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Educational Software To Donate With Laptop? 332

Posted by simoniker
from the doom-not-very-educational dept.
SlartibartfastJunior writes "I will be sending my four-year-old laptop to a school in Uganda this fall. I plan to load up an older version of Windows (or something free), and I need suggestions - what should I load on it? I need suggestions for educational games, educational software, etc. that won't drain my battery too much (since the computer will only be able to recharge at night), won't require a CD (since my drive doesn't work 80% of the time), and won't be too America-centered (most of these children have never been more than ten miles out of their own villages, and wouldn't understand "Oregon Trail"). Also, any great ideas on where I can acquire copies of this software?"
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Educational Software To Donate With Laptop?

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  • Are not free. Do not commit software piracy.

    Arrrrrr.
    • by chowdmouse (155597) <ed.murphy@sstar.com> on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:20PM (#9596210)
      Ironic. That's a pretty good pirate impression. Just throw in a "matey" and give it a little more gusto.
    • by phorm (591458) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:30PM (#9596284) Journal
      They're not, but most laptops came with windows, so I'd say it's probably licensed for at least 95 (supposing that the license wasn't therafter used on another PC).
      • by 0racle (667029)
        Technically, I don't believe that the licenses are transferable.
        • Are the licenses nontransferable just because the EULA says so? Does this violate fair use (In the legal, not the ethical sense)?

          -jim

          • First of all, I'm not sure I've seen an EULA even in XP let alone earlier versions. In fact, many EULAs have explicit provisions for transferring the licences.

            And you're looking for a violation of the doctrine of first sale, not fair use.
        • by JPriest (547211) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:57PM (#9596467) Homepage
          At the point where MS started tying copies of it's operating system to a hardware ID, if I give someone an old computer, they can have the copy of windows and the license with it.

          If MS does not like that, I will get them a spoon so they can eat my ass.

        • He is sending the laptop to Africa where it will be used in an educational setting. Fuck the EULAs and disregard MSRP, load it up with whatever you think will be most useful and mail it. I'm going to suggest loading it with whatever actually works with the hardware, and whatever you think they know how to use - because it isn't like you can drop in on them to keep it running. Bear in mind viruses and worms that don't affect Linux / Mac/OS installs (like either of those would run on a four year old Toshib
          • by bishiraver (707931) on Friday July 02, 2004 @08:34PM (#9596998) Homepage
            Linux / Mac/OS installs (like either of those would run on a four year old Toshiba)
            Linux, at least, works on old laptops. I don't know the manufacture date of my old Dell laptop, but the Pentium 3 500mhz was released in 1999, so I'm guessing the mobile version came out in 2000. Which makes it about four years old, maybe a tad bit less. I run a 2.6.6 kernel on a debian machine with a light window manager (fluxbox unstable), and get about 2 hours battery life out of it doing office apps. If I stayed in console, I could get a lot more time out of it.

            If you put gnome on it, with a nice shiny interface and easy to use buttons, etc, I'd say linux is the best way to go with this. It'll last the longest, use the least ammount of battery, and if you keep the root password (unless they for some reason have a linux guru, who asks for the root password) after installing everything, they can't delete any system files on accident.

            The same does not go for any version of Windows before NT.
        • But isn't the license on the operating system linked to the machine rather than the individual? Otherwise, wouldn't the individual be able to put it on as many machines as he owned? Thus, as long as our AskSlashdot Hero is sending the HARDWARE along, should be perfectly fine to have the version of Windows that came with the machine.
          • According to MS's EULA (as I remember it) the license is non-transferrable in any way shape or form either acroos CPUs or across people. If you blow your nose, change your CPU, sell your computer, or get hit by a truck and suffer amnesia, chances are you'll have to buy another license from them. (( OK, you don't have to do it if you blow your nose, but if you get amnesia and can't remember where the certificate of authenticity is, chances are they'll ask you to buy another license -- even if they're not se
    • by Simonetta (207550) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:43PM (#9596365)
      In all seriousness,

      put 1 Gigabyte of JPG files of pretty California girls engaged in sexual activity.

