[Community-news] OLPC News (2008-03-29)
walter at laptop.org
Sat Mar 29 12:09:35 EDT 2008
1. Peru: Carla Monroy Gomez is in Lima, helping with the final
preparations for the second round of teacher preparation in Peru. This
coming week, 600 teachers in four regional centers will use the XO
Laptop to explore, express, and collaborate. The next phase of the
preparation will be in 18 regions as the XO is moving in waves into
the furthest reaches of the country.
2. Update.1: Michael Stone, Chris Ball, and the rest of the tech team
helped to prepare a new software release (Release Candidate 3) for
Peru and Mexico this week. Update.1 will be tested in country and
presumably be released at in the first week of April.
3. Security: Michael and Walter reviewed the Bitfrost specification,
which is being implemented in phases. The current status (Update.1) is
reflected in the wiki (See
4. Kavre, Nepal: The Nepalese Department of Education, Ministry of
Education in coordination with OLPC Nepal has launched a pilot program
of OLPC in Janajyoti School, Kavre. Minister of Education, Pradip
Nepal stated the pilot as the first step of One Laptop Per Nepali
Child movement. Director General of Department of Education marked the
distribution day as a historical moment in Nepalese education history.
Ankur, Iswor, Jitendra, Jwalanta, Manish, Nirmal, Prakash, Shankar,
Shishir, Suyesh, Ujjwal, Sulav, Suraj, Suvash are working in the field
among other OLPC Nepal volunteers. "Everyone is excited, the
government officials, OLPC Nepal community, the school, parents and
THE KIDS." (OLPC Nepal team has codenamed the pilot as "Sunrise". See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Sunrise and http://olpcnepal.blogspot.com).
Sulochan Acharya has built a prototype "E-Pustakalaya" (E-Library) for
Nepal's deployments using the FedoraCommons Repository Software and
the Fez front-end. FedoraCommons differs from typical content
management systems in that it can scale to millions of objects.
E-Pustakalaya will be publicly accessible within a few weeks and
Sulochan will work to document his configuration.
Teacher preparation for Bashuki and Bishwamitra schools begins on
Saturday, March 29th. Bipul Gautam, Kamana Regmi, and Dr. Saurav Dev
Bhatta of OLE Nepal are conducting a four-day training session for 24
teachers and officials from Nepal's Department of Education. The
training session will focus on general computer literacy for the
teachers themselves (the majority of whom have never touched a
computer), using computers in the classroom, and child-centered
5. School server: John Watlington and Martin Langhoff coordinated a
conference call to discuss the School Server Roadmap with a large
group of interested parties. General goals and timeframes were
covered, and the team will focus hard on the upcoming release, which
be tagged 'xs-0.3' (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/XS_Roadmap and
Martin has setup a fully portable build environment, and been cranking
out preliminary XS images that contain fixes for some of the blocker
bugs for xs-0.3. A local-to-OLPC-hosted build environment for the XS
will soon be ready to take over the "xs-dev" role, thanks to the
efforts of Henry Hardy.
Martin and SJ Klein have collected some initial notes on a
learning-object distribution strategy heavily inspired in Debian's
repository format. Expect to see an edited version in a wiki nearby
Documentation updates about the School Server are underway in the
wiki, thanks to John Watlington, Martin Langhoff, and volunteers
culling updated information from the mailing list.
6. Support: Adam Holt helped provoke a very rewarding discussion
between guest speaker Ric Holt (SW engineering professor), OLPC's
Michael Stone, and the volunteer support team regarding OLPC's
software engineering and bug-triaging challenges, including how we
will support Update.1 given the concerns and anxiety around Activities
"disappearing" as a result of the update process.
[As of Update.1, we'll have separated the operating system updates
from the activity updates, which may initially give the appearance of
activities disappearing. The "customization key" process (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Customization_key) is intended to facilitate
customization of activities; also Bert Freudenberg has written a
script to install the default set of activities:
Getting the activities back is then as simple as:
...which works from the ctrl-alt-meshkey console.]
Adam plowed through a "zillion" more shipping/fulfillment tickets with
Sandy Culver and Alan Claver as Brightstar completed its final *bulk*
shipments to Give One Get One donors. This does *not* mean all
shipments have gone out, as some exceptional cases still have to be
dealt with over the month of April. Many thanks to our overworked and
Adam organized shipments of broken machines to support volunteers and
community and for-profit repair centers (five in the USA, two in
Canada, and one in the Netherlands). A spare-parts supply-chain is
still badly needed—especially for keyboards—we expect better news in
We'd like to welcome Support Specialist Emily Smith, who will start on
Monday, 31 March, 9AM and work through at least the June/July time
frame. Emily is brilliant, polished, believing—a library scientist who
will be a huge help, even if only a our temp.
7. Sugar/Datastore: Eben Eliason will be giving the sugar-iconify
script an overhaul in the near future. Among the changes there are a
number for robustness, better error handling, and additional icon
validation warnings. More useful to developers, Eben is also adding
an option which will export a set of icons rendered in several styles,
along with an html preview file, for observing them as they may appear
within Sugar. The preview file also contains a list of items to
validate the appearance of the icons.
