Archive for the ‘SugarLabs’ Category
Late last week I had the opportunity to check in with RIT to see how student projects were coming along. To my surprise, the Fortune Hunter team has plans to push out a release by the end of the year. But to do that, they recognize that they need to push development beyond the borders of RIT and actively recruit from the FOSS community as a whole.
First, I should say that Fortune Hunter is a dungeon scenario role playing game where players navigate a series of rooms, collect items and battle various creatures by solving math problems.
Though I’d have to say that one of my favorite concepts in the game is the shop. The idea is that if the player wants to barter for special items they must deal with the shopkeeper in a realistic manner. Offer too little money and you’ll get snubbed. Offer too much and the shopkeeper will gladly take the money and use it against you later on.
So what does the Fortune Hunter team need? Truthfully they need Artists and Pythonistas who can elevate the code quality. Jon writes -
What would actually be extremely helpful would be some programmers. Currently, the team is lacking any experts in that realm and to be honest, they would probably save us a whole lot of time and help us progress much further to push and get more done.
Jon compiled a short list of needs and promised that there would be more organization to the project to help new contributors and the project reach it’s release goal.
If you, or someone you know could help get this release out, please don’t hesitate to contact Jon and the team. You can get details in the Fortune Hunter wiki and you can get copies of the game in the GIT repo if you’d like to test the game and Fortune Maker engine.
This morning I was able to attend the first session of RIT’s Humanitarian FOSS class.
As some of you know, the class has been running since Spring of 2009, but this time around it seemed like a much better start than we’ve had over the previous quarters the class is run.
While I’d like to point you to the one thing that has me feeling more positive about the course, the truth is, there isn’t one thing.
Instead, it’s lots of little things that have morphed into what looks like it’s going to be a well oiled machine. Of course I know that won’t be the case because there will be things to work on no matter how well the class goes.
But still, I walked away feeling really positive and energized about this quarters syllabus and the students in the class. I’m really psyched about the newly regrouped Pythonistas and Rochester OLPC user group being combined to better support the class.
Next Tuesday I’ll be giving a short guest lecture on FOSS Community mores. It will cover some basics like using IRC and what we feel is effective communication. I’ve also been asked to work “How to tell if a FLOSS project is doomed to FAIL” into the slides as well.
I’ll post my slides when I get them done, so watch for those on the TOS wiki.
No I hadn’t seen it yet, but MS is losing ground to companies like Google and their “Don’t be Evil” stance on business. So how does a company become less evil? They start finding projects for the good of the order and shout it from the rooftops every time they do something that’s even a little bit generous.
It’s actually very cleaver of them from a marketing point of view. They know that they still have market and mind share and while the majority of their clientele isn’t looking at FOSS, they’re adopting some FOSS like programs to soften up their image.
The biggest thing to consider is the basics of business. Throwing money at a problem isn’t usually an effective solution. Yes, MS has lots and lots of money to solve problems with, but FOSS has enough momentum now that no matter what MS does they can’t regain the ground they’ve lost. Their only hope is to slow the exodus now that there is a public awareness of alternatives and that the choices aren’t half bad.
My best advice – remember there is choice. When things like this come up, remind people that the HFOSS project has been doing this same thing for a while now. When MS wants to talk Education, bring up OLPC and such. Yes, it’s good that they’re putting money to good use, but they didn’t invent some of these ideas, nor are they the only players on the field.
It no longer has to be about how FOSS is like commercial, but it can be about how commercial has to be like FOSS and behave like human beings to remain relevant in the changing tech environment.
This morning I received an email saying that John Resig, creator of JQuery is going to visit RIT this week. I’m excited to meet him and am sure that our FOSS mixer Thursday evening in the Innovations center is going to have a nice mix of people. (Visit the Facebook Event for details)
The other thing the email reminded reminded me of is a trend I’ve been seeing in little bits and pieces over the past year or so… That RIT has some very talented alumni that have gone on to be leaders in the FOSS Community.
So the question I’m struggling with this morning, is why me? Why didn’t the ball get rolling for RIT to Teach Open Source Development techniques until I helped push it? I don’t doubt that RIT would have formalized it’s FOSS development coursework at some point, but why did the push have to come from me when there could have been so many others leading the charge?
People who not only had more clout in the FOSS community, but connections at RIT.
To clarify, I’m not a student at RIT. I’m not on staff at RIT. The FOSS community isn’t waiting with baited breath to hear what I might say next, so, again, why was my participation a key component?
As you may recall, I’ve been taking an XO to my son’s first grade class on Wednesday mornings. The record activity has been extremely popular and Mrs. Richmond asked if she could show the pictures at Open House tonight.
Of course I said yes, but did one better and offered to make discs for everyone in the class so they could all have a copy.
The best part is, that even with all 200+ pictures the students have taken, there would still be hundreds of megs of space left on the discs…. Also known as plenty of space to include a Sugar Spin. (for this disc we used the current version of SoaS but applied it to optical media instead of Solid State)
So while the families might also be getting the pictures of their children, they’re also getting a chance to use some open source software at home.
I did include this letter (Click to see a larger version) covering the very basics. Although it might not totally explain the Live CD I hope the combination of the children being famililar with the Sugar environment and the vagueness of what they’re getting will get a few families exploring Open Source Educational Technologies.
Every Wednesday morning, I volunteer in my son’s first grade class. You could describe my duties as crowd control. As Mrs. Richmond works with small groups of children on their reading skills, I’m keeping an eye on everyone else.
