Friday, June 25, 2010

Field Trip Day for the OLPC devs

I got into all this OLPC, Sugar, HFOSS stuff because I'm a game professor at RIT and I wanted my students to make educational games for the platform.  So yesterday I spent a day introducing the various OLPC dev teams (almost all of whom are doing something related to Sugar games) to two great resources in the field that we're lucky to have in town; the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) at the Strong National Museum of Play and Second Avenue Software.

ICHEG has a collection of over 10,000 items related to electronic games and is continuing to build that research archive and design a 5,000 square foot exhibit on them slated to open November 20th.  It's been my pleasure to consult with them on those efforts, first as a member of their comprehensive advisory board and now as a visiting scholar there for the next two years.  The students were awe-struck by the museum in general and particularly their holdings of everything from a working replica of Ralph Baer's brown box, over 150 arcade games (many of which were part of Videotopia, which they acquired) and walls of shelves of software 3 boxes deep.  Thanks to JP for touring us around!

After a quick lunch in the museum food court we headed out to Second Avenue software, where we had an informal and deeply informative presentation from Tory and Mike on their process and will be applying what we learned to our current and future development efforts.  Thanks to them both as well

Tech Symposium, results of Boing Boing? and More

After an action packed week of POSSE and FOSSCon, there was no slowing down this week. M-W was the NTID Tech Symposium where we delivered our paper on Open Video Chat. We also had a table for the length of the conference where we showed it off. Boing Boing picked up our Center for Student Innovation blog post on the RIT press release and ) several interesting things happened as a result (I assume) of the Boing Boing link...

Tony Anderson sent me an e-mail asking for some class projects in the fall including a typing game, a bingo vocab game, support for karma development and some work on Fez and Drupal. These all look like great initiatives and I'll be looking at the students enrolled in the Fall to see if we might be able to match some of them up.

Gerald Ardito, who I met when we presented at NYSCATE together last year, runs an OLPC deployment in a private school downstate, and has made it the focus of his PhD at Pace University. He asked if I'd be willing to come down to Pace and talk with folks there about what we're doing in Rochester, with the hopes of maybe helping them do something similar there. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to do so.

Kolawole Oreoluwa got in touch to ask about testing OVC for us in Nigeria. He'll be working with Adam to obtain some 1.5 for that very purpose and I look forward to hearing more about his program in general, in addition to finding out about his experiences with OVC.

Discussions in-channel with Collabora, the OVC dev team and members of the community during the symposium are leading up to a hackfest to attack problems with RTP, Gstreamer and Theora, to get the team up to speed with Telepathy-Farsight and to build some documentation for it that's currently lacking. We're shooting for a fest at OLPC headquarters the week of 7/12 and will be posting details once they firm up.

Last but not least we got to meet Kevin Cole of Gallaudet, who manned a table for OLPC and Sugar Labs at the event.

Many thanks to the FOSS@RIT dev team for all their great work and all the folks who got in touch with us this week!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Open Video Chat Paper at NTID Technology Conference

This will be its official debut to the Deaf Access Technology World.  For all the details, head over to the Center for Student Innovation Site.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Yesterday was FOSSCon, the day-long FOSS conference hosted by RIT. The event content covered a nice spread of education, business and other applications of FOSS technology and community. I enjoyed the keynote by Basekamp an arts space interested in open content and hacker culture as well as fine arts. Hope to do a presentation for them either on what the museum is doing and/or art games in October.

After that I spent some time in the exhibits room with the attendess at large, participated in the POSSE panel and saw a few of the lightning talks before I got a call from home and had to split.

The crowd was smaller than the organizers had initially hoped, and not without some "first-time organizer"bumps in the road. That said the community was great and they had folks come from a radius of 350 or so, from Pennsylvania to Toronto and around. I'm looking forward to planning for next year's and building on the base that was laid this Saturday.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

POSSE Summation


As you'll see at the Pirate Pad link below, POSSE was a success. We got profs engaged and excited, made some headway on the Sugar Measure Activity, some Sugar On A Stick issues and made some prototype RIT Fedora Remixes.

Check it out!

Friday, June 18, 2010


Run three sessions of a seminar in FOSS Development for the OLPC. Roughly 50 students have taken the elective which has created 9 projects for Sugar Labs’s Math 4 initiative and generated seven unpaid co-ops and to extend those projects

Created FOSS@RIT, an umbrella for a wide variety of FOSS activities, including which has received some support for development this summer from RIT

Housed a funded applied research project in the development of an Open Video Chat (OVC) project that targets Deaf users but can be used by all. The initial development began as a Sugar activity, summer goals for the project include Linux, PC and Mac versions as well.

Brought Richard Stallman and Walter Bender to campus

Mounted a successful effort to host a POSSE and FOSSCon in June.

Participated in panels at the Teaching Open Source Summit and the HFOSS Symposium
Presented at NYSCATE 2010 and Bar Camps and Unconferences in Rochester, Boston and New York RIT’s 2009 and 2010 Imagine Festival.

Had a paper accepted at the Deaf Education Technology Symposium for presentation 6/2010 and has a final draft of a paper waiting official acceptance at Frontiers in Education 2010. If accepted, presentation will be 10/2010

Converted the OLPC seminar into a formal course “Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software Development; the goals of which meet the current draft HFOSS certificate requirements. That course will be offered in fall 2010.

