jon's blog

What happens when a Blogger dies?

Sad news has come. A good friend, and one of the great IT minds in Malawi, Mangaliso Jere has passed away. As my friend Mike McKay wrote, Mangaliso "was probably the most prolific Malawian blogger in the world, and he is being mourned and missed by many." We are all greatly saddened that he is no longer with us.

In his blog, Mangaliso left behind an impressive, amazing, and unique collection of thoughts on IT development in Malawi. I have referenced his writing many times in my work. When I heard he had passed away, I wondered, what happens when a blogger dies? Is their blog deleted after a certain time by the hosting company? What can we do to make sure that great electronic works like Mangaliso's are preserved alive on the internet even though the author is no longer able to maintain them?

Opportunity Bank of Malawi Website

Marissa and I have completed the website for Opportunity Bank of Malawi

Take a look...

We also made a website for Mayoka Village

Case Study: Overcoming the Digital Divide in Malawi

Our last week in Malawi, and there is one final success story to report! It seems the internet connectivity will be coming this year to the development offices of the CCAP church (Church of Central Africa Presbyterian) in Ekwendeni (just 15km north of Mzuzu). I am very excited. Some of the most effective aide offices in all of Malawi are based in Ekwendeni and run by the CCAP church there. Decent internet connectivity is only going to increase the productivity of people who are already doing some of the most effective development work in Malawi: fighting the spread of AIDS, opening clean water sources, treating sickness, and creating education and job opportunities for Malawians.

Presentation: The Status and Future of Mzuzu University Internet Connectivity

Over the past several months the ICT department of the Library has conducted an extensive analysis of Internet connectivity at Mzuzu University. Nkhaniyawo Nyirenda, of Mzuzu University, and Jon Saints, of The University of Arizona, will present the results of the analysis in order to educate and inform users of the Internet and influence future Internet policy decisions.

All members of staff and students and the general public are invited to attend.

Following the presentation there will a discussion session for members of staff
involved in ICT policy making.Presentation Discussion

Location: Mzuzu University Children’s Library
Date: November 24th 2006
Time: 1300 hours

Digital Development

If there really is development work to be done everywhere, then how best to go about it?

In my time here, I have come to believe more than ever in engineering, pure and empathetic put-me-in-your-shoes engineering, as one of the most effective strategies for realizing development. (Remember, I am thinking of development as increase in the amount of time that a person or group can foreseeably sustain their lives into the future.)

In the library the other day I came across an interview with the CEO of General Electric, Jeffery Immlet, who I find has been saying and doing very interesting things recently. In the interview Immelt says something to the effect of:


Network Monitoring with Ubuntu

I am starting to publish the final results of my Fulbright research. Here is an article I published on the Ubuntu Linux Community wiki about creating a network monitoring server to analyze traffic on your network.

It has proven to be an essential tool for my resaerch and for improving the campus network at Mzuzu University. If you want detailed analysis of who is doing what on your computer network, this Network Monitoring Bridge is for you.

Africa's Golden Pond

"Africa's Golden Pond"... That's what the Guardian calls lake Malawi in their latest travel feature.

The article highlights just how special the geography of Malawi really is. The author somehow managed to find accomodation for $100-$200 USD per night, but believe me, you can find paradise on the shores of lake malawi for about $15 USD per night.

Visitors who want to come see what we mean are all "most welcome here".

Gmail over Low Bandwidth Connections

I have noticed that the Gmail folks have made improvements to their web interface for people connecting over low bandwidth or unreliable internet connections. They now display a message that says something like: "your connection is too slow, click HERE to view your mail using standard HTML view." This is great, but sometimes still, its not enough.

Here are two tricks we use to access Gmail from Malawi:

Will the world notice?

Looks like Zimbabwe might be ready to pop. I read that "On Monday, dozens of protesting women were arrested in the capital by police." and I was reminded of Las Madres de La Plaza de Mayo who helped bring down the dictatorship in Argentina.

The article doesn't offer much information on these women. Who were they? Are they modern day Madres?

Will the world be watching and take notice? I hope so.


Pondering Poverty

When we were in Tanzania visiting Marissa's sister, Sami, and I stumbled across a very interesting discussion of poverty in a copy of the magazine NewAfrican January 2006 no. 447 in the article “Is Poverty African?” pg. 14:

In the article, Dr. Vandan Shiva says, “Poverty is a final state, not an initial state in the economic paradigm which destroys ecological and social systems for maintaining life, health, and sustenance of the planet and people.”

This may sound straightforward to some, but poverty is a word that I find most people use too carelessly. There are many who talk about it and even fight against it, but very few, I find, who can define it. It seems to me that dealing with social problems is just like dealing with anything else. You cannot fight against something effectively until you have defined it fully in your mind. Know your opponent.