OK, so there are plenty of nits to pick, and at all levels, but let's keep things in perspective here. This is the first shot at a PC for people who - for the most part - have scarcely ridden in a bus, let alone used a telephone.
I'm also very skeptical about the idea that a cheap laptop will transform the third world, but OLPC is not the only game in town which has that goal, neither is it an either/or situation. OLPC may well be part of a cluster of initiatives which can pull African (and other extremely poor) countries out of their current miserable conditions.
I'm convinced that the internet has had a positive effect on global politics, not least because grass-roots movements are finally able to organise internationally, and escape centralised power. Dictators can no longer hide behind the smokescreens created by western news editors. Would we even have taken the Monks' protest in Burma seriously if we had had only newspapers, tv and radio? As the most 'underdeveloped' continent in the world, Africa has a lot to gain by getting 'online'.
This could be *part* of something really big, a few years down the line. Let's get away from the quick-fix ideology that western culture has fed us with, and think a bit longer term.
Is it really reasonable to expect they'll get every detail right first time round. Let's cut the project some slack, and stop comparing it with sub-notebooks intended for the developed world.
I quickly accept there are flaws in the design, and in the choice of software (they should have chosen Squeak!) but think evolution, think next iteration. I am quite certain that whatever the OLPC eventually becomes will be something quite different from the likes of the Asus ee.
Readers of the Register are categorically NOT the target market, so our opinions must necessarily have limited value. We know we're smart, but we're not omniscient. It's the users, ultimately, that will shape this product. I don't mean western geeks that buy an OLPC on ebay, I mean kids from Nairobi, Johannesburg or Haiti, and their schoolteachers.
I was interested to see mention of the Acorn platform. I cut my teeth on a BBC Micro, and can vividly remember the day someone came up with a speech synthesiser in pure software, running in 32k of RAM. Something which I am sure the Acorn engineers never even dreamed was possible. I think we need to expect that people will push this machine to the limits we think it has, and far beyond. There are smart people everywhere, even in the third world.
So let's let OLPC go through a few iterations, let them have time to respond to their own users' feedback. It might have a lot of flaws here and now, but it's based on open source software, which means it has the potential to change very fast, without waiting for some board of directors in Seattle or Silicon Valley to decide on a convenient launch date.
I believe the OLPC could go on to become a very interesting device.