Difference between revisions of "Balsa: Basic Language Software Appliance"

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[[Category:Low-Power Computing]]
[[Category:Low-Power Computing]]
== Research Reveals Largest Ancient Dam Built by Maya Civilization ==
Recent excavations, sediment coring and mapping by a multi-university team led by the University of Cincinnati at the pre-Columbian city of Tikal, a paramount urban center of the ancient Maya, have identified new landscaping and engineering feats, including the largest ancient dam built by the Maya of Central America.
[[http://goodvillenews.com/Research-Reveals-Largest-Ancient-Dam-Built-by-Maya-Civilizat-cff.html Research Reveals Largest Ancient Dam Built by Maya Civilization]]
[[http://goodvillenews.com/wk.html GoodvilleNews.com - good, positive news, inspirational stories, articles]]
== Dalai Lama Awarded 2012 Templeton Prize ==
The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader whose long-standing engagement with multiple dimensions of science and with people far beyond his own religious traditions has made him an incomparable global voice for universal ethics, nonviolence, and harmony among world religions, has won the 2012 Templeton Prize.
[[http://goodvillenews.com/Dalai-Lama-Awarded-2012-Templeton-Prize-UttyfI.html Dalai Lama Awarded 2012 Templeton Prize]]
[[http://goodvillenews.com/wk.html GoodvilleNews.com - good, positive news, inspirational stories, articles]]
== Would Gandhi Use Social Media? ==
If Gandhi were alive today, would he use social media? He was never anti-technology, or even anti-changing with the times. Quite the opposite, actually. If Internet technologies and social networks were around, he would certainly have embraced them -- but with a conscious mindfulness of their strengths and weaknesses.
[[http://goodvillenews.com/Would-Gandhi-Use-Social-Media-J39i2S.html Would Gandhi Use Social Media?]]
[[http://goodvillenews.com/wk.html GoodvilleNews.com - good, positive news, inspirational stories, articles]]
== Pilgrims for Peace: One Couples Incredible Journey ==
"In the life of each and every one of us, there is a defining moment, one after which we know that our lives will never be the same. For me, 9/11 was that moment." Mony Dojeijis defining moment eventually led her to an ancient pilgrimage route in Spain, where a chance encounter with an artist would change both of their lives forever. Together they would end up walking a pilgrimage for peace in Jerusalem -- and in the process would uncover precious insights about themselves, each other and the goodness of humanity.
[[http://goodvillenews.com/Pilgrims-for-Peace-One-Couples-Incredible-Journey-FMm6R6.html Pilgrims for Peace: One Couples Incredible Journey]]
[[http://goodvillenews.com/wk.html GoodvilleNews.com - good, positive news, inspirational stories, articles]]
== Journey to the End of the Earth ==
I realized quickly, after just having traveled to various villages in rural India, that distance is relative. Hailing from a city like San Francisco, going even a few hours outside of town is far but twelve hours outside of a major city? I half expected to run into another country.
[[http://goodvillenews.com/Journey-to-the-End-of-the-Earth-tbNql3.html Journey to the End of the Earth]]
[[http://goodvillenews.com/wk.html GoodvilleNews.com - good, positive news, inspirational stories, articles]]

Revision as of 07:09, 30 July 2012

Balsa's main website is here: Balsa.

On this wiki:

Balsa in one sentence

Balsa is a hardware+software computer solution for use by language workers in remote areas, where infrastructure for computer use is a major problem.

Balsa Goals

Balsa's goal is to simplify three aspects of the language computing experience:

  1. Computer administration and IT support (installation, maintenance, repair, backup)
  2. Application complexity (it is designed for practical language program tasks such as dictionary-building, Bible translation, future--formatting of books, rather than for complex linguistic analysis**)
  3. Low cost: Affordable to a larger group of people
**although Fieldworks for Linux should run well if installed on a Balsa system, providing the SD card has room for the installation.

How it works

Balsa is a complete (X)Ubuntu distribution customized with applications for language work. One can install new programs, retrieve system and program updates automatically (or not, if no internet is available). A regional working group may specify what software, languages, fonts, etc, users require; then a local or off-site IT person can produce a localized Balsa card image for copying to distribute within that group (see Balsa Prototype).

Balsa offers a preconfigured "locked down" User account for beginning computer users but elements can be unlocked to make it more like a "normal" Xubuntu experience. Balsa is not just a "beginner's system." It works with any Linux-friendly processor and ram, and it can handle large amounts of data.

Balsa user profile

An "ideal" Balsa user is a language worker who has a computer of his own located in a remote area, far from technical assistance. A BalsaRoot SD card is installed (one-time procedure) and remains permanently plugged into the computer.

Portable Computer on a Stick?

Balsa is not designed to serve as a "Computer on a stick" for users who need to borrow different computers here and there-- especially public computers in libraries or internet cafes. Data should not be copied onto those computers' hard drives. A different type of LiveUSB system, with backup capabilities, would be needed. (add link for something that might work here)

However, a Balsa user could carry just his SD card on a trip into town, for example, and run it on a private or group computer there during workshops or consultation sessions. Thus he could leave his computer behind in areas with high risk of theft during travel.

Automatic safety net for data backups

The difference between Balsa and "normal" operating systems is in the specialized safety net that saves user data and settings both onto the SD card itself and onto the computer's internal drive. This means that (1) if a computer fails the user can obtain another computer, plug in his Balsa card and keep working where he left off: The card will re-sync to the new hard drive. Or (2) if the SD card fails... either electronically or due to some software corruption... the user can obtain a fresh Balsa card, plug it in and keep working: The card will retrieve user data from the computer's hard drive.

Users should be taught to make backups onto removable media as well, and where available to use the synchronised repository features built into several of the pre-installed applications. The more copies, the better!

Easy to support

Thus a regional group of language projects, or a cluster project, can support multiple Balsa users with little or no on-site IT specialist help. Someone in the region just needs to be able to copy and distribute SD cards, and to help in obtaining replacement computers as they fail. "Dead" computers can be sent off-site for repair; if possible an extra loaner computer might be available in the region.

The current Balsa version which is coming out of "testing" is based on Jaunty. It is the final Balsa version which will be XO-1.0 compatible. A Lucid Balsa is being developed as of September 2010.

How to use Balsa


Install and use Balsa

Balsa Strategy Outline


A strategy for implementing Balsa answers these questions:

  1. Who are we? (The purpose and values of all stakeholders)
  2. Where do we want to go and why? (impact statement)
  3. How do we get there?
  4. How do we know when we get there?


Components of a strategy statement

  1. Executive summary (brief problem statement, benefits, support for bigger picture, key elements of plan, alternatives, costs, action hoped for)
  2. Current situation (Strengths, weaknesses, challenges, opportunities, stories)
  3. Target End-State (Outputs, outcomes, impact in time frames or phases, success factors)
  4. Requirements (resources, standards, commitments, pitfalls to overcome, coordination)
  5. Implementation Program (Activities, phasing, budgets, marketing, monitoring, closing)