Saturday, 27 August 2011

Nigeria launches two satellites : Tanzanians, If we can't power our houses can we do this?

Nigeria has successfully launched two Earth observation satellites which could be used to monitor weather in a region seasonally ravaged by disasters.

The NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X spacecraft were lofted into orbit aboard a Russian Dnepr rocket from a launch pad in the town of Yasny, southern Russia.

Nigeria collaborated with UK engineers on the project, and the satellites are being monitored from control stations in Guildford, UK, and Abuja in Nigeria.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan praised the successful launch.

Mr Jonathan called the event "another milestone in our nation's effort to solve national problems through space technology".

The imaging satellites could have a variety of applications, including the monitoring of disaster-prone areas.

Nigerian territory stretches into Africa's Sahel, a belt of land on the Sahara Desert's southern fringe that sees extreme weather conditions.

The Sahel experiences severe droughts in the dry season and devastating rainfall in the wet season. Floods last year displaced about 500,000 people nationwide, with most of them in the Sahel region.

The satellites could also provide Nigeria with the ability to enhance food security through monthly crop monitoring, assist with burgeoning urban planning demands and, through the development of engineering skills, advance the country's technological capability.

Both satellites were built at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford, under contract with the Nigerian National Space Research and Development Agency  (NASRDA).

But 26 Nigerian engineers worked alongside SSTL engineers in Guildford to assemble the 100kg NigeriaSat-X satellite.

Dr S O Mohammed, the head of NASRDA, commented: "NigeriaSat-2 will significantly boost African capabilities for remote sensing applications, specifically for natural resource management.

"This high resolution satellite will also greatly enhance image data available to the Disaster Monitoring Constellation. Through a comprehensive training programme, Nigerian engineers have worked on the design and build of NigeriaSat-X, benefiting Nigeria's growing space industry and inspiring development of new technologies."

Is Tanzania able to do this? If 'yes' how soon. If 'no' then why. Give us your thought.

Windows 7 toleo la Kiswahili – asante Microsoft

Kwa kutambua umaarufu na umuhimu wa lugha ya Kiswahili duniani, Microsoft  wametoa pack ya Kiswahili kwa ajili ya Widows 7  na Microsoft Office. Pack hii inapatikana online na zaidi ya yote ni BURE. Akizungumzia toleo hili boss wa Microsoft Afrika Mashariki na Kusini bwana Louis Otieno alisema
“zaidi ya watu million 150 wanaozungumza Kiswahili Afrika sasa wanaweza kuanza kutumia technolojia kwa lugha waipendayo na kuielewa zaidi. Hii ni mojawapo ya njia za kupanua wigo wa lugha duniani”.
Tazama video ya ufunguzi huo hapa chini.

Viongozi na wabia mbalimbali Afrika na duniani kote wameipokea habari hii kwa furaha kubwa. Mkurugenzi wa elimu nchini Kenya mama Lydia Nzomo amesema Windows 7 ya Kiswahili ni ushindi kwa watoto wa shule za msingi kwani itawasaidia kujua kutumia komputa haraka.
Microsoft wanasema toleo hili litahamasisha serikali za nchi husika kuongeza uwekezaji kwenye mambo ya IT, kupunguza ujinga na kuwavutia watu wengi zaidi kutumia komputa hasa kwenye nchi hizi ambazo utumiaji wa komputa bado ni mdogo.
Kazi ya kutengeneza toleo la Kiswahili lilifanywa na wataaluma wa lugha ya Kiswahili kutoka Afrika mashariki na kati kwa muda wa miaka miwili. Aliyeiongoza kazi hii ni mtafasiri wa lugha ya Kiswahili ndugu Mpasua Msonobari. Mpasua alisema kuna maneno zaidi ya 300,000 yliyotafasiriwa kwa Kiswahili kwenye toleo hilo jipya.
Download kwa kubonyeza hapa kupata toleo lako la Windows 7 toleo la Kiswahili
Microsoft wamekuwa wakishirikiana na nchi mbali mbali Afrika na duniani ili kuzitambua na kuzitafasiri lugha mbalimbali.
Habari hii ni nzuri lakini watanzania tujiulize, je, kuna mtanzania aliyeshiriki katika kazi hii? Tanzania inaongoza na kusifiwa kwa kukienzi na kukiendeleza Kiswahili, kama hatujihusishi kwenye project kubwa kama hizi si kazi bure. Mpasua aliyeongoza kazi hii ni mRwanda-mKenya watanzania tuko wapi? Changia mawazo yako.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Tanzania’s tech sector is rising, but better reporting is needed

This is the first installment in a series of guest articles to be done by Mbwana Alliy, a Tanzanian tech entrepreneur on the state of the Tanzanian tech scene. In this first installment Mbwana takes an overview of several startups currently making waves in Tanzania.

“Have you heard of the Mpemba effect?”- a director at the Commission for Science and Technology for Tanzania asked me during talks with the world bank in setting up the Dar es Salaam Technology incubator. Chances that you, like me, do not have an idea- it is in fact a physical phenomenon discovered by Tanzania High school student in 1963 during cooking lessons with ice-cream around the mystery of why hot water freezes faster than cold water.

The Tanzanian tech scene is little known globally or even regionally, just like the Mpemba effect. Whenever you hear about East Africa technology sector, Kenya and Uganda comes to mind- with the success of M-Pesa, Ushahidi and the presence of multiple hubs as well as offices of tech giants such as Google Offices in Nairobi and Kampala. Sometimes one wonders whether Tanzania is even part of the East Africa tech scene. Part of problem is definitely due in part to our marketing, PR and tech reporting- that needs to get better and Tanzania needs to learn to talk about its technology scene- this is what many Kenyans and Uganda comment when the occasional Tanzanian company turns up at technology conference in Nairobi.
Tanzania does have some structural challenges, for instance when it comes to web and software development, there are not enough developers graduating from the universities and the computer sciences classes currently taught don’t support programming projects- as a result most students aspire to work as a network admin at largest mobile operator, Vodacom. The University of Dodoma is set to change all that with a new IT and informatics department and professors hired directly from India. The government is working hard to make SEACOM undersea cables payoff by encouraging the investment of broadband network links into the rural inland areas. In 2009, President Kikwete and his delegation went on a tour of Silicon Valley and met with IBM, Microsoft, Google and Cisco. In August of this year, the President met with a Silicon Valley angel investment firm partner Paul Bragiel of i/o ventures to discuss working on a mentorship model for bridging Silicon Valley with Tanzania and helping create the country’s first incubator in Dar es Salaam 2011. With regard to the startup scene currently operating out of Tanzania- there are some interesting companies that do in fact show that there is indeed a wave of entrepreneurs in Tanzania, some are local others are foreigners choosing Tanzania as their first market foothold in East Africa and showing real potential.
Mobile Banking: addressing a fragmenting market

