[Community-news] OLPC News 2007-12-30

Walter Bender walter at laptop.org
Sun Dec 30 09:16:03 EST 2007

1. Give One Get One: The G1G1 program ends on December 31. G1G1 has
not only made it possible to seed the launch of programs in Haiti,
Rwanda, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Mongolia, and Afghanistan, but we have
also greatly broaden the community of participation in the project.
The community has already jumped in to help: the level of activity in
our forums, IRC, email lists, wiki, etc. has risen dramatically over
the past
few weeks. G1G1 participants have asked lots of questions—and have
uncovered some new bugs—but they also have lots of answers—and have
submitted some new patches. The community model seems to be scaling.

Many thanks to Hilary Meserole and the tireless efforts from the teams
at Pentagram, Nurun, Eleven, Patriot, and Brightstar.

2. Mary Lou Jepsen: Mary Lou's last day at OLPC is December 31. She
will be continuing to consult with us on a number of different fronts
as she chases after her next miracle in display technology. Mary Lou
was OLPC employee Number One, both in terms of when she joined the
organization and in terms of the breadth and depth of her
contributions. Thank you and best of luck with your adventures in a
new role and new year.

3. Embedded controller (EC): Richard Smith has tested a battery EEPROM
dumping feature recently added by Andres Salomon: it seems to work
great. Richard has written crontab scripts and "phone home" scripts
for inclusion in joyride builds, with the intent to include them in an
upcoming release to build an anonymous database of battery
performance. These scripts will sample the power used every five
minutes and log it. They only sample when the battery is charging or
discharging. The hope is to gather a composite view of battery
performance under realistic conditions of use.

Richard noticed that on the community-development list there are at
least two reports of the EC going "terminal", meaning that on boot
they get the error message: "EC problem. Remove all power and
restart." We need to get those machines to Cambridge to investigate

Another issue found on the community-list are reports from a few
people about their batteries not charging. Richard says this would not
surprise him if they were NiMH batteries, but G1G1 machines have the
LiFePo batteries. He did had one person run "logbat" and send him the
results: the EC reads the battery fine and is attempting to charge the
battery but no current ever goes into the battery. Again, we need to
get these machines to Cambridge as we haven't seen this behavior

4. Open Firmware: Mitch Bradley continued to provide G1G1 customer
support, for example, chasing down some problems with SD cards. He
also added the ability to delete JFFS2 files from Open Firmware and
fixed Tickets #5717, #5585, and #5727, all improvements to the overall
OFW performance and reliability. Preparations continue on OFW for the
Intel prototype XO board.

5. Wireless firmware: Marvell released firmware version 5.110.20.p49
which addresses Ticket #5194. With this firmware release, all known
major low-level bugs have been addressed. With the wireless driver
that's in the current ship builds, we see locking errors under heavy
load from which the driver recovers automatically. David Woodhouse is
doing a major rewrite of the driver which should eventually address
that issue.

6. Software ECOs: From time to time there may be critical bug fixes
that must be released between our regularly scheduled releases. These
may occur due to security issues, from unexpected hardware problems,
or the discovery of latent bugs that affect large numbers of users.
We've started a page in wiki discuss the software engineering change
order (ECO) process (See

7. Support: The past week has been a busy one for Adam Holt and the
OLPC support team. Adam has organized a team of 30 support volunteers
to comprehensively answer help at laptop.org tickets. (Each ticket is an
ongoing email conversation with a donor/client.) The volunteer team is
working hard, but keeping up with the support load. Part of the
process includes the compilation of a Support FAQ (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Support_FAQ). Adam is also organizing a
"virtual call center" based on asterisk.org VoIP. Matthew O'Gorman is
helping finalize the server. Callers will access a local US number in
the 617 area code. It will be informal, but we hope it will provide a
critical outreach to those users who need it most. We hope to complete
testing and possibly an initial rollout within the coming week.

Please everyone recruit your XO-aware friends as:
(1) "charming" volunteers to answer phones; and
(2) "perfectionist" volunteers to help organize our wiki pages.

You can email Adam regarding your talents, motivations, and a phone
number at "holt AT laptop DOT org". Thanks!

