October 04, 2015

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

A Geospatial Werewolf

I've been contemplating a post with the tile "Seduced by the Dark Side - Or Why I Love My MacBook Air".  I decided not to devote a whole post to such evil things, so I'll restrict myself to a few paragraphs and then move on to better things.  Let me just admit it.  I really like using the MacBook Air that I was given at work.  I didn't buy it.  I know it's evil (really, really evil, in fact, since it is sooo seductive), and I will certainly do all I can to resist its evil temptations.  I've already removed all the Apple Store paid for applications that were on it, and I've installed Homebrew and a host of free software (things like QGIS and pgAdmin3).  I also installed VirtualBox and set up a Lubuntu 14.04 VM on it, which I use most of the time. In spite of all that, I have to admit that I really like using it.  I like the way it looks.  I like the way it feels in my hands and under my fingers as I type on it.  I like the way it responds so smoothly and quickly. There, I've come clean and got that out of my system.  The last thing to mention is that when I told my friend Kevin Cole that I had been seduced by the dark side, he knew without being told what I was going to say, and sent me this link, which pretty much hits the nail on the head...

Lubuntu 15.10 - A Geospatial Werewolf

Moving back into the realm of freedom, the upcoming release of Lubuntu 15.04, which I am running now on a few different machines but which will have its official release on October 22nd, offers new Python 3 versions of the geospatial libraries I described in a post back on April 19th. It also comes with QGIS version 2.8, which is a good thing indeed, since the version 2.4 that came with previous versions did not work properly (I couldn't get it to create layers using the DB Manager).  Here are the Python 3 GIS packages I installed on this new version, code named Wily Werewolf:
  • python3-gdal
  • python3-pyproj
  • python3-shapely
  • python3-mapnik
The last one in particular was not available in previous releases. And as if a sign of its strong GIS support, the default background on the Lubuntu version features a TIN pattern.  Here is a screenshot with QGIS running:
I've been tasked this week with looking into how to use mapnik.  Thanks to Wily, I'll be able to do this in Python 3.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at October 04, 2015 08:33 PM

Getting an Arlington Bounding Box of PBF Data

The best source for a current, relatively small data set for OSM PBF data I could find is the Geofabrik website, specifically the Virginia page, which has a PBF file for the state that weighs in at less than 230 MB. After downloading the virginia-latest.osm.pbf file, my next task will be to use osmosis to extract data from within a bounding box containing Arlington County.  The web application BoundingBox provides a nice visual way to do this.

Here is a screenshot of the Arlington County bounding box:
An interesting little curiosity I observed from looking at this bounding box is that little Andrew Ellicot Park lies within Arlington County, Fairfax County, and the city of Falls Church:
After Googling it, it is listed as the originial Western cornerstone of the District of Columbia:
Anyway, enough distraction, back to work.  With osmosis installed and the Virginia data on hand, I ran this command to get just the Arlington data:
$ osmosis --read-pbf file=virginia-latest.osm.pbf --bounding-box top=38.9342803955 left=-77.1723251343 bottom=38.8272895813 right=-77.032081604 --write-pbf file=arlington.osm.pbf
Only a few more steps to create a database and load this data into it:
$ createdb map_arlington$ psql -U postgres -d map_arlington -c 'CREATE EXTENSION postgis'$ imposm --read arlington.osm.pbf$ imposm --write -d map_arlington -U postgres
A database user other than postgres should be used, but this at least documents the process.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at October 04, 2015 07:16 PM

September 29, 2015

OLE Nepal

Volunteer Spotlight: Srikaran Masabathula

Srikaran Masabathula is our Earthquake relief volunteer from Knox College, Illinois. During his second year at Knox, he was looking to make a positive difference and decided to head to Nepal to support OLE Nepal with their earthquake relief efforts…

by Sofila Vaidya at September 29, 2015 09:38 AM

September 24, 2015

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Importing OSM Data into PostGIS - Part 1

The PV Viability Map project seems to really be picking up some steam!  Thanks to our good fortune in having David Winslow join us, we now have someone with the skills and experience to move us forward -- thanks, David!  In our meet up last Thursday we had a first discussion of the requirements for the project, which I'll do my best to summarize here.

PV Viability Map Requirements

  • Display map in web page.
  • Search an address and display the building there.
  • Standard map mouse navigation (drag to pan, mouse wheel to zoom, etc.)
  • Click on building to identify.
I have been tasked with seeing how far I can get before next Thursday's meet up with the first task - displaying a map in a web page.  Actually, I've been tasked with the first part of this process - getting OpenStreetMap (OSM) data, trimming for Arlington, and loading it into PostGIS.

Process Overview

Before diving into looking for a solution, a pause to consider the process is in order.  From the Wikipedia page for OpenStreetMap we learn:
  1. The main copy of the OSM data is stored in OSM's main database. The main database is a PostgreSQL database, which has one table for each data primitive, with individual objects stored as rows. All edits happen in this database, and all other formats are created from it.
  2. For data transfer, several database dumps are created, which are available for download. The complete dump is called planet.osm. These dumps exist in two formats, one using XML and one using the Protocol Buffer Binary Format (PBF).
From what I can gather (and the notes I took at our last Code for NoVA meet up), I will be using a combination of two tools to grab the data from OSM's server and then push it into my local database:
  1. osmosis
  2. imposm
I was able to install both of those with:
$ sudo aptitude install osmosis imposm
I'm not clear when one would use imposm and when one would use osm2psql, which seems to be for the same purpose. I installed the latter as well with:
$ sudo aptitude install osm2psql
To be honest, I find the OSM wiki documentation to be very challenging to read. It appears thorough and is well written, but it assumes a wealth of background I lack.  Hopefully with time I'll be able to make better use of it.  For now I'll wait for our meet up this evening to see if David can help me figure out how to use osmosis to get data for Arlington County.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at September 24, 2015 08:08 PM

Creating a Lubuntu Custom Install Disk for the School Lab

I'm a high school teacher in a lab full of Windows 7 machines, and it's just not
working for me.  I'm teaching Web Page Design I, which is a course in HTML and CSS, and by using WinSCP and Notepad++, the Windows workstations are adequate for the task.  But for my Computer Science class, where we will be exploring mathematics with Python and will need to install lots of Python libraries and tools, I need Ubuntu.  Actually, I'll be using Lubuntu, since it is light weight, supports the same software, and works much better with the old NVIDIA GeForce 200 graphics cards that are in the machines (the Unity desktop wants to make use of the 3D graphics features of the card, which looks awful and crashes with both the free nvidia driver and the proprietary ones from nvidia.  Lubuntu is perfectly happy in 2D, and the free driver works very well with it.

The Plan

  1. Create a VirtualBox VM with Lubuntu and all the software I plan to use in the lab installed on it.
  2. Install  Remastersys on this VM and use it to create a custom installation disk.
  3. Use the custom installation disk thus created to install Lubuntu along side Windows on the lab workstations.

Step 1: The VM

I created a new VirtualBox VM and installed Lubuntu 14.04 (64 bit) on it.  After running all the updates, I did the following:
  • Installed virtualbox-guest-utils. This package will not be needed on the lab workstations, but without it screen resolution on the VM is limited to 640x480, making it too difficult to work with.
  • Added this PPA and then installed remastersys-gtk. I figured better to test this early, since if it doesn't work there is not point in doing the rest of the setup.
  • Installed gnome-screenshot and gimp. I added these two now to be able to take screenshots of the remastersys screens and edit them.
  • From Synaptic package manager I enabled the "Canonical Partners" repository and installed adobe-flashplugin.
  • Added the ubuntugis-unstable PPA.
After this I tried using remastersys, since if that doesn't work, there is no point in continuing.  I'm glad I did this early in the process, since I encountered a problem after launching System Tools -> Remastersys and selecting dist:
I found an Ubuntu forum post here, which suggested creating an empty lightdm.conf file in /etc/lightdm would fix the problem. It did! The process completed and I found a custom-dist.iso file in the /home/remastersys/remastersys directory.  I installed successfully with the custom-dist.iso, with one caveat -- when I tried to select "Encrypt my home folder" during the install, it crashed.  Encrypting the home directory does not appear to work with the Remastersys created iso, so I'll just make sure not to select that option, and to use the process described here to encrypt home directories later.

The last thing I needed by way of infrastructure on this VM is Grub Customizer, which will make it easy to edit the bootloader menu to have it boot to Windows by default (it pains me to do that, but I'm sharing the lab this year so I have to play nice ;-)


Step 2: Adding Software

I know I'll continue to add other software as the year goes on and I find other things I need, but for the first go round, here is a list of packages I know I'll want, that I have just installed on the VM:
  • python3-pip
  • idle3
  • python3-matplotlib
  • python3-sphinx
  • python3-pep8
  • python3-bs4
  • python3-w3lib
  • python3-scipy
  • python3-pyqt5
  • ipython3
  • ipython3-notebook
  • python3-termcolor
  • python3-cairo
  • python3-paste
  • python3-cherrypy3
  • python3-flask
  • python3-bottle
  • spyder3
  • inkscape
  • gftp
  • vim
  • vim-gtk
  • most
  • openjdk-7-jdk
  • sqlite3
  • spatialite-bin
  • spatialite-gui
  • qgis
  • grass
  • pgadmin3
  • postgresql-client
I also installed SymPy, using the command: 'sudo pip3 install sympy', since sympy is not in the package repository. Finally, I installed Google Chrome using the installer from here and Opera using the installer here.

With all this software installed, I ran Remastersys again to make an installation iso disk image.  Tomorrow I'll try it out in the lab...

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at September 24, 2015 03:44 PM

September 21, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

Successful Second Deployment of 25 SPELL Solar Digital Libraries with Peace Corps in Vanuatu


The Solar SPELL team from Cal Poly held a full-day training session at Peace Corps Headquarters in Port Vila, Vanuatu, on September 9, 2015. Volunteers traveled to the training from across many of the islands that comprise Vanuatu, and were extremely enthusiastic about being able to use the digital libraries in the schools and communities where they are stationed.



This training was the second of two this summer carried out by Cal Poly Professor Laura Hosman and the team of students in the Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies (LAES) Program at Cal Poly who worked on designing, developing, and deploying the library over the past few months. A total of 50 Spell libraries have been deployed with the Peace Corps in the Federated States of Micronesia and in Vanuatu.


P1180095Prof. Hosman led the training with the assistance of Ginger Jacobs, a student who participated in the LAES course. Ginger played a leading role in finding and curating the library’s content, and led the training that focused on that area. Another student from the course, Beth Hotchkiss, who had focused on the library’s design and production while on-campus, served as the team’s videographer and photographer during the on-site training.


The Peace Corps volunteers across the Pacific Islands commit to two years of volunteer service, and are most frequently posted to schools. The majority of these schools will not have reliable electricity/power or Internet connectivity, so these libraries are designed to provide relevant educational content in these challenging environmental conditions—especially for first-time users of such technology.


The Solar SPELL library was designed to help meet the needs of the Peace Corps volunteers, vis-à-vis enabling and improving education, in the field. It includes open access content, much of which is localized for the Pacific Islands. The offline library’s content can also be found in on-line version here: http://pacificschoolserver.org


The library’s hardware is designed to be as simple to use as possible, with no moving parts in order to avoid overheating. The solar panel and plastic case are waterproof, providing an extra level of protection against the salt air and humidity that is ever-present in the Islands.


After covering the nuts-and-bolts of how to use the library (and the tablets) during the morning session, the afternoon training session shifted to a more frank discussion of the societal, political, and human-nature-type challenges that the volunteers might face in introducing new technology to places it has not been used before. New technologies are most frequently disruptive when introduced for the first time. We therefore initiated a brainstorming and discussion session of “What might happen?”, “What could go wrong?”, and (therefore) “What should I do?” Considerations such as meeting with village chiefs and school principals before introducing the technology within the schools or communities were brought up. Many participants reflected that this session had been, for them, the most valuable of the day.


The enthusiasm of the Peace Corps volunteers was matched only by the gratitude they expressed to the team for our work on the libraries, for its relevance and helpfulness to their work, and for the training session itself. This appreciation was echoed by the Peace Corps staff as well. It was both humbling and extremely gratifying to hear so many expressions of “Thank you so much,” “This will be so appreciated by my community,” “This is fantastic.”


A quote from the first email of thanks we received, the day after the training: “I really can’t praise or thank you all enough for what you’ve done (and are still doing) in this project, and feel very privileged to have a role in it. That being said, I can at least say this much:

Y’all done real real real good.”


Our team is particularly grateful to Peace Corps Vanuatu Country Director Keith Honda, for being an early supporter of the project and for encouraging the partnership and training to take place, and to Alexis Cullen PCV, for her diligence and enthusiasm in spreading the word about the libraries across Vanuatu’s volunteers, and in co-coordinating the training. Additional thanks to Solomon Jimmy, and we look forward to keeping in touch with all of you as we gather feedback from Vanuatu and work to improve the libraries!


The SPELL Solar Digital Libraries project was made financially possible through a Community Grant from the Pacific Telecommunications Council, an in-kind donation (of Banana Pis) from LeMaker, as well as an in-kind donation (of Nexus 7 Tablets) from Inveneo.

by ljhosman at September 21, 2015 08:04 PM

September 20, 2015

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Two Old Draft Posts from My LIDAR Study

Note: I had two draft posts from my Lidar study last Summer that are incomplete, but contain useful information I will want to refer to in the future.  Since time does not allow me to complete them now, I'll just publish them both "as is" here...

Visualizing the Loudoun County Lidar Data


For the PV Viability Map project, we are using Lidar data from Loudoun County, Virginia.  Loudoun County was chosen because the goal of the initiating organization, Northern Virginia Regional Commision (NVRC), is to produce a map for all the NVRC members, but complete Lidar data is currently only available for Loudoun County.  Currently available data can be obtained from the USGS EarthExplorer website (see previous post, Getting Started with LIDAR Data), but it is available in small distribution units from the VirginiaLidar site.  A few other websites I came across in searching that might be useful later include:
To get the data we'll be using, I went to this folder on Virginia Lidar's Google drive.  I downloaded the PDF, Shapefile zip, and KMZ files.  This is the first time I've encountered KMZ files, which are zipped Keyhole Markup Language files.  KML is an open standard for expressing annotations and markers on web based 2D and 3D maps.  It appears you can work with them in OpenStreetMap.

The Lidar data on the Virginia Lidar site is divided into blocks.  The region covered by each block is described in the LoudounCo_Ref.pdf PDF file in the Virginia Lidar Google drive location linked above.  Here is what it looks like:
To begin learning to work with the data, I set myself the task of downloading a single block of the data and then exploring tools to visualize it.  I choose 18STJ7733.laz since it contains the intersection of Routes 15 and 7 in downtown Leesburg (see this Google map), and would thus I hoped have recognizable features that would aid in testing the visualizations. Since the data is provided in compressed LAZ format, and many of the tools require the uncompressed LAS format, I had to first uncompress the file. I described how I did this in an earlier post.


After spending a reasonable amount of time searching on the web for Lidar visualization tools, it became clear to me that I will have to overcome a number of obstacles to be able to work with this data.  I'm going to need to understand the LAS file format in some detail to use the lower level tools that are available for GNU/Linux systems.  I may explore some of the free software tools that are only available for Windows, but I'll only do that after I've exhausted what I can do a free software platform.

