Sugar Digest 2015-08-25

Sugar Digest

1. Google Summer of Code 2015 is wrapping up. The students have been writing their final blog reports, submitting last-minute patches, and uploading their code to Google. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our students and their mentors for all their hard work this summer. (Also, thanks once more to Google for supporting this program.) Great strides along many fronts were made. Specifically,

  • Michaël Ohayon worked on Web versions of some core activities for the Sugarizer project: Calculate, Paint (with collaboration, Record, and Memorize. He also submitted patches to Turtle Blocks to make it compatible with Sugarizer. Michaël’s blog and git repo are worth visiting. (Mentor: Lionel Laske)
  • Yash Khandelwal worked on Music Blocks AKA Mouse Music. This is a powerful, playful model for music in a block language. Yash’s blog and git repo are also worth visiting. (Mentors: Devin Ulibarri and Marnen Laibow-Koser)
  • Ishan Sharma revisited the Turtle 3D concept, rewriting it in Javascript. His results (blog, demo and git repo) are robust, scalable, and extensible. (Mentor: Walter)
  • Amit Kumar Jha worked on extensions to Turtle programming this summer. He added argument passing and return values to procedures, passing arguments to and returning values from Turtle programs so that Turtle Blocks can be used for in-line programming by all Javascript activities, and he developed a unit-test framework for Turtle Blocks JS that can be extended to all of our Javascript activities. See his blog and the master Turtle Blocks JS repo for more details. (Mentor: Walter)
  • Richa Sehgal worked on a framework to support off-line Web programming, an interactive Javascript shell. She’s submitted patches to the upstream Browse activity. Meanwhile, checkout her git repository. (Mentor: Tony Anderson)
  • Vibhor Sehgal and Utkarsh Dhawan, although not officially GSoC students, worked with Tony and Richa on a parallel project, Web Confusion, a series of programming challenges in the spirit of Turtle Confusion to encourage students. (Mentor: Tony Anderson)
  • Abhinav Anurag made some progress on a Web collaboration framework for our Javascript activities. See his blog and code. (Mentors: Martin Abente and Lionel Laske)

In the Community

2. We will be holding an election for the Sugar Labs oversight board (SLOB) at the end of the calendar year. If you are interested (or know someone who is interested) in running for a board seat (all seven seats will be open), please add an entry in the wiki. Also, whereas ballots are only available to “members”, please officially join Sugar Labs.

3. Mariah Noelle Villarreal has submitted a panel proposal, “Building Free and Open Education Communities”, to the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW). The panelpicker voting period is now open until September 4th. If you have time, please vote and share with any appropriate channels as well as a video that was created for the proposal [16].

4. Sweet: Sugar contributors Mariah Noelle Villarreal and Ruben Rodriguez got married this summer!!!

5. There were three RED (Revista de Educación a Distancia) submissions from Sugar community members:

  • Going from Bits to Atoms: Programming in Turtle Blocks JS and Personal Fabrication in Youth Maker Projects, Josh Burker
  • Visualizing Learning in Open-Ended Problem Solving in the Arts, Walter Bender and Claudia Urrea
  • Sensores Tortuga 2.0: Cómo el hardware y software abiertos pueden empoderar a las comunidades de aprendizaje (Turtle Sensors 2.0: How open hardware and software empower learning communities) by Guzmán Trinidad, Andrés Aguirre, Alan Aguiar, Tony Forster, Walter Bender, Facundo Benavides, and Federico Andrade

6. The Sugar/OLPC program in Caacupe is expanding!!!

Tech Talk

7. Peter Robinson announce quite some time ago that the Sugar on a Stick 21 Beta is now out as part of Fedora 21 Beta (Details), but I think I neglected to ever pass on the information to the Sugar community.

8. Also worth mentioning again: Ruben Rodriguez released Trisquel 7.0 released. TOAST (Trisquel with Sugar) is an official edition.