There will be an "Organizing Sunday" meeting among our volunteers on
30 December, 4PM EST. All interested parties can join if they email
Adam first.

Noah Kantrowitz has helped to organize the RT system so that
volunteers' workflow is more efficient. Instant-response RTFM entries
(canned answers auto-pasted into emails) are growing too.

Chih-yu Chao is helping Adam to answer questions from G1G1 recipients;
she has noticed that many parents are asking whether our browser
support Flash/Java websites, an area we need to improve upon.

Michael Burns of the Oregon State Open Source Lab has been working
each night improving and growing the Community Support forum (See
http://olpc.osuosl.org/), which is now exceeding 1,000 posts; 200
registered users have answered hundreds of first-time computer
questions from G1G1 donors. There is already a growing community of
users helping other users on the site. The site includes a live (IRC)
chat (See http://olpc.osuosl.org/chat), a feature that works from any
computer, including directly from the XO, and a volunteers map (See
http://olpc.osuosl.org/forum/phoogle_map.php) that lets developers,
enthusiasts and users put a push-pin next to their home town.

8. Etoys: 2007 was a busy year for the Etoys team: they made over 700
patches this calendar year. In addition to these code changes, there
is new content: examples, help contents, and documentation. Etoys was
more or less stable and mature before 2007, but the effort in the year
made it even more stable, useful and be fit to the XO platform.
Notable improvements and contributions include: sane mathematical
operator precedence by Yoshiki Ohshima; better natural language
translation by Takashi Yamamiya and Korakurider; display scaling by
Andreas Raab; an event recording system (called Event Theatre) by
Scott Wallace; a camera interface by Diego Gomez Deck; the World
Stethoscope by Kazuhiro Abe; the Quick Guide help system by Kathleen
Harness, Ted Kaehler and Yoshiki; drag and drop by Takashi; IPv6
support by Ian Piumarta and Michael Rueger; documentation by Alan Kay,
Kim Rose and Rebecca Cannara; and numerous fixes and usability
improvements from the Etoys team and community, including
contributions by Karl Ramberg and Marcus Denker.

In 2007, there were many deadlines in short successions, putting
pressure on the team to deliver stable versions—pushing the team
towards a conservative approach to development. Many big changes were
punted. In hindsight, perhaps delivering some unstable versions with
bigger changes would have been better strategy. On the other hand, it
is worth to mention that Etoys is one of the most reliable packages
over the course of XO development and has seen extensive use in most
of the school trials. Kudos to Bert Freudenberg, who maintains the
Etoys integration with Sugar (Bert not only led the effort to
integrate Etoys with Sugar; he also contributed Sugar's overall

There were various Etoys-based activities proposed: a programming
tutorial called Bots Inc by Stéphane Ducasse; an interactive geometry
program called Dr Geo II by Hilaire Hernandez; and education contents
suite by Luke Gorrie, Bryan Berry, and the OLPC Nepal developers.
"Conservativeness" was a major issue when discussing the possible
inclusion of Dr Geo II into the base Etoys image; accommodating such
code in a graceful way is a challenge for 2008.

9. Translation: One of the last pieces in our Pootle deployment is now
in place: a mechanism to update PO template files for each module
automatically. Sayamindu Dasgupta has fine tuned the script that does
this updating to change POT files only if the strings have changed.
(This work is based on Damned Lies, the GNOME translation management
system). This helps avoid the redundant updating of PO files. The
string-change detection feature will also be useful in the future to
detect string-freeze breakages and also to notify translators when new
strings are added to a module.

This week also saw the first package release of the Update 1 branch to
pick up new translators. Thanks to the excellent effort put in by the
translators, the Update.1 project (which consisted of the Update 1
branches of the Sugar, Journal activity, Record activity and Browse
activity) is, on an average, 50% translated for each language.
Languages that have more than 90% of their strings translated are:

• Urdu (100%)
• Nepali (100%)
• Dutch (100%)
• Chinese (Taiwan) (100%)
• Bengali (100%)
• Arabic (100%)
• Portuguese (Brazil) (99%)
• Portuguese (99%)
• Macedonian (99%)
• Russian (98%)
• Greek (98%)
• French (98%)
• Chinese (China) (98%)
• German (96%)
• Mongolian (94%)

The focus has shifted to the master branches once again, although
language teams are encouraged to update their translations in Update.1
project (there will be another package release for Update.1 that would
pick up any new translations).

