Updates from OLPC Greece: multimedia, programming, and plans

Since 2009, OLPC Greece has provided one laptop per child in 35 classes and groups around the country.  580 XOs in all, with the inolvement of many teachers.  They have kept us updated via our wiki and regular emails, and shared some interesting work from their students.

My favorite post is from the 3rd graders at the Sminthi School —  they made large tiles of stencil art, rearranged it on a school wall, and turned it into stop-motion animations with Scratch (video).   Their professors Psychogios, Rigas, and Aspioti, brought this work into with their math, informatics, and art classes.

Recently the OLPC Greece team published a short summary of their work from the first two years, and their goals for the coming year.  They note the need for local hardware labs, software updates, and technical support.  You can follow their work, in Greek, on the public mailing list for the pilot.  (An excellent practice!)

Students and teachers work on a stencil in Sminthi

Students and teachers work on a stencil in Sminthi

 

 

Digital citizenship and hacking: Sugar Camp Lima, Nov 18-19

Somos Azucar, Activity Central, and escuelab are organizing Sugar Camp Lima on November 18-19, to build a new Sugar image for Peru: complete with Aymara and Quechua localizations, and activities focused on engagement online and “digital citizenship”.  An invitation to the event can be found here, and Sugar enthusiast Yannick Warnier explains why he finds this so exciting in a call for others to join him.

The event has international support, including the Municipality of Lima, Ciudadano Inteligente, and the World Bank.  The XO image developed will be proposed to the national team as a basis for the next update implemented across the country.

If you have an activity you’re hoping to polish up and get into the next Peru image — or are interested in localization, testing, or general Sugar development, this promises to be a great event.  I hope the camp attendees will review and add to the Feedback Actividades page that Claudia recently set up, a place to gather requests and suggestions from students and teachers in the field.

 

To RSVP, or for more information, contact escuelab: contacto@escuelab.org

 

Make your XO Racy with lightweight PuppyLinux

Mavrothal has been promoting PuppyLinux as a lightweight OS for the XO for a long time.  Last year he began releasing polished “XOpup” builds, most recently XOpup 2.2 – providing the most light-weight desktop around for the XO-1 and XO-1.5.

Recently he published a build system that lets anyone build their favorite Puppy-distro for the XO, and has used it to package the latest release: PuppyLinux Racy 5.1.110  (currently only for the XO-1).   This 90MB build includes a softphone app, printing / camera / CD support, and the Mozilla Seamonkey suite (browser, HTML editing, email, newsfeeds, and IRC).

He’s even taking feature requests for the build – give it a spin and let him know what you think.

Book Server 0.01: Pathagar + Sheeva Plug for offline reading

Sameer Verma of OLPC-SF, as he mentiond at last week’s amazing community summit, is putting together a book server for use in rural India, with 20,000 books and audio files on it for students and teachers to use locally. He is going to deploy it at a school pilot near his familial hometown.

This is a Pathagar server implementing the OPDS bookserver standard, running on a tiny Sheeva Plug device, accessible over a local network to XOs in the neighborhood.  The Sheeva Plug is low power and has USB and SD ports that make it easy to expand such an offline library.  Here it is plugged in and in use, drawing a total of 4 Watts:

Sayamindu Dasgupta, who contributed to the design of the OPDS specification, developed the Pathagar server to implement the spec; Manuel Quiñones created the version of the server used here.  Book and audio suggestions are welcome for this particular build, and a web-based form for linking to OPDS archives suitable for inclusion in the image will be up shortly.  If you have your own Sheeva Plug, you can torrent the original disk image of this installation.

The setup was load-tested last night, using a simple build: a stock Sheeva Plug and 16GB USB key (total cost: $100). Quick statistics:

  • Power draw: 4W
  • Simultaneous downolads: 500
  • Library size: 10,000 – 50,000 books

For details, images, and a mailing list for discussion, see the bookserver project page.

