• Zenzeleni mesh networking in the Transkei

    Countryside around Mankosi While backpacking across the Transkei in South Africa, I stayed at Mdumbi Backpackers close to Coffee Bay, in the Mankosi Administrative Area, a rural traditional community within the Nyandeni Local Municipality in the Province of the Eastern Cape. I had been made aware of an innovative wireless mesh network called Zenzeleni Community Telecoms by a friend in Cape Town, Michael Graaf, and took a look around.
  • 2017 ANC National Conference - Gauteng

    Men, ladies: Mkhize, Ramaphosa, Zuma, Phosa, Radebe. Sisulu, NDZ, Mbete I have written about Polokwane - where Zuma ascended to President of the ANC, and branch meetings, and previous party splits before. The ANC has no term limits for its president, but South Africa’s constitution has a two term limit for the president of the country, and to avoid two centres of power the ANC has kept their president, the de-facto president of the country, to two terms as well.
  • Tracking people vs tracking guns

    I have written about privacy before - Richard Stallman has words, and Smartphones are not your friend. My local Python conference had a talk called Deep learning - a gentle dive that had a view on the level of image classification today. People The software that is written is ‘soft’ - it does little of the classification itself - but relies on a large ‘training’ database to achieve some remarkabe stunts - like look at a crowded shop scene and classify people by gender and age.
  • Parallel Processing today

    To get the benefit of today’s computer hardware, parallel processing is a must. The hardware can do it - the problem is programmers conveying their wishes through a programming language. I have spent 35 years in the area of parallel processing. I started in the late 1970’s with the massively-parallel, very low level systems built around Associative Parallel Processing - intelligent memory. This required micro-code level understanding, and specialist hardware, but delivered parallelism limited only by the number of chips you could bolt together - an SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data) offering that died through lack of hardware, among other things.
  • Richard Stallman visits Cape Town

    Stallman and I Richard Stallman visited Cape Town, and gave a talk at the University of Cape Town titled “A Free Digital Society” On the 4th September I picked Richard Stallman up from the airport and we went to dinner with a number of people that had helped organise the event at Brass Bell, Kalk Bay. Around Cape Town He stayed with me and my friend Lerato in Muizenberg, and he is a gracious and accommodating guest.
  • Thailand trip - 2012

    My first visit further east than India was an interesting trip, mostly to see my friend Graham who lives there now. I spent two weeks in the northeast, and then we went to Laos for a week. I took three weeks off to go visit Graham and his Thai girlfriend Nattaya -and learn a little about Thailand. I got a backpack, not too big, and resisted the urge to fill it.
  • Apple's iPad - a n00b experience

    1st Gen iPad Home Screen Two friends of mine recently purchased iPads - Vernon asked me, as a computer fundi, to help him out on the installation. I always think it is” useful to document first-time experiences - one adapts and forgets so easily. Old timer I have used Linux pretty much exclusively for the last 20 years. I have a pragmatic approach to my friends who use Windows - I have followed Microsoft’s offerings from Windows98 through XP - I have an XP user’s understanding of the later versions of Windows.
  • Whisky Live Festival, Cape Town November 2011

    I went to the Whisky Live Festival in Cape Town last Friday evening - the last day of the Festival - definitely a good choice. International Convention Centre Emma, a visitor from Scotland, persuaded a group of us to go, and we made our way to the International Convention Centre. We got a group rate, and 12 redeemable coupons for tasting. We decided that we would specialise on the single malts - a whisky made from the product of a single distillery rather than a blend between distilleries.
  • Centre for High Performance Computing national meeting

    SANReN backbone The Centre for High Performance Computing in Cape Town has an annual meeting to showcase flagship projects and listen to other people’s experiences at similarcentres around the world. The 7-9th December 2010 saw the Centre for High Performance Computing’s national meeting held at the Westin Grand hotel in Cape Town, next to the International convention centre, CTICC. I am contracting at CHPC, and have blogged before about it.
  • Using the Centre for High Performance Computing, Cape Town

    I have recently been contracting at the Centre for High Performance Computing. This is just an update on how to map the particular problem I have onto the computing cluster. First steps It is an explanation of how to get to the much easier job of splitting the main task up into bite-sized pieces that can be fed independently via a job submission system called MOAB. Task description Each day satellites MODIS(NASA) and MERIS (ESA) do afew passes of a polar orbit over our region of interest, African coastal andinland waters.
  • Eavesdropping today's smartphones

