Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Engineer of the Future 3.0 Recap

After finals and a much needed break I'm finally back to school. Here's a much needed recap of the Engineer of the Future 3.0 conference:

This year the Engineer of the Future Conference was focused on how to motivate engineering students to prepare them better for industry.

The conference started off with a great presentation by Daniel Pink. Dan has presented in the past at TED talks.(link) Pink talked about how people work more efficiently when they are intrinsically motivated. He used multiple examples of experiments where participants were offered money to complete tasks. Given tasks where the solution was not clear the control groups that were not offered money actually completed their task faster than the groups with a monetary reward. When not offered a reward individuals work for themselves and tend to think outside the box.

Pink went on to talk about how some companies are experimenting with "20% time". Google is one such company that uses this new idea. Employees at Google are allowed to spend 20% of their time every week working on any project they choose. By giving employees control over what they work on Google has actually seen an increase in productivity.

Mr. Pink set the tone for the rest of the conference with his talk. Over the next 24 hours the buzz words at the conference were "intrinsic motivation".

After the opening talks we took a break for dinner and I went back to my hotel room to practice my presentation. The student Ignite session was later that night. The presentations were very interesting. One student talked about how he fixed up an antique car in high school. Another showed off a trebuchet she made with a club at school. I gave a presentation about FOSS@RIT and how we intrinsically motivate students by getting them involved in the open source community.(link)

The next day you could feel a new energy coming from the conference participants. Everyone was eager to talk and share their thoughts. Through the course of the day we were guided through group exercises to show just how powerful intrinsic motivation can be. This offered many opportunities to talk to people and network. Being an open source developer I took every opportunity I could to tell people about how open source projects can get students intrinsically motivated.

At lunch Sebastian Dziallas lead an Open Source meet and greet where we introduced a handful of students and professors to The Open Source Way. We were able to show off some of the tools and websites we use in the  open source community and several people were interested. I was really happy with the amount of discussion we were able to have.

The second half of the day was more interactive workshops. The last activity we did was very cool. Tables of people had to work on a poster with questions having us examine an object. We didn't find out until the end that half the groups could choose whatever object they wanted and the other half had to examine a disposable razor. My group chose a bike lock. Our assignment involved many open ended questions like "what properties are important to the function of this object?". Our table discussion eventually moved to human nature and why we even need locking devices in the first place. Later when we talked to a table with a razor we found out that their experience was much different. Their poster had very technical restricting questions with specific answers. One question required them to apply a complex equation to determine a property of the plastic used in the razor. The people from this group seemed like they did not enjoy their experience at all. Their answers were short and just specific enough to get by. Our group had verbose answers because we actually liked what we were talking about and it was interesting to us.

So I came out of this conference with a new understanding of how to better motivate myself in my own work as well as how to get others motivated in their's. I think open source can be tied in closely to this idea of intrinsic motivation. When I took the HFOSS class at RIT we were allowed to pick what project we would work on for the entirety of the class. This allowed me to pick up Transbot, a project that actually matters to me. Instead of working on some calculator or calendar program I was able to work on a project that will help others.

I think concepts from open source can be applied in education in many fields. In project based classes students can be given the option of picking up a project of their choice. Obviously the project must apply to the course material. By allowing students to take control of their education they will be intrinsically motivated to work hard and learn.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SilverStripe - Microsoft Certified

Surfing the web today I found something surprising, an open source web framework written in php under the BSD license, Silver Stripe. That's not the cool part though. Silver Stripe is Microsoft Certified. Check out their blog here for some more info on that.

This is truly ground breaking in my opinion. It seems that more and more the big software companies are seeing how beneficial open source development can be. I plan on checking out this framework soon and writing more about it's features. Even though I've had some bad experiences with Windows in the past and have since moved to Fedora Linux there is no reason we can't come to a truce. If Microsoft is going to accept open source as a viable option I think they should be commended.

