we build software to span your digital divide
Home Blog Partners Technology Wiki Jobs About Us Contact

  << previous | next >> [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

No comment

This blog has gone a little quiet recently - of course because I have been working hard. I just submitted a paper to the SATNAC conference. It's quite relevant to what eKhaya ICT is doing and will soon appear on the website ready for the perusal of 100 interested readers. For the meantime, you can just get it here on this blog.

ekhayaict4d.pdf
Download this document in Adobe PDF.
[download]



By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: April 15th 2007 09:32

Programming with Open Source

Open Source is really a great way of working. For instance, having added the blog, it's high time to add a voting mechanism. Well there are about 150 free scripts at hotscript.com. Faced with all that choice, a hard-core programmer will obviously settle for writing his own ultimate PHP script. Anyone else will just read a few descriptions and settle for one of the more popular scripts. What it basically comes down to is MySQL or not (and obviously no cookies to prevent repeat voting!). But how can open source sustain itself? Well, it's all about marketing. As Linus says, he doesn't have to worry ever again about getting a job. (I can see you're not satisfied with the answer... well post your version, or wait for the next blog or so, I should come back to this topic.)

By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: April 10th 2007 10:10

Using iWeb to author a professional website

iWeb is an HTML authoring system meant for the home. Since it comes installed on some Mac OS X (macosx) systems, and since the other iLife applications were so simple to use, I decided to use it to create my web site. As expected, I had the website up and running in a few hours. I could really focus on creating content and was not obstructed at all by the technology!

When I decided to get dynamic using what other than PHP, I simply wrote some bash scripts using sed, the (in)famous stream editor, and regular expressions to automatically post-process the web pages once they had been published. That all works at the click of a button now and I am quite happy indeed.

I do have three wishes for iWeb though, which would help with SEO (search engine optimization):
  1. Support for H1, H2 headings

  2. ALT/TITLE tags for images

  3. And leaner more effective HTML code. Currently there is too much repetition.

By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: April 3rd 2007 01:39

eKhaya ICT crosses 1000 p.i. in March

Thanks very much to everyone who thought it worthwhile to make us an incoming link! Yes we had 1540 page impressions in March, and as far as bots and real visitors are concerned, it looks like about 80 real people visited our web pages in March.

Here's the chart:

imageexpanded|raUID=103496792558516327|size=widtheditor|

By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: April 2nd 2007 07:38

A case of old style bureaucracy

Can one believe things one hears at parties? Apparently, the Settler's Hospital in Grahamstown, South Africa, which serves around a hundred thousand people, has 5 full-time doctors and 6(!) directors. I'd be very glad to revise this post when more facts come to light!

Assuming my ad hoc information is correct though, that would make the hospital an institution of the classic case of old-style colonial-bureaucratic Africa. ICT and eGovernment can reduce bureaucracy and bring democracy closer to the people. This is something a lot of us Africans are working towards!
By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: April 1st 2007 11:37

Web 2.0 for rural communities

The following comes from a mail I recently wrote, I thought it might well illustrate our goals to a wider community.
The possibilities that WIMAX and broadband offer are very exciting to me. These technologies also offer significantly different financing concepts. Especially in SA, urban and peri-urban societies differ very much from the rural ones predominant in Africa (+-37%) (World rural pop. +-50%)[1], which are the ones I am targeting with eKhaya. On the other hand, the buying power is greater in urban, electrified industrialised areas.

With broadband, one can have a much more interactive experience on the internet, besides VoIP one can better access flash media, get instant responses to posts etc. In short, one has full access to Web 2.0 technology. Without any fancy tricks. Web 2.0 as a hype-term conjurs up images of social networking, multimedia, freedom and democracy, as well as various business models - based on anything from advertising to virtual contributions, which can accumulate and yield a percentage when cashed, etc. (Just to give you my perspective.)

I am sincerely hoping to create a Web 2.0 "portal" for rural villages which has enough impetus to carry itself, whether by traffic alone, or through some other clever means. It must be feasible without Broadband at each node, but perhaps with some kind of WAN connecting nodes. I believe it can work and that now is the right time to start. :-)

I really love the idea that one can test installations in the Eastern Cape under conditions that will probably be similar to ones found even in urban areas in the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. 91% of Ghanians have no electricity)[2].

[1] http://www.prb.org/Articles/2004/UrbanizationAnEnvironmentalForcetoBeReckonedWith.aspx
[2] I got this from an engineer who worked on electrification projects there recently.

By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: March 30th 2007 02:49

Why did we start eKhaya ICT?!

