August 20, 2008

Catching up...


The morning started out slow. I met Mike at the restaurant at about 8:30 where we had eggs and chips and coffee (Nescafe) for breakfast. We hadn't seen anyone else so weren't sure what the plan was when Father Anthony stopped by to say that Father Kukah's chef had prepared breakfast for us. So we proceeded to have a second breakfast: crepes filled with ground fish, bread, spicy scrambled eggs and more coffee. Bryan arrived shortly as he had been interviewing the fathers on video in the media center. Bryan has been video-taping much of the activity for World Computer Exchange.

Since it was Saturday and Nigeria was playing in the Olympics against Cote d'Ivoire in the afternoon the local IT folks weren't planning to be around. Once most of the rest of us had arrived we began finding projects to work on. I did some cable management. Bryan and Carey tried unsuccessfully to revive a coax link between the "cyber cafe" and the media center.

Nigeria wins against Cote d'Ivoire. Yay!


No one around, stores closed. There's an amplifier and speakers in the media center computer lab. I used electrical tape to splice together a cord so we could plug our various ipod-like devices into it. Yay, music.

A few of us took a long walk toward downtown. Didn't buy much but got a better sense of our location. Carey took Ben to airport and met Erika who flew in from Orlando to join the group. The last team member, Deily from Costa Rica, had a cancelled flight, but she managed to get an alternate flight arriving Monday. Carey and Erika will be staying in Abuja until she arrives then they'll drive to Kaduna on Tuesday.


Bryan and I and local IT team member Mike tried again to get the coax cable between the buildings to carry a signal. We finally came to the conclusion that one of the hubs was bad. Luis had brought a spare hub that had a BNC connector so all looked good until we plugged it in forgetting that it was not a dual-voltage device. Smoke and popping noises! No more hub. On to plan D or whatever we're up to now.

Tony, Bryan and I met with a local ISP to discuss the cost of getting Internet access for the center's cyber cafe. The quote for Internet via satellite was N150,000 a month for 128Kb-down/64Kb-up. That's almost $1300! We're going to have to look at other options.

Folks seem to be pretty down. No word on the computer shipment.


Nicholas, Luis, and Mike went to Zaria to visit schools and offices of the archdiocese there. It's about an hour's drive so they'll just be doing a day trip. Apparently there aren't nearly as many schools wanting to setup computer labs as there were in Jos.

Carey, Erika, and Deily arrived from Abuja. Erika and Deily went right to work teaching a group of kids how to use the media center computers. They'd brought a bunch of educational software and seemed to be having a great time.

Bryan and I decided to find out if ethernet over cat5 cable could really handle cover the 300 feet between the buildings. That's just at the official range. And it worked! We set up the eGranary server in its own room, connected the computer lab and the cyber cafe and could browse the eGranary from either location. Excellent. The cat5 is just strung across the field at the moment, so we're hoping the gardener doesn't try to mow the lawn in the next day or two.

The guys returned from Zaria in a good mood, lots of introductions all around. Nigeria wins the semi-final against Belgium. A pretty good day.


We spent the morning trying to tidy up the computer lab machines, resolve some outstanding issues, and get them all configured to use the eGranary. I set up a thin client server, but the machine is too underpowered to be of any real use other than a very slow example. Also, the machines here all have Netware BIOS's and try to network boot using the RPL protocol which LTSP doesn't handle. I don't know how to get them to use PXE or EtherBoot. Bummer.

The power here is totally flaky. Most of the UPS's are on their last legs and often take several attempts to get them to turn on, others beep continuously which renders them annoying enough to be unusable, and there seems to be a charge on the ground circuit. Several of us have had mild, but startling, shocks off the computer cases even when they're turned off.

In the afternoon we took two cars to the central market to wander around and see the sites. The market is a maze of little shops along alleyways, selling all sorts of things from meat and vegetables to electronics, kitchen ware, cloth, and motorcycles. We went to what seemed to be the only craft shop in the market and bought a few traditional Nigerian crafts. I was tempted to buy a python skin, but decided to forego it.

Tonight I'm back at the cyber cafe checking email. I don't have any new photos since my camera is out of batteries.

Posted by cayfo001 at August 20, 2008 1:44 PM