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Games Entertainment

Playstation, Dreamcast And The 3rd World 119

NaturePhotog writes: "CNN has an intriguing article on using Playstations running Linux to give people in developing nations access to information on health issues such as AIDS, clean water, etc. Playstations are cheap compared with PCs, hook up to a TV set, they're rugged, and could be hooked up via satellites using Globalstar phones. Ship along some of those low-cost solar panels discussed earlier on /., and you'd have a pretty sweet setup you can use almost anywhere. For serious research, of course..." And as neema points out, Sony isn't the only choice here: "Using the modem port, students from Nagoya University hooked up a homemade IDE board and installed a hard drive. The Dreamcast is running NetBSD for the Dreamcast." Here are the instructions (with schematics) on how to add a hard drive to your Dreamcast.
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Building The Dreamcast Workstation

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  • Has a keyboard, a mouse, a 10/100 ethernet port, and boots linux off of a CD, then mounts a drive over my 100 megabit switch. It plays MP3s, it plays DooM, it plays X-Mame. I also have the VGA adapter, and have it running on an extra 15 inch monitor, since it only does 640x480...... Yes it serves no REAL purpose, but it sure is NEAT.

  • by Diomedes01 (173241) on Friday July 06, 2001 @12:02PM (#103124)
    While I understand that these systems may help to educate the citizens of Third World Countries, does anyone else feel that perhaps there are more important things to focus on before addressing the "digital divide?" Things like clean water, stricter environmental regulations and general health and sanitation? A Playstion running Linux is a great toy, but it won't do you much good if you have no food because your farmland has extremely high levels of toxic chemicals in the soil, or if easily curable diseases (in First World countries, anyway) are killing off most of the population.

  • by garcia (6573)
    I guess they were trying to stop from anyone suing them for using the acronym AIDS.
  • Heh, that's just what every Third World country needs. A whole generation of children addicted to Doom.

    Come, son, it's time to fetch water from the stream and hunt a wildebeest!

    Sorry, dad, but I've almost killed the Cyber-Demon...

    They'll all end up starving to death. Way to go, Western Civilization!

  • "CNN has an intriguing article on using Playstations running Linux to give people in developing nations access to information on health issues such as AIDs, clean water, etc"

    The ICT and the WEF could also develop a portable version - like a Gameboy running Linux - that gives information about AIDS (and also herpes syphillis, ...) on the spot. The device could come in a handy pouch that doubles as a condom.
    I would think something like this could be useful in many developed countries as well.

  • As an added benefit, the birth rate will be reduced in areas using the cheap boxes. Anthropogists noticed that when pirated satellite feeds became available to villages (one person would be the dish, and run cable to the whole neighborhood for a small fee), the birth rate dropped dramatically. The reason? Men were up late watching porn instead of keeping the wife "busy". The men turned to self gratification instead.
  • That's the dumbest thing I've heard. The cite the fact that these machines are easier to use than PC's (designed for 12 year olds blah blah blah)...but unix is unix (you'll still have to learn it)....$300 console plus TV/monitor isn't much cheaper than a PC....not to mention the fact there will be a number of apps you can't run....all so you can educate them about AIDS? Give me a break... These are the kind of articles that are insulting 'solutions' to real 3rd world problems....what they really are are free advertising for companies like Sun.... I'm sorry IT is important, but no one has shown it being a factor in reducing AIDS transmission...nor do think it makes sense to talk about it right now....
  • Playstations are cheap compared with PCs

    And why is this exactly? It's because the PS2 hardware device is a loss-leader, or at least a very-thin-profit-margin leader. They are basically sold only so that people will go out and buy Sony Playstation games, which, at $50+ for a DVDROM, are certainly sold at quite a profit.

    So, I'm certainly not saying it's morally wrong to take PS2s, install linux, and ship 'em to the big bad "third world" (which is also getting a lot of solar cells, what's with that place these days?). What I'm saying is, the parade can't go on forever. If sony sells 10M of these things and only 2M people are using them for gaming, the price could increase significantly. Then, at the very least, the low-cost benefit would be gone. Worst case, Sony would discontinue the platform altogether.

    What I'd rather see is some stripped-down hardware (like P2's with 64M and 4G) shipped over for this kind of use. This kind of thing could probably be gotten as donations from corporations that are surplussing it (ie, throwing it away), and they could even claim it as a tax write-off. Everyone wins.


  • I'm not sure if this is a troll or not, but in regards to the "flies off their eyes" comment, I believe that the reason you see many children in certain Third World countries with flies on them is that it is considered bad luck to remove them. This is why many children grow up either visually impaired, or completely blind. There have been efforts to educate people about this as well, but I haven't the faintest clue how well it has worked.

  • by Argylengineotis (118734) on Friday July 06, 2001 @12:11PM (#103132)
    This story is wildly out of whack with reality. The primary tenet is that playstation II's are cheaper than computers. A complete PSX2 'computer' would come out to something like $700 US after you add all the rickty hacks like hard drive and globalstar modem connectivity, plus a TV set... This is not cheaper than a refurbished P90 with a 13" monitor!

    No, rather I'd say that this is a contrived wet dream of a story, packaged by the Sony Entertainment US marketing department, bundled up and handed off to AOL/Time Warner's news division glorifying certain corporate interests that run contrary to certain looming threats [] from other quarters. Besides, there's not a lot of money in refurbished P90's sold to developing nations, but there sure is a lot of money in convincing armchair philanthropists to buy a playstation 2 that they may sooth their aching conscience in this land of plenty. Don't believe the hype!
  • The ICT (information and communication technology) governors of the WEF, representing about 70 technology companies, drive the project. The committee members include Cisco Systems' John Chambers, 3Com's Eric Benhamou and Hewlett-Packard's Carly Fiorina.

