Technology for Haiti's Recovery: OLPC reaches out to G1G1 supporters

If you've been reading this blog for years (and some people have, seriously) then you may recall how excited I was when the One Laptop Per Child program starting shipping its cool XO machines to developing countries. Back at the end of 2007 my wife and I participated in the Give One, Get One program which resulted in tens of thousands of XO laptops being donated to places like Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mongolia, and Cambodia.

Referred to as G1G1, program participants paid for the purchase of two XO machines, one of which was donated, the other sent to us for exploration, edification, etc.

Well, after the earthquake in Haiti, OLPC put out a call to all G1G1 supporters to ask for any unused XO machines to be donated to Haiti. Below is the email sent by Nicholas Negroponte, the OLPC movement's founder and driving force. Obviously Mr. Negroponte knows geeks pretty well. We were excited to get our laptop. We checked out the software and began to experiment with it, but then real life got in the way and "Do stuff with the XO" moved down the things-to-do list. I suspect many G1G1 supporters can relate to that. So, we are sending our XO to Haiti, per the instructions in the email, happy to think that in some small way this will help with the rebuilding of the country and the shaping of its future.

I am blogging this and including the email because I know something about geeks as well. Some of use go through email addresses like...hmmm...words fail me here...but my point is, you might not be getting email from the address you supplied when you participated in G1G1 program. And you might have missed this:

Dear G1G1er,

At the end of 2007 you participated in the Give One Get One program of One Laptop per Child (OLPC). Thanks to you and others like you, 75,000 laptops went to Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Cambodia, Oceania, the West Bank, and Haiti.

An additional 75,000 laptops came into the USA as part of the "get" side of the equation. In some cases those laptops have since been put into closets for one reason or another.

We are gathering additional used XO laptops to send to Haiti. If you or the child to whom you gave the laptop is no longer using it, we appeal again to your generosity and ask you to send it to the address below (even if it is broken).

615 Westport Parkway #500
Grapevine, TX 76051

75% of the schools in Port-au-Prince have been destroyed in the recent earthquake, but by good fortune, none of our Haitian team was hurt. They have spare parts and OLPC technical staff and teachers, and stand prepared to deploy these XOs.

Because of the XO's unique features (sunlight readability, solar powered, water resistant, drop proof), it is also an ideal tool for relief work. If your XO is in use, please ignore this email. We only want your broken or unused XOs.


Nicholas Negroponte

Over 1,300 Blog Posts and Counting

Phew, looks like the blog is fixed. Thanks Jason! Links were not working for a while.  Please enjoy some examples of the more than 1,300 blog posts I've penned since 2006:

Jeremy Dean's Back to the Futurama: A moving art project rolls from Hummers to horse carts.

How Was Your Presidents' Day? My first post on the new Monetate real-time marketing blog.

Neat Facebook Fan Hack

Not really a hack, more a clever strategy, the point of which is to hide certain information on Facebook until a person "fans" your page.

From the John Haydon blog. Will be trying this out soon on Facebook pages I run for Dare Not Walk Alone and Fighting Hemochromatosis.

Artist Cuts a Hummer in Half: And Jeremy Dean's just getting started!

How do you turn a General Motors Hummer H2 into a green machine? Cut it in half! That's what wild and crazy Brooklyn artist and filmmaker Jeremy Dean has done. Check out the awesome pictures and video here.

Frankly, I don't know if I should be blogging this amazing feat here, or on my arts blog, or on my personal blog (I'm proud to be able to count Jeremy as a close personal friend). What I do know is that you should really check out Jeremy's blog: Here's a thought: I will focus this post on the automotive aspects of the project.

First, if you need serious custom car work done, it's clear you should head to Slicks Garage in Palmetto, Florida (their web site is coming soon but they are open for business now at 923 Fifth Street West, phone number 941-776-7298). Jeremy can't say enough good things about these guys. He had planned to just drop the Hummer off after he drove it back from Orlando but these guys were so stoked about the project they went straight to work, for 36 hours straight!

