Communications

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Guitar Hero

In 69 Joe Cocker jumped around the stage caressing an imaginary guitar belting out ‘With a Little help from My friend’.  In the 80s  metal rock warped our minds into bad fashion long hair and dancing with  invisible guitars.  Today; festivals, games and now even rehabilitation specialists have opened up to the idea of the ‘air guitar’.

Guitar hero is  a popular music game, that lets the player use a guitar-shaped controller with various colored buttons to simulate the playing of rock music. The game continuously provides a visual stimuli (dots on the screen that have to be played), upon which the player responds to by pressing the buttons on the guitar controller. If the player presses the correct combination it will hear the correct guitar riff for that part of the song.

Rehabilitation specialists at Jonhs Hopkins University are using  Nintendo’s Wii game console and ‘Guitar Hero’ as a way to help motivate patients during physical therapy and rehabilitation (http://spectrum.ieee.org/nov08/6994).  With a few electrodes and some sophisticated programing, amputees can hit all the notes  of a rock classic using electrical signals from their residual muscles.

The next step is to use it to train people who use less advanced commercially available artificial arms. Their goal is to create tools that will prime the pump of prosthetics innovation but “won’t consist of several thousand dollars of computing equipment.” In fact,they are in  process of making the APL-created video-game interface software open source (free distribution).
A popular open source clone of Guitar Hero named ‘frets on fire’ has been developed to allow visually impaired people to play the game with a haptic glove (http://www.eelke.com/research.html?blindhero.html).  Traditionally the game relies on people being able to see but the game has been developed to operate from physical feedback from a glove.

Message In a Box

Tactical Technology collective have just released a new website called messagein-a-box.

Message in-a-box is a set of strategic guides to using communications tools for social change, together with a suite of open source tools to get you making your own media. The toolkit is designed for small and medium-sized NGOs, advocates, and citizen journalists to help them create and distribute content for their advocacy efforts while exploring the constantly evolving world of campaigning and communications.

Mobile Advocacy

Tactical Tech specialises in strengthening technology within development organisations. They are currently releasing a range of FOSS (free open source software) specifically designed for the NGO sector.

Mobiles In a Box - Tools and Tactics for mobile Advocacy

The increase of mobile phone use within the development world has provided NGO and development workers with new ways with communicating with the community. The use of the mobile phone in a development context has many possibilities such as disaster management, distant learning, reporting or even another way of accessing media.

Tatical Tech have developed a complete software solution for small organisations.

The toolkit includes :-

  • Tactics and case studies for using mobile phones in advocacy, including: Outreach and Participation, Resourcing Advocacy, People’s Media, Coordinating and Mobilising
  • Tips on working with mobile phones, including sections on security and privacy issues, and budgeting and planning.
  • How-to guides to get started with mobile advocacy, such as: how to create ringtones, how to set up a bulk SMS service, how to update your blog from your mobile phone.
  • A selection of tried and tested tools and services

The software will be available from October

For more information Please go here

Google have developed a pot of great software available to the development world free of charge.  I’ve included some youtube videos  on some software you may all benefit from using:

Google Checkout for NGO’s

Use google checkout to hep raise donations

Google Earth API

How about using a fully navigatable 3D map within your website or blog; perhaps highlighting project areas.

Google Docs

Write documents, spreadsheets, databases and send email with your colleagues all for free.  Google Docs provide a complete NGO office solution free to use over the Internet.  This has the accessibility of sharing your data with anyone you choose and to access your documents from mobile phones, internet cafes and any computer with an Internet connection.

Quick tour of Google Apps

Picasa

Upload and share your photographs online.

Google Reader

Allows you to quickly read all your favourite websites, blogs and news from a central location.

IGOOGLE

I feel dizzy, how can I manage all of this great software? Fortunately, google has provided us an easy way of accessing all of out tools from one simple page.

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