      They can erase it if they like with a simple:
      Format c:\

      Or, they can copy them to CDs and sell them. That way they can get enough money to buy several good PCs to go with the end-of-its-life donated PC that is being sent to them.
      Label the files: 0001xyz.jpg; 0002xyz.jpg, ect...

    • No one else has pointed this out, so I will.

      I plan to load up an older version of Windows (or something free)

      He wants an older version of Windows OR something free.

      No one said anything about Windows being free. He isn't trying to pirate anything.

      If you don't want to RTFA, at least RTFP(ost)

      • But what if instead of reading it

        "I plan to load up an older version of Windows OR something free,

        You read it

        I plan to load up an older version of Windows or SOMETHING free

        That's how I read it and it sounds like he's implying that older versions of Windows are free.

    • You definitely has a license for a Windows which has been installed when you brought your laptop. Just ship your laptop with a license doc. I would also advice you to replace the CDROM drive as it is critical to have it for recovery or loading other software.
  • Real Lives (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Real Lives 2004 [educationa...ations.com], as previously mentioned [slashdot.org] on Slashdot. Oh, and Starcraft [blizzard.com].
  • Openoffice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ishamael69 (590041) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:20PM (#9596211)
    OpenOffice or something of the sort would be nice. An office package is always useful.
  • by TedTschopp (244839) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:21PM (#9596216) Homepage
    Give them a couple old versions of Civ and Sim City.

    Those are educational and addictive enough. And are not American centric.

    Ted
  • My own experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SIGALRM (784769) * on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:22PM (#9596223) Journal
    Years ago I set up a punch-card scanner for a correspondence school in Kumasi, Ghana. The staff had never really worked with a computer much; I was suprised at their level of interest in the computer itself (just a P3).

    I had loaded a copy of Microsoft Encarta on the PC and they absolutlely loved that!
    • Re:My own experience (Score:5, Interesting)

      by General Wesc (59919) <slashdot@wescnet.cjb.net> on Friday July 02, 2004 @07:23PM (#9596627) Homepage Journal

      That's a good idea. Better might be the Wikipedia. there's probably one in whatever language they speak (well, I guess that would be English in Uganda.) and is certainly one in English.

      You can download the Wikipedia database [wikimedia.org], export out static pages, and shove those on the computer. I'm pretty sure there's software to do this.

      Of course, you'll end up with a lot of Star Trek and Middle-earth articles, as well as an article for every tiny town in the US, at least if you use the English database. You could sort out useful subsets using things like their new categories system.

      Maybe I should ask a MediaWiki-knowledgeable person to post. I'm mostly just a user.

      • http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/country_pr ofiles/1069166.stm

        Says that English is official language, then Swahili. There must be stuff in Kswahili around.
      • by azuretek (708981)
        the part of encarta that they probable liked the most was the little clips and such it comes with. I remember on of my first PCs had encarta that came with it, it was neat because I could look up pictures and video of interesting things.

        So even though wikipedia sounds good, it is rather bland and dull to the average person. Encarta is a winner in this case.
    • Give it to Uconnect (Score:3, Informative)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      Have a look at Uganda Connect [uconnect.org] for examples of a Swiss group that is already doing this. JUst send the laptop to them, wit all the original software and docs, let them put it to the best use.

      Uconnect goes back to 1996 when they brought their first container of [mostly 386] recycled computers to Uganda that were configured to connect to the Internet [running Windows 95]. At the Uconnect [education ministry headquarters] demonstration schools computer lab students and teachers may attend a one-week Network T

  • by lamz (60321) * on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:22PM (#9596226) Homepage Journal
    ...replace the CD drive.
    • While you're at it, buy a new $2500 laptop.
    • I was thinking the same. This laptop sounds like something I'd pass over if it were in a bin at the Salvation Army. Don't donate your worthless junk instead of throwing it out. I mean personally I'd be pretty insulted if I were Ugandan. All this says to me is that you've got a shit laptop but shit laptops are good enough for Ugandan school children.
  • by VisorGuy (548245) <i[ ]tive ['nac' in gap]> on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:23PM (#9596231) Journal
    http://linuxforkids.org/ [linuxforkids.org]

    I think they have multilingual games... Or maybe it's just their website.

