February 07, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

QGIS Delivers Functionality and Freedom

I am taking a graduate course this semester, GGS 553 - Geographic Information System which is required for the Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Sciences program that I am hoping to complete.  I like the text book we are using for class, and greatly enjoyed the first lecture.  What I am not happy about is that the labs which will make up a large part of the course assignments require the use of proprietary software, specifically ArcGIS, and then by extension, the Windows operating system on which it runs.

I have been a free software activist for more than 20 years. Software for GIS makes it especially easy to state why I believe so strongly in software freedom. To put it simply, I believe software should be part of humanity's shared cultural heritage, that all efforts to turn it instead into a commodity are immoral.

Installing ArcGIS made this painfully clear to me.  In the first place, using it required that I use a non-free operating system, so I am running Windows just so that I can use ArcGIS.  Going through the gymnastics (registering an on-line account, figuring out where to enter the product code after missing it the first time through the installation, etc.) required to establish that I was "authorized" to use the commidified resource was most unpleasant. It rubs me deeply the wrong way to see human creativity misspent making the world a worse place rather than a better one.

No matter.  I have to do it to complete this required course, so I am determined to make the best of it.  What that means to me is keeping in mind the well known quote from Sun Tzu,
"Know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles."
So I'll count learning ArcGIS as knowing my enemy, and time permitting, I will do each lab assignment in QGIS in parallel.

The first thing I wanted to do was to install the latest QGIS on my Ubuntu 14.04 desktop.  To do this, using this web page as a guide, I added the following to the end of my /etc/apt/sources.list file:

# For QGIS 2.12
deb http://qgis.org/ubuntugis trusty main
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/ubuntugis/ubuntugis-unstable/ubuntu trusty main

Then I ran:
$ sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-key 3FF5FFCAD71472C4
$ sudo aptitude update
$ sudo aptitude install qgis
This is a much easier process than installing ArcGIS. QGIS also runs much faster than ArcGIS, and on the operating system I choose, not the one chosen for me.

It also seems that the wonderful folks who have developed QGIS have modeled its UI after the non-free standard, so the lab notes describing ArcGIS helped me understand QGIS as well. QGIS's Browser is the equivalent of ArcGIS's ArcCatalog. Here is the QGIS Browser with showing the shape files from my first lab:
The QGIS Desktop functions like ArcGIS's ArcMap.  Here is QGIS Desktop with my Lab 1 shapefiles in a map:
So far, so good.  I was able to answer all the lab questions using QGIS with the given data, and I learned new things about QGIS through doing the ArcGIS lab exercises.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at February 07, 2016 01:54 AM

January 28, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Creating a Shared Partition Between Ubuntu and Scientific Linux

Now that I've removed Windows from my desktop computer at work, and installed Scientific Linux in its place (note: it was, Centos 7.2 with LVM partitions, but now it is Scientific Linux 7.1 with standard partitions), I decided I needed a partition that could be shared between the two distros for large user data.

For example, I have 12 Gigabytes in my Music directory, and a number of VirtualBox hard disk images (at 20 to 30 Gigabytes each) that I would like to access from both OS's.  So my plan is to create a new partition which I will mount on /media/share on both Ubuntu and Scientific Linux.  Then I'll make symbolic links from /home/[username]/Music to /media/share/Music from each home directory.

Before I could create a new partition, I needed to shrink one of my existing partitions to free up space.  Here is how the partitions looked when I started:
and here is what they looked like after shrinking /dev/sda3, growing /dev/sda4 and inserting /dev/sda7 into the new space inside it:
I made the change by booting my computer from an Ubuntu 14.04 Live DVD and running GParted. It took about 20 minutes to shrink my home partition, but it worked without incident.

The next step is to add a mount for the new /dev/sda7 partition.  It's been several years since I played around with mounting partitions, but I still remembered that it involved editing the /etc/fstab file and adding the device and the mount point.  So I loaded my /etc/fstab file and noticed something had changed since I last looked at it:
# /etc/fstab: static file system information.
# Use 'blkid' to print the universally unique identifier for a
# device; this may be used with UUID= as a more robust way to name devices
# that works even if disks are added and removed. See fstab(5).
# <file system> <mount point>   <type>  <options>       <dump>  <pass>
# / was on /dev/sda2 during installation
UUID=4ae26245-fe59-40d2-a380-2c2de57b652b /               ext4    errors=remount-ro 0       1
# /home was on /dev/sda3 during installation
UUID=5c4e86f6-1d94-4eab-9931-5d3aa29e1583 /home           ext4    defaults        0       2
# swap was on /dev/sda1 during installation
UUID=bba8f235-d8b0-4131-9a3e-ec286c3b3837 none            swap    sw              0       0
I was completely unfamiliar with UUID, and had been expecting to see device names (like /dev/sda3 etc.) instead.  I bit of searching led me to several links:
Running $ sudo blkid gave me this:
 /dev/sda1: UUID="b70d7272-e47f-426a-a979-5417bb2f7801" TYPE="swap"
/dev/sda2: UUID="4ae26245-fe59-40d2-a380-2c2de57b652b" TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sda3: UUID="5c4e86f6-1d94-4eab-9931-5d3aa29e1583" TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sda5: UUID="76f8dd02-3671-49ba-b75a-da6d8bb65b19" TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sda6: UUID="e7e58de9-a748-4500-b300-ae1ca10f2056" TYPE="xfs"
/dev/sda7: UUID="44244888-7000-49bf-8ac8-2c32e2f73eb5" TYPE="ext4" 
which I used to add the following line to /etc/fstab:
UUID=44244888-7000-49bf-8ac8-2c32e2f73eb5 /media/share ext4 defaults
and then ran:
$ sudo mkdir /media/share
$ sudo mount -a
which mounted /dev/sda7 on /media/share. Next I moved all my music files to /media/share/Music, deleted the Music directory in my home directory, and replaced it with a symbolic link (note: run from my user's home directory):
$ ln -s /media/share/Music Music
I started Rhythmbox and it worked as if nothing had changed.

Rebooting into Scientific Linux, I added the same line to /etc/fstab and ran the same mkdir and mount commands, then removed my still empty Music directory, made the same sym link, and voila, I had access to all my music from Scientific Linux (after installing Rhythmbox, that is).

For VirtualBox VM sharing, things are a bit more complicated.  Ubuntu makes installing VirtualBox trivial, since it is in the main repository, but on Ubuntu 14.04 version 4.3 is what you get.  On Scientific Linux I installed version 5.0 using the instruction from an earlier post.

Fearing there might be meta-data conflicts between the two versions, but feeling confident the virtual hard disk image files (.vdi) could be shared between them without conflict (since I regularly copy these files back and forth between distros without problems), I did the following:
  1. On the Ubuntu side, I moved my entire VirtualBox VMs directory from my home directory to /media/share and sym linked to it as I had done with the Music directory.
  2. On the Scientific Linux side, I kept VirtualBox VMs in my home directory, using sym links only for the virtual disk image files.  For example, from inside $HOME/VirtualBox VMs/Server1 I ran:
    $ ln -s /media/share/VirtualBox\ VMs/Server1/Server1.vdi Server1.vdi
This worked nicely.  Just for fun, I ran yum update on Server1 launched from VirtualBox 5.0 on Scientific Linux, then rebooted into Ubuntu 14.04 and relaunched Server1 from there, seeing changes I had made.

Finally, after noticing that VirtualBox-4.3 was available for Scientific Linux 7.1, I ran # yum remove VirtualBox-5.0 and then # yum install VirtualBox-4.3, made the VirtualBox VMs directory in my home directory a sym link to /media/share/VirtualBox VMs and quickly added all the VMs back.  Now even the VMs with the VirtualBox extensions installed (for full screen GUI and auto mouse capture) work on both OS's.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 28, 2016 09:24 PM

January 27, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Thonny - A Python IDE for Beginners

I received an email a few days back from Aivar Annamaa about a Python IDE for beginners called Thonny.

The YouTube video introducing the IDE looks promising, so I am jumping at the opportunity to take a look at it.

Thonny is in the Python Package Index, so it can be easily installed (and installed by user without system admin privileges) using pip.  In a previous post I documented installing Python 3.4, which is required to before what follows.

First I want to get pip3.  Since it is not yet in the main Centos repository, I installed it with (note: run $ sudo -i and then # exit before running this command in the same terminal emulator so as not to be prompted for a sudo password):
$ curl https://bootstrap.pypa.io/get-pip.py | sudo python3.4
I want to install Thonny inside the user's local directory, so I installed it with:
$ pip3 install --user thonny
This installs the thonny egg in $HOME/.local/lib/python3.4/site-packages (creating the needed lib/python3.4/site-package directory if it is not already there), and installs a shell script to launch it in $HOME/.local/bin. When I tried running thonny from the command prompt, I got an error message: ImportError: No module named 'tkinter'. So I needed to install tkinter:
$ sudo yum install python34-tkinter
after which thonny launched.  It complained that it couldn't find rope or jedi, however, so I installed those locally as well:
$ pip3 install --user rope
$ pip3 install --user jedi
Since thonny is a GUI IDE, I wanted a GUI launcher for it.  To get one I created a Thonny.desktop file based on the one I found here, with the following contents:
[Desktop Entry]
GenericName=Python IDE
Exec=/home/[username]/.local/bin/thonny %F
Comment=Python IDE for beginners

[Desktop Action Edit]
Exec=/home/[username]/.local/bin/thonny %F
Name=Edit with Thonny
and placed it in my /home/[username]/.local/applications directory (Note: replace [username] with your actual username).

Here is a screenshot of Thonny running hello.py:
My next task will be to go through some beginner Python lessons using Thonny to see how it feels.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 27, 2016 08:12 PM

January 22, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Aprendizaje: una aspiración

Dra. Eleonora Badilla-Saxe



Enseñar: una ilusión

Quienes nos dedicamos a la educación a veces tenemos la ilusión de que nuestros estudiantes aprenden los contenidos que están incluidos en los planes de estudio y que yo les enseño.

Pero en esta ilusión se esconden tres falacias:

• La primera es que, si los estudiantes no aprenden los contenidos prescritos en los planes de estudio, no aprendieron nada.

• La segunda es que, si aprenden los contenidos prescritos en los planes de estudio, aprendieron solamente eso.

• La tercera, que si yo lo enseño, otras personas lo aprenden.

¡Qué desilusión! Si despejo estas tres falacias, resulta que puede ser que lo que yo enseñe, nadie lo aprende, y que aunque nadie aprenda lo que dice el plan de estudios, siempre habrá un aprendizaje. Es decir que aprendan o no lo que está prescrito en el plan de estudios, hay otros aprendizajes riquísimos que yo no percibo por estar tan concentrada en enseñar y evaluar lo que prescribe el plan de estudios.

Aprender: un fenómeno emergente

A partir de la propuesta del Pensamiento Complejo de Edgar Morin, la emergencia o lo emergente ha cobrado relevancia para diversos autores y en distintas áreas. Lo emergente es una respuesta o reacción inesperada, no anticipada, que se da como resultado de la interacción de las partes de un todo.

Aceptamos que el aprendizaje es un fenómeno emergente que surge de la interacción entre diversos procesos neuronales, corporales, afectivos y del entorno, y no puede reducirse a ninguno de los componentes que participan en los procesos. En ese contexto, debemos entender y aceptar que la mayoría de los aprendizajes son inesperados, muchos de ellos imposibles de predecir y que los contenidos de esos aprendizajes son simples y complejos, pero que los complejos no son meros agregados a los primeros.

La aspiración

Resulta entonces que mi aspiración como docente, más que enseñar y evaluar los contenidos prescritos en los planes de estudio, debería estar en identificar y valorar los aprendizajes inesperados e impredecibles que surgen de la interacción de las mentes, las personas, los medios y el entorno.

Un ejemplo *1

Entre los años 2005 y 2008 realicé con mis estudiantes de Educación de la Universidad de Costa Rica, una experiencia con niños y niñas preescolares quienes diseñaron un micromundo en su aula, y dentro de este, una criatura que podía ser programada con un comportamiento particular. *2

Mis estudiantes, muy pendientes del plan de estudios oficial para el nivel de preescolar, pudieron constatar que las actividades propuestas les permitieron a los niños y niñas manifestar conocimiento sobre los contenidos previstos en dicho plan: relaciones espaciales, colores, formas geométricas…

Yo me asombraba con el aprendizaje emergente que construían aquellos pequeños y que, por inesperado e impredecible, pasaba desapercibido para las docentes investigadoras.

Al llamar la atención de las investigadoras y solicitar ayuda de otras personas observadoras, pudimos constatar que, además de los contenidos prescritos en el plan de estudios de preescolar, los niños y niñas estaban estableciendo el conocimiento básico que les permitirá construir conocimiento sobre:

  • Fuerza y movimiento
  • Desplazamiento
  • Potencia
  • Fricción
  • Diferencia entre fuerza y velocidad
  • Energía potencial y energía cinética

¡Antes de los 6 años! Contenidos no incluidos en el Plan de Estudios de Preescolar. Aprendizaje inesperado, impredecible. Sin que nadie lo enseñara.

La labor docente cada vez se vuelve más interesante y desafiante.


*1 Ver experiencia completa en http://revista.inie.ucr.ac.cr/index.php/aie/article/view/241/240

*2 Etapa básica de “robótica”

by mariana at January 22, 2016 05:30 PM

January 21, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Resizing an Logical Volume on Centos 7.2 with system-storage-manager

My desktop machine at work was setup to dual-boot Ubuntu 14.04 and Windows 10.  Deciding I needed Centos 7.2 much more than Windows 10, I installed Centos into the space that had been occupied by Windows.

Using the Centos 7 installation DVD, I followed the partitioning proceedure that I can now almost do in my sleep, creating the following partitions:
  1. 500 MiB /boot with an xfs file system on an actual partition
  2. 1024 MiB swap
  3. 20 GiB / with an xfs file system on a logical volume
  4. /home with whatever space is left with an ext4 file system on a logical volume
I said I could almost do this in my sleep. I made one huge mistake.  Instead of making the /home partition with GiB, I made it with MiB!  I didn't notice this until I got a warning about the home partition running out of space.  I had spent a lot of time already installing and then updating the system.  I didn't want to go through that again.

So I used this mistake as an opportunity to explore resizing my logical volume.  It took a bit of poking around, but eventually I found this webpage, from which I did the following:
  1. Logged into the GUI as root so that /home would not be in use.
  2. Ran yum install system-storage-manager to install ssm.
  3. Ran ssm list to see my volumes.
  4. Ran ssm resize -s [size] [volume] to make /home larger.
It worked like a charm, and now I'm logged back in with my regular user with a few hundered gigabytes of space in my /home partition.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 21, 2016 11:42 PM

Setting Up a Home Centos 7 Server

I have a little Zotac Zbox server at home that I've been running for several years with Ubuntu server.  It has a 500 GiB hard drive, 2 Gigs of RAM, and a dual-core 1.8 GHz Atom processor.  It is small, quiet (silent, actually) and sits unobtrusively on a shelf. It is truly a wonderful little device, and I've made good use of it for learning server administration in a safe and inexpensive way. DynDNS provides me with a domain name that I can use to access it from the outside world since it is sitting at home on my Comcast connection.

Since I am preparing for the RHCSA this Spring, I figured I should install Centos 7 on it. To do the install, I needed to connect it to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. I setup the following LVM partitions:
/boot 500 MiB xfs
swap 1 GiB
/ 20 GiB xfs
/var 197 GiB ext4
/home 241 GiB ext4
and did a minimal install, then ran:
# yum update
# yum install net-tools
# yum install vim
The next task was to configure it to have a static IP address, after which I could unplug it from the monitor, keyboard, and mouse and put it back on the shelf. To set a static IP address, I used this and this web pages as guides.  I ran:
# vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-ens32
and changed:

I tested that I could connect to the new server from outside, and it worked, but it actually took more than 2 minutes to connect.  I'll have to look into why that is.


Symlinking python3 to python3.4

Next I installed Python 3.4 (since what use is a computer without Python 3?) using the steps I described in my previous post.

