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New Social Source Event

Bristol Wireless members attended the inaugral event in London last year and will be organising a trip to London in the Autumn.

Latest News

June 2005
Our next event has now been fixed for November 2005 and will take place immediately after this year’s UK Riders conference. The theme will be mix/match/migrate and will offer demonstrations, an “install fest”, workshops and lots of resources for VCS organisations who want to consider:

* Mixing FLOSS applications such as Firefox, Thunderbird or Open Office with their existing Windows desktops

* Matching their Windows desktops to a Linux server

* Migrating their whole networks to Linux server/desktop options

We’ll be starting up an interactive e-list soon to discuss and feedback about what should be included in the event. We’ll let everyone who’s on our existing announcement list know when this is launched.

Eat your Heart Out Glastonbury!

After unsuccessfully bidding to run a massive Internet presence (wireless and drop-in access) at Glastonbury Festival 2005 you’d have thought we’d have been disappointed. Not to be deterred though, Bristol Wireless volunteers, supported by Psand, and part funded by the Scarman Trust, again put together another successful event, running a massive open air “Internet Cafe” and wide area wireless cloud for a week in Dorest at the Home Education Festival 2005 .

The Internet tent was a great success; the daily users were mainly kids who queued patiently and then stampeded the moment the doors opened. Main activities were Runescape, Hotmail, Yahoo, checking webstats on their websites and remarkably the local chat client (twenty kids in a room saying nothing but chatting to the person literally sat next to them through the chat window). We were open for about 5 hours a day and about 150 people a day came through. More of a cyber crèche than a café because the vast majority were kids.

Wednesday afternoon Psand delivered a satellite VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) conference to other home educators around Europe, including near-simultaneous translation with the French and German speakers and the translator at the Hes Fes. We also had network gaming sessions. Some people were playing interactively and others on their own. Interestingly we attracted a few adults too to the gaming. The suite was full and functioned really well. Due to the popularity, we set up a table for email, what’s on guides and public transport times, this helped enable a faster turnover.

At the end of the session we shut down the thin clients remotely, there was a groan of despondence from the users. It would have been good to run something 24 hours but a lot of the kids did have set bedtimes! A long enjoyable week was had by all volunteers involved. Definitely something that could be rolled out quickly again at outdoor events across Bristol or larger festivals across the South West summer weather permitting. Sadly we won’t be doing it at this years Glastonbury Festival as we’d hoped, but there will probably be plenty of Bristol Wireless volunteers in attendance possibly setting up freelance nodes across the site and definitely not trying to hack any Starbucks Wi-Fi hotspots in the vicinity 😉

More Photos
more write ups
More information can be found at the Wiki Link

Out of date to up to date

Bristol Wireless have successfully installed a new broadband computer suite in a sheltered housing unit, improving the quality of life for its 54 residents.

The computer suite, located in the meeting room, is impressive, with five recycled computers, all ready for use.

Princess Royal Gardens is one of many sheltered housing schemes, providing homes for residents aged between 55 and 100. It’s not just age that plays a factor in the need for support, a range of reasons specific to each individual, which can include learning, emotional or family difficulties.

Ronnie Corbett, the in-house scheme manager since October 2004, has the challenging job description “to give the residents the best possible quality of life”. And that’s exactly what he’s doing, running local lottery, having tea afternoons, film nights, they have raised enough funds to buy the necessary hardware for the this project. The Committee funded £250 to cover hardware that could not be sourced from recycled goods.

“Widening their horizons, making them feel useful again, experiences they have had can be shared”
The suite currently has 6 regular users, accessing the technology for communication, shopping, organisational software and research purposes. From Dave’s interest in lineage research, to Mary’s newly purchased mobile phone, this technology is providing a gateway for residents to a bigger ever-changing world. With a growing number of forums for practically any subject, users have found a new voice to the greater community. And this 10+% user rate is set to grow, with Ronnie enticing younger family member visitors “to show nan round the computer”.

Without serious funding to pay for software licensing fees, charged by companies such as Microsoft, this project would not have been possible without “fee-free” open-source software, which has an interface very similar to more used packages, including a login and desktop for each user. An added bonus to this is its pop-up free. “You can watch this all day and not one pop up will appear, as well as no porn that’d frighten the life out of them,” says Ronnie.

