James Simmons has been an avid reader since his childhood, in spite of being placed in the lowest reading group in every grade because of his August birth date. (The teachers generally moved him to the middle group a month later). In the second grade he achieved recognition for being the only student in his class who knew what "porridge" was. His favorite reading was science fiction and books on science. In the sixth grade he discovered the books of Alfred Powell Morgan and began a love affair with radio and electronics that would continue well into the seventh grade. In the eighth grade he discovered the works of Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke. By the time he was assigned to read The Martian Chronicles in high school he had already read it three times and felt that he understood that book better than his teacher ever would. In retrospect he would have done well to keep this opinion to himself.
A friend he made in college encouraged him to try his hand at writing science fiction stories. He had no talent for fiction writing, but he did manage to write a fan letter to Galaxy magazine demanding more stories by Howard L. Myers. James did not know it at the time, but the story he had admired so much had been published two years after the author's death.
While James did not fare well writing fiction, he would eventually do better writing computer programs. He wrote three e-book related Activities for the One Laptop Per Child project: Read Etexts, View Slides, and Get Internet Archive Books. He used what he learned doing this to write Make Your Own Sugar Activities!, a manual on creating Activities for the Sugar platform that is considered the definitive book on the subject, pretty much by default.
James' mother really did tell him that "The readers are the leaders." This was a slogan used by a woman trying to sell his mother a set of encyclopedias. His mother did not buy the encyclopedias.
Oceana Rain Fields is a visual artist and creative spirit with a flair for the unexpected and the desire to support worthy causes with her art. She graduated in 2010 from Pacific High School, earning several notable scholarships. In 2010, her painting “Malaria” won first in show in the Vision 2010 high school art competition at the Coos Art Museum in Coos Bay, Oregon. Oceana plans to continue her art education at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Fall 2010. As a Rural Design Collective mentee she did the art featured in this book, including the pictures at the top of each chapter and front and back cover illustrations for a limited edition printing done by the Collective for their backers.
Rebecca Hargrave Malamud, founder of the Rural Design Collective, is an award-winning designer, creative director, open source advocate and artist. She has a proven track record in advancing large-scale Internet projects, and has contributed her talents to several meaningful open source initiatives that have an ongoing impact on the future of technology and society: http://sixes.net/rdcHQ/about/rebecca-hargrave-malamud/
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