Nov 18, 2007

Maui, scuba, snorkeling at "The Aquarium"

This past week, I spent 4 days in Maui (smaller island of Hawaii). It was a Google organized trip for my particular team. About 5 of us organized a separate diving expedition during the trip where we became PADI Dive Certified and got to see some of the best diving areas in the world. We dove at Molokini and 5 Graves sites near the shore. Cody had an underwater housing for his camera and took some decent underwater photos, including a video of a small shark we saw swimming around. We dove with a company called B&B Scuba, highly recommended. We were the first out at Molokini both mornings, spent as much time underwater as we had air, and had lots of direct interaction with the instructors.

On Tuesday, we visited a place that the locals call "The Aquarium". MSN Maps has the best aerial view of the area, but I can't easily embed their tool in this blog, so here is a Google MyMaps view of how to get there (click on the markers and line to get descriptions):

Park at the end of S. Makena Road near La Perouse Bay, basically where the road dead ends. Then walk back along the road towards the north along the left side of the road, about 1/4 a mile. On your left side you will pass a private estate with barbed wire fence right along the road. You will see a few large wooden cylindrical water towers just off the road, you are getting close to the trailhead. Right where the barbed wire stops following the road and turns into the trees is the trailhead, it isn't marked, but hop over the rocks at the road and it is a clear trail and easy to follow. Once out on the lava rocks along the trail, there are a few spots where the trail is difficult to follow, look for white spray-painted lines on the rocks for guidance.

Nov 11, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

Alot of people have probably already heard of this from me, but if not there is an absolutely amazing program going on called One Laptop Per Child aimed at bringing about a change where every child in the world has access to a laptop as part of education. And when I say world, I mean world: this is designed for people who have little or no access to electricity, live in poverty on a dollar or two a day, and cannot even conceive of owning a laptop of the type you and I could likely buy.

I'm in the front row of the audience on this video around 18:50.

The point of this is education, not laptops or technology, but the technology is still amazing:
  • Peak Power is 4W (your laptop is 40-50W), Standard Consumption is 1-2W, less if you are in suspend mode.
  • Suspend and Resume can happen in less than 100ms, If someone is reading the screen and nothing is changing on the screen, the entire laptop goes into suspend "instantly" using no power while the screen is "freezing" the image at very very low power.
  • Uses a completely new battery technology (Lithium Ferrous Phosphate), half the weight/size for the same power and safer than the NiMH batteries in your laptop.
  • Screen has color and mono, can work either way, mono saves power: uses 0.2 W vs. 1 W for color (your laptop uses 7 W for the screen) Mono can be viewed in full sunlight, is 200dpi (book equivalent)
  • Uses wireless mesh networking: all laptops can communicate without centralized connection. Real life testing between 2 laptops streams music up to 2km apart. The entire laptop can be power off and the networking chip can still do mesh routing.
  • Entirely new filesystem (written in python). Version-control on all documents, fancy automatic compression, pervasive search. 1GB of Flash storage.
  • Security: Each process runs in it's own Virtual Machine, with only the permissions it needs on the hardware. Zero CPU overhead for up to 65k virtual machines running.
  • 466 mhz processor, 256 MB RAM,
  • Has Video Camera, Microphone, Speakers, 3 USB ports, headphone ports.
  • Weighs under 1.5kg, about the size of a textbook.
  • Can handle extreme environments, can be dropped on the ground
  • Lots of software available already, including web browsing, office, unique learning applications such as a music composing application, games: the original SimCity is being ported and made free on the laptop.

These are very nice systems. The cost? Roughly $150 for full production (and the price will go down quickly over time).

This laptop is being made in mass production now. Several million laptops have been ordered already. At Google we've been playing with some of these laptops for almost a year now, they really exist and work just fine.

Want one? You can get one. For two weeks only, probably ever, you can buy one. To get one though, you have to buy two. One for yourself and one for someone in an impoverished country. They are calling it Give 1 Get 1, LaptopGiving.Org and it costs $399 shipped. I'm very seriously considering it myself.