Archive/Current Events/2010-02-18

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Sugar Digest

1. I am once again falling behind in my writing. This time I have two excuses: travel and coding. I spent last week in Miami, not to escape the cold Boston winter, but to attend the OLPC deployment meeting. (This is first time since I left OLPC almost two-years ago that I have been invited to participate in an OLPC event.) It was great to see many old friends with passion in their hearts for the project. The highlight of the week was of course the presentations from the deployments. Many of the larger OLPC deployments gave detailed updates of the progress and plans—all of which include Sugar. The variety of means by which the deployments engage in outreach was fascinating. For example, in Paraguay, which still has a relatively modest deployment, they have been setting the stage for an eventual nationwide roll-out by publishing weekly “how-to-use Sugar” storyboards in the newspaper. In every case, the deployment teams have been considering not just the technology, but also their cultural context. The vector is pointing in the right direction.

A concrete idea that surfaced during the discussions was to explicitly add the creation of a local Sugar Lab to the offering whenever OLPC partners with new deployment. The local lab would provide the means for the local community to nurture growth in their local Free Software community and to engage with the global Sugar community more systemically and efficiently. Another result from the meeting is that Claudia Urrea, one the education/deployment leads for OLPC, will be joining our Design Team meetings. Her direct feedback will be very helpful.

2. Raúl Gutiérrez Segalés and I are finally to the point where we would like some testing and feedback on the Turtle Art refactoring project. We have been rewriting much of code over the past month with several goals in mind: (1) make it easier to maintain; (2) make it easier to localize; (3) make it easier to incorporate new features; and (4) make it easier for the end-user to modify.

So far, we have:

  • completed a major refactoring of the code
    • object-oriented
    • 90% smaller download bundle-size
    • faster first-time launch
    • simplified i18n maintenance
    • easier to add new blocks and palettes
  • added new user interface features
    • support for multiple turtles
    • expandable blocks
    • trash palette (with a restore button)
    • variable-length string blocks
    • editable strings

Still to come:

  • a new collaboration model, where multiple turtles are shared
  • conversion to Cairo graphics for the Turtle
  • better program visualization during run-time

You can download the new Turtle Art for testing from: File:TurtleArt-83.xo. The source is in the refactoring branch of the TurtleArt project on gitorious.

3. It is worthwhile to periodically check on the Sugar-related materials being created in the field. For example, the teachers in Uruguay continue to assemble lesson plans for using Sugar in the classroom at the Plan Ceibal website. There is a real wealth of materials there.

4. Thanks to an introduction by Chuck Kane, I am in touch with the team that developed GeoGebra. GeoGebra is free software for learning and teaching mathematics. Written in Java, “it combines interactive geometry, algebra, calculus, and spread-sheets in one easy-to-use system for students of all ages.” It could be a candidate for Aleksey Lim's Sugar Services efforts.

In the community

5. Kevin Mauricio Benavides Castro pointed out to me an article about the work going on in rural Nicuaragua (See

6. Cristian Paul Peñaranda Rojas has created an XO-man-inspired case for Sugar-on-a-Stick. You can download the CAD model from

7. Hilaire Fernandes, the author of [http.// DrGeo], is looking for feedback on his interactive geometry software (developed with Squeak and deployed on Etoys).

Tech talk

8. The Design Team is meeting with great regularity and is making progress on many of the 0.88 features. You can follow the progress in the wiki.

Sugar Labs

10. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past two weeks of discussion on the IAEP mailing list (Please see SOM and SOM). The latter image does a nice job of visualizing the on-going [discussion about trademarks].