Sugar Labs

9. Please visit our planet.

 

Sugar Digest 2015-07-07

Sugar Digest

1. Sugar 106 has been released. Some great new features, including the integration of social help and the ability to launch Activities from other Activities, and lots of work on bug fixing and stabilization. Many thanks to the developers, testers, and our release master, Martin Abente. For those of you who are so inclined, Sam Parkinson make a fun video about the new release.

2. A few weeks ago I was at the Google Code-in meet up in San Francisco where I had the opportunity to spend time with Ignacio Rodriguez and Sam Parkinson, our two finalists. They are not only productive members of our community in terms of coding, but also exemplars of a new generation of well-rounded, articulate, observant and caring human beings. I’m honored that they have chosen our community in which to develop their skills. Bonus: as I was hoping, we got some coding time in amidst all the activities that Google scheduled. We also managed to squeeze in a visit to Raul at Twitter.

3. I ran a Turtle Blocks workshop in Bridgeport, Connecticut at a charter school that serves disadvantaged youths. The workshop was organized by Dennis Wong, an old friend from my Media Lab days and an active member of the local Rotary Club. The kids were enthusiastic despite the difficult circumstances under which we worked — the computer lab is typically used for taking tests, so it was arranged to minimize the possibilities that the learners would interact with and help each other. I’m hoping as a follow up, the Rotary can help the school make the room into more of a maker space.

In the community

4. Call for papers for the special issue of RED (Journal of Distance Education):”Skills for coding and pre-coding”:
* Deadline for submitting manuscripts: 31 July 2015
* Estimated Publishing Date: 15 September 2015.
Publishing standards and guidelines for authors can be found at [1].

Llamada a contribuciones para el número especial de RED (Revista de Educación a Distancia): “Competencias para la codificación y la precodificación”:
* Fecha límite para enviar manuscritos: 31deJuliode 2015
* Fecha estimada para la publicación: 15 de Septiembre de 2015.
Normas de publicación y pautas para los autores [1].

5. For those of you who are interested, we hold our GSoC group meetings on Fridays, 11:00 EST (Boston), 13:00 UTC on irc.freenode.net #sugar-meeting.

6. We will be holding a new Sugar Oversight Board (SLOB) election this fall. The Membership Committee — Samson Goddy, Caryl Bigenho, and Sebastian Silva — are gearing up to make a major push to enroll community members onto our members list and we implore everyone to encourage both participation in the election and to consider running for one of the open seats on the board. Details forthcoming. As part of the push, Caryl is putting together a newsletter about recent Sugar activities. If you have stories to share, please contact Caryl (caryl AT laptop DOT org).

7. Dear colleagues, Sugar Labs is organizing a survey of its youth contributors with the aim of publishing a report in the special issue of RED mentioned above. Towards this end, we invite you to answer the questions below. Please send your answers (written in your native language) to walter AT sugarlabs DOT org or francis AT sugarlabs DOT org.

How and why did you first get involved in programming?

How did you get involved with Sugar? What were your motivations for contributing to the Sugar project?

Did the fact that the project was FOSS (Software Libre) impact your decisions? your motivation? your habits?

What work or contribution that you have participated in has most motivated you? Why?

What work or contribution that you have participated in has least motivated you? Why?

When you program, how do you decide what to work on? Where to you get ideas? help? Do you help others?

How do you communicate your ideas? your questions? your doubts?
Do you have any regrets?

What are your plans regarding programming in the future?
Any other comments?

—-

Estimados colaboradores,

Sugar Labs está organizando una encuesta a sus colaboradores jóvenes
con el objetivo de generar un artículo y publicarlo a un medio de
prensa en castellano.

Por este motivo la junta desde Sugar Labs los invitamos a responder la
siguiente serie de preguntas que hemos armado.

Este mensaje va con copia a aquellos jóvenes que recuerdo involucrados
en la comunidad y sé que han realizado aportes. Si consideran que
alguien más es apropiado para responder esta encuesta pueden agregarlo
al CC e invitarlo a responder la encuesta.

Las preguntas son:

¿Cómo, cuándo y por qué comenzaste a involucrarte en la programación?

