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One Laptop Per Child Update July 5, 2013

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 5:43 pm
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Pay It Forward Giving WallPay It Forward (PIF) for Business event took place on Monday, July 1 at 3110 Lounge Main Street in Santa Monica. It was organized by Your Office Agent. PIF is about bringing the best companies in Santa Monica to give free advice and help grow small and medium sized businesses. It was the 4th PIF since Dec 2012, and it was Free of Charge. The focus has been from entrepreneurs to tech. Every PIF has a giving wall, where people post their offerings to the community or just tell about their products and services. It was a vibrant networking environment. Thank you to all 450 people for paying it forward!

My group Santa Monica New Tech (SMNT) was invited to this event. We are a community group of 1800+ members who meet to demo cool technology from local startups, give feedback and network.  SMNT had a table where we displayed several examples of technology and its timeline:  laptops from 5 years ago, 3 years ago and 1 year ag0. We invited everyone interested in new technology to our events. Our offer was one free ticket to our demo/feedback event on July 24 for those who stopped by our table at PIF4! We also told about volunteer opportunities in tech, see below.

Update:July 1 PIF SMNT

Four generation OS laptops have been manufactured since 2007 and distributed to children in schools around the world. Check out the map olpcmap.net with all OLPC projects, volunteers and XOs.

There are only 4 XO machines are available for now:

XO-1, XO-1.5, XO-1.75 and the new XO-4 Touch laptop.

XO-3s were built, they are basically a Sugar tablet (no keyboard), but not sold.

The XO-4 (touchscreen and keyboard) seems to be more popular.

XO-4 Touch has a few customers, including unleashkids.org.

“Unleash Kids” being the brand new all-volunteer campaign Mike Lee, Christoph Derndorfer, Bill Stelzer, Adam Holt and many others just began to create video documentary live interviews every 2 weeks, so the story of a new country’s OLPC-like work gets out there far more intimately! Unleash Kids, an all-volunteer non-profit group, will also be selling individual XO-4 Community Kits to people like Peace Corps / Makers later this summer, while directly supporting some very cool Haiti deployments.

Learn more on FB  http://facebOLPCMap Picook.com/unleashkids

Watch bi-weekly interviews of different OLPC countries http://youtube.com/unleashkids

OLPC’s Miami office will also be selling an Android tablet at Walmart under the name “XO Learning Tablet” as some point soon we’re told.  http://olpcnews.com

OLPC grassroots is seeking tech volunteers to work on technology for education! Tech volunteers are needed to help testing the new http://schoolserver.org which is getting a lot of traction, and amazingly so after volunteers took OLPC’s bitrotted XS 0.7 and turned it into a real community product with growing users on every continent (XS Community Edition!)

To learn more about OLPC and Sugar global community, please read http://planet.laptop.org and http://olpcMAP.net.

 

OLPC Summit SF 2012 October 29, 2012

OLPC Community Summit took place in SF in October 19-21. Read Nancie’s blog post about it:

G1G1, Change Lives & Change Your Life“We were staying out in Bolinas at the Kleider’s lovely home. When I say we, I mention that there were 8 of us spending the weekend there and 15 or more staying over on Sunday night after the lovely and lively End of Summit Party. 15 house guests and who knows how many party attendees? That’s a lot of food and a lot of work! June and Alex, & Tanya and Mike’s gracious hospitality included comfy accommodations and gourmet meals in a gorgeous relaxing setting. And Alex, the van “captain” for the 1 hour commute to downtown SF, took us on some of the most scenic roads in the area. For the Kleider’s, this was their 3rd year hosting. I know we all share in my sincere thanks.

This is the third year of the Summit. OLPC-SF http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Sugarcamp_SF_2012#Photos  OLPC San Francisco, a volunteer group, dreamed up, planned and sponsored this event, partnering with San Francisco State University which generously hosted our event. The work of Professor Sameer Verma of the SFSU Business School enables the continued sponsorship of this event by SFSU and its student volunteers. Together with members of OLPC-SF, they ran a top-notch event.