I wish the developers of Silver Stripe the best of luck. I hope open source developers will find this project and really show the power of the open source community to Microsoft.

EotF 3.0 recap.... coming soon

Hey so I intend to write in length about my experiences at the Engineer of the Future Conference this past weekend. However it IS finals week and despite having very little intrinsic motivation to study I have a WHOLE LOT of extrinsic motivation. Look for a full report later this week.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

EotF 3.0 Slides

So if anyone missed some information during my presentation the slides can be found here. Feel free to contact me at if you have any questions :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Engineer of the Future 3.0

This weekend I'm headed to Champaign, IL this weekend for the Engineer of the Future 3.0 conference. Should be very cool. I'm excited to see how it goes. I'll be blogging as much as possible here as well as tweeting throughout the day on my twitter page. Stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


So one of our big bugs at the hackfest turned out to be a very simple fix. We were saving a config file using ConfigParser. Transbot was saving IRC channels with the pound symbol(#) still prefixed to it. What we didn't realize is that ConfigParser later reads these lines as a comment and ignores them. Needless to say we were relieved when we realized what was causing our headaches.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hackfest recap

Last Friday's hackfest was a great success. Even though I was late due to work, Mark and I managed to get a ton of work done. Our timeline shows how many commits we did. We fixed the bugs in our config file setup as well as fully implementing our in-channel commands. At this point I think we have the majority of our major features in place. We're going to look into turning this into an RPM tomorrow. I was hoping to have lmacken's help but he's on vacation right now. We're going to forge ahead and see if we can get this on our own. Hopefully next week will be only fixing some bugs. I'd like to see something I can proudly call Transbot v1.0 by the end of the quarter.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Transbot Todo list this weekend

So we're getting close to our first packaged version of Transbot. I want to get a few things down before then.

1. In channel commands: add/remove channel, change language, better help text, report bad translations.

2. Bot needs to handle incorrect language acronyms. It currently crashes if asked to translate to a language that doesn't exist.

3. We need to use a standard .ini config system instead of our custom .conf. This will standardize the configuration file and make it easier code-wise.

I think we can get this done this weekend and prepare for launching an rpm next week.

Transbot: Testing

Transbot is up and running this week for testing!!!

We are looking for community testing and feedback. For complete information regarding how to help please check out our wiki.

Here's how you can contribute:

1. Join the testing channels. #transbot-test-en is in English. #transbot-test-es is in Spanish and #transbot-test-rand is designed to allow users to change the language to anything. To set the language in a channel simply type ".xx" where xx is the two letter language acronym. You only need to type this once. Afterwards you can simply send messages and they will automatically be translated.

2. Try to break the bot. Feel free to play around with phrases you think will not be translated well. We want to see how well the bot can withstand abuse. Please don't hold back :-)

3. Give us feedback. You can contact us at and You can also file bug reports here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I've been working on Wikiotics today. I finally figured out where in the javascript code I need to add a "delete" button. I just wrote in TEST to see if it worked. I have to add the button in the PictureChoiceGroupWidget() function in editor.js. So next steps towards delete functionality. 1. add a button 2. connect button to individual picture choice groups 3. send command back to python code to delete that picture choice group

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Busy Transbot Day

So Mark and I reviewed and updated the milestones today. Here they are:

1: Stable version with robust command line functionality and IRC commands

  • Robust command line with option flags
  • Persistent configuration file
  • In-channel commands
  • Error/ debug logging

2: Package for distribution

  • Package code into an rpm
  • Post an instance of the bot running on a server

3: Community Testing

  • Reach out to the community and ask them to try our bot
  • Check the transbot logs for performance

4: Optimize the code to handle large payloads

  • Implement a twisted reactor system
  • Research optimization options

5: Add Features

  • in-channel translate requests
  • add/remove channel
I closed two tickets as well. #9 and #10

We're getting close to closing Milestone #1. The plan is to have it done this weekend. Then we can start on community outreach next week.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Closing tickets today