¿Cómo te involucraste con Sugar? ¿Cuáles fueron tus motivaciones para
contribuir al proyecto de Sugar?

El hecho de que el proyecto sea FOSS (Free and Open Source Software)
¿afectó tus decisiones? ¿Afectó tu motivación? ¿Afectó tus hábitos?

¿Cuál ha sido el trabajo o contribución en que has participado que más
te ha motivado? ¿Por qué?

¿Cuál ha sido el trabajo o contribución en que has participado que
menos te ha motivado? ¿Por qué?

Cuando tu programas, ¿cómo decides en qué trabajar? ¿De dónde sacas
las ideas? ¿Dónde obtienes ayuda? ¿Ayudas a los demás?

¿Cómo compartes, comunicas o debates tus ideas? ¿Y tus preguntas? ¿Y tus dudas?

¿Hay algo que lamentas o que no te haya gustado de haberte involucrado
con el proyecto Sugar?

¿Cuáles son tus planes con respecto a la programación para el futuro?

¿Quieres agregar algún otro comentario?

Esperamos sus respuestas.

Tech Talk

8. Please help Martin and the Developer Team test Sugar 106. Your feedback is important to us.

9. Progress continues on Turtle Blocks JS, which runs in a web browser (the Android version is still experimental). Some new features include the ability to pass arguments to action stacks and to return values. Thanks to GSoC intern Amit Kumar Jha for his contributions. The other GSoC projects are also progressing nicely.

Sugar Labs

10. Please visit our planet.

Sugar Digest 2015-06-07

Sugar Digest

1. I am en route to the Google Code-in meet up in San Francisco. Looking forward to meeting Ignacio and Sam, our two finalists. I am hoping we’ll get some coding time in amidst all the activities that Google has planned.

2. I was home for less than 48 hours, having just returned from Tel Aviv, where I ran a Turtle Blocks workshop with 30 children. The workshop was organized by the Center for Education Technology — many thanks for Ilan Ben Yaakov for all of his preparations, including completing the Hebrew translations. The kids did great, as expected, and where as this was only the second time I had run a workshop using the Javascript version of Turtle Blocks, things went more smoothly than I had expected. I did make one change to the UI as a result of my observations during the workshop: I disable screen-dragging by default as it was definitely confusing some kids, who would accidentally drag their blocks off the edge of the screen. It is not really necessary for the smaller programs that novices tend to write; experienced users can presumably enable dragging in order to have more room to organize their stacks of blocks. Tip-of-the-hat to Larry Denenberg from Trip Advisor, who also helped with the translations and has contributed to the design. The Turtle Blocks workshop was the quid pro quo for participating in four days of meetings with CET.

The first two days were spent at MindCET, an incubator for educational technology in Yeruham in the Negev directed by Avi Warshavsky. Avi had organized a hackathon: we formed fifteen teams to work on project ideas. My team — Arnon Hershkovitz, Revital Rauchwerger, and Shachaf Sagi — worked on an extension of Turtle Blocks that opens up the opportunity to explore the power of “big data” by providing a “Cloud-service” for data collection and a new block, “fetch”, for programmatic access to the data. Our specific use-scenario was to address environmental issues through research-based learning, enriched via actual data collection and investigative programming. Together with the staff at CET we built a working prototype: an Arduino-based weather station that feeds data to the Cloud and the client-side Turtle code. I think the potential for such services is enormous: students engage in critical thinking in the process of being active citizens; they experience computational thinking and purposeful programming; and they collaborate on local and global levels. At the end of two days, each team presented to a panel of youth critics. Their reaction to our project was to ask, “Isn’t programming hard?”, to which I had an opportunity to quote Marvin Minsky: “Learning is hard fun.”

