[IAEP] Sugar Digest 2008-07-14

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Tue Jul 15 03:07:59 CEST 2008

=== Sugar Digest ===

1. Sugar Labs governance: There are still a few more loose ends to
deal with before we are officially members of the Software Freedom
Conservancy. In preparation, I've made a lot of changes on the
governance page. Please comment.

2. Leaning: There were some interesting discussions about learning on
the Education list this week:
* Sugar Labs, LOGO and Brian Harvey
* reconstructed maths

3. OLPC in the field: Jim Gettys has published an aggregate summary of
Sugar in the hands of children in the various OLPC deployments around
the world (http://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/community-news/2008-July/000134.html).

4. Clarity: When talking about Sugar, I never have trouble describing
the collaboration features or the reflective nature of the Journal,
but I struggle with describing the interface in terms of its
simplicity. "Simplicity" has an undertone of "dumbed down" and limited
capability. In a discussion with Nathan Felde from the Art Institute
of Boston, a division of Lesley University, we used the word
"clarity", which immediately struck me as a much better term than
simplicity. It doesn't imply any limit and it suggests transparency
and openness, both hallmarks of the interface.

5. Studio Thinking: Nathan also introduced me to a book, Studio
Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education by Lois Hetland,
Ellen Winner, Shirley Veneema, and Kimberly M. Sheridan. It is a
treatise on visual arts education; the authors argue that through the
arts, students learn specific "dispositions of mind" that lead to
high-quality thinking. They also speak about "Studio Habits of Mind":
develop craft, engage and persist, envision, express, observe,
reflect, stretch and explore, and understand the world and "Studio
Structures": the demonstration/ lecture, students working, and the
critique. It seems there is synergy with many of the goals of Sugar.
An open question is how to transfer this thinking beyond the visual

=== Community jams and meetups ===

===Tech Talk===

6. Release process: Marco Pesenti Gritti and Michael Stone have been
discussing how to integrate the Sugar and OLPC release processes:
* SugarLabs should try to schedule its release a few months before the
OLPC release target date (something around 2–3 months). That will give
us enough time to ensure everything is stable before we start
integrating the new code in the OLPC distribution.
* Sugar developers employed by OLPC will work on OLPC release
contracts for all the new features present in the new release.
* After the first stable release SugarLabs will keep releasing minor
updates, which will include bug fixes and strings for the OLPC
* We should make an effort to develop all the features required as
part of the unstable development cycle. Though there surely will be
cases where OLPC will need changes outside the normal SugarLabs
schedule. We will land these in a limited and controlled way both
during the freeze periods and as part of the stable minor releases.

7. Sucrose: Simon Schampijer announced the Sucrose Development Release
0.81.6 this week
(http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/ReleaseTeam/CurrentRelease/Sucrose). You
can test it in OLPC joyride >= 2129.

This first release after the feature freeze and therefore has only bug
fixes. It contains as well a new Browse activity (Version 92). Due to
an interface change in xulrunner the downloads were broken in Joyride.
They are fixed with this Browse release. Simon Schampijer added
refinements to the autocompletion feature #7281 and #7280.

Due to a name change of the Browse activity (Web->Browse) you will
likely have problems updating to the latest version. Find instructions
here to work around that problem

The sources can be found here:


* #7438 sugar shuts down when you click Restart
* #7365 Invites not working
* #7248 Speaker device has inconsistent behavior
* #7339 CPU Spins after starting an activity
* #7015 Add proper alignment support to the "tray" control
* #5613 Cannot set non-ASCII nick name
* #7046 Deleting activity bundle with journal leaves it showing in
Home list view until reboot
* #7391 Make the search field in Home reveal the list view
* #7248 Speaker device has inconsistent behavior
* #7272 Notifications are redundant with new launching feedback
* #7273 Activity icons remain colored after launch

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this release (as well to the
translation team for adding new languages and updating existing ones).

8. Handwriting: Julka Lipkova has been working on software for
teaching children handwriting (http://code.google.com/p/olpc-dhw/);
more details are available at http://olpc-dhw.blogspot.com/.

9. Movie portal: DailyMotion, which has an ogg-friendly website, is
planning a video campaign to solicit new uploaded materials for OLPC

10. Sugar Almanac: Faisal Anwar continues to progress on documenting
the community's best coding practices and conventions

11. SocialCalc: Manusheel Gupta reports that the Dan Bricklin,
co-inventor of VisiCalc (the first spreadsheet), Luke Closs, and K.S.
Preeti have SocialCalc (a spreadsheet activity) in Sugar. This is the
first Sugar activity written in JavaScript (JS) to have been
integrated to Python-based Sugar environment. They did this through
XOCom, a wrapper function. The XOCom package will encourage the JS
community to participate in developing software and content for Sugar
(Please see http://www.socialtext.net/socialcalcxo/index.cgi?sweet_socialcalcand
and http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Browse#Install_an_activity).

12. Physics: Brian Jordan and Alex Levenson have made great progress
on the Physics activity
(http://dev.laptop.org/~bjordan/Physics-0.2.xo). Brian is planning a
Physics Jam for late August

More physics: Joshua Minor created a wiki page discussing a file
format for 2D physics scenes

13. Misc.: Tomeu Vizoso worked on stabilizing the development builds
and helping David Van Assche who has volunteered to package Google
Gears for OLPC. This work has exposed some issues in Browse that, once
fixed, will allow the installation of several Firefox extensions.

Riccardo Lucchese, an intern at OLPC, will work on Browse performance
during the next months; Riccardo has been doing some Sugar profiling
(See wget http://www.bodhidharma.info/out.grapher.svg). Daniel Drake
released Record-55 for compatibility with the newer GStreamer
libraries present in Joyride/8.2.

=== Sugar Labs ===

14. Self-organizing map (SOM): Gary Martin has generated another SOM
from the past week of discussion on the IAEP mailing list (Please see
http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Image:2008-July-05-11-som.jpg). The
discussion seems to have drifted back towards the topic of learning.

Gary has moved all the SOM content to it's own community wiki page:


He has also uploaded the Sugar month by month SOMs as well, the direct link is:


15.  Blogged: I'll be posting these digests in blog form starting this week.


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