I was reading a copy of Linux Journal sent recently to me in a care package (good luck finding one in Mombasa), and one of the last articles (online link here) was about a prototype device called the Mesh Potato. I liked the concept of the Mesh Potato so much, that I thought I would share it with all of you, along with some thoughts and impressions, because I am a blogger and that is what we do.
Monthly Archives: January 2010
Sorry but no big post today. Our power is fluctuating so much right now that even my ups devices, which protect the computers from extremes, cannot handle the load so I have closed the lab for the day. Even my laptop is out of commission, having run down its battery and not being able to trust plugging it into an outlet. I guess these are just some examples of the trials we face with ict and less developed infrastructure.
The past two days and today have been quite the fun experience regarding wildlife living on my compound. I am not sure if I have mentioned it before, but the sheer number of amazing butterflies flitting around NYS is astounding. On Sunday I saw a species of butterfly I had not noticed before and it was of an exact color pattern I would like: black and orange. These were not monarchs however, as the wings were entirely black with and orange, “eye,” on each, and they were much smaller. The wings swept back, and were more triangular than quadrilinear. I saw two of them, both eating mangoes that had been discarded by monkeys (or students, who are fond of throwing large and sharp metal objects into mango trees hoping to hit a mango and knock it down). I cannot identify the species though, and the Internet is not being of help.
Then just yesterday I saw perhaps one of the most hilarious monkey antics yet. An adolescent had found a good mango on the ground, but upon my approach all the other monkeys executed their usual, “mzungu maneuver,” which is to run towards the nearest clime-able object and prepare to shoot up it should I become too curious. This one adolescent however, completely reluctant to relinquish his mango prize, decided to carry it with him. The mango was rather large though and he was unable to hold it with just one arm and then three-legged run. Instead, he held it with his two forearms and decided to hop his way over to one of the abandoned buildings monkeys use to hide in, on his hinds. I see this one and a half foot tall gray monkey hopping through the grass grasping a mango as if it were a life and death situation. The determination on his face was easily distinguishable. Imagine a sack-race hop. It was like that.
Finally, just this morning on my four minute walk to work, I hear a buzzing in the grass and actually see moving detritus. Of course I go over to explore the mysterious noise in the brush and what do I find, but a rather old and tattered, large, khaki moth struggling. Its wings were disintegrating, and as such it could not produce the necessary thrust to lift off. Obviously, this was food just jumping around waiting to be eaten and sure enough as I get up and walk away from my inspection a bird swoops down, picks up his breakfast and flies away. I hope he didn’t mind the mzungu interruption.
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Here is #1 in the Ugali & Milk series. The concepts are by myself and Jeff, artwork is by Jeff, and digitization is by me. I cannot promise a weekly occurrence yet, because Peace Corps life is unpredictable as we all know and right now the process of getting them from head to web is a bit difficult. For now, all copyright is retained by myself and Jeff (sorry Creative Commons guys), but feel free to syndicate, just drop me a line with the link, and give credit where credit is due. Hope you enjoy! Click the picture for the full-size version, which doesn’t really fit well in my current blog theme.
EDIT (26 Jan ’10): I want to apologize, a typo made it into yesterday’s comic. I have removed the erroneous comic and replaced it with what I hope is a typo free version. Cheers!
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It is without a doubt that I am teaching my students ICT in a way that no syllabus in Kenya would have them learn. This is mostly because for the amount of time I see my students (2 hours per class per week), if I taught based on any syllabus I have seen they would learn specific aspects of computing that would never help them. What good is knowing how to make something bold if you can’t even turn the computer on in the first place? My whole goal is to make my students comfortable with computers overall, so that they might someday purchase their own. It helps that they are not examined at the end of the semester and they know full well they aren’t even getting a certificate for work they do in my class (it’s just how the situation is run here) because it means I have a little more freedom in how I teach and they have no expectations. It’s taken a while, but I think my students are starting to trust me that I am really trying to teach them, even if what I am teaching doesn’t match up with pieces of paper they are slipped from friends on the outside who are taking the notorious, “Kenyan Computer Packages,” courses widely available to anyone with 3,000 shillings and a week of time.
I am heading into Mombasa for my weekly (or biweekly in this case) chores trip. Going into the city, I have a few things I need to get done. First off, a haircut. My mane (as it can only be described at this point) is far too hot and needs a complete Mombasa-summer-worthy shave. Second off, I need to pick up a parcel at Posta before it starts accruing late fees. Third, I am hoping to get up to Camara for a couple hours to talk to Wilson about my possibly teaching programming. I also have a lunch date with Paul and his girlfriend ErinRose who is visiting from the States. And finally, need to run to the market for some necessities. I might also pick up another Kikoi or two on Biashara Street depending on the budget. In the meantime, I am providing some links to blogs and whatnot to better inform readers as to the things I think about on a day to day basis. Most of them are pretty tech-oriented, so if you aren’t into tech stuff, don’t bother clicking. If you are curious though, and you do wonder what tech-oriented news looks like, click away and open your minds.
Ok, I am going to preference this article with a couple facts. Fact one: I am not an economist. Fact two: I am not a professional publisher. Fact three: I am not an Old Media generator. Fact four: I am not a marketing guy. Fact five: I am not a legal expert. With this out of the way, I just wanted to write an article on some notions I have been having about this whole New Media vs. Old Media battle we have been waging, with a particular look at content distribution, pricing models and some inconsistencies in arguments I have been hearing regarding both. I don’t think anything I will write here is particularly new to the scene (though it may be new to my readers), but hey, I am a blogger, and we blog even after the metaphorical horse has been long dead (and yes, this is a big stick in my hand).
It is the dream of every open source enthusiast to have a problem of theirs nearly perfectly solved by a pre-existing piece of FOSS software, especially one that sits above the version 1.0 marker and has a degree of polish one would expect from a paid-for, closed source project. As a Peace Corps volunteer teaching basic intro to computers, one of the most important topics to teach is typing skills. There exist many typing programs, but the FOSS world only has a few worth mentioning, and after trying a couple, the one I found to be most complete and conducive to my teaching style is KTouch (easily available in most major Linux Distro repos).
Despite the work that is on my schedule, I make an explicit point of not doing work (unless I find it fun), once I leave the office. I feel like sitting in a computer lab from 7:30am to 6:00pm entitles me to some personal time without feeling too guilty about it. And as you can guess, I have continued with my habit of devouring books when I can get my hands on them (courtesy care packages, the wonderful secondhand supermarket in Mombasa and the extensive volunteer lending system). My most recent dish was Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and for those who don’t care to read a bit more, my overall impression is that it’s a good book, a good read, but you don’t need to buy it if you don’t want to.
This entry is the third in a series covering GNU/Linux, an Operating System consisting of the Linux Kernel and applications from the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community, with an emphasis on its connections to the developing world. These articles assume at least a moderate understanding of the Linux and FOSS communities. For more information regarding these, I would direct interested parties to Linux.org as well as the Free Software Foundation and finally, for the truly interested, the GNU Manifesto. With all of this knowledge now in hand, I hope you enjoy the series. If you have not already done so, I suggest you go ahead and read the first and second posts in the series: Linux: Not Ready for the Big Time and Linux: It’s Everywhere and Nowhere.