Back in Tel Aviv, I participated in a conference, Shaping the Future, where I had the opportunity to hear a wide variety of perspectives on education technology. The focus was on going beyond the screen. The morning session was a series of presentations from the commercial sector: Cisco, Microsoft, Intel, and ???. Lots of impressive wares, but none of the presenters made a compelling case for learning potential of their technology. Indeed, the theme seemed to be “look what we built” instead of “look at what you can build”. But things got more interesting from there: Dale Dougherty, founder of Make Magazine and the Makerfaire, gave a nice overview of the maker community aesthetic. In my presentation, I pointed out that 50 years ago, Logo was already “beyond the screen” and subsequently give a quick snapshot of various Turtle Blocks projects involving sensors, robots, web services, etc. In the ensuing discussion, we touched on the issue of privacy. I took the minority opinion on the panel that there was never a reason to risk compromising the privacy of children and that none of the on-line tools that routinely mine identity data from children are necessary to use in the classroom. The audience, which was mostly comprised of teachers seemed to concur with my position. Next up was a presentation by Robert Gehorsam, whom I knew from his days at Prodogy in the 1980s. Robert is executive director of the Institute of Play, which has a intervention in one of the NYC public schools. The kids use game design as the basis of a project-based learning program, where the “core” curriculum is motivated by just-in-time learning. Steve Hodas completed the day’s talks with a description of IZone, an innovation incubator for the NY City public schools. His message: market disruption will not change schools; only organizational disruption will change schools. Something for us to think about as we plan the future of Sugar.

In the community

3. Call for papers for the special issue of RED (Journal of Distance Education):”Skills for coding and pre-coding”: The deadline for submitting manuscripts: 31 July 2015. The estimated publishing date is 15 September 2015. Publishing standards and guidelines for authors can be found at [http://www.um.es/ead/red/normasRED.htm#_Toc324610817]. Llamada a contribuciones para el número especial de RED (Revista de Educación a Distancia): “Competencias para la codificación y la precodificación”: * Fecha límite para enviar manuscritos: 31deJuliode 2015 * Fecha estimada para la publicación: 15 de Septiembre de 2015. Normas de publicación y pautas para los autores [http://www.um.es/ead/red/normasRED.htm#_Toc324610817].

4. We will be holding an additional Sugar Labs oversight board meeting (SLOB) this month (we hold a meeting the first Monday of each month). Please join us on 15 June at 19:00 EST (Boston), 23:00 UTC on irc.freenode.net #sugar-meeting, to discuss strategy and tactics as we move forward as a community.

5. For those of you who are interested, we hold our GSoC group meetings on Fridays, 11:00 EST (Boston), 14:00 UTC on irc.freenode.net #sugar-meeting.

6. I am running a Turtle Blocks workshop in Bridgeport, Connecticut on 16 June.

Tech Talk

7. Martin Abente has announced that we are now in the testing phase of Sugar 105. Your feedback is important to us.

Sugar Labs

8. Please visit our planet.

Sugar Digest 2015-05-26

1. It is with great sadness that write these words: Marco Presenti Gritti, the principal Sugar developer from Red Hat from 2006 to 2008 and one of the founders of Sugar Labs, passed away this past weekend after a long illness. Marco was a brilliant engineer whose work still reverberates throughout the Sugar stack and a warm, personable colleague, father, and husband. We will miss you Marco.

Sugar Digest

2. For those of you who are interested, we hold our GSoC group meetings on Fridays, 11:00 EST (Boston), 14:00 UTC on irc.freenode.net #sugar-meeting.

Tech Talk

3. Peter Robinson, Sam Parkinson, Sean Daly, and Iain Brown Douglas have done a great job of revamping the Sugar on a Stick spin site for Fedora.

Sugar Labs

4. Please visit our planet.

Sugar Digest 2015-04-28

Sugar Digest

1. Sugar Labs got six slots from Google. We had 67 applications — many quite strong — so there are undoubtedly a lot of disappointed students (and mentors — we have seventeen community members who have signed up). But we have six great students/projects so there is lots to look forward to this summer. Congratulations to:

  • Abhinav Anurag, Redesigning Collaboration Using Web Technologies
  • Amit Kumar Jha, Turtle Blocks for in-line programming
  • Ishan Sharma, Turtle Blocks 3D JavaScript
  • Yash Khandelwal, Music Blocks
  • Michaël Ohayon, Sugar WebBasic Activity Set
  • Richa Sehgal, Interactive Javascript Shell

We’ll be holding our first organizational meeting on Friday, May 1 at 14:00 UTC on irc.freenode.net #sugar-meeting. Please join us if you are interested in participating in any of these projects.

