Some feedback from your responses to: notes from the field - Mongolia

elana langer elana.langer at
Sun Oct 12 07:37:12 EDT 2008

Thanks for all these suggestions. This is helpful. In many cases the
local team here came up with similar solutions to cope with the
existing tech problems. (like saving to a USB etc.)

Reuben and Tyler have been great at suggesting 'fixes' to those
problems. What I am trying to offer the developer community are the
major issues that the XO faces when introduced into cultures, in this
case, Mongolia. My hope is that you developers can work with what is
actually needed to make people open to the XO and not just working
with "dream users" who will be happy to get anything OLPC throws their
way. As I am sure you all know there are other low cost computers on
the market right now and if OLPC can't offer a machine that stops
being seen as "still under developement" and "hard to use" I fear OLPC
will become obsolete.

so to use Deniz's comments as an example for things to think about.

>if one day the network is universal, and
> the mesh works etc. I can see why we wouldn't need it.

This day isn't here. The mesh does NOT work. Gov'ts can't even afford
to put in servers where laptops are being deployed. There is the dream
but not reality of connectivity to deal with. So the fact that
teachers know how to use USBs is actually the best thing that could
happen to OLPC right now.

>sugar might not have been intended to work with other
> OS's, and should be thought of as an educational tool meant for children
> instead of a general all-purpose laptop computer.

You cannot tell people how to use their computers or what to expect
from them. If we donate a computational tool than I think it needs to
be competent at that - otherwise you need to change the name of the
organization to not include the word 'laptop'. All we can do is offer
a tool (computer) and help folks think about integrating it into their
communities and curriculums but you CANNOT change expectations by
simply not meeting them.

When people get a computer, for free or otherwise, they want it to
work in a useful and straightforward way. This will leave them free to
think about doing interesting work on it and not just get frustrated
to the point of locking it away in a closet and forgetting about it
(as I have seen far too many teachers do!) In Mongolia there are
computers in places that haven't had training and the teachers and
students are stuck. If we could make certain basic things easier - it
would help us use the workshop time to seed some deeper educational
project ideas and not just address functionality frustrations.


On Sat, Oct 11, 2008 at 2:17 AM,  <rihoward1 at> wrote:
> You can transfers files between systems,  (in the absence of an XS server),
> using a light weight web server such as boa
> To install boa on the XO:
> su -
> yum install boa
> If you want more details on how to configure boa let me know and I will post
> the instructions.
>  I use boa to pull log files off my XO.
> Similarly you get get files off a MS Windows system using IIS.
> Another email in this thread mentions the scripts for copying files to and
> form the Sugar Journal.
> /Robert H.
> On Oct 10, 2008, at 1:48 PM, Deniz Kural wrote:
> I see how my email wasn't so nice. Apologies for increasing the animosity
> level. I was merely trying show how USB transfer from:
> 1) Xo to Xo
> 2) Other platform to Xo
> could be useful.
> Marco, I'm glad to have provoked a laugh, I was indeed joking. I don't even
> know you.
> I agree with Martin -- I thought he didn't write anything offensive. I will
> follow your advice, Edward, Tomeu.
> So to stay on topic,
> 1) I understand that there is in fact an easy way to transfer files between
> XOs with a USB (which I believe is necessary per the conditions in Mongolia
> - people living in mobile yurts, even in the largest city and the capital
> etc. as explained). In the future, if one day the network is universal, and
> the mesh works etc. I can see why we wouldn't need it.
> 2) I understand that sugar might not have been intended to work with other
> OS's, and should be thought of as an educational tool meant for children
> instead of a general all-purpose laptop computer.
> But I also think, since this is a significant investment for many people,
> referring to my original example of  a teacher  typing up a reading (from a
> book let's say, or a handout)  on a regular computer s/he already has back
> home, and being able to transfer files back and forth on an Xo so s/he can
> distribute it to his/her students.
> Thus, to fulfill its educational mission, Sugar cannot be a closed box.
> Deniz
> On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 8:43 AM, Tomeu Vizoso <tomeu at> wrote:
>> 2008/10/10 Deniz Kural <denizkural at>:
>> > This whole "why would you need a USB in mongolia?"  conversation shows
>> > how
>> > out of touch some people on this list are with the people the project is
>> > trying to reach.
>> Deniz,
>> this list if composed by people from all around the world, some of
>> which have had contact with some cultures, others with other cultures.
>> What we have in common is the desire to build a software platform that
>> others can use to learn themselves and to teach others.
>> As we have the wish that our work is universally used, we'll need to
>> teach each other how is life in every part of the world and how we can
>> better work so it serves best everywhere. Mikus hasn't been afraid of
>> showing his ignorance about how USB sticks are used in Mongolia and
>> you have kindly replied with an useful explanation.
>> I hope we can keep sharing experiences like this but with a bit less
>> of animosity.
>> Regards,
>> Tomeu
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