October 01, 2014

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Sugar Digest 2014-10-01

Sugar Digest

1. September was an exciting month. We held the first Sugar Youth Summit in Montevideo, organized by Daniel Francis and Jose Miguel Garcia and generously hosted by ANEP. The event featured a day-long symposium and series of workshops, including ones on Turtle Art, Butia, and how to write a Sugar activity. One teacher who attended the Turtle Art workshop exclaimed that she could not believe the progress she made.

The event was attended by youths from Uruguay and Paraguay and educators and developers from as far away as Nicaragua and Colombia. We had an Argentine contingent as well.

The symposium and workshops were held on Software Freedom Day. Given the number of Python programmers in attendance, it occurred to me that we should petition the city of Montevideo to rename itself Monty Python (after whom the language was named) for Software Freedom Day each year.

The day before the symposium Gonzalo Odiard, Mariana Herrera, Jose Miguel, and I visited a school for children with special needs. As a result, during the code sprint that followed the symposium, we wrote three new activities that have their content and user interface tailored to the school’s population. Lorena Paz from Argentina, also in attendance, resurfaces a number of issues around accessibility that we will consider in the coming months as well.

Coincident with the weekend of hacking was a robo-Sumo contest at FING. It was a good opportunity to spend time with Andres Aguirre and Alan Aguiar of Butia fame and to recruit some new talent. Several of the more competitive kids joined us in the workshops. They took a special interest in Turtle Blocks 3D, one of the Google Summer of Code projects that is coming into its own.

Gonzalo and I also got a chance to meet with a group of teachers convened by Jose Miguel at his office at ANEP. These teachers are engaged in various project-based learning initiatives across the country. Really good work — utilizing the computer as a tool to enhance authentic inquiry by the children. I look forward to continued interactions with them.

2. At the workshop, Martin Abente presented the initial plans for Sugar 104. (Martin has generously offered to be the release manager.) The new features under consideration can be found at 0.104/Feature_List.

We’ll be discussing these features in an online meeting on 2 October at 13 UTC. Please join us on irc.freenode.net #sugar-meeting.

3. I’ve been working on polishing up the Turtle Blocks 3D code over the past few weeks. There are a number of improvements from where we (Anubhav and I) left things this summer. Notably, the interface between Turtle Blocks and Blender is much richer. You can export .OBJ files from Turtle and import them into Blender and export .OBJ files from Blender and import them into Turtle. Currently I am working on adding a 3D cursor, which I designed and rendered in Turtle Blocks 3D itself. See http://github.com/Anubhav-J/turtleart.git for a preview.

4. I’ve been working on a new activity similar to the Portfolio activity that is geared towards reflection. Like Portfolio, it draws upon Journal items that have been starred. It also allows the user to create reflections unrelated to any Journal items. The presentation is quite different from Portfolio, which is modeled after a slide show. Reflect is more like a stream, similar to the news feeds in Facebook and Google+. The stream supports comments and attaching media, and it can be searched by #tags. A preview is available at http://github.com/walterbender/reflect.git. Feedback most welcome.

5. It is time to begin preparing for the annual Sugar Labs Oversight Board election (AKA SLOBs). Four (4) seats are open (due to staggered seat terms) for election / re-election to the Sugar Labs Oversight Board for 2013-2014, those of Daniel Francis, Gonzalo Odiard, Adam Holt, and Claudia Urrea. Please let me know if you are interested running for one of our board seats and also, please add your self to the candidates’wiki page. Also, since only members receive ballots, please be sure to sign up for membership by following the instructions in the wiki. Finally, we need help running the election itself. Please contact me (or Luke Faraone) if you are interested in helping.

In the community

6. Several of us will be in the Bay Area for the Google Summer of Code summit in late October. In conjunction with that event, we’ll be holding a code sprint to look at the collaboration stack.

7. The next Turtle Art Day event will be a workshop at Prospect Hill Academy in Somerville. Caroline Meeks is hosting the event. I’ve been busy making Sugar-on-a-Stick USB keys to give the kids. (I’m using Ruben Rodriguez’s Trisquel TOAST image, which has an up-to-date copy of Turtle Blocks.)

We are also planning a Turtle workshop in San Francisco in October.

Tech Talk

8. Lionel Laské recently announced the fourth version (0.4) of http://sugarizer.org Sugarizer, a taste of Sugar for any device. Sugarizer reproduces the main features of Sugar in HTML5/JavaScript. It is available from a browser or as an Android application. Lionel presents Sugarizer in a talk at SugarCamp Paris.

9. Sebastian Silva and Laura Vargas recently announced that > 20000 children are now using Sugar Network. Tip of the hat to Aleksey Lim who has been working diligently behind the scenes on the project.

Sugar Labs

10. Please visit our planet at http://planet.sugarlabs.org.

by Walter Bender at October 01, 2014 05:23 PM

Path Education, Pakistan

September 29, 2014

OLE Nepal

Exploring faraway land in far west

This was my second visit to Bajhang. The first one was about three months ago where we went to train the teachers from 10 different schools on using laptops and implementing the ICT based education. This visit was intended for the further enhancement of the teachers’ skill towards integrated teaching via in-school training. In addition [...]

by Bibek Maharjan at September 29, 2014 11:18 AM

September 28, 2014

Path Education, Pakistan

Hakuna Matata Trek to Kilimanjaro Summit

You can see this 9 minute video that captures the highlights of the trip to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. See the school banner raised there

http://youtu.be/Lrv4cmL_8dQ

 

 

by kishwer at September 28, 2014 09:07 AM

September 19, 2014

Path Education, Pakistan

Rahnuma makes it to the top of Africa

SAM_1042 (6)

Aslam Aziz, Barry Ryan, Bushra Farooqui and Saba Raza, carried Rahnuma Banner to the Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro on 15th of September 2014, after a gruelling final climb.

Welldone guys for carrying our message and holding it high!

by kishwer at September 19, 2014 09:44 PM

One Laptop per Child

The award-winning documentary film, WEB, will have its global release next week!

Captura de pantalla 2014-09-19 11.33.12
We’re excited to announce that the award-winning documentary film, WEB, will have its much anticipated global release in partnership with Social Media Week next week!

The film features OLPC Founder, Nicholas Negroponte and chronicles children in remote villages in the Andes Mountains and Amazon Jungle gaining access to XO laptops and the Internet for the first time. It is a poignant embodiment of the theme of Social Media Week’s global conference, “Reimagining Human Connectivity.”

<iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" class="embedly-embed" frameborder="0" height="329" scrolling="no" src="http://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=http%3A%2F%2Fplayer.vimeo.com%2Fvideo%2F106111815&amp;src_secure=1&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fvimeo.com%2F106111815&amp;image=http%3A%2F%2Fi.vimeocdn.com%2Fvideo%2F489110302_1280.jpg&amp;type=text%2Fhtml&amp;schema=vimeo" width="584"></iframe>

 

Over the course of the four day conference, WEB will be screened in 7 cities around the world, kicking off a global release of the film on online platforms like iTunes and Amazon.

As part of Social Media Week, the film will be screened in Berlin, Johannesburg, Miami, Mumbai, London, Rotterdam and Rome, exclusively for conference attendees.

The film will be released simultaneously online for those who can’t attend but wish to take part in this exciting global conversation about access to information, new forms of community and collaboration and the connected world we are creating together.

Those interested in seeing WEB can purchase passes to attend social media week at socialmediaweek.orgview the film online at http://bit.ly/WebTheFilm or visit webthefilm.com for information about hosting their own local screening.

Website – WebTheFilm.com
Twitter – @WebTheFilm
Instagram – @WebTheFilm

Photo credit: @WebTheFilm

by mariana at September 19, 2014 04:04 PM

September 17, 2014

OLPC SF

OLPC San Francisco Community Summit 2014 - Call for Proposals

Call for proposals is now open.

http://www.olpcsf.org/CommunitySummit2014/proposal

This is a proposal submission for an *online* summit.  Each accepted proposal will be organized to run online via Google Hangout. You will need a Google (gmail) account and a computer with a webcam, microphone and speakers (or headphones) for this. Multiple people will present in a session (approx. 2 to 4) so keep that in mind. Think of it as a conversation between the presenters where "viewers" get to watch live via Youtube. Viewers will participate via chat. The session will also be recorded for viewing on Youtube later.

To see an example of this format, take a look at http://summit.ubuntu.com/uos-1406/meeting/22284/introduction-to-lubuntu/

http://www.olpcsf.org/CommunitySummit2014/proposal

by sverma at September 17, 2014 07:52 PM

September 16, 2014

Nancie Severs

In Loving Memory of My Mom — Jacksonville, FL


Jacksonville, FL

Sometimes When it Rains it Pours. On a bright sunny day, I do pretty well keeping my attitude positive and balancing the “cancer” treatment needs and side effects with my regular activities. Then, last Saturday afternoon, September 6, 2014 my Mother, Beverly Stein Goldstein died unexpectedly in Florida. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/timesu nion/obituary.aspx?n=beverly-stein-gold stein&amp;pid=172392276

A few hours later, Mark and I left for Jacksonville. Later, when I spoke to Mom’s dear Rabbi Lubliner after the Sabbath ended, he asked whether my doctors approved my travel. I replied, I didn’t ask them. I’ll be as careful as I can to avoid infection and illness, but I’m coming.

Mom’s health had been declining over the 6 years after my Dad died. Her biggest problem came from back and hip and knee pain from osteoporosis and previous fractures. The pain impacted her mobility to the effect that during the past year, Mom could no longer walk. In the past couple of months, transferring her from her bed to chairs to get up or go out had become an ordeal requiring at least 2 helpers. She was unhappy. When I called, I would ask her how she was, and she would say, “my back hurts. My back always hurts.” The goal: to keep her as comfortable as possible had not changed, but as the medications required to do this increased her lucidity declined. On Saturday when Mom died, Lynn &amp; a caregiver was with her. They had helped her into her comfy chair. And they watched her take her last breath. Mom was blessed with a quick and easy death, and her daughter was there to reassure us all that this is how she passed.

This is a long entry. Please understand that I am including the details, photos and text of our talks about Mom primarily for our family in Thailand. Jewish burials occur quickly and Noah, Sumalai and Terran could not possibly have gotten here from Bangkok before the service. I encouraged them to wait and come when we can enjoy their company, perhaps over the winter holidays. Feel free to share this entry link with other far away family and friends.

The funeral was on Monday afternoon at Mom’s synagogue followed by the graveside service and burial. She and Daddy both would have been very proud of the handsome family they created. Blessed with four children, 10 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild, it is the natural order of things for us to bury our parents (and not the other way around.)

At the synagogue service, after Rabbi Lubliner’s meaningful words about Mom, my sisters and I read our own eulogy:

Nancie:
Our Mother didn’t do old age so well. She embraced the challenges of her pain and mobility issues courageously, but those last few years do not tell the story of who Mom was. In her younger decades, our Mom lived with enthusiasm. Her professional and personal activities touched many and blessed our family with interesting intellect and wonderful friends.

Born in Baltimore the beloved only child of Ira &amp; Faye Stein, Mom moved with her parents to Jacksonville before primary school. The story I’ve heard is that just as Prohibition ended my Poppa Ira joined Uncle Joe and his brothers for their new business, Southern Wine &amp; Spirits. Mom would tell us, quoting her father, “Alcohol is for selling, not drinking.” The young Stein family embraced their new home city and quickly became involved in the Jacksonville Jewish Community.

Bevy thrived living first in Riverside and later on Lakewood Road, in the “new Southside.” As her parents both came from large families, Mom had many first cousins, and was close with all of them throughout her life, turning them into her surrogate siblings.

Mom loved animals and her own horse, named Buddy, a cocker spaniel named Peachy, and bunny rabbits. As an adored only child, whatever Bevy wanted Bevy had. The love of animals stayed with her, and at one time she had as many as eight dogs. In more recent years, she got her beloved poodle Mazel certified as a Therapy dog so she could bring him along with her to volunteer at River Garden and at the Baptist Hospital Healing Library.

When I went through my own horse phase, I said, but you had Buddy, why can’t I have a horse? I never got the horse, but all of her grandchildren enjoyed riding a large rocking horse that she bought for them. It sat prominently in the living room, and was named, of course, Buddy.

From the time Mom was 7 years old until she married my father, she spent every summer at Camp Louise, a Jewish girls camp in the Cacoctin Mountains near Baltimore. When she was away from home she wrote her parents newsy letters about her life, often. Every one of them was signed, Your devoted daughter, Beverly. She made forever friends easily and when I was 10 years old, Mom’s camp friends, Gloria &amp; Ethel would drive us up to camp, singing songs they wrote as counselors about the cute Camp Airy boys &amp; Fort Ritchie soldiers of their summers past.

In high school Mom persuaded her parents to send her off to school so that her school year would be more like “camp.” She excelled at Highland Manor, a private high school in New Jersey, and matriculated to Goucher College near her many Baltimore aunts uncles and cousins.

She was at Goucher when her closest Jacksonville girlfriend Grace Kramer (later Leitman) wrote her “Bevy you must come join me at University of Florida.” UF had just admitted women and Grace was in its first class. “There are so many smart and handsome guys down here.” So Mom decided to do her “junior year abroad” at UF. She joined with Grace and her new lifelong friend Joyce Glicksberg as a founding member of the UF AEPhi Jewish Sorority Chapter. Mom was a smart cookie. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in the first UF class of women, no easy feat, and she met my father!

Billy Goldstein was a Jacksonville boy. He was a little older than Mom as he attended UF on the GI bill after serving in Europe &amp; North Africa in World War II. Mom was smitten by the smart, tall, dark and handsome man, and they were married in 1950. Daddy, a newly minted lawyer joined Uncle Maury forming Goldstein &amp; Goldstein and they settled in Southside comfortably near both sets of parents.

We grew up on Waterman Road, conveniently right next door to the Fleet family, who we called Aunt Margaret and Uncle Joel. Joel was our pediatrician that made house calls. With four lively Goldstein children, he had to come a lot, but he didn’t have to come far.

At Hendricks Avenue elementary Mom was the “go to’ volunteer. Room mother, field trips, Patrol Boys, Teachers of Tomorrow, she led them all. Her stints at Mervyn’s long dance recitals lasted years. She always told her tall and sometimes clumsy daughters how wonderful we were. Birthdays were always a big production, with signs and elaborate birthday cakes and parties that included all our neighborhood friends.

We spent much of our summers at Beauclerc County Club, on the site where the JCA now stands. Just like Lynn, Mom taught all of the children of her day to swim. Summertime also meant beach time. My parents often rented an apartment in Neptune Beach for a week or so, where Mom would enjoy the surf and sand with us. The love of the beach remained with her all of her life, and after we were grown, she and Dad realized their dream of having a small apartment at the beach for summer weekends. I don’t think she counted on having quite so many children and grandchildren come to crash their vacation getaway, but she gamely cooked breakfast for everyone. We knew not to argue with her about hats and sunscreen, and no one went out on the beach without them. I don’t think we dare stop now.

Janet:
Mom was a liberal thinker who believed in equality for all. She drew a great deal of satisfaction from her work, helping underprivileged students get a foothold in the working world. We are proud that after the 1960’s race riots in Jacksonville, Mayor Hans Tanzler appointed our Mother to his hand-picked Community Relations Commission to address the challenges of integration and repairing race relations in our then fractured city.

It may surprise you to know that that open-mindedness stayed with her, even during the last few years. A few years ago, mom and her dear friend, Sylvia Lubliner, started treating me to a member's subscription for Players by the Sea at the beach where they also had a subscription. I would drive, and the three of us would enjoy the play, and then a vegetarian dinner together at our favorite Thai restaurant.

Players by the Sea is a small community theatre known for pushing the limits and producing plays that that promote cooperation, openness, and inclusiveness. The plays are usually a little avant-garde—especially for Jacksonville. I wasn't always sure how mom would react, but nothing fazed her, and our dinner conversations after the play were always enlightening.

In the fall of 2010, the first play of the season was 'The Full Monty'. I always made arrangements for mom and Sylvia to sit in the front row so they wouldn't have to climb the stairs. During the last scene of the play, Mom and Sylvia were less than 20 feet from the front of the stage when the four male actors completely removed their clothes and stood proudly naked in their full glory. Later, at dinner, I asked mom if she was uncomfortable with the ending of the play, and she replied, "Why would I be? Nothing I haven't seen!"

