Archive for category nptech
In July a team of HFOSS faculty and students from Trinity College traveled to Haiti to deploy POSIT-Haiti, the Android application they developed for ACDI/VOCA, a humanitarian organization providing food and health services for expectant mothers and infant children in Haiti.
The app, which runs on Motorola XPRT smart phones, supports beneficiary registration and helps process monthly food distribution events for more than 10,000 beneficiaries in Haiti’s Southeastern Department.
A peak into localization by Chris N. who worked on the POSIT-Haiti code base:
Being able to display the app in multiple languages was essential for the project, due to the developers being native English speakers and the end users speaking French and Haitian Creole. I localized the mobile side of the app. There are hundreds of strings that appear in the display of the app, each of which needed to be internationalized and then localized. After the strings were translated and organized into xml files, they were then tested. A number of bugs appeared as a result of being able to change the language. Multiple strings needed to be abstracted out of the code. In addition, menu and dialog boxes needed to be reinitialized so that the newly changed language would display properly.
There was a great deal of difficulty keeping the character encoding consistent between Linux and Apple machines, which use different codes for special characters (such as the é character). This coding issue made it difficult to create non-conflicting translation patches that can work on both Linux and Macintosh computers. In addition, the patches often had to be tested for conflicts before being applied to the most recent repositories, due to the localization process’s nature of touching all the files in the app. It also became necessary to abstract the options end users select in data entry forms from the strings those forms store in the database, since otherwise the data queries would not be able to identify data submitted in one language and retrieved in another.
The localization process was difficult, but enjoyable. Users are able to toggle the display language between English, French, and Haitian Creole without exiting the app. Furthermore, the app is set up so that additional languages can be implemented quickly and easily.
Tomorrow, Monday, the 4th of July, we’ll be splitting into three teams and traveling to remote parts of the Southeast Department. But over the weekend we kicked back and headed to the beach.
The beach was nice and sandy. The water was warm. And we all had a swim. Emmet brought his guitars and song sheets and he and Tina sang some duets and got the rest of the beach singing along — including some of the locals.
At first the local musicians just watched and listened. But Emmet played a familiar local song and that was their cue to join in. They started playing along.
The first couple of nights at the hotel I was wondering what all the loud drumming and strange chanting was. I asked Meliu, our driver, about it. He said it was a Voodoo ceremony with around 1000 participants, including himself. I think he probably overestimated the attendance, but it sounded like a 1000 during the night.
The ceremony was being held in a vacant lot right next the the house neighboring the hotel compound. Emmet not only knew the owner of the house, but one of the Acdi/Voca staff members, Anna, lives in the house. Emmet was able to get us an invitation from the host — in his three years in Haiti Emmet had never been to a ceremony. We were warmly welcomed by the host and he rounded up chairs for us right up front. The ceremony was dedicated to the host’s father who was recently killed in a car accident. The goal of the ceremony was to cast away the spirits who had caused the family’s tragedy.
Training day! We all met up at a cute/sweltering hot meeting center a few miles away from the hotel. Over the course of the day we showed~40 auxiliary nurses how to use the app. They speak little to no English, but luckily we had some worldly coworkers along to help us: Sheena speaks Haitian Creole and Alex speaks French, both of which are common languages in Haiti. Eldivert, the tech guy from Acdivoca and mastermind of TBS, their current data storage system, helped to lead the training session.
Though many people in Haiti know how to use basic cell phones, most of the nurses had no experience using a touchscreen or a smart phone. We went through basic smart phone 101 (turning it on and off, using the touchscreen, menu/home/back buttons) and then moved into how to use the app (all the while standing as close to the AC unit as possible). After picking up the basic features of a smart phone, most of the nurses seem to catch on very quickly.
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Today we trained around 20 AcdiVoca staffers ranging from senior staffers to agronomists to data entry personnel to doctors. It was quite an experience. The morning session was done in English but the afternoon session was done in French and Creole. Alex and I shared the French explanations and Eldivert Savoit did most of the heavy lifting in Creole.
We were supposed to start at 10:00 AM, but we didn’t arrive at the headquarters until close to 8:30. That left us only an hour and a half to get the phones initialized and to test the system — clearly not enough time. (We thought we were going to do that yesterday afternoon or last evening.) Our challenge was compounded by the fact that the room we were presenting in had very poor cell phone reception. We worked furiously to get the phones set up. That entailed putting SIM cards in the phones, initializing the SIM cards, installing the application, making sure the app’s database was wiped clean.
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It was a long day but an HFOSS team is now in Haiti and preparing for end-user training tomorrow at AcdiVoca Headquarters in Jacmel.
The team includes current Trinity students Tina Lipson, ‘14, Alex Zhang, ‘14, Sheena Elveus, ‘12, and is led by recent alumna Rachel Foecking, ‘11, and HFOSS project leaders Trishan de Lanerolle, ‘04, and Ralph Morelli.
We left Hartford on a 6 AM flight (getting up at 3:30 AM or, in some cases, not going to bed at all the previous night). We arrived, via a stopover in Miami, in Port au Prince at 11:30 AM. It took about an hour to clear customs — they didn’t like it that a couple of us filled out our immigration forms in pencil – and then another 4-1/2 hours to drive to Jacmel. The traffic in Port au Prince was awful. They are finally working on repairing the main road along the coast, which was damaged by the earthquake. Here’s a shot from the drive. Check out the little boy sitting on the dump truck. After each shovelful his job was to jump down on the dirt and pick out the big rocks and throw them on the ground.
Emmet Murphy, Chief of Program for AcdiVoca-Haiti met us for dinner at our hotel, the Hotel Cyvadier, right on the beach (and on a nice surf spot). It’s hot here, probably low 80s at 9 PM. We had a nice dinner of lobster, conch and other seafood dishes.
We worked out a plan for tomorrow’s training sessions. Eldivert Savot and some of the other AcdiVoca team members joined us later. Eldivert brought along the SIM cards he purchased and we loaded them in to a couple of phones and tried the app. Tomorrow the training sessions start at 10 PM. Before that we’ll be loading the app on the phones and setting up the server.