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Vietnamese keyboard … solved! February 24, 2010

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 6:34 am
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In “Class Four” post I mentioned the need for Vietnamese keyboard. I also wrote to the support gang asking for help at  On Feb 17 I received two comments by Clytie Siddall, which have the solution. Today I followed the command in Terminal and that solved the problem!

Thank you, Vietnamese Free-Software Translation Team!

Here is the answer for all Vietnamese users ( also see comments to”Class Four” post):

“OK, almost instant reply from Sayamindu on the OLPC localization list:

“We use XKB on the XO-1s which supports Vietnamese input. However, there
might be a few hoops to jump through in order to enable the layout.

The easiest way to do this would be start up Terminal and issue the command:
setxkbmap -layout vn
To switch back to the normal US layout (if required), the command would be
setxkbmap -layout us -variant olpc

The other option would be edit /etc/sysconfig/keyboard in the laptops
and set the LAYOUT to vn and the VARIANT to basic.

Newer versions of Sugar support setting the keyboard layout from the
control panel (via a GUI), but OLPC does not ship that yet.”

You can use either of those methods. The most common Vietnamese keyboard

 layouts use number keys to provide extra vowels and add accents.

For example, on my favourite Mac layout:

1 = ă
2 = â
3 = ê
4 = ô
[ = ư
] = ơ
0 = đ
= = ₫ (currency symbol)

Added accents
5 = dấu huyền (grave accent)
6 = dấu hỏi (hook above)
7 = dấu ngã (tilde)
8 = dấu sắc (acute accent)
9 = dấu nặng (dot under)

Depending on the layout, you press the added-accent number key _before_ or _after_ the base vowel. If your layout doesn’t match mine above, just keep testing keys until you find the Vietnamese letters.

I strongly suggest enabling the Vietnamese layout by default, before distributing XOs to Vietnamese children. Any adult who’s used a computer in Vietnam should be familiar with the keyboard layouts. If you meet anyone who isn’t, please tell them about the ready availability of Vietnamese input and complete installs and GUI in Vietnamese, e.g. by using Debian (and GNOME and After all the work we’ve done, I tear my hair each time I hear about Vietnamese people still trying to struggle on by memorizing English words. “You can run your computer completely in Vietnamese, for free.” Please spread the word.

Clytie Siddall
Vietnamese Free-Software Translation Team”


Not your typical Sunday meeting…

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 3:49 am
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Adam went well beyond my Sunday afternoon Book Club meetings at Starbucks. More people attend his meetings, which are famous for great speakers, topics, special bonus features, surprise appearances; and all of it is for our XO/Sugar community:

“All Welcome, but advance RSVP REQUIRED (holt @  You will have the choice of attending in person (across the street from MIT’s campus) or by telephone — via our US phone number (free if you have a full Skype account) for conference-call access to live Q&A. Complemented by our Live Chat back-channel at

Sorry, OLPC Radio’s tower isn’t fully erected yet for worldwide live public broadcasts just yet, but stay tuned…

Jan 24, 4PM EST: Tim Falconer, Waveplace Founder
How WE can help Haitians help THEMSELVES: Structuring Sustainable

Haiti Grassroots OLPC Projects
Jan 31, 4PM EST: Jim Blossom, President, Senior Analyst Shore

Solar electricity mass-deployment thinker. 

Author of “Content Nation: Surviving and Thriving as Social Media

Changes Our Work, Our Lives and Our Future” 

Feb 7, 12PM EST: Nancie Severs in person.

 “Fresh off the boat from Vietnam” discussing her innovative

microdeployment and ongoing community-building in VIETNAM:

Feb 14, 4PM EST: Bangladesh
Volunteer George Hunt currently in Bangladesh will present his OLPC
discussions & photos from the past 3 weeks, immediately this wkd upon
returning to NYC.  While George returns with as many questions than
answers, he’s gone far beyond the stereotypical “voluntourist” and will
explain how he made it happen — reaching deep into Bangladeshi Society
asking the tough questions about who is being shut out from the 21st
century and why.

Feb 21, 4PM EST: Nicaragua
Tiffany & Steve of the Digital Literacy Project (
will describe how their 7-person volunteer group just deployed XOs in
Managua January 2010.  In person at OLPC in Cambridge, MA and by phone. 

