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!

1st Women In Computing Conference held in Namibia

On the 27th February 2016, the faculty of Computing and Informatics at Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in collaboration with Google, University of Namibia (UNAM) and Telecom Namibia hosted the first ever Namibian ‘Women in Computing’ conference which took place on NUST grounds. The event also commemorates Anita Borg’s birthday which is celebrated around the world. Anita Borg was a Computer Scientist and an advocate for women in computing who relentlessly fought to ensure that technology has a positive impact on people’s lives. She founded the Anita Borg Institute. Click here for more info on her.

The Event

Dr Anicia Peters, Dean of the faculty of Computing and Informatics at NUST, masterminded the event. She is a recipient of the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship for Women in Computer Science  through which she has studied in the US. She has made a vow to encourage girls in Namibia to pursue studies in the Computing field and being a key organizer of this event, is already applying that very vision.

The event attracted some 200 women and girls interested in Computing and related fields ranging from high school learners to professional women and university students/staff from NUST, UNAM and IUM. The Vice-Chancellor of NUST, Prof. Tjama Tjivikua, welcomed the participants and gave his appreciation to the organizers and participants. Topics presented at the conference focused on providing a platform to introduce, attract and encourage women and girls to the Computing field and provide role models and mentors for them.

 “I think it’s very important to get more women into computing. My slogan is: Computing is too important to be left to men.”— By Karen Spärck Jones, Professor of Computers and Information at Cambridge Computer Laboratory.

Women in Computing Namibia Conference

Amongst the key speakers, was Ebru Celik, a Technical Programme Manager at Google. She connected via video conferencing for her talk and shared her successes as well as challenges she faced as a woman in computing. She stressed that a person’s gender should not have any bearing on their profession. In addition to the talks, panel discussions provided an opportunity for participants to ask questions to a group of six panelists who are professionally active in the technology field. A student panel also shared survival guidelines for women that find themselves in a “Male dominated world”.

The participants were served breakfast, a delicious lunch and what is a birthday celebration without cake? Three cakes were prepared for the celebration with some yummy ice-cream to cool-off the participants from the scorching weather outside.

Women in Computing conference Namibia
Dr. Peters cutting cake, YAAAASSSSS!!!!

Participants were also asked to sketch a design that they would like as the official logo for the ‘Women in Computing’ conference. In addition, there was a human bingo competition which encouraged the participants to meet new people and engage with each other. Across the hall from these engagements were exhibitors including a group of three 13 year old girls who demonstrated 3D programming and Tangeni Kamati, a 3rd year Computer Science  student, who showcased his great invention of a car robot. Participants each received Google goodie bags and had access to free and fast 4G LTE Wi-Fi thanks to Telecom Namibia.

Women in Computing Society

The event concluded with the formation of the Women in Computing (WIC) Society which is aimed at creating a platform where women can host get-together’s, plan activities and share ideas that will assist in the growth of the technological industry in Namibia and Africa at large. Talks are underway on hosting the event every year in February.

 

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Namibia to include coding in national curriculum

On the 26th of February 2016, UNESCO held a stakeholder meeting to discuss the findings of the YouthMobile coding workshop held in November 2015 which also served as a feasibility study to include a coding and computational thinking element into the Namibian public school curriculum.

The YouthMobile Initiative attempts to introduce young people to computer science programming (learning-to-code) and problem solving (coding-to-learn).

What is coding and computational thinking?

Coding refers to the creation of software for various platforms such as desktop PCs, mobile phones and other automated systems. Computational thinking refers to an open ended cognitive process that encourages arriving at meaningful answers using decomposition, data representation, generalization, modelling, and algorithms.

