Free Android development training for women

In honor of International Women’s Day which was celebrated March 8, 2016, The Namibia Women in Computing Society (NWIC), the Namibia Business Innovation Institute(NBII)’s Developers’ Circle and the Google Developers Group (GDG) have the pleasure to present an Android Development training for beginners aimed at women in the Windhoek area.

It’s a free two-day workshop to learn how to design and build mobile applications using Android! We will have women trainers and we welcome professional women and students from all areas of Computing and Informatics.

What is Android?

Android is a mobile operating system (OS) developed by Google, based on the Linux kernel and designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It is now used on upwards of 80% of all the worlds mobile devices.

Android Training Details:

Training is scheduled to take place on the 22 April 2016 from 17:30-21:30 and 23 April 2016 from 09:00-17:00 at the NBII Innovation Village, 1-3 Gluck Street, Windhoek West, located near the NUST Library.

Attendees will learn how to create mobile apps for Android. By the end of the training, we will have built a fully-functioning mobile app! We’ll also be taking a look at the various skills needed to develop apps, like Programming, User Interface Design, Workflow and Process flow design, Project Management, etc…

There are no prerequisites for applicants other than that they must be female and available for the given dates and time.

Although bringing your own laptop is desired, we can provide the laptop/computer to work on. All other software & tools will be provided!

Free Android programming training for women

Share this with your network (group, peers, students,learners, colleagues, etc.) If you have any questions please feel free to email me at [email protected]

How to apply:

If you are interested to participate in this training please fill in your registration form here before or on the 18th of April, 2016.

We hope to see you there!

2nd Namibian Open Data Hackathon underway

2nd Namibia Open Data Hackathon

The 2nd annual Namibian ‘Open Data’ hackathon is underway at the Namibian Business Innovation Institute’s (NBII) Mobile Lab located on the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST) grounds. The hackathon event runs all whole day on the 5th and 6th of March, 2016.  Participants form teams and focus on one of 5 areas of public service delivery to create software enabled solutions to them. Follow up prototype presentations are to be held at 5:30pm at the same venue on Thursday, 10th March, 2016.

Lamech Amugongo working on tracking Windhoek's public transport.
Lamech Amugongo working on tracking Windhoek’s public transport.

“To create awareness around using open data to improve efficiency in Namibian social and civil service delivery.”

The event is organized by Lamech Amugongo, a software developer who has been active in the nascent innovation and open data scene in Namibia, and NBII’s Mobile Lab which provided the space and internet access.

What is ‘Open Data’?

‘Open Data’ refers to the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. In the context of this hackathon that means accessing public data around social services and identifying where improvements using software based solutions could be made.

For example a UK based startup , TransportAPI,  aggregated all British public transport information ranging from bicycle lanes to city underground train schedules into an easily accessible API which is now used to build apps by various municipalities and businesses alike.

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Gervasius Ishuuwa working on the eHealth solution

Over 15 participants attended and created 5 teams that focused on creating software based improvements to service delivery in:

  • Water utility services
  • Medical health based services
  • City public transport services
  • Emergency response services
  • Food Bank access services

Lamech says he created the event to create awareness around using open data to improve efficiency in Namibian social and civil service delivery. Teams will present their prototypes at the Mobile Lab on Wednesday and are expected to present final versions at the national ICT summit taking place later this year.

A highlight of this hackathon event was that teams got to work with smartcitizen.me‘s Arduino kits which include various sensors for environmental data.

The atmosphere at this year’s event was lively with developers fully engaged in the projects they are working on. Participants remarked on how events of this type were sorely needed and must take place more frequently in the future. The event is expected to expand into different regions of Namibia in 2017.

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How To Speak Startup in Africa

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Many a times have I sat with various people across myriad entities we engage with locally in Namibia and in broader Africa and have been met with incredulous stares followed by ‘Say What Now?’ at the language that we employ.

If you work in the tech startup space (or have recently binge watched HBO’s Silicon Valley), you will notice that people speak with terms and abbreviations which might lead you to wonder if programmers have applied Zip compression to the English language while speaking.

