Monday, November 12, 2007

Some more XO testing...

So after playing a bit of SimCity in the afternoon and heading to another OLPC Austria meeting I now spent the past 3 hours trying a couple of other things on the X0s.

First of all I followed Walter Bender's advice on installing the Adobe Flash codec to see whether that would enable me to watch Flash-based online-videos. I went to the Adobe Flash Player Download Center Linux (x86) and downloaded the .tar.gz file. Then I followed the instructions from the Adobe site and installed the codec on one of the B4s (don't forget to close browse while you do that). Afterwards I checked whether the installation had gone well by typing in about:plugins into the browse address-bar to get an overview of all the installed plugins. Afterwards I went over to YouTube to check whether that update made any difference. And indeed it did! After looking for Johnny Cash's Hurt video and looking at the loading animation for some time the video actually started playing. It was quite choppy and the CPU utilization quickly maxed out at 100% so the result was closer to a slideshow than a 25fps experience. The sound was smooth most of the time but did drop out occasionally. I also checked out other video-sharing sites and video-podcasts such as, CrankyGeeks and Inside One Laptop per Child: Episode 04 by the Red Hat Magazine, all with the same result. Changing the quality of the videos to "low" did seem to speed things up, but only barely so. So for now I'd say online-video is doable but it's not going to be a smooth ride. I do expect that to change though as Gnash gets improved (and Walter Bender also mentioned that "There is a more recent one that will be shipped with the G1G1 machines").

The next thing I tried was to upload a video to YouTube that I wanted to record with the X0's camera and microphone. And while both devices appeared to be recognized (at least that's what I assume by looking at the options) the YouTube recorder says that the video-device isn't ready for recording. So I decided to work around that limitation by recording the video with the regular record activity in order to upload it directly. Unfortunately (and only after I had uploaded the file) YouTube told me that .ogg isn't supported by their platform. I hate to disappoint you but apparently there's no way to broadcast my wisdom via an X0 at the moment.

Seeing that that this was a bit of a frustracting experience I decided to test how well Flash based online-games would work. Never having played one before I just choose some of the first results I found via Google and gave them a try. The experience was quite similar to the Flash videos in that things did work but were a bit on the slow side. Not a dealbreaker but definitely not all that confortable and exciting.

The next stop was to play around with the read activity which serves as a light-weight RSS reader. I found it to be very comfortable and also liked the fact that links I clicked were directly opened in browse. Unfortunately I didn't manage to work the other way 'round, I would have liked to be able to select RSS feeds from websites in order for them to be directly added to the read activity.

After that I again followed one of Walter Bender's recommendations by downloading and installing the watch & listen media-player activity. Everything went smoothly and after a minute or two I was looking at some of the media-samples I also downloaded from the OLPC wiki. It certainly makes a lot more sense to listen to MP3s or watch videos in that activity instead of relying on eToys (like I had mentioned yesterday). One thing that I forgot to try it whether watch & listen also supports online-radio-stations, I think I'll try that later today or tomorrow.

Last but not least I hooked up an old el-cheapo Microsoft Wheel Mouse to see whether the X0 would recognize it. It worked without a hitch and was usable after less than second.

All in all I'd say that my impression of the current state of things today is more favourable than last night. Following Walter Bender's suggestions only took ~20 minutes and resulted in a significantly better overall user experience. I also believe that the latest software-versions come with many improvements and the whole package will be more polished and ready for prime-time in about 2 to 3 weeks once Update.1 is ready.

Anyway, for now I'm off to play some more SimCity... :-)


puzzler said...

Could you test for me and click on Play Go Now to see whether the Go Java applet works on the XO laptop? Thanks!

ChristophD said...

Hello puzzler,

I went to the website but the applet would obviously require Java which isn't included in the current builds. This is due to the fact that Sun hasn't released the FOSS (free-and-open-source-software) implementation so far.

Given that the current Java runtime environment is quite bloated (in both the amount of disc and memory space it requires) which could potentially lead to some performance-slowdowns and we have four important presentations coming up later today and tomorrow I'm going to hold of installing Java until Wednesday.

Please feel free to remind me about doing this in case I don't get back to you about it!

ChristophD said...

Unfortunately we the laptops are needed for some mesh related tests this week so I'll only be able to give Java a try on the weekend... :-(