Library Release Notes, 2007
We are just developing an OLPC library exchange to help existing repositories of content identify material for the XO; and to help national groups of academics, teachers, children and parents develop libraries of material in their languages. The laptops currently come with content in a variety of formats that can be tried out on your XO out of the box, and we are developing display libraries that will automatically display materials and metadata for each format in a way that makes it easy to add and remix new items.
Other release notes: Demo Notes (on how and what to demo), Hardware Release Notes (B1, B2), and Software Release Notes -- these are all useful for understanding the system and what is available. There are also general instructions on how to use the Sugar interface.
The software and interfaces for creation are still in alpha test stages, and we are just forming links to archives and repositories with their own metadata and format needs. Please refer to the OLPC Human Interface guidelines and Content guidelines for a vision of how we would like to see the content and interfaces on the laptops to develop, and what we want interfaces into existing platforms and collections to look like for XO users.
We have been focusing on being able to read, write, and share materials in basic formats, and designing interfaces for children to editing and browsing these materials. Components still under development include a mesh view of who is working on what at any given moment, a reader/writer interface to editable material, and a distributed content store; all of which will read and parse simple metadata that helps track the source and attribution history of materials.
While the sample library has many static sample materials for use in testing, these are intended as suggestions of what might be created, and how they might be browsed; our goal is to help children and teachers create their own libraries - and to identify materials that expose their construction, and that can be useful pieces in later work.
If you create your own library sections and materials, or test it out in a particular setting, please let us know so that we can improve it.
Some great materials that have been developed are not linked from the laptop images; either because they are large collections, or because they require software not yet shipped with our builds. We limited ourselves in the latest build to 80MB of samples. A good library will include sections for bootstrapping, how-tos, projects & manuals; sample code, color, sound, shapes, and fonts; games and activities; pocket reference works and images; music, audiobooks, and video; and sample texts, including language, math, and science materials.
The latest stable build is build 303, and firmware Q2B61. Please upgrade your firmware to Q2B84 all the same.
The current release candidate for the next stable build is build 368, with firmware Q2B85. The release notes below apply to this release candidate.
Materials left out of the build
There were materials developed specially for the upcoming trials which will be distributed on school servers and not in the build; and a few that will be added into the next stable build when we have a bit more space for the sample library.
For school servers
- crossmark ebookreader - currently runs and renders on a school library, where the collection of crossmark books will reside
- UNICEF's hygiene and water sanitation application - currently wiki-based and will be hosted on a UNICEF server. A light XO wiki-client is still to come; this may at first be separate from the journal, but will eventually be integrated.
- LearnThings.za lessons: 90 lessons for the target audience.
- A constellation of Etoys
- Various materials from educ.ar [pending license confirmations]
- Sea Studios website and videos: The Shape of Life
- Multilingual dictionaries from OmegaWiki (50+ languages); and one of specialist Indian dialects
- Moodle and Plone installations
The sample library on the XO is only an example of the materials people are developing for our open library exchange. Some of the projects developing their own XO materials and collections, and planning to make them available online for download:
- Real Networks and the Oregon State open source team has developed a Helix Media Activity that installs in three steps and can play almost any media format.
- The ICDL is preparing more picture books -- some with text separated from the images, for searching and localization
- A larger multilingual collection from the World Digital Library (they are launching an entire multilingual library over the summer; materials for the XO will come in stages)
- UNICEF's village storytelling activity, mentoring and education apps, all online collaborative projects with a limited on-xo activity component -- being used over the next few months on many platforms across Africa
- Children's videos -- both created on-XO and converted from archives
- Developers are working to get packages such as GCompris and PyGame working on the XO
- Colingo is producing English-language learning videos and a python activity, ColingoXO to remix and share video dialogs.
- .txt, .doc, .abw : these formats can be read by abiword, and will launch it from the browser. Abiword will write .abw files
- .pdf : this can be ready by xbook, which launches automatically from the browser when following a pdf.
