Israeli solution for language problem
By year-end, life should get a wee bit simpler for computer users preferring the vernacular, thanks to an Israeli connection forged by CK Technologies, part of the TeNet Group of companies. Shakti Office Suite, an “indigenous, affordable bilingual alternate to popular office suites” will be the first to integrate FastKeys, software developed by the Israel-based FTK Technologies. FastKeys would address this problem by projecting a real-time simulation of the keyboard and user’s hands as they type, onto the monitor. The keys on the virtual keyboard would show the characters in the vernacular, simplifying the process for a new user who might otherwise have to plough through scripts of character positions on the keyboard.
Software freedom day
It was observed in many parts of South Asia. In Nepal, the FOSS Nepal Community announced plans for a “range of activities for promotion and awareness of FOSS”. They said: “The main event will be organised on Sept 16, 2006 at Yala Maya Kendra, while sub events organised at different colleges during the week.” They were expecting over 1500 participants in this celebration from different colleges, institution, government bodies, media and civil society.
Software Freedom Day: http://www.softwarefreedomday.org
IT by boat
Recently a case study on “Shidhulai Swarnivar Sangstha: Bringing Information Technology to Rural Bangladesh by Boat” was published by the Council on Library and Information Resources, Washington D.C., U.S.
Hacking and Bangladesh
Bangladesh is making law to check computer hacking. Dhaka is proposing a punishment of 10 years prison term or fine of 1 million taka (US$14,300) or both to the hackers. Source: Xinhua
Pakistanis are carrying out Urdu localisation efforts around the globe. The tool is called Rosetta. This is an opportunity for Pakistanis to volunteer by donating their time and effort to share the translation activity covering over 1,100 translation tasks.
Source: Fouad Riaz Bajwa’s recent article in SPIDER http://www.spider.tm/sep2006/cstory1.html Please help to build the network below: BytesForAll FLOSS Localisation Consortium www.groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_floss
India, knowledge commons debate
What do seeds have in common with software? Or age-old medicines with copyright lawyers? And, what’s the link between ayurvedic medicines and techies talking free software in Bangalore? Such issues are getting closely enmeshed in a deepening debate on how knowledge is shared or controlled in this new information-dominated century. Frederick Noronha for IP Watch
Rural Bangladesh and ICTs
Development Research Network (D.Net) has developed a model and experiments providing livelihood information through common access (rural information centre) point.
Gender toolkit for journalists
The Gender Toolkit for Journalists is designed to raise awareness in news rooms worldwide of gender inequality and the crucial role that media can play to promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women.
253,000 phones in 50,000 villages
Globally acclaimed Village Phone Programme, a joint initiative of GrameenPhone Ltd and Grameen Telecom to provide universal access to mobile phone services in rural areas, has crossed the 250,000 subscribers mark. The programme has now spread in over 50,000 villages, and has distributed over 253,000 village phones.
WIKIS for Africa
Afrophonewikis is a discussion group on developing Wikipedias in African languages. Africa has approximately 2000 languages, of which only a few have Wikipedias. Source: Joitske Hulsebosch, IICD, the Netherlands <firstname.lastname@example.org>
SISU SAMRAKSHAK, a Child Protector health portal
Rufina Fernandes of the NASSCOM Foundation rufina@nasscom foundation.org introduced Hasrat at Hasrat@gmail.com to the BytesForAll network. Rufina mentions that Hasrat is working with NASSCOM Foundation to convert the Sisu Samrakshak (Child Protector) health portal into several local languages.
