OLPC News 2007-11-10

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Sat Nov 10 14:57:30 EST 2007

1. Cambridge: The first of the monthly learning workshops was held at
OLPC this week. More than 60 people from 14 countries (and one US
city) attended. The focus of this workshop was to build a stronger
understanding of laptops and learning; to make plans for deployment in
the countries; and to build a strong community among the participants
for ongoing support and collaboration. The energy, ideas, and
excitement among the group was fantastic and gave everyone more hope
about the learning potential about to be unleashed as laptops begin
arriving in large numbers in countries shortly. Many thanks to David
Cavallo, Lindsay Petrillose, and the OLPC learning team for all of
their efforts.

2. Cyberspace: Larry Weber's dream of a digital PSA has been realized:
Hilary Meserole reports that our first Give One Get One public service
announcement, which features Heroes star Masi Oka, is online (See
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQbtebeftyA). The team is working with
YouTube on ways to feature this on their home page during the
fortnight that the campaign is running. We will be adding more content
next week—outtakes from the PSA shoot, etc.

Masi has joined OLPC as our media spokesperson, however, an ill-timed
writers' strike precludes Nicholas and Masi doing some of the
talk-show appearances that had been envisioned.

3. Give One Get One launches at 6AM EST on Monday (See
laptopgiving.org). While we have no idea what the response will be,
Hilary and the "volunteer army" that includes Pentagram, Nurun, W2,
Racepoint, Digital Influence Group, Eleven, Inc., and Len Fink did a
fantastic job raising the public awareness of the campaign. Examples
include the beautiful full-page ad that was donated by the Economist
(See http://wiki.laptop.org/images/a/ab/GiveOneGetOne.pdf). We will be
able to reach many more children due to their efforts.

4. Mass production started this week this week in Quanta's new factory
in Changshu. We would like to take this time to thank the team at
Quanta for there support over the last two years. Major contributors
to the effort include: Victor Chao, Gary Chiang, Arnold Kao, Matt
Huang, Dandy Hsu, Agnes Huang, Johnson Huang, Frank Lee, Roger Huang,
Elvis Wu, S.F. Chen, Ken Lin, Jacky Mu, Paying Liu, Terry Su, Alfred
Lin, Gary Chiang, Alice Wang, Alan Lio, Jeff Tarng, Tim Huang, Jeffrey
Huang, Rita Chen, Joe Lin, Jeff Yu, Ben Chuang, Sam Yeh, Johnnie Lui,
Eric Tasi, Bruce Lu, Jeff Huang, Mikko Hsu, Vance Ke, Luna Huang,
David Lin, Bryan Ma, Devin Lui, Arvin Lui, John Lin, Tess Yu, Chia
Ying Lin, Gary Su, C.H. Yang, Ray Tseng, Sam Chang, Gary Liu, Lori
Yang, Frank Feng, Cooper Zhou, Kaiser Feng, Neptune Zhan, Xiang Wei,
Zihaw Zhang, Min Xia, Eagle Liang, Peter Huang, Pillar Hou, Yaya
Zhang, Crystal Sun, Nana Pei, Bob Zhang, Yengeng Cen, Ian Huang,
Chie-Hung Li, Sunny Cheng, Cancer Zha, Fly Chen, Javin Hu, Grubby Wei,
Polin Chang, Anna Zhou, Tim Huang, Jim Chang, Eric Wang, Kenny Chung,
Zenith Zhu, Rock Chien, Sunny Hsiung, Kiki Peng, Sunny Huang, Barry
Lam, Michael Wang, Morse Chen, and Eddy Chao.

There are many other people—from companies such as Marvel, ChiLin,
Himax, CMO, AMD, ENE, QMI, Fuse Project, Gecko, Pentagram, Design
Continuum, Foxconn, ALPS, and MIT, and many individuals as well—who
have contributed to the hardware and mechanicals over the past three
years. (Mary Lou Jepsen is pulling together a list of everyone to
thank.) Collectively we have achieved something that just three years
ago many believed that was an impossible dream.

