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Using Sendy

This post was first published on the Sendy Blog

It’s one thing to write about an app after learning about it, it’s another to actually use the app and experience it for yourself. After learning about Sendy, I downloaded it from Google Play,  but didn’t use it for a while.

Sendy app on my phone
Sendy app installed on my phone, right next to Calls Blacklist .. very useful apps.

 I had bought a book for a friend and was having a challenge delivering it to them, because of distance and hectic schedules. So this week, I have been working in Industrial Area in Nairobi, and my friend works on the other side of town in Kilimani. The obvious solution was to have a rider deliver it, so I opened the Sendy app. At first, it had my location at Bunyala road, so I tapped on the screen to update my location and it did so immediately, I didn’t even have to turn on GPS, I guess it uses your GSM network for location as well.

Sendy rider at Inda
Sendy rider nearest me in Industrial area

There was only one rider who was around me, so I pressed the button for call rider. He informed me his name is Oloo and he would be there in 20 minutes (much less than the app indicated). I told him I needed something delivered to Kilimani and he quoted his price, which was reasonable. So he agreed to come over, as he was in town.

I had cash, so when he arrived in the 20 minutes, I just paid him. But if you don’t have cash (or change) you can pay through M-Pesa or your VISA card.

Oloo called me about 30 minutes later and told me had delivered the book. Calling my friend confirmed receipt. So I texted Oloo to tell him thanks and saved his number for future use.

I remember asking him how he signed up for Sendy. He told me he had to go through a lengthy vetting process including getting a certificate of good conduct from the CID, but he has had good business so far. So you can trust Sendy riders.

But come to think of it, I don’t need to save all numbers of all riders I come across; because once they have the Sendy app on their phones, it tracks their location. If I ever need a package delivered, all I have to do is load the Sendy app on my phone and get the nearest riders available around me, and the estimated time until they arrive at my location. Usually, the time they take to arrive is much less than indicated in the app, because they’re on motorbike thus not hindered by traffic. You can always call them to confirm their ETA.

Later, when I was having coffee at Savannah Lounge at Sameer Business Park, I tried out the app and it had updated my location and the nearest rider information had also changed.

A Sendy rider nearest Sameer Business Park
A Sendy rider nearest Sameer Business Park

I’d suggest everyone download this app and keep it in their phone, because you never know when you will need it.

It’s simplicity is astounding, the first page you load is the one showing you riders around you. You just have to sign up first after downloading it. Let me know your experience with it once you have used it.

Everything Sells? Why Not Find Out

There are many odd things on sale on olx Kenya. Not in the least, rabbit urine. As more and more people get online looking for deals, the market expands for the seller. There should be no limit to what anyone can buy/sell online (within legal limits!)

airport for sale
Haha, someone was once trying to sell an aiport. Image from http://www.trending.co.ke/vip_lounge_burnt_down_and_othe-219513221.html

So do you have something you never thought could sell online, that probably couldn’t find a ‘category’? – although I think there is a “Miscellaneous” category.

Anyway, random stuff that you can sell include:

  • Kids’ uniforms that your kids only wore for a few days/months
  • Unused gifts from Christmas/Valentines/other gift-giving seasons
  • I typed “sisters” and got 3 results.. no one trying to sell their sisters, the results were a cleaning crew and a “Sister’s Estate”
  • Another random word “little” and got 137 or so results. Basically anything you type you will get a result.
  • Books that you’ve outgrown
  • Quails and all sorts of animals

What miscellaneous stuff would you like to sell? Put it up and it will probably sell. And if you’re thinking of buying anything, check the deals/prices on olx first.

Safari Tales, The Kids App We’ve Been Waiting For

If you’ve been looking for a kids app that tells traditional folk stories in English, Kiswahili and other African languages, then Safari Tales is what you need. The application is free to download from Google Play.