  • Celestia (Score:5, Informative)

    by samrolken (246301) <samrolken&gmail,com> on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:24PM (#9596237)
    Celestia [shatters.net] rocks. It's a free (GPL program/public domain data) program where you fly arond space and see stars and planets and stuff. Educational, fun, and free!
  • The OpenCD! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chuck Bucket (142633) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:24PM (#9596238) Homepage Journal
    The OpenCD [theopencd.org] is the obvious choice. Mod this down if it's already been listed.

    CB
  • by kraut (2788) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:24PM (#9596239)
    Since they will know what they want on the laptop, whether they can source it locally, or even if they want a laptop.

    I'm not saying they won't want computers, but you shouldn't assume that they might not be better off with the money you get selling it on ebay. Even a 100 bucks / euros / whatever could buy a lot of other teaching materials that may be more needed.
  • Send licenses (Score:2, Informative)

    by PrvtBurrito (557287)
    If I were an IT person (even in Uganda), I would clean the drives and install a vanilla/standard set of software. If you have commercial software include the licenses (and media if possible), so that they aren't forced to clean the drive because they don't want to pirate. To repeat, I guess, I wouldn't be worried about having them prove they have the software licenses, I worry more about having someone there remove the software because they couldn't prove it.
    • Even if they're not worried about pirating software, there's a good chance they'll wipe the hard drive just to try and make sure it's not virus-laden. That's what's happened to the computers I donated to my local schools.

  • by Colonel Panic (15235) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:26PM (#9596253)
    I will be sending my four-year-old laptop to a school in Uganda this fall

    Dear Sir,

    I am Umbumbo Bumbalilo of Uganda. PLease send your Laptop.

    Thank you.
    Umbumbo Bumbalilo
  • by Grant29 (701796) * on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:28PM (#9596267) Homepage
    You might spend all your time creating a nice load, but if they can't speak english youre probably wasting your time. Are you sure they don't have any IT people over there that will put a base set of apps on the machine? They might just format it and start from scratch.

    --
    Only 5 Gmail invitations left! [retailretreat.com]
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:28PM (#9596271) Journal
    HAMURABI: I BEG TO REPORT TO YOU.

    IN YEAR 1997, 97,234 PEOPLE STARVED, 0 CAME TO THE CITY.
    POPULATION IS NOW 2,123,872
    THE CITY NOW OWNS 543,213 ACRES
    RATS ATE 1,234,612 BUSHELS
    YOU NOW HAVE 5,190,212 BUSHELS IN STORE
    YOU WERE DONATED 1 LAPTOP

    YOU STARVED 97,234 PEOPLE IN ONE YEAR!!!!
    DUE TO THIS EXTREME MANAGEMENT YOU HAVE NOT ONLY
    BEEN IMPEACHED AND THROWN OUT OF OFFICE BUT YOU
    HAVE ALSO BEEN DECLARED A NATIONAL FINK!!!!

    SO LONG FOR NOW
  • by wellwatch (588301) <wellwatch@gmail.com> on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:29PM (#9596277)
    Depending on the grade level of the kids, go with something like number crunchers.

    Childsplay [sourceforge.net]
    OFSET [sourceforge.net]
    ... and of course good old tux typing
    Tux Typing [sourceforge.net]
    and that was just in 5 minutes on Source Forge [sf.net]
  • by m_xiphias (642051)
    Granted, I don't know if they speak english or not, but putting on classic literature (and possibly including a cheap printer) might be a good idea.
    • Good idea, here's a link to the gutenberg cd project [gutenberg.net].

      -jim


    • Even if they do speak English, classic (i.e. European) literature may not be all the useful. How valuable would you find the works of an Egyptian author, even if you read the language?

      • Well, according to the CIA English is the official language.

        Regardless of that, even if you are the stereotypical monolingual anglo-saxon, do you not enjoy literature from other countries (Adams, Tolkien, ... if you're American; Poe, Card, ...), continents (Rushdie, Allende, Achebe, ...), Languages (Dostoyevsky, Hesse, Balzac)? If you aren't yet, then you should.

