Yesterday I met Justin Thorp, Rodney DeGracia, Stewart, and Partica over at Murky Coffee in Arlington, VA with our One Laptop per Child machines (OLPCs). We had a good time talking about our new laptops. Stewart even mentioned that the OLPC he had brought with him was his daughters. He had purchased it for her and when he got to using it he like it so much that he did the Give 1 Get 1 again, before the dead line of December 31, 2007, so he could have one for himself.
We played the memorize game with each other over the mesh network. Justin and Stewart used the mesh network to collaborate on a document. It was fun watching Stewart type in his version of the document and then the changes happen on Justin’s in an instant.
There were three items that I had noticed before and wanted to re-test and look at with others there to make sure I was not imagining things.
The first thing was that if you have fixed width website that is greater than 800 pixels you will have to scroll your screen horizontally. The width might be slightly less than 800 pixels, I’m not sure the exact number. I know that my main website, which is 750 pixels wide fits in just fine. One of the OLPC websites does not fit on the screen has to be scrolled and I can’t remember which one right now. You would hope that their own website would fit on their machine. I figure they’re busy and have other things to do that are more important right now.
The second item was that when you fill out a form field or URL that you have done before it does not give you a list of what you have already typed before. This is not a big problem just a nuisance for someone that has used computers for years, but for someone that never has they will not know this information. It looks like the OLPC will let you save cookies, since I marked my Hotmail to remember me on it and it did I will have to check this out more to make sure it is correct.
The final item and the one I find more interesting and troublesome is that if you have an application that puts up an alert box up it never comes up. I found this out by trying to delete a Twitter message that I had typed wrong on my Twitter account while using the OLPC. On Twitter when you request to delete a message it puts up an alert box that says “Sure you want to delete this update. There is NO undo!”. If you are using a normal machine it comes up fine and give you the option to hit “OK” or “Cancel”. Well when using the OLPC browser this message never came up. You click the trash can to get the delete function to work and the little circle just spins for awhile, stops, and then nothing happens.
I know that most of the web forms and applications that I have built or maintain now have alert boxes that come up to show errors in the page, etc.. Time to test this out on a few other pages first to make sure I’m correct on this assumption. This could be a problem that makes it difficult for people with these machines to accomplish different tasks that include forms. This puts a barrier up and makes it an accessibility issue to those people using the OLPC.Â Hopefully it is only a temporary thing until they get it fixed. I know of a lot of web applications will show you a list of errors by putting them in an alert box. By using web standards for your websites I think you will keep away from problems that the OLPC can not handle.
Have any of you noticed either of these problems with your OLPCs or is there any other things I might have missed using my machine. This information would be helpful to me and others for when we are building web pages ad applications to make sure they work on as many devices as possible. If things go well there will be millions of these out in the world in a short time.