Sunday, December 28, 2014

Listen

When I ask you to listen to me, and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I have asked.
When I ask you to listen to me, and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me, and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems,
you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
So please, just listen and hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a few minutes for your turn and I promise I’ll listen to you.
~ANONYMOUS

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why artisans fail to flourish in Ghana?

A study space I long for. Source: not known
In the middle of August 2014, I moved into a new apartment. I decided to engage the services of a carpenter who would make new furniture for me.
I was fortunate to 'accidentally' meet one at my house. He had come to deliver a set of beautifully crafted furniture to my neighbour.
We got talking -- an negotiating.
He was to make a couple of trap doors, and a study table with chairs.
Delivery was to be expected in a month.
This transaction took place in the second week of September.
On the 20th September, I paid 50% of the TOTAL amount.
I got my trap doors in the second week of October, but the table has STILL not been delivered.
Truth is, he has not even started it!
I wonder how our 'local' artisans are going to expand their businesses, when their work ethics is this bad. I've been in touch with this carpenter from the word go, but have only been getting flimsy excuses.
I just realised he'd actually taken a number of jobs and is finding it difficult meeting deadlines.
Greed.
I feel bad for him though because other neighbours of mine would want him to make stuff for them, but they have second thoughts.
Why can't we just take things as they come? Taking them one day at a time?
Hmm.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Why did I play in the kitchen?

Ingredients for a simple stew
Today, I decided to play in kitchen and see if I've still got the culinary skills Mamavi taught me, and which Afua rekindled. It's been a looong while since I 'played' in the Kitchen; I plan on making this hobby a lifestyle.

Who doesn't like meat?
The cabbage stew simmers gently

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Choosing referees, and supervisors


Making a choice of who to contact to act a referee and give you a recommendation (for a job, or to further one's education), can be a headache sometimes.
I've had this problem before, and currently see a number of my friends and students going through the same dilemma.
Who qualifies as referee/reference? A person who can be asked for information about another person's character, abilities, et cetera. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
I've learnt that, it is not as clear-cut a choice, as it seems to be.
Here are some tips:

  • Consider the job, or course you intend to read. This makes it easier to choose a referee who has considerable experience in that particular industry (i.e. for the job application), or field of study (i.e. for the intended course of study).
  • For job applications, an former boss is ideal, as they can really give the needed information on a your abilities and attitude.
    If it's for an entry position, and you do not have any work experience, relations and acquaintances can make the recommendation.
    If the requirement for such an entry position is a university degree, then the you would have to fall on former lecturers to recommend you. This can be a lecturer who taught you a relevant course, the intended course of study or job expects you to have knowledge of. It can also be your final year project supervisor, or a supervisor for any project you undertook as a student.

This brings me to the issue of 'choosing' a supervisor.
Most institutions in Ghana, choose supervisors for students. Sometimes students (i.e. Postgrads) get to choose their supervisors.
I've had a number of encounters with students who had wished to have a particular individual as their supervisor, and as such were disappointed with the choice their institutions had made for them.
As a student, choose a supervisor who has a keen interest in your research/ project. This can be a published researcher/expert in your research domain. The advantage is that they can guide you to make the best out of your research, by making worthwhile contributions.
Choosing someone you are 'comfortable' with does not always help you as a researcher, or with your finished project. There have been instances where projects are assigned to supervisors who are not interested in them and so just 'manage' their given roles till the end of the project. Others also do not have a clue what the research/project is all about, and the student is left to fend for himself/herself, like a lost sheep with no shepherd.
Other times, the case is reverse, where you have a student choose a project or research area they are not interested in, and expect their supervisor to do all the work.
That. Won't. Happen.
For now, these come to mind. If you have any other comments, please don't hesitate to share them via the comment section. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mobile, Trust and Privacy

