XO peripherals category

Unleash Kids Hangout On Air: Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Appropriate Technologies at OLE Nepal

Monday, July 8, 2013, 9AM EDT, 1300 UTC, 18:45 NPT

The Unleash Kids Campaign, the volunteer-run project developing learning kits around the XO-4 Touch laptop, will host Rabi Karmacharya, Executive Director of OLE Nepal, live from Kathmandu. I’ll be producing the Google+ Hangout On Air show from my office in Washington, D.C. Christoph Derndorfer in Vienna, Austria will be interviewing our guest.

OLE Nepal (Open Learning Exchange Nepal) is a social benefit organization dedicated to enhancing teaching-learning in schools through the integration of technology and to provide uniform access to quality educational materials across different geographic areas and socio-economic strata.

OLE Nepal develops and distributes free educational content , trains teachers to integrate technology in classrooms, implements technology interventions in rural schools, and helps build local capacity in technology and education.

Bio: Rabi Karmacharya co-founded OLE Nepal in 2007 to implement OLPC program in partnership with Nepal Government. Since then OLE Nepal has completed two years of pilot, and the program is currently running in 27 schools scattered in seven districts in Nepal. OLE Nepal has also been developing local education content designed by curriculum experts that are loaded on the XOs and updated periodically through the school server. Teachers receive training on using the laptops and the content to teach subjects such as English, Nepali and mathematics. Currently heading a team of 27 staff comprising of educators, curriculum experts, content coordinators, software developers, graphic designers, network engineers, system administrators, and volunteers. Born and raised in Kathmandu. Received MEng and BSc in Electrical Engineering from MIT.

Here’s a recent interview with Rabi:

AirAsia Foundation Interview with Rabi Karmacharya
written by Mike Lee on 6 July 2013 Comments Off

Next Club Meeting at DIY Fair, DC Library

With the recent OLPC Community Summit in San Francisco and news that my project developing digital literacy lessons in Etoys for street children in Zambia won a grant from USAID, I’ve arranged to have a club meeting as part of a display I’m setting up at the DC Library’s DIY Fair:

On Saturday, Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 18 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Adaptive Services Division of the DC Public Library will host a DIY (Do It Yourself) Fair in the Great Hall of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at 901 G St. NW. The DIY Fair will be a celebration of creativity for people with and without disabilities.

You can register for the DIY Fair through Eventbrite http://dcdiyfair2012.eventbrite.com/

The Learning Club meeting will take place Saturday Nov. 17 at 10am on the second floor of the east lobby of the DC Library during the Fair. I will give an update using the presentations I gave at the OLPC Summit on OLPC open hardware and Lubuto Library in Zambia, show off the new OLPC 15 watt solar panel with an XO-1.75 laptop, talk about the USAID grant and relay some significant news on the future of OLPC (much positive, some uncertain). I will have USB drives with the latest stable build of the XO-1 operating system for anyone who needs to upgrade their laptop. The upgrade will overwrite the contents of your laptop, so be sure to copy off important files. If you have any other special needs, please contact me in advance.

At around 12 noon, I will set up some displays I recently assembled for the local First Lego League Senior Solutions Science Expo and will be there until 3pm and during Sunday’s scheduled Fair hours. On display will be a Raspberry Pi computer running MIT Scratch and Lego WeDo, my exact replica of the Mars Curiosity Rover built entirely in Lego bricks designed by former NASA engineer Stephen Pakbaz and an XO-1.75 laptop with the digital literacy lessons developed for street children in Zambia.

This will be the last Learning Club meeting for 2012, so please use the meeting opportunity and display hours next weekend at the DC Library to bring your questions about OLPC, open source learning, open source hardware and informal digital learning.
written by Mike Lee on 12 November 2012 Comments Off

MaKey MaKey loves the OLPC XO laptop

My new MaKey Makey board sending input into the Write activity on an XO-1.75 C2 with OS 12.1.0.

My MaKey Makey kit from the insanely successful Kickstarter campaign arrived yesterday from Sparkfun! Today I got a chance to unbox it and do the initial test with my squirming XO Child on my lap holding the alligator clips to trigger the keyboard input and XO Mom taking the GIF animation frames. Success! Now we should be able to try the sample demos in Scratch on the HOWTO page and build the famous banana piano.

I can easily see larger OLPC deployments doing their own locally assembled batches of these open source hardware boards at cost. And it seems like C. Scott‘s XO Stick prototype (which I am preparing to assemble) should be able to offer some of the MaKey MaKey functionality at a substantially lower cost. Maybe we’ll see XO USB pianos around the world made from coconut, guava, mango, chinese pears and more.

written by Mike Lee on 19 August 2012 Comments Off

A water drop microscope for the XO laptop

Bill Tuk of OLPC-SF emailed to tell me about how, for years, he has been using a drop of water over the OLPC XO laptop camera aperture to convert it into a microscope. The technique saw a resurgence recently when Scientific American blogged about insect photographer Alexander Wild, who put a water drop on the iPhone 4 camera to make macroscopic photos. His sample photos of a flower, ant and dime look incredible.

