CommCare published on Buckminster Fuller Challenge Idea Index 1.0

by namland on 14 February 2012

CommCare was published on the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Idea Index 1.0 as of February 14, 2012. CommCare’s profile on the Idea Index 1.0 can be found here.

The Idea Index serves as a tool to educate, network, and help solve problems. It represents a fully searchable database of socially-responsible initiatives, in all stages of development, in need of further funding and support.

More about the Buckminster Fuller Challenge here.

“Replicate” all docs matching a view request

by cternus on 13 February 2012

Say you want to copy all docs onto your local machine that match a view, with optional key arguments.
  1. Go to http://<DB host>:<port>/<DB name>/_design/<view group>/_view/<view name>/?key=<key>&include_docs=true e.g. http://localhost:10000/commcarehq/_design/groups/_view/by_domain?key=%22pathfinder%22&include_docs=true.  You should see the results as JSON.
  2. Save the result as a file (you can also use curl, but make sure to escape the arguments properly).
  3. Assuming the file is “results.txt”, extract the docs from the file: $ grep -o ‘{“_id”.*”}’ results.txt > results2.txt
  4. $ split -l1 results2.txt res_ (will produce res_aa, res_ab, res_ac, etc.)
  5. $ for f in res_*; do curl -X POST http://localhost:5984/commcarehq/ -H “Content-Type: application/json” -d @$f; done
  6. If this works, you should see output like:








Dimagi presented CommCare at HISP conference alongside the University of Oslo and the Unique Identification Authority of India

by namland on

Krishna Swamy, Dimagi India’s Director of Operations, attended the “DHIS2 Academy – DHIS2 Implementers Workshop” conference in Shimla, India hosted by the Society for Health Information Systems Programmes (HISP India) along with its partners – Department of Health & Family Welfare, Himachal Pradesh and National Health Systems Resource Centre.

Krishna presented CommCare as well as spoke on a panel alongside presenters from the University of Oslo (DHIS) and the Unique Identification Authority of India.  The conference was for people with working experience of setting up, maintaining and supporting DHIS2, with the aim of preparing national teams, and also state and district level teams, of technical supporters and implementers. A broader aim was to create a resource pool of trained people for the South Asian region. More conference information here: http://hispindia.org/images/stories/nationalworkshopflyer.pdf

Experience with TaskRabbit

by adewinterdimagi on 10 February 2012

I got quite sick of doing the buy/install/configure dance with the Wisepill devices for Project ARemind.


Here’s what I did to get things done /way/ more efficiently and effectively zero stress (mostly from Jon’s suggestions so thanks goes to him):


When buying a ton of prepaid simcards (US):
  • Go to a t-mobile store (brick and mortar, not the hot dog stand variety)
  • Ask them for N prepaid sims, do not forget to mention that you need to administrate them remotely!
  • Ask nicely that they prepare the sim cards for you:
  • If they could sign up to the t-mobile online account for each SIM for you)
  • If they can set up pre-paid (i.e. it drops $10 into the account each month or whatever)
  • Hand them your corporate credit card, let them know they should keep it for the duration and swipe as neccessary
  • Sign off for the first sim card
  • Go have coffee.
  • You now have N sim cards purchased, set up, and ready to rumble!


For the Wisepill devices there’s a lot of steps to go through to get them ready for use:
  • Unscrew four (not phillips, not flat head, not hex, some special screw, smaller than a regular PC Case screw) screws
  • pop in the sim card
  • Connect the device up to your PC for programming
  • Program it (the software is finicky and needs to be restarted 1 time out of 4)
  • Disconnect and trigger the Wisepill
  • Wait.
  • See if a message arrived where you expected it (from the Number you expected)
  • Re-screw the screws
It’s boring and painful.


Enter: TaskRabbit!


I got a taskrabbiter to do the wisepill thing less than 20 minutes after putting out the ad (sign up and setting up the ad was deliciously easy).   I had some basic instructions written up.  When she arrived, I showed her how to do what needed to be done (including entering the numbers into a spreadsheet AND labelling!).  It took her ~4.5 hours and we paid $120.


Now I can spend all that saved time worrying about getting a visa to Nigeria.  Win win!


Thanks for reading!

The Away Month

by Cory Zue on 8 February 2012

Winter in Boston

It was, like many good ideas, hatched out of the minds of a small group of people over a few rounds of drinks.

It was in Boston, sometime in January or February of 2011, during a particularly bad winter. We stared out the windows of the pub looking through the falling sleet, and someone lightheartedly said something extremely simple:

“Winters in Boston are terrible – why don’t we just move the whole company somewhere warm and awesome for a month next year?”

Everyone laughed. We discussed the places we’d each choose to go and enjoyed the rest of the night together. At the end of the night everyone went home, thinking no more than it was a fun night out with coworkers.

But the thought lingered. Why didn’t we move the company for a month? The idea seems so ludicrous to even warrant consideration, which was why it was quickly dismissed by everyone. But actually justifying why it was such a bad idea was much more difficult. There wasn’t a good reason not to move the company.

Of course, Dimagi is a unique work environment. Here are some of the things we had going for us:

  • We’re a software shop. This means that for most of us all our work requires is a laptop and an internet connection. Face to face collaboration helps a lot, but if we’re together we’re efficient, wherever that may be.
  • The majority of our work is already international. This means that people are used to traveling and used to collaborating with people who are on the road. It also means we tend to attract the type of people who are open to picking up and moving their lives for a month.
  • Related to that, we’re pretty young. Most of the company isn’t married and none of the devs have children yet. Doing this with a couple rug rats running around would probably be pretty tough.
  • We thrive on a culture of trust and responsibility. We trust everyone to work hard without intensive oversight or clocking in.
  • Finally, we like each other. This one is probably the most important. When you’re considering spending the majority of your time with people you work with you better be sure that you’re going to get along.

Even given all this, there were plenty of things for management (including myself) to be concerned about with this plan. Would the output of the team drop in the face of the temptation of fun in a foreign land? Would the separation between those that left and those that stayed make working together more difficult? Would spending too much time together cause us to all want to tear each other’s heads off? These were just some of the problems to worry about.

Christian on the Dimagi Brazil deck

As we thought through these concerns and planned mitigation strategies around them, we realized that the upside of what we were calling the “away month” was just too big to ignore. The impact this could have on our culture and our sense of team was tremendous. As one of our devs put it: “I just want Dimagi to continue a place where every time I tell anyone about my job they get insanely jealous”.

So it is with great pleasure and excitement that I type these words from a third-floor apartment overlooking the Sao Paolo skyline, a place now affectionately known as Dimagi Brazil. We are just over a week into our 5 and a half week stay here and so far things are going great. We’ve started a Posterous blog that we’re using to share photos and experiences with the rest of the team and world. We’ll also try to continue blogging about our experiences, and the success (or possible total failure) of our “away month” experiment. In one of the next posts I’ll outline some of the guidelines and goals we setup to help make the month as successful as possible.

If everything goes well we’ll continue to do this every year until people no longer want to go.