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Friday, January 9, 2004

  • UW man takes wireless to Mali
  • How to keep your feet under you
  • Pixels in the big picture
Chris Redmond

Play Twenty Questions this weekend

[Playing cards]

Warriors Mark Accardi, Matt Iannetta, and Jeff Fiorino have mastered time management, which gives them time for a hand of cards now and then, says a feature in the winter issue of the Insider fan newsletter, being published today. All three are double-sport athletes: soccer in the fall, hockey in the winter. They also carry the usual load of academic work -- Accardi in math and business, Iannetta in recreation and leisure studies, Fiorino in kinesiology.

UW man takes wireless to Mali

A UW staff member leaves this weekend for four months in the flat, dry west African country of Mali, helping set up wireless networks for community radio stations and information centres.

"I am selfishly hoping to garner support" for the project, writes Ian Howard of the information systems and technology department. He's particularly looking for equipment.

On his web site, Howard tells more: "A few years ago I wrote in a proposal, 'Wireless technology has the opportunity to bridge the digital divide. Poor nations, who do not have the infrastructure for interconnectivity as we do, will now be able to create a wireless infrastructure.' At the time I had no idea that I would later have an opportunity to apply that idea, but thanks to GeekCorps, I will be in Mali, West Africa, from January 18 until May, helping to design a wireless network that will allow radio stations to share content and connect to the Internet.

"I spend most of my time working on UNIX systems, wireless, and a lot of that time preaching the virtues of open source and Linux. Several years in the military as a paratrooper, growing up in the outdoors and flying around the world at least once has given me a reasonable breadth of experience in odd jobs; I look forward to this next one and I won't be sad to miss another Canadian winter.

"When I applied to GeekCorps two years ago, I had just become involved with wireless technologies and began to think of the implications of this technology could have. In a paper that I wrote in 2002, I stated that wireless networking technologies are "marginally more sophisticated than the radio that wakes you up each morning. . . . Waves have not changed, but the devices that transmit and receive on them have become more efficient and more important, they have become very affordable.' I began to realize how wireless could begin to bridge a growing divide and where I might be able to help.

"Many development organizations in Africa have identified that radio is the most effective means to disseminate information to people in the developing nations. Thus, many of these organizations have begun projects to improve the effectiveness of these critical information sources; projects to provide better programming, better broadcasts and now to improve collaboration. There are nearly 200 radio stations in Mali. Most do not have connections to the Internet, nor even telephone lines.

"The GeekCorps project in Mali will be to interconnect these stations and to provide Internet connectivity to allow these stations to research material from the Internet and to share programming with other French speaking or local language partners. During my four-month visit, I will be stationed in Bamako, Mali's capital. John Buckham, the GeekCorps Mali project coordinator, and I will make contact with the community radio stations, establish partnerships with local businesses and organizations and begin to determine how volunteers to succeed my visit will implement this network.

Benefit concert tomorrow night -- from the UW media relations office

The Federation of Students is hosting a benefit concert Saturday for Hope Monaghan, the three-year-old Puslinch girl diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. The event will be held at Federation Hall starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Organizers say the concert will "combine Rachelle's (Hope's mother's) love of piping with Mike's (Hope's father's) love of music. The bill will be shared by some members of Rachelle's Piping Band, the Fergus Pipe Band (North American Champions), Powers That Be (local musicians Pat Powers and friends), and out of retirement, the Legendary Riverworks (led by Mike).

"To show you care, all participants are encouraged to wear a hat. The more lavish the hat the better. There will be a prize of $500 for the best hat." As well, local companies will be donating prizes for a silent auction.

"I believe that this project will be a great opportunity for me to contribute to a great idea.

"Despite its status as one of the world's poorest nations, Mali's stable government and mineral wealth offer great potential for the future. It is due to that potential that Mali has received great attention by development organizations over the past few years. Organizations like geekcorps hope to provide the infrastructure that will allow this nation to escape poverty and realize the potential of its warm people."

Anyone here who can provide equipment, or other kinds of support, is invited to get in touch with Howard in IST, or with Gina Dario, program director of GeekCorps, gina@geekcorps.org.

How to keep your feet under you -- a memo from the UW safety office

Although UW has an extensive program for the winter maintenance of walkways and parking lots, winter conditions related injuries are a concern. Generally during storms UW's first priority is main road routes, to ensure emergency access, and then primary walkways and city sidewalks. Attention to some walkways and parking lots may not be possible until at least 24 hours after a storm has subsided.

The Joint Health and Safety Committee has found that in many cases a condition causing an injury had previously caused non-injuring slips and falls but these incidents/conditions were never reported.

Report unsafe conditions, such as ice and snow to Plant Operations at ext. 3793 (24-hour service). Try to give the exact location of the area or some landmarks.

Winter related slips and falls are generally related to icy conditions. The Committee urges members of the campus community to take the following precautions:

Particularly for staff and faculty

  • Report slips and falls to your supervisor for completion of UW Injury/Accident Report. Send report to the Safety Office in Health Services Building.

  • During and following winter storms review any access concerns with your supervisor.
  • Watch out for and avoid black ice. This occurs especially when temperatures rise above freezing during the day and drop below freezing at night.