Feb 28, TIME TBA: Improving the XO as a Sahana/HADR Platform
TENTATIVE: Lessons in disaster relief, from the Founder of Sahana and
Naval Postgrad School — how the XO can (and cannot) be further prepared

for future catastrophes:

March 7, Time TBA:
OPEN/suggest a speaker!”

Adam, what about Bernie doing his Sugar deployment work in Paraguay?


Repair Service World February 23, 2010

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 11:40 pm
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   I think that the idea of the Repair Service Center for XO laptops is just brilliant. If you own
   an XO and need to get it fixed that is where you go, pardon, where your XO goes. You can just mail
   (low-cost shipping)your green friend and get it back safe and sound. Who repairs XOs? Volunteers,
   who have good knowledge of the XO and have some time and interest to do it. When I asked Adam about
   pricing, he said that volunteers used to charge $5 per service no matter what kind of repair. But
   he asked them to raise prices for their own good to stay in business. As Adam mentioned, for-profit
   computer repair places will not shake your hand for $5, never mind giving you any spare parts or
   doing labor. The service fee is a little higher now, but still way below market price. Where do
   repair centers get spare parts? Adam provides them, and he also recruits volunteers to be repair 
   You can find the list and map of repair service center locations here

   “Outside of repair centers, many spare parts are also for sale separately at
   and, EG. if you're the kind of person that prefers to fix your own XO Laptop -
   if so you may want to put together your own Repair Center Kit!" 

   One repair center per child! Sent by Adam on Jan 9:

“No, Luke (Mr. Faraone) is not 14 anymore as when he joined Support Gang, and his DC repair center is almost 2yrs old now. But still we (like Mr. R) all need to thank him for working almost single-handedly on the small flood of Give1Get1 repair requests triggered by Nicholas Negroponte’s mass-mailing 8 days ago when so many others were on holiday 🙂

  “Dear Mr Negroponte and Mr. Faraone, I am writing because I want you to know how impressed I am with
  the  service the rc-dcr OLPC service center has provided to me. I first  contacted the center on
  Saturday, January 2nd and described the  problem. I received a very prompt reply with all the
  pertinent information. I mailed my XO from Boston on the following Monday. I  received it back on
  Saturday, January 9th (today). The repair was  completed. Software was upgraded. The XO appears to
  work fine.
  The  initial email communication, email communication during the process of   receipt, repair and
  shipping back, and the turnaround time, were  excellent. The cost was reasonable.  I would rate this
  service a 10  out of 10, a model of good technical repair service.
  Mr. Faraone, thank you. Mr. R, XO User”

  Of course, that doesn’t mean that everything is always smooth and there are no problems in
  repair centers, help is always needed! If you are interested in opening your own repair center,
  please email your phone number to discuss ypur plans. Include a basic outline of
  your repair center proposal repair center proposal, and which business model(s) and/or
  volunteering model(s) you are considering towards sustainability. Be sure to include all the best
  times of the week when you want OLPC to call you back. 
  Great job, Adam and all repair service volunteers!

Cyberspace Good Samaritan: Part 6

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 1:15 am
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<polyachka>  so what do you do in your free time when you don’t work on Sugar?

<alsroot> well, I do what I like, coding .. sugar

<polyachka>  why did you say that Technical contributors are missing contact with teachers/users, because you sometimes miss feedback or don’t know which activities are really useful?

<alsroot> like that, in my case (dunno about others) it could be looks like “great thing in itself”, but at the end it should be used by someone

<alsroot> that’s why I’m thinking about Collab activity

<polyachka>  makes sense, it should be for the children, not just a neat idea

<polyachka>  What are other problems in general in or about Sugar work/environment? What would you improve?

<alsroot> well, knowing these thing is 50% of fixing, so dunno

<polyachka>  but are you frustrated that you don’t get paid for your work?

<alsroot> nope, but will have to think about such things in nearest future

<polyachka>  you mean in the future when you’ll run out of savings?

<alsroot> yup, and have to find a tmp job to earn some money

<polyachka> Do you have a dream about Sugar’s future?

<polyachka> what would you want to happen in the next 5 years?

