Monday, March 31, 2008

Why IT development is so slow paced in Nepal

Last few days i've witnessed some events which have been really agonizing me.

The first was on saturday. I'd got call from Manish who with Jitendra and Suraj have been developing a software similar (but not limited) to APTonCD but their version is more like APTonUSB too.. The software they are developing is really superb IMO, especially in our context where we dont have fast internet connection, but still want to use linux and want to be up-to-date. They have also publicly announced their software.

So we all were there to have a look at the prototype n give feedbacks. The 'program' went good. Everybody was excited.

Total cost of organizing the event: Few phone calls
Productivity: Super High
Problems: Lack of fund / resources to setup a package repo (n nobody seems to be helping too)

The next day (sunday) i was at Himalaya Hotel, Kupondole to attend a program (representing OLPC Nepal, along with Shankar). "Demonstration & Interaction Programme on Rural Information Gateway Portal." Big words huh! But actually it was about a website named Previously i thought it was the launch of the website, but later on found it was just feedback collection.

WTF! Lunch at luxury hotel, jus to gather feedbacks? Wait, the website building process is even more interesting..

Some askings, and i found out that the project was initiated by USAID and it handed over the development works to HLCIT. But ofcourse HLCIT is a governing body, so did a bid which Mercantile Communications won. Mercantile Communication further did a bid which was won by Winrock International. Winrock again did a bid n finally Magnus Consulting got the job of developing the website. The result - the website is not even Web2.0 and i bet, with Drupal, i can create a better site in ONE day!

Now think of the cost.. I get nothing but frustration. There's so much money being poured into IT development currently. Is this how they spend the money? Expensive hotels, lunch n dinners?? The program was about the telecenter website. And we all know telecenters are a complete failure in Nepal. Is there any way this website gonna last then?? I estimate maximum life-expectency of this website not more than a year!

Productivity: NONE

The final one was again back on saturday. Outside Pulchowk Campus, there was an endless line of people ready to enter the campus to attend examination for their employment in Korea. And everybody looked under 30.

Where are we heading??

Lets have an overview. The guys who wanna work aren't getting proper funds / resources. The big guys who have it are busy with lunch n dinners at five star hotels. Rest of the potentials have no options but go abroad. And the rest of us are still fighting.


OLPC Pilot starts

I did a lot to OLPC's Blog, but forgot to mention on my own. Last week, OLPC Nepal launched first ever pilot distribution of the laptop. The 4th grader students of Janajyoti Lower Secondary School, Kavre were the lucky ones. The distribution was in coordination with Department of Education. The project was codenamed 'Sunrise'.

From OLPC Nepal Pilot

Last week had been very stressful. We spent most of our nights working at OLPC Nepal's Devel0pment Lab. Guys have even decided to call our office 'gudh' (home). It was wonderful being/workin with you all..

But our real work has jus begun. Distributing laptop was jus the end of the beginning. Now the monitoring of usage of laptop and the effect of this 'little wonder' is our primary task.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Translation Fun

Translation had never been fun like this. At OLPC Nepal, we played holi, stayed overnight and completed OLPC XO Activities localization. The whole event was named Translation Nite-out.

The statistics of translation are here. More details are at OLPC Nepal Blog.

From Holi @ OLPC Nepal Office

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Lakuri Bhanjyang Hiking

After a long discussion on where to go n when to go (guys have gone really busy), Prajwal came up with a post late saturday that said lets go hiking on sunday to Lakuri Bhanjyang. Initially the route was Lubhu-Lakuri-Lamatar but we found that it wasn't quite a route for hike eventually. But who could stop us from havin more fun?

We were to meet at Sahidgate. 6 mentioned, 7 arrival. We were Chetan, Madhav, Mahesh, Lekhnath, Prajwal (Paul), Pushpesh, Rajiv and me. Dinesh joined at Lagankhel. Jeti-puri-chiya at a sweet shop nearby n we kicked off.

From Lakuri Bhanjyang Hiking

Got some snacks n fruits at Lagankhel bus park. But we'd come to know that there are lots of restaurants at Lakuri Bhanjyang, so why be a jackass? (But there were none, so does that make us jackass??) Moreover everybody wasn't carrying bag, so the uneven distribution of load got me quite reluctant.. ;)

Bus to Lubhu ghumti nira late bhayo, literally. We reached there around at 9 and the hike began. But unfortunately it was over long before we were heating up. We got there around at 10! Moreover we took the shortcut, although there was motor-road (with one inch thick layer of dust though) to Lakuri Bhanjyang. Chetan panting and gasping all the way - it was his first hike with us (but he caught up soon).

From Lakuri Bhanjyang Hiking

Ok now what? The planned hike was already over. This got us thinkin about the Electronics guys who had come to the same place some time back and luring us with their adventure (?) stories. Lakuri Bhanjyang is an hour walk, what were they thinkin?

But still we walked to the highest point we could find at LB. The whole Kathmandu valley was visible from there, or i might say invisible - the air was jus too hazy. Gosh, we breathe that..

From Lakuri Bhanjyang Hiking

It was 12 when we left that place. But there was no way we were goin to declare the hiking over. We caught another road which led to Godawari, as the locals explained. There trail we took led to a cave as a signboard said, but as we went we didnt met any cave but instead an hour of adventure we'd never forget in our life. We had to grab the trees to climb up the hill. There was literally no trail, we were actually doing a vertical hill climbing. One slip n we'd be up the hills. But luckily no one took that route. :)

From Lakuri Bhanjyang Hiking

There was one funny incident. Few minutes before we reached a nicer trail, we met a rather elderly couple who were a resident nearby n were there to look after their cattle graze. They were quite surprised that instead of taking a easier way (vehicle) to Godawari we were taking our breath out and climbing the hill to reach there.. They mus have thought us as a total moron. Irony huh, they long for vehicle, we long for hike.

After that it was an easier trail. We also encountered few Laligurans trees, n had some photo sessions too. Finally reached Godawari around at 3. Went to Siddheshor temple there and the first thing anyone could think after a day's hike was putting the feet in the icy cold water there. Trust me dude, it was soo relaxing. I forgot all the exhaustion.

From Lakuri Bhanjyang

And now the important part, noone had eaten a thing till then. Yes there were fruits, but thats nothing compared to the long hike. We went to a restaurant nearby n ordered food. Typical dal-bhat-tarkari.

While returning also entered Godawari Park. Donno about others, but i was totally nostalgic.

In overall, the hiking was one of the best i ever had. The previous hikings were like - the next day you couldnt move your butt. This one was cool. Non-exhaustive but still full of adventure.