When we saw Reefer Madness the following season, Mom and Sylvia spoke about some of the challenges of raising children in the 60's and 70's. Don't worry, Rabbi - I won't give away any secrets I've learned from your mom about your teenage years. Mom asked some questions, I shared some stories, and mom eventually said - "I guess maybe all that stuff that ya'll did was just part of the times. I still don't know why you needed it, because the music was fun, even without any reefer."

Sylvia, I know we will miss having mom with us this season at Players by the Sea, but you and I will still have our Sunday matinee dates. We'll dedicate this 5th season of plays together to Mom, and at dinner, after we toast with our wine "that was made for selling, and not for drinking," we'll be sure and toast mom again at the end of the meal with a decadent desert - probably chocolate - mom's favorite.

When I first mentioned adopting a child, mom wasn't sure it was smart for her single daughter to become a mom, and of course she reacted with all her anxieties of "what if...what if... what if?". What would others think? Oh My!

But, when she listened and realized I was serious, and passionate, she opened her eyes and heart to rethinking her stance. As soon as Mom saw the first photo of Ilan, she quickly changed her mind and embraced her youngest grandchild and loved the idea of having another baby to hold.
Even though Mom stayed here in Jacksonville while I traveled to Russia to get Ilan, we both felt that she had made the journey with me. Mom was always such an amazingly supportive grandma and loved all the kids, each in their own special way.

As Rabbi said, Mom was a whirlwind of parental activity and remember, - there were four of us and only one of her – and we were not able to clone her. The only way that she was able to be the amazing mom that she was is because of our other mother, Berrie. For all of our growing up years, Berrie was the one who left her family at home alone for long hours each day, so she could be with us, and thus mom was able to do all the volunteering, working full-time, and be the super-mom she tried to be. We cannot mourn for mom, without mourning for our other mother, Berrie, who we miss each and every day.

We all know that it was Lynn who organized and cared for Mom’s every need during her final years. Lynn, as these last years got harder, we all know how your full-time job with Mom became more difficult too. There is no doubt that Mom knew how much you loved her and did everything and anything to make these last few years less painful and lonely for her since Daddy died.

Lynn:
Being the baby, Mom always teased that the reason I was here was because my dad had to prove himself one more time after he had major surgery. Mom always referred to her kids as 'my son and my three girls'. I was the third daughter but she wanted a second son. Looking back over the last few years, I guess she was lucky that she had me.

For those of you who knew my mom, you knew she had a good heart, and reached out to people. She always enjoyed being with her friends, whether playing mahjong or volunteering. Just last week she had a dinner gathering with a group of friends who she didn't get to see that often.

She loved to help others achieve their goals, just like she did during her time as a career counselor. She formed a deep connection with her caregiver, Ruby, who moved in over six years ago. Even though Ruby spoke very little English when she met Mom, she had a great deal of empathy and understood Mom and her needs. Mom prided herself in teaching Ruby English, and so they finally had that ability to communicate as well, although their bond went beyond words.

She always pushed everyone to be the best that they can be. I have inherited that trait from her, and during her final years, I pushed her ***********tinue to work at her physical therapy, even though it was often difficult for her and her mood wasn’t always the best. Just last week she told me that if I so wanted to be a physical therapist she'd send me back to school, which showed she was always encouraging me to reach new goals. However, she added, until I really knew what I was doing she was through exercising with me.

We are grateful to the wonderful loving caregivers who helped her so tenderly. She wasn't always the easiest to care for, and her caregivers did an amazing job. Thank you to Ruby, and to Luz, Lili, Luz and Bridget and everyone else who helped care for mom during her hardest times. She was fortunate to have so many people who loved her so much.

All of us here think their mom is the best mom and I am no different. Mom instilled in me by her actions and examples my love for children, my love for teaching in and out of the pool, my love for caring for others, and of course my love for animals. Her memory will stay with us forever.

Ellen, spoke beautifully representing the grandchildren:
As you have heard, Beverly was an only child and considered her many cousins to be her extended family. I am here today to represent her ten grandchildren to share our united message of love and memory.

Beverly never explicitly dictated the role we would play in one another’s lives, but now I see her hand in the family that we are: our cousins are like our siblings, our aunts and uncles like extra parents. Nobody’s a stranger in the Goldstein clan, for better or for worse.

We have grown into this group, each of us touched by her love and support individually. When we think of her, we will all remember Grandma at Jacksonville Beach. There was no way she could have lived a land-locked existence, and she and Pop-Pop taught us all the importance of making time to escape to the ocean. (And the sand, and that deck on the lawn that always left me with splinters in my knees….) It wasn’t usually a quiet escape, because beach days were usually family affairs. But then, sometimes it was quiet. Those of us older grandchildren will remember spending nights or even weeks at “Camp Grandma”, sleeping on the blue fold out bed, waking up with the sunrise, exploring her old books and pictures, walks and swimming, private time with Grandma.

For those of us in Jacksonville, whatever we did, wherever we were, she was a part of it. Honor roll on a report card was rewarded with dinner out with Grandma and Pop-Pop. In a speech to me at my Bat Mitzvah, she professed to cherish all the day school bubby/zaide Shabbats, Chanukah programs, and model seders. Elana says that when Grandma attended her last model seder, she was given a special commendation for having attended model seders continuously for 20 years. Even with all of those years of all of us kids learning Pesach songs, though, still none of us were able to help her figure out that “chasal siddur pesach” melody she always just almost could recall from her childhood and always tried to sing at the end of seder.

Grandma loved perpetuating our family’s traditions by involving us in making food for holiday celebrations. All of us have fond memories of mashing nuts for charosets for Passover, folding hamentaschen for purim, or making kosher-for-passover strawberry ice cream. She could almost always be counted on to bring dessert for shabbos dinner, and if you got a rum cake, you knew you were special.

We didn’t just go to Grandma’s house, she made sure that we were out engaging with the community, especially the arts. She loved to take her grandchildren to the theater, and we all have different memories of various plays, unified by a theme: these were never just ordinary days. She continued to love the theater; just this past summer, Grandma saw a sign for the coming season at Players by the Sea and wryly remarked, “I can’t believe it—I lived through another season.”

If we may have sometimes felt that Grandma was too opinionated, with some perspective we see that she just wanted to share her wisdom. She spent a lot of energy trying to strengthen her granddaughters’ bones so they wouldn’t suffer the way she did in later years. She always told me never to marry a man just because he was good looking, although she tried to relax that rule as I got closer to 30.

She thought it was never too late to improve yourself. She took a calligraphy class in her 60s because she was embarrassed by her poor handwriting. As one of her class projects, she made a picture and framed it for me. The legend she inscribed was, Choose to Be Happy.

It’s important, those four words. It says that we have choices, no matter what life deals us, and that we can choose to approach things positively, not negatively.

So I will try to remember that in the next days and weeks, and be glad that I had this grandmother, and this family that she created.

***
Rabbi Lubliner's eulogy was also very beautiful and meaningful. If I am able to get the text from him, I will add it later.

How did we get this together in such a short time? Thank you Doris! We could not have done it without you. Jeff and Doris were in Europe for a meeting and trip, when they got the news about Mom. They quickly flew home. With little sleep and (a bad cold preventing me from hugging her,) we all sent Doris our rambling words and as Janet says, she “worked her magic” to order our memories into a flowing talk. Here is your virtual hug. We love you and thank you, our “outlaw” sister Doris.:)

This Shiva week has been a whirlwind of emotions and of memories shared by and family, friends and friends of Mom's. The grandkids came to Mom's apartment and picked out things they each liked. I saved a few things for Sumalai. As we begin to go through and pack up Mom's apartment, we laugh a lot, and sometimes cry. We lovingly remember our Mom; the Mom before the "elder Mom," the bright, dynamic, loving, helping person that she was. Beverly enriched the lives of so many around her and Mom, we miss you dearly.


September 16, 2014 12:31 PM

September 13, 2014

Nancie Severs

3rd Chemo Done! — Boston, MA


Boston, MA

Where I stayed
Boston Marriott Cambridge


My 3rd chemo had been scheduled for Tuesday, August 20. I had scheduled radiation treatment mapping &amp; planning appointments for the day before. My eldest son, Aaron met me in Boston on the 19th with plans to come home with me from chemo, work remotely from home visit, and then go to NYC for a father &amp; son trip to the US Open.

“The best laid plans...” are sometimes laid aside. My blood counts were too low for chemo on the 20th. Aaron was here and I felt well! I had been wanting to eat at Helmand, a well known casual Cambridge Afghani restaurant and we did. We walked over on a lovely evening and watched the sunset over the Charles River from a nearby park. We came home the next day, and during this “gift week,” another unanticipated week of the loveliest summer, in recent memory, Mark and I enjoyed having Aaron around.

Aaron and Mark left for NYC on Sunday, and my 3rd chemo treatment was good to go on Tuesday, August 26, right in the middle of their US Open trip. My sisters, cousins, and close friends have all offered to come with me for treatments. My dear friend Bruria came for this one. I have told my friends that what is most helpful is to call me to do things we usually do. I don’t want to be “ill” around my friends and while I might not feel strong enough to be out all day, normal outings, e.g., a walk, a trip to the Farmers market, lunch or gelato with a friend, that is what is good for me.

Chemo day starts “very early” and I had a full Boston day of “normal activities” planned for Bruria &amp; I on the day before. We took the 9:30 AM coach down, got our usual room with a great view at the Cambridge Marriott, and took off for our Boston Day.

We started off in Copley Square with a plan to look at a “hotel” with long stay apartments nearby. My radiation treatment was scheduled to begin September 9, and that's 5 days a week for 7 weeks. I’ll go home some weekends. I was tempted to continue to stay at the Cambridge Marriott “by the night” but the autumn hotel occupancy rates blocked the Dana Farber corporate rates. Every one of my favorite haunts are too expensive. A Boston long stay arrangement will be more convenient anyway.

Bruria and I headed over to see the Hotel 450, a former YWCA that looked really intriguing and well priced, on the Internet. A self styled European Boutique hotel (think small rooms and limited public spaces) the location right at Copley Square was great and the idea intrigued me. But “pictures lie”:). I had checked Trip Advisor and I knew not to reserve without seeing the rooms in person. Bruria and I saw a 2 bedroom apartment, the only “apartment” unit available to see. The apartment wasn’t bad, wasn’t great, but despite the charming idea of a historic renovation of the former YWCA, the building still looks and feels like a Y. While we were at reception, a woman came in to inquire about a same day room. The desk clerk told her $202, actually not a bad price per night for that Boston location on a Red Sox game day. But it was for a tiny dark previously a Y dorm room. s When she replied in surprise about the expense, Bruria &amp; I realized that the woman thought she was in the YWCA, not a hotel. No, this spot would not be ideal for me. We left and I said I know what I’ll do for my Boston long stay. Let’s get out of here and enjoy our day!

We had “Pinkberry,” we stopped into the Boston Public Library to admire its beauty, we hit the Nordstrom Rack on Boylston, and we headed over to Charles Street to meet my friend Elaine. I was so happy to sit in an outdoor cafe and catch up on her latest adventures in Cambodia where she runs two schools and improves lives for countless youngsters and their families in rural Cambodia. http://www.cambodiapride.org/

We were charmed by Elaine’s stories and her updates. This year, 44 children graduated from Cambodia Pride’s Chung Family Junior High School. 26 teenage girls will matriculate to high school. Elaine says, “in rural Cambodia, the girls rarely finish school. They get married at 14 or 15, sometimes before that. To have 26 girls continue their education is highly unusual and our programs are working.” Of course I asked about the the Snake anti-venom program too. It has saved 48 lives since it started just a little over 2 years ago. More details and photos about Cambodia Prides work are in my “volunteer work blog here.” (LINK) Scroll through the contents to find them. http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/n severs/4/tpod.html Amazing work. Way to go Elaine!

Bruria and I next walked through the Public Garden. The roses have been incredible this year and they are still at it! We checked out Newbury Street and headed back to Cambridge for dinner. We had a full day. I was ready for my chemo day in bed to rest!

My chemo was again in the outpatient allergy desensitization suite. I must consent to treatment before we start. Would you sign a consent form that says this? I have discussed the likelihood of major risks of complications of the procedure including but not limited to infection, hemorrhage, drug reactions, blood clots, loss of sensation, loss of limb function, paralysis, brain damage, and loss of life. I have also indicated that with any procedure, there is always the possibility of an unexpected complication, and no guarantees or promises can be made concerning the results of any procedure or treatment. I signed it, but I also copied the text. It's ultimately my choice whether or not to get treatment. I carefully chose my treatment team and I trust my doctors. The significance is still sobering.

Dot was my nurse. I snapped her photo covered head to toe, as she must be when she gets near the "poison" being infused into my body. I wonder how long I am toxic for? And to whom?

Dr Castells and Dr Matt said that they could try a shorter than 10 hours infusion this time.

Bruria headed out to enjoy Boston and I told her she could come back around 3 or 3:30PM. Some patients have someone sitting with them but I would talk too much and not rest. I like to do it by myself. Bruria did some shopping and went to the MFA. She called me from Trader Joes. “Did I need anything?” “Yes Chocolate! Please buy my favorite dark chocolate covered ginger and pistachio toffee!” I was glad to get some for the docs &amp; nurses, and of course to bring home also.

In the morning, we enjoyed the Farmers Market in the hotel courtyard and got a little sunshine! At 24 hours post chemo, I needed a Neulasta shot to boost my white counts over the coming weeks. We went over to the hospital for that, brought our stuff and headed for the bus home. Thank you for coming with me, my dear friend Bruria. How wonderful you made this treatment trip.

I’m late getting this entry up because, once home post chemo, I got kind of sick. I expect to be under the weather, a little stomach sick and very fatigued for the first week and I plan to do nothing but recover. The Neulasta shot caused deep bone pain and I had to rest. Just as that subsided, I had what felt like flu symptoms. I had met my friend Gloria in town on the first day I felt well enough to head to Hanover. I went home and went straight to bed. I woke up late around 11:30 PM itching and saw that I was having another allergic response to the chemo, but different this time. The flu symptoms (no fever, no infection) were accompanied by itchy hives. I paged the allergist on call at Brigham and followed her instructions. I had to take antihistamines &amp; rest for the next few days. The drugs slow me down but they work. The reaction slowly subsided and when chemo resumes, we are back to the longer infusion days to try to safely give me the “magic potion” that had better be toxic to my cancer.

3rd Chemo DONE!




September 13, 2014 03:17 PM

September 12, 2014

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

September 08, 2014

Sugar Labs Argentina

Cumbre Juvenil - Montevideo, Uruguay (September 20 a 23 de 2014)

Comparto invitación al evento

Queridos colegas,
ANEP (Administración Nacional de Educación Pública) y Sugar Labs se han propuesto organizar una Cumbre Mundial Juvenil de Programadores, un lugar de encuentro entre jóvenes de distintas partes del mundo que se encuentran trabajando en el desarrollo de software. Aprovechando este espacio de encuentro, queremos convocar a líderes de programas educativos interesados en el potencial que la tecnología tienen en el aprendizaje, y el promover participación auténtica de los estudiantes en este contexto.

Quiénes deben participar:
- Jóvenes de los diferentes programas educativos, que se hayan destacado por su interés en la programación y/o que hayan realizado contribuciones concretas al desarrollo del ambiente de aprendizaje Sugar.
- Líderes de los programas, interesados en participar en una serie de reuniones estratégicas para definir el futuro del ambiente de aprendizaje Sugar.

Por qué participar en este encuentro:
- Para trabajar y aprender con jóvenes desarrolladores de Python, reconocidos internacionalmente,
- Ayudar a definir el futuro del ambiente de aprendizaje Sugar y las futuras generaciones de software para aprendizaje,
- Para conectar con expertos, convencidos del potencial de la tecnología en el desarrollo y aprendizaje de los jóvenes,
- Para fortalecer la comunidad de usuarios del ambiente de aprendizaje Sugar alrededor del mundo.

Todos los interesados en participar en este importante encuentro deben ponerse en contacto con nosotros inmediatamente. ANEP ha ofrecido financiación de gastos locales para los jóvenes que participarán en este evento.
Cordialmente,

José Miguel Garcia
(ANEP)

Walter Bender
(Sugar Labs)

Para incribirse solo deben ingresar al siguiente formulario:

by Gonzalo Odiard (noreply@blogger.com) at September 08, 2014 05:10 PM

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Can Bungoma Bukokholo Kids Invent?