I found a website, http://lidarview.com, that offers through the web visualization of LAS files.  This screenshot shows the website with the default data being visualized:


Manual of Airborne Topographic Lidar - Chapter 3 Notes

Chapter 3 of the Manual of Airborne Topographic Lidar is titled Enabling Technologies, and discusses the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and inertial navigation systems (INS) that together enable airborne laser scanning (ALS).  Both these technologies were mentioned frequently in the chapter 2 discussion of elements of ALS technologies, and it is clear from the discussion why ALS could not emerge as a viable commercial technology until the 1990s, when the GPS system become available.

Global Navigation Satellite Systems

There are currently two operational GNSS systems, the US Global Positioning System (GPS), and the Russian GLObal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS), and two systems under development, the EU Galileo system, and the Chinese BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), both expected to be completed by 2020.

How Does a GNSS Work? 

The text describes GNSS as "a constellation of satellites carrying atomic clocks that broadcast time and an arbitrary number of receivers each of which computes its own position on the Earth from measured signal propagation times from the visible satellites to the receiver." (p. 99).  What I didn't understand was how the receiver could compute the propagation time of the signal (and thus find the distance from the satellite) without having a clock that was synchronized with the atomic clock on the satellite.  A space.stackexchange.com post titled How does GPS receiver synchronize time with GPS satellites? provides a nice explaination:
"The time value isn't used to tell the receiver what time it is (at least not directly, although that is helpful later). It's used so that the receiver can tell relatively what the distance is to each satellite.
If you hear Sat A say that the time is 0.00000 and Sat B says the time is 0.00010, then if they are in sync, you must be closer to B than to A. You can tell exactly how much closer you are by the specific time difference.
Repeat the calculations with a few other satellites and you will find that there is only one place (and time) that the receiver can be located.
The GPS receiver computes a solution that simultaneously provides Position, Velocity, and Time (PVT). It's not that one is calculated first, then the other is. They all fall out simultaneously."
A bit later in the post the following equation is listed:

Looking at the 4 unknowns, x, y, z, and t, it makes sense why 4 satellites are need to provide a location (and time).


by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at September 20, 2015 04:31 PM

Web-based GIS Assignment 2

With pgAdmin running on my Ubuntu 14.04 desktop, and PostGIS setup on an Internet virtual machine (running Ubuntu 14.04 server), I connected pgAdmin to the server by double clicking on the server name (NYC) in the list.  It connected fine, but not without giving me a warning:
A quick Google search brought me to this Ask Ubuntu link:
which says I need to install postgresql-contrib.  Here goes:
$ sudo aptitude install postgresql-contrib
It installed a single package without incident.  After clicking the "Fix It!" button, I can now connect to the remote server without warning.

To install pgAdmin on my desktop at home, I ran:
$ sudo aptitude install pgadmin3
it returned that:
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  pgadmin3 pgadmin3-data{a} pgagent{a} postgresql-client{a}
  postgresql-client-9.3{a} postgresql-client-common{a}
While it is no surprise that pgAdmin would depend on postgresql-client (which has the command line psql program), it is convenient. For one thing, it makes it easier to test out the connection to the remote database server, since the psql command:
$ psql -h [server name] [database name]
Is easy to remember.  I still don't know off the bat how to fill in the fields of the pgAdmin connection screen without looking things up.  Here is a screen shot of the New Server Registration screen:
I know what to put in the Host, Username, and Password fields, but I'm not sure about Name and Maintenance DB.  Is Name the name of the database, or is that Maintenance DB?

This documentation page proved most helpful:
I put "nyc" (the name of the database we are using for class) in both the Name and Maintenance DB fields, and it connected to the server without incident.

Setting Up the Local Virtual Database Server for Testing

My next task, assigned to me at our last Code for NoVA meet up, is to look into loading OpenStreetMap (OSM) data into a PostGIS database. As cool as it is having a remote server out on the web running a database server 24/7 that I can connect to whenever I want, I'm not going run new "experiments" on that machine.  That's where local VirtualBox VMs come in handy.

I described my first attempt at setting up a PostGIS server in a previous post. As I've learned since, starting out with the command:
$ sudo aptitude install postgresql-9.3-postgis-2.1
is the best way to get going, since it installs postgresql itself and most everything else you need to get started. I still have the VM I made back then, so now I'm going to copy over the nyc database to it and configure it for remote access.

I'll repeat the process I used to move the nyc database from the VirtualBox VM we were given in our Web-based GIS class, described in my previous post, only this time I'll export it from my database server, so that I can skip the steps where I had to rename the owner of the database.

Here is what I did:
username@local_machine:~$ ssh [database server name]
username@dbserver:~$ pg_dump -c nyc > nyc.sql
username@dbserver:~$ exit
username@local_machine:~$ scp [database server name]:nyc.sql .
I could export the database as me, since I've been setup as a database user. I don't remember whether I did that on the VirtualBox VM, so now is a good time to learn some more PostgreSQL administration.  Here is a documentation page which has what I need:
Trying to start psql on the VirtualBox server shows that I didn't add my user as a database user:
$ psql
psql: FATAL:  role "[username]" does not exist
Time to fix that:
username@postgis:~$ sudo -i
[sudo] password for username:
root@postgis:~# su - postgres
postgres@postgis:~$ createuser --superuser username
postgres@postgis:~$ exit
root@postgis:~# exit

username@postgis:~$ createdb nyc
username@postgis:~$ psql nyc < nyc.sql
It successfully ran the script and populated the nyc database. I could then run:
username@postgis:~$ psql nyc
and connect to the nyc database and run queries.

Now to enable remote connections:
username@postgis:~$ sudo vi /etc/postgresql/9.3/main/pg_hba.conf
and changed this line:
host  all  all  md5
host  all  all     md5
username@postgis:~$ sudo vi /etc/postgresql/9.3/main/postgresql.conf
and changed this line:
#listen_addresses = 'localhost'
listen_addresses = '*'
username@postgis:~$ psql nyc
nyc=# alter user [user] with password '[password]';
This is mostly a repetition of information in my previous post, but since I want to learn it, it bares repeating.

Finally, I'll connect from my desktop machine to the "remote" VirtualBox server, which has IP address on my home network:
username@localmachine:~$ psql -h nyc
psql (9.3.9)
SSL connection (cipher: DHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384, bits: 256)
Type "help" for help.

Excellent!  I'm all set to explore importing OSM data into my database.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at September 20, 2015 04:21 PM

September 17, 2015

One Laptop per Child

September 15, 2015

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

First Assignment in Web-based GIS Class

My first assignment for the Web-based GIS class has two parts: 1. Reading the first chapter of Spatial Databases: A Tour, by Shashi Shekhar and Sanjay Chawla, answering several conceptual questions related to the reading, and 2. A "lab" project designed to get us familiar with our VirtualBox VM, pgAdmin, and QGIS.

The questions involved understanding what spatial data is, comparing file systems to databases, looking at a brief history of spatial database management systems (SDMSs), defining abstract data types (ADTs) and understanding an SDMS as a specific instance of example of an object-relational database management system (ORDBMS).

The lab portion of the assignment involved running pgAdmin and QGIS on a VirtualBox VM to connect to a PostGIS database. I've been using VirtualBox for years, so I wanted use this assignment to push my PostGIS administration knowledge by setting up a PostGIS database on the web and migrating the database from our class VM to this server, and then connecting to it from pgAdmin and QGIS clients running on local machines.

Moving a Database

Logging into the VirtualBox VM given to us in class, I ran the following commands:
ggs $ sudo -i
# su - postgres
postgres $ pg_dump -c nyc > nyc.sql
(the file can be downloaded from here).  I then made the following substitutions in the nyc.sql file, since I want the database owner to be my username and not the postgres user:
  1. change ' TO postgres' to ' TO [user]'
  2. change ' FROM postgres' to ' FROM [user]'
I then used scp to copy the nyc.sql file to my on-line database server.

Picking up on the database server where I left off in my previous post, I now need to make my regular user a database admin who can create databases.
$ sudo su - postgres
$ createuser --superuser [user]
$ exit
Now I can create the database and import the data:
$ createdb nyc
$ psql nyc < nyc.sql
Let me run a query from the lesson to make sure it works:
$ psql nyc
psql (9.3.9)
Type "help" for help.

nyc=#  select name from nyc_subway_stations where name like 'Broad%';
 Broadway Jct
 Broadway Jct
 Broad St
 Broadway-Lafayette St
 Broadway-Nassau St
 Broadway Jct
 Broad Channel
(9 rows)

To get the postgres server to except outside connections, I needed to make the following changes to config files:
$ sudo vi /etc/postgresql/9.3/main/pg_hba.conf
and changed this line:
host  all  all  md5
host  all  all     md5
$ sudo vi /etc/postgresql/9.3/main/postgresql.conf
and changed this line:
#listen_addresses = 'localhost'
listen_addresses = '*'
I still couldn't connect remotely, since I got a password error the user I created for the database, so I had to set that by running:
nyc=#  alter user [user] with password '[password]';
After that I could connect remotely to the server!

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at September 15, 2015 03:54 PM

September 14, 2015

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Term Break Activities

Busy weekend marketplace center sessions.

Busy weekend marketplace center sessions.


The month was with a lot of activities to be done since it was a holiday, kids were to come at the center and learn from there. We as teachers planned to have a science camp which was done from the marketplace center near Bukokholo in Bungoma County.

1st and 2nd which was a weekend, and learners came at the center as from 10.00 am to 5.30pm. They used tamtam mini, tamtam jam to enjoy themselves from music others used speak, browse, and record activities. Those who used browse discussed different subjects such as physics, chemistry since they were secondary students. From them young kids learned that with discussion they can learn more things that were not understanding.

3rd and 4th which was Monday at Butonge and Tuesday at Namwesi, it was a free class where students were to do any activity they like as from 3.00 pm to 5.30pm as teachers were walking around to see if any student is stuck and assist. The lesson was much interesting because most of the learners were doing paint activity and scratch to perfect on their drawing and scratch animation.

5th Wednesday, 6th Thursday and 7th Friday at the market place centre kids in good numbers and were grouped according to the ages and classes at school and teachers gauged them on what they can do on XO sugar lab activities. Every group was to explain an activity that they know to others.

8th and 9th it was a weekend where learners did keyboard work at the market place. This is to ensure that all learners to master the whole keyboard and each button with it’s functions. All kids were attentive in that sector because teachers were to evaluate them over work done on the keyboard.

10th to 14th- At the market centre- Learners from different schools came for lessons so we arranged 3 teachers to be on duty to help learners on which activities they were to do and introduce new learners on XO sugar lab activites sincw we never miss new learners at the center at any given holiday. They were three teachers per session as from 10.00am to 5.30pm. These was the day learners did most of write activity to master all the functions of every key on the keyboard. They used brackets, exclamation marks, colons, semi-colons, question marks, comma, full stops etc.

15th and 16th – It was a weekend- learners did write activity for familiarization both for old students and new students. we asked them to use all punctuation marks and inserting of tables, alignments of paragraphs and inserting of their pictures (images) on a text. They enjoyed too much as others kept on repeating same work for several times.

17th- 21st- Monday to Friday-Learners did turtle art where they constructed different shapes as per math arrangements. We had new students who saw it as a difficult activity but with time they manned and did well. They were showed how to use pen size, pen shade and pen color for them to know more about the activity.

22nd to 23rd- weekend- It was a short break for the teachers.24th to 25th-camp planning between teachers and students over the roles to play in that science camp.

26th-Was to be the first day of the camp for the registration of kids to participate in the camp. There was a lot of co-operation among the learners which were to participate. We had those who were to present paint, turtle art and write activities. There was a lot of competition among themselves. We liked their arrangement.

27th-Arrival of students from different schools who were registered to attend to the camp,

1-The camp overview  2-Grouping of students as per an activity 3-Topic orientation by each teacher as per group 4-Entertainment

-Afternoon each group was assigned to an activity as per camp focus..Group were as follows;

-Paint activity -Write activity -Speak activity -Scratch activity -Etoys activity -Browse and solar system.

28th-Discussion and writing stories over what was done on paint activity, paint, scratch, memorize, maze, Record, browse and sharing off pictures and discuss the impact of those pictures.

29th-Was teachers camp review and recommendation over what kids did in the camp.

30th-31st-Teachers rested after the camp.


*Inadequate facilities for the camp due to high number of students

*The target was not met because funding was not to expected and budgeted for.

*Days were few as per proposal expectation.


*Young kids aged 4-8 years were so many at the camp with aim of learning and eating not even wasting a single second at the time of arrival. When the time for lunch arrived they were very keen and excited.

*Girls were much interested in singing , poetry, narrative talks and computer learning than boys.

*Boys were good artists by use of paint activity than girls.

*Girls attended the camp more than the boys in numbers.

*Those kids who were infested with the jiggers before, were free from infestation. Due to lesson learned, attended the camp and as a result others were motivated with the previous camp results . As a sign of togetherness they came and joined others to learn in problem identification and solving as their fellow kids are doing with the case of jiggers..

*The parents who were interested with the camp challenged their children to be so keen in whatever is happening in camp venue.

*Memorize activity improved the learners imaginations

*Learners were much interested with the camp, so they were just forced to leave the place because time was not on our site.

*Because of insufficient funds, our camp was not a boarding camp but was half board camp.


-It was achieved because students were able to explain why they were doing activity or drawing those pictures.

-Kids improved on self explanation and esteem they planned how to identify problems and then have a better solution.

-They used pictures to teach the whole world over what is happening to endangered species namely black rhino and elephants

-Students have known which animals are mostly poached and most endangered animals.

-Promotion of child to child interaction

– Teachers were given name tags for easier identification in schools and market center.

-Learners are able to talk about proper trash disposable and plastic reuse.

-The camp brought kids together and throught it they have known their child rights as that to education, food and expression.


*We need more facilitation for the camps to promote child to child interaction.

*There should be funds upgrading so as to meet our target for the future science camps (more funds needed).

*There should be learning by seeing i.e Learners should be exposed to some game parks and game reserves to see which animals are being targeted with poachers then have chance to interview game wardens over the same.

*Teachers motivational tour- teachers should be taken out at least once per year for them to share and exchange views with other OLPC sites country wide. At the end ,this will promote team work and experience.

* Learners who are performing well to be awarded for others to work hard.

* Intersite camp competition (OLPC) as promotion of XO sugar lab activities to different parts of Kenya.


by smallsolutionsbigideas at September 14, 2015 05:45 PM

September 11, 2015

Kartik Perisetla - Sugar Hacks

WikipediaHI: Offline Wikipedia in Hindi !!

Last week I spent some time working on WikipediaHI activity for Sugar Desktop Environment. I must say it is one of the awesome activities I have come across. The best part is that it can serve you with data in offline mode. That is even if don't have internet connection which is otherwise required to access Wikipedia online, then also your WikipediaHI activity will serve your purpose.

There are lot many developers and contributors who are working in collaborative form on such awesome stuff who continuously inspire you to take up new things and create something that can be used by others in the world. Sugar developers and contributors are epitome of such group.