Photo Credit: McKinsey Global Institute

The proliferation of mobile phones in Africa is pretty overwhelming. Almost (used advisedly) everyone owns one. Ghana has a 100% mobile penetration; 53/100 people have Internet-capable phones[1]. This has made it a tool for development in terms of commerce, governance, learning.
A nagging challenge however, has to do with the security of mobile phones, and the protection of the data, and privacy of users of mobile technologies/telephony. This has made telcos, and companies that use mobile technologies to deliver services, to be on their toes, as they ensure the protection of their users’ privacy and data.
Countries are also looking at data protection vis-a-vis national security, especially after the Snowden revelations. They therefore have data protection laws that govern how the protection and use of their citizens’ data by telcos, and companies are done. Ghana has a Data Protection Act that is 2 years old. However, I do not think ALL African countries have the same laws. This can be difficult if an organisation is operating in different countries. A question therefore is how feasible it is for countries to come out with consistent laws to safeguard the privacy of users’ data[2].
Also, though measures are being put in place by service providers and organisation with regard to privacy and data protection, the Terms and Conditions are really long and confusing to the end user. There’s therefore the need for such organisations to make these terms understandable, and concise. Further education has to be given to customers to really understand how important it is to protect their privacy, and not just depend on telcos and companies to do it for them.
Mobile commerce (m-commerce) has taken off in Africa with the speed of light. It is a phenomenon that has really improved businesses across the continent; connecting urban areas to the country sides. A couple of security questions come to mind:

  • How secured are mobile communication channels?
  • What are some limitations of mobile phones that make them susceptible to infiltrations?

References:

[1] Lions go digital: The Internet’s transformative potential in Africa. Full Report from McKinsey Global Institute Analysis. Accessed 21st September, 2014.
[2] Transcript: IGF2014 Session on Mobile, Trust and Privacy

NOTE: The above post is a copy of my mid-course assignment for the Internet Governance class I am currently taking.

Friday, August 1, 2014

God's Supermodels

As Christians, we need to remember that God's perfect love is not only for our benefit.
A model wears clothing to attract attention to the designer's creativity. The model displays the designer's work, but the designer's reputation, not the model's, is on the line.
In the same way, as Christians, we model God's love, whether or not we realise it. People watch us, and what they see affects God's reputation for loving His creation. If we claim to follow Christ then wear the world's twisted style of love, we drag the name and character of our Lord in the dirt.
For this reason, we must ask ourselves, "Am I modeling the love of Christ? Do my motivations and actions in this relationship reflect the perfect love God has shown me?"
How would you answer those questions right now?

Excerpt from Joshua Harris' book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Preliminary study: Social Commerce growth in Ghana

Photo: Social Media Today
The growth of social media in Ghana has grown in the last couple of years. However, it is not clear how the phenomenon has influenced buying and selling online. What online vendors use their social media accounts for is not clear. The features required of an e-commerce website that would attract and retain the Ghanaian online shopper are also not well documented.
I therefore conducted an empirical study to investigate the influence of social media on the growth of e-commerce in Ghana. 

Some questions I considered were:
  1. To what extent are online shoppers aware of e-commerce vendors in Ghana?
  2. What features of an e-commerce website attract and retain an online shopper?
  3. How long have Ghanaians been shopping online?
  4. How long have Ghanaian e-commerce vendors been selling online?
  5. What types of e-payment solution s are being used by vendors in Ghana?
  6. What e-payment challenges are faced by both vendors and shoppers?
  7. Has social media had an impact on the sales revenue of online vendors?
Deductions from the results show that a great number of Ghanaians are active on social networks, with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, just to name a few. Most of the respondents accessed their social network accounts via their computers. However, a growing number of them are doing so via their mobile phones (and hand held devices like tablets/phablets), which supports the assertion that mobile phone revolutions are on the increase in Africa (Jidenma, 2014) – and that Africa is a mobile only continent (Shapshak, 2012). This also indicates a great potential for the growth of mobile commerce (m-commerce).