Safari Tales application
Safari Tales application

The application has:

  • Folk Tales
  • Poems & Tongue twisters
  • Songs- Nursery Rhymes & Lullabies
  • Learn Kiswahili
  • Have fun offline – upcoming Kiddie events

The features of the application include:

  • All African Folklore in one application
  •  “Read to Me” — hear the narration as you read the story
  •  “Read it Myself” — read the book in its traditional form
  •  “Auto Play” — plays like a movie, automatically reading and turning pages.
  •  Tap on a word to read its meaning from an in-built dictionary
  •  A full library of traditional African Folklore: ¸ Free first Bundle of books!

If you have young kids and they’re tired of playing fruit ninja, angry birds, temple run and whatever other games kids play on your android devices, download this app today and let me know your feedback. I will probably do another post when I have interacted with this app fully.

Here’s the link in case you missed it.

 

The Langani Trilogy: A Durable Fire / In Borrowed Light

Barbara and Stephanie Keating introduced us to unforgettable characters in the first book of the Langani trilogy, Blood Sisters. (Read the review here). Central to the tale are Sarah, Camilla and Hannah, the three friends who are now blood sisters through an oath they swore, to stay friends forever no matter what. Hannah’s parents own Langani Farm in central Kenya, which the sisters consider home.

The first book ends in tragedy, but I don’t want to give away the story in case you haven’t read it.  The second book, a Durable Fire, picks up from there and spins yet another tale that brings alive the Langani farm and her intriguing cast of characters.

A Durable Fire

A Durable Fire
A Durable Fire

In A Durable Fire, the sisters have all but grown up. Shortly after their 21st birthday, after the tragedy in the first book,  they must pick up pieces of their lives and find the strength to move on. Sarah immerses herself in elephant research in the dry and remote Samburu, finding solace in the unchanging habits of the elephants over the centuries. She works with a  couple, Dan and Allie, that offer her the solace she needs to get over the tragedy. She has an eye for photography and soon, an Indian journalist arrives on the scene, and they have an idea for the book. While working together, an attraction builds between them, but can they overcome their racial, religious and cultural differences?

Camilla, the beautiful London model, has achieved worldwide success and fame. She still longs for Kenya, and for Anthony Chapman, a charismatic tour guide who is a friend to the sisters. They had good times, but she’s a sophisticated London model and socialite; he’s just a bush boy happy when he’s camping in the wild.  Their worlds are separate, but clearly they are meant for each other. Their tale of star-crossed lovers is tragic. Camilla learns the secret of her parents’ cold marriages, who had initially been diplomats in Kenya before retiring to the UK. It’s a secret that keeps her estranged from her father.

Hannah who is married to Lars Olsen, has to take over the running of the farm together with her husband. They keep the farm running, but it doesn’t feel like the danger is over at all. It’s not just poachers or corrupt officials they have to deal with (the farm also includes a wildlife conservancy) but the danger from the past that comes haunting them again. Hannah decides to adopt a black boy at the center of it all, in order to end the cycle of tragedy and bitterness.

If this second book has you hooked, you will then have to read the final book to just know how it all ends.

In Borrowed Light

In Borrowed Light

In Borrowed Light

The book is set 11 years after the second book; the sisters are not young anymore, they are older, mature women in their early 30′s but have they achieved what they they set out to do?

Sarah is married to Rabindrah, the Indian journalist. They have done a number of successful books together. They have been trying to start a family for years, but have been unsuccessful and this is putting a strain on their marriage. Their families aren’t helping either, pointing out their unsuitability in the first place. Sarah, who’s always been the happy, wise(r) one, is becoming sad and bitter. Will they resolve their crisis and save their marriage?

Camilla still cares for Anthony; but she still spends a considerable amount of time in London and New York. She is now a designer of high end clothes with African decorations, and only does select modelling announcements. Will Anthony overcome his stubborn pride and see that he has only unconditional love to gain?

Hannah Olsen’s kids are growing up fast, as kids always do. Her first born daughter, Suniva, is very close with the boy she adopted, James. They are inseparable as they grow up, even into adulthood. Are their parents ready for these relationship? James’ past is unknown to Suniva and to James himself, but terrible things have happened in the past that threaten to keep them apart.

