[Community-news] OLPC News (2008-04-12)
walter.bender at gmail.com
Sat Apr 12 09:43:40 EDT 2008
1. Marvin Minksy has been writing a series of essays on learning. The
first three essays are available on the wiki (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Marvin_Minsky_essays). The themes to date
include "What makes Mathematics hard to learn?", "Drawbacks of
Age-Based Segregation", "What's wrong with the 50-minute hour", "Role
Models, Mentors, and Imprimers and Thinking", "Thinking about Thinking
about Ways to Think", "How do children acquire self-images?", and
"Finding Mentors in Network Communities."
2. OLE Nepal have posted their teacher preparation materials to the
wiki. The materials cover basic use of the XO, constructionist theory
and practice, and using the XO to facilitate the learning process.
Bipul Gautam created the 63-page teacher Preparation guide, which is
entirely in Nepali. Prabhas Pokharel has agreed to organize a group of
Nepali Harvard students to translate it into English (See
3. Bryan Berry has created a basic training program for support
personnel that are familiar with computers, but new to the XO hardware
and Linux (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Nepal:_Support_Training).
Teachers Manoj Ghimire of Bishwamitra and Neema Lama of Bashuki were
the first trainees to use these materials.
4. Hot topics: This week saw debates on some of the OLPC mailing lists
and in the wiki. A paper called "Freezing More Than Bits: Chilling
Effects of the OLPC XO Security Model" will be presented on Monday at
USENIX UPSEC'08 (http://www.usenix.org/events/upsec08/tech/tech.html).
You can read the paper
view the discussion to date on in the archives of the OLPC security
Another discussion has been in regard to build and release strategy
and http://wiki.laptop.org/go/User:Mstone/August_planning). Michael
Stone has documented a conversation that he, Jameson Chema Quinn,
Chris Ball, and Robert McQueen had about the UI problems posed by our
current bundle format (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Bundles_and_updates). And finally the new
Sugar interface was the topic of discussion in the sugar list (See
the wiki, Chris Leonard and Charles Merriam have been working on some
naming conventions to make it easier to navigate the almost 6000
content pages in the wiki (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Conventions).
5. Where did all the activities go? There still seems to be some
confusion around the process of loading activity bundles post-Build
703. Please refer to http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Customization_key for
instructions regarding bulk loading of activities.
6. JS-Python Communication: K.S. Preeti has been working with
Manusheel Gupta, Dan Bricklin, and Luke Closs to enable JS-Python
communication using PyXPCOM. They have been successful in creating an
and an XPCOM service in Python that exposes the Python code to the
Browser. The aim for this week would be to synchronously call both
these services from the same interface that will lead to communication
between functions written in JS, and Python. The details on the
implementation of XPCOM service have been updated (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/JSPython). SocialCalc (Spreadsheet
activity), written in JavaSript, will be ported to Sugar using this
7. Educational Toolkit: Manusheel Gupta has been working with Deepank
Gupta, Ross Light, and David Goulet to develop an Educational Toolkit.
Use-case diagrams, and XML schema have been updated (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Educational_toolkit). The implementation of
Parse Module, supporting decoding of XML files; Viewer Module; and
ConnectionManager module are in progress (See
8. More magic from Benjamin M. Schwartz: Ben has made a DOS Console
activity based on Wine (See
http://dev.laptop.org/~bemasc/DOSConsole-1.xo). His goal is to provide
a simple system for turning any Windows program into a Sugar activity.
This is still a work in progress: in order for it to run, you must
first add 'org.winehq.WineConsole' to the list of RAINBOW_CONSTANT_UID
activities in /usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/sugar/activity/activityfactory.py
and it doesn't yet "play well with others." However, Chris Ball used
already used it to installed the free-download Excel viewer (See
9. David Hodge reports that ACM and Free Culture USC have partnered up
for an upcoming "Code for a Cause" programming event next week at USC.
The focus will be on open-source software and the OLPC platform.
Student teams will be challenged over a week-long period to develop
open-source software for the OLPC platform (See
10. Kurt Gramlich would like the OLPC community know about the latest
LiveCD release (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/LiveBackup_XO-LiveCD).
Aaron Kaplan talks about his port of Sugar to the Intel Classmate
using the LiveCD. Additional information is available (in German) on
linux-user.com (See http://www.linux-user.de/ausgabe/2008/04/024/).
11. Scott Ananian sends his thanks to everyone who participated in
last week's mini conference and requests that you upload your slides
to the wiki (http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Mini-conference). If anyone
would like to volunteer to help with transcoding of the video archive
of the conferenc, please contact Scott at laptop.org.
12. Kevin Cole reports that the OLPC Learning Club DC (OLPC LCDC) held
their second "Family Mesh" meetings at Gallaudet University in NW
Washington, DC (See
13. Richard Smith and SJ Klein will present the XO laptop and
alternative power systems at two workshops at the Massachusetts Power
Shift 2008 (MAPS) conference.
14. Prakhar Agarwal reports progress on the typing tutor activity (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/LetsType#Progress_so_far) and is soliciting
15. Dr. Habib Khan reports from Islamabad that the Pakistan Software
Export Board has graciously provided OLPC Pakistan the services of an
in intern, Ms. Iffat Saadia. Iffat is a developer; she is converting
Biology of 8th grade into interactive ebook.
A second pilot project is being prepared at the Mehfooz Shahid Dil
Model School, located in a beautiful valley in the Islamabad, Capital
Territory. The school has five grades with 170 children. On Monday a
week of teacher preparation begins. The school was identified with
help from the National Rural Support Program (http://www.nrsp.org.pk).
16. Polychronis Ypodimatopoulos has been conducting more tests with
Cerebro. File transfer and chat work consistently on a 30-node
testbed. (Chris Ball modified the Chat activity; we now have a version
that works with Cerebro and we are in the process of creating a build
where Chat and Read will be using Cerebro. This build will be tested
on the 100-node testbed to investigate the limits of simple mesh.)
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