The conference began on Friday evening with a meet and greet. Saturday and Sunday there were full days of sessions presented in one of three tracks, Education, Outreach and Technology, and included presentations from OLPC Boston and Miami folks also. Sameer - Thanks for all you do!

A highlight was on Sunday when we heard about the latest stories and data from “The Reading Project.” This is the famous recent “helicopter tablet drop” project in Ethiopia. Nicholas Negroponte still posits that children can figure everything out and learn how to learn without teachers. His plan to drop tablets into a community without prior exposure to any technology, and without instruction on how to use them, to see whether the kids in an illiterate village can learn to read on their own is a bold one. For its experiment, OLPC chose the Motorola Xoom Android Tablet (a touch screen) and loaded it with apps, both free and proprietary. 20 kids each in 2 remote Ethiopian villages received Xoom Tablets. One of the interesting things  about this project is that the tablets have an SD data card included and the “sneakernet” team of 2 visits the sites once a week to swap out the data cards. The cards are Fed Ex’d to the Cambridge office team for analysis. How much arer the tablets being used? Constantly. What are the children doing with them? Are they learning to read upside down or right side up? We had a fascinating glimpse and we await the rest of the story as it plays out.

The OLPC XO-4 About The Learning Project, Ethiopiawith the touchscreen was available to see. We hear that it will be available perhaps in January, 2013. We learned that the Sugar Activities need to be modified to work with touch, but it has an on screen keyboard that pops up for use when text boxes appear.

I have a better understanding of how a school server can be designed and installed, and how content can be customized for installation on multiple XOs, very useful in larger projects and in projects localized in languages other than English. We heard about things that work well on all fronts, and we thoughtfully discuss obstacles and problem solving. Always in the forefront is discussion of the future of OLPC, the future of olpc, e.g., the role of the global grassroots volunteer community, and the mission to provide access to education to the millions of children worldwide who are still without any schools, teachers or formal learning means. With very few exceptions, this incredible global and usually online community works tirelessly without pay and we each pay our own expenses for equipment to improve the XO as a learning tool, and for travel to meetings and for our site work.

On Monday the Sugar Hacking Sprint began and continued through Wednesday. The list of topics to be addressed was ambitious and I am anxious to see the products of the continued volunteer efforts this week.  As always, the story is in the photos! Huge thanks to Sameer, June and Alex and family, SFSU, and the members of OLPC-SF for all of your hard work and for the wonderful OLPC-SF Summit 2012!”

 

Ba Chieu Home Update (Part Three) September 11, 2012

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 4:52 pm
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This is the last part of Celia’s Caughey newsletter about Ba Chieu Shelter:

“Vinacapital in HCMC has also been assisting the Home (thanks to kiwi Brook Taylor) by having some of its staff work as volunteers in computer training for the girls.

Lorraine’s visit

During the July school holidays another link with New Zealand was strengthened when Lorraine Andrewes from the St Andrews Early Childhood Centre in Epsom, Auckland, came to Ho Chi Minh City (at her own cost) and stayed for 2 weeks in the Home.  Lorraine is a trained kindergarten teacher who was able to spend time teaching the girls art in their holidays as well as doing some great face painting and developing closer bonds with the girls, many of whom are in need of motherly contact.  Lorraine has also organized a fundraising event at the kindergarten for the Home.

New Website

One of the kiwis in HCM City who has helped with selling books for the Home is Julia Parker. Now back in New Zealand in her new role as Futureintech Facilitator Julia has arranged for Naomi Shingler at St Dominic’s College to create a new website for the Home.  This is long overdue, so we await her work with keen interest.

Fundraising in Bonn

More kiwi connections are emerging in other corners of the world.  I was contacted by a former teacher at NZ’s ACG School in HCMC who is now teaching in Germany at the Bonn International School.  She is keen for her students to be able to support the Ba Chieu Home through their Community and Service project, so has sent their donation through to WOCA.

