First meeting of 2012: Updates on Sugar, XO-1.75 and XO 3.0

We are back at Gallaudet University this Saturday to discuss the recent announcements from OLPC on the XO 3.0 tablet and XO-1.75 laptop. Jeff Elkner will also demo Sugar running on Trisquel GNU/Linux 5.0. We will do some planning on our agenda for the May 19th, 2012 Scratch Day event.

What: Family XO Meetup
When: Saturday, January 21, 2012, 10 am to 1pm
Where: Gallaudet University [map, aerial photo], Student Academic Center
in computer lab SAC 1211, Washington, D.C. 20002

The room may actually change, but we’ll post a sign. Let us know if you need help upgrading your XO laptop and we’ll be sure to bring a USB drive with the necessary files.

written by Mike Lee on 17 January 2012 Comments Off

We’re immortalized in the new ‘Cult of LEGO’ book!

Thanks to a tip from Walter Bender, I discovered that wife Amy and I are featured in the new Cult of LEGO book from No Starch Press. My 2007 photo of Amy modeling a One Laptop per Child XO-1 laptop camera viewfinder made of LEGO bricks runs full bleed on page 41. The viewfinder is shown as an example of one of a wide variety of ingenious uses for LEGO bricks. The book itself is a broad survey of LEGO history, culture and fandom.

The Cult of LEGO is available in bookstores and online. No Starch Press offers an ebook or ebook/print bundle on their web site. The PDF ebook is pictured here on my iPad.

The LEGO viewfinder was discovered by design professor Phil Renato, who collaborated with me to create a custom design for 3D printing. We made a couple hundred of them for sale and gifting. The photo of Walter Bender looking through that viewfinder has been used far and wide. The viewfinder was even converted into a USB flash drive. Then Vik Olliver of RepRap fame came up with a simpler design that could be printed from an XO laptop to the DIY RepRap 3D printer.

My ongoing involvement with LEGO through the MIT Media Lab and the OLPC Learning Club of DC attracted a visit from producers of the LEGO Mindstorms Robotics products. I provided consulting on approaches to optimizing their low-cost WeDo robotics kit for the OLPC XO laptop. The discussions led to my introducing to LEGO the team of developers that did the port of the Win/Mac software to Linux that is now being deployed to 20,000 kids in Peru.

I’m looking forward to helping LEGO some more in 2012.

CC Flickr photo by Mike Lee

written by Mike Lee on 31 December 2011 Comments Off

Next meeting Saturday, 10/15, 10am at ACC

Updated 10/15/2011 with new information links below.
As some of you know, we decided to take the summer off. Normally we would have had a meeting in September, but I elected to attend Mobile UX Camp in DC. Then the next day, my family and I did a day trip to Maker Faire in Queens, NY. OLPC had a booth there.

So the Learning Club is meeting again on:

Saturday October 15, 2011, 10am-1pm
Arlington Career Center
816 South Walter Reed Drive
Arlington, VA 22204
Contact PageGoogle MapAerial PhotoBus Info

I’ll be fresh from two days of sponsor meetings at the MIT Media Lab earlier in the week, so I’m sure I’ll have some interesting news. This is the first event to be hosted by Joi Ito, the lab’s new director.

Topics that can be covered at our Saturday meeting:
Please let us know if you have any special support needs for the meeting.
written by Mike Lee on 9 October 2011 Comments Off

Scratch Day 2011, Arlington Career Center, Virginia

Scratch Day 2011
Saturday May 21, 2011, 1-4pm
Arlington Career Center
816 South Walter Reed Drive
Arlington, VA 22204

Contact PageGoogle MapAerial PhotoBus Info

Our third annual Scratch Day will arrive this Saturday afternoon at the Arlington Career Center in Virginia. We’re reprising last year’s winning formula this year to run three concurrent hands-on workshops for teachers, parents and kids. The latest version of Scratch, the MIT Media Lab’s fabulous interactive authoring software, is installed in each of the computer labs. We also expect to be able to demonstrate Scratch 1.4 running on the OLPC XO-1 laptop with support for the built-in camera and the Journal file system.

Our special guest Michael Badger, author of Scratch 1.4: Beginner’s Guide, has graciously offered to return this year. Michael will help lead one of the workshops. His publisher, Packt Publishing, has generously sponsored our event again with copies of the book to raffle and book discount flyers. And we have a special raffle prize related to robotics!

Here is the event schedule:

1:00 – 1:30pm Check in, main lobby
1:15 – 1:30pm Welcome and orientation
1:30 – 3:30pm Scratch workshop for teachers re-certification class (advance registration required)
1:30 – 3:30pm Scratch workshop for parents and teens
1:30 – 3:30pm Scratch workshop for young children (8 – 12 years old)
3:45 – 4pm Raffle prizes and closing remarks

The Scratch Team at MIT has produced some fun promotional videos.

Thanks again to Packt Publishing!

written by Mike Lee on 15 May 2011 Comments Off

No formal meeting for April; Scratch Day 2011 next month!

XO Flowers

With speaking engagements and family travel for the rest of the Saturdays this month, I’ve decided not to have a formal user group meeting. Spring fever too! If anyone wants to have an informal meeting on a weeknight, I’m available the evening of Thursday, April 28th for a meet-up somewhere downtown. Wayan is pretty busy the rest of this month and then out of the country next, so we won’t be at the Looking Glass Lounge.

