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Laptop News 2008-04-12

1. Marvin Minksy has been writing a series of essays on learning. The first three essays are available on the wiki (See Marvin Minsky essays). The themes to date include "What makes Mathematics hard to learn?", "Drawbacks of Age-Based Segregation", "What’s wrong with the 50-minute hour", "Role Models, Mentors, and Imprimers and Thinking", "Thinking about Thinking about Ways to Think", "How do children acquire self-images?", and "Finding Mentors in Network Communities."

2. OLE Nepal have posted their teacher preparation materials to the wiki. The materials cover basic use of the XO, constructionist theory and practice, and using the XO to facilitate the learning process. Bipul Gautam created the 63-page teacher Preparation guide, which is entirely in Nepali. Prabhas Pokharel has agreed to organize a group of Nepali Harvard students to translate it into English (See Nepal: Teacher Preparation).

3. Bryan Berry has created a basic training program for support personnel that are familiar with computers, but new to the XO hardware and Linux (See Nepal: Support Training). Teachers Manoj Ghimire of Bishwamitra and Neema Lama of Bashuki were the first trainees to use these materials.

4. Hot topics: This week saw debates on some of the OLPC mailing lists and in the wiki. A paper called "Freezing More Than Bits: Chilling Effects of the OLPC XO Security Model" will be presented on Monday at USENIX UPSEC'08 ([1]). You can read the paper ([2]) and view the discussion to date on in the archives of the OLPC security list ([3]). Another discussion has been in regard to build and release strategy (See [4] and User:Mstone/August planning). Michael Stone has documented a conversation that he, Jameson Chema Quinn, Chris Ball, and Robert McQueen had about the UI problems posed by our current bundle format (See User:Mstone/Bundle commentary and Bundles and updates). And finally the new Sugar interface was the topic of discussion in the sugar list (See [5]). In the wiki, Chris Leonard and Charles Merriam have been working on some naming conventions to make it easier to navigate the almost 6000 content pages in the wiki (See Conventions).

5. Where did all the activities go? There still seems to be some confusion around the process of loading activity bundles post-Build 703. Please refer to Customization key for instructions regarding bulk loading of activities.

6. JS-Python Communication: K.S. Preeti has been working with Manusheel Gupta, Dan Bricklin, and Luke Closs to enable JS-Python communication using PyXPCOM. They have been successful in creating an XPCOM service in JavaScript that exposes the JS code to the Browser; and an XPCOM service in Python that exposes the Python code to the Browser. The aim for this week would be to synchronously call both these services from the same interface that will lead to communication between functions written in JS, and Python. The details on the implementation of XPCOM service have been updated (See JSPython). SocialCalc (Spreadsheet activity), written in JavaSript, will be ported to Sugar using this mechanism.

7. Educational Toolkit: Manusheel Gupta has been working with Deepank Gupta, Ross Light, and David Goulet to develop an Educational Toolkit. Use-case diagrams, and XML schema have been updated (See Educational toolkit). The implementation of Parse Module, supporting decoding of XML files; Viewer Module; and ConnectionManager module are in progress (See [6]).

8. More magic from Benjamin M. Schwartz: Ben has made a DOS Console activity based on Wine (See [7]). His goal is to provide a simple system for turning any Windows program into a Sugar activity. This is still a work in progress: in order for it to run, you must first add 'org.winehq.WineConsole' to the list of RAINBOW_CONSTANT_UID activities in /usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/sugar/activity/activityfactory.py and it doesn't yet "play well with others." However, Chris Ball used already used it to installed the free-download Excel viewer (See [8]).

9. David Hodge reports that ACM and Free Culture USC have partnered up for an upcoming "Code for a Cause" programming event next week at USC. The focus will be on open-source software and the OLPC platform. Student teams will be challenged over a week-long period to develop open-source software for the OLPC platform (See [9]).

10. Kurt Gramlich would like the OLPC community know about the latest LiveCD release (See LiveBackup XO-LiveCD). Aaron Kaplan talks about his port of Sugar to the Intel Classmate ([10]) using the LiveCD. Additional information is available (in German) on linux-user.com (See [11]).

11. Scott Ananian sends his thanks to everyone who participated in last week's mini conference and requests that you upload your slides to the wiki (Mini-conference). If anyone would like to volunteer to help with transcoding of the video archive of the conferenc, please contact Scott at laptop.org.

12. Kevin Cole reports that the OLPC Learning Club DC (OLPC LCDC) held their second "Family Mesh" meetings at Gallaudet University in NW Washington, DC (See [12]).

13. Richard Smith and SJ Klein will present the XO laptop and alternative power systems at two workshops at the Massachusetts Power Shift 2008 (MAPS) conference.

14. Prakhar Agarwal reports progress on the typing tutor activity (See LetsType#Progress so far) and is soliciting feedback.

15. Dr. Habib Khan reports from Islamabad that the Pakistan Software Export Board has graciously provided OLPC Pakistan the services of an in intern, Ms. Iffat Saadia. Iffat is a developer; she is converting Biology of 8th grade into interactive ebook.

A second pilot project is being prepared at the Mehfooz Shahid Dil Model School, located in a beautiful valley in the Islamabad, Capital Territory. The school has five grades with 170 children. On Monday a week of teacher preparation begins. The school was identified with help from the National Rural Support Program ([13]).

16. Polychronis Ypodimatopoulos has been conducting more tests with Cerebro. File transfer and chat work consistently on a 30-node testbed. (Chris Ball modified the Chat activity; we now have a version that works with Cerebro and we are in the process of creating a build where Chat and Read will be using Cerebro. This build will be tested on the 100-node testbed to investigate the limits of simple mesh.)

More News

Laptop News is archived here.

You can subscribe to the OLPC community-news mailing list by visiting the laptop.org mailman site.

Press requests: please send email to press@racepointgroup.com


Latest milestones:

Nov. 2007 Mass Production has started.
July. 2007 One Laptop per Child Announces Final Beta Version of its Revolutionary XO Laptop.
Apr. 2007 First pre-B3 machines built.
Mar. 2007 First mesh network deployment.
Feb. 2007 B2-test machines become available and are shipped to developers and the launch countries.
Jan. 2007 Rwanda announced its participation in the project.

All milestones can be found here.


You can subscribe to the OLPC community-news mailing list by visiting the laptop.org mailman site.

  1. redirect OLPC:News#Press

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