[Community-news] OLPC News (2008-08-04)
jg at laptop.org
Mon Aug 4 09:28:30 EDT 2008
A weekly update of One Laptop per Child, August 3, 2008
Thailand: OLPC held a five-day regional workshop in Bangkok, with more
than 50 participants from six countries. The goals of the workshop were
* gain a deeper and more pragmatic familiarity with the ideas
about laptops and learning from both a micro scale (child-level)
and macro scale (national level)
* form next steps for laptop introduction in participating
* strengthen network among countries in the region
The workshop went extremely well. Special highlights included sharing of
work in the rural areas in Thailand as exemplars of high-quality work,
and integration of school and community; storytelling with the XO by
Barbara Barry; computational uses of the XO by Roger Sipitakiat;
Nicholas’s talk on Thursday evening; and the Ban Samkha children’s
orchestra using their XOs to play traditional Thai music in TamTam.
Along with the Thais, delegations from Bangla Desh and Malaysia both
committed to purchase laptops.
Mongolia: The team returned on Monday afternoon from a two-week tour in
northern Mongolia, where they ran workshops for local teachers, kids and
parents. Together with the Mongolian core team, we worked in one city
center and two small villages, introducing the XO and constructionist
learning methodologies. The core team teachers designed and ran the last
workshop on their own. They came up with some wonderful and surprising
ideas, including a physical activity to teach angles and degrees to
students, which they then try in turtle art and etoys. It was amazing to
Tyler worked with the IT team to set up servers in two of the villages
that will be receiving laptops. Neither location had school
connectivity, but the network worked well.
Nicholas joined us in Khatgal, a small village in the Khuvsgul province
on our last day of training. A sheep was slaughtered and cooked in his
It was interesting to note the various dignitaries’ motivations for
involvement in the project. The new head of ICTA, for example, was
inspired by the XO’s open source environment. He wants the students in
Mongolia to learn Linux and is working to get all government agencies
and higher institutes to cross over to a Linux platform.
The prime minister mentioned how moved he was to see children from a
poor district in UB receive their individual computers. He felt the
project not only will change education, but also what he called the
"mental" state of poor children who see their neighbors with the
luxuries of life while they go hungry.
Rwanda: The 20-member core team is ready to initiate teacher
development. The team discussed ways of introducing generative themes
for children to use for developing projects. There also was considerable
discussion on the issues of working with schools and communities.
Haiti: The team is currently wrapping up the pre-pilot Camp XO 2008 at
Ecole Nationale Republique du Chili. As we entered this final full week
we began to look at E-toys.
In our weekly meeting with the teachers, T1 teachers asked what type of
assistance they would receive to better understand integration of the
XOs into their curriculum. They are naturally concerned because the XO
is such a novel tool, so different from their previous experience. The
team has been trying to explain to the teachers that their goal
shouldn't be to know the technology better than the students, but to
seek ways to utilize the tools to further learning objectives and
enhance the overall learning experience.
In the tech team meeting, we identified local sources of solar panels
for each school that may need them. It is still difficult to determine
which schools will receive decent internet connection because of Haiti's
Robert, Chuck, Kim, Michail, Richard Smith and Darah met to discuss and
understand upcoming hardware changes and their business implications.
OLPC is planning to migrate from Marvell's 88W8388 wireless chip to the
88W8682. The newer chip offers a 50% improvement in power consumption
and has more onboard memory which will allow us to implement better mesh
algorithms. Additionally, we are preparing a transition to a new
supplier and a single-mode touchpad. Both changes are expected in mid-Q1
1. Mitch Bradley made further progress on the Windows dual-boot,
issues with ACPI support for lid switch handling and battery/AC status
reporting. The only remaining issue at this point is chopped-up text
during pre-OS chkdsk and blue screen of death displays. He released a
new OFW image with an important bug fix for booting in the face of a
certain kind of JFFS2 inconsistency; fixed some bugs related to the use
of certain SD cards; and mapped the behavior of the Geode GPIO event
detection circuit to assist in the resolution of suspend/resume issues.
2. Deepak Saxena spent far, far too much time trying to backport the
thinmac/host mode driver into our 2.6.25 kernel, so we can build it into
our released kernel RPMs. He determined that backporting requires
bringing in a large stack of changes to the core 802.11 kernel bits.
