Archive/Current Events/2008-07-21

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Sugar Digest

1. Sugar Labs governance: There are still a few more loose ends to deal with before we are officially members of the Software Freedom Conservancy. In preparation, I've made a lot of changes on the governance page. Please comment.

2. Leaning: There were some interesting discussions about learning on the Education list this week:

3. OLPC in the field: Jim Gettys has published an aggregate summary of Sugar in the hands of children in the various OLPC deployments around the world (OLPC News).

4. Clarity: When talking about Sugar, I never have trouble describing the collaboration features or the reflective nature of the Journal, but I struggle with describing the interface in terms of its simplicity. "Simplicity" has an undertone of "dumbed down" and limited capability. In a discussion with Nathan Felde from the Art Institute of Boston, a division of Lesley University, we used the word "clarity", which immediately struck me as a much better term than simplicity. It doesn't imply any limit and it suggests transparency and openness, both hallmarks of the interface.

5. Studio Thinking: Nathan also introduced me to a book, Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education by Lois Hetland, Ellen Winner, Shirley Veneema, and Kimberly M. Sheridan. It is a treatise on visual arts education; the authors argue that through the arts, students learn specific "dispositions of mind" that lead to high-quality thinking. They also speak about "Studio Habits of Mind": develop craft, engage and persist, envision, express, observe, reflect, stretch and explore, and understand the world and "Studio Structures": the demonstration/ lecture, students working, and the critique. It seems there is synergy with many of the goals of Sugar. An open question is how to transfer this thinking beyond the visual arts.

Community jams and meetups

Tech Talk

6. Release process: Marco Pesenti Gritti and Michael Stone have been discussing how to integrate the Sugar and OLPC release processes:

  • Sugar Labs should try to schedule its release a few months before the

OLPC release target date (something around 2–3 months). That will give us enough time to ensure everything is stable before we start integrating the new code in the OLPC distribution.

  • Sugar developers employed by OLPC will work on OLPC release

contracts for all the new features present in the new release.

  • After the first stable release Sugar Labs will keep releasing minor

updates, which will include bug fixes and strings for the OLPC release.

  • We should make an effort to develop all the features required as

part of the unstable development cycle. Though there surely will be cases where OLPC will need changes outside the normal Sugar Labs schedule. We will land these in a limited and controlled way both during the freeze periods and as part of the stable minor releases.

7. Sucrose: Simon Schampijer announced the Sucrose Development Release 0.81.6 this week (0.82/0.81.6 Notes). You can test it in OLPC joyride >= 2129.

This first release after the feature freeze and therefore has only bug fixes. It contains as well a new Browse activity (Version 92). Due to an interface change in xulrunner the downloads were broken in Joyride. They are fixed with this Browse release. Simon Schampijer added refinements to the autocompletion feature #7281 and #7280.

Due to a name change of the Browse activity (Web->Browse) you will likely have problems updating to the latest version. Find instructions here to work around that problem (0.82/0.81.4 Notes#Instructions to test in olpc joyride).

The sources can be found here:


  • #7438 sugar shuts down when you click Restart
  • #7365 Invites not working
  • #7248 Speaker device has inconsistent behavior
  • #7339 CPU Spins after starting an activity
  • #7015 Add proper alignment support to the "tray" control
  • #5613 Cannot set non-ASCII nick name
  • #7046 Deleting activity bundle with journal leaves it showing in Home list view until reboot
  • #7391 Make the search field in Home reveal the list view
  • #7248 Speaker device has inconsistent behavior
  • #7272 Notifications are redundant with new launching feedback
  • #7273 Activity icons remain colored after launch

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this release (as well to the translation team for adding new languages and updating existing ones).

8. Handwriting: Julka Lipkova has been working on software for teaching children handwriting (handwriting activity); more details are available at

9. Movie portal: DailyMotion, which has an ogg-friendly website, is planning a video campaign to solicit new uploaded materials for OLPC (Dailymotion).

10. Sugar Almanac: Faisal Anwar continues to progress on documenting the community's best coding practices and conventions (

11. SocialCalc: Manusheel Gupta reports that the Dan Bricklin, co-inventor of VisiCalc (the first spreadsheet), Luke Closs, and K.S. Preeti have SocialCalc (a spreadsheet activity) in Sugar. This is the first Sugar activity written in JavaScript (JS) to have been integrated to Python-based Sugar environment. They did this through XOCom, a wrapper function. The XOCom package will encourage the JS community to participate in developing software and content for Sugar (Please see SocialCalc and and Installation instructions).

12. Physics: Brian Jordan and Alex Levenson have made great progress on the Physics activity (Physics-0.2.xo). Brian is planning a Physics Jam for late August (Physics meetings).

More physics: Joshua Minor created a wiki page discussing a file format for 2D physics scenes (Physics File Format).

13. Misc.: Tomeu Vizoso worked on stabilizing the development builds and helping David Van Assche who has volunteered to package Google Gears for OLPC. This work has exposed some issues in Browse that, once fixed, will allow the installation of several Firefox extensions.

Riccardo Lucchese, an intern at OLPC, will work on Browse performance during the next months; Riccardo has been doing some Sugar profiling:


Daniel Drake released Record-55 for compatibility with the newer GStreamer libraries present in Joyride/8.2.

Sugar Labs

14. Self-organizing map (SOM): Gary Martin has generated another SOM from the past week of discussion on the IAEP mailing list (Please see Image:2008-July-05-11-som.jpg). The discussion seems to have drifted back towards the topic of learning.

Gary has moved all the SOM content to it's own community wiki page: Sugar Labs/SOM.

He has also uploaded the Sugar month by month SOMs as well, the direct link is: Sugar Labs/SOM#Sugar_Mailing_List.

15. Blogged: I'll be posting these digests in blog form starting this week.