Sunday, May 10, 2009

First 15 shipments

Thanks to everyone who made our first 15 deployments possible. Our peripherals are en route to Thailand, the United Kingdom, and Bolivia. Packaging these shipments, I had limited bubble wrap to secure the devices within the large boxes. However, the devices were more durable than I imagined and reached their destinations without any incidents. On the other hand, I'm not sure if the devices would survive a set of inquisitive and innocently destructive hands. As a result, we decided to build a protective cover. Thanks to Craig Lawson of Ideas Prototyped for his dedication! Craig and I have worked through a few iterations and developed a petite snap-fit cover that also fastens down the cables.

If you'd like to offer suggestions to our design, please contact me (

Monday, April 6, 2009

New PCB Revision and Low-cost Proto

Two revisions later we have something closer to "child tamper proof". Our prototypes are on their way out to many eager children! Hooray!

If you are interested in receiving them for your pilot please send me an email to: We will soon release a few prototypes for private purchase (under a G1G1 model to help finance further prototypes for the pilots). Stay tuned for more details.

Big thanks to Mike Koop and Dan Ehlers for their efforts on the latest PCB layout. Another big thanks to the guys at Liquidware/GL Interfaces for subsidizing the cost of a component.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

OLPC SB Collaboration

While we continue to press on with a deployment in Thailand, our chapter is more than happy to get involved with other US/domestic chapters. While there are certain challenges and restrictions to the introduction of new classroom material within certain public school systems, we are very appreciative of the bold educational pioneers who see the promise of our activity. Without their time and effort to integrate our material into their daily lesson plans, we would be without purpose.

On that note, I am glad to learn of the bold efforts of a teacher in Goleta, CA. With the aid of OLPC Santa Barbara, the teacher has secured the funding to deploy several XO laptops within his elementary school. Two weeks ago, I had an introductory conversation with OLPC Santa Barbara - External Collaborations representative Jonathan Kalan. Jon is playing a key role in the establishment of a Kenyan pilot (in fact in the same primary school which President Obama attended), but has been very receptive toward a near-term collaboration. As we complete our initial production of the IR sensor dongle, I aim to become more engaged with the Goleta pilot and assist Jon with another local deployment of our lesson plan. I look forward to the collaboration with the OLPC SB team which seems to be very education-heavy (Jon mentioned that their engineering team is in the early proces of recruitment). As a result, we can look forward to more detailed, constructive feedback from their team.

Our HW team continues to push towards a middle of February deadline. Meanwhile, I have recruited a Cambridge resident to help us with further abbreviation of our lesson plan. To our friends abroad, please send us a note if you are interested in samples of our bundle.

Stay tuned...

Plethy Prototype

Thanks to Ken and Mike for heading up our PCB production for our new "dongle" prototype. With our inhouse system we'll be producing a lot of 20 for distribution. For this run, we'll keep our dongle designed for through-hole mounting while a later version will be entirely surface mount. We hope to deliver the final lot by middle of February!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Courtship Difficulties

Long overdue note, but here's a recap on our progress over the past few months (focused on lesson plan development and pilot deployment).

Thanks to the efforts of our Berkeley students we were able to refine our initial lesson plan to create a structured lesson with background materials suitable for instructors and students of all ages. Though not translated for the various pilot countries, our matured bundle positions our effort well for rapid transition to any of our targeted pilot groups. Our difficulties mainly lie in the wavering support within each of the remote ecosystems. Here's a synopsis of our communication thus far:

OLPC Thailand
Our main POC has been "Roger" Arnan who has taken the lead on the coordination efforts among Thailand's 4 pilot projects. On the other hand, NECTEC, the former local tech support team, has lost some interest due to the loss of government fiscal support. Roger has been very supportive of our effort and enthusiastic towards the receipt of prototype samples; however, limited remote tech support has created the need for new partners. Roger is currently investigating the availability of students at Chang Mai University to help us with prototype assembly. In the near-term, we'll look to build 4 prototype samples for distribution and work with a few of our dedicated volunteers to translate an abbreviated 3-page lesson to Thai.

OLPC India
Arjun was kind enough to introduce me to Satish Jha, the new head of OLPC India's effort. There seems to be quite a bit of activity on their list-serv, but the remote team has been primarily focused on the infrastructure rather than content development. Initial communication with Satish broke down after a few initial e-mails, but I'll try again shortly to setup a Skype discussion.

Oscar Becerra, a former IBM Peru top executive, has taken the lead of the Peru effort which currently commands about 150,000 XO laptops (and 140,000 more by the end of the year). Similar to India, they have been battling infrastructure and policy issues. I have been very interested, but have been unable to get reports of the first-hand experience of Peru children in spite of the overwhelming support of the Peruvian Ministry of Education. I received an initial inquiry from Oscar during the summer, but I have not been able to follow-up with a one-on-one discussion until recently.

Our near-term goal is to build 10 prototypes, along with our software build and lesson plan, for distribution to these three target pilot groups. It would be great if we could get these out before Christmas and make it our special Holiday gift for the children.

In order to further explore the clinical applications of our peripherals I've reached out to various health care non-profit organizations. In particular, I've contacted Ellen Ball of Boston-based Partners in Health. Our specific intent is the identification of a clinical partner who has focused on environmental hazards re: air pollution. Unfortunately PiH has not dealt with these concerns as highlighted in Ellen's response below:
"Most of our hospital/clinics are in rural areas (Haiti, Rwanda, Siberia, Lesotho, Malawi). The exception is Lima, Peru which has a pollution problem. But we deal with infectious disease – MDR-TB and HIV."
I'll continue my efforts to identify a suitable partner who would kick-start a Youth Venture project in Thailand. If anyone happens to have established relationships with organizations dealing with asthma-related issues, please contact us.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


OLPC@Duke contributor, Alex Keybl, organized The OLPC Grassroots Web Conference "GrassCon" to increase communication between grassroots projects, as well as increase the general visibility of OLPC projects around the world. The projects that presented ranged from software/hardware development to pilot programs and public awareness campaigns. The conference was held on July 19th but a conflict barred me from participating live. As a result I submitted a 5 minute presentation to report our efforts. Overall feedback was positive but few pilot coordinators participated so there was little opportunity to get specific feedback on ways to integrate independent activities into their pilot programs. In any case, the video serves as a quick presentation of our mission.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Marin Middle School Demo

Here's a few photos from the day's lessons.

Thanks again to Kassie for getting involved with us.