There are a few theories why mobile banking has not matched the 10+ million users that Kenya has- one of the main reasons is the fact that we have 4 mobile networks creates a fragmented mobile banking market and estimates of around 3+ million users, vs Kenya, where Safaricom’s share dominance has led to better adoption and network effects for mobile banking. Other reasons include the lack of clear marketing (right now M-Pesa is under 2 brands, Vodacom and Vodafone, which is confusing), and also a general legacy weak banking infrastructure that has led to many Tanzanians distrusting banks. Having 4 mobile banks in Tanzania, Vodacom’s (M-PESA), ZAIN’s (ZAP), Zantel’s (Z-PESA) and Tigo’s (TigoPesa) whilst leading to fragmentation, provides opportunities for mobile banking integration companies such as E-fulusi, as well as powering Zantel’s Z-Pesa are create networking independent mobile wallet. The fact is that much easier to convince a taxi driver to accept M-Pesa in Kenya vs Tanzania- until we get user adopting the services faster, innovation will lag in this area compared to Kenya. Kenya already has numerous websites accepting mobile payment an developing an ecosystem of integrators inc. companies such as Pesapal and Intrepid’s iPay.
Accessible computing
 to the masses
One big challenge for sub-Saharan africa in general is the access to internet capable machines at affordable prices especially vs their mobile phone counterparts. Many PCs come bundled with software that is little direct use to Africans who are more interested in communication and interactions technologies that the internet provides. Payucomputing seeks to provide thin client access terminals at affordable prices (sub $200) linked up to a base station that feeds internet and tailored content- this is all wired up via a mesh network in order to increase geographical reach. Payu computing is currently piloting its solutions in Dar es Salaam and hoping to further work with wifi hotspot services to enable joint seamless solutions to internet access. Payu computing is founded by Adnaan and Amaar Jiwaji brothers, Guy-Richard Kayombya and Raymond Besiga.
Development & NGOs
A huge industry across Africa and other parts of the world is the amount of donation dollars that flows into these countries, much of the donor funds are often mismanaged and most of all, it is hard to track these funds. On the NGO side, it is hard for them to navigate the grant application process and present themselves effectively in a format the donor organizations such Gates Foundation can assess to provide money for programs- Envaya is a platform started by 2 Stanford graduates that have chosen Tanzania to pilot their NGO platform. One of the founders, Josh Stern, was a peace corp volunteer for a number of years in Pemba, Tanzania. Envaya develops and deploys software (web and mobile) that empowers and connects grassroots organizations around the world. They provide tools that allow them to easily create their own websites, and provide larger NGOs tools to support these local efforts. Envaya has a diverse team working on the ground in Tanzania as well as with Silicon Valley and Canadian roots and have signed up over 100 NGOs at last count. Envaya has the potential to be a great place for NGOs and foundations to come together more efficiently on both fund matching and coordination.
Tourism & Travel: taking control of online marketing

Yet another big market is the Travel and Tourism sector, particularly for Tanzania which has sought after destinations inc. Kilimanjaro, Serengeti and Zanzibar. Yellow Masai, a startup headquartered in Arusha and links with Silicon Valley aims to take control of East Africa’s online tourism destiny by empowering small and large hotels and tour operators alike by providing a platform similar to Airbnb that allows anyone to rent out their room- similarly Yellow Masai allows travel sector providers to list their profile and services and take advantage of a centralized marketing and ecommerce platform adapted specifically for the local market- with mobile banking checkout and payment settlement as well as sms alerts- the platform so far signed up 200+ providers prior to launch- this will allow Yellow Masai to create unique packages and listings that tourist and residents want based on the local market that international website such as expedia, travelstart that rely on legacy systems cannot effectively tap. Plans inc. implementing sms and mobile banking payments. Yellow Masai also plans to release a customizable widget that local hotels and tour operators can embed on their website and hence be able to leverage investments and traffic already flowing to their websites. The modern yet local approach should allow more control and effective marketing of Tourism and travel services in East Africa and the regions first online travel agent.
Content and media is another important and growing area in Travel. Mambo Magazine launches before the end of 2010 and aims to be a online destination magazine covering the Zanzibar Archipelago. Zanzibar is one of the most sought after tourist destination in East Africa. Mambo aims to provide engaging content using a team of journalists on the island. Mambo is founded by Rachel Hamada who lives on the island and runs a hotel with her husband.
Energy & Cleantech: social value and sustainability
Considered one of Tanzania’s success stories, D.light Design is funded by Acumen Fund and Omidyar of ebay is out to transform. D.Light founders are a talented duo having incubated the idea at Stanford’s “Design for extreme affordability” that blends Design, Engineering and Business schools for a cross disciplinary learning that allows it’s students to create a company that addresses a real social need but aim to create a sustainable business- D.light has sold 100,000s of its solar power lamps in Tanzania, recently launching a marketing campaigning around safe lighting with popular Tanzania singer and poet Mrisho Mpoto.
Addressing a related need, EGG Energy is often described as the “Netflix” of batteries in Africa. Still in its early stages, EGG is piloting a service to rent out rechargeable batteries to the urbanizing lower income populations of Dar es Salaam who cannot access electricity from the grid at less than $1 a recharge, enough to last a few days before the customer needs to return the tamper proof batteries for a charged replacement. At the pilot stage, EGG Energy had over 200 subscribers to the service- if the idea is scaled, it can address the expanding market urbanizing lower income populations across East Africa without access to power.
Tanzania seems to be finally getting a wake up call and I have tried to highlight some promising startups to watch and to dispel any myths that there is no tech scene in Tanzania. The leadership will is definitely there especially as the Dar es Salaam incubator gets off the ground and once it has generated some successful companies, it will encourage more tech entrepreneurial activity. A few things the government needs to do is start to match its neighbors, such as the establishment of the grants to support application and content creation to directly benefit the country as the Kenya ICT board has done. This should be followed by the establishment of Venture Capital “risk equity” to sustain companies that originates from within. This last point applies to all the sub-Saharan countries- given it now takes less capital to start internet based technology company to ship a product and test a business model. And the availability of patient capital from the likes of the Acumen fund who present in East Africa- talent and mentoring will become ever more important for Tanzania and other East African countries and these countries should tap global tech community for assistance from Silicon Valley to India. Tanzania even hosted the 2010 World Economic Forum for Africa recently, which again shows how serious the country is in tapping in opening itself up to the world.

