Thanks for taking the time out to reply.
I am not terribly satisfied however. It really does seem that an incredibly worthwhile scheme it being rather undermined by a lack of communication, official assistance (albeit you replied) and clarity.
I have a number of issues.
Lack of spares (although you pointed my towards a third party who does indeed provide cheap parts), this still doesn't clear up my query as to what becomes of anyone in remote regions or in the developing World who has issues with their hardware / software?
It may appear rather trite of me to say so, but I would hardly expect a child in Africa to whip out his or her Visa card, email this third party and organise Fedex to collect / return their repaired XO. I am satisfied that Western children, under the supervision of their parents would probably be able to get their XO repaired with less fuss.
Lack of clarity. Have you attempted recently to wade through the series of forums, threads and sites to obtain sufficient information to make a well judged decision on the OLPC cause? Given that this is a global issue, am I right in thinking that the main website for the OLPC is only available in English?
Out of interest, if this is the case where does someone who's first language is not English obtain information on the OLPC and how to participate?
On this point I also noticed that whilst Canada was involved last year with the G1G1 scheme, that this year (due to the fact that Amazon currently don't ship electronics to the country) they are locked out. Unfathomable that a work-around for this particular cause was not established prior to accepting Amazon's assistance.
I would imagine that one of the most important aspects of the scheme was word of mouth. Generating a buzz by allowing previous donators to drag their relatives, friends and colleagues on-board. Therefore any in-roads previously made in Canada would appear to have been wasted, as well as making me wonder whether next year (if I decided to donate) I would be able to?
The OLPC has a great front end, which sadly becomes increasingly confused. The great video material, the user friendly graphics and the simple layout and initial presentation quickly falls by the way side. To take part you need to jump onto Amazon (which reassures me), but then overseas purchasers have to select another page, the information looks vastly different and therefore I feel suggests that the deal might be different. No mention of G1G1 on the UK site for example!
For further information you have to come to the forum and as I discovered, even when here if you seek clarification you are expected to seek it on various other threads and for spare parts you need to establish the whereabouts of a third party supplier.
All this and you might not even be a native English speaker or terribly computer literate. Those donating said computers may themselves be new to this entire experience. None of that seems to matter.
Lack of organization. With a projected 5-10million XO laptops (GEN1) are you truly telling me that the OLPC is relying on volunteers to assist with technical issues, period? Relying upon volunteers to provide back-up services demonstrates on the end users side a keen interest in pushing the goal of the OLPC forward, and is very commendable. However, even a profitable organisation such as Microsoft, Sony or any number of other companies launching that many units would have a clear idea prior to releasing any hardware as to customer care, servicing and some basic repair statements.
If, for example you were suddenly affected by a general recall due to product failure or dangerous batteries, could it be achieved? This might seem over the top, but this is precisely what happened to Sony when Dell customers began to report laptop batteries self combusting.
The current battery issue may be being addressed by random members of OLPC staff, (which seems to leave even well educated & computer literate Western end users confused) but at the very least a statement detailing this issue should be posted and suggested solutions provided to firstly reassure those donating, perhaps educate those volunteers providing back-up and secondly to relieve pressure on staff who may otherwise be unaware of the issues.
And a plethora of threads suggest that end users are not receiving their XO laptops and therefore how can anyone sufficiently guarantee that any donated machines are really getting to those who would benefit most of all?
I really want to contribute and donate to this worthy cause however I feel that there are a number of glaring issues that need to be sufficiently addressed before I put one penny in the hands of anyone.
It is obvious that the OLPC wants to keep overheads to an absolute minimum. Being a non-profit organisation with such a huge uphill task must present a series of complex and logistical nightmares.
I hate to be scathing of this or appear to be such a complainer, but I am thinking of the thousands of potential donators who may, like me be put off proceeding. A relative of mine took a look at the site and felt utterly confused by it.
The sad thing is I work with computers and kind of feel the same way! There is a lack of transparency that seems counter productive.
More importantly I don't like to think that donations are being made and either machines are not reaching those who desperately need them, or if anything fails they are left with a piece of hardware that cannot be serviced.
I want a rock solid answer that demonstrates that if I were an African child with a faulty battery, a bust screen, a failing keyboard, a cracked motherboard that my machine would be repaired free-of-charge with the minimum of fuss. Is this a service that OLPC provides? If not what DOES the OLPC provide, or are you truly saying they would need to find their nearest volunteer?