Presentations at the Media Lab today

May 20, 2008 – 4:40 pm

Gui sent the robotics mailing list at Olin a heads-up on some nifty toys. Nothing earth-shattering (okay, the ability to rapid-prototype stepper motors in a cross-platform environment is cool), but it brought a grin to my face to realize that – well, I’m among people who send each other parts emails as a friendly hullo. Dang, it feels good to be a hacksta.

Continuing the ongoing saga of my OLPC internship…

After a frenetic night with Chris, Tank, and Nikki constantly rebooting XOs with various thumbdrives stuck in them – flash to build 703, flash activities on, flash more activites on, test – I got approximately 2 hours of sleep (before my parents yell at me, consider that Richard stayed up just as late, and Adam apparently pulled yet another allnghter at 1cc) before demos started this morning at the OLPC country meeting, which other bloggers (that I haven’t yet read) have reported on in far more depth.

The gist of things is that (1) there’s going to be a new version next-gen revision of the XO in about 2 years, and (2) there’s going to be another G1G1 in the near future. I’m happy about both, and bracing for the waves and waves of work that Doing Things Right will mean; plenty of lessons are there to be learned by the entire community on both news points. The second revision of anything is (almost) always my favorite to make – it’s new enough that you’re still experimenting and creating by the very fact that you’re making it at all, yet there’s a history there to diff from and to learn from your mistakes on.

First, though, there’s taking care of the work that needs to be done today. The ILXO crew spent much of today (nearly 12 hours) on our feet demonstrating XOs and activities to delegates from various countries. It was like a marathon. Of Awesome. The highlight for me was creating the “Repairs” exhibit table – 4 young hackers, 3 screwdrivers and 1 multitool-screwdriver-tip, 6.8 broken laptops, post-its, a borrowed pen, and 20 minutes – completely impromptu while attendees watched. I’m happy how it turned out, with laptops in various stages of disassembly (with notes and pointers) arrayed sequentially across the table – Nikki was even able to make a repair today when Francesca (an OLPC intern from Yale) brought her broken XO along.

Waves of activity came and went throughout the day. In other words, it was a constant slow oscillation between FLOODED WITH PEOPLE AAH OVERLOAD and “wait… wait, what am I doing here? Am I supposed to be doing something here?” I’ll bring my laptop and power cable to the Media Lab for tomorrow’s sessions so I can get more work done.

Many of the talks were excellent, though I didn’t catch most of them because I was either demoing or straining to hear/lipread (here’s to hoping transcripts are posted somewhere). The one I caught the most of – David Cavallo’s speech – held me spellbound (for the parts of it I could hear) as he sculpted an entire world of learning before our eyes, telling stories about what’s going on in schools, what impact OLPC is having, what impact OLPC could have. I must learn how to speak with that kind of clarity and force; it had an impact. Also, I wish I could go out to deployments; oddly enough, I think I’m at my best as an engineer when I spend time in classrooms I’m not attending. It gives me motivation to go into the lab to make things with the students from those classrooms.

I didn’t get around to my “tech thing of the day” today – demos and disassembly don’t count, since I’ve done both far too many times (Richard’s whirlwind tour of the motherboard over turkey (me) and pizza (him) was highly educational, and was also yesterday). I’m too drained and sleepy to bug-triage tonight. Instead I purged through grassroots-related emails while setting up my desktop.

Ah, yes. I got a desktop and desk-space at 1cc today (!!) Parkinson’s law appears to hold true for space – that is, work expands so as to fill the space available for its completion as well. In other news, monitors larger than 12″ are wonderful wonderful things. Hurrah for Henry being kind to lowly interns! I’m also wondering how long my solo desk will last, since other summer interns are starting to come in – this is a happy occasion, though, and I’ll glady give up extra space for good company.

Tomorrow I have plenty of writing to do (grassroots jam, pilot proposal process draft, community membership) and I’ll bug-triage during spare moments and… no, that will be enough to do, especially if I’m switching webmaster duties for the ILXO office over to Tank. Tomorrow also marks the end of my year off, so in 24.5 hours, I’ll be allowed to think about long-term plans again.

Feet are aching. Vision flickering intermittently due to involuntarily drooping eyelids. I think a few hours of sleep are in order here; it’s time to crash.

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  1. 2 Responses to “Presentations at the Media Lab today”

  2. Hi Mel,
    seems like you are enjoying your OLPC experience. Seems you have had more opportunities to reassemble XO’s since our meeting at nycresistor. happy hacking and be sure to find the odd moment to recharge your batteries, the human ones ;-)

    By Kevin Mark on May 21, 2008

  3. You have so much compassion and dedication in what you do that brings you joy and fulfillment. You will be able to do more with a healthy body. As you have read from the “YOU, The Owner’s Manual” by Dr. M Roizen, MD and Dr. M Oz, MD, and I quote “Studies have shown that the optimal amount is 7 to 8 hours per night for men, and 6 to 7 hours for women. And those need to be solid hours: You have to be snoozing about 2 and 1/2 hours in a row before your sleep becomes fully restorative. Inadequate sleep causes you to release less of the pleasure hormone serotonin in your brain. To compensate, you try to increase those levels with foods like sugar or harmful substances like tobacco. So ignoring sleep is like ignoring a leak in the roof – if you do, things will only get worse…”

    So, my dear Mel,I know that you do aim to eat healthy but sleep is just as important and it maybe the most important thing for the body. You are like a speeding car going way over the speed limit. I am glad to read that you are looking for successors to some of your projects. That is very good to hear. While waiting for the successors, please slow down and cruise within the speed limit. Otherwise, you might get a “speeding ticket” and we, who cares a lot don’t want that to happen to you. Take care, slow down and sleep. Love, 6-E
    day.

    By 6-ee on May 24, 2008

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