[Community-news] OLPC News (2008-03-22)

Walter Bender walter at laptop.org
Sat Mar 22 17:33:32 EDT 2008

1. Deployment: Walter Bender visited the technology support team for
the NYC public schools to discuss issues of connectivity and security
in regard to a pending pilot. John Watlington and Martin Langhoff will
make a follow-up visit this coming week. Walter also had a follow-up
meeting with Enkhmunkh Zurgaanjin, the MIT student who has been
helping us in Mongolia: Enky is spending the next ten days in
Mongolia--his spring break--and will visit the two pilot schools,
engage the local universities, and touch base with the Mongolian MoE.
A newly minted Deployment Guide is now posted publicly on the wiki,
where it continues to be refined. Much of the remainder of the week
was spent working closely with the Tech Team on preparing a candidate
Update.1 release build (and process) for Peru and Mexico.

2. Haiti: David Cavallo and Claudia Urrea met with Guy Serge Pompilus,
coordinator for the laptop initiative in Haiti, and the InterAmerican
Development in Washington to continue planning for the initial
roll-out schools and to build the team in Haiti to support the
project. The bank has contracted a group to perform assessment and we
were able gain alignment on how to broaden the framework beyond the
school walls. Edith Ackermann, Tony Earls, and Maya Carlson are
developing additional assessment instruments.

3. Presentation: On Thursday Andriani Ferti presented at the TRUST
seminar (the Team for Research in Ubiquitous and Secure Technology) at
the Department of Computer Science at UC Berkeley about One Laptop Per
Child. The presentation was titled "One Laptop per Child: Bringing to
the children of the world an innovative and secure educational tool,"
and focused, more generally, on the mission of OLPC and the technology
that is being used in and for the XO laptops. It further included a
brief description of the security platform of OLPC, given the subject
of the TRUST seminar, which is mostly concerned about security
technology issues.

4. Human Resources: Christopher Niland has joined the staff of the
Chairman's office. Chris has seven years experience in meeting
planning and administrative support. Martin Langhoff, New Zealand
resident and OLPC School Server Architect, made his in-office debut
this week. Martin will be here for the next two weeks and finds New
England a bit colder than he is used to. After 18 months at OLPC Ivan
Krstić is moving on to other opportunities. We'd like to thank Ivan
for his energy and contributions to the project. He contributed to
almost every aspect of the project, most recently helping with our
deployments in Uruguay and Peru. His innovative work on the Bitfrost
security platform was widely recognized and earned him a Technology
Review 35 Award in 2007.

5. Summer of Code: SoC is accepting Mentor applications now. If you
are interested in becoming a Mentor (See
http://code.google.com/soc/2008/mentor_step1.html). Students can apply
beginning Monday, 3/24.

6. Nepali Localization: Shankar Pokharel reports that OLPC Nepal
developers organized a translation fest, "Translation Nite-out" with
participation of 12 volunteers. The result: Nepali localization of all
projects put in Pootle (except Etoys) is complete. Thanks to all who
gave up their Friday night on behalf of the project (See

7. Squeak: Kathleen Harness from the Office for Mathematics, Science,
and Technology Education (MSTE) at the University of Illinois reports
that www.squeakcmi.org has a Library Collection of OLPC/Etoys
projects. Enjoy!

8. Drupal: Pablo Floresve installed Drupal in a XO laptop; he is
"amazed with how fast it runs!!" There has been subsequent discussion
about it being a great tool for blogging from the XO laptops (See
http://groups.drupal.org/drupal-olpc and
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Drupal). There is also an active discussion
thread around journalism tools (See