To be able to type python3 instead of python3.4 to launch this version of Python, I made a symbolic link.  First I took a look at the .bash_profile file, which contained the following:
# .bash_profile

# Get the aliases and functions
if [ -f ~/.bashrc ]; then
        . ~/.bashrc

# User specific environment and startup programs


export PATH
.local/bin is being added to the PATH, but I didn't yet have this directory, so I made it and then changed directories to it:
$ mkdir .local$ mkdir .local/bin
$ cd .local/bin
from here I ran:
$ which python3.4
to find out where it was located, and then made the symlink:
$ ln -s /usr/bin/python3.4 python3
after which I could launch Python 3 they way I wanted, as the following screenshot shows:

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 21, 2016 08:17 PM

Installing VirtualBox on Centos 7

Last post I described how to install VirtualBox Guest Additions on Centos 7.  Since we are now running Centos 7 as the host operating system on several machines in our IT lab, we will also need to install VirtualBox itself on these machines, so that we can run VMs for testing that are hosted on the Centos boxes.

Here is how to do that (Note: be sure you are running the latest kernel before you start, and thanks to this post):
# cd /etc/yum.repos.d/
# wget http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/rpm/rhel/virtualbox.repo
# yum install epel-release
# yum install dkms
# yum install VirtualBox-5.0
VirtualBox will now appear in the Applications -> System Tools menu.

Before individual users can create VMs, they have to be added to the vboxusers group with:
# usermod -a -G vboxusers [user name]
 Users added to the group can now start VirtualBox and install VMs.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 21, 2016 08:03 PM

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Imagine You Could Do This Too! African Friends

Hands of Charity and  Kenya Friends of Small Solutions
We could do this… join the movement, create fashion from ‘trash’!

View on Youtube:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z61Qi_0aIJc


by smallsolutionsbigideas at January 21, 2016 03:09 PM

January 20, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Installing Python 3.4 on Scientific Linux

I  do a lot with Python in my cs program, and as an active member of the python community, I heeded the BDFL's request years ago to make the switch to Python 3.

So it was a bit disconcerting to find that Python 3 was not installed on Centos 7.  Fortunately, after a few false starts, I found that it is now very easy to add it:
# sudo yum install epel-release
# sudo yum install python34
You need to start this with
# python3.4
rather than
# python3
No matter, this will provide a nice opportunity to talk about symlinks with my students (note: I document how to make this symbolic link in my next post).

I decided to install Scientific Linux on the last available machine in our lab, just so we can have a look at it.

Here it is with python 3.4 running:
From a first look it seems to very compatible with Centos 7 / RHEL.  Our textbook mentions that it would be OK to use it to prepare for the RHCSA.  Now we have a box running it to play with.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 20, 2016 07:07 PM

January 14, 2016

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Poetry about Math & Imagination

by Loren Malaguzzi

The child is made of one hundred |The child has a hundred languages | a hundred hands | a hundred thoughts | a hundred ways of thinking, of playing, of speaking. | A hundred always a hundred | ways of listening | a marveling of loving | a hundred joys | for singing and understanding | a hundred worlds | to discover | a hundred worlds | to invent | a hundred worlds | to dream.

The child has a hundred languages | but the steal ninety nine. | The school and the culture separate the head from the body. | They tell the child: to think without hands | to do without heart  | to listen and not to speak | to understand without joy | to love and to marvel only at Easter and at Christmas, | they tell the child:  to discover the world already there | of a the hundred, they steal ninety-nine.  They tell the child: that work and play reality and fantasy | science and imagination | sky and earth  | reason and dream | are things | that do not belong together.  | And they tell the child that the hundred is not there | The child says | NO way, The hundred is there.

by smallsolutionsbigideas at January 14, 2016 06:23 PM

January 13, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Adding Virtualbox Guest Additions and Google Chrome to Centos 7

One effective strategy in preparing for the RHCSA certification is to spend as much time in a Centos environment as one can doing the kinds of things one does each day with a computer.  I'm not prepared yet to give up my Ubuntu desktop, but I've found VirtualBox to be a fine way to switch OSs with ease.

We will be using VirtualBox VMs extensively in our Linux System Administration course, and we have installed two by default, one with a Gnome GUI and one without a GUI.  I want to be able to run the VM with a GUI in full screen mode on my 2560 x 1600 resolution monitor instead of the 1024 x 768 resolution that runs in the VM by default.  I would also like to be able to switch mouse control in and out of the VM without having to press the right control key.  Both of these wishes are granted by the VirtualBox Guest Additions.

As this post explains, all you have to do to get your Centos 7.2 VM ready for Guest Additions is to run:
# yum install epel-release
# yum install dkms
After that, select:
Devices -> Insert Guest Additions CD image...
from the menu of the window containing your running VM, and click on the buttons to download and then mount the image.  After doing that, I changed to the directory where the CD image was mounted with:
# cd /run/media/user/VBOXADDITIONS-$.3.34_104062
and ran:
# ./VBoxLinuxAdditions.run
and then:
# shutdown -r now
After that, I had everything I wanted.  I can resize the window, or maximize it (with Right Control & F keys).  When not full screen, mouse control is transfered to the VM whenever the mouse pointer enters its window and back to the host OS whenever the mouse pointer leaves its window.

In fact, beginning with this sentence, I editing this blog entry from my full screen Centos 7.2 desktop:

Installing Chrome

Then next task to setup a fully functioning desktop is to install Google Chrome.  Here is how to do it:
  1. Create a file /etc/yum.repos.d/google-chrome.repo with the following contents:
  2.  # yum install google-chrome-stable
That's all there is to it.  This has been another fine experience with Centos.  I'm liking it more and more each day ;-)

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 13, 2016 05:47 PM

January 11, 2016

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Pyramids, Mudcakes, and Other Scams

“I’m headed off to a meeting,” Bernadette tells me. “It’s a new program where you sell things, and you can also make money by enrolling other merchants.” Warning bells start going off in my head. “I’d like to hear more … Continue reading

by Sora at January 11, 2016 03:30 AM

January 10, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Chalk Up One for Centos: Removing Old Kernels

I have committed to memory the commands needed to remove old kernels from the Lubuntu 14.04 workstations in our lab:
# dpkg --purge linux-image-extra-[kernel version]-generic
# dpkg --purge linux-image-[kernel version]-generic
# dpkg --purge linux-headers-[kernel version]-generic
# dpkg --purge linux-headers-[kernel version]
With the frequency with which new kernel versions have been released, this can become a rather tedious process.  I have machines in the lab that have many old kernels, and this collection of 4 dpkg --purge commands has to be run for each old kernel on each machine.  I can hear the skilled sys admins out there groaning that I should just run ... (fill in the correct CLI command here - probably involving xargs or something), or set up proper configuration management using Puppet or something.

Despite my years and years teaching with GNU/Linux systems, however, I am not much of a sys admin, and I don't know how to nor do I feel confident enough to try commands like that.  I'll either end up deleting the current kernel, or spending half the day getting the command to work, and then fail to complete my teacher responsibilities (lesson planning, gradeing, etc.) as a result. In years past I've relied on bright, fast learning students to become the sys admins of our lab, but we are in a rebuilding process at present and I don't have any students with these skills at present.

I'm confident that preparing for the RHCSA certification this Spring will help me become better at this sort of thing, but I am philosophically committed to software freedom, and the idea that you have to be some sort of wizard to use free systems properly runs counter to idea that software freedom should be promoted as widely as possible.

It turns out that Centos 7 has a delightfully simple way to address the old kernel problem (see this for more information).  Just run:
# yum install yum-utils
# package-cleanup --oldkernels --count=1
I searched in vain for anything on the Ubuntu side this simple.  The best I could find was this post, which was not very comforting.

Chalk up a clear win for Centos on this one!

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 10, 2016 06:04 PM

January 09, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

GUIs, CLIs and Updates on Centos 7

In addition to running Centos 7 in VirtualBox to prepare for the RHCSA exam, I am installing it on several machines in our IT lab at the Arlington Career Center, since the best way to become truly comfortable with an OS is to use it in day to day activity.  After many years (since 2004) using Ubuntu as my desktop OS, I feel very comfortable with its quirks and with navigating my way around Launchpad and Personal Package Archives (PPAs) and such to find and install the software I need.

Centos 7 is new to me, so it will take me awhile to reach that same feeling of comfort.  I had an early experience that is a bit disconcerting, which raises some questions I would like to get answered early on in the process.

Following the instructions in the text we are using to prepare for the RHCSA, I selected "Server with GUI" from the software selection dialog.  When the install finished, I had a Gnome Shell 3 desktop.  The following screenshot shows this desktop with the System Tools menu displayed:

I'm in the habit of running system updates obsessive compulsively (as I do most everything), so the first thing I did after completing the install was click on the "Software Update" menu to run updates.  The next screenshot shows the update process underway:

When it finished, I was caught by a surprise.  The menu options under "System Tools" had changed, and options "Software" and "Software Update" weren't there anymore:

I've been telling my young charges that "real sys admins don't use GUIs" since the beginning, so I would be perfectly comfortable if it were the case that the proper way to update Centos 7 is just to run:
# yum update
and that we should simply avoid the GUI update and package tools which have now disappeared anyway. I'll be more comfortable when I can read this as official Centos doctrine, so I'll be looking for statements to that effect as I continue learning.  I also need to find out how to work with RPM repositories, and which ones I should add to our lab workstations that will best provide software I will want without causing conflicts and breaking things.

To see if I could learn more about the disappearing menu items, I did a Google search on "Software Update" disappears from Centos 7 after running it and found this, which was helpful. It seems odd to me that such a big change would be made between what I would assume to be a minor release update (7 to 7.2), but getting a feel for how things work in Centos is what I am after, so this experience will be part of my education.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 09, 2016 01:04 PM

January 08, 2016


OLPC SF 8th anniversary

OLPC San Francisco is eight years old! We will be hosting our monthly meeting Saturday, January 9th, from 10AM - 1PM at the downtown SFSU campus, 835 Market Street, 5th floor, Room 597 (the fishbowl).


  • Meet and greet
  • Sugar Labs Oversight Board elections
  • Projects for 2016
  • Party

Our meetings are held on the second Saturday of every month. Everyone is welcome to join us for our monthly meeting! We'll be discussing the latest in OLPC events and give updates on our local (and global) projects. There will be plenty of XO laptops with the latest builds to play around with, too.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/168331340195295/
Google+ https://plus.google.com/events/c1p91s3tbo01jvp2irm9i35s6s8

by sverma at January 08, 2016 09:01 PM

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL Field Report from Kelly, Peace Corps Volunteer in Vanua Lava, Vanuatu

Hi SolarSPELL team,

First, thank you for the opportunity for me to present such a cool device to a remote village in Vanuatu!



I really enjoyed delivering the SPELL unit to the village of Vetimboso near my site here on the island of Vanua Lava. To date it has been the most rewarding project that I have encountered during my service. The Head Mistress and her teaching staff were elated to receive such a cool device. Internet is rare in this part of the world, as you know. Those who are lucky enough to have a smartphone and are geographically situated to receive data find that the service is too slow for any serious browsing. Because the SPELL system provides fast and reliable access to information without reliance on an external network it was more than well received. It’s always good to see happy customers.


The trip to the school in Vetimboso by four wheel drive truck took about and hour and a half from the Provincial Center here in Sola. I was greeted at the school with a custom greeting of fresh mats covered with fresh flower pedals, and refreshments of fresh fruit and a fruit drink. Very welcoming.


After introductions and refreshments I demonstrated the unit. I followed with a training session that included both a session on finding content, and a session on the workings and maintenance of the unit. All of the staff remained fully engaged and were truly engrossed in learning about the device. A hands on session was also given to assure their full understanding of the system.


I see great value in this system for developing countries like Vanuatu. I see a huge “bang for the buck” advantage of distributing more of these systems throughout the islands. Although we do have Internet available, it is unlikely that the Internet will be able to serve most of the population in the remote areas of the county. Although the local Service Provider is expanding its network, there is still the issue of affordability. Further, most remote villages are without electricity, so usage is very limited even for those who can afford a data plan.


I have received some feedback about the system, mostly regarding requests to update the digital library with custom content as needed by the schools in addition to what is already there. At their request, I have helped the school in Vetimboso with the purchase of a projector for use with the system. They will use a small generator to power it and use it for the classroom.

Thanks again for the opportunity and continue the good work.

Kelly B.
Peace Corps Volunteer
Republic of Vanuatu


The Village of Vetimboso. The village is one of the largest all custom villages in Vanuatu. All structures have been hand made with local natural materials. The village is very clean and the residents obviously have great pride in their community.

The Village of Vetimboso. The village is one of the largest all custom villages in Vanuatu. All structures have been hand made with local natural materials. The village is very clean and the residents obviously have great pride in their community.

Local children and likely recipients of access to the SPELL system. Photo taken near Solang School.

Local children and likely recipients of access to the SPELL system. Photo taken near Solang School.

Headmistress Atina was very happy to receive the SPELL system.

Headmistress Atina was very happy to receive the SPELL system.

The teachers reassemble the SPELL system that was completely disassembled by me as part of their training. They successfully and enthusiastically completed the task without my help.

The teachers reassemble the SPELL system that was completely disassembled by me as part of their training. They successfully and enthusiastically completed the task without my help.


by ljhosman at January 08, 2016 06:52 PM

December 28, 2015

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Endangered Wildlife

Who is Smarter, Humans or Animals?

Small Solutions Big Ideas has been delighted with the art produced by our Hands of Charity project participants.  They have been researching, writing, and creating art on the issue of wildlife protection for several years now.

The illustrations and story created by the students tells about how the animals take on the issue of poaching. The animals discuss how to protect their endangered brothers.  In these drawings the humans have guns. The animals don’t have guns, so they use other powers to drive poachers away.   In our human world, we use guns often to protect ourselves, or to get rid of people perceived to be dangerous and to solve conflicts.

Animals also have conflicts. Sometimes these are solved in violent confrontations, but confrontations of skill or stealth. When one person has a gun and another doesn’t, the one without the gun feels helpless.  They feel they must get a gun.  But is that a solution to conflict? Are animals more creative and smarter in the ways they solve conflict and address power struggles, such as competition for food ?

I ask this question of the children and students?    What other ways are there to face danger and solve conflicts?  Please post your ideas here Bukokholo students.


NEW ART 2 33Daniel_PosterStopDestroyingLastDaysofPoachers

giraffe PoacherRhinobyDanny

by smallsolutionsbigideas at December 28, 2015 09:50 PM

December 27, 2015

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Deepening Learning

How do we change learning?  It’s not just about getting computers and teaching kids to use them,  it is about deepening and accelerating the learning.  Change attitudes and a vision of what learning can be.

In the 21st century model of learning, teachers are no longer delivering learning, they are mentors, guides, collaborators in learning activities.  They are empowering children to think on their own, to articulate and understand their own learning process, and to excel.

The hurdles are many:  too many children, too few teachers, too few laptops,  not enough time in a school days. And often there is not the teacher capacity or the resources to direct students past the standard content and expectations.  The biggest hurdle however is often built in cultural attitudes towards learning and the potential of the children.

The large population of African children y must be ready to take on real world challenges now, before they are have finished their schooling.  This requires a new approach.  Project based learning is one of these approaches.

We are very grateful for Chole Richard’s work with Hands of Charity to help them fully use this model, and implement child centered learning in their projects.  Even though these hands on projects have been going on for a couple of years, the students must learn now to lead them, and go further in their learning.

We must work with the students on all fronts, improving their writing, articulation of ideas, critical thinking, understanding of social cultural issues, and the means of cultural change, become true advocates of their country’s future.

Hands of Charity now has full access to the internet to expand the research, reading, and literacy of their students.  They have tools for accelerating mathematics in Turtle Blocks,  and Scratch.  They are good at using media, images and song to express their ideas.  They can find on-line information they need to improve the science of their projects – digging into the ecological issues of animal habitats, and the cultural structure of wild animal life.

We have great hopes for you all.

Here are girl’s working on Scratch in November during Sandra Thaxter’s visit. And Elvis one of our talented artists.



by smallsolutionsbigideas at December 27, 2015 01:26 AM

December 24, 2015

OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

Malaysia BasecampTrek 2.015 in Pictures (Part 1)

 The basecampTrek2.015 visit. 10 XOs where left to the children few months prior.
 Children were asked to document their environment and home.


We visit again 2 weeks later for a review of progress on
what they done. Awesome photos with write-ups


We left  a digital resource wifi Rachel platform for them to manage.

by T.K. Kang (noreply@blogger.com) at December 24, 2015 05:07 PM

Malaysia BasecampTrek 2.015 in Pictures (Part 2)

We visited another deployment. There were report of non-working keyboards
.The children were taught to problem solve and repair the XOs themselves.

