Monthly Archives: September 2011

WordCamp Kenya, 2011

How would you like to spend the weekend of November 12-13th? How about at Crayfish Camp in Naivasha, hanging out with the coolest WordPress friends and users, learning about WordPress the blogging platform (which this blog runs on) from experienced bloggers, users and developers. Including transport to and from Nairobi, accommodation, food, a t-shirt (what’s a function without a tshirt!), 500 bob worth of airtime from Safaricom, and the 2-day conference. Still not convinced?

WordCamp Kenya is a conference about the world’s most popular blogging software WordPress. Developers, designers and users will come together for talks and workshops related to WordPress and to publishing on the web, and to network. WordCamp Kenya 2011 is happening on 12th and 13th November 2011 at Crayfish Camp

Crayfish camp in Naivasha

Learn more about wordcamp here. It’s a conference that focuses on anything WordPress. It’s the first time it is being held in Kenya.

Tickets for only Kshs.3,000 for early birds! Normal tickets go for Kshs. 4,000. You can pay by mpesa. Get your ticket here.

Kachwanya has blogged about the 8 reasons why you should not miss this: I will copy paste some under the Creative Commons License: as long as I acknowledge the source, and I’m not use this material for profit etc etc I can copy..

Local Content creation

WordCamp Kenya 2011 has great speakers, who will be putting into perspective what it means to be a content creator, going into details on on the benefits of using wordpress as the platform, Making money though Bake and other channels. It is going to be a great weekend of learning in a relaxed environment. You can’t miss that!

Networking

The term networking and who is who are these days being used loosely, but in Naivasha you will meet developers led by the Founder of WordPress, leading Bloggers, Poets, designers, tweeps and MKZers. If you have ever wanted to meet some of these people in real life, here is your chance.

Fun Weekend

Ordinarily you might find yourself too busy to have a little bit of time for yourself. WordCamp Kenya 2011 give you a chance to learn, network and have fun. Swimming pool, lake, and trails, name it. In other words you can try your hand in fishing, swimming, canoeing, or biking.

Data.

For the nijnjas who are online 24/7, you are catered for too. Safaricom will provide great data connection right from the time you enter the bus to the time you come back in Nairobi. Yes, the bus will be wired and much better at the camp. On top of that Kshs. 500 Airtime from Safaricom Ltd for mobile data. You will truly have a working weekend

Love for Nature:

Do you love nature….If you are like me, then you can be assured that Naivasha has it all when comes to magnificent outdoors.. Yeah, i know you know, book your ticket now.. [My addition: Crayfish is located on the shores of Lake Naivasha]

Entertainment Galore

I can’t even describe this one..night camp with a fireside poetry session, it is entertainment in a unique way. Come, meet and interact with some the best poets we have around. And they are ready to entertain you on that day. You simply can’t make this one up…

Great Experience at affordable cost

As i have said before, only three days remaining for the early bird tickets.. Hurry up and pick your ticket. Ksh3000 for early birds and thereafter Ksh.4000. To pay by M-Pesa, use MPESA as a coupon then send the amount in Kenya Shillings to 0722334955 then drop an email at kenya (at) wordcamp.org with the transaction code.

The Galaxy S II Review: Part II

Sorry this post is long overdue. Apologies for those who have been waiting rather impatiently.

Read part one of the review(hardware) here. I forgot to mention a couple of things: The phone screen is of gorilla glass technology, very damage-resistant. I don’t mean you go take a needle and test it out, but within the confines of what I will term ‘normal’ usage. A friend was telling me how she dropped her Ideos in water (cold, not boiling, though I have no idea what temperature has got to do with it) and it still works! Only the buttons work though, the screen display is okay but it is now touch-resistant. A whole new dimension to the expression you can look but you cannot touch.

