[Sugar-news] Sugar Digest 2009-06-01

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Mon Jun 1 07:51:08 EDT 2009

===Sugar Digest ===

1. I am reminded of the power of IRC almost daily. Not only is it a
place to ask a question, but it is a window into a wealth of
discussion among domain experts trying to solve problems.

An analogy can be made to the "Engine Culture" described by David
Cavallo in his PhD thesis: in rural Thailand, engineers would work on
motorcycle engines ''en plein air'', retrofitting them to solve the
problem ''du jour''—a rice mill, a water pump, etc.—while the village
children would gather around, taking in everything. IRC provides a
similar opportunity. Hanging out in #sugar presents a great
opportunity to gather around and take in everything.

We should experiment with ways to broaden participation with this
learning opportunity. Some thoughts:

In Sugar, we bundle an IRC Activity that defaults to #sugar.
* Is there more we can do to encourage participation?
* Should we be creating a more diverse set of channels populated by
experts in other disciplines?
* Perhaps even a channel per Activity?
* Has anyone every written a bot to export an IRC channel to Twitter
or Facebook? It might to increase the reach of the discussion to a new

2. Bruce Byfield wrote an article for "Activities and the move to
context-oriented desktops" for LWN.net for which he interviewed Gary
Martin. The article is subscriber-only, so I have extract a few

:The concept of Activities originates in Sugar, the desktop designed
for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project. In Sugar, "Activities" is
used as a synonym for "application." However, Gary C. Martin, one of
the coordinators for Sugar's Activity Team, explains that the change
is more than semantics or marketing. Because Activities run within the
general collaborative frame of Sugar, using them is intended as a very
different experience than running a standalone application on a
traditional desktop.

::For me, the key parts of Activities are that they combine concepts
of document, executable, and collaboration state into a single, simple
to use user interface. With the Activity state automatically kept in
the Journal, it's easy to resume or reflect on past work, and, with
realtime collaboration as a first class feature, peer sharing and
group work is strongly encouraged.

:In other words, Sugar's Activities are not just about running an
application, or learning how to produce a spreadsheet or a
presentation. Instead, they are conceived as part of the total
learning experience that Sugar is designed to provide.

3. It is great to see some of the core ideas such as Activities that
underly Sugar become more mainstream. This will help us to broaden our
community and our reach. C. Scott Ananian
[http://cananian.livejournal.com/tag/google+wave blogged] about Google
[http://www.waveprotocol.org/whitepapers/operational-transform Wave],
a new collaboration model that has many goals in common with the Sugar
collaboration model. Meanwhile, Benjamin Schwartz continues to make
progress on his Google Summer of Code project, GroupThink, a
completely decentralized, asynchronous text editing system.

4. Between interviews, Gary has been busy cranking out mock ups for a
new Sugar splash screen

5. All in a name: We have been have a discussion on the lists and in
IRC about what to call the pending Sugar on a Stick release. The
confusion lies in the gulf between the "stick", which will consist of
Sugar Sucrose 0.84 and Fedora 11, both of which are essentially
frozen, and the needs of a school to make a successful deployment,
which includes requirements beyond the individual sticks themselves,
e.g., a backup mechanism, documentation, etc. On the one hand, the
developer have completed their work and are preparing to move on to
the next phase: Sucrose 0.86 and Fedora 12. On the other hand, we
don't want to set expectations that Sugar on a Stick is complete in
regard to classroom settings, where we are only just beginning to do

One proposed solution to this communications dichotomy is to use
separate names for an individual stick and a collection of sticks used
in a school setting. The best I've been able to come up with for the
latter is ''Sugar Grove''. Please share any thoughts you might have on
naming with the SoaS and Marketing teams.

===Help Wanted===

6. My plea for help this week is in regard to orphaned activities.
There is a list of activities with no active maintainer
[[Activity_Team/Activity_Status]] in the wiki. Adopting one or more of
these activities would make a great summer project and be a practical
way into Sugar development.

===In the community===

7. Sugar will be well represented at LinuxTag in Berlin
[http://www.linuxtag.org/2009/] at the end of June. There will be a
Sugar Camp in Berlin following LinuxTag, so plan to stay in town for a
few extra days. Details soon.

===Tech Talk===

8. David Van Assche reported over the weekend about the extraordinary
progress made by the openSUSE team.

:We've now managed to get pretty much every activity behaving,
including the underlying journaling and collaboration. We've got more
than 50 activities packaged and included in the live
cd/usb/dvd/virtual appliance. By using the incredible flexibility and
power that oBS gives us, with just 2 people working on this project,
we've managed move forwards fast and efficiently. So we are proud to
announce that you can download the latest releases here:

9. Sebastian Dziallas continues to make great progress towards a Sugar
on a Stick release at LinuxTag. There is another image to test, which
includes, among other things, the updated gstreamer-plugins-espeak
package (now on
version 0.3.3).

* Live Image: [http://download.sugarlabs.org/soas/snapshots/2/Soas2-200905281544.iso]
* Virtual Appliance:

10. Tony Forster has caught a new bug: screencasting. First, he got it
to work from the command line:


Press Ctrl-c to terminate.

 copy-to-journal out.ogv -m video/ogg

Then he managed to patch the screencast activity such that it saves
properly to the Journal (See [[Activities/Screencast]]).

11. Aleksey Lim has made an initial release of Library activity
[http://activities.sugarlabs.org/en-US/sugar/addon/4089] in order to
get some feedback about UI and basic ideas of activity. Feedback

12. Mihai Sucan has a very detailed analysis of how to optimize the
interactions between Gecko, CSS, and the OLPC-XO canvas, which uses a
non-standard scaling algorithm. You can read about it here

===Sugar Labs ===

13. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion
on the IAEP mailing list (Please see


Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

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