Friday, August 21, 2009

Wifi in Africa

I realize my blogging tone is like stream of consciousness on crack - I am working on that.

Greetings from the Sunbird, Lilongwe. I have switched hotels for the weekend. The Kiboko Town Hotel was nice. It had a decent bar and breakfast, but there no internet and there were roaches and other big bugs (but its Africa so I go with the flow).
The Sunbird is no great shakes either, (and its 2x the price!) but it has wifi. I'll be having some meetings over the weekend so wifi is key. Monday I go back to Kiboko - I owe them money for the past 3 nights. But then I want to explore the other hotels of Lilongwe in my desire to become the world Lilongwe Hotel expert. Maybe I'll check out the the madonna-tel - I have been able to negotiate a decent rate but it'll put be 1k over budget.

Here I am blogging away on wifi, but even with wifi malawi is slowwwww... Cindy Jeffers my botmatrix buddy and bitsister sent me over some sage advice.
(Cindy is working on a Rwanda tech/legal project with the Distance Lab in Inverness - and is currently presenting at ISEA in Belfast)

Cindy on African Internet:

"awesome on the hotel internet. internet and electricity are really tough in africa. like catching the wind. one suggestion for your browser - in the preferences you could turn off images, javascript, caching etc so you're just looking at text. sounds 95, but it's faster. also totally agree re google servers - i did not like gmail in rwanda. there's an option at the bottom of the page to switch to "basic html". it speeds things up. the opera browser has a turbo mode that turns off everything cept text. "

Thanks Cindy! You Rock!

A little update from the field.
Today is friday, and friday is half day in Malawi, sort of like summer fridays in NYC advertising shops. Shop closed at 1:20 and I'm hanging out waiting to meet Stanley, my UNICEF contact, to go over some R and latex - and he's giving me a sim card. We are going to analyize data - a lot of the data analysis I did in finance is really portable to these health/epidemiological issues.

I'm also waiting to meet 4 Lilongwian programmers I met online (via a Mzuzu lecturer->Mzuzu student). I am hoping to build some local expertise in Django/Python/RapidSMS - specially as UNICEF starts to add more RapidSMS based projects. We met with the Minister of Health today and it looks like we have a lot of work to do to scale up the Malnutrition SMS project - we need programmers!

13Bit News
Paul is working like a dog over at the compound coordinating interviews for our next doc on water/waterfootprint/geopolitical power/ecological measures/the kitchen sink. Paul again has garnered the coveted golden seitan award. Paul and Jamie - our incredible AP - are having a meeting today, maybe they will talk about our Paris screening. We are trying to coordinate a screening of our first 2 docs in Paris between October 8-13 - we will be there on a research mission for the doc. Does anyone in internetland knows of a Parisian venue that wants to show fantastic award-winning indie docs???

Mental Onanism
And on a light note - Lian sent me a link about twitter songsincode. People are using code to recreate song lyrics.
I just submitted my own!

I totally love this! Years ago I wrote a paper about the culture of code, and I totally believe in a code literature or poetry/songs - you read the work and then you execute it. I am actually working on a twitter song application - DohRaeTweet - but its a bit different...

Pi Yes I am taking pictures, but the connection is too slow to upload all of them - so I'll post a link with the flickr picture of the day (when I get back to NY I'll fix all this up - maybe)

Here is my daily breakfast at the lovely Kiboko Town Hotel:


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