Katrina Relief: Monday!

Joel Johnson — I'm back in New Orleans for another week or so of work.

I spent most of today actually trying to get the network at St. Mary's, a large church converted into one of the main food and aid distribution centers in Algiers, back online. Jeff Moe, Jenka, Aleks (and maybe others) had set up a Aeronet panel antenna to pick up connectivity from an open Linksys AP, but something went all goofy and it wasn't working anymore.


We have a mesh network node set up just a few blocks away from St. Mary's, but it's plugged into a fairly wimpy 8dBi antenna that doesn't connect to the other mesh node that is installed on top of the church roof. Jim Patient and I (one the super studs from Radio Response) have ordered some heftier antennas to be installed on some of the mesh nodes which will hopefully shore up the gap. For the next couple of days, we'll be patching St. Mary's into EVDO.

I can't get over how useful the EVDO coverage has been. You guys know how I feel about Verizon (hint: the devil), but the service is fantastic and fantastically useful in situations where you have iffy backhaul. They aren't good long-term last mile solutions, but they make great band-aids.

The AMD PIC machines are still working strong, although they make somewhat lousy anything-but-basic-web-browsing boxes. Also, they really, really need built-in Ethernet. Using the USB Ethernet adapters AMD has provided works, but they are fragile.

I still don't quite know how all the mesh hardware works, as I haven't yet actually seen it in action. One node down the street from Common Ground was down when I stopped by earlier today, but I don't know what the issue was, as I didn't have time to troubleshoot.

But this is all boring network, on-the-ground stuff. I'm going to take some pictures of the 'Tech Truck' (which really needs a snappy name) and put them up tonight or tomorrow. It's really cool.