Friday, November 30, 2007

Skunkworks in the news

So ... Ken Kasina's cyber-cafe application got featured in the news.
(his group is working on migrating cyber-cafes to open-source solutions)

Business Daily


Linux Magazine (Google English Translation)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

BarCamp ... WOW

This was incredible ... my head is reeling from all the energy/passion.
I think we've got the hang of how to organize these :)

Thanks a ton to Brian Muita for putting it all together at Strath, Kiania (His MC-ness), speakers, and all participants.
Thanks to KDN for lunch sponsorship !

Will mostly put links up as coverage comes ... Daudi has some podcast feeds we'll also link to soon.

Wilfred has a real-time blog of the session

Erik just put up a summary as well

UPDATE: Photos posted by Daudi, mostly taken by Wesley

Thursday, November 22, 2007

BarCamp Kenya 2.0 - Conversations

Over the last few months, we've had discussions with various techies, entrepreneurs,
and just kawa guys about why Kenya is still lagging in terms of ICT innovation and

This BarCamp, we'd just like to have a CONVERSATION with all of you.

Moderated by Dr Kamau Gachigi, we would like you all to come and help us brainstorm
through issues, and hopefully find the causes & solution to start fostering ICT innovation.

Some of the questions we have been asking ourselves:
- why don't we have a culture of innovation
- what is wrong with the education system
- why don't we have enough ICT entrepreneurs eg software & web-app companies (our own facebook ?)
- why are we lagging behind in e-commerce ... why don't we have a payment gateway yet

Date: 24 November 2007
Venue: Strathmore University, Room 34
Time: 9.30am to 2.00pm
Moderator: Dr Kamau Gachigi

More information (& Sign Up) is on the wiki

Also - In the spirit of BarCamp and innovation - also check out Hash's new graphic collage of Africa web 2.0 startups

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Introduction to Web Development using Catalyst

From Jason:

We talked about Catalyst[1], an MVC framework primarily used for web

We demonstrated that catalyst uses helper scripts to generate stubs
like Ruby On Rails. We showed that it was simple to populate generated
skeleton files with code even with little Perl experience. Like Ruby
on Rails it is easy to get an app running and see the results
instantly thanks to the development server Catalyst ships with.

We also saw how Catalyst makes use of CPAN[2] to avoid reinventing the
wheel. This means that you also have the power to switch your models
and views as you wish using existing CPAN modules. This demonstrates
the flexibility of the framework.

At the end of the session, it was hoped that Catalyst would give
developers one more reason to use Perl.


[1] -
[2] - (Central repository for Perl Modules)

Next Session is next week

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ubuntu GutsyGibbon Release Party

Dear all,
The Ubuntu KenyanTeam will be having a release party for the latest Ubuntu release which is version7.10.
The venue of this party will also be at the Surf N Bites restaurant, view park towers
this Saturday Nov 3rd beginning at 4 pm. You are all welcomed.


DEMO - OLPC, HTC Touch, iPhone - TODAY

Come and check out the OLPC - One Laptop Per Child we got our hands on.
$100 laptop running Linux. Very rugged. Play with the Sugar UI. Neat stuff.

We'll also hopefully have the iPhone which we missed last week.

Wananchi Online
1st Floor, Loita House
6pm, 30 October 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


For the meeting today, we have an iPhone loaned by Imran (Kenfones Ltd) to be demo'ed.

Come by to check it out ..

Meeting at Steers on Muindi-Mbingu Street



update: We will also demo an HTC Touch

Monday, October 8, 2007

MEETING - The Future - 9 Oct 2007

Hey guys ...

This Tuesday, we'd like to have a special session of skunkworks - to discuss where guys see us going in future.
So I'd like to encourage everyone to come for this ... if necessary, we'll move to a bigger location.

When we started out with the group, there was all sorts of thoughts we had
- we needed a forum for techies to interact
- we needed techies to start DOING things - developing and innovating new ideas eg for local content, user support etc.
- we needed to create a shift of culture - develop a passion of being a techie.
- many other confused ideas :)

In the past few months, we now have over 400 guys on the list (perfect for safaricom marketing)
So we've got an active forum ... people are talking .... now it's time to DO SOMETHING.

The agenda for the meeting will be
- what do YOU want to gain out of skunkworks
- how should we organize the group - setup committees etc
- what sort of things do you see skunkworks doing to fulfill its agenda
- how can skunkworks CHANGE THE WORLD - by this, we mean how can "skunkers" develop new ideas for local content for example ... how can we create a thriving culture of software locally like Silicon Valley and so on.
- Ideas for a software development competition - cash prize being FUNDING to actually develop your business idea.

Regarding local content - a bunch of us have been debating this a lot on the skype chatroom - here are some links:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Meeting 2nd October 2007

During this meeting the true identity of Fyodor was revealed, so those who missed can keep guessing.

