[sugar] Sugar Digest 2008-10-06

Walter Bender walter.bender
Mon Oct 6 11:33:02 EDT 2008

=== Sugar Digest ===

1. Peer-to-peer editing: After my call last week for a social-networking
site for peer-to-peer editing, I was directed by Joshua Pritikin to the Peer
Editing Exchange (http://peeredit.us/).

I tried it out and got good and timely feedback regarding my copy (a Letter
to the Editor):

 What would Josh Billings say about Gov. Palin?

 The great American humorist Josh Billings once said: "The problem
 ain't what you don't know, it's what you know that just ain't
 so." Governor Palin has Billings's Billings' folksy charm. But charm, butgosh
darnit, darn it,
 her problems include both what she don't know and what she knows
 that ain't so.  McCain has shown reckless judgment in choosing her as a
 VP candidate. It may get him elected, but since we will live with
 this decision long after the election, it weighs ominously on the
 prospects of a McCain administration.

Alas, the Globe didn't publish my letter.

The workflow is reasonable, but ideally, it would be integrated into a blog
tool chain where the "Publish" button us replaced with a "Send to Editor"
button. What is the best free software blog tool?

2. Narrative: Bryan Barry and Michael Stone have initiated a discussion
about inadequacies in the Sugar tool chain (See
http://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/sugar/2008-October/008863.html and

 Sugar offers an excellent mode for discovery but no excellent way to
 manipulate narratives. Both discovery and narrative are essential for
 learning.?Bryan Barry

 This statement seems to me both indisputable and damning; if true, it
 strikes to the core of the claim that Sugar is appropriate for learning.
 ?Michael Stone

I questioned the dichotomy between manipulating narratives and modes for
discovery. When I think about Sugar, I think about its providing a
scaffolding for discovering, expressing, critiquing, and reflecting.
Manipulating narrative seems to cut across all of these area (as does
collaboration). We don't yet support (natively) much in the way of
organizing data to make an analysis or argument. But it seems overstated to
say that these deficiencies mean Sugar is not appropriate for learning.
There is certainly a paucity of lesson plans developed around Sugar to help
teachers answer the question of how one best leverages the Sugar toolkit for
learning. And undoubtedly, there is a dearth of readily packaged and
categorized content. But I don't see these as fundamental flaws in Sugar as
much as a place where more effort needs to be invested; Sugar is reaching a
point of maturity where such investments make sense. Sugar is an appropriate
component of what needs to be a larger learning ecosystem.

3. Trying Sugar at school: Caroline Meeks and I went to a computer lab at a
Boston public school to see what constraints we might encounter in using
some of the various LiveCD and LiveUSB efforts underway. Our goal of is to
make it easy for teachers to try Sugar in situations where the school
computers are locked down or cannot be reimaged. Another use case is for
children to use Sugar at school and at home using a LiveUSB in cases where
1-to-1 solutions are not available: the USB key "becomes the Sugar

They school had a room full of Compaq Pentium 4 "EVO" desktops with 256M of
DRAM. We tried a variety of LiveCDs (with and without Sugar). Bottom line:
we have a ways to go before we have a turnkey solution. We had trouble
running most of the distributions we tried (with and without Sugar). Puppy
Linux was the most promising in that it boot consistently and seemed stable
running as a LiveCD.

Sebastian Dziallas has built a slimmer version of the Fedora/Sugar Live spin
and is working on getting it integrated into a Windows-based installer. We
look forward to trying it.

4. Nepal evaluation: A summary of a formative evaluation of OLPC Project
Nepal is online (See http://blog.olenepal.org/index.php/archives/321). Uttam
Sharma, a doctoral student at at the Department of Applied Economics at the
University of Minnesota carried out the evaluation, which has suggestions
for how to improve the Sugar/one-to-one laptop deployment process.

5. Pythagoras: There is a nice summary of the various approaches to
exploring the Pythagorean theorem in TurtleArt, Etoys, and Dr Geo (See

6. Sugar logo: I've updated the wiki with the new logo (thanks to Christian
Schmidt). We had asked by OLPC to stop using the XO logo?a request we have
complied with.

=== Community jams, meet ups, and meetings ===

7. Meeting schedule: I've set up a public Google calendar for scheduling
Sugar meetings. Please see http://sugarlabs.org/go/Community#Meetings for
links to the XML, iCal, and HTML versions of the calendar, or search for
"Sugar Labs meetings" from the Google calendar interface. If you'd like
write permission on the calendar, please send me an email.

8. Spanish book sprint: We'll be holding a translation sprint for the Sugar
FLOSS Manual in Lima, Per? on 20, 21 October at the Universidad San Martin,
Faculta de Ingenier?a. (Av. La Fontana - Urbanizaci?n Santa Patricia -
Distrito: La Molina) Please contact Rafael Enrique Ortiz Guerrero <dirakx AT
gmail.com> for more details.

9. Traduction de la documentation: Samy Boutayeb reports that OLPC France
has launched a French localize project (See

=== Tech Talk ===

10. Gconf: Simon Schampijer has been working to moving to gconf (
http://www.gnome.org/projects/gconf/) to store the Sugar settings. Memory
consumption looks good from a first glance. The old profile will be
converted on update and the old profile API will be kept around during the
transition phase.

11. Activity updates: There are updates available for:


=== 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


Walter Bender
Sugar Labs
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