Begun working with a team looking to turn the XO and Android phones into portable EKG and other medical sensing devices for use as primary equipment in the third world (X0) and supplemental emergency equipment in the first world (Android)

Begun building a relationship with the Righteous Pictures production team of “Web” an documentary in production that features the XO with the intent of having RIT students participate in the post-production of the film and the creation of digital widgets that promote the film, its message


For POSSE proper yesterday, not much to say as I was in and out for most of the classroom time.  Various errands including providing folks XO's dealing with paper work for POSSE, FOSSCon, the research undergrads etc prevented me from participating much in the creation of the spin, but I'll benefit from the efforts of my colleagues.

Today, it was really all about the meals.

We had a group lunch with the POSSE folks and the FOSS Box team.(Boneless wings for 23) and introduced the professors and staff to the students working on the FOSS projects and Jon Schull in his current role as interim director of the Innovation Center, which I think was good for all around.

Last night was the POSSE dinner, where Chris Tyler and I spent some time figuring angles to get RIT Co-Ops to work on CDOT projects.  The challenge is getting the border issues dealt with (if a us student is doing a co-op for a Canadian college while residing in the us and not actually getting any money because its a not for profit does anyone hear the tree fall in the forest?)  or do we do it via a US not-for-profit say Sugar or, as I thought about it this am, CIVX?

Also had a good chat with Chas of the LUG, Pythonistas and etc about my grandiose ideas around Pi Day, which could include a Pi-thon hackfest for math4 around Pi related stuff.

I've also been thinking about tweaks to the course, and adding a second one, that I'll discuss later today and kick around with Dave Shein in July.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Spent the AM talking about "roses and thorns,"  ie high points and low points of the experience so far.  Reiterated some of last night's blog posts comments, to which Mel and Chris were graciously supportive of.  We took a long look at things like Bugzilla, Trac, Fedora Hosted and others tools and Mel walked us through her process for picking up a new project; ie evaluating a dev community as viable or non-viable before jumping in.  This was extremely useful as were the other discussions.

At 11:00 we took a break to be interviewed by Andrea's Journalism students, which was fun.  I then shot down to the Center for Student Innovation to help run the Tuesday lunch event and then shot back upstairs asap to rejoin POSSE.

I joined the RIT_Remix_Project project and we spent the afternoon building a list of packages to include. This is a start for a general assemblage for the institute overall and could spawn some College specific variants over time.

Homework tonight is to keep tweaking this and perhaps start the lists for the variants. For my contribution to the effort I've created a new page RIT_Remix_Project/College_Specific. My colleagues are planning to evaluate more packages for the RIT Remix and  College Specific Remix

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


My Brain Hurts!

My biggest challenge with Open Source, and perhaps the POSSE curriculum, is the sheer number of accounts, sites, tools, etc  I find it bewildering to stay on top of it all, though spending tomorrow running everything out of the Fedora Spin in virtual box will likely help to reduce the confusion.  I'd also probably have done better to pursue POSSE at another institution rather than my own this particular summer.  Having five FOSS projects running with something like 14 team members (some in the same room as POSSE and some just down the hall)  adds another level of distraction that the other RIT Profs don't have :-)

I'm feeling like a diagram/visualization of all the different pieces and how they inter-relate and or map to pipeline would help.  Here's a list anyway...

  • Blog:  Personal Dev Notes and thoughts syndicated for others via planets.
    • Sugar Planet
    • Teaching Open Source Planet
  • Wikis
    • Teaching Open Source
    • Sugar
    • Fedora 
  • IRC
    • #TeachingOpenSource
    • #Sugar
    • #Fedora? 
  • Fedora
  • Sugar
  • Teaching Open Source
  • Management?
  • Bug Tracking and Reporting?
  • Version Control
    • GIT 
    • Patch (Unix Command?)
  • Publican (xml goes in, different docs come out, fedora developed tool?)
 One thing that would/would have helped me would be to narrow the nozzle on the fire hose to start out.  By that I mean start with one full set to begin with and add on a daily basis.  start with TOS for communications, accounts, blogs, planets, irc s much as possible.  Then add in sugar, have me download source for a doc (or something else) and make a patch to it there.  Have me play with some activities and report bugs, request features or tweak the source there.  Then move me up to fedora, etc.

Productively lost in one place = good, productively lost in three = not so productive.  Scaffold and/or offer structure across one community and tool set, let me get comfortable there and then have me translate to the next.

Ok, so I'm a big whiner.  :-)

So I'll shoot for the spin project tomorrow

In the meantime I think I tracked down the last Planet issue. Was listed in contributors but none showing up at the top level of TOS as individual entries.  Tag issue :-( Attempted to create two tags in blogger (FOSS and POSSE) but it took them as a single tag (FOSS POSSE)  killed that one and just stuck with FOSS.   Should work now.

Monday, June 14, 2010

POSSE Day 1 #2

Too many accounts for too many systems from too many organizations. Makes my head hurt.


Getting going in POSSE required a blog and since all my old ones have been dead for a while, time to start a new one.

My Teaching Open Source User page has stuff on me, so check it out...