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.