During the recent Greener Gadgets Conference in New York, former OLPC CTO (and XO challenger) Mary Lou Jepsen discussed the real-world difficulties with using the kid-friendly laptops, including the creation of an XO "hospital" used to repair broken computers. Apparently, in the crowded conditions of schools in places like Nigeria, the little green laptops have a tendency to be jostled around and even knocked on the floor from time to time. As there's typically no repair shops nearby, the kids have learned to fix the systems themselves, setting up a "laptop hospital" where they can repair what's broken using simple tools and cheap replacement parts. Mary Lou says the company designed the systems to be easily fixable, including extra screws embedded in the computers themselves, and allowing for quick changes of the LCD backlight and other components. The in-house repairs cut down on shipping, promote reuse, and increase kids' understanding of ownership and responsibility, thus furthering the OLPC mission, and making everyone generally want to hug.

[Image courtesy NotebookReview / Kevin O'Brien]

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5-year-olds repair OLPC laptops at Nigerian "hospital"