OLPC News (2008-02-24)
walter at laptop.org
Sun Feb 24 08:41:03 EST 2008
1. Solar power: Richard Smith's reaching out to the community has had
very good results. OLPC now has several options available to them for
solar test sites. It turns out that Rob Savoye ("Mr. Gnash") is a big
supporter of alternative energy and already runs his house "off grid"
using a mix of solar and wind power. Rob is interested in working
with OLPC and is already providing valuable "from the trenches" info.
2. School Server: We are still unable to generate new school server
builds. (Dennis Gilmore has been looking into this.) John Watlington
spent the last week looking at the operation of the laptop without a
Tomeu Vizoso has contributed a patch to Abiword that will fix Write
crashing shortly after entering in a collaboration session.
3. Activities: Dan Bricklin has blogged about the latest milestone
reached in the SocialCalc (spreadsheet) activity; 109 functions—the
"small group"—have now been implemented in the activity (For details,
please see http://danbricklin.com/log/2007_12_05.htm#milestone).
Luke Closs has been able to change the gecko security settings to
allow a local HTML file access to XPCOM. Subject to Rainbow review,
this means we can now communicate messages between Python and
application has suggested the use nslObserver interface as the method
A simple Moon phase viewer that includes lunar-eclipse information has
been written for the XO laptop. (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Moon).
Simon Schampijer updated the Browse activity documentation (Please see
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Browse). He also updated the Browse test
plan (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Tests/Browse).
Chris Ball worked with Richard Boulanger ahead of his release of
Csound samples—Pippy is now able to list and play CSound *.csd
Guillaume Desmottes debugged and provided a patch for a problem with
Read sharing with Salut (Ticket #6483).
Simon added a 'Set multicast rate' option to the Sugar control panel
Arjun Sarwal continues to work on the Measure activity. He has
explored various built-in peripheral devices/sensors of the XO,
• a camera mode within Measure calculates the average values over all
pixels of each frame and displays it in real time (See
• extracting the wireless signal strength and wireless noise power
• getting the values from the built-in temperature sensors.
Arjun continues to work on an improved UI for Measure and he has
corrected a bug in Turtle Art with Sensors that was giving the sensor
values of the previous rather than current sensor block when queried.
Arjun discussed details with Barry Vercoe and also Richard Boulanger
about sensor support in CSound. It emerges that getting sensor data
would result in the form of a modified "in" opcode sampling at control
rate and he discussed in detail with Dale Joachim about the various
options for undertaking environmental studies using the XO and sensors
in the proposed pilot/deployment in Haiti.
4. Localization: Sayamindu Dasgupta reports that we have new teams for
Turkish, Romanian and Creyole (kreyòl). Also, the Scratch developers
exploring the use of Pootle for translations. (Scratch is developed
externally and does not use any public version control system.) If
this works out properly, we can use it as a model for supporting other
non dev.laptop.org git hosted projects relevant to the OLPC.
Edgar Ceballos has translated the "Getting Started" pages in to
Spanish (See http://laptop.org/es/gettingstarted and
Usman Mansour reports that an XO laptop user manual in the Pashto and
Dari language has been completed.
5. Testing: Chris Ball has prepared a test plan for next week's mesh
scaling work (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Mesh_Testing). Chris wrote
a tool that automates key-presses for the Write activity, so that we
can perform automated tests that keep track of how many keypresses
fail to get through to as we add more laptops to a collaboration.
6. Bundles: Michael Stone wrote a first draft of software for
"bundle-distribution" over USB keys. These keys, when used to boot an
XO, will unpack a collection of activity and content bundles
(contained in $USB/bundles) into appropriate locations on the NAND.
The rapid completion of this prototype built on and would not have
been possible without access to the excellent previous work of Scott
(olpcrd) and the Debian-Installer team. Michael documented the first
part of the process used for writing similar software (See
7. Presence service: Morgan Collett started looking at handling chat
with normal Jabber clients better and started looking into ways to
promote community Jabber servers. (Morgan had found several references
on the wiki to people who tried to set up a Jabber server with the
required patches and modules, and just
couldn't get it to work and gave up.)
8. Production: The final batch of laptops for the G1G1 program are
finishing up in production and making their way to Chicago. They will
start shipping out to consumers as early as Monday. We expect to ship
them all before the end of March.
9. Support: With the help of a couple of volunteers, Kim Quirk and
Adam Holt opened all the returns currently at the Brightstar warehouse
to sort the boxes into three categories: no problem found, will not
boot, or other problem (keyboard, battery, screen, or touchpad). One
goal of the evaluation of the returns is to create volunteer repair
centers from the parts of broken laptops.
A strong grassroots community is coming together in Peru in support of
the project there: over 50 people came to the first gathering, and
about half that number have written into voluntario at laptop.org asking
to help out.
10. ICDL: Tim Browne and Ben Bederson of the International Children's
Digital Library (ICDL) have optimized their outstanding online
Mongolian children's book collection (www.read.ma) for the XO laptop.
ICDL and OLPC were featured at a World Bank event in Ulaanbaatar last
week following the launch of the XO laptop in two schools in Mongolia.
Tim and Ben also announced that the ICDL's improved readability
updates for the OLPC have been implemented. The exemplary books from
their collection, now totally more than 2,600 children's books from
around the world, are dramatically easier to read on XO. Next up for
ICDL and OLPC: translations and "pop-out" text.
11. OLPC health: Dr Lia Meisinger has joined the health efforts and
she would be curating content on Maternal Health, Childbirth and
related issues (See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Health_meetings). XO
laptops are being used at a rural medical clinic in San Blas, Mexico
12. Science and Maths: Arjun helped Jayawant Patki from "Aptara – The
Content Transformation Company" from India to get their content
running on the XO. They have extensive Science and Maths content for
primary school children that would be accessible using the Browse
13. In the community: Sebastian Silva has a team of people working
actively together on his new Spanish-language community site
(http://meta.fuentelibre.org/trac). OLPC Austria is sending a
delegation to CeBIT. Many people, including Mel Chua and Ian Bicking,
will be at PyCon to help man an OLPC booth.
14. Library and creation: Mako Hill and SJ Klein are finalizing a
specification for internationalizing content bundles to share for
discussion early next week. The library core will be fully localized
next week using this structure, as an example.
A number of Spanish literary materials, written and spoken, were
identified over the weekend as part of an open texts push, including
the Spanish versions of the primary science guides and resources
developed in France by LAMAP. One of the LAMAP directors is currently
in Lima and plans to meet with the ministry of education next week.
Bundled collections are being developed from these, and the first
should be available next week.
Lauren Klein has been working with Pablo Flores on a publishing
channel for stories from his schools. She is also writing about ways
to use Omeka and Moodle for teachers to share their works and maintain
Wade Brainerd reports a "sugarized" 3D Pong is almost ready. The
Jordan brothers, at the Game Developers Conference this week (on the
passes they won at last summer's Olin Game Jam), are working on the
next version of SprayPlay.
15. OLPC Memo series: Marvin Minsky has begun a memo series on
learning. Read his essay: What makes mathematics hard to learn? (See
One Laptop per Child
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