04
Mar
08

Power to the office clerk!

(originally posted on the stix.to blog)

As it is I’m working for Stix.to in Kathmandu. That is to say half my time goes to Stix.to and half my time goes to OLE Nepal, the local organization that is going to implement a computerized school program with the help of OLPC laptops. I’m working most of my time in the OLE Nepal office.

Let me tell you that at the moment working at the office is kind of ’special’. That’s because of the special power circumstances around here: In Kathmandu you’re without power around eight hours a day at the moment. These are no random power faillures, but state policy. Every district got a schedule in which is indicated when the power goes down; it’s called ‘loadshedding’ over here. Usually two times a day, four hours in a row.

‘But why?’, you might think. Or you might right now think: ‘Because there’s no power of course!’ If you answered the latter you are dead right, but if we’d leave it at that, we would miss out on the tragic irony that tortures the poor country of Nepal.

You see Nepal has the worlds biggest potential for hydro-electric levered power; thanks to the huge height difference in the country. If they would only plant a number of extra hydro-plants in the country, all energy problems would be solved in an eco-friendly way. But Nepal doesn’t have the money. A company is building one of them at the moment, but an electrical engineer that works here on energy problems told me: “It’ll take five years before it’s done, and by that time the need has grown so much, that we’ll need another one just to keep up with rising demand.”

So where does this leave the general office clerk? Is he just free half of the day? It depends… OLE Nepal has got batteries which load when there’s power, and which usually would hold out during power shedding. However one of the batteries is dead, and thanks to some kind of weird configuration it doesn’t take long before the rest of the grid is dead.

This event is followed by the sound of numerous fans spinning down, and CRT’s making that weird heigh pitched sound when they’re switched off. A bit later, but well within the fan down-spinning time, there’s a collective grunt from the developers, indicating loss of work.

Me being one of the few with a laptop, am feeling a secret sigh of relief knowing this wouldn’t happen to me. But then I realize I’m one of the few which hasn’t got a rock hard excuse to sit in the sun and chit chat till there’s power again.

Now there’s talk to supply the developers with laptops. Since a laptop consumes between 14 and 19 watts and a desktop around 140 watts, or so I’m told, one doesn’t have to be a maths wizard to figure out the advantage of our portable friends. Perhaps all of us could even start using XO’s, which only consume 3.4 watts, or thereabouts.

As for me, I’m finding the XO to be a very nice excuse to take my job outside. Not for everything, but my OLE related development environment is a standard requirement for these lil’ ones, and it’s sun-friendly screen and dust-resistant build just scream ‘take me into the mountains!!’.

And as I’ve seen in the wild, there’s room to take this mobile office idea a whole lot further, but that’s the subject of a future post.

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3 Responses to “Power to the office clerk!”


  1. 1 Henny
    March 9, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    He Ties, ik ben heel blij met je verhalen. Wat een land zeg! Ongelooflijk. Dikke kus

  2. 2 Henny
    March 9, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Ik had net een comment getypt dat ik je verhalen geweldig vind!! Wellicht kun je ze later uitgeven. Maar op de een of andere manier was het niet aangekomen, nieuwe poging. Kus Henny

  3. 3 Charlien
    March 10, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    he scheet,
    wat maak je toch lekker veel mee! blijf schrijven hhoor. ik blijf lezen!


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