[The garage is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.]

Second, one of the many points of this project is human ingenuity and fortitude in the face of financial hardship.That's the spirit that created the original Hoovercarts and Bennett Buggies: horse-drawn cars used for transportation during the Great Depression. Waste not! was a motto of the times and Jeremy is not going to waste any of this Hummer. Rumor has it the motor and transmission have already found a new home in a vehicle restoration project.

But I don't want to steal any more of Jeremy's thunder. Follow the progress on his blog. Tell people about the project. And get ready for the big day, when Jeremy drives the horse-drawn Hummer into New York City in March, a rolling symbol of so many things that are messed up in the world today.

(If you want to help maximize the impact of this project please consider joining me in the KickStart program.)

Happy New Year! Could it be a turning point?

Solent NewsAs 2010 starts off and Detroit hosts the big auto show, some people are looking to signs of increased car sales as a spark of hope for economic recovery. But what about the long term effect of selling more cars? There are now more cars being sold in China than in the US, and the effects of this trend could be killer, literally.

I just calculated that if the number of vehicles per person in China reaches the level of, for example, the UK--by no means the most "vehicle-rich" country in the world, what with its public transportation system and high vehicle taxes--then China would become home to somewhere in excess of 6 billion vehicles, versus the 150 million vehicles in China today. Remember the smog before the Olympics?

To put it a different way, China would have three times the number of vehicles in America today. And if the Chinese "achieve" American levels of vehicle density, we could be looking at 5 times as many cars in China as there are in America. Sales opportunity for the car makers or death sentence for the planet?

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a great 2010. May none of your technology fail after the warranty period ends.

Jeremy's New Blog: Back to the Futurama

Jeremy Dean has started to blog his wild "Back to the Futurama" art project.

This should be fun. Talk about life hacking and culture-hacking. This one is a real mind bender. A horse up front, an audio-video-enabled riding experience in back. BTW, if you're a business that has the skills and equipment to convert a Hummer H2 or Cadillac Escalade into something like the model on the left, and if you want a ton of free publicity, let Jeremy know. This thing is going to happen, and the result will make the news.

There is a Contact link on Jeremy's home page.

Update: February 1 -- Slick's Garage of Florida stepped up to the plate. Thanks guys! You Rock!

Now Blogging Back to the Futurama: From 1939 to 2009 and back

My good friend Jeremy Dean is now blogging his wild and crazy Back to the Futurama art project.

I have written about this project elsewhere (Jeremy Dean’s Back to the Futurama: A moving art project rolls from Hummers to horse carts). Now, as the car industry is putting on its annual show in Detroit, Jeremy would like to show the world another side of automotive reality. As a documentary filmmaker, Jeremy has spent a lot of time uncovering images of the past. When he encountered rare footage of Hoovercarts--horse drawn cars that people created during the Great Depression--he couldn't shake the image and its potent symbolism.

These things were called Hoovercarts as a play on Hoovercrats, people in America who had supported the election of Herbert Hoover, the President who presided over much of the Great Depression. Folks in Canada also made horse-drawn automobiles but called them Bennett Buggies after the Canadian PM of the time.

Why Back to the Futurama? The world of today is clearly very different from the world of the 1930s, but pulling a car with a horse is still a potent reminder that we have been pursuing and promoting a materialistic life-style that the world may not be able to sustain. Fossil-fuel dependence, global warming, and "the-end-of-oil," all stand in stark contrast to our seemingly endless infatuation with lavish vehicles that are more about status than transportation, an infatuation which Detroit has funded, over the decades, to the tune of many billions of dollars. Consider the 1939 New York World's Fair. For this event General Motors created a lavish 36,000 square foot facility which the company described as:
"a thought-provoking exhibit of the developments ahead of us, the greater and better world of tomorrow that we in America are building today, a vivid tribute to the American scheme of living."