I came across few of such developers, Anish Mangal and Gonzalo Odiard, two of them whose contributions are significant for Sugar. I took up the task of creating WikipediaHI using Wikipedia dump for Hindi available for free. I followed the steps specified on this page[ hosted by Gonzalo] for creating Wikipedia activity in your own language.

I will quickly explain the steps I took to create WikipediaHI:

1) Downloaded the Wikipedia dump file for Hindi:
NOTE: [ Make sure you pick the valid latest file from here : http://dumps.wikimedia.org/hiwiki/   this location will show you listing as per dates. Pick the latest dump and proceed further.]

and downloaded WikipediaBase from this link

2) Created "hi" directory for HINDI under WikipediaBase directory and moved the downloaded dump to this folder.

3) Extracted contents of this file using:
bzip2 -d hiwiki-20121225-pages-articles.xml.bz2

4) Processed the dump using page parser:

The result of this operation will generate these files:

5) Then you can include selective articles or all articles from this dump to your activity by using this command:
* Make sure you have favorites.txt and blacklist.txt filled with appropriate keywords.

Now if you want to include all articles use this command:
../tools2/make_selection.py --all

6) Then proceed to create the index for these articles:

7) In order to test the index created in previous step you can use this command:

8) Next step is to expand the templates of articles :
cd ..
./tools2/expandtemplates.py hi

9) Go back to hi directory and re-create the index :
cd hi
mv hiwiki-20121225-pages-articles.xml.processed_expanded hiwiki-20121225-pages-articles.xml.processed
../tools2/create_index.py --delete_all

10) Download the images for the articles you selected:
cd hi

if you want to download the images for pages you selected in previous step:
../tools2/download_images.py --all

11) Create files specific to language:
(a)activity/activity.info.lang : activity info file for you language activity
(b)activity/activity-wikipedia-lang.svg : activity icon for your language
(c)activity_lang.py : activity file for your language
(d)static/about_lang.html : about page for wikipedia in your language.
(e)static/index_lang.html : index page for wikipedia in your language. This is the page displayed when activity is launched. So its important for you to know the articles included in the search.db ( generated when index is created) for you to create the index page.

12) Create the XO file for wikipedia in your language:
./setup_new_wiki.py hi/hiwiki-20121225-pages-articles.xml

I went through the search.db file to identify the articles present in it and create the index page accordingly.
This gave me an idea to write some script that can generate index page(part or whole) to be used as home page for activity using search.db[ Stay tuned for next blog on this idea]

Here you go.. you can see WikipediaHI

On launching this, you can see the index page listing the articles you can view offline using WikipediaHI

If you want to play with WikipediaHI, you can download it : WikipediaHI-35.xo

I must thank Gonzalo for his amazing help and guidance in getting this done. I have to mention here that Wikipedia
changed its XML format in their dumps which resulted in error when I was creating the index. I took Gonzalo's help to get it resolved.
Thanks to Anish, who motivated me to pick this up and guided me to complete it.

Thanks guys !! :D

by Kartik Kumar Perisetla (noreply@blogger.com) at September 11, 2015 05:39 AM

September 07, 2015

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

GGS 692: Web-based GIS

I've just started my Fall semester graduate GIS course at George Mason University, GGS 692: Web-based GIS. This program continues to be extremely rewarding and just what I was looking for in a graduate program, since I am learning real skills that allow me to apply my previous background in mathematics and computer science to solving "real world problems".

According the syllabus, this course will:
[P]rovide the students with the knowledge to curate, store, manage and query geospatial data by means of powerful database management systems. Moreover, to communicate the data, the students will learn how to build Web mapping applications on top of a database and so communicate and interact with the data using nothing more than a Web browser. The course will cover a variety of open source software packages for web mapping and will provide pointers to commercial solutions where appropriate.
The specific goals are
  • To enable students to develop a good understanding of the principles and techniques of spatial databases.
  • To design and build a spatial database.
  • To perform common various types of queries and spatial analyses.
  • To design, develop, and implement custom web mapping applications using open standards and open source software.
The course involves a large final project, which I hope to use to develop the Photovoltaic Viability Map web application that will allow Northern Virginia residents to look at their homes on a map and get information about the cost and benefit of putting solar panels on their roof.

The specific technologies we will be learning about include:
All of these are free software GIS tools, so I am delighted at the opportunity to be compelled to learn about them.  I will be adding Mapnik and GeoDjango to the list, since my goal is to learn to be a Python GIS web application developer.

Getting Started

I've already been learning some of these technologies as part of my previous two courses, so this semester the goal is to really begin to master them.  Since a geospatial database is something I'm going to need on a regular basis, I'm going to install PostGIS on an Internet VM that I already have available, so that I'll be able to connect to it whenever I need to.

Referring back to the post I made on July 8, PostGIS Installation, I ran:
$ sudo aptitude install postgresql-9.3-postgis-2.1
My July 9 post, Adminning a PostGIS Server, has details for setting up remote connectivity and creating a database, but I think before I do that I'll go through this tutorial:
to get a broader overview of PostreSQL administration.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at September 07, 2015 08:27 PM

September 03, 2015

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Women as Tech Teachers

These young women make it possible to reach hundreds of students each week with laptops and learning.  They provide role models for young girls to see a future through learning, technology and access to information.  They help students build confidence in their own voices and intelligence.

During the July visit, we started providing them with goods to sell.  They are selling in the marketplaces and pooling their funds to invest in more entrepreneurial endeavors.  They have asked for help to purchase small motor bikes so that they can earn money after school by transporting passengers and ease their transport to school with the computers for the classes.  The piki pikis are usually driven by young men. These young women are stepping out.  Donate to their motor bikes.

by smallsolutionsbigideas at September 03, 2015 02:42 PM

One Laptop per Child

OLPC Announces Partnership with Zamora Teran Foundation

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) announced today a partnership with the Zamora Teran Foundation, a non-profit organization, dedicated to the successful implementation of OLPC programs throughout Central America. OLPC, in partnership with the Zamora Teran Foundation, will provide innovative teacher training, professional development opportunities, and related implementation services, to OLPC programs around the world.

The Zamora Teran Foundation  has distributed more than 42,000 OLPC Laptops to children in Nicaragua and is currently providing implementation support services to more than 50,000 OLPC Laptops in Honduras and 5,000 OLPC Laptops in Costa Rica. The results are impressive, with improvements in school retention rates and academic achievement.

“We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to share our expertise in OLPC program implementation with schools and communities around the world,” said Maria Josefina Teran Zamora, President of the Zamora Teran Foundation. “We believe that in joining forces, we are creating a better future for all.”

The services offered by OLPC in partnership with the Zamora Teran Foundation focus on six components that are essential for a successful OLPC Laptop program.  The organizations offer a comprehensive teacher training program, as well as a full logistics and implementation solution. Services include the provision of advanced technical support and training to local, on-the-ground teams to ensure program sustainability. Monitoring and evaluation services are available to ensure that the goals of each program are defined and achieved. The organizations work with each local community to develop a strong community of volunteers  to support the program, and a strong network of development, to ensure the expansion of each program. With these six essential components, OLPC offers a comprehensive ecosystem of support to each program.

For more information about the One Laptop Per Child the Zamora Teran Foundation, please contact Leah (leah@laptop.org) .

OLPC was founded in 2005 with the goal of transforming education through the provision of a durable, connected, laptop computer to every child in the world. To date, OLPC has distributed more than 3 million laptops to children around the world.

by mariana at September 03, 2015 12:00 PM

OLE Nepal

Hit the ball for Nepal

Dougie Foster is an Evolutionary Anthropology student working as a research assistant for the project run by the University of Oxford investigating the transmission of caste status. He has traveled to Nepal couple times in order to conduct the research…

by Sofila Vaidya at September 03, 2015 07:42 AM

August 31, 2015

OLE Nepal

Technology in Nepal’s classrooms: Using impact evaluation as a learning device

Re-posting a blog by Quentin Wodon, a lead economist at the World Bank expressing his understanding and perspectives gained from the presentation by Mr. Rabi Karmacharya in a seminar organized by The World Bank Group in Washington D.C. about OLE…

by Sofila Vaidya at August 31, 2015 05:57 AM

August 30, 2015

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Mobile Happiness with Firefox OS!

As I described in a previous post back in mid June at the start of the LibriFox "Summer of Code", I am not as a rule an early adopter of new technologies, and am now making regular use of a mobile phone for the first time in my life.

I just purchased a Nexus 5 and so far I am delighted with it.

Here is why:
  • I was able to easily root the device, install MultiROM Manager, and then make it dual-boot (triple boot, actually, since I installed Ubuntu as well) with Firefox OS.  I will be using Firefox OS as my main OS, and I'm happy to say that the version v2.2 pre-release image I found here is working great.  The only app that doesn't work is the FM radio, since the Nexus 5 unfortunately doesn't have an FM chip. What it does have that I really wanted was 4G connectivity. Browsing the web or loading a location map through the mobile data connection are quite pleasant now.
  • Alex Hirschberg completed a wonderfully successful "Summer of Code", delivering the LibriFox app to the Firefox OS Marketplace.  For me this is a "killer app" that alone makes having the phone worthwhile.  That's why I setup the "Summer of Code" in the first place, and I am completely satisfied with the results that Alex delivered.  I would not hesitate to fund "Summer of Code" again next year, provided I can find another graduate at least half as good as Alex. Here is a screen shot of LibriFox running on my phone:
  • As a regular Capital Bikeshare user, I thought I was going to have to boot into Android to use BikeShare! Not so. DC Bike Finder will serve my needs nicely, and keeps me from having to reboot. Here is a screenshot of DC Bike Finder running on my phone:
What drew me to Firefox OS in the first place was a developer environment that lowered the barrier to entry (see my April 16 post, Firefox OS and Lowering the Barrier to Entry into ICT) and would thus be a platform friendly to student learning. With a mobile device that I like to use and feel closely connected with thanks to contributing to it through LibriFox, I am excited about the prospect of further developing the Firefox OS curriculum inroads we began last year and seeing both how far we can progress in the new year and what surprises our journey will bring.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at August 30, 2015 06:39 PM

August 25, 2015

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Sugar Digest 2015-08-25

Sugar Digest

1. Google Summer of Code 2015 is wrapping up. The students have been writing their final blog reports, submitting last-minute patches, and uploading their code to Google. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our students and their mentors for all their hard work this summer. (Also, thanks once more to Google for supporting this program.) Great strides along many fronts were made. Specifically,

  • Michaël Ohayon worked on Web versions of some core activities for the Sugarizer project: Calculate, Paint (with collaboration, Record, and Memorize. He also submitted patches to Turtle Blocks to make it compatible with Sugarizer. Michaël’s blog and git repo are worth visiting. (Mentor: Lionel Laske)
  • Yash Khandelwal worked on Music Blocks AKA Mouse Music. This is a powerful, playful model for music in a block language. Yash’s blog and git repo are also worth visiting. (Mentors: Devin Ulibarri and Marnen Laibow-Koser)
  • Ishan Sharma revisited the Turtle 3D concept, rewriting it in Javascript. His results (blog, demo and git repo) are robust, scalable, and extensible. (Mentor: Walter)
  • Amit Kumar Jha worked on extensions to Turtle programming this summer. He added argument passing and return values to procedures, passing arguments to and returning values from Turtle programs so that Turtle Blocks can be used for in-line programming by all Javascript activities, and he developed a unit-test framework for Turtle Blocks JS that can be extended to all of our Javascript activities. See his blog and the master Turtle Blocks JS repo for more details. (Mentor: Walter)
  • Richa Sehgal worked on a framework to support off-line Web programming, an interactive Javascript shell. She’s submitted patches to the upstream Browse activity. Meanwhile, checkout her git repository. (Mentor: Tony Anderson)
  • Vibhor Sehgal and Utkarsh Dhawan, although not officially GSoC students, worked with Tony and Richa on a parallel project, Web Confusion, a series of programming challenges in the spirit of Turtle Confusion to encourage students. (Mentor: Tony Anderson)
  • Abhinav Anurag made some progress on a Web collaboration framework for our Javascript activities. See his blog and code. (Mentors: Martin Abente and Lionel Laske)

In the Community

2. We will be holding an election for the Sugar Labs oversight board (SLOB) at the end of the calendar year. If you are interested (or know someone who is interested) in running for a board seat (all seven seats will be open), please add an entry in the wiki. Also, whereas ballots are only available to “members”, please officially join Sugar Labs.

3. Mariah Noelle Villarreal has submitted a panel proposal, “Building Free and Open Education Communities”, to the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW). The panelpicker voting period is now open until September 4th. If you have time, please vote and share with any appropriate channels as well as a video that was created for the proposal [16].

4. Sweet: Sugar contributors Mariah Noelle Villarreal and Ruben Rodriguez got married this summer!!!

5. There were three RED (Revista de Educación a Distancia) submissions from Sugar community members:

  • Going from Bits to Atoms: Programming in Turtle Blocks JS and Personal Fabrication in Youth Maker Projects, Josh Burker
  • Visualizing Learning in Open-Ended Problem Solving in the Arts, Walter Bender and Claudia Urrea
  • Sensores Tortuga 2.0: Cómo el hardware y software abiertos pueden empoderar a las comunidades de aprendizaje (Turtle Sensors 2.0: How open hardware and software empower learning communities) by Guzmán Trinidad, Andrés Aguirre, Alan Aguiar, Tony Forster, Walter Bender, Facundo Benavides, and Federico Andrade

6. The Sugar/OLPC program in Caacupe is expanding!!!

Tech Talk

7. Peter Robinson announce quite some time ago that the Sugar on a Stick 21 Beta is now out as part of Fedora 21 Beta (Details), but I think I neglected to ever pass on the information to the Sugar community.

8. Also worth mentioning again: Ruben Rodriguez released Trisquel 7.0 released. TOAST (Trisquel with Sugar) is an official edition.

Sugar Labs

9. Please visit our planet.


by Walter Bender at August 25, 2015 03:46 PM

August 21, 2015

OpenStreetMap by Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer

Offline Solution for OpenStreetMap (OSM)

I’ve recently became involved with XSCE (School Server Community Edition) on their “Internet in a box” project to allow OpenStreetMap (OSM) maps to be available offline. Some of their deployments in remote schools around the world do not have a consistent internet access. So the idea is to download and store a set of knowledge resources (Wikipedia, videos from Khan Academy, OSM maps, etc) on a server, which will then provide those resources while being offline to laptops connected on the internal network.

Here are the constraints that need to be considered

  • The laptops that will be visualizing the maps are very underpowered. They are often XO laptops from the One Laptop per Child OLPC project.
  • The server, while not being as underpowered as the laptop, are typically quite limited as well on the HD, RAM and CPU.
  • Server handle other tasks than providing maps so this can’t be using entirely the hardware available
  • Server specs are not consistent from a deployment to the other (but they do have in common that they must run the XSCE software)
  • Deployments’ needs are rarely the same, they can be in any region of the world and each of them might not want the same level of map details for the same countries
  • Server is typically configured by a volunteer that has internet access, before it is deployed in remote locations. While they do have IT knowledge, this need to be simple enough.
  • Map does not need to be updated every week, but it needs to be relatively recent. If the server gets internet access once in a while, it needs to be able to update the maps relatively easily

The solution chosen is shown on that architecture diagram.

