[Sur] Sugar Digest [2016-05-25]

Walter Bender walter.bender en gmail.com
Mie Mayo 25 09:42:30 EDT 2016

== Sugar Digest ==

1. Just a quick Marvin Minsky remembrance: Marvin, especially in the days
of overhead projectors, would use a bit of theatrics in his talks. He'd
walk up to the overhead projector, "accidentally" drop all of his slides on
the floor, and then proceed to talk about whatever happened to be on his
mind at the moment. Often, part way through his allotted time, he'd bend
over, scan the slides, pick on up and say, "this looks interesting", and
talk about the theme of the slide. Try doing that with PowerPoint (TM).

2. John Markoff, former technology writer for the <em>NY Times</em>
unearthed a link [1] to a classic paper by Alan Kay on personal computing
from 1972, "A Personal Computer for Children of All Ages". Well worth the
read. Alan was actively interacting with Marvin, Seymour Papert, and
Cynthia Solomon at the time.

3. There was an article in <em>The NewYorker</em> last week [2], "Do we
really need to learn to code?" The authors, Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis
nicely summarize many of the core challenges in the quest to harness
artificial intelligence to automate computer programming, but entirely miss
the point of why we need to learn to code. As Cynthia remarked more than 30
years ago, "debugging is the great educational opportunity of the 21st
Century." Marcus and Davis do observe that "a good programmer understands,
deeply, a problem that needs to be solved, and then creates an architecture
for solving a problem that’s never been solved before." The true value of
learning to code is that it engages children in the rigors and discipline
of problem-solving. For must learners, computation is a "thing to think
with", not an end in and of itself.

4. The coding period of Google Summer of Code has officially begun. Please
help us support the efforts of our six interns as they help expand the
possibilities of Sugar over the next three months. Details can be found in
the wiki [3].

5. A summary of the 6 May meeting of the Sugar Labs oversight board is also
available in the wiki [4]. At that meeting, and in subsequent email
discussions, we passed a motion to fund an effort to do the Yoruba
internationalization and localization. We also passed a motion to finalize
updating the Sugar License from GPLv2 to GPLv3. The agenda of the 3 June
meeting is posted [5]. Among the pending motions we will be discussing are
a series of motions to restructure the finance manager position; a motion
to adopt the 2016 vision for Sugar Labs; a motion regarding allocation of
GSoC mentoring stipends; a motion to request a membership donations; and
discussion of merits of applying for inclusion in GitHub Education pack.
Please join us on irc.freenode.net, #sugar-meeting.

6. There has been progress along many fronts with the Music Blocks
activity. Devin Ulibarri arranged for a meeting with his mentor, Larry
Scripts, at the New England Conservatory (NEC) of music. Larry had positive
and productive feedback for us and we hope to incorporate Music Blocks in
seminar at NEC in the fall. I also had a fun meeting with Eric Rosenbaum
and Derek Breen, along with Cynthia. (Eric was part of the team that
created the lovely music widgets that appeared on the Google Homepage a few
months back and he wrote a music extension to Blockly [6].) Eric introduced
me to the sampler code in Tone.js, which I am now using for the drum set.
What a difference a decent sampler can make!!! (I am using some of the
samples that come bundled with the Tam Tam activity [7].) You can check out
all of the latest updates to Music Blocks including a simple drum demo at
[8] and read the updated guide at [9]. I think Music Blocks is finally
stable enough that we should push on the localization efforts. I will be
mining some strings from Tam Tam to make the process a bit less tedious for
our translation team.

=== In the Community ===

7. Dave Crossland lead a team of volunteers on a weekend wiki gardening
adventure. While there is still more work to be done, we managed to prune
lots of stale material and we began migrating stable pages to the static
website we maintain on github. Thanks to everyone who volunteered. We'll
probably have another go at it in July.

8. There is a nice article about Sugar on a Stick in the Fedora Insider
blog [10].

9. Devin and I wrote a response to a call for comments by the US Department
of Education on the role of education technologies on early childhood STEM
education [11]. Our focus was on the potential of Free/Libre Software in
education. You can read our response in the wiki [12].

=== Tech Talk ===

10. Thomas Gilliard has documented a mechanism [13] for creating a
livemedia-creator remix in Fedora 24. (The previous mechanism [14], which
as dependent on livecd-creator, will be phased out soon.)

11. Sebastian Silva has been experimenting with GTK Broadway [15], a GTK
backend to provide support for displaying GTK+ applications in a web

12. Dave Crossland is exploring PocketChip [16], which he calls "the
closest thing to an XO being released this year."

=== Sugar Labs ===

13. Please visit our planet [17].


1. http://mprove.de/diplom/gui/kay72.html
2. http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/do-we-really-need-to-learn-to-code
3. https://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Summer_of_Code/2016
4. https://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Oversight_Board/Meeting_Minutes-2016-05-06
5. https://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Oversight_Board/Minutes#Agenda_items
6. http://ericrosenbaum.github.io/blockly/demos/musicblocks/
7. https://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Activities/TamTam
9. http://walterbender.github.io/musicblocks/guide
12. https://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/User:Walter/DOE_Response
13. https://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Fedora_24#livemedia-creator
15. https://developer.gnome.org/gtk3/stable/gtk-broadway.html
16. http://getchip.com/pages/pocketchip
17. http://planet.sugarlabs.org


Walter Bender
Sugar Labs
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