5. Safety Certification: Behind the scenes another team (from UL,
Quanta, and OLPC) has been quietly working for nearly two years on XO
safety certification. The XO laptop is now fully compliant with UL
safety requirements and has been thus certified. We have also been
awarded radio, power, and system certification at national levels in
several countries. We can now legally ship in US, Canada, Uruguay, and
Peru, as well as many other countries. EU-wide approval is due in
approximately a week. We are still in the process of applying for
certification in countries on each continent with the most stringent
safety standards.

Among many tests, we have passed Ul/IEC 60950-1 (notebook computer),
ASTM F693 (electronic toys for children), UL 1301 (mechanical assembly
requirements, including larger face dimension requirements for child
safety) and UL 2054 (batteries), as well as a passing UL on-site
inspection of the Quanta's factory. We have formal RoHS (low toxicity)
certification from Quanta, and independent testing of RoHS compliance
by UL. Also, we have been safety approved for lap use—XO is the first
"laptop" approved for usage on one's lap in many years. (The reason
that most laptops are now called "notebook computers" is that they run
too hot for safe lap use.)

Many thanks to the core XO safety teams from UL, Quanta, and OLPC:
Katherine Sims, Bob Delisi, Nicole Tatum, Kevin Ravi, Stacy Yu, Tom
Burke, Derek Chen, Edgar Wolff-klammer, Tammi Gengegbacher, Greg
Monty, Alfred Fung, Nicholas Boten, Seth Carlton, Bruce Lu, Kenny
Chung, Victor Chao, Rita Chen, Arnold Kao, Mary Lou Jepsen, and
Lindsay Petrillose.

6. Richard Smith has been setting up a suspend/resume manufacturing
test and getting the process flow set up so that Quanta can do final
quality analysis (FQA). Activation of laptops (part of the anti-theft
system) presented a problem since the FQA process pulls laptops after
the final shipping image has been installed and security has been
enabled. We decided that the best way to deal with FQA is to pull FQA
machines prior to enabling security and then enable it as the final
part of FQA.

7. Firmware: Mitch Bradley released firmware Q2D04 as a candidate for
Update.1. It has wireless-networking improvements and bug fixes and
can be used to update the NAND Flash ROM over the wireless network
(from the school server).

Working with Javier Cardona, Mitch discovered the root cause on a
wireless firmware problem that was breaking wireless support in Q2D03.
There was a time window during which the module reported the wrong MAC
address. This was not affecting the Linux driver because it had an
arbitrary delay to block access during that gap. Marvell promises a
proper fix in the next few days.

8. Wireless: Javier Cardona and Ricardo Carrano's efforts in debugging
the open issues with the wireless subsystem are producing results. We
now know the mechanism by which the driver fails (mishandling of a
BUSY result returned from the firmware to a scan request); efforts are
now focusing on finding the reason as to why that mishandling has such
severe impact in the overall subsystem operation.

Marvell released wireless firmware version 5.110.20.p0 which
incorporates many enhancements requested by OLPC, including mesh
running-state control, mesh beacon control, and throughput
optimizations. After resolving the existing issues, the Marvell team
is going to mainly focus on power optimization for the firmware.

James Cameron tested the developer version of the active antennae (See
http://dev.laptop.org/~quozl/2007-11-10-active-antenna/). The antennae
performed easily over the range, no doubt aided by being
held at between 3m and 4m above ground. James reports that they hit
the length limit of the test range before any significant bandwidth
reduction was felt. We received the first 30 active antennae
preproduction boards from QMI in Cambridge this week and completed a
first round of testing without any issues.

9. Schedule update: There are only three weeks left to get the
Update.1 release out the door. This week we focused on testing and
some bug fixing; but not as many "Joyride" builds as lately—C. Scott
Ananian has been concentrating on assembling the pieces for the first
Update.1 builds. He expects that we will have this done over the
weekend. The overarching goal for the Update.1 release is stability of
the Trial-3 functionality; we are also folding in many new
frameworks—such as security and the new tubes system; the goal is to
have these frameworks in place without their causing regressions. One
new feature we are are adding is robust upgrades, preferably via
wireless network.

