Archive for the ‘lifestyle’ Category
As you are reading this, a child in hospital is receiving a blood transfusion. A girl is learning how to smile again, as she recovers from leukaemia. In another ward, an old man is being treated for severe burns.
hey all rely on blood donation from healthy people like you…
You could be investing in your own future as well as saving someone’s life, Because who knows if you or one of your friends or family will need a blood transfusion one day? God forbid.
Who can become a donor?
Practically anyone, as long as you’re over 18, under 60 and in good health.
What blood groups are needed?
All groups, especially the most common which we can never have enough of.
Where can I give blood?
The main collection facility is Central Blood Bank in Jabriya, as well as its four fixed satellite branches distributed in different areas in Kuwait, Amiri Hospital, Adan hospital, Jahra hospital and the Red Crescent Society.
How long does it take?
The donation actually takes ten to fifteen minutes, but the whole process, takes about thirty five minutes from registration to the end of the rest period.
How is it done?
There are three steps:
1. First Step
We must first make sure you are fit enough to give blood, and that giving blood will cause you no harm. We also have to make sure your blood will be safe for the patient who’ll receive it. That is why we will check your blood and ask you to complete a health questionnaire with the help of one of our doctors or nurses.
2. The Questionnaire
After a few quick questions, a registered health care professional, -a doctor or a nurse will ask about your health. Your answers will be treated in the strictest confidence. They are routine enquiries which must be made for all volunteers before their donation is accepted.
If you don’t qualify as a donor this time, we will explain why and give you all the advice you need. If you do qualify we will ask you to sign that you are happy for us to test your blood later in the laboratory, the test will tell us your blood group and will screen for any infection that may be transmitted in blood such as hepatitis viruses (which cause jaundice) and human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV); if any of these positive tests shows you cannot became a donor, we will explain why and give you all the advice you need in the strictest confidence.
3. Haemoglobin Screening
Do not worry that giving blood could affect your own health. We will only collect blood from those who can spare it! All volunteers are screened to ensure that a donation will not make them anaemic. This is done by collecting a tiny drop of blood from your finger, the test may show that you cannot spare a full donation on that day. If so, we will tell you what you should do.
Honestly, does it hurt?
Giving blood is normally quick and painless. After haemoglobin screening you’ll be settled on a bed with a band wrapped around your upper arm. The skin on the inside of your elbow will then be thoroughly cleaned.
Next, the band will be tightened just enough to make the veins stand out. A sterile needle is inserted to collect your blood. Most donors are pleasantly surprised at just how soon it’s all over. In about five to ten minutes we’ll have collected 450ml (about a pint). Firm pressure is applied as the needle comes out and a light dressing is placed on the arm once bleeding has stopped.
Is there any risk?
All donations are taken by trained staff. These staff never work without the supervision of a doctor or nurse. Every piece of equipment used is sterile and never used again. There’s no risk of a donor becoming infected in any way.
A very small number of donors sometimes feel a little hot or faint after giving blood, or experience minor bruising where the needle went in, but this is rare and is not generally a cause for concern.
What will I get out of giving blood?
Health screening tests: Every donor undergoes a physical, medical and laboratory
check up, where the blood is screened for all transmittable diseases such as hepatitis B and C HTLV, HIV, malaria and syphilis.
Headache relief: A number of donors have a higher number of red cells than the normal for natural reasons which increases the viscosity of blood and therefore creates a headache. Donating blood will relieve this symptom.
High blood pressure: Donating blood will help to reduce the high blood pressure, providing that you do not suffer any complication such as heart diseases.
Helping others: Becoming a donor is an act that benefits many. It is a way of helping others less fortunate than ourselves in our community.
Life after all is the greatest gift that a person can give.
Heart trouble: Research proved without any doubt that incidents of heart diseases between donors are less than non donors.
Knowing that one has helped in saving someone’s life can give the individual a great feeling of satisfaction and this is a reward in itself.
