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Learn Cinelerra video editing for free at Easton

Ben Green of Bristol Wireless is organising a free introductory course to Cinelerra at Easton Community Centre, Kilburn Street on 27th July 2006. As there are only 8 places available, early booking is advised. Participants should arrive at 9:30 am to get settled in, take refreshment and be ready for a 10 o’clock start. The course ends at 4 pm.

For further details please call Bristol Wireless on 0117 325 0067 (or 0845 862 0110) or drop an email to

For those who need it, here’s a location map for Easton Community Centre.

French poor to get broadband for €1 per day

The Register reports that the French government is intending to provide 1.2m of the country’s poorest citizens with a computer and broadband connection for €1 per day.

Over half of the French population currently use the web on a regular basis, with 38 per cent of homes connected and 10m broadband connections. However, the excluded half contains large numbers of the poor and elderly.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced the plan, which forms part of France’s committment to make public services available online, at an Interministerial Committee for the Information Society meeting on Tuesday 11th July.

Read the full article at the Register.

Venn festival

With the help of Bristol Wireless and Radio Vague, the Venn Festival has extended its annual FM broadcasts to the digital realm. Broadcasting from the Cube Cinema for four whole days from Thursday 1st June, Radio Venn will bring you the best of the festival. Tune in to for live music, interviews, DJ sets and more.

Venn FM: 87.7

Ray Brooks

New York’s Central Park to go wireless

The city of New York is to extend free wireless internet access to the 843 acres of Central Park, as well as other public access areas, the BBC reports.

Officials reckon the system will be operational by the summer, allowing native New Yorkers and visitors alike to escape into the park and use their laptops and PDAs outdoors.

According to the city’s Parks Department, by July there will be eight wireless hotspots offering coverage of much of Central Park, where thousands of locals and tourists get out into the green to eat lunch or escape from the mayhem of Manhattan; the park has over 25 million visitors per year.

Free wireless connection has been trialled and is already available in other parts of New York, such as mid-town Bryant Park and Tompkins Square Park in East Village.

The free access will be funded by corporate sponsorship and could serve as a blueprint for other, more ambitious projects in other US cities.


Connecting Bristol Bid submitted

Bristol City Council have submitted their bid to the Digital Challenge set by the goverment for showcasing how Local Authorities and their communities can really make use of new technologies to enhance peoples lives –

The bid intro lays out the ambitious aims –

  • increase participation in the social and economic life of Bristol and its environs, particularly among excluded young people, older people and disadvantaged neighbourhoods, to increase skills, community cohesion and quality of life;
  • extend connectivity, develop Internet solutions and e-trading to reach new markets and promote social enterprise;
  • establish a culture of innovation to sustain long-term change in the way services are defined and delivered.
  • ICT will be a tool for fostering communication and relationships. We will:
    establish ‘showcase neighbourhoods’ that join together and empower communities from either side of the digital, economic and cultural divide, across the greater city area;
  • identify ‘advocates’ to act as digital media ambassadors and innovation champions, securing cultural change in services;
  • enable young and older people to collaborate as mentors, imparting skills and knowledge across the community and across the generations.

The Bristol Wireless team are looking forward to working to make this project a great success !

The full bid can be downloaded from Connecting Bristol

Some of the competition are linked to from there too –

Network News

Hi all,

A lot has happened over the last few weeks, this last one in particular. To make sure everyone thats not around daily is up to speed on things, here’s an update on what’s happened and a roadmap of what is to come in the near future.

Bails and I got the VoIP at the Lab working properly. The incoming 0845 number now works. We will be getting get the 0117 902 5247 number from Telewest and pointing it towards our VoIP provider.

The lab is moving. We’ve painted the new room at WCC, and on Saturday Rich, Nigel (local landlord and builder known to us all from the Chelsea,) Bails, Woodsy, Matt, Ben and myself ran trunking and Cat5 around the new room. We got most of it done as a team but in the end Matt and myself stayed until we’d run out of Cat5 (over 1000ft!) twice (there’s none left in the lab either) and it had passed midnight. 2 sockets (1 dbl) remain uncabled, the rest is done. We need more Cat5!

I have also run a cable from our room to the ICT suite 2 doors down. Our router there has a spare ethernet interface on it, this will serve our needs in the short-term.

Over the next week we will be moving into the room. Rich will be picking up two switches to manage the room and a load more graciously donated machines from IoPP on Monday, when we hope the room can become operational. But we need to pack things up first! The latter is our next priority, but generally moving this week is going to require a lot of manpower and as much help as possible will be required, so ‘All Hands On Deck!’