<alsroot> hard to say, didn’t think about such things

<polyachka> where would you want to work ideally? long term?

<alsroot> at home 🙂

<polyachka>  or would do you do volunteering forever?

<alsroot> I would if have money, then yup

<polyachka> work from home is nice, but don’t you miss people? real contact with humans?

<alsroot> well, did the same all time..

<polyachka> what do you mean?

<alsroot> mean I was all time in what I was doing.. so other things are just out of interest

<polyachka> are you working now as we speak?

<alsroot> at least trying 😉

<polyachka> sorry for interrupting 😉

<alsroot> np

<polyachka> I’m starting XO deployment at a shelter for girls here in Saigon on Wednesday, will tell you how it goes and about children’s favorite activities, so that you’ll get feedback! 🙂

<alsroot> heh, to be honest I’m working now in “core” mode, but any feedback is welcome

<alsroot> btw, there is an ongoing discussion about “Start new vs Resume” issue and people look for feedback

<polyachka> thanks for being patient and answering all my questions! keep up good work!  🙂 I have to go now… Bye and Wish you a good programming year ! 🙂

<alsroot> poka

Dear Aleksey and all volunteers of XO/Sugar community, thank you for all your hard work, it is greatly appreciated by so many adults and children in the world!


Cyberspace Good Samaritan: Part 5

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 12:20 am
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<polyachka>  when do you think text to speech activity will be ready?

<alsroot> you mean tts paragraph on

<alsroot> there is already activities that do tts

<alsroot> activities I mean, readetext and listen

<polyachka>  I’ve never used them

<polyachka> so what do they do? Listen and speak and readetext?

<alsroot> you can try them from and

<polyachka> thanks

<polyachka> so what are your favorite activities? or your dream activities that you want to see in the future?

<alsroot> dunno, but I’m going to do something like Collab activity

<polyachka> what is dunno?

<alsroot> do not know

<polyachka>  🙂

<polyachka>  sorry, we got interrupted last time we spoke

<polyachka>  as I stayed in a hotel in San Fran and Internet connection was very bad there, and then I had to leave to go to the Airport to fly to Vietnam

<polyachka>  how cold is it in Barnaul now?

<alsroot> says -23

<polyachka>  it is +30 here in Saigon…

<alsroot> oops its in Moscow     {comment: it is colder in Barnaul than in Moscow}

<polyachka> so you told me last time that you left info somewhere on wiki about possible participation with OLPC, but didn’t get a response

<polyachka>  but who was your first contact in OLPC/Sugar?

<alsroot> there wasn’t particular contact, its just a community driven process, so people I was contact with are just email and IRC people

<alsroot> I just chose some thing to do and did it

<alsroot> and I’m doing ti right now

<polyachka>  I’m curious who was there in the beginning?

<alsroot> I see that is just a misunderstanding of how it works, so you don’t have to ask just do

<alsroot> I mean look for the thing which is missed and fix it

<polyachka>  ok, I understand 🙂


Cyberspace Good Samaritan: Part 4

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 12:18 am
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After my arrival in Vietnam, it took me 10 days to adjust to new environment. I contacted Alex again on Jan 23:

<polyachka>  hi, are you sleeping?

<alsroot> not yet 🙂

<polyachka> isn’t it 5AM in Russia? I still have problems converting everybody’s time

<alsroot> hard to say 08:00AM here

<polyachka>  in Russia?

<alsroot> in Barnaul

<polyachka>  here in Saigon it is 9AM

<polyachka>  did you stay up all night?

<alsroot> I mostly live in UTC 🙂

<polyachka>  that’s amazing! 😉

<polyachka>  so what are you working on right now?

<alsroot> coding stuff..

<polyachka>  what kind of stuff?


<polyachka>  are you working on certain activities?

<alsroot> I’m trying to support some of them but mostly do core code

<alsroot> and activity related code as well like

<alsroot> at then end my approximate TODO for several months is

<polyachka> what is core code? is it called foundation?

<alsroot> I meant code for sugar itself

<alsroot> not for particular activity

<polyachka>  so why do you still need to work on core code if it is already created?

<alsroot> well, there are many places where that doesn’t work well

<polyachka> like where?