So today I fixed the json parsing in Transbot. It was a pretty simple fix Jlew showed me. I'm going to continue to bang out code today while I still have free time. X(

Oh and I forgot to give a link to my Transbot presentation from the HFOSS class. Here it is.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Transbot wiki

Okay finally got the transbot wiki up and running. It's a little bare bones but it's something to build off of. Mark and I have started outlining our milestones. Next step is to link tickets to the milestones. Oh I also made a user page on the Sugar Labs wiki. link

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Git Merging Galore

So I fixed the title bug in wikiotics today. I decided to change the code to simply search for a line that starts with "= " and then strip any '='s off the line. This is the simplest solution in my opinion. I also had a fun time learning how to apply patches from one git to another. That only took oh... two hours haha.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TransBot is up and developing

So for the RIT HFOSS class my partner Mark and I are working on TransBot. TransBot is an IRC bot translation bot written in Python that uses the Google Translate API to translate between IRC channels. We grabbed the original code from John McLean's FedoraHosted repo. John noted in his wiki that he intended for the project to be picked up and improved. The base code looks very basic and we are looking forward to improving it quite a bit. Some of our preliminary goals:
  • Modularize the code: We want to create a translation module that will take in a stream and output a translated stream. This could have other useful applications in the future.
  • Port to Sugar: TransBot would be an invaluable tool to children in developing countries. It would allow them to communicate to the outside world without language barriers. We want this to work on the XO 1.0 as well as XO 1.5 and Sugar on a Stick.
  • Involve the community: The existing version of TransBot is very basic and requires coding knowledge to configure properly. We'd like to add a more user-friendly interface to TransBot. Add a GUI instead of manually writing a config file.
We'll be maintaining a wiki on SugarLabs as well as FedoraHosted It's pretty bare-bones at the moment but you can find our project at We'll be adding content here as we flesh out where the project is going.

Our source code is available a

Stay tuned for more updates!

Monday, September 27, 2010


So over the weekend and today I've familiarized myself with Django, the web framework Ductus is built on. It seems fairly intuitive so far. I've also been debating this ticket. My quick fix for the ticket was a little too general. Ductus currently uses the first line of Creole code for a wiki page as it's title. This becomes a problem when Creole syntax characters are in the line ('=, *, [['). I've been thinking about the best way to handle this problem. If there are images or external URL's in the first line this is even worse. You can't just strip off some Creole characters and put a URL in the title of a page. I think I'm going to look at posting the page's URL in the title. It doesn't make sense to pull information from the page unless we mandate a page title at the beginning of every page. ie "= English Lessons =". Otherwise we could pull the first line which is a link to something else. An example would be having a page listing spanish lessons with the first link being "spanish introduction". The current code would pull "spanish introduction" when it really should be something like "All Spanish Lessons".

Thursday, September 23, 2010


So looks like I'm picking up Transbot for the HFOSS class I'm taking. I've started looking at the code and it looks like we can really take this somewhere. My partner, Mark, and I are going to improve the existing code and port it to a Sugar activity. Can't wait to start!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wikiotics "Day 1"

So It's Day 1 of my Wikiotics job. Today I'm trying to see about translating their intro lesson to ASL. Hopefully I can find some videos on youtube and embed them in the Ductus wiki. If I figure this out fast I'm going to look at finding a ticket I can close.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hello Ductus

I just started my first "unofficial" day working on Wikiotics, a free open source language learning tool similar to Rosetta Stone. I just spent a couple hours today sifting through the code. I'm pumped to start in next week!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Boston Wrap-up

Boston was a great time! We were joined by the Fortune Hunter and Civx teams as well as some upstream developers. These developers included Adam Holt of OLPC, Luke Macken of RedHat, and Daf of Collabora. Daf really helped Fran and I to understand how to connect Farsight to the Sugar Presence service. That should help with development. The trip itself was a ton of fun. The new hostel had 100% less drug addicts but was a little hot. We got to sample some great Boston food and went to a Drum and Bass show after the hackfest and got our dance on. Good Times.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Boston HackFest This Week!!!