A video of a session is available here 

                                              Doing the repair himself and in group

First XO repaired by the proud 9 year old kid.

by T.K. Kang (noreply@blogger.com) at December 24, 2015 06:33 AM

December 23, 2015

XO Educational Software Project - Haiti

Hello world!

WordPress へようこそ。これは最初の投稿です。編集もしくは削除してブログを始めてください !

by 08061120 at December 23, 2015 04:25 PM

December 22, 2015

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Chole’s Training & Inspiration


Last week Chole Richard of Jina Uganda, a teacher A PMM Secondary School. Chole is also a Teched leader. He introduced the Hands of Charity teachers to project based learning as a 21st century approach to learning.

Chole explained that it is a learner driven learning program in which the learners are actively engaged in problem solving of real world issues that affect them. As a learner driven program, the students identify with the problem at hand and are inspired to learn everything to solve it.

He played a video clip giving a brief explanation of what project based learning is: Youtube link to project based learning explained PBL.

IMG_6223 IMG_5978

The key differences between PBL and the traditional method of learning.  PBL is Learner centered Teacher centered whereas traditional learning is compartmentalized into subjects. Traditional Tends to be judgmental; punishing mistakes. Mistakes are often opportunities for reflections and evaluation. Greater emphasis on cognitive learning. In PBL emphas is on all the three domains of learning.


Emphasis on memorization…. Aims at higher order thinking

Competitive learning………….. Teamwork; collaboration

Tends to be less concerned with technology…Technology as an integral tool of learning

Little regards for individual differences ..Complete attention to individual differences.

Disregard for student exhibition… Exhibition is an integral part of learning activity

Chole also took time to explain the general need to revisit the purpose of education if the real benefit of PBL and technology in learning activities are to be realized.

He stressed particularly the need to equitably attend to the three domains of learning and the need to drive the learners to higher order thinking even as we attend to the lower order thinking.

Chole says that he also laid emphasis on individual differences of learners, further that there are two key elements in PBL which needs to be present – making the program learner driven and ensuring active participation and in-depth knowledge of their chosen subject matter.

Learners have their own experiences and concerns for which they should be given opportunity to express and build on. It is crucial that the learners work on projects they identify with and own if PBL is to be of any meaning.The projects by their very nature have a start and an end. They start with the learners conceiving an idea and ending with final feedback and evaluation. The key steps/activities in project based learning. • Recognizing or identifying a need/problem • Identifying target beneficiaries. • Formulating clear aims and objectives • Identifying methodologies. • Identifying tools and resourceful persons • Drawing up a work plan • Executing of the plan • Punctuated by continuous reviews, critique, and self evaluation • Completed work outcome/end product to the identified beneficiaries • Feedback from the field and further self-evaluation • Exhibition/Sharing of learning experiences in the whole process 4 I added that project based learning is not a one day affair but may take months, a full school term of even a year. I laid more emphasis on the importance of evaluation which is all involving and takes very many forms

For instance:  Taking note of students’ increased enthusiasm to participate and learn  Taking note of how they come up with their own ideas either for the ongoing project or for a new one.  Asking students to make reflections of their learning points in written or spoken form.  Evaluation at individual level or as a class/program 


by smallsolutionsbigideas at December 22, 2015 12:52 AM

December 12, 2015

Ghana Together


Dear Friends---both American and Ghanaian,
We of Ghana Together and our Ghanaian partners of Western Heritage Home thank you from our hearts for your help with our projects in Axim, Ghana during 2015---especially for financial donations, generously-offered expertise, and logistical assistance.
We sincerely thank all the Axim adult leaders who put these resources to work. The "elbow grease" is theirs!

-Supported 75 students in various ways --- tuition, room & board, textbooks, personal supplies, uniforms, shoes, underwear, notebooks, pens. In most cases, families helped with some costs, but without our help, these students would not be in school.
-Completed the renovation of the dining/assembly/study building at Axim Girls Senior High School.

-Coordinated on-site visits for Adam Holt of Unleash Kids, and Katelyn Henderson and her Dad Jeff. Adam installed the first Internet-in-a-Box in Ghana at the AGSHS, giving access to Wikipedia, hundreds of science/math videos, maps, and other resources. Katelyn taught beginning coding, installed another Internet-in-a-Box at Axim Library, and trained students to search Wikipedia using the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) computer. Absolutely thrilling for the Ghanaian kids (and maybe the Americans, too!)

-Enhanced the Axim Girls Senior High School’s Jerome Chandler Science Room with a ½ size, scientifically accurate, plastic human skeleton, dog & sheep teeth (!), chemicals, science posters, and back issues of Science News Magazine.
-Completed a second Urine Diversion/Dehydration Toilet (UDDT) at the Methodist-Government School, serving 750+ students. We trained the teachers in its concept, use, and maintenance. Imagine knowing your child has a clean, non-smelling, sanitary toilet at school! Imagine your daughter having a private, clean facility during her menstrual cycle!

-Delivered about 1500 children’s books to the Axim Library. Funded the launch of the new Axim Library’s Mobile Library Tricycle Program, which now visits 11 primary/JHS schools weekly. Delivered 98 technical books to the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute--electrical, plumbing, carpentry, etc.
-Provided electricity to charge about 40 OLPCs for the entire year. And then, were amazed at the big news!! Maybe our years of supporting the Library and the Children’s Computing Lab (OLPCs) had something to do with the Ghana Library Authority & the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication selecting Axim Library as the perfect spot to create a Community Information Center? Ten new desktop computers, internet access, solar power, and best of all, a National Service computer specialist to manage the whole computer shebang!

-Delivered 50+ lbs. of pre-school learning materials and purchased a DVD player for the Anglican Crèche.
-Conducted---by Board Member Louise Wilkinson and friend Susan Hirst--- Leadership Workshops for 75 senior high students. The leaders of tomorrow!
-Loved seeing Gifty Essien’s new fashion business, one of our Western Heritage Scholars, who graduated senior high this spring—the first in her family to do so. With her $300 Leif Pederson Graduation Award, she has traveled by tro-tro to Takoradi several times, purchasing fashionable bras, cosmetics, and jewelry, and selling them in Axim Town. She can’t quite afford her own “stand” as yet and so is using a small table in front of her friend’s stand. She has her bell to attract customers. She is realizing her dream to have her own fashion business, as she calls it. Her Mom, a subsistence farmer, is so proud! WE are so proud!!

-Continue the scholarships---and maybe expand them.
-Renovate the young men’s dormitory at the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute--enable about 30 guys to get technical training.

-Keep those Internet-in-a-Boxes running!

-Explore introducing the “Days for Girls” menstrual kits. We don’t want a single girl to miss school ever again.

-Continue to ship children’s books, pre-school educational materials, and science-oriented/technical magazines. Purchase a few science supplies.
Who knows what else? When Ghanaians and American put their minds together…WATCH OUT! (We dream of more toilets...)

Thank you for your partnership in these projects that have such a positive effect on individual lives and on the community of Axim.
We again assure you that we use 100% of your donations toward our projects.  We on the Ghana Together Board handle all administrative, travel, and other such costs ourselves.

We ask for your financial support, either by mail or credit card via the PayPal link on our website. We try as much as possible to buy locally in Ghana, in support of business and workers there. We ourselves consider our efforts in Axim a good investment in youth, education, sanitation, and community development.

We are a registered US-based 501c3 non-profit. Your donations are tax-deductible.
Ghanaians who wish to help can deposit funds into the Western Heritage Home account at Ghana Commercial Bank. Contact James Kainyiah at 024-407-2638.
With our sincere thanks…
Ghana Together Directors:  Maryanne Ward, Jerome Chandler, Rich Ward, Louise Wilkinson, and Nathan Ward
Mailing Address: Ghana Together, 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Phone: 1-360-848-6568

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at December 12, 2015 08:20 PM

Thanks for a Really Great Year!

Dear Friends---both American and Ghanaian,
We of Ghana Together and our Ghanaian partners of Western Heritage Home thank you from our hearts for your help with our projects in Axim, Ghana during 2015---especially for financial donations, generously-offered expertise, and logistical assistance.
We sincerely thank all the Axim adult leaders who put these resources to work. The "elbow grease" is theirs!

-Supported 75 students in various ways --- tuition, room & board, textbooks, personal supplies, uniforms, shoes, underwear, notebooks, pens. In most cases, families helped with some costs, but without our help, these students would not be in school.
-Completed the renovation of the dining/assembly/study building at Axim Girls Senior High School.

-Coordinated on-site visits for Adam Holt of Unleash Kids, and Katelyn Henderson and her Dad Jeff. Adam installed the first Internet-in-a-Box in Ghana at the AGSHS, giving access to Wikipedia, hundreds of science/math videos, maps, and other resources. Katelyn taught beginning coding, installed another Internet-in-a-Box at Axim Library, and trained students to search Wikipedia using the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) computer. Absolutely thrilling for the Ghanaian kids (and maybe the Americans, too!)

-Enhanced the Axim Girls Senior High School’s Jerome Chandler Science Room with a ½ size, scientifically accurate, plastic human skeleton, dog & sheep teeth (!), chemicals, science posters, and back issues of Science News Magazine.
-Completed a second Urine Diversion/Dehydration Toilet (UDDT) at the Methodist-Government School, serving 750+ students. We trained the teachers in its concept, use, and maintenance. Imagine knowing your child has a clean, non-smelling, sanitary toilet at school! Imagine your daughter having a private, clean facility during her menstrual cycle!

-Delivered about 1500 children’s books to the Axim Library. Funded the launch of the new Axim Library’s Mobile Library Tricycle Program, which now visits 11 primary/JHS schools weekly. Delivered 98 technical books to the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute--electrical, plumbing, carpentry, etc.
-Provided electricity to charge about 40 OLPCs for the entire year. And then, were amazed at the big news!! Maybe our years of supporting the Library and the Children’s Computing Lab (OLPCs) had something to do with the Ghana Library Authority & the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication selecting Axim Library as the perfect spot to create a Community Information Center? Ten new desktop computers, internet access, solar power, and best of all, a National Service computer specialist to manage the whole computer shebang!

-Delivered 50+ lbs. of pre-school learning materials and purchased a DVD player for the Anglican Crèche.
-Conducted---by Board Member Louise Wilkinson and friend Susan Hirst--- Leadership Workshops for 75 senior high students. The leaders of tomorrow!
-Loved seeing Gifty Essien’s new fashion business, one of our Western Heritage Scholars, who graduated senior high this spring—the first in her family to do so. With her $300 Leif Pederson Graduation Award, she has traveled by tro-tro to Takoradi several times, purchasing fashionable bras, cosmetics, and jewelry, and selling them in Axim Town. She can’t quite afford her own “stand” as yet and so is using a small table in front of her friend’s stand. She has her bell to attract customers. She is realizing her dream to have her own fashion business, as she calls it. Her Mom, a subsistence farmer, is so proud! WE are so proud!!

-Continue the scholarships---and maybe expand them.
-Renovate the young men’s dormitory at the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute--enable about 30 guys to get technical training.

-Keep those Internet-in-a-Boxesrunning!

-Explore introducing the “Days for Girls” menstrual kits. We don’t want a single girl to miss school ever again.

-Continue to ship children’s books, pre-school educational materials, and science-oriented magazines, and science supplies not available there.
Who knows what else? When Ghanaians and American put their minds together…WATCH OUT! (We dream of more toilets...)

Thank you for your partnership in these projects that have such a positive effect on individual lives and on the community of Axim.
We again assure you that we use 100% of your donations toward our projects.  We on the Ghana Together Board handle all administrative, travel, and other such costs ourselves.

We ask for your financial support, either by mail or credit card via the PayPal link on our website. We try as much as possible to buy locally in Ghana, in support of business and workers there.
We are a registered US-based 501c3 non-profit. Your donations are tax-deductible.

Ghanaians who wish to help can deposit funds into the Western Heritage Home account at Ghana Commercial Bank. Contact James Kainyiah at 024-407-2638.
With our sincere thanks…

Ghana Together Directors:  Maryanne Ward, Jerome Chandler, Rich Ward, Louise Wilkinson, and Nathan Ward
Mailing Address: Ghana Together, 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Phone: 1-360-848-6568

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at December 12, 2015 08:02 PM

November 26, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

30 More SolarSPELL libraries delivered to Chuuk, Micronesia!


Thirty additional SolarSPELL libraires have been delivered to Chuuk, FSM!

On November 23rd and 24th a training on the use of these solar powered offline digital libraries was held at Chuuk High School. The training participants included both principals from remote island schools and Chuuk High School staff who will be traveling to remote islands to give training on the SolarSPELL libraries to teachers at these schools—following a training of the trainers model.




The Chuuk Department of Education (DoE) is encouraging these schools to budget for 20 Chromebooks (laptops) to accompany these libraries, which the DoE will help the schools obtain.




The training was led by Dr. Laura Hosman, and the libraries had been built one month prior, by students at California Polytechnic State University. A special thanks to Hiro Mori for his help during the training.


This delivery and training brings the total number of SolarSPELL libraries that have been delivered into the field, across the Pacific Islands to 80!


On a separate but very related note, we returned to Chuuk High School on Nov 25th and were able to observe a trial group of Grade 12 students using an offline library that is being piloted at Chuuk High. It was inspired by the offline intranet server approach demonstrated a few years ago at CHS by the PISCES project. However, this project has taken the idea to a whole different level.





Students access cached educational information over an on-campus intra-net connection, from the schools’ growing digital library/repository. This intra-net connection is very fast. (By contrast, we attempted to connect to the Internet while this class was taking place, and were unable to load a single page.)




We were amazed and impressed as we watched these students take tests, be able to monitor their progress on assignments and outcomes on exams, and watch Khan Academy videos and TED talks, among other things. Kudos to Matt Kosik for the fantastic job he’s doing on this project.



by ljhosman at November 26, 2015 02:37 AM

November 24, 2015

Nancie Severs

My Foot is in My Mouth! — Hopkinton, MA

Hopkinton, MA

Are you wondering what's happening in the OLPC volunteer community? I have been asked often recently what do I do? My close friends and colleagues know that even though I’ve had some health challenges to address, I'm still occasionally volunteering to support the efforts to enhance the experience that children and teachers have with One Laptop Per Child rugged XO laptops. You might say, these laptops are 2007 technology. Old and slow. Why don't you give out tablets.

Many of us have tried the tablets for our personal lives and have added keyboards or migrated back to a netbook type device for serious work or learning. The original XO laptop design unveiled the first flash technology netbook to the world. And it is still really useful for children of all ages, especially in the developing world. There are 4 models, the XO-1, (1GB), the faster XO 1.5 (4GB), the lower power with customizable memory and keyboard 1.75 and the XO-4 with those features and a touchpad.

Many of us from the OLPC volunteer community have continued our work through Unleash Kids. www.unleashkids.org

There are about 3 million XOs around the world. A dedicated core group has been working together to enhance the performance and utility of the existing XOs. Meeting remotely and weekly, these volunteers have created a new software platform that will expand even the oldest XOs with an OS installed and run from a 32 GB SD card. They have developed a school server which can pair with the XOs and will allow users to save and transfer work to and from their teachers. The server can host an “internet in a box” which can provide a classroom or library with a searchable intranet that functions like a mini Internet for remote locations that are still without Internet access. This is a very exciting development and will enhance the utility of the already proven rugged hardware of the XO laptop.

The Volunteer Contributors program has already repaired, refurbished and redistributed over 350 XO's. It is still accepting and receiving used units. Working XOs or those that need repairs are welcome.

Adam recently called me. He said that a team of volunteers from EMC in Hopkinton, Massachusetts had offered to help refurbish XO's as a community service project. Would I come and help him with that?

I am good at XO repairs and I couldn’t say no. I drove my trusty Element down to the place where Adam had XOs, from New Hampshire. As he loaded more than a hundred XO's into my car; laptops, chargers, parts machines etc. I scolded him. I said "Adam, in 2 days, we will never get to half of those XOs. You are putting 1500 + pounds in my car for me to drive with."

On the appointed date, we arrived at EMC at 8:00 AM. Unloading was easier than loading, as there were many willing hands to help. We met Joe Paradise, the EMC Team leader who enthusiastically pursued this project and had recruited a terrific team of volunteers. Each volunteer came for at least several hours. Some for longer. EMC is a generous company, encouraging its employees to participate in community service projects by providing 3 8 hour days of “paid volunteer time” annually. Most often, projects take place in the local community and off site. This may have been the first project to bring the volunteer opportunity to the EMC campus. Joe handled the logistics seamlessly.

