[Sugar-news] Sugar Digest 2010-12-15

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Wed Dec 15 10:30:06 EST 2010

===Sugar Digest===

1. I have fallen a bit behind in my writing because I had an
unfortunate mishap while I was in Brussels last week: my laptop was
stolen. My old laptop, which had been on life support before I had
left for Europe was completely dead when I returned, so I am using my
old old laptop, which works great as long as I apply pressure to the
lower-right corner of the keyboard. Looking forward to getting a
replacement machine at the end of the week.

2. Plan Ceibal, the one-laptop-per-child program in Uruguay, held an
international conference in Montevideo on 30 November - 1 December. It
was a great opportunity to catch up with some old friends from across
the region (Gonzalo, Cecilia, Antonio, Laura, Patricia, et al.) and to
spend time with many of the teachers and volunteers who have been
participating in the program. I finally met Rosamel
[http://www.blogedu-rosamel.blogspot.com/]; and I got reacquainted
with the Ceibal Jam [http://ceibaljam.org/] team; the students and
faculty at Universidad Católica del Uruguay [http://www.ucu.edu.uy],
where I gave a talk
[http://www.fedaro.info/audios/ConfWalterBender.ogg]; and the Butiá
[http://www.fing.edu.uy/inco/proyectos/butia/] project team, who uses
a combination of Turtle Blocks and an Arduino board to turn the XO
laptop into a robot -- very cool. (Actually, favorite demo was when
they used one laptop to control the robot, one to be the robot, and
one to display the video from the robot's webcam -- a great use of the
network and the plurality of laptops in Uruguay.) It is also worth
noting that a number of commercial software companies are now
participating in the project, offering Sugar activities (under FOSS
licenses) to the children.

I spent some time at Ceibal discussing Sugar and future directions for
the project. Emiliano Pastorino showed me an activity he is developing
that uses an RFID-tag reader to help children use their laptops to
inventory cattle. I was so intrigued that I decided to add an RFID
block to Turtle Blocks so that the children can use RFID in their
programs. (The code is in git and will be part of Release 105.)

One mission I had for my trip to Uruguay was to bring an 'unlocked'
laptop to ChristoferR, a twelve-year-old, who has been writing Sugar
activities [http://activities.sugarlabs.org/en-US/sugar/user/1862]. He
was at the point where he needed root access in order to dig deeper
into Sugar and the system. Thanks to Gabriel, Christofer now was a
laptop that can be used for experimentation outside of the context of
his school work. I discussed with Miguel Brechner the need to provide
a scalable mechanism for unlocking machines in Uruguay -- today there
are perhaps one dozen "Christofers" in Uruguay. Next year, there will
be 100; in two years, 1000. Fiorella Haim, the technical lead for
Ceibal, assured me that they have a plan in place to address this
issue as part of the Sugar refresh scheduled for this summer.

After our discussion, Miguel happened to have a conversation with
President José Mujica. He mentioned Christofer to the president, who
in reply, smiled and said with pride in his voice, "We have hackers."
Congratulations Uruguay.

3. I went from Uruguay to Brussels to give a talk at TEDx. Before my
laptop was stolen, I had a chance to use it to make my presentation --
a 10-minute mini-talk (using, of course, Turtle Art). I started my
talk off with a picture of Bernie at my mother's house, surrounded by
pies I had baked for Thanksgiving. I remarked that it is important to
feed the hackers, but my real point was to argue that we make a
distinction between the every day (low shelf) and the occasional (high
shelf): my special recipes for Thanksgiving that I have 'reach' for;
my daily coffee is right at hand. The remainder of my talk was an
argument for making computation be on the low shelf of every child.
(I'll post a link to the video as soon as it is available.)

===In the community===

4. We have a new Sugar oversight board: welcome to our new members,
Sebastian Silva and Aleksey Lim. Also, welcome back Chris Ball and
Adam Holt. It is a great group and we have already had some heated
discussions (See
[http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Oversight_Board/Minutes]). We meet on
most Thursdays at 15:00 EST (20:00 UTC) in #sugar-meeting on
irc.freenode.net. Please join us.

5. Sebastian Dziallas, the project leader for Sugar on a Stick, has
bid us farewell
[http://sdziallas.com/blog/sebastian/2010/12/moving-on.html]. It is
not a surprise that the transition from secondary school to university
has consumed him. Hopefully we will see more of him after he settles
into his new routine. In the meanwhile, Peter Robinson has taken the
lead. Best wishes to SDZ and many thanks for your contributions to the

===Tech Talk===

6. Tom (satellit_) Gilliard has been making rapid progress on the
Virtual Box version of Sugar on a Stick. It seems to be emerging as
the most robust and facile way to get Sugar running on a wide variety
of platforms, including the various Apple products. You can follow his
work [http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Downloads#Virtual_Machines_on_all_platforms].

===Sugar Labs===

As always, Gary Martin has created some SOM diagrams of the
discussions on the IAEP list.

* http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/File:2010-Dec-4-10-som.jpg (37 emails)
* http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/File:2010-Nov-27-Dec-3-som.jpg (42 emails)

Visit http://planet.sugarlabs.org for more news from the Sugar Community.


Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

More information about the Community-news mailing list