Saturday, January 20, 2007

Internet Cafe Opens for Disabled Users

Internet Cafes promise a quick gateaway to the WWW for people with different abilities. Close to an opening of I-cafe in Pakistan for the blind , there is another being opened in the USA

Internet Cafe Opens for Disabled Users

The Associated Press
Friday, December 15, 2006; 4:07 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- The Good Bytes Cafe has stained concrete floors, jars of scones and a small bank of computers in the corner, making it much like any Internet cafe.

But the computers _ outfitted with a joystick mouse, magnifying software and equipment allowing people to point and click with their eye movements _ make Good Bytes one of just a handful nationwide specifically designed for disabled users.

The cafe, which held its grand opening Friday, is a first for Goodwill Industries, the nonprofit best known for selling used clothing and furniture at its thrift stores nationwide.

"We're the first, but we won't be the last," said Rebecca Helterbrand, marketing vice president for Goodwill Industries of San Antonio.

Goodwill has long had job centers around San Antonio to help disabled residents find work, but surveys found that 70 percent of the area's disabled are unemployed and 60 percent don't have computer skills, she said.

Because of the correlation between joblessness and lack of computer skills, Goodwill wanted to build something that would give more disabled people access to assistive technology. The nonprofit also wanted to do it in a setting as likely to be filled with nearby office workers and tourists as the disabled, Helterbrand said.

The cafe, funded with a $125,000 grant from San Antonio-based AT&T Inc., will be supported by food sales and will double as a location to train disabled food service workers, she said.

Typically, disabled users who need special technology or equipment to operate computers or surf the Web must pay for it themselves, said William Gribbons, a professor of human factors in information design at Bentley College outside of Boston.

"There is some incredible stuff out there, but unfortunately, it's expensive," he said.

Some of the technology, like software that magnifies and reads aloud to help those who are visually impaired, is cheaper, because of a large market of aging computer users. But technology that can aid rarer disabilities can be considerably more expensive.

"It tends to be concentrated with the 'haves,'" Gribbons said.The Good Bytes Cafe does not charge for access to the technology.

Two computers are outfitted with magnifying and reading software. Another PC allows users with no physical mobility to control a mouse with the movement of their eyes. The mouse follows their gaze and clicks when they blink.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Malaysia: Need Muscle power to acquire licences for Cyber Cafes

The announcement of Klang Municipal Council (MPK) health director Dr Nasruddin Aspan's sudden resignation has caught everyone by surprise. reports Dr Nasruddin, who mostly handled licensing matters, was attacked by a group of men and threatened recently and that led to his resignation.

The rumours are that the attack had something to do with the "issuance, rejection and cancellation" of cyber cafe and video game centre licences. Prior to the incident, Dr Nasruddin had revoked the licences of eight cyber cafes and four video game centres which had breached the licensing regulations.

Days before the attack, there were at least 30 cyber cafe applications awaiting his processing,
60 cyber cafes and 59 video game outlets in Klang.

India: Orkut banned in small city cyber cafes

Cyber cafes in the Nagpur city, India, are caught in midst of a political cross fire.

Times of India reports :
The ORKUT website has been in the eye of a storm over the past two months, after two public interest litigations were filed against it in Aurangabad and Mumbai for derogatory references to Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji. State legislature at Nagpur, Shiv Sena MLC Arvind Sawant had demanded that the site be banned for 'obscene posts against Hindu women on the website'. Since then, fearing legal hassles, cyber cafe owners have asked their customers to refrain from logging on to .

While rumors are the city police has issued a notice calling for a ban of the web site . None of the city cafe operators have received such a notice .

Taiwan : cyber Palaces replace Internet Cafes

Cyber palaces replace Internet cafes

Despite government regulations and negative media coverage, some of Taipei's Internet cafes are working to provide more state-of-the-art services for customers

Taipei Times
Friday, January 5, 2007

By Ron Brownlow

If you had asked someone six years ago what Taiwan's Internet cafe of today would look like, that person might have described something like Ha2 in Shilin, near Taipei's Jiantan MRT station. Located beneath a winding staircase on a street that's often crowded with high school students, H2 is as sleek as a nightclub and as comfortable as the lobby of a five-star hotel. Effortlessly filling its 920m2 spread are 180 high-powered computers, soft white sofas and a conference room straight out of a James Bond movie.

