Tuesday, April 28, 2009

OLPC Nepal Project overview

Randal Schwartz interviews Bryan Berry, of Open Learning Exchange Nepal, the NGO implementing the OLPC project in Nepal

I've transcribed a substantial portion of this interview below, rough notes only, without comment at this stage. Numbering is just for id purposes if people want to discuss particular points.

Skip to 12:45 minutes to avoid the chatter and google summer of code adverts at the start

1) Bryan Berry, CTO Open Learning Exchange, Nepal

2) Describes geography, weather, population

3) 6 million kids in Nepal need education – how can we do it? Education makes all the difference

4) Literacy about 45%, young people 80%

5) There are hardly any libraries, even in Kathmandu (the largest city in Nepal) – most peoples parents are illiterate or barely educated, there aren't any books at home

6) teaching method is that teacher speaks and the kids repeat – one teacher for 50 kids – teachers are doing their best but they have almost no resources

7) problem with rote learning
example of a kid knowing that 2+1 = 3 but not knowing what 1+2 equals ...

8) OLPC project provides opportunity of putting a lot more resources into the hands of kids and teachers

9) xo described, I skipped this bit

10) Open Source software critical to high quality education – education has to be very customised, to the kids, the teacher, the environment and the country – not something you can design in New York city and will fit another country

11) In the OS community we know that through the iterative process of other people looking at your code / work they can make it better – and that's true for education as well

Q) What kind of customization had to happen to the software for your particular project?

12) Problem of rendering Nepali properly – very little support across different applications

13) Had to conform to the Nepali national student curriculum – absolutely critical

14) 99% of teachers care about their kids, want them to learn and don't want their kids to fail their exams at the end of the year – if their kids fail they are set back a year – they have to make sure their kids don't fail that exam – it is a standards based curriculum

15) So we created a whole set of learning activities which conform to the national curriculum

16) transitions in what program to use to develop curriculum content and the reasons why (etoys --> flash --> HTML5 + javascript)

17) etoys
started off doing the curriculum in etoys / squeak – first 6 months
  • performance
  • very small community doing what we were doing
  • squeak programmers are smart people who tend to move onto something else, eg. PhD
18) flash
flash is a great technology but run time is proprietary, unfortunately (considered using gnash but that created some stability and performance issues) – we release our code under the mit license

19) HTML5 + javascript
Way to go because there are a lot of community people who use those tools, there is a lot of momentum in that area - proprietary code is really baked into education but if you use javascript and HTML you almost can't keep your stuff proprietary – it creates a virtuous feedback cycle as in the AJAX community where releasing your source is good for the whole community

20) Open Learning Exchange (OLE) Nepal
Nepali led organisation, led by Rabi Karmacharya; 30 people - full time some part time; non profit; team of developers; teachers working together with developers; teachers are creative, know how to engage the children

21) Once we showed the teachers learning activities then they welcomed it with open arms; Nepali government is very supportive

Q) How has this changed the classroom from the teacher speaks, student repeats?

22) The xo frees up the teacher to interact more individually with kids

23) Sugar UI has collaboration baked in

24) History of xo in Nepal
Started with 150 laptops to two poor schools in April 2008 just outside Kathmandu to 7th Graders and 2nd Graders (?). Worries about misuse did not eventuate, the kids treated their laptops like gold (they don't have possession of their own)

25) 1:1 ratio critical; take home (core principles)

26) Cultural difference with USA, Nepal kids want to become engineers and doctors, not pop stars and baseball players; they don't say maths sucks or maths is boring; they are excited about learning

27) Internet connection issues discussed (skipped this)

28) Email can only be done with web mail such as gmail. More needs to be done on the server side, hard to complete everything in such a complex project

29) We can always find someone to fix the hardware but training someone to master the linux command line is harder

30) The server has to be as simple as possible

31) If there is a problem with the xo there is a firmware tool called testall which can test all the hardware

Q) Do you have objective numbers on performance?

32) If we teach to the test then test results will improve. Walter Bender has said that the hard part about education is that you have to wait 20 years. However, assessment is important in terms of justifying the expense of what we are doing.

33) Expanding this year to 2500 laptops (cf. 150 laptops last year) to geographically dispersed settlements representing the breadth of life in Nepal

34) The huge challenge is to grow the support organisation to support the deployment

35) Running a grassroots volunteer organisation is very hard. You have to find the people who are really serious as distinct from those who are curious but temporary supporters – people who want to chat and visit but who are not prepared to do the hard grunt work

36) It is not like online FOSS which has an automatic barrier to entry which filters out those who are not really interested

37) Parents want books – digital books! They equate education with books

38) There is enthusiasm for FLOSS in Nepal – Nepal won best software freedom day 2 years in a row from FSF. But there is not much open source software being developed.