See what other kids have done inventing solutions to problems they see around them. Make a comfortable seat for a chair out of recycled plastics? Good idea. Post it here. Look at what other kids have done. Next year you will be in this list. http://www.googlesciencefair.com/en/


by smallsolutionsbigideas at September 08, 2014 01:44 PM

September 02, 2014

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Sugar Digest 2014-09-03

== Sugar Digest ==

I took the summer off from blogging, hence I have a lot to report about the exciting progress we’ve made of the past three months.

First, congratulations to our ten participants in Google Summer of Code:

Project Student Mentor
Music Suite Aneesh Dogra Gonzalo Odiard
Turtle Art 3D Anubhav Jaiswal Tony Forster
Activity Unit/UI Tests Gaurav Parida Daniel Narvaez
Port to Python 3 Kunal Arora Sameer Verma
Bulletin Board Nazrul Haque Athar Walter Bender
Hack a Stuffed Animal Jade Garrett Stephen Thomas
Social Help for Sugar Prasoon Shukla Paul Cotton
Cordova Container for Sugar Puneet Kaur Lionel Laské
Sugar Listens Rodrigo Parra Martin Abente

Also, thank you to both Google, for once again letting us participate in this great program and to our mentors, who gave time and attention to the students. I am happy to say that we not only learned a great deal, e.g., Kunal’s efforts have informed us as to what we will need to do to migrate to Python 3, but also, we have landed (or will land) much of the work.

For example, one of the projects, Turtle Art 3D, is now available for download from the Sugar activity portal.

2. We held a Turtle Art Day in San Antonio Texas in August as part of Open Ed Jam, organized by Mariah Noelle Villarreal. Tip of the hat to Ruben Rodriguéz, whose TOAST (Trisquel with Sugar) image was used in the workshop.

We used USB keys donated by Nexcopy as part of their Recycle USB campaign.

3. Speaking of Turtle Art, Cynthia Solomon, Claudia Urrea, and I wrote a paper, “(More than) Twenty Things to Do in Turtle Blocks” for the Constructionist Conference in Vienna. We made some videos as well.

In the community

4. There will be a Youth Summit held in Montevideo September 20-23.
ANEP (National Administration of Public Education) and Sugar Labs are organizing a World Junior Programmers Summit, a meeting among youths from different parts of the world who are working in software development. Taking advantage of this gathering, we are soliciting participation by leaders of educational programs interested in the potential that technology has on learning and in promoting meaningful participation of students.

This event will last for four days, three days for the youth meeting, and the fourth day for a series of strategic to discuss the current impact and future of the Sugar learning environment. The first day of the youth event will be open to anyone interested in joining the community of free software developers, while the other two days will be for those who are already actively involved in Sugar development.

Who should attend:
* Youths who have an interest in programming and / or have made ​​concrete contributions to the development of the Sugar learning environment;
* Leaders interested in participating in a series of strategic meetings to define the future of the Sugar learning environment.

Why participate in this meeting:
* To work with internationally recognized young a Python developers;
* Help define the future of the Sugar learning environment and future generations of software for learning;
* To connect with experts, convinced of the potential of technology in the development and learning;
* To strengthen the community of users of the Sugar learning environment around the world.

Anyone interested in participating in this important event should contact us immediately. ANEP has offered funding to cover the local costs for youths to participate in this event.

Registration is here.

Tech Talk

5. Martin Abente oversaw the release of Sugar 102 and is now gathering feature requests for Sugar 104.

Sugar Labs

6. Please visit our planet at http://planet.sugarlab.org

by Walter Bender at September 02, 2014 07:32 PM

August 27, 2014

ICT4D Views from the Field

Akoyikoyi School in Chuuk, FSM receives RACHEL Server for offline educational content

P1150593

Last week, the PISCES (Pacific Islands Schools, Connectivity, Education, and Solar) Team visited the Akoyikoyi School, located in Penia Village, on Weno Island, in Chuuk State, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). This is a unique primary school, presently comprising grades 1-3, and operating like a charter school yet charging no fees, while focusing on community involvement to ensure long-term student success.

photo 3P1150591

We met with the Akoyikoyi Team of teacher-volunteers, principal, and director (Clark Graham). We spoke about the PISCES Team’s progress to-date and future work in developing an off-line repository for educational material to be made available to all of Chuuk’s schools.

P1150589

Among other things, we demonstrated the RACHEL educational content server to the Akoyikoyi Team. The RACHEL server is an ultra-compact, ultra-low power computer (on a Raspberry Pi) preloaded with free educational content (RACHEL, from World Possible). There seemed to be a great fit for a RACHEL server at the Akyoikoyi School, as they have both electricity and technological devices (tablets) for the students to use, but no Internet connectivity (which can otherwise severely limit the usefulness of devices such as tablets). RACHEL provides an offline repository of educational content, but does still require electricity and devices to be useful.

photo 1

A few days after our initial visit, we brought a RACHEL to the Akoyikoyi School for them to keep, explore the content and how to use it, and discover what they’d like to add to the content. Pictured above is Hiro, from the iSolutions Micronesia and PISCES Team, handing the Rachel Pi over to Grace, one of Akoyikoyi’s teachers.

photo 2

This is only the first stage of what we believe will become a fruitful partnership moving forward. Not only do we hope to be able to provide the Akoyikoyi School with a greater number of more powerful devices, so that all of their students can make use of this digital technology and content, but we also look forward to their input to our team on digital content that will be valuable and primary-level appropriate, which we can add to the off-line repository for all schools in Chuuk to be able to access in the future.

photo 4

We understand that an ethnomusicologist is coming to visit the Akoyikoyi School in the near future, and it would be fantastic to be able to add some Chuukese music to the digital library!


by ljhosman at August 27, 2014 09:04 PM

August 25, 2014

One Laptop per Child

Robotics Summer Camp at Phillis Wheatley Elementary School

Captura de pantalla 2014-08-25 10.18.21

 

from the original post at the Miami Herald

…Q. Why are you starting a robotics program for kids?

A. At MAKO, we had over 100 engineers and were doing all these H1 Visas. It didn’t make sense to me why there weren’t more American engineers coming out from the education system that can contribute directly. I started working with a lot of the schools and universities here. For the United States to continue to be strong, we need more engineers to innovate. The data were showing where you can have the largest impact on influencing directionally is to get more middle school students excited about engineering. We’ve supported various efforts over the last five years in inner-city schools. It has been rewarding, but I felt we weren’t moving fast enough and struggled with how to measure success and how to scale. So this year we took on a different approach.

We brought in experts in various disciplines and embarked on a one-year pilot to take the concept to the next level. So we put together a really unique curriculum where we brought in a Stanford University professor, Ken Salisbury, and the kids got a virtual tour of one of the best biorobotics labs in the world. We had them build robotic arms, similar to what we did at MAKO, and we had a whole curriculum around anatomy and physiology. Once they built it, we showed them how these are being used, we brought them to Larkin Hospital, where they met a renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Carlos Lavernia. They saw how the robotics arms were being used in medicine. We brought them to the Stryker-MAKO facility, where they met engineers, including engineers that came out of their neighborhoods and are great role models. What really got them excited was a visit from One Laptop Per Child’s CEO Rodrigo Arboleda. His research has shown that when you give a laptop, the logical thing to do is build things on it, and the process develops kids’ creative thinking.

Now we are looking at how we can implement this within schools starting in South Florida. We are bringing into the process art and creativity, we had Pharrell talk to these kids. We are going to follow and mentor these 20 kids for the next few years and bring in more kids. We’ll see where this goes, but we are very excited about it. We had a staff of 15 people working on this project over the summer with all the right disciplines in place.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/24/4304536/qa-with-maurice-ferre-whats-next.html#storylink=cpy

 

by mariana at August 25, 2014 03:34 PM

Chris Ball

Experimenting with Panamax

Disclosure: This blog post is part of the Panamax Template Contest.

In my blog post about the Dell C6100 server I’ve been using, I mentioned that I run a full LXC userland for each application I deploy, and that I’d like to try out Docker but that this setup is in conflict with Docker’s philosophy – a Docker container only runs one process, which makes it difficult to use Docker for anything requiring interaction between processes. Here’s an example: this blog is running WordPress with MySQL. So, with LXC I create a fresh Ubuntu container for the blog and run apt-get install wordpress and I’m up and running, but trying to use Docker would leave me with an “orchestration” problem – if I’m supposed to have a separate web server and database server, how will they figure out how to talk to each other?

If the two Docker services are being run on the same host, you can use docker --link, which runs one service under a given name and then makes it available to any service it’s linked to. For example, I could call a postgres container db and then run something like docker --name web --link db:db wordpress. The wordpress container receives environment variables giving connection information for the database host, which means that as long as you can modify your application to use environment variables when deciding which database host to connect to, you’re all set. (If the two docker services are being run on separate hosts, you have an “ambassador” problem to figure out.)

All of which is a long-winded way to say that Panamax is a new piece of open source software that attempts to ameliorate the pain of solving orchestration problems like this one, and I decided to try it out. It’s a web service that you run locally, and it promises a drag-and-drop interface for building out complex multi-tier Docker apps. Here’s what it looks like when pairing a postgres database with a web server running a Django app, WagtailCMS:

The technical setup of Panamax is interesting. It’s distributed as a CoreOS image which you run inside Vagrant and Virtualbox, and then your containers are launched from the CoreOS image. This means that Panamax has no system dependencies other than Vagrant and Virtualbox, so it’s easily usable on Windows, OS X, or any other environment that can’t run Docker directly.

Looking through the templates already created, I noticed an example of combining Rails and Postgres. I like Django, so I decided to give Django and Postgres a try. I found mbentley’s Ubuntu + nginx + uwsgi + Django docker image on the Docker Hub. Comparing it to the Rails and Postgres template on Panamax, the Django container lacks database support, but does have support for overlaying your own app into the container, which means you can do live-editing of your app.

I decided to see if I could combine the best parts of both templates to come up with a Panamax template for hosting arbitrary Django apps, which supports using an external database and offers live-editing.  I ended up creating a new Docker image, with the unwieldy name of cjbprime/ubuntu-django-uwsgi-nginx-live. This image is based on mbentley’s, but supports having a Django app passed in as an image, and will try to install its requirements. You can also link this image to a database server, and syncdb/migrate will be run when the image starts to set things up. If you need to create an admin user, you can do that inside a docker_run.sh file in your app directory.

After combining this new Docker image with a Postgres container, I’m very happy with how my django-with-postgres template turned out – I’m able to take an existing Django app, make minor changes using a text editor on my local machine to use environment variables for the database connection, start up the Panamax template, and watch as a database is created (if necessary), dependencies are installed, migrations are run, an admin user is created (if necessary), and the app is launched.  All without using a terminal window at any point in the process.

To show a concrete example, I also made a template that bundles the Wagtail Django CMS demo. It’s equivalent to just using my django-with-postgres container with the wagtaildemo code passed through to the live-editing overlay image (in /opt/django/app), and it brings up wagtaildemo with a postgres DB in a separate container. Here’s what that looks like:

Now that I’ve explained where I ended up, I should talk about how Panamax helped.  Panamax introduced me to Docker concepts (linking between containers, overlaying images) that I hadn’t used before because they seemed too painful, and helped me create something cool that I wouldn’t otherwise have attempted.  There were some frustrations, though.  First, the small stuff:

Underscores in container names

This one should have been in big bold letters at the top of the release notes, I think.  Check this out: unit names with _{a-f}{a-f} in them cause dbus to crash. This is amusing in retrospect, but was pretty inscrutable to debug, and perhaps made worse by the Panamax design: there’s a separate frontend web service and backend API, and when the backend API throws an error, it seems that the web interface doesn’t have access to any more detail on what went wrong. I’m lucky that someone on IRC volunteered the solution straight away.

The CoreOS Journal box occasionally stays black

Doing Docker development depends heavily on being able to see the logs of the running containers to work out why they aren’t coming up as you thought they would.  In Docker-land this is achieved with docker -f logs <cid>, but Panamax brings the logs in to the web interface: remember, the goal is to avoid having to look at the terminal at all.  But it doesn’t work sometimes.  There’s a panamax ssh command to ssh into the CoreOS host and run docker logs there, but that’s breaking the “fourth wall” of Panamax.

Progress bar when pulling Docker images

A minor change: it’d be great to be able to see progress when Panamax is pulling down a Docker image. There’s no indicator of progress, which made me think that something had hung or failed. Further, systemd complained about the app failing to start, when it just needed more time for the docker pull to complete.

Out of memory when starting a container

The CoreOS host allocates 1GB RAM for itself: that’s for the Panamax webapp (written in Rails), its API backend, and any containers you write and launch.  I had to increase this to 2GB while developing, by modifying ~/.panamax/.env:

export PMX_VM_MEMORY=2048

Sharing images between the local host and the container

I mentioned how Panamax uses a CoreOS host to run everything from, and how this drastically reduces the install dependencies.  There’s a significant downside to this design – I want to allow my local machine to share a filesystem and networking with my Docker container, but now there’s a CoreOS virtual machine in the way – I can’t directly connect from my laptop to the container running Django without hopping through the VM somehow. I want to connect to it for two different reasons:

  1. To have a direct TCP connection from my laptop to the database server, so that I can make database changes if necessary.
  2. To share a filesystem with a container so that I can test my changes live.

Panamax makes the first type of connection reasonably easy. There’s a VirtualBox command for doing port forwarding from the host through to the guest – the guest in this case is the CoreOS host. So we end up doing two stages of port forwarding: Docker forwards port 80 from the Django app out to port 8123 on the CoreOS host, and then VirtualBox forwards port 8123 on my laptop to port 8123 on the CoreOS host. Here’s the command to make it work:

VBoxManage controlvm panamax-vm natpf1 rule1,tcp,,8123,,8123

The filesystem sharing is much trickier – we need to share a consistent view of a single directory between three hosts: again, the laptop, the CoreOS host, and the Docker app. Vagrant has a solution to this, which is that it can NFS share a guest OS from the CoreOS host back to my laptop. That works like this, modifying ~/.vagrant.d/boxes/panamax-coreos-box-367/0/virtualbox/Vagrantfile:

  config.vm.network "private_network", ip: "192.168.50.4"
  config.vm.synced_folder "/home/cjb/djangoapp", "/home/core/django",
  id: "django", :nfs => true, :mount_options => ['nolock,vers=3,udp']

So, we tell Panamax to share /opt/django/app with the CoreOS host as /home/core/django, and then we tell Vagrant to share /home/cjb/djangoappon my laptop with the CoreOS host as /home/core/django over NFS. After `apt-get install nfs-kernel-server`, trying this leads to a weird error:

exportfs: /home/cjb/djangoapp does not support NFS export

This turns out to be because I’m running ecryptfs for filesystem encryption on my Ubuntu laptop, and nfs-kernel-server can’t export the encrypted FS. To work around it, I mounted a tmpfs for my Django app and used that instead. As far as I know, OS X and Windows don’t have this problem.

Summary

Panamax taught me a lot about Docker, and caused me to publish my first two images to the Docker registry, which is more than I expected to gain from trying it out. I’m not sure I’m the target audience – I don’t think I’d want to run production Docker apps under it on a headless server (at least until it’s more stable), which suggests that its main use is as an easy way to experiment with the development of containerized systems. But the friction introduced by the extra CoreOS host seems too great for it to be an awesome development platform for me. I think it’s a solvable problem – if the team can find a way to make the network port forwarding and the filesystem NFS sharing be automatic, rather than manual, and to work with ecryptfs on Ubuntu, it would make a massive difference.

I am impressed with the newfound ability to help someone launch a database-backed Django app without using any terminal commands, even if they’re on Windows and have no kind of dev environment, and would consider recommending Panamax for someone in that situation. Ultimately, maybe what I’ll get out of Panamax is a demystification of Docker’s orchestration concepts. That’s still a pretty useful experience to have.

by cjb at August 25, 2014 02:35 PM

August 24, 2014

Tabitha Roder

Innovative ideas for improving education in developing countries

I’ve been a long time supporter of One Laptop Per Child and Sugarlabs, but there are some other quite interesting innovations that I thought some of our readers may be interested in hearing about. I’ve just picked a couple to write about.

Keepod

This idea is based on reusing old computers and giving each child a USB drive with their own computing environment whilst sharing a computer.

It’s an Android based Operating System which allows the student to get the best apps from the marketplace for their education or other uses.

Read the BBC article about Keepod in Nairobi.

Raspberry Pi

The idea behind Raspberry Pi is that you reuse a computer monitor or TV and a keyboard and a mouse to plug into a credit card sized computer (the Raspberry Pi) so that students can explore computing and learn how to program in (quite accessible, easy to learn) languages like Scratch and Python.

