Ok, so at the end of January this is about a month overdue, but I wanted to say thank you to everyone who contributed to Grady’s Christmas present this year: Two XO Laptops from the One Laptop Per Child foundation – one for Grady, and one presented on his behalf to a child in Mongolia (see pictures!).
The give-one-get-one program provided a great opportunity to talk to him about kids in other parts of the world who don’t have some of the things we take for granted here, and Grady often asks questions about “the little boy who got a computer just like mine.” (ok, so we’re making some assumptions – it could have been a little girl).
The computer itself is incredible: It looks like a toy (designed for small fingers) but it’s a full featured, rugged, and powerful laptop, with more USB ports and better wi-fi range than my Dell has. It’s not only green in color, but possibly the most environmentally conscious computer ever made, too. It runs all open source software, including a Linux-based interface designed especially for children. It was designed first and foremost as an educational tool with a strong constructivist philosophy, which is evident in just about every program (they’re called “activities” on his laptop). In addition to recording his own videos and making a collection of his favorite jokes, he’s already experimented with changing the programming code (python language) for one of the games – something actually encouraged by the developers!
I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a gift for me, in many ways, too. I almost cried when I first took it out of the packing box to wrap it for him before Christmas. I remember when I was just a little older than Grady, my dad brought home a Commodore 64 for the first time, and (over the next few years) taught me how to write programs in BASIC. It was (and is) a gift that I cherish now that he’s gone, and like the reading it was probably more about the time he spent with me than what we actually did (although I’m definitely grateful for the geek skillz he passed on).
Just about every day now, Grady asks me, “Dad – can we have some computer time?” No gift could possibly be better than that for a father and son.
Thanks to Grandad and G.G., Grandma Linda and Grandpa Jim, Aunt Emily, Uncle Shelby and Aunt Erica, Uncle Jeff, and Uncle Joe – from Grady and his Daddy.