Where competitors smell like airport smoking lounges and serve ramen noodles and instant coffee, H2 has a state-of-the-art ventilation system, a walk-in cooler, and a menu that lists pizza and fried chicken. Customers here for relaxation can read comic books at four-person pods with flat-panel monitors that swivel on mechanical arms, or pair off in cubicles with adjustable, wood-finish desks. Those on business get projector screens and a conference table with a partition that raises via remote control to reveal personal workstations. Set well apart from these areas are rows and rows of brand-new dual-processor PCs, where scores of young men battle day and night with keyboard and mouse on the latest online games.

Among the hundreds of Internet cafes that existed in Taipei six years ago, Ha2 stands out -- not so much for staying on the cutting edge of technology and comfort as for the fact that it's still around. Initial overinvestment in the industry, followed by government policies designed to address social problems linked to Internet cafes, have taken their toll. In 2002 there were 32 Internet cafes in Shilin alone, now there are nine, Ha2 manager Rich Kao said.

It's harder now than it was to find an Internet cafe in Taipei, but there are still more than 200 licensed ones in the city to choose from. Others have gone underground, unable to comply with city regulations mandating that they not operate within 200m of a school and limiting the hours when minors can visit. Many Internet cafes, unable to attract new investors, look like time capsules from the turn of the century, albeit with newer games and smoke-yellowed walls.

"Half of the social problems in Taiwan, the government -- and the media -- have blamed on Internet cafes," said Jacky Wu, founder of industry giant Aztec Technology, which once had nearly 90 franchises across Taiwan but now operates around three-dozen.

The trouble started with concerns that teenagers were spending too much time in Internet cafes, where they were exposed to excessive violence in computer games and could easily obtain access to pornographic Web sites or meet ill-intentioned strangers in online chat rooms. A survey supervised by a former justice minister found that around 400,000 young students were visiting Internet cafes at least once a week, spending an average of eight-and-a half-hours there. It was speculated that more than a quarter of young patrons were addicted to online games.

The Taipei City government responded in 2001 by passing a statute regulating "information-recreation service providers", or Internet cafes. According to published accounts, 90 percent of the city's estimated 800 Internet cafes did not comply with some aspect of the statute, which in addition to restricting access by the young also mandated that such businesses only operate in commercial areas on streets 8m wide or larger, where rent was more expensive than the residential areas where most had set up shop. The national government responded with its own, less stringent regulations.

But the bad publicity continued. A few months after the regulations were approved, a young man was found paralyzed in an Internet cafe in Taipei County. He had been there for three days and had not left his seat except for occasional bathroom breaks. Earlier this year, an unemployed man who had become estranged from his wife died after spending three months in a Danshui Internet cafe. According to published accounts, the cafe's owner said that over his lengthy stay, the man played video games, chewed betel nut, ate instant noodles and smoked.

Jacky Wu, a thin man with a gray crew cut who had the air of someone who'd seen too many reporters, estimates there are now between 200 and 300 Internet cafes in Taipei, with another 300 to 400 in Taipei County. Though he now owns only one, Skywalker Multimedia Entertainment Center, just off Songjiang Road, his is one of the most well-appointed.

At 1,300m, Skywalker is larger than Ha but has fewer computers. There is a large area in the back with wood paneling and Chinese scrolls, where customers can rest on comfortable sofas while surfing the Web or flipping through magazines -- 50 new titles each month -- and comic books -- Skywalker has 40,000. There are also workstations equipped with Microsoft Office software, printers, a photocopier and a fax machine. The hourly fee is NT$60, double the average price, but drinks are free. Like Ha2, Skywalker has a large conference room for business meetings, and a dedicated area for computer gamers.

Wu, who also founded the Solar System MTV chain and the King of Comics franchise, believes that advances in home computing have not rendered Internet cafes obsolete. "You can sing karaoke at home, but people still go to KTVs. You can watch movies at home, but people still go to movie theaters," he said. "There is room in Taiwan for the kind of cyber cafes they have in Tokyo, the ones with showers and beds and all kinds of media devices. But right now the local economic environment is so bad that no one wants to invest in something new. And if you do, the government will regulate you to death."

