-tool. I’d like to find a nicer fob for the car key, ’cause the one I have just touts the dealership.
  • A gentleman always has a clean handkerchief.
  • A nicely worn wallet from Coach. You didn’t really think I’d show you inside that, did you?

Lime green

David Pogue reviews a beta version of the XO, the controversial “$100 laptop” device from One Laptop Per Child. As has been reported elsewhere, to help drive down unit costs, a donate-one-get-one program will be in place for a limited time. I’m thinking a solid-state Linux box with web browser would be a cute thing to have around the house. And the tax deduction wouldn’t hurt.

Photo novelty

I ordered a duck stamp (formally known as the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp), at the prompting of Paul Baicich. The smart thing that Paul has done is to locate a supplier for a plastic holder/carrier for the stamp that has a key ring; since the stamp costs $15 and you can’t use it for postage, the least you can do is hang it on your bins or your backpack. I tracked down his supplier information and product number (#92033) through Birdchick. But the gizmo is backordered for the next couple of weeks. The dealer is probably trying to figure out why this particular size of an 89-cent snapshot holder is so hard to keep stocked.