We're leaving for Boston tomorrow! If you'd like to participate in the event please sent a message to us through our mailing list


Open Video Chat will be returning to Boston July 8th for a hack fest at OLPC headquarters. If you'd like to come, contact us on the Open Video Chat mailing list ( We will be tackling farsight and telepathy-farsight to pave the way for cross platform communication.
July 8th @ 10am

OLPC Headquarters
1 Cambridge Center
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Come hack with us or participate remotely through our IRC channel (#rit-innovation on ). Please send us an email to our mailing list with your full name by Wednesday July 7th at midnight so we can compile a guest list for the security desk Thursday morning.

Facebook Event:!/event.php?eid=139205299429364&ref=ts

Official Event Page:

-Taylor Rose
OVC Devel Team

Thursday, July 1, 2010

OLPC/Open Video Chat Boston HackFest


Open Video Chat will be returning to Boston July 8th for a hack fest at OLPC headquarters. If you'd like to come, contact us on the Open Video Chat mailing list ( We will be tackling farsight and telepathy-farsight to pave the way for cross platform communication.
July 8th @ 10am

OLPC Headquarters
1 Cambridge Center
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Come hack with us or participate remotely through our IRC channel (#rit-innovation on ). Please send us an email to our mailing list with your full name by Wednesday July 7th at midnight so we can compile a guest list for the security desk Thursday morning.

Facebook Event:!/event.php?eid=139205299429364&ref=ts

Official Event Page:

-Taylor Rose
OVC Devel Team

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Farsight Hackin

Fran has been hacking away at Farsight all day. I'm starting to get a grasp of how it works. This doc is actually pretty helpful for understanding how Farsight works.

3000+ Downloads!!!

Open Video Chat has been downloaded from SugarLabs over 3000 times!!!!! Download it for your XO 1.5 here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

More researching

So Fran and I have begun banging our heads against the Farsight wall. As far as we can tell this is the best solution to our problems. Unfortunately we pretty much have to sift through uncommented example code and figure it out ourselves. Asking for help from Collabora has only gotten us snarky comments and limited help. That would be understandable if they had good documentation that we were ignoring like noobs. However when we start looking through their docs we find pages like this. So we're going to try this ourselves it seems. Hopefully we can find someone online with farsight experience that is willing to talk us through the API.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tech Symposium Wrapup

So we just finished at the Tech Symposium today. We got to show OVC to a whole lot of people. I had a great time and got to practice my ASL skills a lot. In the mean time we managed to get a good amount of response from the Boing Boing Article I posted earlier. It seems like we might get some help from the upstream so we can finally start hacking at OVC again.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tech Symposium Prep

We've been preparing for the NTID Technology Symposium today. Fran spent the day trying to write a script that would write Sugar on a Stick to pen drives while I worked on a poster and flyers.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wow so that took all day. I installed Fedora 13 and configured everything and then found out the Fedora 13 default partitioned my drive with only 4.8 gigs in my home directory. So after all that setup I had to reinstall and customize the partitions. After I got F13 running however, me and Fran we able to play with the demo client for Muji. It seems like a cool protocol. We may incorporate it into our project in the future after our primary goals have been reached.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

F13 here I come

So i've been playing with Muji today and run into some headaches. Muji requires the newest version of Empathy. Or at least newer than what's available on Fedora 12. I tried compiling from source but empathy requires all sorts of other dependencies that would also need to be compiled from source. /sigh

I guess I'm rolling cycles today to get Fedora 13 up and running.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

End of Day Mind Dump

So we found some example code and played with it a bit. Could be useful, we need to play more and get it working. It's already running Theora too :D

I just saw a cool development from Collabora.

4 way capable open source video chat

I'm excited to crack open the code tomorrow and check it out.