Mbwana Alliy is Tanzanian entrepreneur having recently founded Yellow Masai, East Africa’s first online travel agency for searching flights, hotels and travel packages. He also assists at i/o ventures a silicon valley based angel investment firm and incubator in San Francisco. Prior to his current activities Mbwana worked at QinetiQ, Europe’s largest technology organization and at Microsoft as a Product Manager for Excel, Access and business intelligence in the Office Group. He holds a a Bachelor of Engineering from Bristol University and an MBA from Stanford Business School.

Ni rahisi mtu mwingine kuingilia simu yako. Phone Hacking Lesson!

Wiki kadhaa zilizopita tuliona jinsi ambavyo Rupert Mudoch na kampuni yake ya News of the World ilivyoingia matatani kutokana na wafanyakazi wa kamouni hiyo kuingilia na kusikiliza voicemail za watu bila idhini ya mwenye simu. Siko hapa kuizungumzia kesi hii ambayo bado inaendelea. Leo nataka tuelimishane kwa kujibu maswali matatu kama ifuatavyo: phone hacking ni nini au inamaanisha nini?; Je, ni vipi mtu anaweza kuingilia simu yako na kufanya anachokitaka?; na mwisho utajikinga vipi katika kujiepusha au kupunguza wewe mwenyewe usiwe victim wa phone hacking? Naomba niweke wazi kwamba nia yangu si kuwaelimisha wahalifu jinsi ya kuingilia simu za wengine bali ni kuielimisha jamii jinsi unavyoweza kujikinga.

Phone hacking ni nini?

Hiki ni kitendo cha mtu kuingilia na kuchukua siri zilizoko kwenye simu yako bila idhini yako. Kwa mfano mtu anaweza kusikiliza voicemail ulizoachiwa na marafiki zako kwa kutumia simu nyingine bila wewe kujua. Katika mkondo wa sheria hili ni kosa na mtuhumiwa anayepatikana na hatia ataadhibiwa. Vile vile hii si nzuri (it is morally and ethically wrong). Imagine kama kila mtu angeingilia kwa siri na kusoma email, messages na hata kusikiliza voicemail za wengine, haki za mtu zitakuwa wapi? Anyway nia yangu si kuzungumzia mambo ya ethics na human rights, hii nawaachia wataalamu wa mambo hayo kujadili.

Ni vipi phone hacking inafanyika?

Kutokana na nafasi nitazungumzia phone hacking ya voicemail. Kuna njia mbili kuu.

Njia #1 – PIN namba za dharura (defaults PINs)

Kila voicemail ina PIN namba, infact kila unapotaka kusikiliza voicemail yako ulitakiwa kuingiza PIN. Hata hivyo kuondoa usumbufu kwa wateja haufanyi hivyo kwa sababu mitambo ya simu hugundua moja kwa moja kwamba hiyo ni voicemail yako kwa kuangalia namba uliyotumia kupigia. Ndio maana huwezi kusikiliza voicemail ya X kwa kutumia simu ya Z. Lakini itakuwaje kama simu ya X ina matatizo wakati ana voicemail muhimu ya kusikiliza? Au itakuwaje ikishukiwa kwamba X ni terrorist na wazee wa ulinzi wanataka kujua nini kimesemwa kwenye voicemail zake? Kutokana na hali hii makampuni ya simu yana publish online PIN namba ya dharura ili mteja aweze kuaccess voicemail zake kama kuna tatizo (remote access).

Ili kuweza kusikiliza voicemail katika hali hii makampuni ya simu yametoa namba unayotakiwa kupiga. Kwahiyo X anaweza kutumia simu ya Z kupiga kisha atatakiwa kuingiza default PIN…hureeee unasikiliza voicemail yako. Kwa bahati mbaya mtu mwingine mwenye nia mbaya anaweza kutumia njia hii na kusikiliza voicemail zako.

Njia #2 – Kupiga simu iliyoko engaged

Kama unayempigia simu hapatikani na unatakiwa kumwachia voicemail, ni rahisi kutumia njia hii kusikiliza voicemail yake kama unaijua PIN yake au kama hana PIN basi unatumia default PIN ya kampuni  ya simu anayotumia

Majaribio (watu watatu X, Y, Z)

X ampigie Y. Wakati X na Y wakiwa kwenye mazungumzo, Z ampigie Y. Z atapata ujumbe unaomtaka aache voicemail kwa sababu Y yuko kwenye simu nyingine. Z abonyeze * (star) kwenye simu yake. Hii itamuuliza PIN namba. Kwa kutumia default PIN anu PIN ya Y, Z ana uwezo wa kusikiliza voicemail za Y moja kwa moja.


Ukitaka usiingiliwe hakikisha unaset up PIN kwenye voicemail yako. Tatizo ni kwamba utatakiwa kuiingiza kila mara unapotaka kusikilia voicemail. Kwa bahati mbaya siku hizi kuna software tools zinazoweza tumiwa na wahalifu wakai reset PIN yako bak to default. Hata hivyo hackers kila siku wanakuja na mbinu mpya hivyo tuzidi kuelimishana.

N.B. Kampuni nyingi za simu Tanzania hazitoi voicemail service. On one side hii ni nzuri kwa uasalama wa wateja wao.