A second thing I forgot to mention is the delicate-looking nature of the device is deceiving. Because it is light, if it falls it does not shatter to pieces! I deliberately dropped it on rough concrete this afternoon and it came away with a few scratches! It has also fallen many times, mostly from the couch/bed to the floor. I don’t mean you get a hammer to see how resistant it is!

Software Review

Onwards then.. To the Software Review of the Phone. It runs on Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread, which can be upgraded to 2.3.4, but even with 2.3.3 I have no complaints so far. The hardware specifications, operating system and apps/functionalities combine to make Calypso(name of phone) the best phone on earth currently.

General Look and Feel, Responsiveness

Assisted by the beautiful screen, anything rendered on this phone looks amazing. The pixel density may not be the highest in the market, but you can’t tell from the quality of the display. It supports multi-touch (pinch to zoom in/out), and when you pinch the current screen you get a view of all the 7 available screens where you can put your apps.

The Screens.. currently populated with numerous apps!

Tilting to Zoom

The phone is gravity sensitive. If a call comes in, you can turn it over to mute it. If you are playing music and you turn over the phone, sound goes off. Apps can rotate left or right. Not upside down though!

Another cool thing is when you want to zoom pics/browser, you can tilt the phone down to enlarge or up to down to decrease size.

Touchwiz 4.0

Basically this is a customized way of providing touch-features on the phone. When someone calls you, you can choose to accept, or reject with a text message. This is so cool, as it brings a host of useful messages that you can immediately send.

The text messages you can use when rejecting a call

When you have a contact number, you can swipe left to create a message to them, or right to create a call.

The Samsung keyboard on the S II is terrific; considering the size of the screen, and the accuracy of the touch-screen, you can type really fast on it. I have found that I prefer to type in portrait rather than landscape, it’s a fairly wide (but very slim) phone and it strains my thumbs to type in landscape.

Notifications, Shortcut Bar

The notifications (missed calls, messages, updates, incoming emails etcc) come to the top bar and you can pull it down to view them.

The notifications bar and you can see the shortcuts up there.

In addition, there is a shortcut bar at the top for switching on/off wifi, bluetooth, GPS, Sound, Auto rotation. When you press the power button, you get fast options for switching on/off sound, data network, flight mode or power.

To capture a screenshot, you press power and home button simultaneously. No need to scout the Android market for an app!

Rotating Map

This is the only phone as far as I know, where you can get a hold of the map and turn it in any direction you want! I don’t mean auto-rotation when you tilt your screen, I mean literally just holding and turning the map in any direction! This can help you make sense of the directions especially where you find yourself walking towards your left yet your map is pointing right. It uses Google maps, which I dare are the most detailed for Kenya.

The map of Africa upside down..

Hubs

There is a music hub, where you can download music; a social hub (which is not very useful) and a reader’s hub, which is simply awesome.

Looks like a real bookshelf.. almost!

It comes with a PressDisplay for reading digital editions of newspapers (the Daily Nation and EA Standard are available, though you only get like 7 free copies). You read the paper just as it is in print!

There is Kobo for reading books; oh it’s a pleasure. I have been reading Pride and Prejudice (I realized I never finished the book during my first attempt), and when you swip to go to the next page, it flips the page as if you were reading a real book. Don’t be tempted to lick your finger so you can easily flip to the next page as you do with a hard copy book! You can also highlight paragraphs, add notes… and refer to these later.

Zinio is for reading mags. Same as the PressReader but now for digital magazines… most are not free though!

AllShare

With the Allshare, when a number of Samsung devices are connected on a common wi-fi, you can browse their media content! Like you would on a local area network, where you can browse the public files of another computer. I admit some of these features are better shown than told!

Kies air

This is for transferring files to/from the phone to the computer. All you need is to just plug and play! You can see the phone’s internal memory and memory card.

Voice Search/Voice Command/ Voice Talk

Voice search is fairly common to all Android devices. Same as voice command. However, it’s never that accurate and it takes time to process (processing is over the internet). The only thing it can do accurately so far is when I tell it to ‘Play Music’. Immediately it goes to the last played song and continues from there!