He started out by giving us a brief summary of his skills and interest in the IT field then went on to discuss several vulnerabilities commonly found in our networks.

The first major point that emerged is that many networks are predictable- How many of us take the time to change the default passwords and configurations? also discussed footprinting and exploration used by intruders to gather info about systems.

The first technique dicussed was banner grabbing using nmap to fin open ports and the version of the server running- the first step in finding your way in. A solution given was to change the default greeting e.g " go away we are patched"

The next technique dicussed was SQL injection and how it can be used to gain access to databases on Oracle or MySQL. Soultions given were 'idioit proofing' to make sure that overflows can not occur, making sure database has a password, validating input, no default account.

He later went on to discuss exploration tools such as nmap- to find out status of ports, nmblookup- to display shares on remote machines using SMB, rpcinfo and how to use telnet to find out users profiles on mail servers.

Lots of info, a series on security could be set up soon and Fyodor said he will avail material some time soon.

Monday, October 1, 2007

MEETING - IT Security - 2 October 2007

Fyodor will be talking kesho about IT Security - and what's been discussed loads on the list.

"I want to skip the whole "who is a hacker" issues and delve right into how
its carried out and offer any sys0ps an insight on how to combat
very basic hacks. It will be from a blackhat perspective and be
prepared for astounding revelations from independent analysis i
carry out of top corporate companies in the country."

Venue: Wananchi Online, 1st Floor, Loita Hse
Date: Tuesday, 2 October, 6pm

Ngigi Waithaka on OSS for Business

Enterprise Final Frontier
Ngigi Waithaka - Alliance Technologies -
Why is it that open source solutions dont sell on the enterprise level?

What Enterprises consider when they are considering a solution:

Stability – Platform / CompanyExisting Infrastructure
How does the solution work with the existing resources / systems?
Implementation Skills
Most of the people who know the solution are techies – no people from other professions can actually implement the system.
Breath of solution
Rather than have many different solution – we want one solution that has everything - Windows
Integration / upgrade path
Most firms still use Win2K for servers. Why use Fedora which will be changed every six months?

None of these factors are about the technology. They are all about the solution – how good is it. In alot of these.. the marketing sucks or otherwise the lacking in the open source solution.

The Enterprise is not a price sensitive market – Cost is not really an issue. It is just one of the factors – often the last factor.

For the govt.. the price does not matter.. if a guy has been given 50m for an ERP and there is one that nears that amount – even if an open source solution is 2m, its a hard sell.

Kiania says we should provide a cost for licencing with the solution. If the commercial version is 3m, give a quote for 2.5m not 200k. Its hard to sell something that is free to someone who is ready to buy.

Market the solutions not as Linux based solutions but as solutions. Dont market the solution as a Linux CRM – but rather as a CRM. It will sell better.


Monday, September 24, 2007

MEETING - OSS Apps for Business - 25 sept 2007

Ngigi Waithaka, CTO of Alliance Technologies will give a "teaser" presentation kesho on
using & selling open-source apps for mainstream businesses.

Ngigi has played with nd sold solutions to businesses including ERP apps, financials,
Linux solutions, and done quite a bit of software hacking. He's now too "old" he claims :)

Come to see what potential solutions you can sell out of your open-source briefcase.
Bring your CFO to get him sold on open-source.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Wananchi Online, 1st Floor, Loita Hse

Monday, August 27, 2007

Meeting - PloneGOV - 28 Aug 2007

Nicholas Bossut will be speaking about

Wananchi Online,
1st Floor Loita Hse

6pm, 28 Aug 2007

We will probably do dinner after for those wanting more discussions

from Ashok:

Hello All:

One of the main creators of PloneGOV project ( [1] is
visiting nairobi during this week, and is interested in meeting organizations, interested
parties, open source folks.... :

Moreover, I'm truly interested to explore opportunities for PloneGov
project. PloneGov could be a way for african municipalities to fight
the digital divide in saving money. Open source websites as City of
Seneffe website ( could be easily copy-paste and help
national administrations in charge of local governments to develop a
presence of public authorities on Internet. Different applications
are independant and interconnectable. In facts, we deployed tools
that aren't useful in Africa but municipalities can choose 'à la
carte' what they need.

Interested parties may drop me an email offline ....



[1] PloneGOV :
""55 European, African, North and South American Public organizations participate
in the PloneGov project. In doing so, they aim to gain independence from large
IT services providers by developing, essentially by themselves and in a
cooperative manner, applications and websites for their own use as well as for
their citizens'.

PloneGov is open and aims to reach more organizations. Initiated by small towns
in close collaboration with the Plone / Zope Communities, the project reaches now
cities, regions and 10 parliaments. This collaboration effort already spans over 3
continents and 15 countries.""