The last book in this trilogy brings out the best and worst in the characters; the endurance and forgiveness and love that defines the very basis of a good story.

I read the first two books using the Amazon Kindle app, and the third I bought from Text Book Center.

Star Times Reduces Prices of Decoders

The digital migration hullabaloo  died down, thanks to several parties and court cases; none of which had the interests of the end consumer at heart (like anyone ever does).

Anyway, you don’t have to wait for the migration order by the government to switch to digital TV. Lots of Kenyans have subscribed to providers of digital TV such as Supersport, Zuku, GoTv and Star Times.

star times logo
star times logo

Star Times are trying to gain numbers in the market and have reduced the cost of their decoders, they are now the lowest in the market. The new prices are below:

  • The  Pay TV is now Ksh 1,999 from 2,999 (with monthly payments ranging from 500Ksh)
  • The Free-to-Air box for a one-time price of Ksh. 4,499 from 4,999

If anything, you can purchase the set top box to view free to air channels (ie NTV, K24, KTN, KBC etc) clearly. The only strong signal in our area is K24 and I wonder if it’s a conspiracy. I have the pay TV Star Times decoder, but the last time we renewd the subscription, my brothers messed up with it and now it no longer works.

Have you used Star Times, what is your experience?

Guys, It is Time to Let Go

What makes a classifieds website work, such as olx, is the depth of content and information available. It is the number of items and listing that they have on their website. And they depend on the public to put up those listings, for free. A free marketplace with lots of potential buyers, a chance to make money on oddities and items that are no longer useful in your life.

Keep calm and let go, or whatever
Keep calm and let go, or whatever

Wardrobe

Your wardrobe should look like this. Image from linkedin
Your wardrobe should look like this. Image from linkedin

Take a look at your wardrobe. How many handbags/shoes/clothes and other items do you have that you have not worn in years? Personally I know I need to do some spring cleaning. Some stuff is good enough to earn some extra cash on olx. So take a look at your wardrobe and let go of anything you haven’t won in the last 1 year, including jewellery and watches. That dress you bought years ago when you thought you’d lose weight or for the perfect occasion that has never arrived.

Furniture and Accessories

Your living room should NOT look like this. Image from clutterbgone.ca
Your living room should NOT look like this. Image from clutterbgone.ca

You might have lots of furniture lying around, such as computer desks for when you had a desktop. Some decoration accessories stored boxes. Maybe you need a new set of furniture so in this case, sell the old one, and top up for a new one. So, tidy up your life and let go of furniture and decorating accessories that are crowding your space. Anything and everything can be listed on olx.

Phones, Tablets and Electronics

These must be the most selling items on the site, so if you have extra phones/tablets/electronics lying around, let these go too..

In fact, a classifieds site is the perfect de-cluttering tool, and there is the extra motivation of making some extra cash. So stop hoarding stuff, it’s unhealthy :)

Image from forbes.com

Bitcoin, the Virtual Currency, Explained

First, what is bitcoin? spending-bitcoins Bitcoin is a crypto-currency that exists only in the digital sense – in your mobile phone, or computer (digital wallet). There is no bitcoin hard currency like notes or coins. It is secured using cryptography (public-key encryption) to make it hard for hackers to spend bitcoins from other people’s wallets. To understand bitcoin, I suggest you read this comprehensive article from Forbes. It’s not hard to understand digital currency if you can understand M-Pesa.

  • You want to buy goods/services, you can send someone money via M-Pesa (or via bitcoin exchange), you just get their number(identifier) and send it using your M-Pesa SIM Toolkit (bitcoin app) on your phone;
  • You can also receive money from someone through M-Pesa (bitcoins).
  • You can pay for stuff online as well, just like you do using VISA cards or M-Pesa or Paypal. The charges of using bitcoin for transactions are less than the traditional means.
  • At the end of the day, if you want cold, hard cash (some places don’t accept M-Pesa (bitcoins)), you can go to an M-Pesa agent (bitcoin exchange) and withdraw the cash in Kshs(dollar/euro/pound). There are a number of people making money from buying bitcoins at a lower rate and selling when the rates are higher (speculation).