Since the server specs are limited, the map tiles needs to be pre-rendered before they make it to the XSCE internet in a box server. They cannot be rendered on the fly from the native OSM solution which uses a PostgreSQL database with PostGIS because it requires too much resources and would require to provision a different database for each deployment.

The pre-rendered tiles are stored into a MBTiles file, which is a format created by Mapbox that allows to stores efficiently millions of tiles in a SQLite database (which is then stored in a single file). It is efficient because it avoids duplicate tiles, which is frequent with large area of water. This also simplifies deployment because all you have to do is to move few files around instead of potentially copying millions of PNG tiles stored directly on disk.

To allow saving previous HD disk space, there will be a global planet OSM MBtiles (that does not zoom above level 10, which only zoom up to the city level) and then each country will be available for download as a separate pre-rendered MBTiles file (for zoom level 11 to 15). So for example, if the deployment is in Nepal, they could decide to download on the server the planet MBtiles file to get the map of the whole world, and then only specifically download the higher-zoom file for Nepal, to allow to zoom up to the street level. Downloading the whole world at zoom level up to 15 would require way above 1TB of HD space, which we can’t handle. This is why we want to get a high zoom level only for the countries that are needed by the deployment and based on how much HD space they have to spare.

To serve the MBTiles on a web server, there are a few options like TileStream (node.js) and TileStache (python). I chose TileStache, because it supports composite layers, which allows to serve multiple MBtiles file at the same time. TileStream only supports serving one MBTiles at a time, which would require to merge multiple MBtiles together, which is possible, but complicates deployment and makes it harder if we want to add/remove only specific countries later on. TileStache can serve tiles on WSGI, CGI and mod_python with Apache. XSCE also happens to already run multiple tools with Python and use WSGI with another tool, so the integration was easier (click here for details on the integration).

Then all you need is a simple HTML page, that will load Leaflet as a client side javascript library and will be configured to query  the Tilestache tile server located on the local network.

This solution is entirely based on raster tiles, instead of vector tiles. While vector tiles offers significant savings in terms of disk usage, they require much more CPU usage to render on the frontend and newer browsers, which is impossible with the type of hardware that we have (XO laptops).

The big remaining question is, where are those tiles being rendered, where are they stored and how can they be downloaded on demand by the XSCE server? This is a topic for a further blog post!

by jeromegagnonvoyer at August 21, 2015 06:05 PM

August 17, 2015

OLE Nepal

Volunteer training program for Bajhang

Volunteering strengthens our ties to the community while exposing us to people with common interests, neighborhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities. They are tremendously resourceful for any non profit organization. Volunteer program is one of OLE Nepal’s key aspects…

by Sofila Vaidya at August 17, 2015 09:13 AM

August 16, 2015

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Setting Up GeoDjango II

In my previous post on this topic, I ended up stuck with a database not existing error, which my good friend Kevin Cole very politely (only implying that I'm an idiot, while refraining from directly saying so ;-) pointed out that the documentation I'm using contains the instructions I need to create the database:
(env)$ createdb -T template_postgis geodjango

Unfortunately, running that gave me the following error:

createdb: database creation failed: ERROR:  template database "template_postgis" does not exist
Let me try a modified version (modified because my user doesn't have the privileges needed to create extensions) of the steps laid out here:
(env)$ createdb geodjango
(env)$ sudo su - postgres
$ psql geodjango
psql (9.3.9)
Type "help" for help.

geodjango=# CREATE EXTENSION postgis;
geodjango=# \q
$ exit
Now let me resume where I left off before the error:
(env)$ python manage.py sqlmigrate world 0001
CREATE TABLE "world_worldborder" ("id" serial NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY, "name" varchar(50) NOT NULL, "area" integer NOT NULL, "pop2005" integer NOT NULL, "fips" varchar(2) NOT NULL, "iso2" varchar(2) NOT NULL, "iso3" varchar(3) NOT NULL, "un" integer NOT NULL, "region" integer NOT NULL, "subregion" integer NOT NULL, "lon" double precision NOT NULL, "lat" double precision NOT NULL, "mpoly" geometry(MULTIPOLYGON,4326) NOT NULL);
CREATE INDEX "world_worldborder_mpoly_id" ON "world_worldborder" USING GIST ("mpoly" );

(env)$ python manage.py migrate
Operations to perform:
  Synchronize unmigrated apps: gis, messages, staticfiles
  Apply all migrations: world, admin, contenttypes, auth, sessions
Synchronizing apps without migrations:
  Creating tables...
    Running deferred SQL...
  Installing custom SQL...
Running migrations:
  Rendering model states... DONE
  Applying contenttypes.0001_initial... OK
  Applying auth.0001_initial... OK
  Applying admin.0001_initial... OK
  Applying contenttypes.0002_remove_content_type_name... OK
  Applying auth.0002_alter_permission_name_max_length... OK
  Applying auth.0003_alter_user_email_max_length... OK
  Applying auth.0004_alter_user_username_opts... OK
  Applying auth.0005_alter_user_last_login_null... OK
  Applying auth.0006_require_contenttypes_0002... OK
  Applying sessions.0001_initial... OK
  Applying world.0001_initial... OK
Progress!  Let me keep going and see if my good fortune holds:
(env)$ python manage.py shell
Python 3.4.0 (default, Jun 19 2015, 14:20:21)
[GCC 4.8.2] on linux
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import os
>>> import world
>>> world_shp = os.path.abspath(os.path.join(os.path.dirname(world.__file__),
...                             'data/TM_WORLD_BORDERS-0.3.shp'))
>>> from django.contrib.gis.gdal import DataSource
>>> ds = DataSource(world_shp)
>>> print(ds)
/home/[user/geodjango/geodjango/world/data/TM_WORLD_BORDERS-0.3.shp (ESRI Shapefile)
>>> print(len(ds))
>>> lyr = ds[0]
>>> print(lyr)
>>> print(lyr.geom_type)
>>> print(len(lyr))
The tutorial continues with several other interactive examples showing how to use GeoDjango's pythonic interface to the GDAL library.  I began experimenting with python's GDAL wrapper back in April as part of the Introduction to GIS Programming and Algorithms course I took at George Mason University.  I documented the installation of these tools in a post at that time.  The ability to "play" with data at run time is one of the many things I love about Python, and this tutorial, like most python tutorials, is making good use of that powerful pedagogical feature of the language.  There is no need for me to recount the other examples here, however, so I'll skip over them.

The next step in the tutorial is to create a file in the world app named load.py that contains the following:
import os
from django.contrib.gis.utils import LayerMapping
from .models import WorldBorder

world_mapping = {
'fips' : 'FIPS',
'iso2' : 'ISO2',
'iso3' : 'ISO3',
'un' : 'UN',
'name' : 'NAME',
'area' : 'AREA',
'pop2005' : 'POP2005',
'region' : 'REGION',
'subregion' : 'SUBREGION',
'lon' : 'LON',
'lat' : 'LAT',
'mpoly' : 'MULTIPOLYGON',

world_shp = os.path.abspath(os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), 'data/TM_WORLD_BORDERS-0.3.shp'))

def run(verbose=True):
lm = LayerMapping(WorldBorder, world_shp, world_mapping,
transform=False, encoding='iso-8859-1')

lm.save(strict=True, verbose=verbose)
Note: The tutorial lists: from models import WorldBorder, which will cause an import error.  models needs to be .models for this to work.

After making that change, I was able to:
(env) python manage.py shell
>>> from world import load
>>> load.run()
and watch as the countries of the world were loaded into the database.

Creating the github repo

Now would a good time to create a github repo.  First, I'll create a .gitignore file inside the top level geodjango directory (where manage.py is located) that lists the things I don't want in the repository:
This will tell git not to include the virtual environment, the python byte code files, and any vim swap files.  Next install git and initialize the repository:
(env)$ sudo aptititude install git
(env)$ git init
Now I'll check to see what a git add . would add:
(env)$ git add -n .
Since it looked good, I'll add do it, after configuring my git email and user:
(env)$ git config --global user.email [github email address]
(env)$ git config --global user.name [github name]
(env)$ git add .
(env)$ git commit -a
Initial commit.
Now push it to github (after adding an ssh key and creating a learn_geodjango project on github):
git remote add origin git@github.com:[user]/learn_geodjango.git
git push -u origin master
With the github repo now created, I'll continue the tutorial in a future post.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at August 16, 2015 06:33 PM

August 13, 2015

Ghana Together

Thank you Katie Henderson (and Dad Jeff)

We thank Katie Henderson and her father, Jeff Henderson, of Columbus, Ohio for giving the students at Axim Girls Senior High School (AGSHS) and also children at the Axim Public Library a HUGE BOOST in their Internet-in-a-Box (IIAB) and computing skills.

Katie, a student at Columbus School for Girls, is an expert in IIAB, One Laptop per Child computers, and Scratch, a beginning computer programming language that students use to create animated stories, games, interactive art, and simulations.

Katie took her skills and her Dad to Axim this July, and went to work.
From left to right: Jerry Kwofie, ICT teacher at AGSHS; Headmistress Theodora Appiah; Katie Henderson; Jeff Henderson

Katie held workshops at AGSHS in beginning computer coding/programming skills, and also worked with the many resources on the IIAB.

Katie working with senior high school girls at Axim Girls Senior High School

Adam Holt of Unleash Kids coached her mightily across the Atlantic via text, email, voice, WhatsApp, and who knows what else? You remember Adam…we wrote about this wonderful guy installing and training Internet-in-a-Box at Axim Girls Senior High School back in March 2015 (http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/2015/03/internet-in-box.html).

Not wanting to waste any of Katie and Jeff's skills, Ghana Together found funds to buy another server and other apparatus to set up a second IIAB at the Axim Public Library (thank you, thank you…generous friends).
So, Katie not only held workshops at AGSHS in beginning computer coding and IIAB skills. She also set up the second IIAB at the Axim Public Library, and held about a week of workshops. She worked with the children on Wikipedia, especially, using the 30 or so OLPC XO computers in the Children’s Computing Lab we helped set up in … was it two years ago? (So much happening, we can’t keep track.)

Katie working at the Children's Computing Lab/Axim Public Library on the One Laptop per Child XO laptops, teaching them how to use them to access the IIAB and to work with the many learning activities built into these computers

First let's get the basics under our belts!!

Katie was assisted big-time by Jerry Kwofie, ICT teacher at AGSHS, and Evans Arloo, Operations Manager for Western Heritage Home, our NGO partner in Axim. During the Axim Library installations and workshops, Gaddiel Eyison and James Amrado, staff members, helped out and were themselves trained. AGSHS Headmistress Theodora Appiah and Regional Library Director Mercy Ackah were supportive at every turn.

The on-the-ground team: Katie, Jerry Kwofie, Evans Arloo, James Amrado, and Gaddiel Eyison

And of course, Dad Jeff discovered perhaps somewhat rusty skills as he helped to get all the components working! Thanks, Jeff, for making this all happen.

"I just KNOW we can make this work!!!"

Katie summarized her achievements in an email to Ghana Together:

My experience in Axim was a wonderful one. With great support from Jerry and Arloo (and Adam and team back in North America), we have accomplished a great deal, including:
  • Internet-in-a-Box system is installed and fully operational at the Axim Library site

  • 30+ XO-1 laptops have been updated with the latest firmware and software

  • 12 desktop PCs now have new wireless capability at AGSHS, allowing them to connect to the IIAB system in the computer lab

  • 24 fourth and fifth grade students have had a week of training on the use of the IIAB, particularly Wikipedia 

  • 22 high school students at AGSHS have had a week of training on the various tools within IIAB, including Wikipedia, RACHEL, Power Typing, Open Street Maps, and others.

Ghana Together loved facilitating this visit! On behalf of Ghana Together, Western Heritage Home, Axim Girls Senior High School, and Axim Public Library we can only say THANK YOU to the Henderson duo and also to Unleash Kids!<o:p></o:p>

Katie created a fascinating blog for friends and family documenting her experience...neat to hear from her first-hand:

Prior News Updates: http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com
Our website is: http://ghanatogether.org
Contact us: info@ghanatogether.org
We are a 501c3 non-profit, Fed ID: 26-2182965

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at August 13, 2015 03:41 PM

August 09, 2015

Tabitha Roder

Learn Moodle MOOC starting

Today I am excited to be starting week one of the learn.moodle.net MOOC. As an experienced Moodler, I still get a lot out of attending a beginner Moodle MOOC. Here are some of my thoughts on what I think experienced Moodlers will get out of the next four weeks:

  • Examples of different ways Moodle courses can be set up and different ways to setup activities.
  • The opportunity to see how you can run a course with a lot of participants. Not many of us run MOOCs but as they have become more common it is good to participate in them to keep current of this trends pros and cons.
  • A reminder of the kinds of questions beginners think of (outside of your own work context).
  • An opportunity to help beginners with their questions and give back to the Moodle community.
  • The experience of using things you might not have enabled in your own Moodle environment, like badges. This will help you think about how they might be used in your own context.

Having started the first week activities, I am already seeing hundreds of participants rolling up their sleeves and digging in. The course uses completion tracking to help you manage your tasks and progress as a learner in the course. There are clear tasks to complete and an indication of what kind of assessment will be carried out in the course. There are also badges used as one form of motivation.

Anyway, enough of reading my notes; if you want to join go to learn.moodle.net to sign up and get started today.

by tabitharoder at August 09, 2015 08:22 PM

August 08, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

Cal Poly Solar SPELL Team Holds Successful Training Workshop with Micronesia Peace Corps Volunteers


The Solar SPELL team from Cal Poly carried out a two-day training session with the incoming class of Peace Corps volunteers in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The training took place in Madolenihmw, Pohnpei in on August 4 & 5, 2015.


Cal Poly Professor Laura Hosman and student Drew Balthazor led the training, which included an overview of the library’s hardware, content, and the tablet that the team included for each Peace Corps volunteer to be able to access the library’s content once in the field. Raymond Norte, also from Cal Poly, documented the training digitally, as he served as the team’s videographer and photographer.


This training was the first of two this summer that will be carried out by Prof. Hosman and the team of students in the Liberal Arts and Engineering Program who worked on designing, developing, and deploying the library over the past few months.


The Peace Corps volunteers in FSM, and indeed across the Pacific Islands, commit to two years of volunteer service, and are stationed at schools. Most of these schools will not have reliable electricity/power or Internet connectivity, so these libraries are designed to provide relevant educational content in these challenging environmental conditions. The Peace Corps volunteers’ responsibilities include teaching English, using technology where possible, and working together with the community and the school to help improve the education available at the schools where they are serving.


The Solar SPELL library was designed to help meet the needs of the Peace Corps volunteers, vis-à-vis enabling and improving education, in the field. It includes open access content, much of which is localized for the Federated States of Micronesia and for the Pacific Islands. The offline library’s content can also be found in on-line version here: http://pacificschoolserver.org


The library’s hardware is designed to be as simple to use as possible, with no moving parts in order to avoid overheating. The solar panel and plastic case are waterproof, providing an extra level of protection against the salt air and humidity that is ever-present in the Islands.


A number of the Peace Corps volunteers expressed their gratitude to the SPELL team, for creating the library, for its relevance to their mission, and for giving the training session. The sentiment of gratitude was echoed by the Peace Corps staff as well. We heard so many expressions of “Thank you so much,” “This is so perfect for us,” “This is amazing,” “I can’t believe your students did this in such a limited time,” and that felt pretty wonderful.