<polyachka> I wish I knew more about programming…

<alsroot> like thumbs view, could be useful to have such view(in addition to journal’s list view) e.g. for browsing images

 <polyachka> but I studied economics in Sochi 🙂

<alsroot> well, I guess better to start from coding activities rather than core

<alsroot> there is an ongoing work to create hand book for activity devs

<polyachka>  that is a good idea

<alsroot> Jim Simmons does this work

<alsroot> direct link to draft on

<polyachka>  thanks, it works


Cyberspace Good Samaritan: Part 3

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 12:16 am
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<polyachka>  so how did you finally get involved?

<alsroot> well, I guess it was personal, I’ve just decided to stop working for companies, resigned from my job, started thinking where can I participate..

<polyachka>  and you searched for it online? or you contacted OLPC?

<alsroot> the major reason for sugar was, that I totally share idea that education is the major point

<alsroot> I didn’t contact w/ OLPC

<polyachka>  then how?

<alsroot> nothing special, just started contributing for sugar via SL’s infrastructure — since I can communicate from other devs via IRC..

<alsroot>..can fetch code, and upload it to SL’s

<alsroot> at the end it was (SL) more familiar for me than OLPC

<polyachka>  but how did you approach people at OLPC to work with

<alsroot> ..since its a community driven project

<alsroot> “people at OLPC” just regular ways, IRC, MLs, bugs tracker

<polyachka>  but you did email OLPC, right?

<alsroot> I just left info somewhere on wiki about possible participation, bu didn’t get response

<polyachka>  and?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           At that moment my Internet connection dropped and I had to go to the Airport, but Alex send me a follow-up email:
“Just introspected all things, and I think in my case there were three major points:

Firstly, it’s a personal point, I just decided to change my life (e.g. I didn’t think about participating at any FOSS project before this decision though used FOSS products for several years).

Secondly, in case of technical participation, FOSS is a great world, there are dozens of projects where you can participate as a technical person. So, I as a software developer had many ways to start contributing.

Thirdly, I’m sure that education is the first place where all people should participate (in ways they can). And this makes projects like sugar special among other FOSS projects, since it’s more about improving fundamental things rather than creating “product”(even FOSS product).

So, keeping all these things in mind I didn’t wait for some “acceptance” or “approving” from other people (and SL gives more freedom here for technical people rather than OLPC) but just started doing some (technical) things on my own. And maybe it didn’t change until this moment but I think the biggest thing we are (as technical contributors) missing is contacts w/ educators and users.”


Cyberspace Good Samaritan: Part 2

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 12:10 am
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<polyachka> your English is good, where did you learn?

<alsroot> at school..

<alsroot> ..and a bit more for 10y 🙂

<alsroot>  worked most of time in moscow

<polyachka> have you been to US?

<alsroot> nope, even in italy, tried to get visa to be for sugar camp, but couldn’t :/

<polyachka>  what college/institute did you go to?

<alsroot> it was in Uzbekistan, institute of technology, 94-99

<polyachka> so you were studying computer programming there, right?

<alsroot> yup, I’m a certified computer specialist 🙂

<polyachka>  🙂

<polyachka> so what do you exactly do for Sugar?

<polyachka> what did you work on for 1.5 years?

<alsroot> well, I didn’t start to hard work exactly 1.5y ago, it was my first FOSS experience.. I started from packaging sugar, then participating in coding, I’m doing the same right now

<alsroot> also I’m maintaining ASLO

<polyachka>  can you explain it for dummies… what exactly does it mean? As i am not a certified computer specialist 😉

<polyachka>  packaging, coding and maintaining?

<alsroot> well, packaging means preparing sugar to be useful for GNU/Linux distribution users, I’m an official packager for ALTLinux(russian distro) and Mandriva, also preparing non-oficial packages for Gentoo, SuSe, Ubuntu

<alsroot> coding is just composing code, for sugar core or activities

<alsroot> and I’m also keep an eye on, adapting upstream AMO(mozilla addons portal) code, look how ASLO works

<polyachka>  of all you  have done, what is your favorite?

<alsroot> coding, I think

<polyachka>  how did you get involved ? how did you hear about OLPC, Sugar, etc.?