Conclusion

The Galaxy S II. Image from engadget.com.
This phone is the BEST Android phone in the market, that is a fact. However it will not suit anyone, we all have our different needs. Some might think it uncomfortably thin, others might find the screen a bit too wide, or the price (Kshs. 60K+) out of range.

I also cannot do justice to its software features, they are better shown than told, trust me. So the next time you see me, ask to be shown.

With time if (actually when) I discover new cool stuff, I shall let you know. Currently, I am enjoying playing Racing Moto.. a game of high quality graphics, no lag in response (what with a 1.2GHz dual core processor), speed and adrenalin, I have to beat the high score on Calypso. I’m out.

P.S. I recommend this review on engadget again.

P.P.S. There are hunderds of thousands of apps in the Android market. Currently I have no less than 30 that I do use from time to time.. Be careful of malware though, see who the publishers is and the reviews before downloading an app.

P.P.P.S (last one I promise!). iPhone 5 is set for release on Oct 4th. I read it here

The Internet Governance Forum

This week, the 6th Internet Governance Forum will be held at the Nairobi UN office. The Proposed main theme of the meeting is: ‘Internet as a catalyst for change: access, development, freedoms and innovation’

The Internet Governance Forum, first held in 2006 in Athens, Greece. This is the first time the event is being held in Sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya should be proud to host it.

Just in case you are wondering, I am planning to attend this event starting from 27th to 30th September. Many issues to do with internet governance will be discussed, including:

  • G4D / Internet governance for development (IG4D) [also a cross cutting theme]
  • Emerging Issues
  • Managing critical Internet resources
  • Security, openness and privacy
  • Access and diversity
  • Taking stock and the way forward

The forum brings together stakeholders from all over the field including: media, government representatives, industry reps, NGOs, business people, technology institutions etc.

Unfortunately, registration for participation is already closed.

Learn more about the Internet Governance Forum.

P.S.

In other News, the world mourns the loss of Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai. RIP.

The Samsung Galaxy S II Review: Part 1

Part I of the Review: Physical Specifications

Okay this phone is awesome and I’ve decided to split the review into two parts: hardware specifications/software capabilities so that we don’t end up with pages and pages of review! I have tried giving it kingly names it but the only name that sticks is Calypso. So let’s review Calypso.

When it comes to mobile phones, the Samsung Galaxy S II hardware specifications beats any phone alive today; and that is including the iPhone 5 that is still under conception. When is the due date, I wonder?

Size and Weight

The Galaxy S2 facing down. Sweet looking Calypso.. image from my libraries.

This phone is super light, at only 116g. It feels featherweight in my hands. Coupled with the fact that it’s ultra-slim; at only 8.5mm it’s the slimmest phone on earth, beating the iPhone 5 (leaked specs) by .1mm and the Xperia Arc by .2mm and making the iPhone 4 look like a fat housewife at 9.3mm.

At first I though it was kind of big to be put into a pocket (125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5 mm), but even when wearing my most fitting jeans, it slides smoothly into the pocket. I guess the slimness helps!

Screen Size and Display

It has a 4.3 inch Super-AMOLED screen. This is a big screen by any standards, and watching/reading anything on it makes it a wonderful experience.

A view of a screen shot taken showing all the seven available screens.. and a view of the app icons on each so you can easily navigate to the screen you want.

Super-AMOLED screens consume less power (presumably than the retina display of iPhones), and you can imagine a screen like that would drain a lot of power. Coupled with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels and supporting up to 16M colours, things look better on the phone than they look in real life!!

Watching movies and videos is a pleasure; so is viewing pictures. In fact, even if the picture looks bad and the video has a low resolution, it still looks good on the S2. Especially if it’s a movie that’s pirated; you know how bad it looks on the comp but now since one is viewing it on a smaller screen it ends up looking HD. (P.S. I watched Rango on it.)