Adam and I set up stations: Charging, Cleaning, Diagnostics and Triage, Disassembly and Reassembly, Reflashing and Repairs.

Former OLPC employee wizard Paul Fox joined us and shared his expertise for the entire first day. Together Paul and I got the De-Bricking table going. We taught disassembly and reassembly and firmware up dating and re-flashing. Jessica, another UK volunteer joined us for the second day.

A few years ago, I had discovered that “Mr. Clean Magic Erasers” easily cleans the dirt and grit that accumulates on XO ears and keyboards. (They are melamine and they work by actually sanding off the dirt and grime.) While we brought most of the needed supplies, the EMC volunteers generously provided the pricy “Magic Erasers.” And they also did the “dirty work” cleaning well used XOs that had been re-donated. And, we volunteers enjoyed donuts and lunch donated by the EMC Team!

Throughout each day, the stack of XO's labeled "ready to go" grew taller. The refurbished XO’s many of which started out really dirty look brand-new. I was surprised at how much we accomplished on the first day.

Adam and I hope everyone had a fun and meaningful experience. On the second day we had new groups of volunteers. I was so pleased to see that Ray and Dave returned to help again! We attacked some more difficult repairs. With volunteers Holly and Aniruhda we managed a successful keyboard and touchpad repair. It’s a difficult repair and it took us 2 hours to do 3 XO's. But we now know how to do it. It will go faster the next time. And we can share that knowledge at some site where one additional XO will make a big difference to a child.

My foot is in my mouth. Adam, you were absolutely right to fill the car!
This was the most successful repair sprint ever. In just 2 days we took home 167 previously unusable XO's, XO-1’s and 1.5's, now tagged “Ready to Ship.”

Thank you Joe Paradise and each one of the talented, earnest volunteers. What a wonderful Community Service project. We hope we can repeat it.

Are you looking to volunteer? Do you have a project location and need XO's?
Go to:
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Contributors_ program
Draft a Stellar Project Proposal:
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Contributors_ program/Project_proposal_form
Submit it by email to

November 24, 2015 02:33 AM

November 23, 2015

One Laptop per Child

Students can be part of Google Code-in with SugarLabs

A global, online open source development & outreach contest for pre­-college students ages 13-­17

The Google Code-­in contest gives students around the world an opportunity to explore the world of open source development. Google not only runs open source software throughout our business, we value the way the open source model encourages people to work together on shared goals over the internet.

Give it a try from December 7th, 2015 to January 25th, 2016!

Participants complete “tasks” of their choice for a variety of open source software projects. Students can earn t-­shirts, certificates, and hooded sweatshirts for their work. Each software project will name two students as their grand prize winners and those students win a four day trip to in Mountain View, CA, USA in June 2016.

Since open source development is much more than just computer programming, there are lots of different kinds of tasks to choose from, broken out into five major categories:

1. Code: Writing or refactoring code

2. Documentation/Training: Creating and editing documentation and helping others learn

3. Outreach/Research: Community management and outreach/marketing, or studying problems and recommending solutions

4. Quality Assurance: Testing to ensure code is of high quality

5. User interface: User experience research or user interface design

This year students can work with 14 open source organizations: Apertium, Copyleft Games Group, Drupal, FOSSASIA, Haiku, KDE, MetaBrainz, OpenMRS, RTEMS, SCoRe, Sugar Labs, Systers, Ubuntu, and Wikimedia Foundation.

Over the past five years, over 2200 students from 87 countries completed at least one task in the contest. This year we hope to have even more students participate globally. Please help us spread the word and bring more students into the open source family!

Visit g.co/codein to learn more about the contest. For even more information and contest updates, read our Frequently Asked Questions, follow our blog or join our mailing list.

The Google Code-­in contest starts on December 7, 2015!


by mariana at November 23, 2015 04:30 PM

November 16, 2015

OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

Nov 16 2015

It has been 2 years since "olpc BaseCamp2013: The next journey" and months since I wrote here.

We can now look back over the 2 years to see what have change in the landscape of digital learning platform. The momentum is getting stronger with many new people and organisations doing what we hope to do in the past. This is a good sign indeed.

Today is Nov 16 and it is 10 years since the first XO laptop prototype was revealed. Happy 10 years birthday. Enjoy this shot clip of the past and don't blink towards the end.


Over the next few days olpc BaseCampTrek2.015 will be active in Malaysia. Some of us will visit various mini deployments planted over the 2 years.  While personally I am not able to be there in person this time, I am fortunate however to have done Australia BaseCampTrek2.015. I visited One-Education (www.one-education.org) last week  and saw their great team in action.

I had a glimpse of their modular Infinity Laptop which will be launched soon in indiegogo kickstarter this month. You can win a infinity by going to this page:


Keep the next journey alive and enjoy

T.K. Kang

by T.K. Kang (noreply@blogger.com) at November 16, 2015 12:43 AM

November 12, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

30 more SolarSPELL libraries built at Appropriate Technology Workshop and Build Day at Cal Poly


On October 24 2015, students from across Cal Poly’s campus gathered for an interactive workshop on Appropriate Technology for the Developing World and to participate in the hands-on activity of building 30 additional SolarSPELL libraries. The workshop and build were led by Prof. Laura Hosman.



The students, representing a wide variety of majors, participated in a lively discussion about some of the challenges of bringing technology to developing world contexts, when a lack of technology may not have been the problem in the first place. The workshop also highlighted some successes and failures of ICT in developing regions.



The hands-on build activities saw students jumping in to solder, drill, heat-shrink, glue, fasten, cut, splice, affix, and much more…as they enthusiastically built 30 SolarSPELL libraries in approximately 2.5 hours. Feedback received from the event indicated that the students truly enjoyed the experience, and felt they were able to contribute to a real-world project.



Here are some quotes from the students:

The simplicity of the SolarSPELL design made me realize what appropriate technology might look like.



The hands-on project makes you feel like you are making an actual contribution to helping address a problem. The design of the technology reflects the needs of the location.


It was a humbling experience that made me really consider the way technology interplays with social/political/economic situations.


I loved the build aspect because it made me feel a part of something bigger than myself.



Cal Poly’s own Mustang News covered the event and released a video featuring the day’s highlights.

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The 30 libraries that were built at this event are heading to Chuuk, which is one of the four Federated States of Micronesia. This will be SolarSPELL’s third in-the-field deployment, bringing the total number of libraries in the field to nearly 80! We’re looking forward to the on-site training in November.





by ljhosman at November 12, 2015 04:54 PM

November 11, 2015

One Laptop per Child

Becas para Maestría por Universidad ORT México a amigos de OLPC

Con fundamento en el convenio de colaboración entre nuestras instituciones, la Universidad ORT México ofrecerá becas del 50% en inscripción y colegiatura para candidatos referidos de OLPC que sean admitidos en el programa de Maestría en Innovación Educativa.  
Puede consultar los detalles del programa en el siguiente enlace: http://www.ort.edu.mx/<wbr></wbr>p/med.html
Para poder solicitar admisión y beca institucional, deberá ingresar en el siguiente enlace y seguir las instrucciones:
Para cualquier duda, comunicarse a la  Coordinación de Admisiones al teléfono


by mariana at November 11, 2015 04:18 AM

October 31, 2015

Ghana Together

What about that Jerome Chandler Science Room at Axim Girls Senior High School (AGSHS)?

Happy Halloween! A perfect day to inquire about that Jerome Chandler Science Room at AGSHS you’ve heard so much about …perfect, because one of this year’s additions is just so darned appropriate to highlight TODAY OF ALL DAYS!!!

Plus, on our recent visit to Axim, we had firm instructions from Jerome to learn all we could about what’s happening to his precious Science Room! <o:p></o:p>

They were moving the Science Room to the new classroom building, and classes hadn’t begun, but we talked with the teachers, and this week --about a month into the school term -- we received photos via the magic of “Whatsapp.”

A scientifically accurate 1/2 size plastic human skeleton
Science teachers opening the skeleton. Dept. Head Eric Jim is second from the left. The five AGSHS science teachers – integrated science, chemistry, biology, physics, and agriculture – use the Science Room about once/week or as needed for practicums.

What the heck????

Three junior high schools – Life International, Morning Star, and Catholic Government School – regularly send students to the Science Room for practicums.  Akyimen-Brawere JHS has asked to join occasionally. Ahlesunna has been invited and hopefully will accept. All of these schools are within walking distance---within about 30-45 minutes. Teacher Jim schedules these schools for end of the day, so students can walk straight home after the practicums.<o:p></o:p>

If you want to know what they're looking at, call Jerome!!

In addition, during the one-month school holidays in 2015, science vacation classes were held every day for junior high students.<o:p></o:p>

This year, thanks to our ever-generous science fans back home in America, we supplied a scientifically accurate human skeleton, and also a little more than $1000 worth of chemicals, dry cell batteries, dessicator, and teeth and jaws of sheep and dog (!). 

We thank Evans Arloo, Western Heritage Home Operations Manager, who traveled via tro-tro the nearly 300 km to Kumasi to purchase these supplies from the same business that supplies the science department and medical school at Kwame Nkrumah Science and Technology University.<o:p></o:p>

The AGSHS Science Room is equipped with both computer and overhead projectors, tables, stools, shelving, 50 scientific calculators, numerous posters, stethoscopes, and all the materialsneeded to support hands-on teaching of the JHS/SHS Ghana Education Science curriculum. <o:p></o:p>

Jerome also wrote a definitive manual of experiments to demonstrate all the major concepts in the curriculum (reviewed by Rich Ward, who pretended to be a junior high student!). We bring Science News Magazines, for the science teachers, who have few intellectual resources. (Hint: if you subscribe to a science-oriented magazine, we can help recycle your back issues!)<o:p></o:p>

We thank AGSHS Science Dept Head & Teacher Mr. Eric Jim who has worked with us from the beginning, and also Headmistress Theodora Appiah, who well understands the importance of science education (and happens to be married to a university chemistry professor!). 

Madame Theodora took leadership of AGSHS in January 2015, and she, Eric, and the teachers have put the science program into high gear! It's been fun to help them with their goals! And so we thank YOU, dear Reader!<o:p></o:p>

For more News Updates, see http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/
To contact us, email Ghana Together
For more info, see http://ghanatogether.org
We are a US-registered 501c3, EIN 26-2182965

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at October 31, 2015 06:52 PM

October 29, 2015

Ghana Together

Ghana 2015 – Fun

Four of us went to Ghana in September of 2015.  The group consisted of Maryanne Ward, Susan Hirst, Louise Wilkinson and her 18 year-old granddaughter, Alexis.  All of us but Alexis had been to Ghana before.  We have written about the Leadership Workshops we did.  This is about the experiences and fun we had there as tourists! We recommend it!!<o:p></o:p>

Alexis, Susan Hirst, Maryanne Ward, and Louise Wilkinson

Ghana is, as usual, friendly, colorful, and chaotic.  Because of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, there were very few visitors in Ghana last year.  Although Ebola never reached Ghana, it still is influencing tourism this year, we were told.  We were almost the only people in the hotels where we stayed in both Accra and Axim.  Perhaps that’s why internet was unavailable which made contact with families at home much more difficult.<o:p></o:p>

Axim Beach Hotel with its wonderful ocean view and clean beach. It's a bit rough for swimming, but perfect for walking, enjoyiing sunsets, and just overall sheer beauty.

However, there has been a tremendous improvement in the main road from Accra to Axim.  Those bumps and potholes are mostly a thing of the past and the travel time has been cut almost by half!  But the dirt roads in Axim have not improved and getting to the Axim Beach Hotel (with its beautiful beach and comfortable thatched-roof huts) was always a wildly bumpy adventure. So was the beach road we took to the Ankroba Beach Hotel.  We were stopped by young men pulling in a long net - a boat’s catch, and Alexis was able to help them.<o:p></o:p>

Cottage at the Axim Beach Hotel. Comfortable, clean, safe, good food...:)

Pull, Lexy, pull!! The guys certainly appreciated the "help" of their American friend who just happpened on the scene as we drove the coast road from Axim to Ankobra. Fun!!

We went to a Kundum festival in Nsein, a neighboring village.  It was much smaller than the Kundum in Axim but the procession and dancing were again wonderful.  The chief was carried on a palanquin on the heads of four men who were all dancing, and Alexis caught the attention of numerous handsome young men. <o:p></o:p>

Nsein Villagers marching to their Kundum Festival. Can you hear the drums?

The "Dignity Ladies" dancing in their colorful blue hats and beautiful dresses.The theme of the festival was "Women Empowerment"
Finally the Chief arrives in his palanquin, to the acclaim of his people, and with a small royal princess leading the way before him. We were honored to be invited to a private meeting with the Chief, just prior to the start of the festivities.

The slave castle in Axim is 500 years old, as of this very year—2015!  We took a tour there and learned about a hidden tunnel to the island of slave embarkation and about the commandant who fell to his death while watching the ocean for the ship carrying his fiancée into port. Involvement in the slave trade makes the castle a depressing place, but there are terrific views of Axim town and the colorful fleet of boats.<o:p></o:p>

The slave castle in Axim, built by the Portuguese in 1515, owned also by both the Dutch and the British, over its long history, and looking today much as it did then. We've been told the Dutch Embassy sees to its painting every so often.

Sunday we dressed for church and walked through Apewosika, the east end of town extending from the hillside down to the sea.  The hill is lined with wood and corrugated steel huts, many fish smokers, and women, children, chickens and goats.  The children and some adults were greeting us with “obroni” meaning “white person,” and “Hello how are you I am fine” in one string of words.<o:p></o:p>

Typical Axim street scene while walking from the hotel to church

Mostly people are friendly, welcoming. Few "obronis" visit Axim, especially in the town center. T

The Methodist Church was full of women dressed in bright print dresses and colorful headdresses or carefully done hair with weaves.  The men look stunning in white or colorful shirts and pants and often wear shoes with long points.  We tried to slip into the church but were spotted (we do stand out) and ushered to the front and after the sermon, Maryanne was called upon to speak.  She is well-known here since she comes every year.  She did a great job of speaking and pointing out people in the congregation who had helped with many of our education and sanitation efforts in town.  Then the best part – the offering.  Row by row people danced to the front of the church to put their offerings in the basket.  There is such joy in the dancing.  Of course when it was our turn we joined them – but we can’t move like they can despite the compelling music.  <o:p></o:p>

Our friend, Miss Frances Polley, a retired math teacher, dances her faith at the Axim Methodist Church. 

We were invited to the King Awulae’s home for dinner.  We were ushered into a dark living room with huge leather couches and a massive TV which was turned on for our entertainment, showing what must have been a Nigerian soap opera.  After a time we were invited to a table and served a wonderful fish soup with rice.  During this time Awulae had spoken to us only briefly which, it turns out, is customary here.  <o:p></o:p>

Louise and Paramount Chief "King" Awulae Attibruskusi at her home near Seattle in 2011. He is the hereditary chief of Lower Axim and manages land and resources from Axim to Ivory Coast on behalf of his people. We were honored to have him in our midst here in NW Washington after his business trip to California. He serves on the Ghana National Petroleum Council, and in the past few months has launched a Foundation to support needy students.

However after dinner we had an interesting conversation with King Awulae and Mr. Bentil, a Ghanaian and a good friend of ours.  Awulae spoke vehemently against President Obama visiting and saying that Ghana and other African nations should legalize gay marriage.  It is very much against their culture and the law.  He spoke positively about women leaders and thinks they are not as corruptible as men.  However, when they are corrupted, they can do more damage because people have trusted them. The corruption of 30 plus justices in their court has been the big public topic of discussion here.  That is only about 10% of the justices, but Awulae is outraged that they could be corrupt when they are the keepers of justice for the people.  The head of their court of justice is a woman.  He didn’t seem to be blaming her, although he said she should take responsibility.<o:p></o:p>

We spent time visiting the children formerly in the Heritage Home, catching up with them and seeing how they’d grown.  Some are at Nsein High School and others at Manye Academy.  It was wonderful to see how lovely and smart they had become.  We took toys to a preschool, and visited the Apewosika elementary school where Ghana Together is sponsoring a number of students. The children were full of energy and joy, fascinated to see these white foreigners, and swamped the delighted Alexis.  <o:p></o:p>

Philo, Peter, and Charlotte---our WHH senior high scholars. They sent a message that they needed scientific calculators for their classes, which we brought for them. They are thriving at Nsein SHS.