Farsight Round 1

I'm cracking on some farsight example code today. My goal is to have it running by the end of the day. If we can get this running in an open video format then we can start wrapping it with a GUI and get this thing rolling.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Multi-platform Research

I've been looking up ways that we can take OVC multiplatform today. It looks like the best way may be using Farsight. Tomorrow I'm going to try to play with it and make some prototypes hopefully.

The Summer Research Luncheon was today. There was a huge turn out. I'd estimate fifty or more people came. Hopefully this will be a catalyst for the Center for Student Innovation to get a central server for all these students to open wikis and blogs on.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer Week 1!!!!!

So we're back in the new and improved Foss Box. This week is just going to be the same old bootstrapping. The OVC team is pretty set but we're helping out the other teams that are new to RIT Storytelling and the Open Source ecosystem. Our first goal this week and next to to check out the RTP fix to Gstreamer. If this is fixed properly we should be able to do a lot of optimizing and add some features. The RTP bug has been a real bottleneck for us in the past. We have a research orientation meeting later today in the library. Should be interesting. Peace

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

User Testing Summary

NTID Survey Results

Total Participants: 14

1. How comfortable are you with American Sign Language?
5: 11
4: 1
3: 2
2: 0
1: 0
0: 0

2. How clear was the video?
5: 1
4: 7
3: 3
2: 2
1: 1

3. Would you like the option to remove the preview window to increase the size of the main video?
Yes: 11
No: 3

4. Would you use this product to communicate with a Deaf person?
Yes: 12
No: 2

5. Would you use this product to communicate with a hearing person?
Yes: 10
No: 4

6. Would you use this product for text chat?
Yes: 12
No: 2

7. Would you use text and video in the same chat?
Yes: 12
No: 2

8. Would you like the windows to change size if you closed the chat window?
Yes: 11
No: 3

Additional Comments:

Comments were generally positive. The negative comments were about things that we could not change. People complained about the hardware and asked about how we will set up internet in other countries. These are issues for One Laptop Per Child to consider. We may not have conveyed that we are only responsible for the software, not the hardware or deployment.

End of the Spring

So this last week we've been finishing up stuff for the spring quarter. While I was off doing user testing last week Jlew posted OVC on SugarLabs' site. We've had 1299 downloads in less than a week already!!! Unfortunately the code doesn't run on the XO 1.0 due to numerous issues so the majority of those people probably couldn't use the software. At least people are aware of it now though. Hopefully the 1.5's get deployed widely soon. Tomorrow I think I should be able to get one of our tickets closed. I don't know why it wasn't done before O:-)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

OVC User Testing Day 1 & 2

It's been a busy couple of days. Fran and myself have been posted up on the NTID side of campus showing off our project. We're trying to get input from actual ASL users. We hung out near the RIT Commons for a couple hours today and yesterday and we actually had a decent amount of people stop by. Fran and I got to practice our ASL skills too. The responses we got were mixed. Some people were very interested and took the time to fill out our survey. Others saw that we were making a video chat program and just kept walking before we could explain. All in all it's been a cool experience. We got got a cool hook up with this guy named Andrew that wants to help us market this to the Deaf community over the summer. I'm interested to see how he can help our project.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Busy Busy Busy

Wow so I haven't blogged in a while. I've been crazy busy getting ready for ImagineRIT all last week. Jlew and myself got to go out to dinner with John Resig, RIT Alum and creator of jQuery. We also got to meet with Walter Bender, Stefan Unterhauser, and Adam Holt from OLPC and SugarLabs on Friday. Walter was in town to give a talk for the GCCIS Dean's Lecture Series. He talked about the importance of education and how the XO's are helping this.

After the lecture we went into high gear preparing for ImagineRIT the next day. Imagine was so awesome. We got to show off Open Video Chat all day. My favorite part of the day was teaching two little boys how to sign their names to each other over our video chat.

