Monday, March 31, 2008

Pycon 2008 Recap

I'm sorry that this is quite a bit late, but I 'd like to fill you in on some of the interesting thing that were accomplished at PyCon.

(Pic of attendees in main expo hall)

One of the first big OLPC related events at Pycon was a keynote by former OLPC employee Ivan Krstić. He focused on how the OLPC facilitates learning and the ways in which Python helps with that.

(Pic of Ivan's keynote)

Some of the other talks that focused on the OLPC project addressed issues that have plagued software development on the platform, such as a lack of proper unit tests in many applications.

(pic of slide from OLPC unit testing talk)

The second part of the conference that I attended was the OLPC Sprint. (for those who don't know, a "sprint" is a period of rapid collaborative development on a specific project, similar to the "hackathons" of OpenBSD fame)
Led by Mike Fletcher, the OLPC group made significant progress in creating several useful applications for the XO despite having no official representation from the OLPC organization( a fact that disappointed some)

(Pic of OLPC sprint room)

I worked quite a bit with James Hancock, the lead developer of GASP, as he started to work on an XO-friendly networking API and further Pippy (and possibly Develop ) integration.

(Pic of James Hancock)

An unexpected but familar face came in the form of Mel Chua , who I had worked with before on other OLPC related projects. She has been a great source of constructive criticism and advice for GASP , as well as helping us out with documentation.
(Pic of Mel Chua)

By the time I left PyCon, I realized that the OLPC project has many long struggles ahead, but there are plenty of people ready to meet the challenge head on.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hello from PyCon 2008

PyCon 2008 was huge this year. Over 1000 people attended -- a 70% increase from only a year ago. The OLPC presence is everywhere. Participants used them to browse the web and take notes at presentations.

This morning one of the Plenary talks was an OLPC Update by Ivan Krstic. He gave a keynote at PyCon last year, so it was an good opportunity to look back and see how far the project has come in the last year. Most exciting was seeing his pictures from Uruguay and Peru, where the first two XO deployments are taking place.

I attended a morning talk titled "Programming for the One Laptop Per Child laptop" by Charles Merriam. It was a good discussion of what to expect from developing software for the XO and helped prepare us for the coming sprint.

This evening we are starting the sprints. Matt Gallagher, James Hancock and I are at the Twisted with Games BOF (Birds of a Feather). James is eager to add networking support to gasp, and the twisted developers are talking with him about using twisted to do that.

In the "it's a small world" department, Mel Chua showed up at the start of our sprint. She is a student of Dr. Allen Downey, the original author of How to Think Like a Computer Scientist. I've never met Allen face to face, but I've been working with him for several years on the book. Mel knew about gasp and is interested in sprinting with us.

That's all for now. I'll report back on the progress of the sprint in a day or two.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Logging on #gasp!

Jason Straw came through, using the Arlington Career Center webspace to host our bot and logs. You can see what we've been up to here. Also, the user mailing list archive is up here, so for those what want to pitch in, or just keep tabs on the project, check it out.

In other news, expect to see GASP 0.2 packaged for Ubuntu and the XO within a week! Exciting times, folks.

From the logs:
jhancock__: ayanami: I don't think I have meet you before?
ayanami: jhancock__: Error: "I" is not a valid command.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Logging on #gasp?

The IRC channel #gasp on is going to be where we hold meetings and discuss development. For this to be useful, we'll need automatic, publicly available logging, so we don't have to worry about record-keeping on our own machines (and XOs) and can see what happened at past meetings.

Our best bet for this is a piece of software called supybot, paired with some scripts that create and update web pages as logs are created. For hosting, we turn to our sponsors at Nortel. I've asked Jason Straw for help hosting the bot and storing the logs at

Monday, March 3, 2008

DNS school server craziness

Just a quick post, but I've been having some issues with the schoolserver nameserver not syncing with the external schoolserver. On the XO, removing the schoolserver DNS allows internet access,but prevents any access to other schoolserver features.Can anyone shed any light on this?