Wiki Actu en

April 7, 2006

Semapedia introduced to Africa: Powered by \”Made in Ghana\” technology

Semapedia introduced to Africa: Powered by “Made in Ghana” technology

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search
This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation or one of its projects. Please note that Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation. Semapedia is not associated with the Wikimedia Foundation.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Accra — The Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence in ICT introduced the Semacode technology and the Semapedia application to a segment of the Ghanaian public in a presentation delivered by Guido Sohne, Developer-In-Residence at the Centre and Chief Software Architect of CoreNett Ltd, a Ghanaian electronic transaction processing company.

Introduced for the first time in Africa, Semapedia is a way of associating Internet sites with physical barcodes that can be read by cameraphones, enabling one to look up information about physical objects quickly and easily.

The Semacode technology

A semacode for the wikipedia article on the subject

The Semacode (a URL barcode), was conceived in Canada (North America), and includes portions (such as one of the very first versions) that were developed in Ghana (West Africa) by local software developers. Simon Woodside, the founder of the Semacode Corporation and the Semacode community site contacted Mr. Sohne for assistance in developing an early version of Semacode and Mr. Sohne in turn recommended Francois Bonin, another Developer-In-Residence at the Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence, to develop this software. Mr. Bonin successfully delivered on the project to develop an implementation of this technology, which later on has become increasingly widely adopted and known.

The significance of Semacode is that one can now link a real world, physical object to arbitrary data. Before there has been no link, except for things like ordinary barcodes such as those used in stores to label products, or on books to indicate publication details. Unlike Semacodes, traditional barcodes have limited storage for information, are fixed function and good for only one narrow application, and also require the use of special, custom hardware and software to read or access such barcodes.

With the Semacode approach, all it now takes is for an ordinary camera phone, equipped with a Semacode reader software package (available free of charge by pointing your mobile phone web browser to the over the air distribution). There is no need to purchase any hardware or software to read these two dimensional barcodes.

Semacodes, by embedding a URL into a barcode, enable any portion of the Internet to be ‘attached’ to any object, and can replace barcodes by going further to give arbitrary information on the Internet, not just the simple product number.

After the successful development of the core of the Semacode encoding software (called the Semacode Tagger), Semacode went on to achieve user adoption, such as with the inception of the Semapedia, the Physical Wikipedia.

Semapedia, the physical Wikipedia

A Semapedia entry (photo credit: akaalias from flicker)

In the words of Stan Wiechers and Alexis Rondeau who are the founders of the Physical Wikipedia, “Semapedia is a non-profit project. The idea was to bring the amazing knowledge from the wikipedia to places in the real world where it matters. Being able to stand in front of a building and dive into its history right on the spot is something incredibly useful to anybody.

Doing that by just taking a picture with your mobile phone of a semacode is a very very simple interaction that is understandable to everybody. We have been explaining and showcasing to people with no technical background at all and they still immediately understand the use and value of our project.

Semapedia is a community project, everybody can go to our site and create semapedia tags via a simple text entry form right away, print them out and start hyperlinking ojects to the information he wants people to know.”

Made in Ghana

Following his interest in the initial development of the Semacode encoder, Mr Sohne has continued with Semacode technology by developing free software, licensed under the GNU General Public License, to create Semacodes. The first version of his software was developed as an experiment to investigate the benefits of writing code for the Apple Mac OS X operating system. Mr Sohne had at the time recently acquired an Apple PowerBook and used the Semacode as a goal to be achieved that would serve as a learning exercise for the newly acquired hardware. This software grew to include a C to JavaScript port of the Semacode encoder to run within a web browser, so that it could be accessible on all platforms, and not just the Apple platform.

Within computer software development, a port can be considered akin to a translation between two human languages. It retains the essence of its source, yet is somewhat different while performing the same function. With that transformative step, each Web browser is itself a full blown Semacode encoder, regardless of platform. And since each Semacode created by the software is in a hyperlink format, all the Semacodes created can be conveniently stored by web engines such as Google.