10. Testing: Ricardo has been detailing Ticket #4470—infrastructure
mode failing over time—and assembling meaningful logs for the team to
work with. Javier is going through these logs. Ricardo also finished
installing network "sniffing" devices for our network testbed as part
of the debug process. Ricardo and Yani Galanis tested the range of two
laptops that were  brought back from field-testing at the Khairat
school in Munbai, India. Their tests revealed normal behavior. (In the
field, they exhibited unusually poor WiFi range.) Ricardo and Yani
have also been testing different antenna designs to establish
long-distance wireless links.

Alex Latham has been testing Joyride, filing bug reports and
uncovering the many regressions expected as we pull so many new bits
together. He hasn't yet completed a full "1-hour smoke test" with an
of the Joyride builds—Scott's Update.1 build series is expected to be
more stable. Alex has also begun testing with security enabled. He
also helped John Watlington set up a testbed for our mass-production

Manny Castillo has been testing the Browser activity with specific
URLs chosen to exercise various plugins—such as Gnash—on Build 623; he
will be testing with Joyride next week.

11. Sugar: Marco Gritti, Michael Stone, and Tomeu Vizoso worked on the
integration of the Rainbow security system with Sugar and the
DataStore (and Journal). They enabled activity isolation on Tuesday
and solved all the known road blockers in the following days: access
audio and video resources; communication with the DataStore;
activity-space directories and their permission; and out-of-container
activities. Next week we will need a new round of testing; Marco is
confident that we will be able to solve the remaining problems

Marco rewrote the preview code to be much more efficient; it blocks
for only the minimal required time. Switching between views and
activities is now much faster and the previews are saved reliably.
Marco temporarily disabled the startup sound in sugar to avoid
blocking the sound device and tracked down the problem with muted
audio at startup. Sound is expected to be finally back working fully
in the next build.

Tomeu implement a basic search in the mesh view, which greatly
facilitates finding people on a crowded network; he exposed files from
the DataStore to activities using hard links instead of doing a copy;
and he made the DataStore's use of the temporary file space more

Reinier Heeres added a way to switch between activities using ALT-Tab;
fixed some issues with left-right inversion for Arabic; disabled
closing the Journal with CTRL-Q;  and implemented a short-term
solution to the problem of the "donut" on the home page not accurately
reflecting activity memory usage. Reinier is working currently fixing
some palette issues.

12. Activities: The Etoys team continues to make adjustments to the
Sugar and Rainbow (security) system changes being introduced for
Update.1; Bert Freudenberg is leading this effort. Yoshiki Ohshima and
Bert have provided an improved version of Sugar menu bar; Yoshiki,
Bert, and Scott Wallace put together the necessary bits to provide
better "view source" experience—all of the code for Etoys can now be
viewed without any degradation. Ted Kaehler and Kathleen Harness have
been improving the help system for Etoys. Takashi Yamamiya and
korakurider have stabilized the localization mechanism. Takashi also
experimented a different UI for controlling choices in tiles.

Simon Schampijer and Mark Maurer collaborated on getting "view source"
working fluidly between the Browse and Write activities. By typing
FN-Space (or CTRL+U) in Browse, the HTML source of the current page is
opened in Write. The HTML can be edited in Write and when resumed from
the Journal the modified page gets interpreted and displayed. While
doing this work, they tracked down and fixed a new issue with the
DataStore: it had been losing metadata between reboots.

13. Builds: C. Scott Ananian continued to work on forking the new
stable Update.1 branch and stabilizing our build process. He setup
download.laptop.org, mock.laptop.org, and pilgrim.laptop.org, which
you should see being pressed into use in the next week. Scott also
updated the Libertas firmware in the builds and refreshed the mesh
testbed, with an eye towards testing the new firmware in a realistic
network upgrade scenario.  He should be able to run that test on

This week Andres Salomon cleaned up the kernel build scripts, made
them auto-generate change logs, and dealt with getting updated kernels
into joyride. Joyride builds now include sane kernels. Andres also did
minor Libertas testing, and is in the process of debugging USB issues.

