Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Solar-Powered Village Computers

From the Digital Dividend Digest

The government of Uttar Pradesh, India, is working with local authorities to bring more than 1,000 computers into village schools across the state. Many of the targeted villages are off the electricity grid or suffer from frequent brownouts. In response, the government is installing solar panels to power the computers which will also power local businesses.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

International Open Source Network

I have just finished a draft of a new version of the Unicode-HOWTO, explaining the procedures for setting up any version of Linux to use Unicode throughout. It's in review by The Linux Documentation Project before being published on the Internet. I was just thinking about writing a Localization-HOWTO, to explain how to set up Linux for new languages and translate everything in all of the applications and so on, but it turns out that the UN is ahead of me.

The International Open Source Network (IOSN) is part of the United Nations Development Program, one of the most important global development agencies. IOSN is promoting Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) for the obvious reasons that it is free of cost (important) and also free of legal encumbrances (more important), so that people in any country have the complete right to rework the software for local requirements, especially local languages.

UNDP has realized that getting thousands of FOSS applications into any local language will give a big boost to the economy of that language group, whether a country, a region within a country, or a global community. I wrote about the projects to do this in various Asian and African languages last March.

The UNDP draft Localisation-HOWTO (British spelling) went online in October, 2004. It still needs a lot of work, so I will be in contact with them to see what I can do to help.

If you are interested in getting Linux into a previously unsupported language, you can join the fun at the GNU Translation Project, which links to the various individual projects. You don't have to be a programmer. We need people who can create computer terminology for a to-be-supported language, translate from some currently-supported language, administer and manage projects, and just try out the new version to see how well it works and how well it meets local needs, including culturally-appropriate language. Publicizing the project among speakers of the language and recruiting for it are also extremely valuable, as is fundraising. If there isn't a project in your language, you can start one, again even if you don't have computer skills. If you start to build it, they will come.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Grameen Village Computer and Internet Project

Grameen Communications, a member of the Grameen Family, has a Village Computer and Internet Project (VCIP) in Madhupur in Tangail district in Bangladesh, around 160km away from Dhaka.

"The center is keeping data on agriculture, fisheries, livestock, health, education, environment etc into a village database...VCIP is providing important benefits to rural society in Bangladesh. It is providing IT facilities to the villagers, creating jobs in rural areas."

This is separate from the Village Computing Project of the Grameen Foundation USA.

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