[Community-news] OLPC News (2008-03-16)

Walter Bender walter at laptop.org
Sun Mar 16 10:00:40 EDT 2008

Pakistan: Dr. Habib Khan announced the launching of an OLPC pilot
project at the Atlas Public School, located in the slums between
Rawalpind and Islamabad. (Many thanks to our Afghan volunteers, Usman
Mansoor "Ansari" and Sohaib Obaidi "Ebtihaj", who discovered the
school and will be mentoring students and their teacher. The area is
economically poor and lacks security measures and basic facilities.
There are about 100 children (Grades 1–6), mostly Afghan refugees—many
of them work during the first part of the day to support their
families and attend school in the afternoon. We distributed 39 XO
localized in Dari and Pashto, official languages of Afghanistan.

1. UA Birmingham: Walter Bender met with the dean of the school of
education at the University of Alabama. He and his colleagues are
enthusiastic about the laptop program in the Birmingham schools and
plan to engage at every level: teacher preparation, accessibility,
curriculum development, support, and evaluation.

2. Learning Workshop: David Cavallo and the Learning Team ran a
Learning workshop this week. Attendees included delegations from
Thailand, Haiti, and Illinois.

3. Laptop activation: Scott Ananian finished documenting the process
for activation key generation. This is a critical issue for deployment
as it enables the in-country teams to distribute the activation
process to a more manageable level of granularity. "Trusted"
individuals now have the ability to generate activation keys through a
simple web interface by simply uploading a list of XO laptop serial

4. Deployment Guide: With input from the Tech Team, the Learning Team,
Brightstar, and the Deployment Team, we now have a Deployment Guide.
The guide covers planning, execution, and support, along with some
tips based upon our experience in trial deployments around the world;
a sample deployment schedule; a sample workshop schedule; a check list
to guide you through the deployment process; and a glossary of OLPC

5. On display: The Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum
of Modern Art is acquiring two XO laptops for their permanent
collection. MOMA's Paul Galloway said, "We realize that social
betterment is the goal of One Laptop Per Child, not the pursuit of
design accolades. Nonetheless, we believe the design of the XO Laptop
and the ideas it embodies belong in the collection of the Museum of
Modern Art."

6. Localization: Sayamindu Dasgupta reports that we are running a new
version of Pootle that is significantly faster and should make tasks
such as merging of PO files against new POT files easier and less time
consuming. He also introduced a patch into the Pootle server to enable
translators to view translations in an intermediate language, e.g., an
Aymara translator can view pre-existing Spanish translations rather
than just the English-language original. We currently manage ~1600 PO
files on the server and have more than 450 volunteer translators
signed up. More translators are always welcome!

Prabhas Pokharel, Anjali Lohani and Tsering Lama Sherpa from Harvard
University have joined the Nepali Language localization team. Now the
team of 10 contributors is doing lots of progress in Nepali

7. Support: Adam Holt reports that Yianni Galanis explained the latest
wireless mesh testing results at last Sunday's support meeting. The
Support Team has responded to an increasing number of support emails
as final Give1Get1 shipments are now underway. Adam has been
discussing plans for repair centers with various volunteer groups and
the OLPC partners. He is also recruiting to fill a Support Specialist

8. Firmware: Richard Smith and Mitch Bradley released firmware Q2D14
for inclusion into Update.1. The key change is in regard to the boot
process when there is a firmware update available: Currently, the
laptop will not boot unless there is external power connected; with
Q2D14, the laptop will boot regardless of the availability of external
power, deferring the firmware upgrade to the next time that external
power is present.

9. School Server: John Watlington reports that a new School Server
build (160) is now available. It provides:
* an improved ejabberd server, which might improve reliability under load;

* web caching (not enabled by default);

* the configuration of server domain name has been automated, making
setup much easier;

* automatic installation is now supported by the default ISO image; and

* miscellaneous bug fixes.

Release notes and installation instruction are available (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/XS_Installing_Software#OLPC_XS_160). Martin
Langhoff will be starting to work on the School Server beginning next

10. Multi-battery charger: Richard is happy with the way that the new
PCB is performing; Bitworks is building several fully loaded PCBs so
that we can test all 15 channels at once. Lilian Walter has stated the
adaption of the laptop NiMH charging code so that it can be used in
the multi-battery charger. Richard will fold Lillian's modifications
in to a test version of EC code and verify that the charging still
works correctly.

