A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an item about the hackers who are creating rugged, bicycle powered PCs that are going to enable remote villages in Laos to connect to the Internet. The man behind the project (called the Jhai PC), Lee Felsenstein, needs $25,000 in donations to deploy the PCs to five villages sooner rather than later. Here’s a description of how the system works from Danny O’Brien’s piece:
Felsenstein got to work. He’s built the solution. It’s a bicycle-powered, ruggedised luggable, with a localised version of Linux and constructed from cheapo commodity parts. It’s got an aerial, too: it uses WiFi to connect to a central Internet hub in the market town.
Using it, villages that currently have no electricity, telephone or decent roads can monitor the prices of crops, negotiate group purchases with other villages, and make business deals without spending days away from the farm. And with email and built-in VoIP, the families will be able to make direct contact for the first time with the Laotian Diaspora – the relatives who left the war-torn zone to earn money in the capital and beyond.