Una maoni uma ushauri gani utakaoielimisha jamii kuhusu swala hili? Changia.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Windows 8 kutikisa soko la teknolojia

Kama unafikiri una toleo jipya la Operating System (OS) kwa sababu PC au laptop yako ina Windows 7 inabidi ujiulize tena. Microsoft wametoa tangazo kwenye kongamano la D9 kuhusu toleo jipya la OS linalojulikana kama Windows 8 next generation. Windows 8 inategemewa kuwa ya kipekee na tofauti kabisa na matoleo mengine. Hii ni mara ya kwanza OS kwa ajili ya desktop PC inatengenezwa kuwa nyepesi na rahisi kutumia kama zilivyo OS za simu za mkononi. Itakuwa touch-screen inayoweza kutumika kwenye tablets, desktops na laptops.

Japokuwa toleo la majaribio (beta version) tayari iko mtaani bado hatujaweza kupata uhakika ni lini full version itaanza kupatikana kwenye PC au kuuzwa madukani. Tunaamini Microsoft wanataka kuhakikisha wanaitengeneza software hii katika kiwango cha juu sana ili kuepusha matatizo kama ilivyokuwa kwa Windows Vista. Hata hivyo haitachukua muda sana, toleo hili linalosubiriwa kwa hamu litakuwa mtaani kwenye miezi ya mwanzo ya mwaka 2012.

Jionee mwenye kwenye hii video toka kwa Microsoft.
#Version 2

#Version 2

Video hii kutoka kwa Jensen Harris, director wa program na management wa Microsoft inavutia. Apps zimepangwa kama tiles, zikimwezesha mtumiaji kuzisukuma pande zote na kuchagua app anayoipendelea. Nadhani vijana wa kisasa watavutiwa sana na hii feature kwani wao hawajaziona enzi zetu tulipokuwa tunatumia Windows 95.

Africa may get its own domain name

Africans can soon look forward to having its own online space, with plans firmly afoot to introduce a continental .africa generic Top Level Domain name by 2013.
This is according to the African Registry Consortium (ARC), a pan-African consortium that aims to administer the .africa domain by Africa and for Africa.
Regions like Asia and Europe already making use of similar domain names. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers(ICANN)will have the final say in who administers the domain.
Several of the players involved in ARC are also involved in the administration of the domain name space in South Africa, which is currently under the administration of UniForum SA.The same EPP technology currently being implemented for and other .za second level domains, will be utilised for the .africa domain idf ARC has its way.
“We see .africa as the ideal opportunity to highlight African know-how and expertise”, said ARC spokesman and founding member, Koffi Fabrice Djossou.
One only has to look at how the domain funds are applied by UniForum SA, to see the benefits of having the .africa domain administered by an African organisation. UniForum’s social responsibility initiative, for instance, launches at least two new computer labs at previously disadvantaged schools every single month, with more than 200 labs having already been completed.
“This new domain will give the continent a truly African identity for the first time and will allow companies and organisations operating here to proudly highlight their African operations and identity,” said Djossou.
The goal is to promote an African identity for the continent while at the same time improving the security aspects around such a domain.
“ARC is seeking the backing of the African Union, as the AU has also recognised the commercial and social benefits that the .africa domain may present.. For example, there is always a concern regarding what happens to the fees paid for domains. In this regard, ARC is building a multi-stakeholder model for Africa and funds will go to the pan-African Internet organisations where it will be used to promote ICT, and in particialr DNS, development and education,” said Djossou.
At present, continues Djossou, ARC includes representatives from Senegal, Kenya, Benin and South Africa, and the door remains open to other African nations that may express interest in getting involved with ARC. ARC is also keenly interested in developing the African gTLD registrar community and in doing so to encourage ICT enterprise development on the continent.
“ARC sees its role as being one of assisting to promote African ICT development, to create additional value for Africa, and to impact on the social and economic development within the continent. This can only be achieved with an African-based administrator, who understands these important considerations and the african domain name environment. After all, when an organisation purchases a .com domain, the money doesn’t remain in Africa. ARC wants to ensure that when it comes to the .africa domain, the same thing does not happen.”
“ARC aims to bring this same mentality to the task of delivering similar types of benefits to the continent, focusing on those areas where there is a desperate need to improve ICT services and training.”

Djossou said that when the .africa domains begin appearing – around the start of 2013, according to ICANN – it will truly revolutionise the domain name space within Africa, enabling the continent toproudly identify itself. Furthermore, says Djossou, a little further down the line the domain will begin appearing in other languages, such as French and Arabic.
“ARC aims to continue to seek additional support from the various African communities and to make Africa more aware of the benefits of having the .africa domain.
ARC is not only run by Africans, for Africans, but it utilises African technology and know-how to do so. We believe it is time for Africans to innovate, rather than simply copying others. ARC’s goal is to drive African innovation and help Africans to rely on their own resources, rather than always looking to other parts of the world for answers,” concludes Djossou.

Kuna faida yoyote(Added Value) kutumia facebook kwenye kampuni yako

Nimekuwa nasikia maelezo kutoka kwa wafanyabiashara wakubwa kwamba matumizi ya facebook kwenye kampuni zao yamesaidia mahusiano yaliyopo kati ya kampuni na wateja wao, hawaoni kama kuna faida yoyote kutumia facebook baina ya wafanyakazi (internally). Wanasema kwamba wafanyakazi wanapoteza muda mwingi kuchati mambo yasiyo na uhusiano na kazi hivyo kuipotezea kampuni mapato. Hata hivyo nadhani wafanyabiashara hawa wanasahau faida ya mawasiliano inayoletwa na facebook. Research zinaonyesha kwamba mawasiliano ya jamii ni muhimu katika kuinua vipaji na kuleata maendeleo ya ujuzi wa mtu. Ndio maana tunaona makampuni mbalimbali yakitumia facebook nje na ndani ya kampuni.

