[Community-news] OLPC News 2007-10-27

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Sat Oct 27 13:53:49 EDT 2007

1. New York City: United Nations Under-Secretary-General/High
Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries and
Island States, Mr. Cheick Sidi Diarra of Mali, hosted a two-hour
meeting exclusively devoted to OLPC. Miguel Brechner and Oscar Becerra
presented, respectively, the experiences and decision-making process
in Uruguay and Peru. Questions and demos lasted for an additional
forty five minutes. About 50 countries were represented.

2. Netherlands: Ivan Krstić keynoted GOVCERT.NL, the invitation-only
security conference organized by the Dutch computer emergency response
team (CERT). He made a number of contacts with international CERTs,
whose assistance might be critical after we deploy.

3.  Adapter prong orientation: Demands from the field for one or the
other orientation of adapter prongs have led us to request more
adapter orientation options. Quanta has been responsive and UL will
assist with safety testing. It will be several months before these AC
adapters will be available, but work has begun.

4. Resistance tests: Summarized below is the current status of
resistance testing of the XO laptop. Mary Lou Jepsen will write a
complete report in early November, after all testing data is
available.  (This report will be available on wiki.laptop.org.)

* Drop: XO passes 10-point drop test from a height of 150cm onto
carpet- covered steel (other drop-test details available)
* Operating temperature: 0C to 45C (50C pending certification)
* Storage temperature : –25C  to 60C
* Operational altitude: 0 to 5000m
* Dust/water: Testing to Ingress Protocol 54 and 42 (in process)
* Toxicity: RoHS certified (UL report due in early November)
* Safety:
** IEC 60950-1(write up in process)
** EN 60950-1  (write up in process)
** CSA/UL 60950-1  (write up in process)
** ASTM F 963 – Electronic Toy Safety  (write up in process)
* AC adapter
** Wide input range: 90v(–10%) ~ 240v(+25%), 35Hz to 70Hz
** IEC 60950-1 (write up in process)
** EN 60950-1 (write up in process)
** CSA/UL 60950-1 (write up in process)
** Extra transient and burst immunity: IEC 61000-4-4 (passed)
** Extra surge immunity: IEC 61000-4-5 (passed)
* Keyboard
** Tested to 500,000 cycles
** Rubber: water and dust resistant
* Buttons (power, display rotate, gamepads): Tested to 500,000 cycles

5. Mass-production build (Trial 3): The stable build for mass
production start is Build 622 (Firmware version Q2D02).  Please test
these builds extensively. John Palmieri and Scott Ananian produced a
number of builds in support of mass production, incorporating final
changes for C2 systems and fixes from Javier Cardona and Andres
Salomon for USB and wireless related suspend/resume problems. James
Cameron helped Chris Ball, Bernie Innocenti, and Jim Gettys diagnose
why X would not start while testing the C2 boards.

Scott has been supporting the Joyride build system. He, Michael Stone,
and Bernardo Innocenti had a fruitful discussion with the Fedora build
maintainer community about how to integrate our build system with koji
going forward. Greg DeKoenigsberg at RedHat has offered his
significant help in coordinating our needs with members of the Fedora
community who would like to get involved.

6. Localization: We have issued a call for translators, coordinators,
and volunteers (See
If you have good language skills (even if you have minimal computer
skills), you can make an important contribution to the project. Please
help us localize to as many languages as possible (See the
localization mailing-list subscription page at

Xavier Alvarez, Alfonso de la Guarda, and Danny Clark have built a
Pootle installation—a web based tool to help in language localization
(See the OLPC Pootle at its temporary site by visiting
http://solar.laptop.org:5080/). Sayamindu Dasgupta, a student from
India working part-time on the project is helping them.

Sumit Chowdhury reports that Nandu Pradhan, president of RedHat India,
is working with a team next week to help provide localization support
in eleven Indian languages. Sarmad Hussein of the PAN Localization
project and the CRULP research center has offered help with Pashto,
Urdu, and Nepali keyboards and localization.

7. Network upgrades/activation: Scott Ananian has completed a bring up
of our "meshtest" testbed; he has verified automated network upgrades
with security enabled, and activation from school server. (Some tweaks
required to make this more robust went into Build 619.) He also
discovered that about half of the meshtest machines were using compact
Linksys external USB ethernet dongles that would overheat and crash if
left on overnight. He also made some database-model changes to
activation.laptop.org which will help us better manage groups of
laptops. And he imported manufacturing data for all of our existing
B2-C1 machines and generated activation and developer leases for them
to ease testing.

