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.

How to use a stylus with your XO

A team sponsored by Uruguay’s Universidad de la Republica has developed a simple electronics kit that can be used to modify an XO-1 to let you draw on its screen with a wireless stylus and a thin acrylic sheet, turning it into a touchscreen.  Christoph has written more about this and their related robotics work.

The methodology described in their project poster is brief and tantalizing – it looks like a most promising idea. The invention can in theory work with any screen or computer, but here they are showing how it works with an XO. Here is a closeup of a Lapix set in action:

Lapix hooked up to an XO, being used with inkscape
Lapix in action

 

Check out the photo and transcription of the project poster after the jump.
Continue reading How to use a stylus with your XO

Dextrose 2 is available for the XO

Dextrose2, a revamp of the popular XOOS flavor developed by Activity Central and Sugar Labs, in partnership with Paraguay Educa, is now available for both XO-1 and XO-1.5 laptops. It has a number of performance and other improvements, including 3G modem and connection sharing. I can’t wait to try it out on my old XO-1s.

Dextrose 2 by activity central

The original Dextrose build + activities that was released last fall was based closely on the latest XOOS release available at the time (OS 10). This version has one major difference from the main OS: it does not offer a traditional Linux desktop as an alternative to Sugar.  (Some students managed to delete their Sugar home directories from within their Gnome desktop, making work with Sugar difficult until they had reinstalled it.  As a result, some teachers asked to return to a Sugar-only system.)

This work is now formally supported by Plan Ceibal, which has started to use Dextrose in their schools. It is good to see this much attention being given to activity development and Spanish-language documentation, and to close feedback loops with teachers who use the latest tools every week with their students.

So don’t wait — download a copy of Dextrose2 and try it out!

NB: If you’re looking for the latest Dextrose with the Gnome desktop option added back in, you can request this on the sugar-devel mailing list. It’s on the list of versions to make, but not a high priority at the moment.

Fast and Smart Challenge: XO-1.5 vs XO-1.0

Late last year, an XO-1 and XO-1.5 were run through a “Fast and Smart Challenge” and videotaped both engaged in some desktop-swapping youtube-playing adventures, on what seems to be a semi-intelligent mat with built-in timer.

They show side-by-side boot and activity launching, and note improved wireless experience on the new machines. The whole recording is a bit rocky but charming; the XOs had clearly been used and customized.

OLPC Keyboard/Touchpad freeze and fix

OLPC XO-1 users who are running software builds 650-656 (from 2007 and early 2008) are encountering keyboard/touchpad freezing this month.  Some XOs became frozen thanks to a bug in an early version of the firmware. If you encountered this, your XO should start as usual, but with the keyboard and mouse not working.

Here is a quick fix to update your firmware: you’ll need another computer with Internet access, a USB thumb drive (memory stick), a charger and wall outlet, and 10 minutes. (Alternately, you can send your XO to a community repair center – see the comments.)

  • Download http://dev.laptop.org/pub/firmware/q2d14/bootfw.zip
  • Take a USB stick, and create a folder named “boot”. Put the file in this folder. (the path to it should be /boot/bootfw.zip)
  • Make sure your XO is plugged into the wall, AND has a working battery in it.
  • Insert the USB stick into your XO. Reboot the XO. Wait until you see a message saying the firmware has upgraded successfully.
  • Remove all power from the XO for 20 seconds: unplug the power cord AND remove the battery.
  • Remove the USB stick.
  • Restore power to the XO and turn it on.
  • Hold down the “X” key on the keypad next to the screen as you reboot.
  • Your XO should now work normally.

It is also strongly recommended that you

as the recent releases have many new activities and other improvements.

DebXO 0.6 released!

(adapted from this recent mailing list thread.  this is a sweet build; try it out.)

After waaaaaaaaaaaaaay to long of a delay, I just tagged and built DebXO 0.6 (installation guide).  In some ways, it’s very polished (I’ve actually tested all of the desktops myself), in other ways it has a number of regressions (due to Debian updates breaking things, switching to an almost-stock Linus kernel, etc).  Either way, I wanted to get it out because people keep asking about it, and dropping JFFS2 leads to such a massive improvement.

DebXO is a version of Debian (testing) that is customized for the XO-1 hardware.  The 0.6 release adds initial support for the XO-1.5 hardware; however, XO-1.5 is not officially supported [yet].  I’ll update the official wiki page with instructions for XO-1.5, for the early adopters.

MAJOR CHANGES:

  • Update distribution to Debian Squeeze.  All packages and desktops have been upgraded.  This is pretty major; for example, Sugar is now at 0.88, and Gnome at 2.30(ish).
  • Kernel update.  Switch from the olpc-2.6 tree to Linus’s linux-2.6 tree (based upon 2.6.37-rc4+).  A few pending patches from -next and -mm have been included, but other than that… it’s stock.  The config closely matches the Debian stock kernel config; at a future date, we’ll just switch to a standard Debian 686 kernel.
  • Switch the nand images from using JFFS2 to UBIFS.  This makes an amazing difference in terms of usability.  Over time, JFFS2 filesystems get slower as they fragment, while UBIFS doesn’t appear to.
  • Initial XO-1.5 support. It’s still rough around the edges, but it’s functional (currently xorg.conf and /boot/olpc.fth must be edited).  …
  • Continue reading DebXO 0.6 released!