Thursday, August 31, 2006

last day in amsterdam..

Well, thats about it - the conclusion of the 2 months tour of europe. Today is the last day i spend in amsterdam and next morning of the 1st sept, '06 early in the morning, i fly out on to brussels and get on sn brussels, a connecting flight to entebbe, Uganda. The total time in flight will come to, well, over 13 hours!

The last day in amsterdam was quite nice, going out alone on the ferry and moving around to central station, dam square, the tourist crowded streets, trams, souvenir shops... places i had slowly started getting used to. I took time to enjoy the view, take in the breathe and gaze as much as possible - just like a tourist recording it all down on a small digital camera!

Well, in conclusion, it was a nice trip, much more eventful than what i had in mind on my way to europe.

Watch out for more posts soon but not on the european tour anymore i guess, but probably on setting up a wireless community network! :o)

stay plugged in ;P

Meeting you jpd was great!

oooh coming to the end...

Well, every show has its end, and mine is just close to that!

A friend, Martin junginger, organised my farewell party at his apartment tuesday evening in utrecht. It was a nice small party with a few friends around. We had a lovely dinner but i remember the apricot pudding we had for desert, it sure was lovely!

I spent wednesday taking time off in Martin's office on the 9th floor of utrecht university building using his absent colleague's space.
His Hp laptop had a problem, it could see the university wireless network but could not connect to it. There were 3 networks with one of the open but still we could not connect to it. Togather with martin, we search for reasons why. We downloaded hp drivers for wireless devices, lastest hp drivers for the entire laptop, read a doc from the hp site mentioning we should flash the bios of the laptop before installing XP - oooh now that got us thinking! We flashed the bios of the laptop installing the lastest from the hp website. We further checked around in the settings - disabling WEP and activating preamble and tried again downstairs to get on the wireless network. And amazingly, this time it connected. This was the time we were about to give up and go home - but with Martin being good at computers and persistent, well, we got it working!! :o)

Am back in amsterdam and just ready to get back to East Africa.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

meeting IT team at twente university

Friday 18th aug, I spent sometime getting to know how the Twente university network is laid out. Here is one of the IT technical team members explaining in more detail how the university network is laid out.

The backbone of the entire university network is optical fibre with the entire university covered by cisco access points, directional and omni directional antennas. Its an encrypted network which with every student having a username & password granted at the beginning of their course of study at the university. The student's account automatically expires at least three months after completion of the course and they are then given alumni email address.
The email address is free but the former student is treated as a guest and has to pay to access the university network.

Learning how the university is laid out was really a nice experience particularly since i got an idea of setting up a community network in tanzania. It was nice to learn how such huge network of over 7,000 people is kept running with less or no failures at all.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Make-it-yourself technology @WOT!

On friday 18th aug, I paid a visit the Working Group on Development Techniques, WOT which is a knowledge centre for small-scale applications of sustainable energy and hand pumps for developing communities.

On display are some of the make it your self hand pumps, simple showers, solar cookers and solar dryers. Most of the machines are very easy to make since they are made out of locally available materials. I was taken around by Ton Pütt, chairman of the WOT group.

The hand pump shown on the right, is used to draw water from a deep well or an underground tank. The metal parts can be old bicycle parts or metal rods welded togather to form a firm stand. The black wheel is an old kids-bicycle tyre with half of it cut away to allow the nylon rope easily roll over it. There is a also a pvc pipe (water pipes) that is fitted to draw out the water from the tank. With a few measurements here and welding pieces togather you have a working hand pump. Find the complete manual at WOT website,

Putting my laptop apart..

Togather with Marco, bigred putting my dead laptop apart. What a weekend of hardware hacking :)


Spending the weekend of 18th to 22nd aug, in enschede with friends was a really nice thing and a way to get more comfortable with linux. Marco and his girlfriend Mariska were very welcoming people. Marco being a linux fanatic spent much of his spare time over the weekend showing me tricks in linux. He has a nice website,

Over the weekend, i visited the university of utwente, more particularly got to know about how the wireless network is setup. Most of my questions regarding running and managing such a huge network were answered by both the public relations officer and the technical staff of the university.

I also visited the Working Group on Development Techniques (WOT), a knowledge centre for small-scale applications of sustainable energy and hand pumps for developing countries.

enjoy :)

swahili openoffice & jambo firefox - way to go!

The Kiswahili Linux Localization Project has released a Kiswahili version of Mozilla Firefox. The team has translated and released Firefox 1.0.3 for both Windows XP and Linux users. Download from the Kilinux page here,

This is the same team that previously translated into Kiswahili and recently won the Stockholm Challenge, more on the Stockholm challenge winners,

Download the swahili version of openoffice from here, The Kiswahili Linux Localization Project has released a Kiswahili version of Mozilla Firefox. The team has translated and released Firefox 1.0.3 for both Windows XP and Linux users. Download from the Kilinux page here,

This is the same team that previously translated into Kiswahili and recently won the Stockholm Challenge, more on the Stockholm challenge winners,

Download the swahili version of openoffice from here,

The nice thing is that wether you are using windows or linux, the kilinux group has translated openoffice and it can comfortably be used on both systems. Swahili speakers in east africa particularly should be encouraged to install the swahili versions of jambo office. A user having microsoft office on their computer, can still install the swahili version of openoffice and therefore will have a choice as both in english and in swahili.