In the middle of the week, Sayamindu also managed to track down a
problem in Pootle that was holding up the work being done by the Urdu
team. The issue was being caused by a corrupt stats file in the
Pootle-Urdu directory.

10. Touchpad: Bernardo Innocenti spent much of the week testing a
solution to the "jumpy mouse" touchpad bug. We'll soon be pushing out
a patch that should cover the majority of touchpad problems.

11. Journal: Reinier Heeres wrote a script to copy files from the
Journal to the Linux file system (Ticket #5571). This got extended by
Phil Bordelon, just like the copy-to-journal script. Reinier also
fixed some equation parser issues in the Calculator (Ticket #5734) and
an issue with Browse not exiting when a keep error occurred (Ticket

12. Debian: Ivan Krstić is overhauling the OLPC server infrastructure,
but also found the time to put together an "unofficial" etch/xfce4
build. It includes Firefox, Thunderbird, a suite of development tools
(python, git, gcc, gdb, flex, bison, automake, autoconf, libtool), a
music player (XMMS), IRC client (irssi) and a graphical wireless AP
selector. The entire build takes up 250MB of flash. Ivan optimized the
Firefox window layout to maximum screen estate and configured a number
of keyboard shortcuts.

13. Cow power: Arjun Sarwal along with the Mumbai team made some good
progress on the cow-power system for charging the XO. They made some
changes in the electrical design (e.g., using an alternator now
instead of a dynamo) and they have a plan regarding the mechanical
design based upon a better understanding of what are readily available
parts. The current setup easily charges two laptops, however with the
planned mechanical design changes, they hope to charge at least ten
laptops simultaneously.

14. Games: Don Hopkins has been working on the new Micropolis codebase
(See http://www.DonHopkins.com/home/micropolis). He has made a web
server out of the Micropolis python module for testing and has
modularized python code for tile and cellular automation rendering.

15. OurStories: Pablo Flores reports that Uruguay will start
collecting stories in late January in different localities, like their
recent work in Sarand Grande (See
Announcements of the site in Spanish and Nigerian languages are being
prepared for late January.

16. Library: Lauren Klein has been working on interfaces to make
generating content bundles easier, starting with forms to generate
bundle metadata. Next up are automatic bundlers that check and
generate manifests and metadata from uploaded tars and zips (See

17. Installing activities: OLPC Austria is improving their "xo-get"
command-line script for downloading and installing activities. (The
script is a complement to the current process of clicking on .xo files
from the Browse activity.) They are making it work with the activities
found on http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Activities page, having added a
field there to include tags (See
http://www.olpcaustria.org/mediawiki/index.php/Xo-get and

18. OLPC Communities: Holger Levsen, Aaron Kaplan, and others from
Austrian and German OLPC groups spent the last days of the week at the
24C3 conference in Berlin, Germany.  John Crispin and the OpenWRT
contingent showed off OpenWRT booting on an XO and let a growing
number of XOs share their space. At one point there were over 20 XOs
in use in the area, most in the hands of developers and early G1G1

OLPC Switzerland is having its first meeting January 15 in Bern,
organized by Michele Notari (See

Greg DeKoenigsberg and Jack Aboutbol are starting to organize a social
and musical OLPC event in New York City for next August. They are
presenting a proposal to the NYC parks and recreation committee next

