Archive/Current Events/2009-09-30

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Sugar Digest

1. It was busy week: Simon, Aleksey, Sascha, and Tomeu have been working around the clock on putting the finishing touches on the new 0.86 release of Sugar while Gary has been trying to keep pace with testing and documentation. It is looking great. I kept busy too: chasing a few more bugs in Turtle Art; writing a grant proposal with help from David, David, and Caroline to the Wal-Mart foundation (seeking support to run teacher workshops and do outreach); meeting with a team from Babson who will help us develop a plan for how to present Sugar to school districts; a panel at the Harvard Kennedy School to a gathering of entrepreneurs in technology and development, ‘Beyond Mobile: The Next Generation of Technology for Empowerment’; an article in Groklaw (with lots of help from Sean); and a presentation at Software Freedom Day.

I did have a chance to do some reading: Bahktiar Mikhak posted a link to an old paper by Seymour Papert, "Computer Criticism vs. Technocentric Thinking". He wrote it almost 30-years ago and I had last read it more than 10-years ago, but it is still relevamt today.

My favorite quote from the paper is: "The context for human development is always a culture, never an isolated technology."

Another gem: "If you ask, 'What does a LOGO practitioner need to know?' the answer goes beyond the ability to use and teach LOGO. The practitioner needs to be able to talk about LOGO, to criticize it, and to discuss other people's criticisms." .replace('LOGO','Sugar')

2. I have a bit more to report regarding last week's meeting at the Interamerican Development Bank. The afternoon discussion ended on an interesting note: what if anything should we be doing regarding curriculum development? Again Papert: "Science as inquiry rather than as answers". More concretely, when we first set up the teacher workshops in Peru we challenged the teachers on the first day to come up with a way to enhance something from the national curriculum by using Sugar to be presented on the final day of the workshop. We didn't give them a curriculum—they already had that from the ministry of education. Rather, we wanted them to engage in a process of inquiry. They rose to the challenge and engaged in a collaborative discussion of discovery throughout the week-long event.

Papert's version: "Using the computer not as a 'thing in itself' that may or may not deliver benefits, but as a material that can be appropriated to do better whatever you are doing (and which will not do anything if you are not!)"

A final word from Papert: "Do Not Ask What LOGO Can Do To People, But What People Can Do With LOGO." .replace('LOGO','Sugar')

3. A few of us were on IRC Friday evening discussing with Rubén Rodríguez Pérez his effort to port Sugar to Trisquel. By the time I got to the venue for the Boston celebration of Software Freedom Day, I had gotten this email:

Hello everybody,
The Sugar+Trisquel beta is ready for testing, many thanks to Aleksey Lim and everyone in the #sugar and #fsfsys channels who helped us to get it. The current release is a fully free live CD based in Sugar 0.84, running on top of Trisquel-edu 2.2.1 LTS "Robur" (which is itself Hardy based). We will soon build one with Trisquel 3.0, for better hardware support.
We are very excited with this collaboration, as it will be a new and fully libre way to distribute Sugar, and also a powerful tool to include in our educational operating system Trisquel Edu.
Highlights:
-Installable live CD, with MD5 self-checking utility.
-Persistent user data in live-usb sessions, usb-creator included.
-Boot menu with 30 selectable languages.
-LTSP thin client support using a Trisquel Edu server.
-Sugar style artwork, screenshots attached.
It is a work in progress, but stable enough to be used and get some tests. The artwork is also a proof of concept and can be easily changed. We would be pleased if you send us your impressions and advices.
Known bugs in this release:
-No sound in flash videos
-No network selector
The i686 iso image can is here:
http://devel.trisquel.info/trisquel-sugar_2.2.1-beta_i686.iso
Enjoy!
Rubén.

Tech Talk

4. Bryan Berry announces on behalf of the Karma team that KARMA 0.1 has been released. See [1] for details.

5. Marten Vijn announced that there is a new global mirror for Sugar available at http://sugarlabs.cdn.cacheboy.net/

Sugar Labs

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