Buy a Laptop and Do Good

The nonprofit project named One Laptop Per Child is making an intriguing offer to laptop buyers -- buy two of ours, and we'll ship one of them to a child in a developing country.

The brainchild of MIT Media Lab director Nicholas Negroponte, this represents the culmination of his "$100 laptop" project. The actual cost of the XO laptop is $188. The cost to purchase two -- one for donation -- is $399 (I guess you don't get the volume discount). The manufacturer, Quanta Computer Inc., is beginning mass production next month. Negroponte is hoping that the combination of publicity and donated computers will encourage developing countries themselves to order millions of units for their citizens.

The XO Laptop (http://www.xogiving.com) is a truly unique piece of hardware, with a custom user interface running on top of a Linux distribution. It has very low power consumption, and its battery can be charged with a hand crank.

But here's the catch: The "Give One, Get One" program will run only between Nov. 12 to Nov. 26. Even if you don't buy into the goals of the project, it sounds like the laptop might be a collector's item.

Is Negroponte a visionary or kook? Send your thoughts to pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

'Halo 3' Is Here!
Well in time for the upcoming holiday season, Microsoft started selling "Halo 3" at midnight last night at selected retail outlets. I haven't yet heard reports of lines forming and riot police being called, but the first two "Halo"s sold a total of over 15 million copies.

"Halo 3" is available exclusively for the Xbox 360, and is expected to fuel an increase in the sales of the gaming platform.

"Halo 3" is the final chapter of the science-fiction blockbuster "Spartan 117," and its availability has been much-discussed on the Web for weeks. Four million people have pre-ordered the game, and Microsoft is expected to sell another 3 million copies this week, with the standard edition retailing for $60.

Have you invested your money and time playing the first two versions of "Halo"? Do you have your copy of "Halo 3" yet? Tell me how hardcore a gamer you are at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Yahoo To Buy Zimbra
As we reported last week in Redmond Report, Yahoo will acquire Zimbra for $350 million in a transaction expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Zimbra CTO Scott Dietzen was a keynote speaker at the Redmond Media Group Web Builder 2.0 conference last year, and he'll be joining us again in December at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. It will be interesting to get his perspective on what the long-range goal for this marriage is.

Are you a Zimbra user? What are your thoughts on the acquisition? E-mail me at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

MySpace Goes Mobile for Free
The MySpace social networking Web site this week is launching a free cell phone version, supported by advertising.

The company, owned by News Corp., has been offering a fee-based, premium version of MySpace on phones through AT&T and Helio, but this is the first free offering.

Even if I had a MySpace page (a good, old personal Web site still works for me), I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want it with advertisements on my cell phone. Even Stanley Bing refuses to join the MySpace craze.

What about you? Tell me where you stand on MySpace at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: Back-to-School Security
Yesterday, Doug wrote about his daughter's disastrous experience with Norton anti-virus software after connecting to her college's campus network. Many of you aren't surprised:

Anything, ANYTHING is better than Norton/Symantec. Norton used to be good. Not anymore. Ever heard of AVG? How about Avast? AVG is not a resource hog. I scanned a hard drive with it once that was full of (stuff) and it found and cleaned everything in less than an hour.

Still running Norton? What have you done to update your tech skills lately? Listing Norton is like listing things like QBasic on your resume! (And Norton/Symantec does not run any better on Macs.)
-Jeff

Sorry for your daughter's troubles. You should know by now, Norton sucks! McAfee is the WORST and Norton is a close second. The best one to use is Trend Micro. Fine-tune to clean or delete with no backup, skip previously checked files on the routine scans.
-Ron

I just thought your experience and reaction to your daughter's new college experience was ironic. Two years ago I sent my son off to college and had the same discussion with him. PC or Mac? He wanted a PC since he was familiar with it even though I was willing to spend more money on an iBook. He felt that adjusting to the iBook and college was not the best thing to do. I purchased the current Symantec product for his system and sent him on his way.

When he got set up at school, they had to uninstall his AV software and install a program required by the school to get on the network. Before the end of the year I had to rebuild his system mid-term because he had a trojan that the software supplied by the school could not remove.

I'll be sending my daughter off to college next fall and she will be taking an iBook with her. Supporting your home systems is much simpler than doing remote support for your child at college.
-Tim

Tell us what you think! Send an e-mail to pvarhol@redmondmag.com or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Peter Varhol is the executive editor, reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university level.

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