19. Developer community: Almost 1000 developers are active in our Trac
system (http://dev.laptop.org). There are thousands more contributors
to wiki.laptop.org and to various fori, mailing lists, IRCs, etc. This
participation is invaluable to the success of OLPC mission. We'd like
to thank, among others:

a-12, aalam, abelay, abrar.momin, aconbere, adeighton, adetola,
admford, adricnet, aegis, aenertia, aferti, afranke, agdelma, ahmad,
ajax, akauppi, akeemolabiyi, alagu, albertcahalan, aleph, alexandre,
alexl, alfonsodg, als, altemusm, alxx, ambros, amitgogna, andic,
andreasraab, andre.mossinato, andrey, angel, angieklein123, angus,
anna chang, annegentle, ant, antoninoiacono, antonio correia,
antoniojf, approvalforupdate, aprodan, arangelangov, arauto,
argento78, ariana, arjs, arnd, arnold, aroscha, artpro, arvinliu,
ashish, ashsong, assim, astein, atodorov, aturist, aumana, avocade,
avoine, awjrichards, awong9702, axboe, bamdad, bananascanner, barbolo,
barry, bart massey, basil, bbaston, bbbush, bcavagnolo, bcsaller,
bdoin, beaubrewer, beauty, beckerde, behdad, behnam, bemasc, benzea,
bernie, bert, bertl, bfcatfriends, biarm, bigbaaadbob, bigwally,
bilboed, billaspell, billjank, bill_mcgonigle, billy, bjfreeman,
bkublik, blahedo, blanchet, blankverse, blix, blizzard, bluefoxicy,
blueyed, bmcarnes, bnardone, bob, bobbysmith007, bobkeyes,
boujelbenhichem, brainrecall, briandorsey, briandorsey, bronson,
bryan.ma, bss, bsugarse, btate, budbird, buendia, byodo, c9damico,
cafl, cak, calyth, campbell, candy, candy lu, candy_man, cannonjt,
carl2, carla, carlfk, carlofalciola, carrano, cavallo, cbramsey,
cdoty, cdurrett, cgalpin, chaos, chatworthy, cheetahman, chenz,
chiaying.lin, chihyu, chitraspai, chrisb143, christianmarc,
christophd, christoph_hagemeyer, chuck, cialis, cihan, ciscos151, cjb,
c.kutzleb, clifft135, cmeadors, cmusodza, coderanger, codyl, colonwq,
company, corbet, crazy-chris, crazymonk, crichardson, crouchjay,
crschmidt, cscott, cshields, csounder, csutton, curlydude007, cwhii,
cworth, cycho, czhower, dabender, daf, damonkohler, danarnold,
dandelion, danerogers, danielfuhry, daniher, daniher, danjared,
dan_margo, danw, dao, dark314, davidgr, david_leeh, david.lin,
davidpfarrell, davidz, dbpatterson, dcbw, dcolivares, ddhoppe, ddo,
dds, deanbrettle, deborah hanley, dedekind, dennisdanso,
dennisfrancis, desertgojo, devinliu, devlware, devwillie, dgd,
dgilmore, dhabersa, dhopkins, dhuff, dialectric, diegozacarao,
dilinger, diyoung, djbclark, djihed, djneu, dking, dlang, dmd, docdtv,
dolphinling, doom, douglas_goodall, drewish, dulouz, duncanb,
dushyantgautam, dvsullivan, dwmw2, dyd, dydimustk, dysumner, ea,
ealtin, eamaya, ebelechukwu2005, eben, ebf, ebodfish, ebotee,
echeonwugbenu, edbatalha, ediaz, edsiper, edstoner, edwardbaafi,
eenii, ejkrohne, eli amesefe, elife, elijah, elite231,
elizabeth251964, elranchero, elvis, elyip, emilmont, enalax, enjahova,
eric, eric, erick, ericsilva2, erikb, erikhatcher, erikos, eteo,
ethrop, etoys, evenremy, fab, fabiand, fabiomarcio, factor, fade,
faga, fahmi, fayoeu, fc, fciron, fdraeger, felix01, feranick,
fernandodotnet, ffm, fgrose, fhill, finalzone, fiorella, fireball,