In the news

2. I clicked on the link, having been baited by the teaser: 16 Startups Poised to Disrupt the Education Market (You won’t believe #8). Alas, none of them have anything to do with learning.

3. Sebastian Silva posted a link to an article in ”The Atlantic” about the future role of the teacher in elementary and secondary education that is thought-provoking. In essence, the author is conceding teaching to the myriad of resources becoming available on the web and parroting Sugata Mitra’s position that children will learn given access to kiosks connected to the Internet. I remain skeptical: none of the scant evidence I have seen from Mitra (or the much talked about OLPC tablet experiment in Ethiopia) is convincing. Perhaps the succinct way I can express my doubts is to assert that no one has ever learned to program from reading a book (or attending a MOOC). You can only learn to program by programming.

I don’t doubt that resources will continue to amass on the web and that we can algorithmically steer students through those materials wherever Internet is generally available, but I am yet to be convinced that access can or should be equated to learning. Learning is a culture, one that is includes a spirit of open access, but also mutual support, respect, and responsibility. (These attributes of learning culture are tightly aligned with the culture of Free/Libre Software, one of the reasons I remain convinced that Free/Libre Software is fundamental to the future of education.) Children need access to powerful ideas, but there is still no getting around the need to do, to make, and to engage in order to learn.

In the community

4. With help from the Musson Foundation (and Trip Advisor) I ran a Turtle Art Day in Kingston, Jamaica, on 23 April for sixth-grade girls from five local schools. The girls had been given Android tablets with fairly stale bits. We tried running Turtle Blocks (both with the APK and through the browser) with out much success. So we switched to a variety of computers — whatever was kicking around the workshop venue — and the fun began in earnest. See [1] and [2] to read some of the local press about the event. (Note that the press someone turned “Turtle Art Day” into “Total Art Day”. Cute.)

5. Claudia Urrea and I will be heading to Managua in early May to both plan a Turtle Art Day and to discuss mechanisms for engaging the local universities in supporting the ongoing efforts in Nicaragua.

6. I’ll be doing a Turtle Art workshop in Tel Aviv in early June.

Tech Talk

7. The Sugar spin of Fedora 22 is now in Beta.

Sugar Labs

8. Please visit our planet.

Sugar Digest 2015-04-09

Sugar Digest

1. I just returned from India, where I had the pleasure of giving the keynote at BITs Pilani (my theme was how Sugar can provide the means for appropriate of knowledge) and then headed to Mumbai to give some Turtle Art workshops. At Pilani, which draws upon students from across all of India, I had a chance to spend time with students to discuss Sugar in greater detail and met with several GSoC candidates. In Mumbai, I was able to use the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education as a base (thanks to G Nagarjuna). Turtle Art Day was split across two venues: first, a workshop for educators, where we put the new Javascript version through a workout, and then at a nearby school, where we worked with a fourth grade classroom using some XO-1 laptops. Both groups seemed to take to turtle — “hard fun” had by all. While in Mumbai, I also had a chance to visit with Tata Trusts, to discuss possible venues for collaboration, including a possible Sugar pilot in Assam. And I visited IIT Bombay, where I met with the IITB Tata Centre, which pursues education and development projects across the subcontinent. Many thanks to Harriet Vidyasagar, who both helped to organize the Mumbai visits and to provide insights into local culture and needs.

2. At Monday’s Sugar Labs oversight board (SLOB) meeting, we voted to add two new members to the Sugar Labs Membership committee: Sebastian Silva and Caryl Bigenho. They have tasked themselves with getting the members list refreshed. We are looking to recruit another committee member (or two) to help with outreach. Someone connected to the community of youths contributing patches to Sugar would be ideal. Also, recruiting more educators who use Sugar in their classrooms would help round out the committee.

