OLPC India/Khairat Technical

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Khairat school, OLPC India

XOs at Khairat getting charged (Picture by Carla)

Contents

Credits

  1. All photos are by Carla unless otherwise mentioned.
  2. Most of the textual matter is by Arjun

Deployment of Laptops in general - reaction, expectations and feelings

The kids love their XOs and remain with them all day. The parents of the kids spend time with their kids and the XOs and have started to take an interest in learning about the various things their child learns from the XO. I observed that -

  • Most of the parents are familiar with the term 'Computer' and consider the XO to be a computer. However, since they have never worked on the computer, they
  • The green color and the various visual design elements make the XO an attractive and easy to take to machine. For example the green color of the XO is a symbol of prosperity in India and in the Indian Flag.
  • The parents are very keen to use the internet from the XO. Currently only one newspaper is distributed in the village which arrives late in the day as the village is far from the city. The parents are excited about reading many Marathi newspapers for free on the XO.

School server - default setup and road ahead

picture of school server

Hardware

The school server machine is a P4 2.4Ghz machine with 512MB of RAM.

Software

School server - power solutions

The power solutions for the school server would be different for alternative power solutions for charging the XOs. This is because the power consumption of the school server is more than the power consumption of the XOs.

Providing internet in the remote village

Currently a dialup internet connection through a fixed wireless phone that has been provided by Reliance Communications connects to the school server. See here for details about the connection provided. There is a plan to connect Khairat with a faster internet connection. However the remote location and a small number of users make it difficult to arrive on a quick solution.

Localization, Keyboard and Fonts

The current XOs have English keyboards. However latest software builds also support rendering and display of Hindi, Marathi and various other Indian languages.

XOs are getting charged
Children working while charging

A Devangari keyboard layout is in prototype stage.

Devanagari Keyboard Layout

For the languages spoken in India, localization teams exist for

  • Bengali
  • Hindi
  • Punjabi
  • Malayalam
  • Urdu

Bengali, Hindi and and Urdu teams seem to be quite active. There is also talk about the Pune center of Redhat being involved in the Indic localization efforts. Rendering is flawless for most activities, with high quality Free/Open Source Open Type fonts existing for most, if not all scripts. The Lohit set of Indic fonts, which come with Fedora have good coverage. Sayamindu

Overview of observed Bugs

Alignment of power adapters

The power strips available in India require the power adapters to be at 90 degrees to the current alignment. This issue has already been resolved as there are now two variants of power adapters being manufactured.

Touchpad

Kids were facing difficulty in having a good amount of control on the cursor using the touchpad. There are three attributes to this -

  • Kids use more than one finger - sometimes 2 to 3
  • A variety of different conditions under which the keyboard is used - sometimes sweaty hands, hands with a little amount of mud etc.
  • Jumpy mouse bugs - most of which as of today have been resolved. See

5799 and 4183

The journal

Some XOs on the 613 images had their Journal gone. Image 616 fixed that bug. Once the teacher lost his files. As a result an automatic backup script was written by Amit in the site. (Carla) Ticket #3978 tracks this. As of today, this bug is fixed.

Small text and buttons

Some text and buttons are too small for the kids to be able to click easily. Ticket #4070 tracks this.

Alternative power solutions

Electricity supply at the village is not reliable and in a day the power cuts can range from 4-20 hours.

Comment by Carla - The power supply in town is not very reliable, so many days we didn't have power, or had it intermittently. The children tried to bring their XOs charged, but still some needed to charge them at school.

Solar power

We tested out a solar panel at the project site by taking current and voltage measurements. We got about 12V 400mA output in maximum sunlight intensity. This value changes if the orientation/slant of the solar panel is changed. The power obtained is thus about 4.8W which is close to the theoretical limit of 6W of the solar panel. This solar panel costs about $10.

Cow power

First prototype


We explored the development of alternative power solutions in the village. Our approach was to develop power solutions around locally available mechanisms. At the village (pilot site near Mumbai) we explored the ideas of using solar power (in Mumbai sunlight is not consistently strong) , running water (we couldn't find any local water bodies nearby), wind power (no wind in the that area), mounting small dynamos on bicycles (we found out that in that area bicycles aren't that common at all, esp in that village). But the village had an abundance of cattle - that were being used in the fields. So we decided to design something around that.


Read details about the Cow Power solution and updates here

Working with content creation groups

I want to develop content, how do I help?

For now, we are hosting learning resources here on the OLPC wiki. To get started, take a look at the Educational activity guidelines. Then, visit the page of sample learning activities to find a list of learning activities and templates in development.

Comment by Carla

I was very involved with the technical side with Amit, until Manu and Arjun arrived. I still was in the loop but more involved with the educational side. So, I'll focus on the aspects that had an impact on the educational side Khairat Chronicle. We worked with the developers daily to tackle these issues.

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