Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Samsung Galaxy Mini- My Review

Meet Lexxy, my new Samsung Galaxy Mini. Goodbye BI- Black Ideot, my lovely ex. Thanks to Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore for that one! (Although I did change BI’s cover to yellow).

The Samsung Galaxy Mini
The Samsung Galaxy Mini. If you look closely, you can see I used the yellow-covered Ideos to take a photo of the Galaxy and it's reflected on the screen of the Galaxy.

This is a phone I’d call the smartphone of Africa. It’s affordable and offers a lot of features for its asking price of Kshs. 12,999. You can find it in Safaricom shops where you get 200MB of data recurring every month for 3 months.

The phone runs on the Android 2.2 platform, which is basically the same as the Huawei Ideos U8150. I would actually it’s closest competitor is the Huawei Ideos which retails for much cheaper and offers almost everything that’s possible on the Android platform, if only with a number of compromises. So my review will compare the two phones. Besides, it’s only natural since my ex is an Ideos.

Android 2.2

Both the Ideos and The Galaxy Mini run on the android 2.2 platform, giving both access to hundreds of thousands of apps available on the android market right now. They range from photo editing apps, to social networking apps, to document viewers/editors, media players/converters.. basically everything you can think of. It’s like the rule 34, but now for apps. At this point you might wanna Google rule 34 but I digress.

There is also a Samsung Apps market but truth be told I haven’t checked it out because everything can be found on the Android market.

Common Features

Both phones have GPS, GPRS, 3.2 Megapixel Cameras (although the Samsung produces much better photographs than the Ideos, much better), Wifi, 3G, HSPDA for data access, tethering and hotspot, microSD support of up to 32GB (both come with a 2GB memory card), micro-USB port/cable, 3.5mm audio jack (so you can use most earphones, it’s like the standard in Kenya), 600MHz processor, 200MB, radio and the other usual features.

Let us just say that most of the differences are in the hardware of the phones.. If you want to see a full list of the features, please check out the GSMArena description; Samsung Galaxy Mini and Huawei Ideos U8150

Colour, Size and Screen Resolution

The Samsung Galaxy Mini is bigger but slimmer and lighter than the Huawei Ideos. The Ideos comes in pink, yellow, blue and black BACK covers, the rest of the phone is black. The galaxy mini comes in black/silver back colours with a lime green trim.

An Ideos fits perfectly in my hand but the mini is a bit of stretch. Also because of size, it’s faster and more accurate to type on the mini than on the Ideos so all those people with the fat-fingers-vs-touch-screens-syndrome will have an easier time :-)

The Samsung Galaxy Mini. Image from gsmarena.com

The screen resolution is the same for both: 240 by 320 pixels. HOWEVER, since the screen of the galaxy mini is bigger, it appears pixelleted (I hope this is a real word). This is when you can actually see individual pixels of the display!

So the galaxy mini’s screen compensates by having a higher contrast of colours and brighter display. Still… it makes me kind of miss my smooth-looking Ideos display.

I read a blog review that said the galaxy mini has the lowest resolution and Android phone can actually sink to!

Battery Life/Talk Time

The mini (by now I can drop the galaxy part) has almost double the talk time of the Ideos. With my usage, I used to get low-battery warnings every 3 hours, but with the mini it’s like 6 hours. So just know that the mini’s battery is roughly twice as better as the Ideos, and by better I mean longer lasting.

Media Player/Radio

The Ideos has a weak media player.. if I can use the word weak. The mini has a robust music player/radio that makes listening to it so enjoyable, it is loud without compromising quality. Almost like listening to a surround hi-fi system when your earphones are plugged in.

Notifications

So whenever I got a call/text/gchat, the Ideos indicator light flashed green. If I got a violet flash, that was a WhatsApp chat. If the battery went low, it flashed red. If it was charging, it continuously glowed red, and as it neared full, it glowed green.

However with the mini, I have to swipe and unlock the screen so I can see my notifications. I miss that feature on the Ideos.

Start-up Time

Remember how we used to switch on computers, go make a cup of tea and come back to find it still hasn’t finished booting up? Well, the same happens with the Ideos. It takes more than a minute to come back to life! Something I definitely don’t miss. This can be an agonizing wait in an age where we love instant stuff..

The mini has a much more friendly waiting time. Less than 15 seconds (okay I didn’t time it but the time factor is ignorable-if I could say that).