3. 67 students have applied to work as interns for Sugar Labs as part of Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2015. I’ve read through the applications and we have some very strong candidates. It will be a difficult decision as to how assign the slots we receive from Google — the number is still to be determined. I have already begun looking for other means of support we might offer to some of the qualified students who don’t make the cut. The mentors are meeting this evening to discuss the applications.

In the community

4. I’ll be doing a Turtle Art Day in Kingston, Jamaica, on 23 April. Details to follow. I’d love to reconnect with any Sugar users while I am in the area.

Tech Talk

5. James Cameron has been running performance tests on the XO-1 hardware, comparing boot and activity launch times across a number of builds. It is great to have some data to look at. The good news is that we have been making steady progress over the past few releases in terms of reducing boot and launch times. Those of you running old versions of Sugar/Fedora on XO-1 hardware should consider looking at Sugar 104. Many bug fixes, improved stability, etc., and as James has demonstrated, seemingly minimal impact on performance.

6. Peter Robinson announced the availability of Release Candidate 1 of Sugar 104 on Fedora 22. Please help with testing. (The .iso files can be found at https://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/alt/stage/22_Beta_RC1. Look for SoaS images for your preferred architecture.)

7. We will be meeting on Saturday, 11 April, to continue discussing plans the 106 release. Please join Martin Abente Lahaye and the Developer team on irc.freenode.net (#sugar-meeting) at 22:00 UTC.

Sugar Labs

8. Please visit our planet.

Sugar Digest 2015-02-12

Sugar Digest

1. A few weeks ago there was a guest op-ed piece, “Can students have too much tech?”, in the NY Times arguing among other things that Internet access was undermining programs like One Laptop per Child. I found it surprising that Susan Pinker would cite One Laptop per Child as the principle example of the children using computers to chat and play games on the Internet (which she soundly criticized), since almost none of the children who received laptop computers through OLPC programs have ready access to the Internet (at school or at home).  The exception of course being Uruguay, where every child has both a laptop and Internet access. Indeed, as a 2010 survey showed, the children in Uruguay play games – they are children after all – but they also use email, search for information, chat (also known as reading and writing), make music, artwork, and videos, program, and, in general, use the computer as a tool for problem solving. Contrary to the assertion that the program is “drive-by” education, a continuing effort is put into teacher training, community support, and outreach.

That said, some people associated with OLPC —  including my former colleague Mr. Negroponte — are outspoken advocates for solutions that mitigate the need for teachers in elementary education. The X Prize for Education is designed around that approach and further requires that any proposed solutions be Android-tablet based. Not to say that it may be possible to engineer such a solution, to constrain the contest to an unproven pedagogical framework seems ill-advised. (Many tablet-based solutions have begun to distribute physical keyboards in acknowledgment that no one serious about writing or programming works exclusively with an on-screen keyboard. And while it is theoretically possible to exercise Software Freedoms on an Android tablet, in practice it is still well beyond most of us.) Meanwhile, here at Sugar Labs, we encourage open collaboration among students, teachers, and our community.

2. Martin Abente, our Sugar Release Manager, is pleased to announce the release of Sugar (sucrose) 0.104.0. This release includes new features and a multitude of bug fixes from Google Code-In and Summer of Code students, deployments and community members.

We are compiling detailed release notes at 0.104/Notes.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this release and special thanks to Martin for shepherding the process.

3. Sugar Labs is applying to Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2015. The application to Google has been submitted and we are in the process of building the associated wiki pages Summer_of_Code/2015. We often use GSoC as a way of exploring new ideas and future directions; for example, last summer we had projects on extending Turtle Blocks into three-dimensions and porting Sugar to Python 3, among others. This year we are going to take a more focused approach, concentrating on fleshing out and making more robust the Javascript support within Sugar. Sample projects will be added to the wiki over the next few days. We can always use more project ideas (please add them to the wiki) and more mentors (if you are interested, please contact me over the next few weeks).