We are proud of Kingsley, who just graduated junior high, and received a scientific calculator to celebrate! Kingsley will attend a school for welding and fabrication, and maybe some automotive mechanics training. Ernestina also graduated JHS, but was with extended family in Accra during our visit. She also received a calculator as her graduation gift.

Some of the WHH Scholars with their mentor, Evans Arloo. They attend Manye Academy, and live in the dormitory there.

Lexy with students from Apewosika Village School. Ghana Together provides tuition for 50 students from this very impoverished neighborhood. The extended family must provide uniforms, shoes, underwear, exercise book, and pencil.

Lexy and Maryanne show the new learning materials to children at the Anglican Creche in Axim. The materials are a gift from Crossroads Preschool in Burlington, WA---THANKS!!! 

We visited the Axim Library with Mercy Ackah, the former Axim librarian who is now head of the region for the Ghana Library Authority.  We have been sending books for the last several years to the Axim Library and it seems to be the only one of her five with any significant holding. While we were in Axim, 16 more boxes of books (about 2000 volumes) arrived, given by Americans, to the library. Thank you!!

Mercy Ackah, Regional Library Director for Ghana Library Authority; Gaddiel Eyisson, Axim Public Library Director; and Maryanne

We hung a picture of Tom Castor, Louise’s late husband, in the One Laptop Per Child computer room to honor his work renovating the small computers and lovingly teaching the children of Axim how to use them.  <o:p></o:p>

On our last night in Axim we went to a lovely resort at the end of the point east of Axim, Lou Moon.  We were able to swim there (the lovely beach at the Axim Beach Hotel has an undertow and so swimming is not safe).  We watched a spectacular sunset and had dinner there.<o:p></o:p>

Sunset with fishing canoes at Lou Moon Hotel/Restaurant---Wow!!

We met Gifty Baaba Asmah in Takoradi for lunch.  She is still working hard to improve Ghanaian life through her non-profit.  She is currently collaborating with the University of Rhode Island on ways to recycle the plastic ever-present in the Ghanaian landscape.  We spent the next few days at Kathryn Roe’s house near Cape Coast.  Kathryn has a program to provide scholarships to poor students who pass their high school exams but otherwise would not be able to continue their education.  It was a very comfortable house and we hardly noticed the 12-hour loss of electricity.  

A very nice lunch place in Takoradi with long-time friend Gifty.

Some of us did the Canopy Walk in Kakum National Forest, toured the Cape Coast Castle and “petted” the crocodiles at Han’s Botel.  And we were able to walk through the little village where Kathryn lives, Mpeasem.  

Children, children. Ghana's population is young! Ghana now provides tuition-free education through junior high school, but it's a challenge for many parents to provide the uniforms, etc. and the schools are crowded. But the difference is striking from our first visit, nine years ago.
The people were friendly and children followed us everywhere.  We bought bananas and took pictures.  It is dirt and huts, chickens and goats, and seemingly a lot of family warmth and play.<o:p></o:p>

Typical family scene---Mom is a fish seller. Kids "help"!!

Kakum Forest Canopy Walk. A wonderful way to experience tropical Africa!

We spent two days in Accra, taking in some key sights - Osu to shop, Kwame Nkrumah’s tomb and museum, a workshop for coffins in shapes related to the dead person’s activities (a truck, a pineapple, a camera) and the Makola market.  We walked to the Cultural Arts Center and saw how much of the craft work is actually done.  We had dinner with Frank Cudjoe and his family – Anita and children Sue and Leif.  And we stayed at the Afia Hotel, which is charming, but has a tremendous amount of trash on the beach.<o:p></o:p>

Yes, these are coffins---made after the interests of the family member who has died and will be laid to rest in them. One of Ghana's interesting traditions!

Another coffin. No doubt the family member had a love of photography and cameras! He or she will be buried in this coffin, which probably closely matches the actual camera owned by the deceased.
We recommend the Afia Hotel in Accra as a great place to stay. But, this beach, near the hotel, highlights the huge challenge Ghana faces with keeping trash off the beaches and struggling with sanitation generally.

The trip was wonderful.  We spent a lot of time working hard and interacting with high school students, and were able to relax and enjoy some amazing places.<o:p></o:p>

Our all-time favorite photo, taken by Susan Hirst, photographer extraordinaire! The three children are "students" at the Anglican Creche. We LOVE the hairdo!!!

So much pure fun with wonderful friends. We are grateful, especially for the wonderful care given us by the staffs of the various hotels, the many drivers who transported us safely---esp. Quamie Annan, to Kathryn Roe for her hospitality in Cape Coast, and to the friendly, welcoming people of Ghana!

For more info see http://ghanatogether.org
To contact us, email info@ghanatogether.org
Ghana Together is a US-registered 501c3, EIN 26-2182965

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at October 29, 2015 08:10 PM

One Laptop per Child

Barrick Pueblo Viejo @BarrickRD launches @OLPC program in Dominican Republic #OLPCRD


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by mariana at October 29, 2015 07:32 PM

October 21, 2015


OLPC-SF Community Summit 2015

 One Laptop Per Child San Francisco is hosting the annual Community Summit this weekend, October 23-25th 2015[1] at San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, Business Building room 202 in San Francisco, CA. You can register online through eventbrite.

OLPC San Francisco Community Summit 2015 is a community event that brings together educators, technologists, anthropologists, enthusiasts, champions and volunteers. We share stories, exchange ideas, solve problems, foster community and build collaboration around the One Laptop per Child project and its mission worldwide.
On Friday evening, we will be screening WEB at 5pm. The documentary follows Peruvian families living in remote villages in the Amazon Jungle and Andes Mountains as their children experience the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program, gaining access to the Internet for the first time. WEB considers both the benefits and complications that arise from digital connections. Alongside the poignant and sometimes humorous local stories, the film includes interviews with leading thinkers on the Internet including Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley, Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales and OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte for an insightful look at our times.

by adborden at October 21, 2015 03:55 PM

October 15, 2015

Ghana Together

Leadership Workshops in Ghana

Recently, you’ve been reading News Updates about toilets, building renovations, and scholarships in Axim, Ghana. This News Update breaks some new ground!

Four of us have just returned from a trip to Ghana: Maryanne Ward, the head of Ghana Together (GT) who travels to Ghana every year; Susan Hirst, GT supporter who has taught science, been a middle school counselor, and was an AIDS educator on three former trips to Axim; Louise Wilkinson, a board member of GT and retired educator from Boeing who has extensive experience working with adult groups on leadership and cultural diversity and who traveled to Ghana twice with her husband, Tom; and Louise’s 18 year-old granddaughter, Alexis Coats. Alexis just graduated from High School in Vancouver, WA, and is headed for a nursing career.
Maryanne Ward, Susan Hirst, Louise Wilkinson, Alexis Coats, and James Kainyiah (Chair of partnering organization, Western Heritage Home)

The three adult women are original “founding mothers” of Ghana Together and have been involved in Axim one way or another for almost nine years.

The purpose of this journey was to work with Ghanaian youth on personal leadership. We had floated the idea for several months among the Head Mistress and teachers of the Axim Girls Senior High School (AGSHS), and to the Director of the Axim Community Vocational Technical Institute (CDVTI) where they teach dress-making, cooking, hair-dressing, electrical work and auto mechanics as well as some academic and entrepreneurial skills.
Louise and Madame Safiatu Seidu, Director of the Community Development Vocational and Technical Institute in Axim, Ghana. They are planning the Leadership Workshop for the coming week.

We also proposed the idea to Kathryn Roe of Cape Coast and Bellingham, WA. Kathryn is the Founder and Director of Anansi Education, which provides scholarships to enable good but impoverished students to attend high school in Cape Coast.

All of these leaders responded with a lot of interest so we developed a curriculum and began scheduling several months in advance of the visit. The Ghanaian school administrators suggested we give the Leadership Workshop the first two weeks of the new term, because we would be working with Form 3 (senior) students. The Workshop would be the perfect orientation, launching them into their last year of senior high school with some new skills to figure out their futures.

And so, after considerable planning, we bravely embarked! We were confident! We had all the bases covered for presentations on Leadership Skills to Ghanaian high school students. Of course, it would go smoothly. After all, Louise is a specialist in leadership and multicultural understanding, Susan in junior and senior high students, and Lexy, in being a real teenager! What could possibly go wrong??

The Axim Girls Senior High School (AGSHS) building---newly opened during the first days we were there

HA! We had forgotten to take into consideration that we were in Ghana!

Little did we or they know that a changed Ghana Education Service policy required the AGSHS girls who were boarding at the Heritage Building to move out, pronto, never mind they had just arrived on campus hours before!

Computer/science/administrative/teachers’ rooms became instant “dormitories” more or less in one day. Mattresses strewn on the lawn. Bunk beds crammed into rooms. Teachers and students carrying desks, tables, chairs, contents of administrative offices, computers, science materials to a newly-opened classroom building.

Mattresses on the grass. The "boarding" students had to move quickly with their meagre possessions---a mattress, sheet, two uniforms, probably one other outfit, personal items...

The school’s electrician, whose Nzema name actually translates as “God the Father” (comforting thought!), had to bravely install the solar panels on the roof of the new two-story classroom building to keep the Internet-In-a-Box and computer lab running, and that only with help with a specialist from Toronto via the shaky internet connection!

Lacking their hastily vacated teacher’s room, which was suddenly filled with bunkbeds, mattresses, and the small bags of personal belongings, teachers were simply sitting in chairs under a tree putting together the new academic year as best they could!

On top of that, there were two national holidays during our two-week window---Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday, and a Muslim Holy Day---that had not been factored in.

But this is Ghana, where everyone somehow manages to cope with grace and dignity, no matter how trying the circumstances.

Headmistress Theodora Appiah, keeping her cool (and demonstrating “leadership under pressure” beautifully!), continued stoically working from her makeshift “office” in one of the classrooms, trying her best to keep some semblance of order and hospitality for her foreign guests.
The "ever-cheerful-no-matter-what" Madame Theodora Appiah, Headmistress of AGSHS. Her motto is: "I would rather try and fail, then not try at all." An example of leadership right there in front of her students.

Teacher Jerry Kwofie managed to pull together the rather frazzled students, who, of course, having just arrived on campus hours before after a month’s vacation, had no idea that they were going to be the first-ever participants in Leadership Training in the entire Nzema East District!

And yes! We DID manage to conduct three wonderful workshops in Axim, and another in Cape Coast, with about 100 students total, mostly in groups of around 25.

One of the groups received six hours of class time. Others had four or five hours, and one group had two hours. Not quite as planned; however, we felt that all the groups appreciated the information and learned something from the presentations.
Leadership Workshop participants at the Axim Girls Senior High School

Louise led the discussions, as Susan chimed in and Alexis wrote information on the board and provided real life examples. 

We started out asking students to name good leaders. They named political figures, local headmistresses, and their local tribal chief. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, was on every list. These leaders all had positions of power. We asked students to list what things made these people “good” leaders and they came up with lists of characteristics befitting these famous leaders.
Louise working with AGSHS girls in a small group

We then asked them to list people in their lives who had influenced and helped them. Parents, siblings, and friends made this list, and these were people without fame or titles who were able to influence others. 

We pointed out that each student there was a leader because they could use their “leadership” qualities to have influence over themselves and others. We asked them to look at the list of good qualities and think of which qualities they now had and which they would like to get. Alexis said that she was very shy and it was hard to speak in front of a group, so she was using these classes to work on confidence. The students were very impressed with her honesty.

We divided the students into small groups, gave each group a different situation, and asked the groups to report out on what they would do in this situation. For example, one group had to decide what, as leaders, they would do if “You see a friend of yours stealing a computer from the school computer lab.” Another group was challenged with “A younger girl you know starts going home with an older man.” The students really worked on these situations and gave great reports.

Susan Hirst working with students at AGSHS

As we worked through the program, Louise introduced the themes of trust, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence, using words and examples that the students could understand. These were presented as leadership skills that provide the foundation for creating good relationships and making good choices, for themselves and others.

Group work followed and the students were again given a variety of situations which related to their larger community: “An oil company opens an office in town. They bring workers from their country. You ask why they don’t hire local people. You are told the local people are not adequately educated and are not reliable or prompt. What would you as a leader do?”

And: “Women cut up fish on the beach. The beach is dirty and some people get sick from the fish. You ask why the beach has to be dirty. People say there is nowhere else to go to the toilet. What would you as a leader do?” Again the students really worked together and gave great reports about how they would deal with these problems as leaders in the community.

AGSHS students. These young woman are probably among the first in their families, and in fact in Ghana itself, to attain a senior high school education. Ghana generally, and Axim specifically, especially through the leadership of Chief Awulae Attibrukusi, has put major emphasis on "girl education." One of the Chief's common sayings is, "Educate a woman. Educate a family."

At the end of each class, students were encouraged to review and affirm their learning by saying together, “I am a leader, I am a leader of myself, I am a leader of others, I am a good leader…..” adding more qualities and ending with “I am a leader!” There was wonderful energy as the students left the room and then waited outside to take pictures of us, and especially of themselves with Alexis.
Lexy Coats assisting her Grandmother Louise by capturing concepts on the board. The students had personal notebooks in which to capture the concepts for themselves. Lexy had the opportunity to make friends among her peers in Ghana---we wish every American teenager could have such an experience!

Adults sat in on some of the courses, helping us communicate well with the students and providing us perspective on how they might be receiving the learning. One adult suggested that we include religion more clearly in the curriculum, noting that prayer is used more than choice when making good decisions. Another said the group exercises were very powerful, enabling students to apply what they had learned. Another, James Kainyiah, told the group that they were very fortunate to have had this leadership learning so early in their lives, and that he wishes he had had this advantage. We felt we had given them some very useful information and, as usual, learned even more from them.

We are working on getting feedback from the students (and adults). These types of class activities---using groups, personal stories, open-ended real-life situations, open discussion, role-playing---are new to them. We’d not only like to know how the classes affected the students, but how they can help us improve! After all, the Municipal Chief Executive (Mayor) of Axim has requested the workshop for his staff! Who knows…???

The Workshop leaders with some of the AGSHS workshop participants. 
The Leadership Class at the Community Vocational Institute. This class included  young men learning such trades as electrician and auto mechanics. 

Maryanne’s role was basically logistical---seeing to introductions, lodging, meals, taxis, classroom space, etc.  She also reviewed a number of Ghana Together projects, including checking up on students on scholarship with Ghana Together, working with the library, computer and science lab people, including delivering a complete half-size human skeleton, visiting old friends in the community and, we understand, giving a very graphic demonstration on how to use the new toilet that had been installed.
A half-size human skeleton (plastic) given to the AGSHS Science Lab, courtesy of the one and only Jerome Chandler, and somehow carried all the way to Africa by Maryanne. And thank you Ghana Customs for having the sense not to look too closely! And there we are...what we do for science!!

We are grateful to have had this opportunity. We thank our Ghanaian hosts for their welcome, and for encouraging their students to participate wholeheartedly. We hope the Workshop made a positive impact on their lives. 

Thank you!

For more information, go to http://ghanatogether.org
To contact us, email info@ghanatogether.org
We are a US-based 501(c3) nonprofit, Fed EIN 26-2182965
We appreciate donations of any size, by check or by PayPal link from our website

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at October 15, 2015 12:09 AM

October 11, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL First Field Update from Alexis & Steve in Naviso, Maewo, Vanuatu: A Smashing Success!


We held a training with Peace Corps volunteers in Vanuatu just last month, on how to use the SolarSPELL digital libraries, and provided 25 libraries and tablets to the attendees.

Below is the text of an email from Alexis Cullen. She and her husband Steve are Peace Corps volunteers in Naviso, on Maewo Island, in Vanuatu. They organized a big launch event for the SolarSPELL library’s debut there, to coincide with their community’s annual holiday. I have inserted photos that Alexis shared from the big event. Wow! 3_22049487652_48f4fa4c51_kDear Laura,

The SPELL debut was a smashing success!  When we returned to our village of Naviso after your training in Port-Vila, the community was in the throws of busily preparing for the huge party to celebrate our annual provincial holiday on September 15th (PENAMA day), which the whole island was invited to attend.  Temporary food stalls and kava bars were being built out of bamboo, lights were being strung from the classrooms that would be powered by a generator, and a sound system with huge speakers and a control/sound system board were being carried down the mountain on the backs of villagers.


