Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The 'Sin' of inaction...

Are you afraid of failure? Me too -- at least until I had a sober introspection recently. I've always been reluctant to make a move,and follow up on an idea, simply because I feel I'm not 'perfect'/well prepared yet. "When at all would you be ready?",I asked myself during my reflection. Let me share a couple of my inaction with you.

In my senior year at the university, we took a course in Entrepreneurship. One of our mini projects was to write a business plan for any business of our choosing. My teammates and I targeted the transport sector, and decided to write a business plan for the cab (taxi) business. It included online booking and other such features. We FAILED to follow up on the plan and implement it -- we felt we were not ready yet (at least i thought so). Imagine the ambivalent feeling I had when I learnt of a similar idea being implemented in Nigeria now -- TaxiPark.

Another inaction of mine was not following up on an idea to develop a web/SMS-based results (grade) notification for students in my alma mater. This idea I got while doing my national service. I was not however surprised when mFriday came out with a similar app.

I can go on and on. The point I'm trying to make is that we should try even when we are not sure of the outcome. Face our fears. Inaction is devastating -- very devastating. No wonder the Confiteor (said during the Catholic Mass), has a line that goes thus, "..., in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, ..."

Join me this Saturday at the Methodist University campus in Accra, for the mother of all Barcamps in Ghana -- Barcamp Accra. Let's pledge to make efforts and thus fail so much that failure has no other choice than to let us be.

Register for Barcamp Accra here: http://barcampaccra12.eventbrite.com/

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Think Ghana...

Do we have an official language in Ghana?
Yes we do -- English.
Do we have a national language?
No we don't -- errm -- yes we do.
No because all Ghanaians do not have ONE mother tongue. We have beautiful languages though.
Yes because, we have GHANA as the national language -- ONE Ghana.
So in all you do, remember our national language Ghana. Celebrate the beauty we have in our diversity.
You. Yes You. Think Ghana.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quando eu votei :: When I voted

In the past couple of weeks, I have been intrigued by the Portuguese language. After 21 hours of studying the basics, I've decided to share a summary of my voting experience with you -- in Portuguese. Enjoy.

Na manha do dia sete de Dezembro, dois mil e doze, eu votei. Eu fui à estaçao a cinco minutos para sete horas. Eu tive que ligar uma fila longa. Votando comercou a sete horas e onze minutos. Depois de vinte minutos, nós tivemos que formar duas filas novas, usando nossos nomes. Teve muito caos, porque pessoas estiverem nas filas desde quatro horas horas na manha, mas depois disso, todo mundo ficou calmo e votando continuou.

You can read the full report -- in English -- on the GhanaDecides website.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Vim Series!

I got a wish of mine fulfilled last Wednesday, when I partook in the Vim Series for the first time.
Vim Series is a meeting of individuals interested in technology (its challenges, prospects, application et cetera) in Ghana. It's held every Wednesday evening (6:30pm - 8:30pm) at Esoko.
I met a number of cool folks from diverse disciplines. Exchange of ideas is real fun!
Brett Nakatsu from StartupWeekend was there to share what the organisation is about and the upcoming StartupWeekend to be held in Accra this weekend. Follow #SWAccra on Twitter for updates.
Present also were guys from Open University of West Africa -- an institution taking open source education to a different dimension, by making use of MOOCs.
I enjoyed myself and felt inspired as well. If you are in Accra, and can spare 2 hours of your evening to meet cool folks and form alliances, check out the Vim Series. You will be glad you did.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Why I do what I do?

As a young academic, I sometimes get folks asking me how and why I'm in such a field. I don't really know how to explain it to them, for them to understand. I sometimes feel I'm even not fully fit for this field (and the truth is I'm not!). But something drives me to excel at what I do -- a passion -- so clearly captured in Peter Levine's quote in this article. He says:

I love teaching because I am able to make a difference in a student’s future. Whether I help to unlock a new concept or see a student follow her/his lifelong dreams, teaching and passing on knowledge has become a passion of mine.

That's exactly how I feel as a young academic -- an aspiration I'm cultivating.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Re-branding Ghana with Fabric

Lately, the love of Ghanaian Fabric (and design) has caught up like wildfire among the country's youth.
Individuals and companies are branding items such as bags, shoes; wallets with fabric. Nice.
I share some pics of the rebirth of my wallet (now clothed) in this post.