Walter really seemed to like what we're doing here. He gave us a shout out on the sugar-devel mailing list

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Presenting Open Video Chat

Yesterday the OVC team attended a memorial ceremony for James J. Peters. James contributed a lot to the innovation movement here at RIT. President Destler and Ian Gatley both gave speeches at the event and presented two students with grants for their innovative work.

After the speeches we had an opportunity to display Open Video Chat running at 15 frames per second. A lot of people were curious about our project. I actually had an opportunity to talk to President Destler about it. It was a great experience and we got a lot of practice for ImagineRIT next weekend.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Woooo busy weekend. So we drove up to Boston Thursday night. We were only a little late due to a mix up with an iPhone GPS app that doesn't know what one way streets are. Getting into our hostel was an... interesting experience. We told them we'd get there really late at night so they left our key under a flower pot on their porch.

The morning was fun. There was a problem using the CSI credit card to pay for our rooms. While Remy handled that myself and the team dealt with crazy blanket lady. She kept trying to tell us about a hotel down the street that only charged $25 a room and you could put as many people as you want in there. We managed to get away from her without much issue though :)

We drove over to Luke Macken's place and walked over to the Town Diner for breakfast. That place was great. I'd highly recommend it if you're in the Boston area. Then we took the bus and subway to OLPC Headquarters for the Python Hackfest. Our videos will be going up on our Youtube account.

Justin and Luke freakin pwned at the hack fest. They managed to get a feature running on our code to display the frame rate and then they tweaked the code to get the frame rate up to 14-15 FPS. So we've officially hit our major goal on this project. At this point we're going to finish packaging the activity this week and we're going to start making this run on other systems after that hopefully.

After the hackfest I jumped on a bus and rode back to Rochester for the Red Barn CCS rockclimbing competition at RIT. That was hella fun. 82 people came out to compete. I got 3rd :D It looks like I'm going to be in the Reporter this week or next. Link when it goes live.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pre-Boston Prep

Pretty chill day today. Jlew and Fran cranked at the code while I handled some advertising and emailing. We're getting the asks out to the people that we need to so they know we're looking for help this weekend at the Boston Hackfest. I emailed Bill Clymer, the associate director of Pen International, with our youtube videos and facebook page. He seemed impressed. We also did some filming for our Boston Trip today. We're releasing a trailer tomorrow. I'll post it when I have it.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Woah time flies! It's been a week since my last post. Busy busy week. We went to Interlock twice and the No Voice Zone Wednesday night. We've still been trying to figure out these darn telepathy and gstreamer libraries that have no documentation for python. Hopefully we can get something working by the end of this week because we're headed to BOSTON!!!!! We're headed to a hack fest where there should be guys that work on these other projects we rely on. If we can't figure this out ourselves I sure hope we can figure it out with telepathy, gstreamer, AND sugar/XO guys all in the same room. I'm headed home for a rock climbing competition friday night but the rest of the guys are staying for BarCamp Boston on Saturday. They're going to present our project, hopefully all roided out from the previous day's hack fest.

So No Voice Zone was a blast on Wednesday. NVZ is a weekly event hosted by the NTID (National Technical Institute for the Deaf) department here at RIT. We went there to practice our skills with ASL. I'm not sure about the other member of the team but I am really enjoying the ASL aspect of our project. I ran into a guy named Justin from my High School that I haven't seen in a couple years. I had only ever been able to talk to him through an interpreter or pen and paper before. This time I was able to have a decent, although slow, conversation with him. We just talked about majors and school and he asked me about how my rock climbing has been going. It was a really cool experience and I look forward to learning more so I can talk to him even more.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I'm excited to say that we have taken our project in a new direction. We've decided that the future of video conferencing lies in communicating to absolutely random strangers. The change in medium also proved to be much easier to code. We already have it fully functional on the XO 1.5.

Link to come...

Monday, March 29, 2010

I can has Video Chat?

