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Describing a disabled adult trying to show his two little relatives (nephew is 10 years old, niece is 5 years old) the XO during a summer DC Lending Library loan period...

Writing up notes on the XO and kids first 2 day experience..


I'm just an uncle, I'm not trained for: 1) creating play dates, 2) some discipline

++Plus++) And disabled, so not fully adult myself (i.e. job, kids myself, house, car, etc)

I say disabled is like retirement, but everyone thinks you should work, but can't...

I have some time [when not chasing benefits, will to live, support groups, volunteer efforts, etc] but not money...

I was around before for baby sitting but the long commutes, and no car made it difficult...

Then when old enough parents got them back, and grandmother says 'they are not your kids', so family politics with in laws, interpersonal history (my sports car totalled [low speed, high damage] accident, I did not go to wedding), etc

But like a grand parent, I get to spoil them, and give them back.

And tattle on their parent(s): 'when they were young, they did...' ;-/

On a recent group family birthday, the 10 yo boy says: his "sister is special", I retort: "Yeah, all sisters are Special..." looking at my sister, their mother, grinning, trying to keep a straight face...

XO DAY 1 (Thursday afternoon, May 28, 2009):

Backdrop: had given a call about going out of country, catch before going, not sure what day...

First time, drop by unannounced though communicated recently, (I had 19 lending library machines in car to deliver updated system software, plus activities, and a hole in my day schedule before delivering in evening, since had picked up machines early to get before 5 pm in a local school schedule.)

Very Lucky to catch them

Show how to use [i.e. preflight checkout]

open machine (antennae/ears up, then lift lid)
power on (push button on bottom right of screen, near green light)

On startup / PowerUp:

dots 'like a clock' wait until they go all the way around...
Wait for circle/ activity menu...

and don't forget later to

close machine

I showed some Activities from before with my XO as I use mine as a commuting machine / laptop replacement with accessories of an adult size flexible keyboard and micro / MiniMouse - my touchpad is bad, goes into hyperspace after a while, found later on the wiki or bugs list as somewhat common and depends with 3 touchpad problems, some workarounds?

Don't just close the XO lid, as that sleeps, and want to shutdown

[ENHANCEMENT: need to make that easier to shutdown] Big Power button, and / or last not next to last near register]

You need to close each activity (~3 limit and just bounce around fernetically) so drill and practice - show and repeat, over and over with activities until it sticks/ learned.

After looking at icons, playing around some, the conversations goes a little like this:

Kid: "What's this [e.g. Tam Tam Synth icon]?..." Uncle: "Try that [Tam Tam Mini icon] it's easier..."

Favorite Activities

They really liked the following Activities:

Tam Tam mini (drum icon)

We had some good experience with before...

Uncle showed how to get the band to play the different bands are cultural differences,

NOTE: volume slider difficult [I'll do it]

Maze (maze? icon)

But I hadn't tried it before?!?!

But showed arrow keys on bottom right of keyboard.../

[wonder if game keys work? YES!)

It AutoMagically moved to a decision point - so didn't have to keep typing keys unlike pacman or a paddle/ joystick game...

Speak (face like icon)

10 year old:

'yo sup'

Eventually it got too loud/ annoying, so you must Turn It Down/use earphones or I will take it away...

And then had to show where to find the speaker icons near the top right of the keyboard...

AfterThought: And when did I turn into my parent(s)??? ;-/


The first day got lots of great video

as had time they were fascinated with the machines
so gave me something to do

video of first trying the machine trying to dl the photos with CF card reader BUT LOST IT

The photo serial numbers didn't match? 2 same camera models

earlier serial numbers

had to format the CF card to have memory to store second day

End First Day: Uncle's Feelings

Rather tired but excited at the reaction

had mine for years and they hadn't had any real time with it
e.g. go to a restaurant and celebrating something else
like Mother's Day
taking over a restaurant floor to show robot after months without seeing

Thinking on OLPC reporting requirements, try to get a project going...

Maybe something to give back as taking away the other loaner machines to deliver,

saying these are for 'poor children' (cringed as I said it)
and adults, but knowing they are going on a shelf
for others to check out and likely have more resources
than their disabled and hence poor uncle
who spent about a weeks time olpc-update 802
learning sharing spreadsheet
and arguing about them
but learning with machines some things I hadn't tried...

Next week going to a Mental Health State Consumer/Survivor/Ex-Patient conference and could have taken machines with me and show others???

Other Conferences

Though other channels, heard of another conference USENIX LISA coming to Baltimore, MD, Usenix is a sys admins national conference


As Loaner Development Machines

So need to develop something. and not just play time, and if good enough, maybe go out all over the world???