8. Backups: Tomeu Vizoso, Ivan Krstić, and Marco Gritti discussed and
implemented Journal backups to the server and individual file restore.
Datastore performance will also be good enough to do full restores.
Along the way, a number of bugs were fixed. Ivan wrote the
corresponding school-server backup system (#4100) with Tomeu assisting
on the datastore side and Marco on the Journal-activity side. It
should be ready to land in builds early this week.

9. Screenshots: Tomeu and Marco are working on an improved way of
taking screenshots of running activities for the Journal preview.
(Typing Alt+1 will still cause a screenshot to be placed in the

10. Read activity and Sugar documentation: Tomeu gave some support to
Pascal Scheffers for his work in Read (which now saves its state in
the Journal and has numerous improvements to the UI) and documentation
of the Sugar API. He is doing an awesome job!

11. UI polish: Simon Schampier added (Ctrl+Q, Ctrl+Escape) for closing
the activities and the keybinding (Alt+Space) to the activity window
to hide/show the tray. The browse activity was adopted accordingly to
these API changes. He is now finishing up work on a control panel.

12. Battery-life testing: Richard Smith repeated a number of tests on
power consumption and battery life. These tests were gratifyingly
consistent with other direct power measurements Joel Stanley had
performed in late summer. There are remaining power savings to be had
by better use of the DCON hardware and optimization of the wireless
firmware when running in mesh mode, which have just begun.

Scott found a battery-charging bug with NiMH batteries, which Richard
is working on.

13. Firmware: Mitch Bradley released Q2D02 firmware:
* turned off indexed I/O before early interaction to close a security hole;
* added rtc-wackup command for suspend-resume testing;
* enabled reboot using the new EC command that resets the EC too, thus
re-enabling indexed I/O, thus making auto-firmware-update possible;
*  fixed bug in signature parsing for developer keys;
* increased countdown to five seconds because its harder to catch it
with security activated;
* when searching for a signature string, look for one whose key
signature matches the trailing portion of our pubkey, instead of just
taking the first line with a "sig01:" format;
* disabled "X" button toggle between secure and non-secure modes (The
"X" button now forces secure mode when in non-secure mode, instead of
going in either direction.);
* disabled indexed I/O when entering the kernel in secure mode;
* disabled PSCLK in low state to fix the PS2 flow control bug from a cold boot;
* added feature to send battery-status SCIs on low_bat change;
* fixed the bug that caused a failure to recognize the C2 board revision number;
* implemented command 0xDB to auto restart with indexed IO enabled.

14. Schedule: The upcoming releases have been renamed and re-purposed:

Oct. 26:	"Trial-3" (Build 622) are the bits being loaded for mass
production. This was completed this week.

Nov. 16:	"Reload" are bits that could possibly be loaded before
shipping laptops to individuals. We will hand pick blocking bug fixes
only if we need to.

Dec. 07:	"Killjoy" (V1.0, previously referred to as FRS or First
Deployment) is a release based on the "Joyride" builds. This will
include bug fixes/minor features that are in Joyride today; and we are
actively moving some trac items to this release based on what we know
about in the next week. Feature freeze for this is next week; code
freeze the week after.

Q1 2008:	"Future Release" (V1.1) is the release after Killjoy. Not
well defined. Right now it is where we moved all the features that
didn't make it into Killjoy.

(See https://dev.laptop.org/roadmap for more info.)

As we do the triage for these builds, we'd very much appreciate
community feedback as to what you think is important. Feel free to
send email to Walter Bender, Kim Quirk, or Jim Gettys in regard to

15. Testing: Alex Latham kept the suspend/resume testbed running with
the same OS, OFW, kernel, and wireless firmware release as the test
team in China, who are bringing up 42 boards with new PCB. He also
worked on connectivity testing and upgrade testing. Next week he will
be working creating a more comprehensive smoke/regression test to
provide the basis for our final release testing. Yani Galanis has put
together a detailed wiki page on testing network connectivity (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Test_Network_Configuration). There is
information on how things work today and where to find information
about your connectivity; he has also created a connectivity-status
script that will send all this info to standard output. Ricardo
Carrano has been working our RF sniffer to provide debug and analysis
help on some of the difficult wireless hangs and access-point
association problems we have been seeing.

16. EC code: Three new EC bugs seemed to have surfaced this week:
* The EC code and kernel have a mismatch in meaning of data sent
between them for power-status events. Therefore its true external-
power status events are not detected by the kernel. David Woodhouse
and Richard have a workaround.
* EC commands too close to suspend leave the EC in a state where
it won't respond to commands anymore. Andres Salomon and Richard have
a kernel workaround.
* Something in the "Secure Boot" sequence seems to make the EC reset
the capacity percentage of a full NiMH battery to 7% and sometimes
this gets written back into the battery. This results in what was a
fully charged battery now marked as empty.  Bad things then happen. It
only happens in secure boot and only with a fully charged NiMH.
Testing in secure boot mode has made for slow goings. The current
suspect is when we disable Indexed IO to the EC to prevent flashing.