These days, it seems like everybody has a list of the world’s “most beautiful” beaches. The sheer quantity of sand and sea on this planet makes that an easy list to compile. But after a while, a lot of the world’s coastline starts to sound the same (sugary strands, azure water, the gentle sway of palm trees). In fact, it starts to sound — dare we say it — downright mundane. With that in mind, we set out to find destinations with legacies. To pass our test, a beach not only had to have the kind of story you would want to share with your friends, but it also had to be the kind of place where you would want to lay your towel. That’s why you’ll find places like Malmok Beach in Aruba (site of the largest deliberate shipwreck in the Caribbean) and not the D-day beaches of Normandy, which, while deserving of a visit for their historical value, don’t rank high on a sunbather’s list. Without further ado — 10 places where you can soak up a little culture with those rays.
Robin Hood’s Bay, England
Robin Hood’s Bay, England
Known for a smuggler network so extensive it included the clergy.
There’s evidence of a settlement here as far back as 3,000 years ago — and still plenty of fossils to be found along its marshes — but this village on England’s Yorkshire Coast is most famous for being a smuggler’s haven in the 1700s. Protected by marshy moorland on three sides, the bay served as an epicenter for the tax-free smuggling of contraband like tea, silk, gin, and tobacco traveling via ship from places like France and the Netherlands. So big was the operation that it’s said that fishermen, farmers, the gentry, and even the clergy were involved. During struggles between the smugglers and tax men, bay wives would pour boiling water out of the windows of the houses onto law enforcement. There were so many secret passages that a smuggled bale of silk could supposedly travel from the bottom to the top of the village without leaving the houses.
Today: This charming village is popular for its family-friendly beaches, rock pools, and surrounding national parks, and offers plenty of pubs, tearooms, and cafes for post-beach dining. Fossil hunters may also luck out by finding a souvenir or two along the marshes.
Getting There: Regular train service runs from London to York; change there for a train to Scarborough, from where bus service is available to the bay. Ferries also run daily from Rotterdam to Hull, one hour away.
Site of one of the largest (and most deliberate) shipwrecks in the Caribbean.
In the early years of World War II, the German freighter Antilla — which carried supplies to the submarines patrolling the waters off the coast of Venezuela — was allowed to dock in Aruba. Though Aruba was initially a neutral zone, the island joined the Allies once Germany invaded Holland in 1940 (Aruba was a member of the Dutch Antilles at the time). The Antilla was ordered to surrender. The captain agreed to yield the next morning, but when the police arrived, there was no ship. Turns out the captain had sunk it himself, just off of Malmok Beach, so it wouldn’t fall into Allied hands. Today, the 400-foot Antilla is one of the largest wrecks in the Caribbean and is home to diverse marine life including giant ruby sponges, coral formations, lobsters, and a variety of tropical fish.
Today: Thanks to the Antilla, Malmok Beach attracts both history buffs and snorkelers and divers, who love exploring the ship’s remains in the clear waters. Because the ship sits in only 60 feet of water, divers enjoy a lot of “tank time” at the wreck, though it’s so large that you’ll need several dives to explore it all. If you’re not into diving, take the steps down to Boca Catalina, a secluded bay that’s great for swimming.
Getting There: Malmok Beach sits near the northwestern tip of Aruba, on the Caribbean Sea.
Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Discover the island where one of the world’s most famous pirates was captured.
This island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina sits in middle of what was in the 1700s a busy thruway for large trade vessels carrying goods from all over the world. Naturally, with all this booty to be had, the place was swarming with pirates, too. Legendary pirate Edward Teach — a.k.a. Blackbeard — moored at Ocracoke before accepting a pardon and promising to quit the plundering life. But within weeks, he was back at it, so the Virginia governor gave the order for Blackbeard’s capture, which happened on Ocracoke in 1718.
Today: Ocracoke has 16 miles of coastline, with pristine beaches ideal for fishing, shell gathering, swimming (some have lifeguards on duty), and lazing about.
Getting There: Unlike other Outer Bank islands, which are connected by bridges, Ocracoke is only accessible by ferry, private plane, or boat. A free 40-minute ferry transfer is available year-round from Hatteras; the ferry that leaves from Swan Quarter requires reservations and takes a little over two and a half hours.
One of the darkest whaling histories in the world.
