jon's blog en What happens when a Blogger dies? <p>Sad news has come. A good friend, and one of the great IT minds in Malawi, Mangaliso Jere has passed away. As my friend <a href="">Mike McKay wrote</a>, 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.</p> <p>In <a href="">his blog</a>, 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? </p> <p>Reading <a href="">'s terms of service</a> didn't help much. Although, the terms mention nothing about rights to content or hosting after the death of the author, they <strong>do not</strong> explicitly say anything about the blog being deleted if the author fails to login or post content during any period of time. This was encouraging, but not convincing.</p> <p>I did some research and found these postings: (<a href=";q=died&amp;rnum=1<br /> ">#1</a>, <a href=";rnum=2&amp;lnk=sbp#f1301a18581430c<br /> ">#2</a>, <a href=";rnum=3&amp;lnk=sbp#95fc9ac819406fd">#3</a> ) in the user forums. They strongly suggest that will leave Mangaliso's blog, and the blog's of other authors who have passed away, untouched for as long as they possibly can.</p> <p>This is good news. I was impressed to learn that it seems is going to leave the content posted. There are no guarantees, however, and perhaps its up to us, Mangaliso's IT friends, to find a more sure way of preserving his work (mirroring or hard copies).</p> <p>Our regards to Mangaliso's family.</p> <br class="clear" /> Tue, 30 Jan 2007 01:56:51 -0500 jon 182 at Opportunity Bank of Malawi Website <p>Marissa and I have completed the website for Opportunity Bank of Malawi</p> <p>Take a look... <a href=""></a></p> <p>We also made a website for <a href="">Mayoka Village</a></p> <br class="clear" /> Tue, 19 Dec 2006 00:49:13 -0500 jon 181 at Case Study: Overcoming the Digital Divide in Malawi <p>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.</p> <p>The manner in which the offices and organizations of Ekwendeni were able to "bridge the Digtial Divide" and obtain internet connectivity is fascinating and, I think, useful for others in remote parts of the world who are interested in connecting. There are three steps to achieving connectivity off the main communications grid:</p> <p><strong>Resource Pooling</strong><br /> Often connectivity options are only accessible if a number of people and organizations pool their financial resources together. In the case of Ekwendeni in Malawi, the CCAP church offices there were each asked how much per month they could contribute to internet connectivity per month and front for installation costs at their office.</p> <p>Once the budget was finalized various ISPs in the capital city Lilongwe were approached with the budgets and asked to submit competitive proposals for providing as much bandwidth as possible given the budget constraints of the CCAP offices. Also companies were asked to provide plans for sharing the connection among the various offices once internet connectivity had been establish successfully to a single point on the CCAP campus.</p> <p>Within one month 4 companies had responded. One said that they could not offer anything for the budget that CCAP had provided. Three others returned with proposals for various different connectivity options.</p> <p>By pooling resources and approaching the ISPs directly, the offices of the CCAP retroactively created a market and brought it to the attention of ISPs that were too far away and too unaware of the connectivity needs 500km away. This approach was much more effective that their previous attempts where they had called up ISPs and simply said that they were "interested in getting an internet connection". For the ISPs in the capital city, everyone is "interested in getting a connection", the trick is identifying serious buyers who have enough resources to pay. The resource pooling strategy gave ISPs a immediate idea of the seriousness of the CCAP and brought to their attention that connecting the CCAP would be profitable endeavor.</p> <p><strong>Engineering as Development</strong><br /> From the standpoint of the ISPs, the proposal by CCAP came at a very fortunate time. Until very recently, the only option for connecting a site like Ekwendeni had been to license and install a dedicated VSAT satellite internet connection. It was only within the last year that some new wireless technology allowed ISPs to use existing cell phone towers to relay data back to shared VSATs in larger cities from remote areas.</p> <p>These new technologies drastically lowered the price of connecting remote places like Equindeni, and made it possible for some the of ISPs to offer profitable internet service to the CCAP.</p> <p><strong>Macro Level Internet Policy</strong><br /> The national regulation of the internet in Malawi also played a huge role in the internet connectivity of CCAP in Ekwendeni. In Malawi, there are steep regulation fees that must be paid on VSAT internet connections. These fees are so steep that they effectively price a VSAT out of the budget of the CCAP. During the time when the VSAT was the only connectivity option, essentially this meant that these fines priced the whole internet out of the budget of the CCAP.