A new machine from IoPP, a tower box with dual p3 Xeon 2.6GHz CPUs and many Gigs of RAM, is to become the new labserver at WCC. . The two new switches from IoPP are 48-port with 1 1Gbps uplink port, the new server already has a gigabit ethernet interface so the new office LTSP WILL SERIOUSLY ROCK! ;o}

WCC’s connection to the network remains sketchy, so we are going to order new WRAP boards, Atheros mini-PCI cards, compact flash and pigtails etc. WRAP boards (Wireless Router Application Platform) are Matt’s discovery – they are low-cost high-spec Single Board Computers (SBCs) – Once tested we can mount one on a nice high pole on the chimney outside WCC. Westcom will be advising once again about a suitable pole to get for this, above standard length, and about the correct fixings etc. for the job.

The WRAP boards will *probably* run Voyage Linux, like the backbone routers. Voyage ( is derived from Pebble, but has been kept up to date and is cutting-edge. Voyage has been extensively tested on the WRAP platform. Once this is in place we can either connect WCC to Twinnel or to the new APs in Kingsdown if they’re ready.

On Friday we (Rich, Matt, Westcom and myself) went to Armada house in Kingsdown and finished the last few details of the install there, brought up the 5.8GHz radio pointing at Holroyd House in Knowle, then went to Holroyd and did the same. This was the first time I’d seen the backbone installs, I must say I was *extremely* impressed by the quality of the work done by Rich and Westcom – the whole lot looks extremely professional. John Palfrey spent half an hour in the driving rain taking out the standard coach bolts he’d used to fix the antennae to the wall of the lift room and replacing them with invincible-looking anchor bolts instead ‘just to make sure’ – testimony to Westcom’s devotion to helping us do this thing really properly.

The link between Kingsdown< ->Holroyd was brought up, it’s not great at the moment but we can work on that once we can reach it remotely. To this end I’ll be going up on Twinnel on Monday morning to repoint the unused radio at Kingsdown flats, giving us a preliminary connection to the new backbone kit. We can then install traffic/signal monitoring software and tweak the
links ’till they’re good etc. remotely.

The Chelsea Inn has changed hands. Although invited to do so, Jules needs a change of scenery and will not be managing it in the future. However, other Chelsea staff will be taking on the role and keeping things pretty similar. We are allowed to stay, as is the open mic night (I have this by word of mouth from Jules,) so it looks like wireless and streaming at the Chelsea will continue.

The kit bought by Jules/the Chelsea was kindly donated to the project – it ALL belongs to us. This is good, as we took down the Omni and replaced it with a radio pointing at ECC. As the Chelsea< ->ECC link is useless we can take this down and connect ECC back to Twinnel as a stopgap while we survey/install the remaining tower block in the Barton Hill area.

Right, that’s all I can think of for now. Well done to everyone for all their hard work in bringing us this far…

Lloyd Rennie (with a few edits)

On the buses

The Register reports UK coach firm National Express has launched a trial which has seen Telabria’s mSystem mobile Wi-Fi hotspots installed on coaches between London and Cambridge.

The trial will enable passengers on the National Express 010 London to Cambridge route to access the internet on the move via their Wi-Fi enabled laptops, PDAs and other handheld devices, at no extra charge beyond their ordinary ticket price.


Bristol – capital of wi-fi

A city centre “hotzone” stretching from the top of Park Street down to St Augustine’s Parade and including the Watershed is one example of how the latest communication technology has been introduced for the benefit of local residents, visitors and mobile workers. Just under two years ago, a number of wi-fi transmitters, known as “StreetNet” were installed in the area so that everyone across some two square miles can access the internet and emails quickly and at anytime – even while outdoors.

There is also an even larger free network operated by the Bristol Wireless community co-operative ( that already covers nearly all of Easton and Lawrence Hill and is now connecting up St Paul’s, St Werburgh’s, Windmill Hill and Knowle with plans for further expansion to Southville and Bedminster. The Watershed and Bristol University both have their own wi-fi networks to enable people to access the internet in their establishments.

In January the future of wi-fi across the city was discussed at a public meeting at the Watershed. This event was the first in a series to engage people in discussion around the technology of today and tomorrow as part of Bristol’s Digital Challenge bid. Pete Ferne, Chairman of Bristol Wireless and one of the speakers at the event explains: “Connectivity is the lifeblood of co-operation. We have seen that wireless can bring people together, improve communication and make it easier to work with one another and share what we care about – whether that’s politics, music, football or anything else. Our network is growing and adapting to the needs and desires of the people using it, both now and in the future.”