We will be meeting again next month on the afternoon of May 21 with the big bang of Scratch Day 2011 at the Arlington Career Center. There will be one or more blog posts and an email update coming before the event. We’re looking for volunteers to present workshops or projects as well as assist with setting up. Please contact Jeff Elkner jeff at or Mike Lee curiouslee at

Illustration from the OLPC Tanzania wiki page.

written by Mike Lee on 15 April 2011 Comments Off

Sharing favorite Sugar activities

A quick chat with Walter Bender last week reminded me we should do a meeting where we all share and discuss our favorite Sugar activities. There are so many hidden gems in the Sugar Activities web site and no end to tips and tricks for the universal favorites.

We’ll be back at the Arlington Career Center this Saturday afternoon:

Saturday, March 19, 2011, 1:30pm-4pm
Arlington Career Center
816 South Walter Reed Drive
Arlington, VA 22204

Contact Page, Google Map, Aerial Photo, Bus Info

Bring your XO laptops and hopefully, we’ll be able to use our new LCD projection capability to demonstrate right from an XO laptop.

Lastly, our friends at are still running their 10% discount special for our club on single and four-pack 10 watt solar panels (while supplies last). These are OLPC-certified flexible resin panels with exact match power plug for both XO-1 and XO-1.5. Use the discount code xoSOLAR when ordering. In tests in strong mid-day summer sun here in Washington, D.C., this panel will charge an XO from empty to full in 3.5 to 4.5 hours.

written by Mike Lee on 14 March 2011 Comments Off

Using Ebooks with the OLPC XO

One of the highly touted benefits of the OLPC XO laptop is the ability for it to save on the cost and complexity of shipping paper books to children in remote places by loading it with electronic. This month, we’ll take a look at the activities on the XO that support reading ebooks and review James Simmons’ book on how to create ebooks for the XO and many other ereading devices. Where there is internet connectivity available, XO laptops can also access the Internet Archive’s Open Library books using a web-based book viewer, which has recently been updated to support touch screen devices. Also, a variety of ereader devices will be on display.

What: Family XO Meetup
When: Saturday, February 19th, 2011, 10 am to 1pm
Where: Gallaudet University [map, aerial photo], Student Academic Center
in computer lab SAC 1211, Washington, D.C. 20002

We will again have the USB flash drives for updating the XO-1 and XO-1.5 to the latest 10.1.3 operating system. Make sure your XO laptop is completely backed up and charged up, and bring the AC adapter.

written by Mike Lee on 12 February 2011 Comments Off

January Meeting: Cupcakes to Celebrate Three Years; XO-1.75 Alpha at CES

Saturday, January 22, 2011, 1:30pm-4pm
Arlington Career Center
816 South Walter Reed Drive
Arlington, VA 22204

Contact Page, Google Map, Aerial Photo, Bus Info

This month tricked us by starting with a Saturday and giving us four more, so we’re meeting on the afternoon of the fourth Saturday instead of the third.

To celebrate three years of meetings, there will be XO cupcakes! Then:

  • an update from Sugar Labs DC
  • news on the XO-1.75 alpha machine shown last week at CES 2011 (hand crank charging is now possible!)
  • a look at the just-released FINAL version of the the 10.1.3 system update with many exciting new features and fixes. If you would like help upgrading, back up your journal files and bring your XO-1 or XO-1.5 fully charged with AC adapter.
  • a peek the late beta version of LEGO’s completely rewritten version of the WeDo robotics software for the XO-1 and XO-1.5, for which the Learning Club provided some consultation and testing.

Please also bring some thoughts on OLPC or Sugar Labs-related activities we might do during 2011.

Cupcake illustration designed by Mike and Cici on an iPod Touch using Maverick Software’s Cupcakes! App.

written by Mike Lee on 16 January 2011 Comments Off

WordPress Rising

Thanks to Wayan and the very talented Andi Gros, whom I met at and the OLPC SF Summit, this blog’s broken RSS feed is back along with some much needed backend upgrades.

So if you missed last month’s Mega Trip Report chock full of links to my month of OLPC-related travel in October, please have a look.

I’ll likely drop in on the rumored Ubuntu meet-up this Saturday evening at Taste of India and call it a month unless someone wants to do an informal meetup. So no regular meeting this month.

See you all in 2011 after a safe and happy holiday!

written by Mike Lee on 6 December 2010 Comments Off

November Meeting: The Mega Trip Report

Mega Trip Report

When: Saturday, November 20th, 2010, 10am to 1pm
Where: Gallaudet University [map, aerial photo], Student Academic Center, Room SAC 1211 [floorplan], Washington, D.C. 20002

At this meeting, I’ll recap a whirlwind month’s worth of OLPC-related events that I attended including the:

I will focus mostly on the grassroots organized OLPC SF Community Summit 2010 and the PhotoKids Nature Walk with quick highlights of the other events. The summit, the largest of its kind in OLPC history, gathered an amazing collection of volunteers and OLPC staffers from around the world to reaffirm the lowercase olpc movement. The PhotoKids nature walk culminated a few months of planning to equip kids from a public housing project with digital cameras, OLPC XOs and, XoPhoto, a new Sugar-based photo management activity to use outdoors during their field trip. The first walk went well and was promoted by Housing Opportunities Commission and Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, MD.

At the meeting, we will also be able to help anyone who needs to upgrade their XO-1 to the newest 852 software. Be sure to back up your files to a USB drive if you want us to do the upgrade. Bring your XO laptop and AC adapter.

written by Mike Lee on 14 November 2010 Comments Off

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

jeff elkner -
jeff at

kevin cole -
dcloco at

luke faraone -
luke at

wayan vota -
wayan at


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