Other differences include:

Colour-differentiated text threads on the galaxy mini which makes them look better than the Ideos ones.. but I think this might be a theme thing I’ll confirm.

The extra green/red buttons on the Ideos are missing on the mini but that doesn’t affect much really.

The mini supports multi-touch, meaning you can pinch to zoom in/out of a document on the browser or a picture.

The mini supports more screens than the fixed 5 screens of the Ideos. You can add/delete screens which you can’t do on the Ideos.

The camera for the mini is better, clearer.. however, it has NO ZOOM! I don’t expect an optical zoom but it should support a digital zoom like the Ideos though with the poor quality Ideos camera maybe it doesn’t matter. Both cameras have no auto-focus or flash.

In Conclusion

To read a detailed review of the galaxy mini, read this blog.

Is the Galaxy Mini Better Than The Huawei Ideos?

Yes. It’s bigger, slimmer, lighter, faster, longer-lasting battery, better camera etc. There is a slight hardware improvement from the Ideos. Also, the Ideos is now too common, probably your watchie is spotting one! I know people who want affordable style, a smartphone but not an Ideos. This is the phone for you.

The Galaxy Mini is retailing for 13K while the Huawei Ideos U8150 goes for 8K. Depending on your budget, make a choice!

A Visit to Craft Silicon

This past Friday, we took time off our busy schedule and got into the Strathmore bus to visit the Craft Silicon Campus. Craft Silicon is said to be the biggest Kenyan IT company. Started over 10 years by the CEO Kamal, they now export software to over 40 countries, mostly Asia, Middle East and some countries in Europe/Africa. (P.S. I was trying to look for Kamal’s second name, and when I checked out their About us–>Management, it is under construction! Let’s check it next week and see if that’s the situation! Hmm.. anyway, Google tells me it’s Budhabatti.)

Craft Silicon’s core business is providing software solutions for the banking industry. These include banks, micro-finance institutions etc.

Kamal visited us one time at Strathmore and talked to us about his company.. that’s a story for another day though. He’s a simple guy who doesn’t like dressing up. He told us how the work-place at Craft Silicon is ideal for developers.. the set-up sounded like what Google offices offer. He said how you can even drink at work as long as you deliver (I don’t know if he was joking at this part.. said you can even find beer bottles lying around!). There’s a gym, a basketball court, etc. It’s a free space where you can come in at any time and leave at any time as long as your work is done.

Then he told us we could go visit any time.. we made arrangements, and on Friday, landed at the Craft Silicon Campus. I was impressed.

Situated in Westlands, just near Deloitte, the campus has one big glass building, a parking lot full of cars (every developer there drives?), and a separate building that has a gym. There’s the basketball court and swimming pool. Next to the pool is a coffee bar that looked cozy especially in the current cold Nairobi weather!

The Craft Silicon Campus
The Craft Silicon Campus

Kamal welcomed into a large meeting room, then gave a short presentation about his company and what they do. He then talked about ELMA, which I will blog about later. In short, it’s a mobile application that does almost everything.. from banking transactions to payment of bills to news updates. Download it on your phone from here

We were then given a tour of the place. The first floor is where developers do their thing, the second floor is for non-tech staff and the third (and topmost) floor has an eating space and a kitchen. It’s a very spacious place..

Craft Silicon From Another Angle

The place was very quiet though. We didn’t get to see the techies at work typing away. They must be very disciplined or the work environment is not as free as touted.. I’m believing it’s the latter. The whole time we were there, we hardly saw anyone walk around, shoot a basketball, or swim (ha, not with the cold weather! We should visit on a sunny day!)

The Swimming Pool.. I love swimming! That's the coffee bar in the background

Here’s a picture of the interior of the coffee bar.

The Coffee bar. The staff kindly let me take a pic of them.

All in all, it was a fun visit, and if any of you want to work at CS, check out their careers page.

Computers and Personalities

First of all, I must apologize for neglecting this blog for over a week! I also haven’t been responding to comments, I promise I will very soon.

So back to the post at hand: We can all describe ourselves, and relationships, using computer-speak. Here we go:

Firmware:

Firmware is programming that’s written to the read-only memory (ROM) of a computing device. Firmware, which is added at the time of manufacturing, is used to run user programs on the device.

