Archive for category FOSS
Hi, I am Stanley Fung. I am a 4th year Computing Science student from Simon Fraser University. I am currently working on POSIT as part of the UCOSP team for the Fall Semester. I choose to work on POSIT because I think it has a lot of potential to benefit others on an engaging technology and platform. I appreciate the idea that the user interface and workflows have a huge impact on real users who come from a range of backgrounds. This is one thing I try to keep in mind while working on POSIT.
For the first half, of the project I have been mainly testing the application and creating patches for bugs. Through these helpful exercises, I have gotten familiar with many aspects of the application. This was especially useful since I am completely new to the Android environment. Many times, simple tasks became important introductions to core Android concepts. I feel that slowly absorbing in the project is less overwhelming then suddenly diving in. With every task, I gain more knowledge about how Android applications work, and how POSIT works. It is also a good way to contribute to the project and gaining intimate knowledge on how application is currently working. I feel that through the testing, I gained some insight on what functionality the current application can benefit from and I carry this knowledge onto the next phase.
During the last two weeks, I have working on creating my own feature for the project. My primary goal is to create a useful and functioning extension to the project. My current idea is to enable expose Finds to more casual stakeholders who might not be actively checking through the POSIT applications. The foundation I have built in the first two months is helping me towards this goal.
Entrepreneurs from around the world gathered in Geneva, October 24-27 2011, to take nascent ideas and build them into products or services they could pitch to potential investors and partners at ITU Telecom World 2011.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) (Union internationale des télécommunications, in French) is the specialized agency of the United Nations which is responsible for information and communication technologies. ITU coordinates the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promotes international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, works to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world and establishes worldwide standards. The ITU organizes the Telecom World Conference, considered one of the leading global ICT events, bringing together world leaders, representatives of governments and the telecommunications and ICT industry to exchange ideas, knowledge and technology that would have long lasting impact around the world.
We had the privilege of being one of the top 15 Digital Innovators (those working with Non-profit partner organizations) along with 30 young innovators, to be selected from a pool of over 160 ideas to participate in an intensive two day training workshop on preparing investor pitches, were we learned how to prepare good pitch presentations and how to “conceptualize” and “sell” our ideas better. We were then given the opportunity to pitch and share our ideas at ITU World’11 conference, and in the process compete for a small cash reward that we could put towards making our concepts realities.
Our selected idea (Posting on ITU World website) was:
What if you could join computing education, the latest in mobile technology and open source development to benefit humanitarian missions? Leveraging the expansion of telecommunications networks and low cost smart phones we recently built a set of Android apps to assist in data collection and program monitoring for an international NGO in rural Haiti. The apps we build are open source, so they can be shared among NGOs, and utilize accessible development technology that can be transferred through education programs. Our approach fosters local talent through skills development, improves effectiveness of programs and accountability to donors. Our goal is to help NGOs develop a sustainable program for developing mobile information tools.
Participants were not given any directives or guidelines prior to arriving in Geneva. We had an opportunity to present our ideas on day one as we had conceptualized them and then after an intense 30 + hours of training and work, with industry mentors and trainers from NoTosh and NoTosh and Snook, we all ended up with concise 5 minute presentations of our concepts:
The participants drawn from all corners of the world, were strangers and competitors in the beginning, left with new bonds of friendship and comradery that may lead to future collaborations following their chance meeting in Geneva.
A firsthand account from the UCOSP Code sprint in Totonto on XX. by POSIT project team members :
UCOSP (Undergraduate Capstone Open Source Projects) gives students all across Canada the opportunity to work together and collaborate on joint open source projects. One of the great projects of UCOSP is POSIT, an android application from the Humanitarian FOSS project.
Since many of the students in UCOSP are from different regions of Canada, the wonderful steering committee of UCOSP organized a 3-day code sprint, held in Toronto, for students to meet face to face and familiarize themselves with the projects together. Members of the POSIT project, Gordon, Stanley, Ryan, Kalin, and Eric were all extremely excited to attend the code sprint; some even traveled from Vancouver and Edmonton to Toronto.
On the first day of code sprint, we devised a tentative plan for the next three days, based on our supervisor Professor Ralph Morelli’s agenda. Since working on POSIT was our first time working in an Android development environment, we decided to set up the Java Android environment and work through Google’s online tutorials to really understand the structure and workflow of an Android application. We have found that the Notepad Tutorial (http://developer.android.com/resources/tutorials/notepad/index.html) was particularly helpful because not only did it show us the standard Android framework, it also introduced the Java SQL database, which was essential in understanding the inner-working of the POSIT application.
One of the biggest challenges of working with team members all around Canada is effective team communication and efficient project coordination. We were thus grateful that, during the second day of the code sprint, our supervisor Ralph showed us many tools that we could utilize to easily collaborate and share with the team online. Such tools include online POSIT wiki and ticketing system where we can report and resolve issues encountered in using POSIT; and Mercurial for managing POSIT’s online code repository. With the help of Ralph, we also successfully deployed the demo POSIT application on our phone to test out its basic features.
Ralph also mentioned that he and POSIT’s past development team decided to overhaul POSIT’s overall framework to make it a more agile and configurable application. He introduced us the concept of “plug-in”, with one “plug-in” being its own separate application that has different user interface and supports one or more data types (texts, images, videos, etc). He also shared with us his vision on how users could simply configure the “plug-in” online and our code base would auto-magically generate a brand new version of POSIT with the specifications defined in “plug-in”.
We were all very excited with the idea of configurable application, but in order to get there, we needed to first understand the structure of the existing POSIT code base. On the last day of code sprint, Ralph pointed us to some fundamental POSIT framework and we each read through a part of the POSIT code base. Before we all left for our lovely home city, we had set up the date for our weekly Skype meeting so that we could update each other on our progress and coordinate project features.
Throughout the three days of code sprint, we all felt like we had accomplished a lot. We were so glad to meet each other face to face and were given the opportunity to work on such a great project. We really look forward to collaborating with each other and we cannot wait to see what our final POSIT application will be like.
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.
On 4th of July we were on the road traveling to various locations in rural Haiti. Alex and Rachel headed out first to Cotes-de-Fer where they eventually met up with Abdul and Roseval. There was no distribution event scheduled for Cotes-de-Fer, so they’ll be registering new health beneficiaries.
Trishan, Tina, and Sheena headed to Grand Grosier where they met up with Peggy and Jiminor. They had the longest drive. They followed our car, with Emmet and me, to Belle Anse and then continued on for another two hours or so beyond that, maybe 6 or 7 total hours on the road. They have a distribution event tomorrow and will also be registering beneficiaries.
Emmet and I met Fernel and Dr. ____ in Belle Anse. Tomorrow we’ll travel to Mabriole for a distribution event. And on Wednesday we’ll travel to Baie d’Orange for another distribution event. These are expected to be large events with several hundred beneficiaries at each site.
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.