In Namibia, and I suspect most of the emerging economies around the globe, this lingo tends to leave even IT managers of large scale firms scratching their heads. That being said, there is a lot to say for tech startups in Africa creating their own set of flummoxing abbreviations but let’s leave that discussion for another day.

However, The Tech Guys is here to demystify startup lingo into a more common lingua franca. The tech startup nerds in Africa, after all, are worth trying to understand as they’ll probably be the integral puzzle piece for African prosperity in the 21st century and beyond.

So, without further ado, I give you How To Speak Startup(Try not to be too serious about it….seriously though.):

Tech Startup – An unfunded group of people with an idea that potentially solves a problem using technology. They probably don’t sell or fix your PC’s or do email server installations. Not to be confused with your workplace IT helpdesk.

Code – what software engineers/programmers do.

Disrupt – To make a previous way of doing things look bad by using technology to do it a new and vastly better way.

MVP(Minimum Viable Product) – A prototype of your startup idea, that usually is little more than a Powerpoint presentation.

Acqui-hire – A strategy for acquiring talent pioneered by Google in the mid-2000s that happens when a bigger company thinks your team is good but your idea is hilariously bad. Also called a “signing bonus.”

Failure – A bad thing that has recently put on a pedestal as something to be celebrated.

Cashflow Positive – Someone gave us a dollar.

Pivot – What happens when a company realizes its course of action is not living up to expectations. (See also, Failure.)

SaaS (Software as A Service) — It loses money.

Pre-Money Valuation – A number you made up.

Post-Money Valuation – A number that you made up alongside your VC with the addition of some cash. Your burn rate is probably too high.

“I work in PR.” – I am, in fact, in possession of several journalists’ email addresses.

Exit – Exits come in two different flavors for entrepreneurs: good and bad. Good exits happen when you’re “killing it,” your company hasn’t killed you yet, and another company comes along to buy yours. (See possibly, acqui-hire.) Bad exits are another way of saying you failed to disrupt much of anything besides your VC’s portfolio performance.

“I’m a serial entrepreneur.” – Person who had two ideas, both of which failed.

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The Space – Because calling the field in which they’re operating an industry, vertical or even genre is too hard, entrepreneurs like referring to their company as being a player in a given space. They especially like doing this when they know they’re in a crowded market. We don’t know why they do this either.

VC – 1) Venture capitalists raise money from wealthy individuals and institutions and dump lots of said money into young companies in exchange for a cut of the company. 2) An institutional dealer of pharmaceutical-grade Opium. (See also, Opium.)

Opium – OPM, or “other people’s money,” is an incredibly addictive substance to entrepreneurs that’s rarely respected or missed until it dries up.

“We’re doing great.” – We are not doing great.

SF / The Valley – 1. The place you refer to when convincing government officials that investing in tech initiatives is a good thing. 2. A place that VC’s and tech luminaries talk up as the greatest place on Earth that you must move to if you’re from anywhere that isn’t San Fransisco or The Valley.

“We’re growing 500 percent week-over-week” — Last week we had one user, today we have six.

“We’re not currently raising capital.” — We’re currently raising capital.

UI/UX – A portmanteau of UI (“User Interface”) and UX (“User Experience”) often used by design-challenged entrepreneurs when referring to the aesthetics and usability of their product when actual understanding of good design principles is fundamentally lacking. Used in a sentence: “Our Push for the ‘Find My Goat A Date’ app is crushing it because of our design wizard who is slinging some hella dope UI/UX.”

“We’re a design-centric organization.” – We don’t know how to code.

Non-GAAP Profitable — What companies that are very unprofitable like to claim. The idea that non-cash costs don’t count is usually the sort of sickness you see here.

“I’m the business guy.” – (See: Growth Hacker.)

Gravity — What The Tech Guys is trying to escape using maximum thrust. (Yes, we are going to build rockets.)

Growth Hacking – Sales, marketing and associated activities, but with a label that incorporates the word “hacking,” because nontechnical people want to call themselves “hackers” too.

“We’re seeing great gross margins, and so are investing in growth given our strong, SaaS unit-economics.” — We lose money.