The Raspberry Pi is also quite a capable computing device, whether students want to use it for web browsing, writing, or watching videos. You can connect peripherals to make things even more exciting.

The Raspberry Pi website is well set out to make it easy for students to learn how to program their Raspberry Pi and for parents and teachers to support learners.

Aakash tablet and the government of India

Datawind invented the Aakash tablet (also known as UbiSlate) in response to an Indian initiative to develop a low cost computing device, similar to OLPC, intended for college students. The tablet was sold to the Ministry of Human Resource Development in India.

School in the cloud

Sugata Mitra, renowned for his “hole in the wall” experiment, wanted to build a school in the cloud that utilised what he learned in his granny cloud (students are encouraged by a “grandmother” which enables them to learn what they need and motivates them to find what interests them) and SOLE (self organised learning environments) projects (students work in groups, and use the internet to access educational support). His first cloud school opened this year in India.

Do you know of an initiative that our readers might like to hear about? Please feel free to add in the comments.

by tabitharoder at August 24, 2014 08:29 PM

Nancie Severs

I Need a “Rest” Coach! — Lebanon, NH


Lebanon, NH

I am half serious when I say I have 9 lives &amp; have only used 3 or 4 of them. I have had remarkable recoveries from adverse effects of medication &amp; from illness before. I have complete confidence that I will recover completely from this challenge also.

But all of you who know me know that I keep myself incredibly busy. I pack lots into each day, and with the exception of savasana in my regular yoga practice, and nighttime sleep, I rarely “just rest.” That, I am not very good at!

I felt ill for about a week after my last chemo and then my energy mostly returned. What have I been doing these 2 “good” weeks? Matt &amp; Lauren were in town and brought darling Maya over for a visit. Maribel and I went to the Look Good Feel Better class sponsored by the American Cancer Society. I spent a relaxing morning with my friend Karen, catching up on her Village2Village work, (Uganda) and hearing about her “daughter” Angella who is back in the Upper Valley for camp again this summer, thanks to the generosity of the Manning family and the Aloha Foundation. Annie and I visited a very unusual garden on the Hanover Garden Club summer tour. And we went to the Norwich Farmers Market too. I took several lovely walks with friends; thanks Lynn, Bruria, &amp; Marty. I went to 3 Yoga classes at AHA. Noi brought over delicious Pad Thai that fed us and 6 friends one night; thank you Noi! Sukhbir, a local “personal chef” cooked vegetarian Indian food and I have nutritious dal and veggies in the freezer for post chemo meals. Mark and I saw North Country Opera’s production of La Traviata, and I saw 3 great films, Slingshot, Ida, and The 100 Foot Journey. I did some XO laptop support and OLPC community work, and I kept up with my household chores.

Wow, are you tired just reading that? I think I need a coach to teach me how to rest. This week, my “daughter” Megan shared a FB photo of a doctor’s prescription to read for pleasure 1 hour in the AM, 1 hour in the evening, and PRN each day. Apropos!

I have said in the past that “my health is non-negotiable.” There is ample evidence that the chemo, radiation, more chemo protocol my treatment team and I have chosen is just right for my cancer. We WILL obliterate it! But it is clear that the 6 + months of treatment will be tough. The surgery wounds from my hysterectomy had to heal. Extra rest &amp; sleep, moderate exercise and dark chocolate Morano Gelato helped me to heal easily from that. Similarly, the chemo and radiation will both cause cellular changes and damage healthy tissue while killing cancer cells. While these “wounds” are different than the surgery wounds, the need for the body to repair itself and heal is similar.

I recently read: “Repairs demand rest. No wonder cancer patients are tired. The fact is, survivors rest. It is a major mistake to carry on at the same frantic pace to which you were accustomed when you were supposedly healthy. Feeling tired is normal for anyone with an illness.” From: Cancer 50 Essential Things to Do by Greg Anderson (Thank you Zinna for that book.)

I am scheduled for Chemo again this week. Aaron is coming from San Francisco to see what it is all about and to bring me home from Boston when I can travel. Mark and I are both looking forward to his visit!
I do feel like these are my last days of summer. There is a nip in the air, a few of the trees have started to turn red and the lovely fall evening light has set in.

I intend to fully recover. Since my top priority is to “get well” and that involves getting “sicker” first, I will prioritize my naps, sleep &amp; wellness activities (think yoga, massage, &amp; outings with family and friends). I will be practicing saying “no” now so that I can say Yes! later. I hope that all of you, “my coaches" will, help me.

PS: Update August 23, 2013 - I GOT another week of summer -Yay! MY chemo was postponed due to very low white cells and platelets. It is scheduled for this week, if my counts bounce back. It turned out to be a terrific week.:)

August 24, 2014 01:34 AM

August 19, 2014

Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

Unleash Kids Workshop: Bringing A Story To Life

Today we launched the first of what I hope will be many monthly workshops over at our Delmas28 location. A total of four of our most experienced teachers – Fefe, Dyna, Jeanide, and Ruben – worked with a group of 18 students to help them produce a story using Scratch.

As you might have gathered from the number of teachers needed, this activity is more advanced than the stuff we typically do to introduce the kids to the computers. Scratch is a programming language developed for kids by MIT. You click and drag on blocks to give the commands. With the ability to manipulate appearance, sound, and interactions between objects, you can make games, animations, and basically anything you’re willing to put your mind to make happen.

Students getting started

Students getting started

Our theme for the day was “a time when something hurt me.” I came up with it the day my phone got stolen – I was messing around on Scratch to prepare for the workshop, I needed the story to tell, and that was the first thing that popped into my head.

One of the older orphanage boys, Peterson, had been watching me program the thief’s gaze and movements towards my cell phone. I asked him to tell me his own story about a time when something hurt him. He immediately launched into an account of a time he got into an argument with his father. “Wait, wait,” I found myself saying. “Go over it more slowly. Who were the participants? What did your father do, and how did you react?”

Once we had all the characters in place, we typed out the dialogue for each one, tweaking the timing for each one to make sure the text was on screen long enough for someone to read. We drew two pictures of Peterson’s birth certificate – one whole, and one torn in half – and had it switch from one to the other at the story’s climax.

There’s a satisfaction to reducing something painful to its bare elements. By programming, you get some measure of control over the situation. I was a little nervous about choosing something so heavy as a topic for a kids’ workshop, but it turns out they were ready for it. Most stories are about someone in trouble, after all, and adults can be wrong when they assume kids crave Disneyfied happy endings. Kids have a strong sense of right and wrong – ever try to cross over the lines of a hopscotch game? They understand that bad things can happen to good people, and they want to know why.

Physical punishment is part of Haitian culture, and quite a few kids told us about a time when their parents beat them even though they didn’t feel they deserved it. We also had several tales about dogs on the street stealing meat or biting people. Others wrote about pets that died, fights with friends, and motorcycle accidents.

Our job was to bring each and every story to life. We started out by asking the students to fill out a simple form, listing characters, actions, objects, and reactions. Then, they had to find or draw a picture for each one, along with a background.

Deciding which commands to select.

Deciding which commands to select.

It was the students’ first time using the computers, so they needed a lot of help and encouragement. One boy wanted to write about his cell phone being stolen, but he couldn’t find a phone in the list of preloaded images. I showed him the option for drawing one, but he seemed a bit daunted. The guy next to him had a picture of a person and a picture of a bicycle, but he couldn’t make the guy sit on the bike because they were facing opposite ways. I told him to play around with the rotate and flip options until it looked right. The girl next to him had chosen all of her images already, but she needed a belt in her father’s hand as the finishing touch, and refused to try to draw one.

It was extremely rewarding to watch them all figure it out. When the boy with the cell phone called me back over, I saw he had drawn not just one but two phones, and also added a laptop. “I had all that stuff sitting with me on the bench while I was studying, and then I fell asleep,” he explained. I helped him program a thief to come in and swipe one of the phones. Watching the finished product, he shook his head and commented, “Hey, at least he didn’t take my laptop and the other cell phone.”

His friend with the bicycle had finally gotten all the pieces facing the right way. He showed me a second drawing he had made, with the guy falling over the bike. “I want the bike to move for a little bit, and then I want it to change to the accident.” I showed him the Movement category and asked him to choose which ones would work.We tried a couple, but kept on having problems because the “person” object wasn’t turning at the same time as the “bike” object. Eventually, we made it easy on ourselves by just combining them into one object that moved with one set of commands.

The girl next to him was busy typing out some text. She’d found a “repeat” block and set things up so that the belt moved up and down three times while her father said, “I told you not go to outside.” She may not have been comfortable with drawing at first, but she was creative enough to do something much more complicated – animation.

Presenting the final product

Presenting the final product

There were some mishaps. Everyone laughed when one girl forgot to program a Coke bottle. On the screen, her character moves over to another character and says, “Here is the Coke” but the Coke bottle itself stays behind in the corner. Not everyone got a chance to finish their story. They took longer to adapt to the computers than they’d bargained for, so we ran out of time. The teachers themselves were sometimes confused on which commands to choose. They hadn’t had much time to practice with Scratch, and each story needed something different. I liked the simplicity of “character, action, object, reaction” for these stories, but it might be better to constrain things even more. Have everyone write about transportation, for example, so everyone’s using the same set of movement commands to program everything, whether they’re talking about a plane, train, or ship.

The good news is, next week we get to try again – this same group will be back for the next three Saturdays to do some more work with Scratch. And then next month, we’ll start another workshop, on a new topic. Can’t wait to see what people come up with.

by Sora Edwards-Thro at August 19, 2014 10:29 PM

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Last Full Day

Can’t quite believe it, but tomorrow my plane takes off and I head off to college. I think one of the things I’ll miss most about Haiti is how many choices I have – about where I want to go, … Continue reading

by Sora at August 19, 2014 04:36 PM

Unleash Kids Workshop: Bring A Story To Life

Today we launched the first of what I hope will be many monthly workshops over at our Delmas28 location. A total of four of our most experienced teachers – Fefe, Dyna, Jeanide, and Ruben – worked with a group of … Continue reading

by Sora at August 19, 2014 04:28 PM

August 17, 2014

Fargo to Sudan XO

Tissue Paper Reforms: Coding for Kindergartners | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Tissue Paper Reforms: Coding for Kindergartners | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice.

Larry Cuban’s post provides a really nice, concise history of Logo and coding efforts.  As he notes at the end, the Papert effort can be inspiring and instructional, as it has been for our Sugar Labs effort, but we also hit a wall and have suspended the program, as Cuban would expect . : )


by kab13 at August 17, 2014 01:55 AM

August 15, 2014

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Kids Engaged in Real Life Problems: THE ANIMALS

animalsART@21

THE RHINO AND THE ELEPHANT BEFORE THE JUNGLE KING. LION THE KING

Lion King: Hi my maiden the Hare.

The Hare: I’m here to speak on behalf of the Elephant, the reason why I should speak on his behalf, is the fear due to threats of poachers who are really against its family due to the tusks the posses as part of its body part. Therefore our lords, what he needs is final decision to be made against poachers. Thank you.

The Elephant: It’s a fact, our lords. We need your intervention as a king of the Jungle family.

The Monkey: My lords, if you see me I look like a human being but I’m not because I do not poach. Ooh— my lords I stand here to speak on behalf of the rhino who is mostly endangered because of his precious horns, he was almost killed yester night but I only scared poachers who had guns and running after him. So our lords, let us have an alternative to save the rhinoceros species. Thanks our lords.

The Rhino: Our life is in danger, our lords, please take legal action to conserve our Jungle territory.

Lion the King: Ooh— my Jungle family I have had your cry and I promise to alert my security personnel to enforce law and order. Not only that, but I will by 12:00 noon after today, direct my armed forces to shoot to kill. Thank you and God bless you all.

Marketplace Center Bungoma Kids Hands of Charity & Bonaventure Masika Instructor.


by smallsolutionsbigideas at August 15, 2014 06:27 PM

ICT4D Views from the Field

ICT4D Hardware Challenges White Paper published

Reposted from ICTWorks by Inveneo

What Are the Industry’s Top ICT Hardware Challenges?

Published on: Aug 11 2014 by Danielle Schulkin

 

You are in a minority. Yes, you.

I single you out because, as you read this article online (perhaps on a phone or a tablet or even a MacBook Pro), you are part of the 40% of the world’s total population that has access to the Internet.

Unfortunately most Internet communication technologies are made for people who are already plugged in with their Android, Mac, and Tablet. This hardware is designed for communities with advanced electrical and connectivity infrastructures and aimed at end-users who are well versed on Internet communication technology. But when the same hardware is implemented in developing world locations where such infrastructure is limited, it often fails.

So what accounts for this recurring failure?

In the following white paper, “Emerging Markets: Top ICT Hardware Challenges”, Dr. Laura Hosman presents the top five ICT hardware challenges in emerging markets. These rankings are based on a series of technology salons, in-depth interviews, and macro-level online surveys of experts, practitioners, academics, and end-users of ICT4D. The paper exposes the challenges and needs of developing communities for their ICT hardware. By addressing these needs with new designs, ICT designers and manufacturers will be better able to reach the 60% of the world’s population who remain unconnected.

A short overview of the top five challenges from the paper:

  1. Electricity/Power/Energy: Extremely low power and long battery life; robust handling of electrical spikes, swings, dips, blackouts, and brownouts; and—ideally—at 12-volts DC to be solar-power ready
  2. Cost: Balance must be found between the lowest cost and solid, reliable, functional technology
  3. Environment-Related Issues: Reliability/ruggedness/durability are all of paramount importance (resistance to water, humidity, dust, dirt, and extreme heat); no moving parts recommended; screens are hard to repair and difficult to read in direct sunlight
  4. Connectivity: Essential to the usefulness of just about any device in any location; is what creates value for entire ICT4D ecosystem: the more connected, the more valuable the network. Main method advocated was WiFi
  5. Maintenance & Support: The best technology needs no support. Transportation for repair, maintenance, and support is expensive. Sourcing spare parts is a challenge. Technology that cannot be locally maintained, supported, and repaired is not sustainable.

The focus on those who are already connected ignores scores of people who are just beginning to go online. By optimizing hardware for developing world locations, ICT designers can expand their reach to new markets while at the same time increase quality of life for millions of people around the world.

The paper was published by Inveneo, written by Dr. Laura Hosman, and directed by Inveneo director Bruce Baikie. The following infographic was created by Eric Zan. Check out his website at http://www.ericzan.info

Hardware Challenges Infograph

 

 


by ljhosman at August 15, 2014 06:09 PM

Tabitha Roder

Moodlemoot New Zealand 1-3 October 2014

It’s time to register (and propose a talk!) for Moodlemoot NZ 2014. This year we will be enjoying sunny Nelson as the hosting venue is Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. Block out Wednesday 1st to Friday 3rd October 2014.

The first day is workshops, with four offerings:

  • Moodle Foundation for newer users
  • Moodle Administration
  • Mobile Moodle
  • Moodle in Government

There will be the usual three tracks: technical, general and teaching.

Martin Dougiamas (founder of Moodle) will share “Moodle from the horses mouth” and Dave Sturrock (NMIT) will also keynote.

The usual fun and frivolity can be expected at the conference dinner.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

by tabitharoder at August 15, 2014 05:01 AM

August 12, 2014

Ghana Together

Project(s) Update

A little more than half a year has gone by. What about those projects Western Heritage Home and Ghana Together so bravely launched in January this year? <o:p></o:p>

...many ups and downs, BUT two projects---the new Mobile Library Van and the Children’s Computing Lab---were dedicated just last week.<o:p></o:p>


Community Leaders at the Dedication Ceremony held in the Community Center for the Children's Computing Lab and the Mobile Library Van
 
 
Thanks to the support of Mr. James Baidoe, the Municipal Chief Executive, and the District Assembly, WHH (under the leadership of James Kainyiah), has been given a room in the centrally located Community Center for both the Children’s Computing Lab and the Leif Pederson Internet Café for adults.
 
One Laptop Per Child Computing Lab, just for kids. Mostly boys in this photo, but we'll work on getting the girls involved, too.! The Leif Pederson Internet Café (for adults) has also been moved to this location, and can be seen in the background

Peter, who learned OLPCs when he was living at the WHH Children's Home (now a high school student) is the part-time "teacher" during his school break. Here he uses a projector to demonstrate the many educational activities geared to young children

The Mobile Library Van is getting limited use during the school break, but will deliver books to area schools when school resumes on Sept 9. The van will deliver books to area schools, especially to the "P4" students (our 4th grade) when students typically transition from "learning to read" to "reading to learn."
The schools have few to no textbooks or libraries so this is a crucial service to improve literacy.
 

