Android for President in 2012?

The entrance of the Android powered IDEOS phone by Huawei to the mobile phone market has put a smile on many faces. In Kenya, for example, the device was recently launched by Safaricom, the country’s leading telecommunications provider, and consumers have since been streaming into mobile outlets to grab their hands on what may be their first real opportunity to own an Android powered device. Many in the developing world are familiar with the iPhone and the features that this and other main stream smart-phones offer, but something about Android is creating a buzz and Android platform could be in the process of opening up a host of possibilities to the somewhat forgotten market.

The situation

In many developing nations, the average cost of living makes owning an smart-phone such as the iPhone or a high end Android powered device more of a luxury than a necessity. Make no mistake, devices such as the iPhone are admirable and may be the dream phone for many mobile users in developing nations. However, in some parts of the world, most mobile users are not capable of sustaining the monthly plans that come with such devices, they simply pay for data access per MB and pay for calls by the minute or second. Plus many would rather go for a cheaper phone that they can pay for once, rather than be tied to a monthly agreement for the next year or so. It is a rarity to come across an iPhone in such countries.

Demand for Smart-phones

The need for a common mobile platform has always been there and manufacturers such as Nokia and Sam-sung have had a field day making affordable smart phones such as the Nokia 5800. Such devices have been so diverse in terms of the platform they run on and some have barely addressed the needs of these smart-phone users. With each manufacturer advocating that their platform is the best, mobile developers have had a tough time choosing which platform to develop on. Developers have more often than not settled on J2ME or Java based apps that can be supported by most of these phones.

Enter Android

Finally, Android devices are within the reach of the average consumer in the developing nation. For once, the common citizen can use a device that runs on the same platform as those in developed nations. Developers can now develop apps on a platform that benefits their local market and provides potential for a global outreach. Users can now own a device and be assured that they will get apps that are useful to them and not just apps that are meaningful to some teenager in a developed region. We are slowly moving away to the culture of valuing a mobile phone based on its cost. The question is “What version of Android can your device run?”

The IDEOS device

I took a good look the IDEOS phone – although it’s slightly limited in its specs (couldn’t get Google Goggles running – I stand corrected),the move to launch such an appropriate device at a subsidised cost is a step in the right direction. If you ever wanted a phone that does more than the normal phone and stands out in terms of what you can do with it, then get the IDEOS! I look forward to our local mobile providers launching more of such products that put Kenyan developers at par with our global counterparts.

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Simple Android app idea (Mobile Top Up)

Just a thought…Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would develop an Android app where mobile users in Kenya don’t have to type the 12 digit pins to top up their mobile phone credit? The app could possibly work like the Google Goggles app where all one has to do is capture a photo of their scratch card and the app then reads the digits on the card and concatenates them to *141* and # (Safaricom).

This app would make it easier for Android users to top up their lines if they aren’t fans of typing many digits. I’ve been studying Android development for the past few months and this is one challenge I will likely take up in the next few weeks.

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This is a very useful Joomla 1.5 module I have come across to enable Joomla users to add the Facebook Like Box to their website easily.

The Like Box is a social plugin that enables Facebook Page owners to attract and gain Likes from their own website. The Like Box enables users to:

  • See how many users already like this page, and which of their friends like it too
  • Read recent posts from the page
  • Like the page with one click, without needing to visit the page

DOWNLOAD HERE

Download it and install it on your website. (Make sure you enter your Facebook Page ID from the modules parameters under the Joomla Administration of your website.)

 

Mobile Development in Africa

While desktop or laptop computers cannot find their reach to every nook in Africa, mobile phones have enabled individuals to travel all over the Internet super-highway much faster and expediently. The present times are witnessing major technological swing from desktops to mobile handsets. The reason is simple. While desktop computers cannot be carried everywhere, mobile handsets can be carried anywhere by the user.

Mobile technology has gained prominence in the last 5 or so years and the significance is being publicized as the next big option in computing. Africa is gradually waking up to the benefits of development of mobile applications. The development of mobile applications can be done on a number of platforms. Each platform has several benefits but ultimately, the choice of selection lies with the developers requirements.

Some of the popular platforms that support various kinds of mobile applications include –

  • Java ME- Suitable for potrtable Java enabled devices which are very common,
  • Symbian platform- This platform supports multi-tasking Operating Systems that have maximum performance and battery sustenance and minimum memory usage,
  • Android- This is a Linux-based platform who have impressive clients’ line up,
  • BREW- This platform is used for deploying applications over CDMA devices. It excellently renders control to the handset and makes it comprehensively functional

Mobile applications have worked wonders within realms of shopping, social networking, entertainment, travel, news and other utilities. Mobile development generally has its relevance in various services such as: Development of Embedded applications, Integrated Mobile Systems, Application Portals, Call Management, SMS Software, Mobile Cataloging, Mobile-Commerce, Payment through Mobiles.