Multimedia document with layout
- .html : parsed by the browser. source will soon be viewable
- .pdf : read by xbook
- .xml, .rss : read by the browser, by penguinTV (as feeds)
- .jpeg, .gif, .png - these can be viewed by many applications, including the browser
- .svg - 99% supported.
- csound : this will be playable by TamTam... currently its XO build doesn't provide a way to save or load sound files, however.
- .ogg : see other common audio formats below; can be played by Helix or Gstreamer, not part of the current build.
- .mp3, .wav : these can be played by Helix or Gstreamer, standalone or as a browser plugin, when they are installed
- .rm, .ra : this can be played by the Helix plugin when installed with a RealAudio codec.
- Currently, audio files selected in the browser will launch a player if it is present.
- .ogg : can be played by Helix or Gstreamer, standalone or as a plugin. these activities aren't in the current build, but there is a good Helix activity that you can download in a few steps. To play video, please download this activity along with some videos (see for instance this video).
- .mpeg, .mov, .wmv, .rm : see above
- The Helix Media Activity has more information about media activity
- The Develop activity will provide one way to view python files; the 'view source key' another
- This will viewable the same way page source can be viewed through the browser.
- .pr files automatically launch etoys from the browser.
The current build ships with a small set of activities (paint, blockparty, slideshow, abiword, a newsreader, etoys, a browser, xbook, a calculator, tamtam, a camera app) and materials that ship with the laptop.
books & reference
Including picture books, reference materials such as a picture dictionary or children's encyclopedia, stories and language learning materials. Works here are drawn from the International Children's Digital Library, Wikipedia, BookBox, and the Logos dictionary and children's library.
math & science
Including math games, biology overviews, a periodic table, astronomical charts, or other similar matter. Works drawn from Frans Lanting and the E.O. Wilson Foundation.
images & maps
Including maps of the world, images of animals, the planet, and the skies, and photographs from museums and cultural collections. With works from the World Digital Library consortium.
music & video
Including sound and music files, audiobook recordings, animations, video taken with the XO camera, simulations, laptop screencasts, and movie or television clips.
With a list of search engines (starting with Google) and a select group of links (waiting for another refining pass before adding to the build).
A set of projects sponsored by UNICEF, in search of a better name... 'uniwiki' is only temporary. The projects include a water & environment project to share information about improving water quality and the enviornment in one's town, a village-storytelling activity that involves taking photographs and video recordings of oneself and one's family, an HIV/AIDS outreach project, a mentoring project that pairs mentors with children from their homeland, and a self-directed education project especially for children in post-conflict regions.
These are being developed in Spanish and in English.
A collection of videos from Plaza Sesamo, Alaa Simsim, Takalani Sesame, and other sesame series, each scheduled for use in demonstrations in April.
There will be school and regional libraries that feed the individual XO libraries, and that eventually provide a way to pull down and push up modules as a child finds new interesting things or loses interest in older ones. We are developing a better idea of what the school libraries will include in each country, based on discussion with local teachers and groups. Among other things, these libraries will have larger collections of PDF and HTML and spoken books, global and stellar maps, television and other videos, cartoons, music collections, and images; as well as multilingual Wikipedia and dictionary snapshots.
Suggestions for school library contents and priorities are always welcome, as every use case helps us test another aspect of the distributed network. A good place to leave these notes is on the library page.
Maps from NASA's world satellite map collection (O(1TB) in all), the Rumsey collection (15,000 historical maps), and of space, thanks to Hubble and other massive telescopes, are all available. Suitable subsets can be cached on each school server. A tiered map distribution system will need to be set up to properly allow for map queries to pull down details around a region of interest, and push up geo-annotated data.
Media collections from science and documentary archives, and from children's television programs such as Plaza Sesamo, belong on school and regional servers. In general, full-length films and longer television episodes will be streamed to an XO from a school library or other server.
Collections of books matched with a specific reader -- pdfs with the xbook activity, crossmark books with the ejohn ebookreader -- will be distributed across a school. Larger collections will be stored on the school library; on of the small servers can hold 10,000 books.