    Anyone think these three CEOs might do better to spend their time fixing their companies than working on this interesting but not very important project? For the same reason that if I lived in a village without clean water, I would prefer clean water to a PS2, I would prefer my CEOs focus on shareholder value!

  • of a Dreamcast running
  • by szcx (81006)
    Take the wayback machine to 1996, the PlayStation was out and popular, and I was the chief software engineer on the multimedia arm of a little company called VTech []. Every chance I got, I tried to convince the PHB's that that consoles (especially the PSX) could be leveraged into an inexpensive learning aid for resource-starved schools that couldn't afford PC's. I was almost kicked out of a meeting at E3/96 because I was just a little over-enthusiastic about the idea.

    So it brings a smile to my face when I see someone actually doing it. Right on, guys!

  • This sounds like a worthy cause. I will gladly donate my PS when the gamecube comes out. :)
  • Now they can learn about all the things they don't have like water and food. They can also learn about things they have like AIDS. It sounds great, but when are they going to get the things they know more than me about?
  • Heh, this reminds me of a "Very Special" Dilbert about friends.

    "Boyfiend and Girlfriend, traditional view" - Sitting on a couch together, girlfriend is thinking "Love", boyfriend is thinking "Lust".

    "Boyfriend and Girlfriend, modern view" - Sitting on couch, girlfriend is thinking "Lust", boyfriend is thinking "Television".

  • Why not PSX? I mean, the hard drive and broadband isn't out yet, so either they're going to wait or they're going to do more modifications to the PS2 hardware, and so long as you're doing that you might as well go PSX. They're cheaper anyway.

    I hope Sony isn't lame enough to count however many thousand PS2's they sell out of this deal as part of their installed base.

  • Of course, the PS would need electricity, whereas if you give them, say, a hand powered computer []...

    Sure, you say, solar electricity. But hand-cranking (discreet cough) builds character.
  • stricter environmental regulations and general health and sanitation? A Playstion running Linux ... won't do you much good if you have no food because your farmland has extremely high levels of toxic chemicals in the soil, or if easily curable diseases ... are killing off most of the population.

    okay, but what if the local political head honcho poo-poos environmental regulations, saying they'll cut into your farm profits? I spent some time in Kenya, and the farmers love heavy chemical fertilizers and pesticides: they make the plants grow big and healthy! Regulations require popular support, and to make the right choice, the populace must be informed.

    High levels of toxins in the soil? How are farmers to know that this is the problem? Do they run chemical analyses themselves? No. Again, the information has to come from somewhere. I agree that maybe installing Playstations everywhere might be a slightly fanciful method of accomplishing this, but you can't really argue that those other things take priority over better information transfer -- the information is a prerequisite for improvement in a lot of cases.


  • Anyone think these three CEOs might do better to spend their time fixing their companies

    There's only so much that a CEO can do to "fix" a company in a collapsing tech market. Being on a committee such as that is a good thing for a tech CEO to do in their spare time. But I'm going to stop short of flaming you...

    For the same reason that if I lived in a village without clean water, I would prefer clean water to a PS2,

    The idea is for the PS2 to help educate about clean water -- they probably don't even know the water is unsafe.

  • Well, if you follow the thinking of these companies, then apparently a Playstation with Linux will solve all of those problems. C'mon, folks... I enjoy Playstation and Linux as much as the next guy, but even I know that it can't cure my bleeding bowels... :)

  • As the saying goes, "it's all good." Clean water etc. doesn't have to come before third-world representation on-line, in fact the latter could help support the former.

    More Slashdot posts from the third-world would lead to a more whole understanding of things here. Even the posts from (apparent) first-worlders who had lived in the Dominican Republic helped the solar panel conversation [] this way. And better understanding can lead to better action.

  • You have heard that one, right? This could be a cool way to distribute information, if it works. I'd like to see a little more detail on the proposal, but in theory it sounds like a Good Idea.
  • Wouldn't it be cheaper to send a whole slew of TV/VCR combo units (what are they, like maybe $50 in quantity?) with some video tapes?


  • The reason is EDUCATION, not about getting them on the net so they can watch webcams. Give a box to a farmer, and he can learn better ways to farm.
  • Yes, I agree. Knowledge is most definitely a requirement. However, distributing Playstations with Linux is hardly a step in the right direction. At best, this is a cruel joke. I don't live in a third world country, and I haven't ever been to one. From what I have read and learned about their cultures, what I think they need is a basic educational system before we start handing out high-tech toys. If only we could find educators that would help their governments develop educational systems that actually worked; I doubt that a Western-style school system would be effective, because the cultures are so different. I think it would be great for something to be put in place, though.

  • This article is poking fun at the geek community, in a trollish sort of way. I thought it was obvious but maybe not.

    "I can plug in a 80 gigabyte disk and store 16 hours of video on it or up to 500 hours of audio. Now we attach it to a free satellite, slow, trickle charge. We can put anything on the disk you want to know about clean water, latrines and do it in whatever language," Gage said.

    The clues are right there. Where in the world are they gonna find 100,000 playstations? What will be used to power them?
  • learn how to clean their water, cook food properly, cure common illness, etc...

    Water purifiers aren't cheap. And I bet it would help just as much if someone gave them a purifier and teached them how to use it rather than letting them see one on the internett, but not getting one. In the western world illness' are cured by medicine. Medisine costs money, and telling them about medicines won't raise their sallaries. (In addition I think they know how to cook)

  • And how do you expect these people to learn about clean water, stricter environmental regulations and general health and sanitation, without a computer and the internet???


    I'm *half* serious here. You increase the discourse, you increase the exposure that people have to ideas like these. I understand that there are impediments, like training the people to use the things, but

    "Give a village a Peace corp worker and they have clean water for a month. Give a village a computer and internet and they can learn to discuss this stuff on usenet for a lifetime."


