Wednesday, February 28, 2007

community networks, broadband ratings

Last meeting was held at Steers - opp Jeevanjee Gardens on 27 February 2007

Techies lamented at the lack of cheap broadband availability. Current options include (not rated):

- popote - 3500 shs per month but damn slow (dialup)
- GPRS - 3500 shs per month unlimited package from Wananchi
- GPRS packages from safaricom and celtel
- Jamii Telkom offers 128k shared service for about 12k shs. (128k throughput achieved)
- 128k service from ISPs typically at slightly below 20k shs.
- eDSL - new offering from EdgeNet - including their new eTV streaming service. 5k shs or so.
- Net@Home shared internet for 5k shs.
- iBurst at 8k shs (128k throughput achieved)
- Butterfly at about 2500 shs ... but poor coverage areas.

Josiah - post your review ... ;)

The idea of building out estate/community networks was raised ...
Techies in various estates can get a 128k link into the apartment/estate ... cable it themselves cheaply, and share a 128k internet link. The techie living within the estate would provide 24/7 support to users with their computer issues.
Setup costs would be shared amongst 10 users ... so not more than 5k per user. Most likely a lot less. Monthly charges would come to about 2k per user.
Techie would setup a local "server" for mail, caching, voip, file-services and more ... All these local servers could be connected together eg a larger asterisk network.

This idea would work well if organized ...
With a large enough base, ISPs could be convinced to provide a bigger pipe at night - say bursting to 1mb

Also noted that this is the year for consumer broadband - a lot more offerings expected from all providers.

Also discussed was how to approach existing users of legacy PBXes and provide an asterisk solution. Kiania - help ?

- meeting schedule was preferred fixed on tuesdays. same format
- next meeting will be Tuesday, march 6 ... will be continuing with Asterisk setup/configuration. Wananchi Online training room.
- need more volunteers !! for organizing meetings, lectures, maintaining the blog etc
- BarCamp Nairobi - 31 march at Uni of Nairobi

Friday, February 23, 2007

all things VoIP

Second lecture session focused on VoIP including an introduction to and applications of Asterisk – the open-source PABX/softswitch software.
Held at Wananchi Online training room on 20 February.

The most "cool" application for asterisk appeared to be calling an askari automatically to "washa the generator" when the power went out. Jinis at work !!!
Some of the real-world kenyan applications are asterisk implemented at Gertrude's - the project will be covered in future sessions.

For the most definitive guide to open-source VoIP.
You can run through the Getting Started section first, or search for a specific topic. The site caters for all users – beginner to expert.

The Asterisk Handbook

An example of a quick way to get a US telephone mapped to an IP softphone (softphones are software that run on your PC and enable you to make VOIP calls)

Other notable sites include:
Asterisk (main site)
Digium (makers of asterisk)
Asterisk Now (easy peasy asterisk)
SER (Sip Express Router)
Skype (500m users)

To get started with asterisk … basically, it is composed of 3 parts:
- configuration of SIP extensions
- configuration of trunk extensions (E1s and international IAX links)
- configuration of the Dial Plan

sip.conf (used to create extensions)
Zapata.conf (used to configure trunks into the PSTN)
iax.conf (used to create international trunks)
extensions.conf (configure the Dial Plan)

The best way to learn as with all open-source apps – download, install & start hacking away … use the list for any questions you may come up with. Use the “search” feature on the voip-info wiki extensively !!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Meeting #1

The first Skunkworks meeting was held at Steers Wabera Street on 13th Feb 2007. About 15-20 tech enthusiasts from Nairobi were present.

Was an informal meeting with people getting to know each other.

Planning was for a weekly meeting, alternating between formal discussion forums and informal chill out sessions.

EDIT: We first started out at GPO food court ... where we got chased away for holding an unlicensed "kamkunji" :) Meeting was then moved to Steers.