Taipei's largest Internet cafe has found a way to turn the extra government attention to its advantage. Located across the street from a gas station south of Nanjing East Road (LHH Cyber Cafe has four floors jammed with 200 computers, which it replaces every two years. The new models are Dell workstations with Intel Core 2 Duo processors, NT$10,000 NVIDIA graphics cards and Web cams for use with Skype or instant messaging programs.

LHH has received the city education bureau's Outstanding Youth Recreational Venue award for each of the last four years, one of only seven Internet cafes and 40 youth hangouts, including playgrounds and museums, to have earned that distinction. It has received similar citations from the national government. "If a customer stays here too long, we'll tell him to go home, shower and take a rest," said LHH manager Wu Shu-fang, whose pink uniform shirt and curly hair made her look like a playground supervisor.

Both Wu Shu-fang and Ha's Kao believe their industry has consolidated its losses and could see a renewed phase of expansion once investors regain confidence in the local economy. "The Internet cafes that had problems have already closed," said Kao, a former convenience store and restaurant manager who has stayed in the business because he loves computer games. "The ones that are still here will keep getting better."

Jacky Wu said he will continue to upgrade Skywalker's technology, but sometimes it's hard to see a brighter future. "When the government looks at this business, they just see computer games. They don't see the real potential here," he said.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

China Trys self-disciplinary approach in regulating Internet Cafes

After conducting over 19000 inspection in a little under 10 months , The Shanghai City authorities are realising the futility in this conventional policing approach.
Now in association with the operators of " Web Bar " s they are popularly reffered here in china They have a launched a Self -regulatory approach

Fang Zhiping, the association's vice secretary-general. of the Shanghai Internet Service Association is quoted in shanghai Daily
"We will conduct some self-disciplinary work and surveys on the Net cafe users' behavior to guide the public's Internet access service toward healthy growth,"

Hope this experiments proves a better approach.

USA gearing up for Cafe 2.0

Independent information architecture consultant Louis Rosenfeld at shares his concept of a ' Worker Friendly " cafe

The café I'd open would charge a fixed monthly "membership" rate (some number no greater than half what a local office would go for). In exchange it would provide some of the obvious shared business services, such as:

  • Wireless internet access (already available in most cafés)
  • Locked file cabinet drawers and other private storage space
  • A conference room, equipped with a projection system, that could be reserved in advance, and catered (for an additional fee) by the café, naturally
  • A copier
  • Plenty of low cost incidental supplies, such as dry erase markers, paper clips, Post-it notes, and so on
Lois is adding to the trend called ' Going Bedouin "

Korean Game Industry facing a rough patch .

Steven Davis of Secureplay points out to rapid changes in the Internet Gamming industry. Most of the Internet Cafes in South Korea Online Gamming offers prime attraction. He points out a few issues " the Korean game industry is facing is its growing maturity. Now, games have become a standard part of the entertainment culture of the country. Players no longer stay with a game for 3 to 5 years, but flit between games and will stay with a game for only 18 months or less. This radically changes the economics of game development and operation. " add to it the newly introduced Game Rating Board of Korea that has been populated by more conservative individuals has not been kind enough to the more aggresive games.

Pakistan gets first internet cafe for blind

Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness (PFFB) has successfully launched a Internet Cafe for the blind,
Reports the Peninsula Qatar.
The café involved the use of the JAWS software that provides voice output for every command given to the computer, enabling the blind to know what their fingers are doing. In the US it is considered a 20 year old technology

Read the whole story :

Islamabad gets first internet cafe for blind
Web posted at: 12/14/2006 4:47:14
Source ::: Internews

ISLAMABAD • Pakistan’s first-ever Internetcafé for the visually impaired has been inaugurated.

The project has been funded by the World Bank and the Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness (PFFB).

The WB granted Rs1.5m to the facility that promises to help bridge the technological gap between the blind and those blessed with the eyesight. The café would also link national and international blind communities.

IT Helpline Project Director Zahid Abdullah said the café involved the use of the JAWS software that provides voice output for every command given to the computer, enabling the blind to know what their fingers are doing.

Aqil Sajjad, the first visually impaired Pakistani pursuing his PhD at Harvard, introduced the software in Islamabad in 1999. The software was developed in the US 20 years ago.

