Thursday, October 31, 2013

A case for 'local' user interfaces?

The tweet above got my attention. Most folks in Ghana still enjoy SMS and those with smartphones enjoy text-based apps like Whatsapp. (Do note that Whatsapp now has voice-enabled input functionality).
From the convo on twitter, one realises that my friend is concerned about folks who cannot read English. I am however of the view that, a great majority of such folks can read in their local tongues.

A suggestion for developers who wish to design text-based apps for non-English speakers can be to use an API from Kasahorow. This would afford them the flexibility of using local languages.
However, another cool approach for developers looking forward to implement text-based apps, would be to use voice in place of text.

When it comes to using visuals, a lot of work has to be done to come out with better metaphors. This is because I've been contemplating how User Interface designers (in Ghana -- and Africa) could come up with icons that are 'local' enough to be understood and appreciated by their users.

Is this necessary, though?

What would the icons be like? A basket instead of a shopping cart? An earthenware bowl in place of fork and knife?
Well, as I've stated, more research needs to be done to really get a hang of this. An argument will be that the world is a global village, no? But what of the 'local' folks?

Forgive me if my thoughts are not 'falling in place' now.
I'm an enigma to myself.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Subtle discipline

Mr. X steps into his sitting room and finds his son watching porn.
Without distracting him, he sits by his son in silence -- fir a while.
"K, do you know about heaven and hell?"
"Yes, dad."
"What about them?"
"Good people who love God, and do his will, will inherit heaven. The bad will go to hell."
"What are some of the actions that can lead one to hell?"
"Fornication, killing, stealing, masturbation, pornography, e-er-r-mm-m..."

Akward silence.

Mr. X gets out of the room.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A great metaphor – HTW Empowerment beads

Since Ghana’s Heel The World Shoes introduced their trademark Empowerment beads, it has become a fashion statement (especially) amongst the youth.
I am no different.

My current HTW bead (with 2 REWARDS!)

But underlying this fashion piece is a world-related metaphor some of you (my readers – and fellow youth) might have missed. No juju (voodoo) issues here o!
The ornament is made up of black beads and a gold bead. The black beads represent the trials, disappointments, failures, and all the ‘negative’ challenges one goes through in life. Then comes the gold bead to remind you not to give up – your REWARD is in sight! It’s just as the Bible puts it in Hebrews 10:35 – 36.

My sketch of the metaphor

So whenever you put on the HTW Empowerment bead, be encouraged and cheerful, because your reward after all the b******t you encounter, is in sight.
Some of you may have personal metaphors you identify with, when you wear the HTW empowerment bead. Kindly share them via comments on this post. Thanks
Be fashionable in your own simple way.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Technical glitch, or ...?

When my best friend, Afrakoma, actually bundled my first-ever mobile internet bundle on the Vodafone Ghana service, I was glad. Being a netizen, it was cost-effective for me. It still is (even though I understand Glo offers better value for money, in that regard).

If you use the Vodafone Ghana mobile internet service, you agree that the service isn't always perfect. There've been times when I've tried for over a week to bundle on the service, without success. Connectivity has also been unreliable at most times.

My latest difficulty with the service was a couple of days ago when I couldn't bundle even though I had the required credit.I wanted to bundle 750MB worth of data, which costs GHS15. I therefore called the help center, and was given a number of reasons and methods to use to subscribe:

  • I was asked to cancel my old subscription, which I had already done.
  • I was told to restart my phone, because my account (with Vodafone Ghana) was to be restarted too.
  • I was told to use *125*5# instead of the usual #700#, for subscription.

All that didn't work as I kept on getting the same response. So I decided to add some extra credit, and was finally subscribed to the data bundle I had requested! So, what was the problem?

Here is a Slideshare of some screenshots of the experience.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Updated phone OS...

I've been in love with Android ever since I won the Huawei IDEOS from Google. It run on version 2.2.
My current phone ran on version 4.1x, until I got a notification earlier this evening to update it!
Here are some visuals:

the update notification
the installation of the update

the upgrade process of the OS
the  success message

the new home screen
the old home screen

Friday, October 4, 2013

RiSE3 event in Ghana -- advancing STEM education

Dr. Trebi-Ollennu introducing the students to the surprise rule
This week, I volunteered again – as an on-site support -- at the Robotics Inspired Science Education (RiSE) event in Kumasi. Two days of inspiration and learning. The RiSE is an initiative of the Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation – the brain child of lead NASA JPL scientist, Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu. The support of the US Embassy in Ghana -- and other donors -- is what has sustained this event, since its inception.

The ladies from St. Louis SHS watch their robot's progress, anxiously
This year’s events held across Ghana is the third. The event is a platform that introduces Junior and Senior High School students to the basics of programming using the Lego MINDSTORMS NXT robotic kit. It’s also an avenue that enhances the teaching of Science, Technlogy, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

The Grain-sorter robot from Prempeh  College
It’s really encouraging to see how these young ones build and programme robots to do their bidding. The highlight for me was the visit by kids from the Institute of Science and Technology in Agogo. Their visit was just to observe the event, but they ended up building an obstruction-detecting robot!

The young chaps from the IST in Agogo
Konongo-Odumase SHS programming their robot
A lot more support is needed to make this event a ‘Christmas’ in our educational system.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nkrankrom No. 4 -- a village near Sunyani

Nkrankrom No.4 is a village in the Sunyani Municipality of Ghana. A 25-minutes drive from Abesim would get you to the vilage. On foot from the Catholic Secretariat, it would take you about 45 minutes to get to the village.
I actually 'discovered' the village with a couple of friends  when we decided to take a stroll some days ago.
We saw no borehole in Nkrankrom. No school. The kids, we learnt attended school in Nkrankrom No.1. The bridge connecting these two villages is broken, and as such, no vehicle can access that route. The folks in this village are mostly peasant farmers who engage in subsistence farming.
I asked why the name 'Nkrankrom' (loosely translated, Ga town). I was told that four brothers migrated to the area, years ago. They settled close to one another and started their individual communities, hence the numbers 1 through 4 attached to differentiate them.
The folks are welcoming, and would have wished we spent more time with them. My friends and I plan to go there another time, and perhaps get to know their needs better -- and (possibly) some palm wine. (smiles)
From what we saw, Nkrankrom No.4 doesn't suffer from 'food poverty', it is the social amenities that are lacking.