        Of course Gutenberg includes increasing numbers of non-english texts, even ignoring translations
  • by Nakito (702386) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:30PM (#9596283)
    I would include a compiler or interpreter so the kids can learn how to do some programming. That way, they are actually learning to use the computer "as a computer" and not just for running apps. For example, the qbasic interpreter is a lot of fun to play with and you can write some neat little programs with it.
  • how useful? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:35PM (#9596323) Journal
    I am not sure how useful an old laptop with a defective cdrom drive will be, but here it is. If it can be plugged in at night, it seems it can plugged in at day and just used as a small desktop, btw, so I don't really focus on power.

    Linux as the OS (there are tons of language options), Open Office for docs, ALL the standard Linux games that come with typical distros to first expose the kids to computing and get them used to using a computer. Most dont use text, so language is irrelevant, and they teach basic thought skills. (Tux Racer may seem weird to them, watching a penguin belly flop on snow trying to catch herring is not a typical scene in Africa ;) This allows them to use Gimp, sound editing, video editing, web design, etc. or anything else and you don't have to know what their needs are in advance (which you probably can't do anyway).

    Suse 9.1 (you can buy a home rolled copy on ebay for $10, shipping and all) is an EXCELLENT distro. 5 CDs and unreal amounts of software. Fedora is a decent choice as well. Choose to install all the extra games with Gnome as well.

    One of the biggest advantages of using Linux instead of Windows is that they can copy it to other computers they get without breaking any laws, so everyone can use the same platform, making training and maintenance easier, and support is available in many languages from many people. Another advantage is the ability to have true multiple users on the system without the threat of screwing up someone elses files, and you can't delete the system files by accident if you are not root. (win9x is dangerous for newbs in that way).

    The average win9x system comes with less than 300mb of software (200mb of it bloat), but you can install up to 4+ gigs of software from a good Linux distro, so its easier to prep the box and make it useful, using all Free software. Or you can install much less and still have a great system.

    Also, using Linux, your gift is less likely to become a source of trojaned spam in the future ;)
  • Great Idea :) (Score:2, Interesting)

    by baddogatl (164976)
    I've been donating 3-5 year old equipment for years. Usually it all has come with OEM copies of Microsoft software so licensing isn't an issue, and even if we may not consider software to be "educational" (such as word processors, spreadsheets, etc.) any software is helpful.

    My parents are currently in Ethiopia where they run a library for students to study for their high school graduation exams. The tests are required to pass high school and get into college, and the books are in such short supply that t
  • by add2700 (793617) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:39PM (#9596343) Homepage
    But when people donate stuff, they always make sure it is absolutely worthless to themselves first. Why don't you get together with a group of friends and buy a new laptop that the school will get some decent use out of? I have been on the recieving end of such charity, so I speak from experience. While I was a missionary someone sent us 10 P I's. Out of those 10 we actually got 2 of them to work by skavaging the lot. And the donators thought they were doing us a favor...
    • Why are you so ungrateful? This person is going to the trouble of giving away something which is no use for them but may be useful to someone else. They are going to the trouble of sending it to Africa (which I'm sure is not free). They could just have thrown it away instead. If your charity doesn't want any used stuff just don't accept it, and let other charities who colud use it take it. It's not like people HAVE to donate stuff.
  • by hey! (33014) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:40PM (#9596346) Homepage Journal
    Project gutenberg makes there collection available as isos. Burn a couple copies of each and bundle with the laptop.

    Bang: you've just donated a library not an obsolet laptop!
  • by maggeth (793549) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:45PM (#9596382)
    ...what is it they need?

    I know it sounds silly, but you should ask the people you are donating to what specifically they need. It is much better for them if they get something they don't need to make any modifications to whatsoever. They will have some experience in the field and will have dealt with many people like you. Maybe they are more concerned about the shape of the hardware (perhaps they will format it as soon as they get it and put their own stuff on it).

    So ask. :)

  • octave (Score:5, Informative)

    by brysnot (573631) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:46PM (#9596391) Homepage
    best matlab clone out there
    • Definitely.