Located in Tasmania, this beach often shows up on “world’s most beautiful” lists — but its past is not so picture-perfect. In the 1820s, whalers descended on the bay, sparking conflict with the native Pydairrerme aboriginal tribe. From their shore bases, the whalers would set off in small boats to chase and harpoon whales; once they caught one, they’d tow the carcass back to shore, where they’d butcher it and boil the blubber down for oil. (The oil was sent back to England to be used for lighting, and the whalebones for ladies’ corsets.) Whenever the whalers were working, all that whale blood would stain the bay dark red — earning it the name Wineglass Bay. Whaling only lasted about 20 years on the peninsula.
Today: Wineglass Bay is part of Freycinet National Park, which takes up most of the Freycinet peninsula on Tasmania’s breathtaking east coast. The park is popular for sea kayaking, boating, rock climbing, and bush walking, while the beach attracts travelers from around the world.
Getting There: Wineglass Bay is about two and a half hours by car from the airports at Hobart and Launceston, both of which are serviced by flights from Sydney and Melbourne.
Cape Cod National Seashore
Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
America’s first oceanfront national park.
This beautiful part of the Massachusetts coast stretches 40 miles from Chatham to Provincetown. Back in the early 1900s, the area was mainly made up of private land and was a favorite with the Kennedy clan, who spent their summers on the cape. When John F. Kennedy landed in the Senate, he sponsored legislation to make the area a protected national park. In 1961, when he was president, he was able to officially establish the Cape Cod National Seashore, making it the country’s first-ever oceanfront national park.
Today: More than 4 million visitors a year enjoy the Seashore’s pristine lighthouses, wild cranberry bogs, waterways, biking trails, and six swimming beaches; the latter include Coast Guard Beach in Eastham and quiet Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, which is framed by an 85-foot sand cliff.
Getting There: The National Seashore is just under a two-hour drive from Boston. Most of the national park stops are found along Route 6 between Eastham and Provincetown.
The birth of the modern seaside resort.
In England, the concept of the modern “seaside resort” really took off in the 1700s, as doctors began touting the health benefits of ocean water and the coastal climate. At the time, beach visitors would disrobe in “bathing machines” — a small changing room on wheels that would get pulled into the water by horses, making it easy for the ill or elderly to step directly into the sea. In Victorian times, women — including Queen Victoria herself — used bathing machines to help protect their modesty, but as the popularity of sunbathing grew in the 1900s, these movable shacks were ditched in favor of stationary huts or tents — typically rentable by the hour, day, or week — that served as a bather’s private beachside base. Bournemouth built the U.K.’s first municipal beach huts in 1909.
Today: Nearly 2,000 beach huts of all shapes and sizes now line the five-and-a-half-mile promenade of popular Bournemouth Beach — about 70 percent are privately owned and the city council operates the rest. Huts typically come equipped with deck chairs, curtains, and a small gas stovetop. From $13.70 per day, bournemouthbeachhuts.co.uk.
Getting There: Bournemouth is set on England’s picturesque south coast, a little over a 90-minute train ride from London’s Waterloo Station.
Home to the world’s longest-running surfing competition.
Tempted by its great breaks, local surfers were flocking to this sandy strip along Australia’s southern coast as early as 1949, even though access at that time was not so easy. About a decade later, an enterprising young man by the name of Joe took matters into his own hands. He paid 30 pounds ($60) to hire a bulldozer and clear a road from the cliff to the beach. He recouped the costs by charging fellow surfers a pound to use his road — and this famous surf spot was officially born. The first Bells Beach Surf Classic — now called the Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival — took place here in 1961.
Today: Currently the longest-running surfing competition in the world, the Rip Curl festival happens here every Easter. Still among the top break spots in the world (and not recommended for novice surfers), Bells Beach was featured in the classic surfing film The Endless Summer and was the setting for the finale of Point Break.
Getting There: Bells Beach is located on Great Ocean Road, about 67 miles southwest of Melbourne. Nearby towns include Torquay and Jan Juc.
Famous for ancient beach parties.
When the ancient Romans went on vacation, they went all out, embarking on grand tours of important sites — including Greece and Egypt — that could last up to five years. The journeys would often start closer to home, though, with a first stop at the seaside resorts along the Bay of Naples. For several hundred years, Rome’s super rich would vacation in Baiae, a fashionable town with medicinal hot springs, beautiful villas (including those of Julius Caesar and Nero), and hedonistic parties.
