Yuki gazes at all the grafitti from the train window as we head into the shopping district of London.
Yuki gazes at all the grafitti from the train window as we head into the shopping district of London.
This is one of the major shopping streets in London – Regent Street. Note the famous red double decker bus – you can jump in the back, much like a dalladalla!
The station is all covered in grafitti.
This is what it looks like where we currently live.
There are a number of barriers that keep people away from the benefits of information technology. Not being able to afford a computer, or get access to one for example. However, during my stay in Arusha I have found that the number of people with email addresses suggests a wide range of people can scrape together enough money to visit an internet cafï¿½ every fortnight or so. People who see the benefits of being online can usually find the money required. A more fundamental barrier perhaps is that of language. The language of IT is often hard to understand, with all its jargon and strange conventions that those in the know just take for granted. Being faced with a computer for the first time is a confusing experience. The keyboard isn’t laid out ABC style, but a funny QWERTYUIOP – where is the letter A? What is that thing next to the keyboard other people in here are fiddling with all the time? What? A mouse? Get me out of here!
Once those stumbling blocks are passed, you will start looking at the screen. File Edit View Favorites – what are these? Confused? Well, imagine if you didn’t speak English.
The language of IT and the internet is mainly English. Web sites are predominantly in English. Software often comes in a variety of languages, unfortunately Swahili is rarely included.
A number of popular web sites are available in Swahili. Many of these are from international broadcasters who have Swahili language radio programmes, for example:
- BBC World Service – www.bbc.co.uk/swahili
- Voice of America – www.voanews.com/swahili
- DW-World – www.dwelle.de/kiswahili
- NHK (Japanese Radio) – www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/swahili
The links on www.swahilinews.com pull together the latest content from many of these sites – although on first glance it looks like this site is in English, scroll down for headlines in Swahili.
There are also a number of Tanzanian sites that are mainly in Swahili
- www.darhotwire.com – probably the most technically advanced site in Tanzania – chat, news, forums they have it
- www.ippmedia.com – publishers of a number of Tanzanian newspapers.
- www.itv.co.tz – Swahili TV online.
Fortunately, the most popular and useful search engine, Google is available in Swahili. If you aren’t seeing Google in Swahili when you use it, click on the Language Settings link, and select Swahili from the list of languages under
Use the Google Interface in Your Language. This does not limit the sites that appear in your search to Swahili, but may make you feel more at home when using the search engine.
The open source directory, DMOZ has a Swahili section at www.dmoz.org/World/Kiswahili with Swahili sites.
One of the best sites about Swahili is the Kamusi Project – www.yale.edu/swahili. This site includes an online dictionary, translation tools. Unfortunately, the Living Swahili Dictionary seems to be broken at present.
Getting Swahili Represented Online
Swahili web sites and software at present do not represent the number of Swahili speakers using computers or the internet, or those who will be in the near future. What can be done to change this? There are a few things you can do as computer users or providers of IT services to help buck this trend:
- Browsers can be set to automatically select Swahili versions of web pages
- in Internet Explorer go to Tools, select Options then click on the Languages button. In the window that pops up select “Swahili [sw]“. This will not necessarily make a noticeable difference, but site providers will see that people are looking for Swahili versions of their site, and may in time respond. If Swahili is listed at the top of the language list here, Google will automatically display its Swahili version.
- If your web site has pages in Swahili say so! In your HTML add the line in your head tag. This will allow search engines to see your site is in Swahili. In the future this may allow filtering in search engines.
- Register Swahili sites you know about on DMOZ at the link above using the Add URL link.
- Well designed software is easily translated. Get involved with projects to translate open source software and web sites into Swahili. A project exists to translate the GNOME Linux desktop into Swahili – see developer.gnome.org/projects/gtp/ for more details. The Mozilla browser is also being translated – see www.juasun.net and the pages on Juamozilla for details. Such projects can only succeed when many people get involved. If you speak English and Swahili, you could be volunteering on these projects!
As things stand IT is dominated by English, but this is a downward trend with only 52% of web pages being in English in 2001. More and more languages are being represented online meaning greater access to more people. The language barriers are coming down!