These are people we can rely on. They are trustworthy, you can be sure as long as you leave proper instructions, they will execute them. They are the friends who you will call when in trouble because you know they have your back. This is the person who, once their mind is made up, is hard to change (think ROM). We all need firmware friends!

They make good accountants. Or motivational speakers/authors.

Bill Cosby looks trustworthy, no? Image from mobdd.com

Liveware

A slang term used to denote people using (attached to) computers, and is based on the need for a human, or liveware, to operate the system using hardware and software.

A liveware person is charming, passionate and attractive. Everyone seems either hate/love them with a passion. They are the alpha male in the club, the one every chick wants to be with. It’s that chick who walks into the room and conversation stops. She doesn’t have to look stunning, but her personality attracts people to her. You are proud/jealous sometimes when you have a liveware friend. You know liveware are dangerous to date… but you do it anyway. They will leave you for someone else but you would still forgive them if they came back… except they never come back!

Liveware people make good politicians/human rights activists!

Like this man might be a liveware! Image from uncyclopedia.wikia.com

Shareware

Software distributed on the basis of an honor system. Most shareware is delivered free of charge, but the author usually requests that you pay a small fee if you like the program and use it regularly.

These are the people, male or female, that never say no. Whether you are asking them for money, sex etc.. Consequently, they end up being used by everyone around them. You know when you need something, you can just call them up and they will say yes!

The Yes man. Image from movie-list.com

Malware

Malware, short for malicious software, consists of programming (code, scripts, active content, and other software) designed to disrupt or deny operation, gather information that leads to loss of privacy or exploitation, gain unauthorized access to system resources, and other abusive behavior.

They are the malicious people. Acidic in nature, though they can appear harmless or even friendly on the surface. They are the friends that will stab you in the back, like Trojan Horses. They are the ones that are never happy at your successes, though they may pretend they are. Do not trust them.

Stop, virus! Image from dreamstime.com

Software

Computer software, or just software, is a collection of computer programs and related data that provide the instructions for telling a computer what to do and how to do it

This is the class of people that are easy to talk to. They are the mediators.. mostly between you and other types of people. They make dealing with hardware/malware/shareware people easy. They are easy to trust, though that can turn out to be a mistake, ask Windows users. They are however useful, as everyone finds it easy to talk to them. They should be deployed to the front desk/customer care!

Hardware

These people are hard to talk to, they refuse to change their minds, are conservative, I’d say. They make good headmasters/mistress of secondary schools.

Freeware

Freeware (from “free” and “software”) is computer software that is available for use at no cost or for an optional fee, but usually with one or more restricted usage rights. Freeware is in contrast to commercial software, which is typically sold for profit.

Oh.. this is a sad group of people and we are part freeware. There is that one person for whom we would do anything for. We are their freeware. They may or may not be good to us, but we’d do anything for them, for free!

P.S. This is in no way comprehensive.. I might edit this post soon. Had to type this really fast because I’m late heading somewhere.. don’t ask, I’ll tell! Flag any typos for future correction, enjoy :)

Strathmore University

I used to think I hate SU. Now I’ve realized I love it. Oh, I still hate the dress code and other ‘behavioural’ rules but I’ve learned to separate the sin from the sinner, if you’re familiar with that expression.

I have been a student here for the past three months, and currently I’m on a two week break. And in these two weeks, I’ve missed SU!

What I miss is the environment. Strathmore University is the best IT school in Kenya, hands down. Their computers are good, the internet is up most of the time, their online learning system actually works, their staff is helpful.. I could go on and on.

I generally don’t interact with students outside my class; in any case we’re usually busy. We’re the first students under iLabAfrica, a research center that was opened just last month. We’re about 30 students taking the daytime classes, being sponsored by the Safaricom Academy. We’re doing the Masters in Telecommunication Innovation and Development, which is supposed to make entrepreneurs out of us. We should come up with technology solutions that will take advantage of the current growth in the telecom sector, solutions that will solve the myriad of problems facing society as well as make us successful business people (read USD millionaires :-) )

The Student's Center, where iLab Africa resides. My home for the next two months. Image from strathmore.edu

For these two weeks I’ve been on holiday, I’ve hardly touched my computer in a coding way. If I’m on my laptop, I’m surfing the net or watching movies. It’s not that I don’t have projects I should be working on; I do. So I’m guessing it’s the environment. I think I’m one of those people who work best under pressure(sic).