ACG and swimming

The New Zealand Associated Colleges Group HCMC campus has generously allowed the girls to use their swimming pool on Sundays to learn to swim for the past few years.  This continues the New Zealand link with  the Home, and several kiwis have also volunteered to give up their Sunday morning to supervise the swimming sessions.  Many thanks to Ian King and his Vietnam staff for this very kind gesture; it is much appreciated.

New Zealand Chamber of Commerce – NZ Wine and Food Festival

This year once again the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce organized the New Zealand Wine and Food Festival, the hottest event in town, which began in 2000 (when I was Trade Commissioner).  Thanks to good organization, a superb event and generous sponsorship, the Chamber was able this year to make a significant donation to the Home, which could pay for maintenance on the house and provided new lockers for the girls, as well as contributing to operating costs.

Meeting Tram

In a newsletter last year I included a photo of one of our earliest girls, Tram, who spent many years at the Home, as a beautiful bride.  On my recent trip to Vietnam I passed through Danang where Tram now lives and was able to meet up with her and her beautiful new baby boy.   When she left the Home with a good education Tram was able to get a good job in the jewellery department of a large department store in the centre of the City, and it was there that she met her husband to be.  It is lovely to see her now happily married and starting a family of her own.

It is always heartwarming for me to go back and see the Home running well and the girls thriving and happy, thanks to the generosity of you all -  friends of the Home, donors and those who have bought the books and game which were produced to support the Home.

Many thanks for your continued interest and support.

Celia M Caughey

Fundraising Coordinator, Ba Chieu Home, Ho Chi Minh City

Tel 6305292   021 1402 190, Email: celia@primenz.com

Buy an ethical gift this Christmas and support the Ba Chieu Home

http://seriouslyboard.co.nz/kiwiana/vote-for-vietnam-and-for-charity/”

 

Ba Chieu Home Update (Part Two) August 31, 2012

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 4:25 pm
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From Celia Caughey newsletter August 2012:

New girls

“The new girls are mostly 12 or 13, with one, Tuyen, only 7.  Tuyen is tiny but a bundle of energy.  She has always lived with her grandmother who was moving around too much for Tuyen to go to school.  She loves to sing and is looking forward to being able to start school in September.  Lua (12) had a complicated family set-up and dropped out of school after Year 1 when her mother left, then worked looking after younger children and as a waitress in beer halls.  Now in the Home she will be able to resume her schooling in Year 2.   Dang (12) has been sleeping  at night in the park on stone benches with her father and by day selling various wares in the backpackers’ area, so will now be able to start school in Year 1.  Linh (12) has lived with foster parents who are tenant farmers but live too far away from a school for her to attend, so they brought her to the Home so that she could go to school.  Kieu (12) was abandoned by her parents when they both divorced and remarried, then lived with her grandmother who sold lottery tickets on the streets.  When she got too old to look after Kieu she brought her to the Home.  Trinh (13) and Vy (13) have both come to the Home so that they can continue schooling  which their families couldn’t provide, while Tram (13) has come as her father died and mother has a terminal illness with not long to live.  That gives you a picture of who our girls are and why they come into the Home.

Partnership with Fonterra

While I was in Ho Chi Minh City I was pleased to be able to formalize a partnership with the HCMC based office of Fonterra.  As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programme they aim to focus on children and provide dairy nutrition.  They have chosen Ba Chieu Home as a key partner to seek to build a long term relationship with, given its link with New Zealand and with their principles.  The General Manager, Leon Clement,  said his staff “were also impressed with the Home’s management and the dedicated people that work there”.  This is all very good news!  I organized an afternoon meeting between Leon, a dozen of Fonterra’s management team and Mrs Thanh, Vice President of the Women’s Charity Association which administers the Home, at the Home with all the girls there.  Leon said in his speech he thought Fonterra shared the same values as the Home, in terms of nourishment, care and protection.    The partnership will involve Fonterra donating UHT milk for the girls to have a glass each every day, and its staff getting to know the girls to look for other ways to assist.  Staff raised funds which were used to give all the girls a new pair of shoes and new school uniforms to start the new academic year.  Leon also hosted the girls at his home at a party to celebrate the Lunar New Year.  (He commented that at the party the girls behaved remarkably well and showed great maturity in their contact with other guests, more so than many of the other children there.)   This is a very promising initiative which should provide great long term benefit to the Home.  I am happy to see New Zealand businesses working in Vietnam giving back by providing assistance to the Home”.

