In the cargo hold of a plane bound for east Africa sometime this weekend is a computer lab in a box. Well, five boxes, actually. It's sort of like a bed-in-a-bag, except that it actually matters. The teachers and staff of the Ebenezer Educational Center are getting excited about the bundle of technology goodness en route to their school.
We've said repeatedly that we could not have done this project without you, the readers who have given of your own hard-earned dough for the cause. But I want to acknowledge again some of the companies who have provided goodies and discounts to make such a complex endeavor successful. First of all, Asus provided a stack of Eee PCs at a price that was even more affordable than usual.
Also, NCIX, the super-reliable e-tailer from the land of Geoff (that also serves us Yanks), stepped up to help in a big way. I wanted to make this more than just a stack of netbooks, but rather a virtually instant computer lab. So NCIX donated, entirely free of charge or complaint, a router, an external DVD R/W and enough mice and cables to give my cats fits.
Given that the 4G model of Eee PC has only 4GB of solid state storage on-board, I asked Corsair, a long-time sponsor of The Tech Report and supporter of the enthusiast community, whether they could help provide additional storage options that will likely be needed once the students start making use of the OpenOffice apps, the built-in web cams, and eventual downloads from the net. Corsair came through with 72GB of flash storage in the form of SD cards and Voyager mini USB drives.
The teachers and administration at the school currently have no computer to keep records, prepare documents or lesson plans, or carry out any standard administrative tasks. We originally planned to send funds to help cover the cost of a desktop system for this purpose. But after extensive research into what's available and consideration of the total cost and risks involved, we decided to send a used Compaq Presario X1000. Although it's several years old, it's still far more competent that what we could have bought in Kampala for $500 or so. For office- and education-related tasks, it'll be perfect. It was Scott's primary laptop for a couple years, then mine for a couple more. Now it should serve the staff of the Ebenezer Educational Center for a few more years.
Along with the equipment, we'll be providing the school with the funds needed to pay for Internet access, as well. After months of work and countless setbacks, I'm a little pumped that the goal is finally in sight. Stay tuned; soon we hope to be announcing that the lab is up and running at the school in Kampala. Then we'd like to get the school involved with The Tech Report in some way. Hmmm... I can hear it now... "From our East Africa bureau on the shores of Lake Victoria, this is Jordan Drake bringing you The Tech Report Podcast... "