Monday, October 8, 2012

FASMICRO's Ekele shares some thoughts

In my previous post, I shared my experience at the Embedded Systems Training that took place at the KNUST. Apart from the learning experience and exposure I got, I also got something far more valuable – the friendship of the trainer, Ekele. In our numerous conversations, a lot of topics cropped up and they were duly digested. I however want to share a few of Ekele’s thoughts pertaining to Embedded Systems mostly. Enjoy.
Me: How did you get into this field?
Ekele: In my first year i Senior High School, electronics was one of the subjects we were taught. Our electronics teacher did a very good job activating my electronic curiosity. When teaching, he would bring LED, transistors, resistor e.t.c to the class and show them to us. He told us where they can be applied – in T.V, radios e.t.c. So, I fell in love with electronic components.
Me: What have been your challenges and triumphs?
Ekele: When I started learning about micro controllers, I discovered I couldn't get a programmer. I searched and searched in the market. I finally got a circuit diagram from the Internet and built one. Even today, there are some components one will need and would just have to order it from the USA or another developed country.
I get a burst of joy when I write a long code for something and at the end of the day, I get the device/equipment working. For instance, the first time I wrote code for a digital signboard, it took me a long time (more than a week) to get things up. Sometimes I don’t think about food and people around me will start complaining. They will ask me what I am doing that will make me not to bother about my food. And I will answer, "You will not understand." When they finally see me clapping and grinning from ear to ear, they know I have just achieved something.
Me: What is the future of embedded systems in Africa?
Ekele: It is a virgin field in Africa. It is a core requirement to become a technologically advanced country – that is my opinion. If people can start building hardware on the continent, gradually we will not be third world any more.
Me: Your advice to graduates who complain of unemployment?
Ekele: I believe every student should acquire knowledge that can be converted into a product/service. By so doing, they can easily start a business after school. Start doing something on your own; people will notice and start to contact you. Why wait?
Me: Advice on how to succeed in a chosen field?
Ekele: You have to strongly believe in what you do, you have to constantly acquire more information in that area and you have to look for ways to solve problems with what you do.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Exploring the Virgin Territory of Embedded Systems

An embedded system
Photo Credit: PlantAutomation
Consider the following scenarios:
  • Your car has been stolen. How do you track its location?
  • You travel and realise you’ve left your lights on! How do you save energy – and money – by switching off the lights?

The answer to these, and many other similar ones, is embedded systems.
For more on the applications of embedded systems, click here.
Embedded systems are simply specialized computer systems that are part of larger systems or machines
The Kumasi Center for Lifelong Learning-KCLL, seeing the prospects of this industry, organised a 10-day training workshop on embedded systems at the School of Science, KNUST. This was done in partnership with First Atlantic Semiconductors & Microelectronics-FASMICRO, Nigeria's largest embedded systems company, and MFriday, a group of mobile technology enthusiasts (made up of students and industry experts).
I'm currently participating in the workshop as a ‘trainee-observer’ (on the request of the KCLL’s Executive Director, Yaw), to see how best to replicate the training on the Catholic University College of Ghana campus.
Participants have so far been introduced to the PIC microchip/microcontroller, FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array, a special type of programmable microprocessor) and taught how to write programs in the Assembler and C languages. They've also been introduced to the USART/UART and USB communication protocol. Some of the mini projects saw participants programming a digital clock, the seven segment display of an LED, a piano, and an LCD.
The last day of the training -- tomorrow -- will be used to highlight the business aspects of embedded systems.
The trainer, Ekele, believes the field is a ‘virgin’ territory in Africa and hopes a lot more people embrace it. He says, “A lot of people are into software, but what is the software going to interact with – hardware.”
It’s been an exciting experience, and I wish a number of institutions in Ghana would set up Microelectronics Training and Development Centers (MTDCs) to train students in this field.
Please let me know what your thoughts are by commenting on this post.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Learning to learn

I just read a cool and inspiring blog post by the same title. The author, John Sonmez, who blogs at Making the Complex Simple, puts into perspective his thoughts on why taking responsibility for one’s education is very important.
He explains what learning how to learn how to learn is:

"The key to self-educating is to be able to change the way you think about learning. You should no longer see yourself as a student to be taught, but rather as a researcher gathering together information on a subject."

I picked up his steps in the learning process and realised that I personally have been off track all this while in my bid to self-educate myself.

I won’t bore you further. Just read the article for yourselves, and let him (and me of course) know what your thoughts are on it. You will love it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When innocence meets faith

I remember a childhood experience that always puts me in a pensive mood. I was eleven years old (I think).

I had been feeling a bit nauseous in the morning prior to a music rehearsal, and almost decided not to go for the rehearsal. I went all the same -- with my brother, Samuel.

After the rehearsal (which was held in our instructor's house), I felt really weak. The mother of our instructor felt my pain and did something that still overwhelms me. She brought a glass of water -- with the Holy Rosary in it, and asked me to drink it! It felt awkward. She calmly handed me the glass and asked that I have faith while drinking the water.

The innocent child in me trusted her -- and in the Immaculate Conception. I drank the water and felt the same, though the nauseousness had reduced.
I thanked her and left with my brother for our home.

Before we boarded a cab, I spewed. That was it. I felt relieved and even played with my friends when I got home.

How I miss that innocence!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Media for Democracy Event held in Sunyani

The US Embassy in Ghana sponsored a series of one-day conventions on how media and civil society can contribute to free and fair elections. The conventions were organised by the GJA.
I was privileged to partake in, and cover the Sunyani event for GhanaDecides.
In this post I share some pictures I took at the event.
Dr. A. Bonnah Koomson talking on the role of the media

A section of the participants at the event 
Mr. K. Aborampah-Mensah talking on the role of Civil SocietyOrganisatins

Mr. Bright Blewu of the GJA interacting with the CUCG's SRC


Snack time
Ms. McKenzie talking on Best Pracices



A couple of materials given to participants
For a full report on the event, click here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Missing Link?

