a man, a plan, a cake: nirvana

Playing with the OLPC XO Emulator

While I wait for my XO to arrive (as they stated, there's no ship date yet), I thought I'd give the emulator a go. Conveniently the laptop.org site has a no-brainer startup guide on the OLPCWiki for running the XO emulator on the Mac (and others) using a port of QEmu to the Mac called Q.app. (I first tried building qemu via MacPorts but it wanted to use GCC 3.3 and 10.5.1 has GCC 4.0; I didn't fancy pulling in the old compiler just for this.)

I downloaded Q.app and a recent build of the XO emulator disk image - olpc-redhat-stream-development-build-542-20070801_0412-devel_ext3.img and configured a VM as per the instructions on the OLPCWiki. It started up first time, asked me for my name and I was in. Here's a view of the main page:

I didn't mess around with the emulator's DPI settings as suggested, so it looked a little fuzzier than the real thing would. Paint wouldn't start for me, but the word processor, chat program, browser, and other things I tried did. Some, like the chat program and connect 4 game needed other XO users to be in your neighbourhood, and for some strange reason there wasn't anyone else running the XO emulator on my rural street at 2am; weird huh?

I'm excited for it to arrive. I wish I could have gotten a couple to be able to have them talk to each other, but I was pushing my luck getting one, never mind two. One of the guys at work is thinking about getting one as part of the Give One Get One program. I'll have to try and persuade him so our XOs have someone to play with.

One Laptop Per Child: Give One Get One

The OLPC Give One Get One program starts today. For a donation of $399 (plus $24.95 shipping), they will send one XO laptop to "empower a child in a developing nation" and "receive one for the child in your life in recognition". $200 of that $399 is tax-deductible and T-Mobile is throwing in a free year's access to their HotSpot service, which is in of itself worth $360.

I ordered mine today. Even though I don't use my laptop at Starbucks that much, I'll get some use out of the HotSpot service and I would really like to see OLPC get off the ground and do well. There's some truly innovative technology in there - see David Pogue's video for more details - and it's all good old-fashioned open source. How could I say no?

Theme Change

I switched to RapidWeaver's iPhone theme today. I was using a hand-tweaked version of Dark Glass, but it just wasn't cutting it for me. I couldn't get the code extracts to look good, and when I posted pictures that were wider than the blog column it looked bad and stomped on the tag/archive sidebar (usually I cut them down but sometimes I'm linking directly from another site). In the iPhone theme that information is moved to a pull-down which keeps the main page nice and clean. I like clean. Hope you do too.

BugLabs: Location-Aware To-do List Manager

Things are still rather quiet on the Buglabs front. I have been very busy with release stuff at work, and the forum postings have been pretty thin on the ground. The community application count was still at four yesterday, and I posted two of those (and the other two are at least partially based on my two). There are 14 apps in total, but the others are from Buglabs directly. I don't know if it's that people didn't realize that beta-testing something like this would involve coding, or working with the emulator is just too intangible for them, or what. Some people have being having problems getting the SDK integrated into Eclipse but other than that I'd say it was going pretty smoothly for a beta. Perhaps when the actual Bug comes out the interest will pick back up.

I'm trying to do my part anyway (this is fun for me) and so I posted the fifth community app tonight. I found time last night to put together a first pass at a location-aware to-do list manager application and cleaned up the GUI some tonight. It's far from pretty, but it has several (canned for now) to-do lists, each with a name, related location and list of items. On the VirtualBUG's LCD modules, it looks like this for now:

("Choose a Todo List" is a menu)

Once you've plugged the LCD and GPS modules into the bug, it will by default show you the to-do list whose location is nearest to your current position. I made it so that you could also explicitly select a list from a menu though. I posted it as-is, but I need to come up with a way of actually creating and working with lists. The bug doesn't have a keyboard, but an on-screen one could be created, iPhone-style. I've also considered exposing the lists via a servlet, but that would only be helpful if you had a 'real' computer to-hand; ideally you could work with lists directly on the bug. Another possibility in the less-than-ideal camp is to make it sync with web-based to-do list sites such as Remember The Milk or Ta Da Lists. I posted my thoughts on the forum, so I'll see what the buglabs folks and the other beta-testers think before going much further. I certainly don't fancy trying to create the on-screen keyboard myself in PhoneME's AWT.

BugLabs t-shirt

Well the guys at buglabs made good on their promise and sent me a lovely gift for posting the first community app: a one-of-a-kind buglabs t-shirt. Warning, pictures of me below.




BugLabs: Pictures of the real thing

Last week, the folks at Buglabs posted pictures of the real device. It's not what you'd call Apple-pretty but I like it because of that; it has a clunkiness to it that just appeals to me (although I like my PowerMac and MacBook too, don't get me wrong). Engadget posted an article when the pictures were released, including some shots that don't show up on the press page. My favourite of those is a shot of the label that reads "Series 1.0 HIRO P." Nice little nod to Snow Crash there.

I noticed tonight that one of the press images, which is labelled "Community Applications Image", is the one that they used on the t-shirt they sent me, and it includes the name of the first app that I posted: GpsLogger (which still doesn't log; I ought to get on that, huh).

Buglabs Community Applications

Engadget Buglabs Photo: HIRO P.