In the community

4. Tony Anderson reports that he has finally has most of the Project Bernie website completed. This website shows what content is available on the School Server. (The School Server is a repository of content and services for Sugar deployments.) Tony reports that there are about 200 Sugar activities available to be installed from the school server; digital textbooks from Siyavula, and courses on Python, Web technology, and the Command Line Interpreter (Terminal activity).

Tech Talk

5. Peter Robinson, who has been coordinating the Sugar on a Stick releases (most recently for Fedora 21 [x86_64], [i686]) is looking for help coordinating testing and general community communications and facilitation. Peter is a great mentor, so it would be a nice opportunity for someone(s) to both contribute to the project and to learn more about packaging. Please contact Peter (pbrobinson AT gmail DOT com) if you are interested.

Sugar Labs

6. Please visit our planet.

Sugar Digest 2015-02-03

Sugar Digest

1. Congratulations to Ignacio Rodríguez and Sam Parkinson, the grand-prize winners from Sugar Labs in Google Code-in. Our finalists are Cristian Garcia,
Daksh Shah, and Jae Eun (Jasmine) Park.

All five did great work, fixing bugs, writing documentation, and taking us to new places.

2. Since the contest finished, Ignacio and Sam have continued to contribute patches almost daily to Turtle Blocks JS. Jasmine has written some beginner guides (See TurtleBlocksIntroductoryManual.pdf] and TurtleBlocksAdvancedBlocksManual.pdf). If you haven’t checked it out, please give it a try (feedback most welcome).

Sugar Labs

3. Please visit our planet.

Sugar Digest 2015-01-21

Sugar Digest

In schools, all hardware and software bestow agency on one of three parties: the system, the teacher, or the learner. Typically, two of these actors lose their power as the technology benefits the third. Ask a group of colleagues to create a three-column table and brainstorm the hardware or software in your school and who is granted agency by each. Management software, school-wide grade-book programs, integrated learning systems, school-to-home communication packages, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and other cost-cutting technologies grant maximum benefit to the system. Interactive whiteboards, worksheet generators, projectors, whole-class simulations, plagiarism software, and so on, benefit the teacher. Personal laptops, programming languages, creativity software, cameras, MIDI keyboards, microcontrollers, fabrication equipment, and personal web space primarily benefit (bestow agency to) the
learner. — Gary Stager

1. Google Code-In. Wow. Finally a chance to catch my breath. Seven intense weeks: 60 students completed more than 300 tasks for Sugar Labs. The impact on Sugar Labs was even greater this year than in the previous years we have participated: more diversity among the participants, the mentors, the tasks, and a spirit of collaboration while striving for excellence prevailed throughout the contest. Thanks to Google and Stephanie Taylor for giving us this opportunity, to the contestants who not only did great work but taught me a thing or two along the way, and the mentors and community members who manned the IRC channel 24/7.

I want to acknowledge the Top Ten+ from whom we will be selecting our finalists this week (results announce in early February):

Ignacio Rodríguez, Daksh, samdroid, cristian99garcia, Ezequiel Pereira, svineet, Gtrinidad, Jas Park, Rafael Cordano, Richar, Sergio Britos, Aishmita Kakkar, Gabriel Lee, et al.

Also, some mentors (and community members) deserve special recognition: Andrés Aguirre, Daniel Francis, Gary Servin, Gonzalo Odiard, James Cameron, Jorge Ramirez, Mariah Villarreal, Rajul, Rodrigo Parra, and Martin Abente Lahaye.

Finally, a few projects worth mentioning:

* Turtle Blocks JS plugins (Ignacio, samDroid, Daksh)
* Turtle Blocks guides (Jas Park) TurtleBlocksIntroductoryManual and TurtleBlocksAdvancedBlocksManual
* Activity reviews (Gabriel Lee)
* Dasher app (Cristian Garcia)
* Enhancements to Physics (Svineet)
* Sugar bugs squashed (Ezequiel)
* Butia Measure (Gtrinidad)
* Simple scrolling interface for Sugar (Rafael)
and much much more.

