ECommerce the African Way

E-Commerce in Africa is a graveyard for many startups with technically sound approaches but flimsy business plans and even flimsier execution.
This field in particular presents a host of problems covering a wide range of fields from the lack of a cheap, efficient postal delivery system in the region, to the lack of an efficient online payment system.
This however has not stopped many startups from throwing their hats into the ring and bringing forth a multitude of applications all seeking to gain a foothold in online trade. And not startups alone, Google entered the fray a couple of years ago with Google Trader, a marketplace that aimed to connect buyer to seller at no fee to either of them.
Many have tried and the graves are many on the path. This though has not stopped many others from trying, OLX and Souq for example are some of the more recent companies to foray into this industry.
And yet for all of them amid press conferences and venture capital funding is a sad disappointing disconnect between their vision and what the people need, or perhaps more importantly what they want or what service they would pay money for. Granted they present very good systems and OLX in particular has shown impressive growth but most of these systems are missing something.
The strongest case in this region for an online trading platform has been the used car market where buyers browse cars available from japan and other markets before paying for and importing them. Another compelling manifestation of online trade in some form has been the communities on social networking site Facebook where sellers post what they’re selling and buyers get in touch with them.
This we believe is where the future lies, tapping into that community and activity and finding a way for people to do this on an even bigger scale. Facebook for all it’s technical witchcraft cannot allow for searches into posts which means people must browse the often lengthy stream in search of what they want.
This form can be improved upon, seller ratings, featured products, discounts from big name stores with featured listings, the possibilities are many. The difference between this and the other Ebay clones currently on market is that with over 1000 daily return users, these communities are what E-Commerce in the region is right now, an online street market where buyers and sellers meet and haggle over prices. This is not a bad thing, we should not seek to innovate people out of this into a more structured market place and have them sending money online when there is no present need for them to do so.
Perhaps a time may come when this process needs to evolve but the focus right now should be to use technology to support and encourage this expression of trade online the way the people want it to be, and for us (Coin Media and OutofIdeas ) it is. This week marks the beginning of a what we hope will be a long term partnership with Trade Links Africa, one of the first and currently biggest and most active of these market places. Together with them we will embark on an exciting journey to imagine what this marketplace can be and empower the community there to buy more, talk more, haggle more in the sounds and expression of what an African market has always been, a community.
It really has always been about the people, nothing tops that. See you at the market.

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Web2Py and GAE

Been having a couple of other issues in deploying the app i am currnetly working on to web2py

For starters after deploying the app locally using
google_appengine/dev_appserver.py ~/web2py ,
i was getting the following error
no module named gaehandler
The way to fix this is to look inside the web2py handlers folder(web2py/handlers) and move gaehandler.py to the root folder i.e web2py/.
The all handlers were moved to the handlers folder, any others you need will be found in there.
When this was fixed, this sprung up
AppEngine does not index by: text
This was raised because i use SQL Smartgrid in my app and is fixed by changing referenced fields in my model from the ‘text’ type to ‘string’.
Once these were fixed, dead and burried, i finally deployed to the google servers using the command below. You will notice it uses Oauth, this makes for a much much easier authentication during repeated  deployment and upgrades

google_appengine/appcfg.py --oauth2 update ~/web2py

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Google App Engine Error; Unable to bind localhost:8080

Been getting this error when deploying my application to Google App Engine.

When/If you encounter this, use the command
 
fuser -k 8080/tcp
You may have to try running it with sudo i.e sudo fuser -k 8080/tcp .
On your console/command line. This will kill the process that was keeping port 8080 busy and everything should run fine.
Tried changing Google App Engine’s default bind address and port but that was proving too problematic.
I am running kubuntu(Ubuntu KDE Flavour) with default settings and configs.

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Music to my ears

I remarked to a close friend recently about how angry i’d get if local stores played BoneyM christmas music on repeat again like they did last year. Luckily none of that will be heard this weekend when i go to watch the awesome Kampala singers perform. 
And best of luck to the particularly talented Mirembe and Edith who were nice enough to send me this introduction to their crew.