Kwanini mawasiliano kazini?
Tsai na wenzake wamechapisha majibu ya ufumbuzi waliopata  kwenye study waliyofanya unaoeleza faida ya mawasiliano ya jamii (social interaction). Katika moja ya chapisho, wamegundua kwamba uboreshaji wa mawasiliano baina ya wafanyakazi umesaidia kuongeza ufanisi. Vilevile imeonyesha kwamba kwa kuruhusu vitengo mbalimbali katika kampuni kubadilishana mawazo kunapelekea ushindani kuongezeka ndani ya kampuni hivyo kusababisha ongezeko la uzalishaji.

Uchunguzi mwingine uliofanywa na Gallup umezidi kuonyesha umuhimu wa mawasiliano kazini. Katika majibu waliyopata kutoka kwa wafanyakazi mbalimbali kwa njia ya questionnaires, imeonyesha kwamba wafanyakazi wenye marafiki kazini wanajishughulisha na kujitolea zaidi ya wale wasio na marafiki zao kazini. Kama wafanyakazi wanajishughulisha kwa bidii ni dhahiri kwamba uzalishaji utaongezeka. Vile vile hali hii inasaidia kupunguza wafanyakazi kuhama mara kwa mara (staff turnover).

IBM wamekuwa wakitumia Beehive ambayo inafanana na facebook ili kuboresha ukaribu baina ya wafanyakazi. Kama ilivyo facebook, Beehive inatengeneza profile ya kila anayejiunga. Katika page, mwanachama anaweza kuorodhesha status yake kuonyesha wapi alipo na nini anchokifanya hivyo wengine wanajua jinsi ya kumpata. Pia wanachama wanaweza kupost picha, kupeana habari na hata kupanga na kutangaza events mabalimbali. Beehive imeonyesha kuboresha mahusiano baina ya wafanyakazi na kuleta ukaribu katika kutatua matatizo mbalimbali.

Kwa ufupi
Matumizi ya social networking ndani ya kampuni yanasaidia kuongeza ukaribu baina ya wafanyakazi. Social networking inaleta mabadiliko ya kiutamaduni na urafiki kwenye kampuni. Inawawezesha wafanyakazi kugundua wale wenye interest kama zao hivyo kuleta urahisi kubadilishana mawazo na kuelimishana.

Je? Wewe una mawazo au uzoefu gani wa swala hili. Changia hapa

Google waja na yao, Je? Huu ndio mwisho wa facebook.

Facebook Vs Google+.

Google wako mbioni kuzindua social networking website itakayojulikana kwa jina la Google + (google plus). Habari hizi zimezua mzozo kwa wapenzi wengi wa social networking. Kwa die hard fans wa facebook bado wanaamini kwamba Google watachemsha na facebook itaendelea kushamiri. Wengine wanaona kama huu ndio mwanzo wa facebook kupoteza umaarufu ilionao duniani kote. Hapa nitajaribu kuchambua swala hili na kufafanua kwa wapenzi wa teknolojia kwamba wategemee nini.

Kwanza kabisa Google wametoa toleo la majaribio (beta version) na wanaoweza kuitumia kwa sasa ni wale wenye mwaliko rasmi kutoka Google. Hii nadhani ni mbinu ya kwanza ikiwa na nia ya kuwatamanisha wapenda kuchati kujua nini kilichomo kwenye platform hii. Nakiri kwamba baada ya kuiona na kuijaribu, Google+ is really cool.
Hata hivyo ni vigumu sana kujua kama Google+ itaitikisa Facebook au la. Ikumbukwe kwamba Google kwa muda mrefu wamekuwa na social networking ijulikanayo kama Orkut, ambayo haijaweza kupata umaarufu wowote isipokuwa kwenye nchi kadhaa kama India n.k. Kwa maoni yangu jina Orkut lenyewe is awful. Anyway tuisahau Orkut kwa maana sidhani kama hata Google wenyewe wanikumbuka.
Facebook wamejizatiti sana kwenye soko la social networking. Ni wabunifu wamekuwa wakiibadilisha plartform yao mara kwa mara ili iendane na mahitaji ya wapenzi wake. Japokuwa Google bado ni bingwa wa Internet overall, kushamiri kwa Facebook kumepunguza mapato kwa kiasi kikubwa. Google hupata mapato yake kwa njia ya matangazo (Google Ads) lakini tangu Facebook na wao kuanzisha Facobook Ads watoa matangazo wana choice. Hii ndio sababu kubwa Google wameamua kupambana na Facebook.
Hakuna anayepinga kwamba kuna anayeweza kushindana na Google search engine kwa sasa. Hata hivyo kitendo cha Google kutaka kuingilia market iliyotawaliwa na Facebook inawezaleta matatizo. Wengi wanaweza kuamini kwamba Google wanaikopi (clone) Facebook hivyo kuna haja gani kuiacha Facebook na kujiunga na kopi yake? Lakini wengine wanaamini Google wanaweza kukopi na kulea mapinduzi kwenye soko hilo. Ni vigumu kujua nini kitatokea ila maelezo hapo chini yanaweza yakakupa picha.

Mazuri ya Google+
  1.  Google+ imedhamiria kuongeza privacy measures wakati Facebook wamekuwa wakisuasua katika hili (kwa mfano kwenye facebook ukituma comment kila aliye kwenye profile yako anaona)
2.      Google+ ni kama combination ya facebook na twitter katika platform moja

3.      Google+ ni rahisi na nzuri kutumia  - labda kwa sababu bado mpya

4.      Google+ chat ni nzuri na engaging.

5.      Google+ ina ‘hangout’ ambayo ni video application – facebook wameweka yao muda si mrefu
Mabaya ya Google+
1.      Kusema kweli Google+ haina jipya zaidi kwa mtu wa kawaida ambaye hajali mambo ya privacy

2.      Google+ haina jina tunapoongelea social networking. Inajulikana kama product ya Google sio kama tunavyoiona facebook kama pure social networking site.

3.      Kuna features nyingi ambazo Google haina
Una mawazo gani kuhusu vita hii ya social networking? Toa maoni yako.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A Kenyan-born Harvard-trained lawyer tells us to keep digging

A Harvard-trained lawyer, activist and blogger, Kenyan-born Ory Okolloh spearheaded the founding of Ushahidi, a revolutionary crowd souring utility which enables citizen journalists and eyewitnesses all over the world to report incidences of violence through the web, mobile E-mail, SMS, and Twitter. Earlier this year, Okolloh assumed a new position as Google’s Policy Manager for Africa, and she is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential women in global technology.
Ory Okolloh tells the story of her life and her family -- and how she came to do her heroic work reporting on the doings of Kenya's parliament.

