[Community-news] OLPC News (2008-08-25)

Jim Gettys jg at laptop.org
Mon Aug 25 18:33:41 EDT 2008

Community News

A weekly update of One Laptop per Child August 24, 2008


Haiti: This week was spent in planning recruitment of the core staff
members, the 5 x 2 teams (with one educator and one IT in each) that
will be in charge of the five schools/training centers, or EFACAPs. Each
EFACAP in turn will oversee another team of 12, scaling the project to
about 60 schools. The examination for the core staff will take place
next week. 

The team has been finalizing a practical guide for the trainers. “We
also designed a few projects and activities,” they report. “Medly
translated the Scratch Reference Guide into French. And since everything
wasn't clear when she was translating it, Bastien insisted that we
should explore Scratch interactively as soon as possible. We eventually
did, having a lot of fun together showing off our crazy sprites. This
was also a way to build confidence in the way we conduct the training

“On the technical side, the team continued to work on the translation.
They are all familiar with Pootle, and some of the team knows how to
handle the administrative tasks. As Bastien was busy installing the
latest version of Sugar (Joyride) the team wanted to do the same, so we
requested developer keys and started to upgrade their XOs. There is a
webpage explaining how to do this with a USB drive (see the link below).

“We continued to work on the online support. The website offers a very
simple interface to submit bugs, questions, problems, suggestions, etc.
When someone fills in an online form, an email is sent to the person in
charge of pedagogy/software/hardware, and a wikipage is automagically
created for further references. Part of the team is now familiar with
the wiki and we're in the process of moving documentation there. Some
were concerned about publishing something that wasn't perfect, but they
were convinced that going collaborative is also a way of putting the
burden of perfectibility on everyone’s shoulders.

“The building that houses the laptop team improves with each day. We now
have a steady Internet connection, desks and a fan.” 

Guy Serge Pompilus and Bastien were invited to talk on a program at
Radio Métropole, the largest station in Haiti. The discussion was very
engaging, and focused on education, rather than on technology.

- Description of the deployment:


- Easy install of Sugar with a USB key:


- More pics of the summer camp:


Mongolia: The Educational TV station is now committed to partnering with
OLPC to produce an ongoing series of shows that will inspire more
effective learning. Elana will supervise the production of three,
five-minute proof of concept segments. The segments will feature footage
from their experience with workshops in the countryside, kids working on
the XO and core team teachers giving brief introductions to various
applications. The segments will be aired during September.

On the first, the president will appear on the station, where he’ll
discuss the laptop initiative with the core team teachers and Elena. The
segment will be broadcast nationally.

The Mongolian Linux community will support schools in UB, and introduce
linux and programming concepts to certain classes. Some members will
also create introductory videos for Linux terms, as well as other hello
world introductory videos. They are currently looking for ways to
support the IT needs of the project and are generating a list of
low-cost technical solutions that would suit Mongolia. Their
participation will be key for long term sustainability and success.

The core team teachers planned and led a training session for 120
teachers. They were able to introduce the idea of programmable objects,
project-based learning and troubleshooting in 4 days. The UB teachers
were skeptical of the XO on the first day but by the end of the fourth
day they refused to return their computers! Next week they will work
with teachers from the countryside as well as teacher trainers from
Project Read. 

The minister of education has committed to having the computers in
schools by September 1st. 

There was a fair in Sukhbataar Square, held by the educational
television station. Everyone in the education sector, including schools
and businesses, was invited to show their achievements. School 51 chose
to feature the XO computer as a display of the good work done at their
school. The students and core team teachers introduced the XOs on stage.
There was a lot of enthusiasm from the crowd.

The last of the amazing interns went home on Tuesday. They were a
tremendous asset to OLPC and we could never have achieved all that we
did on the learning and tech side without their hard work and
dedication. I hope that they will continue to stay involved with OLPC
and help us design a strong internship program for next year. Thanks to
all of you!