firewing1, florentin_raud, foddex, follower, fongoses, foot,
franka001, frazermarge, frief, fuseproject, gabaug, garlick, garrison,
gary, garysu, gauravchem, gauthierancelin, gblaufuss, gbulfon,
gcarrier, gcase, gcerchio, gdesmott, george rey, george yeager,
gesmit, gfw123, ghopper, gi693362, giangy, giles, glezos, glochan,
gnrfan, gnu, godiard, gonzalo, grantbow, greg, gregdek, gregm, gregt,
gregthompson, grendelt, grenoble, griffithbuilt, grig, gustavo,
gustavoo, gwlc, gwright, h7bse1c, hai, hal, hal, hallie, hal.murray,
hamed, happyolpc, hartwellfong, hartwellfong, hazardouswaster,
hchennings, hello1024, hemantg, henninger, hiper, hitoro, hmes,
hoboprimate, holger, holt, holtzman, homunq, hopsman, hsin wu,
hsin.wu, huangcza, hughsient, hummingbird, humptybump, hyppy, ianb,
ianissitt, iceberg, iknowjoseph, indradg, indutiomarus, info_anarchy,
intrader, irish_moss, isforinsects, ismaell, ivazquez, ivo, j5,
jaberg, jack, jackeyzhao, jafo, jaimebalb, jaing, jake h, jamesm,
jamespaige, jamil, jani, jaq, jason liu, jayakumar, jbarahona,
jcallas, jcardona, jcfrench, jdub, jecel, jeckson, jennjacobsen,
jenny2, jensjorgensen, jeremyvisser, jeroentb, jerub, jerub,
jfallgatter, jfc, jfuhrer, jg, jherzog, jhuangtw, jhulten, jiffy,
jimfare, jim.morey, jirwin, jlstomp66, jm3, joaoboscoapf, jochang,
joebergin, joeclark, joeywang, john, johnkemeny, johnlin, johnson,
jondo, jonknee, jonsd, jordancrouse, jorgecortes, josepht, joshseal,
jpff, jpritikin, jrus, juanayup, juliano, julibio, junia, junwiseman,
jwildebo, k2nt23, karl, karmaflux, kayseon, kazuhiro abe, kenh, ken
lin, kentquirk, kenwatford, kevinprt, kfieldho, khaled, khassounah,
kiddo, kimquirk, kim rose, kiran, kityoko, kkv, konrad1134,
konrad_kleine, korakurider, kraetzichriz, kreneskyp, krstic, kruemel,
ksankar, kylesteinfatt, kylin, larryapple, lathiat, laural, lauren,
lbenavente, lcatania, lcbiazon, leejc, leemingd, leetcharmer,
legolas558, legutierr, lenkawell, lferre, liam henry, lileeanna,
linagee, lincolnquirk, lionstone, lmaltin, lmanul, lorenzen, lrhowa5,
lucia, lucks, luisca, lukego, luna, lwalter42, ma895907, mac, madcat,
madd, magnum34, mako, maku, mallum, mantaraya36, mantas, manu,
manusheel, marcelo, marco, marcos ficarelli, marcus, markharrison,
martine, martin.langhoff, martoro, martyvis, marv, massimo, mathew,
maurotorres, maxim_o, mbletsas, mbrubeck, mburns, mcalef, mcfletch,
mchehab, mchenetz, mchua, mduvigneaud, melekim, methril, meyers,
mfoster, mi370560, michael, michael.tiemann, midiwall, miguelon,
mihai, mihi, mikelee_aarp, mikes, mikus, mime, mitchellncharity, mitu,
mjr, mk8, mkgobaco, mleech, mlj, mohsen, mokurai, monkeyfork, monyu,
morgs, morningstar, moshez, motherhoose, mpal, mpdevine, mrdomino,
m.scott, msevior, mstone, mtklein, mucca, muccini, murielgodoi,
murray, murrays, musallam, mvirkkil, myles, mylesb, nacholudo,
nalrawahi, nandoa, nasa, nat, nathalia.sautchuk, naustin, ncorrare,
nelhage, nelson, neptune, newsham, ni762428, nibhatish, nicomy,
ninjakitten, nirmal, nitin, nnorwitz, nolambar, nornagon, nrp, nuke,
nuwdle, obc_spike, oeka, ohm, ohshima, okada, olafura, ollybetts,
ondal, openspark, orospakr, osbornisle, osmosys, otakuj462, ozwald,