Earlier today, with low expectations based on my past experiences with the low resolution, low contrast XO camera, I set an XO-1.75 beta machine (any XO laptop will work) with screen face up on my porch railing and dabbed a drop of tap water on the camera aperture window with a plastic drinking straw.

The preview in the Record activity went completely blurry, but unlike most any other laptop, I was still able to clearly see the activity screen in the bright afternoon sunlight. I had some random objects from my yard and kitchen. Holding a yellow 1×2 Lego brick in my fingers, I hovered it over the water drop. The letters LEGO burst onto the screen from the sunlit brick. The quality of the image was excellent for an XO. Some of my shots are in the collage above and in an annotated set on Flickr.

It is Bill’s wish that this simple, zero-cost technique become a standard learning exercise for all children who use XO laptops. Here are some tips he provided:

  • Use a 1-inch square piece of clear plastic cellophane from a CD/DVD wrapper or cigarette pack to hold the water drop so that it can be kept centered over the camera aperture
  • Manually focus by moving the object closer or further from the face-up XO camera
  • Video can be taken as well (perhaps of a wiggling bug)
  • Clean up the water with a tissue or towel

The clear plastic disc over the the XO camera is glued completely in place, so I just put my drop of water directly on without any problems. Even a small bottle of water will be enough to keep an entire class of XOs refreshed with water drops every 15 minutes for many hours of field exploration. The XO’s daylight readable screen makes it easy for the children to share their photos and reflect on them by taking notes and making sketches.

We’re hoping that water drops on XO laptop cameras will inspire millions of young Van Leeuwenhoeks around the world.

Here are some resources I found related to water drop magnifiers:

Historical information

Using clothespins for support

Water drop on an Android smartphone camera

Water drop on an iPhone 3G camera

Book: Single Lens: The Story of the Simple Microscope, Brian J. Ford, 1981

written by Mike Lee on 18 March 2012 Comments Off

Solar test with the XO-1.75 beta laptop

I decided to try to duplicate the impressive no-battery solar panel test that Richard Smith and Chris Ball shot on video recently in Cambridge, MA.

I couldn’t get everything set up until 3:15 pm today here in Wheaton, MD (just north of Washington, D.C.), so the 10 watt OLPC panel wouldn’t power the batteryless XO-1.75 B1 laptop because the sun was too low. Skies were partly cloudy on this Sunday in winter.

Switching to a 20 watt HQRP panel with a charge controller, I was able to boot and run the laptop. I had to move the setup several times to dodge tree shadows as I’m in a wooded area. And the sun became too dim by 3:40 pm for the 20 watt panel to work at all.

Even though this test was with a larger panel than the OLPC standard, it’s still impressive that I can run the laptop in dim winter sunlight with no battery. The XO 3.0 tablet will have the same performance as it has a similar mother board.

Here are short video clips of booting up and surfing the web.

written by Mike Lee on 29 January 2012 Comments Off

Sugar Labs DC to release its TimeLapse Activity

TimeLapse Activity

TimeLapse is computer software for the Sugar Learning Platform used to gather periodic data (sound and images).  It is the first software activity developed by Sugar Labs DC and runs on the OLPC XO-1 laptop. The idea for TimeLapse grew out of the exciting, eclectic, interdisciplinary meeting of scientists, computer programmers, pedagogues, and hardware hobbyists originally brought together by the OLPC Learning Club DC.

Dr. Frank Linton, who has an observation bee hive in his house, was interested in studying the relationship between the sound made by the hive and the health and well being of the bees inside.  He wondered if he could use his XO laptop to gather periodic sound sampling from the hive.  This real world need became the seed for the development of TimeLapse.

Over the past two years, with Dr. Linton acting as customer, Jeff Elkner, and a group of young programmers from Sugar Labs, DC have made steady improvements to TimeLapse.  The current release is the first one that is installable through the Browse Activity in Sugar, making TimeLapse easily available to Sugar users all over the world.

Come celebrate the accomplishment of these talented young programmers.  Bring your XO and try out TimeLapse for yourself.

Update: TimeLapse is now available for download on the Sugar  Labs activities site.

Note time change!!!
When: Saturday, January 16th, 2010, 1 pm to 4 pm

Arlington Career Center
816 South Walter Reed Drive,
Arlington, VA 22204
Contact Page, Map, Aerial Photo, Bus Info)

Walter Bender of Sugar Labs will join in by video conference from Cambridge, MA.

We’ll also raffle off an original copy of the new XtraOrdinary 2010 SD card!

written by Mike Lee on 6 January 2010 Comments Off

Streaming audio on your OLPC XO

What: Family XO Mesh Meetup
When: Saturday, August 15th, 2009, 10 am to 1pm
Where: Gallaudet University [map, aerial photo], Student Academic Center,
**NOTE ROOM CHANGE: We are UPSTAIRS from the old meeting rooms in the basement on the first floor [
floorplan], Classroom 2 SAC1210 and Classroom 3 SAC1211, Washington, D.C. 20002

This month, we are back at the Gallaudet Student Academic Center in the AV-equipped classroom one floor above the multi-purpose rooms where we used to meet. We have another informative presentation by our own Kim Toufectis on options for streaming audio in your XO-1 browser. Kim went on to investigate audio after researching his presentation on cloud computing.

