OLPC looking for students to participate in the Sugar Labs Google Code-In event

Sugar Labs has been selected as one of ten projects to participate in Google Code In. We join, among others, our colleagues at Fedora et al., in soliciting the participation of high-school (and in our case, middle-school) students to work on projects during a six-week sprint beginning on November 26. This is a great chance for the youth who have been so instrumental in our growth over the past year to show off their talents to the world (and two of them will hopefully win a trip to visit Google). Please help Chris Leonard and Walter Bender finalize the project and mentor lists over the next few days. We are offering coding projects, documentation and training projects, outreach, quality assurance, and user interface, so even if you are not a developer, you likely have some skills to devote to the Code In.

NOTE TO MENTORS: Please create an account and fill out the Request to be a Mentor form.

NOTE TO COMMUNITY: Please add to our task lists and please recruit participants.

Why we are participating

Sugar is written and maintained by volunteers, who range from seasoned professionals to children as young as 12-years of age. Children who have grown up with Sugar have transitioned from Sugar users to Sugar App developers to Sugar maintainers. They hang out on IRC with the global Sugar developer community and are full-fledged members of the Sugar development team. It is this latter group of children we hope will participate in and benefit from Google Code-in. Specifically we want to re-enforce the message that Sugar belongs to its users and that they have both ownership and the responsibility that ownership implies. Just as learning is not something done to you, but something you do, learning with Sugar ultimately means participating in the Sugar development process. At Sugar Labs, we are trying to bring the culture of Free Software into the culture of school. So the Code-in is not just an opportunity for us to get some tasks accomplished, it is quintessential to our overall mission

If you are interested visit wiki.sugarlabs to read the details.

Sugar Status – Google Code-in, Young developers, 8M downloads, SF summit and migration

By Walter Bender

Sugar Labs is applying to Google Code-in (GCI), “a contest for
pre-university students (e.g., high school and secondary school
students) with the goal of encouraging young people to participate in
open source.”

Why we are applying? Sugar is written and maintained by volunteers,
who range from seasoned professionals to children as young as 12-years
of age. Children who have grown up with Sugar have transitioned from
Sugar users to Sugar App developers to Sugar maintainers. They hang
out on IRC with the global Sugar developer community and are
full-fledged members of the Sugar development team. It is this latter
group of children we hope will participate in and benefit from Google
Code-in. Specifically we want to re-enforce the message that Sugar
belongs to its users and that they have both ownership and the
responsibility that ownership implies. Just as learning is not
something done to you, but something you do, learning with Sugar
ultimately means participating in the Sugar development process. At
Sugar Labs, we are trying to bring the culture of Free Software into
the culture of school. So the Code-in is not just an opportunity for
us to get some tasks accomplished, it is quintessential to our overall
mission.

Learn more about GCI and the Sugar Labs GCI effort.

Agustin Zubiaga Sanchez noted that last week we passed the
threshold of more than eight million activities downloaded from the
Sugar Labs activity portal. I echo his sentiment that “I’m very
glad to be a sugarlabs developer. Congratulations to all the team :)”

In the community

Last weekend was the OLPC SF summit in San Francisco, which was
followed by a three-day Sugar Camp. Although I missed opening day, Day
Two was quite interesting in that there was a lot of good discussion
about how to sustain and grow the various volunteer-run OLPC/Sugar
deployments. At Sugar Camp, although not much code was written, there
was an opportunity to get tangible and actionable feedback from the
likes of Mark Bradley (we pushed hard on Turtle Art as a multimedia
toolkit). I also had the opportunity to catch up with Raul Gutierrez
Segales, Ivan Krstić, and others.

 Tech Talk

The little coding I did do in San Francisco was in support of
migrating more activities to touch. Specifically, I worked on
integrating the on-screen keyboard into several of my activities:
Portfolio and Turtle Blocks. The challenge was that I was using
key-press events directly, rather than accessing them through a GTK
widget such as a Entry or TextView. With help from Raul, I managed to
get things working pretty well: basically, I just drop a TextView
widget under the cursor where I expect keyboard input. The details are
outlined here. I’m generally pleased with the results, but there
is a bit of fine-tuning of the interaction, e.g, you need to defocus
the TextView in order to dismiss it: not such a burden, but at times,
somewhat awkward.

Ignacio Rodriguez has been on a tear, helping me to migrate
activities to GTK 3. Over the past week, we converted: Card Sort,
Cookie Search, Color Deducto, Deducto, Flip, Fraction Bounce, Loco
Sugar, Napier’s Bones, Nutrition, Paths, Pukllananpac, Recall,
Reflection, GNUChess, Sliderule, Story, Yupana, and XO Editor. I also
worked with Agustin Zubiaga on Portfolio, Flavio Denesse on Ruler, and
Daniel Francis on Turtle Blocks. Whew.

Sugar Digests and mailing list summaries

Walter Bender’s two latest Sugar digests are from August 22 and August 7, give an excellent overview of the world of Sugar development.  And Gary Martin continues to produce visual word maps from the messages on the It’s An Education Project mailing list (part of a series).

 

Exploring New Technologies

cscott just rejoined our team from distant lands, to much rejoicing.  His first blog post covers his work this month to explore of software development paths for the XO-3. Welcome back!


XO-3 design

Last Monday I rejoined One Laptop Per Child as Director, New Technologies. My mandate is hardware and software for the XO-3, OLPC’s upcoming ARM-based tablet computer for education in the developing world. The new machine should be lower cost, lower power, more indestructible, more powerful, and potentially more expandable than ever. There are about two million machines in the XO-1 family (XO-1, XO-1.5) in the hands of kids today. The XO-3 will build upon this impressive foundation to reach further into the poorest and least-connected regions of the world.