39) Those who could be developers have little free time. Kids here have to study hard and have extensive family commitments (far more so than we have in the west)

40) Main funding for the project came from the Danish Embassy

41) OLPCs were donated by Swift organisation, a Banking co-operative (European Banks)

42) Raising money for the laptops, although the largest cost, is the easiest part of the funding

43) The hardest part is building the support organisation and developing curriculum content

44) Kids keep the laptops at the end of the year

45) Wade Brainerd has developed a great typing tutor, called typing turtle

46) etoys is a fantastic environment but requires a high degree of dexterity with the touch pad, the drag and drop features – the teachers really struggled with that

47) A key thing we need to do is to tie lesson plans into working with programs like etoys and turtle art – teachers are busy if it's not part of the curriculum then its likely to not happen

48) Education is the central thing for poor countries to move out of poverty – but it takes a long time to build up

Q) What was the biggest hurdle or hurdles?

49) You have to create a firewall between the local company (OLENepal) and the FOSS community. Early on some people saw it as their personal project and that was very detrimental – once money becomes involved – it was ugly – this is why we formed OLENepal as a separate organisation

50) Create local content first – before the flyers, before government meeting – develop local content in their own language

51) Linux supports Nepali, Microsoft doesn't

52) If Bryan had more money he would focus on building digital content (K-12) before laptops – once there was this content then everyone would buy laptops

Sunday, April 26, 2009

rudd's broadband: could be good

Internode's Simon Hackett identifies the real broadband priorities in this order:
  1. coverage
  2. price
  3. competition
  4. innovation
  5. speed
ie. speed as the last of five not the first

He recommends building the new fibre to the home network "outside in" fixing the blackspots first and installing where ADSL2+ is already present later

He also recommends retaining the existing copper in parallel to the new system so people have the option to retain the slower ADSL2+ if they want

There is a pdf and video on this page explaining his plan in more detail

At the start there are maps of Sydney and Adelaide showing many blackspots with unacceptably slow speeds

The fibre will be completely independent of Telstra's copper network. It's fair because every carrier will have equal access to the new network.

Of course it’s possible the government will find a way to get it wrong but if they stick with the Hackett plan then I’m in favour

Friday, April 24, 2009

the TARP song

What exactly is a "troubled asset"? One response is to laugh at this voodoo talk.

Peter Schiff takes on the voodoo doctors

I've been working on a primer about the economic crisis which I hope to publish here soon. In the meantime, I have found some good video clips on youtube.

This one (thanks to steve) shows Peter Schiff arguing two or three years ago that we were heading for a crisis. It's great the way he sticks to his guns while being rubbished and laughed at by 5 or 6 other "expert financial advisers" = voodoo doctors

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just a little corruption in Sweden

It turns out that the judge who passed the verdict in the Pirate Bay case is:
"... a signed up member of Svenska föreningen för upphovsrätt ('the Swedish Copyright Association'), where he is joined by Henrik Pontén, Peter Danowsky and Monique Wadsted, all of whom represented the entertainment industry in the case against file sharing site The Pirate Bay.

The judge also sits on the board of Svenska föreningen för industriellt rättsskydd (Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property), a group actively advocating for more stringent copyright laws."
The judgment was rather extreme:
The four defendants in the case, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström, were each sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay 30 million kronor ($3.56 million) in damages
One of the lawyers has called for a mistrial

Just a little corruption in Sweden, who would have imagined such a thing?

More at torrent freak

notes on cloud computing

What is cloud computing?
What are the differences between cloud computing, web2.0 and the internet?


: Cheap broadband
Software as a service (SaaS): remotely accessing software from someone elses data centre using a web browser
Virtualisation: initially apps were difficult to deploy but then came virtualisation, the packaging of applications with everything else they need to run. Virtual apps can run anywhere (ie. in the cloud)
Financial model is PAYG, more economical than alternatives

This video explains the basic concepts:

... data management and computational processing is moving away from personal computing frameworks into a collaborative workspace that is managed in the network
- Cloud computing, Science2.0 and the Social Web

It is an inevitable trend in computing, because of the need to reduce complexity and data-management/computation-management costs. It's clear that, in the near future, the backup storage and computation will continue to evolve into collaborative workspaces that you never have to administer
- Cloud computing, Science2.0 and the Social Web


from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PNuQHUiV3Q:

Dan Farber, Editor and Chief CNET News:
We currently have three platforms: the desktop, mobile devices and the cloud ... increasingly things will start to lean towards the cloud ... when there is enough bandwidth, reliability, security and so on then there will no longer be a notion of a cloud ...it will be just like serving up electricity, serving up data, applications and even writing those applications directly to the cloud
Tim O'Reilly, quoting from a Clay Shirky presentation:
Thomas Watson once famously said (allegedly) that there is no need for more than five computers in the world

We now know that he was wrong

He overstated the number by four!