      And be sure to get lots of goodies from the octave-forge project on sourceforge.net

      If you learn how and why everything in octave works, you'll be a damn fine engineer.

  • by has2k1 (787264) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:48PM (#9596406)
    I am very familiar with Uganda b'se it my mother country. One thing to note is depending on the location of the school and what type of school it is the software needs will be totally different. If you can give more info like the name of the school and where it is located in Uganda i can give u more useful data about the major requirements of different schools.
  • Freeduc (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:48PM (#9596407)
    Try Freeduc [ofset.org]. It's a linux based distribution especially designed for education. So you get both a free operating system and lots of educational software. I think it was financed by UNESCO or some similar organisation.

    If you go the windows route (which frankly I don't recommend) I'd go with OpenOffice [openoffice.org], TheOpenCD [theopencd.org] and Gnuwin II [gnuwin.epfl.ch] for lots of free software.

    Dave.

  • Here's a must- have (Score:3, Informative)

    by BeatdownGeek (687929) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:52PM (#9596429) Homepage
    Give 'em Maxima [sourceforge.net]!!! That'll keep the little buggers busy for a while. And in 10 years they'll all be rocket scientists!

    Hey, don't they say math is the universal language?

  • by spiedrazer (555388) on Friday July 02, 2004 @06:56PM (#9596457) Homepage
    Since around the time Win98 came out, the OEM installed OS version is actually tied to the hardware, so if you transfer the Hardware, the software stays with it.

    I work for a school district, so we are in the position to accept donated gear, and we have been around and around with donated Microsoft OS's. If there is a Windows OS sticker on the unit, you can send the laptop with that OS intact and it will be legal! That is, of course, unless you purchased the LT without an OS and bought a retail OS off the shelf, in which case you still would own the OS, or actually just have the rights to borrow it from MS since that is the way most licenses are worded anyway.

  • LOGO (Score:2, Funny)

    by NYCadAdept (198566) *
    Depending on the target age; give them some appropriate programing tools like MSWLogo [softronix.com] or UCB Logo [berkeley.edu]. Let's make hackers of them all!
  • gcompris is a great kids set of educatinoal software. You might throw in some others as well. Then wrap the whole thing in a kde kiosk that comes up on boot. zero maintance and easy to use.

    Ok... I should admit something. I've never used kde in kiosk mode, but I've heard its cool. Sounds like it should suit the bill, no?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's nice that you are sending your laptop away to help someone else. Quite a commendable act.

    My question is, why in the world are you sending it to another country? There are plenty of students right here in the U.S. that could use this hardware. I am all for helping out other countries, but I feel that we should take care of our own first. When all of our students have laptops, then we should consider sending them to other contries.
  • k12ltsp.org (Score:2, Interesting)

    by huckda (398277)
    go there.. get the ISO's...
    let 'em have fun...put it in their language...
    all jazzy and juicy!!! They'll love it!!
    Especially the educational games!

    --Huck
  • There are a few things I'd probably want to point out.

    1. A 4 year old laptop, regardless of what is running, will not last a day on a battery. I'd be quite suprised to see it go 60 minutes.

    2. Why not games like Oregon Trail. For the love of all that's holy, why would you assume that Oregon trail would "confuse" them. Let them learn what OT is! Sweet jubus, They might actually learn something about an area outside the 10mile radius around their village.

    3. Give them tools. BASIC, C, Java, whatever. Some ma
  • ROTT (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ratfactor (15886) on Friday July 02, 2004 @07:40PM (#9596721) Journal

    I heartily recommend Rise of the Triad [3drealms.com].

    It is very imporant for all of the children of the world to learn of the dangers of The Triad.
  • Typing tutor (Score:5, Informative)

    by vocaro (569257) <trevor@vocaro.com> on Friday July 02, 2004 @07:40PM (#9596725)

    I need suggestions for educational games

    I taught computer literacy in Ghana, West Africa (see my site [vocaro.com]), and I didn't find much use for games, educational or otherwise. For one, such software usually assumes a native-level English language ability, which I doubt any student in Uganda will have. Also, you have to keep in mind that most students there may never have even seen a computer before. They will likely be intimidated even by the most basic educational software.