11. Wireless:  Ricardo Carrano's testing uncovered some problems in
the wireless driver. Mesh forwarding doesn't always start and ethtool
reports back bogus statistics. Ricardo wrote a python tool that reads
a list of XOs from the presence service, initiates pings to them (in
random order) and keeps track of the communication statistics—very
useful for stressing path discovery. He also started to test the
tuning of the contention window parameters in the WLAN radio. Marvell
released wireless firmware 5.110.22.p6. It adds control of probe
responses (including disabling them completely) and fixes warm reboot
and host wakeup bugs.

12. Active Antennae: 2000 Active Antennae are en route from GoldPeak
to OLPC. Marvell has released stand-alone firmware that allows
operation on any channel that the user selects. We don't have the
necessary patches for programming/controlling the antennae in our
wireless driver yet.

13. Sugar: Tomeu Vizoso continues to work on the Sugar redesign. The
only task left to reach the "no regressions" point is implementation
of activity-launch feedback. Tomeu helped Eben Eliason to set up
sugar-jhbuild and his personal sugar trees. Eben has already sent
several useful patches (See
https://dev.laptop.org/git?p=users/eben/sugar;a=summary). Tomeu is
doing more work on speeding up activity startup—the only remaining
functional issue was solved. We now need to find a way to integrate it
inside the Rainbow security model (thanks Michael Stone, Chris Ball,
Robert McQueen, and John Palmieri).

Simon Schampijer continues to work on the graphical user interface for
the Sugar control panel. The basic design is done (See
Code of the work in progress can be checked out from git (See

Dennis Gilmore is working to make Sugar work as a desktop option; he
has also started on a set of Fedora packaging guidelines for Sugar
activities. For Fedora 9, we should have available the option to do a
"yum groupinstall sugar-desktop"  you will then be able to select
Sugar from gdm/kdm with a set of activities that work. Sugar is
currently available in Fedora 8 and Rawhide, although the packaging
still needs some work and does not yet setup gdm/kdm.

14. Activities: Chris Ball wrote and released a new activity, "Words",
a translating dictionary with speech synthesis in
English/French/German/Italian/Portuguese/Spanish. Morgan Collett has
started on a post-Update.1 Chat.

Erik Blankinship reports that the MediaMods team has built a map
activity—it allows children to add images and videos to maps. Erik
envisions children will use it for storytelling, history, and science
projects. Some features include: saving and annotating map locations;
grabbing screenshots of map locations so they can be embedded into
other activities; visualizing how many media are clustered in a
certain area; and filtering which media are displayed on the map by
searching their tags (as set in the journal or in record). Download
http://mediamods.com/public-svn/map-activity/tags/xo/map-1.xo to give
it a try.

15. Builds: Chris wrote a script to automatically create customization
keys. It can pull down the latest version of activities for a Peru,
Mexico or G1G1 build, or can include every activity it knows about.
We used the script to pull together the Mexico customization key.
Scott and Dennis continue to shepherd Update.1.

16. Kernel: Andres Salomon worked with Jordan Krause to find and fix
some xorg amd driver bugs. He wrote patches for #6015, #6670 and
reworked some framebuffer patches; and, of course, he argued with

17. Presence: Morgan implemented an alternative patch for Ticket #6572
to reduce the key size in Avahi TXT records, by replacing the public
key file (which isn't used at this stage) with a shorter record. This
doesn't break "friending" as did the previous patch, as the whole
stack uses a consistent value for the key, for calculating the JID,
etc. Morgan is awaiting testing with salut to see the impact on
scalability. Morgan discovered that sync_friends wasn't working; he
provided a patch (Ticket #6690). This adds friends to the
Jabber-server roster, which will be used by the server-side component,
Gadget. Guillaume Desmottes worked on the Avahi abstraction in Salut
(Ticket #6658) and tested Read sharing with wake-on-multicast
activated (Ticket #6537).

18. Rainbow: Michael Stone prototyped a network isolation primitive
described by Daniel Bernstein
(http://cr.yp.to/unix/disablenetwork.html), demoed an activity in
which a web browser and an HTTP server work together to examine the

19. Squeak: Robert Krahn reports that there is a new Squeak project,
BlockAttack, available for download

20. OLPC Health: Dr Walter H. Curioso joins us as an adviser in our
efforts. Dr Curioso is a research professor in Epidemiology, STD/HIV,
and Health Informatics at the School of Public Health and
Administration at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru.
His research focus is on how to use technology to promote global
health in developing countries and his latest projects involve using
cell phones to collect and transmit adverse events, and using personal
digital assistants to assess sexual risk and antiretroviral medication
adherence among HIV patients in Lima.

The next conference call is scheduled for today (Sunday, 16 March).
See the Health Meetings page (http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Health/Calls)
for details.


Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

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