Archive/Current Events/2011-03-15

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Sugar Digest

1. Hats off to Simon Schampijer and Sascha Silbe who have released Sugar 0.92. While primarily a maintenance release, there are some new feature of note; for example, better handling of Sugar Journal objects when copied to/from removable media. Release notes coming soon.

2. Last week, I was in Lima, where Claudia Urrea, Kiko Majorga, Sdenka Salas and I ran some workshops for teachers and teacher trainers: 1000 teachers on Monday and 25 teacher trainers and curricula development specialists on Tuesday and Wednesday. The theme was ostensibly robotics: Peru is distributing robotics kits to all of the schools. We walked through lots of different approaches to using Sugar to interact with the physical world, through sensors and software (Turtle Art, Scratch, Etoys, Measure). We had them build sensors, calibrate them, and then program some activity with them. They made great progress and had lots of fun. Sugar enthusiasm abounds!

They are in the process of migrating to 10.1.3 as well as distributing machines to high-school students running Fedora with Open Office installed. (These machines will also include Scratch and the GNOME version of Turtle Art, which has undergone a great deal of refactoring.)

3. Other activities: I connected Sebastian Silva and Somos Azucar up with a group at the US Dept. of State who is interest in English-language learning. They are going to develop tools for a pilot in Colombia. When he returns from paternity leave, he can give us an update. Also, I have been contacted by three commercial companies who are interested in working with Sugar: UK company that makes class-participation tools has ported their system to Sugar and is looking for help with pilots (they may do a pilot in Peru); a Korean company is interested in porting some Sugar apps to Android – interesting in light of the ongoing discussion on IAEP list; and a Canadian company that has been making constructionist-like learning tools for more than 30 years. Also, OLPC France is working on a new activity to let children build stories; this is a request from a foundation in France who wants to deploy this activity in several schools by the end of April.

4. Stefan Unterhauser (dogi) has a preliminary version of Sugar running in the “Cloud”. He is using VNC to push the output of Sugar running in a VM to a browser. It works remarkably well and may well be the easiest way to demo Sugar to potential users.

5. Raul Gutierrez Segales (now working at Collabora) and I have been working on extending Sugar-collaboration to GNOME, using Turtle Art as the test case. It is quite exciting to be able to work transparently between the GNOME desktop and a Sugar instance. We'll be pushing out an RPM and a new version of the .xo file in a few days.

We've been doing a lot of refactoring of the code with some unexpected results: since you can share bitmaps and since you can now use the camera as a sensor, you can write a video broadcast system in Turtle Art – it takes all of three blocks (well, 7 blocks if you want it to work well). Meanwhile, Tony Forster and Guzman Trinidad have been cranking out great science and engineering projects using sensors and sounds.

Part of the refactoring effort has been to make it easier to plug new devices into Turtle Art. At present, there are plugins for the camera, audio sensors, and RFID tag readers. There are plugin projects to support Arduino, Lego WeDo, Lego NXT, and the GoGo board.

6. Belated thanks to Laura, Alex, Parul, and Julie, the MIT marketing team that did an analysis of Sugar Labs. Their final presentation can be found at