If you're in San Francisco on Tuesday December 2, you might want to check this out. The Jhai Foundation will be demonstrating their bicycle-operated wireless computers built for use in rural Laos.
The system as conceptualized is based upon low-power embedded (PC-104) computers running the GNU/Linux operating system and supporting 802.11b wireless communication (often called "WiFi") to create a communication link over the mountain range to the nearest town having electrical power and telephone access. The existence of a growing body of open source software supporting such wireless communications was central to this decision.
The major requirement is that current must be more than 3.6 Amperes in order to charge, which necessitates a fairly vigorous pace. The bicycle is mounted in a well-ventilated room and an assistant will certainly need to fan the cyclist to avoid overheating.
Jhai are at 921 France Ave. Give them a ring for more details on (415) 225 1665 (but call early - I think it's on in the morning).
I was having a chat with Earl Mardle about Jhai when he was in town the other week since he has some involvment with this project and it's good to see that they are still going. I used to live in the north of Thailand for a while and have been up to Laos more than a few times and truly loved the place.
I was wanting to make a donation to phpBB, the guys who wrote the software that powers our forums but it turns out that they don't accept them! Instead, they ask you to make a donation to your favorite charity so we'll be contributing to Jhai. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it to the demo but if anyone goes, please post a comment and let us know how it went.