The team is extremely grateful to the Peace Corps staff in FSM, particularly including to Rodney Salas and James Ramon, who facilitated the successful training on-site, as well as to Peace Corps librarian Elizabeth Karr, who provided valuable input and feedback on the training materials prior to the workshop in Pohnpei.


After the training in Pohnpei was completed, the team traveled to Chuuk, another of the four Federated States of Micronesia, to jump-start two new projects, and to check in on multiple other projects that Dr. Hosman has initiated or assisted with, there.



The SPELL Solar Digital Libraries project was made financially possible through a grant from the Pacific Telecommunications Council, an in-kind donation (of Banana Pis) from LeMaker, as well as an in-kind donation (of Nexus 7 Tablets) from Inveneo.

by ljhosman at August 08, 2015 05:27 AM

August 06, 2015

Tabitha Roder

Learn Moodle MOOC

Did anyone notice how quick 9 August 2015 snuck up on us? If you haven’t already set yourself up on the Learn Moodle MOOC now is the time to do so as the introductions have been flowing in from all around the world. What a great opportunity to network, share your experiences and learn from others.
<iframe allowfullscreen="true" class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="365" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PLxcO_MFWQBDcyn9xpbmx601YSDlDcTcr0&amp;hl=en_US" type="text/html" width="595"></iframe>

by tabitharoder at August 06, 2015 09:56 AM

July 30, 2015

Fargo to Sudan XO

PODS Game Design | Inspiring children in the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo area to enhance their creativity by designing video games.

PODS Game Design | Inspiring children in the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo area to enhance their creativity by designing video games..

PODS picking up where Sugar Labs @ NDSU left off, except:
a. they seem to be charging for classes
b. they want to reach as many kids as possible but probably aren’t focusing on under-represented populations
c. they want to “enhance creativity;” we were trying to focus on computational thinking. Ironic.

by kab13 at July 30, 2015 04:09 AM

July 29, 2015

One Laptop per Child

Universidad ORT y OLPC en México ofrecen becas del 100% para Maestría en Innovación educativa

Queridos amigos de OLPC,

Nos complace compartir con ustedes que OLPC recientemente ha firmado un acuerdo con la Universidad ORT de México y para celebrarlo, se están ofreciendo becas del 100% de la colegiatura a la Maestría en Innovación Educativa a 3 personas referidas por OLPC que sean admitidos a la universidad.
Para tener más información sobre el programa se puede consultar la siguiente liga:
Si esto es de su interés es importante tomar acción lo antes posible ya que:
1) las inscripciones cierran en 3 semanas
2) la oferta será válida para los primeros 3 solicitantes que completen el procedimiento y sean admitidos al programa de la Universidad derivado del acuerdo con OLPC. 
El procedimiento:
Para poder solicitar la beca institucional, deberá seguir los siguientes pasos: 
1. Acceder a la página de la Universidad ORT en la siguiente liga: http://www.ort.edu.mx/p/<wbr></wbr>admisiones.html
2. En esta página encontrarán los pasos para poder seguir el proceso de admisión a la universidad.
3. Bajar hasta el final de la pagina y hacer click en dónde dice Solicitud de Admisión, se desplegará la solicitud en la cual la primera opción dice: Si tienes un código de convenio de beca anotarlo, en este espacio va el código 
4. Llenar la solicitud completa.
5. Mandar el comprobante de pago del proceso de admisión y su ensayo de motivos a la dirección que se especifica. 
Para cualquier duda, comunicarse a la  Coordinación de Admisiones al tel. (55) 6721-8576 en la Cd. de México.
Siéntanse en total libertad de compartir esta información con alguien que quiera aprovechar esta oportunidad única.
Reciban un saludo cordial y como siempre, nuestro agradecimiento por su interés en mejorar la educación de los niños. 

by mariana at July 29, 2015 06:14 PM

OLE Nepal

Thanking our friend Anil

Our friend Anil has recently completed the grueling NYC Triathlon for OLE Nepal. The Panasonic NYC Triathlon which was held in New York City on July 19th, 2015 saw the presence of many enthusiastic participants who ran, swam and cycled.…

by Sofila Vaidya at July 29, 2015 04:09 AM

July 27, 2015

Nancie Severs

Healing Winds & Finding Joy — Burlington, VT

Burlington, VT

It has been quite a while since I have posted an entry. It has been a beautiful summer in the Upper Valley. As I transition to life after cancer treatment, I have been busy enjoying warm weather activities and family and friends!

First, my niece, (my Hanover daughter) Ellen visited in mid-June. We were so happy to have a throwback Murphy's dinner and Upper Valley visit. Ellen came for the 15th graduating class and the first ever alumni event of her OB-Gyn residency program at Dartmouth. We had a wonderful visit.

The following week, my sister Janet came up for an Upper Valley vacation.. She was here with her "Israeli sister" Netta for a few days. I loved seeing Netta. Netta tasted her first Mexican food, at our local Gusanoz, and she kayaked in the Connecticut River, her first time in a kayak.

My friend Maribel had given my name to an organization in Burlington,Vermont called Healing Winds. Founded by Suzanne, a cancer survivor, Healing Winds is a non profit organization that takes cancer patients, friends and caregivers on an afternoon sail on Lake Champlain. http://healingwindsvt.org/

Glen was our Captain and Bill was his right hand man. Both have been touched by cancer, both are accomplished sailors (&amp; skiers) and they generously volunteer their time for Healing Winds.

Suzanne, the founder of Healing Winds mentioned her idea for this program to an acquaintance and soon received a cool donation of a 28 foot sailing craft which made her dream a reality. The boat, the Jubilee, when donated needed some loving care and sprucing up. Now she looks great and is seaworthy and sound.

Janet and I were treated to a relaxing three hour sail on Lake Champliain on a beautiful warm &amp; sunny day. What a special gift from a wonderful organization of generous volunteers and supporters!

We stayed overnight in Burlington at the Courtyard Marriott on the harbor. A lake view room, our lovely sailing trip, shopping on Church St. and candy-making at Lake Champlain Chocolates made it the perfect one night girls "getaway from cancer."

Candy making? Yes, I need to watch my sugar. I'm good at watching me eat it but not yet at restricting it. I love chocolate and I saw a brochure for a chocolate making class at South End Kitchens owned by Lake Champlain Chocolates in Burlington. I signed us up online for the afternoon class. It was one hour and the best fun. Oh, and we each came home with four large chocolate bars that we made ourselves. If you are going to Burlington, you will love this activity! Check out the photos. http://southendkitchenvt.com/

Thank you Healing Winds for the lovely invitation and sailing trip. It was the impetus for my "getaway from cancer" and it was such good sister fun &amp; bonding time. What a wonderful break and distraction from the post treatment issues and concerns.

Which brings me to an update on my cancer recovery. I am very grateful that I get to be "finished with my treatment." I don't have any discernible signs of cancer now, and I hope we never see it again. Physically, I have been through an awful lot this year and transitioning off treatment does not mean that I am physically all done. I have a wonderful team of healing angels helping with treatment after-effects. Britton M, is my acupuncturist and Caroline C is my physical therapist. I have had massages by three therapists, each with their own strengths for my issues.These gifted practitioners each help me deal with the persistent fatigue, and with some tricky chemo and radiation effects. If you might benefit to know more detail about what's working for what, feel free to email me and ask.

It's a tall order to not think about recurrence. After the need for repeat CT scans and the colonoscopy in May, which thankfully all turned out normal, in June I was faced with the need for a repeat Pap smear (results took nearly 3 weeks). On top of that I had a recall on my annual mammogram. Both of those also turned out to be nothing, but the extra tests and waiting times were stressful and it's very hard not to worry. Mark says, worry about what you can do something about; those things you can control, and fix it. Whether or when the cancer might recur is not something I have any control over. I'm being followed closely; I am not missing any appointments. Beyond that, there's only so much i can do to change the outcome.

So I've been staying really busy. I push myself too much sometimes and then I am sooo tired! But I have so much to do.

Our Florida friends, Lisa &amp; Mayer and Sam &amp; Jeff visited for a day during their New England summer trip. We went canoeing and kayaking on the river from Dartmouth's Ledyard Canoe Club, since it was so easy with Janet &amp; Netta the week before. We went for Morano Gelato of course, and then had dinner at the Lincoln Inn in West Woodstock, VT. It was a wonderful day with dear friends and we felt like we had been on vacation too, afterwards.

The following week I had a cataract removed from my left eye. Thanks Janet for being here to help with that. (Mark has already done his share of hospital time for me this year. The right eye is scheduled soon. I have to be really careful not to get anything in it and I will have to stay out of the pool, river or lake for the rest of the summer. But oh, to be able to see colors clearly, and to see my yoga teachers without glasses, it is totally worth it! This surgery is simple in expert hands. The results are like a small miracle!

We've also had several lovely dinners with friends! I have been helping with and enjoying the summer "informal open gardens" &amp; events of the Hanover Garden Club.

On July 11, we walked the Prouty with Team Mariposa in honor of Maribel. Our Team had 47 members this year and we raised $18,000 for cancer research and patient services at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Even I am impressed. Maribel is living with breast cancer, and fitting it into her busy life as an athlete, and a young wife and mother of three running a household and running 1/2 marathons. Maribel stays positive and her spirit and tenacity continue to inspire me!

I am also trying to stay positive. It's easier to be positive in the present than to try and guess what the future may or may not bring. But when you've had he diagnosis and treatment I've had, keeping the "monkey brain" on task is a work in progress.

A member of my healing team is a gifted physical therapist helping me with post radiation issues. To avoid worsening lymphedema Caroline reminds me that I must keep moving. I need to limit time sitting at a desk, in the car, at meals etc and I need to take time twice a day to put my legs up the wall.

Last week Caroline advised me to do only the things that "bring you light. "Just don't do things that are frustrating or cause anxiety. Do the things you love, yoga, bike, swing a golf club, get on a swing." (Tillie remembers the last time I was swinging at the Jax Beach playground with her kids :)) Caroline also wisely says, try to just be with the people in your life that bring you joy and good feelings.

Today I asked her to tell me these things again that I need to hear this prescription again and again. I chose doctors in whom I have confidence and the treatment I had provided the best chance of a cure. I am working to be really positive about my prognosis (which as of now is good) and I need reminders to not do things that encourage me to dwell on the fact that I had cancer. During treatment, I did really well fitting cancer into my life and not making it my life.

It is gone for now. Hopefully we won't see it again. As Mark and I make plans for our first short trip to Europe together, I'll take a break from this "Unexpected Journey" blog. Traveling is one of the things that brings me joy and light. I hope to share that joy in a more traditional Travelpod blog that is once again about travel!

Thanks to my family and friends who have encouraged me during this very challenging year. "It takes a Village" and you have all helped!

Love, Nancie

July 27, 2015 12:11 PM

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL featured on BBC World Service Program Click

BBC World Service_0BBC-click-220x220

A short while ago, I was interviewed about the SPELL project on the BBC World Service Program Click. It was a fantastic opportunity to talk about what our solar digital libraries are, how they work, what the content is, and why having great content is so important. It was perfect timing to raise awareness of the project in advance of our deployments in Vanuatu and Micronesia in the coming weeks.

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Above is a YouTube video with the interview and a slideshow of relevant photos.

If you’d prefer to listen to the full length podcast, here is a link to the Click website with the episode, and the SPELL interview starts at about 21:50.

Many thanks to Gareth Mitchell for a lovely interview, and to Colin Grant for finding out about the project and making the interview possible.

by ljhosman at July 27, 2015 02:27 AM

July 21, 2015

Ghana Together

UDDT Project Update – Methodist Government School

We are delighted to report that the urine diversification/dehydration toilet (UDDT) project at Methodist-Government school is moving right along. The contractor, Mr. Emmanuel Appiah, sends photos every few days via the miracle of "Whatsapp!"

Thanks to the Engineers Without Borders team that trained Mr. Appiah’s crew in 2014 on the first UDDT project, the Ghanaians now know how to construct this type of toilet. <o:p></o:p>

Students helping carry materials to the building site

In keeping with their traditional way of handling this, they are building urinals on each end---one for boys and one for girls. Above, you see the girls' urinal, with a separate, semi-private compartment on the right for handling their menstrual needs. A container capturing rain water will also be installed in that compartment, so girls can rinse out their "cloths", wash their hands, etc. The center section (colored bricks) is private "stalls"---each one can handle both urine and feces and provides privacy..
 We have been forwarding Mr. Appiah’s photos to the EWB leadership in Bellingham, WA who have helped out by noticing some details that needed to be remedied. Thanks!<o:p></o:p>

This is international teamwork at the local level! For those of us of a certain age, we can only say “Who would have thought?”<o:p></o:p>

Workmen installing the "doors" to the feces compartments. Each "stall" has two such "cisterns", as  the compartments are called. The students use one cistern for an entire year. Then it is capped and the other cistern is used. After another year, the first cistern is simply shoveled out, and the dried feces is hauled away as fertilizer (probably to a nearby rubber plantation). EWB-Bellingham is developing an easy way to test feces toxicity, to ensure safe handling.

While these are sanitation projects, they also are science education projects.
Students are gaining a better understanding of their own bodies and how they work. They are understanding the chemistry of urine, the toxicity of feces, and how to handle both in healthful ways.
They are learning how human waste can provide precious fertilizer to crops, if handled properly. Girls can handle their menstrual periods at school, without having to miss precious days, through the special accommodation built into the girls’ urinal. <o:p></o:p>

This photo shows the inside arrangement. Students plant their feet on the "foot blocks." One hole will be capped and not used while the other will be used for an entire year. Feces goes down the hole....urine goes forward into the small hole in the center of the basin. The "urine hole" is connected to a pipe, and the urine is diverted to the planted area behind the toilet.

Toilet tissue, newsprint, leaves, menstrual pads, cloth, etc. can go into the feces hole. Anything of plastic cannot. We teach the students to remember that our bodies separate our waste, automatically, and with this type of toilet, we just continue what our bodies already do!

With this second toilet project, about 1000 more children and their teachers are learning about this advanced, low-impact, no-water-no-electricity toilet design. <o:p></o:p>

PVC pipe provides ventilation. One of the big advantages of this toilet design is the lack of odor often found in the more common pit toilets. This is especially a problem when one is only 4 degrees from the equator!! The plants shown will be supplemented by many others---avocados, fruit trees, tomatoes, etc. The urine drains through pipes with holes to fertilize the "garden" behind the toilet.

Pipes will be added to the roof to collect rain water, which flows into secure hand-washing containers.
Maybe a bit more than you wanted to know!!
Of course, other schools in Axim are finding out about these toilets and they want one, too. Mr. Appiah has offered to donate his own labor costs completely, and his workers have agreed to donate some of their labor, too, for any additional UDDTs. They want to help their community.
With Mr. Appiah’s generous offer, each UDDT costs about $12,000-$15,000, depending on the exchange rate, terrain, etc. (about a $5000 discount over the original quote). (Note: per James Kainyiah, who does construction himself and is Chair of WHH, our partner organization, this is an honest contractor with honest quote).
So, hey, if you would like a toilet of your very own, you know who to call! We could name it after you. We know an artist in Axim who we are sure can make a truly beautiful plaque… J <o:p></o:p>

Seriously, we have a dream where no one has to use the bush!

