Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Winner for third-world Skyping: OLPC!

New Picture: Me in my normal Skype environment (wireless!).

It occured to me the other day that at my fingertips were two options for wanting to talk to the US from over here in Asia:

Option 1: Desktop computer, external monitor, wireless receiver, Uninteruppted Power Supply (UPS) backup battery
Option 2: OLPC XO laptop (built in wireless, monitor, battery (UPS))

Option 1: Full desktop setup (UPS was faulty so it was removed [and I lost the first version of this blog posting due to a power outage!])

Option 2: OLPC XO Laptop (Cup of chai optional)

Now to either of the above lists I just add a standard headset with microphone and chat away! (In fact, if the conditions are perfect, don't even add the headset to the OLPC, just use the Built in microhphone, speakers, and webcam!)

For the audiophiles out there, it turns out that the XO laptop gives way better filtering of background noise (I'm in a 20' x 30' concrete room)! Way to go OLPC team! (I would have thought it would be standard due to both computers running Skype brand software, but there is a repeatable difference!)

The official page for installing Skype on the OLPC laptops can be found here, but I used an amalgamation of help forums, etc. because I installed it a while back (and/or didn't see the main page... :-) )

(Now looking into the status of Google Talk on the OLPC (Seems like might have to use a third-party for billing to call to non-computers at the other end). -- suggestions welcome!)


  1. The OLPC laptop is too cool! There was a deal last year where I could donate and a child would get a laptop and I would get one too.... Alas I had passed up that opportunity. But, it's such a good cause that I should donate anyway! It's just that I'd love to see one in real life.

  2. VivaceMusica, glad you're on board with the movement! The opportunity you referenced was called "Give 1 Get 1" or more simply G1G1. It ended in December 2007. There are rumors of another later in 2008, but I've found nothing concrete. I'm sure if you do some searching you'll be able to find someone in your area with a laptop who is more than happy to share! You might want to post a location (very general) and someone on here can reply if they're in your area!



  3. Hello Holden and so happy I have found you!

    Can you help me remember the command for opening SKYPE?

    I somehow y installed SKYPE last December before I began a journey. It worked quite well.

    When I returned I put my XO away to rest.

    I am getting ready for another journey so decided to try SKYPE on XO. I cannot seem to remember the command, what to type in once I open the terminal.

    -bash-3.2# skype says command not found

    Holden, I admire what you are doing with your life.

    My daughters have been doing the same and I am at it still at age 70. Life is rich!

    Many thanks and may you have wonderful journeys always.

    Very best wishes,

    John Gray

  4. So I got Skype installed and it works, mostly. When I used the echo123 service to test things, my voice is very choppy and it seems to be sped up in some fashion.

    Any idea what might be going on there and how I might fix it?

  5. @tudza, I'm sorry that I can't help (I don't have an OLPC right now.) This was such a long time ago, I'm sure the versions have changed.

    I think you're dealing with two different issues:
    1) The choppyness - this can be due to a lot of different factors. I would first try another call when there is as little traffic on your internet connection as possible (3am, if you like? :) To see if it's just your connection.

    2) The speed of playback seems high: Not sure what this is, though I'm guessing its on your end (not the Skype server) as if it was on Skype's end, everyone would be complaining. Not sure what to suggest; perhaps go to a forum with some experts?



  6. @John Gray:

    Sorry that I didn't see your comment until now -- Hope you've gotten that skype command working (I would have thought it was 'skype' as you noted, it's been a while for me now as well!)

    Just had a vacation in Belgium for 2 weeks, I should post some pics / stories soon, but as for the rest of my life, it's back to the grind, working for the man, in a traditional day job. Thanks for the wishes!


  7. Thought I'd ask in case you'd heard about the problem.

    As to it being a problem on my end and the proof being Skype would hear about it, well you don't have to look too hard to find "Skype makes me sound like a chipmunk" postings using Google. No solutions that I could find, just Skype people saying "Send us your logs." and other people saying "What do you mean send our logs, don't you already know what's wrong?"

    I'm not so sure getting a netbook will ensure success given what I've read. I will have to try again later and then give up if I see no change.


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