Today: Though Baiae was deserted by 1500 (its ruins now lie under the Bay of Naples), a modern-day equivalent would be Capri, the see-and-be-seen island in the bay. Still a playground for the jet set, Capri’s beaches are mainly rocky, but popular nonetheless. The lovely beach at Bagni di Tiberio, near the island’s fishing district, was once the site of Emperor Tiberius’s seaside palace.
Getting There: There is regular ferry and hydrofoil service between Naples and Capri; the ride is between 40 to 80 minutes.
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
One of the first beach destinations for cruisers.
Though ocean liners were transporting travelers and cargo across the Atlantic from the mid-1800s, it wasn’t until 1900 that a ship was specifically built for leisure cruises as we know them now. Dubbed the Prinzessin Victoria Luise, the luxury ship was constructed for the Hamburg America Line and included 120 first-class staterooms, a gym, and even a darkroom for amateur photographers. The ship departed New York on January 26, 1901, for its first official cruise, which included a stop on the island of St. Thomas. The vessel continued to sail though the Caribbean and Mediterranean for nearly five years, until it accidentally ran ashore in Jamaica in 1906.
Today: St. Thomas is one of the busiest cruise-ship ports in the world; in high season, up to 10 ships a day might dock at its various terminals. Aside from duty-free shopping, visiting the beaches is one of the top activities for cruisers, and popular choices include Magens Bay on the north side and Lindbergh Bay’s Emerald Beach on the south. To experience a bit of what those original cruise passengers did, though, head to the pristine beach on car-less Water Island.
Getting There: Water Island is about half a mile from St. Thomas and linked by regular ferry service from Crown Bay Marina, a short walk from the Crown Bay cruise-ship dock.
Wreck Beach, Vancouver, Canada
Canada’s first legal clothing-optional beach.
Though Vancouver’s Pacific Spirit Regional Park features several sandy spots, including Acadia Beach and Tower Beach, the most legendary is four-mile-long Wreck Beach, Canada’s first legal clothing-optional beach and one of the biggest of its kind in the world. Set 542 steps below the park’s Trail 6, the secluded area became popular with naturists in the 1960s and ’70s. In 1977, the Wreck Beach Preservation Society was formed to help protect this unique haven; over the years, they’ve successfully rallied against encroaching construction, environmental threats, and privacy and “morality” issues to keep the place fun and — true to their mission — family-friendly.
Today: During the summer, as many as 14,000 weekend visitors may drop by Wreck Beach for some fun in the sun — and not always in the buff. Sticking to the motto of “Nude isn’t lewd, but gawking is rude,” the dedicated regulars are happy to have sunbathers who choose to stay clothed, but they do take privacy, respect, and courtesy seriously (so no photos). There are unofficial gay and couples areas, and a Vendors Row where you can pick up everything from sarongs to gourmet eats. (Beware the unlicensed hawkers peddling homemade baked goods and not-so-legal substances.)
Getting There: Wreck Beach is on the western-most point of Vancouver, near the University of British Columbia campus. The C20 TransLink bus will take you to the Trail 6 sign at the intersection of Northwest Marine Drive and University Boulevard. From there, it’s 542 wooden steps down to the beach.
Imagine buying your SIM-free mobile phone from a local electronics store and logging into your Google or Apple account as soon as you turn the phone on for the first time. Then imagine having the phone ready to use for voice calls with a phone number provided to you by Google Talk or Skype, and ready to access email, YouTube or Facebook.
That same phone automatically hooks to your home Wi-Fi or any of the available 3G, WiMax or LTE networks without you even knowing (or caring) which specific network its running on at the moment. No longer do you have to belong to a specific carrier — your phone automatically picks the strongest and cheapest network option at any given time. Your network access, along with voice, app/in-app purchases and everything else are provided to you by the mobile platform provider. The carriers are only there to run network infrastructure and sell bandwidth to two to three mobile platform providers.
Let’s face it, the only two things that still connect carriers to consumers are the voice number and billing for the network access. SIM card technology is rudimentary — you can easily conduct user authentication using a simple login, just like Apple does on iPods when you want to buy apps or songs from the iTunes store.