Today we got Video chat working. It's a hack but it works and it's decent frame rate and you know what? It works! The rest of this week is going to be testing different flags and settings to optimize our frame rate and video quality.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Help from the Community

No blog post yesterday :( I forgot....sorry

Yesterday I polished our chat software a bit. We had an interesting day. Apparently there was some sort of art show fund raiser thing scheduled in the main room of the CSI. Unfortunately we also WORK in that room. It was quite interesting when I walked out to go to the bathroom and I come back and a woman is trying to tell me I'm not allowed back to my "office". We ended up clearing it up with the help of Remy and Professor Jacobs. It was really nice programming half the day with live music playing.

Today I pinged the community to try to find some advice about video streaming on the XO's. Surprisingly I got a lot of feedback. In the past I have gotten some sarcastic RTFM replies. Full transcript can be found here It turns out Collabora made the original Video Chat Activity. It also turns out it was mostly just a proof of concept. These guys seem really willing to help us out. They gave us a lot of good links and advice. I'm psyched to run this by Jlew and Fran and see what they make of it since I'm not very strong at network programming.

Well it's Friday. I'm off to do some rock climbing. Peace.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Biting into the Code

Today I finally got to sink my teeth into the code. I went wrote the code for displaying the chat dialog between the two users. That's 1 for 2 of our goals done this week. Hopefully now we can get the video streaming. Jlew is all over that figuring it out. Maybe we'll get some input at InterLockRoc tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Hardware!

Today we got some sick new hardware from 5Linx. They gave us twelve of their video phones. Remy and I had a fun adventure going to pick up the video phones. We got halfway there and Remy realized that he forgot what industrial park 5Linx was in. Luckily we found it eventually after exploring the labyrinth of parking lots and grey buildings. So we're going to play with this hardware and see if we can get our software working on it. This could be a very cool application of open source developing. I'm excited to see where this goes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Coding Day 1

Today we started to dive into the code. First thing for the day: get the video working again on the 1.5's. When we updated the firmware on Thursday it changed how Sugar communicated with the webcam. Jlew got that working pretty fast. Then he started working on getting two xo's to communicate. I did some more work on since this was fairly over my head. Once we get these things communicating we can actually flesh out how we're going to design this whole program.

On a personal note... Over the weekend I went to New Jersey for a rock climbing competition with RIT's Rock Climbing Club. It was a ton of fun. I ended up placing 3rd and the team placed 2nd overall. Here's a video of me climbing at the comp.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Smoke testing this XO's

Today we smoke tested the XO's to make sure everything is running smooth. This included things like checking the webcam, mic, and mesh networking. Everything works without issue. The only thing we haven't tested yet is connecting to RIT's network. We've been in contact with ITS but they are proposing a non-ideal solution to connecting these to the net. They want us to use a console-level solution that requires us to keep our RIT screen name and password in a plain text file on the XO. The XO's are very insecure and no one on the development team is willing to put their login info on the computer. Today we also welcomed a new member to our team, Fran. He was originally working on the blocku team but decided to switch to our project.

Many of you might be wondering, "Taylor what happened to yesterday?". Okay so probably no one is wondering that :P. Yesterday I had a really awful stomach flu so I called in sick. After that I ended up working half a day anyways. We went and got our payroll stuff fixed. Hopefully I'll receive a paycheck eventually... We also had our first ASL class. That was a ton of fun. We learned the alphabet and how to count. We also started on some basic conversational stuff like greetings and farewells.

Fun stuff so far, hopefully we'll start diving into the foo soon.

New XOs:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Getting this Project on Trac

Today we added a ton of content to our Trac. We're adding all sorts of "non-programming" things so that the Trac not only shows our progress on the code but also shows the story behind the code.

Later, me and Jlew played with This website is DOPE. We added our projects including OVC and now it'll track our repo pushes.