  • Before you start shipping Playstations to Africa, read what Wayne Marshal wrote [] in the Linux Journal [] discussing all the pitfalls of technical aid to Africa.

    I give a short quote:

    In the developing world--where most of the population still cook with firewood and carry water in buckets--the practical value of focusing foreign assistance on IT projects would seem negligible, if not ludicrous entirely. Given the more serious fundamental issues facing developing nations--health care (AIDS, TB and malaria), nutrition, sanitation, education, poverty, pollution and political corruption--providing the means to surf the Web should probably fall fairly low on any reasonable scale of human priorities.
  • More Slashdot posts from the third-world would lead to a more whole understanding of things here.

    I can see how getting knowledge to them is a Good Thing. However, and let's be honest here folks, how is posting to Slashdot going to help the average citizen of a Third World country? I'm sure that they have more pressing things on their minds...

  • No one has shown that access to information is a factor in reducing AIDS transmission? Did I dream that whole "don't die of ignorance" campaign, and the subsequent dramatic absence of a first-world AIDS epidemic?
  • I think it's about time to replace the 5U4 in my Sega Genesis power supply, tho.

    All your .sig are belong to us!

  • It seems to me that the initiators of the projects are overly optimistic regarding the availability of electricity. I've heard of some of the troubles of running computers in developping countries: electrical power is only available in the evenings, if at all, and it's not very reliable.

    A few additional problems: You have got a hard time to get any supplies (for example, laser printer toner; some university is asking visiting professors to bring some toner with them for their one and only laser printer) and replacements for broken parts, high-tech devices are usually not designed to be repaired, and it's unlikely that they can be repaired in the same country. Furthermore, a lot of developping countries have quite an extreme climate, which doesn't increase the lifetime of electronic equipment either.

    No, I don't think game consoles are a silver bullet in the struggle of educating people in the developping countries.
  • Good thing all the poor people of the world can read English or this idea might not work.
  • More use for linux...good thing. However, it may cut down on AIDS, but they would just be infected with (GPL) cancer. (sorry...I should really leave the MS thing alone now. ;)
  • the populace must be informed.

    Read what you're saying. They must be informed. Not just given the means to gather the information. I doubt the populace will look for information on chemical fertilizers. Maybe they'll just look for some information on clean water and then just leave it or do as the rest of the world; use it for useless stuff.

  • by JohnZed (20191) on Friday July 06, 2001 @12:37PM (#103161)
    Well, I was going to go off on another "health care, literacy, electricity, food, and telephones before computers" rant. But I'm sure many other people will do that to. So let's pretend that, hypothetically, it was a good idea to invest in PCs for the third world, and let's see how goddamn dumb this is from a technical perspective:
    • Serious hacking will be needed to get this to work. The Linux playstation port is still in its infancy, and you'd have to create a nice, durable package that included the harddrive, playstation, and monitor. Of course, playstations don't support monitors out of the box...
    • As we all know, Sony sells these things at a loss in order to make money on game licensing. So they'd be none too happy about this plan, whereas another, traditional vendor might actually be supportive.
    • There are way better, traditional alternatives out there. A barebones Celeron 400-or-so can be had for about $125 bucks (with case, floppy, no RAM). Like a Playstation, it will need all the peripherals to be added. However, it's less than half the cost, it runs x86 software, and it can use cheap, standard components. Even after adding RAM, a hard disk, keyboard, etc., you can still squeak in under $300, which is cheaper than the PS2 before the necessary additional components.
    • Using an expensive Playstation CPU for an education PC is a ridiculous waste of money and resources. Much of the PS2 cost goes into ultra-high performance graphics acceleration, which these PC's don't need at all. The cheap Duron/Celeron alternative will provide quite good performance for all the apps that this type of machine will run.

    Damnit, people! Can't journalists and policymakers consult with a geek before they spout of ignorantly on technical matters?

  • to explain how the Playstation is going to clean the water, run electricity to the village, teach the people to read, and put food on the table. I have seen the third world devistation first hand....and let me tell you one thing --- setting up terminal's for these people has got to be the most stupid thing I have ever heard. At least if you sent them pamphlets --- they could use them to wipe their arses....
  • The reason is EDUCATION, not about getting them on the net so they can watch webcams.
    I'm all for education. That is one of the major stumbling blocks for developing countries. I just would like to reiterate my point that I don't feel that handing out Playstations with Linux on 'em is exactly the best answer to a general lack of education in a populace.

  • It seemed to me that these people aren't too well informed. First off, to refer to the PS2 as just the "Playstation" is a little misleading because the original Playstation is still being sold. If they can't even refer to the system properly, I think there's going to be some major problems up ahead for this project. Secondly, it doesn't matter quite so much what the machines cost to build, as what they can get them for. An XBOX may cost $400+ to build, but if you can get it for $300, that's the figure you need to worry about. Then they talk about using GlobalStar for service without even having contacted them yet. It seems that these people just have some sort of half-baked idea they want to propagate to make themselves look good.

    On a side note, the BSD Dreamcast looked pretty friggin' cool.
  • Oh please.

    Maybe we should solve all the problems in the world before we start trying to solve all the other problems in the world. Sound silly? Well that is what you're saying.

    Not all third world countries are as backward as you seem to think. A lot of countries are looking to find cheap ways of bridging the digital divide. A lot of the people that this program is targeted towards have "decent" water and food production systems, but could use vast improvements.