Mr. Baidoe handing the keys to the Library Van to Librarian Gadiel Eyison, Acting Director of the Axim Public Library

 

WOW!!! It's absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!
 
"Mr. Gad" starts her up!! Luckily he has been riding motorcycles for some time, since the library used an ordinary motorcycle for a couple of years before it died and now has been replaced with this van. He looks happy!!


This effort creates a centrally-located “Learning Center” linking the public library, the children’s library nook/story hour space, the children’s computing lab, and the adult internet café...more reliable electricity/internet signals, serves business community as well, and just more efficient.

<o:p> </o:p>
One of our scholarship students from the Apowosika Village School speaks her thanks before the crowd on behalf of her fellow students from the Axim Primary Schools
 
Children can hear a good story! Check out book! Use a computer! Take the book home and show off reading skills to Mom and Dad! Brag about computer skills to their siblings! Who cares if it’s a mile or two walk???  <o:p></o:p>

<o:p> 
Students joining in a prayer of thanksgiving to close the dedication ceremony
</o:p>

We extend our heartfelt thanks to those who helped us create the Children's Computing Lab. All of the OLPCS have been donated over the years (if you have one, you know who to contact!!). Thank you,

Thanks

---to those who donated funds to create the lab (paint, tables, electrical connections, etc.)

---to the original creators of the OLPCs who mostly donated their time and incredible technical expertise and continue to do so

---to those who have donated children's books (some 5,000 now)

---to Ebby who helps us ship books

---to folks in Ghana who deliver the books from the port to Axim

---to Librarian Mercy Ackah whose leadership in Axim really launched this project. Mercy is now directing the Takoradi Library, of which the Axim Library is a branch.

---to the devoted, creative, energetic leaders of Western Heritage Home who have ideas and when helped, get them DONE!!!

 
NOTE: we thank Evans Arloo, Western Heritage Home Manager, for the photos
 
---------------------------------------

Meanwhile, due to the ebola outbreak, our Ghana Together team has postponed our travel Axim. We hoped to enjoy the Kundum Festival, review projects, and help launch the new school year, but we'll save that for next time.<o:p></o:p>

Our friends in Axim are well aware of the threat and are taking what steps they can, given limited resources. The Ghana Ministry of Health has declared a “Red Alert” and is disseminating information.
 
Axim leaders are setting up information sessions at this same Community Center. They are finding every hand washing station they can and making sure they are operable. Pastors and other leaders are informing the people about the disease and specific hygienic practices.

We feel helpless here in the US, but we are with them in spirit and in our prayers.


For more info see ghanatogether.org. Click on "News" to see earlier news updates.

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at August 12, 2014 11:34 PM

August 09, 2014

OLPC SF

In-person, online or both?

We are getting ready to set up the annual community summit (2014 will be the sixth such summit) and we've made a significant change to the way we organize it. This year, we will be running an online and an in-person event. The summit will be held October 17 to 19, 2014. You can either be here with us in-person, or be online and attend! Let us know what your thinking is at this time, so we can organize accordingly.

Take the poll and help us plan!

by sverma at August 09, 2014 10:33 PM

OLPC San Francisco Community Summit 2014

OLPC San Francisco Community Summit 2014

from October 17 to 19, 2014

in San Francisco, California, USA

and online worldwide!

 

 

Mark your calendar!

This will be a online-and-offline event with opportunities to attend and present both online from the comfort fo your home, or in person in San Francisco. More details coming soon.

by sverma at August 09, 2014 10:22 PM

Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

Doing It All

I talked a little bit about the work in Lascahobas while we were doing it, but now that it’s done it’s worth taking a look back at just how much went in to the site.

First, a lot of preparation is needed to get materials ready before they’re sent down to Haiti, so that installation is as simple as possible upon arrival. Some physics students at Randolph-Macon took on the task of building and testing out the rollable solar set-up. Meanwhile, our schoolserver team figured out how to run the network directly off the batteries being charged by two other panels.

Testing out the solar set-up.

Testing out the solar set-up.

The solar team at Randolph-Macon. Shuyan, Conner, Dan.

The solar team at Randolph-Macon. Shuyan, Conner, Dan.

Our first full day in Hinche was then dedicated to getting that solar system in place – we knew we couldn’t do anything without a source of electricity. Shuyan worked on the portable, rollable system, and a team of professionals from DigitalKap came in to install the other two panels securely and permanently.

Setting up the charge controller

Shuyan setting up the charge controller

Discussing where to put the solar panels

Discussing where to put the solar panels

It ended up being a really long day. The DigitalKap guys promised a secure install, and of course “security” means different things to different people. Bernadette, the school director, wanted them to cover the panels with metal flaps. Ultimately, they came up with a solution that satisfied everyone, welding on a brace to make everything more secure. Of course, that meant taking down the panels, going into town, and finding a welder. So, the job wasn’t finished until really late that night, around 9 or 10: they had to run a light-bulb off a generator in order to be able to see to set up the final pieces. The important thing, though, is that Bernadette feels the panels are protected. It’s her school, and our goal is to minimize the worries we cause her as much as we can.

Discussing options with Bernadette

Discussing options with Bernadette on the roof

Hoisting up the solar panels

Hoisting up the solar panels

The welded brace.

The welded brace.

Other security measures had to be taken as well. Since the rollable solar panel has to be put out and taken down every day, Bernadette recommended hiring a guy to build a tower and install a door to give easy access.

Constructing a tower

Constructing a tower

In the computer room itself, another guy put in a shelf for the network equipment and charge controller.

We constructed a shelf to keep the boxes with blinking lights out of the reach of kids.

We constructed a shelf to keep the boxes with blinking lights out of the reach of kids.

On Day 2, we leaped into our job of fixing laptops. The grand total, I’m proud to announce, was 126. That means they had their data collected, were unlocked, had their date updated, had their firmware upgraded, and had HaitiOS installed. 55 more laptops are in various stages of disrepair – hopefully some can be salvaged at a later date, or at least used for spare parts.

One big obstacle was electricity: the city power comes on at night, but other times there’s no real guarantee you’ll have it. In order to work on the laptops, we needed to be able to turn them on, so we had to get creative. For tasks like collecting data, unlocking, and changing the date, we switched out dead batteries for some that we’d charged ahead of time, doing the job, and then taking those good batteries back out to use in the next set of machines. Basically, we had a bunch of batteries and laptops going back and forth, working in pairs to get those stacks of unfinished machines lower and lower. For tasks that take longer or require a power source, like upgrading firmware and installing HaitiOS, we carried the laptops back to the rectory where we were sleeping and stayed up until 11 or midnight finishing the process.

Shuyan and Herodion helping to transort laptops

Shuyan and Herodion bringing laptops back

On top of all that, we also wanted to make sure the local teachers understood how to use all the fun toys we were working so hard to bring them. Every morning started out with a training session in the XO laptops. We also went over the solar system and the Internet set-up, and we invited kids to attend on the last few days for some trial classes.

Meeting to review the Haiti Course Guide

Meeting to review the Haiti Course Guide

As you can probably gather by now, none of this could have happened without a fantastic team and a lot of careful planning. Plus, support from Ben Burrell’s church back at home in Virginia, which was really needed to make everything possible.

In addition to the work at Bernadette’s AFAL school, we also visited another school in the area that received laptops and fixed a total of 65 machines there. Unfortunately, this school isn’t as lucky as Bernadette’s – they don’t have a relationship with a church back in the States that provides funding to make things happen. Working with Bernadette’s school and Ben’s church has made me realize just how essential it is to have a source of funding: so teachers can get paid for the extra work they’re doing in the computer classes, so electricity can flow, so an Internet connection can happen.

So grateful for what we’ve been able to accomplish in Lascahobas thanks to everyone’s efforts. We’ll keep moving forward as much as we can with every one of our locations, but I know this school will go farther than many others thanks to all it’s able to receive.

The "other school"

The “other school”

by Sora Edwards-Thro at August 09, 2014 09:21 AM

Delmas28 Launch

We just got done launching our second project with Ken Bever and Hope for Haiti’s Children at the College Chrétien de Delmas. This school has 580 students, from pre-K all the way up to the last year of high school, and nursing students also use the space to meet. Now, it’s also home to 25 XO laptops and our Internet-in-a-Box system.

Jeanide, Fefe, and I ran training together, and now Fefe’s going to be responsible for keeping the program going. Fefe already has three months of experience giving the XO course in Cazeau, so I know everything’s going to be in good hands. Jean Tirard, director of the school and church, is really excited about this new opportunity, and I am, too.

Laptop "seminar" participants

Laptop “seminar” participants

Jeanide goes over the parts of the computer.

Jeanide goes over the parts of the computer.

The fact that the school includes a wider range of ages means it’s easy to find apprentices – teenagers between 14 and 17 years old who really have a passion for technology. Around the world, the best programs are the ones that give these young enthusiasts the chance to mess around and inspire others. Resources like Internet-in-a-Box can also be useful for professionals like these nursing students who want to do research. Overall, I think the laptops are going to be used really heavily here, in a wide variety of ways, and I’m looking forward on hearing about the results.

It’s always a pleasure to work with Hope for Haiti’s Children. They support local directors like Jean Tirard with the resources they need, but also give them the freedom they need to get things done. I know from experience it’s a tough balancing act, and I’m always impressed when organizations manage to get it right.

by Sora Edwards-Thro at August 09, 2014 09:10 AM

August 08, 2014

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Anyway

When you’ve just stepped off a taptap and suddenly you don’t feel your phone in your pocket anymore, your first reaction is confusion. You know exactly what happened, but you don’t want to believe it. You’re trying to decide what … Continue reading

by Sora at August 08, 2014 12:55 PM

Doing It All

I talked a little bit about the work in Lascahobas while we were doing it, but now that it’s done it’s worth taking a look back at just how much went in to the site. First, a lot of preparation … Continue reading

by Sora at August 08, 2014 12:34 PM

August 07, 2014

Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

Worth It

Originally published on Project Rive blog

More than halfway through our time here in Lascahobas, and the question that keeps running through my head has to do with value. We’re doing a lot of work here: installing network and solar systems, conducting training seminars, repairing large quantities of machines. I don’t mind that we’re not being paid for it, but I do wonder how much we should be paid. How much are all of these things worth to the people they’re supposed to be helping?

First of all, allow me to complain about the condition of the computers. The first thing Jeanide decided to do with them once we’d gotten the sack open was clean everything with a damp rag – these things were pretty filthy. Okay, maybe the kids were scared of using water to wash them. But the computers are damaged in other ways as well. Smashed screens, missing antenna, keys peeled off from keyboards, cracked batteries. Not all of them are that bad, of course, but these are definitely the worst cases I’ve ever seen.

One school's storage center.

One school’s storage center.

I know in a way this is a good sign. There’s such a thing as a computer that’s too clean, and I’m glad these machines aren’t suffering from that. They’ve clearly been used. And I love how the kids make the laptops their own by adding personal touches like writing their name on the front and drawing little pictures on the keyboard.But in the end, you have to start wondering how much the students really respected the computers when they return them in this kind of state.

No excuses because they’re kids. If I’m working for a group called Unleash Kids, that means I have a basic belief in people’s ability to look after the things they value, no matter what their age. And don’t tell me this is because they’re Haitian or because they’re poor. People tell me my ideas about taking care of things are very American. Not many people here own nice stuff, so apparently it’s a foreign concept to maintain something that costs a lot. Except, I’m not buying that. Most Haitians I know dress better than me – shining their shoes, keeping their white dresses spotless for church. And when people depend on something for a living, like their motorcycle, they take pride in making it look as good as possible.

So you begin to wonder why some people don’t have the same attitude about their computers. Maybe we’ve all got messed-up concepts about the value of technology in general, actually. Every time we put the laptops on display at a tech fair, people come up and ask, “Oh, are these the $100 laptops?” That’s what they remember about them. The price point.

But again, it’s not price that’s important. It’s value, and value only happens when someone puts in the time to make it. The other day, while I was carrying computers down the road to the school, a kid called out, “If there’s one that’s not good, just give it to me!” Then he realized that a broken machine would be useless, and added, “If you want to fix it first, then give me, that’s OK too.” It’s easy to see the problem when we’re talking about whether something’s broken or fixed. But there are so many other opportunities that you miss unless somebody ensures that they happen.

Even when you take out the fancy machines and we’re just talking about teachers standing in front of blackboards, it can be hard to make people see and respect value. I just helped translate a long conversation the other day about teacher salaries. We were asking Bernadette why parents can’t chip in a little bit to pay for their students to attend her school.

Bernadette responded that it’s not exactly an issue of money. It’s not like the parents have absolutely nothing, and it’s not like they aren’t grateful enough for the education their kids are receiving to be willing to pay for it. She’s tried to collect fees before – she had one of her teachers stand in front of the gate on the first day of school so that no one could get past unless they’d paid. But that didn’t work, because no one has the money on hand to pay everything up-front.

Saving money is hard here. Bernadette tries to advise parents to dedicate one chick at the beginning so that once it’s a chicken at the end of the school year they’ll have funds to cover all the kids in the house. But ultimately Bernadette doesn’t have the ability to both educate the parents in smart finances and the children in how to read and write, so she chooses to let the kids attend for free, and Ben’s church raises money to keep everything running.

The school down the road, L’Ecole Mixte Classic, also received laptops from One Laptop Per Child. When we went there to talk to the director, he emphasized that it’s impossible to teach computers if there’s no money to pay the teachers – his term for this is “encouragement.” In all of my reports so far on old One Laptop Per Child projects I complain about how they didn’t bother trying to find local support. But training local teachers means paying local teachers, and it can be really hard to identify whether you’ve got someone competent in each school. So, OLPC decided to just pay a “consultant” to travel between the schools in an area, conducting classes at each one and getting compensated more per week than most of those teachers make in a whole month. But taking the school out of the equation has other consequences, of course. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of who you can trust. Who’s become valuable to you because of the time and energy they’ve given to the community.

Contract for the local guy who OLPC employed

Contract for the local guy who OLPC employed

After all this talking, Jeanide and I go to the corner store to get a drink. There are two ways to buy drinks in Haiti: glass bottles that you return, or plastic that you throw away. The glass ones are cheaper, since you’re only paying for the liquid inside. That night at dinner, the priest we’re staying with explains to his friend another reason why glass is better. When you buy the plastic bottle along with the drink it contains, the government receives some tax money. The money is supposed to go to education, but everyone knows the government teachers are overpaid and don’t even show up to work if the school is far away enough from the inspector’s office.

Computers are a tool for carrying information, just like a bottle carries liquid. And you often see trucks loaded up with boxes of bottles, just like I’m getting used to peering into school storage rooms and seeing boxes of computers. I’m glad we’re going the “glass bottle” route and reusing old machines, instead of the “plastic bottle” route of letting time and money go to waste. But it’s still not enough. I guess what I mean is, that famous quote: “Education isn’t the filling of a vessel. It’s the lighting of a fire.” It’s not just a “you get out what you put in” sort of thing: at some point, someone has to be inspired to go even further than we expected with all of this. Only then will any of this actually become worth it.

by ruben at August 07, 2014 11:44 PM

August 06, 2014

One Laptop per Child

Zambia’s Twabuka Community School Receives Donated Laptop Computers

Reposted from original

Award-winning US travel writer Candyce H. Stapen (gfvac.com) recently visited Wilderness Safaris’ Toka Leya Camp from 15-17 June, not only to enjoy Zambia’s renowned hospitality, but also to donate 11 new computers.

The laptops from One Laptop per Child (OLPC) are powered by their own individual solar panels, which eliminates the immediate need of providing electricity for the school. The computers’ programmes are also able to operate without Internet access when necessary, although Internet access is a plus.

“I am delighted to be working with Travel Sommelier who helped plan our wonderful trip to Zambia and with Children in the Wilderness (CITW) to bring One Laptop per Child (OLPC) computers to rural schools in Africa. The project, Henny’s Kids, is named for my mother, Henrietta, who was an elementary school teacher”, says Candyce H. Stapen. “She would have been extremely proud to see how quickly the children learned how to use their new laptops and she would have been delighted to provide access to reading material and to a whole new world of educational opportunities.”