    You know what program my students really loved? Notepad! None of them had ever used a computer, so the chance just to type their names was a huge thrill. It helped them overcome their fear of the computer and move on to more advanced programs...such as Minesweeper. (Seriously! They loved it.) They also loved Paint for similar reasons; it was a great way for them to learn how to use the mouse. So, instead of fancy games or educational software, I recommend supplying a simple typing tutor with your laptop. The students will likely benefit from and enjoy it far more than any game.

    However, I did find that certain educational titles such as The Way Things Work [utexas.edu] are helpful as visual aids for science lessons. They do not provide much benefit when used by students alone (again, because of the language barrier and intimidation), but when used by a teacher as part of a group lesson, they can be quite useful.

    any great ideas on where I can acquire copies of this software?

    Half.com [half.com] has lots of stuff available second-hand. I've picked up software there for one or two dollars per title.

    my drive doesn't work 80% of the time

    Then perhaps there is no point donating this laptop. Without a CD-ROM, it will be nearly impossible for the recipient to add new software, upgrade the OS, etc. And I doubt they will have the ability to fix or replace what is likely a proprietary part. I strongly suggest getting the drive replaced before sending it, or at least providing an external one as an alternative. (You can get second-hand ones pretty cheap.) Otherwise, the gift you are sending could be just a liability.

    Trevor
  • Abandonware Software (Score:3, Informative)

    by kyoko21 (198413) on Friday July 02, 2004 @07:44PM (#9596755)
    You can try to find a lot of great and classic applications that are not the size of a full length movie. Check out Abandonware [abandonwarering.com].
  • Tux Paint! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bill Kendrick (19287) <bill@newbreedsoftware.com> on Friday July 02, 2004 @07:44PM (#9596760) Homepage
    Tux Paint [newbreedsoftware.com] isn't a teaching tool, but it contains educational aspects. It's already been translated into 40+ languages, and we're always happy to accept more!

    Other stuff from Tux4Kids [tux4kids.com] would be good, as well. All/most of it is cross-platform and, of course, open source. :^)

    -bill!
  • by hardpack (655741) * on Friday July 02, 2004 @07:46PM (#9596774) Homepage Journal

    After spending some time in Eastern Africa, at times dealing with technology concerns, most villages don't have the resources to take advantage of software applications in reality. For example, what good is OpenOffice if they don't have a printer, toner cartridges, and paper? Also, climate control might be difficult for them, so just keeping any of this stuff operational is going to be a huge undertaking.

    Maybe give them an archive of Wikipedia or HowStuffWorks would even be better! What good is Celestia when they need to learn how to fix a motorbike or a radio? Or health information?

    Especially if the equipment isn't being sent to a *large* city, then the dust, humidity, shipment, and general treatment is going to send the equipment to the graveyard pretty soon anyways.

  • ... and donate the money to your favorite educate-Africa charity. You'll get more bang for your buck.
  • Am I the only one reading this and thinking what a loon? Your going to send your 4 year old laptop off to a country who's computer literacy is just above that of the jungles that surround it. Next your going to load it up with a bunch of "cheap educational" software and send it to them? If that wasn't enough your going to enlist the slashdot community to help you in this utterly useless plan. Save everyone the trouble wipe the drive to the specs when you bought it load it in a box and send it to them.
  • DroidQuest [comcast.net] is a Java recreation of the old game Robot Odyssey -- kind of a sequel to the even older game Rocky's Boots. Rocky's Boots was an introduction to electronics and Boolean logic; Robot Odyssey took the concept and extended it to integrated circuits.

    FYI, it requires JRE1.4.2 and is free for personal or educational use.

  • by pbhj (607776)

    I was expecting this to have been posted already, didn't see it anywhere though ... didn't look at the age range (did you mention one?) but this is good stuff for primary ages (under 11).

    http://www.ofset.org/gcompris [ofset.org]

    They also mention: http://childsplay.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

    Plus, I'd make sure they have KStars, it's awesome and the Ugandans are likely to be very familiar with alot of constellations (I'm assuming light polution there is low).