Battery Life

The iPhone 4’s standby talk time is 300 hours. The Galaxy S2’s standby time is 710 hours! The battery life is a significant improvement over its predecessor, the Galaxy S. I have realized that using data over a 3G network consumes a lot of power. With the S2, I think you can comfortably watch up to 3 movies of approximately 1.5hrs each. I mean I watched Rango (1.5hrs) and there was hardly any change in the battery level.

With my regular use (I’m never without my phone for longer than 2 minutes), the phone is able to last almost 24 hours. I think though, that higher series Nokia phones still win on battery life.

Battery facts:

Stand-by Up to 710 h (2G) / Up to 610 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 18 h 20 min (2G) / Up to 8 h 40 min (3G)

Processor Speed and Memory

It has a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM. Theoretically, it’s capable of running the Windows 7 OS! I must admit though, that I am hardly using all this capacity! Unless I open like 30 apps running at the same time, or download a lot of stuff while playing HD videos, I don’t know when I can utilize 100% of the power availble for this phone!

There is absolutely no lag when it’s switching on, readying contacts, launching apps, phone/message/contacts search, loading videos, music.. As Idd Salim said on his blog while reviewing the Galaxy Mini, a low-budget Android phone: The new Samsung phones ni kama madem wa Campo. Una-touch, inafungua. Una-touch, inafungua. No delays

It has internal memory of 32GB or 16GB to store your music/pics/videos/documents.

There is a memory slot that can support up to 32GB of data. Awesome! Currently I’m underutilizing it with a 2GB mem card.. any takers? My birthday is coming up soon :-)

Camera and Video; Music Player

The rear camera is 8 Megapixels with flash; which can be auto or manual. The pictures it takes are crystal clear and beautiful. There is also a front camera with 2MP meaning you can have video calls/Skype.

A waterfall at the Tribe Hotel where I attended some event recently.. looks good, doesn't it?

The camera has autofocus and zoom. However, autofocus is not available on video mode unless you upgrade the OS.

The music player is.. average!! I mean it’s alright, but it could be better. You can never hear the bass and if you increase the volume, it’s like all you get is the high pitch and not an increase in quality. The earphones help though. They are the kind that you can insert deep into your ear canal, making the music penetrate any ear wax in the way of the audio waves :-)

The S2 earphones..

Other physical features:

Micro-USB slot, 3.5mm audio jack, just the usual standards. The loud speaker is not really loud; but it’s good enough.

The phone has no other buttons except the middle button, but the area beside the button is touch-sensitive and on the left is the menu-function and the right, the back function. These function-buttons come alive when the phone is active.

The Galaxy S2. Image from androidzoom.com

P.S.

Here is the phone’s full specifications on GMSArena.

Here is a comprehensive review: very detailed on engadget.com

P.P.S.

Software review coming soon.

P.P.P.S.

I like the name Calypso.

What is Digital TV and Why It Is Good News For Africa

Analog TV
goodbye analog TV; so long. It is time to usher in a new era in the TV history.
The Kenyan government gave the broadcasters a 2012 deadline by when all their signals should be switched from analog to digital. The global deadline is 2015. Do not kid yourselves, we will eventually move to digital TV sooner rather than later. I know a lot of people did not understand what this meant, including myself. Today, I try to demystify this digital/smart TV thing. All local stations are currently airing analog signals, and to receive them we place aerials on the tallest tree (or building in urban areas). To receive digital signals, this can be done via cable or satellite, which is more reliable and achieves better picture quality.

For those of us who did some Physics in high school, you may understand that we have a limited frequency spectrum over which it is safe and possible to transmit electromagnetic waves. This frequency range can be VHF or UHF.. either way, there is a limit to the number of TV stations that can a TV can receive at one time. However, with digital signals, up to 15 TV channels can be carried over one carrier signal (let’s say frequency). The signal is then decoded and you can choose the channel.