One Laptop per Child Zambia

According to Dr. Sue Snyman, Programme Director for CITW, one of the main priority needs previously identified by the School PTA and village headmen was access to computers. Toka Leya’s GM, Petros Guwa, and Dr. Snyman work closely with the school in terms of community development projects and meet with the PTA on a regular basis. “The teachers are extremely enthusiastic and proactive and we will be working with them an ongoing basis to ensure the correct assistance and training is received. Ideally we are hoping to grow this project so that the school has the required number of laptops to ensure maximum benefits to both the children and teachers”, Snyman added.

OLPC is a non-profit organization founded in 2005 with the goal of transforming education by providing every child with access to a connected laptop computer, the XO laptop. Connected laptops provide a cost-effective way to create learning environments that facilitate the greatest possible development of all children. OLPC is driven by a firm belief that laptops have a unique ability to leverage children’s innate curiosity and desire to learn, to develop critical thinking skills, and to foster a lifelong love of learning.

A laptop and solar panel, plus shipping fees, cost USD350. Donations of any amount are welcome. To assist us with achieving the next minimum directed order of 100 laptops, please contact Candyce (donate@hennyskids.com), Sue (sues@wilderness.co.za), or send a check or money order in U.S. dollars made out to One Laptop per Child for any amount. Please mail your donation to: Henny’s Kids, P.O.B. 42673, Washington, D.C. 20015-9998, USA.

by mariana at August 06, 2014 03:29 PM

MoneyGram, OLPC donate 250 tablets to students in SA

Thursday 31 July 2014 | 18:13 CET | News


MB-OLPC-20140730_025 The MoneyGram Foundation and the One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC) have donated 250 tablets to students in South Africa’s Masibambane Junior Primary School in Orange Farm. The MoneyGram Foundation’s grant facilitates the initiation of the OLPC pilot program and provides access to technology to the Masibambane School as a way to support and supplement its existing curriculum. This XO tablet-based program is intended to combat social exclusion and to encourage individual empowerment amongst student users. The XO tablet that the OLPC Masibambane Learning Environment program is centered on was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and features a 7.5-inch optical multi-touch display screen. It is loaded with an array of e-learning software that both enables and tracks each child’s educational progress.MB-OLPC-20140730_026 MB-OLPC-20140730_022MB-OLPC-20140730_030

MB-OLPC-20140730_033

by mariana at August 06, 2014 12:25 AM

August 01, 2014

Nancie Severs

2nd Chemo Treatment - Done! — Boston, MA


Boston, MA

Here's my update:
I am becoming a Boston regular. I even bought a commuter pack of bus tickets at the Dartmouth Coach, our bus between Lebanon, NH and Boston.

Because I developed a pretty significant rash 6 days after the first chemo infusion, I was scheduled for allergy skin testing last week at the Brigham Allergy clinic. I was exposed to a histamine (positive control) saline(negative control), and the two chemo drugs I need - carboplatin and taxol. There were three carboplatin &amp; taxol skin tests. On two of the 15 minute readings, I had positive bump reactions but without the itching and red flare I felt with the histamine. The taxol bumps subsided overnight. The carboplatin bump got angrier.

In the morning I called my allergist and sent photos. Phone cameras and emails can be so helpful. As I predicted and consistent with the delayed reaction, the rash at 6 days, I had a delayed reaction. We know it was the carboplatin.

Once again, I am so fortunate to be a patient at The Dana Farber-Brigham &amp; Womens Cancer Center (DF-BWCC). Dr Maria Castells is a world expert and pioneered an allergy desensitization procedure for safely receiving medicine one needs when there is a likelihood of an allergic reaction. Not many places in the USA have the capability to do this. I don’t know what happens at hospitals that don’t have this expertise. Perhaps the drug protocol for the patient is changed. But we know that I need the carboplatin to kill the type of cancer I have. Thank you Dr. Castells for making it possible for me to get the best first line therapy that I need!

The procedure is highly specialized. The full prescribed dose of the drug required is titrated and given in low &amp; slowly increasing doses over a long period of time, to prevent the IgE antibodies that stimulate an allergic reaction from acting against the offending drug. Translated, today’s chemo infusion, and the ones to follow will each take about 10 hours. That does not include time before and after, getting labs and waiting as the drug is prepared, and completing the administrative tasks. It’s a long day, but as the patient, so far, it’s an easy day. I’m sitting in a reclining chair that has seat heater and massage button. I have my own nurse. Debbie is taking careful care of me. She also brings me goodies like food and tea.

The outpatient infusion suite has curtains between the 6 patient areas I can see. While I have a bright and private area with windows and a view, it’s good that I came by myself today as I would chatter with family and friends and likely disturb the other patients. This is a good opportunity for me to limit stimulation and have a quiet restful day. Mark is heading down to stay in the hotel with me, just in case I get stomach sick. When I think I can manage the car trip home, we’ll leave then.

I am very grateful to all of the physicians and staff at Dana Farber. I am in the BEST place for treatment for my specific cancer and for my individual needs!

Boston Upbeat Summer Update
I stayed at my friend’s house in Coolidge Corner again for last week’s allergy appointments. I fully explored and tasted Coolidge Corner. It’s a wonderful walkable neighborhood. I’m a picky eater (vegetarian &amp; fish) and there is no shortage of restaurants, fast food, &amp; yogurt shops that please me. Trader Joes is right there and there is a Whole Foods at the St Mary’s T stop about 5 or 6 blocks back towards town.

My hair began to fall out as was predicted. I have a couple of comfortable fabric hats, &amp; of course, plenty of baseball caps. For the fabric hats, I had an artistic idea of accessorizing them with costume jewelry. I had so much fun. I went down to 20th Century, a great shop with vintage reasonably priced costume jewelry, and found a pin to use as a “hat pin,” and a couple of beads and pearl strands to wrap onto the hat. Jane (who works there) had a good eye and I had fun! 20th Century is on Charles Street on the same side as Starbucks. Check out the photos and visit them next time you are in the neighborhood.

When I left I went to Supercuts around the corner on Cambridge Street. I thought it time to get my head shaved. Adriana preferred to give me a really short cut and we hoped it would last for a few days. It was really cute and I can look forward to when it grows back and is short in “Tillie model” style.

I had the short haircut for 24 hours. It was time for a shave. When my nephew Houman (&amp; Ellen) lived here, Houman raved about the Lebanon Barber Shop. He loved the traditional “no appointment” format where customers come in and sit and chat about town with each other until their turn. He had told me that Micah, the owner is such a nice guy. And that he has never had a better haircut from anyone. So on Wednesday morning I went to the Lebanon Barber Shop and sat down to wait my turn. Micah gently shaved my head. We snapped the selfies I wanted with my Iphone. And when I went to pay for my haircut, Micah would not let me pay. He is a class act. Please patronize him and spread the word.

I have had good energy as long as I don’t do too much and get myself really tired. So far, I’m not too good at resting yet. That’s still a goal. But I’m doing a really good job so far of fitting my treatment into my life rather than making the cancer my life. This week, I went kayaking at Eastman Pond with Jeri C., Annie S. and I went to the Hello Cafe at Cedar Circle Farm, walked down to the river and then picked organic blueberries for us to eat this winter! I went to 2 regular 1.5 hour AHA yoga classes backing off when need be. And Mark and I went to a movie at the college and out to dinner too.

On Monday, I returned to Boston for an appointment and for the Chemo infusion today. Yesterday I walked a lot and got plenty of exercise. Adele and I went to 16 Handles for yogurt and awesome toppings. And I stopped at Nordstrom’s Rack to pick up a summer sweater I needed. Today I am a couch potato just sitting for 10+ hours. Just think if I were flying to Bangkok, I would be almost 1/2 way there already.:)

One thing has changed. My blood counts while high enough to have chemo today, were low and nearing the level that would have prevented treatment. After today’s infusion they will likely be very low. Translated, this means that I am susceptible to colds and illness and if I get sick, I can be sick for a long while. My body no longer heals like it normally does. From now on, I will need to avoid crowds, handshakes and well meaning hugs &amp; kisses. Please don’t come to see me if you think you might be getting sick, or if you have a cold. You can all help with my wellness in this way.

Mark and I left the hospital well after 7:00 PM. I was able to sit with him at “Legal” and eat a baked potato. After dinner, I showed Mark the roses in the Boston public garden and we saw a little of the Shakespeare in the Park staying a safe distance from the crowds.

We came home the next morning. And after the trip, oh was I tired. I spent the entire afternoon sleeping.

Thank you all for your thoughtful cards emails and phone calls. It has made me feel very loved and I appreciate each of them and each of you!

Love,
Nancie

PS: I’ll post another update when I have something to share. Sometimes I post without sending an email alert. If you missed a post and would like to see it, just scroll down below the photo thumbnails and you can easily read the past entries.



August 01, 2014 02:32 AM

July 29, 2014

Fargo to Sudan XO

Inspire Innovation Lab founder passionate about engaging children, community in STEM education | INFORUM

Inspire Innovation Lab founder passionate about engaging children, community in STEM education | INFORUM.

Sugar Labs supports a smarter (computing) culture.  I think we should see if the innovation lab wants / needs some XOs.  Or maybe we can build Rich Rice’s XO kiosk.


by kab13 at July 29, 2014 06:41 PM

July 27, 2014

Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

Worth It

More than halfway through our time here in Lascahobas, and the question that keeps running through my head has to do with value. We’re doing a lot of work here: installing network and solar systems, conducting training seminars, repairing large quantities of machines. I don’t mind that we’re not being paid for it, but I do wonder how much we should be paid. How much are all of these things worth to the people they’re supposed to be helping?

First of all, allow me to complain about the condition of the computers. The first thing Jeanide decided to do with them once we’d gotten the sack open was clean everything with a damp rag – these things were pretty filthy. Okay, maybe the kids were scared of using water to wash them. But the computers are damaged in other ways as well. Smashed screens, missing antenna, keys peeled off from keyboards, cracked batteries. Not all of them are that bad, of course, but these are definitely the worst cases I’ve ever seen.

One school's storage center.

One school’s storage center.

I know in a way this is a good sign. There’s such a thing as a computer that’s too clean, and I’m glad these machines aren’t suffering from that. They’ve clearly been used. And I love how the kids make the laptops their own by adding personal touches like writing their name on the front and drawing little pictures on the keyboard.But in the end, you have to start wondering how much the students really respected the computers when they return them in this kind of state.

No excuses because they’re kids. If I’m working for a group called Unleash Kids, that means I have a basic belief in people’s ability to look after the things they value, no matter what their age. And don’t tell me this is because they’re Haitian or because they’re poor. People tell me my ideas about taking care of things are very American. Not many people here own nice stuff, so apparently it’s a foreign concept to maintain something that costs a lot. Except, I’m not buying that. Most Haitians I know dress better than me – shining their shoes, keeping their white dresses spotless for church. And when people depend on something for a living, like their motorcycle, they take pride in making it look as good as possible.

So you begin to wonder why some people don’t have the same attitude about their computers. Maybe we’ve all got messed-up concepts about the value of technology in general, actually. Every time we put the laptops on display at a tech fair, people come up and ask, “Oh, are these the $100 laptops?” That’s what they remember about them. The price point.

But again, it’s not price that’s important. It’s value, and value only happens when someone puts in the time to make it. The other day, while I was carrying computers down the road to the school, a kid called out, “If there’s one that’s not good, just give it to me!” Then he realized that a broken machine would be useless, and added, “If you want to fix it first, then give me, that’s OK too.” It’s easy to see the problem when we’re talking about whether something’s broken or fixed. But there are so many other opportunities that you miss unless somebody ensures that they happen.

Even when you take out the fancy machines and we’re just talking about teachers standing in front of blackboards, it can be hard to make people see and respect value. I just helped translate a long conversation the other day about teacher salaries. We were asking Bernadette why parents can’t chip in a little bit to pay for their students to attend her school.

Bernadette responded that it’s not exactly an issue of money. It’s not like the parents have absolutely nothing, and it’s not like they aren’t grateful enough for the education their kids are receiving to be willing to pay for it. She’s tried to collect fees before – she had one of her teachers stand in front of the gate on the first day of school so that no one could get past unless they’d paid. But that didn’t work, because no one has the money on hand to pay everything up-front.

Saving money is hard here. Bernadette tries to advise parents to dedicate one chick at the beginning so that once it’s a chicken at the end of the school year they’ll have funds to cover all the kids in the house. But ultimately Bernadette doesn’t have the ability to both educate the parents in smart finances and the children in how to read and write, so she chooses to let the kids attend for free, and Ben’s church raises money to keep everything running.

The school down the road, L’Ecole Mixte Classic, also received laptops from One Laptop Per Child. When we went there to talk to the director, he emphasized that it’s impossible to teach computers if there’s no money to pay the teachers – his term for this is “encouragement.” In all of my reports so far on old One Laptop Per Child projects I complain about how they didn’t bother trying to find local support. But training local teachers means paying local teachers, and it can be really hard to identify whether you’ve got someone competent in each school. So, OLPC decided to just pay a “consultant” to travel between the schools in an area, conducting classes at each one and getting compensated more per week than most of those teachers make in a whole month. But taking the school out of the equation has other consequences, of course. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of who you can trust. Who’s become valuable to you because of the time and energy they’ve given to the community.

Contract for the local guy who OLPC employed

Contract for the local guy who OLPC employed

After all this talking, Jeanide and I go to the corner store to get a drink. There are two ways to buy drinks in Haiti: glass bottles that you return, or plastic that you throw away. The glass ones are cheaper, since you’re only paying for the liquid inside. That night at dinner, the priest we’re staying with explains to his friend another reason why glass is better. When you buy the plastic bottle along with the drink it contains, the government receives some tax money. The money is supposed to go to education, but everyone knows the government teachers are overpaid and don’t even show up to work if the school is far away enough from the inspector’s office.

Computers are a tool for carrying information, just like a bottle carries liquid. And you often see trucks loaded up with boxes of bottles, just like I’m getting used to peering into school storage rooms and seeing boxes of computers. I’m glad we’re going the “glass bottle” route and reusing old machines, instead of the “plastic bottle” route of letting time and money go to waste. But it’s still not enough. I guess what I mean is, that famous quote: “Education isn’t the filling of a vessel. It’s the lighting of a fire.” It’s not just a “you get out what you put in” sort of thing: at some point, someone has to be inspired to go even further than we expected with all of this. Only then will any of this actually become worth it.

by Sora Edwards-Thro at July 27, 2014 09:18 AM

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Worth It

More than halfway through our time here in Lascahobas, and the question that keeps running through my head has to do with value. We’re doing a lot of work here: installing network and solar systems, conducting training seminars, repairing large … Continue reading

by Sora at July 27, 2014 03:54 AM

July 26, 2014

Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

Lascahobas: We Do It All

Writing this from Lascahobas, a market town in the Central department, where we’re working with a school that received laptops as part of the pilot program back in 2009. If you’ve been following this blog, you know by now how the story goes: the program started out well but then when key people weren’t paid they stopped coming and the computers ended up shoved in the school storage room.

Now, we’re stepping in to do things right the second time around. We’re doing the whole she-bang here: repairing laptops, installing a solar system, connecting a server with Internet-in-a-Box, and of course training teachers how to use everything.

From right to left: Jeanide, Sora, Shuyan, Herodion, and the school gatekeeper.  Solar panel stretched out at our feet.

From left to right: Jeanide, Sora, Shuyan, Herodion, and the school gatekeeper.

We need as many hands as possible to get all that stuff done, so we have a real crack team this time. First off, introductions. Ben Burrell, a computer science professor, is the one who invited us all down here. His church has built up a relationship over the years with AFAL, the local women’s group that runs the school. Shuyan, a student at his college, came down with him to set up some solar stuff. Finally, Jeanide, Ruben, and Herodion are here to help with repairs and training.

Birds'-eye view of Shuyan's set-up.

Birds’-eye view of Shuyan’s charging set-up.

Discussing where to put that super-long solar panel.

Discussing where to put that super-long solar panel.

The first day of work was dedicated to solar. A team of professionals from DigitalKap came in to put in the largest panels securely. Shuyan’s system can just be rolled up and stowed away when the sun goes down, but the other two panels needed to be mounted permanently. It ended up being a really long day. Bernadette, the local director, wasn’t satisfied with the initial frames. She’s had a lot of problems with theft in the past and wanted to make sure these guys did everything possible to make these panels impossible to take. So the team had to go off into town and find a welder to add some braces, which meant the final hook-up didn’t happen until after 9 that night. “I’ll always remember this day,” Ben told me, when we finally clambered into the truck to go home. Turns out even sitting around and “supervising” can be rough when the job takes so long to finish. But I guess we can’t complain, because everything’s running and those panels are as safe as they’ll ever be.

Bernadette, the school director, discusses her preferences.

