After Wayan previously compiled the extensive G1G1 2008 Buyer's Guide I thought it would make sense to follow up with a list of recommended accessories for your XO, just in time for Black Friday.

bunch of XO accessories
My XO accessories collection.

As you can see on the photo to your right I'm somewhat of an XO accessory victim myself and also freely admit to nightly purchasing binges every now and then;-)

On a more serious note there certainly are a ton of cool accessories available for your XO so the list below is really just a selection of what I feel to be the highlights.

First of all it's good to know the two central places to purchase XO gear: I Love My XO and XOExplosion.

ilovemyxo offers a range of great products, please note that they also have a store on

  • XO Thin Spin 2 Gig USB Flash Drive: It's such a simple product but I absolutely adore my green ilovemyxo USB flash drive. Before I got it I always seemed to run out of space on my other USB drive which I used for university files, Live-USB Linux versions and for upgrading my XO. Now that I've got a dedicated XO flash drive my life has certainly become simpler.
  • XO Flex light: The USB powered light is really useful when using the XO at night, especially when you're somewhere outside (e.g. on an island close to Vancouver). Admittedly I haven't used the XO flex light all that often, on the other hand it once helped me find my keys which I probably wouldn't have found without it.
  • XO wireless mouse: I admit it, before receiving the XO wireless mouse I wasn't quite sure whether I would really need it. But now I actually use it quite a lot! A wireless mouse also comes in handy when demonstrating Sugar to other people since you can stand in the back row while showing off the Journal, collaboration, etc.
  • USB2.0 LAN Adapter: No doubt about it, we all love the Mesh network and the impressive wireless range of our XOs. However there are times, for example when your flatmate is reflashing your wireless access point to run Linux, when a wired network connection comes in handy. The ZoWii adapter plugs into a USB port on your XO and then provides a wired Ethernet port to get you connected, no driver installations required!
  • XO Travel Pack: This is an all-inclusive package that contains all the four products mentioned above, plus green JVC Gumy heaphones and an XO stylus. That way you save $16 compared to buying the items seperately, on top of that you can get the XO Laptop Bag for only $10 extra.

The kind folks over at ilovemyxo are also offering a special deal on the travel pack for all our readers:

OLPC News readers can build their own travel pack! Need more, fewer or different items on the road? Need a replacement battery or power adapter? Build your own travel pack and save 10% by entering code: "olpcnews" at checkout. (Note: Offer excludes replacement keyboards, touchpads and screens)

XOExplosion also offers some great things:

  • XOView - USB mounted viewfinder for the OLPC XO: This is still one of the coolest things ever designed, kudos to Mike Lee and Phil Carlizzi for coming up with this outstanding idea!
  • Temperature Sensor (assembled / unassembled): Personally I think measure is one of the coolest activities around, especially when combined with sensors such as this one.
  • XOCover Sleeve: The XO is certainly a very robust laptop and you can easily throw it into your backbag or something. However the fashion-aficionados among you will definitely want to show off by carrying along their XOs in this exclusive hand-made felted-wool cover sleeve.
  • Solar power: Seeing an XO run off a solar-panel is pretty cool and if I did any hiking I'd immediately get one of them to keep my XO powered while exploring the Austrian Alps.
  • Spare parts: We have all XO'ed under the influence, some merely testing whether the keyboard is indeed water-proof, others destroying their display during olpcnews meetups at Lucky Labrador Brewing Company in Portland, OR. Luckily these days the spare parts are available to fix these issues, plus they're very affordable. By the way, I've heard rumours that olpcnews authors who order spare parts receive a free hangover cure in the form of a Bloody Mary and an Aspirin!

On top of all that gear you should also check out the cool manuals from FLOSS Manuals which now offer printed versions of the OLPC Laptop User's Guide (online version) and Sugar User's Guide (online version) at $17.5 and $14.4 respectively. They offer international shipping, I think my total for both books plus shipping was around $40 which I consider excellent value.

What is your favorite XO accessory? Did we miss anything? Let us know by posting a comment below.

One year ago, donors worldwide responded to the original Give 1 Get 1 promotion from One Laptop Per Child and G1G1'ed around 160,000 XO laptops. With 60,000 sent to the donors, OLPC has distributed around 100,000 donated XO's to children worldwide.

On this day of Thanksgiving in the USA, we have a video from some of those who now learn and share thanks to your generosity:

Now, let's make G1G1 2008 just as successful. Be sure to Give One Get One today!

The other day John Gilmore pointed me towards a very interesting initiative: the Internet Archive is currently working on making all its videos accessible to OLPC XO users by converting them to Ogg Theora. And in this case "all its videos" means 185,000 moving images, including many cartoons and full-length movies that have fallen into the public domain.

Now that's quite an impressive number I dare say! I'm also pleasantly surprised by the speed - up to a maximum of 1000 videos per hour (!) - with which the Internet Archive is converting its content. To date almost 50% of their videos have been made available as .ogg.

xo laptop
Looney Tunes on my XO!

What's also great is that the Internet Archive is currently working on a solution that recognizes when an XO running the browse-activity tries to access a video. In that case the user is directly sent to the .ogg version (where available) instead of seeing the Flash version and manually having to select "Ogg Video" via the menu on the left-hand side.