Digital TV
Welcome to digital TV
If you are already using Zuku TV or DSTV, congratulations, you have an understanding of what digital TV is all about. Most TVs being sold are analog, so you will have to buy a decoder and receiver dish (for satellite) in order to receive the signals. Future TVs will have an inbuilt digital decoder. Currently, a DSTV decoder can only decode DSTV channels, a Zuku decoder only channels available on Zuku and so on.. However, pretty soon, I can bet on the Chinese manufacturing decoders that can deliver all possible channels available on satellites within range!

Here is a number of reasons why digital TV is good news for Africa:

Increased Coverage

There is a satellite company that received a license by the Communication Commission of Kenya to distribute digital signals. This is SES whose coverage they claim is over 99% of the world’s population. This means that even if you are in the remotest parts of the world (Africa), you have a 99% chance of receiving the signal. Of course, this will face the challenge of having signal but no electricity! I don’t know the stats, but I can be sure less than 50% of Africans have no access to reliable electricity.

Better Quality Signals, More Channels

With digital TV, we can have High Definition TV; high quality images video and sound. As I said earlier, many channels can be carried on a single signal without affecting quality so we will have access to so many channels that we didn’t have access to before.

More Local Content, Cheaper to be a Content Producer

With all those channels available, can we expect more local content? I surely hope so! I am so tired of seeing all those cheap, trashy, white-washed excuses for soap operas that NTV, Citizen TV, KTN, Kiss TV, K24 are airing. Aren’t you?

With CCK regulations, you can only have a license to be either a distributor or a content provider, not both. So current local stations will have to forgo their distributing or content producing licenses.

It should now be cheaper to apply for a license to be a content provider and start airing your own shows. You will however have to liaise with a digital signals distributor such as Zuku to host your signal.

Only about 10% of household in Africa have access to digital TV, hopefully the number can increase. This is according to SES.

I hope I have clarified what digital TV is all about. Hit me up with any questions you may have. I will give a better answer than: go to google.com, type JFGI and click on I’m Feeling Lucky :-)

When AFC Leopards Painted Mombasa Blue!

First of all, I would like to say ‘pole’ to masemeji… Gor Mahia lost 1-2 to Congo United. We feel your pain but we celebrate your loss! This past Saturday, both Gor and AFC had matches. AFC was playing Bandari FC at the Kenya Ports Authority Sports Club, Mbaraki. Gor played Congo United in City Stadium, Nairobi.

Match Results: Gor Mahia 1-2 Congo United; AFC Leopards 0-0 Bandari FC

The CLAWS trust sponsored air travel for four lucky fans to watch AFC Leopards play Bandari FC, and I was among the lucky winners! . Other fans had traveled by bus on Friday night. Saturday morning was a mad rush to the airport to beat the ever present traffic on Mombasa Road. We made it in time for the 10am flight on Jetlink.

Kamle, a lucky winner of a ticket to coast, and a young fan, Ryan, at the airport waiting for the flight.

At the airport, we met other fans who were flying to coast, among them Basset Buyuka (he was an NTV news anchor at one time). There were many people who saw us in our beautiful blue and white gear and wished us all the best, though they couldn’t understand why we would fly all the way to Mombasa just to see our team play!

Ingwe Fans Mousakhulu, Mketu and Martin walk to the plane

Take off was smooth even though it was a cloudy day in Nairobi. I had a window seat so I got a number of beautiful pictures using my Samsung Galaxy S2, best phone on earth currently (but do I say!). The air hostesses served us with juice and peanuts and even before you could finish crunching them, we were landing at Moi International Airport Mombasa. The weather was agreeable and we got a cab to the hotel where most of the fans who had traveled overnight were staying.

A view of the clouds from my window seat.. breathtaking!

