Tuesday, August 31, 2010

shaping the Nairobi Join Africa backhaul network

Ok, look, what can I say, I'm impossibly behind on the blog thing. There's just too much... a million things from Fab 6 and then immediately after a million more things from Maker Faire Nairobi, plus another million from the Join Africa deploy. By my math that makes a "bajillion" and I've been only collapsing into bed without the willpower to tell you about it.

Connection diagram for a Ubiquity device when using AC power

But tonight we're pushing some documentation on to the wiki and I want you to see. This is an image that was made by Tom Okite, Hansel Omondi and Laurence Ombuki from ARO FabLab Kenya West in Kisumu. They're in Nairobi this week to help deploy the Nairobi networks in anticipation of doing the same in Kisumu.

mapping out the back haul sites and internet connection points in Nairobi

You can find the (in work) gallery at: http://www.fablab.is/w/index.php/Power-over-ethernet_diagrams.

And go here a little more on the FabFi and Afrimesh project we're calling Join Africa.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fabfi and Afrimesh: Building a Wireless Africa

Fabfi, the open source platform for building large-scale mesh wireless network infrastructure, and Afrimesh, the platform-agnostic, open dashboard for network management, have joined forces to build a turnkey platform for deploying, managing and monetising high-speed data networks under the codename JoinAfrica.
Over the last few weeks, we have completely overhauled the Fabfi platform in anticipation of a pilot project near Nairobi Kenya. After some feverish last-minute work, we're also providing wireless at Maker Faire (it's beta, so please use it and tell us if you notice anything that's not working right)

SSID Makernet by Fabfi
User: pamoja
Password: JoinAfrica Note: no proxy is required

For those of you reading from afar, this page is being used as our info page at MakerFaire Africa, so it might seem strangely like an advert... because it is.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kenya, Week 1

The first week of the Keyna deploy was, in a word, intense. The Nairobi lab has a great group of talented [super] users, and it was easy to fill the roles of linux geek, project manager, and JOAT (jack of all trades) in the first couple days. It was a good thing as well, because we might have bitten off a little more than we could do for a first week. After very positive meetings with the Permanent Secretary for ICT and university officials, it became clear, that "just getting something up" would not be enough to fully capture the opportunities available. The network not only had to work, but it had to be "hish-performance" in a way that fabfi had never really considered before.

The demand for reliable, high-speed connectivity to end users very high, and in the university/Education environment the desire for locally hosted content is strong enough that sitting behind the uplink speed as an upper requirement for network performance is effectively a cop-out. It turns out, however, that adhoc networks don't support N-speeds, so we spent the week reworking fabfi to support AP/STA operation, debugging the new devices, and upgrading to WPA. It was a great experience in understanding the software, but as of Friday the number of nodes deployed in the field by the crew was exactly 4 -- enough to learn cable making, battery power and basic pointing, but leaving a little too much to the imagination for my comfort. Only time will tell how the list of "needs done" will fare in my absence, but in the meantime off to fab6 for a couple days of much-needed geek R&R.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Best Hotel Spread EVER

Sorry Nipun, you're sleepin' on the floor--cuz if it doesn't all fit in the picture, it certainly doesn't fit in the hallway. Let's go build a series of tubes...

Unrelated travel note, courtesy of the WC at Amsterdam Centraal:

Pay toilets are a disservice to humanity. The idea is noble enough: You want to have a nice bathroom so you charge people some to use it and use the money to keep it from getting crapped up (pun fully intended). The problem with this logic is that when people gotta go, they gotta go. After walking the hundred yards to the WC at the end of the Amsterdam Central train station platform to be thwarted by an electro-mechanical gate that ONLY TAKES EXACT CHANGE, the last thing you're inclined to do is feel respect for city ordinances against public urination. By the smell outside from 30yds away more people have let go on wall of the WC building than inside. Surprised the gate isn't shorted out now.

The moral of the story here is that everyone benefits when certain things are free. Keeping the whazz off the train platform is a pretty clear example, but I don't think certain types of internet access aren't that far behind in today's world. That's sort of why we're here...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kenya Ho!

On the plane to the Kenya Fablabs with 275lb of wireless gear (most of which can be found in Kenya, for future expansion). Fabfi v4 is gettin' coded in country! Let's just hope Kenyan customs doesn't follow this blog. [Edit: it's all perfectly legal, but it's an easy target for the odd entrepreneurial airport security guy...]