Rwanda: Planning continues by the Rwandan coordinator, Richard, and
Juliano, representing OLPC, and the Rwandan working group. The team
prepared for the distribution of the laptops on September 2nd and also
the OLPC Regional Workshop that will be held in Kigali from Sept. 29 to
Oct. 2nd. The project team is very excited and every day dedicating more
time and resources for it, since now it is clear that the laptop
initiative is fully supported by high levels of the government. This
Ministries of Finance and Education are currently working on a budget to
order 50, 000 laptops next year.

Birmingham: On Saturday Birmingham held its XO eXpO to commemorate the
accomplishments of the children and teachers working with XO laptops
over the summer. A full report will appear next week.

Coming Events: Rwanda will host a regional laptop event in Kigali,
September 29 through October 2. The beginning of the week will provide a
practical approach to learning and laptops for country teams, teacher
developers, educational ministry teams, NGO and other partner
organizations, university researchers, free software practitioners and
other volunteers. We will work with the Rwandan team, teachers and
children with laptops with a focus on powerful uses for learning.

On October 1 the Rwandan government and OLPC will host a major regional
event on laptops, learning and development. In addition to Rwandan
government officials, Nicholas Negroponte and others from OLPC, Miguel
Brechner of Uruguay, and others will attend. 


Brussels: Walter, Isobel and Justyna discussed possible XO deployments
with representatives from Uganda, Namibia, Gambia and East Timor. AMD's
Jens Drews visited the office to plan cooperation for an event in
Dresden, which twins with Brazzaville in Congo. Also, Walter and
Philippe van Cauteren, a director of the City Museum for Contemporary
Art (S.M.A.K.) in Ghent, discussed a "One Artist Per Child" project in
association with Sotheby's.


1. Synaptics qualified a touchpad of the size we want for +3.3V
operation. We will receive samples at 1CC late next week. The keyboard
controller and its circuit board will be changed to use a more standard
IC. Samples of the new board should be available at the end of
September. Tooling changes have started, with first plastic available
around the middle of September. We could have complete laptops with the
new touchpad in early October.
2. The EC code in firmware Q2E13 had timing issues and broke the mouse
on system software builds <=711 (690 included). Richard Smith removed it
from the Joyride builds and marked it as bad on the wiki.
3. Mitch Bradley released OFW Q2E14, a test candidate for the 8.2.0
release. It contains numerous bug fixes and Richard's new faster EC
code. Q2E14 is built from top-of-tree, so it has the latest and greatest
versions of everything, including dual-boot support. Mitch is also
working on a Linux driver for LBA-NAND.
4. Richard spend many hours in the lab figuring out why a supposedly
small timing change in the EC main loop broke the mouse on any build
that was running the older driver. He fixed all the issues and released
a new EC code for use in the Q2E14 firmware release. Although Q2E14 EC
code timing is now in much better shape, there are a lot of timing
changes to the main loop. It now runs quite a bit faster, and many other
parts have been streamlined. Richard is cautious and would like to see a
lot of testing on his changes.
Multi Battery Charger:
5. The first prototypes arrived, broken, due to faulty packing. Three
replacement units are due to arrive at 1CC this week.
6. A note from John Watlington: Thanks for the great response to my
request for examples of small keyboards. However, two small organizers -
the Fujitsu Poqet PC (1989) and the Psion Series 3 (1991) - appear to
meet the requirements. If anybody has one of these OLPC can borrow for a
few days, please contact me.

Software Development:

7. Chris Ball worked on wireless bugs, helping Ashish Shukla from
Marvell to debug a wireless crash that recently has afflicted 1CC. He
also worked on NetworkManager bugs around reconnection to the network
after suspend, and helped Scott Ananian and Paul Fox to start
contributing tests to the Tinderbox scripts.