We were at the Mbaraki sports field in time to watch the buses carrying the players of both teams drive in. They changed into training gear and started their warm-ups. The AFC cheering squad, with its hot babes in short shorts, danced around the stadium, tireless and enthusiastic, making the Bandari cheering squad look lackluster! I guess it’s not easy to match up to the Isikuti!

Some Gor fans came and sat just below us at the spectator steps, and proceeded to amuse us for the better part of the first half. They were supporting AFC, so they claimed! They had a loaf of bread that they washed with something that wasn’t water.

The match finally got underway. We AFC fans were the majority on the grounds. We did our best to cheer on our team. The players weren’t doing their best in the first half and we hoped things would change in the second half. It was still 0-0 at half time and we didn’t want to have traveled all the way and come back with no points!

AFC fans sing as the match is about to kick-off

In the second half, the AFC players put a lot of pressure on the Bandari team. They themselves (AFC players) had pressure to perform, to give us fans at least a goal. However, most shots went wide! A number of corners were wasted, opportunities given away, shots misfired, and by the time the final whistle blew, no goals had been scored! The match ended 0-0 and we got 1 point, which put us at number 7 on the league table as of this Sunday afternoon.

Among the notable attendees of the match was one Mahmoud Abbas, the former Harambee Stars goalkeeper. Also, Brenda Mulinya and her newly wedded husband Allan Wanga took a break from their honeymoon at Watamu to watch the match. Wanga currently plays for Hoang Anh Gia Lai in Vietnam.

Later at the airport, we met the players at the waiting lounge also ready to fly back to Nairobi. I had the chance to talk to the coach, Jan Koops, who was explaining to me why we didn’t win. Suffice to say I shall not be explaining the reasons here, since I was told in confidence. You don’t belive me? Koops and I are best friends. I have a photo to prove it. See below.

Coach Koops and Savvy 'hanging out' :)

Article in Daily Nation

Yesterday, an article written by yours truly was published in the Daily Nation, Smart Company pullout, page 12.

Here’s the online article: The High Cost of Providing an SMS-based Service.

In Other News:

This Saturday, I will be watching AFC Leopards take on Bandari FC in coast! I won an air ticket in a competition/raffle where one was required to send a photo holding a copy of the first and second issue of the fan magazine, Inge Fan.

The Samsung Galaxy S2: Preview

Lately, I seem to be obsessed with smartphones! Maybe it’s because they seem to offer just about everything (Google rule 34).. as I said there are apps to do just about anything you can think of.

I will now unleash the best phone on earth! The ultimate phone! The king of phones! It deserves a kingly name.. like Arathon. This phone is my precioussssssss.

The packaging of the S2.. sleek and compact!

There are many features that make it the best phone on earth. Its competitor is the iPhone 5 which is yet to be released. The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc is trying to catch up with it… but it’s like running after a Kenyan athlete in the long races, if you know what I’m saying.

The Samsung Galaxy S2
The Samsung Galaxy S2.. Arathon.

I just got the phone yesterday and so far so good though I can’t give a comprehensive review until next week or so.

Here’s a list of its features that makes it great so far:

  • It has a huge screen of 4.3 – inch and a Super AMOLED Plus cutting-edge Gorilla Glass HD display with a pixel count of 480X800.
  • At 8.5mm it’s very thin, and very light!
  • 8 megapixel flash camera featuring image stabilization, face and smile detection and geo-tagging. It has a 2MP front-facing camera too!
  • It incorporates a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor with an impressive 1GB RAM. In other words, it performs better than my laptop with 1GB RAM and an intel celeron processor!
  • Internal memory available for your music is 16GB, and you can add an external memory card of up to 32GB
  • It runs on Android 2.3, currently my favourite phone OS
The Samsung Galaxy S II. Image from gsmarena.com

Some call it the S2, others the S II.. it doesn’t matter. Check out all its features on GSMArena.

This device is yours for the asking price of around Kshs. 60,000.