TED in Arusha

Speaking of conferences, this sounds like an interesting event:

TED in Arusha, Tanzania, June 4-7, 2007
http://www.ted.com/tedglobal2007/program.cfm

Anybody interested in sponsoring me in exchange for live blogging? Oh well, too late, registration is closed.

BlogCampSwitzerland

I attended today’s BlogCamp in Zurich; a so-called unConference because it organizes itself like BarCamp. But heh, we’re in Switzerland so it was fairly well organized.

I saw a couple of familiar faces. Maybe I should get a t-shirt saying “Blog conference tourist”… And I invited some of the Basel bloggers to the upcoming Basel Flickr group meeting.

Here are some short notes on the talks I attended:

Jürg Stucker showed a knowledge platform they’re using internally at Namics; it’s sort of like a wiki and blog combined with email functionality, i.e. you can post and email an entry at the same time. One of the questions asked was what would happen if it was turned off: Jürg said probably the number of emails would increase and probably some of the fun entries would disappear cos it’s not the kind of information you send around by email. Another question was is there a tool like this available out-of-the-box.

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Stephanie Booth talked about multilingual blogging, the pain of translating blog articles, and the technical difficulties of using 2 languages in the same blog. And even in multi-lingual Switzerland, our language skills vary, i.e. we might not feel comfortable commenting in our second or third language. There’s a need to bridge the gap. Her suggestion: Post a short summary to give your readers an idea if this topic is worth ploughing thru or not. Write in a simple and concise style, if you’re addressing a multilingual audience. On the Web, the language barrier is the real separator: Swiss French bloggers look towards France, while Swiss Germans focus more on Austrian or German sites.

benbit gave a live demo how easy it is to hack into a web portal, thanks to XSS and JavaScript. His advice for users: don’t use auto login. Many companies are careless in the way they handle customer data. Even if they are informed about the security hole, no action is taken to secure the site. He suggests getting a tool like RoboForm.

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And in the final session, I attended Denis Nordmann’s talk on the future of podcasting. This was an honest overview of the current market situation in Switzerland, which is dominated by public TV and radio broadcasters. Business models based on advertising are difficult to implement, because in general advertisers are interested in regional markets, very few companies advertise globally. And secondly it seems that the big player in this market is somewhat hesitant to fix a “bug” in iTunes which would allow podcast platforms to find out more about their podcast audience, again valuable data for advertisers. Note to myself, check out the podcast platform at: hoerkolumnen.ch

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My feedback for the organizers:
I’d prefer one day instead of two, and I think a Saturday is great.

Disclaimer: this is my interpretation and view. If I get something completely wrong, please leave a comment 😉

Malawi bloggers

When I started blogging back in Jan 2003, one of my high flying and lofty ideas was to help cross the digital divide and point to content about Malawi. A goal I haven’t really managed to keep. But from time to time I’ve pointed to various Malawi sites. It’s great to see that the number of fellow Malawi bloggers is increasing.

There’s:

  • Victor Kaonga, currently based in Sweden, raising an interesting question “Is Malawi really poor?”. Victor is also writing about Malawi at Global Voices Online.
  • Cryton blogging from the UK about his studies and work and how life in GB compares to Malawi. I like the way he interweaves his texts with Chichewa comments. He’s got an interesting theory regarding soap operas. In my opinion the number of drinking holes is equally high in Malawi.
  • And Soyapi visited Yahoo! HQ
  • There’s another interesting blog collecting information about Africa’s connectivity.

Price comparison



I pay 3.20 Swiss Francs for a kilo of tomato at the local supermarket.
3.20 Swiss Franc is currently about 384.56 Malawi Kwacha

Compare this to current Malawi prices:
Shoprite 199.99 MK
Peoples 110.00 MK
At the market, between 10 to 50 MK for one tomato depending on its size.

The power of insects…



We got to see the destructive power of tropical insects…. One of our cars stood idle for 3 weeks cos it needed to be repaired.

Within those 3 weeks termites got into the seats, started eating away the insulation on the wiring, and created short circuits with their discharge in the fusebox, and thus corroding the contacts.

Uploading video

I wanted to upload a 30 sec amateur video of Lake Malawi, file format being AVI, file size 68 MB. I tried YouTube, I tried Revver, but both just show the first 4 seconds and then stop.

The video runs fine on my old Dell. Any tips?

(Update) this is what Revver had to say:

There’s something about this file that our Flash transcoder doesn’t like
(if you click the QT logo below the player you’ll notice that this
version plays all 37 seconds of the clip). It makes sense that the same
thing happened on YouTube since they transcode their movies into Flash
as well.

I recommend re-exporting the file as a different file type–possibly a
WMV, and reuploading to the site.

Textiles

Here are a couple of snapshots of wall hangings I saw:

textile

textile

Tribal Textiles, based in South Luangwa, Zambia is making some very nice and original cloth. There’s a shop in Blantyre that has some of their textiles: La Caverna in Mandala House.

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Mandala House is one of the oldest buildings in Blantyre, built by the Moir brothers in 1878. The library of the Society of Malawi is located in the first floor of the same building.

Avocados

Here are a couple of snapshots of one of our dogs in Blantyre enjoying avocados:

eating avocado

mmm avocado

We’ve got an avocado tree in our yard and the dogs eat the fallen fruit.