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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.

 

Good Faith Collaboration (Part One) December 29, 2011

I recently finished reading Good Faith Collaboration book by Joseph Reagle. I was very curious about this book as not only it describes Wikipedia’s culture but also talks about its historical roots and contemporary criticism. Wikipedia is around for almost 11 years. So what is it?

First, there are actual Wikipedia pages and edits to them, as well as the meta pages documenting the policies and norms of Wikipedia itself. Second there is the talk/discussion page associated with each article. Third, there are mailing lists on which most abstract and difficult issues are often discussed. There are Wikipedia Signpost and Wikizine newsletter, other community forums such as popular “Village Pump”, and various Wikipedia related blogs, aggregators and podcasts. Fifth and finally, there are physical spaces in which some community members interact.

But mainly, Wikipedia is a snapshot of the community’s continuing conversation. Wikipedia culture encourages contributors to treat and think of others well, hence the name of the book. There are awards for best contributors like a “barnstar” (image placed on another’s user page to recognize merit). These awards are part of the Kindness Campaign and are meant to promote civility and WikiLove. There are more than 200 laws/norms by which Wikipedia contributors abide, including the guidelines of “Assume Good Faith” (AGF), “Please Do Not Bite the Newcomers” and “Neutral Point of View”.

This idea could be traced back to the beginning of the twentieth century, in particular Paul Otlet’s Universal Repertory and H.G. Wells’s proposal for a World Brain. Wells proposed the reference work compilers would be joined by world scholars and international technocrats to produce a resource that every student might easily access, in a personal, inexpensive, and portable format. This collection of the world’s intellect was envisioned to yield a greater sense of unity: wells hoped that such an encyclopedia could solve the “jig-saw puzzle” of global problems by bringing all the “mental wealth of our world into something like a common understanding”; this would be more than an education al resource, it would be an institution of global mediation.

As Wells said, “Without a World Encyclopedia to hold men’s minds together in a common interpretation of reality, there is no hope whatever of anything but an accidental and transitory alleviation to any of our world troubles.” I completely agree with the way Wells stated the problem. Additionally I question the transitory life cycle of one person’s knowledge. That knowledge must be reused even if the person is gone, as he/she may have insight into some solutions that are not easily generated, but the mankind desperately needs them.

One of the topics discussed in the book is who can really contribute. In Wikipedia’s predecessor Nupedia only educated and reasonable people were able to make final edits. Unfortunately, in my opinion, we often confuse formal school education and life experience, as one can be a PhD but uneducated in the matters of humanity. I am also not fond of the neutral point of view, as to be politically correct is not the same as being sincere and true. I would personally be more interested in hearing polar opinions to understand other people’s perspective and how they come to their conclusion.  Only when people know of completely opposite opinions on the same topic then can they start a conversation to reconcile their differences.  Having several versions of the most arguable topics is better than one bland version. Maybe views from the haters, the lovers and the neutrals.  People need to learn Dalai Lama’s realistic approach, value every person’s input and become compassionate. Only then we will be able to understand our humanity.

It seems to me that the primary goal of Wikipedia is compiling knowledge, while finding compassion is somehow secondary.

I agree about verifiability policy that “the threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth”. If the material has already been published by a reliable source, not whether we think it is true. Even when it comes to voting, majority has more power over minority. Majority usually represents the most convenient opinion of the culture it represents. There should be international SMEs participating or at least rating the content in terms of trust ability. Otherwise there will always be an issue of quality due to the lack of expertise and diversity.

Here we come to another problem I see here – how globally disconnected are different language Wikipedia sites from each other. Language barrier is still present in the Wikipedia structure, which leads both to duplicated efforts (when the same articles are written separately in different languages) and the lack of content in one language when it truly exists in another language. It would add diversity if articles from different languages were swapped and became international. We would create a better version of reality if people of all nations worked on the content together, not separately. During search, there should be instant translation of all related content from other languages.

Finally, it feels that Wikipedia is not a hub of innovative views limited by its “no original content” norm, which means inclusion of referenced work only. Wikipedia is a repetition of what others said. Most importantly, it results in the loss of individuality and creativity both for their contributors and readers.

Today contributors appear to be simply compilers and hunters for good content. They are assemblers, not the creators. Everyone should be able to speak up and come up with new knowledge and solutions to the world problems. Only then will Wells’ statement become reality:  “Our world has complex and urgent problems that need to be addressed. We believe there are innovative ways for solving them together online.”

Re-posted from The Ultimate Answer

 

Immortal Hacker Challenge (Part Three) December 28, 2011

Dear hackers of the world,

It is not superpowers but traits of character that need to be developed by means of avatars and immersion. People like to solve problems especially when they are virtual. By trying different choices we will learn what leads to pain and suffering and what to do in real life if similar circumstances occur. The player will develop understanding, resilience and compassion.

There should be every day scenarios for people, like getting laid off after working for the same company for many years, not having savings and not being able to find a job for a while… What does avatar do and experience? Or racial – one white guy has to live in all black community or one black guy in all Asian community, etc. or to participate in religious services of other religions…  Learn about other cultures and their customs adn traditions. Go live in a foreign country for a year with no local language skills and being illegal. Become a virtual refugee!

It is important to create problem and suffering simulation both for existing and future scenarios. The impact will be tremendous.

Imagine that virtual Alcoholic Anonymous game was translated to all languages and distributed around the world, how many people would stop drinking heavily? Will alcoholism rates go down and people become happier?