14. Power management: James Cameron and Chris Ball worked on some OHM
(power manager) bugs. Once those were out of the way, Chris went on to
implement some of our power management features:  "suspend on idle" is
in place; there is now a distinction between "suspend" (screen and
wireless still on, wake up on network traffic or key press) and
"sleep" (screen off, only wake up on a power-button press). There are
a few more OHM bugs to fight before this is ready to land in
Joyride/Update.1, which should happen sometime early next week.

15. Localization: Sayamindu Dasgupta and Xavier Alvarez have
successfully completed the first phase of the Pootle installation. All
of the translation files are in place. A number of users have signed
up and have already started to submit translations in the form of
suggestions. A discussion in the #olpc-pootle channel on how to best
integrate an external project's translation-related files into our
Pootle setup has let to an improved workflow for external projects
that want to take
advantage of our translation infrastructure.

Currently, we have translators for the following languages signed up:
Amharic, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (traditional), French,
German, Greek, Italian, Romanian, Russian, Spanish. Additional
translators and languages are needed, particularly for the Indic
languages, Quechua, and Aymara.

The next stage of the Pootle deployment will consist of making the GIT
integration work—we are waiting for GIT write access to dev.laptop.org
to go forward on that. A set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) has
been created in the wiki (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Pootle/FAQ).

Sayamindu has been looking at an issue where fontconfig seems to treat
the font cache invalid if the mtime of the cache is greater than the
system time. This is documented in Ticket #1525 (and in upstream
Freedesktop bug #12107). Sayamindu had backported the relevant changes
to the fontconfig used in Fedora 7; he will be testing out the package
in the XO over the weekend.

16. Security: Michael Stone announced a new release of Rainbow (See
http://koji.fedoraproject.org/koji/taskinfo?taskID=234221) to the
devel and sugar lists today. The release incorporates a number of
resolutions to the current crop of 'rainbow-integration' bugs that the
community has worked so hard over the last three days to document for

Changes include:
 • relaxed multimedia-device permissions that should make it possible
for activities to use the camera, microphone, and speakers;
 • availability of the user's public key;
 • activities are now started in $SUGAR_BUNDLE_PATH instead of
 • activities can run under "strace" by defining the environment
variable RAINBOW_STRACE_LOG (in the dictionary passed to Rainbow in
 • tracebacks of your activity's log file can be viewed with "less -R"
(e.g., less -R /home/olpc/.sugar/default/logs/org.laptop.Record-1.log);

Special thanks Marco, Tomeu, and Alex L. for their extraordinary efforts.

17. Community reporting: Dan Sutera and the team working on the Report
activity made it to the next round of the Knight News Challenge.
Pablo Flores is working on something similar in Uruguay, and has found
some federal support to develop local blogs from children, stored at
the local schools. We discussed how the projects could work together;
Pablo is focusing on the web activity that would help editors arrange
blog feeds into beautiful editions, and the Report team is working on
an XO activity that would let children read and write blog and news
feeds. Meanwhile, Jack Driscoll, former editor of the Boston Globe—who
 has been leading community journalism projects around the world for
over ten years—has put some journalism guidelines in the wiki (See

18. SimCity: SimCity is now available under the GPL, thanks to the
generosity of EA and the hard work of Steve Seabolt and Chuck Normann,
John Gilmore, and Don Hopkins (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/SimCity).
The game is in the process of being "sugarized", but is already
playable on the XO. This is the first time that a major publisher has
open sourced the original of a popular title. EA should be

19. Game Jams: A competitive game jam is under way this weekend in São
Carlos, Brazil, with the support of a number of local universities and
sponsors. Any who are interested in their progress are welcome to
follow along in #olpc-content on IRC; they are looking for outside
help with art and music for the developed games (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Game_Jam_Brazil). In advance of the CMU
game jam next weekend, the ETC team at Carnegie Mellon university has
finished a draft of its first game, a peg solitaire affair (See

20. Community: A discussion with Greg DeKoenigsberg about how to
involve more Fedora developers in OLPC work led to some work on
improving test and review processes for activities and bundles (See

Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

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