Bernadette, the school director, discusses her preferences.

The team affixes the solar panel while Jeanide looks on.

The team affixes the solar panel while Jeanide looks on.

Working late into the night to finish the job.

After the solar work came the laptops. We don’t always have electricity to power the machines, so throughout this whole trip every task has one extra step to it: removing the dead battery, putting in one that we’ve been able to fully charge, turning on the machine to do whatever we need to do, and taking the good battery out again so we can use it in the next machine. It’s a frustrating necessity, but at least we’ve got this good-bad battery swap down to a rhythm by now, working in pairs to keep the stored electricity going back and forth between the machines we’re checking and the ones we’ve finished.

Bringing the machines out of the supply closet.

Bringing the machines out of the supply closet.[/caption

Wiping the dust off the laptops. Wiping the dust off the laptops.

Reviewing the updating process.

Reviewing the updating process.

All the work pays off when we get to do training and see students and teachers enjoying the refurbished machines. To wrap up, here are some of my favorite shots of them in action.

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Preparing computers for the first day of class.

Preparing computers for the first day of class.

Students getting some shots of sky and trees.

Students getting some shots of sky and trees.

Lots of photos being taken.

Lots of photos being taken.

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Stacking the finished machines.

Stacking the finished machines.

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by Sora Edwards-Thro at July 26, 2014 09:16 AM

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Lascahobas: We Do It All

Writing this from Lascahobas, a market town in the Central department, where we’re working with a school that received laptops as part of the pilot program back in 2009. If you’ve been following this blog, you know by now how … Continue reading

by Sora at July 26, 2014 03:35 AM

July 25, 2014

Hinche Haiti Partners for Education

A Message from Father Noe at St. Andre

Hello my friends from Saint Dunstan. Greetings! On Behalf of the teachers ,parents , the kids and myself I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support for the academic year 13 – 14....

by hinchehaitipartnersforeducation at July 25, 2014 02:24 AM

July 24, 2014

Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

Kenscoff, Special Report

Kenscoff is a town up in the mountains that you reach by following one winding road out of the rich Petionville suburb to the southeast of Port-au-Prince. In the mornings, the route gets clogged up by big white NGO vehicles – as Petionville fills up, many aid workers have been moving up here. Since Kenscoff is a market town, collecting the produce from small farming communities in the surrounding mountains, you also see big trucks loaded up with sacks.

Two things strike you the higher you get up the mountain: the cold, and the beauty. It’s chilly up here, perched up amongst clouds of mist that come rolling in and obscure the other special thing, the view. One of the most famous Haitian proverbs is “Behind mountains there are mountains.” I’ve known it for a long time, but somehow it doesn’t become real until you look out at the patchwork slopes spread before you, at the way the land is so ridiculously wrinkled, the people just tucked into its folds.

Ruben posts some shots on Facebook, of course, and Marie Holt, my ever-perceptive fellow Haiti lover, immediately comments, “Just be happy Sora that you do not have to farm this land as well. Beautiful though…” I see gorgeous gorges; she sees terrain that is steep and eroding much too fast. On another photo, of all the teachers bundled up in hoodies, she emails me, “Is this a joke?” Surely people should develop a resistance to the cold, over time. The temperature hovers around the 60s here, nothing too terrible even if the wind and damp can occasionally make it feel a little worse. But most of the people we’re training aren’t actually locals; Deb and John invited them up here to work in the school and they still go back down to the capital on weekends. Filling out Christelle’s profile page, I list “Bois D’Avril” as her current location at first, but she wants to put down Port-au-Prince. After spending three years there, she still doesn’t really live in Bois D’Avril.

IMGP0175 (Medium)

It goes back to the idea of newness – do you belong somewhere, or are you just visiting? If you’re a visitor then the sights are breathtaking and you’re going to have to slip on a jacket and sleep with a hot-water bottle on your toes. If you’re a local, you’ve got more important things to do than gape at the mountains, and you’re used to the cold. Or maybe beauty is just beauty, and cold is just cold, no matter how many mornings you’ve woken up to them. It’s an important question, trying to figure out whether it’s possible for people to adjust to new scenery and atmosphere, because it’s the same thing with technology in a way. Right now these computers are just marvelous machines. We’ve taught them the basics: blue words are a link. Ctrl+X enables you to cut text out, and then you can paste it somewhere else. But they’ll never really advance until these things become tools in their daily lives.

You won’t ever run out of mountains to cross – no training is ever complete. But as long as you take care of the first order of business, curing people of their fear of heights, giving them ownership of this new foreboding territory, things will be okay. My guess is that didn’t happen the first time the XO laptops were introduced to the schools in Kenscoff. Same story as always, it seems. Big launch, lots of machines. The president’s wife herself came down to kick things off. But the teachers themselves never received any training, so there was no one comfortable and confident enough to keep things going after the OLPC team left.

There are more schools here than in Thomazeau, which probably means more students receiving laptops. Ruben and I find 4 places: Meri Kenscoff (local community center), EFA Kenscoff (the state school), and two church primary schools where students are partly funded by the government. We turn up at each one and Ruben asks for “a little information.” It can be hard to find the directors now that the school’s closed for the summer – most of the time, people tell us that coming back in the morning would be better. We have training in the morning, so I ask Ruben if he can go by himself. He will probably be the one in charge of the training, so it’s important that he’s the one these directors shake hands with. Ruben smiles and shakes his head, and tells me about how one time when he was trying to recruit kids for a special camp, and he wasn’t able to find anybody until Adam, our Canadian boss, started going around with him. Once people saw the white guy, everyone wanted to sign up. It’s nice that I have a function here in Haiti. It’s frustrating that Ruben, who is a school director himself, can’t get the other guys interested in talking to him unless he drags me along.

The national school has cabinets like this one that are filled with laptops.

The national school has cabinets like this one that are filled with laptops.

Anyway, we eventually find someone responsible at two of the places: EFA Kenscoff and one of the church schools. At each, Ruben launches into a speech about how the initial program was “badly done” and our organization plans to do a better job by actually giving training. I’m glad he’s here to explain everything – by being honest that it’s One Laptop Per Child’s fault, the schools don’t feel like they’re to blame for what happened and are more willing to accept our help. One director whips out a pen and paper to take notes on everything. “So, you’re here to continue the program?” he asks. I look at Ruben and shrug. “If the program stopped, we’re here to restart it,” I say, trying to make it clear that we don’t mind that it’s stopped. Everyone involved is going to do a better job this time.

Except, everything’s harder the second time around. Walking around the city, I’ll often see a sign for a cyber-cafe, or a bank, or a school, and I’ll try to go inside but the inside won’t match the outside. The sign is a manti. A lie. Someone else has moved in, taken over, and didn’t bother painting over the original marker so that passerby like me won’t be confused.

"Same name, same school, another vision" the sign says

“Same name, same school, another vision” says this one sign we saw

Some of the magic’s gone: these are no longer shiny brand-new computers, they’re strange green and white things that have been sitting in the back room for a while. Still, I know it won’t be hard to get the excitement going. Computers have lights and sounds and look expensive, which will be enough to attract anyone’s attention. But I’m thinking of the bigger picture, of the original project and all the work that went into it: the hardware design, and all the code, and the visits from the president’s wife. All I can say is we’re lucky to have a community of volunteers who have stuck it out for years, who are committed to doing this thing right. They own these mountains, and they’re ready to guide these schools across them. We’re trying to get people to the point where the cold stops bothering them, so they can chart their own course.

Teachers bundled up for training.

Teachers bundled up for training.

by Sora Edwards-Thro at July 24, 2014 09:12 AM

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Kenscoff, Special Report

Kenscoff is a town up in the mountains that you reach by following one winding road out of the rich Petionville suburb to the southeast of Port-au-Prince. In the mornings, the route gets clogged up by big white NGO vehicles … Continue reading

by Sora at July 24, 2014 03:22 AM

July 18, 2014

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

The People, 1. Digicel, 0

Last week, I vented about Digicel blocking Skype and other VoIP applications, explaining how it’s not just that it’s inconvenient for me, but they shouldn’t be able to get away with what they’re doing.They don’t own the Internet. Luckily, the … Continue reading

by Sora at July 18, 2014 09:32 PM

More to See

The work continues here in Bois D’Avril. Every morning I have to pause for a moment on my way to the bathroom and just gape at the surrounding mountains. I wonder if the people here are as constantly struck by … Continue reading

by Sora at July 18, 2014 12:57 PM

Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

More To See

The work continues here in Bois D’Avril. Every morning I have to pause for a moment on my way to the bathroom and just gape at the surrounding mountains. I wonder if the people here are as constantly struck by the beauty as I am – or if they’re too busy trying not to twist their ankle walking up the rocky road to look up and admire. Maybe the villagers feel the same way about technology. For me, it’s just something that wakes me up in the morning (cell phone alarm) and keeps me up at night (talking to other volunteers on Skype). But for them, it’s a new marvel.

Things are really too beautiful here.

Things are really too beautiful here.

Anyway, despite the distraction of the scenery training continues. Children have began participating in classes along with the teachers, which means the lesson sometimes has to pause for a moment while we help the younger ones find a menu option or something. Luckily, the teachers have started stepping in at those moments to assist with telling the kids where to click, and in the end I think that experience helping them can be valuable. Another thing that helps is seating the children in groups so that when you show one all the others follow. Still, we’re trying to structure the day now so teachers arrive an hour before and get some more advanced learning in before the kids arrive.

Ruben explains what we're about to do.

Ruben explains what we’re about to do.

Let's see if the students can do it on their own now.

Let’s see if the students can do it on their own now.

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We end the first day of training with a special treat: spaghetti.

We end the first day of training with a special treat: spaghetti for everyone!

Jeanide and Ruben are both from the city, so being up here is a new experience for them. I know Ruben’s enjoyed the chance to talk with a fellow school director about the difficulties of getting an institution up and running. They were joking the other day about how much of a pain getting registered is. Christelle said, “I don’t want Martelly to come down here and tell me what to do.”

Hot water bottles keep Ruben's bed nice and toasty.

Hot water bottles keep Ruben’s bed nice and toasty.

Jeanide’s been giving Christelle her own recommendations for the school, helping her prepare a list of guidelines to parents. And when the kids struggled with a basic geography game, she sat down after class and hand-drew a map of Haiti, labeling all the departments.

Jeanide traces the outline.

Jeanide traces the outline.

More help arrives as the teachers join in.

Teachers see what she’s doing and start helping out.

Meanwhile, I’m just trying to soak it all in. I’ve always been interested in spending more time in small, isolated villages like this here in Haiti. It’s a struggle to bring technology here – people lack experience and exposure to even basics like cell phones, and there’s certainly no electricity, and the young professionals we’d like to hire as teachers have already left for the city. But I think if we can get a computer program to work in a place like this, we can get it to work anywhere. Of course, Bois D’Avril has a few advantages the other schools don’t because of Deb and John’s generosity. Here, for example, the cycle’s been reversed – Deb and John provide the teachers with a living space, enabling them to leave their homes down in the capital to come help the community here. Otherwise, it would be insane for them to just move into a random village where they didn’t know anyone – these places are so tightly-knit that an outsider would have a lot of problems and worries.

Off on an adventure.

Off on an adventure.

Terraced farming on the slopes.

Terraced farming on the slopes.

See the scarecrow?

See the scarecrow?

These guys passed us on the road.

These guys passed us on the road.

Random house on a hill, all by itself.

Random house on a hill, all by itself.

Coming in to the village.

Coming in to the village.

I’ve still got a lot of learning to do about all the diverse places that make up this country. That’s one job that will never be done.

Patchwork countryside.

Patchwork countryside.

by Sora Edwards-Thro at July 18, 2014 09:11 AM

July 16, 2014

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Delmas 28 Launch

We just got done launching our second project with Ken Bever and Hope for Haiti’s Children at the College Chrétien de Delmas. This school has 580 students, from pre-K all the way up to the last year of high school, … Continue reading

by Sora at July 16, 2014 09:05 PM

Nancie Severs

Thank Goodness for Yoga! — Lebanon NH, NH


Lebanon NH, NH

I’m laughing at myself as I feel the sore inner thigh muscle I slightly pulled in Jill’s Wednesday AM yoga class this morning. We did a hamstring class that built up to Hanuman, the Monkey God pose, aka a split. I could not get near a split as a child and I was surprised at where my body went today. Pain is not always a bad thing. I came by this nagging thigh muscle very honestly. It makes me smile.

On Sunday, at day 6 following chemo, I developed a really angry rash. Because I have had life threatening reactions to medications in the past, two in particular which involved a rash, Mark &amp; I had to go to the DHMC ER. They told us what would be an emergency and sent us home. An excellent dermatology consult on Monday confirmed a drug rash likely secondary to chemo. I’ll be going to Boston for allergy testing next Monday to make sure we can safely treat me for my next scheduled chemo.

On Monday, my muscle aches subsided and I had more energy. I am optimistic that after future chemos, I can plan to lay low on days 3 through 6, knowing that both my blood counts and my energy level will rise after just a short period of discomfort.

I spent a couple of days this week working on coordination of care issues between Dana Farber &amp; DHMC. I had already had each record of my treatment sent to DHMC from DF. I am unimpressed with the cumbersome steps that my physicians must take to receive, locate, print, and then scan each file into my DHMC EMR. That’s not very “electronic” is it?

I’m getting all of my cancer treatment at DF BWCC. But I anticipated the need for urgent care when home, just as it happened on Sunday. The DHMC records still did not my correct diagnosis and the only way the doctors knew what chemo and other meds I had been exposed to, for the emergency evaluation, was because I had a copy of my DF records in hand. This is very frustrating!

Yesterday, I had a productive meeting with Dr. Brooks, my long time PCP &amp; internist. I tried to share some constructive ideas to help figure out a system that will give us confidence when I require care, urgent or otherwise at DHMC while home. He promises to get the folks involved that can put a workable solution in place. I also set up a local standing lab order for the blood work I will regularly need for my DF doctors. The assistants at the DHMC 3 L lab were terrific and helped tremendously with that.

I’ve learned that I have to be willing to advocate for myself, even when doing so adds stress. It’s a good thing I practice yoga. Thank you Jill and "Hanuman" too.

July 16, 2014 08:46 PM

Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

The Hills Are Alive

Today Ruben, Jeanide, and I headed up to Bois D’Avril, a small village in the mountains outside Port-au-Prince, near a town called Kenscoff. We’re staying with the Currelly’s, a Canadian couple who have been living here for thirty years. The local school here is receiving 10 laptops, and we’re also setting up Internet-in-a-Box. Shoutout to Nancie Severs, who was the first to realize this is a good home for our machines and got everyone together to make it happen.

Adam’s stayed here before and described it as a Swiss villa. I figured he was just exaggerating like always, but now that I’m here I certainly do feel a sudden urge to start belting out, “The hills are alive with the sound of music.” Up here at 6,000 feet, you get quite a view. Also, John and Deb have done their best over time to make things comfortable for visitors and the many animals who also live here.

This wouldn't be an Internet site without at least one cat picture.

This wouldn’t be an Internet site without at least one cat picture.

101 Dalmatians, minus 100

101 Dalmatians, minus 100

Jeanide meets Bony.

Jeanide meets Bony.

Check out the winding road on that mountain.

Check out the winding road on that mountain.

Another view of the compound.

Another view of the compound.

We’re also smack-dab in the middle of a cloudbank – at times, you can’t see any of the surrounding countryside because it’s blocked by fog. Less sun and a higher altitude also means the temperature’s below 70 here. That’s the coldest Jeanide and Ruben have ever been. I’ve been cracking up seeing them wandering around in bulky coats.

Ruben all bundled up.

Ruben all bundled up.

Fog rolling in.

Fog rolling in.

So far, we’ve just tinkered around with the server, walked around the village, met the directors and teachers, and given people a brief introduction to the XOs. Wait, I guess that was actually a lot of work after all.

Teachers getting familiar with the computers.

Teachers getting familiar with the computers.

Setting up the server.

Setting up the server.

Internet troubles are less frustrating when this is the view from your workstation.