Similarly, web-development over mobiles isn’t very different from development of conventional web resources. The basic fundamentals of both the technologies are more or less the same with the difference mainly arising due to the protocols in use.

In a nutshell, the concept of mobile development is a progressive technology that is gradually finding a place in Africa given the vast hub of mobile users who are present in the continent. Africa is fast-gaining familiarity with all that is pertaining to the rest of the world and upcoming developers should take up the challenge to meet the technology needs of the millions of mobile phone users.

 

Joomla 1.6

Joomla 1.6 is the next generation of Joomla, the most popular Open Source Content Management System in the world.  The broad goals of Joomla 1.6 are to:

  • implement an expanded access control system;
  • implement a nested categories solution;
  • and standardise the way extensions are built using the MVC framework.

Currently, Joomla! 1.6 is in Beta 3 release. The beta release comes after the alpha release and is followed by the RC (release candidate). After the release candidate, the final product is officially unveiled. New Joomla! betas will be released every two weeks until a release candidate is ready.

Check here for the latest information on Joomla 1.6.

WordPress 3.0-Now Available

The first release candidate (RC1) for WordPress 3.0 is now available. What’s an RC? An RC comes after beta and before the final launch. It means the WordPress developers feel theyve got everything done: all features finished, all bugs squashed, and all potential issues addressed.


References:

    Joomla! Website
    WordPress Website
 

To begin with, SourceForge.net is one website that many developer have visited at on point in their lives.

If you are Kenyan, I estimate that there is a 90% chance you are using Windows – my Google Analytics account confirms this estimate.

Kenyans need to be aware of the freely available and quality alternatives to Microsoft and other proprietary software. While such software has its benefits and is strongly justified in its use, many Kenyans are unaware of the possible benefits they would enjoy by using open source software. They do not know that they do not have to go through the trouble of cracking software and getting key-gens to illegally use software. They are unaware of how much money they would save by using Linux, for example as Compared to Windows. The best example would be the popular web browser Mozilla. Its free and it’s rated as one of the best browsers.

Definition of Open Source Software

Software available free of charge as an alternative to conventional commercial models. Open source software can be used and disseminated at will, and the source code is open and can be changed as required.

One of the best examples of Open Software is Mozilla Firefox.

Other examples are Ubuntu Linux, Open Bravo, Joomla!, WordPress.

Benefits of Open Source Software.

Software experts and researchers on open source software have identified several advantages. The main advantage for business is that open source is a good way for business to achieve greater penetration of the market. Companies that offer open source software are able to establish an industry standard and, thus, gain competitive advantage. It has also helped build developer loyalty as developers feel empowered and have a sense of ownership of the end product.

Moreover less costs of marketing and logistical services are needed for OSS. It also helps companies to keep abreast of all technology developments. It is a good tool to promote a company’s image, including its commercial products. The OSS development approach has helped produce reliable, high quality software quickly and inexpensively. Besides, it offers the potential for a more flexible technology and quicker innovation.

It is said to be more reliable since it typically has thousands of independent programmers testing and fixing bugs of the software. It is flexible because modular systems allow programmers to build custom interfaces, or add new abilities to it and it is innovative since open source programs are the product of collaboration among a large number of different programmers. The mix of divergent perspectives, corporate objectives, and personal goals speeds up innovation.

Moreover free software can be developed in accord with purely technical requirements. It does not require to think about commercial pressure that often degrades the quality of the software. Commercial pressures make traditional software developers pay more attention to customers’ requirements than to security requirements, since such features are somewhat invisible to the customer.

About SourceForge.net

SourceForge is your location to download and develop free open source software! You can get almost any Open Source Software you need for free at Sourceforge.net.

 

Good web design is about much more than creating pretty pages.

First of all, as I write this article, I am on a 32KBps download and 64Kbps upload shared link. My ISP ,however, raises this to a 64/64 at night and over the weekend (probably because most of their major clients are businesses and are closed at this time thus leaving the bandwidth idle).

This speeds are not what I expected a few months ago when the fibre optic cable officially went live. I would love to move to a faster connection but I have since been unable to find a reasonably priced and more reliable ISP. Having a 24 hour internet connection is still considered a privilege in many homes and businesses in Kenya and Africa.

Why is this relevant?

Many web developers in Kenya fail to take such factors into consideration. They design websites using all manner of poorley developed graphics and animations. They fill up the web page with as many images as possible. I’ve always wondered whether they take into consideration the many people who visit their client’s websites from cyber cafes. Such website visitors pay the cyber cafe per minute only to have to sit and wait for all these, more often than not, unnecessary graphics to load. Or the people who access the websites using their phones or broadband modems which in Kenya are currently charged based on the volume of data they download.