Everything we think of as a computer today is just a device for connecting to this one big computer that we are all building


Google docs

Zoho: It includes tools for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, note-taking, wikis, CRM, project management, invoicing and other applications


Software as a Service
Software as a Service (SaaS, typically pronounced 'sass') is a model of software deployment whereby a provider licenses an application to customers for use as a service on demand

Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as an operating system, a server, a storage device or network resources

Utility Computing
Utility computing is the packaging of computing resources, such as computation and storage, as a metered service similar to a traditional public utility (such as electricity, water, natural gas, or telephone network). This system has the advantage of a low or no initial cost to acquire hardware; instead, computational resources are essentially rented. Customers with very large computations or a sudden peak in demand can also avoid the delays that would result from physically acquiring and assembling a large number of computers
(traced back to a john mccarthy, 1961 quotation)

Grid computing
The application of several computers to a single problem at the same time – usually to a scientific or technical problem that requires a great number of computer processing cycles or access to large amounts of data.

Monday, April 20, 2009

amazing bike video

This is why reddit is my home page. Breathtaking:

Swedes Demonstrate in Support of Pirate Bay

Following the prosecution of the Pirate Bay torrent site it will be interesting to see how the Pirate Party goes in the next European parliamentary elections (June 7th)

Swedes Demonstrate in Support of Pirate Bay
The Pirate Party organized demonstrations against the convictions at several cities across Sweden on Saturday. More than 1,000 people turned out in Stockholm to show support for The Pirate Bay defendents and the practice of file sharing ...

Since the Stockholm district court passed judgment on April 17th the Pirate Party confirmed on Saturday afternoon that its membership has swelled to 21,000.

The party's youth league is now, with its 10,000 members, larger than all of the parliamentary party youth organizations.

Friday, April 17, 2009

But the tigers come at night ... And they turn your dream to shame

Candidate #4321 Susan Boyle, nearly 48yo, currently unemployed but still looking


The YouTube embedding has been disabled by request but make sure you check this one out if you haven't seen it yet.

I Dreamed a Dream
From Les Miserables
[Fantine is left alone, unemployed and destitute]

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.
- lyrics source

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the singularity man

Here are some video interviews for a fascinating introduction to Ray Kurzweil's ideas about where the exponential growth of technology will lead. There are four shortish videos, just follow the sidebar after viewing the first one.

One aspect of the video medium I like is that you pick up clues to the author's personality far more so than through the writing medium. His flippant comment about the current recession / depression reveals some intellectual detachment from important current issues. Nevertheless, without question he is very smart guy and the testimony from Stevie Wonder indicates a person of compassion, also.

Predicting the future is a very hard thing to do. The exponential growth of technology and nanotechnology is fascinating. Where will it lead us?

Rodney Brooks has some critical thoughts about Kurzweil's ideas in an Edge discussion about Biocomputation:
"A long time ago the brain was a hydrodynamic system. Then the brain became a steam engine. When I was a kid, the brain was a telephone switching network. Then it became a digital computer. And then the brain became a massively parallel digital computer. About two or three years ago I was giving a talk and someone got up in the audience and asked a question I'd been waiting for — he said, "but isn't the brain just like the World Wide Web?"

The brain is always — has always been — modeled after our most complex technology. We weren't right when we thought it was a steam engine. I suspect we're still not right in thinking of it in purely computational terms, because my gut feeling is there's going to be another way of talking about things which will subsume computation, but which will also subsume a lot of other physical stuff that happens"

Sunday, April 05, 2009

netbooks in schools: unstoppable force versus immovable object

1:1 netbooks in schools, summary of my analysis so far

unstoppable force:
a device which can be used educationally which has become -
  • cheaper
  • lighter
  • take home 24/7
  • personal ownership
  • robust
  • world wide communication and collaboration
  • cloud computing
  • free software and hardware (the latter linked to communication plans)
  • pressure on schools to be up to date, cutting edge (update 11th April)
immovable object:
  • teachers as gatekeepers of standards
  • historically packaged curriculum which eschews diversions
  • resistance to unguided youthful exuberance
  • technology is everything invented since you were born
  • the disturbing aspect of young people being generally quicker learners of new technology than older people
  • teachers overworked, don't have time
  • incredibly diverse nature of teachers work
  • available teacher time is small chunks not large chunks required for paradigm shift