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Group picture of meeting participants

It was the second meeting to be held to plan how the Namibian implementation of UNESCO’s YouthMobile program will move forward in 2016 and beyond. Stakeholders present included amongst others:

Coding Workshop meeting
Maurice Nkusi of CTL at NUST center, Dr. Perien Boer head of Education faculty at UNAM left, NYC officers right

The coding workshop outcomes and findings, presented by Teaching and Learning unit of NUST Director Maurice Nkusi, highlighted the need to update the computer studies component of Namibian public school curriculum and how YouthMobile could serve as a platform to be leveraged towards that outcome. 2 functional application prototypes were demonstrated by workshop participants and the remaining certificates awarded to those not present at previous award ceremony in 2015.

“Coding refers to the writing of software for various platforms, be it desktop PCs, mobile phones and other automated systems.”

Tech Guys & UNESCO YouthMobile coding workshop meeting
Daisry Mathias, Youth Advisor at Office of the President of Namibia

It was decided that 3 additional regions are to be targeted during 1st half of 2016 beginning with a ‘Training of Trainers’ phase with additional logistical support from The National Youth Service and NBII.  Simultaneously UNAM and NUST are to assist in reviewing how open source derived course materials developed for YouthMobile by The Tech Guys can be implemented into the national curriculum.

Furthermore, it was discussed how Code.org, which has expressed interest in becoming a partner in the Tech Guys endeavour to positively disrupt the Namibian education system can become involved with an agreement has been formed with the education faculty at UNAM and subsequently other organizations to pursue the opportunity.

The program also received tentative support from the Office of The President represented by it’s Youth Advisor, Daisry Mathias, who stressed the need for the various players in Namibian digital innovation to stop operating in silo’s and form cohesive partnerships that could interface with government in a more efficient manner.

 

 

 

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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1st Namibian YouthMobile programming workshop gets underway

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On 11th-23rd November 2015, The Tech Guys in conjunction with P.A.Y. Namibia and UNESCO Namibia held a 10 day YouthMobile Computer Science Principles workshop which culminated in 6 teams presenting 6 Android app prototypes built using the MIT App Inventor IDE.

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17 students took part for an average of 5 hours per day exploring themes from digital literacy to how technology impacts their communities and how programming can be used to solve problems within their own communities. 12313606_775510622576056_8345678228013224713_n

The course material has been adapted from various open source repositories such as csunplugged.org, code.org et al. The aim of the workshop was to build at least 4 Android application prototypes aimed at creating a social impact within their communities. The teams managed to present 6 promising prototypes ranging from an SMS crime alert app to a University of Namibia campus navigation system.

Results from the workshop will be tabulated and discussed in an upcoming stakeholder meeting to be held at the UNESCO house in Windhoek later this week.

The workshop is part of a drive to reform the state of computer programming education in Namibia at a national level and also works as a short feasibility study which is to be extended in 2016.

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5 do’s and don’ts for African tech startups

The first year of founding a startup is a gruelling ordeal in our experience, mostly because 90% of the time we did not know what the hell we were doing. While there are plenty of resources online that document the success methodologies of Silicon Valley startups to guide along budding founders in the developed world, material on startup advice for African tech entrepreneurs is not as ubiquitous. In retrospect, we can see how the lure of Silicon Valley success stories drives many tech entrepreneurs in Africa and across emerging markets to approach the startup founding process with a flowery naievity. We had to wake up and smell the coffee on more than one occasion.

dos-and-donts

This is Africa. Norms in governance, infrastructure, business and culture are NOT the same as western and other developed nations across the globe. Strides in development Africa has made must not be overlooked but we still face huge challenges such as raising internet penetration from around 20%,  empowering 50% who still live below the less than 1 USD/day poverty line and despite success in mobile payment platforms still 70%  of Africans remain unbanked further hindering economic participation. The opportunity to create profitable technologies for energy, transport, education, healthcare and banking are nowhere as lucrative in potential as Africa IMHO.