Panos Radio, South Asia
Panos South Asia, a non-profit development communication organisation that works with media and civil society organisations in South Asia, with its regional head office in Kathmandu, has launched Panos Radio South Asia (PRSA) from August 30, 2006. Contact: Panos Radio South Asia Panos South Asia P.O. Box 13651,
Kathmandu, Nepal Tel: +977-1-5521889/5531447 E-mail: email@example.com
Telecentres, cost, and South Asia: A BytesForAll Debate
Summary by Partha Sarkar, Co-Founder, BytesForAll
Recently BytesForAll and other fora have witnessed a heated debate on the issue of telecentre costs. The debate, initiated by Nazrul Islam from Relief International-Schools Online (http://connect-bangladesh.org) reacted to a decision of Commonwelth Secretariat for setting up four access centres in Bangladesh with 20 million taka. “This means a centre will cost four million taka (UKP 38250). I am not sure how the access centre would look like and where it will be set up. Why are these centres so costly?,” said Nazrul.
“We have more than 25 school based access centers in Bangladesh and each cost only around 2000 USD for a year including min 5 computers, internet connetivity, staff cost, maintenance, etc.” http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers/message/8591
Reza Salim from Amader Gram [www.amadergram.org] responded that each centre that he manages under his project, have four PC, one digital camera, printer, few employees, logistics and furniture and all these do not cost more than Taka 200,000 (GBP 1500). He also writes, “By 12 months the centres will run by its own income.” http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers/message/8593
Shahid Uddin Akbar from ICTDPB had some doubt with mentioning of this figure – 20 million or 2 million. Even the amount of two million is also too much given his experience. But later Reza Salim also confirmed the figure of 20 million as mentioned in the Commonwealth Secretariat website. http://www.thecommonwealth. org/Templates/Internal.asp?NodeID=153381
Also Monjur Murshed confirmed the figure. Satish Jha made a point, saying, “Its tough to create meaningful applications in poorer environments as the cost of moving up the learning curve is rather steep. In other words, for a similar scale of benefits, poorer countries may face a higher cost in the beginning and should be able to bring it down as they develop local experiences and capabilities.”
He also felt that a serious debate exists ‘between those who think they can do it and those who do it’ and he argued that this divide is scarier than the real divide.
Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala informed us that they have been setting up Internet kiosks in India at Rs. 55,000 ($1200) per kiosk. The only requirement is that all these kiosks had to be set up in a cluster of nearby villages i.e about 200 in 25 kms radius.
Gopal TV asked whether any (quantitative) performance measures available for these kiosks. A number of journalists from the Bangladesh ICT Journalists Forum expressed their interests in discussing the issue and to bring this to media. For more on this discussion, check a summary at
Pakistan ICT policy group
BytesForAll is organising this space to discuss, highlight and monitor ICT policy issues, from civil society perspective in Pakistan.
Global telecentre alliance
At the Indian Telecentre Forum held in New Delhi, India, August 23-25, 2006 telecentre networks agreed to endorse and participate in an initiative sponsored by the Telecentres of the Americas Partnership and the European Union of Telecottage Associations towards the creation of a Global Telecentre Alliance.
Kerala dumps Windows
Kerala plans to switch all school computers from Microsoft Windows to the free Linux operating system. The changeover on computers used in some 12,500 high schools is planned and teachers are being trained on Linux, said the state’s education minister, M.A. Baby.
Library related software from Bangalore
Vishwamithra (for classifying documents), Vyasa (for maintaining Colon Classification scheme), Panizzi (automatic identification of bibliographic data elements), Promethus (automatic indexing), Ida (retrospective conversion pacakge), Manu (thesaurus construction), Pygmalion (convert data), Socrates (computer-aided instruction shell).
Free Wiki textbooks
A US-based initiative plans to make new textbooks available for free on the Internet for university students in “developing” nations.
APDIP e-Note 9 – Internationalised domain names
Butt Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) have become a hot topic in the field of Internet governance, with more non English content coming up in big way around the world. Learn more about the issue in the e-Note 9 of APDIP.
http://www.apdip.net/apdipenote/ All APDIP e-Resources are available at http://www.apdip.net/elibrary/
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Bytes for All Summary Archive: http://www.bytesforall.net/Summary/
Bytes for All discussion summary compiled by:
Frederick Norohna, Bytes for All, India