Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saturday Night Fever

So after that weird Friday night and a good night's sleep I've had a very productive day today. Spent most of my evening at our so-called OLPC Austria weekend-jam getting stuff done for the OLPC project. Unfortunately I only had about 2 hours to work on the activity handbook that we're currently writing, the rest of the time went towards other related to-do items.

Amongst other things the two B4 machines were updated to the latest firmware version and software build 624. Given that we're going to have two meetings where we're presenting the X0s next week I wanted to spend some time with the latest software to see what works and what doesn't. As the rest of the gang decided to call it a day at around 3 a.m. I took the machines home and now I'm currently working with the setup you can see below:

While toying around with the laptops I stumbled across a variety of odd issues, amongst other things what appears to be an odd bug within the search function of the journal. Also I wasn't able to open an OpenOffice Writer document, something I had certainly expected the X0 to handle. Other than those glitches I'm happy to report that many of the things I tested worked flawlessly. Here's a quick overview of the things I tried:

MP3: I tested MP3 playback by listening to a song that was stored on my USB thumdrive. While I'm still not sure that eToys is the best solution for audio-playback I was surprised by the excellent quality of the speakers. They're certainly much than on my regular notebook (Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo 1425W) and most other notebooks that I've used.

pdfs: I looked at some pdfs from one of my university lectures. The quality of the screen really makes this a very pleasent experience. Plus rotating the screen to accomodate a whole A4 page while holding the X0 in e-book mode is just outstanding!

videos: I also tested some videos and they also worked fine. Again I don't think that eToys is the best solution for playback, especially since I didn't manage to get into full-screen mode so the videos were just stamp-sized.

online flash videos: While the videos on YouTube seemed to start being buffered (you know when those white circles started spinning) they never actually started playing back. The browse activity and the Gnash plugin did recognize the video content as I was presented with a menu when right-clicking on the video but I still didn't manage to actually look at a video.

online radio-stations: None of my favourite online radio-stations such as DigitalGunfire, or worked. Not sure whether it was missing codecs or something but whenever I found a feed that would open inside the browse activity I would click on the "play" button only for nothing to happen.

photos: I looked at some of my TransSib photos and here I did notice that the colour representation wasn't quite as good as on a regular screen. That's of course due to the unique design of how the colour mode actually works on this screen but I still hadn't expected the photos to look that washed-out.

collaboration: While Aaron and me didn't manage to get collaboration working on the write activity earlier today I now managed to get it up and running without a hitch. The connect game also works quite well, even though it's obviously a bit boring to compete with myself. For some odd reason the collaboration on the paint activity doesn't seem to work so I wasn't able to work on my masterpiece on both laptops simultaneously.

networking: Looking at the X0s network view I found significantly more WiFi networks within reach than I've ever seen on any laptop that's been in my flat. Funnily enough I only saw that one open network which I decided to leech of on one of the X0s even though they were standing right next to each other.

overall web-experience: I tried a fair number of different web-sites to see what kind of internet experience you're getting out of the X0 at the moment. Flickr worked well, except for the slideshows which for one reason or another weren't viewable. However I did manage to look at a slideshow of Patrick's photos from Mongolia over on It was a bit of a slow experience but it worked. Google's Gmail also worked just fine, however I did manage to send the browse activity into X0 nirvana once when selecting the Google calender from the top-toolbar that you see when you're logged into Gmail. The second time it worked without a hitch so I can't really pinpoint the reason for that initial crash. Working with Google Docs also went smoothly. While I normaly don't use it Digg also worked as expected.

Overall I'd say that software build 624 isn't quite ready for prime time, it's not really beta anymore, but I also wouldn't go as far as calling this a final version. I had a pretty smooth experience all evening even though some things obviously still don't work as expected. To me the biggest letdown at the moment is not being able to look at online video-content. I definitely hope that the next software versions address that issue.

Please don't hesitate to let me know in case there's any other webservice or website that you want me to test for you!

Anyway, seeing that it's past 7 a.m. around here and it's getting light outside I guess it's also time for me to get to bed... Good night everyone!

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