Click below to watch her speech

Kitu kipya Verzo mitamboni

Je, uko tayari kujua kidodo kuhusu simu ambayo hujawahi kuiona au kuisikia? Najua uko tayari. Kampuni mpya ya simu ya Verzo imepania kutoa kitu chake kipya kitakacholeta ushindani mkubwa kwenye soko la simu. Verzo wamekuwa wagumu kutoa maelezo kuhusu simu hii mpya hata hivyo kama kawaida, exclusive on our blog, tumebahatika kupata picha za simu hiyo inayotegemewa kuzinduliwa mwezi wa tisa mwishoni.

Verzo wanaanza kufyatua simu zitakazoitwa Kinzo zinazotumia software ya Android.  Kwa maelezo tuliyopata simu hii mpya inatengenezwa na kampuni ya Novague. Inasemekana User Interface yake itakuwa ya kipekee. Nia na madhumuni ya kubadilisha UI ya simu hii kwa mujibu wa mtu wa ndani sio kujitenga na wengine bali ni kwa nia moja tu "kuhakikisha kwamba inafanya kazi viruri sambamba na system ya Android ilivyotengenezwa."
Wamiliki wa kampuni ya Verzo wanakataa katukatu kujaribu kusema kwamba wao kizazi kipya cha Samsung au Apple bali wankiri kwamba simu yao itakuwa nyembamba zaidi, inayofanya kazi kwa ufanisi, na kwa ufupi...bora zaidi kwa sasa.
Verzo wamepanga kuhakikisha kwamba wana chukua maoni kutoka kwa watumiaji wa simu ili kujua ni nini wanachopendelea na nini wasichopendelea. Wanategemea kuuza simu zao kwanza kupitia website yao kabla hawajaanza kuzisafirisha simu zao kwenda US na Europ na baadaye Russia, South America na Middle East mwishoni mwa 2011 au mwanzoni 2012.
Mwisho wa haya mapambano ya simu ni lini? Je, Africa inayosemekana ina soko kubwa la simu mbona haijatajwa hapo juu? Changia hoja na toa maoni yako sasa.

Apple kuzindua toleo rahisi la iPhone 4 wiki nne zijazo

Wakati ambapo wapenzi wa vitu vikali vya kisasa duniani wakiwa wanasubiri kwa hamu ujio wa toleo jipya la iPhone 5 kutoka kwa Apple, Reuters wanaripoti kwamba Cupertino (mji maarufu wa wasomi Carlfonia na makao makuu ya Apple), wako katika hekaheka za kuboresha toleo lililopo sasa iPhone 4. Ikumbukwe kwamba Apple walitoa matoleo mawili tu ya iPhone 4 yaani 16G na 32G. Sasa wazee hawa wa kazi wamedhamiria kuleta toleo litakalokuwa rahisi zaidi lenye storage space ya 8G. Kwa mujibu wa wasaka habari za chinichini kampuni moja ya Korea imelamba cotract hii na wakati tukiwa tunakwenda mitamboni kazi za kufyatua parts kwa ajili ya toleo hili rahisi zinaendelea. Inategemewa toleo hili litakuwa madukani wiki kadhaa zijazo.
Kwa wapenzi mnaosubiri iPhone 5 series, msaka habari ameelezwa kutoka kwa mtu wa ndani wa Apple kwamba toleo hilo jipya linalotegemewa kuzinduliwa mwishoni mwa mwezi wa tisa litakuwa na touchscreen nzuri zaidi, antenna yenye nguvu zaidi na kamera ya 8M. Kampuni ya Hon Hai and Pegatron zimepewa taarifa kujiweka tayari kulipua simu 45 million na kuzisamabaza duniani kote. Kama kawaida habari kama hizi huwa finyu na zisizojitosheleza hata hivyo tutazidi kuwarushia maelezo kadri tunavyokuwa tunazipata nyepesi nyepesi.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Netbooks vs. laptops: What's right for your needs?

Laptops and notebooks are meant to give you a multifunctional computer. They have built-in Wi-Fi1 to give you the freedom to work and play wirelessly. Depending on the model, larger screen sizes, bigger hard drives and built-in DVD drives increase laptops' weight, which makes them less portable than netbooks but an excellent choice for your everyday computing needs. It really comes down to how you'll use the product and your budget. If you want to edit videos, watch movies, play games and run more than one application at the same time while on the go, netbooks can't compete with the multifunctional prowess of laptops. But if you're looking for a compact mobile companion with built-in Wi-Fi1 for surfing the web, blogging and staying in touch with friends, the small price tag of netbooks is hard to beat for a secondary computer.

Cost Cheaper More expensive
Processor Although there are cheap laptops, the processor that is included with most laptops will be a lot better than that often included in a netbook. Usually low-end processor is used. This can cause a degraded experience when doing more intensive tasks such as watching movies or playing games.
Keyboard size It comes with a much larger keyboard. Small size keyboard
Travel Because of its larger size and often weighs 2 to 3 KGs, carrying around a laptop could be more of a burden for some users. Netbooks are very light and weighs less than 1 KG and with their much smaller sizes, netbooks are a lot easier to carry around.
Screen size laptop is going to have a much larger screen size. Laptops screens are atleast 14¡å which goes upto 17¡å. Netbooks are much smaller making the screen much smaller. Netbook screen size is much smaller and they come around 9¡å to 11¡å , 10 inch screen being the most popular one.
Hard drive Hard disk drives especially in cheaper laptops are often 5400 RPM hard disk drives and can be slow when it comes to opening a program or otherwise accessing the drive. Almost all of them come with minimum 160 GB Harddisk which goes upto 320 GB. Netbooks use a SSD (solid-state drive) drive instead of a hard disk drive. Although these drives are often a lot smaller, they're also much faster when it comes to accessing data. Netbook normally comes with 160 GB hard disk though you can ask for upgradation too.
Disc drive Like any traditional computer, almost all laptops made today will come with some type of disc drive capable of reading CD's and often even reading DVD's, and/or creating a CD / DVD. Many netbooks will not have a CD-ROM / DVD disc drive. If you wanted to load something from a disc or play a movie or CD, it would not be possible, unless you connected an external drive to a USB port.
Operating System Almost every type of laptop is capable of supporting any operating system. Which means you'll have the ability to run the latest version of Windows and will likely not have issues updating to a later version. Laptops are specifically designed to handle multitasking. Most new models come with at least 2GB of RAM and some go much higher. Because many netbooks are stripped down to help lower the overall cost and power consumption, many netbooks are incapable of running the latest version of Windows, and will often come with an older version of Windows. It is good for now that you can get the windows XP. The average netbook comes with only 1GB of RAM and can experience considerable lag when multiple programs are in use.
Multimedia Display It is good for viewing videos or playing games. Netbooks are great for surfing the web, they are not as useful for viewing videos or playing games. Most feature only basic graphics capabilities and relatively low RAM.
Battery Most of them carry 6 to 9 cell battery and due to bigger screen and power processor, the battery backup time is much less of 3 to 4 hours. Netbooks come with 6 cell battery and often give backup time of 8 hours and more.