What’s So Fascinating About Bitcoin?

1. Process of mining it

What I find interesting about bitcoin is the process of creating bitcoins. For traditional currencies such as the Kenyan Shilling, the Central Bank of Kenya is responsible for printing the cash (although De La Rue is the contracted printer) and regulating supply. For bitcoin, the digital sequences that determine the bitcoins are generated by an algorithm designed by Satoshi Nakamoto. The maximum number of bitcoins that can be generated is 21 million. The process of generating these coins is called mining. Currently, about 12.3 million bitcoins have been mined, or brought into circulation. You too, can mine you own bitcoins, with special hardware that you buy. (You need money to make money!). Here’s a techcrunch review of a bitcoin miner. However, for small scale miners coming in late in the game, it is going to take you ages to make any decent return on your investment. The reviewer ran a collection of three 1 GH/s ASICs (each costs about $12) and got about $1 a month. In this case, it will take you 3 years to break even. Who said mining was easy?

2. Mysterious founder of Bitcoin

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto, the original designer of the bitcoin algorithm? Is he one person, is it a group of people? Is he/they really Japanese?

Satoshi Nakamoto?
Image from jimharold.com

We will never know. Nakamoto is believed to be in possession of roughly one million bitcoins. At one point in December 2013, this was the equivalent of US$1.1 billion. Have a look at the original paper by Satoshi Nakamoto and if you’re a profiler, please leave a comment on who you think he is. The fact that he doesn’t want to be found seems to make bitcoin even more popular.

3. Control is Peer to Peer

While traditional currencies are controlled by the equivalent Central Banks, bitcoin is unregulated. The bitcoin system has no central repository and no single administrator, rather transactions are recorded in a public ledger which every user in the network has access to. It is not recognized legally as a currency but it is gaining acceptance and popularity steadily.

4. Its popularity and volatility

A number of travel agents, and online service providers are accepting payments in form of bitcoins. Although it was launched in 2009, it didn’t gain popularity as much as it did last year. In the beginning of 2013, the exchange rate to the dollar was $13. It heat a peak of $1,200 in November 2013 and right now as I blog it is at $644.65. If you’re into gambling, purchase some coins from bitcoin wallet providers. There is actually a Kenyan wallet provider called bitX Kenya!

5. Coin Exchanges

To exchange bitcoins for traditional currencies, a number of coin exchanges (forex bureaus?) are available. Here is a complete list. Note: there are several other crypto-currencies following in bitcoin’s path.

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The Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi

The Kenya Association of Bloggers (BAKE) annual awards were held at the Intercontinental Hotel on 2nd May. To celebrate the winners and the organizers, the hotel invited us for a cocktail and showed us around. On an evening after work, I stepped into one of the conference halls to enjoy the hospitality.

table set up at Intercon
table set up at Intercon

The Intercon is, in my opinion, the only five star hotel in the city center which still retains the feeling of freshness and class. Others (that I shall not name) feel run down, threadbare carpeting and washrooms with a hint of smell. It’s location works in its favor. The management wanted us to know what’s on offer you know, just in case we feel inclined to blog about it. Because after all, they did invite the winners of the bloggers’ awards!

Aerial view of Intercontinental Nairobi
Aerial view of Intercontinental Nairobi. Image from sleepout.com

I’ve been here a number of times before and I like the poolside bar. It’s set up in the open with a view of the pool, and there is a large screen that’s been set up for watching the World Cup. The hotel has 380 rooms, 16 suites, 9 meeting rooms and 4 restaurants (they do open for Sunday brunch). If you are so inclined to spend a night, an average room will cost you about $250 a night (anywhere from Ksh 19,000). It’s not for your everyday Kenyan!