Most online vendors use their social network accounts for advertisement (sales promotion). This supports the assertion that online advertisements would overtake traditional print media such as catalogues and magazines (Takahashi, 2011).  They also use it for raffles and competitions, where customers are rewarded for their loyalty. It was also observed from the study that little (or no) trend analysis is being done by online vendors. This doesn’t really look good as it would be difficult for such vendors to understand their customers and thus satisfy their needs fully. A small percentage (50%) of vendors also use their social media outlets for lead generation (i.e. mostly start-ups).

The study also found that electronic payments are a challenge to both Ghanaian shoppers and vendors online. The blacklisting of the country by PayPal is a worry, as there is no ‘formalised’ platform electronic payments can be made on. Newer platform such as mPowerPayments, Everzero, Ozinbo Pay, are yet to get the needed patronage. As late adopters in the online payments market, Ghanaians have their reservations, and would rather employ tried and tested platforms like PayPal. Security is a great concern and a challenge for online shoppers. Such shoppers are worried of the standards being followed by Ghanaian vendors in ensuring secured transactions.

Other challenges being faced in the e-commerce market space in Ghana include vendors’ wish for a solution that would make it less expensive to ship outside Ghana. As shoppers, the slowness of the internet is a major challenge being faced. Also as most of the identified vendors are located in the capital, Accra, delivery and pickup is another challenge faced by online shoppers.
On the issue of whether social media has influenced the growth of e-commerce in Ghana, both online shoppers and vendors are equally found on both sides of the continuum. This means a lot more work needs to be done, by vendors mostly, in leveraging social media to market their products and services. Also such networks should extend their e-commerce capabilities to African countries, to enable their users enjoy such benefits. This would go a long way in increasing the revenue of online vendors.

The study has shown (however premature it may seem) that social media indeed has influenced the growth of electronic commerce in Ghana. Though it is in its infancy, e-commerce has a bright future with the alternative of using mobile money as a means of electronic payments. The trend of Ghanaians having mobile phones and using them for online activities sets the tone for mobile commerce implementation in the country. Further research should be done in finding a solution to leveraging mobile money on the internet such that online shoppers can pay for products and services via their smart/feature phones.

NB: I had a handful of respondents for this study, especially vendors.
If you are a vendor, please take this survey.
If you buy online, please take this survey.
Thanks.

Do not forget to add your thoughts on this phenomenon via the comments section.


REFERENCES
Jidenma, N. How Africa’s mobile revolution is disrupting the continent. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/24/business/davos-africa-mobile-explosion/ Retrieved on 12th April, 2014.
Shapshak, T. Africa not just a mobile-first continent – it’s mobile only. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/04/tech/mobile/africa-mobile-opinion/ Retrieved on 30th April, 2014.
Takahashi, D. Internet Ads Finally Surpass Newspapers. VentureBeat, April 14, 2011.


Whatsapp group: A User's take

Screen, when I re-installed the app in Feb 2014
When Whatsapp came onto the tech scene, a lot of folks were glad they could 'swerve' SMS costs with respect to sending multiple messages to their contacts.
Believe it or not, a number of users (still) do not know that Whatsapp uses the Internet.
They've not 'swerved' costs after all. Hehe
Sending of information, however, has not been this convenient, prompt; effective -- and in real time.

The whatsapp group feature
This is the latest craze in Whatsapp usage, with users forming groups (of up to 50 members -- updated to 256 members since 4th Feb, 2016) based on common interests and relations.
In as much as this feature makes the sharing of info among peers fast and efficient, it can be annoying sometimes (or almost always) when some regulations are not laid down.
One very effective use of the Whatsapp group feature is the one, Ashesi University lecturer, Kobby Graham had with his class. A very good use case.
Yes, we are entitled to freedom of speech and expression, but some people go way overboard with the sharing of 'irrelevant' content.
Some of tips for effectively being part of a Whatsapp group:

  1. Do share messages that are relevant to the group's objectives. If the group is just for friends having fun, well, then I guess your chargers should always be close by.
  2. Reading long messages on Whatsapp can be daunting. Do limit your messages to a maximum of ten (10) lines.
  3. As a group, decide on times to share information. This can be productive. Random postings can be distracting and annoying. Again if it is a group of friends, and you want to avoid distractions, mute your Whatsapp notifications.
  4. If it is a group where discussions on social, political, religious, or any other kind of issues are held, do MAKE sure to confirm your facts before sharing. 
  5. Do be sensitive to the feelings of others when sharing information that can be emotionally destructive. An example is the current pictures, audios, and videos on Whatsapp about the Castro incident. Just unfortunate!
  6. Do not indulge in a conversation with a group member, on the group's page. Kindly chat privately with the person, and stop disturbing other group members with your convo.
I had a chat with a very good friend of mine, Rafe. We discussed our experiences with tech gadgets and apps. It's our mini techRepublic we've been having since 2005.
An idea that he came up with is a feature in Whatsapp to allow users choose which contact they would love to get a message from. Cool, huh?

I will like to.hear your experiences with Whatsapp groups and what you think can be done to enhance the user experience.
Let me have them via the comment section. Thanks.



Thursday, May 8, 2014

The sword of ɔkɔmfo Anɔkye -- Ghana's Excalibur

The sword surrounded by some bottles of Schnapps.
Today I visited the site of ɔkɔmfo Anɔkye's sword. It is located inside the second biggest teaching hospital in Ghana, located in Kumasi.

The site of the sword is said to be the very spot the legendary Ashanti fetish priest stood to conjure the Golden stool from the skies.

Legend has it that the very day the sword (which is firmly rooted in the bowels of the earth) is removed by anybody, the unity of the Ashanti kingdom ceases to exist.
The man who built the hospital tried to 'uproot' the sword with bulldozers during the construction of the hospital, but the sword disappeared and resurfaced a couple of weeks later. It has been firmly rooted in the earth for three hundred and seventeen (317) years!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Designing a questionnaire in Microsoft Word

So you decide to create a questionnaire for a research of yours. You then resort to your word processor as your sidekick in getting questionnaires to your respondents.
Usually, the normal way is to create your questionnaire, print them and distribute.
Other times, you e-mail the questionnaire to would-be respondents. They then have to print the questionnaire, fill it (in ink), scan it, and e-mail it to you.
What a drag!
How about going paperless and making them fill the questionnaire on their PCs (in Word).
The following quick tutorial will get you on your way. Enjoy

After launching Word, make sure the Developer tab is showing.
If it is not, do the following (in Office 2010) to display the Developer tab:
Click on File, and choose Options.


Under the Customise Ribbon Tab, make sure the checkbox in front of the Developer option is checked.
Click on OK.


The Developer Tab should be visible now, on the Ribbon.
Click on the Design Mode icon.

Type a question for your survey and add a corresponding control from the Controls group.
While the control is active, click on the Properties icon to set properties for the control. An example can be setting the property to make sure the control cannot be deleted.
Example: The Drop down list control properties dialogue box.
Click on Add to add options for your respondents to choose from.
You can choose more controls from the Legacy Tools icon.



When you are done with the design of the questionnaire, click on the Design mode again – to deactivate it. This allows you to see the finished questionnaire the same way your respondents would.

I hope this has been helpful.

PS: Another tool to use is Google forms. It actually creates responses in a spreadsheet and has an analytical part too. I will create another quick tutorial on this soon.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My language. My identity

Recently a number of my friends ask why I LOVE to engage my online connections with my local language -- Ewe -- quite frequently.
I. Just. Do.
I have been doing it since I became a netizen, but it was mostly in Twi, and sometimes in Ga. The Ewe language (and indeed most Ghanaian languages) has some unique fonts that the 'normal' PC keyboard doesn't support -- yet.
So what chaged and made it easy for me to type in my beloved local languages? Kasahorow.
Kasahorow is a project of the GhanaThink Foundation that seeks to bridge the langage learning gap. I love them. Do download their keyboard for PC and Android.
I was able to write arguably the first blogpost in Ewe (in Ghana) with their android keyboard. Hehe
I see this country moving forward by loving our languages and incorporating them in  our apps to improve productivity of our countryside folk. I made a case for local user interfaces in this post. I look forward to a YouTube revolution of Ghanaian videos having subtitles in the local languages.
Do let me know how your experience goes.