Internet troubles are less frustrating when this is the view from your workstation.

by Sora Edwards-Thro at July 16, 2014 09:07 AM

Honduras: The Owen Project

The Magic Mountain

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Many new books have been written and old classics from that time, like Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, have been reissued. I read The Magic Mountain in college and loved the contrast between the magnificent Swiss mountain scenery and the rather twisted characters of the patients in the sanitarium where the novel takes place. We left today for an extended trip higher into the mountains west of Siguatepeque than we had ever been before. We left in two trucks early in the morning and, because of the almost nightly rain showers, our path took us into a thick carpet of mist cloaking the mountain tops and  half way into the valleys. I thought of Mann’s book and felt a child’s sense of adventure and expectation. In Honduras, unlike in  Mann’s fictional Switzerland, the magnificent mountain scenery is reflected in magnificent smiles on bright faces, faces full of innocent wonder and trust. There is a biblical theme that warns against the moral corruption of cities and praises the salutary effect of living in isolated, small groups, immersed in nature, constantly in the presence of eternity. This was reflected in the children, teachers and parents we met in the first school of the day. Set in a pine forest, this humble school building seemed to recognize the majesty of its surroundings, making no attempt to assert a human presence, nestled into a bed of pine needles, tranquil and resonant. In the pictures below I will try to convey how this tranquility is reflected in the children’s faces as they listened to our initial introductions and instructions. Such beautiful faces full of innocence and absolute trust. They made me want to be a better, more loving man. 

The second school was even higher up in the mountains, at the very edge of the coffee fields, just where the original cloud forest takes over on the steepest slopes. This shift from geometric regularity to chaotic, riotous growth is quite striking. Sally’s grandmother was a quilter and we have one of her pieces. We use it under our Christmas tree, where its many folds and different patterns reminded me of the Honduran countryside on our travels. At this school the children had gathered pine boughs and spread them all over the classroom floor and in the area outside the porch where they greeted us with a performance of folk dancing and song. The resinous scent of the fresh pine permeated the performance and our time teaching. Somehow everything – the dancing and singing, the parent’s faces full of pride and our own enthusiasm and commitment- seemed fresh and pure. The thick carpet of  needles in the surrounding grove of pines gave the school a mysterious, hushed atmosphere, as if a secret were being whispered, and if one were quiet enough, one could sense the presence of God.

 

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With care,

Mark


by mkeddal at July 16, 2014 12:59 AM

July 15, 2014

Honduras: The Owen Project

Glory

Today we decided to visit Santa Rosita, the very first school where we started the Owen Project four years ago. Marty Keil, her daughter Morgan Stautzenberger and Morgan’s friend Haley Short flew in Friday night and were ready to travel into the mountains on Saturday. It had rained heavily during the night so the mountain sides were shrouded in mist. The air was freshly-scrubbed,,clean and cool.We carried a stack of pizzas, two soccer balls and hearts full of expectation.The long drive on winding dirt roads brought back many pleasant memories, and the views from the mountain tops were every bit as memorable and breath-taking. There is a distinctive scent in the mountains, a combination of damp vegetation, decaying leaves and something mysteriously sweet, like rotting fruit. It seemed that the entire environment was a single living being with a peculiar aroma.

Our reception in Santa Rosita was warm and intimate. The children called out our names, remembering us all, embracing us as we departed our trucks. The original school was a dilapidated, mud and wattle shack and the new school , located farther up the hill, is a  wonderfully clean concrete block structure with glass windows, a metal roof and a separate bathroom under construction. We brought red bougainvillea given by Lynn Campaigne. Our Episcopal Diocese of West Texas has been very involved in supporting this construction. The hope is that Santa Rosita will become a model for other rural schools, including classrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms and a septic system all in one.

Even more beautiful than the new buildings were the laughter and bright eyes of the students. When we first met them they were shy, incurious and skeptical about us and the XOs. Four years later they are secure, assertive and bursting with pride and curiosity. We were shown essays, projects, art exhibits and journals. Some of the older students now travel to a nearby town to continue their education.Sally and I almost felt like parents again, reconnecting with young people we have known for a number of years, sharing dreams and hopes together. The pizza was shared and then we played soccer. After being humiliated for an hour it started to mist and then rain gently. We looked up at the sun and saw a strange atmospheric phenomenon: there was a rainbow that surrounded the sun, making a complete circle of delicate colors, taking up half of the sky. This is called a “glory” and all of us were taken by how perfect that we saw this at that particular moment. I have come to recognize the presence of grace in the most unremarkable events of daily life. How much more impressive is this gratitude and sense of wonder when grace comes at perfect moments. May you find your own moments.

 

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With care,

Mark


by mkeddal at July 15, 2014 04:19 AM

Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

Back to School in Ansapit

Now that winter break is over and computers are getting charged faster, it’s time to add a new group of students to the course. Here are some shots of what happens the first day you put a laptop into someone’s hands. On the first day, kids learn the basics of using the mouse, keyboard, and camera.

Looking forward to seeing this new group advance!

This brave girl was the first to get up from her seat to take some more interesting pictures.

This brave girl was the first to get up from her seat to take pictures.

Getting lower = getting more creative closeups

Getting lower = getting more creative closeups

Jameson explains to the class how to do something.

Jameson explains to the class how to do something.

Often, students end up learning from fellow students as much as from teachers.

Often, students end up learning from fellow students as much as from teachers.

Everyone crowds in to peer at the first to finish so they can figure it out too.

Everyone crowds in to peer at the first to finish so they can figure it out too.

Graduates become familiar with the new system so they can help teachers with it later on.

Graduates become familiar with the new system so they can help teachers with it later on.

Someone's having fun already on the first day.

Someone’s having fun already on the first day.

by Sora Edwards-Thro at July 15, 2014 02:04 AM

July 14, 2014

Nancie Severs

After Chemo Course 1 - Altered Expectations — Lebanon NH, NH


Lebanon NH, NH

We are relieved that my treatment is underway. It was a really good week. Mark &amp; Noah drove me home from The Brigham hospital in Boston Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday morning I got a short haircut. My FB friends say that I look "hip" and younger. I'll take that! My doctors anticipate that I will lose my hair over the next few weeks because the Chemo targets the fastest growing cells in our body. Our hair is the fastest growing normal cell and the chemicals are unable to discriminate. That's why cancer patients often lose their hair. Am I worried about that? Nope! I've some comfy hats, it's only "hair," and it will grow back eventually. I did not feel any effects of Monday night's chemo infusion until Thursday evening. When my legs and feet ached, I chalked it up to  21\2 days in bed, and then the fact that Noah and I had spent a full and active “vacation” day together. Noah wanted "American Chinese" for lunch. We played golf at Twin Lakes on Little Lake Sunapee and went to Dairy Twirl on the way home. Thank you Bruria for the delicious soup for dinner. I was way too tired to cook. On Friday, Jill’s therapeutic “Gentle Yoga” class at AHA gave me a boost. But by today, Saturday, i am realizing that my activity level and my expectations of what I can do will have to change during the period of "cancer cell eradication!”   My bones and joints hurt and my feet are tingling with pins and needles. I am tiring easily. I only walked a bit of our Prouty course and I came home for a nap.   I will find it difficult to accept the need to slow down. Friends &amp; family, please remind me often that this is the best thing I can do for myself, &amp; for us all, to give us the best shot at a cure!   It's a good thing that I have a long list of books and films to keep me busy in the coming months. Additional recommendations welcome.:)   Altering my expectations will be a good mental exercise. I am reminding myself, "don't lean too far back into the past nor too far forward into the future. The present is a gift. That's why its called a present!"

July 14, 2014 11:47 PM

Chemo Treatment Day 1 — Boston, MA


Boston, MA

Where I stayed
Boston Marriott Cambridge MA


I went home for the weekend and now I am back in Boston. It is very weird because I still don't feel sick. But that's a gift! My first chemo infusion will be today for 5 hours. I’ll need to be there several hours before it starts too. Noah flew in from Thailand for a rare visit. He spent the weekend visiting Ellen &amp; Houman, Aaron and Megan, David and Aliza and sightseeing in LA. He is coming in to be with me for the first chemo  treatment. Mark will come down on Tuesday and bring us home Wednesday if I'm able to go right home. This week, I’m at the Cambridge Marriott as we think that will work best for the first treatment round. Today I did some shopping, and had a healthy dinner at Legal Sea Foods. It was a beautiful summer evening. The sidewalk cafes were filled with people enjoying the weather. I walked all the way from Prudential to the Boston Public Garden to see the roses and then through the common to the Park Street T. I think I will sleep tonight. Mark, was of course willing to join me today. My sisters, Janet &amp; Lynn wanted to fly up from Florida, to be with me. My closest girlfriends offered. And Noah decided to fly in from Thailand. He won. He is on his way from the West Coast as I write.   I have felt wonderfully supported by my family and friends from the time I knew I needed surgery. The love and offers of assistance continue and I am very grateful. You all know who you are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.   I am bull headed. I am most comfortable beginning the treatment process by myself. I'm not sick yet and while sitting around the hospital today is what I need to do, I don't see any reason for anyone else to be here too. I'm actually calmer &amp; quieter by myself and I prefer to come in and get treatment without focusing on the reason for it. I hope to be like my amazing and brave cousin Tillie, and soldier on with my life during each step of the life saving treatment.   Reality hit in the lab this morning. I saw many very sick folks, a child or two, teenagers, young me and women and very elderly. Cancer does not discriminate. I had an IV inserted in my arm. Ouch. And now I'm in a sunny private room at The Brigham waiting to start the medications that will eradicate any remaining cancer cells.   At 4:30 PM it looks like I'll be getting the infusion late tonite. We can't rush things and there isn't any reason to. Everyone I've met has been cheerful and competent. 6:30 PM brought dinner, and a handful of anti-nausea &amp; anti-allergy meds. We had agreed on the lowest doses and fewest agents possible.  We started the Taxol at 8:00 PM for 3 hours followed by 1 hour of Carboplatin.   We finished at midnight. I was woozy and had a headache, but that’s about it. 6:00 AM: We Did It! And with NO Steroids (usually used but I react badly to them.) I am feeling tired, but clear-headed and not too bad. The treatment plan my doctors created just for me has paid off off bonuses. It appears to me that I can be safely treated, and with the chemo regimen that we KNOW will kill my cancer!   I appreciate everyone's concern, notes, &amp; healing thoughts sent my way so very much. As I get farther into this treatment journey, when there is something some of you can do to help, or to cheer me up, I'll gratefully accept assistance and I will let you know how you can help. Thanks &amp; Love, Nancie

July 14, 2014 11:42 PM

Honduras: The Owen Project

Shangri-La

I confess that I am an unabashed idealist, child-like ( I hope!) not childish. I continue to reread Hilton’s Lost Horizon and I love the old, black and white film of the same name, starring Ronald Coleman. There is a wonderful scene where a group of travelers are high in the Himalayas, near death in a blizzard, roped together at the edge of a crevasse. They find a break in the rock face which leads to a hidden utopia, an isolated and protected valley full of cultivated fields, vineyards and forests. Ronald Coleman is full of wonder and haunted by a strange feeling that he somehow knows this place. This is the mystery of Shangri-la;. we are haunted, wherever we are,  that the world could be more beautiful and full of meaning.

It is the beginning of the rainy season in Honduras and already the mountain sides are bursting with new, delicately- green growth, and the mountain tops are wreathed in mists and clouds. We drove from Tegucigalpa to Siguatepeque and were treated to a vision of central Honduras in all its glory. We set out for a new village school early the next morning. We were joined by the Vice-Mayor of Siguatepeque, a former teacher, who was accompanied by her body guard in a government truck. Richard, Natalia, Becky and I rode in back with the computers and a rifle-wielding soldier. We soon found out that the rifle was for show and that it didn’t have a trigger or bullets. It still intimidated us! We drove through Siguatepeque, down crowded streets full of dust and diesel fumes. The city itself is not scenic, in fact it has the character of a boom town. All of the buildings are make-shift and slip-shod and nothing seems clean or orderly. As we turned onto a dirt road into the mountains, we left the hustle and bustle behind us and entered into a central american Shangri-la. The school itself was stucco and cement brick, but the trees and shrubs surrounding it lent their beauty to the simple structure. Of course the real treasure hidden here is contained in the bright eyes and beaming smiles of the children. They waited timidly, hiding behind the open windows periodically braving a look outside at us. There was a hushed silence, the bated breaths of many excited children. Where there was joyous chaos at Oropoli, here there was happy anticipation and barely-controlled hands and feet. Because the Vice-mayor was with us, some formal introductions were made and then the speeches began, given by teachers, parents, students- essentially anyone who feels compelled gets a chance to speak. There was nothing forced or superficial in all this.  Owen was mentioned in a  remarkably sensitive and compassionate way, as if the speakers themselves knew the pain of losing a child.  Wrinkled, weather-beaten old women spoke with incredible humility of their prayers and hopes for their children, and a light shone in their eyes that reminded Sally and I of how it feels to be a parent. Very soon all the thank yous were acknowledged and we got down to work with the students. Here is where the real magic begins. None of the pictures I’m including quite captures the combination of wonder and hilarity that prevails. I can’t imagine a person hardhearted enough not to smile and laugh in the midst of all this  happy discovery. Maybe we do learn all we need to know in kindergarten!!

 

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Thanks,

Mark


by mkeddal at July 14, 2014 03:57 AM

Fargo to Sudan XO

Tech Genius Doesn’t Need To Be White, Male And Wearing A Hoodie – ReadWrite

Tech Genius Doesn’t Need To Be White, Male And Wearing A Hoodie – ReadWrite.

Good initiative.  Been thinking about how our local Sugar Labs approach wasn’t quite right. We tried to build from nothing to something; if we start again, we need to find partners up front, have the infrastructure and support in place.

 


by kab13 at July 14, 2014 02:55 AM

July 12, 2014

Honduras: The Owen Project

The Dance of Life

On our second day in Honduras we drove into the montains near the Nicaraguan border to oscar Ochoa’s home village of Oropoli. It is much drier in this part of Honduras, reminding all of us of Texas. This is our first school in the southern part of the country. We expected a quiet entrance into the village and maybe an embarassing game of soccer. Instead, we ran headlong into a whirlwind of activity, a moving fiesta that followed us up the main street, such as it  was, across a river and to the school itself. There were flowers, folk dancing, music and smiling faces throughout. Some biologists speculate that when life began in the primordial seas, amino acids began to dance, combining to form single-celled organisms. As you will see below, we too felt surrounded by dancing life, full of joy and satisfaction.

 

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This was also our first experience with the XO tablet and we were a bit apprehensive. This only increased when we realized that we had to charge the 60 tablets before teaching. All of the parents and village worthies looked in from the open windows as chaos swirled around us in the form of 60 very excited children. Four hours later we had everything in hand and no child left disappointed or frustrated. In many ways the tablets are more accessible than the laptops and the applications are more numerous and just as entertaining and welcoming. Once again many of  the students stared in disbelief and wonder when we told them that these computers were theirs to use. I wish I could convey the spell cast over these children by the XOs; perhaps it is more the case of watching their imaginations come alive. I’ll let these pictures tell the story.

 

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With care,

Mark

 


by mkeddal at July 12, 2014 02:13 AM

Yeats Was Mistaken….

In a dark poem Yeats wrote that, “….the best lack all conviction, while the worst burn with passionate intensity…” I’ve been haunted by these lines for years and the current political and social environment seemed to verify Yeats’ somber prophecy. I can happily report that once again I have been saved by Honduras. We arrived in Tegucigalpa before noon on Tuesday, the 8th. We had a few minutes to gather our wits and then we met with the Undersecretary of Education. Richard, Linda and Natalia Grey were with us, along with Oscar Ochoa. The Undersecretary was quite approachable: a former teacher who has worked under several Honduran administrations. We were there to ask for internet access for the 16 schools we have supplied with laptops and tablets. The Undersecretary warmed to our presentation and became quite enthusiastic about the potential changes that could be made in rural areas. Very soon she was speaking more as an educator and less as an a politician. Her enthusiasm was infectious. We needed little prodding to tell of past trips into the mountains around Siguatepeque. With Linda as a creative and insightful translator, we were able to speak from the heart as well as the mind.

The excitement of our day was far from over. Later that afternoon, we met with a group of Honduran computer programmers writing code for a digitized curriculum that we could download into our XOs. The new XO tablets are android-based, different from the platform used in the laptops. For quite some time the conversation was quite technical and quite a bit over my head. Thankfully, Richard, himself a programmer, was able to carry on ably for our side. The atmosphere changed significantly when the topic changed to the underserved students in the mountains. These tech geeks where transformed into obviously passionate and idealistic teachers trying to change the lives of children who might not have shoes, but who might soon have a computer!

It was then that I remembered Yeats, realizing that I had just witnessed a reversal of his dark forboding. Here in Honduras, at least, it is the best who burn with passionate intensty.

More later,

Mark


by mkeddal at July 12, 2014 12:45 AM