[Community-news] OLPC News (2008-11-24)

Jim Gettys jg at laptop.org
Mon Nov 24 09:41:39 EST 2008

Community News
A weekly update of One Laptop per Child November 24, 2008

OLPC chose buzz over bang for the opening days of the G1G1 launch. There
was minimal fanfare from major broadcasting or print media, but plenty
of word-of-mouth and chatter in the trade press, and an air of
excitement in the blogosphere. Now broadcast ads will begin to run, and
a full-fledged media campaign soon will start. Unlike last year’s
campaign, which began with a splash and then attenuated rapidly, we
expect to build interest, and sales, as we move ahead.

A cornerstone of the strategy is our nationwide billboard effort, which
is much more extensive than last year’s. Here’s a map of the

Meantime, OLPC Europe is getting ready for global G1G1. As they await
price, shipping and delivery instructions from Boston, the grassroots
groups of Austria, Germany, France, Holland and four other European
countries working together on the media front. Thanks to loyal fans in
Israel, Greece, UK, Dubai, Jordan, Portugal, Italy and Spain - and with
the important help of AMD - a media team has been set up and is waiting
(patiently) to get started.


The big news out of Washington last week was the announcement on
November 20ththat American Charities for Palestine (ACP), the
Palestinian ministry of education and USAID will distribute 1000 XOs to
Palestinian students in the Occupied Territories. OLPC donated the
machines. They will be delivered with the help of USAID. 

The announcement was made at a launch ceremony held at the Palestinian
ministry of education in Ramallah and attended by ACP Chair Ziad Asali,
Minister of Education Lamis Alami, and USAID Mission Chief Howard Sumka.
Minister Alami stressed the importance of this project in supporting the
ministry's five-year plan designed to improve the quality of education
in Palestine. 

The laptops will be distributed to public, private, and UNRWA schools in
the Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus and Salfit regions of the West Bank. In
addition to the laptops, the first phase of deployment will also include
teacher training by OLPC. 



1. OLPC hosted a deployment workshop in Cambridge. Participants included
representatives from Dubai and South Africa. Through the coordination of
Darah Tappitake, we were able to present and review several areas of
deployments. Carla Gòmez Monroy focused on the educational aspects of an
OLPC deployment, while Reuben Caron explained the technical areas. After
introduction into these areas, each group was able to work through a
preliminary draft of what their deployment would look like.

2. Adam Holt and Frances Hopkins worked with many members of the support
gang to update and review the new help tickets coming into the system.
The first donors are receiving their XOs now, and past donors will be
contacting us regarding upgrades, so the team has already kicked back
into full force.


3. The QA team concentrated on learning about actual and future use and
design of Sugar (in XO and non-XO machines) by attending parts of the
SugarCamp conference. 

4. Mel Chua led a good discussion about metrics with the community test
team; specifically, she asked, “What data should we be collecting for
each test?” Mel split the discussion into two parts. One was smoke
testing of Activities, of which Carl is now in charge. Two was
finalizing the data we will be collecting for each Activity for this
round of testing, which the Wellington test group will be deciding on

5. The Wellington test group has done some spectacular Activity testing.
Seehttp://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/testing/2008-November/000585.htmlandhttp://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/testing/2008-November/000577.htmlfor the email threads. Brian Jordan also started a test plan for Paint. See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Tests/Activity/Paint.


6. Many people helped out with systems administration of our new website
this week and the result is a great new look: http://laptop.org. The
next steps are to put a content management system in place to make it
easy to update content and to keep the site alive. We would like to
express our appreciation to the MIT NECSYS and DOST staff for their
assistance last weekend with networking issues associated with the
laptop.org website deployment.
This week we handled 3,645,375 hits in 651,632 page views from 76,755
unique visitors.

Software Development:

7. The G1G1 launch kept quite a number of folks from the software
development team busy as we monitored new servers and services,
implemented Web site updates and enhancements, rolled out better
management tools and generally tried to make sure nothing got in the way
of folks who wanted to visit our Web sites to learn more about G1G1 and

8. The Fedora Project has invited OLPC to be a co-sponsor of the FUDCON
Fedora Conference to be held in Boston in January. We are working with
them on ideas for workshops and how we can use the event to get the
broader Fedora community active and excited about OLPC software

XO OS Software:

9. The team worked on planning for the 9.1 release early next year, and
on understanding our priorities for that rollout. Our primary focus will
be to remove any software or feature obstacles that are limiting or
restricting the ability of our country teams to deploy XO laptops
widely. Recent field visits by members of the development team have
helped us all better understand those obstacles.