Communication has always been a phenomenon that beats me. How a child inherently learns to speak the tongue of people in his/her immediate environs, gestures that cut across cultures, et cetera. Still more fascinating is the ability of the deaf and dumb to communicate with their peers, and non-signers (using sign language).

Remember the programme 'Missing Link' on GTV --'twas shown on Saturdays? That was a really educative programme that got discontinued.

A lot of study has also gone into finding better ways to enhance the interaction between humans and computers -- Human Computer Interaction. Researchers are finding ways of particularly, also helping the deaf, dumb, and blind folks embrace technology.
One such development in Ghana has to do with the Ghanaian Sign Language (GhSL) Repository. The project aims to develop a website that will serve as a repository as well as an online teaching resource for GhSL; mainly aimed at non-signers. This project is being spearheaded by Diana Dayaka Osei and Dr. Astrid Twenebowa Larssen (of Ashesi University). This project would go a long way to bridge the gap 'between both worlds'. A very laudable venture by these individuals indeed.

Have you watched the evening news on GTV lately? A man does the signs when the news is read! However, I believe the signs are in English -- yes, English version. What if we had a local version (in our local tongue) while the local news is read on television? Super cool!
Surprisingly, we do have a local version of the sign language in Ghana -- the Adamorobe Sign Language!.

Technology, in the right hands, and used for the right reasons is pretty amazing. Embrace it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Augmenting classroom lessons -- on-line.

It's been three years since I started tutoring students of the CUCG Summer School (run during the long vacation). It's been an experience: ups, downs, in-betweens, but I'm always thankful for the opportunity.

Personally, I think the stress these students go through is immense and overwhelming, and often does tell on their grades. The headache for me these years has been to find a convenient way to augment the classroom lectures. The fastest answer of course, on-line classes.

Before I had this urge, e-mails were mostly used to exchange, share lecture notes, assignments.
This year however, a new approach was used (or added). We created a group on Facebook, which afforded effective communication as a number of people can chat at the same time, thus exchanging ideas and helping one another. Another group (or Circle) was created on Google+ and that took us even closer to our interaction-oriented goal. Unfortunately, we never got to do a hangout -- connectivity issues. But I saw an improvement in the class, and that makes me happy.
Google Docs also came in handy as the class got a taste of how to collaborate using the service.
There's more room for improvement. The positive influence of on-line in education cannot be over-emphasised.

I would like to hear from folks who have fused on-line technologies in their classes: experiences, ideas I can use, and more areas I can explore.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Tamale Experience

Over the weekend, I was in Ghana's Northern Regional capital, Tamale. Amazing place.
I was first welcomed by the Central Mosque which made me miss my trips to Abuja (in Nigeria) last year. The roads are a must-see. The sense of culture abounds in this town. It's full of life.
My word, was I surprised to actually see a lot of motorcycles. Most being ridden by ladies. The sad part of that for me though was the riders not being in their helmets (about 2 in 25 did have helmets on).
I was actually there to participate in a Barcamp event, to meet and interact with people to see how best the condition of the people can be improved, and their stories told to the world. Whoever said the youth are the future of any nation is right. A lot of ideas were floated, and action plans made.
Personally, the future of Tamale and indeed Ghana is secured and bright.
A picture of the Larambaga mosque. Photo credit: Barcampers


Sunday, July 8, 2012

SIFE-CUCG are National Champions!

Last Thursday, I was at the Accra International Conference Center to serve as a volunteer for the SIFE Ghana National Exposition 2012. I was also there to support the SIFE team from the Catholic University College of Ghana. This event is an annual event that showcases projects that have been initiated and/or completed by SIFE teams in tertiary institutions across the country. Did I mention it was my first time ever partaking in this event? I was amazed at the projects students had initiated and completed within the past year, in such areas as job creation, poverty reduction, youth empowerment, et cetera. Sitting through the presentations, I thought to myself, "Why do you think you have to be in a certain (high) position before making an impact on society?" Indeed, I took a cue from the students -- lesson well noted.
SIFE CUCG team
The two-day event saw the Catholic University emerge as victors! Their major project was the building of a bakery for the locals of the Mantukwa village in the Brong Ahafo Region. The money for this project was raised by the students -- they used their birthdays to raise it -- just like some celebs do for charity: water. I was deeply touched by the competiting institutions; projects and pray we all give a little more support to these change makers.
The winners will represent Ghana at the SIFE world cup in Washington DC that would take place from the 30th Sept - 2nd OCtober.
We wish them the very best.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Google Faculty Development Workshop -- Day 3

