Development

Firefox in Swahili - A community effort (II)

A few months ago, IT46 joined a community effort to build Firefox 3.1 in Swahili language. The effort comes from the Tanzanian Linux User Group, a grass-root organization that wants to promote open source and software in Swahili language.

Today, we have completed the first full build of the software that contains 93% of the total strings. Screenshoots of the software are available here. There is still some work pending regarding acceleration keys and reviewing the glossary for consistency among translators, but the software should be ready for public testing in less than one month.

Congrats to Paul, Jonathan M, Bibiana, Eric, Sebastian, Emanuel, Aziz and Jonathan N. for the good work!

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Radio Streaming under 5 W

For a couple of months now, IT46 and SchoolNet Namibia are collaborating to deploy a Wireless Network in Okongo, Namibia. During our visit to Namibia in December 2008, we discussed the possibility of using the future wireless network to deliver voice educational services to the schools.

After one of the warmest years in Swedish history, the cold has finally arrived. No time for outdoor biking means plenty of time to catch up with some hardware hacking projects!.

I explored the possibility of using a low power device as the NSLU2 for media streaming. The NSLU2 is a network-attached storage (NAS) device made by Linksys. The device runs the Intel X-Scale CPU and has two USB ports to host external hardrives. Thanks to an amazing open source community, it is possible to run Debian in the NSLU2.

Reflashing the NSLU2 was amazingly straightforward and the installer worked flawlessly. After four hours and a good connection to a Debian repository a newly image of Debian 5.0 (lenny) was running in NSLU2 hosting a 1 GB USB memory stick. The unofficial image of Debian contains some proprietary IXP4xx microcode needed to get the built-in network port up and running.

After installing the basic Debian distro, I added lighttpd and php5-cgi. After installing and configuring the webserver. I looked into audio streamers. I found a very light-weight web-based browser streamer that could do the job: Musicbrowser. After installing musicbrowser I was able to stream audio to a few webclients. Nice! Great success!

But, could I actually use the NSLU2 to play the audio? Inspiring by the Campcaster project, I thought it was a good idea to use the NSLU2 as an automation hardware for audio streaming. The NSLU2 has an extra USB port.. could I get a USB sound dongle to work? In December I got a few dongles from Giovanni as I have been working with the celliax project. I plugged the dongle into the USB port of the NSLU2 and good news: C-Media USB Headphone Set was recognized and modules available in the kernel. The final trick was to ensure that the /dev/dsp and /dev/mixer were created at start up!. Fixing a bunch of startup scripts and I was set.

The result... an automated audio streamer connected to two USB speakers consuming less than 5 W!

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Media Sprinkler Demo
During the 1st International Conference on Mobile Communication Technology For Development (M4D), held the 11-12 December, 2008, at Karlstad University, Sweden, IT46 had the opportunity to demonstrate the Media Sprinkler.

The Media Sprinkler is a GSM telephony gateway that bridges services of the global mobile network (GSM) with the Internet (IP). The main goal of the system is to provide a flexible architecture that helps to develop innovative applications that require the use of mobile phones and short message services (SMS).

Apart from being able to handle SMSs, the sprinkler also acts as a complex audio mixer, capable of routing GSM calls to the traditional phone network or linking calls between different GSM operators. What makes the sprinkler attractive is its portability which enables the possibility of deploying a SMS server without the need of being directly connected to the operator's wired network.

In a nutshell, the Media Sprinkler integrates in a single unit, a connection to the GSM (mobile telephony), the PSTN (fix telephony) and IP network (Internet).

Services

The sprinkler provides a simple way to develop new applications, hiding to the programmer the more complex aspects of dealing with Internet and GSM calls. The possibilities are endless as the platform can easily be adapted within hours to implement any new service. For example, the platform allows:

  • The creation of new information services via voice or SMS, suitable for campaigns, media coverage, password reminders, etc.
  • The interconnection of GSM phone calls between different operators
  • To record and play pre-recorded messages from and to any voice media
  • To publish SMS content into the Internet (web, mail, Twitter, etc.)

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Integrating GSM and Skype into VoIP Telephony

IT46 has now integrated two new technologies into the Media Sprinkler Platform. The latest addition is Celliax and Skypiax, two new communication channels that provide a low cost access to the GSM and Skype networks. The author of Celliax is Giovanni Maruzzelli, an Italian open source developer with experience in applying technology in challenging areas.