8. Michael Stone wrote several documents to help with getting to the
8.2.0 release:
      * the detailed 8.2.0 release roadmap:
      * a plan for systematic testing of 8.2.0 (to be published soon),
        to complement the wonderful exploratory testing contributed on
      * new Trac reports for 8.2.0 “proposed blockers” and “polish”
        tickets. See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Trac_queries .
Next week, we hope to publish an unsigned 8.2.0 Alpha release candidate
for widespread exploratory and systematic testing. Please be prepared to
assist in this effort and please see the roadmap for more details.

(Note: We didn't have a weekly build this week due to both Koji's
downtime and due to our transition between build streams. Apologies
about that. See: http://lwn.net/Articles/295134/)

9. Morgan Collett worked on Read, and found that most of the open bugs
relate to Read's use of the datastore when saving documents received in
a shared session. He expects to have a new release out to fix the
outstanding blockers in 8.2.He assisted with a fixfor Measure and Speak,
and released Speak-7 as the author was away.

10. Jim Gettys worked this week with Sebastian Dziallas on the Fedora
spin for the XO. 

11. Daniel Drake worked on 8.2 licensing, and diagnosis of
wireless/audio issues. He found a solution to the regressions related to
the Record activities, which soon will be included in the builds.

Daniel Drake and Bobby Powers completed their work on getting Fedora and
Ubuntu running on the XO, and received coverage from OSNews.com and

12. Faisal Anwar researched and documented how activity developers can
use Tubes to create their own sharable activities. Please follow and
expand on his progress at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Sugar_Almanac

13. Paul Fox rewrote some EC routines to help with performance issues
related to battery monitoring. He also contributed Tinderbox tests
(automated testing), diagnosed a failure of the on-screen battery
monitor to update after some suspend/resume cycles, and spent further
time looking into touchpad jumpiness. 

14. Eben Eliason tidied up some visuals, including work on a dedicated
icon for the Control Panel. He also thoroughly tested the new launcher.

15. This was Bobby Power's last week as an intern at 1CC. He spent most
of the time working on his Physics Activity in preparation for the
physics game jam next weekend. He also worked with Daniel Drake on
finishing and documenting the work to get regular distributions on the
XO. Thanks for all your work, Bobby!

16. Sayamindu Dasgupta created a patch to completely fix the Amharic
Compose key issue. He also worked with Bastien to create a data file for
Haitian Kreyol, which should be integrated into the Fedora 9 package
soon. He updated the Pootle helper scripts to work with the new layout.
Sayamindu also started to test the newest beta version of Pootle.

School Server:

17. Martin Langhoff polished the XS-0.4 release candidate OLPC_XS_169.
This work included finishing off the new configuration scheme, hunting
down bugs in Anaconda and rssh, plus extensive testing of fresh installs
and upgrades. Douglas Bagnal helped with the testing and fixing issues,
and created a proper install CD. Jerry Vonau made progress on network
config on the F9 track, too.


18. As we reported last week, Erik Garrison is in Lima where he worked
with members of the Ministry of Education to prepare for the
installation of 8.1.2 (an unscheduled release which contains bugfixes
for some critical issues) on the laptops they currently are activating
and distributing. Erik connected with local staff and is building
relationships to support the Peruvian deployment as it becomes more
self-sufficient in software development, customization, distribution and
support efforts.

19. Reuben Caron continued to make contacts both at OLPC and on the
ground at various deployments and has begun to provide support to
Rwanda, Mongolia, and Haiti. He is answering questions on a daily basis
from the ticket tracking system. He also helped with system testing of
the 20-laptop test bed.