From our experience the (ongoing) quest of developing a ‘product’ not only involves groin-kick hard and confidence-shattering business lessons but also valuable lessons in cultural understanding and our responsibility as Africans. We had to learn that as fascinating a technology might be, if there is no local context to your solution or if you are not solving the big problems of instilling core competencies in the various baseline economic sectors of African economies then you should probably pivot (or cop out and move to the Valley). The dominant narrative of Silicon Valley’s slew of cloud and mobile success stories (Snapchat, Whatsapp etc…)  lull many an African entrepreneur into the false sense that creating an African equivalent of Facebook will make them rich tomorrow and cure all AIDS in the world. Any tool is only as good as its user and there are many tools created outside of Africa that can be repurposed to solve a problem in Africa but tech startup founders must be prepared to think critically about their solutions by really looking at local and cultural context.

Despite the challenges we face as an African tech startup, we are firm in our belief that harnessing technology to solve Africa’s big problems and create new ecosystems is the single most inspiring aspiration but it requires focus, critical thinking and rigorous planning/execution. We hope that by sharing some of our startup do’s and don’ts(in retrospect after we did the don’ts and missed the do’s) other founders may be able to avoid some of the early pitfalls of founding a tech startup in Africa. AFRICA IS NOT A COUNTRY, conditions differ greatly from country to country so please attempt to see the information through your own local context before applying this advice.

Do’s:

1. Write a business model canvas!

If you have not familiarized yourself with the business model canvas or BMC, it is high time you do so now. Once you have gotten the hang of it, act on it and then use feedback to iterate on it. Until success.

2. Document your process!

Keep track of your development process, even if you are following your own rules. There are many free tools that allow you to set up some sort of workflow from Trello, Asana, Slack, PivotalTracker the list goes on, a web search can go a long way. Documenting your process also has the added benefit of allowing you to hone your process as you go along identifying problem areas  in retrospect and making your workflow more efficient (which believe you me is something you REALLY want to do).

3. Keep the local tech ecosystem informed of what you are doing, stay active on the ground and on social media.

The tech ecosystem in many African countries is only starting to begin to take shape and many  of its pillars such as open data and digital bridges to civil sector are not in place. Community initiatives between startups and startup activity hubs can be used to foster the much needed open source sector of a local tech ecosystem. Engage the players in the tech ecosystem, even if you are competing. Chances are that somewhere in the near future, you will both need access to the same data sources.

4. Prototype fast, then go and talk to the potential user/customer base and your competitors/stakeholders.

Often we spend too much time hypothesising on the hypothesis, developing our blueprint ideas in isolation without getting feedback from users and stakeholder/competition. It might be that in some places engaging stakeholders/competition could be considered against the norm or counter intuitive but it is important to get as many perspectives from relevant product stakeholders concerned. This includes the people who are to use/buy it and the companies that could potentially compete against you.

5. Dream big but start small!

Identify the big problems, look at your local situation and identify where people are not being included, food agriculture, banking, energy, transport, health and education are usually a place good start. Then PICK ONE problem to solve and focus on it by working it from the ground up. Don’t do everything at once, baby steps!

baby5


 

Don’ts:

1. Don’t assume trends in technology application from the west/developed world are applicable in your local market!

Keep abreast of the happenings in the global tech ecosystem but do not be mislead by nice looking informatics in a The Verge or TechCrunch article. There is a lot of information in western/global tech media that is just not applicable to your local situation. Be inspired by the stories of success but do due diligence when researching feasibility of your startup.

2. Do not prototype before figuring out who your customer/user is!

Identify your target market before you develop a product prototype. ‘Everyone’ is NOT a market. Use local statistics to identify at least one demographic that is reflected in reality. Your prototype might end up serving no one but your own ego if its use is not targeted at a user/customer base.

3. Do not get too enamoured with your idea.

Do not fall so-in-love with your idea that you are unable to let go of it when it needs to change. Your startup must be adaptable to changing conditions as they arise.

4.Do not operate as a non entity, register your business.