The café is absolutely free and is equipped with the latest computers, scanner, printer and DSL connection for fast Internet browsing.

Officials said the facility would remain open from 4 pm to 7 pm Abdullah said the education and technology were two major levellers in the life of a visually impaired person. He hoped that students and professionals would make good use of the café.

Special Education Director General Sarfraz Ahmed asked the PFFB to submit proposals for the government to consider setting up more such facilities. He regretted that his directorate was established 38 years after Pakistan’s creation and the first policy for the disabled was formulated only in 2002.

Maqbool Ahmed, director of PFFB’s medical and research project, said 100 members of one family in Pakistan had been diagnosed as suffering from Retinitis Pigemento (RP), a genetically transmitted disease that causes progressive loss of vision.

Tell me Cost of access at Internet Cafes

Recently I got to talk ot a Internet Cafe operator form Mexico & Indonesia. I checked out with them what is rater for per hour of Internet Access in Internet Cafes, Suprisingly It was almost the same as charged in India ie approx equal to 0.45 US Dollar per hour !

There are some similar traits in these three countries

  • All are part of developing economies
  • Have high density population
  • Most of the people depend heavily on shared Interent Access places & Interent cafes/ Telecentre remains a popular model
  • Internet Cafe operators share the same dilemma, stiff competition due to cut throat pricing.
It will be interesting to know whats the state in other countries? So dear readers help me post the cost of access in your country in the comment box inthis format :

Example :
Prague, Czech Republic, USD 2.00
source :

I will compile it into a neat table . below

Lets hope it will throw up some interesting insights!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Kenya : Member of Parliament too depend on Internet Cafes

James Ratemo in The East African Standard, Nairobi Reports :

Can't find your Member of Parliament in his Continental House office? Try looking in the nearest city cyber-cafe.

Despite costing the National Assembly some Sh465 million - and boasting such necessities as an ultra-modern gym - MPs' offices in the building are not connected to the Internet.

"We cannot communicate with colleagues nor access the outside world," Gem MP, Mr Jakoyo Midiwo, yesterday told an Information and Communication Technology workshop for MPs. "Our alleged website is dead."

Midiwo and other MPs took the ICT secretary, Mr Juma Okech, to task over delays in providing them with Internet access.

Okech, however, assured them the Government was committed to a paperless public sector and urged the MPs to pass the ICT Bill, currently in the House.

The MPs were meeting to reflect on the role of Parliament in the information communication society. The two-day workshop is supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, through the e-Policy Resource Network, and the Government of Canada.

Copyright © 2006 The East African Standard.

Monday, July 24, 2006

China : Internet cafe easy target to teen pranks

Shanghai daily reports bored teen Internet cafe customers antics

Teen terrorist by -- CITY police announced the arrest of a 19-year-old man suspected of making fake terrorist threats. Police said the suspect surnamed Li sent an online notice from an Internet cafe in Fengxian District on July 3, claiming he was planning to blow up the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

Li allegedly confessed to police that he came up with the idea out of boredom and just wanted to frighten other Netizens.

Despite Shanghai city 's internet cafes highly regulated, the city police do face such pranks.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Nigeria promotes cyber cafe in IT summit

Nigerian netizens Plagued by online scams like 419 , have brought an adverse image.
The Nigerian regulators & some private companies have joined hands to address the various issues. The initiative is called " City People’s Telecoms/IT Summit" It offers a common platform to all the stake holders to address the issues form their perspective. The regulators
addressed briefly on the challenges faced by them in carrying out its oversight functions.

Nigeria's Vanguard News-site reports :
The summit with the theme; “Taking Advantage of Opportunities in the Telecoms/IT Sector” is being hosted by the City People Media Group in furtherance of its support for the fast growing sector. According to the organizer, the summit is intended to benefit ordinary Nigerians as well as the Telecoms/IT operators to tap from the enormous advantages in the sector.
Topics for the summit include
“Creative Marketing of Telecoms Deliverables”,
Taking Advantage of banks’ facilities ”,
“ How to make legitimate money from the Internet”,
“ Careers in Telecoms/IT and human resources management”
“How to set up profitable Cybercafes and Business Centres”,
“Web payment made easy” and
“ maintaining a responsive Customer Care Centre”.

great initiative to bring ICT benefits to common man.