Hello, everyone. I just wanted to give you all a long overdue update. I am back in Uganda, and continuing with the work of HFC. It’s a busy time. Let me give you an overview of some of the things that are going on.
Monte Hoover Returns!
We were happy to have Monte Hoover back in Uganda working again with the AOET Rehaboth Integrated School in Bugembe and with the OLPC program he kickstarted last year. I’ll have Monte post about his trip, but from this side of the pond, I’ll make a few observations. First, Monte is a great encourager. He encouraged the students and the teachers and was a real encouragement to me as well. He’s currently picked up a few extra volunteer responsibilities and has been monitoring our inbound email as well as helping out with volunteer coordination.
Monte really did great work while he was here. He connected Internet services at the school, purchasing equipment not only for the Rehaboth School but also for other clients in Uganda. He bought all the equipment necessary to power the computer room including power strips, cable, tools and more, and he did quite a bit of training. Thanks to Monte, the OLPC program at Rehaboth is now online, and it’s our hope that the program will stay “out of the closet” forever. Too many recipients of OLPC grants end up with “closet OLPC’s” due to lack of training and connectivity. Thanks so much Monte!
We’re working on some Internet connectivity projects with a new team assistant, Abdullah, who comes to us from Tanzania loaded with gear and network savvy. We’ve purchased a few Bullet AP/CPE’s, a pair of 2.4-5GHz directional grid antennas and a carrier-class quad AP radio unit. We’re taking the Internet service from the Keep and throwing it 5km north to the Nile River Explorers campsite near Bujagali to provide access to the tourists that flock the campsite. It’s a short hop for the gear we have and a small test to see if we can expand our fast Internet service offering to the public, and create an Intranet to wirelessly connect NGOs, companies and government agencies over distances greater than what residential equipment can provide.
Although both are money-making ventures, we’re also looking to provide a critical service to organizations cheaper and faster than the big telcos can provide. Although this will pull our attention away from the grassroots training initiatives, the platform we create will provide a foundation that we can rely on to do more of the grassroots goodness farther away from the big towns, where it is needed the most.
We worked with our good friend Rob to build the tower at The Keep and we’re building another tower out at the campsite. The final result is strong and well-designed (without breaking the bank.. it cost a couple hundred bucks) and we can re-use the steel in other (bigger?) projects if need be.
Work for the Ugandan government
I’ve started working with the Ugandan government and we are providing assistance in the form of knowledge experts for everything from networking to forensics to training. Many of you responded via email saying that you were interested in helping out, and it’s much appreciated but the response overwhelmed us. Monte and I are still trying to get through the responses. If you are able to help us out, please take a moment to fill out one or both of these forms:
The volunteer signup form is here.
And the hardware donation form is here.
Training / Conferences
I’m schedule for a few training events and conferences over the next couple of months. The first will be near Detroit Michigan in mid-May where I’ll be giving the No-Tech Hacking talk. I’ll be in the US for a few days and I hope to bring back some much-needed supplies. I’ll also be teaching SEC401: Security Essentials in Nairobi, Kenya the last week in May. This is the first SANS class ever taught in Kenya, so I’m pretty excited about that.
Derbycon is also coming up and I’ve been graciously invited to attend and speak. The event is in Louisville Kentucky from Sept-30-Oct 2, 2011. Dave and the crew have been big supporters, and I’m excited to be a part of the con this year. For more information, check out the Derbycon website: http://www.derbycon.com.
Supporting the NGO community in Uganda
I’m also doing tons of work supporting the NGO community here in Uganda. I’m repairing tons of computers (mostly Apple Mac repair as we’re the only ones that do it), providing Internet solutions and constructing classroom systems. The repair and Internet solution size is growing very steadily as organizations recruit more and more volunteers and staff members, each with bandwidth and hardware demands. The classroom and training center construction side is slow, but each center we construct provides a decent amount of income to help fuel our other programs and also furthers our goals of expanding IT education as far and wide as we can.
We’re also gaining more clients who are asking for computer support contracts to help with their IT needs. We don’t have many clients right now but we’re dedicated to providing high-quality service for a fair price. This is an obvious benefit to our clients, but it’s also a way for us to train more capable technicians. There are simply too few competent hardware and network technicians. We’re doing our best to change that.