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Robby, grandmother and media -- photo by his father, Robert S. Stepno

A little late to get in on the ground floor of One Laptop Per Child, I started catching up in December 2007, thanks to the Give One Get One program. Since then I've been exploring the cutest little green computer on the planet... and ways that I might make some contributions to the project. I've also been learning to use the XO's Activities and associated tools, including this wiki, where I've edited and re-edited this page to learn to do links, headings and more...

Secret identity

"Robby" is the "inner child" of Bob Stepno, a former mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper. My authentic Robby picture marks the beginning of my interest in news reporting, assisted by my grandmother, and documented photographically by Robert S. Stepno, my dad, probably using the Voigtlander camera he brought home from World War II.) Other information, mostly in shades of green, here:

XOlogy and biography

Now a journalism and media studies professor at Radford University in southwest Virginia... Along with writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and websites, I've stumbled in and out of anthropology, ethnomusicology and the computer industry... along the way discovered "hypertext" and online communities in the 1980s, before the Web began... and, in the process, developed a fascination for new technologies for writing and communication -- from my first 26-pound "portable" Osborne-1 computer in 1982 to this XO almost exactly 25 years later!

My XO arrived well before Christmas. Since then, I've been watching the online docs,[1] wikis and forums[2] develop... while I traveled with the XO from Virginia to New York City, Connecticut, Rhode Island, back to Virginia and as far south and west as Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis... making extensive use of T-Mobile at Starbucks along the interstate highway named for Al Gore's dad.

Contributing to the community: XO Write Activity & Journalism

After a few days poking around in the wiki and help forums I belatedly discovered a familiar face user:sj involved with OLPC, and he pointed me to the Report project as a place I might be able to contribute.

I also suggested that the XO's library incorporate some journalism tutorials originally written for the MIT Media Lab's Silver Stringers project. Either someone took my advice or I had missed the fact that the tutorial documents are already here: Learning_activities/Journalism

Since then I've started a discussion of how they might be adapted for youngsters using the XO.

I've made other contributions to the XO documentation:

OLPC Community Support Forum.


  1. An early version of the keyboard-shortcuts wiki page was wrong: alt-tab, not ctrl-tab, cycles among running programs (activities, in XO speak)
  2. Related SAD discovery, two weeks later: My alt-key sticks at times, creating much randomness. See my symptoms and the official bug track discussion and RMA verdict.
  3. The reason the RTF files from the Write activity on the XO aren't readable on a Macintosh is that they aren't really RTF files, but Write's native "ABIWord" format. Only the name is changed. Using "Keep" to save files as HTML or plain text does create versions readable on any other text editor. I've added notes about this to the Write page.

Linux Humor...?

XObservation: Was someone from MIT making an inside joke when they called xo programs "activities," including the Linux terminal... which makes working directly in unix the "terminal activity"?

But this terminl is far from deadly... It may be where I learn the most from the XO, exploring its Linux understory to copy files, install Opera and fix small problems like the system date, with help from a Unix-all-star friend.

Robby 16:45, 8 January 2008 (EST)