  • Wear winter footwear, even for short walks.

  • Use extra care when getting in and out of vehicles; parking lots are particularly difficult to maintain between parked vehicles.

  • Delay use of recently plowed areas as they can be slippery until salt/sand has taken effect.

  • Use handrails on steps/ramps and indoor links/tunnels between buildings.

  • Avoid shortcuts. Walk on salted/sanded and well-lit walkways.

  • Keep clear of snow removal equipment for your safety and to expedite their response to storm conditions.

    Pixels in the big picture

    Work is continuing to fix the CallPilot voicemail system, and it looks as though it may take a while -- the hardware on which the system runs will be disconnected after the end of business today, and sent off for maintenance. In the meantime, the old Meridian Mail system is operating at the familiar voicemail number, ext. 4966 (888-4966). Greg Cummings of information systems and technology warns that when the CallPilot hardware goes away, so will any saved messages that are on it -- messages that were left during the days in late December and early January that CallPilot was actually working. Through today, those messages can be heard at ext. 4965 (888-4965).

    Payday today for biweekly-paid staff; next payday for monthly-paid staff and faculty is January 23 (a week earlier than usual).

    FASS auditions continue tonight, 7 to 10 p.m., Humanities room 150.

    Bookstore open 8 to 5 today, 12 to 4 on Saturday, as regular winter term hours begin.

    Waterloo Public Interest Research Group volunteers' meeting Monday 5:30, multi-purpose room, Student Life Centre.

    With the application deadline a few hours away, the campus recreation program is still in need of fitness instructors for this term, says a memo from Tiffany Murray in the Physical Activities Complex. "Auditions" for new staff will be held Monday from 5:00 to 7:00. "We're looking," says campus rec, "for enthusiastic, motivated instructors for a range of classes from TKO to Aquafit." Applications are available on the campus rec web site and are due at 4:00 today. Registration for fitness class participants begins next week, and in preparation for that, campus rec is holding a "Mega Fitness Marathon" at the Columbia Icefield tomorrow from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

    A memo from the library says that "in response to the changing needs of students", librarians will experiment this term with new hours at the Davis Centre and Dana Porter information services ("reference") desks. Monday through Thursday the desks have usually open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and again from 6 to 9 p.m. "There appears, however, to be an increased need for service between 5 and 6, and a decreased need between 8 and 9. During the winter term the desks will remain open between 5 and 6, and close at 8. Patrons will have an opportunity to provide feedback during this period. At the end of the term, the Library will decide whether to continue with the experimental hours or return to the current ones. Friday and Sunday hours will remain as they are during the experiment (Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.)."

    At every convocation, UW awards honorary degrees to worthies, academic or non-academic from around the world, and guess which sex the majority of them are? Hence this memo from Trenny Canning in the university secretariat: "At a recent meeting of the Senate Nominating Committee for Honorary Degrees, concern was expressed with the limited number of women in the Pool of Candidates for Honorary Degrees. The Committee identifies individuals from this Pool to receive honorary degrees at the various Convocation ceremonies. The Committee requested me to alert the Faculty Deans and the community at large, hoping to encourage them to put forward names of exceptional women nationally and internationally. Copies of the guidelines for submitting candidates for consideration are available from the Secretariat, ext. 5924."

    An item posted on 'uwstudent.org' a few days ago talks about the Phoenix, a student literary journal ("poetry and short fiction") at UW: "We're currently looking for submissions and for volunteers to help with the production of the upcoming edition, which is currently scheduled to be published by next fall. Contributions can be delivered in person at the Feds office, or submitted electronically to vpin@feds.ca. Anonymous submissions are welcome. The tentative deadline for submissions is March 1. If you are interested in helping with production, or if you have any questions about the Phoenix in general, contact Michael DiBernardo (mddibern@uwaterloo.ca)."

    The school of optometry "is developing an academic program in Health Informatics", says a memo from Dominic Covvey, the founding director of UW's health informatics institute. "Applications are being sought for a 5-year definite term Research Chair in Health Informatics. . . . Applicants should have experience in cross-disciplinary collaborative research." William Bobier, director of the optometry school, has details. The post is listed as the Graham Trust Research Chair, and Covvey's memo explains that "The J. W. Graham Information Technology Trust was established at the University of Waterloo in honour of the late Prof. Wesley (Wes) Graham."

    The Federation of Students election will be held February 10-12, not February 11-13 as yesterday's Daily Bulletin said. . . . The once-a-term Imaginus poster sale in the Student Life Centre has been running this week and winds up today. . . . A planning committee is being formed for next year's iteration of the UW Information Technology Conference (WatITis). . . .

    Sports this weekend: The men's hockey team is at Western tonight and will host Laurier at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Icefield. The women's hockey Warriors (who lost 5-0 to Guelph on Wednesday) are at York tomorrow and host Toronto Sunday night at 7:30, again at the Icefield. The track and field team heads for Western tomorrow for an invitational tournament. The volleyball teams are away for the weekend -- men at York tomorrow, women at Brock tomorrow, both at Queen's on Sunday. The basketball teams, both women and men, are at Ottawa tonight and Carleton tomorrow night.


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