Especially in the case when looking for funds in African countries which at many times will come from government sources, they will not understand how you are trying to ‘go lean’ by cutting registration costs. This is of course relative to your locale and situation, still we recommend it for accounting and protection of IP purposes.

5.Do not do set unreasonable deliverables!

Don’t put yourself up to building ‘A Wall of China’ and then cry in deflated pride when you cannot meet the project deadline you set for yourself for end of the week. Be realistic with your milestones, make them doable. If there are 10 deliverables on the project checklist for the week, set yourself up to finishing one rather than four a day. After having built the habit for completion by having small successes, then increase your workload. This ensures you won’t be discouraged by the enormity of your dream and just how far you are from achieving it after hitting your first big obstacle. Small careful steps chained together make a long journey.

Moore’s Law no longer our performance oracle

Integrated Circuit, photo courtesy of http://wonderfulengineering.com

With the debut of technology theories like the technological singularity and the realization of “the internet of things” on the horizon, there has been clamorous panic among technocrats as they debate whether we can continue to accurately predict or control technological advancement. The optic we have used to predict computational power for the last fifty years or so has been Moore’s Law. Without getting into the highly intellectualized rigmarole of digital electronics, Moore’s law reads like this, “the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years” but is interpreted to read like this, ” the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years increasing computational power or performance exponentially without diminishing returns”.

How did we get here? a simple thought experiment called the Sand Heap Paradox can be used to put things in perspective. We have a heap of sand and we continuously remove one grain from it. The change in the size of the heap is nominal, so much so that we fail to realize that it is reducing in size, although very slow and on a miniscule scale. Fast forward a few years and there is only a single grain of sand left and no heap. Think of the end of Moore’s law as the moment we realize that there isn’t an infinite amount of sand available and that all predictions have their limits. Sand of course is almost poetic in our case since silica is used to make silicon which is a key ingredient found in every microprocessor transistor.

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This is where we find ourselves. The number of transistors you can cram into a chip can’t increase forever because of the physical limitations of silicon based chips. Some research is suggesting that this was already the case at 28nm(nanometer) but microprocessor giant Intel reported a 14nm achievement in 2014. The biggest hurdle to keep shrinking transistors to tiny atomic sizes is heat and leakage. At 5nm the laws of physics turn the chip into a frying pan and quantum mechanics at that size scrambles the atom and disrupts information flow (ability for signals to travel through a logic gate on a silicon wafer in a coordinated fashion). So Moore’s law falls short at postulating leaps in computational power primarily because the axiom is untenable at a certain size and that limit is fast approaching. Cutting edge research is instead looking at quantum and molecular computing to foster in the new paradigm for processing power with post silicon transistors. In this TED talk Ray Kurzweil gives the silicon based transistors another 10 years before we reach the performance apex. I need to mention that Kurweil has an impeccable history of predicting trends in technology. Renowned futurist Michio Kaku also echoes Kurzweil’s sentiments. The more closely we examine Moore’s law or its inaccurate interpretation the more it appears that it is a rule of “dumb” or self-fulfilling prophesy that merely coincided with Intel’s success in the microprocessor industry, Moore’s law for any scientific purposes is already dead and is only used purely for marketing purposes. So really the question is not whether Moore’s law is still valid, but for how long it will be be the conceptual framework we use to fuel our postulations of computational processing, pundits say 10 years but add on some reverse engineering with 3D transistor arrangement and we have roughly fifty years more.


mooreslaw_660In conclusion the debate on Moore’s law can be polarized into two camps, those that think computational power on silicon based transistors will keep increasing forever under the Moore paradigm and those that think the days of increasing computational power using silicon based transistors are numbered. Now you’re probably wondering whether all of this matters to you as a consumer, the answer is it probably doesn’t but the next paradigm which we think of to conceptualize computational performance leaps will probably give rise to greater computational power. When we move from Moore’s law and believe me we will, this will punctuate a transformation of our technological civilization. Think positronic brains and human like interactions with virtual personas. The silver lining on the dark cloud of Moore’s law might be as Ray Kurzweil puts it, that

“the dwindling of any paradigm is that it creates research pressure to come up with another paradigm that improves on and supplants the previous paradigm”.

