1. 2012 has started off with a big splash. In the OLPC demonstration of their prototype tablet–the XO-3.0–at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Sugar figured prominently. The XO surrounded by a spiral of Activity icons was everywhere. Featured in Ed McNierney’s (OLPC CTO) nonstop demo was Measure, Turtle Blocks, Wikipedia, and Fraction Bounce, among others.
The OLPC devel team did some tweaks to Sugar to enhance it on the tablet: the Frame can be invoked by dragging your finger to the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Clicking anywhere on the canvas hides the Frame. Works pretty well. Of course, there is a ways to go to realize a full touch integration. It was amusing to watch people use the gestures they’ve grown accustom to on their iPads to no effect in Sugar. The work on porting to GTK-3 (Sugar 0.96) will make a big difference there.
I made a few tweaks to Turtle Blocks for the demo: (1) I try to distinguish between a click on a block and a short drag of the block–it is hard to click on a touch screen without some x-y displacement; (2) I added a mechanism for changing the values in number blocks without a keyboard; and (3) I tightened up the toolbars so that they would fit on the smaller XO-3.0 display. While all of these changes are more general in their applicability, #3 is something we need to think about for all small displays as it is often the case that not all of the toolbar buttons fit.
2. In addition to the GTK-3 migration, we have a few more features queued up for Sugar 0.96. The one I am working on at the moment is Write to Journal anytime. The goal is to encourage more writing and reflection throughout the process of using an Activity, not just when you close it at the end of the first session. The mechanism I am experimenting with is to add a new toolbar palette to the Activity Toolbar that incorporated a text-entry field. By typing into this field, you can add notes to the Activity Description found in the Journal. It is my hypothesis that by making it easier to take notes while one is working, we may see more note taking and the vision of the Journal as a “lab notebook” may finally be realized.
3. Aleksey Lim continues to make progress on the “Sugar Network“, a platform he is developing in Peru in order to facilitate sharing of content, with an emphasis on the needs of off-line deployments.
4. Bernie Innocenti and Stefan Unterhauser (Dogi) are getting ready to migrate our servers to a new colocation site. We have been hosted by the Free Software Foundation, but since they are going to be moving to a new colocation site, we are planning to consolidate our servers in a server room at MIT. Details about the migration will be announced well in advance and we don’t expect any major disruption of services. Stay tuned.
5. Tony Forster, Guzmán Trinidad, Andrés Aguirre, Facundo Benavides, Federico Andrade, Alan Aguiar, Gonzalo Tejera, and I have written a paper about using Turtle Blocks with sensors.
Gary Martin has generated SOMs from the past few weeks of discussion on the IAEP mailing list:
Visit our planet for more updates about Sugar and Sugar deployments.