Eben worked out some new visual treatments for object transfers as a
core component of the OS (Initial sketches can be seen at
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Specifications/Object_Transfers). Eben also
tackled the problem of palette alerts, for instances where a given
icon in the Frame needs to convey additional alert information (eg.
low battery, failed transfer, etc.)
Morgan Collette released Chat-36.xo for Joyride/Update.2, with an
improvement to open URLs using show_object_in_journal when you click
on them. The "copy to clipboard" functionality is still there on
rollover at this stage but probably not necessary any more. This
release also fixes some minor user
interface issues (Tickets #5053, #6621, and #6743) and also simplifies
the telepathy code based on the improved Presence Service
channel-creation API in Update.1.
8. Collaboration/Mesh: Chris Ball Worked on release testing and
debugging, focusing his efforts mainly around activity sharing with
Salut (Ticket #6739). The current status is that activity joining in
703 is reliable against a Jabber server, and fails sporadically on
link-local access point or
John Watlington continued testing and analysis of data taken in our
new Collaboration and Networking Testbed (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Collaboration_Network_Testbed). This data
indicates that our problems with using mesh networking to connect more
than a small number of laptops to a school server seem due to
fundamental problems with the routing algorithms used, not flaws in
the implementation. More experiments are being run, to test
adjustments to the existing algorithms, and possible modifications are
already being discussed. In the meantime, we strongly suggest that
school deployments use 802.11b/g wireless access points.
Dafydd Harries Worked on improving documentation on the OLPC wiki
about how activity sharing/collaboration work; he met with Michael
Stone and Jonathan Hertzog to discuss how we might improve
communications security in Sugar.
Morgan released Presence Service 0.79.2 for Joyride/Update.2, with
improved debugging, and assisted with debugging various sharing
failures on Salut (Ticket #6739).
Guillaume Desmottes continued the Salut refactoring. He tracked
activity sharing problems (Tickets #6774, #6739, #6483). After
investigation they seem to be due to network problems. He wrote a
small Salut patch (#6782) improving debug output to help us to track
9. Releases/Testing: Thanks for all the help testing Update.1
candidate releases 702 and 703 this week! Simon Schampijer set up a
wiki page for these test results (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Testing_Update.1_Results) and many have
contributed, including Gary Martin, SJ, Eduardo Silva, Michael,
Walter, and Chris. Also thanks to Bryan Berry, Kim Quirk, and Scott
Ananian for help on the release notes for Update.1, which are
beginning to shape up (See
10. Multi-battery charger: Richard Smith spent the week working with
the 15-channel multi-battery charger prototype electronics. Testing
has flushed out some software bugs, but nothing major so far. Overall
the electronics appear to be working as expected. Many of the the
mechanical parts have arrived at Gecko, where they have been inspected
and approved or feedback submitted the manufacturer. The final parts
are scheduled to arrive the week of April 4. Next week, Gecko should
able to assemble a full prototype.
11. Active Antennae: John reports that a problem has been found with
the cables used in building the 2000 pre-production prototypes (they
aren't USB cables), requiring a rework. This will delay the arrival of
these antennae for several more weeks. We still have around fifty in
stock, so developers and small trials shouldn't be affected.
12. Keyboards: There are about 25 laptop recipients who wrote into the
help support-gang looking for replacement keyboards. Membrane
keyboards pose a tradeoff between the durability of the rubber
membrane and the flexibility, or "give", of the resulting keys. We are
looking at a variety of options.
13. FOSSCOMM: Diomidis Spinellis presented the XO at the Free and Open
Source Software Communities (http://www.fosscomm.gr) conference at
the National Technical University of Athens, in Greece. The
presentation included a live demo of Sugar, Squeak EToys, and the
Antikythera mechanism emulator developed using EToys.
14. Video of the week: Tom Boonsiri has posted a Youtube video of an
ECG that uses the Measure activity. Power for a small breadboard is
drawn from the USB port; the signal is input through the microphone
input. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1QKTKAAug4). TOm notes
that the amplifier circuit also doubles as an EMG: you can take an
electrode and place it on the forearm and flex to see the muscle
activity reflected in the waveform, a great example of using the
laptop to allow children to explore how their bodies work.
15. FoodForce: Deepank Gupta, with support from Silke Buhr from the
WFP, reports much progress on the port of FoodForce to the XO laptop
16. SocialCalc: K.S. Preeti (Preeti), an engineering student from
NSIT, who has been lately working with Manu Gupta to develop
application (See : http://wiki.laptop.org/go/JS-Python). She has
recently been selected in the elite group of "25 Best Women
Engineering Students of India" by Google. Congrats Preeti!
Dan Bricklin has been busy as well. He reports that he has sped up the
cursor display on the XO laptop such that "the cursor just moves" when
selecting a cell or a range. Dan had also completed the main code in
SocialCalc for handling named cells and ranges in formulas. He has
inter-sheet support working in the recalculation engine. He has added
a "comment" property to cells so that we'll be able to store a string
of text with any cell containing descriptive information about the
formula, the data, or whatever. He has written the code for saving and
restoring the scroll position of the sheet, including the cursor
position and the locked-panes settings. This is especially important
for using SocialCalc on a small screen such as the XO.
17. Develop: Jameson Chema Quinn has been working on the Develop
activity. He has posted the latest version on the wiki (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Develop). "It really works! Not just a toy."
One Laptop per Child
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