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: