So as part of this ongoing drama of making sure that network traffic originating in Ghana actually stays here instead of wandering off to Europe and coming back (sorry for the jargon: if this doesn’t make sense to you, the rest probably won’t either), I’ve been trying to set up ping and traceroute and various other network analysis tools on my smartphones (running Windows Mobile 5) so I can figure out what routes the GPRS operators are using. The following is a rundown of what I found.
Network Tools 1.0 (free)
This includes traceroute and ping, and works pretty well if you can get it working on your phone. I had mixed luck. On the HTCs710 (wm6) it actually got into some state where I ended up having to reset the phone, and I couldn’t actually enter anything. But it worked perfectly well on the HTCP3600.
Most people are familiar with PuTTY, the free and extremely lightweight ssh program. This is the PocketPC port and works pretty well! Things like this make me very happy! The one problem is that it doesn’t include an installer, so I still haven’t figured out how to make a program shortcut for it – I just run it from file explorer.
Windows Mobile Network Analyzer Power Toy (free)
From the horse’s mouth, a ping and ipconfig utility, but alas no traceroute.
Merlin Tracert and Ping Utility v184.108.40.206 ($2.99, free trial)
I tried the trial version… it doesn’t handle screen orientation (horiz/vert) very well, and I couldn’t get it to work on the non-touchscreen phone (HTCs710) because it wouldn’t let me navigate between fields.
Kalian Pocket Ping 1.4 (free)
A free ping! As things should be. I don’t think I tested it though…
Ping for Pocket PC 1.05 ($3.00, free demo)
Ultimately this wasn’t useful because I needed traceroute.. And I think it’s atrocious to have to pay for a ping utility. Really!
IPer 5.0 ($15.95 shareware, 14 day free trial)
Okay, I’m cheap and I didn’t actually even try this one, but it looks pretty comprehensive, and once I need to do real network analysis, it might even be useful.
QoS Scanner 0.1 (free)
This wasn’t particularly useful for my purposes, but looked potentially interesting. It’s sort of a NetStumbler for mobile phones.
A friend forwarded me this post about a new Discovery Channel game, in which the positions of the sharks in the game reflect the actual position of actively tracked sharks in the ocean. Cool, huh?
So if you can’t figure out where I am, at least you can always find Melissa the shark…
My good friends at the University of Waterloo Tetherless Computing Research Group just released KioskNet, an open-sourced, live-cd’d solution for setting up sneakernet-style terminal server kiosks.
Of course, I don’t have very many pictures of myself. You can only do so many arms-length ones before it starts feeling cheesy.
But! My friend Paul was here (you can see him in some of my pictures) and he takes much better photographs than me. Check out his photostream for more pictures of Ghana.
Of course, my photostream is also feeling a little neglected…
I’m sitting here in the semi-dark and I realized that I still haven’t blogged about one of the more salient aspects of my time here in Ghana. Okay well. –insert sheepish grin– i actually realized that ages ago when Paul arrived and mentioned that I could have at least warned him that we only have power every other day here!
To be precise, we’re on a four day cycle that runs like this:
Day 1: Scheduled outage in the day from 6am to 6pm (12 hours)
Day 2: 24 hours of power (barring faults)
Day 3: Scheduled outage at night, from 6pm to 6am (12 hours)
Day 4: 24 hours of power
Although if you count a day as midnight to midnight, it actually seems a little more lopsided – the 24hours of power is pretty misleading. It’s actually such that you have a 12 hour daytime outage followed by 48 hours of power, and then a 12 hour night time outage followed by 24 hours of power.
The back story to this is that the water level in Lake Volta is extremely low, so the hydroelectric dam (operated by the Volta River Authority) is not giving enough power for the nation. The really sad frustrating thing is that this was entirely predictable – it happens every eight years. The power outages could have been avoided if only the government had turned off the aluminum plant (there’s lots more back story on that) on schedule instead of trying to squeeze just a little more money out of it. But at least Ghana has now struck oil!
The daytime outages aren’t so bad because the place where I’m staying is an office, and they run a generator during work hours. Except when it hits on weekends. The daytime outages are pretty much on schedule – the power always goes off on time, and then turns back on anywhere from 0-6 hours after it is supposed to turn on. The nightime outages also start on time, but generally end early, with the power turning back on at midnight or so. Although it’s 1.30am now, and the power is still out today.
