[GKD] Limitations of Open-source Software

2003-02-25 Thread Daryl Martyris
Sam Lanfranco [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

 For software the open source platforms are both available at all levels
 (i.e., operating systems, browsers, email, server software, OpenOffice
 application suite, etc. etc.) and there are thousands of open source
 people online who will help you - at a distance and usually for free -.

While I am a believer in open-source, I have to say that in the case of
my project in Goa, India - GSCP, the above has definitely not been true.
In general Linux folks are always ready to answer a quick question or
two, but anything more complicated requires paid support.

The case I want to share is our need for educational software compatible
with the RH 7.2 distro (GNOME desktop) we use in our schools. While
there is tons of available educational software on sites like seul.org,
it is a mishmash of different distributions, different desktops etc, and
very little of it actually works on our distro. We've tried very hard to
get online volunteers (including netaid) to help with compiling RPM's
etc, but have had almost zero success.

Consequently, as schoools begin to experiment with computer assisted
teaching, we are facing a losing battle, as schools realize that there
is no Linux compatible educational software and switch over to MS. 
Anyone on a modest budget planning on using Linux should be aware of
this limitation.



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Re: [GKD] Making Computers, Software, Bandwidth Affordable (India)

2003-02-25 Thread Mullinax, John (J.)
Promising ideas. Not unique by themselves, but the first time I've seen
someone actually attempt to put them all together. The key questions:
1) Where do you start?  and 2) How to get critical mass?  I certainly
won't claim definitive answers, but here are some thoughts:

1) Start with the client machine -- the cheap PC, the network computer,
whatever you want to call it. You can't deploy many in the beginning,
but you have to have this designed and operational in some fashion. 
This needs to include network access. Vanilla 802.11b (wi-fi) is
probably not right. See www.locust.net for one solution that turns wi-fi
access points into a wireless mesh, bottom-up network using freely
available software to control off-the-shelf access points. Include some
kind of microphone and speaker capability, and Voice over IP voice
communication service (i.e., a telephone system) can be made available
to all on the mesh.

These networks -- or any peer-peer bottom up network based on 802.11
will only be able to access the public Internet if one of there is a 
gateway hooked to the Internet -- and all the usual fees apply
(bandwidth and/or equipment, etc.).  This solution does not
automatically yield affordable Internet access.  Internet prices will
fall, and can be made cheaper, of course.  And naturally it should be
pursued.  I'm only suggesting the system should be constructed to add
value to the users even if Internet access was down, or unavailable to
some users due to costs.

This leads to the second question:

2) A critical mass of content for users to access needs to exist to make
the appliance/service useful. The Internet can not necessarily be
relied on to provide this. And the Application Service Provider (ASP)
model especially requires application content (i.e., spreadsheets, word
processing, etc.). One way to get the mass needed is to focus on the
utility applications that made computing and the Internet so valuable in
it's early days. First, email for all machines connected to the
wireless mesh (the bottom-up network). Even if Internet connectivity is
not available or remains expensive for some time, this will provide
exponential value as more client machines are connected to the mesh (a
village at a time, perhaps?)

Second, word processing, spreadsheets, small database applications, etc.
With the proper training, these can provide productivity enhancements 
for small businesses that might not otherwise use computers at all.

Third, games -- and networked games. This gets the younger generations
engaged and familiar with the technology so that they have shorter
learning curves with other applications as they grow up.  (Just make
sure they don't overwhelm network capacities or require cutting edge
video cards/memory in the client machines!).

Finally, make Internet style content available within the mesh.  Enable
people with client machines to build and manage sites (centrally hosted
for most, but distributed hosting is possible if people have the proper
equipment and meet appropriate guidelines). Deploy and host more
sophisticated content on behalf of the users. It could someday be the
world's largest intranet -- and be a valuable resource for many even if
the price of public Internet access never falls into the price range of

My very best to you.

John Mullinax

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[GKD] Vacancy at OneWorld South Asia

2003-02-25 Thread Kanti Kumar
Dear Friends,

Please circulate the following vacancy announcement among your
colleagues and friends. This post is open to South Asian nationals.

We are looking for an entrepreneurial Centre Director to provide
leadership and direction to the OneWorld South Asia team based in Delhi.

OneWorld is a dynamic, non-profit network using the Internet to promote
human rights and sustainable development.Our award-winning
initiatives have consistently broken fresh ground in showing how Civil
Society can profit from new technology.

The OneWorld South Asia team of 10 has already established itself as
front-runners in South Asia in the use of ICTs for development, through
a range of targeted activities:

Partnership networking among 200+ regional partners.

Syndicating news stories from South Asia to Yahoo, the web¥s biggest
news site, alongside Reuters and AP.

Highlighting news and features from partners on the regional portal

Running training sessions and delivering technical services to partners.

Publishing specialist global portals on Education
(www.learningchannel.org) and ICTs (www.digitalopportunity.org). Other
new initiatives such as the Open Knowledge Network (see
www.openknowledge.net) are in the pipeline. The current budget of R1.5
crore is expected to grow substantially.

OneWorld South Asia is currently registered as a representative office
of OneWorld International, but the new Centre Director will lead the
office to become an autonomous Centre within the OneWorld Network. The
post will initially report to the OneWorld International Southern
Programmes Manager, and later to a representative Regional Board.

We are looking for someone who is both an idealist and a realist:
idealist enough to project a vision of how the new information tools can
be used for social goals, and realist enough to know that nothing gets
achieved without tight management, effective planning, and a keen eye on
the bottom line.