Did Google save the best for last? I don't think so because all the days have been great.
The final day saw participants taken through Google Apps for Education: Calender, Gmail, Google docs. A hands on session on Google+ was also held and that had a lot of engagement as the interaction between the presenter and participants was great.
Baris, a software engineer at Google also had a cool session where he took participants through a typical software design approach used by Googlers. Participants finally decided to build an app to help solve traffic problems in Accra and indeed, in Ghana.
Another brainstorming session was held after the programm when a numberof folks stayed behind for about fifteen minutes after closure, to talk with Baris about malaria and help him understand issues on the ground so as to be well informed to build an infrastructure that can mitigate the harm caused by mosquitoes, and prevent them from 'invading' the rooms of their 'potential victims'.
Baris with some participants discussing malaria

It was a great event and the knowledge base has been really dense.
I do hope to be here next year, and fully help advance the mission of Google in making technology an integral part in education.
Related articles:

Friday, June 29, 2012

Google Faculty Development Workshop -- Day 2

The second day of the workshop has been full of activities, mostly the writing of codes. Participants were introduced to the creation of Android apps using the Eclipse IDE. It was confusing at first but became enjoyable once things were made clear during the breakout session that saw participants break into groups of two for the apps competition.
A number of cool ideas were floated by the teams as they presented their apps during the show and tell session. It was fun. The team that won the competiton created an app that allowed users to report (utility) faults in their communities.
Friendships were forged, networks were created, and a collaborative spirit heightened. Who says distance is a barrier to the acquisition of Knowledge? If you think so, then you haven't met determined folks. Most of the participants -- myself inclusive -- came from locations far from the venue in Accra. That being said, I met Caleb, an enthusiastic fellow from the University of Ibadan who flew all the way from Nigeria for the workshop!
The event ended on a very good note. I look forward to the final day tomorrow that looks at the integration of Google Apps in Education.
Participants at the workshop
Related articles:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Google Faculty Development Workshop -- Day 1

Obum from Google introducing the Google African University Program 
Google is at it again! This time, interacting exclusively with Computer Science Lecturers, Professors, and Administrators in Sub-Saharan Africa. The beginning of this week saw the team in Nigeria where they met Faculty from about 20 universities for three days. Today they met Faculty from 15 universities in Ghana, at the Alisa Hotel. The workshop will end on Saturday.
With the changing trend in the Industry, it is expedient Curricula is adjusted to better suit the needs of users/consumers. Thus a collaborative community of academics who are introduced to the use of Google's tools and developer platforms for instruction and research is highly beneficial.
Participants were introduced to Web 2.0 technologies, The Google App Engine, and the Google Web Toolkit. Do check out the Google Developers University Consortium that was launched about a couple of days ago.
Personally, it is an insightful event that I pray continues, and yield the fruits it is expected to bear. The classroom setting made a great impact. However, I felt a bit intimidated because the programming language used is one I hardly am conversant with -- Java!
I however enjoyed the first day and look forward to the next couple of days that promise to be full of brainstorming sessions, hand-on experience and fun.
Related articles:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Letter to my unborn child


Credit: Kalongi

Tomorrow marks the day most men would be celebrated in their various homes -- Fathers' Day!
As I sat through the day thinking about my dad and his sacrifices for me and my siblings, I thought of  writing a letter (of a sort) to my unborn child. Here goes:

Dear Son/Daughter,


It's with ambivalent feelings that I write this letter to you.
I trust all is well with you up there? Well, your folks down here are doing okay. Thanks for asking.

My thoughts are filled with how you are going to look. Will you be having your mum's eyes or my ears -- or both?
The joy you would bring into our home is always a refreshing thought. 


I pledge and look forward to being you partner-in-crime, protector, and above all, your best friend. *wink* 
I can't wait to see you happily drain your mum's milk factories, while throwing your legs about happily.
Looking forward to your first sound, steps, crush, heartbreak, love -- and squabbles with our neighbours' kids. Ha-ha-ha
In all these, know that my shoulders will always be available to give you support and comfort.


Really, there's a lot I wish I could say but I'm overwhelmed by the thought of holding you in my arms, and watching you grow into a humble, passionate and responsible individual.


Until the day my orgasm gives you the impetus to drill into your mum's egg.


Sincerely,
Your Papa.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Welcome to iWitness -- in Ghana

A couple of months ago, I struck an acquaintance with Daixy, the Social Media coordinator of GhanaDecides -- a BloggingGhana project that seeks to cover issues pertaining to the forthcoming elections in Ghana. I was fascinated after she introduced me to the project as it presented an opportunity for individuals to broadcast the news of Ghana's forthcoming elections to the world.
I thought to myself, "If we are tired of having our country and continent given a negative image in the media by both foreign and local media, who better to set the record straight, than ourselves?"
GhanaDecides became a fixture in my lectures (during breaks) where I educated and advised students to make their voices heard in the campaign known as iRegistered. The iRegistered campaign covered Ghana's first ever biometric voter registration.
Personally, I believe all has gone according to the expectations of the project team based on the responses got. Or maybe not?
That being said, I stumbled upon a project being undertaken by Adaptive Path (a User Experience design company in the USA) that seeks to take social media to another dimension -- iWitness. The free tool iWitness went live a couple od days ago!
iWitness is a pretty cool tool I think would further enhance the GhanaDecides project. It reads tweets (and even Flickr and instagram updates) in real time, based on location and time. It works solely in a browser. All you do is enter a location and a time, and voila, news becomes readily available to you.
Screenshot of the iWitness app. Location: Accra