I have different means of dealing with the power outages. Tonight, I’m surrounded by smartphones, using the one with the better loudspeaker as an mp3 player (actually mostly country music, not rock), another to check my email, and a third as my normal phone. Often I actually do use them as flashlights, since they are generally at hand when I need them, although tonight the guys at Arrow Networks (our collaborators on the wireless network project) set me up with a rechargeable lamp, so I don’t have to sit in the dark all night. Which is actually pretty much what I’ve been doing for the past four weeks. My little flashlights sort of work, but they don’t exactly light up a room and you really need to hold them up to see anything useful. I have found good places to prop them up though!
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I’m saving these here mostly as bookmarks, but thought they might be useful to anyone reading this blog…
The World Bank database has lots and lots of interesting and relevant stats (if not necessarily entirely accurate). The following two links are the summary pages for Uganda and Ghana. You can also do queries on the databases directly.
Another good statistical resource is the World Health Organization at who.int.
One of the things that stands out in my travels in Africa (more so in Ghana than Uganda) is the prevalence of the charismatic pentacostal megachurches. They have their pluses and minuses (Phillipians 1:17-18 comes to mind), and I have some hesitations about the “prosperity gospel” as well as how much they seem to revere the American pentecoastal leaders, but at least there are large organizations encouraging entrepreneurship and self-motivation, as well as providing the educational resources to enable their congregations to lift themselves out of poverty…
I’m not sure whether this was a scam or if it was actually a toy intended for his daughter, but this pastor is being accused of trying to con his congregation into believing he is passing on the Holy Spirit using a static-electricity joke toy. I guess the thing that counts though is noted by the Ethics minister in the article below: “But Mr Buturo said that most of the new churches, known in Uganda as “balokole” were “contributing to the stability of our country.”
Uganda pastor denies miracle scam (BBC News)
Thursday, 12 July 2007, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
The announcement is here.
From the call for proposals:
AITEC Africa, Africa’s leading ICT event organiser, is inviting presentation proposals for the first ever ICT for Healthcare in Africa Conference, to be held in Nairobi over 11-13 September 2007.
Delivery of healthcare services remains rudimentary in most of Africa. To achieve any of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to healthcare there is an urgent need to multiply care delivery through effective IT and communication systems. The conference will provide a platform for health practitioners, managers and ICT professionals to share knowledge and experience and identify best practices in Africa and internationally for the deployment of effective ICT systems for healthcare.
The conference will target participants from the healthcare sector across Africa:
- Ministries of Health
- Government Agencies
- Health Management Organisations
- Public and Private Hospitals
- NGOs and other development agencies active in the Healthcare Sector
The conference will cover key topics for this audience, with top African and international experts contributing strategy briefings within the conference.
Issues to be covered will include:
- Current use of ICT in healthcare provision in different countries
- The role of ICT in National Health Insurance schemes
- Telemedicine for delivery in rural areas
- Smart card technology in healthcare
- Financing and sustaining ICT in healthcare (including Asset Management)
- ICT training requirements for health professionals
- National healthcare portals
- Information security and data protection
- National communication policies & infrastructure development
- Outsourcing healthcare information management systems
To propose a presentation in the conference, e-mail the title, together with a brief outline and information on the speaker to Sean Moroney firstname.lastname@example.org
The Indian government is collaborating with a number of African countries on a pan-Africa e-Health network, aiming to encourage collaboration between Indian and African doctors over VSAT. Ghana’s included in this program, I believe starting with the Komfo Anoyke Teaching Hospital in Kumasi. The project is funded for 5 years – I’m not sure what will happen after that, but hopefully they will be able to fall to the much more financially sustainable land-based fiber by then (assuming the sub-marine cables get deployed). The project also includes the donation of new diagnostic equipment, including DICOM (a medical image standard) compatible x-rays and CT scanners.
For the BBC News article on the topic, see:
Ethiopia’s high speed hospitals
By Elizabeth Blunt
BBC News, Addis Ababa
Philippians 3 is nice because it clearly lays out one of the distinctive and oft-overlooked characteristics of Christianity, that our righteousness, our redemption comes not from our own doing, but through faith. Of course the common objection to this is that we would then have no motive to do good things, if all we have to do to get to heaven is to believe there is one. But it doesn’t quite work that way – Paul describes the basis of faith:
…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead -Philippians 3:10-11
Thus the response to knowing Him and the power of His resurrection cannot be to absolve oneself of all responsibility, the need to seek out righteousness. We do good things because we are saved, rather than doing good things in order to be saved. In a sense it almost makes motives more pure – Christians are supposed do good things for the sake of being good.
Of course (speaks the cynic/realist in me) there are plenty of people (Christians and non-Christians alike) that go through the right motions with the wrong motives… even the best of us can get distracted and and "set [our] minds on earthly things" rather than the "upward call of God."
Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. -Philippians 3:15-16
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