30 July 2010

Going to Samoa

Tom and I are off to Samoa to visit two one laptop per child deployments for two weeks.
It's like the night before Christmas here with all the excitement of our trip to tomorrow. Except, this time we are the elves trying to create and then wrap all the gifts to make the delivery run.
We have 2 Asus EeeBox PC 1021 (Atom 330, 2GB ram, 250GB harddrive) machines for servers, 6 Ubiquiti Networks PicoStation, 2 switches and loads of bits and pieces to connect it all.
We have setup the servers with the school server image and been preparing it for the Samoa requirements, running around madly trying to get the translation finished, collected ebooks and learning objects, and put lots of XO activities onto the servers. We have printed resources and stationery to give the schools.
The bags are packed with our clothes and we are just doing the last few preparation things. We know we are going to run out of time, but doing our best.
We are really looking forward to meeting everyone and hearing what they have been doing so far. The schools don't have internet, so I will write up about the trip on our return.

23 July 2010

Cow clickers and addictions

I have an addiction. Every night before bed, and every morning when I wake up, I feed my fish and my birds, check on my farm and carrying out some missions with my mob. It drives my partner insane and begs the question, just why am I addicted to these games? I am talking about ipod, smartphone and online games.
In an attempt to rehabilitate me, my partner found this article - http://www.bogost.com/blog/cow_clicker_1.shtml
The article is definitely having an impact.
The reason I am writing about this here for you to read is because the author of this article describes gaming, social networks and briefly describes one of Heideggers theories. He also talks about as a researcher, the value gained through practice.
So my rehabilitation continues... my partner will keep telling me no I can't feed the fish before we go to work, and as a last resort I have to go cold turkey on 30 July!
I hope you enjoyed this fun blog post for a Friday afternoon. ;-)

20 July 2010

Travelling with the XO laptop

Last week I spent four days in Melbourne. I don't think it is possible to travel anymore without a netbook and this trip I wanted to challenge myself to travelling with only one backpack to keep me as mobile as possible.

I took the olpc laptop - the XO - as my travel laptop. I wanted to use the operating system that olpc deployments use with a few tweaks. So I lived in Sugar and the Gnome desktop. I installed Skype, xchat for irc, empathy for jabber, and a few packages to make it all work. (Details here - http://wiki.laptop.org/go/User:Tabitha)

The hardest bit was touch typing on the membrane keyboard. I normally type up to 80 wpm with 99% accuracy but I think I was reduced to about 40wpm and 60% accuracy initially, though I did improve during the four days.

The XO laptop was light and easy for me to transport. Its robust so I was never worried about breaking it by squashing or dropping my bag. It easily connected everywhere I went and had enough battery (I took a spare just in case) for what I was doing.

One of the aims was to ensure I was ready for my volunteer trip to Samoa on 30 July where I will only use the XO as part of supporting olpc deployments in two primary schools on Savaii. I feel prepared now.

Another advantage to using the XO for the trip was that people came up and asked me about olpc so it was a great conversation starter. A lot more Australians know what is going on in their own country now (there are deployments to aboriginal children) and it is great to get that awareness level up.

If anyone wants to play with the olpc laptop and they are local to me, they can just ask. You are most welcome to ask me questions about olpc and Sugar (the learning platform), from the technology side and the educational philosophy behind these not for profit organisations. If I can't answer your question, I will point you to where to ask.