Tags: free culture

Seattle XO user group meeting, XO ebook mode

Marty and I each bought an XO computer from the 2007 Give One, Get One program of the One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC), making us a G2G2 family. Her sister Meredith's family bought three, bringing our extended family to exalted G5G5 status. :) Our computers are supposed to arrive by January 15.

On Sunday, 30 December, I attended the first meeting of the Seattle XO User Group with my friend John Braley. I estimated 40 attendees, of whom roughly 75% already had their own XOs. Because G1G1 is a charitable program and apparently for legal reasons can't be held year-round, I will probably never see so many XOs in one place again, at least so many XO-1s, or first-generation machines.

This picture is courtesy an anonymous SeaXO photographer, possibly Chris Altwegg, who blogged the meeting. I'm the big guy in gray, gesturing. The guy next to me leaning over is named Yen (sp?) and had two XOs. Since John and I were some of the few people at the meeting not to have an XO yet, he lent us one of his for a couple of hours. It was great! Thanks, man!

John and I played with a number of XO features, but the one that fascinated us the most was ebook mode; most other people were playing with collaborative mesh network features. The XO makes a great ebook reader. We noticed a small bug: the arrow buttons still think the screen is in laptop mode when it's rotated into ebook mode, so you have to press what is now the right arrow when you want to scroll down. However, the arrow buttons are all physically in just the right place on the faceplate ergonomically, unlike the Amazon Kindle, which reportedly often gets powered down by accident -- and software can be fixed, unlike the Kindle's button placement. Oh yeah, the XO is free of Amazon's shitty DRM too.

John likes to read in the bathtub and I like to read while waiting for the bus, so the waterproof quality of the XO would make it ideal for both of us. At about three pounds, the XO is a little heavier than I thought it was, but superb ergonomics still make it very comfortable to hold, so I look forward to reading in the Seattle winter rain -- something I can't even do with a "real" book! -- Real Soon Now.

For more information on the capabilities of the XO, read this terrific blog post or watch this terrific video. Or both. Then G1G1 next Christmas!

More on Games Unboxed

I didn't mention in my initial post about my new project, Games Unboxed (with Clark Rodeffer), that the book will be released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license, or something close to it. This means that we'll probably have a website where you can read the rules to the games for free, and a printable PDF of the entire book that you can obtain from the website, as well as download from the usual places like BoardGameGeek and email to your friends. Even if you don't want to print the entire book, you might want to print individual games from it, reference cards, player aids, printable boards, and so on. We'll make those available individually as well as within the PDF.

We haven't got a publisher yet. What if they don't like this idea?

Sucks to 'em. Liberating our content is non-negotiable. We'll shop the manuscript around until we find someone who will publish it. But I don't think we'll have much trouble. My last book, Mind Performance Hacks, has sold around 30,000 copies since February 2006, and is currently hovering around Amazon sales rank 5000 (anything above 10,000 is great) -- yet it's "pirated" like mad all over the world. Hardly a week goes by that I don't get a Google Alert or two notifying me it's been uploaded illegally to another site. In study after study, "piracy" has been shown to help sales.

I've printed many an ebook, free and otherwise, and in almost every case, I'd rather have a nice, official, bound copy than my crappy laser-printed one, crappily spiral-bound by some barely sapient Kinko's employee working for crap wages. But if you want the PDF, you shall have it, and all permutations thereof.

Because we love you.