Go to our blog for previous news updates: http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/
Go to our website: http://ghanatogether.org
Contact us: info@ghanatogether.org
We are a registered 501c3 nonprofit: IRS ID 26-2182965

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at July 21, 2015 06:34 AM

July 20, 2015

Fargo to Sudan XO

Bay Area Teens Share the Love of Coding (Part 1)

Bay Area Teens Share the Love of Coding (Part 1).

Pretty close to what we were trying to do, except we tried it with 4th and 5th grade kids.

by kab13 at July 20, 2015 05:39 PM

July 16, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

Solar Digital Library Demo to Peace Corps Librarian

Last week, I had the opportunity to demo our SPELL Solar Digital Library to Elizabeth Karr, a Technical Information Specialist (librarian) at the US Peace Corps. We had already spoken and exchanged emails about SPELL prior to this, but it was wonderful to meet her in person. In fact, two-and-a-half hours flew by before I even noticed what time it was!


We met at Inveneo’s offices in downtown San Francisco, and were also able to discuss the various—and numerous—relevant projects that Inveneo has done and is doing, both related to this project and to educational technology and connectivity in resource-constrained locations more generally.


We got to describe in greater detail our work in the Pacific Islands over the past few years that has led up to this project, as we gear up for our deployment of the first 50 SPELL libraries to Peace Corps volunteers in the Federated States of Micronesia and Vanuatu in the coming weeks and months. We also discussed how the project could scale in the future, particularly to additional Peace Corps volunteers. Among other much appreciated insights, Elizabeth gave invaluable tips on getting productive feedback from PC volunteers in the field, so that we can keep improving the design and content on the libraries in the future.


Elizabeth is extremely supportive of the SPELL library, and we are thrilled to be able to work with such an enthusiastic ally! We certainly look forward to working together with her and with the Peace Corps, as we continue to improve the library and hope to expand its implementation.

by ljhosman at July 16, 2015 11:42 PM

July 15, 2015

Technology for Ghana

Ghana → Gahanna

13 hours of plane rides, a tight layover, and a bag full of Toblerone chocolate later, we finally made it back to Columbus! I was extremely happy to see my mom and sister after almost a month apart, and my sister even made us a welcome-home cake! We gave them all of their gifts from Ghana, including wooden elephants, giraffes, and dolphins! I already miss all of the students and other people that I met during my stay in Ghana, but I have to admit that it felt pretty amazing to take a hot shower, raid my kitchen pantry, and sleep in my own bed. I may be back from Ghana, but the adventure most certainly does not end here! I made sure to collect contact information from several people at every school that I worked with, and I hope to continue to strengthen my relationships with the schools and organizations, even though I am now on a different continent. Who knows, I may even go back someday to check in on them in person!

July 15, 2015 04:24 PM

All the Art in Accra

Today we drove from Cape Coast to Accra, where we will be flying out of early tomorrow morning. We spent the majority of our afternoon at the Accra Arts Centre Market at the Centre for National Culture, which contains stalls that are practically bursting with wooden carvings, textiles, instruments, clothing, jewelry, and more. I had been looking forward to this visit for almost our entire trip, and it did not disappoint! We purchased several beautiful pieces of art, some as personal souvenirs and others as gifts for family and friends back home. We informed one of the vendors that we were searching for a dolphin for my sister, the mascot of her sorority, and over the next two hours I think we were shown every fish and shark in the entire market! However, part of the fun of shopping in these types of markets is searching for the hidden treasures among all of the other pieces of art. I am an expert at negotiating prices by now, and I managed to cut down the price of a giraffe from 120 cedis to just 60! After we finished shopping, we headed to our hotel in Accra and had a late lunch before carefully wrapping up all of our new pieces of art and adding them to our luggage. We're heading to bed much earlier than usual, as we leave for the airport at 6:30 in the morning tomorrow!

July 15, 2015 03:42 PM

Au Revoir, Axim

Today was my last day of teaching in Axim. Even more depressingly, it was also my last day of teaching here in Ghana! I was lucky enough to end my journey with two wonderful final lessons. At the Axim Library, we again spent the day on Wikipedia, and I asked the students ten questions on Wikipedia and ten more on Wikipedia for Schools. My favorite question was "Where could I find a living dodo today?" Of course, this is a trick question, as the dodo bird has been extinct for many, many years. However, I had a lot of fun with the kids before I revealed the answer! They guessed countries and islands from just about every continent in the world, and they grew more perplexed every time I said that the guess was incorrect. I finally asked one of the kids to read the first line of the Wikipedia article out loud for the class, which starts off by stating that the dodo is extinct. I then asked if anyone knew what the word "extinct" meant, and, as I had guessed, they all said no. I took this as the perfect opportunity to tell the kids that if they do not know the meaning of a seemingly relevant or important word in their readings, they should use Wikipedia to look it up! I had one of the students look up the meaning of "extinct," and the students finally understood why none of their guesses had been correct - a living dodo cannot be found anywhere today because they're all dead! The kids all laughed when they understood that it had been a trick question, and I was glad that they were not upset that I had put them through it. I definitely think it taught them an important lesson for any of their readings in school or later in life. At the end of the lesson, I thanked them all for being such patient and eager students during every lesson this week, and then it was time to say goodbye! After a quick lunch, we went to AGSHS to teach my final lesson. We did not have electricity, but I had grown quite used to this state of darkness by now! I started off the lesson by giving Jerry and Arloo one of the more difficult multi-step questions to solve in front of the students, and I set my timer for five minutes. The girls had a great time laughing at their teachers as they struggled to find the answers on Wikipedia and Open Street Maps, even with the students shouting out the answers that they spotted on the board! Ten or so minutes later, after Jerry and Arloo finally answered their question, it was time for the girls to ask the questions that they had come up with themselves. Group 1 gave its question to Group 2, Group 2 gave its question to Group 3, and so on. Most of the questions were very well thought up, and the girls did a great job answering them. The one notable exception, which was actually quite funny, was Group 2's question. Group 3 was having a very hard time answering this question, and even I was unable to solve it from my dad's computer in the back! I finally asked Group 2 to assist Group 3 with their question, and it was revealed that they actually did not know how to solve their own question! They were simply asking about a book that they had read in school earlier this year and had not bothered to see if the answer could be found using the Internet-in-a-Box! We all had quite the laugh over this revelation before Jerry jokingly "disqualified" Group 2 from the competition. After finishing up the lesson, I thanked the girls one last time for being such great students and told them to continue to push themselves in everything that they did. The assistant headmaster thanked us on behalf of the school and gave my father and I each a thoughtful gift, and then the girls decided that it was picture time! Before I could even respond, my phone was whipped out of my front pocket and immediately passed around so that everyone could get a picture with me! Once I was finally able to pull myself away and say my last goodbyes, we left the school and started our drive to Cape Coast. We spent our second-to-last night in Ghana at Kathryn's house in Mpeasem, which brought us full-circle to the beginning of our journey almost a month ago, although Kathryn, Maureen, and Monica were noticeably absent this time, as all three of them have already traveled back to the United States. We leave for Accra tomorrow morning, so we simply spent the night relaxing and finishing up our packing.

July 15, 2015 02:49 PM

July 13, 2015

One Laptop per Child

Corn Island será la segunda isla digital de Nicaragua implementando el programa OLPC de Fundación Zamora Terán

CLARO y Banco LAFISE BANCENTRO implementarán el Programa Educativo una Computadora por Niño de FZT en todas las escuelas de Corn Island, convirtiéndose de esta manera en la segunda isla digital de Nicaragua

Estas son algunas de las noticias que se han publicado al respecto.


Corn Island conectada al mundo



Managua, 09 de Julio de 2015.- Corn Island, Región Autónoma de la Costa Caribe Sur (RACCS) se convertirá en la segunda isla digital de Nicaragua, gracias a la unión de esfuerzos y al compromiso que Banco LAFISE BANCENTRO y CLARO tienen con la educación de calidad de la niñez nicaragüense.


Para lograr la digitalización de Corn Island se requiere una inversión de U$ 312,500 dólares, para beneficiar a los 1,250 niños, niñas y docentes de las diez escuelas de Great y Little Corn Island.


Claro Nicaragua ha sido la empresa más innovadora en Nicaragua desde su inicio de operación, mejorado su tecnología para responder a las nuevas necesidades de comunicación y aportando, desde el programa Claro Net, al fortalecimiento de la educación.


“Con esta red se aumenta la capacidad para transmitir y recibir datos, con mayor velocidad. Estamos incorporando al sistema educativo de Corn Island un servicio de alto nivel, para beneficio de los estudiantes y maestros. Estamos convencidos en que éste programa será de gran impacto social para las comunidades de la Isla”, comentó Gilda Tinoco Gerente de Comunicación Corporativa de Claro Nicaragua.


Por su parte, Rodrigo Zamora, Director de Fundación Zamora Terán, agradeció a CLARO, a Banco LAFISE BANCENTRO, así como a Central American Fisheries, SA (CAF), por donar U$ 40,000 dólares y la empresa La Costeña que aportó U$ 19, 200 dólares, uniendo esfuerzos con el objetivo de convertir a la isla en un paraíso educativo. Invitó y animó al empresariado nacional, a las organizaciones sin fines de lucro, a los países donantes y voluntarios a unirse a este proyecto que sin duda alguna llevará educación de calidad, tecnología de punta y progreso a las familias de Corn Island.


Gastón Rappaccioli, vicegerente general de Banco LAFISE BANCENTRO, destacó que la institución financiera es uno de los principales donantes para digitalizar Corn Island con el aporte del capital semilla de U$ 145 mil dólares que corresponde a un 46% del monto total de la inversión beneficiando a 581 estudiantes y docentes de las escuelas de la isla con la entrega de la herramienta educativa XO.


La digitalización de la isla, al implementar el Programa Educativo “Una Computadora por Niño”, de FZT mejorará el acceso de las familias a la tecnología, porque una de las características de este programa es que los estudiantes puedan llevar la herramienta educativa XO a sus casas y compartirla con sus familiares.


Corn Island ha sido reconocida por revistas internacionales por su exuberante belleza, posicionando a Nicaragua como un destino turístico para visitantes nacionales y extranjeros; igualmente se han realizado inversiones para mejorar las condiciones de los habitantes de la isla. Sin embargo, continúa siendo una zona con altos índices de pobreza que afectan el sistema educativo.


¡Uniendo esfuerzos, construimos el futuro!


Con apoyo del programa “Una Computadora por Niño”

Niñez de Corn Island desarrollará sus conocimientos tecnológicos

Viernes 10 de Julio 2015 | Carlos Fernando Alvarez



Unos 1,200 niños en 10 escuelas de Corn Island y Little Corn Island en el Caribe Norte nicaragüense podrán contar ahora con una computadora personal que les facilitará el aprendizaje y el acceso a la tecnología.


La iniciativa responde a la ejecución del programa “Una Computadora por Niño”, implementado por la Fundación Zamora-Terán, con el apoyo del Ministerio de Educación, Banco Lafise Bancentro y la empresa de telecomunicaciones Claro.


“Mientras mejor estén preparados los niños, mientras mejor educados estén, mientras tengan más conocimientos, tecnología e internet, van a ser mejor profesionales y van a brindar un mejor apoyo al desarrollo de la nación”, aseguró Gastón Rappaccioli, Vice Gerente General Banca de Persona, Banco Lafise Bancentro.


Dar una computadora a cada niño es ayudarlo a “despertar el genio que llevan dentro”, expuso por su parte Rodrigo Zamora, director de la fundación Zamora-Terán.


A su vez, Gilda Tinoco, Gerente de Comunicación de Claro ratificó el compromiso que la multinacional tiene con el desarrollo de Nicaragua, específicamente en materia de educación.


“Por eso desde el 2010 tenemos nuestro programa Claronet cuyo objetivo principal es reducir la brecha digital y a través de ello hemos conectado de forma gratuita a más de 320 escuelas a nivel nacional y especialmente en las zonas rurales, en este caso con el Ministerio de Educación y la fundación Zamora-Terán estaremos llegando a Corn Island”, aseguró Tinoco.


La inversión total hecha para la adquisición de las computadoras XO, asciende a 312,000 dólares y se pretende dar cobertura a la totalidad de estudiantes de las islas caribeñas.


Corn Island, paraíso digital

Avance. Estudiantes y docentes de las escuelas de la isla estarán conectados a internet y recibirán computadoras, como parte del programa Una Computadora por Niño.

 Leyla Jarquín



Corn Island, Región Autónoma del Caribe Sur (RACS), se convertirá en la segunda isla digital del país luego de que los 1,250 estudiantes y docentes que hay tanto en la isla grande como en la pequeña reciban una computadora XO con diferentes programas educativos y acceso a internet, como parte del programa Una Computadora por Niño, de la Fundación Zamora Terán (FZT).


“A partir del próximo martes 21 de junio inicia la primera etapa para darle una computadora a cada niño, niña y docente de las escuelas de primaria en Corn Island, convirtiéndola en un paraíso educativo y la segunda isla digital de Nicaragua con todas sus escuelas conectadas a Internet”, señaló el director de la FZT, Rodrigo Zamora.


Para dicha primera etapa, precisó Zamora, cuentan con US$204,000 de los US$312,500 que se necesitan en total, por lo que en un inicio solo cubrirán al 65% de los estudiantes y docentes. De cara a conseguir el dinero para cubrir al restante 35% de beneficiarios, hizo un llamado a las familias, empresas y los organismos nacionales e internacionales para que se unan a esta causa.


Alianza efectiva

De lo obtenido hasta el momento, US$145,000 fueron aportados por el banco Lafise Bancentro, US$40,000 por la empresa Central American Fisheries y US$19,200 por La Costeña.


Cuando se unen esfuerzos, los resultados son extraordinarios y palpables”. Rodrigo Zamora, director de la FZT.

“Me llena de mucho orgullo ver que este proyecto hoy se esté haciendo realidad, ya que demuestra la fuerte alianza público-privada impulsada por la Fundación Zamora Terán con el lema ‘Uniendo esfuerzos construimos el futuro’”, dijo Zamora.


Hasta el momento, hay más de 34,000 estudiantes y más de 1,000 docentes de primaria de escuelas públicas que tienen una computadora XO, así mismo casi 140 escuelas conectadas a Internet, servicio que es proveído por la empresa Claro de forma gratuita para este programa de la FZT. La primera isla digital fue Ometepe, donde en 2012 entregaron 5,000 computadoras XO a alumnos y maestros.


Anuncian programa educativo para Corn Island.- Anuncian programa educativo para Corn Island. -Al respecto, Zamora comentó que unos de los principales beneficios que ha habido en dicha isla después de la llegada de este programa es que la matrícula ha aumentado en un 4% y que el rendimiento académico pasó del 89% en el 2012 al 94% en el 2014.


Importantes beneficios

La directora de Tecnología Educativa del Mined, Mónica Genet, expresó por su parte que esta iniciativa representará un gran avance en el aprendizaje de los niños y las niñas de Corn Island, pues tendrán acceso a Internet mientras están en las escuelas y porque el programa contempla que se pueden llevar los equipos a sus casas.


