Thursday, February 28, 2008

Looks Like We Need Flash

Michael Connet suggested to me that we investigate using the 2D vector graphic and animation tools in eToys to develop tutorial animations for the XO. Yorktown High School student Jamie Boisture spent a week and a half investigating Squeak. I followed with a conversation on the #squeak irc channel. Our conclusion: while it may be "possible" to generate 2D animations with Squeak, the conceptual differences between Squeak and flash are enormous, and this is not a practical option for our illustrator, Phi.

To give you an idea of the kind work Phi does, take a look at this. If anyone knows of example animations made with eToys that look as good as what Phi did here, please let us know.

Friday, February 22, 2008

School Server in the house!

Editors note: Pictures will be added to this post as soon as I get a hold of a camera tomorrow

Well the day has finally arrived. I have successfully set up a functional OLPC XS School Server. Thanks to the folks at Nortel LearnIT, who managed to procure an active antenna for us, we finally got a chance to get started.

For the actual server , I used a system76 laptop (it's an older model which is no longer offered by them unfortunately) . Installation was simple, with a simple boot to a fedora live environment followed by an installation script. After that , the fun could begin.

After plugging in an active antenna, I then booted up an XO and it immediately connected to the server. I tested this by running "ping schoolserver" on the XO, which replied successfully, confirming connectivity and the XS servers DNS server was functioning correctly.

One thing that gave me a bit of trouble was when I attempted to register the laptop to the server. The first time I tried, both the laptop and the server froze for a long period. After they became functional again , I noticed that the laptop had failed to register. Trying it a second time however , successfully paired the laptop with the server.

As I had other classes , that was all I got to test. The good thing is that I will be bringing the server to the event at Nortel's offices tomorrow and will attempt things like patching and software distribution.

GASP is a Launchpad Featured Project!

FFM, the maintainer of GASP, told me today that we've made the Launchpad's "Featured Projects" list! We're in the illustrious company of such projects as Miro, SchoolTool, Bazaar, and Ubuntu itself. Go to and see for yourself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

GASP, Python, and the XO

GASP, the Graphics API for Students of Python, provides an easy and fun way for learning programmers to write games and other programs using colors, shapes, pictures, and movement. It's based on the PyGame library, which, though full-featured, is too complicated for beginners to easily learn.

It's also a perfect match for the XO. The latest version of Pippy, the built-in Python API on the XO, includes some simple games and examples, all written in PyGame. GASP, along with its sister package GASP-Games, will let users of the XO play games, see how they work, and write their own.

My fellow Yorktown Student David Cooper has made great improvements to GASP recently. The 0.2 version (currently in development and testing) includes new functionality that allows for easy pausing. It also speeds GASP up considerably, allowing it to run much smoother, even on platforms like the XO with limited resources. I'm documenting and improving that code, and yet another YHS student, "FFM", is the man in charge, running and packaging the project.

GASP is the future of game development on the XO. As it becomes a stable product and the Games package starts to assemble a set of examples, you'll be able to start writing games of your own.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Copy files to and from the journal

To get started, download the following files to the XO

The usage for these files are as follows:
Usage for to: python   -m MIMETYPE [-t TITLE] [-d DESC] [-T tag1 [-T tag2 ...]]
Usage for from: python [-o OBJECT_ID] [-q SEARCH_STR] [-t SEARCH_STR] [-m] OUTFILE

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New DC learning club meeting

A new meeting of the OLPC Learning Club DC is scheduled for Saturday, Febuary 23th and is to be hosted at the Nortel offices at 101 Constitution Avenue, NW. Suite 325 East, Washington, DC 20001

We will be working on improving our graphics API, GASP, as well as writing some examples to be included in Pippy. We will also be using a block of the time to mesh. It will run for 9am to 1pm.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Yes, but is it called the GNU XO?

According to OLPC Nepal, Richard Stallman's "weighed in" in support:
Stallman has always stressed for the need to use free softwares in educational institutes. The OLPC project has only made him happier.

Report on DC OLPC Learning Club meeting at DC Cares

Mike Lee has just posted an account of the January 31 meeting of the OLPC Learning Club at DC Cares downtown offices, which several of us attended.