    I don't think that anyone is thinking that plopping a PS2 in front of kid bloated from hunger is going to make him happier. But the entire third world isn't this bad.
  • This is absurd. How is a PS2 teach citizens of third world countries how to stop AIDS, clean water, and harvest crops? These people have never seen a computer in their life before, it's hard enough for people in America to use a computer. Someone must have to teach these people how to use these 'computers.' Why don't these people just tell them all the information instead of setting them infront of some box. Rather than wasting billions of dollars to 'educate,' why don't we put the money to helping them. Genetic seeds can be made to withstand harsher climates, while providing much better nutrients than regular food. These people don't need a PS2, they need to survive. The money could be used to help educate and feed children who have been orphaned by AIDS. There are many African tribes where they belive that in order to cure AIDS, you must sleep with a virgin. I encourage people to support a third world country, either through your money, or through your help. America is the richest nation, also the greediest nation. What was that one book where they took everything out of houses from people living in different parts of the world? That was a good book, showed how much richer than we are than everyone.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Of course, playstations don't support monitors out of the box...

    Of course, they do. Read your PS2 devkit docs ...

    As we all know, Sony sells these things at a loss in order to make money on game licensing

    This is a myth. They sell at a slight profit, whose margin increases monthly.

    it runs x86 software

    And do you want the third world to be using closed-source proprietory binary-only software?

    Much of the PS2 cost goes into ultra-high performance graphics acceleration

    And yet it still comes in as a whole system - new - for less than the cost of a decent graphics card for a PC. Cost counts; sometimes a cheap sledgehammer is better than an expensive nutcracker.

    Can't journalists and policymakers consult with a geek before they spout of ignorantly on technical matters?

    Oh, the irony of this comment.

  • Why don't they just get some super cheap PCs, or even buy up USED PCs and ship them off to these people who are in desperate need of computers? I would think that an actual PC would be more useful, and easier to maintain/set up than a hacked PS2.

    Hacking the PS2 is very neat, don't get me wrong. It just doesn't seem to be the obvious choice in this case for cheap and easy computing power.

    Interested in weather forecasting?
  • Everytime slashdot posts an article about computers and Africa there always has to be some +4 or +5 insightful post that restates this misguided opinion. Here's my response (some of it a repost from a Geekcorps article).

    Disclaimer: I'm African and the last time I was back home was 2 months ago.

    It is true that most African's live in the kind of abject poverty that most Westerners can't even imagine let alone endure. It is also true that basic infrastructure like regular power supply, potable water, health care services, etc. but this doesn't mean that this should somehow preclude African's from the fruits of the 21st century. Instead of being like most Westerners whose only thoughts of Africa occur when they guiltily switch the channel whenever one of those commercials asking for money to feed starving children who can be fed for less than $1 a day shows up, thesre are people who are trying to help out in some way or the other. It is in extremely poor taste for you to bash them for donating their time and resources to a society desperately in need.

    Frankly I'm glad they're doing this, with the advent of the Net I've kept in touch with friends I left behind via ICQ and email whom I thought I'd never talk to again due to the prohibitive costs of calling or locating them after they moved. Anyone who is helping with the proliferation of technology and the Net in Africa has my thanks and undying appreciation. Oh by the way, for all the other people who are bashing them for sending "toys" to Africa. What the fuck are you doing for the poor and starving of the Earth?

    PS: The last time I went home I asked my friends what they wanted and one of them asked for Java programming books. I am constantly in touch with another friend who just switched jobs and does ADO and Access database programming who used to write VBA applications in the past. My mom just bought a PC and complains about how she always ends up browsing for hours when all she wanted to do was spend 5 minutes checking her email. Hope that makes some you guys think before you rate this kind of jingoistic claptrap up.

  • I didn't say that nobody would benefit from this, I just said that it seems like there are more pressing needs that are not being met. However, like I said in a previous post, I've never been to a Third World country. If what you say is indeed true, then perhaps this could be a decent way of getting some of the populace connected. The only problem I have with this is that it seems so "gimmicky". It would make more sense to send over some of the older machines that nobody uses anymore (of which there are many). A P-200 or P-166 with a slimmed down Linux install and a decent web browser would probably fit their needs nicely, and I'm sure that are even faster systems sitting around doing nothing (I've got a PII-350 and dual Cel 366 parts just sitting around, and I'm sure many others are in a similar situation). The only benefit that I see from the PS distribution is that you don't need a computer monitor. If the people getting these systems already have a television, then this could work.

  • The problem with the one solution for all mankind bs that was being spewed out in the article was from a gov't organization of some type that will effectivily and quickly spend money, thats it. I'm not being cynacial here, but Take 2 fully loaded, wireless, self-powered computers into Mexico to a local farm and then based on research decided the stragey for to deleiver important/relevent information. My guess is that most research on farming methods and the like can be delivered via CD. I mean come on just try on a small scale to see what works, instead of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" method helping mankind.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Where exactly did you hear about all these African tribes that believe that sleeping with virgins will cure AIDS? Get out of your country once in a while, you'll find there's actually a world out there. And yes, they can learn how to use computers. God, you people are offensive.
  • If you can hook up an IDE hard drive to the DC, you should be able to hook up a DVD-ROM too. Sure, you'd probably have to load some dvd software every time you turned it on, but It should work. Now you can have all the features of the Playstation 2, plus online play. So far I haven't seen any PS2 games that look better than the DC version, so basically you'd have a PS2 for under $200.

    If anyone has the Apex AD800 DVD player, take it apart, you will notice it uses a standard ide dvdrom. Pretty cool eh.

  • For the record, I was bashing no one. As someone who has experienced what we are all sitting around and babbling about, I'm sure you're in a much better position than I to understand the situation.

    If you really feel that this will be helpful, then that's great. However, some of your points just don't make sense. First, you say things aren't as bad as we make them out to be. You then say that it's in "poor taste" because the society is desparately in need. Since when does having access to the Web count as "desparately in need"? You say things aren't that bad, and then attempt to prey on people's emotions by telling them how bad the situation is. Just out of curiosity, which is it?