Looking into the future, even the phone number itself will disappear. Why bother with all these numbers when you can just place a call directly to anybody’s Facebook profile?
This future is inevitable, and the changes are coming very soon. With mobile platform providers running the show today, carriers simply have no way of stopping the process. Not having any control over the platform vendors — for instance, via a consortium that would centrally license Android or other mobile platforms to equalize the balance of power between the platform provider and the carriers/OEMs — they will eventually give up on their ambitions to control the user. Just read the Google/Motorola/Skyhook story to see how it happens.
It only takes one carrier to crack and start selling bandwidth to Google, Microsoft or Apple; all other carriers will simply have no choice but to follow. It’s like the prisoners’ dilemma from economic textbooks: If both prisoners don’t talk, both win. But if separated and one is promised a way out (or an easier sentence) and he talks first, then game theory suggests the winning strategy for each prisoner is to talk. In other words, one of them will crack. They are nowhere close to being united enough to stand together, even in the short to mid-term. Look how effortlessly Apple, then everyone else, took over their app distribution businesses — something that only five years ago would have been totally unthinkable.
Most likely, these first-to-crack carriers will be tier-two low-cost carriers outside the U.S., possibly acquired by, but likely just partnering with, the big platform players. Those carriers will have a high incentive to enter such partnerships, as their networks are already optimized for low costs (lean, efficient cost structure without heavy marketing, support, premium services overheads, better network logistics, etc.). Short to mid-term, the strategy will be against tier-one carriers, who have a high marketing/operations cost burden. The UK actually looks like a very logical place to start, especially when some UK carriers have already been experimenting with Skype phones, which were successful to the degree that price-sensitive younger audiences actually started to carry Skype phones as their second device.
It will probably be a while before most users fully switch to non-carrier-provided voice/network services — maybe five to seven years — but it’s only a matter of time, as the new model is so much more compelling to the consumer. Signing up for multiple phone numbers as easily as opening email accounts, getting the best and the cheapest network at any given time in any spot (finally, no more service drops!), free and unlimited voice/video on WiFi networks, cheap roaming even when overseas on a local service, and so many more benefits are poised to take off.
Once this happens, carriers fall into a very undesirable position. Network access becomes an absolute commodity, much more so than in the case of landline ISPs. The latter at least have relatively high switching costs, while a mobile phone is already connected to every network available in its physical location. This means carriers compete head to head over who sells the cheapest bandwidth to Google, Apple or Microsoft, and only those most economically fit with the strongest network logistics survive in the game. This time, the brand, handset subsidies or any other marketing tricks are of no help — it’s all about economics.
What’s really interesting is what could happen with next-generation networks. As carriers see their margins disappear almost entirely and the profits shift to mobile platforms, operators won’t accumulate enough profits to be able to invest in next-generation networks. Nor does the marginalized economics of the network business promise them high ROI. Mobile platforms do the opposite: By that time, they’ll have accumulated profits for all the value-added services, so they’ll have both the money to invest and the strong economic incentive to do so. This will also be very lucrative to mobile platforms politically, as owning services end to end, from cloud to network to devices, enables a whole new level of control and market power.
by Ilja Laurs is CEO at GetJar
We were taught that work is worship. If you do your work and duties promptly and in the right manner, it is equivalent to prayer.
But my perception (rather most of those living in the Arab World) of Ramadan is that this is a time when people (since they are fasting) take it as an excuse to shy away from work and show anger to those who make them work. Why?
Mohammad Faris, CEO and founder of Productive Muslims, said that history teaches us Ramadan was a time of great achievement and industry.
“If we look into history, we learn that Ramadan was a productive time for the Ummah.
It is in this noble month that many great events occurred in the history of Islam like the victory of faith over disbelief in the Battle of Badr, the conquest of Makkah, Battle of ‘Ayn Jaaloot and other decisive battles,” Faris told Gulf News from his Jeddah offices in Saudi Arabia.
“This indicates that there are many lessons of success to draw on from this month in the history of Islamic civilisation. In a similar manner, Ramadan is a time where Muslims must fight their own inner battles to gain victory of becoming better Muslims and more productive in order to have success in this life and the next.”