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2006 edition of “Bristol News”, published by Bristol City Council’s Corporate Communications Department.

Bristol Wireless on the 10 O’clock News

Bristol Wireless will be featured on the 10 O’clock news on Monday evening, 6th March. We were visted by Rory Cellan-Jones the BBC business and technology correspondent for a day of filming and interviews today (Thursday) for a news item on community and municipal wi-fi projects.

Click here for the BBC report (RealPlayer required).

Starting with the Vivaldi funded backbone installation at Holroyd House in Windmill Hill, the BBC crew braved 13 floors to film John and his Westcom team erecting our new aerials and interview Bristol Wireless volunteers on a crisp clear morning with beautiful views of the city (photos pete?)

Next we moved onto Princess Royal gardens where Rory talked to residents and users of the community suite, and finally to a park off the cyclepath, so Rory could prove to himself that it was possible to just stand in the open in Easton and connect to the net. BW-ECC was loud and clear (phew!).

The Bristol Wireless Videoblog

There’s a new addition to the website which many of you might have missed — we now have a videoblog.

What’s that, then?

Simple really — but first, a technical aside and word of thanks: we’re using a debugged and slightly amended version of Garrick Van Buren’s WP-iPodCatter Plugin for WordPress to produce a special RSS feed from these news pages. Garrick has released the plugin under the GNU General Public License for the benefit of the WordPress community and deserves our thanks for his efforts. If you’re feeling particularly well-disposed, you could drop him a donation through Paypal — see the link on his WP-iPodCatter page.

So then: a videoblog… well, it’s basically just a category in this news section, but you subscribe to it using the Videoblog RSS link in the right-hand column. When you do that using a video-enabled RSS aggregator, something wonderful happens. Each time we publish a new item in the video category, the corresponding video file (usually MPEG4) will be downloaded for you to watch. And, er, that’s more or less it! It’s as if Bristol Wireless had it’s own intermittent TV channel.

For more information on RSS feeds, there’s a page on the wiki which explains what they’re about in more detail — it also has links to some of the more popular videoblogging software should you need it.

And so here we go: this is what makes this an entry in the videoblog — a link to the re-encoded HesFest video in MPEG4 format.

ICT Centre News

Bristol Wireless are pleased to be able to have relaunched its PC giveaway project. We have distributed another 15 machines in the first month of 2006. Receipt of machines is linked to completion of “First Time on Line” the UFI funders basic skills assessment website. PCs donated by Institute of Physics Publishing (av.800Mhz/256MB/40GB) were data wiped and refurbished by volunteers with the Linux Operating system at the Lab. The new owners picked up their machines on one of our “giveaway Wednesdays”, and after a quick familiarisation tour and personalisation were very pleased to take them away. Support with the machines is available from the Community Centre drop-ins.

Bristol Wireless volunteers are now staffing the IT suite at Easton Community Centre 5 days a week, from 12 to 4pm for drop in Internet access and free computing advice. We are looking forward to working with the new management in February.

Bristol to win Digital Challenge

Bristol is to build on its growing international reputation for e-communications and digital technologies and media by bidding to become the UK’s top digital city.

A partnership of business, community and city council leaders believes the city can win the government’s £7 million ‘Digital Challenge’, announced yesterday by Minister for Local E-Government Jim Fitzpatrick.

Bristol is already one of the top European locations for wi-fi network provision, digital technology research and development, creative industries and online service delivery, public consultation and democratic engagement.

Read more…

Bristol Wireless is taking an active part in supporting the bid and highlighting the value of our network, and our core activities, in helping to bridge the digital divide within the city.

L is for Linux

A brief scare went round Bristol Wireless early in November when our favourite model AP looked like it was going to be killed off by Linksys, the company that manufacture the WRT54G.

Fortunately Linksys look like they know who it is that has popularised and recommended their device to make it the biggest selling Wireless router on the market and have brought out the Linksys WRT54G”L” specifically aimed at us Community Network “Hobbyists”

Not sure what I think about us being called “hobbyists”, much prefer the term Venture-Altruists

The 90 Second Film Challenge

Ben Green prefaced this project with a quote from “Mission Impossible”, but Bristol Wireless and Fluffy Logic have succeeded in the Challenge, making a succinct and informative promotional ‘infotisement’ on a minimal budget and lots of hard work. We’re really pleased with the result.