17. Squeak/Etoys: Marta Voelcker reports that the children at the
Luciana de Abreu school in Porto Alegre, Brazil are making great
progress with Etoys. "The 11-year olds are using it very frequently,
12-to-14-year olds also increasing it, and first graders (age 7) are
starting to use it. They use squeak in the classroom and after school
they meet in the garden to talk about and share things made with
squeak, it is becoming a culture!" Squeak has been very popular in
Ethiopia as well.

18. Measure activity: Arjun Sarwal explored color schemes for
displaying multiple logs from multiple people. He also spent this past
week reviewing UI of the Activity with Eben Eliason, reviewing Journal
integration with Tomeu and Marco, refining DSP aspects with Mitch, V.
Michael Bove, Albert Cahalan, and Benjamin Schwartz, and optimizing
drawing code with Bernie Innocenti and Cody Lodrige.

19. Documentation: Todd Kelsey has build "PHPMyFaq" in order to take
some of the support heat off of developers. PHPMyFaq is scalable,
multilingual, RSS, XML; it allows people to post questions, other
people to answer, print out, save to PDF, XML, etc. Its coolest
feature is ranking—most relevant/popular items float to top (See
http://aaa.opensourcehost.com/~thoughts/faq/). Todd could use one or
more people's help on:
* defining categories of questions that developers get asked;
* some pre-made questions and answers to seed page;
* someone to moderate instances.

Meanwhile, Felice Gardner has been doing some cleaning up of the FAQ
on the wiki, putting "new" questions into categories and consolidating
multiple pages of questions on the same topic (See

Todd and Ann Gentle are spending part of today writing up how they
have worked on documentation so far, and what tools could help improve
the process. Christoph Derndofer and Eduardo Silva have shared their
drafts of an activity handbook as well. The results will be posted to
the OLPC wiki's [[Documentation]] page (See

20. Library: Jamendo now has an OLPC music portal up, with help from
Free Culture and the Antenna Alliance (See
http://www.jamendo.com/en/olpc for the first posted bands and albums
of freely licensed music).  They are also gathering signed copyright
statements from all authors for the collections.

The Internet Archive is working to turn their feeds of new
book-metapages into a feed of PDFs.  Alexis Rossi is helping produce
improved collections of their children's library (See

Anil Hemrajani at Big Universe has 14 children's picturebooks whose
authors have agreed for them to be distributed as demo books. These
are the first children's books in our collections that were not
scanned, but were created in digital format. This is a temporary
collection while working to get authors and publishers to agree to a
suitable CC license.

Andrew Whitworth at Wikijunior is working on making stable versions of
their newer books, with a focus on an offline interface that is simple
and allows people to read static books while linking to places for
them to comment and edit them.

Curriki is working on their tool to package collections as XO bundles.
Some of our curators have gone to them to store their collections.
The EGAP alumni from Monterrey's Tech working on a summer of content
mapping project have started a blog. They are posting their works to
Curriki, and learning how to integrate with our feature server (See
http://olpclatam.blogspot.com/). Curriki is working with Nortel to
convert their LearnIT video and text materials to Curriki collections;
and to make sure they are bundled for the XO.

Kevin Driscoll is working with a few students in India on a
Hackety-Hack series. They have eight problems and solutions written so
far; the whole needs to be Sugarized.

Marilyn Mosley, coordinator of the Laurel Springs school, is offering
her online ecology courses to OLPC students, and working on new health

Peter Kaufman, our open video coordinator, and Ahrash Bissell of
ccLearn are helping plan a video creation and remix challenge for the
science video and documentary community.  The challenge will have two
stages, one to provide free material suitable for teaching science,
and the second to make the best short educational video for children
from available sources.

21. Community/Games: Mike Fletcher is being flown to Taipei for a few
days this week for a free-software and open-source conference there.
He is talking in a session along with the lead Asus Eee developers,
who are eager to involve the open source community. Mike Fletcher is
also helping organize a small sibling game sprint in Toronto, November
16–18, at the same time as the CMU Game Jam (See

Nov. 10–11 : Game Jam Brasil (in São Carlos)

Nov. 16–18 : Game Jam Pittsburgh (at the CMU ETC center)

Nov. 16–18 : Toronto Game Sprint

Don Hopkins' version of SimCity is almost complete; it needs to go
through final testing by the EA developers before it can be released
under the GPL, but should be ready for child testing.


Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

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