tl;dr My favorite talk from the inaugural DroidCon in the United States was “Improving Facebook and Instagram in Emerging Markets.” A storify of my notes & tweets follow.
I spent very rewarding 2 weeks in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico with Kids on Computers to install and maintain computer labs.
We moved the computers that were bought in country to Huajuapan de León, our home base for the labs.
On Saturday morning, Alex, Hunter and I packed up to move back to Oaxaca. On the way to the bus station, Hunter made a last minute audible and hung out with his video game friends instead. Alexa and I took the bus and shared music on the way.
Alex’s aunt and uncle live in the city, so we went straight to their house from the bus station. We had Chinese buffet for lunch with his aunt and brother – it was an interesting mix of Mexican spices and Chinese food (similar to Chifas in Péru).
On Friday morning, Alex and I taught the teachers at 18 de Marzo how to use the latest version of the OS that we installed. We showed them how to access Khan Academy and offline Wikipedia and walked them through several applications, such as LibreOffice, educational games, and Scratch.
The original plan was for me to lead the class, but as Spanish is not my native language, Alex took the lead. I directed the material that we covered as well as lead the class from the computer by opening and demonstrating how to use different applications. We both played the role of TA by floating around the classroom to help the teachers when they got stuck.
We had the option on Thursday morning of taking a break, so I decided to recharge my batteries a bit and purchase the thing I’d wanted since I arrived – ¡Spanish board games!
Alex and Hunter were originally planning to join the rest of the team for the school visit that morning, but they started breakfast a bit too late. The rest of the team left to check out the new school location to see if they had the prerequisites we look for: a room with tables, a lock on the door, and an engaged community.
After breakfast, Alex, Hunter, and I went on a walk and visited the Huajaupan version of Walmart. I bought a box of 12 traditional games and a two decks of Spanish cards. The deck is interesting because it lacks 8’s and 9’s, Aces are 1’s, the suits are a bit different, and there is no Queen.
What can Van Gogh teach us about startups and technology? Here’s what I learned by visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
You don’t have to be a master from the start, it’s always a process of growth. He started his artistic career late-ish at 27. He needed a perspective frame to flatten images on to the canvas, he used tracing and projection tools as well.
On Wednesday morning, the director of 18 de Marzo picked us all up from the hotel in his truck so that we could transport some of the older computers over to the town library in Saucitlán de Morelos.
After loading up the computers, Avni, Javier, Gabriel, and Stormy left to install the Mac Mini server and networking equipment at Manuel Gonzalez Gatica. Hunter, Fernando and I stayed for a bit to finish up the networking.
Stormy, Avni, Hermes, Fernando, and I went back to 18 de Marzo to set up the networking, install more new computers (for a grand total of 9), and try upgrading the older computers with different methods. We also brought a Mac laptop and networking equipment to create a local network that would have access to Rachel, Khan Academy, and Wikipedia content.
Originally we were using CDs to install the OS and a USB flash drive with games and educational material. Several of the CD drives wouldn’t work or we couldn’t switch up the boot order. Avni made bootable USBs and that worked on several of the computers. We also had an external CD/DVD drive. Most of the computers were upgraded, but we had to stick with the older version for 2-3 of the computers.
Finally, we pulled aside a few of the computers to move to Manuel Gonzalez Gatica the following day.
Stormy/Caleb, Hunter, and I set out for San Marcos Arteaga on Monday morning. We tried to find the combi station from Thomas’ oral directions but eventually ended up jumping in a cab (which was roughly the same price). It was another lovely ride through the mountains for about an hour.
On Friday we had an early breakfast at the hotel restaurant and took a truck/cab to the small nearby village, Saucitlán de Morelos, to check out their lab. It was a bumpy off-road excursion down a winding mountain road. I was sitting up front in the truck – I imagine it was bumpier in the back for Thomas, Javier, and Gabriel!