Below is a list of the technologies, tools, and tips discussed during the New Tech at Work workshops hosted at iLab Liberia and PA’s Rib House.


  • Day 1
    • Data Storage
      • Dropbox - https://www.dropbox.com/ - 2GB of free online storage for your files. Dropbox will automatically upload your files and latest changes online. Even large files will be uploaded over time. The Dropbox program fully integrates with your existing file system to automatically find the files that have changes, or are new, and upload them. Dropbox also lets you share some of your files with other users. This is very useful when you want to share files with other people in your organization.
      • Mozy - http://mozy.com/ - Same as Dropbox, but with different data storage limits.
      • Google Sites - http://sites.google.com/ - Create a new site, then create a new page and use the “File Cabinet” template. This will create a page on your Google site that lets upload and download files. This is especially useful if you want to share files with the world at large.
      • net2ftp - http://www.net2ftp.com/ - A web based FTP client.
      • I presented on storing data on network file shares instead of on USB thumb drives. Aside the high risk of losing USB thumb drives, computer viruses are easily spread through them as well. Placing data on network-shared drives/folders make them accessible throughout the organization network. In addition to preventing data loss, the computer services that manage network file shares support access restriction to files and folders in shared drives based on configurable permission templates. I also illustrated how to setup a local FTP server within an organization using external USB hard drives and a router. I then demonstrated how to use the desktop and web-based File Transfer Protocol (FTP) clients like Filezilla and http://www.net2ftp.com respectively to upload, download, compress, unzip, and modify files on that FTP server. Implementing network file-sharing makes information accessible, reliable, and secure.
    • Data Curation – The act of organizing and maintaining a collection of data -a process of establishing a long term repository of data for current and future reference, which comprises of data management, data sharing, data preservation for later re-use.
    • In addition to saving format, applications make a difference when it comes to data retrival, stressing that saving data in a more common and universal format will enable it to be easily view. Since there are different applications for relatively different kinds of files and reports, saving a final version of a report as pdf (portable data format) will make it much more easier to access.
    • Think about how your data will be used in 5 years – Will it be used in research works, will it be used by other NGOs or the government, will it be stored online, or on hard drives, will the people working on the data now still be employed by your organization in 5 years?
    • Think about who will use your data in 5 years – Humans, computers, or both?
    • File Names – Put the name of the author and date the data was created in the file name. For example “Peter Tamba_17-8-2011_midterm report.docx.” This way it will be easy for you to search and find your files
    • Use portable and universal file formats – Try using commonly used file types like PDF, docx, doc, xls. http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/
    • Format your data consistently – If you have a spreadsheet with your data and you record the gender of a person use the same way to denote gender. For example always use “M” and “F” or always use “Male” and “Female” otherwise it will confuse others.
    • When possible make your data entry staff use drop down lists to ensure that spellings and names are consistent – For example giving staff a drop down box of the 15 counties ensures that county names are always spelled the same.
    • Google Forms - https://docs.google.com/ - Click on “Create New” and choose “form” then use the tools to create your new form. The data from the form will be available in a Google Docs spreadsheet.
  • Project Management
    • Base Camp - http://basecamphq.com/ - A project management website that lets organizations create calendars, to do lists, milestones, and collaborative meeting spaces online.
  • Data Recovery - Recovering presumably deleted files from virus-infected drives/folders in Microsoft Windows
  • Using the command line interface, I demonstrated how common viruses infect drives and hide files/folders on the drive and then replace these files/folders with shortcuts. I also demonstrated how the autorun.inf auto-initialization file is structured and triggered. I also showed the strengths and limitations of using the graphical user interface (GUI) like Microsoft Windows to expose hidden files and viruses. As I concluded the presentation, I demonstrated how to use the attribute command from the command line to un-hide these hidden files/folders. This method was received as the most helpful for most participants who had formally lost huge chunks of data by formatting drives containing presumably unrecoverable files.
  • Day 2
    • Distributing Data
    • Skype - http://www.skype.com - A commonly used program used for voice and video chat, as well as file sharing and viewing another persons desktop.
    • Gmail – Email-to-SMS –  https://mail.google.com/ - I presented on the free e-mail-to-SMS feature in Gmail. I demonstrated how to continue a chat conversation when the recipient is away from the computer or in areas without Internet connection. I also pointed out some possibilities of using this information to report elections related issues.
