Monthly Archives: February 2012

My Week in Tech: Conferences and Meetings

Aside from my classwork and side-hustle, as a tech blogger I get invites to some conferences and meetings among other events.


Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd: Mobile Web East Africa Conference

Though the title name of the conference had ‘mobile web’ in it, the focus was much wider than just mobile web applications; everyone knows the mobile phone is the next frontier of technology in Africa, and the question is how can we harness it to improve our lives. Conferences are great for bringing stakeholders in the industry together, so they can interact and perhaps come up with solutions for the current challenges.

A view of the conference in session at Southern Sun Mayfair Photo from http://johnkaranja.com/

Among the discussions was the role of women in technology, which was discussed on Day 2. Some organizations of women in tech in Kenya include AkiraChix and Divas4Tech. Societies where there is (near) gender-balance in all disciplines tend to be more developed than those where there are glaring gender disparities.

For more on the conference, see

John Karanja’s blog: Notes From Mobile Web East Africa

Afrinnovator’s live blogs

humanipo.com: Day 1 of Mobile Web East Africa


Saturday 25th: Microsoft’s Windows Azure Pre-Launch and MXit

logo from their website

On Saturday, I was at the iHub to do some work before the AFC Vs Oserian match (where AFC leopards won 2-0 propelling us to the top of the Kenya Premier League table); and also to attend an event where Microsoft guys from the Nairobi office explained to us about Windows Azure, a cloud platform from Microsoft that will be available locally. I will write more on cloud services later, but just so you know, that’s the future of data storage and other services.

On MXit (For Developers)

There are about 100,000 Kenyans registered on this mobile chatting platform. You can say it is the biggest social network in Africa with 12.5 Million active users, and by active users it means people who have logged on to Mxit in the last seven days, and stayed on the platform for 45min to an hour.

These guys were in Kenya (met them at iHub) to raise awareness on an API they have built where developers can make apps on the platform. Check on their site for more details.


Monday 27th: Safaricom and ICT Board Launch the Connected Kenya 2012 Conference

You notice the link is from last year’s conference? This conference is now in its 4th year running, and it’s huge! Takes place annually in coast. This year it will be take place from April 2nd-April 5th.

The conference was launched formally on Monday morning, where I got to meet CEO Bob Collymore (remember the Ideos?), ICT board CEO Paul Kukubo among other tech bloggers, IT journalists and officials from Safaricom/ICT board.

Last year's connected Kenya summit. Image from biztechafrica.com

Tuesday 28th: Launch of the WEEE Center/Computer Aid Intl E-Waste Partnership

So this morning, I was at yet another breakfast meeting, where the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Center (WEEE center) was launching an E-waste partnership with the above said co (ok, tired of typing).

This is the only center in East Africa that manages E-waste, and with support from the government, they are now involving several universities and colleges.

During the meeting, Dr. Kate Getao was in attendance, and I figured, wouldn’t hurt to say hi to someone whom I’ve admired for a while- being the first woman PhD comp science holder in East Africa. Needless to say, I wish I hadn’t. Maybe she’s just not that social :-(

Tagged Post

I cannot quite remember the last time I participated in a personal tagged post, but I figured, why not?

My friend VeehCirra tagged me along with 10 others. Tagging is a great way to get familiar and connect with other bloggers.

Here are The Rules.

1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them!

The questions I should answer:

1. When was the last time you cried?
I was reading the book “Kite Runner” by Khaleid Hosseini and it had some very moving scenes. I read most of it in the bus while commuting to-and-from school, and I’m sure fellow passengers were wondering what emotional problems I was having!

One of the many covers of the Kite Runner. Image from http://best-breezes.squarespace.com

2. Who inspires you most?
It is hard to say who inspire me MOST, as everyone inspires me on some level. My parents, the late Wangari Mathai and many other everyday unsung heroes.

3. What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?
This is a tough one.. if I have to say scenery, I have seen some spectacular sunrises and sunsets. However, a genuine smile from a little kid who’s looking straight into your eyes.. that’s beauty.

4. If you won $1,000,000 in a lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

A million pounds?!! First I’d help my parents finish our house. Then of course, I will proceed to live life on the fast lane.. how would you like a red convertible Ferrari? Tell me, have you ever been on a G5 aeroplane? Me neither!