2. As mentioned above, we have a number of new Turtle Blocks plugins (for both the Python and Javascript versions) as a result of Google Code-in. One of the more interesting inspirations for plugins comes from mashape.com, a repository of APIs for everything from translation services to a bicycle theft alert system. As Sugar becomes more web-friendly, we can take advantage of web services and also facilitate our users to craft their own tools and services. It is fun and empowering.

In the community

3. The Free Software Foundation has put together a nice video on the core ideas behind Free Software.

Tech Talk

4. Xevents is a TurtleBlocks plugin that makes it easy to design different types of accessibility interfaces through a variery of physical sensors types. It is being developed at FING by Andrés Aguirre and Alan Aguiar and was the focus of some of the Google Code-in work of Rafael Cordano.

5. For you OLPC XO 4 users, James Cameron has been working on enabling the second processor. He reports “about 38% improvement. For CPU tasks like rendering, alt/tab, kernel compiles, the improvement is somewhat more than 38%. For single threaded tasks that rely on memory bandwidth, performance is lower because the memory controller is shared between two cores.” When asked how it impacts Sugar, he said “it feels faster and more responsive.”

6. Martin has announced the tarballs for the last 0.103.x UNSTABLE release of Sugar before 0.104 STABLE. (We delayed the release a few weeks in order to take advantage of all of the bug fixes coming in from Google Code-in.) With this release we reach the API, UI and String freeze (See 0.104/Roadmap.

* http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar/sugar-0.103.2.tar.xz
* http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar-toolkit-gtk3/sugar-toolkit-gtk3-0.103.2.tar.xz
* http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar-artwork/sugar-artwork-0.103.2.tar.xz
* http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar-datastore/sugar-datastore-0.103.2.tar.xz
* http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar-runner/sugar-runner-0.103.2.tar.xz

It’s time to switch focus on updating translations, everyone can contribute through or new Pootle instance. We have time until February 13, before the 0.104.0 STABLE release.

Sugar Labs

7. Please visit our planet at http://planet.sugarlab.org.

Sugar Digest 2014-12-15

Sugar Digest

1. Google Code In update: After the first two weeks, we have 33 participants and almost 140 tasks completed. The pace is faster than in years past, perhaps because we have more experienced Sugar users each year. You can follow the action (the contest runs for five more weeks) at [GCI 2014].

At the current pace, almost 500 tasks will have been completed by the end of the contest. If you have project ideas, please let me (or any of the other mentors) know. We can continue to add new tasks throughout the contest. Tasks include coding, but also documentation, quality assurance, outreach, etc.

2. We continue to make progress on Turtle Blocks JS (the Javascript version of Turtle Blocks). There have been many new contributions from participants in Google Code In and in generally, the code is approaching a point of stability. You can try it by visiting [https://turtle.sugarlabs.org] or by downloading the activity locally from [https://github.com/walterbender/turtleblocksjs]. Any and all comments, feedback, bug reports, merge requests, and suggestions welcome.

Tech Talk

3. Martin Abente has been working on new translation platform, including a new Pootle instance. He has been adding repositories there so translators can start working. If you are interested in having your project included in the new platform, please follow these instructions:
# If you still use our old Gitorious repository, please move your projects to Github. Gitorious is considered read-only now. (See [How_to_migrate_from_Gitorious] for details about how to move projects.)
# Update this [http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Translation_Team/Pootle_Projects/Repositories] wiki page so we can track your project’s repository.
# Be sure to grant commit access to [sugarlabs-pootle] the Sugar Labs Github Pootle user.
# Create a new user on the new translation platform ([http://translate.sugarlabs.org]).
# Please send an email to Martin (CC’ing sugar-devel) with a list of the repositories for your projects so that he can add them to Pootle. Don’t forget to specify your user name on the translation platform.

4. The final phase of the run up the the Sugar 0.104 release is testing and bug fixing. Martin has released tarballs for our (UNSTABLE) feature-freeze release, which can be downloaded from:
* [sugar]
* [sugar-artwork]
* [sugar-datastore]
* [sugar-runner]
* [sugar-toolkit]

We welcome all the help you can provide testing and fixing bugs!

Sugar Labs

5. Please visit our planet.