From my students only Hanh (picture in the bottom) is still at the shelter; she is an accounting student now.

 

Ba Chieu Home Update (Part One) July 31, 2012

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 4:17 pm
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I received an update from Celia Caughey about the Ba Chieu shelter in Ho Chi Minh:

“Dear friends and supporters of the Ba Chieu Home ,

I am happy to report to you following my visit to Vietnam last month.  I met with the girls several times and they were in good spirits and enjoying their summer holidays.

I attach a copy of this newsletter with photos if you would like to print it out, but have set the text out below.

I also have available an updated list of all the girls, with a photo of each and a brief background about them, so please let me know if you would like me to email that to you also.

Activities

Once again all the girls finished the academic year well and graduated up to the next class (in Vietnam they need to reach a certain level to be able to proceed to the next grade).  That is quite an achievement, and reflects well on the way Ms Yen is managing the Home and coaching the girls.  Hau (10) is continuing her interest in art and won 2nd prize in the district in the “Green Paint” competition.

The girls also spend time in the computer room, and many are now on facebook with a group set up for their friends and supporters.

The girls get up  at 5.30 each morning, do exercises, chores to clean the house, wash their own clothes (the older ones helping the younger), have breakfast and are out to school before 7am.  I recently heard of a survey of retired people as to what factor determined who had the most satisfaction in their lives:  the key thing was having been used to working in their homes as children.   So perhaps the girls from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Home will get more life satisfaction than our pampered western (and wealthy Vietnamese) children!

Girls leaving

There has been quite a bit of movement in the past year, with 8 girls moving out and 9 new girls.  Of the girls leaving, Tien, Nga and Thao have returned to live with their grandmothers;  Tien, Nguyen, Nga and Hong have left to go home and Loan has left to go to Nursing College.  Loan has always dreamt of becoming a nurse, with strong Christian principles and a commitment to wanting to help sick people get better.

She will make a wonderful nurse, and I was pleased we were able to provide some funding for her college fees to help her realize her dream.  I have always told the girls to dream their dreams and we would help them make it happen.  So it is very satisfying to see one of the girls who has been in the Home since soon after it began when she was 7 now coming through at 21 and able to train in the vocation to which she has aspired.

Two of the other older girls, Thuy and Tien, both aged 20, have now finished 2 years of study at a technical college in Go Vap specializing in economics and accounting, and both now have jobs, Thuy in a bank and Tien as an accountant, so they are able to support themselves and have left the Home”.

It’s been two years since I met the girls in Ho Chi Minh. 5 out of 6 girls I was teaching Sugar left the shelter. One day I’ll visit them again.

 

Alone Together (Part Four) June 30, 2012

The computer scientist says, that we will evolve to love our tools, our tools will evolve to be lovable. Tools will allow us to do things that we’ve never done before. John Lester sees a future in which something like an AIBO will develop into a prosthetic device, extending human reach and vision. It will allow people to interact with real physical space in new ways. We will see “through its eyes”, says Lester, and interact “through its body… There could be some parts of it that are part of you, the blending of the tools and the body in  a permanent physical way.” This is how Brooks talks about the merging of flesh and machine. There will be no robotic “them” and human “us”. We will either merge with robotic creatures or will become so close to them that we will integrate their powers into our sense of self. A robot will still be other, but the one that completes you (extension of us, meaning that we are not powerful today and have limits, but not in the future).  We will know love which is reflection of our love.

When the brain in your phone marries the body of your robot, document preparation meets therapeutic massage. Here is a happy fantasy of security, intellectual companionship, and nurturing connection.

Tools will be an extension of us and more – love, power, together we will never be alone. We will begin to embed them in our rooms. They will collaborate with us. They will have a sense of humor. They will sense our needs and offer comfort. Our rooms will be our friends and companions.