Some children are writing in their journals. Others are working on handwriting or reading along to a picture book at the CD player. 3 kids also get to go to the computers.
Problem is, only 2 of the Macs in the room are working properly. The 3rd just won’t boot and I don’t know enough about them to trouble shoot. Plus the School’s IT department probably wouldn’t be too happy with me if I did.
A few months ago I came to school with an XO laptop so when 3 kids were working in that “Center” they could use a computer if they wanted to.
As you can imagine, the XO has been a big hit in the classroom. We started out playing Speak, but the kids have been exploring and have also discovered the Record Activity and I’ve finally managed to get at the pictures.
Why have I “Finally Managed?” Well because it was a giant PITA to get the pictures off the XO.
You can use Flickr’s basic uploader to capture 6 images at a time. Fine if there were just a few, but with 180+ images on the XO and most of them named “Photo by Karlie” it was more than a waste of time trying that route.
Method 2 was plugging in a USB or SD card and moving the files. Equally painful especially since keeping track of which “Photo by Karlie” was moved and every image transferred was appended with an underscore and series of numbers. How’s that bad? Well the 15th image I moved was appended with _1_2_3_4_5_6_7_8_9_10_11_12_13_14_15
Method 3 was right up there with knowing the secret handshake. Lucky for me, Mel Chua is in the club and showed us where to grab every file from the XO’s Journal. It’s /home/olpc/.sugar/default/datastore/store in case you’re wondering. But you’ll still need to use the terminal to transfer the files.
This method still had it’s draw backs, but turned out to be the least annoying.
For one, every file has a seemingly random name assigned to it and no extension to sort by. However, once the files were transferred to USB, Fedora was smart enough to see pictures even though none had .png or.jpg extension.
To upload to Flickr though, they’d all need their appropriate extension. Easy enough to fix, but again, so down right annoying that you’d even have to include this step. While I’m told you can do a batch update, I hate the terminal so it was faster for me to ctrl+v .jpg and rename the files one by one (vs learning the commands).
I made it to class last night and lucky for me, I was able to catch some project updates.
They all seem to be coming along and are starting to get in the groove. Though I still had to remind them that while everyone loves how well RIT does a wiki page, they still need to put themselves out there a bit more. Although I didn’t see it until this morning, there was a mailing list post and a reply before we left class. (More please!)
We also showed his video.
I first saw it when Greg DeKoenigsberg posted it on Facebook, and was instantly taken with it and suggested it be shown in class. It’s such a great way to show the development process. It’s humble beginnings, contributors fading away and explosive growth when they switched from CVS to GIT repos.
It’s sort of a crash course in FOSS community and project development. It showed in a little less than 4 minutes what I’ve been struggling to articulate in the past 3 quarters I’ve helped with the course.
The third quarter of RIT’s Open Source Development class made their project pitches last night. As each one was made, there I was poo-pooing all the ideas.
It’s not that the ideas weren’t good, on the contrary, some were shockingly well thought out and could be the start of some very great projects. It’s just that my critiques, while trying to be helpful seemed to be continually negative in nature.
Regardless of how I came across, I was trying to give direction and allow the students to think a little further into development process while there’s still time to work out who’s working with whom and on what.
So besides pointing out that snowball fights might not go over well with children living in tropical climates and war, fighting, and demons can be very inappropriate in some cultures, we also had some good conversations about where to focus their energy right now.
The first focus is Research. What’s already out there? Is there anything similar being done?
The second, which ties into the research is my new favorite phrase “Begin with the finishing touches.” Is there anything “close enough” to what you want to do? If two or more components were coded together, would that get you to your goal faster?
The vibe I got last night was that the kids might still be transitioning their thinking about what’s appropriate to copy and build upon. After all, one of the things that makes this class unique is the whole plagiarism aspect. While we can’t disregard licenses and copyright completely, there’s a whole slew of great code out there just waiting for someone to modify.
It will be interesting to see what the kids end up working on. I’ll keep you updated on the progress.
SWAG, as it’s also known, is the story for me this week and it’s been one of those good news, bad news kind of situations.
It’s a big opportunity to show NY State Educators the monstrous amounts of work being done at RIT with OLPC, SugarLabs.org, the Fedora Project, and TeachingOpenSource.org. Especially since we won’t be “preaching to the choir.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I love FOSS conferences, and I know there are lots of like minded people who want the scoop on what we’ve been up to. It’s just that there’s something special about giving free software to someone who isn’t all that familiar with what we do.
The bad news — I had 5 days to scrounge up enough SWAG for our booth. If you consider shipping times, then yes, the phrase “oh crap!” would be appropriate.
So at this point I need to thank the flowing people for going above and beyond and getting boxes of goodies in the mail, simply because I asked.
- Brian Powell and his sweet wife for sending Fedora pens, conversation stickers and Tattoos
- Chris Neves for sending Fedora 11 discs, “Powered by Fedora” stickers, buttons and Tattoos.
- Adam Holt and SJ Klein for sending OLPC postcards.
- Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier for giving me permission to use the Free openSUSE 11.1 Quick Ship discs we had on hand and for suggesting openSUSE Edu Li-f-e disc for our booth.
I also need to give special thanks to my dear sweet husband, Todd, for spending his Saturday making openSUSE Edu Li-f-e and Sugar spins for us.
I do have to correct the fabulous Mel Chua when she said — “Short version: Karlie is Magical.”
No, Mel, the community is Magical. Without their quick action, we’d have a very poor presence at NYSCATE.