My OLPC Journey December 2011
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December 6 Well ... December's off to a rocky start. For the first time one of our activities has needed a bug fix. End Game Version 27 needs to be replaced by Version 28. You can check which version you have by pressing V while in the activity. Windows users should re-download and re-install "Peter Activities No 3" to get this update.

And I've spent the last fortnight designing an activity using the mathematical transformations rotation and reflection. To cut a long story short, I abandoned my first approach ... this is what I've ended up with:

Activity No 37 - Trans

Trans offers 16 different pictures and three levels. The levels relate to the number of pieces: 8, 18 or 32.

December 8 Trans is now complete and ready for testing. We now have six activities (Python Tute Two, Web Tute, Countries, Oct, Weigh and Trans) awaiting final testing so it's becoming obvious that we need someone to help us with the testing.

Please think carefully before volunteering. Many people think that all that is needed is to download, install and play around for a short time. Our concept of testing is to try everything we can think of to make the activity misbehave or break. We also see a need to work an activity all the way to its conclusion. All this takes a lot of time but the end result is that we end up with a robust activity that rarely requires a bug-fix upgrade (this has only happened once in 30 activities!). If you're interested in helping (maybe just volunteering to test one activity), please e-mail me via my home page. Or perhaps you know someone who may be interested?

Activity No 38 - Stars

December 12 Stars is based on Microsoft's Minesweeper game but is rather more friendly. Firstly we are seeking stars not mines and, secondly, if you play carefully you can always be successful. The weakness in the original game is that at times you have no choice but to guess - guess wrong and you lose! I've solved this problem by 'teaching' my activity to recognise where a guess is the only way forward - when this is the case there is no penalty for a wrong guess.

For those not familiar with the game, the numbers indicate how many of a cell's 8 neighbours contain a star. Right click on a tile if you think it hides a star, otherwise left click. The display at left is keeping track of your progess.

The grid size ranges from 3x3 to 10x10. Success at each level is necessary before advancing to the next level.

No volunteers so far but I've come up with a supplementary idea. This is part of what I posted at the Australian XO Teachers' Forum:

... I had this idea which I feel sure may appeal to some of you.

I'd like to send one of my non-released activities to your class for testing. I can imagine that this could be a very exciting project for your class especially when I respond to their input.

If you are interested and feel that you have the time to devote to this proposal please e-mail me ...

December 20 Lots of work on Countries - Martin encouraged me to include all countries and to make sure that all flags were up-to-date. So there are now 21 more countries (for a total of 211) with some rather obscure nations - for example: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Check them all out here.

December 29 Lots of consolidating work at year's end. I've fully mastered fresh installs on both the XO1 and the XO1.5. I have set up a wireless network which includes my Windows XP box where I do all my development. I've now got to the stage where I can do a fresh install of all my activities on any XO with just a couple of commands.

I'm also helping to test the beta XO-AU OS 12 distribution for OLPC Australia.