1.  Management

To provide overall leadership to the OneWorld South Asia (OWSA) team.
To line-manage senior OWSA staff.
To ensure that OWSA meets its statutory legal and fiscal obligations.
To ensure sound budget management.

2.  Representational

To represent OWSA within the OneWorld network.
To build the reputation of OWSA with its partners, the regional media
and other stakeholders.
To develop relations with donors, corporates, Trusts and other potential
income-sources for OWSA.

3.  Centre Business Development

To develop a diversified income-generating strategy including both
grants and technical services delivered to partners.
To incorporate this income-generating strategy in a Centre business plan
to be put to the OneWorld International trustees as the basis for Centre
To develop and manage balanced annual budgets for OWSA.

4.  Technical

To coordinate the development of the Open Knowledge Syndication Centre
under or within OWSA.
To coordinate the development of ICT services to be provided to
partners, including on a paying basis.

Essential Skills and Experience

Proven track record of leadership achievement - not necessarily within
Management of technical services such as programming, web development
and hosting.
Financial Management and budgetary control.
Line management of staff in inter-disciplinary teams.
Strategic thinker, professional, entrepreneurial, committed to the use
of ICTs for social purposes.
Excellent written and oral communication skills in English.
Passport-holder of a South Asian country willing to work in Delhi, with
regular international travel.
Commitment to OneWorld's values.

Desirable Skills and Experience

Knowledge of Web based ICT software applications.
Experience of international working.
Experience in the civil society sector.
Experience of working within networks.

This is a re-advertisement. Previous applicants need not re-apply.

This is a paid position.

Salary / Benefits : : Equivalent to c. 15,000 pounds sterling per year
Type of work : Contract

Location : New Delhi, India

Closing Date : 5 Mar 2003

To apply :
Please send for an application form to [EMAIL PROTECTED]

In exceptional cases, a CV and covering letter will also be considered.

Closing date for return of application forms: 5 March 2003.
Interviews will take place in Delhi in the week beginning 24 March 2003.
Agreed travel costs will be reimbursed.

Short-listed candidates will be contacted no later than 14 March. Applicants
who have not been contacted by this date should assume that their
applications have not been successful.

OneWorld is committed to equal opportunities.
For more information about OneWorld see: http://www.oneworld.net/about
For more information see : http://www.oneworld.net/southasia

Kanti Kumar
Editor, Digital Opportunity Channel
OneWorld South Asia
New Delhi, India

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[GKD] Community Radio Fights for Widows' Rights (Nepal)

2003-02-25 Thread Frederick Noronha
Radio broadcasters raise voices for a better world

By Sudeshna Sarkar, Indo-Asian News Service

Kathmandu, Feb 20 (IANS) When her husband died in an accident Amala
Pradhan's in-laws made sure that her life ended as well by dictating
what she could wear or eat and where she could go.

There are reportedly hundreds of women like Amala (name changed) across
South Asia who are deprived of the right to lead normal lives once their
spouses die.

To raise a voice against widows' oppression and other inequalities,
community radio broadcasters will convene in Kathmandu from February 21
to March 2.

Radio Sagarmatha Nepal, partnered by the Montreal-based AMARC
International (the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters),
will host the conference.

Five participants from Kerala will attend the eighth world conference of
community broadcasters that will also focus on media portrayals of

Broadcasters from the Arab countries, Asia, Africa, Latin America and
the Caribbean, Europe and North America are also expected for the event.

In Nepal, community radio has played an important role in helping widows
like Amala come out of their shells and fight for their rights to lead
normal lives.

Amala lost her husband at 24, after which she said: I had no freedom. I
was forced to undergo all kinds of deprivations in the name of rituals
by my in-laws. They stopped me from attending family ceremonies under
the logic that I had brought bad luck to them by killing my husband and
would bring bad luck to others too.

The harsh treatment of widows is a social phenomenon in both India and
Nepal, said Raghu Mainali, coordinator of the Community Radio Support
Centre set up in Nepal in 2000 to promote community radio in rural areas
across the country.

To dispel the prevailing superstitions about widowhood, Radio
Sagarmatha started a battery of programmes, including talks and debates.

We invited community leaders to our studio who emphasised that the
taboos inflicted on the women were not dictated by the epics or
scriptures, which govern so much of traditional ways in Nepal, but
erroneous interpretations. We feel the broadcasts helped improve the
condition of widows in Nepal.

Radio Sagarmatha, brainchild of veteran journalist Bharat Dutta Koirala
that started broadcasting in 1999, last year fetched him the Magsaysay
award for  his involvement in development journalism.

It was Nepal's first private radio channel. Nepal today has five other
community broadcasting channels.

The inaccessible terrain of Nepal, the rampant illiteracy and the lack
of electricity in rural areas makes it difficult for the print media and
television to generate awareness, said Koirala. Community radio is the
only answer.

Mainali adds that even during the height of insurgency, when Maoist
guerrillas attacked infrastructure, the community radio stations were
never harmed.

The Maoists recognise that we are a non-political body and they
themselves are a part of community. In fact, at times when our
programmes are disrupted due to technical reasons, we've had them
calling up to ask what happened.

AMARC, a network of over 2,000 community radios, feels citizens, women
and migrants should have access to communications technologies.

So the conference in Kathmandu will highlight the need to place human
rights and social justice at the heart of the global communications
policy agenda for the World Summit on the Information Society, to build
a grassroot South-centred platform for participation in global
strategies for the information society and to reinforce community radio
development in Nepal as a model for South Asia.

--Indo-Asian News Service

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