  • Right from pricewatch, Mobo & Cpu - $109 810LMR, 64 MB VIDEO - AND - 4x AGP - upto1.2GHz cpu, SOUND - ATA100, 2 PCI, LAN & 56K Mdm Case + PSU - $15 Cheapo HDD - $40 Stick o RAM - $20 There you go a $185 Duron 800 PC , used monitors are dirt cheap so say for about 75 bucks less than a PS2 you could give people in third world countries a usable x86 PC. Not that giving electronic equipment to people with no food or clothes let alone electricity is a good idea.
  • That, my friend, is something that makes sense. A decent CD-ROM encyclopedia, along with some other reference materials, coupled with an older x86 books, makes far more sense than distrbuting a bunch of Playstations...

  • Just think, if we could get each box sold to come with Folding@Home pre-loaded. This would have a huge benefit to the scientific community, and make the manufactors look pretty good as well.
  • Whoops... that should read "older x86 box". Christ, the one time I don't preview I have a typo...

  • The largest gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' is knowledge.

    This may scan well for readers of Wired, but I'm not sure it has anything to do with reality.

    Knowing how to keep your water clean or rotate your fields is of no use whatsoever if the government (or the rebels, or the multinational representatives, whatever the local power blocs are) won't allow seed, farming equipment, medicine, or any other materially useful items into your village.

    90% of the knowledge we can give them is just so much noise until the people themselves are empowered to act upon that knowledge.

  • First, let me say this is a terrific idea, but:

    "The people that make above a dollar a day, under three dollars a day, generally have some electricity. They've got television sets that run on car batteries, or they will have a little generator."

    Where did he get this info from?
    * Some one making $30 to $90 a month barelly can survive. So this guy has money to buy batteries (or take somewhere to recharge), or even worse, in the middle of a Petroleum crisis which the whole world is (gas price here in Brazil is going to the stars) this guy with $30~$90 still have enougth to buy gas to his genarator in order to wathc TV!

    "Each part of the community has to do some different part of it. You would not come to Sun for good taste in designing attractive programs. We can make sure the networking works. All of our partners, meaning all of the high-tech companies in the world, ought to contribute their engineering knowledge,"

    ...and in a never-seen-before move every tech company in the world would forget about its difference and unity to help the poor people in far away places without looking for profits.

    Gage said he has discussed the plan with the chairman of Sony and the president of the World Bank and decided that at least 100,000 modified consoles should be installed in schools and people's homes in poor country's

    At what cost???
    The only kind of money the World bank "borrows" to poor countries is charged in an interest rate that can never be paid back.

    Sorry if I sound down. But it sounds too nice to be true.

    Of course, if something like that ever happen I would feel really good knowing it. And Linux would grow with it.

    Now on the other side, this is already happening in some places.
    For example, The Linux distibution company Conectiva [] already gives parts of its profits selling the Conectiva Linux Box to CDI.

    CDI is a non profit organization to help the democratization of tecnology among poor people/schools.
    Good to see that some one at least is doing something.

  • Its cause you dont understand IT that you dont understand how a computer is going to solve some Third world problems. For your knowledge, information is the key to development and information in everybodys hands is more that key. It seems somehow knowledge and information passed you by, so you make comments like "At least if you sent them pamphlets --- they could use them to wipe their arses...." nilch
  • Knowledge is power. And books can't read themselves outloud.
  • Absoulutly, but when saving the world the world from starvation why not get the latest and greatest. Each day that you buy the same computer the price will go down. It will take more than a few years to distribute a couple billion laptops and build a supporting infastructure. Why not use the best you can get today.
  • While having Linux work on the Dreamcast and PS2 is nice, having a port of it to the Gamecube would be much more beneficial, since it will be released about the same time as the Xbox. Because the Gamecube uses PowerPC technology this shouldn't be much of a problem, although I don't know how graphics accel. support could be implemented.
  • Some people at first lambasted Stallman as a hypocrite: "Creating free software for extravagantly expensive toys is preposturous" they would say.

    Of course they were wrong. If Stallman had to wait until the advent of commodity sub-$1000 PC's to develop any GNU project, then where would we be today? More hopelessly dependant upon IBM, Sun and Microsoft no doubt.

    Forcing a "Third World" country develop their infrastructure to depend expensive proprietary software is hurtful, especially since they can start with no legacy depandancies to break.

    No one claims the Free software will solve all of societies problems- but when they are ready to start solving those, Free software can certainly help them to do it.

  • I guess the CNN artcile highlights a good point - of using existing technology to improve mankind's lot (thats the aim of information and technology, which doesnt seem to be obvious to most posters heres - they wonder how can information help in generating food - pretty dumb) But in consideration and in reference to a previous post on Slashdot it reminds me of the Simputer - ( a project taking shape in India and based on a Linux boxen - in fact a PDA and Computer cross. It (the Simputer) is a cheaper product - around $200) and has a smart card facility which is very topical to third world / developing countries in that it allows users to share a single Simputer device and keep their own information / preferences in the smart card. So each user buys a smart card ($50) and shares the community Simputer. This is good for nations where a 1:1 ration between a computer (or Simputer) and an individual is not feasable. Sharing (an open source concept again) is the best solution and this also really spreads information to the lowest common denominator - the common man. I think the simputer is a better device than a playing game station with internet capabilities in this regard. But thanks to CNN and Slashdot for highlighting technologies which come to good use.
  • by Carnage4Life (106069) on Friday July 06, 2001 @01:30PM (#103187) Homepage Journal
    If you really feel that this will be helpful, then that's great. However, some of your points just don't make sense. First, you say things aren't as bad as we make them out to be.

