International

In Afghanistan, our boys are reading from the front

The Times has an interesting article today on British soldiers in Afghanistan who read stories to their children back home. December 15, 2009. "In Afghanistan, our boys are reading from the front;
Fighting overseas doesn’t stop British soldiers telling their children bedtime stories." by Helen Rumbelow.
Andi Gray is married to the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards. Before he left, Lieutenant-Colonel Toby Gray recorded one CD for the youngest of their four children, five-year-old Johnny, and the eldest, 15-year-old Madeleine. The nine-year-old twins are getting theirs soon, as soon as Toby gets enough time in between combat to record a story in the Afghanistan mountains.

Digital Library of India

Access: Digital Library of India http://dli.iiit.ac.in/index.html
The MBP when completed will produce approximately 250 million pages or 500 billion characters of information. The storage requirements for the image files will be approximately 50 terabytes an order of magnitude larger than any publicly available information base. Creating and managing such a vast information base poses many technological challenges and provides a fertile test bed for innovative research in many areas (described below). The MBP is a multi-agency, multi-national effort that will require the database to be globally distributed. For location independent access, this globally distributed database should appear to be a virtual central database from any place around the world. Mirroring the database in several countries will ensure security and availability. The network speeds at the various nodes would be different. Research in distributed caching and active networks would be needed to ensure that the look and feel of the database is the same from any location.

See: Million Book Project http://dli.iiit.ac.in/

This is the story of a struggling librarian from Uganda

The incoming chair of the Petroleum & Energy Resources Division [DPER] of SLA dropped us a link to an interesting librarian.

This is the story of a struggling librarian from Uganda, Africa and how the Petroleum & Energy Division [DPER] of SLA has sponsored his membership in SLA and now DPER is fundraising to help bring Stephen Kizza to the 2010 SLA meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. The division board members feel that this very positive story demonstrates the power of SLA networking and how SLA members help one another. DPER International Relations Chair, Dennie Heye of Shell in the Netherlands said, "I want the world to know the power of SLA and networking. I hope it inspires others to do the same with peers in lesser developed nations." -- Read More

Necessity Was the Mother of this Phone Box Library

A resident dreamed up the idea when the tiny village lost its phone box and mobile library in quick succession. But fortunately, a traditional red phone box has been recycled into the Westbury-sub-Mendip (population of approximately 800 in Somerset) Library, stocking a total of 100 books.

British Telephone has received 770 applications for communities to 'adopt a kiosk', and so far 350 boxes have been handed over to parish councils. Westbury-sub-Mendip Parish Council bought the phone box from BT in a national scheme for a token £1. More from the BBC...

...and yet another article from BBC Local.

Jane Hart's Top 100 Tools for Learning 2009 as at 15 November 2009 - Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies

Jane Hart's Top 100 Tools for Learning 2009 as at 15 November 2009 - Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies

About Jane Hart:

Having previously set up a number of web portals, in 2007 Jane established the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT) - now one of the world's most-visited and most popular learning sites on the Web, with over 8,000 unique visitors a day. Here, you'll find, for instance, her Directory of Learning Tools containing over 3,000 entries, the Top 100 Tools for Learning and the Connexions Directory of Learning Professionals Online. She also offer a number of (free) resources and courses about Social Learning.

See: About Jane Hart: http://c4lpt.co.uk/jane.html for more details
Top 100 Tools for Learning 2009 : http://c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/index.html

See presentation of the Top 100 Tools. Yoou can also see the full list with links to pages with more information about each of the tools.
Individual contributions: http://c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/top10tools.html

Making Online Possible Offline

In the midst of the Ubuntu Developer Summit for the forthcoming long-term support release named Lucid Lynx, a new issue arose. This was an issue of intense partisanship perhaps. The GNU Image Manipulation Program, otherwise known as GIMP, was proposed for removal from the default installation on the distributed live CD.

Documentation for this is skimpy at the moment. The desktop team's blueprint does not explicitly state that this will happen. The Internet Relay Chat log for that particular session has barely any details except that the popularity contest package for measuring usage ranked GIMP on par with F-Spot. Although the session was filmed, the relevant Ogg Theora video file has not tumbled down the podcast distribution chute yet for review. A blog post at fan site unaffiliated with Canonical is what broke word for those not attending the summit.

Opinions on Identi.ca were across a bit of a range from being okay with the change to opposition through thoughts of counter-proposal to sadness. One user on Identi.ca noted that it is a big difference between stripping something from a live CD and removing something from repositories.

This whole matter presents concerns from the perspective of the Ubuntu NGO Team's blueprint. One of the areas of work enunciated in that plan was that the team would work on offline documentation. Offline repositories are something also considered in a discussion paper on the team's wiki site.

How can the GIMP be made available for those with sub-optimal Internet access? A case might be made that stripping GIMP off the live CD would reduce access to the package for those with less than optimal access to the Internet or no access at all. Unfortunately such is anecdotal at present and there is no hard data to properly back such a notion up.

The first tool to surmount this issue is the Ubuntu Customization Kit. At present that package's own project site shows examples of use in creating localized editions by language. For putting GIMP back into a live CD while stripping out other packages would create a derivative version of the distributed disc images which can over time create things like Linux Mint, CrunchBang Linux, and Katian.

A different work-around that may work better would be to go the route of APTonCD. APTonCD is one option for off-line movement of packages that does not require access to the Internet for installing anything. A similar tool for a command-line world would be AptZip that instead may allow shifting the download burden elsewhere such as to perhaps run on a public access computer at a public library.

As an overarching shift in live CD design, the inclusion by default of APTonCD would alleviate any worries like this in the future perhaps. Backers of GIMP and other packages that might not fit on the disc but still have strong communities can make images of APTonCD discs available. This is a short run solution, though. Increasing the availability of repository mirrors in public access Internet service settings would be a far more preferable solution in the long run.

Within the Ubuntu project, this would be a matter of liaison between the NGO Team and the Desktop Team, perhaps, as it touches upon the matter of trying to make the Ubuntu experience as equal as possible between the industrialized West and the Global South. Outside the Ubuntu project, this remains a matter of knowing what is going on with what you use. Just as it may seem simple to drive an automobile, quite a lot is going on under the hood. Compared to Windows or MacOS, Linux in general is the hotrod that you can upgrade and change just as drivers in the 1960s and 1970s could fuss over vehicles from manufacturers like AMX.

Creative Commons License
Making Online Possible Offline by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at erielookingproductions.info.

And Dancing in the Streets...

Following up on our story last month, today's New York Times features a photo of Chile's President Michelle Bachelet dancing with the librarian who invited her to join him in La Cueca.

President Bachelet is a pediatrician and a single mother. Her unorthodox style has left a mark on the country’s political culture. During her state of the nation address in May, she joked about losing a shoe while kicking a soccer ball at a stadium inauguration, saying investment in four new stadiums would include money for “the flying shoe.” In the recent interview, she joked that her gender parity plan for the cabinet was intended to ensure that everyone had a dance partner.

Flash Dancing at the library

South Dublin's County Library gets in the groove with a Flash(mob)Dance, as reported by Library.ie. Looks like great fun!

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