Some people just shake their head when they hear what we are trying to do. I know what they mean I sometimes catch myself thinking similar thoughts: how can this work at all? Poor persons living in so-called developing rural regions don't have enough to eat, clean water to drink, western medical facilities - what will Web 2.0 bring them? Is it any use at all in an area that does not have any infrastructure?

The answer to all these questions lies in the following argument:

Poor persons living in such regions do not form a homogenous mass - people can be very different no matter what their culture is! As such, there are members of those societies that can very well benefit from the introduction of new technologies.

Further, recall that new technologies are in themselves an indispensible form of infrastructure. We have set ourselves a mission, because we believe that bringing Web 2.0 and internet to such regions will help the people there. Why do we think this is a realistic goal? Because there are a lot of other organisations out there trying to bring power, connectivity and other forms of technology to such areas. Often these groups are in developed regions far from the areas they intend to help. We are at home here in Africa and enjoy an advantage through this fact.

People who don't understand what we are doing, also often have another problem which cannot be countered logically. They believe cultures other than theirs are inferior and do not even deserve a try. In truth however, all cultures have evolved and are remarkably efficient at dealing with their environment and also resisting fast pased changes. We have a lot to learn from them and their unique perspective and history! In turn, we want to help them realise that their environment has changed. They live next door to the global village, and are free to come and go as they please.

I am very excited by what we are going to learn!
By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: March 26th 2007 02:19

Internet infrastructure for a global democratic community

Darfur is just one of the examples why the digital divide is doubly damaging to Africa. It's not just the lack of incoming information - information that could save lives - it's also the lack of an ability to share one's problem. Imagine having a life-threatening problem which you know will bring death to someone you love. You don't have the skill to save them, and your mouth has been sealed. You cannot communicate your plight by telephone. You must go to the hospital, but that is too far away. This is the kind of desperation that is common place in Africa. It's happening every day here!

And it's a downward spiral, because there is very little if any hope that the situation will improve. No matter what the people do or try, they socio-economic climate is such that they will fail. This is why China's engagement is commendable - at last infrastructure in the form of roads and power may arrive at one or two communities. At least a select few stand a chance to to break out of the spiral. Yes, China's engagement is calculated and self-serving, but we may at least hope that learning and improvement of some communities' circumstances will occur.

The internet is also infrastructure. It enables it's users (most importantly)
  • to contact persons outside their community, to share their plight in this way and perhaps to find help

  • to find others who are seeking a service, and willing to pay for it

  • to look up information in such a massive database, that the number of books required to contain it would fill all bush school libraries on the planet

  • to read today's newspapers

  • to portray themselves to the world.
The internet also carries a danger, which I'll need to talk about in another post. Because it is democratic, it also confronts us with points of view which we do not want to hear or expressions from the baser side of human nature. But this is not unlike most resources - they all carry a price. In the case of the internet, I believe the cost has already been amortized a dozen times over.

The internet should be named in lists of crucial facilities such as roads, postal service, power and water supply. The internet is the telecommunications platform of tomorrow, the sooner we start treating as such, the sooner our developing areas will be able to profit from it. Legislation which attempts to control this fact cripples a country's infrastructure and is a direct strike at the poorest.

If the internet is the worlds new democratic community, then Africans are an excluded mass whose community lies on the other side of a deep divide. We cannot fill the chasm, but we have to bridge this digital divide somehow.

By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: March 21st 2007 02:53

A challenge for everyone - change your perspective

This morning I had the good fortune to read an enlightened letter to the editor of the Daily Dispatch. It juxtaposes wonderfully the difference between emotional and rational thinking. We can't feel like others, but we should try to see through their eyes.

The challenge Mthethe throws down is that we do this for people we don't necessarily like, and who are dissimilar to us. This means finding something out about them, and seeing our common humanity.

Here is Mthethe's Letter as reproduced in the Daily Dispatch (http://www.dispatch.co.za/2007/03/17/editoria/letters.html).
We all suffer for the sins of our forefathers – black and white

DEAR Shaun (and any other white South African who feels that they are being punished for their forefathers' mistakes):

I cannot pretend to know how it feels to be white in this country and how that impacts on your job prospects.

Having said this, I would like to share some thoughts (as a young, 29 -year-old South African) on what could be done to deal with the anger you and other young white South Africans feel.

Growing up in Mdantsane township during the apartheid regime made it very difficult to feel good about myself. From early on I was made to feel second-class and not good enough because of my skin colour (black). To make things worse, all state institutions endorsed this by segregating our schools and distributing resources according to race with black learners received less money.