Imagine that all young people have access to video games that teach what to do in difficult situations. A teen becomes pregnant or tries drugs for the first time to impress someone, the person creates a habit and starts eating fast food every day and gets ill, someone becomes a soldier and goes to war, followed by PTSD, etc. 

Suddenly a computer virus sounds lame. You can be immortal if you create something that impacts people’s lives positively. See Steve Pavlina’s story Living Virtues below:

“After I reached adulthood and began seriously pondering the question of how to live, the first major stopping point was essentially where Aristotle left off. In my early and mid-20s, I spent a lot of time working on living virtuously. I saw living the best possible life as becoming a person of virtue: to live with honor, integrity, courage, compassion, etc. I listed out the virtues I wanted to attain and even set about inventing exercises to help myself develop them. Benjamin Franklin did something very similar, as I read in his autobiography, and each week he chose to focus on one particular virtue in order to develop his character.

Oddly, there was a particular computer game I absolutely fell in love with during this time — Ultima IV. To date I would have to say it is still my favorite game of all time. In this role-playing game you are the Avatar, a seeker of truth, and your goal is not to destroy some enemy but rather to attain what is called the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom. In order to achieve this goal, you must develop your character in the eight virtues. All of these virtues derive from the eight possible combinations of truth, love, and courage as follows:

Truth = Honesty
Love = Compassion
Courage = Valor
Truth + Love = Justice
Truth + Courage = Honor
Love + Courage = Sacrifice
Truth + Love + Courage = Spirituality
The absence of Truth, Love, and Courage is Pride, the opposite of which is Humility.

I found this system of virtues absolutely brilliant, especially coming from a game. Years later when I finally met Richard Garriott, designer of the Ultima series, at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3), I asked him how he came up with this system and how he ended up choosing these virtues. He told me it started with brainstorming a long list and noticing patterns in how the virtues related to each other.

As strange as it is that I got these insights from a game, I still think of living virtuously in much the same way today, where these eight virtues come about through the overlapping sets of truth, love, and courage. For the combination of all three virtues though, I feel that “integrity” is a better fit than “spirituality.” Ultima V went on to explore the opposite of these, the vices which can be derived from falsehood, hatred, and cowardice. Unfortunately I feel the Ultima series really went downhill since then and completely lost its soul — I would have loved to have seen the virtue idea taken even farther”.

Re-posted from The Ultimate Answer

 

Immortal Hacker Challenge (Part Two) December 26, 2011

Avatar based recovery. Patient has access to his data and an interesting ability to track goals and milestones. It is also efficient not to have paperwork which saves time.

Janus of Santa Cruz developed drug and alcohol treatment, which includes clinical assessment, goal setting, VR training and support. Digital registration, online wellness forms and presence questionnaire. They conducted a study with 35 adults, 8 weeks protocol, non-compliance and relapses happen. Participants had to play a game daily, which formed good rituals (habits) and relationships. 

Ivana Steigman, who formely worked at InWorld Solutions, told us about Thrive Research projects. In one research they had a sponsor (coach), clinician, basic assessment administrator, patient. They had reward contract and electronic forms. Link to thrive points, incentives – coffee, gas, grocery. There is a dashboard, where they had to check in daily – visual representation of where you are. The six domains of well-being: Physical, Social, Affective, Cognitive, Vocational, and Spiritual.

NeuroSim Lab makes use of virtual worlds to assess the ways in which the structure and function of the brain relate to specific psychological processes and overt behaviors.

Sim Coach, the goal is to create an experience that will motivate troops and their significant others to take the first step – to empower themselves with regard to their healthcare (e.g., psychological health and traumatic brain injury). There was a virtual agent, former US Army soldier,  who told his story about PTSD and encouraged audience to read some recommended reading and talk to someone about their traumatic experiences (he gave free numbers to call and suggested other resources). That was cool!

Virtually Better, treat a variety of anxiety disorders such as Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Specific Phobias.

There were other individuals and organizations working in that area (Patrick Bordnick, Virtual Patent lab, VRPsych Lab, etc.) and creating new technology to help patients overcome drug and substance abuse, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, etc. There are video chat rooms where you can see a bar and people tempt you to use alcohol but you learn to overcome urges in simulated environments. They modify level of urges to build your resilience.

My favorite was a virtual meeting for AA members. You as a member pick avatar and go to live sessions with other member’s avatars from different locations. You would then discuss your issues and do the same thing as you would do in a real meeting. What really works is the power of sharing and social support.

Read more about this session from Avatar-Based Recovery Using Immersive Virtual Environments article and another session from Innovative Technologies for Psychological Intervention, Consultation and Training article.

I also attended a session about Innovation and opportunities in mobile interventions for addictions, they were discussing various mobile apps. At the exhibition hall I saw a booth advertising Stress Tracker app, which is based in Needham, MA. Another session was about national tele centers providing psychological services to patients in remote areas by means of online CBTs and video conferencing. See another article about the UK approach.

It was mentioned that American psychologists are still hesitant to use Skype or Facetime out of fear to be completely replaced by technology. Les Posen from Australia told an incredible story about government support (subsidies) for depression-cure sites and tools and as a result hundreds of organizations had sprung across Australia: Beacon, e-couch, Mood gym, anxiety online, etc. They all deliver e-health services and strategy online.

Re-posted from The Ultimate Answer

 

 
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