    • Google Groups - http://groups.google.com - Lets you create one email address that when an email is sent to will forward it to everyone in the group.
    • Google Docs - https://docs.google.com - Create and edit documents online. Very easy to use collaboration tools.
    • Wikis - http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki - A great way to quickly share data within a group. Can be very effective when used on internal websites. This eliminates the Internet bottle neck and makes accessing the wiki very fast.
  • Data validation
  • Web Working for You
    • Google Analytics - http://www.google.com/analytics/ - By inserting a few lines of JavaScript code into your web pages, Google can provide you with a detailed analysis of who is looking at what on your website.
    • Google Webmaster Tools - https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home - Google Webmaster Tools help you see how Google searches and indexes your website so you can ensure everything you want to be found on the Internet can be found.
    • Usability Guidelines -
    • As much as possible, keep information up to date.
    • Put the date of every last edit, post, and entry on the website so viewers will know how up to date the information is.
    • Put most used information first on the main page.
  • Mapping
    • Ushahidi - http://ushahidi.com/ - Open source mapping platform for humanitarian needs
    • Map Maker - http://www.google.com/mapmaker - Lets you make updates and edits to the Google Maps. Use this tool to ensure that the Google maps for your area are up to date.
    • My Maps - http://maps.google.com/ - Lets you create your own map that can then be linked into a web site.
  • Day 3
    • Blogger - http://www.blogger.com - Lets you create your own blog for free.
    • FrontlineSMS - http://frontlinesms.org/ - During the public event, my first presentation was on the use of FrontlineSMS. I demonstrated how to create contacts and place them in groups for easy SMS dissemination. I also showed how to create auto-replies and how to create keywords for customized handling of SMS messages. I concluded by showing users how to forward messages to a web application using HTTP POST
    • Twitter - http://twitter.com/ - My second presentation was on the use of Twitter for reporting. In this presentation, I showed how to setup a Twitter account, and explained what tweets, hashtags, following, mentions, and retweets mean. I also used the opportunity to encourage people who are reporting on the elections to use the #Liberia2011 hashtag.
    • Picasa Web Albums - https://picasaweb.google.com/home - Online photo sharing service
    • Flickr - http://www.flickr.com - Online photo sharing service
    • Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/ - Use the Groups and Event features to organise people around issues that matter to you.
    • Facebook allows people to connect with their loved ones, but it can be used in other important ways like, organizing people or making information available for the public. One of the ways you can organize people on Facebook is by creating group. Steps for creating a group on facebook:
    • Firstly you should create an account by going to www.facebook.com -
    • On the Home Page- (On the left panel) – Click More – Click Create Group and give the group a name and add those who you want to be members to the group.
  • Also creating event and inviting people to attend is another interesting way to organize people through facebook.
    • On the Home page (On the right side – Click in box that says – What’s the event? And give the event a Name, Date, Time, Venue and invite people to attend.
  • Break out Sessions
    • Virtualbox - http://www.virtualbox.org/ - During the Group breakout discussions, some participants were trained in configuring, installing and using virtualbox – Virtualbox-VM is Oracle x86 virtualization software package, originally created by software company innotek GmbH, purchased by Sun Microsystems, and now developed by Oracle Corporation as part of its family of virtualization products. It is installed on an existing host operating system; within this application, additional guest operating systems, each known as a Guest OS, can be loaded and run, each with its own virtual environment. Virtualbox host operating systems include Linux, Mac OS X, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Solaris, and OpenSolaris; Its guest operating systems include versions and derivations of Windows, Linux, BSD, OS/2, Solaris and others. Since release 3.2.0, VirtualBox also allows limited virtualization of Mac OS X guests on Apple hardware.
    • Making the most of your LAN
    • On a Linux machine you can setup a web server using Apache, PHP, and MySQL by running “apt-get install phpmyadmin”from the command line.
    • On a windows machine you can setup a web server by using EasyPHP - http://www.easyphp.org/
    • You’ll have to edit the config file to listen on the server’s actual IP address and not the loopback, 127.0.0.1 if you want other machines on your LAN to be able to connect
  • Use Media Wiki to allow users of your LAN to share data
  • Open Source Software
  • Google Application Development