The name of that exhibit, which was full of cars and models of multi-lane highways? The Futurama. (You can see clips from the original newsreel here.) Detroit spent many decades selling the world on a bright future full of luxury vehicles, with no apparent thought as to the environmental, economic, and political side-effects. So Jeremy has dubbed this project Back to the Futurama. You can see more of his models here.

And you can help Jeremy create an actual 21st Century Hoovercart, a full-size vehicle which Jeremy plans to drive through New York in March, 2010. That's right, a working horse-drawn cart based on a Hummer or Escalade. So heads up if you own one of these vehicles--Jeremy is accepting donations, and he doesn't mind if the motor is blown. Comment below to make contact or use the contact page on Jeremy's web site.

Where Does The Time Go? Is all this time-saving technology to blame?

Griffin PowerMateMy good intentions to research the CFS/ME/XMRV/CDC thing have fallen prey to all kinds of technology. There's the technology I work on marketing at my day job, which requires a part of every day. Then there's the technology that distracts me, like Kindle for the iPhone, whereon I am reading the last book in the Axis of Time trilogy (in which the technology of 2012 collides with 1942). And then there are the "time-saving" gizmos that can be pretty darned time-consuming, like computers.

An embarrassing number of months ago I offered to repair my daughter's Dell notebook. That did not work out so well. So I got her a replacement, an IBM Thinkpad, a lease-return purchased without an operating system. I installed a copy of Windows XP I had purchased on eBay. That did not work out so well. The darned thing was "all used" up, which is the technical term for exceeding the number of installs for an individual Windows OS license.

Then I remembered the many copies of Windows XP that I had purchased while working as a Microsoft vendor. On Saturday, I finally managed to excavate one of those from the barn (my personal homage to the closing scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a place beloved of nobody but my cats, who love to leap from pile to pile of crated "stuff" and feast upon any mice that try to make their home among our stored belongings).

That worked out well. The license number unlocked the XP install. But then I was buried under a digital landslide of accumulated OS updates, application updates, driver updates, and mandatory reboots. However, by late Sunday afternoon, the Thinkpad was as stable as a rock and as up-to-date as an iPhone app.

airmouseSpeaking of which, there were some positive side effects and salutary sideshows to this techno-marathon. First, I found my Griffin PowerMate, the spacey looking thing pictured, via iPhone, at the top of the page. This is a great gizmo that I have plugged into my Mac Mini to control the volume (and do other cool stuff when editing documents and video). That inspired me to add even more controls to the Mini.

First I tried the Apple app for the iPhone called Remote. This is supposed to provide remote control from an iPhone to a Mac. It may do that for some people, but not for me, not in any meaningful way (and like so many Apple-derived software it suffers from that really aggravating techno-snob, minimalist-style documentation).

So then I tried the Air Mouse app. Much better. That's what you're looking at on the left, a screen on the iPhone that allows you to mouse around your Mac and even type on it, at considerable distance. Great for doing your big screen web surfing from across the room.

I'm still learning all of the things Air Mouse can do, but it should be good for controlling iTunes when I get the multi-room speaker feed installed. Of course, that's got to wait for another tech weekend. Other techno-bits I worked on while updating the Thinkpad include installing Woopra to monitor a couple of web sites in real-time (it's pretty cool to watch someone land on your blog from New Zealand and then start flipping pages).

I also upgraded Paintshop Pro on my Sony Vaio to the latest version. I also did a bunch of writing in Writer, which I now prefer over Word by a considerable margin (not that I was ever a fan of Word--indeed, I was quite happy writing with Ami Pro until Microsoft killed it off).

And I started laying the groundwork to move this blog to my own [virtual] server. I noticed the blog was down for a while this morning [for which, my apologies] and I think the move will be good for reliability as well as saving me some money. Whether it will save me any time is hard to say. I'm going to try and turn things off for the rest of the day.

XMRV, ME, CFS, CDC: Thanks for the input

I just wanted to thank everyone who has commented on the previous post about XMRV, CFS/ME and hemochromatosis. I have learned a lot from you all and am still reading through the references and blog links you provided. I hope to post my thoughts this weekend.