1. September was an exciting month. We held the first Sugar Youth Summit in Montevideo, organized by Daniel Francis and Jose Miguel Garcia and generously hosted by ANEP. The event featured a day-long symposium and series of workshops, including ones on Turtle Art, Butia, and how to write a Sugar activity. One teacher who attended the Turtle Art workshop exclaimed that she could not believe the progress she made.
The event was attended by youths from Uruguay and Paraguay and educators and developers from as far away as Nicaragua and Colombia. We had an Argentine contingent as well.
The symposium and workshops were held on Software Freedom Day. Given the number of Python programmers in attendance, it occurred to me that we should petition the city of Montevideo to rename itself Monty Python (after whom the language was named) for Software Freedom Day each year.
The day before the symposium Gonzalo Odiard, Mariana Herrera, Jose Miguel, and I visited a school for children with special needs. As a result, during the code sprint that followed the symposium, we wrote three new activities that have their content and user interface tailored to the school’s population. Lorena Paz from Argentina, also in attendance, resurfaces a number of issues around accessibility that we will consider in the coming months as well.
Coincident with the weekend of hacking was a robo-Sumo contest at FING. It was a good opportunity to spend time with Andres Aguirre and Alan Aguiar of Butia fame and to recruit some new talent. Several of the more competitive kids joined us in the workshops. They took a special interest in Turtle Blocks 3D, one of the Google Summer of Code projects that is coming into its own.
Gonzalo and I also got a chance to meet with a group of teachers convened by Jose Miguel at his office at ANEP. These teachers are engaged in various project-based learning initiatives across the country. Really good work — utilizing the computer as a tool to enhance authentic inquiry by the children. I look forward to continued interactions with them.
2. At the workshop, Martin Abente presented the initial plans for Sugar 104. (Martin has generously offered to be the release manager.) The new features under consideration can be found at 0.104/Feature_List.
We’ll be discussing these features in an online meeting on 2 October at 13 UTC. Please join us on irc.freenode.net #sugar-meeting.
3. I’ve been working on polishing up the Turtle Blocks 3D code over the past few weeks. There are a number of improvements from where we (Anubhav and I) left things this summer. Notably, the interface between Turtle Blocks and Blender is much richer. You can export .OBJ files from Turtle and import them into Blender and export .OBJ files from Blender and import them into Turtle. Currently I am working on adding a 3D cursor, which I designed and rendered in Turtle Blocks 3D itself. See http://github.com/Anubhav-J/turtleart.git for a preview.
4. I’ve been working on a new activity similar to the Portfolio activity that is geared towards reflection. Like Portfolio, it draws upon Journal items that have been starred. It also allows the user to create reflections unrelated to any Journal items. The presentation is quite different from Portfolio, which is modeled after a slide show. Reflect is more like a stream, similar to the news feeds in Facebook and Google+. The stream supports comments and attaching media, and it can be searched by #tags. A preview is available at http://github.com/walterbender/reflect.git. Feedback most welcome.
5. It is time to begin preparing for the annual Sugar Labs Oversight Board election (AKA SLOBs). Four (4) seats are open (due to staggered seat terms) for election / re-election to the Sugar Labs Oversight Board for 2013-2014, those of Daniel Francis, Gonzalo Odiard, Adam Holt, and Claudia Urrea. Please let me know if you are interested running for one of our board seats and also, please add your self to the candidates’wiki page. Also, since only members receive ballots, please be sure to sign up for membership by following the instructions in the wiki. Finally, we need help running the election itself. Please contact me (or Luke Faraone) if you are interested in helping.
In the community
6. Several of us will be in the Bay Area for the Google Summer of Code summit in late October. In conjunction with that event, we’ll be holding a code sprint to look at the collaboration stack.
7. The next Turtle Art Day event will be a workshop at Prospect Hill Academy in Somerville. Caroline Meeks is hosting the event. I’ve been busy making Sugar-on-a-Stick USB keys to give the kids. (I’m using Ruben Rodriguez’s Trisquel TOAST image, which has an up-to-date copy of Turtle Blocks.)
We are also planning a Turtle workshop in San Francisco in October.
9. Sebastian Silva and Laura Vargas recently announced that > 20000 children are now using Sugar Network. Tip of the hat to Aleksey Lim who has been working diligently behind the scenes on the project.
10. Please visit our planet at http://planet.sugarlabs.org.