So where can it go from here? Funding is being sought for a training programme for residents, similar to courses already being run by BW in other venues, and Ronnie would like to see headsets and webcams to build on the usage of communication with family abroad.
Plans are in place for an official opening in the near future.

On the 8 April 05 Lloyd installed a server with 3 thin clients in a supported housing project in Redfield Bristol. The residents are already surfing the net and signing up for computer courses.

The solution consists of Linksys WRT54G access point attached to an antenna, We ran POE (Power Over Ethernet) to the pole and routed it to the switch in the communal room. Ronny received some donated PC’s from us, 3×233 dell Optiplex diskless clients booting from an 800mhz twin SCSI server with 512mgs ram. The server is fast enough to run LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project) using Redhat Fedora Linux distribution. It’s encouraging to see residents, some of them novices, are taking to the browser and open source.

Amy Dillon
Bristol Wireless volunteer

Streaming Shane

Streaming from the Chelsea tonight 8 may 05 8pm is Shane, a five piece who play rare songs of murder, adultery and death. The combination of snare, bass, 2 acoustic guitars, trumpet and vocals gives songs by cohen, parsons and hazlewood a distinctive feeling of mexican blues. Listen in!!

stream location is

Bristol Wireless to takeover ECC!

Bristol Wireless has just signed the contract to run a UKOnline Centre at Easton Community Centre. We will be offering free and open access to the Internet, and other facilities from 10am-4pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and from 10-12 on Wednesday. We will also be providing computer courses (free to unemployed). There will be free computers available to people that complete the course.

Streaming from the chelsea

After some successful trials we are now streaming regular nights from the Chelsea Inn. Already we have had Jessie’s regular Wednesday open mike running for the last month and last week was Henry’s Hot Six, rocking modern jazz band plaing Tuesday night. The streams are live on internet and available using your favourite media player.

This Sunday Katus will be playing at about 8.00pm. on Sunday 17th April 05 the stream will be sent to a server that can be listened to by pointing a media player at: . Radiovague web site gives more information on how to play .ogg files. We’re in the process of setting up an internal media server to stream locally to the wireless network.

AGM: A Brief Review

On Saturday, the AGM was held. At 10am, we gathered at Bannerman Road School. Whilst some of us set up the tables, chairs and tea/coffee, others worked on the node at the school. The antenna had been realigned by Lloyd earlier in the week, and Matt worked away on the Linksys box to provide connectivity to the local network. A temporary access point was installed for coverage inside the building, although we realised there was a good signal from Twinnel House and The Chelsea inside the hall! At 12:00, we were ready to start the AGM. The agenda was quite short, and we were finished by 13:00. It was a good turnout, as can be seen from the minutes. At this point, most people retired to The Chelsea, whilst others did some last minute preperation for the workshops they were to hold.

After lunch, it was time to present the networking workshop, which I did with the help of Matt. There was little jeering, so I think that went well! I gave an overview of how the network started, and how it has evolved to where it is now. I also gave insight into future developments, and some of the issues we have had to overcome. After this, Sean presented his (clearly well prepared) workshop on product planning. Sadly, both Sean and myself took longer than expected and left Sam with very little time for his workshop on circular management. After this workshop, we tidied up and headed for The Chelsea to discuss some of the interesting items from the day. Of course, beer featured in these discussions!

Chelsea fixed, AP up!

Over the past few days Matt and Lloyd have been working on the roof of the Chelsea Inn. The old equipment is gone, a new 3m steel pole has been mounted with an omni and directional link to Twinnell. All equipment was purchased/donated by the Chelsea – thanks Julian for this donation to the community.

So, the pub is back online! Other clients in the area which used to connect to ECC but cannot see Twinnell can now connect here, many new clients can also connect – Easton coverage is now restored and improved. Streaming of open-mic nights can resume; watch this space for announcement of a media server…

Roof install:
Roof install

Router configuring:
Router configuring

MIT backs Brazil’s choice of Linux over Microsoft | CNET

MIT backs Brazil’s choice of Linux over Microsoft | CNET
SAO PAULO, Brazil – MIT’s Media Lab has recommended Brazil install open-source software instead of proprietary software offered by Microsoft on thousands of computers that will be sold to the poor, according to a letter obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

“We advocate using high-quality free software as opposed to scaled-down versions of more costly proprietary software,” Walter Bender, director of the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a letter to the Brazilian government. “Free software is far better on the dimensions of cost, power and quality.”