    Where did I say things aren't as bad as people make them out to be? I said
    It is true that most African's live in the kind of abject poverty that most Westerners can't even imagine let alone endure. It is also true that [we lack] basic infrastructure like regular power supply, potable water, health care services, etc. but this doesn't mean that this should somehow preclude African's from the fruits of the 21st century.
    which in my opinion clearly states that things are bad but doesn't mean that we shouldn't be allowed to use the Internet and computers until we are as advanced as the Western world was in the 20th century.

    You then say that it's in "poor taste" because the society is desparately in need.

    I said
    It is in extremely poor taste for you to bash them for donating their time and resources to a society desperately in need.
    meaning that it is in poor taste to bash the people who are trying to find cheaper alternatives to getting Africans access to PCs.

    Since when does having access to the Web count as "desparately in need"?

    Lacking access to information does count as desperately in need. For instance, ignorance has caused AIDS in Africa to reach epidemic proportions []. If a lot of these people had access to information just a few years earlier the devastation would not be as widespread as it is today. The same goes for a large number of diseases as well.

  • Which the CNN artcle or your views ?
    Me thinks you are pretty uniformed as to what is going on in the world.

    Trust every man to have a basic knowledge about being able to use simple information for his betterment. That is how we have progressed from the stone ages to now, and will continue doing so.

    So its not that only some people (like yourself as you deem) will appreacite the benefits of computing. Its not so really. Theres a far bigger better world out there than you know, or even care to know.
  • And how is a computer going to pass them useful information? As opposed to books. Assuming the 3rd worlders can read (either their native language or english).
  • Did you think for one instance that third worlders CANT READ ? Are u still under the impression that they hark back to the stone ages or something ? This is ridiculous. How do you think America (or developed nations) have progressed so far with the help of information ? Or do you think that a computer (or any Information device) is just a plaything on everybodys desk ? Let me give u a simple example. Some farmer in a village can get to know the going price for potatoes that he grows thry the radio and so when he approaches his village middleman (who buys wholesale potatoes from farmers and sells to the district cooperarive), the farmer has a better idea of a reasonable and profitable price to seel at , so the middleman cant take advantage of the poor and illiterate (but not foolish) farmer. Thats is called imformation empowerment. If this same guy can access the countrywide price of potatoes thru his local interet connection (yes there are phones even in most villages in India say), then he can bargain on a larger footing. This maintains a stable economy also and is the key to what developed nations call a "free Market policy" that has been the caue of economic development in countries like America. This is a small exmaple. A computer is not just about Linux or Windows - its basically about information.
  • How about we give third world countries the gift of capitalism, the system that allowed Dreamcasts to be made in the first place? In Russia it was believed that an agricultural society could be transformed into an industrialized one without an "industrial revolution." It didn't work. You can give a third grader a physics textbook but don't expect him to build a rocket. If third world countries do not embrace capitalism, then it will be pressure group warfare over which tribe gets which playstation.

    Just a suggestion.

  • Your points are valid but to a certain point. True you may not be able to use laser printers, but a dot-matrix still works (like it did for us at one point of time and we were enhanced in our experince by it too). Dont pre-judge any country and its abilities. It may not be on the same footing as the rest of the world, but it has a footing neverthless, and if we could grow, then so can everybody. Thats the motto of human-kind I guess. Its not really such petty technical things which matter, its firstly the philosohy and reason that matter. Thats why someone coined the saying "Where theres a will theres a way" Thats pretty optimistic I think.
  • So many of the negative comments are addressed by the article. Could you read the article please? Note that they said there are already TVs there to use. Note that they said that easy-to-use and hard-to-break are good things.

    My first reaction was "Why don't we just send books?" Then I read it again. They want to educate illiterate people with video and animations.

    Note also that there was a quote saying any of the modern consoles would be good, it's just that the others cost more than the PSX2. (Is $225 really a good estimate for how much it costs to make a PSX2? I had heard that the $300 price was under Sony's cost of goods, but maybe they have cut costs by now.)

    Even the dirt-poor need information. They need to know how to set up the latrines so they don't contaminate the water supply. They need to know basic public health so they won't give themselves food poisoning all the time. And it might be cool if they could learn how to read; that's one more thing you actually could do on a PSX2.

    In a perfect world, you would make a special Africa Computer. It would be mil-spec rugged, have the graphics capability for video and animations, etc. etc. In reality, you would spend a lot developing this, and the game consoles are probably good enough and very inexpensive.

    Note that not everyone is illiterate. They will probably also want simple cheap web terminals like the NIC [].


  • Talking abut the "Africa computer", I would mention the Simputer - simple computer which is a cross between a pda and a computer and is a aproject developed inIndia - another third world country with the sole aim of taking information to the lowest common denominator - the common man on the streets.

    Your observations about the original article are very good. Its just that somehow there is a misinterpretation in peoples mind the moment they read about third-world countries.

    I think "pervasive computing" meant excatlt this - taking computing to everybody - literate or illeterate. And illiteracy doent stop a person from understanding. Illeteracy is only his inability to represnt in writen or spoken words what he UNDERSTANDS.

  • Here is another idea: the original Playstation may not be powerful enough for video and animations and stuff, but it ought to be powerful enough to play Ogg Vorbis [] sound data through the TV speakers. And the PSX is more rugged than a PSX2: the PSX2 gets hot enough that it needs a cooling fan, while the PSX just sits there. You should be able to fit many hours of Ogg Vorbis sound data on a CD, and it is easy and cheap to burn CDs, and CDs are pretty rugged. And the PSX is really affordable; $100 retail for a Playstation 1 means it probably costs under $30 to make. And as people buy newer systems, there should be a ton of perfectly good used PSX systems out there.

