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last revised: 20081027


last revised: 20081027

Page under construction.


last revised: 20081027

Page under construction

Client Community

last revised: 20081027

Time, Talent, and Treasure: we all have limited resources and must strive to use them efficiently. My time and talents are available for projects benefitting XO owners exclusively, with deployment users served preferentially over G1G1 users.


last revised: 20081027

Use the "E-mail this user" link under the "Toolbox" heading in the OLPC menu lists on the left sidebar of this page.

(This is where the menus appear in the default "skin" named "ShikiWiki" and some of the optional "skins". Other optional "skins" apparently do not provide this sidebar, at least as visible on an XO running build 767 (release 8.2.0), and therefore place the menu elsewhere or omit it or are unable to cause the content to display on an XO.)

I check email infrequently, but at least once each month, so be patient. All sincere communications will receive a reply. If a productive collaborative relationship develops, I will make available direct contact information.

Personal Page Edit policy

last revised: 20081027

Any edits to this page, other than spelling or grammar corrections, made by someone other than myself will be reverted. Edits under the "discussion" tab above that are useful or enlightening, according to my judgement, will remain until such time that I decide to delete them.

About Me

last revised: 20081027

At the moment, there is nothing of importance to say.

Editorial Content

last revised: 20081027

On the XO

last revised: 20081027

An exquisite design in need of two improvements:

  1. Open the architecture by making schematics and bill of materials publicly available.
  2. The mouse touch pad is extremely flaky, needing a four finger salute to recalibrate it at least a couple of times each hour. This is a serious problem as it sometimes creates a circumstance where the capital crime of computer science is inadvertently committed: data is destroyed. This is due to a mouse click landing somewhere it shouldn't when the cursor flits off where it should not go.

In my opinion, this is caused by static charge accumulation in some of the materials from which the touch pad is constructed, not software. Some testing under varying conditions of humidity and appropriate reengineering are therefore necessary.

On XO Software

last revised: 20081027

It is, of course, a work in progress. Nevertheless, things are much better than they were last January with build 650. Some notable items follow.


Maze and Implode

last revised: 20081027

The programs "Maze" and "Implode" included in the new G1G1 activity bundle are superb. Both provide non-verbal, graphical, challenging, stimulating, entertaining, but nevertheless indirect drilling of human reasoning and logical faculties.

Needs Work


last revised: 20081027

The Journal remains an intriguing but defective approach to state saving in release 8.2.0. It is better than it was, but there is one interaction metaphor that is worse: scrolling using the arrow keys. The XO display is very small, and the GTK scrollbar is very hard to grab using the touch pad. Before 8.2.0, pressing the down arrow key three times moved focus out of the activity bar into the Journal list, and subsequent arrow key presses would scroll up and down - very easy to use.

Now with focus in the activity bar (the default on entry to the Journal display), arrow keys move into the search option spinner and alter the search option, leading to the Jounal entries disappearing and a "no matching entries" message, which is very disturbing the first time it happens.

It is possible to use arrow key scrolling by first clicking on a Journal entry's descriptive text. This, unfortunately, also opens the entry's text to editing, exposing it to inadvertant alteration by bumping some keyboard key, something that happens all the time. Each subsequent entry's descriptive text remains open to editing with each scroll using the arrow key, and the only way to close the text to editing is to edit it, or change views out of and back to the Journal, which also removes focus from the Journal list. Clicking elsewhere in the list does not move focus to the list, which would be the simple solution.

Finally, the far right button in a Journal entry (now the details button) is still way too small to hit easily with the touch pad.

Sugar Home View

last revised: 20081027

The same scrolling issue applies to the list view of available activities on the home screen in release 8.2.0, only worse: it is not possible to use the arrow keys at all to scroll through that list.

The Frame

last revised: 20081027

Release 8.2.0's Frame is very much better than the old one, although it does take a little time to discover it and adjust to it for those of us familiar with the old metaphors. Still, after using it for a day, I wouldn't go back to the old Frame.

There is one problematic issue that remains and is exacerbated by the new metaphors: when the frame appears, it obscures the activity toolbar, thereby obscuring buttons in the toolbar. So, although putting the "tray" at the top of the Frame greatly speeds moving between activities, it still impedes interaction, since usually you want to move to another activity to do something using the toolbar and then move back. Movement between activities is therefore still a three step process, where ideally it would be at most two and preferably only one step.

Some careful and imaginative thinking, followed by actually trying to use the interface for several hours is necessary to solve this dilemma. Sliding the frame in from the bottom of the toolbar instead of the top of the display might work, but such a change needs to be tried to see if it works in practice.