The movie is a speedy tour of our network, with interviews along the way. Entirely Free (Libre) Open Source software in its creation. The main video editing was done with cinelerra from

Lab ecc

We’ve released the film under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives Licence. Please contact us for other licensing arrangements. There are two ways to download the video:


There is a BitTorrent of it available: Bristol_Wireless_90_Second_Film.torrent

It is 23MB and is a ‘.avi’ file (using Xvid and MP3) at DV resolution (720×576) and very good quality. You can download bittorrent from and have a look at the progress of the torrent at


There is a normal http download available: bw_90_sec_challenge.mp4

It is 4MB and is a ‘.mp4’ file (using MPEG4 and AAC), low resolution (320×240) and low quality but still watchable. You are free to distribute this version too, but only if you make clear to person receiving it the license it is distributed under. You must pass on at least the link to the license code which is at and the say that the work is to be Attributed to Bristol Wireless Community Co-operative Ltd.

Playing It

If you have trouble playing the either file, you might want to try VLC from

ECC Funding secured

ufi logo ecc ukonline logo
Bristol Wireless has successfully secured funding from the University for industry (Ufi) to continue the activities we have been developing at Easton Community Centre since May.

This will allow us to continue to run the IT Suite as a UKOnline Centre for at least the next 6 months, providing courses and community IT support through our popular free open access sessions.

Our ICT programme is specifically designed to reach new learners, socially excluded groups and individuals within the Easton area. This includes adults not currently engaged in learning, unemployed, lone parents, those with basic skills needs and people from black and minority ethnic communities and people aged over 60.

Our programme is unique for UKOnline, as it is the only centre delivering education and access using solely free and open source software and with the incentive for people to complete our courses we are able to offer students a very low cost computer at £20 on completion. All computers are refurbished by Bristol Wireless volunteers.

The £25000 we have been awarded will among many other things enable us to employ a Training Officer to adminster this project and increase and develop our contacts within the local community.

More Young people in Tents!

Bristol Wireless ran their mobile cybertent once again for 5 days in a field near Cheddar at the Big Green Gathering 2005. With our old friends and collaborators Psand providing connectivity to the net via their Satellite Uplink trucks.

With up to 20 terminals in use by festival goers for over 6 hours a day we were very busy. In addition Ben Green delivered a couple of well attended Linux advocacy sessions. As we were in the Renewable Energys field we were of course kindly supplied with power by Magrec, a solar and wind power supply business from Okehampton in Devon. The next outing for the suite will be at the FAVE festival at the Trinity Centre on Saturday 20th August.

More Princess Royal Gardens

Many of you will know we have been working on using old hardware with the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) and now have over 5 networks installed across the city – one of them at Princess Royal Gardens. We got involved because of Ronnie Corbett, the Warden there. Ronnie has written about getting the computers for the senior residents in a write up of the project which makes a compelling argument for making projects like this universal.

From Ronnie Corbett
To Bristol Wireless

Why give computers to the elderly and what good could it do? There are elderly folk or senior citizens who are energetic and outgoing normally, who through sheer loneliness have become depressed, many become depressed just by moving house. They move to a smaller flat in sheltered housing having to lose furniture that will not fit, friends and neighbours become distant, even their Doctor is changed because of boundary changes. The loving daughter or son can no longer pop in as frequently as they used to. The frustrations and the stress of moving are expressed in several ways, constant crying, anger, inability to eat, sickness, diarrhoea, sleeping, body clock changes, a shock to the system. The move was supposed to make them feel safe and better off.

The above is only a short précis of what can happen to our senior citizens. The introduction of computers to the senior citizens bring cries of dissent: “What do we want they for” or ” I can’t use them things not at my age”; and yet show them how to start the thing and away they go I have a couple learning the ECDL now.

How did we start?

It was something that I wanted to do anyway but did not have nor could I find the resources for it, when along came Easton Residents’ Network!! With their help I was able to get a computer in each of our sheltered housing schemes in Easton; well it was a start, we needed training in the use of Linux an absolutely free operating system with no viruses and no porn! Bristol Wireless connected us up to the internet. Bristol Wireless were to do training with the residents but they were beset with all sorts of problems notwithstanding the closing of the Community Centre. I moved from Greenhaven to Princess Royal Gardens around then and just before this time I had been talking to Richard about training and about how much it would cost it, was then he mentioned one server and six or seven clients from then on all I could see were old dears sitting at a bank of computers.

I put out a call for redundant computers and got three from Bristol City Council they were of little use to me so I called Richard and with a lot of mythering and constant prodding and a promise of paying for the installation of the internet he came on board with eight clients and one server. I applied to Quartet for funding for training and got £660.00 to train sixteen senior citizens. eight of them have received 4 x 2 hour periods of instruction, the next class starts in two weeks.