9. Bay Area Learning Workshops?: Kassie Petrick has inquired as to
whether there are plans for Learning Workshops scheduled for the West
Coast? She received a laptop that she has been using in her 7th grade
classroom but would like to do a lot more with it. She is interested
to be "part of a community of people (especially teachers) who want to
talk up the XO." She'd also "love to have some kids participate."
10. Bishwamitra/Bashuki Journals: Bryan Berry et al. have been
documenting their Nepali deployments (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Bishwamitra_Journal and
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Bashuki_Journal). Ram Singh is designing a
power distribution rack for the XO's using locally available
materials. Mahabir Pun and Dev Mohanty are using inexpensive
point-to-point radios to connect the two remote schools to
each other and to the Internet. They have posted their equipment
specifications, network diagrams, and configurations in the wiki. You
can read Sulochan Acharya's blog post "Nepal: ICT in Education and
OLPC" http://blog.olenepal.org/index.php/archives/182 for an overview.

11. Wireless Testing: Giannis Galanis, Kim Quirk and number of
volunteers set up a collaboration and networking testbed in an
RF-quiet area, the town of Peabody, near Boston. We intend on using
this testbed to measure performance of the system under a variety of
networking conditions (Watch

Ricardo Carrano released two testing tools that ease  testing of the
networking stack. The Lab Rat is a small collection of python scripts
that aid a tester to send "instructions" to all nodes participating
in a mesh cloud. Instructions can be:
* Commands to be executed
* Files to be written or replaced
* Tests to be performed (future releases)

MAE is a small collection of python scripts that mimics traffic from
an XO activity. With MAE you can select:
* A packet size
* An interval between the packets
* An optional random standard deviation to make the interval more user-like
* The number of packets each participating node will send

Analysis of packet traces captures during congestion testing confirmed
that we can reduce retransmisions by increasing the contention window.
Marvell will incorporate automatic adaptation of the CW parameters in
an upcoming release of the firmware.

12. Read Testing: Chris Ball and Michael Stone worked on debugging
Read activity sharing. They managed to catch a sharing failure with
full debugging logs turned on; analysis is forthcoming.

By reviewing Read's source code, they noticed two bugs:
* When someone joins a shared Read activity, they choose a peer to
download the shared file from at random, rather than always choosing
the person who originally started the sharing. The person they choose
this way might not yet have finished downloading the PDF themselves
(Ticket #6736).
* Read does not save files it opens to the Journal at all; this
decision was made to avoid saving many copies of the same PDF. This
breaks the idea of a teacher sharing a PDF (permanently) with their
class, so the design decision should be revisited (Ticket #6729).

The good news is that chat and write work well. In simple laptop to
laptop mesh mode, ten laptops can collaborate to write a report, and
twenty one laptops can chat.  The bad news is that the DHCP problems
we are experiencing appear due to a driver/firmware problem.

John Watlington has verified that fixes to a couple of telepathy-salut
problems (Tickets #6299 and #6728) do indeed work as expected.
(Telepathy-salut is our collaboration middleware when using a simple
laptop-to-laptop mesh.)

13. Translation/I18N: Sayamindu reports that a project for translating
the OLPC website (http://laptop.org) is now in Pootle
(https://dev.laptop.org/translate/projects/website/). (Previously, the
PO files were stored in the wiki, where they were accessible, but not
as easy to manage.

14. School Server: Martin Langhoff arrived in Cambridge on Tuesday,
and immediately started planning the work to be done to bring the
school server to maturity, spending much of the week in discussion
with John, Jim, Michael, Scott, Henry, and Kim. Over the next week we
hope to revamp the school server wiki pages to reflect the new vision.

In the meantime, there is a quick bug fix release for the school
server software, build 161.  The main reason for this is the
availability of new firmware (22.p6) for the Active Antennas which
allows them to survive a reboot.

15. Power: Afghanistan, among other deployments, needs an off grid
solution for powering the laptops. Richard Smith looked into using 10W
panels as a solution.  Afghanistan turns out to be one of the best
places on earth to do solar: they have an average of 315 sunny days
per year.

Schedules on the Multi-Battery Charger has been delayed by three weeks
due to problems in tooling at the manufacturer. Richard received a
fully populated 15 -channel multi-battery charger board(s) with the
new charging circuit.