The downsides of the tool I think has to do mainly with the fact that it's mostly for desktop browsers that are Webkit-based, such as Chrome and Safari. But hey, it's an evolving open source project. It shouldn't be long before we have it being supported on mobile browsers and all other browser as well. Developers can hack at the source code on Github.
iWitness is also advantageous to the GhanaDecides cause as it doesn't require a hashtag (which the campaign so far has depended mainly on) for any particular news.
Just go ahead and try the tool.
I will like to have your thoughts on it via your comments on this post. ;-)
You can read more on iWitness on this blog post by the creators.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Finding the square root of an integer using Calculus

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to find the square root of an integer (especially imperfect squares), but had no calculator close by? I have. I however remember learning a Calculus trick (in senior high) that has always come to my aid in such situations. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and come along as I share this trick. The trick requires that you identify some things:
  • The integer (Obviously!)
  • A perfect square that can be got from the integer
  • The remainder in subtracting the perfect square from the integer
The steps involved in deriving the formula for finding the square root of an integer is shown below:

 

As an example, let's find the square root of the integer 7:

PS: You will notice (after a number of practices) that the values got using this method differ slightly from the ones got from the calculator. Do not be alarmed, the values are still correct nonetheless.

I do hope this is helpful and would come in handy when we need it.
Please let me know what your thoughts on any other trick you know. Waiting for your comments. ;-)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What is behind your name?

The teller looked at me suspiciously and said, "Excuse me Sir, this is not your account. It belongs to another." I calmly smiled and responded, "It's mine" -- and handed her an ID. She bashfully looked into my eyes and said sorry. I told her not to worry and that I get that all the time.
I guess you are wondering why I should undergo such embarrassment because I wanted to withdraw cash from my own account? Simple. My name Mary! Don't blink, it is M-A-R-Y.
I have therefore decided to clear the air once and for all, regarding where my name Mary comes from, and the meaning of my other names. No, it wasn't given to me by my parents during my christening.
My parents gave me the names Dominic Kofi Kafui Mawuli Kornu. These all have a reason. You see, my mum's family didn't think it was possible for her to have me safely at her age. When I was delivered and found healthy as well as my mum, I was given the names Kafui and Mawuli which literally translates to 'Praise Him' and 'God exists' respectively in the Ewe language. Dominic, meaning 'Of the Lord' was given to me by my uncle, Rev. Msgr. Anthony Kornu. Kofi as most of you know is the name given to boys born on a Friday in the Ghanaian culture. Kornu -- my family name -- was explained to me by my paternal grandmother, as doing something that is praiseworthy, something that is beneficial to others and that is cherished. It's almost like dong something famous.
So where from the Mary? Well, I took it on my confirmation day as a form of reverence and appreciation to Mary on whose feast day I was born. Crazy.
So there you have it. I know most of us have very interseting facts surrounding the origin of the names we bear. I would love to hear them.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

BlogCamp 2012 -- The Experience

Blog? Social Media? What has the Law got to do with Social Media? Oh, can I really make a living from blogs?
If these are questions you find yourself asking, then you should have been at the first-ever -- yes, you heard me -- first-ever Blogcamp event in Ghana, which took place at the AITI-KACE. The theme was Voice of a New Generation.

A Blogcamp is actually a gathering of bloggers (newbies and oldies) to discuss the world of blogs, share ideas, and find ways of using social media to impact their communities in a positive way. The event was organised by the largest association of bloggers in Ghana, BloggingGhana. Almost 400 participants 'invaded' the venue -- the burning passion and quest for knowledge was simply overwhelming.

I had awakenings, epiphanies and inspirations throughout the event.

Highlights

  • The first highlight of the event for me, was when we had the pleasure of interacting with Brett Morgan of Google via Google+ hangout, as he talked on "Making blogs graphical with HTML5" -- 'twas really cool.
  • The second was when Nana Yaw Asiedu was called upon to talk on "Social Media and the Law". I know a lot of the attendees share what I'm about to say. He was introduced as a lawyer and so the 'Ghanaian' mind expected to see an 'old' (used relatively) individual. But no, we saw this unassuming young man step up, take the mic, and 'school' us on the topic with undiluted authority. Mindblowing! I dubbed him, "The Coolest Legal mind at the event". ;-)
  • The breakout session on Photoblogging was amazingly handled by Nana Kofi Acquah.
    Mac-Jordan Degadjor's session on Social Media for Corporate bodies was engaging. I particularly love the point he momentarily turned the session into a 'mini movie theatre' by playing a video on 'What a Blog is'!
  • The main sponsor of the day, Vodafone Ghana had three raffles and gave prizes to winning participants. The prices included Android torres phones, Mi-Fis, and Web Boxes! Others also won free BloggingGhana T-Shirts -- myself inclusive. :-)
  • The biggest highlight for me was the launching of the Social Media Awards by Golda Addo.