</p> <p>But with the new cellular rely wireless technology, that is not tightly regulated by the government, it became affordable for CCAP to connect. While these regulations are out of the power of individuals and organizations to control, individual organizations can play a role in publicizing their inefficiencies and ineffectiveness to the government and to decision makers.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong><br /> It was the combination of resource pooling, engineering, policy that finally made the CCAP a true market for high speed internet connectivity. The combination of these three factors all coming together at the right time are finally what will bring reliable, powerful, capable connectivity to the office of the CCAP that were once on the wrong side of the Digital Divide.</p> <br class="clear" /> connectivity development VSAT Wed, 13 Dec 2006 12:04:20 -0500 jon 180 at Presentation: The Status and Future of Mzuzu University Internet Connectivity <p><span class="inline right"></span>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 <span class="inline left"></span>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.</p> <p>All members of staff and students and the general public are invited to attend.</p> <p>Following the presentation there will a discussion session for members of staff<br /> involved in ICT policy making.<span class="inline right"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(179, 432, 324); return false;" target="_blank"></a><span class="caption" style="width: -2px;"><strong>Presentation Discussion</strong></span></span></p> <p><strong><br /> Location: Mzuzu University Children’s Library<br /> Date: November 24th 2006<br /> Time: 1300 hours<br /> </strong></p> <br class="clear" /> connectivity Fulbright Journal Information Technology VSAT Fri, 17 Nov 2006 04:54:06 -0500 jon 166 at Digital Development <p>If there really <a href="">is development work to be done everywhere</a>, then how best to go about it?</p> <p>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 <a href="">increase in the amount of time that a person or group can foreseeably sustain their lives into the future</a>.) </p> <p>In the library the other day I came across an interview with the CEO of General Electric, Jeffery Immlet, who I find has been <a href="">saying</a> and <a href="">doing</a> very interesting things recently. In the interview Immelt says something to the effect of: </p> <p><cite>What the developing world needs is not "defeaturization" - factoring down of developed world products to meet budget constraints of its people - rather technology engineered from the ground up to meet the needs and market demands of its populations.</cite></p> <p>In my opinion Immelt could not have been more correct, or more eloquent, in his statement. </p> <p>In my field of work ICT4DEV (Internet and communication technology for development), we talk a lot about the problem of the "digital divide", which basically says that the world is divided into technology "haves" and "have-nots". The "have" nations develop quickly using technology to efficiently create wealth. The "have-nots" are left out of economic development because of a modern day electronic chicken and the egg problem; they don't have technology so they cannot develop, but they can't get technology until their economies develop.</p> <p>In Malawi, I have drastically changed my personal view of the digital divide. I no longer, for instance, believe that a nation or people is worse off simply because they lack access to technology. General lacking of technology is not the problem. In fact technology, in the wrong place at the wrong time, creates more problems. I believe instead that there are groups, nations and people who could greatly further their development if they were able to obtain access to very specific technologies engineered to meet their needs. These technologies are sometimes out of reach; this to me is the digital divide.</p> <p>The digital divide is not so much a chasm that must be bridged by a transfer of technology invented in the industrialized world, as it is a mountain range that can be carefully scaled when the creativity and market demands of both the industrializing world and industrialized world meet in the middle. It is not so much a poverty problem, as a possible poverty solution. </p> <p>This difference is subtle, but I think that this perspective changes the way many nerds think about development in the industrializing world. We need to stop thinking that people are "poor" simply because they lack access to a technology. Digital divide crusaders who seek to install inernet access everywhere in the world are mislead if they believe that the technology alone will alleviate poverty. </p> <p>In specific situations, people who are poor can use technologies, like a tin roof or the internet, to greatly improve the sustainability of their lives. Our goal should be to identify those specific situations and engineer specific technologies to meet those needs and budgets. Thinking this way changes our strategies and our approach to tackling the digital divide. We move away from strategies like "technology transfer" and "defeaturization" and closer to real answers when we are engineering directly to meet market demands and needs of poorer markets.