Some white South Africans feel that there is reversed racism and that we should not have affirmative action but should focus on giving people jobs on merit.

With all these systems in place, many black people remain unemployed and hopeless and desperate. Have you driven past Duncan Village and seen the conditions under which black people live?

I am not suggesting that you should not feel the way that you do. All I am pointing out is that perhaps even those 17-year-olds in Duncan Village feel hard done by by the government because they had hoped they would get houses and opportunities.

I read that you were considering getting a British passport and I can tell you that those 17-year-olds in Duncan Village, Reeston, Mdantsane, Newlands do not have that option. If they are fortunate enough to get a job, those 17-year-olds would have to buy their families proper houses – and I don't mean in Beacon Bay or Vincent Heights but rather a four-bedroom house in the township.

When I was 17, my mother lived in a squatter camp (I think it's called Joe Slovo, in Mdantsane Zone 6). I imagine that the 17-year-olds who still live in that squatter camp feel hopeless.

I had to buy my mother a house and supported my brother and my extended family. I always challenge myself to think beyond my own frame of reference and I guess I am posing the same challenge to you. I really believe that any 17-year-old in South Africa (white, black, Indian, coloured) needs to feel he is wanted, hopeful and that he can make a contribution.

We need to build this country and no one is going to do it for us.
History will judge both of us as to the contribution that we make in
building this country.

We need to hold our government accountable and, given that racial
segregation is not tolerated any longer, you are as important in SA as any other 17-year-old.

In reality, I think we are all suffering for the mistakes of our
forefathers. – Mthetho C Tshemese, Melville, Johannesburg

By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: March 18th 2007 06:35

Road to Baleni

Building a road is good thing, people earn money as unskilled labour is employed locally. Once the road is usable (even partially) the lives of those along the road are made much simpler, they become mobile, they have access to goods from outside and their goods can reach the outside world.

If we create an online selling system for rural crafters, lack of access to roads will hamper delivery of products, because there is an additional barrier to delivery. The goods have to be delivered to a place that has a postal service available. Also rains can cause delays. So many practical problems (not just the roads!) face us - but no reason to give up.

Travelling with Bob brought all this home to me. We were at schools that could not reliably say when matric exams were to be written because December gets a lot of rain. Clinics, that regularly had shortages of medical supplies, not to mention no vaccines (no electricity there either).

On our travels we also were informed about the N2 toll road that is being planned. The N2 toll road seems like something that is being made with a distasteful disregard to the ordinary people of the region. People living in places like Qumbu and Mount Frere on the current N2, as well as inhabitants of areas the road will cross might feel like they are living in an empire not unlike the roman one. A road with enormous visual impact suitably adapted to the tastes of the emperors, fenced in and tolled thus unusable on a daily basis because of cost: this is a disregard of the poor people and shows SA less as a republic (thing of the people) and more as an empire.

The "Save the wild coast campaign" is doing good work publicising the matter, please read e.g.
http://www.safcei.org.za/wildcoast/n2_mad_hatters.htm
By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: March 15th 2007 01:39
  << previous | next >> [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]