If you're trying to follow us check out openinnovationrit on youtube. This is where all the foss videos are posted. Our weekly interviews will be going up on this account too.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Death to Windows

Another exciting day in the Innovation Center. The first thing we did today was do a bit of physical hacking of our room. We have already dragged some extra tables into the room. Today we commandeered some of the I2I's sitting at the other end of the Innovation Center. These chairs are sexy. Here's a linky. My booty is very comfy on it's $1249.99 throne. Hopefully in the future we'll further pimp out our hacker lair. We need to get some banners to put over the windows to help deal with screen glare.

So we did some more work polishing the website today. It's getting nice and shiny. Hopefully Professor Jacobs will give us some more feedback soon to help us make it even better.

Today marked the death of my Windows career. It's been quite an abusive relationship. I've moved onto Ubuntu. I don't know why I've waited so long. It's the most (super) user friendly system I've used so far. Cheers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Today was quite productive. After the issues from yesterday we decided to just disable SELinux long enough to install Drupal. Once we had that going it was smooth sailing. We spent the whole day copying over the content from the old html site to the new Drupal powered one. By the end of the day we had up and running pretty.

A really cool thing we worked on was a time line widget that could pull rss feeds from our various data producing mediums. The site puts all of these into a news feed as well as putting them in order on an interactive time line. This posts from our Git repos, youtube channel, and various blogs ;)

So we almost have this project completely bootstrapped so we can start programming in an open environment. We've got our website going. We've got our repos. We've got our data feeds. This story is ready to be told. The only thing left to do is make a story.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bootstrapping Day 2

So it's the end of my second day here at the CSI. Our major task today was to try and get Drupal working on This proved to be a difficult task. All sorts of permission issues because of SELinux. In the process I learned a lot more about commands in unix including the program Screen. While messing around with our server we pulled up multiple Screens so we could all follow along and work in the same window. What's even cooler is we got Luke Macken to log in and help us out. So we were able to talk to him through IRC while we were all looking at and interacting with the same console window. We were also sending Remy's screen to the 50 inch monitor on the wall of our conference room. This was simply the coolest thing I've ever seen as far as collaboration.

By the end of the day we ended up writing all the website edits in html just to get it done. Tomorrow we're going to disable SELinux so we can install Drupal. At the end of the day we went to InterLockRoc for their Lightning Talks. It was real cool. I learned some cool stuff from the talks. One guy actually talked about using screens and we'd just been using screens earlier today.

All in all it was a pretty cool day. I've been learning a lot more about unix commands and such. I'm finally starting to feel like a hacker.

Monday, March 8, 2010

OVC Early Experiences

My name is Taylor Rose. I am a third year computer science major at Rochester Institute of Technology. This Spring I'm going to be working on a project to improve the Video Chat Activity on the XO Laptop. Our major goal is to improve the frame rate of the program to a point where deaf and hard of hearing students can communicate easily using American Sign Language. This project is partly about the programming and partly about the story and the journey. Like all great journeys this one started off with a bumpy start; at least for me.

My first assignment last week was to make a live usb "Sugar on a Stick". Okay, so I look up sugar on a stick and download the LiveUSB Creator which allows you to install several different OS's onto a usb memory stick. I run the software and have myself a nice bootable usb drive with Sugar on a Stick 2.0 Blueberry. I reboot my machine and select the usb drive to boot from. "NTLDR is missing". I couldn't find anything online describing my specific issue. That error means that you're trying to boot from something that isn't bootable.

I hopped on IRC and sent out a message seeing if anyone could help me out. I get a response from Luke Macken. Turns out he's a developer for LiveUSB. Luke helped me try some things to fix the problem. We finally found that the problem was between the keyboard and the chair. I had forgotten that my large external hard drive was still plugged in. My system was trying to boot from the external HD instead of the memory stick. After we figured this out I was able to get the OS running no problem.

Although a little bit of a rocky start for me, this became a huge learning opportunity for me. This was a crash course in the open source way. I had a problem and I tried to find a solution through my own resources. Then I looked for help through the community. I was able to find help pretty much immediately. I see this as a good sign that this project is going to go smoothly as we begin to dive in.