Tuesday, November 15, 2005

$100 Laptop Project Advancing



I am not a big fan of technology. This may sound strange coming from someone who makes a living off the stuff but it's not. Take the laptop for example. The number of features and the power it currently offers, not to mention the price, is over the top for most people. Each version of OS requires more and more power and they deliver nothing new. With all that power what ever happened to the promise of effective speech recognition? Why are we still using keyboards to enter data? They come from the typewriter and still have the same layout for goodness sakes! Did you know that the layout was chosen to slow down the typist because the mechanical typewriters of the time couldn't keep up with fast typists? Stupid!

I fully support the One Laptop Per Child project because it's all about getting the right technology to the right people. You can read an article from the Wall Street Journal here. A basic laptop with the ability to compose documents, write programs, surf the Web, e-mail and IM; being delivered to third-world students. This is cool! There is all kinds of educational material available for free over the Web. For example, MIT has an initiative called OpenCourseWare to publish the classroom material of 1800 courses across multiple disciplines by 2007. Again - Cool! I know there are many hurdles like how to get the computers, training on how to use them, and Internet access to the students. There are many more but all of these 'issues' mean nothing without the possibility of affordable computing. Even without Internet access these laptops can communicate with each other via wireless networking. The students can still use them to program and compose. They even work with a hand-crank to power them when a power source is not available.

Cool.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Canada, Japan move towards free trade



It's high time we start strengthening our trade relationships with others than just our neighbors in close physical proximity (in reference to an article posted today in the Globe and Mail). We are not as bound by distances as we once were. We trade more in information today than ever before and Canada, being a country rich in knowledge workers, has a lot to offer to the rest of the world. Of course we will continue to trade in goods like lumber, oil and gas but our economy is run more and more on knowledge.

I have nothing at all against trading with the US but subscribe to the wisdom of not placing all of one's eggs in one basket.

The devil will be in the details, however. The benefit Canadians will reap from a free trade agreement with Japan will be determined by the deal that is brokered. Regardless of the short-term outcome, as it may need adjusting to achieve maximum return for us, to start negotiations is a step in the right direction.