Those who are observing Ramadan must work to dispel stereotypes through personal goals of becoming more productive, he said.
“Unfortunately, Ramadan today is being accused of being an ‘unproductive’ month by many Muslim — and non-Muslim — employers working in the Muslim world.
“This misrepresentation of Ramadan is highlighted by the actions of some Muslims who unfortunately use Ramadan as an excuse to be lazy, not get work done, and follow unproductive habits such as staying up all night at cafes and restaurants, thus feeling sleepy during working hours.
“This is very important, as there are many sincere employees who want to work hard and be productive during Ramadan, but do not have the techniques or skills to do so consistently,” Faris said.
“Businesses could arrange workshops with Muslim productivity experts to help their employees or they can encourage their employees to sign up to online courses that specialise in this sort of training.”
Businesses must also adopt a co-operative approach with workers to ensure that deadlines are met and production does not slip.
“Second, businesses need to encourage a resilient mindset among their fasting employees, for example, a mindset that whether it’s Ramadan or not Ramadan, work has to get done and employees need to find a way to keep up with the work pace,” he said.
“There should be zero tolerance to people who use Ramadan as an excuse for being lazy or unproductive, and signs of unproductivity or people using Ramadan as an excuse for being unproductive should be stamped out or rebuked publicly.”
To help workers help themselves, Productive Muslims offers a ist for a more productive Ramadan:
1. Have sincere intentions and work hard for an ultimate productive Ramadan.
2. Plan each day of Ramadan the night before. Choose three important tasks you want to achieve the next day and record them in your diary.
3. Never EVER miss Suhour, wake up at least an hour before Fajr and have a filling, balanced meal.
4. Start working on your most important tasks right after Fajr and get at least one or two done.
5. Try to take an afternoon nap, not more than 20 minutes, either just before or after Dhuhur.
6. Plan your Ramadan days (and life) around Salah times, not the other way round.
7. Block at least one hour for reciting the Quran each day.
8. End your fast with dates and milk or water, go to Maghreb prayers, then come back for a light meal.
9. Give lots of ‘physical sadaqah’; get involved in organising community iftars, charity drives, helping orphans etc. Earn rewards working for others.
10. Don’t miss an opportunity for Dawah. When someone asks you why you’re not eating, give them a beautiful explanation of Ramadan and Islam.
Neat little portable pack for charging all Apple products while on the move.
Aviiq’s new Portable Charging Station -acts as a sort of USB hub in a bag, this little black travel sleeve lets you pack and power three USB devices — even an iPad — with one outlet. What’s more, the station allows for easy syncing by way of a retractable USB port.
Cost – $80
Just what you need to get cozy with your partner.
When seated in this chair, the first thing that you would utter is “I Love You“.
Guess what? Kate & William got one as a gift on their wedding.
What’s a FabFi?
FabFi is an open-source, FabLab-grown system using common building materials and off-the-shelf electronics to transmit wireless ethernet signals across distances of up to several miles. With Fabfi, communities can build their own wireless networks to gain high-speed internet connectivity—thus enabling them to access online educational, medical, and other resources.
FabFi is a user-extensible long range point-to-point and mesh hybrid-wireless broadband transmission infrastructure. It is based on the simple idea that a network of simple, intelligent, interconnected devices can create reliable networks in unstable environments. We use simple physics to make low-cost devices communicate directionally for very long distances (physics is cool!), and flexible configurations to adapt to a large variety of conditions.
For extreme conditions, we mount commercial wireless routers on fabbed RF (Radio Frequency) reflectors with a wire mesh surface that redirects the RF energy. Reflector gain depends on the materials used and the size of the reflector, but has been measured as high as 15dBi with some of the current designs.