“We’re stomping on the gas pedal, given our strong SaaS unit-economics, and are actively seeking additional capital to power our sector-leading growth.” — We have lost all our money and need some of yours, please.

“We’re Killing It!” – Your dreams and investors’ dollars are probably being killed.

We hope this helps you navigate your encounters with tech nerds or wannabes.

This is a modified version of TechCrunch’s Alex Willhelm and Jason Rowley’s 2014 article with some adjustments to locally contextualize things ;-)!

How To Format Your Website for Mobile

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As an entrepreneur, your aim is to break even and position your business in a sea of profit. With the surge in the number of mobile devices in the global economy, it is becoming increasingly important for the business man/woman to make decisions that would make it easier for the mobile user (with an internet connection) to access information. The problem isn’t that business undertakings, today, don’t have websites, they do. The problem, usually, is that their websites are optimized for the desktop computer. Desktop websites usually take a while to load on mobile devices and time is money especially when you’re on the go. On average, mobile users leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Web servicing is a form of service. A potential customer waiting for pages to load is equivalent to waiting at a desk for assistance and depending on the personal elasticity of demand one has for the service, the business would, by extension, lose out on turnover to a large degree.

Now, until the mobile device sector can close the gab between their capability and that of the desktop computer at one point in time without losing portability, it’s advisable for business owners to employ the use of a mobile sub-domain of their website to cater to mobile users. Here’s a list and short description of 5 tools I recommend for business owners to use for creation of a mobile version of their website.

 

mobify-logo

Mobify – is a freemium tool that accelerates your website in
addition to any speed optimization technology you may already have.
The paid plans start at US$249 per month per month, and include the
removal of mobify logo and report of website statistics.

scaledwirenode_logo3

 

 

 

 

 

Wirenode – is a mobile website generator and a user-friendly editor
for designing your mobile site. Paid plans start at US$19.80, w/
upgrades such as support for custom domains and removal of
advertisements.

 

mippin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mippin Mobilizer – all you have to do with Moppin Mobilizer isenter your websites RSS feed URL, go through a few steps, install some
code on your site and you’re done. As you configure your mobile site,
the app has a panel that allows your to preview it whilst you’re
progressing.

 

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Onbile – gives you an intuitive user interface for constructing a
mobile website, you can select one of the 13 templates as a starting
point for your mobile site design.

 

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Winksite – is a web app that helps you build a mobile community for
your website.

The benefits of hosting a mobile version of your website outweigh the costs involved in doing so and anything that implies gain maximization and/or cost reduction of a product/service usually means well for any competitor in the business arena. In the end, the decision to create a mobile version of a website all but lies in the hands of the business owner(s).

Google takes mobile customisation into overdrive.

 

One thing is clear, there is no shortage of innovation at Google. The data giant isn’t satisfied with  global domination of the smartphone market with it’s Android operating system, now they want to standardise and modularize the hardware aspect of smartphones too.

Enter a fully modular and endlessly customisable smartphone, the Ara. The Ara is basically just an exoskeleton frame which allows you to plug in different ‘modules’ which provide different functionality such as the screen, sound, the antenna, battery etc. These modules can be designed and built by ANYONE using the open source platform Google is providing for hardware and software developers. Google is planning to implement a Play Store type regiment to bring the modules to consumers and to enforce some kind of quality control I would assume. Even the modules themselves will be highly customisable, allowing the user to remove and swap the casing for further personalisation.

Project Ara
An Ara mobile disassembled

 

A modular mobile phone scheme allows for longer device lifespan as you won’t throw away your whole device if just the screen or battery are malfunctioning, you’ll simply replace the modules and go on with your life. The modular phone concept is not new. You might remember Phonebloks, a modular phone Kickstarter project from las year. This project is now being developed in collaboration with Project Ara.

Google says Project Ara is in line with its aims to reach 6 billion smartphone users. That number probably has you thinking “Google, you’re reaching.” but then again when have they ever not been? This is one of their ‘moonshot’ initiatives which include their self driving car and the global internet coverage balloon network project, Loon. Speaking at the recent LAUNCH conference in San Francisco, project head Paul Eremenko stated that they are aiming for a 50 USD entry level unit when the phone finally comes to market early 2015. That is quite simply mind-blowing. It is also highly disruptive if it actually takes off and gains traction.

