1. We are getting very close: Caroline Meeks and I visited the computer lab at the Waltham Massachusetts YMCA to test the latest Sugar on a Stick images built by Sebastian Dziallas and the release team. The lab is a small room with 10 tower PCs of different models and manufacturers. We managed to get nine out of ten machines to boot. Three of the machines required a "helper CD", since they didn't have USB boot ability in the BIOS. The one machine that would not boot Sugar on a Stick wouldn't even power on, so arguably we had a 100% success rate!!
There are still a few issues to work out: the helper CD, which is based on Fedora 9, only seems to work for SoaS-1 (the Fedora-10-based images). Sebastian, Sascha Silbe, and Simon Schampijer are investigating (and issued a new helper CD while I was writing this). A seemingly more intractable issue is the network. The lab has a wired network with static IP addresses assigned to each machine. I was able to get the network working but the process is tedious—I don't think we can expect teachers and young children to use ifconfig, route, etc. from the shell. I also had to boot each machine in Windows, get the IP address, netmask, gateway, and DNS, but this is something that needs only to be done once per machine. Configuring the network on Sugar on a Stick has to happen every time, presuming the children will be jumping from machine to machine. A control panel widget for setting up a static IP address is a first step, but I wonder if there is an easier way.
Caroline and I will be back to the Y in a week (Healthy Kids Day) to test the set up with children and parents attending a day-long open house. This will be the first real test of Sugar on a Stick by children in a real-world setting.
Many thanks to the release team, everyone who has been helping with the testing, and a tip of the hat to Sebastian, who has made an extraordinary effort.
2. I am more than a little behind in my weekly Sugar update. Between planes, trains, and automobiles I have not had the time or ability to concentrate on writing.
After leaving the Skolelinux meeting in Bergen, I went to Paris where I spent a couple of days meeting with Sean Daley, Patrick Sinz, and the crowd at Solutions Linux. Sean and I demoed Sugar on a Stick to a crowd gathering around the Open Office booth–Open Office has a team in France working on a version for children (and maybe for Sugar?). Other potential projects we discussed at Solutions Linux included extending the file sharing and privacy models within Sugar.
From Paris I went to Bolzano, where I spent two days with another Patrick—Ohnewein—and Bernie Innocenti at the TIS Innovation Park. We met with Prof. Alessandro Efrem Colombi and some of his colleagues and students from the Free University of Bozen - Bolzano faculty of education. We had an animated discussion about how to advance the engagement of teachers in constructionist thinking as facilitated by Sugar. He and his students seem ready to engage from both a pedagogical and technological perspective.
Back in Boston, I met with Seth Weinberger. His foundation, Innovations for Learning, makes the TeacherMate, a small hand-held device with embedded Gnash applications running in it. He and his team have developed some nice reading and math activities that could be readily ported to Sugar in the form of Gnash desktop activities, as per the discussion about bundles being led by Wade Brainerd on the sugar-devel list.
In the community
3. Looks like Sugar Labs be joining OLPC France at a "Sugar Camp" in Paris on the weekend of 16 May. Details forthcoming.
4. Luke Macken has added support in the Fedora liveusb-creator for automatically downloading various Fedora releases, as well as Sugar on a Stick!
5. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion on the IAEP mailing list (Please see SOM).