This was very painful. Thankfully, Luis Cabo Cobo at Cozybit pointed him
to a simpler way of doing it. Deepak now has the driver working with our
3. Thanks to Mitch’s analysis of the CS5536 (#5703), Deepak
re-implemented the lid-detect logic in the kernel and, as Chris Ball
requested (#7536), added proper handling of the lid when the XO is
4. Ricardo worked on active antenna repogramming documentation, and Bill
McCormick from Nortel looked into one of the most persistent UI/Network
Manager bugs, which often prevents XOs from re-associating with
encrypted wireless networks.
5. Marvell brought us a development system for their "Kirkwood" SoC CPUs
running Fedora Core 8. It currently sits in Jim's office, where people
may play with it. The system will slowly make its way across the
continent to Deepak.
6. Chris Ball finalized the "failsafe" code for booting with a full
NAND. As of build update.1-709, the laptop will interrupt boot when the
NAND is full, then warn users in English and Spanish that they will lose
data and should first back up their laptop. After confirmation, the
machine also will free up enough space to boot by deleting large
datastore objects or activities.
7. Sayamindu Dasgupta fixed the Mongolian keyboard layout problems and
made some progress on the Dari keyboard issue as well as the Amharic
Compose key problems. In order to handle complex scripts like Chinese,
Japanese, and Korean, he has started to evaluate a possible switch to
SCIM (Smart Common Input Method: http://www.scim-im.org/) for the next
major OLPC release. Savamindu also created a new getting started page
8. Erik Garrison worked with David Woodhouse to verify that test
failures encountered while LZO-compressing partition images were
spurious and non-fatal. Erik also conversed with Mitch about the process
of building and installing a partitioned OS image on the XO.
9. Guillaume Desmottes continued work on Gadget Gabble, improving
integration in Sugar by implementing a simple wrapper around views
objects, making them easier to use with Sugar. Guillaume also improved
10. Faisal Anwar added new sections about the clipboard to the Sugar
Almanac, and is engaging the community to finalize new sections on the
We encourage you to peruse and contribute to the almanac, available
11. Martin Langhoff released build OLPC_XS_165 of the school server
(XS), which is our xs-0.3 "release candidate.” Thanks to Bryan Berry and
David van Assche, who have provided excellent notes on installation
steps and shortcomings.
12. At Wikimania 2008, SJ Klein presented recent offline wiki efforts on
the XO, including a version of the Arabic Wikipedia which was being
finished that week with help from Bassem Jarkas and moulin.org. Many
groups in attendance wanted to start OLPC-related projects, particularly
extending access to wiki-repositories to offline communities.
13. Adam Hyde and Anne Gentle are organizing a Sugar documentation
sprint for the last week in August. Details to be finalized soon. Seth
Woodworth wrote up an overview of the current docs projects.
14. Morgan Collett fixed some Chat bugs in release Chat-44.
15. Daniel Drake fixed the Read activity, worked with Victor Lazzarini
to fix a csound bug that was breaking TamTam, and worked with TamTam
developers to produce new releases.
16. Mohit Taneja and Deepank Gupta now have a working game for Food
Force 2, suitable for an alpha. It is being repackaged as an .xo
17. Juliana Lipková, working with Thomas Breuel, has mockups and code
for her handwriting recognition activity.
18. Rajan Vaish finished v2 of his Atlas America activity, working with
Nestor Guerrero in Monterrey, and is back in school. The activity needs
19. VideoEdit: Michael Lew has taken an interest in the video project,
and in helping the existing
20. Walter Bender's Sugar digest can be found at:
20. Adam Holt reports that the 100th volunteer for the Support Gang
joined this week! The tickets associated with last year's Give One Get
One are tailing off as we begin planning for the 2009 G1G1. Going
forward, the focus for the Support Gang is on technical issues and
helping people use their laptops rather than fielding fulfillment
Some members of the Support Gang are helping out with the upcoming
documentation sprint. Adam has identified wifi access points that have
been reported as problems. We will purchase these to add to our test
environment. He and Kim are working on the details and systems to put in
place to help repair centers get spare parts and track their problem
21. SJ Klein and Henry Edward Hardy have updated teamwiki to v. 1.13 and
enabled semantic mediawiki. This will facilitate tagging and other Web
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