    There have been a number of countries, like UAE and India that have demanded access to encrypted communications of Research-In-Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry smartphones. These efforts are misguided, and unfairly target RIM’s business. Public key encryption We need a quick primer on today’s encryption. We pick the standard scenario where Alice wants to talk to Bob, and Charlie is trying to listen in. In the old days Alice had to get a ‘secret’ to Bob before they can chatter.
  • wikileaks and the twitterverse

    Last month wikileaks published a large tranche of Afghan war documents, that the Pentagon doesn’t like. Actually, they want it all back, if such a thing is possible in the download age. Crowd-sourcing This is the new ‘enemy’ - the indiscriminate information age. Even during the case, wikileaks gave its followers - 120 thousand and growing - a sharply-focused feed into this continually-evolving situation. Wikipedia is there to helpfully keep the permanent record, written by the crowds, not by chosen editors.
  • My first tweet

    My first tweet When I first started this blog, I started with a self-referential piece . There I covered snail mail, fax, email, Usenet News and instant messaging (AIM and others). Since then I have been blogging, and I have stats on what people look at. My most popular posts appear to be those on Zulu weddings, and my visitto the school where One Laptop per Child was launched in Nigeria.
  • Centre for High performance computing in Cape Town

    Sea surface temperature around Africa Last month I started a contracting job with the Marine Remote Sensing Unit - a collaboration between the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) and University of Cape Town. I have some history in parallel processing, mostly with Inmos, a British microelectronics company that built the Transputer, a ground-breaking microprocessor of the 1980s. I had been looking for an opportunity to work at the CHPC for a while, and took the chance when an opening arrived via the clug-work mailing list run by the Cape Town Linux Users Group.
  • Kiwix - enabling offline copies of wikimedia projects

    Wikimedia projects, including the flagship English Wikipedia, have been restricted in access to people with internet access. kiwix is opening that up, via its offline reader. I have blogged before about kiwix - this article is an effort to tell other people how to do the same. Kiwix is a cross-platform reader of zim files. Zim is an open, standardised file format to store Wiki content efficiently for offline usage.
  • Using Freeradius with Mikrotik wireless routers

    I inherited a wireless setup of three Mikrotik routers in the roof of a set of office suites in Cape Town, South Africa. They were connected to an ADSL router, but the owners problem was there was no accountability on usage. Mikrotik Mikrotik make a numberof Single-board computers, known as “Routerboard”s, and licence a proprietary operating system called RouterOS for use on these boards. This was my first time to come across the Routerboards, and I like them.
  • Zimbabwe sanctions

    I was invited to participate in BBCWorld Service ‘Africa have your say‘ call-in programme to discuss Zuma’s request to Gordon Brown that sanctions be lifted. I was given 30 seconds very near the end of the programme, and I handled it poorly. This post is to make up for it :) Africa have your say I have blogged about Zimbabwe here before. the bbc programme was prompted by Jacob Zuma’s official visit to the UK, and his request for the lifting of Zimbabwe’s sanctions.
  • Kiwix install at Kwena Malapo school Johannesberg

    Kwena Malapo school Kiwix, an offline wikipedia selection, is installed at Kwena Malapo school. I have blogged before about creating offline copies of wikipedia for use in school computer labs that do not have internet access. Wikimedia, the umbrella organisation behind wikipedia and other related projects, is also keenly interested in offline uses of wikipedia. From November through January, the offline taskforce had a series of IRC meetings where we attempted to answer questions relating to the use of these offline copies.
  • Jacob Zuma: president of South Africa

    Jacob Zuma has made no meaningful stamp on the history of South Africa. I have blogged about Jacob Zuma’s rise to power in the ANC before. I am reminded of Winnie Mandela’s response when asked for comment about Thabo Mbeki’s re-election bid in 1999 - she said he “deserved another chance”. I am sorry - “deserve” is a strange modern word like “it’s not fair!” -creation of a concept that did not exist 100 years ago.
  • Jazz in Cape Town

    Cape Town boasts a wide variety of Jazz, with the calendar centred around the Cape Town Jazz Festival, on the 3rd and 4th April thisyear. My introduction was via Monday Night Jam sessions at Swingers, which I found in late 2006. (Others have blogged about Swingers as well). Swingers can be found at 1 Wetwyn Road, Ottery - such a short road that you cannot miss it. GPS location :- 34.