Archive/Current Events/2013-07-24

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Sugar Digest

It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies. They are not here to worship what is known, but to question it. --Jacob Bronowski

1. It has been a long while since my last post. Too much travel. I started writing this post sitting at the gate in Tel Aviv, waiting for my flight to New York to depart. (My second overnight flight in three days.) Since then, I have also been to Sydney and back (for the second time in two months).

Two things brought me to Tel Aviv: the Shaping the Future conference on educational technology and the possibility of a Sugar deployment in the Negev.

The conference, sponsored by CET [1] was very stimulating. I hung out in the policy track to try to get an insight into the government decision-making process. Not sure I came away with any new ideas, but I did make some new friends, including former governor Bob Wise from West Virginia. The governor knows Idit Harel, whose MamaMedia group contributed some early apps [2] to Sugar. He is presently President, Alliance for Excellent Education [3]. I was impressed by his pragmatism.

CET itself is quite impressive in the degree to which they mix deep thinking about pedagogy with practical development of learning materials. Many thanks to my hosts, Gila, Avi, and Cecelia. They will be involved in whatever ends up happening in the Negev. It is looking as if it will be an Android tablet deployment, so they are hoping to pull together a team to help the Sugar community to accelerate its efforts to get Sugar (or a Sugar-like experience) running on Android. Stay tuned.

I met up with Claudia Urrea and Gonzalo Odiard in Sydney. We spend five days with Rangan Srikhanta and the OLPC AU team. The first day we visited a school in the outskirts of Sydney that is using Sugar. I was thrilled to see the children engaged in problem solving, using the computer as a tool, working in small groups in the classroom, each group self-directed. No babysitting with rote-learning games.

At the OLPC AU office, we spent several days brainstorming about ways to add value to the overall program in Australia, which goes beyond distributing hardware and software to providing training, support, and sharing of resources. It is a program with great potential.

One highlight was meeting Ian Mackie, who is deeply invested in the prosperity of the indigenous peoples of Australia. He is excited about the prospects of getting local language support into Sugar. I have connected him with Chris Leonard.

I also got to spend some time with a former student, Vadim Gerasimov, who is working for Google in Sydney. Vadim is helping me with a GDrive webservice for Sugar. We have a command-line version working and I hope to have it integrated into Sugar in short order.

2. During my blogging hiatus, Google Summer of Code began. Our Google Summer of Code students are Kalpa, Marion, Rahul, Suraj, Akshit, Anna, Casey, and Erik. We have a group meeting every Friday at 13:00 EST on #sugar-meeting. Please join us.

3. I neglected to mention that Sugar Labs has received about 200 USB keys from the Recycle USB program [4] run by Nexcopy [5]. My plan is to distribute these keys (with Sugar installed) on Turtle Art Day, which is scheduled for 12 October.

In the community

4. The RIT Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction & Creativity (MAGIC) is pleased to announce that a student-led project entitled “Sky Time” has been selected for inclusion in the White House Champions of Change event on July 23rd in Washington, D.C. [6].

Tech Talk

5. A few months back, George Hunt announced the release of XSCE 0.3 [7]:

  • XSCE now runs on the XO-1.5,XO-1.75 and XO-4.
  • Modular Architecture: cleanly integrate extendable services.
  • XSCE runs on the XOs' current OS 13.1.0 (we discovered some wrinkles with 13.2.0 which push its use off to the next release)
  • Moodle is Back!
  • Content filtering via
  • Script for formatting of SD cards, and integration into system for content sto

rage and memory extending swap file (does not work on XO4's)

Since then, there has been another School Server code sprint (hosted by Jerry Vonau) documented here [8].

6. We are making much progress on the road to the Sugar 0.100 (1.0) release. Daniel Narveaz and Manuel Quiñones continue pushing forward on the HTML5/Javascript support [9]. Suraj has been blogging about his efforts [10]. I spent the weekend writing my first JS Sugar activity [11]. Lots to learn.

Sugar Labs

7. Please visit (and contribute to) our planet [12].