The Point

Before we developers start adding those images to our websites, we should familiarize ourselves with some important issues relevant to using graphics on the Web. Issues like file size, file types, and image optimization…whats that?

Image optimization

Graphics optimization is the process of reducing the file size of images used on web pages, while preserving the quality and clarity of those images.

This process provides a few key benefits:

  • Smaller images are friendlier to your end users -People will be able to download the web page faster if you’ve optimized your images. Your website will appear faster to them. They will be less frustrated than if they had to wait thirty seconds for all your huge, unoptimized images to appear.
  • Smaller images are more bandwidth-friendly. Web hosts usually limit how much data your website can serve per month. If your images are smaller, you won’t hit your quota as fast.
  • And, obviously, smaller images take up less space.

A 100KB JPEG might appear small, but add in five of them, several CSS files, and several other assets, and it can take a
few seconds or more for that website to download. Users, all over the world, tend to be incredibly impatient, and you want to do everything you can to make your pages load as quickly as possible.

The Solution

When you work in a web browser, you work primarily with three graphics formats: GIFs, PNGs, and JPEGs.

GIFs

GIF, short for Graphics Interchange Format, is a graphics format that uses a palette of up to 256 distinct colors from the 24-bit RGB color space. You don’t use it for photographs because of this limited-color space, but it’s great for logos. The GIF format also supports animations.

Historically, GIFs have often been used for logos and buttons because they support transparency, which means you can place a GIF on the page and see the background through parts of the logo. However, developers are increasingly adopting PNGs because of that format’s superior transparency support.

Optimizing GIFs

GIF images allow a maximum of only 256 colors in the image. You optimize GIFs by reducing the number of colors that will be stored in the file. If you have only 16 colors total in your logo, you tell your graphics software to limit the output to 16 colors. Reducing the colors reduces the file size, but you might end up making the image look terrible. The more complex the image, the more colors you’ll need to store.

PNGs

PNG, short for Portable Network Graphics, is a bitmap image format that uses lossless compression and was designed to replace the GIF format. It supports only RGB colors, and it’s designed for use on the Web. It also supports transparency quite well. Unfortunately, this transparency is supported only in newer browsers, but don’t be afraid to use it because the image quality can be amazing.

PNG Optimization

When you optimize a PNG, you select a bit depth of the image. The more complicated the image, the larger the file size. However, unlike JPEGs, PNG files use a lossless compression, so PNG is a nice format for logos and other on photographic artwork, especially logos, icons, and buttons with shading, shadows, or glossy detailing.

JPEGs

JPEG is a compression format for photographic images. It’s widely supported, but it uses a lossy compression, so artifacts can be created if you compress too much or recompress multiple times. JPEGs do not support transparency at all, and you should use them only for photographs. Logos, screenshots, and gradients are definitely not appropriate uses for JPEGs.

Optimizing JPEGs

To optimize a JPEG, you simply compress the image to make it smaller. Compression can reduce the file size dramatically, but can also reduce the image quality. You need to strike a balance between file size and quality when optimizing JPEG images.

References:

  1. Brian Hogan, Web Design for Developers
 

UpdatedWeb development requires self-evaluation much more often than annually. Each day, each week and each month should incorporate some continual consideration of where the website developer stands in attaining their respective goals.

2009 saw the much hyped fibre optic cable being launched in Kenya. Although the costs still haven’t dropped drastically, and many are yet to incorporate fibre optic, I believe Kenya will soon have this much anticipated high speed Internet. In this regard, what can web developers do for their clients in 2010 to enable them and their businesses to take maximum advantage of this ‘information super highway’?Fibre

Well, in Kenya, the fact is that we are more of web consumers and less of web producers. The attitude in Kenya and in Africa generally, is that we tend to use the Internet to access content from Europe, America and other parts of the world. Most of the websites we use for checking our emails (Gmail, Yahoo, MSN), or social networking (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter), or sports (BBC Sport, ESPN, Goal.com), or entertainment (YouTube) are not Kenyan or African websites.

How much are we giving back in return? In order for Kenya to fully benefit from the fibre optic, we need to become less consumers and become producers of web products. Internet users from around the world should get as much content from us, as they provide to us.

The focus should shift to the relevance of the content we are placing on the web…more time should be spent to ensure that the relevant, timely and updated content goes to websites. To do this, the few web developers who are still stuck on producing static websites from one off deals should shift to dynamic websites or preferably content management systems. Websites should reflect the current state of your clients business or objectives. It makes no sense for website visitors to visit a website only to find job adverts placed in 2005 when the website was developed.

Thats just my take; let me know what you think…

 
Noah Amolo © 2010