Everyone was buzzing, and as soon as my husband and I arrived, the chairman of the school committee found me to ask when I was going to show the special thing I had gone to train for.  I popped it out of my bag and showed him the SPELL digital solar library, and after I was done he excitedly told me I needed to join with the first speech so that we could turn it on at the very start of the party so everyone could connect the whole time.


I went and made “Wi-fi” hot spot signs and put one unit in the school library, with the device sitting in the window so people could see it and then another device at the kava bar.  That night, the night before the 3 day party started, I turned it on so that everyone working on setting up could try it out first.  One of our villagers who is from a neighboring island who married into our island found a video in the “geography” section under “local topics” that showed video of his family dancing! He couldn’t believe it.  He promptly downloaded it to his smart phone to take it back to show his wife.  (There are probably 3 smart phones in our village, population 600).  Everyone started referring to it as “kiaman internet” (fake internet).


The next day the party began and people started pouring into our village from all around the island.  This is no feat to be understated, as many people on our island have never visited our village, because the road to get there is so hard – literally our village is referred to by other islanders as being “in a hole”.  The first speech that morning addressed this, as a prominent leader from the other side of the island described how happy he was to see this party happing in Naviso, as often they think of Naviso as its own island, sort of an island within the island.  With no cell phone communication and no truck roads, known for sorcery and tradition, they are unfortunately often labeled as “backward” and “man-bush” by those from the other side of the island.  But during this three day event, everyone joined hands and the islanders from all over, including Naviso villagers themselves, were PROUD of everything they had done to put this party together – including – they were SO proud of the the SPELL unit!



Little groups huddled together over smart phones to watch videos and look up things using offline Wikipedia and no one could believe that the village “in the hole” had a technology so advanced.  Teachers from other schools wanted to know how to get one from their schools. People asked all kinds of questions and explored the content. My little 4 year old host sister, sitting in our kitchen, who has never seen a truck, said “Wi-fi!” proudly as we all looked at her, mouths wide open.


There were just a few glitches with certain smart phones, but other than that the SPELL units ran night and day!  We turned them off at 10 PM each night and turned them on again at 7:30 AM the next day, and they worked!  We sometimes put them in the sun, and sometimes charged them off of our larger solar panel/battery/inverter unit at our house that keeps our satellite phone charged, if we needed a quick fix. But these units are so low power, they just keep going and going and going!



We can’t thank the SPELL team enough for this wonderful innovation!  It really galvanized our remote community! We are so proud, and excited to start using it in the classroom!





by ljhosman at October 11, 2015 09:57 PM

September 29, 2015

OLE Nepal

Volunteer Spotlight: Srikaran Masabathula

Srikaran Masabathula is our Earthquake relief volunteer from Knox College, Illinois. During his second year at Knox, he was looking to make a positive difference and decided to head to Nepal to support OLE Nepal with their earthquake relief efforts…

by Sofila Vaidya at September 29, 2015 09:38 AM

September 21, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

Successful Second Deployment of 25 SPELL Solar Digital Libraries with Peace Corps in Vanuatu


The Solar SPELL team from Cal Poly held a full-day training session at Peace Corps Headquarters in Port Vila, Vanuatu, on September 9, 2015. Volunteers traveled to the training from across many of the islands that comprise Vanuatu, and were extremely enthusiastic about being able to use the digital libraries in the schools and communities where they are stationed.



This training was the second of two this summer carried out by Cal Poly Professor Laura Hosman and the team of students in the Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies (LAES) Program at Cal Poly who worked on designing, developing, and deploying the library over the past few months. A total of 50 Spell libraries have been deployed with the Peace Corps in the Federated States of Micronesia and in Vanuatu.


P1180095Prof. Hosman led the training with the assistance of Ginger Jacobs, a student who participated in the LAES course. Ginger played a leading role in finding and curating the library’s content, and led the training that focused on that area. Another student from the course, Beth Hotchkiss, who had focused on the library’s design and production while on-campus, served as the team’s videographer and photographer during the on-site training.


The Peace Corps volunteers across the Pacific Islands commit to two years of volunteer service, and are most frequently posted to schools. The majority of these schools will not have reliable electricity/power or Internet connectivity, so these libraries are designed to provide relevant educational content in these challenging environmental conditions—especially for first-time users of such technology.


The Solar SPELL library was designed to help meet the needs of the Peace Corps volunteers, vis-à-vis enabling and improving education, in the field. It includes open access content, much of which is localized for the Pacific Islands. The offline library’s content can also be found in on-line version here: http://pacificschoolserver.org


The library’s hardware is designed to be as simple to use as possible, with no moving parts in order to avoid overheating. The solar panel and plastic case are waterproof, providing an extra level of protection against the salt air and humidity that is ever-present in the Islands.


After covering the nuts-and-bolts of how to use the library (and the tablets) during the morning session, the afternoon training session shifted to a more frank discussion of the societal, political, and human-nature-type challenges that the volunteers might face in introducing new technology to places it has not been used before. New technologies are most frequently disruptive when introduced for the first time. We therefore initiated a brainstorming and discussion session of “What might happen?”, “What could go wrong?”, and (therefore) “What should I do?” Considerations such as meeting with village chiefs and school principals before introducing the technology within the schools or communities were brought up. Many participants reflected that this session had been, for them, the most valuable of the day.


The enthusiasm of the Peace Corps volunteers was matched only by the gratitude they expressed to the team for our work on the libraries, for its relevance and helpfulness to their work, and for the training session itself. This appreciation was echoed by the Peace Corps staff as well. It was both humbling and extremely gratifying to hear so many expressions of “Thank you so much,” “This will be so appreciated by my community,” “This is fantastic.”


A quote from the first email of thanks we received, the day after the training: “I really can’t praise or thank you all enough for what you’ve done (and are still doing) in this project, and feel very privileged to have a role in it. That being said, I can at least say this much:

Y’all done real real real good.”


Our team is particularly grateful to Peace Corps Vanuatu Country Director Keith Honda, for being an early supporter of the project and for encouraging the partnership and training to take place, and to Alexis Cullen PCV, for her diligence and enthusiasm in spreading the word about the libraries across Vanuatu’s volunteers, and in co-coordinating the training. Additional thanks to Solomon Jimmy, and we look forward to keeping in touch with all of you as we gather feedback from Vanuatu and work to improve the libraries!


The SPELL Solar Digital Libraries project was made financially possible through a Community Grant from the Pacific Telecommunications Council, an in-kind donation (of Banana Pis) from LeMaker, as well as an in-kind donation (of Nexus 7 Tablets) from Inveneo.

by ljhosman at September 21, 2015 08:04 PM

September 17, 2015

One Laptop per Child

September 14, 2015

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Term Break Activities

Busy weekend marketplace center sessions.

Busy weekend marketplace center sessions.


The month was with a lot of activities to be done since it was a holiday, kids were to come at the center and learn from there. We as teachers planned to have a science camp which was done from the marketplace center near Bukokholo in Bungoma County.

1st and 2nd which was a weekend, and learners came at the center as from 10.00 am to 5.30pm. They used tamtam mini, tamtam jam to enjoy themselves from music others used speak, browse, and record activities. Those who used browse discussed different subjects such as physics, chemistry since they were secondary students. From them young kids learned that with discussion they can learn more things that were not understanding.

3rd and 4th which was Monday at Butonge and Tuesday at Namwesi, it was a free class where students were to do any activity they like as from 3.00 pm to 5.30pm as teachers were walking around to see if any student is stuck and assist. The lesson was much interesting because most of the learners were doing paint activity and scratch to perfect on their drawing and scratch animation.

5th Wednesday, 6th Thursday and 7th Friday at the market place centre kids in good numbers and were grouped according to the ages and classes at school and teachers gauged them on what they can do on XO sugar lab activities. Every group was to explain an activity that they know to others.

8th and 9th it was a weekend where learners did keyboard work at the market place. This is to ensure that all learners to master the whole keyboard and each button with it’s functions. All kids were attentive in that sector because teachers were to evaluate them over work done on the keyboard.

10th to 14th- At the market centre- Learners from different schools came for lessons so we arranged 3 teachers to be on duty to help learners on which activities they were to do and introduce new learners on XO sugar lab activites sincw we never miss new learners at the center at any given holiday. They were three teachers per session as from 10.00am to 5.30pm. These was the day learners did most of write activity to master all the functions of every key on the keyboard. They used brackets, exclamation marks, colons, semi-colons, question marks, comma, full stops etc.

15th and 16th – It was a weekend- learners did write activity for familiarization both for old students and new students. we asked them to use all punctuation marks and inserting of tables, alignments of paragraphs and inserting of their pictures (images) on a text. They enjoyed too much as others kept on repeating same work for several times.

17th- 21st- Monday to Friday-Learners did turtle art where they constructed different shapes as per math arrangements. We had new students who saw it as a difficult activity but with time they manned and did well. They were showed how to use pen size, pen shade and pen color for them to know more about the activity.

22nd to 23rd- weekend- It was a short break for the teachers.24th to 25th-camp planning between teachers and students over the roles to play in that science camp.

26th-Was to be the first day of the camp for the registration of kids to participate in the camp. There was a lot of co-operation among the learners which were to participate. We had those who were to present paint, turtle art and write activities. There was a lot of competition among themselves. We liked their arrangement.

27th-Arrival of students from different schools who were registered to attend to the camp,

1-The camp overview  2-Grouping of students as per an activity 3-Topic orientation by each teacher as per group 4-Entertainment

-Afternoon each group was assigned to an activity as per camp focus..Group were as follows;

-Paint activity -Write activity -Speak activity -Scratch activity -Etoys activity -Browse and solar system.

28th-Discussion and writing stories over what was done on paint activity, paint, scratch, memorize, maze, Record, browse and sharing off pictures and discuss the impact of those pictures.

29th-Was teachers camp review and recommendation over what kids did in the camp.

30th-31st-Teachers rested after the camp.


*Inadequate facilities for the camp due to high number of students

*The target was not met because funding was not to expected and budgeted for.

*Days were few as per proposal expectation.


*Young kids aged 4-8 years were so many at the camp with aim of learning and eating not even wasting a single second at the time of arrival. When the time for lunch arrived they were very keen and excited.

*Girls were much interested in singing , poetry, narrative talks and computer learning than boys.

*Boys were good artists by use of paint activity than girls.

*Girls attended the camp more than the boys in numbers.

*Those kids who were infested with the jiggers before, were free from infestation. Due to lesson learned, attended the camp and as a result others were motivated with the previous camp results . As a sign of togetherness they came and joined others to learn in problem identification and solving as their fellow kids are doing with the case of jiggers..

*The parents who were interested with the camp challenged their children to be so keen in whatever is happening in camp venue.

*Memorize activity improved the learners imaginations

*Learners were much interested with the camp, so they were just forced to leave the place because time was not on our site.

*Because of insufficient funds, our camp was not a boarding camp but was half board camp.


-It was achieved because students were able to explain why they were doing activity or drawing those pictures.

-Kids improved on self explanation and esteem they planned how to identify problems and then have a better solution.

-They used pictures to teach the whole world over what is happening to endangered species namely black rhino and elephants

-Students have known which animals are mostly poached and most endangered animals.

-Promotion of child to child interaction

– Teachers were given name tags for easier identification in schools and market center.

-Learners are able to talk about proper trash disposable and plastic reuse.

-The camp brought kids together and throught it they have known their child rights as that to education, food and expression.


*We need more facilitation for the camps to promote child to child interaction.

*There should be funds upgrading so as to meet our target for the future science camps (more funds needed).

*There should be learning by seeing i.e Learners should be exposed to some game parks and game reserves to see which animals are being targeted with poachers then have chance to interview game wardens over the same.

*Teachers motivational tour- teachers should be taken out at least once per year for them to share and exchange views with other OLPC sites country wide. At the end ,this will promote team work and experience.

* Learners who are performing well to be awarded for others to work hard.

* Intersite camp competition (OLPC) as promotion of XO sugar lab activities to different parts of Kenya.


by smallsolutionsbigideas at September 14, 2015 05:45 PM

September 11, 2015

Kartik Perisetla - Sugar Hacks

WikipediaHI: Offline Wikipedia in Hindi !!

Last week I spent some time working on WikipediaHI activity for Sugar Desktop Environment. I must say it is one of the awesome activities I have come across. The best part is that it can serve you with data in offline mode. That is even if don't have internet connection which is otherwise required to access Wikipedia online, then also your WikipediaHI activity will serve your purpose.

There are lot many developers and contributors who are working in collaborative form on such awesome stuff who continuously inspire you to take up new things and create something that can be used by others in the world. Sugar developers and contributors are epitome of such group.

I came across few of such developers, Anish Mangal and Gonzalo Odiard, two of them whose contributions are significant for Sugar. I took up the task of creating WikipediaHI using Wikipedia dump for Hindi available for free. I followed the steps specified on this page[ hosted by Gonzalo] for creating Wikipedia activity in your own language.

I will quickly explain the steps I took to create WikipediaHI:

1) Downloaded the Wikipedia dump file for Hindi:
NOTE: [ Make sure you pick the valid latest file from here : http://dumps.wikimedia.org/hiwiki/   this location will show you listing as per dates. Pick the latest dump and proceed further.]

and downloaded WikipediaBase from this link

2) Created "hi" directory for HINDI under WikipediaBase directory and moved the downloaded dump to this folder.

3) Extracted contents of this file using:
bzip2 -d hiwiki-20121225-pages-articles.xml.bz2

4) Processed the dump using page parser:

The result of this operation will generate these files:

5) Then you can include selective articles or all articles from this dump to your activity by using this command:
* Make sure you have favorites.txt and blacklist.txt filled with appropriate keywords.

Now if you want to include all articles use this command:
../tools2/make_selection.py --all

6) Then proceed to create the index for these articles:

7) In order to test the index created in previous step you can use this command:

8) Next step is to expand the templates of articles :
cd ..
./tools2/expandtemplates.py hi

9) Go back to hi directory and re-create the index :
cd hi
mv hiwiki-20121225-pages-articles.xml.processed_expanded hiwiki-20121225-pages-articles.xml.processed
../tools2/create_index.py --delete_all

10) Download the images for the articles you selected:
cd hi

if you want to download the images for pages you selected in previous step:
../tools2/download_images.py --all

11) Create files specific to language:
(a)activity/activity.info.lang : activity info file for you language activity
(b)activity/activity-wikipedia-lang.svg : activity icon for your language
(c)activity_lang.py : activity file for your language
(d)static/about_lang.html : about page for wikipedia in your language.
(e)static/index_lang.html : index page for wikipedia in your language. This is the page displayed when activity is launched. So its important for you to know the articles included in the search.db ( generated when index is created) for you to create the index page.

12) Create the XO file for wikipedia in your language:
./setup_new_wiki.py hi/hiwiki-20121225-pages-articles.xml

I went through the search.db file to identify the articles present in it and create the index page accordingly.
This gave me an idea to write some script that can generate index page(part or whole) to be used as home page for activity using search.db[ Stay tuned for next blog on this idea]

Here you go.. you can see WikipediaHI

On launching this, you can see the index page listing the articles you can view offline using WikipediaHI

If you want to play with WikipediaHI, you can download it : WikipediaHI-35.xo

I must thank Gonzalo for his amazing help and guidance in getting this done. I have to mention here that Wikipedia
changed its XML format in their dumps which resulted in error when I was creating the index. I took Gonzalo's help to get it resolved.
Thanks to Anish, who motivated me to pick this up and guided me to complete it.

Thanks guys !! :D

by Kartik Kumar Perisetla (noreply@blogger.com) at September 11, 2015 05:39 AM

September 03, 2015

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Women as Tech Teachers

These young women make it possible to reach hundreds of students each week with laptops and learning.  They provide role models for young girls to see a future through learning, technology and access to information.  They help students build confidence in their own voices and intelligence.

During the July visit, we started providing them with goods to sell.  They are selling in the marketplaces and pooling their funds to invest in more entrepreneurial endeavors.  They have asked for help to purchase small motor bikes so that they can earn money after school by transporting passengers and ease their transport to school with the computers for the classes.  The piki pikis are usually driven by young men. These young women are stepping out.  Donate to their motor bikes.

by smallsolutionsbigideas at September 03, 2015 02:42 PM

One Laptop per Child

OLPC Announces Partnership with Zamora Teran Foundation

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) announced today a partnership with the Zamora Teran Foundation, a non-profit organization, dedicated to the successful implementation of OLPC programs throughout Central America. OLPC, in partnership with the Zamora Teran Foundation, will provide innovative teacher training, professional development opportunities, and related implementation services, to OLPC programs around the world.

