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Me blog, random thoughts, Turtle Art samples game programming and learning

forster at ozonline dot com dot au

Interests: Activities which maximise the opportunity for self-directed learning: low floor, wide walls and high ceiling with particular emphasis on the walls and ceiling. My Sugar favourites: Turtleart, Scratch, Etoys. Game Maker still my Windows favourite.

Currently user testing Turtleart and Sliderule, experimenting with Pippy. Supporting the Timor Leste deployment.

Preschool student Activities, some links

Radia Perlman in the 70s when at student at MIT did extensive experiments with preliterate children and the LOGO turtle and built a number of interfaces for them. She also spent some time at Xerox PARC and did many similar experiments with chldren 3 years on up. see fig 3 with plastic cards showing visual images of turtle commands similar image towards the end, photo of Radia Perlman's Button Box for Pre-Schoolers more discussion than the above

Turtle Art - text free

To what extent could pre-literate children use Turtle Art?

Are graphics on blocks really better than text?

Does keeping text labels help develop literacy?

What graphics are best?

Some features, eg. the heap are unlikely to be used by pre-literate children, should they be omitted or retained with text labels?

The following graphic is a discussion starter


or another [suggested layout]]

Text-less outdoor lesson for Turtle Art



Presentations - Software Freedom Day Melbourne

File:Softwarefreedomday10.pdf presentation photos



Sea Surface Temperature Mapping

Sea surface temperature mapping, inspired by . Described here is a program to read and display the temperature data which is available at

The data format is described at

The first record in the file ersst_v3b_2010_2019.asc , the 2010 to 2019 data set, reads:

-9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999   -19    13    18    11     7    25    64   132   255   427   607   791   990  1198  1408  1616  1816  1999  2149  2258  2327  2360  2365  2355  2347  2359  2393  2443  2500  2568  2654  2736  2789  2826  2869  2904  2911  2903 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999  1489  1432 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999 -9999   713 -9999   656   715   780   796   744   669   596   476   298   156   113    70  -134  -180  -180  -180  -180

-9999 represents land, the other numbers are degrees C x100 This record represents a line running from the south pole through to the north pole in 2 degree increments at longtitude 0 for the first month and year. The next record is for lattitude 2 degrees east and so on.

Sample Pippy(Python) program

This Pippy(Python) mapping program is supplied as a starter and as inspiration for further investigation

File:Write Activity sst.odt Pippy code as open office doc. Download and open in Journal. Copy from the Write session, paste into Pippy and run.

Alternatively download this content bundle File:Sst.xol to the journal, starting the bundle from the journal installs the bundle as off line web content which is accessible from the Browse home page as sst in the Science category. This content includes the Python source and a sample data file.



Screenshot of "pygame window".png

(This program has also been done in Game Maker on the Windows OS)

Reflashing Sugar

Unsigned XO1


  • Get a developer key and unlock your XO
  • Download the OS image (e.g. osxxx.img) and its CRC file (e.g. osxxx.crc) to USB
  • Press escape at power on for the OK prompt
 probe-usb copy-nand disk:\osNNN.img

Will not work if there are 2 partitions, [1]

To install from Open Firmware on an unlocked XO-1, download the .onu and .uim files and run:

 ok update-nand u:\osXX.onu

Unsigned XO1.5


  • Get a developer key and unlock your XO
  • Download osxxx.zd,, (seem to only need the zd file)
  • rename the zip file to
  • Pressing the "check mark"(tick) game key, Turn on the laptop, (don't seem to need the tick)
  • press ESC (X) to get to the OFW prompt "ok",
 fs-update u:\osxxx.zd

Signed builds


  • Download osxxx.img, to the top directory of a USB drive
  • (osxxx.zd, on XO1.5),
  • Rename the zip file to
  • hold the 4 game keys at boot

Deployment key signed builds

Nand blaster XO1.5

Dodo mobile broadband on the XO

Connected to the Dodo mobile broadband network with the Huawei E160E

  • username my username
  • password my password
  • number *99#
  • APN dodolns1
  • PIN blank
  • PUK blank

(best with power management turned off)

Sugar security

Some Activities are 'protected', that is they can't be deleted. This also means that the Activity can't be downgraded or crossgraded to the same revision number.

To achieve this you need to delete the Activity's directory in


This is easily done in older builds in Gnome but newer builds have a hidden and protected Activities directory

sudo gedit

allows you to edit files but not delete

chmod 777 ~/Activities

unprotects the directory but it is still hidden, in the file manager nautilus check show hidden files

To automate this every time Gnome starts, add the following 2 commands to System, Preferences, Startup applications

 rm .hidden
 chmod 777 Activities

Enabling debug output

Edit /home/olpc/.sugar/debug and uncomment :

 export SUGAR_LOGGER_LEVEL=debug

Starting Gnome

If not in my settings

echo gnome > /home/olpc/.olpc-active-desktop

and restart

Setting the clock

From firmware, using the internet, networkname is your modem/router eg DLINK

	ok  essid networkname 
	ok  ntp-set-clock
	ok  .clock

Worked despite timeout message


Text dungeon

A text dungeon game for literacy and numeracy

Most of this page transferred to Activities/Textdungeon , just the command line version here

Text dungeon.jpg

The dungeon File:Sampledungeon.doc

File:Textdungeon.doc is a version of the program's Python code which works from the command line

File:Textdungeon1.xo is a Sugarised install bundle, works Sugar 0.88 - 0.92

File:Textdungeon2.xo Sugar compliant icon, do not load sample file if resuming, backspace supported, journal entry saves progress)

Keyboard commands

h - help

f - forward

r - right

l - left

b - list backpack contents

p item - pick up item

d item - drop item

u item - use item

q - quit

1.75 accelerometer

Screenshot of sugar-activity 3 axis.png

The vertical axis is raw reading/4 so 1G=250

File:Turtle Art Activity 3 axis.ta

Screenshots in Sugar

Simple screenshot

To take screenshots press Alt 1

This will capture the screen but not the mouse cursor

Screenshot with cursor

To also capture the mouse cursor, install gnome-screenshot. Type the following in Terminal:

sudo yum install gnome-utils

You can then start the interactive version of gnome-screenshot:

gnome-screenshot --interactive


Check that you have the right options selected and click Take Screenshot. Do not navigate away to the screen you want the screenshot of because you will be unable to navigate back to the utility.