[sugar] OLPC News 2008-02-16

Walter Bender walter
Sat Feb 16 12:30:17 EST 2008

1. Lima: Ivan Krsti?, Walter Bender, and Edgar Ceballos spent much of
the week working closely with Oscar Becerra Tresierra's team within
the Peruvian ministry of education on the details of the Peru

2. The Inter-American Development Bank announced that it will finance
a pilot project to test whether one-to-one computing can improve
teaching and learning in schools in Haiti (the poorest country in the
Western Hemisphere). The IDB will make a $3-million grant for the
pilot project, which will distribute XO laptops to 13,200 students and
500 teachers in 60 Haitian primary schools. The OLPC Foundation will
contribute XO laptops  to the project through the Give One Get One

3. Laptop hardware: We have approved an engineering change to a
lower-cost stainless steel for the metal components of the laptop.
This was done in response to a sharp rise in cost of the particular
alloy we had been using. Drop tests and corrosion tests run by Quanta
show no change from the current material.

4. Power: Richard Smith has been investigating what it is going to
take to provide an off-grid solar system that will be able to run a
school server for eight hours a day (the Peru challenge). With SJ
Klein's help, he has engaged the community, where he is finding great
interest this problem; we will leverage this interest by working with
some community testing sites on the long-term testing of a solar-power
systems. Specifically, the OLPC chapter at the Illinois Math and
Science Academy is talking to Richard about testing solar panels and
other materials through a green- energy project they have underway.
The same project is already collaborating with a research group at
Fermilab studying new energy sources.

5. Embedded controller (EC): Exercising the EC charging system with
"spiky" input power has uncovered a bug: the EC seems to get confused.
Although it turns on the charge light, the charging circuit is not
enabled. Richard is investigating the root cause.

6. Multi-battery charger: Lillian Walter has made excellent progress
on the firmware: it now detects battery insert and removal; it enables
or disables the charging channels; and it is upgradeable via the USB
and serial port. When the prototype hardware is ready, the firmware
will be in good shape for testing. Bitworks received the first round
of plastic parts off of the tooling and some of the smaller sheet
metal parts. These parts are on their way to Gecko for inspection and
approval. The new PCB with the design changes for a cooler-running
charger is finished and sent out for fabrication. Unless the parts
have serious fit problems, the end of February still looks good for
the first complete mechanical assembly using these test parts.

7. School server: John Watlington doesn't have a new build to announce
this week; however, he does reports that the build environment seems
stabilized (Look for an announcement on server-devel at laptop.org soon).
There are three new groups using the server software in anticipation
of deployments in Nepal, Pakistan, and South Africa; thanks for all of
their help testing and improving the software. We are planning for a
week-long network test and debug session in Cambridge starting on 25
February. The goal is to recreate some of the scenarios we are seeing
in the field in order to prioritize the bug fixes that will make the
biggest (positive) difference for our deployments.

8. Firmware: Mitch Bradley implemented a change to the secure-startup
process so that it will continue booting even if there is insufficient
power to reflash the firmware. This is in response to reports from the
field as OLPC begins mass deployments; upgrades were leaving some
machines "stuck"?they would not boot without upgrading the firmware,
but did not have the redundant power sources (both battery and line
power) required for upgrading the flash.

9. Schedules/releases: Release Candidate (RC) 2, Build 691 went
through testing this week. We are already working on RC 3 as there
were some important bugs found with mesh sharing, translations that
are ready to go, and activity updates that need to get in. Build 693
is available this weekend for developer-only testing?it is not signed
yet. At the same time we are trying to wrap up Update 1, we have
already started collecting requirements for Update 1.1 based on
feedback from our first deployments (Uruguay, Mongolia and Peru).

We are looking for some help from the community for testing builds as
the become available?especially as we get close to the final Update 1
release candidate. Please visit the test wiki pages
(http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Test_issues) to get started.

10. Localization: Sayamindu Dasgupta spent the first part of the week
testing the PO files of all languages for errors. The testing was
followed up by a massive push of all translations to the master Git
repository at dev.laptop.org in order to ensure that they are included
in Update 1. This also required the involvement of the module
maintainers, as they had to release new versions of the module or
activity they maintain.

