[personal profile] satchmoz
When I was a kid somewhere between age 10 and 12 my family got our first computer. It was used and ancient even by the standard of the day. It was an IBM PS2 and it ran DOS 5.0, complete with a density floppy drive. My father had bartered for it at a construction site as buying a computer retail was unimaginable to us at the time.

My first real programming language was Turbo Pascal, which I had spotted complete with manual at the flea market. I had waited patiently for the booth at the flea market which specialized in computer repair and bootleg software to move it to the discount rack and bought it with the allowance I earned from chores. A luxury my parents afforded me at a time when my mother would later reminded me that she went for years at a time without new jeans with no holes.

I taught myself procedural programming from that book and that disk. It ignited a love of programming I didnt know I had. Had it not been just a few bucks, had my computer not been able to run it. I probably wouldn't have been exposed to programming as young as I had been. I wouldn't of had ahead start when I was taught C in high school or Java in college. I don't know entirely if I would have pursued programming.

I am an adult now in their mid thirties. My cousin has a kid about the same age I was at that time. He has no PC. Even if he had a proper PC, Microsoft is tempting OEMs to ship computers with a variant of Windows labeled "10 S." With the ability to run your own compiled code or any app not approved to be in the Windows App store locked behind a $50 dollar tax.

I wonder, does my cousin's kid have an aptitude for programming? How would he know if his first computer was one of these? The world has many free (libre and gratis) compilers for many different languages now but could I have afforded a $50 dollar fee for the privilege of running it on my computer back then? Could my parents have? Probably not. It certainly would have been a lot harder to justify.

I recall that the One Laptop Per Child project launched with a radical constructionist education philosophy; arguing that children learn best when they are free to explore, experiment and discover and that computer literacy should enable this.

OLPC's use of free and open-source software will serve to ensure that children are free to shape their own futures: children are being given a computer where nothing is hidden from them, the internals of the operating system are there for them to inspect, learn from, and hopefully learn to improve. The Sugar UI only serves to simplify things for the children until they are ready to look further into the OS and see what makes it tick. These children will potentially have an understanding of computers that greatly exceeds the children using a proprietary paradigm of computing. [source]

Does anyone think that these premises are wrong? Why then are people looking forward to Windows 10 S laptops for kids and education? Its an operating system that puts these things behind an additional tax.

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