Tablet Face Recognition Login
New technologies are solving common denominator problems, so of course they are also applicable in developing countries.  awarenet's picture login [1] is a fairly low security but effective way of allowing school children with low levels of literacy to log in and use the csocial network...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
Node.js stays close to its roots: Ultra-fast.
Recently one of the big node.js community stars, creator of the express middleware framework, the jade templating language and koa -- TJ Holowaychuk -- announced that he was no longer going to be using node.js [1]. The main reason that he cited is the reason why we find node.js so compelling...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
Javascript Platforms for Development
Node.js is a new-comer on the Internet Web Server block. It is programmed in Javascript, and it is something worth watching in the ICT4D arena for these reasons: It runs on light-weight hardware, like the Raspberry Pi and requires much fewer hardware resources than traditional systems like apache, ...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
Innovation Made in the Eastern Cape, South Africa
A brand new 2012 CSIR research project into Technologies for Rural Education will make use of awareNet technology. The CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) is South Africa's first and largest technology innovation institution and very active in the development and rural development ...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
eKhaya ICT - Recalibration
eKhaya ICT has unveiled a new direction - as reflected in our current web site changes. What's changing?ICT for development -- our research over the past 5 years shows that this topic belongs firmly in the sociological and anthropological drawer and has nothing to do with software development! ...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
screen shot 2011-09-01 at 09.59.35 ICT, economic empowerment and job creation, by the DoC
This blog post reports on a meeting with the DoC on the 19 August 2011. The title of the meeting was:"Connecting the ICT Sector for economic empowerment and job creation"Most interestingly, the Vision of the DoC was given as:"South Africa as a global leader in the development and use of Information ...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
Wertlen and Chole at ELA2011 Youth Problems Exposed At eLearning Africa 2011
The Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (SPIDER) hosted an Umoja session at e-Learning Africa 2011. Sitting around a big round table, young and old Africans gathered to discuss first the problems that face the youth, and then organically, the solutions that that these problems might have. ...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
screen shot 2011-06-07 at 21.40.05 Learning From Experience
The school of life is full of fantastic lessons, and there is nothing more challenging today than working in the ICT industry as an entrepreneur, and within that industry, there is probably no more challenging space than Africa. Because, although ICT practitioners always have recourse to escape in a...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
screen shot 2011-05-26 at 13.20.26 eLearning Africa 2011 - Plenary Session
I have to blog this event, rather than twittering, because there is no open WiFi at the conference, nor can I use the Tanzanian data services on my mobile phone (although SMS and voice work). That's a pity, because I really like the immediacy and connecting power of Twitter.The highlights of the...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
siphiwo-ron-2011-may WIZZIT Banking
Last week, Siphiwo Msindwana, our community co-ordinator in Nkwalini made the trip up to Grahamstown, so that we could attend a course on WIZZIT banking and being Wizz-kids (the course was in PE).   What could be better than this: drive down through some of the prettiest countryside in the...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]

Changing Perspectives
From this height, the Eastern Cape province is a frothy milky white plain, it is a convuluted dark ridged surface, hilly green and olive region bounded by the blue of the ocean, which stretches away to vanish into a wall of tall white clouds - clouds which seem to live here above the warmer waters o...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
Google Tracking User Behaviour, Eliminating Bots and Baddies
"We're sorry... Your query looks like an automated I first got blocked by Google on the 31st of July 2008. I only found another ...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
Blogging At Last
Finally eKhaya ICT has a blog. At the moment that's not saying much, but our hopes keep us looking forward. To say that I believe in Africa is to say much more than that I believe in this blog. And I have great hopes for this blog....
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
groupphotompume2 Travels with Bob
From the 26th of February until the 1st of March, I had the great experience of going to deep rural schools in the OR Thambo district of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, together with Bob Freling. I had planned us a tough schedule, with a lot of driving, and very little buffer time for bad weather et...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
Road to Baleni
Building a road is good thing, people earn money as unskilled labour is employed locally. Once the road is usable (even partially) the lives of those along the road are made much simpler, they become mobile, they have access to goods from outside and their goods can reach the outside world.If we cre...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
A challenge for everyone - change your perspective
This morning I had the good fortune to read an enlightened letter to the editor of the Daily Dispatch. It juxtaposes wonderfully the difference between emotional and rational thinking. We can't feel like others, but we should try to see through their eyes.The challenge Mthethe throws down is that we...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
Internet infrastructure for a global democratic community
Darfur is just one of the examples why the digital divide is doubly damaging to Africa. It's not just the lack of incoming information - information that could save lives - it's also the lack of an ability to share one's problem. Imagine having a life-threatening problem which you know will bring de...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
1303378580_dsc00222-ed_2 Photos on eLearning Africa 2011 competition
If you have a chance, please have a look at our photos on the eLearning Africa page:The Village Scribe Association submitted 5 images (with very cool descriptions!!) for the eLearning Africa Photo Competition. Please, help us to win the competition by voting for us now online! Some of the photos are...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
Why did we start eKhaya ICT?!
Some people just shake their head when they hear what we are trying to do. I know what they mean I sometimes catch myself thinking similar thoughts: how can this work at all? Poor persons living in so-called developing rural regions don't have enough to eat, clean water to drink, western medical fac...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]
Web 2.0 for rural communities
The following comes from a mail I recently wrote, I thought it might well illustrate our goals to a wider community.The possibilities that WIMAX and broadband offer are very exciting to me. These technologies also offer significantly different financing concepts. Especially in SA, urban and peri-urb...
by: Ron Wertlen
[permalink]




eKhaya ICT is an Eastern Cape based software company, specialising in quality solutions and software components of ICT4D.

Contact:
9 Florence Street
Grahamstown
6139
South Africa
Tel: +27 79 4354681
Fax: +27 46 6227507
www: ekhayaict.com
Products:
awarenet
Discontinued:
Reed House Systems
Site Links:
About Us
Jobs
Contact
Log In



--- (c) 2014, eKhaya ICT ---