I will kick-off my work with a series of four week-long sprints between now and eduJAM Uruguay to investigate possible directions for the educational software stack on the XO-3 tablet. On the XO-1 machines, OLPC ships Sugar, an impressive collection of educational software developed by Sugar Labs. How can we keep the best of Sugar while yanking the UI forward into a touch-friendly tablet world?

  1. This week (April 4-8) I’ll begin by working on a port of the GTK3 UI library to Android. The GTK3 library contains touch support missing from the GTK2 library (on which Sugar is currently based). The goal here is a port of the Python/GTK-based Sugar APIs, running on something like the Honeycomb Android OS.  Existing educational activities could be ported to new APIs without much difficulty, but we’d largely use existing Android OS facilities instead of Sugar’s low-level system management.  This is a preliminary exploration—we haven’t decided to base tablet software on Android (or anything else) yet.
  2. The week of April 11-15 I will start porting Python/GTK3 to Chrome or ChromeOS via the Google NativeClient plugin. This path would result in activities which more fully integrate with web technologies—even in disconnected regions of the world. On desktop machines, Sugar activities could run inside the Chrome browser, while ChromeOS (or another embedded OS running chrome/webkit) would provide system management functions on tablets like the XO-3. As with the Android port, this is exploration, not a definite software direction.
  3. The week of April 18-22 I hope to focus on mesh networking. This has a checkered history in our deployments; I hope to identify remaining roadblocks and map a way forward to make this a flagship feature of the XO-3.
  4. The week of April 25-29 is for the existing Python-based Sugar codebase. To continue moving forward, it needs to migrate to GTK3, gobject-introspection, and other key enabling technologies. It would also benefit from language-independent APIs and better modularization, to allow a more incremental migration path.

The following week is Conozco Uruguay and the Uruguay EduJAM — where I’ll present progress on these exploratory projects and discuss the path ahead with the OLPC and Sugar communities.  A week is not enough time to finish any of these projects! But the focused effort should help to identify the promise, roadblocks, and challenges in each path, which will help us plan the future.

eduJAM! planned in Montevideo, May 5-7

This week a team led by Uruguay’s ceibalJAM! (including Gabriel Eirea, Pablo Flores, Gonzalo Odiard, Fernando Sansberro, and Andrés Ambrois) and including Walter, Adam, Christoph, and David Farning, made progress in organizing an education hacking summit in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The name of the event will be eduJAM! 2011 and will take place from Thu May 5 to Sat May 7. Please include the eduJAM! and ceibalJAM! logos below if blogging or writing about the event.

The main objective of the summit is to strengthen the free educational software developer community, with a focus on Latin America and the Sugar + olpc communities. The event will feature discussions around future directions and strategy, hacking on specific projects, and exchange of experiences among different deployments.  The event is being planned in more detail on the sugarlabs wiki.



Registration is not yet open.  Alongside the eduJAM! a couple of extra activities are being planned to make the most of the attendees gathering for the summit (we already know of people from 10 countries who will be there):

A “Conozco Uruguay Tour” is being organized by members of volunteer group RAP Ceibal and the OLPC community, between Sat April 30 and Thu May 5.

There will also be a Sugar code sprint starting Sunday May 8, right after the summit, expected to continue to Monday May 9 if not beyond!



Sponsors are welcome; Activity Central has already offered to be a sponsor, and the organizers are looking for other sponsors both at the national and international level.  We hope you can join us and are looking forward to your comments and suggestions!

Dextrose released for the XO

Paraguay’s national deployment, run by Paraguay Educa, has been developing its own build of a Sugar operating system for its students, with help from Sugarlabs. They are calling it Dextrose. The newly-formed Activity Central group, a Sugar-development consultancy, is helping with this work, and supporting some local developers in Paraguay.

Dextrose is a spin of the core Sugar build that will focus on teacher tools and content in Spanish.
While initially developed with feedback from classrooms in Paraguay, this will hopefully become a platform that other deployments in Latin America can use. While Peru has been shy about frequent software upgrades, preferring to have something stable for years at a time, Uruguay and other smaller deployments are good candidates to start using Dextrose as well.

The OLPC Laptop Guide hits bookshelves near you

guest post by the inimitable Anne Gentle

Copy this book! We hope you will.  I am proud to say that through a collaboration with One Laptop per Child, Sugar Labs and FLOSS Manuals, a print and online manual about using the XO laptop and Sugar operating system is now available as via print-on-demand at Lulu.com.   Tom Brady checked it out when he was visiting the office last week and thought it was pretty neat.

You can order your own print copy for a modest price – someone walks off with one of mine every week, and I’m due to order some more.  Or you can read it on your XO laptop -  the PDF is always available for free and for remixing into your own works. Soon, the book will be for sale on Amazon as well.

Two sides of an elegant book

Two sides of an elegant book

The OLPC Laptop Guide has a simple, clean cover design and the content inside was written by a community of professional writers, editors, open source experts, and OLPC staff. This book contains 240 pages of how-to information for your XO laptop and the operating system that kids love, Sugar. This book was written by a group of people in the unique wiki tool offered by FLOSS Manuals. Much of the content was written in a five-day collaborative BookSprint. In it you’ll find instructions for connecting with and caring for this unique little laptop. The neat thing is, once you’re done with a real book, you can pass it on to the next person who wants to learn about their XO. Get a book and pass it on.