Archive/Current Events/2009-07-06

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Sugar Digest

1. It has been a busy week for Sugar Labs.

The center piece was the announcement of Sugar on a Stick, Strawberry. May thanks due to Sebastian Dziallas and the Fedora packaging team as well as Sean Daly and the Sugar Labs marketing team (we got unprecedented international coverage). Simon Schampijer organized a Sugar Labs booth at LinuxTag (see his write-up below).

The bookends were the FOSSed and NECC meetings. Caroline Meeks and I ran a workshop for teachers at FOSSed and along with Caryl Bigenho, Stephen Jacobs, and Mike Lee, we presented at NECC unplugged.

Caroline and I also made several trips to the Gardner and Lilla G. Frederick schools, where we are conducting Sugar on a Stick pilot programs this summer. We are running planning sessions with the teachers and start working with the students next week. Both schools have structured programs in the morning and open-ended discovery in the afternoon. It is in these afternoon sessions that we'll be using Sugar, as a compliment to the morning activities.

2. Two high-school students from Rwanda are interning with me this summer. Eric and Peter will be adding some debugging features to Turtle Art and following up with some classroom experiments when they return to Rwanda in August. We'll take some inspiration from some observations Raúl Gutiérrez Segalés and I made while debugging Turtle Art project remotely. It was clear that it wasn't clear to the programmer where in the code one was executing at the time of an error. Eric and Peter's goal is to highlight the brick being executed as one steps through the program. Raúl, for his part, has taken on the challenge of adding hover-activated tool tips.

3. Alan Kay, Tony Forster, Ed Cherlin et al. have been in a discussion (1, 2) about teaching physics that highlights the difference between diagnostic aids and physical thinking. Worth a read. K. K. Subramaniam (Subbu) pointed to a parody, "The Montillation of Traxoline" that really spoke to me about the problem of "the 'intermediation' that has crept into the science education in recent decades. It is no longer about direct experience. It is about dealing with text in books, pictures on charts and movies on screen. It is about literacy, not comprehension."

4. Meanwhile, in the spirit of Sugar, we now have a page in the wiki describing how to modify the Physics Activity.

5. Simon made regular reports from LinuxTag in his blog. Kudos to Simon for all his work in organizing the booth and to Tony Anderson, David Van Assche, Sean Daly, Sebastian Dziallas, Bert and Rita Freudenberg and the Squeak Team, Adam Holt, and James Zaki. Also thanks to our booth partners, Skolelinux, X2GO, and Linux4Afrika.

Help Wanted

6. Maria del Pilar Saenz has put out a call for participation in the various Sugar Labs Colombia programs. "If you are a teacher, engineer, student, free software enthusiast or related, you can collaborate. No matter the experience you have, what's most important is the dedication that can be given to projects."

In the community

7. I'll be giving a keynote at GUADEC; my plan is to both introduce Sugar to the broader desktop community (with the goal of recruiting more contributors), to sing the praises of the desktop—the cloud is not the solution to all problem—but also articulate the need for more simplicity along the entire spectrum from developers to end users.

8. Squeakfest will be held in Los Angeles 10–12 August and in Porto Alegre 23–25 Julho.

9. There will be a Sugar track at the Free Software Week in Bolzano, Italy, the week of 9 November 2009. We will likely start the Sugar Hackfest the weekend before in order to accommodate the restricted schedules of some of our community members, e.g., students. Free Software Week (and South Tyrol Free Software Conference 2009) is sponsored by TIS innovation park.

Tech Talk

10. Fred Grose continues to keep watch over our wiki. It remains a navigable site despite our growth in content and diversity over the past year.

11. Thomas C Gilliard has added a Sugar VM to the Virtual Appliance Marketplace.

12. Aleksey Lim announced V3 of the Sugar Activities Library. Aleksey merged and adapted the AMO upstream code (the Mozilla Addon codebase).

Sugar Labs

13. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion on the IAEP mailing list (Please see SOM).