Kampala Singers’ Christmas Season
By Susan Kimbowa
The Kampala Singers, a group of professional and amateur singers, has been performing since the 1950’s and has introduced many residents of Kampala to the world of classical music. 
For the last few years, they have had two major season performances in the year; Easter and Christmas, where they have hosted classical music enthusiasts for an evening of great performances.
The choir dedicates a great amount of time to be able to deliver breathtaking performances. 
They usually take off two months to prepare for one hour of music, even with amateur musicians, the dedication is clear in the performance. 
Easter season this year brought us a performance of Mozart’s Missa Brevis in B flat, with a couple of well delivered negro spirituals, that had the audience begging for an encore. 
For the Christmas season, the Kampala Singers accompanied by Kampala Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Fred Kiggundu Musoke, will perform Mendelsohn’s hymn of praise and other season hymns to usher in the Christmas season.
The performance will be held at the St. Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe an old church with the perfect atmosphere and acoustics for a live presentation. The shows are scheduled for 7pm on Saturday 30th November and 5:30pm on Sunday 1st December 2013 
See you there! . Entrance is free, grab a couple of fellow enthusiast

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The Robot and You

2012 saw the release of a very good movie called The Robot and Frank, in which the lead character Frank gets attached to an assistive robot in ways he did not expect. It brought up an interesting concept that has been explored numerous times, of the attachments and connections people develop with the technology they use. Attachments beyond merely having needs met.

This raises a challenge for designers and developers of consumer technology and solutions. Effective technology today more than meets a particular need but becomes an important part of life for the people that use it. A part of themselves in a way. And this is something i try to keep in mind when working on IT and software solutions for people. 
I once saw the funny but very insightfull phrase on an Ubuntu sticker a few years ago, “Created for humans”. 
Software and solutions should be “created for human life”. My biggest goal and that of the teams i work with at Coin Media and Out of Ideas, is keeping in mind the end user and realising the impact, or lack there-of that the things we build can and will have on their lives. 
This is what keeps us up on caffeine filled work sessions, the joy and excitement that comes from creating, from innovating solutions and technology for human life.  

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One Monday Morning

I normally work all night on Sundays(like i am now), so i can take Monday morning off. Cant think of a better way to start the week.

Last Monday was different though, i joined a good friend of mine Sidi as mentors at the Raise Program. It is an education and career guidance programs that runs during the holidays and selected days during the school term, teaching kids of all ages skills they wouldn’t otherwise learn in class. It exposes them to a lot that they will need to succeed and hopefully gives them the courage to go after their dreams aggressively.
I always think back to that afternoon Patrick Bitature came to Namilyango and shared about his past and the drive he had to get to where he is. Made a huge impact on me, and continues to do so in many ways. Not just him but so many others, Herbert Kamuntu who was the logistics manager(and my department head) during my time at Coca Cola Sabco whose management style still serves something to aspire to personally. This would be an endless list of people. So many have in various ways contributed not just to who i am but also to who i aspire to be.
So on Monday, after sitting through a session where the kids were taught basic ways to identify your passion, followed a meet and greet where they could come up to us and ask us anything. I can only hope what Sidi and i shared inspired one child, even if just one, not to necessarily get into computing but the benefits of passion, honesty and hard work.
That for me was one Monday morning well spent

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Creating a wireless network with your Blackberry 9780

I ditched my Airtel modem recently, been pairing my Samsung S5570 Galaxy to my laptop and using the data off of that since. It is an easy convenient option.

Was asked about doing the same on a Blackberry 9780 and below are the instructions to create a wireless network from your blackberry and using it as a modem. Devices connected to that network can surf the internet through it.

Enabling Mobile Hotspot

From the homescreen of the BlackBerry navigate to Manage Connections > enable Wi-Fi > enable Mobile Hotspot

Once the Mobile Hotspot has been enabled, by default it will ask you to set a password to secure the network. 

And that is all it takes, you should be browsing in no time.

There is another option to connect the device to the phone via the USB and browse with that but it is much too lengthy. However click here are the full instructions courtesy of blackberry support 

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