During the last months, Celliax has been supporting IT46 in this new milestone in the development. The Celliax channel allows the connection of a low cost GSM phone to the system, opposite to an expensive dedicated hardware. The Skypiax channel allows to bridge calls from and to Skype/SkypeOut.

The first prototype runs on a low power PC (VIA Nehemiah) and consumes less than 15 W.

Features of Media Sprinkler CS release include:

  • Connects to a GSM network using a 40 USD GSM phone
  • Allows the possibility of sending and receiving SMS
  • Capable of exchanging calls from Skype network
  • Possibility of integrating CDMA

Thanks Giovanni!

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Afrigen - Creating 100 African locales

As part of the African Network for Localization ANLOC, IT46 has developed an online tool that will help the creation of 100 African locales.

The locale is a fundamental building block of any localization project. Locales are used by computer software to know about the letters of a language, the calendar, presentation of numbers and dates, etc.

The tool is a completely new re-write of Localegen, that in 2006 was used to submit more than 20 languages to Unicode for standardization.

The project aims to complete the 100 locales by early 2009 thanks to the help of regional coordinators and volunteers in Africa.

More information about this initiative is available in the development website: http://o2.it46.se/afrigen/

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Glossmaster, a tool for creating terminology dictionaries

Glossmaster is a web based terminology tool for creating dictionaries. The tool comes with a set of (2500) predefined words, commonly found in open source software. Words can be deleted if they do not fit, and more words can be added if wanted.

The tool allows the user to classify each word with the correct syntactical group, tag it, and create a definition. To facilitate the work, the user is prompted with online data from Wikipedia, Wiktionary and Google showing definitions and descriptions of the word.

The final result of Glossmaster is an English dictionary of commonly used terms in computer software. The output of Glossmaster will be used to create dictionaries in 10 major African languages. These dictionaries will be used as translation memory for future localization work in the very same languages.

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Release: The Media Sprinkler

The Media Sprinkler is a GSM telephony gateway that bridges services of the global mobile network (GSM) with the Internet (IP). The main goal of the system is to provide a flexible architecture that helps to develop innovative applications that require the use of mobile phones and short message services (SMS).

Apart from being able to handle SMSs, the sprinkler also acts as a complex audio mixer, capable of routing GSM calls to the traditional phone network or linking calls between different GSM operators. What makes the sprinkler attractive is its portability which enables the possibility of deploying a SMS server without the need of being directly connected to the operator's wired network.

In a nutshell, the Media Sprinkler integrates in a single unit, a connection to the GSM (mobile telephony), the PSTN (fix telephony) and IP network (Internet).

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Demonstrating VoIP-4D during the 3rd Global Knowledge conference

During the 3rd Global Knowledge conference, (GK3), that was held the 11-13 December in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, IT +46 together with David Rowe from the Free Telephony Project, presented our work and ideas in the area of VoIP Telephony.

During the GK3 event, IT +46 also participated in the panel ICT for a Multilingual Knowledge Society concerning computer localization.

Read more about our work at GK3 and explore our free VoIP training materials here.

The two presentations are available to download at:

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IFEX ICT Forum

More than 120 freedom of expression advocates from around the world gathered the 8-12 of September in Montevideo, Uruguay at the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) General Meeting.

As an introduction to the general meeting, an ICT Forum focused on secure communication and Internet censorship was held the 7th of September. IT +46 participated in the ICT Forum with a talk on the topic "Tools to secure your computer and where to find them". The talk focus on how to move from a security policy to an implementation in the organization.

Additionally, IT +46 contributed to the ICT Forum with a "VoIP demonstrator" showing the advantages for freedom of expression organizations to own their own voice infrastructure built on open hardware, open standards, and open source software in order to ensure secure communication.

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Iraq Programme Web Portal - Public Announcement

Today, first of May we are happy to announce the public release of the Iraq Programme Web Portal of The Olof Palme International Center.

The portal makes visible 37 civil society projects in Iraq and aims to facilitate the process of publishing and reporting to the Programme's members. This joint initiative not only creates a virtual meeting point but it also makes visible alternative information about Iraq as a nation and its grassroots organizations.

The portal is reachable at http://irak.palmecenter.se


The Olof Palme Center works with international development co-operation and the forming of public opinion surrounding international political and security issues.

IT+46 is a swedish consultancy company working in developing regions. The portal has been developed to support english, swedish and arabic encodings and it is licensed as free software.

More information about the portal is available at: http://irak.palmecenter.se/contact

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