The Guide

Why should older people get involved in ICT ? Whats in it for them? What benefits might they gain? The answers come from both the older people themselves, describing how they use ICT or what they want from it; and from external advocates who argue how it could benefit older people.

The uses

E-mail: Many sheltered housing residents live distant from close kin and friends and communication with them could be problematic, with arthritic hands letter writing becomes more difficult, and handwriting less legible long distant phone calls are expensive. E-mail promotes a rapid, if less personal response; it is an easier and cheaper mode of communication, email clearly tops the list of current ICT usage.

The internet: an encyclopaedic store of knowledge and information: for example about local community activities, about health issues, about similar interest groups (e.g. crafts and hobbies, politics…) with
the possibility of communicating with these groups. The widely advertised possibilities of shopping giving choice and diversity no longer having the home care buying the most expensive items because they are at hand but having sight of items in the store and their prices, booking holidays, choosing a holiday in the comfort of your community room and cutting out the expensive middleman.

A computer suite in the community room encourages interaction and stimulus, a focus of activity (in an otherwise little used area) along with organising outings and getting the right answers to their questions, medical or otherwise by exploring the net.

Impediments to learning

Most older people are not computer literate: their reluctance to remedy this can be summed up as fear they do not understand the technology and its terminology- so different from the scientific principles of some six or seven decades ago, they lack confidence in being able to keep up with others in a tutorial group, feeling that their slowness will inconvenience others and bring shame on themselves. Physical disabilities, poor eyesight, arthritic limbs resulting in difficulty using the keyboard or mouse, or seeing the screen. All of these fears and disabilities can be overcome.

I have enjoyed this project and the company of Bristol Wireless and the Easton Residents Network. I hope that in time I can work with them again.

Ronnie Corbett

Princess Royal Gardens – Official Launch

The official launch of the Bristol Wireless installed LTSP suite at Princess Royal Gardens, a sheltered accommodation project in East Bristol, was held on 20th July, attended by City Councillors John Kiely and Abdul Malik and his Lordship, The Mayor Peter Abraham.

Jim receiving cheque from mayor

The suite consists of 6 terminals and a server all kindly donated by the Institute of Physics Publishing, connected to the Bristol Wireless network by specially configured Wireless router attached to a parabolic directional antenna and through one of our gateways to the wider internet.

residents using the suite

This project was funded partly by the residents (£250) and installed and configured by Bristol Wireless volunteers, a further £660 was raised from Greater Bristol Foundation for training.

FAVE Festival at Trinity – Aug 20th

FAVE is a new event for people who are interested in free and open source creative software on Linux and other computer platforms. It’s taking place on Saturday August 20th 2005 at the Trinity Community & Arts Centre in Bristol, UK. Everyone is welcome, even if they have never used this kind of software before. Doors open at 10am and the event gets underway at 11am. Music will continue into the evening, and the whole event costs just £5 to get in.

This is no dry, dull conference! It will be an accessible festival of fun with performances, presentations and workshops. Topics will include music production, recording and do-it-yourself film making.
There will be sessions covering community media, streaming content servers, tangible interfaces, digital TV regulation and Creative Commons licensing. Networking, internet access and media streaming will be provided by Bristol Wireless.

Speakers at FAVE 2005 include:

James Wallbank – Art for all at Access Space

Tom Chance – Remix Reading and the Creative Commons

John Ffitch – An introduction to Csound

Michael Sparks (BBC Research & Development) – Streaming with Kamaelia

Richard Bown (Fervent Software) – The Rosegarden sequencer and Studio
To Go!

Chris O’Shea – Sonicforms – a tangible interfaces project – The internet, technology & Open Source film-making

RachelAPP – Recording music with Ardour, Hydrogen and Jamin

Cory Doctorow (Electronic Frontier Foundation) – Europe’s coming
Broadcast Flag

Performers using Linux and other free software will include:

Matt Gray

Dave Griffiths (Pattern Cascade)


Martin Howse and Jonathan Kemp (ap)

Jonny Stutters (Jeremah)

Andy Preston (Edge Effect)

For full details of the line-up, see the FAVE website at:


If you would like to take part in this event, the first of its kind in
the UK, please see the website for details of the FAVE mailing list
and IRC channel. This is a community event, and it relies on
volunteers to make it a success.


The Trinity Centre is in the centre of Bristol, not far from the
mainline railway station at Temple Meads or Lawrence Hill station. It
is a large former church near the corner of the A420 Clarence Road
and Trinity Road.