A single wireless link in the FabFi system consists of two reflectors with attached wireless routers. Similarly, two routers can be linked with a wired connection. A single router can be linked to both wired and wireless connections at the same time. The system is configured for individual links to be combined in numerous ways, creating links that cover very long distances or service many users in a small area. A key component of this linking is called “meshing”. A mesh network is one where any device can be connected to one or more other neighbor devices in an unstructured (ad-hoc) manner. Mesh networks are robust and simple to configure because the software determines the routing of data automatically in real-time based on sensing the network topology. Traditional mesh networks are limited in scale because they rely on single radio, wireless-only connections and omni-directional antennas. By using directed wireless links and wired transfers whenever possible, the Fabfi system is optimized for building very large-scale static (as opposed to mobile) mesh networks. With Scale comes the potential for robust digital communities within a region without dependence on high-bandwidth local uplinks, which are expensive and unavailable in many places. Check out the animation for a little more detail (2MB, might take a while to load):
How Reflectors work
FabFi reflectors use the property of parabolic shapes (Y=cX^2) that a when a vector travelling perpendicular to a parabola’s directrix hits the surface of the parabola it is reflected to the parabola’s focal point. (see Mathworld for more on this…) By attaching a RF reflective material such as window screen or chicken wire to a frame that forms the shape of a parabola in three dimensions and then attaching our wireless router to the reflector at the focal point we can precisely concentrate and direct the RF energy coming from the router in transmission and efficiently collect RF energy from the paired router in reception.
An essential component of the FabFi system is it’s flexibility to be implemented with whatever materials are locally available. All that’s required is the ability to print out a 2D design file and create the pieces out of whater material you can find. If you have a Fab Lab, you can use a laser cutter or CNC wood router to create reflectors directly from wood, metal or acrylic, but there’s no reason they can’t be molded from clay, carved from stone or chiseled out of a block of ice as long as there’s a way to attach a metallic RF reflective surface to the front.
Three different reflector designs were implemented in Jalalabad during the inital deployment in January 2009: a large 4′ wooden version, a 2′ wooden version and an 18″ acrylic version. Reflective surface materials included chicken wire, woven stainless steel mesh and window screen.
Needs in the field subsequently drove the development of modified reflector designs with integrated weatherproofing and and fastner-less assembly. These new designs debuted in the summer of 2010.
It was not long afterward, however, that network users began designing and building their own reflectors out of locally sourced scrap materials. While still in need of significant refinement, these reflectors are clear physical signs of technology transfer and local human-capital development in the technology domain. They also cost less than $3US!
Routers and Firmware
FabFi uses an open source 3rd party firmware called OpenWRT on all of its routers. Taking advantage of OpenWRT’s linux-based flexibility, FabFi devices can run a wide range of network monitoring and self-diagnostic tools. The current system supports real-time network monitoring, local web caching centralized access control, user management and usage tracking (for billing). All of this is performed on devices costing $50-$100USD. Automated configuration has been steadily improving since the bygone days of the FabFi 1.0 release. We now support multiple routers across multiple fabfi distributions, and have the ability to configure networks with 802.11n speeds.
In developing places, reliable power is an ongoing challenge. Conveniently, all of our currently supported devices will run on 12VDC, and can be easily powered directly from a car or small engine battery. A car battery and a couple of inexpensive chargers function as reliable UPS devices on two major distribution hubs in the Jalalabad network, powering a bank of routers for nearly two days without city power. In Kenya, we have designed a “node in a box” that provides UPS, mounting and weatherproofing to every node in the network, supporting mains or solar power. Future development is planned for a bare-bones 12V-12V UPS that can be integrated into installations by plugging the provided 100-240VAC switching power brick into the fabbed UPS and the UPS into the router. Wind and other locally harvested powered charging circuits are a parallel FabLab project.
The Fab Future Despite te cobbled-together aesthetic, Fabfi has proven incredibly reliable in Afghanistan’s harsh climate (it reaches 130degF in Jalalabad in the summer with regular sandstorms). Beginning in the summer of 2010, we have expanded the fabfi system to provide direct wireless access to client devices and have been running a community-scale wifi ISP. In more than two years of deployment, we can still count the hardware failures on one hand. To our surprise, the biggest challenge so far has been uplink bandwidth. While many countries tout “mobile broadband” as the solution to universal access problems, the ground truth in most places is that mobile devices alone do not provide sufficient performance (or affordable enough prices) to be viable without some help. In Kenya, fabfi provides a value added service to communities where mobile connectivity is the only means of access by decreasing the data throughput per user and making it possible for providers to buy bandwidth in bulk.