5. What are you best at remembering, names or faces?

Faces. I forget names the moment they are said, especially if that’s the first time I’m hearing them.

6. What is the first thing on your mind when you wake up in the morning?

How much longer can I sleep before I get too late?

7. Favorite movie star?

They change from time to time depending on the movies I have been watching, but on top of my list is Johnny Depp. And to think he’s almost 50.

8. What book did you read last?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Before that, I read Small Island by Andrea Levy. Both books are a must-read, I recommend them highly!

Image from Wikipedia. I would love to watch the BBC produced drama adapted from the book. If anyone can get me a DVD....

9. How often do you lie per day?

Rarely. In high school, I used to lie all the time, I had learned the art of lying; convincing yourself first that your lie is the truth, looking into the person’s eyes and repeating that ‘truth’. Now? I find it so hard to lie, you’ll hear it in my voice, see it in my face.

10. If you could, would you change the name written on your birth certificate?

No, not at all.

11. What makes you happy?

Having accomplished something at the end of the day, made a difference in someone’s life. Knowing that if I died on such a night, I would die happy.

And now, since I’m lazy, everyone who is a blogger and is reading this is tagged! Here are your 11 questions:

1. What time did you get up this morning?
2. How do you like your steak?
3. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
4. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?
5. What is your favorite sport to watch?
6. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share?
7. What did you want to be when you were little?
8. What is your best childhood memory?
9. Do anything spontaneous lately?
10. Like your job?
11. What was your favorite vacation?

Does the Samsung Galaxy S II have a Design Error?

The answer, according to me, is yes.

I am talking about its physical design. With a 4.3 inch screen size, slim body (8.45 mm?) and compact all-round casing, the phone is a beauty to look at. In terms of functionality, as I blogged earlier, it is setting standards for the rest of the top-of-the-range smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy S II

One of the best things about this phone is its cameras. With a 2MP front camera, you can skype with video. It also has a 8MP rear camera with flash. Here is a pic I had taken with it earlier Vs A Pic I took recently:

This is at The Tribe Hotel, sometime last year, photo by Calypso, my Galaxy S II.

Here is a pic I took this past weekend.

A view of the iHub on a quiet Saturday afternoon! Taken by Calypso, some months later

Do you see the difference in the quality of the pics? Regardless, the lighting and the views are different, but do you see my point?

So where is the Design Flaw?

When you put the phone the table, screen facing up, the part that touches the surface first is the lens cover! I think in a quest to make the galaxy S II slim (and the galaxy note too), Samsung designers left the LENS COVER protruding out bit and therefore EXPOSED to scratches and other damage!

The Nokia E6 has a 'depressed' lens cover.. meaning the lens cover doesn't touch the surface when the phone is lying on its back. The S II has a 'protruding' lens cover.

This means my camera currently takes pictures that are just so ‘dirty’, unclear, as opposed to earlier when images were sharp and crisp. This is definitely a major flaw.

A comparison between the S II and the Nokia E6 backs

Here is the back of the Apple iPhone 4S. The camera lens looks well protected. Steve Jobs knew a thing or two about design that Samsung could learn from!

The back of the iPhone 4S

Solution?

While we wait for Samsung to re-design (I hope they read this), if you have an S II or Note, or any other phone whose camera lens-cover is exposed, get a case for it ASAP.

I went to the Samsung center at Hilton, to see if they can replace the lens-cover for me. The camera is fine, it’s the lens cover that feels like one is looking through foggy glass!

They told me “hiyo hatuna” : we don’t have that.

I asked them if they can order for one, because I would be wasting the 8MP camera if I can’t use it for pics like I used to.

“Haiwezekani.” It’s not possible.

Sigh.

Tales From Graduate School?