Next time I will be discussing "What you need Netbook or Notebook?". Watch this space

Africa needs laptops PCs and mobile phones

Africa needs laptops, PCs, fibre optic cables and mobile phones to fuel a communications revolution.
It is a revolution that proves no one Information and Communication Technology (ICT) system fits the entire globalised world. Companies and governments are having to adapt to people who want phones that adapt to their often limited resources.
Fixed line telephones have never been a fixture in Africa. The mixture of far-flung villages and huge cities teeming with low wage families was too much for companies who could easily lay or hang copper wire cables across Europe and North America. The mobile phone, easy to carry around, and whose infrastructure is cheaper to deploy, has led Africa’s revolution. It is the only continent in the world where mobile phone revenues are higher than fixed line. 

IBM in Africa

If you live or travel in Africa these days, there’s a phrase you’ll hear a lot: this is Africa’s time. It’s an expression of a rising sense of optimism about the potential for the African economies. Within Africa and around the world, there’s hope that modern technologies and market-based systems will help to provide the boost that they need to become more successful.
IBM shares the optimism. It sees the potential to work alongside its clients and partners to play a leading role in Africa as it becomes a vibrant player in the global economy.
The company displayed its commitment to Africa today when it announced the opening of a new subsidiary in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania—a continuation of its geographic expansion on the African continent. This is the third subsidiary to be established this year, following those Ghana and Senegal. IBM now has employees in 20 African countries. More branch offices are coming.
IBM has long done business in Africa and launched an expansion three years ago, but a deal to provide mobile communications carrier Bharti Airtel with technology services in 16 African countries announced last September brought new focus and urgency to the company’s activities on the continent.
Expanding in Africa comes with a unique set of challenges, however. Before IBM can hope to sell a lot of products and services, it must aid in building the capacities of Africa’s people and institutions—including knowledge, technology infrastructure, business sophistication and governance.
This dedication by IBM to capacity building isn’t based on altruism. The company is convinced that there is enormous growth potential across the continent, but that potential won’t be realized unless the underlying physical, economic and societal infrastructures that permit markets to develop and endure are in place. Only through a patient, long-term approach will Africa become a substantial market for IBM’s products and services and an important source of employment talent.
Along side its day-to-day business of providing advanced technologies and services to clients in Africa, IBM has deployed an array of programs aimed at building economic capacity. They range from the employee volunteer program Corporate Service Corps, which is modeled on the U.S. Peace Corps, to university relations programs aimed at improving math and science education, and to scientific research collaborations designed to solve vexing problems that are of particular importance in a country or region. IBM will adapt these programs to fit Africa, and will invent new programs that are tuned to Africa’s challenges and opportunities. Indeed, IBM’s entire Smarter Planet agenda, embodied in an ever-expanding set of concepts and technology solutions, helps governments and businesses make complex man-made and natural systems function more effectively. IBM’s Smarter Planet vision is in line with the national agendas of many of the countries of Africa.
IBM understands that fundamental improvements won’t come quickly. Progress takes courage and determination and a long-term view. Also, progress won’t come unless the interests of citizens are taken into account. A dynamic economy requires the participation of many stakeholders.
In spite of the many challenges, IBM stands ready to be a partner in progress alongside African government, business and non-profit leaders—and the people of Africa.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Is Video Conferencing a Good Substitute for Face-to-face Meetings?

When air travel to and from several European cities was curtailed due to volcanic ash, people adopted Skype and other video conferencing tools in lieu of travel. Unlike email or telephone, video conferencing is thought to be like face-to-face communication but only somewhat leaner because one is not in the same place as the person one is communicating with. In other words, video conferencing is thought to vary in degree rather than in nature.

Research on video conferencing, however, paints a different picture. It argues that video-conferencing gives rise to a different kind of information processing than what takes place during face-to-face meetings. A case in point is a study by Carlos Ferran and Stephanie Watts, published in September 2008 in Management Science.

According to the researchers, communicators using video conferencing face a higher cognitive load than face-to-face communicators because of a variety of challenges, including those of identifying who is speaking, detecting movement, coordinating eye-contact, turn-taking, and conversation pacing. Video conferencing also consumes greater cognitive attention due to heightened self-awareness. Faced with a higher cognitive load, users of video conferencing may economize when evaluating the information presented the speaker. They may economize by using heuristics, such as how likeable they perceive the speaker to be, rather than the quality of the arguments presented by the speaker when judging whether or not they will adopt or use the information presented by the speaker. On the other hand, in face-to-face meetings, the communication medium does not impose as much cognitive burden, thereby leaving the receiver of any communication with adequate cognitive resources to focus on the quality of information while making judgment about whether or not it will be adopted and used.
Ferran and Watts report results from a field study in which they found support for their model of how video conferencing may differ from face-to-face communication. In a study of medical professionals, they found that participants attending a seminar via video conference were more influenced by the speaker’s likeability than by the quality of the speaker’s arguments, whereas the opposite pattern was true for participants who attended in person. The likeability of a person was based on the extent to what that person was perceived as charismatic, appealing, interesting, and friendly. The researchers also confirmed that differences in cognitive load explained these effects. Based on these findings, the authors argued that video conferencing does not simply approach face-to-face interaction — it changes what we attend to. Essentially, we end up attending more to peripheral cues in the form of a person’s likeability than to systematic or rigorous cues to judge the information we are receiving from that person via video conferencing. A word of caution should be noted about Ferran and Watts’ findngs: they apply to the use of video conferencing in seminar-like settings where participants have not had prior interaction with the presenter.