Consider that the kids get to decide on a project (supervising adult: 'good luck with that') preferably something together...

Like a science fair? (a 10 yo may know, but 5 yo wouldn't) but it feels like cheating to give ideas but needs some structure? they seem confused, we can't just play? you want us to do something? you start learning, but will have to turn something in...

So I threw out many [of my] ideas

USB to WowWee TriBot but DON'T HAVE YET special order $20+ universal, but Windows/Mac only? I might want to build something, create an interface...

All of which fell on deaf ears...

Lesson Learned:

Chat activity could use send pictures / video/ sound for youngest in chat who doesn't read nor write yet...

collecting and developing the ideas on an index card

XO Bag Design

I showed someone my XO as it was coming out of a plastic bag and wrapped in a t shirt for padding, so she designed a holder/ sleeve 'Do I sew? Have a sewing machine?' 'No, but mother does...'

She draw out a design, but didn't want to sign (scan image in) Maybe the kids customize it? And make many for the whole lending library? Maybe as a grand parent contribution? And if figured out, make more to keep for themselves?

Sarah had used a scarf through holes idea

Maybe add both? To keep from dropping off knees when in a car/ bus/ on to concrete, breaking, etc. I.E. put a leash on it??? For when outside the bag...

DAY 2: Friday (after school) May 29, 2009

I bring again two borrowed machines for 2 more weeks or so... loan period that will have to go back...

"I will check next week where you are on them" {later thought show and tell would be a better analogy}

I could not get agreement from the kids in 2 hours on what that would be and seriously considered not leaving the machines with them...

The 10 year old boy went off to watch TV instead, I asked if it was too hard? After being ignored for a while "doesn't want to..." "should I take it back?"

Earlier, the educational challenge of trying to explain constructionist which means build something? as traditionally teachers tell them what to do but this way 'you get to decide'??

Some Parameters/ Guidelines/ Rules

1) No pictures without parents approval

2) No internet, a standing house rule?, mesh together is ok

And showed Chat activity but 5 yo is not reading or writing so Uncle is reading what 10 year old was typing and sending

5 yo types letters that make no sense (brother teases about it) She's just pushing buttons... and maybe getting frustrated?

Sharing Chat process is confusing, both started a program

start one then join on friends/ window (third button from top left)
learning windows - neighborhood, friends, home

trying to get them chatting/ talking
 confusing ears - antennae with  [THAT'S COMPUTER TO COMPUTER]
speaker is mouth?
 leaving mouse in center of speak as nose!

Speak Neat Features

5 Year Old Discovered: that the speak activity does numbers and 5 yo knows some numbers, so program speaks out what is typed


0 is first Speak will spell out the numbers

otherwise includes thousands, etc

learn letters? type is have it said


Maybe learn to read/ write with it... How is the normal process done?

Other languages

Chinese (where parent is currently visiting) but really two or more languages Cantonese / Manderian listed on Speak activity pull down menu...

But it would not speak

Though we are not writing in the Asian character set

I'm not sure how with an English keyboard to make those

Italian (where a family member is now)

Spanish (used in their old day care)

Though the 10 year old seems to want hip hop, kewl stuff...


Touchscreen (Intel Classmate has it) I noticed the 5 yo wanting to point at stuff on the screen and 5 yo using touchpad is more difficult..

Maze keys I lucked out on the keyboard arrows on the bottom right WORKED

I later saw the face covering the maze when inactive... "What's that??" "Sleeping?!!"



but would that make them want to compete or worse yet compete?

How quick? though comparing depends on which maze?

Also how to clear the first maze runs, as they get progressively harder mazes so the next kid on it AND IT starts too hard OR set a new record/ MAZESCOREBOARD???

Pippy (snake icon, learning python programming language by exmaples)

Pippy is for what age?

[Jeff and others do a lot of python, and used at Arlington Career Center, sugar is probably designed in it, and uncle has only passing played with it, but with Lending Library starting to learn more...)]

Pong (Pippy Example Program)

10 yo lost interest for a while after maybe an hour on the machines/ competing with his sister, so I showed a game we Adults had growing up AND the game keys worked! but slow to catch it/ paddle moves slow

Cat, Mouse and Adults Pong??

Noticing kittens running around the floor, I suggested a pong modification project cat and mouse and parents picking up/ pushing back (i.e. paddle)

The 10 yo got the ball in a infinite loop (diagonal edge to edge)

Kid: "will run forever like that!" CrazyUncle: "or until the power/battery runs out!"