Dance Dance Revolution: Madagascar edition

If you haven’t seen it already, take 5 minutes to watch this ridiculously joyful clip from the pilot project in Nosy Komba, Madagascar, supported by OLPC France.

If you have, it’s worth watching again and sharing :-) The lyrics are a popular Malagasy dancing song, carried out with XOs and other props.

Nickelodeon contest update: Voting open for the best art projects by XO students

Mundonick is hosting a public vote for the best projects submitted in the OLPC – Nickelodeon contest across Latin America. Check out the finalists in the contest and vote for your favorite; the winners will be flown in to attend the HALO Awards ceremony this season.

Unfortunately, at the moment these videos can only be viewed from certain IP ranges – including most of Latin America.

Kenyan teachers on strike, XOs and volunteers take over

In rural Eshibinga, Kenya, teacher Peter Omunga has at the Eshibinga Primary School, Kenya, been doing an amazing job sharing his experiences with Sugar and OLPC over the summer. Peter maintains the Eshibinga Digital Village blog, documenting the introduction of IT and electricity in their community. They recently received 2 XO laptops, which he has used to interest his primary students in reading, writing, math, and making videos. He has had help from Fred Juma at the nearby Bungoma pilot school and from global volunteer Sandra Thaxter.

Eshibinga is a rural part of the country that is starting to benefit from solar power centers, but that has very limited access to water, electricity, and healthcare.

The school had been keeping laptops in the principal’s office at night at first, but over the past weeks as a national teacher’s strike has emerged, the students were given the laptops to take care of, and received another two laptops from donors.

Sydney from the school’s IT Club has been writing about what it’s like to study on their own when the teachers are away:

Robert arrived carrying our usual [XO] laptops. They are normally stored at the school office. The principal had sent Robert to pick them from his office. He also had left a note for us. We opened it and read it out aloud. “Make good use of these xo laptops and take good care of them. They may be the only teachers you may see in this school until the government ends the ongoing teachers strike”

Students have been meeting at school on their own with their XOs to study computers and practice writing and videotaping their own stories (and considering what it means to share a personal journal with others). And one of their teachers has been maintaining a blog about their work this summer, and is with them at school, helping them learn despite the strike.

0% of XOs run Windows

A stray comment today about Windows not working on ARM machines, by someone who thought all OLPC laptops had moved away from Linux, reminded me to reaffirm something:

Every XO we have ever made shipped from the factory with Linux. The 2M+ XOs running Linux is one of the largest deployments of Linux in the classroom anywhere in the world, and the largest in primary schools.

A few thousand dual-booted into Windows [XP] as well, either at the time they shipped or after being reflashed – after a Microsoft team modded a version of XP for the XO, and our firmware made dual-booting possible. That was an impressive bit of coding and optimization, and Uruguay in particular was interested in dual-boot machines, testing them in classrooms on XO-1’s, but decided not to continue those tests. The only other machines that ever made use of the dual build were part of programs sponsored by Microsoft. In all, under 7,000 XOs have ever run Windows natively, 5,000 in Uruguay.   That is less than 0.3% of all laptops we have ever produced. (In contrast, running software under emulation through wine or SugaredWine is popular in Latin America.)

I have heard of a few teachers that had those machines in at least one class, in Uruguay or Peru, but have never seen first-hand reports from anyone using them. If you visit or know of a school that tried this please share your stories; I would be interested to hear about the experience.

Sugar Day Argentina: Sept 25-26, in Junín

Reposting an invitation from SugarLabs Argentina to their first Sugar Day, in Junin, to be held September 25-26.

SugarLabs Argentina quiere hacer publico el próximo encuentro de desarrolladores de la plataforma de aprendizaje Sugar. Este evento sera realizado entre los días 25 – 26 de Septiembre del 2011 en la ciudad de Junín, provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

El objetivo del encuentro es de juntarnos en una sesión de trabajo de programadores – code sprint – con la intención de escribir código, enseñar, aprender, colaborar e incentivar el desarrollo de software libre sobre Sugar en las distintas comunidades de programadores. ¡ Y por supuesto reforzar y generar nuevos lazos de amistad en esta comunidad !