20. Henry Edward Hardy reports that the OLPC Volunteer Infrastructure
Group held its third meeting. These volunteers’ assistance includes
maintenance and upgrades to the Trac development ticket system, git code
repository, rt support ticket system, and the OLPC wiki. Thanks to Greg
DeKoenigsburg and Adam Holt for their help and advice. More information


21. Joe Feinstein, Charlie Murphy, Reuben Caron, and Kim Quirk tested
Joyride builds 2301 and 2311 this week in small groups as well as a 20+
laptop testbed. After replacing the wireless firmware and running
Joyride-2301, the stability of laptops improved. Areas of instability
persist; to wit, the quick reset of Sugar, and one case of a "frozen"
laptop, with network lights still "on.” Joe also has been working with
Michael Stone on approaches to organizing "community testing" of XOs.

Joe and Charlie discussed the maintenance issue of the test case
infrastructure system, developed by Charlie with other interns. Joe has
also been working with Michael Stone on approaches to organizing
"community testing" of XOs.

Charlie continued writing test cases; started writing stub test cases
for others to fill in at a later date. While testing the 8.2-754, he
found a (temporary) fix with Daniel Drake for ticket #8072, by turning
shared memory back on (it had been disabled in the build to solve some
issues with Browse and Etoys). He also made a few minor changes to the
test case template regarding how some properties were used.

This was Charlie's last week. We would like to thank him for his
substantial help in creating the systematic QA approach and test case
infrastructure tools, as well as for his testing efforts that resulted
in improvement of XO's software. Good luck at WPI!


22. Marvell plans to release the first version of the wireless firmware
SDK for the 8682 (our new wireless chip) at the end of September. 

As we move into enabling more aggressive suspend/resume operation on the
XO, debugging the wireless subsystem will require concentrated effort.
Most of the bugs that we see can be at least partially attributed to the
distributed nature of our wireless stack. The busy spectrum at 1CC works
to our advantage, since it quickly exposes situations where the host
can't deal with delays in the wireless processor. One example is bug
#7973, which was addressed this week by new firmware. Thanks to Chris
Ball and Ashish Shukla for nailing this quickly. 

23. Collabora has released the first version of Gadget, which is a
collaboration server component that replaces ejabberd on the school
server. They also focused on Read as well as Measure and Speak bugs.

24. Elliot Fairweather continued working on Synapse, the interface
between Cerebro and the Telepathy framework, and has a working
implementation for the BuddyInfo and ActivityInformation

He has done further work upon Cerebro to achieve this end and will start
work on implementing channels as of next week.


Simon Schampijer worked on 0.82. The sugar team made the official
announcement of the final Sucrose release. The release notes can be
found here: http://sugarlabs.org/go/ReleaseTeam/Releases/Sucrose/0.82

>From the Field

A garlanded Barry Vercoe observes the Niue deployment

Oceania: Barry Vercoe traveled to the middle of the Pacific Ocean last
week to take part in OLPC’s first countrywide saturation deployment of
XOs, to the children of Niue - all 500 of them. OLPC has donated 5000
machines for pilot deployments throughout Oceania (Weekend, July 13,
2008), including Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Palau, Samoa and
elsewhere, as a first step toward equipping all of the vast region’s 1.7
million school children with laptops. 

Turkey: The Turkish translation was finished in an impressive way,
thanks especially to Ebru Kahraman. Akin Ceylan and Ariun Sarwal also
installed the Turkish keyboard in a laptop for evaluation. Carla helped
test the procedures.

And in Other News…

Seth Woodworth has been analyzing our wiki traffic via Google Analytics
over the past 11 days. Some of his results:
      * We received an average of 18000 unique visits every weekday;
        half as many on Saturdays and Sundays. 
      * The visits originated from 185 countries and territories.
      * More than one third of the visitors browsed our Activities page.
      * Two thirds visited more than once over the past week.
      * More than half of all traffic came from Uruguay (a total of
        17000 unique visitors over ten days). The vast majority browsed
        with an XO. (We need a much richer set of Spanish pages!)
      * After English and Spanish, the next most common language was
        Portuguese. See early contributions such as:
      * Peak visiting time was 7am to 5pm EDT. 

Jim Gettys <jg at laptop.org>
One Laptop Per Child
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