Unfortunately a bug in browse still makes it impossible to actually download the videos to the XOs instead of having to stream them. In John Gilmore's view this could have quite an impact on the network in OLPC deployments:

Once the word gets out to kids in Peru and Uruguay about this archive, their long-haul bandwidth usage will probably rise dramatically...

I think it's great that the Internet Archive is making such an outstanding contribution to the free software and content ecosystem. Looking through some of the videos which are already available I realized how valuable these are and I'm sure many children with XOs from around the world will have a great experience enjoying them.

Plus, I really couldn't think of a better way to keep myself entertained while cooking than to watch an awesome Looney Tunes episode on my XO!

Thanks to Liliputing, we now have the FCC application for Intel's Classmate 3 design, and I have to say that I'm not so impressed by its direction. Honestly, it looks like an early XO-1 prototype design.

The only external difference between the Classmate 2 and Classmate 3 is a swivel hinge which makes the form factor look exactly like an XO-1, which is now two years old. They do manage to add a 5-wire 8.9'' ITO resistive touch screen, but OLPC took the touchscreen thunder with the swank XO-2 design.

I would've hoped for more innovation from Intel. I am still hoping OLPC to actually deliver on XO-2.

I like Green Spice
After two years of the same format, I felt that One Laptop Per Child News needed a design kick. So I've added a little green spice to the experience.

Coinciding with G1G1 2008, I've taken the liberty to upgrade both the frontend and backend (now Moveable Type 4.2) to reflect changes in web design since I launched this humble enterprise.

I hope you enjoy discovering the new functionality of the site, I'll let you explore and share in the sprit of Sugar. I'm sure you'll find much joy with hidden gems.

Oh, do let me know if you find any errors or bugs. Also, I'll be tweaking the site over the Thanksgiving weekend, so be patient if things look weird for a moment.

FreeIconToSpeech UI Mockup
Cynthia, the daughter of my friend Sue, has cerebral palsy and uses a small touchscreen with picture icons to speak. Sue explained that this is a costly piece of equipment at $6,000, with a $400 fee when it needs service - expenses that many middle-class families with special needs children in even the developed world cannot afford. I had just received my OLPC through the Give One Get One program and had a sense of curious excitement about this new platform, and little idea of the possibilities. "Hi Matt, what's that thing?" asked Sue. The green laptop had caught her eye. After I explained, she immediately thought, "Could this help my daughter?"

Based on Cynthia's use of other computers, Sue expected that she could probably use the OLPC's touchpad, and possibly the keyboard. After a quick web search, I used the built-in Espeak utility from the command line to make the OLPC say, "Hello, this is a test of speech synthesis." The missing piece was a software interface to allow Cynthia to select concepts to speak through a menu of icons. Free Icon-To-Speech is that missing piece: it is an open-source software Activity designed to transform the OLPC into a Augmentative Assistive Communication device with more functionality and ruggedness than devices that cost over ten times as much.

Development of Free Icon-To-Speech started at PyCon 2008 when I posted a card on the huge bulletin board for after-hours open space meetings that read "OLPC icon-to-speech for people with Stephen Hawking-like needs." There were no other topics like it on the board, so I was unsure if it would get any interest. Throughout the next day, I nervously wondered if anyone would show up.

One Laptop Per Child has finally gone global with its Give 1 Get 1 promotion of XO laptop sales. Now you can order an XO in 45 countries where OLPC has cleared the local certification and labeling requirements, according to the OLPC blog.

To order your XO laptop in any of he countries below, just use the G1G1 page to pre-order your XO and expect to pay ~50GBP in shipping.
OLPC says they will be adding countries as they can register the XO. Could we see 100+ by Christmas? I know I'd love to see Mexico join so I could ship to my extended family.
good hotel xo laptop display
A good XO laptop display
What does “good” mean to you? For some tourists, the word may inspire visions of a warm bed in a funky hotel. Others may think of cheap rates and a good location, near to everything you could want in an "urban experience". Or, maybe your mission isn’t to save the world, you just want to see an XO laptop in the wild.

If "good" means any of this to you, then check out the Good Hotel at Mission and 7th Street in San Francisco. There, the Joie de Vivre hoteliers have taken an old motor inn and infused it with hipness and feel good tourism.

The best example of this "hotel with a conscience" attitude is the little green laptop in the middle of their business center. Yep, right there between two Mac computers is our favorite Children's Machine XO.

So if you're headed to San Francisco, consider staying at the Good Hotel if only to stay close to One Laptop Per Child. That or easy access to the Ready Made vending machine.

Upgrade to Sugar 8.2.0 now!
Contrary to previous statements, One Laptop Per Child is not shipping XO laptop with Sugar Release 8.2.0.

Thanks to tvoverbeek's explorations we've just learned that OLPC is shipping G1G1 2008 XO's with Build 708, aka 8.1.

Now why might that be? Ed McNierney says:
This year it was extremely important for us to have Amazon stocked with inventory so orders could be fulfilled and delivered right away, the first day of the program.

That meant that manufacturing actually had to begin before 8.2 was released; the machines being manufactured now have 8.2 built in, but the first G1G1 buyers will be receiving the first manufactured machines.
Sadly, I do not think OLPC is telling the donors who receive the Build 708 machines that they need to upgrade their software.