La propuesta del encuentro se basa en el dictado de un taller inicial de programación en Python sobre Sugar y en el code sprint ya mencionado. Compartimos el cronograma preliminar:

— —
<Domingo 25>
11:00 – 13:00 Apertura – Discusión, pendientes y prioridades a programar en el code sprint.
13:20 – 15:00 Almuerzo.
15:30 – 20:00 Se dispondrá de un espacio para quienes quieran iniciar el code sprint.
</Domingo 25>
<Lunes 26> /*dos track en paralelo*/
Track 1
09:00 – 11:30/12:00 Taller inicial de programación en Python sobre Sugar.
Track 2
09:00 – 13:00 Code sprint.
13:20 – 14:30 Almuerzo.
15:00 – (a definir) Retomamos Code sprint.
Despedida.
</Lunes 26>
— —
El taller se realiza con el apoyo de la empresa Actvity Central.

Por ultimo, queremos difundir que durante el Viernes 23 y Sábado 24 en la misma ciudad -Junin-, el grupo de usuarios de Python Argentina -PyAr- llevara adelante la conferencia del lenguaje Python 2011. Motivo por el cual decidimos realizar nuestro evento en continuación a la PyConAr-2011

Acercarnos tus propuestas e interés en participar, para que juntos, ajustemos todos los detalles necesarios para llevar adelante y compartir entre todos este evento.

http://ar.sugarlabs.org  |   sugarday2011@ar.sugarlabs.org

Nickelodeon / OLPCStories contest : only one week left to participate!

A month into our olpcstories contest with Nickelodeon Latin America, we have received some friendly media coverage in Latin America (in La Crónica in Mexico, and CanalAr in Argentina) and have gotten many contest submissions.

As Christoph noted earlier this week, this is the last week to submit your entries to the contest.

Princeton-Engineers Without Borders collab grows in Ghana

Separate from the national program being rolled out in Eastern Ghana, Princeton University has a student-run Ghana School Library Initiative which is building a physical library in Ghana stocked with books and OLPCs.    This program started in 2008, and is one of three projects coordinated by the Princeton University chapter of Engineers Without Borders. They shared an update with East Coast OLPCers this Spring, and have been writing about their new milestones this summer, as the library nears completion.

 

After some work earlier this year to repair and update some donated XOs, children have started working with their own laptops at the EP Basic school in Ashaiman, Ghana, where the team is working. They recently completed a week of physical construction and two classes a day with the students.   The classes included working on educational activities with the children in Sugar, “to whet their appetites” to use the XOs more on their own.

New XO-1.75 contributors program: test our new prototypes

Are you programming on XO hardware today? Working on Sugar core or
activities? Porting Fedora or other distros to ARM?

As I write this, XO-1.75 B1 prototypes are being assembled 20 meters
away from me. These are engineering samples — some will go to drop
tests and mechanical and electrical torture tests. Luckier units will
go to the hands of passionate developers interested in helping us with XO-1.75.

To request one, please follow the instructions on the wiki:

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Contributors_program#FAQ

We cannot guarantee every request will be satisfied —
unfortunately, we have a limited number of units and we may have to
turn some requests down.

These units will be early samples: expect hardware and software bugs,
and be prepared to report them and help us in the diagnosis and fixing
(it wouldn’t be fun otherwise!). We will be asking recipients to be
very proactive in reporting bugs and using the latest software for
them. And to remember that these machines are /on loan/: offer to pass
on your prototype if it is not being used.

It will be a fun 2011 — our goal is to have a new hardware platform
and OS: XO-1.75 running XO OS-11.3.0, and there is a lot to do between
now and the end of the year.

We’re hoping to hear from you!