The management, who were our host, gave us a tour of the rooms, fed us on snacks and bitings, mingled with us and gave us a short presentation about the hotel. We tweeted throughout.

bloggers
Tweeting at the Intercon

 

The drinks were in plenty

Bloggers toasting to Intercon, hear, hear!
Bloggers toasting to Intercon, hear, hear!

The food too, was amazing.

The food at the Intercon
The food at the Intercon

 

Overall, it was an evening well spent. All pictures above were obtained from their PR agency’s facebook page. Check out there rest of the pics on the link.

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

It’s not easy being a working mother. At the tender age of 3 months, you will leave your suckling infant in the care of another, and leave them there for the better part of the day. You will arrive at work disoriented but soon you will adjust to the reality that as a working mother, you will only see your child in the evenings when you’re tired after work and they are sleepy and ready for bed. So you make the most of the weekends. Weeks will turn into months and you get used to it but you ask yourself, given a choice, would you be a stay at home mother? Can job satisfaction from your career equal satisfaction from watching over your child(ren), especially when they are young? What exactly are you doing in your career, are you a replaceable foot soldier or are you the general making some change in the world?

In my experience, I would choose to work from home for the first three years of my child’s life, then as he starts school I go back to work. Many mothers have to juggle both work and family; and when they are forced to choose, who would choose career over family? It’s not a secret single women without children will rise faster in the employment. But can women with families rise too, and to the very apex? Can they compete on the same level as their single counterparts, and men? The situation might be almost ideal in the entry and middle levels of employment, but what about at the top?

Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg
Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In is a book by Sheryl Sandberg, the CFO of Facebook. Hers is to encourage women to Lean In at the table, don’t hold yourself back. A better world is one in which women run half the work, and men run half of our homes. Often, it is the woman who sacrifices her career for the family, rarely the man. The book gives examples of research findings over the years, that show just how much women are always afraid to Lean In, always afraid to push ahead, always having to make the sacrifice of family over career. She thinks that with more women on top to show by example (she is married with 2 kids), more women will join the table.

Throughout the book she shares anecdotes of her own experiences and her journey to the top; her marriage to Dave Goldberg who is the Survey Monkey CEO, how they work together as partners both at home and offering support for each other’s career; her observations growing up etc etc.

I rarely read non-fiction, and when I do it is biographies. However, this was one book I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It brought to fore the story of working mothers all over the world, and it’s a story I am familiar with. We make the best of the situation, but we should never hold ourselves back from reaching for the very top.

P.S. I have the book in pdf somewhere in my laptop, holla if you want a copy.

How to Get Your Ad Noticed on OLX

I know a number of people who are trying to sell their stuff online, but they wait by their phone all day and it doesn’t ring, and they wonder what they are doing wrong.

Here are tips to get noticed:

Have a Clear, Detailed Title

Your title should be descriptive, if it is an electronics gadget, make sure it has the manufacturer name, type and model.

Examples of good titles
Examples of good titles

 

Pictures, pictures, pictures

Take good, clear pictures. Don’t use generic images from the web because you won’t look genuine. Anyone can get images from the web… so take your own pictures, and not just one.. but many. You can upload up to 17 pictures!

You can upload up to 17 pictures
You can upload up to 17 pictures

 

Description

Be precise, but provide enough detail. You can ramble and praise your item as much as possible, but honesty is key to winning a buyer’s trust.

Pricing

Pricing is of course, key. Look around to see how much others are selling similar items, and set the right price. And because you have the title, the pictures and the description well done, then you’re likely to sell your item faster.

Provide a reliable contact

When you give out a number, be available for contact, or state the hours you will be available. If someone calls your number several times and you don’t pick, they will move on to the next person.

Every few seconds, people’s ads are popping up online of similar items. So after 3 days if you ad hasn’t sold, you might consider editing the above details.

What other tips do you guys use to sell your stuff on classified sites?

If you have any unanswered questions, check out the FAQs.

 

 

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