Robots will not be incompetent, they are introduced to make up for human flaws like laziness; safe, they will be specialized and personalized.

The Japanese believe in a future, in which robots will babysit and do housework and women will be freed up to having more babies, also restoring sociability to a population increasingly isolated through the networked life.

The Japanese take as given that cell phones, texting, instant messaging, email, and online gaming have created social isolation. They see people turning away from family to focus attention on their screens. People do not meet face to face, they do not join organizations. In Japan, robots are presented as facilitators of the human contact that the network has taken away. Technology has corrupted us, robots will heal our wounds. Robots, the Japanese hope, will pull us back toward the physical real and thus each other.

Robotic companions can become mentors. My real baby was marketed as a robot that could teach your child socialization. Sherry is skeptical as believes that sociable technology will always disappoint because it promises what it cannot deliver. It promises friendship but can only deliver performances. As if we will be manufacturing friends that will never be friends.

Roboticists argue that there is no harm in people engaging in conversations with robots, the conversations may be interesting, fun, educational or comforting.  But Sherry finds no comfort here. She feels in a shadow of an experiment, in which humans are the subjects.

Another example of a sociable robot is a diet coach; the user provides some baseline information and the robot charts out what it will take to lose weight. With daily information about food and exercise, the robot offers encouragement if people slip up and suggestions for how to better stay on track. Things happen that elude measurement. You begin with an idea about curing difficulties with dieting. But then the robot and person go to a place where the robot is imagined as a cure of souls.

When we make job rote, we are more open to having machines to do it. But even when people do it, they and the people they serve feel like machines. People are always performing for other people. Now the robots too will perform. The world will be richer for having a new cast of performers and a new set of possible performances.

Finally Sherry says, if robots are designed to complement humans and not replace them, then I’m all for it!

Re-posted from The Ultimate Answer Blog

 

Alone Together (Part Three) May 25, 2012

Will our reliance on technology compromise our relationships with humans and will the benefits be on individual and society level? It depends. Someone who had trouble with romance for many years will be living with robot girlfriend, not human girlfriend. If they are happier in personal relationships, they would perform their role better as citizens. As for other humans, they may not like to compete with robots.

With Paro children are onto something: the elderly are taken with the robots. Most are accepting and there are times when some seem to prefer a robot with simple demands to a person with more complicated ones. Quiet and compliant robots might become rivals for affection. People want love on their own terms… They want to feel that they are enough.

“It is common for people to talk to cars and stereos, household appliances, and kitchen ovens. The robots’ special feature is that they simulate listening, which meets a human vulnerability: people want to be heard. From there it seems a small step to finding ourselves in a place where people take their robots into private spaces to confide in them. In this solitude, people experience new intimacies. The gap between experiences and reality widens. People feel heard but the robots cannot hear.”

Humans don’t want to get hurt, they have a fear of rejection, pain, and the desire for acceptance and belonging. So a relationship with robot that will never leave, betray, reject is logical, but it will alter humans’ behavior in becoming more unwilling to change and compromise.

It could possibly lead to the situation when people will become so intolerant of each other that they will only be able to have companions robots, not humans (because humans are so hard to handle), so there will be even more isolation between humans, as they will live in their only bubble or delusional worlds.

We have more love in ourselves than people can take from us… We want to give love, but there is not always a person to receive it… That is where robots come to play… Yes, we should transfer those surpluses of love to apply them to people. But people want to receive love and care on their own terms. It gives an opportunity to love and to be useful and what we don’t always get in reality – get the same in return… None wants our unconditional love and care on our terms, and we don’t always want love on their terms either – it is too demanding…

Humans need validation that we are right and enough the way we are. Robots don’t cure our flaws, but don’t see them and give us an opportunity for better realities, where we are a hero, or at least good.

We put robots on the terrain on meaning, but they don’t know what we mean. Moral questions come up as robotic companions not only “cure” the loneliness of seniors but assuage the regrets of their families. An older person seems content, a child feels less guilty. As we learn to get the most out of robots, we may lower our expectations of all relationships, including those with people.

Re-posted from The Ultimate Answer Blog

 

 
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