Then the 5 yo got it doing that too, like older brother, with some pride and joy!

Turtle Art (Turtle Icon)

She figured out the turtle, got it to move!

finding Activities/apps I've not explored turtle art, and She got it doing something

Some activities, but the small characters I could not read

Quit not on Activity stop menu bar design standard (HIG (Human Interface Guidelines) violation?)

(Cat Icon)

Cat is Squeak Scratch...

BUT IS VERY complicated environment for those above 5 yo??

I haven't figured it out, so not sure how to show it...


Though they seem to enjoy trying the ones I don't know already... Wonder what that's about???


Almost always confuse Scratch and Squeak... Cats and Mice... Tom and Jerry, which is which?

Main Home Screen Favorites

I hid Firefox which I had installed (just in case while connected before) and browse, as not allowed out in this environment... so as not to confuse [local wireless routers locked and they don't know the keys, nor do I for that matter]

Close up

Near end of (my) after school/ afternoon visit, leaving them at night, though thinking they would not get to sleep, but it's Friday, so it's the weekend, so a parent decides...

[AfterThought: Must be tired to write sentences like that...]

Parental Concerns

Supervising parent worried about leaving them, questioned "is that a good idea?" would they throw the machines at each other?

I said to 10 yo, 'you break it, you lose your Nintendo, and whatever your parents do to you'

Suggested modification: parent checks them in and out??

Environmental setup, not having general computers in the house:

plugging in power WHERE? at kitchen table power cords but had to climb under wires looked risky so next day used another power strip not crossing getting in the table, and share the power plug as it didn't fit on the power strip.

AfterThought: Bring a splitter next time?

Instructed the youngest, when orange/ plug in to charge green OK, give over power plug.

Second Day After Thoughts:

Unplugged/ untethered would limit the time at night to battery life of 2 hours to bed?

But losing it?

AfterThought: Collect them after kids fall asleep and plug in to power for the next day?


Uncle gets tired around kids with energy [can I bottle it?] but [they get it from us]...

Going for too long, competing for attention, and late in the day, so keep visits short...


DAY 10 JUNE 8, 2009 A Non XO Day :-(

Upon visiting after a week+ away and a stressful day, the two machines are not being used on this day, despite my attempts to get it started, and have not been used as much as hoped, though a parent reports used at least twice.

Older brother wants them gone, youngest doesn't have an opinion that I recall, but the youngest (5 yo) is doing her assigned homework like stuff, a web based learning words. Interesting software, and I haven't seen anything like it on the XO. [speak might be a substrate] Will have to trace down the link, and see what it would take to have something like it on XO.

Teaching words by able to click on the words and have them read to you. Moving words to a place where they describe the item (hat, pants, shoes, coat on a magician; hair colors (glasses) on a person; face types, human and mouse like; microwave, refrigerator, in a kitchen; but if internet connected why not just use the web browser?

Tech aside: Maybe a toolkit of scenarios? Object oriented and then package... Also wonder if scratch / squeak could handle it?

The instructions were also clickable, word per word, and large mouse pointer and fairly interactive and some fun type stuff. Clicking on a box makes it open, changing stuff makes odd combinations, etc...

2 Week Post Processing

Sad that it is not as I had hoped, and perhaps intentionally so with family dynamics, but seeing how things are and wondering how a bunch of XOs dropped in a community changes it. The Lending Library host organization has informally asked me not to attend and even deleted my commentary on the PovertyProject. I can't afford the $50/ month membership, and after a week of prepping the machines can't even access them 24x7 as mentioned in the meeting...

Anyway, maybe that is personality stuff, and a long commute away. Likely discrimination based on poverty and Mental Health stuff. Creating something more accessible with wheelchair and learning from general HackerSpace community might be an option, but deflating, to say the least, to be excluded and not be/ feel welcome...

As an aside, discovered Garduino project in the latest Make Magazine for indoor seed to plant control learning, and still have some hardware kit stuff to learn from, but since not welcome and excluded, not hopeful about learning without others supports.

Other learning from finding in a book store one of my likely diagnoses book author was something the other part of the family was interested in. As if, someone with something I've been talking about had actually been useful to someone...

Over the time away, would have had an opportunity to share the machines with others at a conference, but left them, as promised, to probably sit on a shelf idle...

WowWee robots were shown and people got a real kick out of that... I did connect technically with some people about the DynohubSolarPowered idea...

Still some programming to learn, could personalize python games putting faces of kids, cats, characters, and some ideas from using/ kid testing the netbook. Pong variables were played with and learning the history of the game on wikipedia...

