notes from the field - Mongolia

elana langer elana.langer at
Tue Oct 7 15:48:08 EDT 2008

Hey Gang -

Please excuse my absence from this discussion -  I think it's really
cool how passionate you all are about what you are building. It's
really obvious that you all care about what you are doing - I know
your work will inspire a generation of kids in developing countries to
be this excited about stuff they work on.

A couple of quick points on this discussion. Again, please forgive my
totally uninformed techtalk. I am only writing on behalf of the users
experience here. I am sure that many kids and teachers around the
world are loving the OS as it is.  I am just trying to give some
feedback that I hope will help y'all.

 a) In response to the question about the Mesh -  there are a whole
bunch of issues that come up. -- to use acoustic measure only two
computers can be on at a time so it makes the tool almost impossible
to use in a class or workshop without explaining that the mesh is a
"work in progress" and doesn't work as well as it should. -- the
sharing/collaborating tool shuts down with too many computers on the
same channel at the same time.

I'll check my bug reports/notes and look for the other specific
issues. Tyler might be able to fill y'all in on this issue. He was in
Mongolia with me and saw a lot of these issues first hand - maybe he
can chime in on a few details.

b) Tagging isn't as much of an issue as being able to save files to a
USB key easily. Folks learn how to tag but there are a bunch of
problems - if the subject is in cyrillic they can't open the files.
(it's been reported) -also there is usually someone that has used a
computer before and they aren't used to tagging and trying to save
their files traditionally and totally frustrated by the experience.
more by teachers than kids 'cause kids play like they would in a
sandbox - they make a big ol' mess and make a new one the next day. It
will change when they have assignments for work or things they develop
over time.

c) I think the idea to make tagging more mandatory/obvious would help
locate things on the XO itself more easily.

d) Although I think building a tagging tool around kids natural ways
of thinking is really exciting, most teachers/schools/gov'ts are
really concerned that this OS isn't preparing kids for the digital age
properly. Most people feel it is important the computer meet some
simple expectations that are common and understandable practices on
any OS - like having files that can be saved and accessed in a simple
place for example.

I think that covers most of the issues/questions.

Just a note -- I'll be working with the pilot schools here for the
next 2 weeks so if you want things tested here let me know.
One thing I plan to do is have all the computers in a school with 3
access points and connectivity try to get online at the same time.
It's around 350- 400 kids. I'll let you know how that goes.


On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 7:57 PM, Ricardo Carrano <carrano at> wrote:
>>> 4) Mesh problems - my sense is that you are all pretty aware of those issues.
>> I think we should start looking into software-level mesh protocols using
>> the libertas thin firmware.  This is not a solution to this problem, but
>> it will at least move us to a place where we can have collaborative work
>> on the base layer of our mesh networking stack.
> There is a lot of totally different issues that are generally
> described as "mesh problems". And every time we are not precise we may
> fail to address them or even taking measures that will actually make
> things worse. Please note that even the idea of changing the "mesh
> protocols" may be interpreted in many ways. One should argue, for
> instance, that we should use a L3 routing protocol instead of our L2
> mesh implementation or suggest that MDNS is not an efficient way to
> transport collaboration data, or even complain that some activities do
> not scale to many users because there is no reliability, just to name
> a few examples (that, btw are not my ideas, but just ideas we hear now
> and then).
> So, I would suggest that we _may be not_ aware of those issues because
> they are put in a too generic way. Depending on the problems we are
> facing, the libertas thin firmware won't help us at all and changing
> routing mechanisms may be completely orthogonal. It is important to
> understand exactly what are these "mesh" issues.
> Elana, if you don't mind adding a little more detail to item 4, I
> think that would be beneficial. Thank you!

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