Larry Cuban's critique of computers in school: a discussion we have to have

Computers only work well in schools when there is a high degree of access and teachers who are enthusiasts

At the moment in most schools computers are stuck in labs and students on the average obtain 35 minutes per week access, or something like that (figure from excellent Steve Hargadon interview of Larry Cuban, reference at bottom)

By my reading Larry Cuban is not a Luddite, far from it - he acknowledges that 10% of teachers do wonderful things with computers in schools - but a realist who is aware of and sympathetic to the enormous pressures on teachers. His description of pressure on high school teachers is spot on:
Although information technologies have transformed most corporate workplaces, our teacher's schedule and working conditions have changed very little. She teaches five classes a day, each 50 minutes long. Her five classes contain at least three different preparations. She has two classes of Introductory Algebra, two of Geometry, and one Calculus class. In those five classes, she sees 140 students a day. She has one period a day set aside for planning lessons, seeing students, marking papers, making phone calls to parents or vendors, previewing videos, securing a VCR or other equipment, and using the school's copy machines for producing student materials. Our math teacher, like most of her colleagues elsewhere is a very busy person who could use rollerblades as she tries to meet all of her obligations...

In addition to these daily tasks, our math teacher is expected to know the subject inside and out; she is expected to maintain order in their classrooms; she is expected to be both friendly and demanding of each and every student; finally, with higher academic standards and the mandate to take tests that can spell the difference between graduating high school or staying in school longer, she is held accountable for her students doing well on high-stakes tests. So teaching high school, besides knowing one's subject-matter thoroughly, requires the grit of a long-distance runner, the stamina of a boxer going 15-rounds, the temperament of a juggler, and the street-smarts of a three-card monte dealer...
Putting 10,000 netbook computers into primary schools in Northern Victoria (see here) will change the readiness of access issue but how is it going to transform teachers who are not currently computer enthusiasts into effective teachers of computer rich classrooms? It will provide far more opportunity but it's not going to happen overnight and in some or many cases it won't happen at all.

I've always been against this approach. I argue for computer saturation at schools but if and only if there is a computer enthusiast teacher on the job. There we have it. I want computer saturation in my classes because I have done the hard work of figuring out how to make it work. But I don't think it should happen in classrooms where teachers, often for legitimate reasons, have not done that work.

This 2006 audio interview by Steve Hargadon interview of Larry Cuban critically discusses a range of important issues. Go to this page and search for "Cuban" and download the mp3 or ogg version (46 minutes)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

"And keep your eyes wide; The chance won't come again"

How can I reconcile the irony that the lyrics of Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin' seem just as relevant in 2009 as when they were first written in the 1960s?

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

Mary Lou Jepson: it is about the screen

Some extracts from Mary Lou Jepson's Pixel Qi [pronounciation : chee] Mission Statment:
In 2009 we are on the cusp of "cloud computing". 3G wireless services, WiFi and mesh networking are widely deployed. Ebook readers, digital photoframes, and richly-featured touch-screen phones abound. Mini-notebook computers – netbooks – are growing rapidly in adoption ...

Pixel Qi has a belief on the future of the computing - it's not about the CPU or the OS - It is about the screen ...

We see the future of the portable electronics as simply the display - with embedded electronics eventually right in the display glass itself. This is the future laptop, the future cell phone and the future PDA. Instead of focusing on higher speed (more MHz) and larger memory (more GBytes), we work toward new device designs by focusing on displays that we can read, as easily as paper - indoors and out - with battery life measured in days not hours ...

Displays for computers need to be optimized to crisply display text, they need to be optimized for a reader just 30 centimeters from the screen; they need to allow for widespread variations in ambient lighting; they need to support lowering the overall power consumption of the entire device

The display is the most expensive component in a modern laptop, and the most power hungry, and it's uncomfortable to read when compared with paper. We aim to fix this ... The battery is the second most expensive component in the laptop or portable. We propose to massively lower the power consumption of the screen and thus also slash the cost of the battery and dramatically boost how long your machine can run on it before you have re-charge it

We will do all of this while making LCD screens lower cost, higher resolution, easier to read and sunlight readable. We've already shown the first step of this at One Laptop per Child by creating a display that is 5X the resolution, 1/3 the cost, 1/10th the power consumption ...

brief listing of arguments that support radical educational change due to technological innovation

