usernamenumber: (devi)
I've got a thing running that involves downloading a whoooole lot of data. Unfortunately the tool in question (apt-mirror) doesn't always provide frequent feedback, leading to the age-old question: is the program stuck, or just taking a while?

This turned out to be a situation where the random bits of Linux trivia I've gathered over the years came in handy enough that I thought I'd write up a quick explanation.

Ok, so...

PROBLEM:
A program is either hung, or just taking a while to download data.

SOLUTION (the short version):Cut for gratuitous use of command-line magic )

This whole experience really reminded me of a lot of the reasons why I love working in Linux. It's not always the most intuitive or friendly environment, but the more progress you make along its learning curve, the more interesting little nooks and crannies there are, and the more useful things you can do with them!
I want to signal boost a funding campaign that strikes me as really worthwhile, but that hasn't been getting as much publicity as it deserves. It's called "Tunapanda" which, according to their site, is "a Swahili word which can mean 'we are planting,' 'we are growing,' and 'we are climbing'".

Personally I think they're missing out on some great potential for the most amusing/terrifying mascot ever via the English interpretation... but I digress.

Here's their IndieGoGo page:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tunapanda-free-education-for-all

The basic idea is this: they're based out of Kenya, where the government funds education through the 8th grade, and a lot of people can't afford to go to high school. But hey look, sites like the Khan Academy have most of a high school curriculum available for free online, and there are other sites where one can learn software development and college-level topics too!

The problem is that in Kenya bandwidth is crazy expensive, making these resources unavailable to the people who could get the most out of them. So Tunapanda's goal is to create offline versions or workalikes of a selection of these courses that can all fit on a hard drive and/or DVDs, no Internet required, and set up a facility in Nairobi where Kenyan teachers can get the equipment and training they need to use them.

I can't say I have as strong a grasp on the nuances as I would like, but people talk about charity that makes developing nations dependent on more charity vs charity that helps them become self-sufficient on their own terms, and this seems pretty solidly in the latter camp. Remember a while back there was that guy from a rural village in Africa who figured out how to build his own wind power generator from books at the library? I recall seeing an interview with him, where he was talking about coming to the US and being introduced to Google, and once he grasped it, saying to himself "where was this all the time I was in the library?! It would have been so much easier!". In the absence of ubiquitous bandwidth, this seems like the next best thing, and they're doing everything through partnerships with local Kenyan orgs and educators.

So please take some time to read through their site, and consider donating.

P.S. A heads-up to tech/ed people: I'm considering organizing a code-a-thon in a month or so to try and assist them with tech issues (for example: http://www.tunapanda.org/topic/web-design-basics/). Lemme know if you'd be interested.
If you've ever considered getting into podcasting and/or audio theater, and want to learn the basics (along with other cool tricks) of creating sound effects and doing post-production all using free/cheap software, the Post-Meridian Radio Players are hosting a FREE workshop. The goal of the workshop is to give more people the know-how they need to access this cost-effective creative outlet!

Alicia Goranson of The Mask of Inanna will talk about the basics of recording.

I'll demonstrate using Audacity to turn sounds you can record around the house into all kinds of cool sound effects like the ones used on Second Shift.

Bryan Lincoln of Fullcast Podcast will talk about doing post-production and mastering in Reaper, using examples from his own past work in audio theater and interview podcasts.

If you know someone who might be interested in attending, please spread the word!

See our flier for details (pdf version)

Also embedded below the cut )

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