Powering this all, are deceptively simple Semacode symbols that are easy to create and quick to read, a testament to simple ideas brought to life by complex systems. Perhaps the real genius of the idea behind the Semacode, brainchild of Mr. Simon Woodside of Semacode Corporation, is that it is so simple that it works so well and so easily. It was not so simple before the breakthrough concept of the Semacode as a URL barcode that is accessible by a wide variety of ‘off the shelf’ camera phones!

Bringing Semapedia to Africa

Today, this introduction of the Semapedia and its associated technologies, at the prestigious Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence, explained and explored the possibilities that are opened by the use of Semacodes. The audience received the talk very well and suggested several interesting ways of locally applying Semacodes during an engaging discussion during question and answer time.

The introduction of the Semapedia immediately preceded the launching of the first African entry into the Semapedia which will take place immediately after the talk, when several members of the audience used Semacodes to tag the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence with its corresponding entry into the Wikipedia.

During the presentation Mr Sohne said that “The time has come for African content to take its place in the global constellation. We need more African content, and anybody can help add more content to the Wikipedia. So tag something today. It’s really easy to do and the software is free too!”

If it can be done in Ghana, then it can easily be done elsewhere in Africa and even in Asia, Europe and North America too. It is rare to find African created technology being used today in Western cyberspace so this event is indeed a laudable step forward for African technology as well as an indication of the benefits of collaborative development based on liberal software licensing such as open source software that can arise from further North/South private sector partnerships.

Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Commons
Wikimedia Commons has more media related to:
Semapedia introduced to Africa: Powered by “Made in Ghana” technology

Alexis Rondeau, Stan Wiechers. “Semapedia Introduced To Africa” — semapedia.org, April 10, 2006

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Indian police break up hunger strike over dam project

Indian police break up hunger strike over dam project

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Friday, April 7, 2006 Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan activist in the ninth day of a hunger strike protesting the Sardar Sarovar Project, is forcibly moved to hospital in New Delhi by police.

On the ninth day of the hunger strike she and two other activists had undertaken to protest the Indian government’s decision to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam across the Narmada river and the lack of progress in rehabilitating people displaced by the dam project, Patkar was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences where she was placed under intensive care. Doctors have said that she is conscious and her condition is stable.

Police sources say that Patkar has not been arrested as of now, but an First Information Report has been lodged against her for attempting to commit suicide.

Activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan tried to prevent the police from moving Patkar and some were arrested on rioting charges.

Hunger strike

Patkar, Jamsinh Nargave and Bhagwatibai Patidar began an indefinite fast on March 29, refusing food and medical care. They called on the government to reverse its decision to raise the height of the dam under construction from 110m to 121m and demanded proper rehabilitation for people displaced by the project. Supreme Court rulings of Oct 2000 and March 2005 stated that further construction on the dam (above 110m) was illegal until temporarily and permanently affected families were rehabilitated as per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award.

Patkar said “If the construction work for increasing the height of the dam is started, over 35,000 people will lose their land by the month of June.” and that “Yet, most of the villagers living along the Narmada river bank have not been provided alternative land holdings”.

The Indian Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz and other central ministers met the protestors and called on them to end the fast, promising suitable rehabilitation.

“We urge Medha Patkar to break her fast. She is welcome to continue her protest and raise the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, my ministry and the courts,” said Soz.

On April 3rd, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed to the hunger strikers to end their fast. Three union ministers are also planning to visit the dam site to personally supervise the rehabilitation work.

The Sardar Sarovar dam project

The Sardar Sarovar Project involves the construction of a series of large hydroelectric dams on the Narmada River in India. Although first conceived of in the 1940s by the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, the project began only after 1979. Officials say that the dam is essential for drought-prone areas in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh but the dam has been mired in controversy over its environmental impact, costs and benefits since the late 1980s.

Local protests have coalesced under the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save Narmada Movement) led by Medha Patkar. The World Bank was a funder of the SSP, but withdrew after an independent review in 1990. Indian writer Arundhati Roy has protested the Narmada Dam project.