Localization is becoming a larger part of our efforts and
synchronization of localization slows the release process. We need a
strategy that will allow for retroactive localization so that we do
not have to do software releases in order to pick up additional
language support.

Sayamindu has been working on enhancing the glossary for the
translators, so that they can define a standard translation for
commonly used terms, and also to ensure consistency between
translations done by different people on different files. This
involved taking into account all terms that are repeated more than
once in the set of PO files that we have, and creating a glossary PO
template (POT) file. He has initialized a discussion in the
localization mailing list, so that translators can provide their
inputs, and once we reach a consensus, we will start utilizing the
glossary in Pootle to ensure consistent translation.

Usman Mansoor "Ansari" and Sohaib Obaidi "Ebtihaj", our volunteers
from Afghanistan, report that Update 1, XO Bundled, XO Core are
complete. 3000 strings (12%) in Etoys are also complete.

As a demonstration, electronic versions of Afghan textbooks (two Dari
and two Pashto) were downloaded from the ministry of education website
and successfully tested on the XO laptop. Also, an electronic picture
book of traffic signs in English and Dari was prepared. The team also
developed a Dari weblog of the OLPC project, which is updated daily
from the laptop.org website (Please see http://www.olpc.blogsky.com).

An XO laptop user manual in the Dari language has been completed and
the Pashto version is 90% done. Alas, the volunteer working on this
project went to visit his family in Afghanistan and is currently
stranded in a remote region due to heavy snow. We are awaiting his
safe return.

11. Presence service (PS): Dafydd Harries spent this week working on
Gadget, the Jabber server extension for activity indexing. It is at
the point where it can be told about activities and answer queries
about which activities exist. Morgan Collett released Chat-35 for
Update 1 with the updated translations and a fix for the problem with
copying web links (Ticket #6066).

Daf and Morgan reached agreement with Brian Pepple (who does the
Telepathy packaging for Fedora) to build in the F-7/F-8/Rawhide
branches with minimal side effects for Fedora users.

Guillaume Desmottes completely removed the "registered" flag from
sugar's profile (#6295) and investigated and wrote a fix for Ticket
#6299: "presence service should disable salut in the presence of
school servers on mesh." He also started to design and implement a PS
test framework

Morgan did some preliminary testing for Guillaume's fix for #6299. It
will require further testing this as soon as it is in Joyride. In a
related bug (Ticket #6475), Morgan fixed a problem that was causing
Pippy to crash on launch when there was no Telepathy connection.

12. Kernel: Andres Salomon dealt with the local root exploit issue; he
also merged 2.6.25-rc1 into master, a "painful" process. He continued
the process of pushing stuff upstream: battery driver cleanups, lxfb
stuff, etc. Andres realized that we still have ancient gxfb patches in
our tree; he therefore got a GX sparrow box up for
testing these kernel patches.

13. Sugar: Tomeu Vizoso fixed two issues, one in Sugar and the other
in the Journal, that caused some translations to not appear in the UI.
This got into an Update 1 build. Tomeu also released a new Paint
activity with updated translations. And he has started implementing a
redesign of the Home view and the Frame.

Chris Ball released a new version of Pippy.

Dan Bricklin, Luke Closs, Manusheel Guptam, and Eben Eliason have
continued to make progress on the SocialCalc project (See
http://www.peapodcast.com/sgi/olpc/). Recently added features include:
copy/cut/paste; basic support for CSV and tab-delimited data;
merge/unmerge cells; insert/delete row/column; sort. A new
multiplication table sample document has also been added. The
performance of operations such as sorting is quite good, making the
activity useful for maintaining lists of hundreds of rows of data.
Graphing support is at an initial stage of development. They are
coordinating with Edward Baafi, Luke Closs, Tomeu Vizoso, Marco
Gritti, and Todd Whiteman to develop a communication channel between
Python and Javascript code through PyXPCOM.

The University of S?o Paulo LSI research team has been in discussion
with Manu and Eben in regard to the Paint activity. "Smudge" and
"Blur" brushes will be added soon.

