This Saturday, Luke leaves us for good to embark on a new adventure as
a firmware hacker. He has been with us since early September 2007. He
stayed at my house, drank all my beer, stole my girlfriend(s), and
made an invaluable contribution to the cause of OLPC in Nepal and
When Luke arrived, we were struggling to define a technical
direction. The defining question was, How can we create a lot of great
learning activities quickly? This was important because we had to show
that laptops weren’t just a great tool for adults but an essential
part of education. We looked at creating activities in Python, but it
proved to be very time-consuming to create graphical activities in
Python. Further, we found it difficult to modify them on the fly using
Python. Luke chose EToys as our primary development tool because it
both offers an excellent interface for rapid development of
graphical activities and it had all the power of Smalltalk underneath.
We were a bit wary of choosing a less well-known language for
development. Luke was not wary at all. He has made a career out of
working with lesser known but powerful tools. He was an active contributor to the Erlang community and one of the lead developers of the SLIME development environment for Common
Luke trained our first two developers, Ram and Surendra, how to
develop with EToys and Squeak. But Luke was a novice developer in
Squeak himself and the team quickly reached the point where we needed
tutelage from a Squeak expert and moreover how to use the XO’s special
features in our activities. In December, Luke brought Dr. Bert
Freudenberg, OLPC’s EToys expert, to Nepal to ramp up our development
process. It worked. Our development sped up and the team learned how
to create more interesting learning activities.
In January, I was at OLPC offices for the January Learning
Conference. I was immensely proud of our team when Walter Bender of OLPC told me
that “You are definitely on the right track with EToys. These [activities] are great.” I was also proud when the delegation from Birmingham city schools
told me that they loved our activities and would like to use English
language versions of them in Birmingham’s pilot.
In large part due to Luke’s efforts, our development team is very tied
into the EToys and Squeak communities. Ram and Surendra are in freqent
contact with core developers such as Yoshiki Ohshima and Scott
Wallace. We have a new volunteer, Ties Stuij, that knew Luke from the
Common Lisp community.
We will remember Luke for many things, not just that he is an uber-hacker. Here are a few of his exploits:
- Completing the Kathmandu Half-Marathon on a Unicycle
- Trekking to Rara Lake
- Wearing Rainbow stockings while running in the streets of Kathmandu
- Teaching the office how to juggle
- Being best friend to Hara, Bukhu, Bujho, Kali, Bangi, and Max (all dogs).
and too much more for this blog
We will all miss him but perhaps no one will miss him more than the OLE Nepal puppy Bujho
Bujho Says Goodbye to Luke
Almost 6 months after his arrival, Luke is ready to take on
a fresh technical challenge. His work with OLPC introduced him to the
Forth programming language and now he is embarking on a new career as
a firmware hacker. He leaves this Saturday for Sweden. He will very
much be missed. Luke, you are welcome back any time. Take care brother.