  • Wikipedia (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jefu (53450) on Friday July 02, 2004 @08:37PM (#9597012) Homepage Journal
    While it may sound dull, I think information rich content such as the Wikipedia would be good to send along and I'd second the recommendation for the project gutenberg texts.

    Similarly there are open source content sites like planetmath.org [planetmath.org]. I think there are similar sites in other discplines worth sending along.

    I'd also think about toolsets that might be of use in the third world like cad software and the like.

    If you have disk space (or get the CD working), collections of art and photographs would be good too. Toss in a copy of the Gimp.

    Finally, music generation software would probably be very popular.

  • by grcumb (781340)

    I'm currently doing a volunteer IT gig in the South Pacific. I'm not saying it will be the same in Uganda, but in my experience, when computers go to schools, they go to administrators and teachers first. Consider putting straightforward office software on it, as well as educational goodies.

    And... DO NOT put Microsoft anything on, if you can avoid it. Even trivial bugs can make a computer useless if it's unsupported. Spend some time configuring a bullet-proof installation of Linux with OO.o, and everything

  • Software in Zaire (Score:4, Insightful)

    by electronikthot (740472) on Friday July 02, 2004 @09:00PM (#9597105)
    My mother, a computer geek, lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo (ex-Zaire) and volunteers her time in various ways in hospitals and recently said this about computers and the DRC.

    If you're going to donate software, just remember that most people in Africa do not speak English.

    1. Outlook and a browser would be first on the list. Congolese want to explore and the most impotant thing for them is exploring the world through WWW and keeping in touch with loved ones.

    2. Second on the list is antivirus and anti-spyware. After various worms like Blaster receed here, they persist for months in the RDC because no one protect their computers. I often hear about the crippling effect viruses have on computers there.

    3. With few printers and no projectors, Powerpoint, Excel, and Word are possibly over the top.

    4. RPGs, Strategy game would just not make sense . Sport, Racing, and first person shooter would be a better choice.

    She says that the situation there is dire. The school system is rudimentary and most have never seen or touched a computer. The average person there finishes school before 6th grade to work. Most work laborful jobs, the lucky ones work as maids, sentinels, chauffers, and other service jobs making $30-$50 a month.

    With computers costing twice as much there than here and Cybercafes charging several dollars an hours, very little of the population can afford computing of any kind. FYI, With almost no phones lines, everyone uses cellular phones and to connect to an ISP, you need to buy a $1000 transmitter that gives you about 6 Kilobytes max a second. The monthly charge is > $100 a month.

    In 2003 and then in 2004, They had an Internet Festival aka "Fête de l'Internet" [digitalcongo.net] . The most popular booth was by far the President's booth. He had some computers with free internet access and there was apparently a line around the corner to use this access.

    A craigslist for RDC called infoCongo [infocongo.com] was started and this is one of the most popular sites there. Unfortunatley, with a small amount of user base, what's popular there looks quite void to US Standards.

  • by tidewaterblues (784797) on Friday July 02, 2004 @09:11PM (#9597145) Homepage
    I have several good friends who have been to Uganda on a number of occasion, and have done extensive service work there. (One of them, in fact, earned a Rhodes partly because of his efforts). At one time I was considering setting up a Ugandan-American service organization, and I picked their brains about what is and is not needed in general. This may come as a surprise, but computers (especially junky ones) are firmly in the NOT NEEDED list.

    Many American charities and organizations send used equipment to Africa. One of the principle functions to the giant tax write-off foundation that Bill Gates created years ago was to send brand new computers to African schools. The net effect is that computers are not difficult to acquire and your laptop, although probably still appreciated, would be less useful than many other things you could send.

    What they really need, as I understand it, are plan, old everyday books. The student-to-textbook ration in most schools is 20 to 1 or greater, and many libraries are downright pathetic. What books they have are arcane, products of the 1950's and 1960's. Since they speak (British) English in Uganda, why don't you do them a favor and ship some of your old textbooks, or some good children's stories instead. These will probably go a lot farther than a half-useable laptop.

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