Friday, March 28, 2014

CUCG academic staff embrace Mendeley

Dr. Darko introducing participants to the Mendeley platform

Remember the saying, "Publish or perish?" Well, it is one that is well known in academic circles.
Aside the products of a university (i.e. its students) being a good metric for ranking, research plays a major role too.

In its bid to continue being one of the foremost universities in Ghana, the Catholic University College of Ghana has instituted a 'Seminar series' where lecturers and researchers share insights from their research papers and other experiences, software, and other related academic issues.
On Wednesday, 26th March, 2014,  the CUCG academic staff was privileged to have Dr. Godfred Darko (Mendeley advisor for Africa), introduce them to the software platform.

Hands-on session 
Mendeley has both desktop and web-based interfaces that can be synced for effective collaboration. It allows a researcher to form his/her research group and collaborate on a project.
Mendeley has a web installer that also enables a researcher to seamlessly add any paper he/she finds interesting online, to his/her library.
Another cute, yet powerful feature of Mendeley is how it integrates with Microsoft Word, thus making citations and bibliography insertions in a research paper painless. One can choose any reference style of choice.
Read more about Mendeley from their website, and watch some videos on its use here.

In all, the training session went well. It is a good step in the right direction, and I hope mentoring sessions are held for early career researchers, to build a community that seeks to come out with solutions that would help improve the lot of the community -- and country -- we find ourselves in.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

VOTOmobile platform Hackathon

Photo Credit: www.votomobile.org

Earlier this week, I caught up with George, who works with VOTO Mobile, and asked him a few questions on the company's hackathon happening at iSpace tomorrow.

Here's the discourse:
Me: Who are you and what do you do? (Of course I know him, but I asked for the benefit of you, my readers)
George: I am George Arthur-Sarpong, I am a Senior Software Engineer at VOTO Mobile.

Me: How long have you worked with VOTO Mobile?
George: I have been on #teamVOTO since January 2013.

Me: What exactly does VOTO Mobile do?
George: At VOTO Mobile, we look to solving solutions to communication barriers between organizations, governments and institutions and the people they serve.
Our tools, available via the VOTO platform enables organizations to engage thousands to millions of people in decision making, feedback gathering, monitoring and evaluation, general information dissemination and    mass education through a simple phone call in the language of the receiving individual.
Our hopes are that these tools amplify the 'voices' of the under heard making them important stakeholders in decision making. It in turn directs and makes organization projects and programmes much more effective by reaching the masses through channels they can easily understand and thus achieving impact.

Me:
What is the hackathon about? What  are participants expected to get out of it?
George: Our Mobile Engagement platform for voice and SMS has been developed over the past year into a robust and global platform with excitingly new features every two weeks.
Also in line with our vision for open communication and towards Social impact, we created our API to engage firstly as in the case of this weekend's hackathon, the Ghana developer community on smart and innovative tools and apps that can be built to reach masses via voice and or SMS.
Let's call it an 'out-dooring' where it's officially open to third party app developers to do wonderful things with it.
Participants would be motivated and rewarded for their efforts at the end of the 2-day event.
They would be judged and awarded in three categories
  1. Most innovative application: The one that causes us to step back and say, "Wow – never thought of that!"
  2. Strongest execution: The most complete, most polished, ready-to-use application
  3. Strongest social impact potential: An idea that thoughtfully creates impact on a local or national issue.
So yeah there is a lot of interesting and thrilling prospects for the Hackathon happening at iSpace in Osu-Accra this weekend and of course, the entire #teamVOTO is in Accra to join our Accra developer community hack with VOTO.