    Hmm. Make a PSX Linux system that can play Flash animations, and include Flash animations with the Ogg Vorbis video, and you might have something pretty cool.


  • It's not just sex.

    You need to understand that in some parts in Africa it's customary for the woman to 'dry' her vaginal area before sex. It shows that they haven't been unfaithful to their men. Sometimes this causes bleeding which makes her [and him] more likely to pass or recieve the virus.


    While the Internet could share the information, and help spread the word, you can't make someone change their ways.

    So here is a problem. I don't really think it's right to tell someone to change their custom. On the other hand I'm weiry of anyone who tells a third world country to wear protection; sometimes their intentions are not what they say they are.

    But the Internet would work very well for other things. Building drainage to keep dirty water away from the clean water. You could instantly talk to any college professor. The town could learn that using the same water to bath in that they drink in is causing "river blindness".

    Maybe we have a P2P network idea here. MP3's of info - text files - video for the right bandwidth. We all know using Linux will only help with the TCP/IP. Sleek kernels - no unneeded overhead.

    They really could use existing networks - gnutella wouldn't be to bad, except their ability to relay searches would be limited [right?]. Something like a web spider that searches the text would be nice, but lets stay away from that idea - plain text would be a great, quick way to find information.

    I doubt we will actually see this, but if we do, I'd like to go and help set up solar panels and the like.
  • It's AIDS not AIDs Yep...a typo. I thought all Slashdot posts had to have at least one misspelling :-)
  • actually, my social studies teacher told me about the african tribe aid virgin thing
  • You write:
    This is not cheaper than a refurbished P90 with a 13" monitor!
    Have you any idea how much labor is involved in refurbishing a huge mixed bag of random surplus, antiquated PCs, and in providing appropriate instructions for each to semiskilled volunteers and unskilled users? Each and every one of them would carry its own unique set of challenges -- you couldn't use a cookbook approach, and when you were finished you'd pretty much have to send a guru out into the field with each one.

    In contrast to which, PS2s are all alike, you only have to design the system once, and you can support them all in a consistent way. Far easier to train volunteers, and there'd be simple and consistent cookbook support.

    What you're suggesting sounds economical until you factor in the phenomenal quantities of sweat.

  • what's wrong with using old PC hardware? seems like a text based console with lynx for browsing the web would allow all that great information witout having to spend a few hundred dollars, take any old x86 and add a tv out card and a read only filesystem so it won't get fouled up by user error and poof, information age for about 50$. I'm a rich american (relitively speaking I make MORE than 3$ a day) and I don't have an 80Gig hard drive, are these people going to be using Napster or something?
    besides all that, if I lived in a third world country and someone gave me a PS2 without and games, I'd be pissed off!!!

  • by szcx (81006)
    Heh. It wasn't that great an idea.
  • The idea is for the PS2 to help educate about clean water -- they probably don't even know the water is unsafe.

    They probably don't realize its unsafe because the corrupt kleptocrat-for-life that runs their country has been dumping tech company hazardous waste in the river while lining his Swiss bank account on the profits.

    Meanwhile those PS/2s that got "donated" for this worthy education project that worked and weren't diverted to the families of the kleptocrat's supporters were sold to the duty free store at the airport so that the government could generate even more hard currency.

    Wake up and smell the coffee. You need to give these people something their government can't steal from them and that they won't immediately turn around and sell for cash, like clean water, innoculation from Polio and other things that materially improve their life. Justifying the technojackoff fantasy of running Linux on the PS/2 by thinking it helps people living in the stone age would be funny if it wasn't pathetic.
  • by Carnage4Life (106069) on Friday July 06, 2001 @03:34PM (#103203) Homepage Journal
    Shut up, you know you just one of those spoiled white brats living South Africa where your wealthy family originaly moved to exploit the natives.

    It is interesting that ignorant. ACs always make posts like this that insinuate that the only way an African can be a geek is if he is a White South African.

    Sorry to dissappoint you but I'm a Black Nigerian []. Thanks for playing.

  • Gee, wouldn't it be nice if it was clear where to get the NetBSD/dreamcast port?

    Here [] and there []. Oh, looks like there are no dreamcast-specific snapshots just yet, but you can use an hpcsh snap [], as it is binary-compatible with the dreamcast (becuse the dreamcast runs off a Hitachi Super-H chip).

    (I believe this port will be included in the 1.5.1 release [] when it becomes available, but don't quote me on that.)

  • Doom? X-Mame? It's nice that after all of that work the dreamcast can finally be used to play video games :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Lots of places don't have clean water. Screw that though, let's give them playstations.
  • Marshal tried to computerize bookkeeping. Yes, that may indeed not be what developing nations need.

    The PS2's are not for "surfing the web" in the way we necessarily understand it. They are for downloading and displaying multimedia content. The idea is to get information to the people about how to prevent AIDS, TB, and malaria, how to build better sanitation systems, how to prevent malnutrition, etc. For that, a PS2 showing videos and images may work a lot better than written materials (illiteracy is high). You may even be able to provide language and literacy courses with it. Unlike other IT projects, it should require little maintenance or instruction: just put in the right disk and turn it on. And unlike a DVD player, it has the ability to get and store content from satellites and radio transmissions, at nearly the same price.

    Furthermore, unlike other kinds of IT projects, if it doesn't work, there is little harm done: people aren't arranging their life around this device; it's just an optional, potentially useful source of information. It promises to give people what Marshall says empowers them: skills.

  • "What I'd rather see is some stripped-down hardware (like P2's with 64M and 4G) shipped over for this kind of use."

    Just for the record, there are people in the developing world both interested in low-cost computing [] and open source. They understand the hardware limitations and the realities of the cost infrastructure.

    And as far as I can tell, they're not in it for the money.

