[Community-news] OLPC News (2007-04-14)

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Sat Apr 14 12:51:38 EDT 2007

1. São Paulo: Roseli de Deus Lopes and her team have been working with
the teachers for a smooth introduction and work began with XOs in the
school in this week. Naturally, even though there are only 100 laptops
initially, word spread throughout the school and all the children and
teachers are anxious to participate. David Cavallo met with the
teachers for several days: the teachers and children will work in
groups in inter-disciplinary projects, including a local-history
project to grow and combine with all laptop schools.

2. Porto Alegre: Lea Fagundes and her team have been working with the
XO in the Luciana de Abreu Elementary School for three weeks and
already is having tremendous impact. The children of course are doing
fantastic work and you see them moving around the school, taking
pictures, working on projects, and truly engaged in their learning.
Yesterday two teachers were unable to come to school due to family
emergencies and the principal could not get substitutes; they
dismissed the children of those classes early. For the first time in
anyone's recollection, no one left when dismissed, preferring to stay
and work with the laptops. The school had record attendance by parents
for a meeting, with more than 10× the usual number attending. The
teachers and children are ecstatic. The concrete example of chidlren,
teachers, laptops and learning is changing the minds of doubters.

3. Rio de Janeiro: Michail Bletsas attended a two-day meeting
organized by Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa (RNP), the
organization that runs Brazil's academic network. The main theme of
the meeting was digital inclusion and a people from the USP and
Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) presented their first results
from testing wireless connectivity on the XO laptop. Their conclusion:
it works.

4. FISL8.0: Michail and Javier Cardona delivered back-to-back
presentations on the various aspects of the OLPC mesh. Javier
concluded with a nice audio-streaming demo via the mesh. Two XOs were
streaming audio between them, their transmission power was limited to
1mW (from 60), so that the range between them was limited—about 40m
with the rabbit ears down. One person went to the end of the lecture
hall with one of the XOs and the audio stopped; another person went to
the middle of the room with a third XO, which restored the audio flow.

John Palmieri, Tomeu Vizoso, Marcelo Tosatti, David Cavallo, and Jim
Gettys also attended the conference, which is the largest free
software conference in the developing world (~5000 people
pre-registered for the conference). Attendance at the OLPC booth was
at times a crush and was always very busy.

5. Carla Gomez-Monroy, a former student of Walter's from the MIT Media
Lab, will be helping us with the test school deployments. Carla spent
several years working with the Schlumberger Excellence in Educational
Development (SEED) Foundation, doing constructionist projects in
schools in the developing world, including Nigeria.

6. Is XO the "greenest" laptop on the planet? This seems not to be
just literal but also appears figurative: Mary Lou and Robert spent
some time talking to various environmental agencies last week. Our
low-power design, RoHS compliance, LED backlight (rather than
mercury-containing CCFL), battery with 4× the standard battery
lifetime, elimination of PVCs and Brominated flame retardants, etc.,
may actually spur environmentalists to create a new category for our
laptop.  More on this in the coming weeks.

7. B3: Pre-B3 motherboards will be made today (Saturday) at Quanta.
The pre-B3 bring up in Taipei will commence on April 18 in Taipei with
Richard Smith, John Watlington, Mitch Bradley, and David Woodhouse

8. New rubber ears: 30 sets of rubber bunny ears arrived Friday at
OLPC; we will use them for drop testing to new heights early next
week. Current testing shows our laptops survive a five-foot drop tests
on the "open" ears.

9. Firmware/kernel: Mitch and Andres Salomon have succeeded in a
complete boot off an SD card using a custom kernel and a few tweaks to
OS Build 385. They are working on making it require fewer custom
changes, so that booting off SD can be done routinely. Mitch and
Richard worked on preparations for the LX processor (B3) board bring
up next week. Mitch provided a version of the firmware to Quanta for
initial debug.

10. User interface: Eben Eliason has developed a new tabbed toolbar
system for Sugar that he has documented in the wiki. He also made yet
another significant pass over the UI controls and will be meeting
Marco Gritti and Tomeu Vizoso to get an API implemented for them. He
has sketched mock-ups for our core activities (Write, Browser, etc.)
using the new system and the team at Abiword has already begun
implementing many of the new features.

Eben also specified a more detailed interaction for the clipboard,
which will be consistent with current UI expectations while providing
the additional features we want. The basic interaction is a clipboard
stack, with the most recently copied item on top, which also acts as a
push through queue when it fills up, dropping the bottom element from
the stack when new items come in. And he prepared a refined
"introductory sequence" for entering name, choosing colors, and taking
a photo on first boot.  Marco has this design and is working on

11.  School server: Web caching is configured and running on the
school server in the OLPC office in Cambridge. All XOs in the area
running a current build are using it for network access.

12. From the community: Marc Maurer reports that his work on adding
syntax coloring to AbiWord for the purposes of the develop activity is
beginning to work. John Resig has been making progress on an eBook
reader (See   http://ejohn.org/apps/ebook/ for a live demo). Bruno
Coudoin reports that GCompris is running on the XO. (GCompris is
education software targeting young children that has been translated
in more than 40 languages.) While it doesn't yet follow all of the
design rules of Sugar, it is fun to see working. Ignatz Heinz at
Avallain Learning is working on making an open-source version of their
language-learning and literacy tools available for the XO. Google has
just come out with a beta API to their new translation engine. Franz
Och, one of their lead researchers, thinks it can be used for IM
translation for the XO and would like to see this tested.


Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

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