If that does happen, we will see a whole new ecosystem for exciting new startups to emerge. One could easily imagine medical and scientific modules that could be developed which would totally redefine what a mobile smartphone device is.

 

E-waste is a serious problem in Africa. A growing portion of the e-waste pie are mobile devices. Countries such as Nigeria, Benin and Ghana are being used as dumping grounds for obsolete electronic devices from all around the world. These gadgets which are so instrumental to our daily lives are comprised of components such as the processor, display, antenna etc.. which when put together, make a mobile device.

ewaste

When there is a defect in the device, it is usually just a certain piece of hardware that needs replacing but the cost of repair or the ability to repair that certain chip, LCD screen or other malfunctioning feature is prohibitive for most people so they end up throwing their devices away. These end up in huge toxic landfills and the materials these devices are made of take thousands of years to decay. E-waste is a complex problem with many of the stakeholders in the global electronics markets needing to take steps towards more sustainable methods of manufacturing. Google’s Project Ara which is a definite step into that direction.

 

 

A chat with founder of MXit, Herman Heunis.

Recently we caught up with Herman Heunis founder of Africa’s biggest social network MXit which now has over 7 million active users. Having made his successful exit from active duties at MXit in 2011, we asked him some questions regarding what it takes to succeed as a tech entrepreneur in Africa today.

TG: You left Namibia for Stellenbosch in the late 70s, how was it being a programmer during that time?

HH: Some background, I was born in Namibia (Rehoboth), my parents had a sheep farm near Kalkrand (My grandparents and great-grandparents were all from Southern Namibia). I matriculated at Jan Mohr in 1976 and in 1977 I started a B.Comm degree at Stellenbosch University. In those years computers filled entire buildings. The 1st time I worked on a computer was in 1977 at Stellenbosch University – Computer Science 101. My career as a programmer started in 1980 whilst I was doing my compulsory 2 year National Service in the SA Navy.

TG: How did you come upon the original idea for MXit? Was it a flash in the pan moment or an iterative process?

HH: It was an iterative process. In a nutshell, the very original idea (root) of MXit was an Astral SMS-based game – I believe it was one of the very first Massive Multiplayer Mobile Game (MMMG) in the world. It did not work due to a number of reasons but the main one, lack to find a sponsor for SMSs. An integral part of the game was communication between players. After several metamorphoses we dropped the game idea and focused only on the communication part – that worked extremely well. Years later we introduced several gaming platforms on top of the communications platform.

TG: What were your biggest challenges as a tech startup in Africa?

HH: Many. Lack of human resources (software developers) was the biggest challenge. Funding, affordable and stable internet bandwidth, unstable platforms (and lack of expertise), the press, mobile operators, etc.

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TG: What in your opinion are the main characteristics a tech startup founder should have?

HH: Perseverance, Passion (for tech), Visionary, Disruptive(Rebellious ?)

TG: There aren’t a lot of tech startups in Africa that have reached the kind of success MXit has, do you think there is a specific reason for this?

HH: Timing was perfect and I had a fantastic team. The word “failure” was never an option.

TG: Is there a particular technology that excites you which you would like to see more innovation by Africans in?

HH: Most technology excites me but currently Energy (solar, batteries, fuel cells, etc) is on the brink of major paradigm shift. I think personal wearable devices, monitoring and recording all sorts of data, will be huge. In Africa we might not have the leading (sometimes called bleeding) edge R&D capabilities, but we surely have the in ingenuity to utilize these inventions and take it to another level.

TG: Do you believe that there is an emerging identity of the African tech user or do you think there is a general global homogenisation due to the critical mass movement of technology adoption around the world?

HH: Strangely I think we have a combination of both right now but that will (should) eventually disappear as the tech space (internet access, devices, user savvy etc.) in Africa gets on par with the rest of the world. Then there are more practical issues such as legislation, e-commerce, language, etc. that tech startups need to consider.

TG: Location is always touted as a major component for tech startup founders to think about when deciding to set up, should African tech startup founders be more wary of where they set themselves up in your opinion?