Me: Why is the event being held in Accra, as VOTO Mobile is a Kumasi-based firm?
George: Yeah we are based in Kumasi operating globally, and we had and still have interactions with our local developer community in Kumasi.
We chose Accra this time to also have a feel of the developer community outside Kumasi.
So yes, it's an opportunity to interact and see what's the latest also in Accra, and meet and hack with the developers you know via mail or social media in person.

Me: Okay, sounds like a fun-packed weekend. Thanks for this opportunity. (hand shake)
George: Thanks for the time. Glad I was able to do this with you.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Plisionship: An e-commerce solution

The ONE United Against Malaria bead
Photo credit: ONE.org
A couple of months ago, I decided to purchase a couple of ONE.org's beads online.
My late mum was a beads trader, so I am a sucker for beads.
After selecting the items to buy, I realised the shipping cost was more than I had expected, so I decided to look for a friend who loves beads as myself. We decided it was best to order as one and share the shipping cost.

Problem solved.

What we did is almost the same as the platform my friend Ilias, and his Plisionship team are building.
Plisionship loosely translated means friendship. Plision is a Greek word that refers to someone who is close to you and is ready to help you. In helping you, he/she helps himself/herself.

The concept is this simple: once you see an item you wish to buy online, you share it within your network and see if any other friend of yours wants to buy the same item, or even a different item (but from the same e-shop). You then create a group (after logging in) of individuals willing to buy some products from the same e-shop and buy as a group. The creation of the group is only once. So whenever one wishes to buy something, he shares it by posting it. The shipping costs may be reduced (as you share it) or even eliminated if you bargain with the e-tailer. Plisionship looks at individuals linking with their networks (especially people close to them geographically), so as to share interests in goods and services, and share delivery costs.

Remember that, your 'network' on this platform does not only refer to friends and family. Whoever you have a simple relationship with: at home, at your workplace, any other place you hang out, can be part of this group ('your network').

Do visit their website  and register to try out the service.
The video below sheds more light on Plisionship:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Keeping a pre-paid heart

He loves her with every fibre in him; yet he is keeping a pre-paid heart.
He eagerly awaits her love to recharge his -- which is at her beck and call.

She says she wants to love him.
To recharge his love.
He acquiesces, and gives her his love.
Then he 'runs' out of love.
His heart is back in pre-paid mode.

He loves her with every fibre in him; yet he is keeping a pre-paid heart.
He eagerly awaits her love to recharge his -- which is at her beck and call.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Press Release: Barcamp Tema 2014

BarCamp Tema 2014 is a free networking forum bringing people together for a day of discussion, demos and dialogue on Tema, Ghana and beyond. It takes place on March 22, 2014 at the Rotary Centre (Club House) in Tema. The theme is “Building People of Excellence”. This Barcamp will be the 29th organized by the GhanaThink Foundation as it builds a network of young change makers, doers and entrepreneurs in Ghana. It's being organized in conjunction with the Rotaract Club of Tema.

Our speed mentoring session would feature speed mentors including Victoria Okoye (Relief International), Edem Kumodzi of QuickBets, Kow Essuman (Lawyer), Manasseh Azure Awuni (Joy FM), Sara Nana Yeboah (Nurse & Entrepreneur), Emmanuel Nyame (Ghana Startup Cup), Tonyi Senayah (Horseman Shoes), Freda Addu (HR Consultant), etc. Various presentations on excellence would be done by Enyonam Kumahor of ThoughtWorks, as well as Emmanuel Gamor of Global Media Alliance. We would also interview Yoofi Grant of Databank on this topic. We'd close the day with breakout sessions.
Register/RSVP at the BarCamp Tema eventbrite website (barcamptema14.eventbrite.com) or text "Barcamp Tema [name] [email address] to 1945 through any mobile network.

