Red Hat sponsors RIT student work on XO activities for the Deaf

Red Hat is sponsoring summer POSSE bootcamps (Professors’ Open Source Summer Experience), a brainchild of Mel’s, to introduce students to open source development and projects. Most POSSE projects have supported Fedora, Mozilla, or Sugar Labs in some fashion. At RIT, bootcamps this summer continue to build on the FOSS@RIT group’s efforts to develop tools that will support better hacking on tools for children in Sugar.

In particular, the group at RIT has been working for the past two years on tools to improve communication for deaf and hard of hearing children with XO laptops. Alumni of 2009 and 2010 workshops, bootcamps, and other events, worked with RIT’s Lab for Technological Literacy (LTL) and took a couple field trips to our Cambridge office, to develop a videochat activity with sufficient quality to support readable sign language over videochat.

It’s great to see this program thrive, and that OLPC and Sugar continue to be part of the motivation for some of the good work being planned.

Sugar Labs releases SoaS Mirabelle, Sugar Creation Kit

Sugar Labs recently announced their latest build of Sugar on a Stick (codename: MIRABELLE), along with the Sugar Creation Kit.

See a Mirabelle retrospective by one of the contributing developers, and the inimitable Mel Chua’s take on lessons to be learned from the process.

Fireside chat: holiday cheer

Happy Holidays to all!  As I was working on a community newsletter this past weekend and reflecting on the work of the past year, I was warmed as always by the constant and refreshing work of our community groups and national partners.   They rarely get caught in the global OLPC spotlight, but as often as not they are the ones inspiring and improving the projects that flourish.  And while some contributors such as Caryl Bigenho and Anne Gentle have worked on fairly visibile projects like the Contributors Program and the XO Guides, many others work on projects that haven’t had their own press releases or events.

So I’d like to take this post to thank some of the extraordinary and prolific OLPC supporters I have worked with over the past years:  Bernie Innocenti, who was so taken with the early work on OLPC he left his home in Italy to come to Boston and support the project for over a year, inspiring us all with his passion, energy, software experience and continent-sized chiptune collection, and has since remained a pillar of support for SugarLabs; Bert Freudenberg, who led the Etoys for the XO team, helped build the OLPC community in Germany, and worked since the first software development to keep us focused on empowering children and giving them a great learning environment; and Christoph Derndorfer, who when not studying interface design has done as much as anyone to encourage local chapter formation, effective global reporting on OLPC’s works, international volunteer exchange with deployments, and outreach to new potential activity developers.  Wade Brainerd, who since winning a prize in the first OLPC Game Jam has developed, facilitated, or mentored a half-dozen remarkable activities (from Bounce to Colors! to WikiBrowse to Typing Turtle), making up some 10% of all activities that ship with the XO; Lionel Laske, who founded OLPC France, and has tirelessly organized press, superstar support, and local projects there; and Pia Waugh, who helped launch both OLPC Australia and OLPC Friends and realized half the holy grail of a videochat-powered pilot.  Chris Leonard, who has shared ideas, supported donors and health-related projects, and remained one of our most active wiki maintainers; and Tabitha Roder, who has maintained our leading group of testers for years.  And the volunteers who never tired and later joined the staff — Daniel Drake, who in-between working and contracting at OLPC has been a world-traveller supporting independent deployments with his priceless insight and energy, leaving joy in his wake; and Mel Chua, who worked on just about everything, from chapters and events to art to content and code to docs and testing.

To all of you: thank you, thank you.  It is your devotion that keeps the spirit of olpc alive around the world… and that, where we have flourished, has made good projects great.