HH: Tricky question – I think starting up is one thing, building/growing the business is another. Access to infrastructure, HR, users, funding, etc. are important – if your location does not have these, you might have a problem. Having said that, some tech startups will depend more on the ideal location than others. Building a large social network on mobile is different to patenting a new type of battery. Coming back to MXit, I think the fact that MXit started in Stellenbosch was a good choice – access to University graduates, access to funding, access to bandwidth, very large potential userbase (with featured phones) and we knew the mobile Operators landscape pretty well.

I think the mistake we made was to stay in Stellenbosch only, too long. My opinion is that we should have moved our head office in 2007 (2 years after we started) to San Francisco. Maybe we could have been the biggest social network in the world today (bigger than Facebook)? Why do I think it was a mistake? 100 times better access to funding, 1000 times better access to software developers and great NETWORKING opportunities with other similar companies.

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TG: MXit is Africa’s largest social network with over 40 million users worldwide and as a firm employs more than 150 people now, when you made your exit in 2011 did you have misgivings about leaving?

HH: When I started MXit – there was no exit plan. I started MXit as I was passionate about technology. The ride from 2004 to 2011 was very tough and selling a company that you have started is traumatic. Fact of the matter was, I was extremely tired and burned out and staying on as CEO was not in the interest of the company. MXit needed new blood and new energy.

TG: Do you think more African tech founders should be building their startups with exit strategies in mind?

HH: I do not. Cannot do harm but the question is, are you doing it for the money or because of passion?

TG: You have said in previous interviews that you saw your strength in founding rather than managing large companies, does that make you a serial entrepreneur? Are there more ventures for you on the horizon?

There are no ventures on the horizon right now. Am I a serial entrepreneur? I don’t know if starting 2 or 3 businesses makes you one?

TG: What advice would you give young Namibian software developers/ tech entrepreneurs?

HH: Do as much research as you can possibly do. Ask yourself the question, how will my product/service be different. Will it be chat worthy – will people talk about it?

Surround yourself with likeminded, honest people. A startup is not for sissies – doing it solo is tough.

TG: Do you still visit Namibia? Do you have any hopes for the tech sector there?

HH: We visit Namibia many times a year. Recently (13 Dec 2013) I did the Desert Dash 24 hour 369km Mountain bike race from Windhoek to Swakopmund, solo. In October I cycled from Noordoewer to Swakopmund. We go to Kaokoland on a regular basis to do photography.

If you ask an optimist if there is any hope – the answer will always be YES!

How to create a Bitcoin wallet online.

An online bitcoin wallet is probably the most feasible way to get started with bitcoin. Treat your bitcoin wallet details the way you would treat your personal online banking information. Keep it secure! As with any online entity, 100% security is never guaranteed one has to be vigilant but listed here are the most trusted and secure online wallet services with a proven track record. Follow the 3 steps below to create a bitcoin wallet online. Continue reading “How to create a Bitcoin wallet online.”

Bitcoin in the present and a glimpse into the future.

Imagine a world where there was no commissions on global trade? No custom bloc levies, no banking transactions fees. Imagine if an individual/entity in Namibia could purchase a truck from an individual/entity in Indonesia directly without having to worry about currency exchange and bank transfer charges? What if there was no need for a middleman, no bank, no lawyers, no credit unions, no central banks. Continue reading “Bitcoin in the present and a glimpse into the future.”

ASM.JS to take gaming and big data by storm

Respawning!
Respawning! Console quality gaming for web?

Web gaming is about to get a makeover. The folks over at Mozilla recently came up with asm.js, a subset of the javascript computing language, which allows for compilation of programs on ANY platform at near native compile speeds. In other words this means blazing-fast-rich-big-data web applications on ANY relevant platform or device that has a decent browser and internet connection.

For a more hands on description of what I mean head over to MonsterMadness Online a game developed by Trendy Ent using the Unreal Engine which works on, well…as I said anything purchased in the last five years that has a decent browser on it and a half decent (512kbps for a slightly choppy but playable experience) internet connection. Continue reading “ASM.JS to take gaming and big data by storm”