[Community-news] OLPC News (2007-05-12)

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Sat May 12 12:05:45 EDT 2007

1. Ceibal, Uruguay: President Vasquez inaugurated the first laptop
school on Thursday. Ceibal is a small community with only one school
of 150 children, so it is truly 1:1. As you might imagine there was
tremendous excitement: the children and their families were ecstatic.

Despite the fact that none of the teachers have had experience with
computing, they diagnosed a bug in the software: a few of the machines
were hanging—nothing could get them to boot fully. The teachers
discovered that this was only happening to children with a tilde or ñ
in their names. An impressive example of teachers learning to learn!
(The bug has been fixed.)

2. Alan Kay, Kim Rose, and the Etoys team (Bert Freudenberg, Ian
Piumarta, Yoshiki Ohshima, Scott Wallace, Kazuhiro Abe, and Maic
Masuch) came together for a week-long mini Squeakfest at the OLPC
office. It was week of a remarkable progress; highlights include: Burt
and Yoshiki's integration of the Sugar presence service into
eToys—eToys now supports collaboration over the mesh for sharing eToy
objects and scripts, a shared workspace, VOIP, chat, etc; an update on
Ian's "dynamically reconfigurable virtual machine"; and Kazuhiro's
World Stethoscope project—an eToys extension that takes advantage of
the XO's microphone jack to import data into projects (See
http://squeakland.jp/abee/tmp/WSN-3A_QuickReference.pdf). Squeakfest07
will be held August 1–3 in Chicago (See

3. The XO is one of the featured designs at the "Design for the Other
90%" exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York. "Ninety-five
percent of the world's designers focus all their efforts on developing
products and services exclusively for the richest 10 percent of the
world's customers," said Dr. Paul Polak, president of International
Development Enterprises and a member of the exhibition's advisory
council. "Nothing less than a revolution in design is needed to reach
the other 90 percent," he added.

4. B3 build: Quanta, Mary Lou Jepsen and David Woodhouse arrived in
Shanghai (this morning) and have started in on the B3 build. Five B3
laptops are sitting in front of them at the moment, all working. David
is working on a debug of suspend/resume. Mary Lou is focusing on the
mechanical issues, safety and certification issues. OLPC will get 70
B3 machines for developers.

5. B3 housing: The B3 housing arrived in Cambridge this week. The most
prominent new feature is the brightly colored XO on the back cover of
the laptop. Other changes include a clean line on the battery housing
and thinned out plastic on the front bezel for "glowing" camera and
microphone "in-use" indicators. Improvements for robustness include: a
steel plate in the keyboard area; a smaller battery cavity; rubber
"bunny ears", thicker bumpers and ribbing made out of pure
polycarbonate, a longer keyboard cable, and a water resistance in
touch-pad area. Improvements for usage include: increased display
tilt; improved keyboard feel and responsiveness; improved touch-pad
responsiveness; a gray bezel around the display; improved fit and
finish of the buttons; X and O indicators on the touch-pad buttons;
and the 400 unique XO color combinations (for IDing laptops in a
crowded classroom).

6. Power measurement: Steve Smith and Chris Ball have a B3 XO
connected to the tinderbox and have instrumented the power rails.
Readings are obtained through a Python program.

7. Power management: This week we merged suspend/resume support in
master. So far, it only works on the GX; LX resume is still not
working in Linux (it works correctly in firmware testing). Andres
Salomon is working on it.

8. Firmware: Mitch Bradley figured out how to access the new EC
commands reliably, and documented it. Mitch also improved the audio
self-test and used it to measure the speaker performance. Mitch is
still working on B3 NAND FLASH issues. Lilian Walter added
functionality to play PCM .wav files (in addition to IMA
ADPCM .wav files) and is researching IPv6.

9. Presence service: This week was dominated by the run up to get
sharing over the mesh working. Lots of bug fixes are in place and the
first connect activities are in place and working. Thanks to the
Collabora team, Dan Williams, John Palmieri and Marco Gritti. (The
video-call activity also made a lot of progress this week.)

10. Journal: Tomeu Vizoso, Marco, and Ben Sadder also made a lot of
progress on the data store and Sugar integration. The write and web
activity now use the Journal and the data store. Most of the
integration work on the Journal-side is largely complete. Marco also
spent a lot of time working on the GTK theme that we're going to use
with the new images since we're going down that path. Lots of progress
has been made here as well.

11. In the community: Marc Maurer is making use of the presence
service from a C/C++ application, Abiword. He has spent time working
on the Abiword collaboration code and added functions to the XO write
activity: the ability to set colors and font attributes, implemented
more table support, and simple zooming functions. He also cleaned up a
lot of the icons in the activity.

At the MIT Media Lab, students of MAS.964 (One Laptop Per Child) have
been working since the winter on projects relating to the XO. They
will be holding a poster and live demonstration session on Tuesday,
May 15, from 2–4 PM at the Media Lab, lower-level atrium

Polychronis Ypodimatopoulos set up a mesh demo where each laptop takes
a picture at random times and tries to send it over to all other nodes
in the mesh network. He has a web page where the aggregate data are
displayed, based upon the number of hops between nodes. You can click
on the pictures and see what the respective direct neighbors and nodes
further than one hop are for the next node (See
http://lyme.media.mit.edu/mesh.php). He also measures the rate at
which presence information arrives at each node from every other node
in the mesh, without doing a single broadcast, but only send frames
from neighbor to neighbor. He can thus predict with fairly good
accuracy if a node is still present in the mesh.

Junia Anacleto, a visiting scientist at MIT from the Federal
University of San Carlos, Brazil, has been working with a small group
of Portuguese-speaking students at the King School in Cambridge. The
children took to the laptops immediately; they have blogged their
experiences (See http://lia.dc.ufscar.br/olpcod), making extensive use
of videos they have posted to youtube.


Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

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