10. Erik Garrison spent the week working on a thin X window manager for
the XO based on dwm and attending some of the SugarCamp meetings.

XS School Server Software:

11. At the end of his three-week visit to Cambridge, Martin Langhoff,
together with Douglas Bagnall wrapped up the school server 0.5 release
and began planning for the 0.6 release and for 2009 development
work.OLPC XS 0.5 is ready, and awaiting a formal release announcement!
The new version includes a lot of additional functionality. Overall, the
School Server is still an 'early adopter' tool, and not a complete
product. Some features are partially implemented; work continues fast
and furious towards a 1.0 . The core functionality is well tested and
reliable, however, and can support early deployments and pilots.

The release was followed by planning for the 0.6 cycle, which starts
next Monday and should end 20th of December. The focus isdeployability
in Peru (lease mgmt) and Rwanda (scalability). Some valuable features
lost in the triage, features that are fun and easy to tackle -- they are
now tagged "grabme":

At SugarCamp, Martin gave a talk about the XS and participated in
discussions about networking infrastructure and the collaboration stack
that will shape 9.1. At the countries meeting with Dubai and South
Africa a workshop on XS was held; both teams said that they are now
confident in their skills to install and upgrade the XS.

The education team met with Martin to flesh out a plan for how to make
Moodle useful for OLPC users. We now have a much better understanding of
the educational and technical challenges, and a draft plan forward (to
be posted soon).

Sugar / Activity Software:

12. All members of the team have worked on the move to Fedora 10 as our
base, updating to new packages as required. Marco Pesenti Gritti and
Tomeu Vizoso visited Cambridge for the SugarCamp events. Sayamindu
Dasgupta made considerable progress on an improved input method for
Amharic (#8494). He also modified the PO file checker used in the Pootle
installation so that it allows him to publish a list of incorrectly
formatted PO files. In the Sugar department, Sayamindu worked on and
released a new version of the ImageViewer activity, and helped Simon
track down a localization issue which was making Sugar unusable in the
Russian locale. Simon Schampijer finished the frame device support for
wireless devices in Sugar. He updated the radio off code in the control
panel to work with NM 0.7 and fixed several small issues in the mesh
code. Morgan Collett worked on sugar-presence-service, including porting
it to Network Manager 0.7.

13. Walter Bender's Sugar Digest can be found at:

Deployment Workbook:

14. John Watlington and Joshua Seals continued to refine the deployment
workbook, with input from the visiting team from South Africa. The
manual now takes power factor into account and illustrates additional
power savings if using the Multi Battery Charger or Belkin's XOP
(multiple laptop charger) in schools. The latest version of the workbook
is available at:http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Deployment_Guide/Workbook

Gen 2:

15. Jim Gettys started work on design issues in extending the
Linux /dev/input driver and X Window System X Input Extension to support
touch devices. He also worked on tracking down problems in the Linux USB
HID driver for the multi- touch digitizer.

Laptop Firmware:

16. Mitch Bradley continued to refine the multicast NAND update program.
It now handles partitions, displays progress graphically, automatically
chooses the wireless channel, and can be started by pressing game keys
after power-up. Richard also briefly resumed work on finishing the new
keyboard auto detect code (which allows use of the new touchpad without
changing higher levels of software) and looked at some hardware
suggested by Paul Fox for controlling relays via RS232 connection,
allowing for automation of the EC and system firmware testing.


17. Ricardo tested combinations of Internet Sharing with Wakeup On Lan
and aggressive Suspend/Resume enabled on the laptop. Although it doesn't
make much sense to have Internet Sharing and Suspend/Resume enabled on
the XO acting as the gateway, the combination is a good exerciser of the
whole system and the tests were successful overall, pointing to the
increased maturity of the software stack. He also coordinated the first
tests in the Sparse Wireless Testbed in UFF, in Brazil (results to be
published next week).

18. Michail tested Pidgin presence, instant messaging and file transfers
over the mesh interface and looked into interoperability with Windows
and OS X.