I know, it has been long since I posted anything here, let alone something related to ‘tales from graduate school’. I chose the tagline since I’m now doing my masters but I doubt I want to share details of my classes with you; the inattention during classes, the joys(?) and pains of commuting to school everyday, the assignments that lie forgotten, the pending CATS that need to be read for, the notes online that will be downloaded on the night before the CAT, the thesis whose topic I have not begun to think of, the projects due as deadlines loom etc. These are what marks graduate school. However, I do have a life out of school! So here are a few updates:

1. On Operation Smile

So you remember me saying someone came forward to help out with operation smile? I’m sure you are wondering who. I asked him if I could blog about it, and he didn’t really care if I did or I did not! To start with, I had to find the company that sells the plates needed and other medical supplies, Amiken Ltd. AS a Ninja(ress), I never ask for direction when I have Google maps on my Galaxy S II.


View Larger Map

The only problem is, Amiken Ltd is mapped inside D.O.D. I went to D.O.D and at the gate, told them I was going to Amiken Ltd. They told me there is no place like that and directed me to Lenana Road! Anyone reading this who can edit Google maps? This place is on Lenana road!

At the clinic, they gave me the invoice for the mandibular plates (artificial jaw) and I called one Fredrick Afune, who is the programme director for Royal Media Services. He is the hero of this operation smile :)

To cut the long story short, I went to his office and picked the cheque he wrote for Amiken Ltd. I called Amiken to confirm if they take cheques.

“hallo!, hallooo! ” this is me calling in excitement

“Hallo. Amiken blah blah how may I-”

“Do you take cheques?” I cut her off.

“You want implants?” – I paused here. Do I want implants? Stood straight and looked at my chest and couldn’t see the floor. Definitely no need for implants.

“No, I am asking if you take cheques.”

“Yes, but you have to wait for four days for the cheque to clear before you can pick the implants.”

Anyway, Gilbert Maoga who needs his smile back is now seeing his doctor at Kenyatta National Hospital. He should be scheduled for surgery later this week or early next week. Once the bill from KNH is presented, Mr. Afune has also promised to settle it. All I can say is, thank you! Thank you all who helped with Operation Smile!

2. The KPL and AFC Leopards

I spend my weekends watching football. Most of my team’s matches (AFC Leopards, 2012 KPL champions) are held at Nyayo National Stadium. I usually go early, swim in the olympic-sized pool for Kshs. 150 bob per person for the day. After swimming, I’ll meet my fellow fans at the poolside restaurant for lunch, then at 3pm get into the stadium for the match.

AFC Leopards is currently second in the KPL standings, having drawn 0-0 on our first match against Chemelil Sugar; and this past Sunday we won 2-0 against Mathare United. We now have a total of 4 points. Our current squad is on form, and here they are below doing a jig for the cameras (and the fans) after Bagaye scored the first goal. Mang’oli scored the second goal!

For more on AFC, check out the fan blog.

These are the men that make my weekends :)

Anyway, in addition to work (I recently started on a short-term contract job), I have the mobile web East Africa conference to attend on Wednesday and Thursday. Not forgetting, I have CAT on Thursday evening, and an assignment to present on Friday evening, as well as a game to attend on Saturday. Amongst many other things on my to-do list.

Keep reading.

Facebook in Africa: Kenya Ranks 7th

When it comes to twitter, Kenya is ranked 2nd after South Africa, but it seems Kenyans are less active on Facebook as they ranked 7th.

Facebook is the top visited mobile site in Africa, which should be not surprise anyone!

Egypt leads with about 9.5 million facebook users, followed by South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and then Kenya coming in 7th, followed by Ghana in 8th position.

Social media marketing should be a strategy in every company that wants to sell its products anywhere in the world. You can easily identify the target market and push ads directly at them. Statistics like these are then important for planning one’s strategy.

Below is an infographic showing facebook usage. This post was inspired by one MacJordan‘s blog, whom I have just met at the iHub. Check out his site.

Image from macjordangh.com

Mobile Web East Africa Conference is Almost Here!

If you thought the biggest event of February is Valentines, then this blog is not for you (though the theme may have some red in it!)

The Mobile Web East Africa will be held at the 5* Southern Sun Mayfair hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on 22nd & 23rd February 2012. Due to the interactive roundtable seating format, attendance is limited to 140 people; the venue is already over 2/3 full so early booking is highly recommended.

Registrations can be made at www.mobileeastafrica.com and start-up companies and application developers are eligible for a 50% discount on attendance.

The sponsors of the event now include iHub and m:Lab East Africa. Blackberry are also sponsoring the app developer competition that is a side event of the conference.