“Estamos incorporando al sistema educativo de Corn Island un servicio de alto nivel, para beneficio de los estudiantes y maestros; estamos convencidos que este programa será de gran impacto social para las comunidades de la isla”, indicó la gerente de comunicación corporativa de Claro, Gilda Tinoco, quien refirió que para llevar la conexión a las escuelas invierten al año alrededor de US$50,000.


Zamora insistió en que con este tipo de programas “Nicaragua se está convirtiendo en un referente a nivel mundial en cómo el sector privado y el rector público pueden trabajar juntos y traer beneficios a sus ciudadanos”.


10 escuelas públicas existen en Corn Island y serán beneficiadas con el programa.


Corn Island será la segunda isla digital de Nicaragua

Por: Jeniffer Castillo



1,250 estudiantes y docentes de Corn Island, en el Caribe de Nicaragua, van a recibir una computadora XO, lo que convertirá a esta en la segunda isla digital de Nicaragua, informó la Fundación Zamora Terán.


En la primera etapa, entregarán más de 700, equivalentes al 65% de las computadoras. Para lograr la digitalización de Corn Island se requiere una inversión total de US$ 312,500 para beneficiar a los estudiantes y docentes de las diez escuelas de Great y Little Corn Island.


Las computadoras estarán conectadas como parte del programa Claro Net que ejecuta Claro Nicaragua, en conjunto con el Ministerio de Educación.


La Fundación insta a las empresas privadas para que colaboren en la compra del restante 35% de las computadoras.


Corn Island digital

Por: Jeniffer Castillo Bermúdez



Nicaragua tendrá una segunda isla digital porque la Fundación Zamora Terán (FZT) entregará computadoras XO a los 1,250 estudiantes y docentes de Great y Little Corn Island.


Rodrigo Zamora, director de la FZT, dijo que “a partir del próximo martes 21 de julio inicia la primera etapa para darle una computadora a cada niño y docente de primaria en Corn Island convirtiéndola en un paraíso educativo y la segunda isla digital de Nicaragua con toditas sus escuelas conectadas al internet”.


En total son diez escuelas que serán incorporadas al programa Una computadora por niño que ejecuta FZT desde 2009.


Zamora indicó que para la primera entrega ya disponen del 65 por ciento del total de equipos que distribuirán en Great y Little Corn Island y que la digitalización total de la isla depende de las donaciones de la empresa privada.


Este jueves, Zamora dijo que para esta primera entrega el Banco Lafise Bancentro donó 145,000 dólares, Central American Fisheries aportó cuarenta mil dólares y la aerolínea La Costeña entregó 19,000 dólares para la compra de los equipos. La digitalización total de la isla cuesta alrededor de 312,500 dólares.


La empresa Claro donará la conexión de internet en todas las escuelas de Corn Island.

by mariana at July 13, 2015 03:14 PM

July 10, 2015

Technology for Ghana

All Fixed!

We got to the Axim Library an hour early today to upgrade all of the XO laptops before my lesson. With the help of my dad and an extremely efficient assembly line setup, we successfully updated almost all 20-something laptops. We were unable to install the updates on three of the computers because the power went out about halfway through, and these three laptops did not have fully-operational batteries. However, the computers were all ready to go by the time the students arrived, and the lesson went very well as a result. I gave the students some simple Wikipedia questions, such as "What is the population of China?" and "What is the capital of Canada?," and then I gave them some time to think of their own questions to ask their peers. The kids loved it, and they came up with very good questions. Some of the kids loved answering the questions so much that they would work together to find a question, and then one of them would ask the question and the other would give the answer almost immediately. It's hard to call out ten- and eleven-year-olds for cheating, so I only gave them some slight teasing once I caught on. At least they were very into the IIAB competition! Or maybe they just liked having everyone clap for them when they answered the question correctly… Oh well. At Axim Girls Senior High School, we faced a slight setback when the generator refused to power my projector, but my dad pulled out his old electrical engineering skills to get it working. For the actual lesson, I split the girls into four different groups of four or five people and then had each group take turns coming up to my computer to answer a question. Every question contained multiple parts and required using at least two of the IIAB programs (Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg, and/or Open Street Maps). The groups all did very well, with some of them finding even faster ways to solve their questions than I had intended! At the end of class, I unplugged the projector and gave each group five minutes to come up with their own multi-step IIAB question. That task took us to the very end of the lesson, but I told the girls to be ready to ask the rest of the class their questions first thing tomorrow! From AGSHS we headed over to Jerry's house, where his wife had prepared one of the local Ghanaian dishes for us for dinner! My dad and I both enjoyed a delicious plate of red red, which consists of black eyed peas and plantains, and, at the end of the night, Jerry presented my father and I with a traditional African shirt and dress as gifts from his family. It was the perfect way to spend our last night in Axim!

July 10, 2015 12:11 AM

July 08, 2015

Technology for Ghana

light 'em up

We finally had power for today's lessons! However, the lesson with the kids did not run as smoothly as hoped. Many of the XO laptops still would not connect to the Internet-in-a-Box, and many others had separate issues. After the lesson, I went through all of the laptops and "reflashed" those that I could, meaning that I updated the software and fixed several bugs. However, I was only able to successfully upgrade seven of the laptops, leaving over twenty without the update. I was also unable to upgrade the firmware on any of the laptops, so I took home two of the XO-1s to work with later and see if I could figure out why the upgrade was failing on those computers. My afternoon lesson with the high school girls went very well, and they were all very excited to finally use the IIAB on their own computers! I started off by giving them more questions on Wikipedia, and then they answered questions using Project Gutenberg and Open Street Maps. For the last bit of the lesson, I had all of the girls take the first typing lesson on Powertyping. As I told them before, practice is the only way to become better at typing, and being a faster typer allows one to use a computer much more efficiently. We also met with the headmistress of the school, who again thanked us for the work that we are doing with her school and its girls. After dinner, I got back to work on the XO-laptops. I tried upgrading the firmware on the laptops before re-flashing them, using just two of the many flash drives that I had prepared and downloaded with files before leaving Ohio, and this time I tried using a slightly different technique for upgrading the firmware. After much trial and error and Skype-messaging with Adam, I finally succeeded in upgrading the firmware, and immediately afterwards I successfully re-flashed the laptops! It was such a relief after a great amount of frustration with these XO-laptops. Tomorrow before my morning lesson I plan on upgrading and reflashing all of the other XO-1 laptops that I failed to fix earlier today.

Update: Apparently the cats weren't satisfied with the amount of food we were dropping by accident - tonight at dinner one of them reached up and stole a piece of garlic bread off the plate. And that was before it jumped up on the table and grabbed an entire chicken kabob. At least it shared with its friends...

July 08, 2015 10:43 PM

July 07, 2015

Technology for Ghana

no power? No problem.

Today there was again no power in Axim, but both of my lessons ran without a hitch! In the morning I taught the younger kids how to use Wikipedia, starting with me asking them to search terms like "Ghana" and "Axim." I also had them search "Columbus, Ohio" so that they could see where I live, too! Once they got the hang of it, I gave them time to explore whatever they wanted. It's always fun to see what they choose to search, and today's kids looked up everything for "God of War video games" to "China." They were very sad when I eventually told them it was time to shut down, but I promised them I would give them more time to explore during tomorrow's lesson. In the afternoon I was back with the girls at AGSHS, and we also focused on Wikipedia. However, I gave them questions to answer using Wikipedia and called them up one at a time to find the answer using my computer. At first, they were very hesitant to volunteer, but after a few questions people were very eager to try answering a question. The girls enjoyed cheering each other on as they attempted to answer the questions - after all, the computer that they used was projected on the wall for everyone to see! At 5:00, just as I was saying goodbye, the power came back on in the school, and the girls all begged for us to continue the lesson using all of their computers. Unfortunately, we all had other places to go, but I told them to be optimistic and hope that the power would stay on for tomorrow's lesson. However, I was so happy to see that they are all very excited to finally begin using the IIAB on their own.

July 07, 2015 10:41 PM

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Sugar Digest 2015-07-07

Sugar Digest

1. Sugar 106 has been released. Some great new features, including the integration of social help and the ability to launch Activities from other Activities, and lots of work on bug fixing and stabilization. Many thanks to the developers, testers, and our release master, Martin Abente. For those of you who are so inclined, Sam Parkinson make a fun video about the new release.

2. A few weeks ago I was at the Google Code-in meet up in San Francisco where I had the opportunity to spend time with Ignacio Rodriguez and Sam Parkinson, our two finalists. They are not only productive members of our community in terms of coding, but also exemplars of a new generation of well-rounded, articulate, observant and caring human beings. I’m honored that they have chosen our community in which to develop their skills. Bonus: as I was hoping, we got some coding time in amidst all the activities that Google scheduled. We also managed to squeeze in a visit to Raul at Twitter.

3. I ran a Turtle Blocks workshop in Bridgeport, Connecticut at a charter school that serves disadvantaged youths. The workshop was organized by Dennis Wong, an old friend from my Media Lab days and an active member of the local Rotary Club. The kids were enthusiastic despite the difficult circumstances under which we worked — the computer lab is typically used for taking tests, so it was arranged to minimize the possibilities that the learners would interact with and help each other. I’m hoping as a follow up, the Rotary can help the school make the room into more of a maker space.

In the community

4. Call for papers for the special issue of RED (Journal of Distance Education):”Skills for coding and pre-coding”:
* Deadline for submitting manuscripts: 31 July 2015
* Estimated Publishing Date: 15 September 2015.
Publishing standards and guidelines for authors can be found at [1].

Llamada a contribuciones para el número especial de RED (Revista de Educación a Distancia): “Competencias para la codificación y la precodificación”:
* Fecha límite para enviar manuscritos: 31deJuliode 2015
* Fecha estimada para la publicación: 15 de Septiembre de 2015.
Normas de publicación y pautas para los autores [1].

5. For those of you who are interested, we hold our GSoC group meetings on Fridays, 11:00 EST (Boston), 13:00 UTC on irc.freenode.net #sugar-meeting.

6. We will be holding a new Sugar Oversight Board (SLOB) election this fall. The Membership Committee — Samson Goddy, Caryl Bigenho, and Sebastian Silva — are gearing up to make a major push to enroll community members onto our members list and we implore everyone to encourage both participation in the election and to consider running for one of the open seats on the board. Details forthcoming. As part of the push, Caryl is putting together a newsletter about recent Sugar activities. If you have stories to share, please contact Caryl (caryl AT laptop DOT org).

7. Dear colleagues, Sugar Labs is organizing a survey of its youth contributors with the aim of publishing a report in the special issue of RED mentioned above. Towards this end, we invite you to answer the questions below. Please send your answers (written in your native language) to walter AT sugarlabs DOT org or francis AT sugarlabs DOT org.

How and why did you first get involved in programming?

How did you get involved with Sugar? What were your motivations for contributing to the Sugar project?

Did the fact that the project was FOSS (Software Libre) impact your decisions? your motivation? your habits?

What work or contribution that you have participated in has most motivated you? Why?

What work or contribution that you have participated in has least motivated you? Why?

When you program, how do you decide what to work on? Where to you get ideas? help? Do you help others?

How do you communicate your ideas? your questions? your doubts?
Do you have any regrets?

What are your plans regarding programming in the future?
Any other comments?


Estimados colaboradores,

Sugar Labs está organizando una encuesta a sus colaboradores jóvenes
con el objetivo de generar un artículo y publicarlo a un medio de
prensa en castellano.

Por este motivo la junta desde Sugar Labs los invitamos a responder la
siguiente serie de preguntas que hemos armado.

Este mensaje va con copia a aquellos jóvenes que recuerdo involucrados
en la comunidad y sé que han realizado aportes. Si consideran que
alguien más es apropiado para responder esta encuesta pueden agregarlo
al CC e invitarlo a responder la encuesta.

Las preguntas son:

¿Cómo, cuándo y por qué comenzaste a involucrarte en la programación?

¿Cómo te involucraste con Sugar? ¿Cuáles fueron tus motivaciones para
contribuir al proyecto de Sugar?

El hecho de que el proyecto sea FOSS (Free and Open Source Software)
¿afectó tus decisiones? ¿Afectó tu motivación? ¿Afectó tus hábitos?

¿Cuál ha sido el trabajo o contribución en que has participado que más
te ha motivado? ¿Por qué?

¿Cuál ha sido el trabajo o contribución en que has participado que
menos te ha motivado? ¿Por qué?

Cuando tu programas, ¿cómo decides en qué trabajar? ¿De dónde sacas
las ideas? ¿Dónde obtienes ayuda? ¿Ayudas a los demás?

¿Cómo compartes, comunicas o debates tus ideas? ¿Y tus preguntas? ¿Y tus dudas?

¿Hay algo que lamentas o que no te haya gustado de haberte involucrado
con el proyecto Sugar?

¿Cuáles son tus planes con respecto a la programación para el futuro?

¿Quieres agregar algún otro comentario?

Esperamos sus respuestas.

Tech Talk

8. Please help Martin and the Developer Team test Sugar 106. Your feedback is important to us.

9. Progress continues on Turtle Blocks JS, which runs in a web browser (the Android version is still experimental). Some new features include the ability to pass arguments to action stacks and to return values. Thanks to GSoC intern Amit Kumar Jha for his contributions. The other GSoC projects are also progressing nicely.

Sugar Labs

10. Please visit our planet.

by Walter Bender at July 07, 2015 02:09 PM

OLE Nepal

Report from Schools in Western Gorkha

I got the opportunity to travel to earthquake affected areas in Gorkha during the last week of June alongside a team from Gorkha Foundation. They had gone there to start building a high school in Nepane, Kearbari VDC of the…

by Rabi Karmacharya at July 07, 2015 12:10 PM

July 06, 2015

Technology for Ghana

back to the basics

Today was my first day of teaching in Axim! First I taught a group of 24 fourth and fifth graders from several different schools how to use the newly installed Internet-in-a-Box in the Axim Library. My lesson was scheduled for 9-11 AM, which meant that I ended up teaching from 10-12 (time runs much differently in Africa - the first "hour" of my scheduled lesson was spent waiting for all of the students to arrive). Once all of the students arrived, all that I had them do during today's lesson was turn on the XO-1 laptops and connect to the Internet-in-a-Box following a five-step list that I had written out on the whiteboard. Turns out, this task is easer said than done. The power was out when we arrived, and none of the computers were charged. While the librarian was attempting to turn on the generator, I gave the students a brief summary of the sites that I will be teaching them, including Wikipedia, Open Street Maps, and Project Gutenberg. However, even once the generator allowed the computers to finally turn on, our problems did not end. Many of the laptops were unable to connect to the IIAB Wi-Fi, several had broken  touch pads, and others simply froze when trying to open a new browsing page. An hour or so later, I had sorted out the working computers from the less-than-functional ones and paired the students up so that they were each sharing a working computer. Finally, around 11:40, all of the computers that were still operational had connected to the Internet-in-a-Box and accessed the home page of the server. Then I had the students shut down their computers, concluding the first lesson. I sincerely hope that we got all of the issues out of the way today and that tomorrow's lesson will run much more smoothly. After lunch and a short rest, it was off to Axim Girls Senior High School for another two hour lesson. Fortunately, this lesson went very well, despite the lack of electricity in the school. Since all of their computers are desktop PCs, none of them could be used for the lesson, but we were able to run a projector for my laptop off of the school's backup generator. I asked the girls how familiar they were with IIAB because it was installed at their school back in January, and I learned that they were all relatively new to the server. Therefore, I gave the girls an overview of the programs on Internet-in-a-Box and showed them the basics of Wikipedia, Open Street Maps, Khan Academy, and Powertyping. These girls are the most outgoing that I've worked with so far, and I am very excited for the rest of my lessons with them this week.

