ALT-C 2009 (2)

One of the sessions I attended was the Online Identity workshop run by Frances Bell, Josie Fraser, James Clay & Helen Keegan. As usual from that crowd it was interactive, thought provoking & they’d set up an accompanying Wiki.

They started off by asking us to write our names on a postit. Trustingly we all *did* (At least, I think everyone wrote down their name, not someone elses). It wasn’t until afterwards on the train that I realised they’d lost a wonderful teaching point – the fact we all trusted them not to use our names in some malicious way. That said, we did have to find out 3 facts about someone we didn’t know … and Frances then took the flipchart away with her. Should I start to worry…
This was really a start into looking at what data’s out there about each of us – whether it’s things over which we (think we) have control, or that over which we have no control. The issue of uniqueness was also raised – do those of us that have (more or less) unique names need to exercise greater or lesser control than those who haven’t. Guess, in part, it depends what those you share a name with do online!

I joined in with James’ offering on video. I really have no excuse for not using it, heck even the OLPC has a webcam (the 3rd laptop took the photo!), 2 web cams & a digital camera that takes video in my office most of the time. (Granted, my phone only does stills). However, I’ve never uploaded a video to YouTube, (though I did experiment with 12seconds recently – managing to mess up linking it with Twitter :()
The conversation we had surrounding accessibility was useful – it seems that most share my view – that especially with “quick & dirty” media developments (i.e. those that are only intended for the current cohort) should suit the needs of current students, not any that might come in the future. i.e. if no visually impaired screen reading students present, then video doesn’t all need subtitling (though, one could argue, it makes searching for sections much easier for all)
Unfortunately, time ran a bit short, so we didn’t really get to hear what the other groups had done, nor, for that matter, have a go with Blip.tv (later, later). Also, not really time to look at the sort of data folks had found out about each other – though at least one person pointed out it wasn’t their information that had been located.

Ada Lovelace Day 09

Ages ago, I signed the pledge to write a blog post for Ada Lovelace Day – about a woman in technology that I admire. I then wondered who on earth I’d write about; there are quite a few I could think of off hand, but trying to think of someone who I felt had really made a difference to many – wasn’t so easy. About two days after I’d signed the pledge, the January issue of the BCS magazine arrived – a special on Women in computing. One they featured was Mary Lou Jepsen. And my mind was made up!
As those of you who’ve read this for some time will know, I’m very impressed with the OLPC – it’s not just the hardware (and certainly not the keyboard – thought I’d give up on rubber ones when I gave up on the Speccy!) – nor is it just the software – it’s the combination of both, and more importantly the concept that I find fascinating.

I started to do a bit of research – Jepsen’s the same age as me (also a good reason for writing about her!) – and it’s a lot! Time magazine have listed her as 49 in their list of 101 influential people. (She’s 10th in the sub-list “scientists & thinkers”).
She was an LCD screen designer and had done a range of innovative work (HDTV, large scale holographic displays, minature displays etc., etc., etc.,) – so when Negroponte came up with the idea of the so called “$100 laptop” – with low cost and low energy use being prioritised, she became the chief architect of the project. Her particular innovations were the screen, with its minimal energy requirements & readability in sunlight.
The mesh network (again, something she contributed to) – while minimising the number of computers that need to be online (and sharing the data around the class/ village) has also allowed the software teams to really look at software that enables collaboration – and encourages children to work together. Having worked in Papua New Guinea (which, I understand now has some OLPCs) I’ve seen some of the problems of schooling where there’s no electricity, limited resources etc., and feel that the OLPC offers a wealth of information, potential, opportunity – you name it, it offers it – so thank you Mary Lou!

Useful references:

OLPC getting going

I’m working on the OLPC now. I’ve beenable to get it on line at home, though not at work. it’s got a range of inbuilt activities, the most exciting probably being the acoustic measure, which lets you measure the distance between 2 OLPCs. Shame I’ve not got another to test it with!

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that 2 fingered typing is easier than using them all. That said, for small children (the intended group afterall), they won’t have the same stretching problems they have on a regular keyboard.

I’m currently writing this in my kitchen, using the monochrome display which is very clear – despite the fact it’s very bright outside. I normally have to turn the display to max to see it in here. The display is pretty awesome – 1200 *900 pixels for a 7.5″ screen. I thought my tablet was good at 1400 for a 12.1″ screen.

The main problem I’ve encountered (other than the speed and the mouse problems that are documented elsewhere) is the fact that it’s a US keyboard, so I can’t find everything. I have just noticed the on the H key. The tilda still alludes me. There are 2 things that look like it, but they aren’t.