    Tell me sending a ps2 doesn't seem ridiculously inappropriate compared to this.
  • and if we could grow, then so can everybody.

    That's not clear at all. It's much easier to grow if you are the first kid on the block. The thirld world countries have to deal with lots of difficulties that the growing first world wasn't exposed to:

    • Brain drain: the best leave to study in the US, never to return.
    • Patents. Even if you can think it up, you still can't use it.
    • Crushing debt.
    • IMF and world bank dictating public policy.
    • No industry in the thirld world can compete with highly technologized adversaries, so they are confined to sell resources and agricultural goods.


  • Mwuhahaha, what you think I should be compiling CODE on the damn thing? its not THAT fast....

  • And what if our "garbage" is faster than what they currently have?

    Sure, recycle all the XTs, 286s, 386s, and the low end 486s... Anything better than that can be used for SOMETHING.

    A 486DX2-66 w/16Megs of RAM can be a whole hell of a lot more useful than a PS2 "workstation". How many NICs can you stick on a PS2? Can it be used as a router, or a firewall? How much memory can you stick in a PS2? How about SCSI peripherals?

    It makes no sense for anyone to quickly dismiss our "garbage" as viable computing hardware.

    Interested in weather forecasting?
  • There is work in non verbal / non reading communication. It has been around for a while.

    In the early 80's they had visual training programs for cashiers. It used a lot of tree spanning and pretty much evaled and adopted itself to the learning styles of the person using it.

    The idea is you can now mix interactivity and images together, to provide more information than a written word. Computers are powerful enough to do these sort of things now, and the PS2 would be perfect for such a thing. Cheap, and able to do some real graphics (so people can figure out what it is they are looking at). You get the power of the information age without forcing everyone to have learn a written language.
  • You have to be a pretty developed nation already, to have TVs and be able to buy playsations and satellite phones. You'd need to have good electrical infastructure already in place, so this probably wouldn't work in really under developed regions.

    A good idea for somewhat developed places, though.

    Now, why did that get modded down? It's actually quite logical!

    Come on, people...

    Interested in weather forecasting?

  • To make a bootable PSX CD legally don't you need to license some kind of code from Sony?
  • boom box with a book on tape.
    Further, a book on tape can't have an animated diagram, or an example of an action.
  • The clues are right there. Where in the world are they gonna find 100,000 playstations?

    Saddam Hussein's private jet?
  • No.
    First, I don't mean to be an ass, but there should be a '4th (or 2nd) world'. I'm on a 3rd world country, and I have 5 computers on my home. And we are not 'drug lords' or anything.. I'm just a geek.

    That said, the most inportant thing in our society (by that I mean the society where I live) is freedom, and knowledge. The only way to 'get out' is by learning, and doing something important (that or corruption). I know a computer will not give food to people, but knowledge is the most important tool this people could have.

    Interesting fact: before ~1995, the programers here were _very_ incompetent. There was no (good) commercial software being produced here, and all the the attempts were just lame. All that change after the arrival of the internet to every home. seriously


  • As we all know, Sony sells these things at a loss in order to make money on game licensing
    This is a myth. They sell at a slight profit, whose margin increases monthly

    Let's see some figures proving this, eh? It's a well-known fact that the gaming console market is all about loss-leaders. Sell the razors below cost, make the money on the blades. Yes, Sony may make a profit on the PSOne hardware now, but that's been out for what, 6 years? 7 years? The PS2 is still a loss for them, and they're going to be forced to take even more of a loss to be able to compete price-wise with the GameCube.

    it runs x86 software
    And do you want the third world to be using closed-source proprietory binary-only software?

    Instead, let's have the third-world run closed, proprietary, one-vendor hardware. That sounds like a much better alternative! And while we're at it, let's not leverage the existing HUGE library of x86 code (open and closed), and rewrite everything for the PS2 architecture.

    Much of the PS2 cost goes into ultra-high performance graphics acceleration
    And yet it still comes in as a whole system - new - for less than the cost of a decent graphics card for a PC. Cost counts; sometimes a cheap sledgehammer is better than an expensive nutcracker.

    This must be that "new math" I keep hearing about. The current state-of-the-art consumer-grade video accelerator, the GeForce 3, is retailing below $400, now (check pricewatch. $350 is the average price for a reference board). So, the PS2 is still selling at $400, which means $400 - $350 = the PS2 is cheaper? What? Not to mention the fact that you qualified your statement with "decent graphics card", which means you'd consider a GeForce2 MX, Radeon, or Kyro II board, which go for between $100 and $200. $400 - $200 = Damn, the PS2 is even cheaper now!. I'm sorry, but no. "New Math" doesn't work, and the PS2 is not cheaper than a decent PC graphics accelerator (it's by far more expensive!).

  • Good point. But I think Sony would probably say "go ahead", if only for the good publicity.


  • Given that the proposal is from the WEF, which is involved in the slave-labour "export processing zones" used to manufacture goods cheaply, chances are these doovy new Linux PlayStations are more likely to be used to set up data-entry maquiladoras where 12-year-olds will be chained to their desks for 18 hours a day and paid $1 per day than they are to be used to actually empower the people there.

    Or am I just paranoid?
  • I believe there is a reference to it in this book: Cultural Logics and Global Economies: Maya Identity in Thought and Practice []. In any case you could contact the author of that book, Edward Fischer [], and ask him if he knows of any publiations on the subject. He is the one who discussed this in a class I took.
  • What do I owe Africa?


    "Fruits of the 21st Century?"

    How about if Africa gets itself out of the 6th century by producing something the world wants?

    And this time, try not to make it slaves [], terrorists [], virus [] es [], endangered [] species [], or diamonds [] to raise money to hack [] people [] to [] death [].

    "You are only as free, happy, smart, and rich as you think you are."

Writing software is more fun than working.