OS 11.2 released! for XO-1 and XO-1.5

Daniel Drake has good news for XOs of all flavors:

OLPC OS 11.2 is now out for both XO-1 and XO-1.5, along with some activity updates.
Install it and check it out!

This release is build on Fedora 14 and Sugar 0.92, which includes a feature I am especially fond of: a touchpad-mode selector.  For those of you who miss being able to use the stylus-mode of the older dual-mode touchpads, this lets you toggle between stylus and capacitive modes.

This release has vastly improved build properties: olpc-update is now faster and requires much less free disk space, OS Builder is much improved for those spinning their own builds.  And the XO reflashes more than twice as quickly now:

As of this release, installation images are now sparse, meaning that data is only written where data actually resides. The result is that installation time is now more than twice as quick.

Solar charging has also been tweaked on the XO-1.5.

While there was no 11.1 release this year, there are plans in the works for an 11.3 as well.  If you have bundle updates or other fixes that didn’t get into 11.2, that’s the release for you.

huge thanks to everyone who has helped with developing and testing this release!

OLPC XO-3 design update

The XO-3 design work is coming along, still scheduled for the end of next year.  The screen will be one of the latest Pixel Qi models.  They will run Linux, though what flavor is still under investigation; followers of C. Scott’s blog can read the full details there.  And like the XO-1.75, they will use an ARM chip.

In an IDG interview, Nicholas notes that design discussions about how to implement solar and satellite connectivity continue.  Meanwhile, those interested in working on software for the XO-3 are invited to get involved in XO-1.75 hacking this summer.

Contributors program versions of the beta-test boards will be available soon.

 

Introducing children to programming

A recent CSM article about getting young people involved in programming and hacking (noting both OLPC and Raspberry Pi) quotes Rodrigo on students’ accomplishments in Uruguay:

Debugging a program is the most perfect way of learning… We have already 12-year-old children in Uruguay that are proficient programmers. You cannot imagine the stuff we are beginning to see in these young kids.

 

TuxPaint contest for kids, with Sugary prizes

The Tux Paint dev team last week announced a 2011 summer drawing contest, with prizes including three OLPC XO-1’s, Sugar-on-a-Stick drives, and TuxPaint shirts.  All children 3-12 are encouraged to submit their best Tux Paint art; the best 10 drawings will receive prizes. The contest is sponsored and judged by the retail company Worldlabel, which will showcase the winning art on their blog.

HOW TO ENTER:

  • Download Tux Paint
  • Make your drawing in Tux Paint and save it in png format
  • Send your finished drawing in png format to worldlabel@gmail.com and include “Tux Paint” in the email subject line
  • In the email submission include: 1) the artist’s’ name 2) the artist’s age 3) the title of drawing 4) the country where the artist lives
  • All artwork must be the contestant’s original work created on Tux Paint.
  • Only one entry per child

Entries will be judged on the quality and originality of the artwork. Extra points will be given to drawings that tell a story.

Entries must be submitted by midnight USA Easter Standard time on 12 September 2011. Winners will be announced no later than 22 September 2011. All entries will be licensed: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported and will be exhibited on this page.

Kudos to Russell Ossendryver and the other devs who keep Tux Paint one of the best drawing activities out there.

National education improvement, Peruvian style

Peru’s extraordinary Una Laptop por Niño program continues to lead the way for deployments around the world. Most recently, they expanded their program to 100% of Peru’s public primary schools (roughly 20,000 in all), the largest OLPC project  in the world.  On Friday Oscar Becerra, head of ULPN in Peru, reported:

Today at noon President Alan García formally inaugurated the new Ministry of Education building in Lima. The building features a monument sign at the front, crowned by an XO computer in its original green and white colors. We hope it will be a lasting memory of the outstanding contribution of OLPC to Peruvian education improvement.

Three cheers for that, and for expansion to a new building! And congratulations to Oscar and President García for leading the way in supporting education at all ages with technology and creativity, under a wide variety of conditions.  I can only hope for similar education reform to reach my own country one day soon.