Archive/Current Events/2011-10-11

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Sugar Digest

1. Sugar 0.94 has been released! Many thanks to the Release Team for pulling together this latest version of Sugar. It has many improvements, particularly around Journal interaction. The Internationalization Team did a big push to get updated translations into place. And the Activity Team used the release as an opportunity to do a major cleanup of the activity toolbars. It is great to see Sugar continuing to make improvements. Congratulations to all of you who contribute through writing patches, designing, testing, providing feedback, supporting infrastructure, translating, documenting, marketing, and, most important, deploying.

2. My friend Laura Marés Serra sent me a link to the plot summary of a movie from 2002 of which I was unaware: The First $20 Million is Always the Hardest.

Andy, a successful marketing guy quits his job, because he feels disconnected with the values about work he learned from his father. He gets a new job at a top notch research facility, where he quickly makes a powerful enemy who makes him volunteer for a nearly impossible project: The $99 Personal Computer. He recruits the only available guys at the lab, three sociopaths. Together they really compile a revolutionary PC for $99, but then they become the victims of a venture capitalist and Andy's old foe from the research lab. Can he and his new friends find a way to overcome the problems? (Plot summary by kaeng)

No mention of the learning software that runs on the laptop. We'll have to have a screening to see if it is a harbinger of Sugar as well as OLPC.

3. There was an article in the Oct 3 issue of The New Yorker magazine about mentoring that I found quite interesting. "Personal Best" is by Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon, who describes how coaching has helped him eclipse the performance plateau he had reached in his practice. He goes on to describe coaching in the context of classroom teaching. I was reminded of some of the interventions being done in classrooms in Caacupé. We need to continue to look for ways to help teachers better leverage available tools and techniques to reach their children.

4. Mariana Cortez Ludmila hosted Pablo Flores and me in Mexico DF last week. Together we ran a workshop on how to write a Sugar Activity. I had asked the participants to prepare by reading the first few chapters of Jim Simmons's book on the topic and most had attended a seminar on Sugar and learning taught by Mariana the day before. We started off the morning with a puzzler intended to identify the more tech-oriented (geeky) attendees. This was followed by a quick review of some goals for activity developers, including encouraging risk taking by the children. I concluded with a favorite quote from Samuel Beckett: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better." After brief introductions, we broke into teams to work on projects. I went from team to team, kibitzing on their progress and occasionally brought something to the attention of the entire room. In parallel, my team--myself, Chris Rowe, and Paulina Clares--worked on an activity en plein air. My laptop was being projected throughout the entire day so that everyone could watch me take two steps forward and one step backward. In the end, we had a new activity, FractionBounce and many more works in progress. I am hoping that this hands-on approach to the workshop had impact.

5. The Butia Team Sumo robotics competition held last month has been written up on the Butia Wiki. Looks like a great event!!

6. Andres Aguirre (along with other members of the Butia Team) have also been working in accessibility. They've developed a new activity, MouseCam, that lets children with disabilities control the XO by holding up picture cards. You can see it in action here.

7. Ed Cherlin, who is creating a series of tutorials for exploring math and programming, gets this month's prize for the most unexpected use of Turtle Art: Stack Programming. Ed has emulated Forth in Turtle Art. Coming soon: a Turtle Art version of the great Forth lessons being written by Mitch Bradley.

In the community

8. The winners of the International TuxPaint Contest were announced. Winners are getting Sugar on a Stick!!

9. The Junin Sugar Camp has been written up on the Sugar Labs Argentina wiki. Looks like it was a really nice venue.

10. October 21-23: the SF summit. Read about it here.

11. I gave a short talk at Software Freedom Day in Boston (video starting at 6:30).

Tech Talk

12. Aleksey Lim has released the latest version of Sweets, a Zero Install-based package management system for Sugar. The release notes are in the wiki, but also, a very nice explanation of his goals is available in the sugar-devel archives. Aleksey's ultimate goal is to encourage more "doing" by the community and he makes a compelling argument that infrastructure does matter in advancing this goal.

Sugar Labs

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

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