pacease, pamela.dallas, pascal, path, paul, paulproteus, pavel, pavel,
pd, peiwei, pekayatt, pengo, pepboy, pepboy, perlhacker, peter,
peter.lorenzen, petria, pezhman, phil, philipmac, phollings, php5,
pierre, pierreossman, ping, pmj, pnasrat, polvi, ponafarioli, power
guo, pr3d4t0r, prasanna, prashant.thakkar, probono, pvanhoof,
pwiltsey, pwr, py_geek, pzelenka, qq, quantumcat, quantumg, quozl,
rabeeh, rafaelortiz, ramaseshanr, raven, ravikondamuru, ravualhemio,
ray.tseng, rbh00, rbhagwat, rblengio, rbwjrw, rcauk, rchokshi,
rdebath, rdike, rdobson, rebecca, rebecca, rebecca allen, rebeccag,
rebeccagettys, redpawn, reg, regan20, reillysl, rejon, reservedoc,
retired_techie, retroplumido, reynaldo, rgs, rharrison, rhindak,
rhindak, richard, richie.wang, riv, rj_dean, rkevans, rminnich,
robertfadel, robot101, robsta, rock, rodarvus, roel, roozbeh, rorrim,
roscherfr, roubert, roy, rsavoye, rsmith, rsriniva, rtlm, ruby,
russnelson, rwh, ry313323, ryankelln, ryant5000, ryebo1, sabu, sam,
samuel bizien, sandeepdutta, sankarshan, santanu, sarahmoodoo,
saramah, satch89450, satyajeet, sayamindu, sbelter, scomst,
scott_kirkwood, scottwallace, sdalvi, seberg, segher, seph,
seralewise, sero189, shailen, shang, shankar, sharon, shekay, shenki,
shiu, sholton, sierrahombre, simon, simon, simosx, sirjuanlu, sj, sjg,
sjoerd, skeezix, skiboo, skierpage, slasc, sleet01, smcv, smetz52,
smohan, spacey, spditner, splinux, sprezzatura, ssb22, ssc, sssss,
steck, steeg, stepheneb, steveb, steve fullerton, stevew, stevo,
stoecker, stoutbigred, stressyndrome, sturnfie, subbu, sulmanminhas,
sunny, sverma, svu, swagle, sxpert, syd, sylvinus, s.zytkiewicz, t3,
tags07, takashi, talmage, tamichan, tannewt, tbpringle, te294177,
tedch, ted.juan, tedkaehler, teefal, term, terry su, tess, testing,
teus, tf, theperturbator, thiago_s, timbutler, tim.millerdyck, titus,
tomeu, tomhannen, tonsofpcs, toygmail, trapdoor, trevor, tribleyl,
trobertson, tsylla, tudd, turadg, tushards, twinkle, uden, ufg,
uflchamp, ujwal2, usman ansari, usman.ansari, uwog, vadim, vance.ke,
vandien, vasukrishnan, vbhunt, vegpuff, vgiasolli, victorchao,
victor-y, vjohn, vmb, voden, vorburger, vradok, wad, wadeb, walter,
wangwebbxydd, waqastoor, warp, watchhillfarm, wcohen, weixiang,
wenmi01, we.three.tees, wildem, williamb68, wiswaud, wkraimer, wmb,
wmfwlr, wolf, wolfgang, wvbailey, wwworkshop shannon, wwworkshop
terrence, wybiral, xardox, xatzipe, xavi, xiang.wei, xorAxAx, yani,
ychao, yhosoai, yosch, youssef, ypod, ywwg, zack, zakarpatska,
zapador, zarcher, znmeb, zogger50, zoltanthegypsy, zwl821022, and

Best wishes for the new year.

20. Special thanks: As mentioned, the contributions to the project
have been numerous and diverse. However, I'd like to acknowledge one
contributor who has quietly been playing a central role in perhaps the
most critical user-facing aspect of the OLPC effort, Sugar. Red Hat's
Marco Pesenti Gritti seems to never rest; he never tires of answering
questions, writing patches, and engaging in design discussions. His
productivity is monumental; his insights are invaluable.

Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

More information about the Community-news mailing list