Memorable Quotes

The day had its fair share of quotes that should be in ink:
We never really know where it'll lead us, but we have to start from a place of integrity.
~ Nana Kofi Acquah
" It's impossible to be politically correct as a blogger and be taken seriously. "
~ Nana Kofi Acquah
" You need to take a stance. It's either you are a mouse or a cat, you can't be a mat. "
~ Nana Kofi Acquah
" Truth is the best defence in defamation, but it should be truth you can prove. "
~ Nana Yaw Asiedu
" Those in most need are the ones to really exercise their democratic franchise. "
~ @kinnareads
" If for nothing at all, joining BloggingGhana allows you a lot of reach. "
~ Kajsa Hallberg Adu
" It annoys me that a lot of people are interested in poverty in Africa. "
~ Kobina Graham

It was a great event -- thanks to the organisers and the sponsors.
In the words of the in-law in a Ghanaian TV advert, I end by saying, "mE ba aha dabia abE didi"!

I know you folks have got other exciting experiences to share about the BlogCamp event. I'd love to hear them. Do leave a comment, and let's get interactive.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The CUCG -- Improved Transport

Since moving to their permanent site in August 2008, the Catholic University College of Ghana has been plagued with a number of challenges. Paramount among them (was) their access road.

A number of pleas have been made to the government and other agencies to come to the institution’s aid and help develop its access road. Thankfully due to a Cocoa Farmers’ Funding Project, the road has been given a face-lift to the joy of not just the university community, but the people of Fiapre (the locality within which the CUCG is sited). Thanks to J. Adom Company Limited – a very good and efficient construction firm based in Sunyani.

Prior to the construction, transportation was a very big issue to students. Drivers refused to ply the road because of its bad nature. Most of them complained of how the road had adverse effects on their vehicles. The school buses were also breaking down constantly. This affected academic work as some students were late for lectures.

It was really heartbreaking to see students on foot after lectures.

Thanks to the contract, transportation has improved. Now I pick a cab from town to the school’s junction, and the driver will ask, “Mi nfa mu nk) campus?” (Can I take you to the campus?). Interesting. A bit funny. There’s even a union of drivers for the CUCG campus! Yes, really.

But these drivers need education. Most of them drive carelessly because of the enhanced road. We do not want accidents on our road!

The community is grateful to the institution(s) that played (and still play) a major role in the project.
Mawu ne yra miakata. Nyame nhyira mu. W) nunts) ni y) ngwE adz) nyE. God bless you.

So much for Data Management

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve not been able to get a printed copy of my pay slip as I usually do. The excuse: “We are now sending the pay slips through e-mails. The organization is going hi-tech.”

That sounded cool – or so I thought at the time.

So I waited patiently for my pay slip to be delivered via e-mail – NONE delivered! I decided to ask the finance department at the end of March. Surprisingly, I got a text message from the finance department informing me that payments have been made. I thought the e-mail will follow. It didn’t.
I asked a colleague at the office why still I haven’t got the mail. His answer, “Well, you will have to provide your e-mail address, so we send the pay slip to you.” You can imagine my surprise.

Me provide my e-mail address? Where did you people get my phone number from? Is it not from the same form with my details that I provided when was employed? Argh!

But you see I really don’t blame them. Most of our institutions rush into the use of technology without really doing their homework/research thoroughly and so end up being stuck at a point.

This problem wouldn’t be surfacing if our data are being managed effectively. I don’t even want to recount the number of times e-mail addresses have been collected form staff during meetings. What becomes of them?

We need to be up to the tasks we assign ourselves. Period!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

First-ever Barcamp Sunyani -- The experience

The first-ever Barcamp event in Sunyani ended almost three hours ago – boy was I blown away (no hyperbole intended). Ideas. Energy. Networking. These were all in full supply at the event, which took place at the FFRT (KNUST-SYI).

A barcamp is simply a FREE networking event that brings individuals together to brainstorm and find solutions to problems affecting their communities and propose ways of developing their communities and the country as a whole. A novel idea, don’t you think?

I attended my first-ever barcamp event in Kumasi, three weeks ago at the KNUST campus. What makes today’s event even more remarkable – apart from the organisation – is the number of ladies present. These ladies were bold and they cogently defended their ideas in a clear manner. Women of substance. Wow. The event also had a number of highlights:

1. A discussion on whether Sunyani is a worthy candidate as the capital city of Ghana? A number of positives and negatives were identified, but in all, we realised it could be the capital of Ghana if enough thought, energy and planning is employed by our leaders.
Sunyani – better known as the Sun City, is simply a town to love. ;-)
2. A representative of the Youth Council implored us to really take part in the on-going biometric voter registration and actually go on to vote. No sitting on the fence. From his speech, I learnt that the word ‘youth’ is not found – not even once – in the 1992 constitution! Can you believe that?
3. Mr. Agbozo, a lecturer at the Catholic University, gave an insightful talk on Entrepreneurship. He shared the results of a survey he carried out in his class based on priorities and surprisingly, achievement was at the bottom while love was fourth. Even learning didn’t place. (No surprise for me.) Good news though is that, barcamp participants decided to change their attitude. This I believe would diffuse and take our youth by storm. Go Ghana!
The next speaker was the General Manager of Eusbett Hotel, Mr. Mensah. He also gave a lot of insight into where Sunyani has come from in terms of development and the opportunities still lurking around. I bet you a number of his ideas would see fruition by the close of the year.
The BloggingGhana crew was also there to talk on their #iRegistered campaign which seeks to cover the registration and voting processes via social media (blogs, tweets, Facebook, Google+, Instagram et cetera.)
4. During the breakout session, a number of topics were discussed:
  • How to develop the Sunyani Township?
  • What GTUG is all about?
  • How to keep Sunyani clean?
  • The (correct) use of Social Media
5. A GTUG coordinator, Jojoo Imbeah, demonstrated how culture can be fused into technology. He actually used the Mozilla Firefox browser in Akan!
6. The last, but definitely not the least highlight was when participants ended the event by singing the national Anthem, “God Bless our Homeland Ghana…”
Participants are of the view that, barcamp Sunyani should be held frequently. Taking into consideration the number of barcamps in the country, I would propose that it is organised twice in a year.
God be the oga, oshe!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My GRE

A fortnight ago, I took the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in Accra – daunting, but an essential experience. The GRE is a standard examination that allows individuals gain admission into graduate universities in the United States of America. It is a requirement of many grad schools. It would interest you to know that anxiety got me to the exam center almost an hour earlier than commencement time. Fortunately, the exam environment was comfortable – I felt at home – a result of my teaching in the computer lab mostly. The invigilators were also very welcoming.

As was expected, the Verbal Reasoning sections proved to be an Achilles’ heel; the Quantitative Reasoning was – well, okay. Analyzing the Issue/Argument sections were in a class of their own.

The experience made me realize that preparation indeed should not be underestimated. Juggling studying with work was no fun, but it was necessary. Luckily I had a friend who was also preparing for the exam the same time – we collaborated – not effectively, but it was worth it.

During a study session, I asked a colleague of mine to help me build up my vocabulary. I had an epiphany! He’s from a French background, and this made it easier for him to get the meanings of most of the words I threw at him. This I gathered is because most English words have French, Latin origins and therefore, basic knowledge in these languages is a plus for an individual studying for the GRE. Lesson learnt: Studying a foreign language can be a blessing – even in an English environment. Fact.

Because the exam is computer-based, typing skills are important, especially for the Analyze Issue/Argument sections. Thirty minutes can be pretty much a short time if your typing skills are poor. At a point, I found myself hitting the Ctrl + S keys to save my work – no need, because your work is saved automatically. (Laughs)

And oh, do not be deceived that 4 hours is a long time for an exam. The time will be shorter than you could possibly think of.

Let me know of your experiences as well. Do comment on this post. Thanks.

I wish prospective takers of the GRE all the best. Stay Blessed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Use simple tools to create complex applications: think locally, impact globally

The much anticipated Google Ghana Conference took place last week, on the 19th & 20th March at the Alisa hotel in Accra – yours truly was present – as always.(smiles)

This year’s event did justice to my expectations: cool, knowledgeable presenters; relaxed atmosphere fostering partnerships and enhancing opportunities; great entrepreneurial discussions.

The first day saw Googlers giving presentations on technologies/topics such as HTML5, Google App Engine, Google+, User Experience among others. My personal highlight of the day was during the Site Clinic track where the website of techsonetGH (under construction) was ‘diagnosed’ by Luisella. It was an eye-opener into ways I could become a better webmaster. The topic for the panel discussion was, “Can Ghana have a software company with 100+ developers?” In all, participants believed it was possible but would require skills development, hard work, dedication, and of course investment.

The cultural environment of Google as alluded in the keynote address of the day was experienced personally in my interactions with Googlers present at the event. These guys are cool! (wink) Ideas indeed do come from everywhere…

Day 2 was nothing short of exciting. It was great listening to entrepreneurs and business enthusiasts discuss ideas and share experiences. One fact that stood out is that, your ideas can best be explained by you in detail, nobody cares about your idea – sharing therefore is key.
During the track on Adsense, I really got to see how Africans get a ‘third eye’ when it comes to matters involving money. Some participants really wanted to know how to track their revenue online. (still laughing)

Julia’s presentation on Google+ APIs also saw eyes rolling and heads nodding. The fact that individuals without smart phones and data enabled devices could still enjoy Google + is simply genius. The hangout feature was simply awesome as a number of participants saw it as their replacement of Skype. I also found out – as did other participants that you can actually monetize on Youtube!

I can’t end without talking about the great photographs taken by RQV Photo Studio. The dude is amazing.

In all, the event was a great success and boy did I have me some fun. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nuptials...

