Archive/Current Events/2011-04-02

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Sugar Digest

1. I have been on the road again. The good thing about travelling is that I get a lot of code written. The bad news is that I am not getting enough sleep. Last week, I was in Oslo for the GoOpen conference. GoOpen is an annual event in which the city of Oslo celebrates Free Software. I flew overnight from Boston on Monday. Tuesday evening, I was on a really fun panel with Simon Phipps, Allison Randal, Erik Möller, Knut Yrvin and Jonas Öberg. Johannes Brodwall was the moderator of a two-hour-long banter about the culture of Free Software. Before catching some Zs, I had a chance to upgrade the software on Håkon Lie's XO. I gave a keynote the next morning and then headed to the airport in order to get to POSSCON in Columbia South Carolina. I didn't get to the hotel in Columbia until 1AM Thursday morning, which was conveniently located right across the street from convention center. I was a bit confused—a combination of the late hour and lack of sleep—as there was an electronic billboard advertising the Pest Control convention. POSSCON/Pest Control? Am I in the right city? I did find the conference the next morning, where I met up with a number of old friends there, including Mel Chua, David Nalley, Leslie Hawthorn, and David Trask.

At GoOpen, I met Håkon Eriksen from the GNU Free Call project. He and his colleagues are developing a smart phone environment that draws heavily upon the Sugar desktop and collaboration metaphors. The developers are looking at making a GUI-demo available shortly using the FDroid app-repository at

Simon Phipps is part of a group of former Sun employees that are supporting a number of projects that were abandoned by Oracle after their acquisition of Sun. One of their projects, OpenAM, looks promising for filling a need we have in Sugar: it provides a centralized authentication service for single sign-on that can be federated. This could be used for supporting activity upload sites that could be accessed at schools, deployment-wide, and globally, with different authorities at each level. I am more and more convinced that having a facility for sharing projects is critical to our pedagogical mission and to our growth. OpenAM may be a candidate project for helping us implement such a facility.

I spoke with David Nalley about the 4th Grade Math project. It struck us that while there has been a lot of work done on the project, its impact has not been felt very broadly yet. One concrete idea that came from our discussion was to create a "collection" on the Activity Library to bring all the math-related activities into one place. Would everyone who is working on 4th Grade Math please send me info about your activity so that I can include it in the math collection.

I turned David Trask onto Turtle Blocks. While he continues in his efforts to get Sugar integrated into the Maine laptop program, he will be able to add Turtle Blocks to their builds right away, thus giving the teachers and students a taste of Sugar.

2. Next week there will be a meeting in Cambridge organized by Claudia Urrea of the pedagogical leads from many of the OLPC deployments to discuss evaluation. While "Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts"–Albert Einstein–there is an important place for reflection and feedback within learning. This meeting will give us an opportunity to share current practices and broaden our mutual perspectives on assessment.

In the community

3. Sdenka Salas reports that April 12–16, 2011, there will be a second SugarCamp in Puno. They have set the goal of finishing the translation of Sugar interface into Aymara and Quechua. The event is cosponsored by the Regional Directorate of Education in Puno and Escuelab.

Help wanted

4. Florent Pigout reported on the Sugar Devel list that OLPC-France is working on a new activity named 'AToiDeJouer' ('YourTurnToPlay'). The project is in its early stage, but a screencast is available. Children will open the activity with an existing story and remix it with their own artwork and music. The source code for the activity is available in git. Patches welcome.

5. We have some traction regarding the Tour of Uruguay event next month, but more help would be appreciated. Please contact me if you can lend a hand.

Tech Talk

6. We continue to make progress on Turtle Blocks Version 107, which has plug-in support. I've gotten great feedback from the WeGo, NXT, and Arduino teams and it seems that the framework is sufficiently robust to satisfy that diversity of needs. At POSSCON, I spent some time with a group that makes a 3-D printer. I may crank out a plugin to support that peripheral from Turtle Blocks as well. Stay tuned.

7. I've also continued working on a new Learn-to-Read activity. I hope to have a prototype for testing available within a week.

8. Gary Martin has been holding weekly design meetings at which we have been making steady progress addressing the variety of open issues with the Sugar UI. This past week we discussed the UI changes that Gonzalo Odiard has proposed to the Record activity. Of note is the progress towards integrating "write-to-Journal-any-time" functionality, which is available for any activity.

Sugar Labs

Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past few weeks of discussion on the IAEP mailing list.

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