July 06, 2015 11:01 PM

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Junior and Sora on Lagonav

Whenever I see a map of Haiti on a flag or a promotion or something, which isn’t uncommon, I check to see whether they’ve included Lagonav. Lagonav is an island, tucked in the big bay in the west. Often, it’s … Continue reading

by Sora at July 06, 2015 10:25 PM

When Things Don’t Work

Every time I tell people about the project I’m doing, I say that we’re looking at the advantages and disadvantages of technology for both teachers and students. I always forget that it’s also important to consider how technology changes your … Continue reading

by Sora at July 06, 2015 10:21 PM

Stop, thief!

If you’d asked me what was the safest street in Port-au-Prince, this one would probably have made the list. Right after you turn out of the airport, you go around this roundabout. In the center, there’s a statue of three … Continue reading

by Sora at July 06, 2015 10:18 PM

Ask and it shall be given?

I told the teachers to work on their lesson plans over the weekend and then on Monday we would talk about topics like presenting a book in front of a class. We started out with the idea of asking “questions … Continue reading

by Sora at July 06, 2015 10:17 PM

Technology for Ghana

we are one

We started Sunday off the same way as every Ghanaian Christian - by going to church. We attended a Methodist mass, and it was a very interesting and rewarding experience. Every person was dressed in their Sunday best, and their clothing was distinctly African and beautiful. The women wore wonderful patterned dresses and the men wore colorful tops and pants. Most of the women also wore African head wraps, many of which matched the patterns on their dresses. It was very different from any religious mass that I have ever attended, but I was also amazed with some of the similarities to western mass. They spoke many of the same prayers as those recited in the Roman Catholic mass with which I am familiar, although some were spoken in English and others in the local language . These people live on the other side of the world from me, but we speak the same prayers and worship the same god. During one of the recitations, I recognized the exact prayer which they were speaking due to its rhythm, but I did not understand any of the words in that language. In that moment, I had an amazing epiphany. Hearing them recite this prayer in an unknown African language, I realized that it does not matter where a person is from or which god they worship. We all live on the same planet and we all believe in the same thing, even if we do not understand each other or speak in the same tongue. Despite all of our differences, we are one people.

After church, our full day continued as we did a bit of sightseeing in the areas just outside of Axim, starting with the Nzulezo floating village. The Nzulezo village is built entirely on stilts above the water of a lake, and the only way to reach it is by a 45-minute canoe ride through the wetlands. Local legend says that the ancestors of the village migrated there hundreds of years ago on the word of a snail that served as their god. The main occupations of the Nzulezo people are farming and fishing, and there are a small school and Catholic church in the village. After our canoe ride back to land, we visited the birth place and first burial ground of Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana. Ghana gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1957. President Nkrumah died in 1972, and his body was later relocated to Accra, the capital city of Ghana. However, his original tomb remains in the village of Nkroful.

Side note: We made friends with some cats at the hotel. Apparently they like people who accidentally spill their food. I'm too afraid to touch them, but they're awfully cute.

July 06, 2015 12:03 AM

July 05, 2015

Technology for Ghana

internet installation

Saturday morning we headed out to the Axim Girls Senior High School to install wireless adapters and drivers that will give their PC computers access to wireless connections, including the Internet-in-a-Box. It all went very smoothly, and then we went to the Axim Library to set up our third and final Internet-in-a-Box system! I learned how to solder two wires together, and we had the server up and running in no time at all. The only issue is that the Netgear, which allows Adam and Tim to access the IIAB server from North America, is running much slower than desired. We brought a back-up router to replace this slower one, but we have not yet installed or tested it in the library.

July 05, 2015 01:16 AM

July 03, 2015

Technology for Ghana

road trip

Today we packed up and moved out of Cape Coast! Next stop, Axim. Unfortunately, this meant saying goodbye to Kathryn and Maureen (and Monica, Maureen's travel buddy who arrived on Wednesday). We promised to keep each other well updated of the other's work in different parts of Ghana. Three hours later, we arrived  in Axim in the afternoon and were soon joined by Jerry Kwofie and Evans Arloo, the main TLC guys (technology learning coordinators) here in Axim. Jerry is an IT teacher at Axim Girls' Senior High School and Arloo is the operations manager for the Western Heritage Home. They gave us a detailed tour of Axim to help us get an idea of where we will be spending all of our time in the following week. We visited the Western Heritage Home, AGSHS, the Axim Library, a new building site for AGSHS, and drove past the local hospital where Jerry's wife works. We also drove along the coast of Axim, which is a very crowded and vibrant place because fishing is the main business in the town. We also had the chance to meet both of their wives and adorable babies! Jerry has a fourteen-month-old son and Arloo has a three-month-old girl named Maryanne after the head and founder of Ghana Together, which supports local schools here in Axim. I can already tell that Axim is very different from Cape Coast, as it is much more rural, but the dedication and passion of those who are working to improve the education of high school students here is no less than that of Cape Coast.

July 03, 2015 11:18 PM

June 30, 2015

OLE Nepal

Visit to Gorkha

Another crucial task was completed with assessment of the most affected area, Gorkha district. Our team was there last week. We did a thorough assessment of the schools which were severely damaged by the earthquake. After spending almost a week…

by Sofila Vaidya at June 30, 2015 04:06 AM

June 24, 2015

Tabitha Roder

iMoot15 and mootau15

At #iMoot15 Miriam and I facilitated as session aimed at getting a conversation going and gathering information in the Moodle community about how we manage enrolment, access, and semester rollover. Miriam and I hoped that this would feed into the working group at #mootau15 on archiving and roll-over.

Our institute is reviewing how we manage enrolment, access and course rollover in Moodle. We have struggled to find solutions that work across the board and maintain an exception list that we see increasing. Initial conversations with other institutes suggested that the perfect solutions are yet to be established. We hoped this iMoot discussion would build on the work started at https://docs.moodle.org/28/en/Year-end_procedures and in the forum https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=50298 and that we could find out more from the Moodle community about what the issues we collectively have so as we can understand them better and work towards resolving them.

Our iMoot presentation is here and the details on the Moodlemoot working groups are here. Note there are two working groups, so check out the assessment analytics working group too.

If you are able to share your institutes current enrolment/access/rollover practice please complete our form here or get in touch with us.

We have so far found that most institutes do not automate creation of groups, and many duplicate courses each time they are run. Each institute has their own approach to where the teacher’s role starts and ends.  With everyone using different student management systems, and having different strategies around re-use of courses and access periods for students to their learning resources (and artefacts the students create!) it is very helpful to share ideas on how to meet the requirements of your institute and your learners.

You can also comment on this blog post if you prefer. Looking forward to further discussion.

by tabitharoder at June 24, 2015 11:45 PM

Moodlemoot Australia 2015

MoodleMoot Australia 2015I hope you have all registered for mootau15 and I will see you at Monash University in (Clayton) Melbourne, 6 to 8 July 2015. This is going to be one very exciting Moot, boasting an impressive range of keynotes and with a new schedule format that makes the most of the time together. The introduction of working groups to the Moot format brings together users, researchers and developers to work together to make Moodle better.

Monday 6 July is professional development day. There will be keynotes and sector based sessions, working groups, and drinks reception.

Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 July are community days, focusing on the interests of users in different roles. More keynotes, role based sessions, new features and roadmap, and more social activities.

Thursday 9 July is developers’ day. Even though the main conference is over, this will be a day of action for working group members and developers. There will be new developer training and a hackfest with working group interaction.

See you there!

by tabitharoder at June 24, 2015 11:25 PM

June 23, 2015

OLE Nepal

Portraits in relief center

Our volunteers from OLE Nepal have been working with children in Tundikhel relief camp for over a month. They bring interactive learning materials in child friendly XO laptops for the children. The children can explore various learning activities in Math, English…

by Dovan Rai at June 23, 2015 07:13 AM

Honduras: The Owen Project

Be It Ever So Humble…..


We returned to Santa Rosita on Thursday and it was like returning home. The long ride in the back of a truck.;the early morning mist still obscuring the steepest hillsides; the distinctive scent of ripe fruit, dew-drenched vegetation and rotting leaves; the cool draughts under the pine trees: all of these brought back very distinctive and very pleasant memories. The first school in Santa Rosita that we saw five years ago was a mud and wattle structure covered in mold and smelling of mildew. There were twenty ramshackle desks for the 50 students and 2 teachers. I’ll show you what we saw this time below:

IMG_1239  IMG_1244 IMG_1233

IMG_1224 IMG_1214IMG_1225 IMG_1235 IMG_1237

The transformation was stunning. What was most changed were the students themselves. Instead of the shy, reluctant and hesitant participants of the past, these students were bright-eyed, confident and openly curious. They took to the tablets immediately. More later.





by mkeddal at June 23, 2015 02:43 AM

June 22, 2015

Nancie Severs

Pain is Inevitable; Suffering is Optional. — Lebanon, NH

Lebanon, NH

I’m finally home from Boston. I went to Boston with a suitcase. After 2 months, I somehow had a full car to move home. My sister Lynn was a huge help. I woke up feeling like I could make the move; we rented a car, she packed it and drove me home. Thank you Lynn!

My Update: I’ve completed 4 cycles of chemo, 6 weeks of daily external pelvic radiation, &amp; some brachytherapy. 2 more chemo cycles to go and my Boston oncologist will re-evaluate things. After the last chemo &amp; Neulasta shot to boost my white counts, I was again under the weather for about 6 days. Now I can pretty much plan on a “sick” week, and then I feel better until the next chemo. Before I started treatment, a Dartmouth doctor told me "those last 3 chemos will be BRUTAL because your bone marrow will be so depleted by then." So I began this round of treatment with trepidation. Frankly, I was ready to quit, and just say I've done enough already. That was not a helpful thought to put into my head. But I trudged forward and guess what? Not "brutal." It's not so bad. Mind over matter does work and as long as I prioritize my exercise and yoga, I'll get through this part too. I am avoiding crowds as my white counts have been low for months. I have to be extra careful not to be exposed to illness or infection. That could cause a serious setback. So if you see me around, please greet me with an "elbow bump" or a "virtual hug" instead of a handshake, kiss or hug.

Thanksgiving week: Fall has quickly turned to winter in New Hampshire. We already have a foot of snow. Lynn left to meet Elana and friends in the Chicago/Michigan area. After much debate Mark and I decided on a quiet Thanksgiving at home with home-cooked turkey. It was quite a bit of work to cook for just the two of us &amp; we had enough food for company. But we enjoyed the day and we are enjoying the leftovers.

Last year I was in Bangkok for Thanksgiving. I recall fond memories of Noah’s friend, Josh’s beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving party. As you can see from my other Travelpod blogs, I love to travel, and have done so often in the past 8 years. My need for cancer treatment now has altered the vehicle. Now I’m traveling in a comfy chair.:)

Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed following the blog of my friend's Craig &amp; Jeri's trip to Japan &amp; SE Asia here: http://seasiajeriandcraig.blogspot.com/

And, I have been reading the famous travel writer, Paul Theroux, again. This time I chose his “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star.” when I found the delicious hardback copy at a local used bookstore. 30 years ago, the author traveled overland &amp; water from London through Europe and Eastern Europe, through Turkey, Georgia and the Russian “Stans” all the way to India. From India, Sri Lanka, through Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and back to London via Russia, and then Germany and France. Hundreds of thousands of readers have been privileged to travel with him on “The Great Railway Bazaar.” In 2006, 30 years later, Paul wonders “how has the world changed? and recreates the trip in the “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar”

I have been reading it slowly over the past couple of months, accompanying Paul on one or two trip legs at a time. It’s colorful and moody evoking all of the emotions that seasoned travelers well understand. I have enjoyed the visions he creates of places I have never been and his global cast of characters. When “we” arrived in Burma, now Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia (this was his first visit there as Cambodia was at war during his first trip) and Vietnam, I “came home with him.” In Vietnam where Paul had been during the “American War,” he is often asked what he thinks about that. Eloquently, he says something like “I am glad to see Vietnam prospering and I am sad about the bombings.” I’ll have to remember that one.

Now we are in Japan where I have never been. Thank you Craig (see link above) for your wonderful photos of Japan. They dovetail with my reading. I have been savoring each leg of the journey. We are touring Tokyo. Paul’s friend, the famous author, Haruki Murakami (Underground) takes us on a city tour. I’m hungry for noodles in the “old shop” on a small back street near the Kappa Bashi, where traditional Japanese kitchen tools are sold. Old is relative. All the shops, and every building are post WWII of course.

We went Underground and find contrast to what “seems to be a world of order and decency and restraint.” At one point, Paul observed that “someone said pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”

That’s my thought for the day. I might have pain but I refuse to suffer. I know that as long as I keep myself moving, walking and practicing yoga, I can do this! Reminiscing on my past trips, and the ones to come will keep me smiling. I've chosen "a few" of my favorite photos from my trips for "this travelogue." Enjoy them.

Wishing you lovely holidays with family and friends! Nancie:)

P.S. Click any photo to scroll through all of the photos in larger images. And please respect my "copyrights." If you would like to share or use one, please ask first and give a photo credit.

June 22, 2015 09:17 PM

June 18, 2015

Honduras: The Owen Project

Andy Warhol Was Right

Somewhere Andy Warhol wrote that everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. If he is correct then the eight of us are finished with our moment of fame. Last night after a glass of wine at the home of Dr. Oscar Gross, we were invited to be interviewed at a local television station. We imagined a hand- held microphone and a portable camera. Instead we went on live television on a set reminiscent of Good Morning America.


Sally and I had to sit on high  barstools, making us feel like Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.at a night club. The moderator was a long-legged young lady in short shorts who spoke faster that I ever thought humanly possible. Linda acted as translator and Oscar Ochoa introduced us and gave a summary of the project so far. What was most off-putting was that we could see ourselves on several monitors. Sally got the giggles and soon we were all trying not to laugh aloud. Many of the questions were about our emotions, and how we remembered Owen as we visited the schools. Thank goodness we were so disconcerted and full of hilarity because I might have cried on live television. Instead it was a surreal experience worthy of Warhol.


by mkeddal at June 18, 2015 11:53 PM

One Laptop per Child

Coming: 7 Schools with your help! – Marina Orth Foundation

Friends, Amigos,
I have an exciting update! Not only are we a little over a week out from the best fiesta of the year, we are so close to reaching our goal of $110,000! If we reach this goal we will be able to implement the foundations program into two more schools for a total of seven!
Your past support has made the program thrive from initially supplying basic needs to providing thousands of children with access to personal computers. These computers have helped our children learn to code, get access to the English language, and figure out how to build robots! I know I can count on you to help us grow and get the program into our seventh school.
I look forward to seeing you and celebrating this major feat over cocktails/rumba at the fiesta!
Copyright © 2015 Marina Orth Foundation, All rights reserved.

by mariana at June 18, 2015 08:34 PM