What do the results from Ferran and Watts mean for a leader? When the leader is having a tough time convincing others about the merits of a proposal but is a likeable person, s/he should use video-conferencing rather than a face-to-face meeting to make her/his case. A leader may also recruit a likeable person to present the proposal. Or, if a virtual team is using video-conferencing and the leader would like participants to be more systematic in their processing, the leader should minimize the cognitive burden of using video conferencing. This can be done by giving the users enough training on the use of video conferencing. Moreover, the users should do a dry run with each other so that they become more familiar with each other’s turn-taking pauses, pacing gestures, and other ways of regulating the communication.

Another thing a virtual team leader who can do to increase the attention to logical aspects of the information being presented is to make it easy for participants to focus on logical aspects. Having another window (in addition to the one showing a video of the presenter) that allows users to see a running slide presentation, with arguments laid out very clearly, might be helpful.

In summary, the evidence presented by Ferran and Watts suggests that video conferencing may not be comparable to face-to-face meetings because it changes the nature of information processing by its users. In that sense, it does not substitute for face-to-face meetings. Consequently, simply thinking that video conferencing can be made to approach face-to-face meetings by improving the picture quality may not suffice. One needs to focus on reducing the cognitive burden imposed by video conferencing in order to make it approach face-to-face meetings.

Useful Technologies for the Remote Worker

I do a majority of my collaborating and individual work remotely, which I couldn’t do without the support of various programs. In this post, I thought I would share some of my favorite tools for working remotely. They may be useful to you in your collaboration work as well. I use most of these as a single user for private use. Those of you seeking to use them with commercial licenses might face different pay structures.

Google Docs: Google Docs can be used for collaborating on written projects. The spreadsheet and presentation capabilities also allow us to share data and work on group presentations together. Adobe has recently launched its own set of collaboration tools at The document, spreadsheet and presentation tools are designed to replace many of the functions for which one would use Microsoft Office and it offers many of the same functions as Google Docs. is offering both free, basic accounts, and subscription based accounts. A review of the new tools can be read here.

Skype: Although most people know Skype as a way to communicate via instant messaging and VOIP with other Skype users for free, Skype also offers some services that make communication with non-Skype users inexpensive and easy. Skype account holders can purchase an Online Number, which acts as a regular telephone number and can be given out to non-Skype users or people that you don’t necessarily want to share your home or cell phone number with. You can choose the location for your phone number as well. For example, I can choose to purchase a phone number local to my area to give to associates from there so that the calls remain local for them when calling me. The phone number will ring your Skype account; when you are not online, you can always forward the calls to your home, office or cell phone. I can even use the call forwarding to forward to my pay-as-you-go cell phone I use so those who need to get in touch with me can call a local number and reach me on Skype or on a cell phone for only a small cost to me.

Another great service that Skype offers is Skype To Go. This is a number that you can use to call internationally from any phone using your Skype account. One UK based phone number can be linked to up to 6 international numbers. When I want to call one of those numbers, I dial the UK number and am prompted to choose which contact I am calling, and then I am connected. So I can make very inexpensive phone calls to international locations from my cell phone or home phone! I use one or both of these services several times a week and pay a small fee a month on average in Skype credit and subscription fees.

Another potentially useful communications tool is from Google - Google Voive. The new service allows users to manage all of their phones (home, office, cell, etc.) through a single phone number that will ring them all simultaneously, so one can be reached anywhere without setting up call forwarding services. Previously, Google Voice was only open to subscribers of its previous incarnation, Grand Central. It has been announced that Google is now opening the service up more widely to those that requested invitations.

Team Viewer: Team Viewer is an easy to use client for remote desktop access and control. I use it for getting remote support when I encounter a problem, transferring large or forgotten files between my office and home computers, and meetings in which I need to share visual data or presentations. A great feature of Team Viewer is that you can set up permanent access to a computer with a computer ID and password. I set up permanent access to my office computer and access expensive statistics software that I don’t have at home. The speed and quality are excellent–far better than LogMeIn, which I used to use. Team Viewer is free for non-commercial use.

Similarly, DimDim is a popular, easy to use web conferencing tool that allows the sharing of presentations and web pages. It offers the added capabilities of sharing voice and video, which Team Viewer does not have.

YouSendIt: YouSendIt allows you to send files to others that are too large to go through regular email. YouSendIt is free as long as files are 100 MB or less. You upload the file you want to send and the recipient receives a link to the download site to retrieve it. There are several services similar to YouSendIt such as TransferBigFiles and DropSend.

Twitter: Although technically it may not be considered a productivity tool, Twitter is proving indispensable to me in learning about new developments and products available for remote workers. Twitter is an excellent place to keep up to date on what is happening in technology, remote work, and virtual collaboration. Quick searches on any of these topics or following knowledgable others uncovers a wealth of new sources of information, even from seemingly unlikely sources. For instance, today I discovered through Rachel Maddow’s feed, a service called Read The Words. This is a text to speech program that allows you to create audio files of RSS feeds, documents, and web sites. These can be saved and transferred to an mp3 player, embedded in your website (with a talking avatar), or made into podcasts. I used a similar service for listening to articles and keeping up on news while traveling, however the service I used was slow and only compatible with Windows. Read the Words seems much easier to use, is web-based, and, although the free account doesn’t offer much, the price for a year subscription is rather inexpensive. The voices are still rather robotic, however.

Here is an article on the best search tools for Twitter that take searching a step above Twitter’s own search capability. Lastly, although it is less talked about in the press, Google also has its own micro-blogging service called Jaiku, with many of the same features as Twitter as well as the ability to see friends’ calendars and availability.
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