Would need to learn a lot about instructional environments and the have/ have nots is still a digital divide.

If following the one child owning one machine principle would not be under the time lines and structure of loaner machines, but without parental purchasing at $426/ machine and waiting an indeterminate time for delivery, not an option. One parent owns a eeePC, and kids were using a beat up old laptop that was internet connected...

Maybe burning a Live XO/Sugar CD or USB stick to use the same software would be a good parting action for this term...

One XO machine was not meshing last I saw, not sure why. Check if unfriending between brother and sister rivalry actually prevents display of the other XO in neighborhood view? Or something else, got too distracted to properly test it.

Crazy Hopes

Uncle hopes to do an informal XOCamp over the next 60 days with them and eventually introduce to other kids with XOs 'in the wild...' at DC Learning Club meeting... Maybe a show and tell, what they learned, but others have had for much longer and own the machines...?

Wonder what curriculum would be created. User:DancesWithCars

Much Later

Not sure how long, might have to look it up, and I'm tired, as usual but more...

Post processing the experience. Not much use since dropped off before... Given drawings as thanks when prompted. Would like to put up here but not sure about disk space, appropriateness, etc... PLEASE LET ME KNOW, IN DISCUSSION PAGE?

Anyway, asked for info... Games liked are: StarFall.com PBSKids.com MiniClip Crazy Monkey Heavy Games Defense Games

Will have to see what some of these are not running on the XO, especially if you aren't internet connected in a village somewhere?? Javascript run them? Flash download the game to run remotely? Web detach somehow?

Game Development

Considering a mini project/ hobby of writing a game with photos of the kittens, dogs, mouse and some kids and adult overseers, all in conflict, probably through speak, or with masks, will see. Motion, conflict, resolution, fun, play, learning...

Spelling out letters in words to teach a young person (or disabled) how to read... If you click on each letter in a word and run through it fast, is that close enough to help someone learn how to read? Will see... Maybe if have energy, don't now, but just logging it for later...

Next Steps

Since the machines were only available for a limited time (2-3 weeks? but went longer?) and had to be returned to the library for other users, Sugar On A Stick/ CDRS on regular notebook (old machine for kid use) seems like a good take away/ give away...

Old notebook probably doesn't boot from USB (even my newer ones don't, 64 bit, but no virtualization support either, bleeding edge $$@@@%%&%&).

Software development (game, reading, learning, hardware DynoBikeXO, etc) (maybe on desktop in emulation, then sugarize?, trying on various setups, etc) But the hardware is especially good for child use and demoing...

XOCamp didn't happen, limited to only a few days with the kids, not structured, conflicts, etc...

Older kid did want to try buying an XO, but had to say not available, really need to run the G1G1 program all year round, for people to plan, replace machines, match school year purchases instead of just Xmas, and general parts / repair availability, etc...

For a kid in USA to buy an XO out of allowance, gift money, etc, and/or decide don't want/ instead of Nintendo DS, or whatever competing game hardware, that the other kids have/ don't have, the $100 goal XO price is one thing, but $426 with shipping G1G1 price is steep even for disabled adults, and some others...

OLPCUSA didn't happen as hoped over a year ago, economy changes, priorities, whatever, but showing machines to people that can't get them can't be good for the overall project mission, for development, implementation, deployment, etc...

OLPC Corps, AFrica and other successes in other continents keep the machine in the media spotlight, but domestic use, newer hardware (XO1.5 FatXO, XO-2 capable of running OpenOffice.org (with some headroom for growth, would be a minimum baseline, imo, similar to Sony CD standard being 600-700 MB based on longest song length known to an exec...)

Sugar as a desktop environment option in Fedora10/ 11++ makes it more available for many of us, but might need some parental controls/ sandbox/ firewall like

in sharing the adult machines (history, file access, etc)

with the host machine...

Cross platform (eeepc, and others)

What About Native Mac?

Apple II, Mac was one of the early education computers

Aspartamine (Sugar on M$ Windoze?), and other abominations as I was not intending upon personally funding a billionaire's greed...

Cross Distro (ubuntu, Debian, even LinSpire like distros?)

Cross Language? (Sugar language bindings? perl? Parrot? Java? Ruby? etc)

Cross culture learning is the best part of this project, afaict, a partner school or church in another continent might be the best learning for the USA and abroad. How do kids live here and there? What commonalities are there? What differences are there? How do we make it one world? And can't we all just get along?

So will see how it goes, some ideas and approaches are listed, more ideas generated, but need to match that to young persons wishes, available resources (time, money, knowledge, etc), and overall mission and now end of season plans and energy level(s)...