Originally published in Arusha Times 309
Of course, now it isn’t dunxd.com in Africa, but in freezing cold bloody London. Going to have to change either the site, or my location…
All successful technologies enter our lives with a bang – we are excited, afraid, suspicious of new technology, but if it proves to be useful to us it becomes part of our daily existence and we cease to notice it until it is taken away from us. The internet is approaching this stage.
Many of us hear about the internet for the first time and are excited by the concepts of cheap, fast worldwide communication (email) and access to a huge range of information (the web). These technologies are so useful, and the tools we use to access them so easy to use (once learnt) that we never have time or inclination to ask how they work. The internet has become so ubiquitous that we rarely ask what it is or how it works.
What is the Internet?
The internet is in fact a network of other networks. The word internet describes nothing else but the joining up of many networks into a single network. All of the individual networks have been set up to serve individual purposes â€“ businesses have networks so workers can share documents; universities have networks so students can access the same resources; governments have networks so different departments can look up the same records. Computer networks are for sharing information and other resources between computers and the people who use them. The internet joins together these networks and thus increases the number of people who have access to the same information.
When you sit down at a computer in an internet café and log-in to your Yahoo! email account data is flowing from your computer through its network card. This links the computer to the local area network (LAN) within the café. This LAN allows all the computers in the café to communicate with each other, and use the same resources – the printer, scanner and most importantly the café’s internet connection. The LAN is made up of cables connected to a router. Routers are used to connect different networks together. From your café’s router your login details are sent (either by wireless radio or Ethernet cables) to a local Internet Service Provider’s network. This network connects together many LANs allowing them to share resources – email servers, web proxies, and, once again, connection to a wider network serving a number of ISPs. Your login details are sent on to a regional network provider. In Tanzania this connection is usually made via satellite to providers who support ISPs in many countries. Finally, these regional providers’ networks are connected together with what is called the internet backbone. The internet backbone is made up of extremely fast connections set up on a national or international level by large companies and government agencies. Your login details find themselves on one of these
backbones. They are then sent back down the chain until they arrive at the computer on the LAN of the company who looks after your email.
The journey looks like this:
Computer – Café LAN -Tanzanian ISP – African Regional Provider – Internet Backbone – US Regional Provider – US ISP – Yahoo LAN – Yahoo!-Mail Server
Phew! Quite a journey! How do your login details know to take this long and winding route? There must be so many opportunities for it to take the wrong turn. The navigation is dealt with by routers. At every – in the diagram above a router is involved. When you click send, a label is attached to your details saying where they should go – it is the familiar web address mail.yahoo.com, converted into terms computers understand – an IP address (eg 126.96.36.199). When your details reach a router it examines the IP address and sees whether it corresponds to a computer on it’s network. If it does not it sends the message on to the next network up the chain. Eventually your details will reach the internet backbone. Here computers called Network Access Points examine the IP address. Consulting databases known as Internet Registries, the Network Access Point finds out which Regional Provider’s connection to send the details. From here on in, routers examining the IP address will know which route the details should take, and pass them down the chain until they reach the appropriate computer. The journey then begins again as the list of your email messages is sent back to you in Arusha. An epic journey which can take less than a second.
Arushan computer users unable or unwilling to fork out for a new version of Norton Anti Virus each year had only one option – The rather basic AVG Anti-virus from www.grisoft.com. That is until now – Computer Associates have recently released their eTrust software for free download with free updates for a year. Go to www.my-etrust.com/microsoft/
for details and the download. Not free for ever and probably just a marketing ploy, but maybe worth a try if AVG isn’t up to your expectations and your Norton subscription has run out.
Originally published in Arusha Times 308
A night out in Carlisle. Went to a new club – Moods.
Nice carpets and furniture. Terrible skin head band, although they made a lot of people very happy, or so it seemed.
Terrible hang over the next day…
And back again to the UK. Houston was raining worse than here, and wasn’t that warm. Met up with Yuki’s folks including her very charming siblings.