Another kool tool with the jambo openoffice (swahili version) is the the "swahili spellchecker". This is a very handy tool most people may not recognize but it helps the user to write swahili words correctly (spell check) the document. This is tool if installed togather with the jambo openoffice, will high wrongly written swahili words and offer suggestions to the possible spellings in swahili. It acts just like the way, a user would spell an english word wrongly, and then a red zigzag line appears underneath the wrongly spelt word meaning "wrong spelling" to the user. We normally right-click to get suggestions of possible correct spellings and this is just the way the swahili spellchecker works. You can download it on the same page, though you have to scroll a little below to see it,

Development is underway to have a complete operating system that can be installed in swahili. This sure would ease the job of development workers way in remote areas trying to pass on computer skills to the rural farmers that they are working with.

John :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Now in baard, friesland

I was picked up by Peter Kremer on the evening of sunday 13th aug, to spend time in baard a small town near leeuwarden in friesland. We spent the whole of monday 14th having a practical
experience on how wireless baard was set up and how its managed.

With an omni directional antenna inside the tiled roof of a church tower and over 20 families getting an Internet feed from it. Its the ideal set up for a small community like the place in tanzania. Most of the family around have a small biquad and a senao radio pointing towards the church tower. The farthest family connecting to the omni in the church roof was 600 metres without using any amplifiers! Info on wireless baard,

Here in Peter's house in baard, friesland. We are each connected to the net and emailing pals :)

dinner in dewelstand, pingjum

spending the weekend of the 13th aug in pingjum with the duindam family; me, Jos and Arjan (from left) This is dinner time with the family,


Monday, August 14, 2006

My stay in Pingjum

Staying with the duindams family in pingjum was a nice experience. They have lived in Tanzania for quite a long time, they have a son born and another concieved in tanzania.
Here we are in harlingen on one of the bridges with me (on left), Jos duindam (middle) and arjan duindam (black pants).

Here is Lineke in the middle of us, still on the bridge. We were looking at how the bridge rotates around to let ships pass - small inland ships

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Visiting Leeuwarden..

On the 10th aug, i visited a boot camp friend, Arne mauer, who is currently running wireless leeuwarden. We met at leiden camp (wcc2006) after being msn pals for quite since a few months back. He is the founder of wireless leeuwarden at age of 15!

His websites are below;

It was nice enjoying the nice view in leeuwarden, meeting both nice people in Arne's parents and grandparents and more still the grandparents had spent a few weeks in Tanzania! This was so nice as we spent time taking so much about what they had seen and enjoying the pictures from the safari in tanzania. They visited all the nice game parks and at least they could remember serengenti game park! Here am meeting Arne's grandfather.

after leiden

After the camp in leiden which ended on the 6th aug, I was picked up by a friend and spent the evening in katwij, cordula. It was a lovely experience, walking on the beach, enjoying goat ribs and sharing alot on development work in africa.

The following day of the 7th, i left katwij for amsterdam. I was picked up again by Peter later that evening to spend some time in pingjum where there is arrangement to get computers to Kagera, in Tanzania. By the time we met that evening, he already had about 17pcs in the back of his citroen which he had picked up from leiden - computers we used during the practical sessions at the camp.

Here with the computers and the Jos Duindam - who is sending them to kagera. His website,



Wednesday, August 09, 2006

more pics at leiden camp...

In lecture room, just before leaving for the boat ride in leiden, saturday 5th aug.

On the boat, enjoying the breeze. Wireless leiden members in the foreground; Marten (with glasses), Ed (black shirt) and thomas (a former volunteer). Am far off in the background, enjoying the WOAF (wireless open air festival)

Enjoy the whole leiden picture gallery here,


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

wireless boot camp in the media

The leiden wireless boot camp was pretty well covered in the local press. They mentioned computer geeks & whizzkids coming from different parts of netherlands, belgium, tanzania and papua new guinea engaged in systems hacking (not in the wrong sense!) for a whole week.

This is one of the pictures that appeared in the local daily. The full article can be read at

In the picture is Vic Hayes (holding his hands as in prayer), the father of wireless communication, his personal data is pasted on the web and you can read about him here,

He gave the opening speech and spoke about the work so far done on wifi technology. Wi-Fi, which stands for wireless fidelity, allows anyone with a laptop and a wireless card to connect to the Web at high speeds. Read his speech here,

He is quite a simple guy in the way he carries himself. I was privilaged to have a chat with him and further to wash dishes togather in kitchen! He left a few days before the end of the camp without me having a picture with him, a very sad feeling :-(


soldering the antenna pieces togather

Inside the antenna building workshop in at the wireless boot camp, wcc2006, check out more pics here

antenna construction wkshop, leiden

Here is my first personally asembled omni directional antenna. The antenna construction workshop was one of the best practical classes that i enjoyed at the wireless communications camp in oegstgreest - leiden.
More antenna details,

The workshop was conducted by Erwin Gijzen, who is part group. His personal webpage,

Saturday, August 05, 2006

wireless summer camp, leiden 2006

We started off well here in leiden on the 2nd aug. with a heavy summer camp program,

Well i should say its not summer anymore here but "rainy" season :o) We have rabbits running allover our camping site and therefore we have come up with a phrase that perfectly describes the weather. "Its raining rabbits here" Just look at our logo

It rains, shines, rains and shines again so many times during the entire day, that normally we dont know how many times it happens. During one of the breaks after a linux session, you may find the ground dry, 2hours later, you find it all wet with huge water ponds around! Am now used to going to a cold sleeping bag and wet tent. There is so much to learn from the different computer geeks at this camp, that the idea of actually leaving the camp and sleeping outside is a very bad one!

Not so many pictures are up but if you want to see something look here,
The army tent in the pictures is where we have our meals (breakfast and normally dinner). If the rain lets up in the coming days, we sure will make a bonfire or have a bbq!