Arjun Sarwal reports progress on a number of sensor-related fronts:
(a) Arjun completed work on Measure Activity, writing its log files in
CSV format in anticipation of integration with the spreadsheet
activity (the plan is to have  Measure generating a separate Journal
entry for each log file it creates so that other activities can access
these data);
(b) he worked with the Matplotlib packages to integrate within Measure
spreadsheet-like interface and graphing interface (See
(c) he fixed a Rainbow-related bug that was preventing Measure from
writing its log files and released an updated version, which also
includes updated translations, for Update 1;
(d) he demonstrated TurtleArt with Sensors at the the Learning
workshop (A group of attendees programmed the turtle to log sensor
values at a periodic interval within a set of axes?see
(e) Edward Baafi made $2 IO/sensor board that plugs into the USB port
of the XO (the board provides two 10-bit ADC inputs).

14. Power management: Chris Ball worked on an API for activities to
temporarily inhibit suspend, motivated by the continuous measurement
mode of Distance (which does not currently inhibit suspend but
should). Chris is looking at inhibiting suspend whenever the camera or
microphone is in use. Chris also released a new version of OHM.

15. Releases: Dennis Gilmore spent the week working on Update 1. He
also spent some time working with Mako Hill on packaging. He also
spent time moving whats on mock.laptop.org onto pilgrim.laptop.org.

16. Security: Michael Stone provided software for fixes to several
bugs and changes of policy related to root shells: "become_root is
broken" (Ticket #6316); "use sudo to get root; limit root to olpc"
(Ticket #5537). He also fixed a problem with installing Adobe Flash
(Ticket #6411). He analyzed the challenge of USB-based content
autoinstallation (Tickets #6425 and #6430). He pushed Marcus Leech's
"olpc-audit" into Joyride and ran it as a means of being proactive in
regard to "some dirs in /usr are not readable by the user olpc"
(Ticket #5985). Michael also discussed syscalls for isolated
"prototype processes" with Andres and made some small updates to the
build-system wiki documentation.

17. OLPC Health: Many thanks to all the participants who made last
week's conference call a success. The call covered discussions on a
number of aspects ranging from the alignment of the Health initiative
with OLPC's vision, to detailed discussions on the organization of
content and health peripherals. The minutes and notes are posted on
the Health Meetings page in the wiki (Please see

18. OLPC Pakistan: The Pakistan team has undertaken two Quranic
studies activities: Quran Read activity and Qiraat activity
(recitation of the Quran). Quran Read was created by modifying the
Read activity. Waqas Toor has developed prototype of Qiraat Activity.
The package is created using Helix media library and Evince library
for PDF files.

Dr. Habib Khan reports that the Pakistan Software Export Board has
sponsors two interns: we welcome Ms. Sheerehman, a graduate student of
IT Management in IIU, and Mr. Asif Rehman a fresh BS from Kohat
University, NWFP, Pakistan. They will be helping us in development and
testing of OLPC activities over the next three months. Many thanks to
PSEP for honoring our request of sponsoring these interns; we look
forward for their continued support in the future.

19. Google Gears: SJ spoke to Othman Laraki and Ben Lisbakken of the
Google Gears project and with Zvi Boshernitzan of Kiva, who are all
working on making Gears a tool for offline mediawiki browsing. They
offered help getting Gears integrated into the Browse activity and
noted that a patch to make Gears work with FF3-minus-extensions has
already been submitted (for use on a mobile platform) so most of the
work has been done. Ben will follow up with people working on Browse,
and will offer a userspace demo for Wikipedia users, as prelude to
getting offline-reader hooks into MediaWiki proper.

20. In the community: Iain Davidson has started a Zine on the wiki
(See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Weekly_zine/0).

Jonathan Blocksom and Mike Lee have been helping organize the local DC
meet-up groups.

Olin College is hosting its second OLPC jam this weekend, focusing
more on local student involvement, coding, and curation for the CC
LiveContent DVD (see below). Nikki Lee and the 20-person Olin chapter
are organizing the event.

With help from Jamil Moledina, Executive Director Game Developers
Conference, we're hoping to help connect XO groups with game
developers at next week's conference in San Francisco.

The XO laptop and Sugar interface will be featured in exhibits at the
Museum of Modern Art and a Saatchi and Saatchi event in NYC this week.

Christoph Derndorfer reports that OLPC Austria will have a presence at
CeBIT 2008, which takes place in Hannover during the first week in March.

Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

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