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.