Sunday, November 20, 2005

The 100$ laptop

Well, it's been publised like hell, but is it worth the effort? Why is it necessary to put a hand-cranked laptop into the hands of every kid, instead of opening a kiosk in each village where students can not only practice their computer skills, but also access the Internet and interact with other kids.

Here's an alternate perspective to the 100$ laptop.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Interesting books to read

Social entrepreneurism, appropriate technology

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits
By: C. K. Prahalad

How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas
By: David Bornstein

The Design of Everyday Things
By: Donald Norman

Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
By: E. F. Schumacher

Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises
By: C. Sinclair, L. Stohr

Mastering the Machine Revisited: Poverty, Aid and Technology
By: Ian Smillie

Poverty, globalization, policies

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time
By: Jeffrey D. Sachs

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
By: Thomas L. Friedman

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor
By: David S. Landes

Everybody Loves a Good Draught
By: P. Sainath

The Road to Serfdom
By: Friedrich A. Hayek

Earth Democracy
By: Vandana Shiva

Role of media

The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere
By: Jurgen Habermas

By: Howard Rheingold

We the Media
By: Dan Gillmor

Amusing Ourselves to Death
By: Neil Postman

Indian culture of entrepreneurism

India Unbound
By: Gurcharan Das

The Argumentative Indian
By: Amartya Sen

Being Indian
By: Pavan Varma

India: From Midnight to the Millenium
By: Shashi Tharoor

Friday, November 11, 2005

Tier Workshop 2005

All the presentations are online, and some of them are indeed interesting. There are presentations on the social context, wireless technology, speech recognition, remote learning, use of cellphones for accelerated development, and much more.

$99 Ubuntu computer: Excerpt from mail by Subbiah Arunachalam

This is the kind of computer we need in very large numbers in India! It is below 100 dollars, it is being used and it actually works.

----- Original Message -----
From: Phil Shapiro

yesterday and today i've been trying out the $99 ubuntu linux computer (dell optiplex gx1 -- 600 MHz) being sold for $99 from, a mail-order company in the washington dc area.

this is one very sweet computer. it surfs plenty fast on the web using firefox. i have a slow cable modem connection at my apartment that is equivalent to a 768 kbps dsl connection.

when i go to a web site, there's a pause for 2 or 3 seconds, and then the web page loads quite rapidly. scrolling thru long word processing documents is fast. (i.e. almost no noticeably delay in scrolling thru a 100 page word processing document.)

applications launch relatively quickly. this computer boots faster than my new pentium 4 windows xp system.

for word processing and web surfing, this is a very usable computer. with both firefox and writer programs loaded in memory, i was using 121 megabytes of 251 available megabytes in RAM. that leaves ample free memory for running one or two more applications concurrently.

the 20 gigabyte hard drive on this computer has 15 gigabytes free.

the version of ubuntu on this computer is version 4.10, from late 2004. presumably newer versions of ubuntu would work even better.

i'm really pleased this computer is available to community members at such an affordable price. the small size of this computer is also impressive. it's barely wider than a foot ruler. (it's 12.5 inches wide and 14.9 inches deep.)

this computer has a built-in ethernet port, so it could share a high-speed internet connection using an ethernet hub or switch.

Vertical axis wind turbines

After 10 years of prototyping, wind tunnel testing, patenting, and tweaking, Ron Taylor of Cheyenne (windy) Wyoming is ready to take his vertical axis wind turbine into commercial production. Design creates pull on the back side contributing to 40%+ wind conversion efficiencies. Because it spins at wind speed, it doesn't kill birds, and it runs more quietly. It also doesn't need to be installed as high, and it can withstand significantly higher winds (can generate in winds up to 70 mph, compared to ~54 mph tops for propeller designs). Generating costs estimated at 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, putting it in the lead pocket-book-wise not just of wind and solar, but of conventional power as well. Production prototype completion expected in 5-7 months.

2.5 cents per kW-hour = 1 Re per kW-hour. Ofcourse, I shouldn't be simply converting, but this is cheap energy for sure! It is perfect for India - no need to extend the grid into villages - just put up a bunch of turbines in each village to have an independent mini-grid.