Category Archives: The World

Maps of South Sudan and its capital city of Juba

Some maps of South Sudan, which is in the news today because of an emerging civil war.

UNOCHA South Sudan describes the displaced persons in South Sudan:

On 20-21 December (2013), the security situation remained stable but tense in Juba. It is estimated that at least 20,000 people are sheltering at the two main UNMISS bases in town. During assessments in different neighbourhoods of Juba, protection agencies found several areas deserted, and witnessed looting.


The UNOCHA briefing map detail shows the detail of cities. Juba is in the province of Central Equatoria.


Stamen Design highlights South Sudan in a 2011 post describing The World

Stamen’s first iPad app and our first project with the National Geographic Society, is available for download from Apple’s app store


Finally, has detailed maps of a number of cities in the country. This is an excerpt of detail of the city of Juba.


The Republic of South Sudan Investor Guide has more maps, and a number of descriptions of the country from a perspective of trying to attract foreign investment.


African National Congress Secret Communications: “Operation Vula”

Talking to Vula is the story of the secret communications network of Operation Vula, a project of the African National Congress that facilitated clandestine messaging between South African exiles in London and leaders of the resistance in Zambia and in South Africa. The account (which was pointed out to me by Finn Brunton) talks of an inventive use of encrypted text transmitted via analog modem tones recorded to cassette tape and then played back via untraceable pay phones. It’s a remarkable tale of late 80s underground crypto, leading up to the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.

From the text, to give you a flavor of it:

To test this hypothesis I wrote a little program to send some computer output to the modem. Sure enough the sounds came out of the modem`s speaker. These I recorded and played back into the microphone end of the modem while running a communications program on the computer. Eureka! The characters appeared on the screen. I had done with a modem what we were attempting to do with our tone machine.

This seemed to be the real breakthrough. I adapted our encryption program to work with the acoustic modem and recorded the output on a tape recorder. This I took to a public telephone booth and played back to my answering machine. Then I played the answering machine message back into the modem and the computer deciphered it successfully. As the plaintext message appeared on the screen I realised that we had finally discovered an absolutely safe method of communicating with the underground using computers.

The work originally appeared in a series of six articles in the ANC`s monthly journal Mayibuye from May 1995 to October 1995.

More: Operation Vula: ICT versus Apartheid (2008).

More: Garrett and Edwards (2007): “[Revolutionary Secrets]: Technology’s Role in the South African Anti-Apartheid Movement,” Social Science Computer Review, 24(4). Preprint at U of Michigan.

Singapore haze map for 24 June 2013

The BBC World Service has reporting on the dense haze that’s covering Singapore and parts of Malaysia as a result of land-clearing fires in Indonesia. The map below is from the Meteorological Service Singapore. The Indonesian president has apologized for the haze, notes the Straits Times.

Singaporeans are advised to wear masks when going outdoors, and to stay indoors if at all possible. SingPost has issued masks for postal workers.


Related articles

In Battle Against Haze, Indonesia Turns to Helicopters and a Plane
Indonesia Says Singapore ‘Behaving Like a Child’ Over Haze
Singapore PM Says Haze from Indonesia Fires May Last for Weeks
The horrible HAZE in Singapore is bad for…
Singapore blanketed with worst ever haze

The last telegram in India

201082_india-telegraph-maury-catalogue-oneThe telegraphy system in India is coming to an end in July 2013, reports The Christian Science Monitor:

At the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), India's state-owned telecom company, a message emerges from a dot matrix printer addressing a soldier's Army unit in Delhi. "GRANDMOTHER SERIOUS. 15 DAYS LEAVE EXTENSION," it reads. It's one of about 5,000 such missives still being sent every day by telegram – a format favored for its "sense of urgency and authenticity," explains a BSNL official.

But the days of such communication are numbered: BSNL will send its last telegram message somewhere in India on July 14.

The history of the telegraph in India goes back to Dr William Brooke O'Shaughnessy, an Irish physician who linked Calcutta and Diamond Harbour via cable in 1853.

More reading: Economic Times on 160 years of Indian telegraph history; DNA India on modern alternatives to the telegram.

In my reading queue: "Connecting the Nineteenth-Century World", a ferociously expensive book on the 19th century telegram; and Richard Menke's "Telegraphic Realism: Victorian Fiction and Other Information Systems" making its way home via Melcat.

Postage stamp images from the Arthur Maury Album and Catalogue of Postage Stamps and Telegraph Stamps, 1894, Paris, via StampCommunity.

Algerian oil and gas pipeline and field map (from

The map below is a reduced size of the original, which is an oil and gas pipeline and field map of Algeria. It's hosted on the site and doesn't have any other credits on the map. (Not for use in navigation.)

MEM stands for Ministère de l’Energie et des Mines; this is an official map from that ministry of the Algerian government.

The incident of late – see Bloomberg News story of 18 January 2013 – focus on the complex at the Amenas Gas Field; a detail of this map is below, showing Amenas (labelled here as "In Amenas") near the border with Libya.

Screen shot 2013-01-18 at 4.37.22 PM
More details:

BP: "BP in Algeria" with maps of In Amenas, though not at this detail; full sized map (PDF)


Related articles

Army operation at Algeria siege
Hostages 'escape Algeria captors'
Militants: 35 hostages die in Algerian raid
Algeria hostage crisis 'ongoing', says Foreign Office – live updates – The Guardian
Dozens of hostages 'killed' in Algeria
Desert Massacre Threatens Africa's Largest Gas Industry

Egypt disconnects from the Internet



Image credit: Arbor Networks.

From the Renesys blog, "Egypt leaves the Internet"

At 22:34 UTC (00:34am local time), Renesys observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the Internet's global routing table. Approximately 3,500 individual BGP routes were withdrawn, leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange Internet traffic with Egypt's service providers. Virtually all of Egypt's Internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide.

Renesys has tracked other widespread Internet routing disruptions; the comments on that site are good.

The BGPmon blog is tracking this from the routing perspective, "Internet in Egypt offline".

One ISP that appears to not be down is, at least as of Friday midnight EST.

For another network perspective, Netcraft is tracking reachability of Egyptian government sites that had been attacked by Anonymous.

News coverage

The Guardian has a live blog, Protests in Egypt.

Al Jazeera has comprehensive news coverage, under the headline Anger in Egypt.

The New York Times has new Egypt cables from Wikileaks, Cables show delicate US dealings with Egypt's leaders.

They show in detail how diplomats repeatedly raised concerns with Egyptian officials about jailed dissidents and bloggers, and kept tabs on reports of torture by the police.  But they also reveal that relations with Mr. Mubarak warmed up because President Obama played down the public “name and shame” approach of the Bush administration.


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Pot-in-pot system for evaporative cooling of foods

Via the Uplift Network:

Prof Abba created a pot-in-pot system to keep perishable items cool in desert climates, though obviously important for people without electricity as well, through the use of two pots, one inside the other, and the space in between filled with wet sand. He won the Rolex Award, and has distributed more than 91,000 of these to people in Nigeria. Here is an excellent example of selfless entrepreneurism.

A California State Science Fair study in the San Diego area by Garrett Rueda showed up to a 23 degree F cooling effect by this system. There’s a story about it in the 2001 January “Popular Science”.

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