Moshe Y. Vardi who wrote an article (Is Moore’s Party Over?) also seems to agree, adding that the death of Moore’s law will plunge us into a time when we will have to become creative with algorithms and systems in order to leverage the stagnation. Exponential growth of computing power under Moore’s law will definitely slow, perhaps to continue under molecular computing or some other far out concept.That is it for now, time to retire Moore’s law to the same place we put Ptolemaic planetary theories.

You can read Intel co-founder Gordon Moore’s original paper here

Thank You 2014, 2015 Leggo!

2014 was a tremendous year for the Tech Guys having

We would  like to thank the following entities for their partnership at some point or another in 2014:

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In the following year, prototyping our product will be our paramount agenda as well as strengthening current initiatives and engaging the budding startup community in Windhoek.

We hope to meet you all again in 2015 along this long walk to freedom from gravity ;-)!

AMPION Venture Bus in Namibia

The AMPION Venture Bus competition touched down in Windhoek on the 10th of November with the participants accommodated at the Safari Hotels (who were generous enough to sponsor us a conference hall and free wi-fi on short notice). The actual event hosted by us which included a hackathon and startup pitch sessions took place the next day(11th November) at the NBII Mobile Lab located at the Polytechnic of Namibia Innovation Village.

Ampioneers arriving at the Polytechnic of Namibia's Innovation Village
Ampioneers arriving at the Polytechnic of Namibia’s Innovation Village

36 participants came together to travel from Harare to Cape Town and build 9 startup teams of which E-Maji, a device to monitor biological water contamination at source, was chosen as winner at the final pitch held at AfricaCom 2014 in Cape Town. This year saw an awesome batch of participants with various backgrounds from MIT graduates, former Vodacom managers, investment bankers and of course developers from Africa and around the globe.

A total of six Namibian participants qualified to board the bus. Two of those, Anastacia Shipepe of team MEM(a platform to facilitate growth for SME’s in Africa)  and Harry Moon of team DaMark.com (a platform to bridge the gap between formal and informal business sector in Africa) represented Namibia in 2014.

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Ampioneers at the AMPION Venture Bus event in Windhoek.

With help from SAIS, Microsoft,  NBII, Red Bull, Intouch Interactive Media and information.na we managed to host a great event where participants got to hone their startup ideas during the day’s hackathon and a gruelling afternoon pitch session presided over by a local and international panel of judges.

We had the chance to meet some awesome people and facilitate the first Namibian participants and make some noise about startups to get interest in Namibia going. To follow up on the bus coming to Windhoek, we will be facilitating meetings between Namibian and SADC tech hubs to find points of synergy in the upcoming months. We will also be working with local players in innovation to expand the Venture Bus idea in a local context.

Prof. Jurgen Sieck of the Berlin University of Applied Science giving a talk on innovation in the mobile space at the AMPION event in Windhoek.
Prof. Jurgen Sieck of the Berlin University of Applied Science giving a talk on innovation in the mobile space at the AMPION event in Windhoek. Juha Miettinen, CTA of SAIS to his left.

We are also happy to announce that SAIS, Leap Namibia, information.na and Microsoft are already onboard for next year’s bus. We’ll keep you updated on how the movement grows going forward and thank you for your support!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPLY NOW FOR THE AMPION VENTURE BUS 2014!

 

What is Venture Bus?

 

40 entrepreneurs on 1 bus for 5 days through 4 African countries! Designers, business experts and developers meet on the Venture Bus and team up (usually into 8 groups) to create innovative startups providing solutions to local challenges in Africa, specifically Namibia in our case. Yes, the Venture Bus is coming to Windhoek! Whoop!

Continue reading “APPLY NOW FOR THE AMPION VENTURE BUS 2014!”