Archive/Current Events/2009-04-21

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Sugar Digest

1. It has been another insanely busy week. The highlight for me was the FOSSVT meeting. Caroline Meeks and Pablo Flores drove up to Vermont with me (in Caroline's Prius), where we spent the day with more than 100 educators from the region.

It was great to have the opportunity to spend three uninterrupted hours talking with Pablo and Caroline about ideas for further engaging with teachers in Uruguay on the drive up—the key is capture and share the very local discussions among teachers and to draw them into to the broader discussion. We are considering designating regional amanuenses who'd be responsible for communication between groups with the goal that eventually individual teachers would become confident enough to engage directly.

At the meeting itself, Sugar on a Stick was the main event. As soon as we walked in the door, we attracted a crowd, and soon the entire lobby of the inn was full of smiling teachers running Sugar on their laptops and netbooks. There was even an HP tablet PC running Sugar. I was very pleasantly surprised at how well Sugar ran with the touch screen. After lunch we gathered in a conference room where everyone had a laptop and SoaS USB key. I was up front, giving an overview of Sugar (using Turtle Art for my presentation, of course) while Caroline and Pablo walked the room, helping people get started. By the end of the hour, everyone was up and running—a roomful of happy Sugar users on a wide variety of platforms. There were a few network problems and the version of SoaS we were running didn't have the proper audio patches, but it was unequivocally a very successful debut. Many thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen.

Pablo slept on the ride home; Caroline and I discussed strategies for getting to the next step: engaging teachers in regard to using Sugar for learning. We have growing confidence that we can get Sugar into their hands, but we want to help ensure that they get a clear picture of the many ways that they can leverage it in their classrooms.

2. Caroline's call for short videos of Sugar Activities is one mechanism we should use to spread the word on creative uses of Sugar. Maybe we can set up a Sugar channel on [ Daily Motion] or take advantage of their OLPC channel. A less bandwidth-intensive approach would be to revisit the "Sugar Cards" idea. The Squeak project has "Squeak Cards", a model we could readily emulate.

3. Another topic we touched on was one I had been discussing with Pascal Chesnais last fall: why do we use IRC for our own work, while building Jabber-based tools for Sugar collaboration. It is great to have IRC on Sugar, but it would be a good exercise to “eat our own dogfood” by using more Jabber in our development process.

4. Saturday, Caroline and I will be at the Waltham YMCA, where we'll be exercising Sugar on a Stick with children and their parents. The computer room full of mismatched castaway PCs, some of which won't even boot into Windows XP. Running Sugar on a Stick really does breath new life into these machines: it boots quickly and seems quite lively in comparison to Windows (I had the painful experience of having to boot each of the machines into Windows in order to note the static IP address assigned to each machine, so I had a great opportunity to do a side-by-side comparison. There was no comparison.)

5. Jameson Quinn has been doing a great job leading our Google Summer of Code program. We have been allocated five slots, which is a great vote of confidence in Sugar Labs since most organizations new to the program only get one or two slots in their first year. We have been conducting interviews with the candidates and should have a final list early next week.

In the community

5. Olin Guru Camp, April 17

6. “Healthy Kids Day”, Waltham MA YMCA, April 18

7. Paris Sugar Camp May 16,17

Tech Talk

8. Gary Martin and Aleksey Lim released a new version of Labyrinth

Sugar Labs

9. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion on the IAEP mailing list (Please see SOM).