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Blair, Ahern unveil plan for Northern Ireland devolution

Blair, Ahern unveil plan for Northern Ireland devolution

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Friday, April 7, 2006

Logo of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern have unveiled their plan to restore a power-sharing executive government in Northern Ireland by a deadline of November 24.

The plan calls for the Northern Ireland Assembly’s members to be recalled on May 15 and given six weeks to form an executive. If no results comes within six weeks, then the members are to be given another 12 weeks to attempt to form an executive. After that, if no result is achieved by November 24, then the salaries of all members will be suspended, and the Irish government will be given greater influence in Northern Ireland.

The Assembly has been suspended since October 2002 following the allegation of the existence of a republican spy ring.

Blair and Ahern acknowledged the diffculty of implementation of the plan, which has been hampered by the murder this week of Denis Donaldson, a former British spy in Sinn Fein.

Blair said of the plan, “We have today set out a framework, beginning with the recall of the assembly on the 15th of May and running up to November of this year, for that ultimate decision to be made. At that point we close the chapter … or we close the book.” His verdict on the plan was, “If the parties really can’t find a way forward, we have to call a halt and find a different way forward.”

Ahern said, “It is time to talk and to agree. People are entitled to firm assurances that if there is deadlock that it will not be allowed to continue indefinitely.” His verdict on the plan was, “I don’t look at the end date of this. In fact, I look at this as a start of a process. I do not want on 24 November to be thinking about another plan.”

Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party said “The DUP will not be forced, rushed or bullied into accepting any level of IRA criminality. Currently there is no evidence that Sinn Fein/IRA will be any further advanced in giving up criminality in November.” Paisley also denounced the involvement of the Irish government, saying, “This part of the UK is not really a part of the UK but is a part of the UK where a foreign government has more say over Northern Ireland than the people of Northern Ireland.”

Gerry Adams, the President of Sinn Fein, said that the statement contained “negatives and positives.” “We welcome that the assembly has been brought together … we have concerns about the timeframe, about other aspects of the statement, but we think that’s a good forward step. We would like to think that unionism generally would see it as a positive opportunity. I appeal to Unionism to seize this opportunity. It is about a shared future for all the people on this island. It appears that they [the two governments] are saying to the DUP, ‘If you don’t come on board, we are going to go ahead without you.’ “

The leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Sir Reg Empey’s response was, “We urgently need to have an input into, and make changes to, direct rule decisions on education, water rates and the Review of Public Administration, to name but three. This is our job.” Empey was also critical of the DUP’s statement, saying, “We have been told by the Democratic Unionist Party that the Belfast agreement was binned, consigned to the dustbin of history. Looking and listening to today’s press conference, it didn’t look binned to me. It’s actually back centre stage.”

The SDLP’s Mark Durkan said, “All we have today is an 11-paragraph announcement that tells us less rather than more. That’s why the SDLP will need to see the legislation that follows it. It may be better — or indeed worse.” He further added, “A shadow assembly was agreed between the DUP and Sinn Fein in 2004, in the so called comprehensive agreement. We are still living with the damage caused by that bad deal.”

United States President George W. Bush issued a statement saying, “Today is an opportunity for all in Northern Ireland to take control of their future and bring the political process to a successful completion this year.” “We remain steadfast in our support of the peace process and the efforts of the British and Irish governments to achieve a lasting peace under the principles of the Good Friday Agreement.”



Sources

Wikisource
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Joint Statement by the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach
Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Ship sinks off Djibouti, killing at least 109

Ship sinks off Djibouti, killing at least 109

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Friday, April 7, 2006

LocationDjibouti.png

A ship sank off the coast of Djibouti yesterday about 1 p.m. Eastern African Time (1000 UTC), killing 109 people. At least 20 more are reported missing. Reports say that 36 people are currently receiving medical care, and seven are in serious condition.

