[Sugar-news] Sugar DIgest 2008-09-22

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Mon Sep 22 08:03:35 EDT 2008

=== Sugar Digest ===

1. Trisecting angles: The French mathematician Évariste Galois
published three papers in 1830 that laid the foundations of an
algebraic proof of why is it not possible to trisect *every* angle in
a compass and straightedge construction, something the Ancient Greeks
knew, but could not prove. However, what is often overlooked is that
the Greeks could trisect angles, using a different set set of
instruments. What does this history lesson have to do with Sugar Labs?
Two separate but related discussions have dominated the OLPC-Sur list
this past week: the Microsoft announcement regarding a Windows XP
pilot in Peru and the lack of a square root function in Turtle Art,
both of which can be seen through the lens of abstract
algebra—apologies in advance for overreaching with this analogy.

Let me summarize the Turtle Art discussion first. Some teachers in
Uruguay are teaching the Pythagorean Theorem and were stymied by the
lack of a square root function in Turtle Art. They wanted to
demonstrate that the length of the diagonal of a square is equal to
the square root of the sum of the square of each side. In psuedocode,
they wanted to build the following construct:

repeat 4 (forward 100 right 90)
right 45
forward sqrt ((100*100) + (100*100))

Lots of alternatives were discussed, including using Dr. Geo. My
favorite comment was from Pato Acevedo, who said:
[Modo Irónico on]
Claro, no puedo entender como fue que Pitagoras "descubrió" su famoso
Teorema si en su epoca no existian calculadoras
[Modo Irónico Off]

But eventually—albeit with some intervention on my part—the discussion
turned towards how to modify the Turtle Art activity. I put together a
tutorial (See http://sugarlabs.org/go/Patching_Turtle_Art) with the
hope that not only would I be satisfying the immediate needs of the
teachers, but also, showing them that in fact they could, themselves,
make the necessary changes to the program to meet their needs. I am
hoping that I didn't make it too easy for them and that some of them
will risk making changes—creating new instruments. The beauty of FOSS
is that if the permutation group doesn't allow you to "trisect an
angle", you can always modify the group. A dialog between teachers and
developers has begun. The next step is for some of the teachers to
become developers.

What is the connection the XP announcement? Simply that it is a real
shame that Microsoft is not using their vast resources to expand the
opportunities for children by reaching to places not already being
serviced by OLPC. Regardless of the merits of XP, they could have
immediate and lasting impact by covering a space outside of the range
of the Peruvian permutation group. Pamela Jones and Sean Daly wrote a
more thorough analysis of the XP story for Groklaw (See

2. Oversight board: The Sugar Labs oversight board met on IRC this
week. Highlights include a report that final agreement between Sugar
Labs and the SFC has been approved; the creation of the BugSqaud; the
creation of the deployment team pages; and the unveiling of a new
Sugar Labs logo (http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Logo). Minutes can be
found in the wiki
The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, 3 October at 14.00 (UTC).

There is an email thread
for discussing the pros and cons of having an executive director.
Please share your thoughts with the community.

3. Roadmap: Marco Pesente Gritti and Simon Schampijer have been
documenting the discussion of our 0.84 goals in the wiki
(http://sugarlabs.org/go/ReleaseTeam/Roadmap/0.84#Goals). They have
assigned owners and peers to all groups and started to assign owners
to each feature. You can find orphaned items under "Unassigned" in
each section. Please give them a home.

4. Amazability: Kenneth Ingham is preparing to release Adept1, a
natural-language speech-based product under a GPLv3 license (See
http://www.amazability.com/about.htm). He is looking for help; please
contact him at ken AT amazability.com.

5. Minutes: Given the sudden plethora of Sugar meetings, I added a new
category in the wiki for meeting minutes. Going to
http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Category:Meeting_minutes is a one-stop
page for finding all the meeting minutes in the wiki. (Going forward,
please add the tag [[Category:Meeting minutes]] when posting minutes
to the wiki.)

=== Community jams and meetups ===

6. Workshop of Telematics: Luis Michelena from the faculty of
engineering at the Universidad de la República, Uruguay, will be using
Sugar as a central theme for the projects to be carried out by
students. Project suggestions most welcome.

=== Tech Talk ===

7. Sugar control panel: As a last-minute patch for 0.82, Simon
Schampijer added a scrolled window to the Sugar control panel main
view; Kim Quirk had pointed out that in some languages, not all of the
icons fit on the fixed-sized panel. Thanks to Andrés Ambrois for his
patch. The Sugar team has settled on a long-term solution using hippo
for this issue. In the upcoming week, Simon plans to work on the first
items in his 0.84 list (mainly control panel) and he will keep on
working on the roadmap.

8. Developers meeting: The next Sugar developers meeting is scheduled
for Thursday, 25 September at 14.00 (UTC). At this meeting, we want to
form the Sugar Labs Bugsquad, a quality assurance (QA) team for Sugar.
The squad will keep track of current bugs and try to make sure that
major bugs do not go unnoticed by developers. You do not need any
programming knowledge to be in the Bugsquad; in fact it is a great way
to return something to the Sugar community if you cannot program. The
Sugar Labs bugsquad is modeled on the GNOME bugsquad

9. Design meeting: Eben Eliason reports that the first design meeting
was a bit more technical than anticipated, but we did make some
progress on a visual clipboard API and icon reviews (Minutes can be
found at http://sugarlabs.org/go/DesignTeam/Meetings#Thursday_September_18.2C_2008_-_15.30_.28UTC.29).

10. API documentation: David Farning has been leading an effort to
document the Sugar API. With help from Pauli Virtanen, Janet Swisher,
and Marco Pesenti Gritti, we now have a wiki-based tool (See
http://sugarlabs1.xen.prgmr.com). Follow the instructions at
http://sugarlabs1.xen.prgmr.com/pydocweb/wiki/getting_started/. Don't
worry about being perfect, someone will come along and clean up the
docstrings before they are committed back to the git tree. (The
patches are flowing into the git tree correctly, but if you find bugs,
please let us know: this
is the first time pydocweb has been used "in the wild.")

11. Activity updates: There are updates available for:

and some Sugar improvements in the latest joyride:
sugar-artwork 0.81.2
sugar-toolkit 0.82.10
sugar 0.82.8

along with updates to some other platform components:
telepathy-salut 0.3.5

=== Sugar Labs ===

12. Self-organizing map (SOM): Gary Martin has generated another SOM
from the past week of discussion on the IAEP mailing list (Please see
Deployment feedback was a major topic of discussion this week.


Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

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