<alsroot> I heard about OLPC, but since its not regular FOSS project, I wasn’t sure about how I can participate, when SL was organized thus regular FOSS model…


Cyberspace Good Samaritan: Part 1

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 12:08 am
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Bernie wrote: “Would you have the time to interview other members of the gang? I would recommend starting from your comrade Aleksey Lim:

He’s our most productive hacker, but as you can see he does not spend much time on self-promotion.

The “doers” often tend to be shadowed by the “talkers”. Our very best volunteers who have been working like dogs for Sugar got close to zero public recognition for it. Their effort should be at least rewarded with the only thing that a “reputation market” like open source development can offer.”

On Jan 11 I wrote to Aleksey asking to talk to him about Sugar either over the phone or Skype. He wrote: ”Yes, I’m in Russia. Sorry, I’m not using mobile phone for a long time and don’t have skype but you can find me on #sugar (you can use web based IRC client). Just join #sugar and type my nick, alsroot or via jabber. I don’t logout from IRC/jabber but can answer only in 09.00-23.00 UTC range.”

I was very surprised to find out that the most productive hacker working on Sugar is Aleksey from Russia! For some reason, I imagined him American and living in the US.

First time I chatted with him on IRC when I was in San Fran on my way to Vietnam. I was again surprised to find out that he has no phone, doesn’t use Skype, but prefers exclusively IRC or jabber as a way of communication. It was 9AM Pacific Time:

<polyachka> hi Alex

<alsroot> hi

<polyachka>  where are you? I’m in San Fran

<alsroot> Russia, Altaysky Krai 🙂            {coment: Siberia!}

<polyachka>  really?

<alsroot> I’m serious

<polyachka> I thought you are in Boston

<polyachka>  this is so cool, my grandmother was from Altaysky District

<polyachka>  my parents lived in Siberia, but then moved to Sochi <polyachka> and I left for Boston

<polyachka> where exactly are you in Altay?

<alsroot> Rubtsovsk, but originally I’m from Uzbekistan, also moved

<polyachka> how old are you? I try to picture your image

<alsroot> 32, from some time, decided to stop producing trash (for companies) and work w/ FOSS (as much as possible)

<polyachka> Do you have a full-time job too?

<alsroot> no, 1.5 year ago I resigned from last job, had some money and worked for sugar as a contributor

<polyachka> what does it mean?

<alsroot> I worked for 1.5 year as volunteer for sugar

<polyachka> how many hours per week?

<alsroot> full time, I’m not an employee  

<alsroot>..of course I’ll have to think about money..

<polyachka> how many hours did or do you work on floss per week?

<alsroot> well, 24 – 9

<alsroot> ..per day

<polyachka> 9 per day?

<alsroot> 15h per day 🙂

<polyachka> too many!!! 😉

<alsroot> well, I’m not so productive, so have to spend more time 🙂


Cambodia: Part 2 February 22, 2010

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 8:02 am
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I finally confirmed my visit to Siem Reap this coming weekend. Roger wrote:

Hi Polyachka,

That’s great!  We look forward to meeting you and will have lots of questions.  We will book you a room for Friday through Sunday.  It will be easy to add another day if you wish as this isn’t the tourist season.  I’ll send you the name of the hotel after we get to town next week.  Send me your itinerary once you book your transportation.

     Either Friday or Monday would be good days to visit the school.  The closest school is where we will try the XOs and   is
     our first choice for you to visit.    Since it is less than an hour from Siem Reap, we could visit the school on Monday
     morning and get you back to town by 3 or 4 PM, in time for you to make a late afternoon flight or bus.
     A school visit either day would give you the weekend to see the temples and some time to see the sights around town.
     It fits in well with our schedule as we can go either day.  If you have more time, we might visit the temple at Banteay Srei 
     on the way to one of our farther schools.
     I am really pleased you are coming.
     Hi Polyachka,
     We will be here in Phnom Penh for another day and night.  We will not know the name of the hotel until we get to         
     Siem Reap (Sarith couldn’t rmember it either).  It will be easiest for us to just pick you up at the airport and give you a 
     ride to the hotel. 
     I understand you will get in at 12:40 from Ho Chi Minh City.  I will be the taller guy, American, with gray hair, glasses and
     beard.  Sarith is shorter and has less hair.  
     We will see you Thursday!

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