Seriously, think about what you've just written. They're raising $38 thousand, not $38 billion.
You basically have to charge a reasonable amount for it, because it's not super straight forward. Sure you can buy a USB drive for $5 but it's not likely to be that great, you have to try and source drives that are reliable for a large number of R&W cycles and the really, really cheap ones generally aren't. Then you need to have a batch write process, so you can either spend time cobbling hardware together to do it or send it off to a company to do it, which costs a reasonable amount. Then marketing, then staff costs, then distribution costs. There's a lot involved in it, I'm surprised they're down so low, I'd assume they're running as nonprofit.
Better idea just give people $3 microsd cards with $1 usb adapters.
EDIT: I'm not saying this is a bulletproof plan, by any means. I just wanted to point out that there's probably a lot more to their cost structure than "flash a bunch of USB keys."
This is a more practical approach to connecting more people to the digital universe.
So is this.
I don't know what this company aims to do by handing people who can't afford a square meal a USB drive.... If you guys are on HN and reading this, please stop sensationalising your USB stick and make a real piece of hardware that gets people connected.
Cool thing is that we occidental ppl send plenty of old computers to make gigantic piles of dangerous trash in poor countries. By sending USB sticks along they might prove useful.
How is a flash drive a "PC" ?
Interesting idea, though... definitely solves the problem of people having to know a lot about security to benefit from it.
Then these people can go to school, plug it into the shared computer, and get their own experience, then take it away with them. Giving them the sense of ownership that it's their own personal computer.
They better be sure to make the OS partition not writable by default (and somehow lock it until update) or these things will be garbage in short order. A botnet owner could target these things and have quite the army...
I'd also love to see them get some bigger blocks of data that solve the lack of interent. Eg: 4GB wikipedia download, CC image packs, khan academy videos (K-12?) those sorts of things.
Oddly I'm sure you can have a cheap computer that would connect to a TV, something like a raspberry pi.
What about the internet ? I doubt that project will connect people to the internet.
And why are we talking about giving the internet to poor countries, what's the real benefit ? What a stupid charity. Internet infrastructures have a cost, and this project is not about financing that.
And are you sure most refurbished computers can boot from USB anyway ?
You could present this minimal OS USB stuff to anyone and they would say "meeeh", but wow, for a poor fella, now it's genius ? And how do you educate people about how it works ? Good luck.
You could also download the software back then: http://keepod.com/keepod-os-12-4-cave-man-is-released/
1. Wouldn't it be more cost effective to run livecd's or even cloud host an os?
2. Refurbished computers are still needed for this campaign, seems expensive.
3. $7 does NOT equal a computer, it's a usb stick which end users will still need to utilize only the refurbished computers, because I can't name one "non-tech-savvy," person that knows how to change boot orders in the bios (let alone get to the bios at startup).
1. CD's would probably be more inexpensive to produce, but they are much more vulnerable to damage and destruction. Additionally, with a USB drive, the user can save data that will persist from computer to computer, which makes the idea more tolerant to the use of unreliable recycled computers. Hosting a cloud OS would introduce a pretty major dependency on network connectivity, which I can understand them trying to avoid when their focus seems to be on developing nations.
2. That can be expensive, but you might be surprised how many recycled electronics simply end up in these developing countries. These costs might also be why the price of "just a live USB drive" is as high as $7.
3. Again, the USB drive itself probably won't cost $7, so that supporting infrastructure might be included in that price. Unfortunately, it will be up to those running this campaign to provide full answers on that. I'll admit that I'm just speculating myself.
This seems the kind of thing has a very high "fiddle factor": gotta fiddle around to make it work, something hardcore geeks love but few other can get anywhere with.
And that spiky-haired mascot...could you make a more loathsome looking thing?
Actually, people have had great success doing exactly that:
"Keepod" means "porcupine" in Hebrew, hence the mascot. The narrator even pronounces it correctly in the video.
The problem with this idea is not that they can't access all those old (sometimes broken) PCs that are exported from the first world. The problem is electricity.
Even though it is easy to complain, kudos to you guys for at least trying to do something instead of seeing the rest of us complain about the flaws in your idea.
If I could help, I would suggest a Raspberry Pi alternative pocket PC. Super low electricity consumption and some non-grid way to charge it.
I wonder if you guys would be more likely to support this if it included a buy one give one model. I.e. $20 gets you your own keeps as well as sends someone one?
No encryption and the problem is solved.
The OS pre-boot encrypted and protected by strong password policy.
Without the having backed up the data, the consequence is similar to losing a computer. However, the costs resolving of this mishap are much lower. On the bright side, no one else will have access to this data because of the high security standards.
Edit: spelling and links
Maybe I'm just too cynical...