The ship was bound for the religious festival of Djamaad, in the town of Tadjoura. Built to hold roughly 80 people, it was reported to have been carrying at least 200 people as well as construction materials at the time it sank. Though the cause of the accident has yet to be determined, Ismael Tani, advisor to the Djiboutian President Umar Guelleh, said that the overload probably caused the disaster. Eyewitness Omar Souleiki, however, blamed it on a small wave. Search operations by the Djiboutian, French, and American naval vessels have been called off for the night.

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Massachusetts lawmakers enact plan for universal health coverage

Massachusetts lawmakers enact plan for universal health coverage

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Friday, April 7, 2006 Legislators in the Massachusetts General Court, their name for the state legislature, approved legislation on Tuesday, April 4, that would make it the first state in the United States to require all residents to have health insurance and impose penalties for non-compliance. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican who is expected to run for U.S. President in 2008, is expected to sign the bill.

The bill passed the lower house, the Massachusetts House of Representatives by a vote of 155-2, and unanimously by the state senate. The Democratic Party holds supermajorities in both houses of the legislature.

Among the bill’s provisions are these:

  1. Businesses that employ more than 10 people are required to provide health insurance for all staff or face fines of $295 per year per uninsured worker.
  2. Individuals will be required to enroll in a health plan by July 1, 2007, or face tax penalties.
  3. Health insurers will provide partially to fully subsidized coverage for low-income residents.

At least one other state (Hawaii) requires employers to provide employee health insurance, but no other state holds individuals accountable for coverage.

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Libby says Bush authorized NIE leaks

Libby says Bush authorized NIE leaks – Wikinews, the free news source

Libby says Bush authorized NIE leaks

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Friday, April 7, 2006

Vice President Cheney.

According to papers filed in U.S. Federal Court by Patrick J. Fitzgerald on Wednesday, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former Chief of Staff, has told investigators that he was authorized by President Bush to divulge to reporters information from the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Saddam Hussein’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Libby’s testimony to the federal grand jury included the statement that he had received “approval from the President through the Vice President” to release portions of the NIE. According to court documents, he also stated that this type of authorization was “unique in his recollection”.

It was Libby’s understanding that Bush’s allowing the information to be released in effect declassified the information. Although legal experts disagree on this authority, Libby stated that it was a White House lawyer who so counseled him.

This information has come to light due to Fitzgerald’s efforts to collect information regarding the “outing” of former CIA operative Valerie Plame. Fitzgerald has broad authority to conduct investigations, as the special prosecutor in the case. Although Libby’s statements released yesterday may seem inflammatory, it is unknown what effect they will have on either Vice President Cheney or President Bush.

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Dozens die in Iraq bombing, al-Sadr blames occupation forces

Filed under: AutoArchived,Iraq,Shia Islam — admin @ 5:00 am

Dozens die in Iraq bombing, al-Sadr blames occupation forces

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Friday, April 7, 2006

At least seventy civilians were killed, with many more injured in an apparent suicide attack at the popular Buratha mosque in northern Baghdad soon after the Friday prayers. Police have said that two of the bombers were dressed as women. The attack comes a day after the Iraqi interior ministry issued a warning about possible attacks on mosques.

The chief imam of Buratha mosque, Sheikh Jalaluddin al-Saghir, who is also a member of the Iraqi parliament, stated that Shias are being targeted “as part of this dirty sectarian war waged against them as the world watches silently.”

Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr on the other hand asserts that recent bombings were in fact the work of the US-led coalition forces. Regarding Thursday’s Najaf bombing, he was quoted as saying: “This is not the first time that the occupation forces and their death squads have resorted to killings”.

Sadr further charged the occupying forces, and more specifically the United States, with “killing religious Shia clerics in order to start a sectarian strife”.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad issued a statement, urging all parties to remain calm: “I urge all Iraqis to exercise restraint in the wake of this tragedy, to come together to fight terror, to continue to resist the provocation to sectarian violence and to pursue justice within the framework of Iraq’s laws and constitution.”

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Powered by WordPress