Sugar Digest 2010-08-21

Sugar Digest

1. The New York Times reported on a FailFaire gathering last month “over drinks and finger food”, where MobileActive, “a network of people and organizations trying to improve the lives of the poor through technology”, presented a prize for the worst ICT for Development project. The prize was an OLPC XO laptop, “a program that MobileActive members regard as the emblem of the failure of technology to achieve change for the better.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy subsequently picked up on the article: “One Laptop Per Child was recently laid off some staff members [SIC] after falling far short of its goal of providing inexpensive laptop computers to tens of millions of children in the developing world.”

I asked Katrin Verclas, a founder of MobileActive, for the evidence that OLPC was a failure and she said “OLPC was not discussed or presented at the FailFaire.” It seems she has no evidence and yet she is sufficiently tone-deaf to be unconcerned that her using the XO as an emblem of failure might be damaging to the efforts of the thousands of people trying to help the millions of children who are using the XO and Sugar. I would expect better from the New York Times, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and from an organization that purports to shed some light on what works/doesn’t work in development. I recommended that Verclas read Aristotle and and Aardvark go to Washington as she might learn a few more techniques for character assassination from Cathcart and Klein.

2. On a positive note, I’ve archived a short exchange on the #sugar channel on

<marcopg> erikos: approve my trivial patch! :) I want to push again to sugar after so long :)
<erikos> marcopg: just because you have just one module does not mean to not need to specify the module anymore!
<erikos> marcopg: r!
<erikos> marcopg: welcome back! :)
<marcopg> erikos haha
<marcopg> thanks :)

For those of you who a relatively new to Sugar, Marco was a lead developer on the Red Hat team that worked with OLPC and Pentagram to develop Sugar. He helped found Sugar Labs but has been missing from our ranks over the past 12 months due to other obligations. It is great to have Marco contributing again.

3. Dinko Galetic, Lucian Branescu Mihaila, and Sebastian Dziallas all successfully completed their Google Summer of Code projects. Congratulations and thanks to Google for sponsoring the work and to their mentors Stefan (Dogi) Unterhauser, Luis Gustavo Lira, Michael Stone, and Sascha Silbe, and to Tim McNamara for organizing the Sugar Labs GSoC program.

4. This review was posted on the Physics page on I had to share it:

I love it! It’s doodling for inventors! I’ve had so many ideas from this.
Starting live is the only thing that makes sense. Otherwise it would
not be obvious what the thing does, silly! Also, stopping time is for
losers. build stuff on scaffolding, big tall blocks, then delete them
when everything is pinned, or jointed, just like real life. :-)

In the community

5. There is a call for presentations for an on-line global education conference that may be of interest to the Sugar community (See [1]).

6. There is a comprehensive write up of last week’s education summit at LinuxCon (See [2]).

Tech Talk

7. We are making great progress towards Sugar 0.90. Follow the fun at [3] .

Sugar Labs

Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion on the IAEP mailing list.

August 7th – 13th (61 emails)

Visit our planet for more updates about Sugar and Sugar deployments.

Comments 4

  1. Katrin wrote:

    OLPC emblem of failure is entirely your interpretation but you seem sufficiently alarmed to make a bid deal of it…. OLPC is a certainly an emblem of ICT4D which is, after all, the focus of #FailFaire. Hence, it seems an appropriate prize for the best presentation at the events to date. It was also donated to us, and since Failfaires are not funded in any way, a welcome contribution.

    I, for one, am eagerly reading Cathcart and Klein – thanks for the recommendation.

    Posted 23 Aug 2010 at 7:12 pm
  2. Walter Bender wrote:

    You keep saying you have “no opinion of OLPC” and that this is all in my head, but I reread the article and unless the Times was mistaken in its reportage, you consider OLPC “a program that MobileActive members regard as the emblem of the failure of technology to achieve change for the better.” I asked you for evidence and you said you had none. So is it a personal thing? Or you simply are trafficking in hearsay? Or is there some other agenda? If you really don’t think it disparaging to use OLPC as the prize for the Worst of IT, then you are, in my opinion, tone-deaf. Enjoy Cathcart and Klein. You’ll find much inspiration there.

    Posted 23 Aug 2010 at 8:52 pm
  3. Tim McNamara wrote:

    Katrin, I’ve been following MobileActive for over a year and the OLPC XO has never been discussed on the mailing lists.

    I know that this event was a few months old – but it would be good to know what evidence you feel justified OLPC’s condemnation.

    Posted 28 Oct 2010 at 9:09 pm
  4. Claudia wrote:


    Posted 29 Nov 2010 at 9:00 pm

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