>From the Field:

Rodrigo Arboleda headed south to Uruguay and Paraguay to familiarize
himself with both a mature and a nascent national deployment, the better
to represent OLPC on visits other countries. In Uruguay, he met with
Miguel Mariatti and several of the inspectors and teachers and visited
three different schools in different regions of the country. He reports
an efficient operation smoothly deploying more than 1300 laptops each

The Colombian ambassador, Claudia Turbay, hosted a dinner party in
Rodrigo’s honor. U.S. Ambassador Frank Baxter and his wife attended, as
did Luis Alberto Lacalle, the former president of Uruguay, and his wife.
Lacalle is preparing to run for president once again. Rodrigo treated
the dinner guests to a full OLPC presentation, and received unanimous
pledges of support. Ambassador Turbay specifically promised to promote
OLPC at a Colombian government meeting she will attend in Bogotá at the
end of this week. 

Merani Foundation representatives traveled to Uruguay as well to learn
about this experience so they can provide some of these services to the
Colombian government. 

In Asunción, Rodrigo joined Antonio Battro and met with Cecilia Alcalá
and other members of the very energetic and dedicated Paraguay
EducaFoundation. Antonio and Rodrigo were interviewed by the ABC
newspaper, which reaches 80 percent of the Paraguayan newspaper
audience. The new U.S. ambassador to Paraguay, Liliana Ayalde, a
personal acquaintance, hosted a reception for Rodrigo at the embassy.
Paraguay’s vice president, Frederico Franco, attended. He is a firm OLPC
advocate. U.S. Deputy Trade Representative, John K . Veroneau, also was
on hand. Other guests included several prominent Paraguayan businessmen
and women who are pledging several million U.S. dollars to this

By coincidence, the Swiss AVINA Foundation was then meeting in Asunción.
The foundation invited Rodrigo and Antonio to a dinner party at the home
of their Paraguayan head. Guests included AVINA’s president, Brizio
Biondi-Morra, who is also president of the board for INCAE and Fundes
Internacional. Arboleda and Battro made a complete presentation to the
group. They promised their support and want to set up a trip to
Montevideo and Boston to become better acquainted with OLPC. 

On Thursday, Antonio and Rodrigo, along with Cecilia and other members
of Educa, met with President Lugo, Vice President Franco and Education
Minister Horacio Galeano Perrone at the Presidential Palace

The conversation ranged from an update of the September meeting
President Lugo held in New York with Nicholas and Cecilia, to discussion
of the 4,000 laptops, donated by SWIFT, that are being deployed in the
city of Caacupé. Lugo reiterated his support for OLPC, and asked
Minister Perrone to create a road map for a full deployment next year. 

On Friday, Rodrigo and Antonio traveled to Caacupé, where the local
governor repeated his support for a 50,000-unit deployment planned for
the province next year. 

President Lugo held a town meeting in Caacupé, where Vice President
Franco delivered a passionate speech about the benefits of our project.
The gathering included a cabinet minister and Mons. Claudio Gimenez, the
local bishop and a very powerful figure, as well as other leaders of the

Pakistan: On November 14th, Habib Khan gave a half-day workshop on XOs
to a group of selected heads of commerce colleges gathered together from
all over Pakistan. The event was sponsored by the International Islamic
University in Islamabad. In the first part of the workshop, he laid out
the pedagogical foundation of OLPC based on constructionist theory. The
second part of the workshop provided hands-on opportunity to the
participants. Habib reports the participants were “fully mesmerized” by
the machines.

The president of the All Pakistan Private Schools Association dropped by
for the last part of the workshop. More than 4.5 million children in
Pakistan attend private schools. (Even more attend no school at all.)
The president was very enthusiastic about constructionism, and he wished
to learn more about the XO laptop and olpc as a system. Habib looks
forward to fruitful meeting with him in the OLPC office later this
month, and will encourage the early deployment of OLPC in his schools. 

OLPC volunteer Iffat, a recent convert from the Microsoft platform to
Python and Sugar, has developed a set of exercises in Basic Math. It is
available at: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Image:BasicMaths.xo. OLPC has
provided the activity to their (Atlas) pilot school located in slum area
of Rawalpindi. This school has given them useful feedback to help
improve software that was developed in Islamabad. 

AVT Khyber, a popular Pashto/Dari language channel, aired a program on
education and how OLPC has influenced children’s learning, thinking and
lifestyles, using the Atlas School as an example. The program aired last
Friday to about 50 million viewers in northwestern Pakistan and

And in Other News…

Nicholas and Calestous Juma drew an attentive crowd of 400 Cantabrigians
at Harvard’s Science Center on Thursday night in a two-hour program
devoted to the XO. Read all about it in The Crimson, which ran the story
under a pretty fair headline.

To catch Nicholas in a very different forum, go to:

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