Saturday, October 25, 2008

XO Upgrades and Updates

Today the second solar panel arrived for my classroom XO laptops. This one came directly from China. It is so amazing to me that I can order something from a small company in China, and it will be delivered to my doorstep.

Anyway, it's here, and now the goal of powering one laptop by solar power all year long will change. We'll hopefully be Solar Panel 2able to say that half our laptops are solar powered. We shall see... I designated "Mark Ahlness @roomtwelve.com" to be our second solar XO. It is the one I bought last November in the G1G1 program, and it is the one that has been used the most. It'll be interesting to see how the battery charges, holds, and so on. The other solar powered XO is "Jude @roomtwelve.com" - the newest and least used XO over the past year.

All four XO's have been upgraded to OS 8.2 - which my kids are really loving. So many new activities - and the interface is really, really improved. My classroom XO's, all with names ending in "@roomtwelve.com", connect to xo1share.org Head there if you'd like to chat, etc. with my third graders.

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 5:46 PM   2 Comments

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Letting go of things

You know, our attachment to things can be so surprising. A child of the 60's, I've always done my best to distance myself from things. But we can be surprised, even those of us who believe things don't matter that much.

A couple of weeks ago I decided I should sell my 1967 Vespa 125 Sprint. We needed the money, and with the energy/oil crunch, I figured a scooter getting 80 mpg might be sellable right now...

A hunch and a lucky alignment of events have my Vespa probably going to the family of one of my third graders this year. They are opening an Italian restaurant in our part of town. They already have one Vespa....

Vespa 5So yesterday found me working hard in our garage, getting all the piled up stuff off my Vespa, inflating the tires, and then giving her a good wash. I have not ridden her in 15 years. I rolled her out into the front yard for a last photo-shoot, getting a little sentimental - and I acknowledged the importance of things. I will certainly post something here when she is hopefully parked in front of her new home. I do have a good, though wistful, feeling about it.

Ciao, mia bella!

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 4:11 PM   0 Comments

Monday, October 13, 2008

Long Shots

It's been a flurry of long shots lately:
All last minute of course, and all with about an equal chance of happening - like real small. But there was still something good about doing this anyway.

Long ShotSome are forced into taking long shots, for their very survival. Take this juvenile American Golden-Plover, for instance. A first record in our county says this guy is a little lost here. But he's hung out in a field for several days. Will he get to his wintering ground? A long shot, certainly, but he has no choice. Northern Canada to southern South America (map) is a long ways.

So what's the charge, the rush, the goodness, in taking a long shot when you don't need to? For me,
  • I learn more about what truly matters to me when I'm willing to invest a big chunk of time I really don't have.
  • I stretch my learning, by clearly defining my beliefs and passions, and putting them into words that are understandable to others.
  • I get to experience caring deeply about something, and then have to let go of it all. And I'm still standing at the end. It's kind of a character building thing.
  • Of course if any of the long shots comes to pass, the resultant joy is pretty tough to top.
So I wish the the little plover a safe journey the rest of the way. If I could somehow transfer any of my karmic long shot chances over to increasing his odds of making it, I would. Actually, I just did.

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 5:29 PM   1 Comments

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Landslide coming?


Landslide coming?
Originally uploaded by mahlness
Today my third graders cut out this little ballot from their Weekly Reader, and they voted. They were pretty excited about doing this - after all, they have been blogging about the election (yes, even in third grade).

As always, I'll send in our results to the Weekly Reader, to be a part of their national poll, results released days before the election.

Maybe we live in a bubble, way out here in liberal Seattle - or maybe we are a true predictor of things to come. I only know that this is the FIFTH presidential election my third grade classrooms have participated in via the Weekly Reader (yikes!) - and there has never been a landslide vote like this:

McCain - 1
Obama - 20

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 9:40 PM   0 Comments

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Solar XO Update


Solar Update
Originally uploaded by mahlness
I've been bringing my classroom's XO laptops home one at a time to do an update to build 711 in the evenings. Now, you have to be plugged in to a power source to do this. Jude, in order to stick to our goal of being exclusively powered by a solar panel this year, had to be done at school.

Even if connected directly to our solar panel while operating, the battery still shows a discharge (very slow), so I was not at all sure this would work.

Today we were blessed with a very sunny afternoon, so I went for it. Worked just fine. A solar powered OLPC build update. Wonder if it's a first?

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 5:34 PM   0 Comments

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Solar Hope


Solar Trio
Originally uploaded by mahlness
On a recent extra sunny day in my third grade classroom in Seattle, we managed to fully charge Jude (our designated solar XO - center), Earthday (L), and Lincoln (R) - on our one solar panel.

Today I ordered one more panel. It feels a little risky.

First off, we live in Seattle. Rain capitol of the US - well not really, but we do have an awful lot of rainy, overcast days in the winter.Then, there was the ordering this time directly from the manufacturer, in China, via PayPal....

My kids are finally getting a chance to use them regularly. We'll keep you posted.

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 11:20 PM   0 Comments