The Zamora Teran Foundation  has distributed more than 42,000 OLPC Laptops to children in Nicaragua and is currently providing implementation support services to more than 50,000 OLPC Laptops in Honduras and 5,000 OLPC Laptops in Costa Rica. The results are impressive, with improvements in school retention rates and academic achievement.

“We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to share our expertise in OLPC program implementation with schools and communities around the world,” said Maria Josefina Teran Zamora, President of the Zamora Teran Foundation. “We believe that in joining forces, we are creating a better future for all.”

The services offered by OLPC in partnership with the Zamora Teran Foundation focus on six components that are essential for a successful OLPC Laptop program.  The organizations offer a comprehensive teacher training program, as well as a full logistics and implementation solution. Services include the provision of advanced technical support and training to local, on-the-ground teams to ensure program sustainability. Monitoring and evaluation services are available to ensure that the goals of each program are defined and achieved. The organizations work with each local community to develop a strong community of volunteers  to support the program, and a strong network of development, to ensure the expansion of each program. With these six essential components, OLPC offers a comprehensive ecosystem of support to each program.

For more information about the One Laptop Per Child the Zamora Teran Foundation, please contact Leah (leah@laptop.org) .

OLPC was founded in 2005 with the goal of transforming education through the provision of a durable, connected, laptop computer to every child in the world. To date, OLPC has distributed more than 3 million laptops to children around the world.

by mariana at September 03, 2015 12:00 PM

OLE Nepal

Hit the ball for Nepal

Dougie Foster is an Evolutionary Anthropology student working as a research assistant for the project run by the University of Oxford investigating the transmission of caste status. He has traveled to Nepal couple times in order to conduct the research…

by Sofila Vaidya at September 03, 2015 07:42 AM

August 31, 2015

OLE Nepal

Technology in Nepal’s classrooms: Using impact evaluation as a learning device

Re-posting a blog by Quentin Wodon, a lead economist at the World Bank expressing his understanding and perspectives gained from the presentation by Mr. Rabi Karmacharya in a seminar organized by The World Bank Group in Washington D.C. about OLE…

by Sofila Vaidya at August 31, 2015 05:57 AM

August 25, 2015

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Sugar Digest 2015-08-25

Sugar Digest

1. Google Summer of Code 2015 is wrapping up. The students have been writing their final blog reports, submitting last-minute patches, and uploading their code to Google. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our students and their mentors for all their hard work this summer. (Also, thanks once more to Google for supporting this program.) Great strides along many fronts were made. Specifically,

  • Michaël Ohayon worked on Web versions of some core activities for the Sugarizer project: Calculate, Paint (with collaboration, Record, and Memorize. He also submitted patches to Turtle Blocks to make it compatible with Sugarizer. Michaël’s blog and git repo are worth visiting. (Mentor: Lionel Laske)
  • Yash Khandelwal worked on Music Blocks AKA Mouse Music. This is a powerful, playful model for music in a block language. Yash’s blog and git repo are also worth visiting. (Mentors: Devin Ulibarri and Marnen Laibow-Koser)
  • Ishan Sharma revisited the Turtle 3D concept, rewriting it in Javascript. His results (blog, demo and git repo) are robust, scalable, and extensible. (Mentor: Walter)
  • Amit Kumar Jha worked on extensions to Turtle programming this summer. He added argument passing and return values to procedures, passing arguments to and returning values from Turtle programs so that Turtle Blocks can be used for in-line programming by all Javascript activities, and he developed a unit-test framework for Turtle Blocks JS that can be extended to all of our Javascript activities. See his blog and the master Turtle Blocks JS repo for more details. (Mentor: Walter)
  • Richa Sehgal worked on a framework to support off-line Web programming, an interactive Javascript shell. She’s submitted patches to the upstream Browse activity. Meanwhile, checkout her git repository. (Mentor: Tony Anderson)
  • Vibhor Sehgal and Utkarsh Dhawan, although not officially GSoC students, worked with Tony and Richa on a parallel project, Web Confusion, a series of programming challenges in the spirit of Turtle Confusion to encourage students. (Mentor: Tony Anderson)
  • Abhinav Anurag made some progress on a Web collaboration framework for our Javascript activities. See his blog and code. (Mentors: Martin Abente and Lionel Laske)

In the Community

2. We will be holding an election for the Sugar Labs oversight board (SLOB) at the end of the calendar year. If you are interested (or know someone who is interested) in running for a board seat (all seven seats will be open), please add an entry in the wiki. Also, whereas ballots are only available to “members”, please officially join Sugar Labs.

3. Mariah Noelle Villarreal has submitted a panel proposal, “Building Free and Open Education Communities”, to the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW). The panelpicker voting period is now open until September 4th. If you have time, please vote and share with any appropriate channels as well as a video that was created for the proposal [16].

4. Sweet: Sugar contributors Mariah Noelle Villarreal and Ruben Rodriguez got married this summer!!!

5. There were three RED (Revista de Educación a Distancia) submissions from Sugar community members:

  • Going from Bits to Atoms: Programming in Turtle Blocks JS and Personal Fabrication in Youth Maker Projects, Josh Burker
  • Visualizing Learning in Open-Ended Problem Solving in the Arts, Walter Bender and Claudia Urrea
  • Sensores Tortuga 2.0: Cómo el hardware y software abiertos pueden empoderar a las comunidades de aprendizaje (Turtle Sensors 2.0: How open hardware and software empower learning communities) by Guzmán Trinidad, Andrés Aguirre, Alan Aguiar, Tony Forster, Walter Bender, Facundo Benavides, and Federico Andrade

6. The Sugar/OLPC program in Caacupe is expanding!!!

Tech Talk

7. Peter Robinson announce quite some time ago that the Sugar on a Stick 21 Beta is now out as part of Fedora 21 Beta (Details), but I think I neglected to ever pass on the information to the Sugar community.

8. Also worth mentioning again: Ruben Rodriguez released Trisquel 7.0 released. TOAST (Trisquel with Sugar) is an official edition.

Sugar Labs

9. Please visit our planet.


by Walter Bender at August 25, 2015 03:46 PM

August 21, 2015

OpenStreetMap by Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer

Offline Solution for OpenStreetMap (OSM)

I’ve recently became involved with XSCE (School Server Community Edition) on their “Internet in a box” project to allow OpenStreetMap (OSM) maps to be available offline. Some of their deployments in remote schools around the world do not have a consistent internet access. So the idea is to download and store a set of knowledge resources (Wikipedia, videos from Khan Academy, OSM maps, etc) on a server, which will then provide those resources while being offline to laptops connected on the internal network.

Here are the constraints that need to be considered

  • The laptops that will be visualizing the maps are very underpowered. They are often XO laptops from the One Laptop per Child OLPC project.
  • The server, while not being as underpowered as the laptop, are typically quite limited as well on the HD, RAM and CPU.
  • Server handle other tasks than providing maps so this can’t be using entirely the hardware available
  • Server specs are not consistent from a deployment to the other (but they do have in common that they must run the XSCE software)
  • Deployments’ needs are rarely the same, they can be in any region of the world and each of them might not want the same level of map details for the same countries
  • Server is typically configured by a volunteer that has internet access, before it is deployed in remote locations. While they do have IT knowledge, this need to be simple enough.
  • Map does not need to be updated every week, but it needs to be relatively recent. If the server gets internet access once in a while, it needs to be able to update the maps relatively easily

The solution chosen is shown on that architecture diagram.

Since the server specs are limited, the map tiles needs to be pre-rendered before they make it to the XSCE internet in a box server. They cannot be rendered on the fly from the native OSM solution which uses a PostgreSQL database with PostGIS because it requires too much resources and would require to provision a different database for each deployment.

The pre-rendered tiles are stored into a MBTiles file, which is a format created by Mapbox that allows to stores efficiently millions of tiles in a SQLite database (which is then stored in a single file). It is efficient because it avoids duplicate tiles, which is frequent with large area of water. This also simplifies deployment because all you have to do is to move few files around instead of potentially copying millions of PNG tiles stored directly on disk.

To allow saving previous HD disk space, there will be a global planet OSM MBtiles (that does not zoom above level 10, which only zoom up to the city level) and then each country will be available for download as a separate pre-rendered MBTiles file (for zoom level 11 to 15). So for example, if the deployment is in Nepal, they could decide to download on the server the planet MBtiles file to get the map of the whole world, and then only specifically download the higher-zoom file for Nepal, to allow to zoom up to the street level. Downloading the whole world at zoom level up to 15 would require way above 1TB of HD space, which we can’t handle. This is why we want to get a high zoom level only for the countries that are needed by the deployment and based on how much HD space they have to spare.

To serve the MBTiles on a web server, there are a few options like TileStream (node.js) and TileStache (python). I chose TileStache, because it supports composite layers, which allows to serve multiple MBtiles file at the same time. TileStream only supports serving one MBTiles at a time, which would require to merge multiple MBtiles together, which is possible, but complicates deployment and makes it harder if we want to add/remove only specific countries later on. TileStache can serve tiles on WSGI, CGI and mod_python with Apache. XSCE also happens to already run multiple tools with Python and use WSGI with another tool, so the integration was easier (click here for details on the integration).

Then all you need is a simple HTML page, that will load Leaflet as a client side javascript library and will be configured to query  the Tilestache tile server located on the local network.

This solution is entirely based on raster tiles, instead of vector tiles. While vector tiles offers significant savings in terms of disk usage, they require much more CPU usage to render on the frontend and newer browsers, which is impossible with the type of hardware that we have (XO laptops).

The big remaining question is, where are those tiles being rendered, where are they stored and how can they be downloaded on demand by the XSCE server? This is a topic for a further blog post!

by jeromegagnonvoyer at August 21, 2015 06:05 PM

August 17, 2015

OLE Nepal

Volunteer training program for Bajhang

Volunteering strengthens our ties to the community while exposing us to people with common interests, neighborhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities. They are tremendously resourceful for any non profit organization. Volunteer program is one of OLE Nepal’s key aspects…

by Sofila Vaidya at August 17, 2015 09:13 AM

August 13, 2015

Ghana Together

Thank you Katie Henderson (and Dad Jeff)

We thank Katie Henderson and her father, Jeff Henderson, of Columbus, Ohio for giving the students at Axim Girls Senior High School (AGSHS) and also children at the Axim Public Library a HUGE BOOST in their Internet-in-a-Box (IIAB) and computing skills.

Katie, a student at Columbus School for Girls, is an expert in IIAB, One Laptop per Child computers, and Scratch, a beginning computer programming language that students use to create animated stories, games, interactive art, and simulations.

Katie took her skills and her Dad to Axim this July, and went to work.
From left to right: Jerry Kwofie, ICT teacher at AGSHS; Headmistress Theodora Appiah; Katie Henderson; Jeff Henderson

Katie held workshops at AGSHS in beginning computer coding/programming skills, and also worked with the many resources on the IIAB.

Katie working with senior high school girls at Axim Girls Senior High School

Adam Holt of Unleash Kids coached her mightily across the Atlantic via text, email, voice, WhatsApp, and who knows what else? You remember Adam…we wrote about this wonderful guy installing and training Internet-in-a-Box at Axim Girls Senior High School back in March 2015 (http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/2015/03/internet-in-box.html).

Not wanting to waste any of Katie and Jeff's skills, Ghana Together found funds to buy another server and other apparatus to set up a second IIAB at the Axim Public Library (thank you, thank you…generous friends).
So, Katie not only held workshops at AGSHS in beginning computer coding and IIAB skills. She also set up the second IIAB at the Axim Public Library, and held about a week of workshops. She worked with the children on Wikipedia, especially, using the 30 or so OLPC XO computers in the Children’s Computing Lab we helped set up in … was it two years ago? (So much happening, we can’t keep track.)

Katie working at the Children's Computing Lab/Axim Public Library on the One Laptop per Child XO laptops, teaching them how to use them to access the IIAB and to work with the many learning activities built into these computers

First let's get the basics under our belts!!

Katie was assisted big-time by Jerry Kwofie, ICT teacher at AGSHS, and Evans Arloo, Operations Manager for Western Heritage Home, our NGO partner in Axim. During the Axim Library installations and workshops, Gaddiel Eyison and James Amrado, staff members, helped out and were themselves trained. AGSHS Headmistress Theodora Appiah and Regional Library Director Mercy Ackah were supportive at every turn.

The on-the-ground team: Katie, Jerry Kwofie, Evans Arloo, James Amrado, and Gaddiel Eyison

And of course, Dad Jeff discovered perhaps somewhat rusty skills as he helped to get all the components working! Thanks, Jeff, for making this all happen.

"I just KNOW we can make this work!!!"

Katie summarized her achievements in an email to Ghana Together:

My experience in Axim was a wonderful one. With great support from Jerry and Arloo (and Adam and team back in North America), we have accomplished a great deal, including:
  • Internet-in-a-Box system is installed and fully operational at the Axim Library site

  • 30+ XO-1 laptops have been updated with the latest firmware and software

  • 12 desktop PCs now have new wireless capability at AGSHS, allowing them to connect to the IIAB system in the computer lab

  • 24 fourth and fifth grade students have had a week of training on the use of the IIAB, particularly Wikipedia 

  • 22 high school students at AGSHS have had a week of training on the various tools within IIAB, including Wikipedia, RACHEL, Power Typing, Open Street Maps, and others.

Ghana Together loved facilitating this visit! On behalf of Ghana Together, Western Heritage Home, Axim Girls Senior High School, and Axim Public Library we can only say THANK YOU to the Henderson duo and also to Unleash Kids!<o:p></o:p>

Katie created a fascinating blog for friends and family documenting her experience...neat to hear from her first-hand:

Prior News Updates: http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com
Our website is: http://ghanatogether.org
Contact us: info@ghanatogether.org
We are a 501c3 non-profit, Fed ID: 26-2182965

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at August 13, 2015 03:41 PM

August 09, 2015

Tabitha Roder

Learn Moodle MOOC starting

Today I am excited to be starting week one of the learn.moodle.net MOOC. As an experienced Moodler, I still get a lot out of attending a beginner Moodle MOOC. Here are some of my thoughts on what I think experienced Moodlers will get out of the next four weeks:

  • Examples of different ways Moodle courses can be set up and different ways to setup activities.
  • The opportunity to see how you can run a course with a lot of participants. Not many of us run MOOCs but as they have become more common it is good to participate in them to keep current of this trends pros and cons.
  • A reminder of the kinds of questions beginners think of (outside of your own work context).
  • An opportunity to help beginners with their questions and give back to the Moodle community.
  • The experience of using things you might not have enabled in your own Moodle environment, like badges. This will help you think about how they might be used in your own context.

Having started the first week activities, I am already seeing hundreds of participants rolling up their sleeves and digging in. The course uses completion tracking to help you manage your tasks and progress as a learner in the course. There are clear tasks to complete and an indication of what kind of assessment will be carried out in the course. There are also badges used as one form of motivation.

Anyway, enough of reading my notes; if you want to join go to learn.moodle.net to sign up and get started today.

by tabitharoder at August 09, 2015 08:22 PM

August 08, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

Cal Poly Solar SPELL Team Holds Successful Training Workshop with Micronesia Peace Corps Volunteers


The Solar SPELL team from Cal Poly carried out a two-day training session with the incoming class of Peace Corps volunteers in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The training took place in Madolenihmw, Pohnpei in on August 4 & 5, 2015.


Cal Poly Professor Laura Hosman and student Drew Balthazor led the training, which included an overview of the library’s hardware, content, and the tablet that the team included for each Peace Corps volunteer to be able to access the library’s content once in the field. Raymond Norte, also from Cal Poly, documented the training digitally, as he served as the team’s videographer and photographer.


This training was the first of two this summer that will be carried out by Prof. Hosman and the team of students in the Liberal Arts and Engineering Program who worked on designing, developing, and deploying the library over the past few months.


The Peace Corps volunteers in FSM, and indeed across the Pacific Islands, commit to two years of volunteer service, and are stationed at schools. Most of these schools will not have reliable electricity/power or Internet connectivity, so these libraries are designed to provide relevant educational content in these challenging environmental conditions. The Peace Corps volunteers’ responsibilities include teaching English, using technology where possible, and working together with the community and the school to help improve the education available at the schools where they are serving.