16: Presence Service: Sjoerd Simons analysed and fixed a bug in salut
where chat stopped working in both directions after a short period of
time (Ticket  #6575).

Guillaume Desmottes is doing a refactoring to abstract Avahi bits in
salut; he has decided to refactor the activity management as well with
the goal to make it easier to maintain. He also investigated sharing
problems with Record (Ticket #6716) and released telepathy-salut 0.2.3
(Ticket #6728).

Morgan Collette provided some assistance to community ejabberd
operators: we now have four working community servers with more to
come (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Community_Jabber_Servers). He also
ported Chat to use show_object_in_journal to send URLs to Browse
instead of copying them to the clipboard; he refactored the messiest
bit of telepathy boilerplate out of Chat so it can go into
sugar.presence post Update.1.

17. Sugar: Eben Eliason worked with interested parties on the mailing
lists to complete the first revision of the sugar-iconify script for
converting SVGs to the format sugar expects, with all necessary
entities (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Sugar-iconify), and compiled a
comprehensive overview of the icon creation process (See

Eben continued his foray into sugar-jhbuild, making several commits to
improve the visual appearance and interactions within the Sugar
redesign. Among them, he hid the "invite to <activity>" option on
buddy palettes when the buddy is already in the activity, and when our
current activity is the Journal, since the action doesn't make sense
in these contexts. He also ensured that oneself is always represented
in the people edge of the Frame.  Finally, he made several minor
visual and layout changes to match the designs, including improved
grouping of buddies in the Neighborhood and a simple sinusoidal
pulsing algorithm for launching activities.

Tomeu Visozo continued working on the shell redesign, implementing new
shell notifications (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Designs/Frame#12).
He has also done some quick measuring of memory usage when using a
launcher process and thus reusing the python interpreter. Preliminary
results suggest that we could save around 3.5MB per activity, but only
for activities written in python (most of them). This memory saving
would allow us to use the composite X extension, that in turn will
make the UI much more responsive.

Simon Schampijer reviewed the Sugar redesign patches submitted by
Tomeu, did some more work on the control panel, and released a new
version of memorize. (Memorize did not play sound when using with
another locale than English. This was the same issue TamTam had
described in #3165. Thanks to Victor Lazzarini for all the effort to
spot this hard to find bug.)

18. Schedules/Releases: Update.1-699 has been tested this week and a
short list of the blocking bugs is being managed by Michael Stone to
get to the final Update.1 release candidate. It should be out next
week. Scott Ananian has agree to call for proposals and ideas for the
upcoming "State of the Update.2" mini-conference, which is where we
will be planning Update.2--targeting development finish in 1 - 1.5
months, release in 3 months. Please send your proposals to cscott at
laptop.org (and copy devel at laptop.org).

19. Support: Adam Holt reports working with relentlessly unstoppable
support volunteers Alan Claver and Sandy Culver on dozens of missing
shipping/payment orders, broken hardware dilemmas where the donor has
no escalation path, and 656/Update.1 "what's going on" tickets; he
began more serious repair center discussions on 12-person conference
call, with an increasing number of serious worldwide plans emerging
(See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Repair_center_locations). Adam ran
small Sunday support meeting, due to invitation failing to go out as a
result of a mailing-list hiccup last weekend.

20. Other: Michail had a conference call with Michael Connet of
Nortel's LearnIT and his team of high school students (which includes
the famous "ffm" ;-) to discuss further advancing their work on XO
tutorial animations (See

Belkin has donated some USB-ethernet dongles and USB memory sticks.
Thanks to Josh Seal!

Bernie Innocenti reports that he presented the laptop at the ACP-EU
joint parliamentary assembly in Ljubljana, Slovenia; he demoed the
laptop to the President of the European Union Danilo Türk and
distributed over 60 laptops to the delegates of African, Caribbean and
Pacific countries. He is working with Giulia d'Amico and Walter De
Brouwer on the foundation of OLPC Europe.

Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

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