Anyway, for any developer out there, here’s your chance to get your name heard:

Tandaa Digital Content Grant

The Tandaa Local Digital Content Grant is a grant to support ICT in Kenya. It is like seed funding for companies entering new media and ICT. In particular, the grant seeks to support products and services developed for the Internet and mobile phone.

Deadline: 22nd August, 2011

Orange African Social Venture Prize

The project aims at promoting social innovation for development, thanks to information and communication technologies, through financial and management support to new businesses.

Deadline:September 15th, 2011

Nokia Create For Millions App Competition

Submit your best Series 40 Java or web apps in Nokia’s ‘Create for Millions’ contest to win your share of cash and prizes, worth 1 million euros.

Deadline:Locally, September 1st, 2011

BAKE Happy Hour

The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) will be having a happy hour this Friday 5th August, from 6pm. The Venue is Secrets Lounge. I hope to see you all there!

Sign up here

Meanwhile, there has been a campaign that we have been running as Kenyan bloggers and social media users. To save the Mount Kenya forest. Please support this cause by displaying the badge below on your blog. Read about this campaign here and also tweet/like.

save mt. Kenya campaign
In partnership with africapoint.com

The Graduation That Was

This will be a picture story.. I’m not feeling very chatty today. I’ll tell you why at the end of the post.

So on Thursday morning, we left early for the graduation square. All graduands sat under this gigantic tent that was decorated with university colours.

The graduation square

Our names were read out…. we had to wait for all the undergraduate degrees to be called out before we were finally conferred with our degrees. You can imagine reading out over 3,000 names can induce sleep!

Poor guy couldn't stay awake. I hope he doesn't sue me for using his image without permission! Don't tell him!

Finally though, our names were read, we stood up, we were given the powers to read and we threw our hats into the air. We had to be careful though, if you lost yours you have to pay a big fine.

The throwing of the graduation hat!

Later, we posed for pics with our family, friends, and fellow graduands. These below are the first class honours recipients in computer science.

Me, Em, Monch, Walter. Congratulations my friends!

P.S.

Remember me saying I’m not feeling chatty? Google called this morning: bad news. They don’t think I’m quite ready for an internship yet. Oh well, life goes on?

Nokia brings two Dual SIM phones to Kenya

Press Release

Nairobi, Kenya August 1, 2011: Nokia today announced that the Dual SIM Nokia X1-01 and Nokia C2-00 would soon both be on sale in Kenya. Both models offer the most convenient and intuitive experience available for switching between SIM cards – without compromising on features and fun.

“The Nokia X1-01 and Nokia C2-00 pack more memory, better battery life and far richer SIM change and entertainment features than other Dual SIM products currently in the market,” said Kenneth Oyolla, General Manager for Nokia East and Southern Africa. “In addition to their various unique features (see below), both of these phones remember the settings for up to five separate SIM cards, each of which can be personalized with a dedicated name as well as preferred call, SMS or data settings. ONLY Nokia can offer this level of convenience in Dual SIM phones!”

Nokia X1-01

Nokia X1-01 Front
Nokia X1-01 Back

With the Nokia X1-01 you can give each SIM card its own logo, music signature or ringtone – personalization features that you can only get from Nokia! The phone also offers what is simply the best Dual SIM music experience on the market. You can store and shuffle THOUSANDS of songs with up to 16 GB of memory support, create your own favorite playlists, and play your music back over a loudspeaker that is the loudest and clearest ever produced by Nokia. The phone also features dedicated music side keys and a battery the will last for up to 36 hours of continued music playback!

Nokia C2-00

The Nokia C2-00 is the first to Dual SIM phone to have Easy Swap, which offers you the convenience of changing SIM cards without the need to turn off the phone or remove the battery. Just open the SIM door at the side of the phone and swap your SIMs. It’s as easy as that! No more waiting for the phone to reboot. With the Nokia C2-00 you can also browse the internet, read emails and enjoy instant messaging with either SIM card. Not only is the internet browsing experience far superior than that available on competing Dual SIM products, but so too is the memory support. At a whopping 32 GB, the Nokia C2-00 lets you keep thousands of photos, videos and music files with you all the time.

The Nokia X1-01 will go on sale in Kenya in authorized retail stores at a Recommended Retail Price of between Kshs 3,200-3,500. The Nokia C2-00 will retail at between Kshs 6,000 and Kshs 6,500.