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and several ministers may decide as early as this week whether free software or a simplified version of Microsoft’s Windows will be installed on computers for a new effort called PC Conectado, or the Connected PC.

The effort aims to sell up to 1 million computers, with costs partially subsidized by the government, to lower-middle-income Brazilians this year.

Twinnell House Node Revamped

This afternoon Matt and Lloyd braved the wind and rain working on the roof of Twinnell House, the main network node. The following improvements were made:

  • Replaced ‘floppy’ aluminium pole with more rigid steel pole, reducing signal loss due to wind agitation;
  • Removed redundant lightning arrestor on signal cable attached to omni-directional antenna;
  • Replaced and re-weatherproofed exterior connections;
  • Re-pointed directional antenna from Easton Community Centre to St. Werburghs Community Centre;
  • Replaced questionable Linksys WRT-54g AP on omni-directional antenna;
  • Swapped ‘dumb’ Netgear WGE-101 on directional uplink antenna for second ‘intelligent’ Linksys WRT-54g.

Initial indications are good; signal strength from the lab (connected to the omni just as any other client would) has doubled.

The first GNU/Linux encyclopedia

NewsForge | The first GNU/Linux encyclopedia – Linpedia launched
Ahmet Mulalic writes:

“Linpedia is the first Linux encyclopedia on the internet that is designed to be read and changed by anyone. It runs on the mediawiki software. The project was started on 24. December 2004. and is located on domain (think of .com as community not commercial). Linpedia is currently working on 1,200 articles. With your help we can make it grow bigger. We are also providing users the ability to start Linpedia on their own language. Linux community needs a web site, where users can find all the information they need about Linux. We are offering you something beautiful to work on. Join us, and help us make the world a better place.”

Greenhaven Up!

Today, Matt, Jim and Lloyd managed to get Greenhaven back online. A new Access Point was configured to remove the performance-sapping WDS links. The Access Point was installed by Jim and Lloyd shortly before Lloyd performed circus-worthy acrobatics on the roof to realign the antenna to point at Twinnell House.

Hello world!

Welcome to the first post in the Bristol Wireless News section in its new incarnation as a WordPress blog. So then, one might say that the news is that the news is new on the site…

Actually, what happened is that there used to be a phpBB bulletin board on this site, and, yes, it got hacked… taking down the wiki as well. So, after relocating the server from the Easton Community Centre (RIP) to a machine run by Psand, I managed to get the wiki restored to its pristine former glory but decided against reinstalling phpBB.

Instead, I wrote a php script to convert the content of the phpBB database to the MovableType export format, which WordPress was able to import. It did mean changing the way that the posts refer to one another (the initial entry was considered to be the post, and all subsequent replies have been imported as comments) but it seems to have done the job. What this means, though, is that any post before this one has been salvaged, and there may be some quirks as a result.

If anyone finds anything that has become munged in the conversion process, let me know, or mail the Bristol Wireless team.



Advice on wireless setup for me and a friend from Swansea

I’m in a non-broadband area in Swansea and im trying to sort out a wireless connection with a friend who lives 200 metres away from me who is in a cabled area. Is 200 metres a feasible distance to attempt a wireless connection bearing in mind that our houses are not in line of sight and I think there are one or two houses in between us (albeit they are very well spaced apart)?

I’ve been looking at that new pre-n wireless technology which has a range 8 times that of normal wireless.

If anyone could provide me with some useful information on setting this up or if it is not possible. I would be extremely grateful

Kind Regards

Craig McTaggart

Open-source geeks are modern heroes, says think tank,39020390,39175467,00.htm

Coders who give up their spare time to contribute to open source projects are the virtual equivalent of lifeboat men, according to latest research from Demos

Britain’s open-source software developers make a valuable contribution to society and the British economy through the high quality of their work, according to Demos.

The UK think tank will publish a report on Tuesday that will underline the importance of "Pro-Ams" — amateurs who pursue a hobby or pastime, in many cases an all-consuming passion, to a professional standard.