The Solar SPELL library was designed to help meet the needs of the Peace Corps volunteers, vis-à-vis enabling and improving education, in the field. It includes open access content, much of which is localized for the Federated States of Micronesia and for the Pacific Islands. The offline library’s content can also be found in on-line version here: http://pacificschoolserver.org


The library’s hardware is designed to be as simple to use as possible, with no moving parts in order to avoid overheating. The solar panel and plastic case are waterproof, providing an extra level of protection against the salt air and humidity that is ever-present in the Islands.


A number of the Peace Corps volunteers expressed their gratitude to the SPELL team, for creating the library, for its relevance to their mission, and for giving the training session. The sentiment of gratitude was echoed by the Peace Corps staff as well. We heard so many expressions of “Thank you so much,” “This is so perfect for us,” “This is amazing,” “I can’t believe your students did this in such a limited time,” and that felt pretty wonderful.


The team is extremely grateful to the Peace Corps staff in FSM, particularly including to Rodney Salas and James Ramon, who facilitated the successful training on-site, as well as to Peace Corps librarian Elizabeth Karr, who provided valuable input and feedback on the training materials prior to the workshop in Pohnpei.


After the training in Pohnpei was completed, the team traveled to Chuuk, another of the four Federated States of Micronesia, to jump-start two new projects, and to check in on multiple other projects that Dr. Hosman has initiated or assisted with, there.



The SPELL Solar Digital Libraries project was made financially possible through a grant from the Pacific Telecommunications Council, an in-kind donation (of Banana Pis) from LeMaker, as well as an in-kind donation (of Nexus 7 Tablets) from Inveneo.

by ljhosman at August 08, 2015 05:27 AM

August 06, 2015

Tabitha Roder

Learn Moodle MOOC

Did anyone notice how quick 9 August 2015 snuck up on us? If you haven’t already set yourself up on the Learn Moodle MOOC now is the time to do so as the introductions have been flowing in from all around the world. What a great opportunity to network, share your experiences and learn from others.
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by tabitharoder at August 06, 2015 09:56 AM

July 30, 2015

Fargo to Sudan XO

PODS Game Design | Inspiring children in the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo area to enhance their creativity by designing video games.

PODS Game Design | Inspiring children in the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo area to enhance their creativity by designing video games..

PODS picking up where Sugar Labs @ NDSU left off, except:
a. they seem to be charging for classes
b. they want to reach as many kids as possible but probably aren’t focusing on under-represented populations
c. they want to “enhance creativity;” we were trying to focus on computational thinking. Ironic.

by kab13 at July 30, 2015 04:09 AM

July 29, 2015

One Laptop per Child

Universidad ORT y OLPC en México ofrecen becas del 100% para Maestría en Innovación educativa

Queridos amigos de OLPC,

Nos complace compartir con ustedes que OLPC recientemente ha firmado un acuerdo con la Universidad ORT de México y para celebrarlo, se están ofreciendo becas del 100% de la colegiatura a la Maestría en Innovación Educativa a 3 personas referidas por OLPC que sean admitidos a la universidad.
Para tener más información sobre el programa se puede consultar la siguiente liga:
Si esto es de su interés es importante tomar acción lo antes posible ya que:
1) las inscripciones cierran en 3 semanas
2) la oferta será válida para los primeros 3 solicitantes que completen el procedimiento y sean admitidos al programa de la Universidad derivado del acuerdo con OLPC. 
El procedimiento:
Para poder solicitar la beca institucional, deberá seguir los siguientes pasos: 
1. Acceder a la página de la Universidad ORT en la siguiente liga: http://www.ort.edu.mx/p/<wbr></wbr>admisiones.html
2. En esta página encontrarán los pasos para poder seguir el proceso de admisión a la universidad.
3. Bajar hasta el final de la pagina y hacer click en dónde dice Solicitud de Admisión, se desplegará la solicitud en la cual la primera opción dice: Si tienes un código de convenio de beca anotarlo, en este espacio va el código 
4. Llenar la solicitud completa.
5. Mandar el comprobante de pago del proceso de admisión y su ensayo de motivos a la dirección que se especifica. 
Para cualquier duda, comunicarse a la  Coordinación de Admisiones al tel. (55) 6721-8576 en la Cd. de México.
Siéntanse en total libertad de compartir esta información con alguien que quiera aprovechar esta oportunidad única.
Reciban un saludo cordial y como siempre, nuestro agradecimiento por su interés en mejorar la educación de los niños. 

by mariana at July 29, 2015 06:14 PM

OLE Nepal

Thanking our friend Anil

Our friend Anil has recently completed the grueling NYC Triathlon for OLE Nepal. The Panasonic NYC Triathlon which was held in New York City on July 19th, 2015 saw the presence of many enthusiastic participants who ran, swam and cycled.…

by Sofila Vaidya at July 29, 2015 04:09 AM

July 27, 2015

Nancie Severs

Healing Winds & Finding Joy — Burlington, VT

Burlington, VT

It has been quite a while since I have posted an entry. It has been a beautiful summer in the Upper Valley. As I transition to life after cancer treatment, I have been busy enjoying warm weather activities and family and friends!

First, my niece, (my Hanover daughter) Ellen visited in mid-June. We were so happy to have a throwback Murphy's dinner and Upper Valley visit. Ellen came for the 15th graduating class and the first ever alumni event of her OB-Gyn residency program at Dartmouth. We had a wonderful visit.

The following week, my sister Janet came up for an Upper Valley vacation.. She was here with her "Israeli sister" Netta for a few days. I loved seeing Netta. Netta tasted her first Mexican food, at our local Gusanoz, and she kayaked in the Connecticut River, her first time in a kayak.

My friend Maribel had given my name to an organization in Burlington,Vermont called Healing Winds. Founded by Suzanne, a cancer survivor, Healing Winds is a non profit organization that takes cancer patients, friends and caregivers on an afternoon sail on Lake Champlain. http://healingwindsvt.org/

Glen was our Captain and Bill was his right hand man. Both have been touched by cancer, both are accomplished sailors (&amp; skiers) and they generously volunteer their time for Healing Winds.

Suzanne, the founder of Healing Winds mentioned her idea for this program to an acquaintance and soon received a cool donation of a 28 foot sailing craft which made her dream a reality. The boat, the Jubilee, when donated needed some loving care and sprucing up. Now she looks great and is seaworthy and sound.

Janet and I were treated to a relaxing three hour sail on Lake Champliain on a beautiful warm &amp; sunny day. What a special gift from a wonderful organization of generous volunteers and supporters!

We stayed overnight in Burlington at the Courtyard Marriott on the harbor. A lake view room, our lovely sailing trip, shopping on Church St. and candy-making at Lake Champlain Chocolates made it the perfect one night girls "getaway from cancer."

Candy making? Yes, I need to watch my sugar. I'm good at watching me eat it but not yet at restricting it. I love chocolate and I saw a brochure for a chocolate making class at South End Kitchens owned by Lake Champlain Chocolates in Burlington. I signed us up online for the afternoon class. It was one hour and the best fun. Oh, and we each came home with four large chocolate bars that we made ourselves. If you are going to Burlington, you will love this activity! Check out the photos. http://southendkitchenvt.com/

Thank you Healing Winds for the lovely invitation and sailing trip. It was the impetus for my "getaway from cancer" and it was such good sister fun &amp; bonding time. What a wonderful break and distraction from the post treatment issues and concerns.

Which brings me to an update on my cancer recovery. I am very grateful that I get to be "finished with my treatment." I don't have any discernible signs of cancer now, and I hope we never see it again. Physically, I have been through an awful lot this year and transitioning off treatment does not mean that I am physically all done. I have a wonderful team of healing angels helping with treatment after-effects. Britton M, is my acupuncturist and Caroline C is my physical therapist. I have had massages by three therapists, each with their own strengths for my issues.These gifted practitioners each help me deal with the persistent fatigue, and with some tricky chemo and radiation effects. If you might benefit to know more detail about what's working for what, feel free to email me and ask.

It's a tall order to not think about recurrence. After the need for repeat CT scans and the colonoscopy in May, which thankfully all turned out normal, in June I was faced with the need for a repeat Pap smear (results took nearly 3 weeks). On top of that I had a recall on my annual mammogram. Both of those also turned out to be nothing, but the extra tests and waiting times were stressful and it's very hard not to worry. Mark says, worry about what you can do something about; those things you can control, and fix it. Whether or when the cancer might recur is not something I have any control over. I'm being followed closely; I am not missing any appointments. Beyond that, there's only so much i can do to change the outcome.

So I've been staying really busy. I push myself too much sometimes and then I am sooo tired! But I have so much to do.

Our Florida friends, Lisa &amp; Mayer and Sam &amp; Jeff visited for a day during their New England summer trip. We went canoeing and kayaking on the river from Dartmouth's Ledyard Canoe Club, since it was so easy with Janet &amp; Netta the week before. We went for Morano Gelato of course, and then had dinner at the Lincoln Inn in West Woodstock, VT. It was a wonderful day with dear friends and we felt like we had been on vacation too, afterwards.

The following week I had a cataract removed from my left eye. Thanks Janet for being here to help with that. (Mark has already done his share of hospital time for me this year. The right eye is scheduled soon. I have to be really careful not to get anything in it and I will have to stay out of the pool, river or lake for the rest of the summer. But oh, to be able to see colors clearly, and to see my yoga teachers without glasses, it is totally worth it! This surgery is simple in expert hands. The results are like a small miracle!

We've also had several lovely dinners with friends! I have been helping with and enjoying the summer "informal open gardens" &amp; events of the Hanover Garden Club.

On July 11, we walked the Prouty with Team Mariposa in honor of Maribel. Our Team had 47 members this year and we raised $18,000 for cancer research and patient services at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Even I am impressed. Maribel is living with breast cancer, and fitting it into her busy life as an athlete, and a young wife and mother of three running a household and running 1/2 marathons. Maribel stays positive and her spirit and tenacity continue to inspire me!

I am also trying to stay positive. It's easier to be positive in the present than to try and guess what the future may or may not bring. But when you've had he diagnosis and treatment I've had, keeping the "monkey brain" on task is a work in progress.

A member of my healing team is a gifted physical therapist helping me with post radiation issues. To avoid worsening lymphedema Caroline reminds me that I must keep moving. I need to limit time sitting at a desk, in the car, at meals etc and I need to take time twice a day to put my legs up the wall.

Last week Caroline advised me to do only the things that "bring you light. "Just don't do things that are frustrating or cause anxiety. Do the things you love, yoga, bike, swing a golf club, get on a swing." (Tillie remembers the last time I was swinging at the Jax Beach playground with her kids :)) Caroline also wisely says, try to just be with the people in your life that bring you joy and good feelings.

Today I asked her to tell me these things again that I need to hear this prescription again and again. I chose doctors in whom I have confidence and the treatment I had provided the best chance of a cure. I am working to be really positive about my prognosis (which as of now is good) and I need reminders to not do things that encourage me to dwell on the fact that I had cancer. During treatment, I did really well fitting cancer into my life and not making it my life.

It is gone for now. Hopefully we won't see it again. As Mark and I make plans for our first short trip to Europe together, I'll take a break from this "Unexpected Journey" blog. Traveling is one of the things that brings me joy and light. I hope to share that joy in a more traditional Travelpod blog that is once again about travel!

Thanks to my family and friends who have encouraged me during this very challenging year. "It takes a Village" and you have all helped!

Love, Nancie

July 27, 2015 12:11 PM

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL featured on BBC World Service Program Click

BBC World Service_0BBC-click-220x220

A short while ago, I was interviewed about the SPELL project on the BBC World Service Program Click. It was a fantastic opportunity to talk about what our solar digital libraries are, how they work, what the content is, and why having great content is so important. It was perfect timing to raise awareness of the project in advance of our deployments in Vanuatu and Micronesia in the coming weeks.

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Above is a YouTube video with the interview and a slideshow of relevant photos.

If you’d prefer to listen to the full length podcast, here is a link to the Click website with the episode, and the SPELL interview starts at about 21:50.

Many thanks to Gareth Mitchell for a lovely interview, and to Colin Grant for finding out about the project and making the interview possible.

by ljhosman at July 27, 2015 02:27 AM

July 21, 2015

Ghana Together

UDDT Project Update – Methodist Government School

We are delighted to report that the urine diversification/dehydration toilet (UDDT) project at Methodist-Government school is moving right along. The contractor, Mr. Emmanuel Appiah, sends photos every few days via the miracle of "Whatsapp!"

Thanks to the Engineers Without Borders team that trained Mr. Appiah’s crew in 2014 on the first UDDT project, the Ghanaians now know how to construct this type of toilet. <o:p></o:p>

Students helping carry materials to the building site

In keeping with their traditional way of handling this, they are building urinals on each end---one for boys and one for girls. Above, you see the girls' urinal, with a separate, semi-private compartment on the right for handling their menstrual needs. A container capturing rain water will also be installed in that compartment, so girls can rinse out their "cloths", wash their hands, etc. The center section (colored bricks) is private "stalls"---each one can handle both urine and feces and provides privacy..
 We have been forwarding Mr. Appiah’s photos to the EWB leadership in Bellingham, WA who have helped out by noticing some details that needed to be remedied. Thanks!<o:p></o:p>

This is international teamwork at the local level! For those of us of a certain age, we can only say “Who would have thought?”<o:p></o:p>

Workmen installing the "doors" to the feces compartments. Each "stall" has two such "cisterns", as  the compartments are called. The students use one cistern for an entire year. Then it is capped and the other cistern is used. After another year, the first cistern is simply shoveled out, and the dried feces is hauled away as fertilizer (probably to a nearby rubber plantation). EWB-Bellingham is developing an easy way to test feces toxicity, to ensure safe handling.

While these are sanitation projects, they also are science education projects.
Students are gaining a better understanding of their own bodies and how they work. They are understanding the chemistry of urine, the toxicity of feces, and how to handle both in healthful ways.
They are learning how human waste can provide precious fertilizer to crops, if handled properly. Girls can handle their menstrual periods at school, without having to miss precious days, through the special accommodation built into the girls’ urinal. <o:p></o:p>

This photo shows the inside arrangement. Students plant their feet on the "foot blocks." One hole will be capped and not used while the other will be used for an entire year. Feces goes down the hole....urine goes forward into the small hole in the center of the basin. The "urine hole" is connected to a pipe, and the urine is diverted to the planted area behind the toilet.

Toilet tissue, newsprint, leaves, menstrual pads, cloth, etc. can go into the feces hole. Anything of plastic cannot. We teach the students to remember that our bodies separate our waste, automatically, and with this type of toilet, we just continue what our bodies already do!

With this second toilet project, about 1000 more children and their teachers are learning about this advanced, low-impact, no-water-no-electricity toilet design. <o:p></o:p>

PVC pipe provides ventilation. One of the big advantages of this toilet design is the lack of odor often found in the more common pit toilets. This is especially a problem when one is only 4 degrees from the equator!! The plants shown will be supplemented by many others---avocados, fruit trees, tomatoes, etc. The urine drains through pipes with holes to fertilize the "garden" behind the toilet.

Pipes will be added to the roof to collect rain water, which flows into secure hand-washing containers.
Maybe a bit more than you wanted to know!!
Of course, other schools in Axim are finding out about these toilets and they want one, too. Mr. Appiah has offered to donate his own labor costs completely, and his workers have agreed to donate some of their labor, too, for any additional UDDTs. They want to help their community.
With Mr. Appiah’s generous offer, each UDDT costs about $12,000-$15,000, depending on the exchange rate, terrain, etc. (about a $5000 discount over the original quote). (Note: per James Kainyiah, who does construction himself and is Chair of WHH, our partner organization, this is an honest contractor with honest quote).
So, hey, if you would like a toilet of your very own, you know who to call! We could name it after you. We know an artist in Axim who we are sure can make a truly beautiful plaque… J <o:p></o:p>

Seriously, we have a dream where no one has to use the bush!

Go to our blog for previous news updates: http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/
Go to our website: http://ghanatogether.org
Contact us: info@ghanatogether.org
We are a registered 501c3 nonprofit: IRS ID 26-2182965

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at July 21, 2015 06:34 AM

July 20, 2015

Fargo to Sudan XO

Bay Area Teens Share the Love of Coding (Part 1)

Bay Area Teens Share the Love of Coding (Part 1).

Pretty close to what we were trying to do, except we tried it with 4th and 5th grade kids.

by kab13 at July 20, 2015 05:39 PM