BarCamp Tema 2014 is sponsored by GhanaThink Foundation, Google, Rotaract Club of Tema, Nandimobile. Our media partners are CITI FM, Adom TV, MPWR Show, Spy Ghana.
Stay tuned via our social media: Twitter Facebook Google+

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dream . Initiate . Create


In 2008, some friends and I decided to set up a web development firm -- techsonetGH -- that is currently re-branding itself. In getting a sort of slogan for ourselves and to portray our core values to clients  we settled on dream.initiate.create.
We believe that all achievement stems from dreaming. Seeing the results of one's imaginations before they even materialise.
However, dreaming alone won't make any change. The Good Book even says, "Faith without works, is meaningless."
Once the dream has been fully captured, followed by an initiative to see it through, the creation is inevitable.
Whether the creation is accepted by folks or not, the satisfaction got is that you took a step.
So let's dream, initiate, and create.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Duolingo -- an effective language learning app!

Learning a new language can be very stressful -- more so when the study of the language is undertaken outside the natural environment of the language.

There are a number of apps that try to make the learning of languages fun and interactive: Babbel, and Rosetta Stone.
However, one app I have fallen in love with is Duolingo. It has both mobile and web versions.
Its fun as you play while you learn. You have three(3) hearts at the beginning of every lesson, and you lose a heart, when you get an activity wrong.
I love the fact that there's a new button that breaks sentences into separate syllables and is very useful for beginners.
It's a whole mix of visuals and text.
Check out these snapshots from my phone:

Friday, January 3, 2014

God, the image processor

You may have seen a similar picture/illustration to the one above. Inasmuch as it is true, I believe that of God is even ‘crazier’ and mysterious than one can ever fathom.
In an image processing class, this became evident to me. When one zooms in on a perfect picture, the pixels (picture elements) look out of place. It shows one really how the picture looks, and not the ‘perfect’ one, we are accustomed to seeing.
God indeed does take our shortcomings and make perfect, lovable beings out of us.
I pray this year sees God’s favour remains with all of us, and that He strengthens us to achieve our goals for the year and beyond.
A blessed NewYear to you all.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mobile apps in Church?

Switch OFF Mobile phones!
The above sign is a common one in Churches nowadays. This has become necessary as mobile phone users disturb proceedings at Church with ringtones and other notification tones.
However, the ever increasing popularity of smartphones and mobile apps such as Bibles, make it difficult to enforce the 'switch off mobile phone' warning.
It is common now to hear Pastors say, "Turn your Bibles with me to ...", and find some members of the congregation rather 'querying' their Bible apps for the quotation given.
I should state here that, the Bible-app-querying trend does not happen (a negligible percentage do though) in the Catholic Church as the congregation do not read the Bible in Church, but rather listen to a Lector.
Now, the story is different in Catholic Churches, with the advent of the Catholic Hymnal mobile app. Some members of the congregation -- predominantly the youth enjoy singing hymns on their phones.
I asked some users why they enjoy reading the Bible on their phones and singing using the mobile app, and the commonest response is that, it is convenient. Some don't like carrying the 'heavy' paperback Bibles and hymnals. Another reason for convenience is that, most can't locate books in the Bible if they are asked to, so the mobile app comes to their aid.
Yes ke!
A pastor at one of the Churches I visited told the congregation, "Your phone is not a Bible, stop showing me your phone when I ask you to show your Bibles!"
Others do not like the idea of using these mobile apps inside the Church because of distractions. The thing is, some of the Bible apps that are out there (like YouVersion) require mobile data (access to the internet) to function. Once your mobile data is on, and your Auto Sync functionality is also on, you find notifications popping up, as and when they are received on your phone. This can distract the individual (the Church would only be disturbed if your sound profile is not silent).
A couple of tips on using mobile apps in Church:
  • Do turn off the volume on your phone. (Your sound profile should be silent)
  • Do switch off your Auto Sync feature so you do not get interrupted by notifications from other apps like Whatsapp and GMail.
  • Download Bible apps that do not require access to the Internet to function. Some examples are Olive Tree, Word of Promise apps.

Personally I don't think singing with the mobile app is a bother. I only pray for self control and discipline for users.
By the way, do you know the Catholic Catechism has been developed into a mobile app? It's in Italian now. Other language translations are coming soon.
I will like to know what you think about mobile apps being used during Church services. Do comment on this post. Thanks