</p> <p>Here are some organizations that are on the right track:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">One Laptop per Child</a> initiative</li> <li><a href="">Baobab Health Partenership</a></li> </ul> <br class="clear" /> development Tue, 31 Oct 2006 02:23:52 -0500 jon 163 at Network Monitoring with Ubuntu <p>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.</p> <p>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 <a href="">Network Monitoring Bridge</a> is for you.</p> <br class="clear" /> connectivity Fulbright Journal HOWTOs networking Mon, 30 Oct 2006 09:48:16 -0500 jon 162 at Africa's Golden Pond <p>"Africa's Golden Pond"... That's what <a href="">the Guardian</a> calls lake Malawi in their <a href=",,1862977,00.html">latest travel feature</a>.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>Visitors who want to come see what we mean are all "most welcome here".</p> <br class="clear" /> Malawi Travel Guides Mon, 25 Sep 2006 06:35:02 -0400 jon 140 at Gmail over Low Bandwidth Connections <p>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.</p> <p>Here are two tricks we use to access Gmail from Malawi:</p> <ul> <li>Get <a href="">Mozilla Thunderbrid</a> and use <a href="">Gmail's POP capabilities</a> to access your mail.</li> <li>Also instead of going to <a href=""></a> try going to <a href=""></a>. This is the mobile version of gmail intended for cellphones and PDAs. It is very simple interface without unnecessary pictures or text and also works great on your desktop when you are on an unreliable internet connections</li> </ul> <br class="clear" /> connectivity Malawi Travel Guides Thu, 14 Sep 2006 12:11:09 -0400 jon 133 at Will the world notice? <p>Looks like <a href="">Zimbabwe might be ready to pop</a>. I read that "On Monday, dozens of protesting women were arrested in the capital by police." and I was reminded of <a href="">Las Madres de La Plaza de Mayo</a> who helped bring down the dictatorship in Argentina.</p> <p>The article doesn't offer much information on these women. Who were they? Are they modern day Madres?</p> <p>Will the world be watching and take notice? I hope so.</p> <br class="clear" /> Argentina Wed, 13 Sep 2006 06:05:19 -0400 jon 132 at Pondering Poverty <p>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:</p> <p>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.” </p> <p>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. </p> <p>After years of studying and discussing poverty, I am just now beginning to believe that I know how to identify and attack it. </p> <p>Shiva says in the article, people are seen as poor “if they eat millet as opposed to commercially processed junk food. They are seen as poor if they live in self-built housing made from environmentally adopted materials such as bamboo instead of concrete. They are seen as poor if they wear handmade garments of natural fiber as opposed to synthetics.” If, as Shiva suggests, poverty is better defined as a lacking of sustainability, then I too am guilty of this. Too often I call things I see poverty when really they are just not very western, not very material, or not very industrialized. </p> <p>Couldn't the USA be considered impoverished because its economy is completely dependent upon oil? At best, global oil reserves are predicted to last only until 2050 (2035 if your pessimistic). It seems to me that, yes, America's social, economic, and ecological structure could be considered impoverished because, at the moment, its ability to maintain life, health, and sustenance of its population can only be foreseeably envisioned to last 2050. </p> <p>As Marissa pointed out in her <a href="">blog entry</a>, thinking of poverty strictly in material terms, is unproductive. There are those like <a href="">Amartya Sen</a> who give us a broader framework for understanding poverty in terms of freedom. Then there is me in Malawi, struggling to coherently define poverty in terms of how far an individual or community realizstically sustain their lives, opportunities, and aspirations into the future.</p> <p>Academic discussions of poverty usually divide the world into two categories: the “developed world” and the “developing world” or the “first” and “third” world. In Argentina, I came to believe that these classifications give us the wrong impression - that there are no development works (sustainability improvements) that need to be done in “developed” countries. </p> <p>Lets start by using terms “industrialized” (ie: USA) and “industrializing” (ie: Malawi) instead. The populations of both nations clearly are experiencing types of poverty (lacking of realistic long-term sustainability). There is work to be done in both nations to provide more sustainable lifestyles to their populations. Clearly There is “development” work to be done everywhere, both in “industrializing” and “industrialized” countries.</p> <br class="clear" /> development Fulbright Journal Wed, 13 Sep 2006 05:06:57 -0400 jon 131 at