Demos says that these kind of people have traditionally made a contribution to society through involvement with bodies such as lifeboat rescue services or The Samaritans, but that they have now branched out into less typical areas.

"Pro-Am astronomers have made significant contributions to our knowledge of the universe. And Pro-Am software programmers who are part of the ‘open source’ movement are providing the only real challenge to Microsoft’s dominance of the personal computing market," said the report.

The think tank pointed out that "derogatory names" such as nerds, geeks and anoraks have often been used to describe enthusiasts. It believes that Pro-ams is a more suitable label.

The launch earlier this month of Firefox, the open-source Web browser, illustrated the power of the open-source movement. While IT giants such as IBM, HP and Novell have all embraced the Linux operating system, Microsoft — whose dominance of the desktop computer is threatened by it — has responded with its "Get the Facts" campaign in an attempt to slow market adoption of open source.

Demos reported that Pro-Ams are more likely to be men than women, and tend to be well-educated people with annual household incomes over £30,000. Pro-Ams are evenly split between part-time and full-time workers, but people who don’t work are far less likely to be Pro-Ams. Other Pro-am activities identified include photographers, gardeners and alternative therapists.

Demos is interested in Pro-Ams because it believes they help to generate "social capital", which can lead to greater community spirit and less crime. Because the open-source community is spread around the world and generally operate over the Internet, their social contribution is made in a different way.

A Demos spokesman, pointing out the positive contribution made by the open-source community, said: "I think you could successfully argue that open-source enthusiasts are doing in the virtual space what lifeboat men are doing for seaside towns."

Circus 2 Iraq Benefit Party – Dec 10th

well, i sort of agree sam_ , and it its great shame. We live in the area of the planet occupied by the rich 10%, indeed are the rich 10% and it’s makes it hard to stay sane in such an unequal world if you have the slightest shred of empathy in your heart

… but fuck it, the scavengers are such good entertainment and we deserve to let our hair down occasionally, even better if we can continue to do something worthwhile while we’re doing it.

BT dangles Wi-Fi for a quid

BT is trying to drum up business for its Wi-Fi broadband service by offering an entry-level package for just £1 a month. Snag is, you have to be an existing BT Business Broadband, BT Broadband or BT Yahoo! Broadband customer to take up the offer.

That aside, anyone signing up to the time-limited promo before the end of the year can get 500 minutes of wireless broadband access for three months for just a quid. After that, the 500 minutes will cost £5 a month. BT’s Wi-Fi "Openzone" service – which has some 7,000 access points in the UK – usually starts at £6 an hour.

Chris Clark, chief exec of BT Wireless Broadband, reckons the UK’s dominant fixed line telco is trying to "fuel growth of the Wi-Fi market". ®

Bristol City Council moves in the right Direction

Bristol goes open source

"The biggest ever switch by a UK local authority away from Microsoft software to ‘StarOffice’ desktop solutions based on open source software is set to take place at Bristol City Council," reports E-Government Bulletin.

"Bristol is poised to move up to 5,000 of its staff desktop computers to the StarOffice 7 system early in the New Year, in a move aimed at saving an estimated 1.4 million pounds over five years. The Bristol decision concludes a three-year evaluation of the technical, financial and cultural issues of software migration, including a 600-user pilot in the council’s Neighbourhood and Housing Services Department.

"’Our ICT officers are convinced that the technical quality of StarOffice is good, that the financial business case is accurate and that the cultural issues can be managed so that the migration is handled effectively,’ said Stewart Long, head of ICT. Long said it was highly unlikely that his council’s plans would go the same way as those laid earlier this year by the London borough of Newham, which abandoned a similar move following last-minute price concessions from Microsoft."

Mepis install at BuildIT, the Park Knowle

Myself, Dez and 2 of his students went to the BuildIt project at the Park in Knowle on Monday afternoon to start the refurbishment of the IoPP donated machines earmarked for distribution in the Bannerman Road Project. There do not appear to be many current students on BuildIT (which has also just changed its name!), so the installs were down to us. There were a few problems which Dez has promised to write up.

The next visit is planned for Monday afternoon 1st November; it might be an idea to try and get the other machines from IoPP up there ready to install and get a big gang to try and get it all done in one afternoon. Volunteer here!