Kim will present a survey of sites he’s tested that work for streaming music and news via the XO Browse Activity’s built-in open source Gnash player that handles Flash files. If time permits, and some of our command line experts are around, we’ll also demonstrate how to set up the XO to play MP3 audio from a USB flash drive. Mike will do an update on the OLPCorps Africa deployments [see the team blogs].

We will also raffle off one or more sets of folding paper eco speakers.

September 19th, we’ll back at the Arlington Career Center with a special presentation on the activities of the first few months of Sugar Labs DC by Jeff Elkner and plans are shaping up for a demo at the meeting of the upcoming XO 1.5 laptop (essentially an upgraded motherboard)!

Don’t forget to sign up for our meeting announcement email list if you’re not already on.

8/14: Adding links to use during the meeting:

OLPC Teachers’ Mini-Deployment Guide book sprint in DC

Prezi Zooming Presentation Editor

OLPC Blog OLPCorps Deployment Update

OLPCorps Sahn Malen, Sierra Leone Blog

8/15: From the meeting:

Kim’s presentation

Adobe Flash version test 

written by Mike Lee on 9 August 2009 Comments Off

FLOSS, Sugar and Sensors for October

Location change! This month we are deviating from our plan and meeting at Nortel Networks again where we have a more convenient environment for doing software updates to the XO laptops.

What: Family XO Mesh Meetup
When: Saturday, October 18th, 2008, 10 am to 1 pm
Where: Nortel Networks, 101 Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC 20001 [

As the title of this post suggests, we’re going to show things related to open source software and hardware. First, we’ll pass around the very first copies of OLPC XO Laptop and Sugar User Interface printed manuals! My copies are pictured above. They look an feel fabulous. These print-on-demand books can be ordered from Lulu.com or you can download the PDFs for free to print yourself or read on a computer screen. The manuals are the result of a team of volunteers working with the FLOSS Manuals project. FLOSS stands for “free, libre, open source software.” The FLOSS web site offers an ever growing collection of community authored manuals for various popular open source packages. More than just PDFs to download, the web site lets you build your own custom PDFs by selecting only the chapters you want. Each chapter is written in a self-contained style. Adam Holt, who called in to the last meeting from OLPC Headquarters spoke at length about the recent book sprint event in Austin during which the majority of the content of the two OLPC manuals was authored. I know many of our club members have been pining for good documentation in printed form. Be happy now! Even better, if you don’t think a FLOSS manual covers a topic you need, you can jump in and add content to benefit others.

The bulk of our meeting time will be devoted to helping anyone who wants to upgrade to the new Sugar 8.2.0 update. I’ve been using it for a while, and it makes my XO feel like a brand new laptop with speed and usability improvements as well as a raft of bug fixes. As always, there’s a small gotcha: this new release is best installed clean on your XO wiping out everything on it in the process. If you have files in your Journal you wish to keep, they should be dragged to a USB drive. Customizations such as Adobe Flash, Firefox, Opera, Java, web radio, video players will be lost. We will likely be able to help reinstall some of these customizations, so please let us know in advance (curiouslee [at] gmail.com) so we can be prepared and do post to the discussion forum. This new update is the one that will be shipped with the upcoming Give One Get One 2008 program now being offered via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/xo.

One very pleasant surprise in this new Sugar update is that the Scratch Sensor board now works with Scratch! Scratch was demonstrated a few meetings ago by Richard Bullington-McGuire. It’s essentially a way to program animations and games using pieces of software code that snap together like Lego bricks. The sensor board, now marketed as the PicoBoard for USD$50, plugs into the XO’s USB port to provide light, sound, resistance, push button, and slider inputs to the Scratch environment. One club member suggested an alarm system for a child’s bedroom could be created with Scratch and the sensor board. I hope to demo this at the meeting.

Do try to check back here a day or two before the meeting in case there are any updates. I am only planning to send one email update. Not on our email list? Go here.

written by Mike Lee on 9 October 2008 1 commento

August Meeting Media

Here are links my photos, presentation slides and archived audio from the meeting. The automatic MP3 capture from FreeConference.com worked exceedingly well and also provided toll free numbers to those dialing in. We were, however, constrained to staying near the speaker phone at both locations, but that was workable.

The audio is stored on OurMedia.org, which offers an embedded audio player or downloading in various audio formats. I’ve posted my timestamped annotations on the page so you can advance the audio player to the portions you want to hear. With the slides open in another window, you can follow along the audio of my trip report.

Thanks again to the teams at Nortel for helping with logistics, Anna Schoolfield for calling in from Birmingham on a busy Saturday and to the new and regular attendees for bringing your energy.

written by Mike Lee on 23 August 2008 2 commenti

The OLPC Learning Club DC and Sugar Labs DC are independent grassroots organizations supporting the missions of One Laptop per Child and Sugar Labs.

contact us

mike lee -
curiouslee at gmail.com

jeff elkner -
jeff at elkner.net

kevin cole -
dcloco at gmail.com

luke faraone -
luke at faraone.cc

wayan vota -
wayan at olpcnews.com


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