Oh, yeah. I was going to Washington DC. Which is why I woke up the next morning surrounded by 3D-printed green things with a rolling alarm clock to my left and a giant photography... umbrella... thing.... looming over my feet. Thanks to the hospitality of the Lee family (Mike, Cici, me - Amy is holding the camera - and as implied by the first sentence, they have a wonderful basement), I was able to make the DC Learning Club OLPC grassroots meetup at Gallaudet on Saturday.
There was a mix of attendees present, from hackers to kids to parents who had XOs with their kids but no background in technology. I love hanging out with all three - including nontechnical adults. While they usually have more inhibitions than the kids about playing around with things without direction, they have marvelously different, open-minded perspectives on what computers are and how they're used combined with a surprisingly wonderful willingness to try things and great domain knowledge in Some Other Subject, be that accounting or biology or whatnot.
The challenge is in encountering people who want their XO to do all the things their Windows computer did; the less someone is willing to experiment and make a paradigm shift, the more difficult it is to adjust to the XO, which is a paradigm switch by virtue of its design. They have to get things done - they can't "afford" to take the time out to learn; they don't have time to deal with the productivity drop. It's a tough place to be in, and I wish our cultures allowed adults to take more time to play.
Mike raffled off several items during the meetup, among them some "unofficial" XO chargers. This is a bigger deal than it may first appear. The XO can take a wonderfully wide range of power inputs - 11-25V optimal - which means anything can be plugged into it, more or less... if you have the right plugs. The trouble is that he power plugs going into the XO are almost, but not-quite, standard. Mike apparently spent ridiculous amounts of time and money trying every rumored solution - every single Radio Shack plug, chargers from obscure stores online, etc - until he found a random overseas manufacturer whose plugs were a perfect fit.
Saturday afternoon was spent walking around DuPont circle talking with Sa'am Oliver, Olin '06, just relaxing, talking about life and things, enjoying the blessedly wonderful weather, ducking into bookstores, and eating salmon tea rice soup (it's delicious, and I can't remember the real name. Ochazuke, perhaps?)
Later that night I had my first mojito at Wayan's house with Mike, Christoph (OLPC Austria), and Aaron (OLPC Austria) and we had a good, long discussion about the state of OLPC grassroots that needs to be written up and posted - essentially, a job description for a community liason, something that would be wonderful to have.
Several states away and about a month ago on the Repairs front: Cortland Setlow and some friends in NYC held an repair bash and unbricked a suitcaseful of XOs. Here are pictures which I've been meaning to link for ages.
Also at 1cc the past few days: New interns (Ankur, Charlie, Francesca) arrived. We resolved to (1) make sushi and (2) get ice cream at Toscanini's at some point during next week. After walking to Radio Shack with Ankur so he could get a power adapter for his laptop, Francesca, Nikki, Chris, Tank, and I talked with Diane across the street at Cosi's about pilots - what makes them difficult to start, and specifically what challenges a Boston pilot would have to tackle. (We'll see what comes of that conversation.) Rabi from OLE Nepal came by and was a wonderful wealth of information about starting small grassroots groups and pilots independently - I have yet to process my notes from that; it may takes my brain another day to settle.
Wad and Richard released the first round of a diagnosis guide for broken XOs and Nikki, Chris, and Tank continued their work on disassembly tutorials, and I made a draft portal for pulling the two together (warning: it's an eyesore). Francesca announced the start of open Saturday sessions at 1cc - you should go if you're in the area! This is all I can think of at the moment; more as my brain pops things up.