Yesterday, I was at the engagement ceremony of a friend of mine – actually two friends of mine. It was a simple but elegant ceremony. Their love started while they were in the university.
As I sat through the ceremony – as I often do, I was occasionally lost in thought. My own relationship flashed through my mind. I thought of my girlfriend and the love we share. The better boyfriend I have become due to her constant care, encouragement, advice and belief in me. There were times I disappointed her and frustrated her, but she’s been by my side through it all.
The issue of the influence of society also set in and I admired my friends the more for staying true to themselves and their ideals and feelings.
A number of my friends present at the ceremony – myself inclusive – were dating back in school. Most of these relationships have fallen on rocks. Some had dragged on for a long while before dissolving, mostly due to external influences from society: gratitude to a partner thought of what society would say; the fear of starting all over, et cetera.
Truth is, being true to oneself is key. Be yourself. Be honest. Play fair.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Expresso CliQ modem -- my experience

Competition in the telecommunication industry in Ghana has been rife in the last couple of years, forcing telecom companies to strive to satisfy their customers. Customers now have a great deal of alternatives to choose from.
One area where competition has been keen is the provision of Internet/Web services. This is due to the fact that a great number of Ghanaians own mobile phones and PCs for personal use. This has seen the introduction of modems by these companies. A lot of grievances have been made by friends of mine who have used one or the other of these modems by the various telecom networks/companies.
Personally, I have used only two of such modems: the ones provided by the tigo and expresso networks; I must say I enjoy the expresso service better. A couple of reasons why:
- for the same data plan (eg. 1GB), expresso is cheaper (GH¢15 as compared to tigo's GH¢25).
- the connecivity of expresso is more stable and faster than that provided by tigo.
I am sure other users who have experienced the Internet/Web service provided by expresso may add reasons as to why or not they enjoy the service.
The last couple of days, however, have seen me undergo a negative experience with my CliQ modem.
I couldn't connect to the Internet albeit I had 300+MB of data usage left! I therefore recharged with an amount of GH¢5 and was able to connect. The same thing happened a while later -- I had 200+MB data usage left. I checked my credit balance and it was GH¢4.93. After another try, I was connected. Checking my balance after another disconnection showed I had 93MB left. I therefore decided to recharge with GH¢15 -- the required amount for the 1GB data plan. Surprisingly, my request for the data plan was not confirmed. . I was frustrated. I called the customer service and after a while I was connected.
I later conferred with a friend who apparently has had the same unfortunte experience. I believe this is one of the few cases expresso has to deal with. That notwithstanding, I think the Internet/Web service provided by expresso is among the best -- if not the best -- in Ghana.
I'm waiting for Globacom's Internet/Web service(s). Who knows, I may just be blown away.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ghanaians embrace Glo

Dr. Adenuga’s Globacom entered the Ghanaian market in a quiet fashion earlier today.
The network mostly allowed prospective customers to reserve numbers they would like to use on the network. Customers were to send an SMS of their desired number (in the format: 0233******) to the service number, 0230010100.
The reserved numbers will be available for a period of 7 days after the official launch of the network.
This move allowed customers to have a feel of Glo’s messaging system, which by the way has an impressive response time (less than a minute).
It is expected that phone calls would be made by customers on the network by a month’s time.
There’s a lot of expectations though. What services is Glo going to provide that would give them a competitive edge over existing providers? The major point of curiousity, I reckon, is the urge to experience their Internet service which is supported by their fibre optic framework.
Welcome Glo. Glo: Rule Your World.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pruning our lives

Just as a gardener prunes the grass and trees, so do we prune the branches in our lives to make them prudent, modest and worthwhile -- but above all pleasing to God -- and sometimes -- if not all the time, pleasing to the society. However we do forget sometimes to tidy up the mess we create while pruning our lives. Then our efforts to be perfect 'gardeners' falls apart.
Society then forgets the aesthetic view we've created and gives us a real ass-whipping for our failure to clean up the mess created.
C'est la vie.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Plight of travellers

The sharp increase in fares due to the increase in fuel prices is a phenomenon we’ve come to accept.
However, some people are using that as an excuse to ‘dupe’ and frustrate desperate travellers.
Yesterday, 8th January, I travelled from Accra to Sunyani with a GPRTU Yutong bus with registration number GC4801Z.
Before the vehicle arrived, passengers were in a queue. A man later came to announce the arrival of the bus and started selling tickets for GH¢21 instead of the actual fare of GH¢19. After some protest from passengers, another man came and began to sell the tickets for the normal fare. We were later informed the bus was full and the tickets finished – the rest of us in the queue were disappointed.

Surprisingly, a young man approached me and said he had a ticket for GH¢25 and that I should buy it. I was reluctant but seeing the four people in front of me being sold tickets for GH¢20 – and the need for me to get to Sunyani before nightfall – I obliged.
Now I had to pay for my luggage and was charged a hefty fee – as expected – no complain there. What actually got to me was the fact that after being charged for the luggage, I had to pay the one tagging the luggage GH¢1!
I really don’t know what is happening at the GPRTU station in Accra (Neoplan station at Circle), but I’d advice the leaders to check the frustration passengers go through and the way moneys are being extracted from them.