Which is the best way to argue for the necessity for radical educational change based on underlying technological innovation?
  1. The pencil analogy (Seymour Papert)
  2. Point of view is worth 80 IQ points (Alan Kay)
  3. Disruptive innovation and Creative Destruction (Clayton Christensen)
  4. Four funerals and a wedding (Damian Conway)
  5. How the printing press changed the world (historical analogy)
  6. The medium is the message (Marshall McLuhan)
  7. In all of history there are only 5 media for storing knowledge: DNA, Brains, Hardware, Books, Software (Philip Armour)
  8. The Singularity (Raymond Kurzweil)
  9. A new literacy (James Gee, Andy diSessa)
Change is happening anyway but we also need philosophers of change who can articulate some meaning in these changes. The arguments I like best are those to do with new and powerful ways in which knowledge can be represented. Here is a sample from alan kay, who combines a few of the above threads:
Another guess I made long ago—that does not yet have a body of evidence to support it—is that what is special about the computer is analogous to and an advance on what was special about writing and then printing. It's not about automating past forms that has the big impact, but as McLuhan pointed out, when you are able to change the nature of representation and argumentation, those who learn these new ways will wind up to be qualitatively different and better thinkers, and this will (usually) help advance our limited conceptions of civilization.
- http://www.edge.org/q2005/q05_8.html#kay
I forgot to mention "21st Century skills"

Friday, April 03, 2009

10,000 netbook trial in victorian primary schools

There is a big netbook rollout underway in primary schools in Northern Victoria. The support wiki is netbook trial:
  • 10,000 netbooks for 1:1 use in Year 5 and 6 classes (in Victoria Year 6 is the final year of Primary school)
  • software is a mixture of proprietary (Microsoft, Adobe) and FLOSS (see list below)
  • running Vista operating system (hard to figure since most netbooks are sold with XP)
  • cost of each netbook is $550 - computer $480, bag $30, software $40 - this includes insurance
  • costs are shared by the families, school and government; families end up paying a dollar a week, spread over 3 years
  • Anywhere Anytime Learning has been involved in the consultation process. Their 21 steps to 1:1 success presentation is available from this page of the wiki.
  • the netbooks are Acer Aspire One and Lenovo S9, detailed specifications here
Here is a list of the software on the machines:

Adobe Flash Player

Create and view animated content

Adobe Reader 8
Provides options for basic PDF viewing and comment-making

Adobe Shockwave Player
Displays web content that has been created by Adobe

Apple Quicktime
A multimedia framework capable of handling various formats of digital video, media clips, sound, text, animation, music and interactive panoramic images

Open source software for recording and editing sounds

Open source, cross-platform suite of tools for 3D creation

CD Burner XP
Application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs

Cute PDF Writer
Create PDF files from any printable document, save PDF forms using Acrobat Reader, make PDF booklets, impose, rearrange pages and more

A simple, easy-to-use video recorder program that lets you capture files directly

DEECD Fonts Victorian Cursive
Downloadable electronic font of Victorian Modern Cursive script to make handwriting exercises, posters, crosswords, flashcards and other classroom resources on your netbook

DVD Flick
A simple DVD authoring tool

Free Mind
A Mind Mapping application

Make exciting computer games, without the need to write a single line of code

Stands for the GNU Image Manipulation Program and is a raster graphics editor used to process digital graphics and photographs

Google Picasa 3
Helps you organise, edit and share your photos

Google Sketchup
Create, modify and share 3D models

Irfan View
An image viewer and convertor that opens and edit images, as well as multiple media formats

An open source video editing and effects application

Java runtime environment
Run Java applications

Kahootz V2
Create, explore and invent in 3D (V3 upgrade available soon)

Microsoft Internet Explorer
Web browser

Microsoft Office 2007
Word, Excel and PowerPoint

Microsoft Office Media Content
Includes the Microsoft Clip Organiser and a library of clip art and other media files that users can insert into Office documents

Microsoft PhotoDraw 2.0
Graphic software

Microsoft PhotoStory 3
Create multimedia video presentations using still images

Microsoft Producer for PowerPoint
Provides users with many powerful new features that make it easier to synchronise audio, video, slides and images to create engaging and effective rich-media presentations

Microsoft Silverlight
Delivers high-quality, interactive video across the web and mobile devices.

Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium
Encyclopaedia software

Microsoft Windows Media Player
Store and play music, video and pictures

Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise
Operating system

Create stop-motion movies

MSW Logo
Logo is a computer programming language used for functional programming

Create web pages with a program that does not require previous web editing knowledge

Image and photo editing software for computers that run Windows

Create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music and art

Symantec Client Security (anti-virus)
Anti-virus software

Educational maths tutor for children starring Tux, the Linux Penguin

Educational typing tutor game starring Tux, the Linux Penguin

VLC Player
VideoLAN Client is a portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats