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image:Tabitha.jpg Kia ora

I am Tabitha Roder. I coordinate the volunteer efforts in New Zealand. We have a volunteer group based in Wellington that started meeting weekly middle of 2008 and another volunteer group in Auckland who also meet weekly. We are spreading out across the country, with volunteers in Christchurch, Tauranga, and Hamilton. We use to keep people informed about what we are doing. Join our mail distribution list: [olpc-nz]

An interview about me completed by Brenda

In January 2010 I was education miniconf organiser at LCA2010 where we showed the XO laptop and had a hacking sugar session. I also ensure XOs make it to other events related to education and or to computing. I have had XOs at Software Freedom Days the last two years and am organising this event for Auckland 2010.

Kotahi tamaiti, Kotahi rorohiko iti: nō Aotearoa

Some ways to find me:

Emailing IRC tabs - #olpc-au Twitter tabitharoder tabitha Facebook tabitharoder
Skype tabitharoder LinkedIn tabitharoder My blog using Mahara Facebook Join group My website using Moodle

Traveling with the XO

I spent four days in another country using an XO-1.5 as my travel laptop. I went to visit a tertiary institute in Australia to help them with their Moodle, then went to a Moodle conference to give two presentations. The XO was running build 205 and I used Gnome (with a few additions) and Sugar probably pretty equally.

Touch typing took a while to get my head around. I had to slow down and typing mistakes were regular (I normally type about 80wpm with 99% accuracy, and probably dropped to about half that speed and accuracy initially but I did get better).

On the Sugar side - I mostly used browse, write, record, memorize, maze, physics.

Additional installs to build 205 I required - Skype, irc (xchat), jabber thing (empathy), open office presentation (Impress). Needed lots of other packages to run those. Rearranged the panels so there was only one panel at the top, removed the wide menu thing and replaced with "foot" menu. Removed gnash because it left processes hanging around using 100% cpu gnome-utils (for the system monitor applet) rpmfusion's mplayer packages adobe flash via their yum repo

Skype worked, but was unable to record sound, so other party couldn't hear me. I could hear them and video worked both ways. Set up a displaylink external USB DVI adapter for doing my presentation, but didn't need it. Unfortunately at the conference I had to use their conference equipment so did not present from the XO but lots of people played with Sugar in the breaks.

Two weeks, two deployments: the Samoa experience

The real cost: We spent $3000 on accommodation, transport and food over the two weeks. It would have been more but we had some nights staying with locals. We spent a few hundred before we left home on collecting resources for the trip. Part of the spending there is when you realise that they don't have other stuff you never thought of, like multiboxes (we took some for the server and wifi equipment but did not take any for charging laptops so bought some there).

Health: We could only drink bottled water. Locals drank tank water but not the town supply. We were quite careful with what we ate, but still the food made us sick so be weary of what you eat when traveling in developing countries.

Preparation: No matter how hard you try, you won't be fully prepared. Some key things to take: copies of various builds (internet was hard to get to and very very expensive), spare USBs (we donated ours before we left so they could reflash any broken laptops), ebooks (many schools have no or few physical books and you can change that with ebooks), tools (screwdrivers, spare screws for mounting servers and wifi equipment), user guides and lesson plans for how to use the XO in the classroom, a camera, medicine, insect repellent and sunscreen.

Team work: There were two of us volunteers (the technical one and the educator) but we took two of the local IT support guys to the deployments too so they could buddy up with us and learn as much as possible. We should have asked for a local curriculum person to also come with us so they could see how we use the laptops not for "learning where the keys are and how to use the touchpad" but how we use the laptops as a learning tool within the existing curriculum like Maths, Science and Languages.

Achievement: It is totally worth being a volunteer and visiting deployments. As a tester of two years I know have a reality view that I didn't have before. Why don't the deployments tell you what is broken and needs to be fixed? Well, these two deployments didn't have internet, that is one reason why. Another reason is because in some cases they had never ever used computers before. They don't know what the laptops should do. The students at one school had been using the laptops for three months and had not yet learned how to save their work.

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