Journey's Beginning

Say hello to our fearless leader.Fearless Leader
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Jenna Burrell: Internet caf=C3=A9s in Accra, Ghana

Jenna Burrell, from LSE, gave a talk on her research in Ghana for Intel People and Practices on Monday. My notes are here.

This Old Ben...

So here are a couple of lessons I learned yesterday:
  1. Here in Ghana an old-style one hundred dollar (U.S.) bill is not worth the same as a new-style $100. In what can only be described as a true market, there is no demand for the older one hundred, as the newer one hundred is harder to counterfeit and Ghanaians converting cedis to $100's don't want to chance getting the old bill.
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Change the Channel, Please

I came to the sudden realization that if I didn't make it to Korlebu Medical Library this weekend I wouldn't make it at all - my sojourn in Ghana is coming to a close on Sunday night.
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A Bird's Eye View

So, today, in a fit of hopeful productivity, I headed out to City Campus (the professional school of University of Ghana) to put up a new board to replace the one that got accidentally shorted by a miswired ethernet cable going into the PoE (Power over Ethernet for you non-techies) port. Thinking that of course the cable had been recrimped, I screwed the board into the enclosure, and plugged the cable in. No power. No little red leds, no comforting beep, and certainly no little green led saying that all was well and happy. Hmm.. good thing I brought an extra board.

My first day

Dear Tier Blog- Today was my first full day in Ghana. First day in Africa too. Actually, it was also my first full day anywhere outside of North America or Europe (or Costa Rica). Hmm, I probably should get out more. I arrived in Accra, Ghana last night after 21 hours of flying. It wasn=E2=80=99t bad at all, I had a 3:45pm flight so it was easy to get to the San Francisco airport, and I flew KLM with a single layover in Amsterdam of only 3 hours (4 actual hours due to a zippy San Francisco to Amsterdam leg).

No really, I'm not joking...

Today, all 13 of our boxes finally cleared customs, thanks to the great resourcefulness of the Univeristy of Ghana, Legon's staff responsible for shipping. For obvious reasons, they have a lot of experience with this sort of stuff. Anyways, straight to the joke. Kpobi (pronounced without the "p") called up the shipping guy, who told him there was a slight problem. In my experience, slight problems mean very serious problems, so I was worried.
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Challenges to the Information Profession in Africa

One of the two projects for this trip is to set up a long distance wireless inter-university backbone between the libraries of Kumasi, University of Ghana, and the University of Cape Coast. So, today I went to visit the head librarian, Prof.
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Our Faithful Antenna Maker

For our longer links, we have hired a Ghanaian, Abubakra Aido, to make high gain antennas for us, since we like to use local manufacturers whenever possible. Last Saturday, Eric O. and I went up to Tema (about 40km north of Accra) to check on his progress. We drove through the town, turning into a dirt road (as usual), and driving into a dusty residential area, finally pulling up next to a wall with a lock and key embossed in blue on it.
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On Urban Development - and Upkeep

What strikes me most about cities in developing regions is not the lack of development, but rather the lack of maintenance. I think perhaps the hot weather exacerbates the situation, wearing down buildings and awnings faster than what I see normally.... but everything here is dusty, the paint is chipping, there are cracks in all the walls of all the buildings, and there is litter that has been there so long that it is embedded in the ground. Water is sold in little plastic bags - sachets - which are then tossed away when finished..
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