Friday, August 17, 2007

ODF and Office Open XML: More

There has been lots of heated debate (see archive) on the Skunkworks mailing list on the current ratification of EMCA's OOXML document format as an ISO standard. Kenya voted YES.
My opinion aside, here's a summary of sites providing more information on arguments both for and against the site. Please feel free to add any more links.

Emmanuel's Blog
The real politik of ODF standardisation
Brian Jones' Blog

Mark Shuttleworth's Blog (Really more of pro ODF)

Claims to be neutral about OOXML (Has additional links)

More info on Office Open XML
Office Open XML final draft

More info on ODF

More on ISO Standardization

Meeting on Tuesday 21st August

Wesley Kiriinya, of Gwimgrafx Studios Limited who are behind Kenya's first video game will be making a presentation on The Structure/Components Of Video Games And Their Interaction.

Venue remains Wananchi Online Training Room on 1st Floor Loita House from 6pm.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Asterisk for Nokia Contact Centers

Kiania is talking about how he met a requirement for Nokia where they wanted a local support line in kenya.

Nokia outsources their support calls to a malaysian company. So they needed to forward the calls from kenya to the centers there.

Got a 0900 number from IMS. Linked this to an asterisk box and uses iax instead of sip to dial malaysia for the support center thro IP.

Iax used for better NAT traversal. Speex is the codec used. Free codec which only consumes 8k. Very efficient on bw and efficiency.

Covering the actual setup of the asterisk box - real life demo of asterisk setup.

Billing records ported to a mysql db for mediation purposes.

According to kiania, safcom gets 2m calls a day and are only able to handle 20k of these. And most are handset related issues hence the requirement for such a service from nokia.
This system handles 60 concurrent sessions and they are looking to optimize the scale. That number of concurrent calls gives you about 100k calls per day.

Trying to get tkl to interconnect directly via ip now among other issues to scale up.

sent from my Wananchi Mobile

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Meeting Today - Nokia + Asterisk

Kiania is "launching" a contact center setup he's done for Nokia using Asterisk.

6pm, Wananchi Online Training Room - doesn't look like a training room anymore :)
Loita Hse, 1st Floor
7 aug 2007

"free wifi" :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday 31st July Meeting

John Wesonga of Multiple Choices, will be giving a talk.

Will be at 6pm at the Wananchi Online Training Room on 1st Floor

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Skunkworks on Business Daily Africa today

We got famous :)

Bob Bell of Business Daily did a pretty incredible article on Skunkworks published today.
Kiania's "apple" laptop gets some visibility in the photo :)

Thanks to Bob, and everyone else who's played important parts in building the movement.

Oh - BarCamp Reloaded coming up in August - stay tuned for details. We'll focus on Software Development.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Zimbra talk (in progress)

I came late for the meeting.

Among the attractive features of Zimbra

Push Mail functionality

Zimlets - Interface with google maps - enter a US (hopefully a Kenyan one :) ) and go to the location
- open application for voip dialing

Spam training
Administration console:

Can split up tasks e.g
  • MTA
  • Mail Box Servers
  • Proxies
Server Statistics: overall and drilled down per server.

Can cluster servers with professional version

Monitor MTA queues (typically postfix)

Also command line utilites (70-80) if you prefer

Network edition - backups available - full backups and incremental backups

In terms of data storage:
LDAP - user data
Metadata for email - MySQL

Connectors for Outlook and ActiveSync

How does it compare
Exchange -$20 a month / user ?
ZImbra - $28 a year / user

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Meeting on 24th July

For the next meeting, Zimbra - 'the schweetest thing that happened to your email'

Wananchi Online training room
Loita Hse, 1st Floor,
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
by Riyaz

Monday, July 16, 2007

Kengeles - 17 jul 2007

Tuesday meeting will be held at Kengeles on Koinange Street - 6pm


captired by Timothy Kariithi from last week's meeting.

Manu Raghavan
Georgia Institute of Technology
Masters Student Electrical and Computer Science

The speaker presented a talk on Initiative for Development and Education in Africa (IDEA).
The main aim of IDEA is to
Target the social economic conditions in Africa
To come up with something tangible (a tangible result)
There are three projects running
A collaborative teaching project.
Essay competition

Collaborative teaching Project
The objective of this project is to come up with curriculum and joint instructors with African Universities (in Kenya Kenyatta University KU)
In KU they have a course and two projects
Digital Media

Text to speech interface
This project will enable the illiterate to use their mobile phones.
The application is being developed in python.
Apart from text to speech there is also development of locally relevant icon to enable illiterate user ability to use the phone

Open Source Course Management System
Currently KU is using an Course management system called Black Board that cost a lot in term of licenses. IDEA is
helping so KU students to configure an open source equivalent system which they will modify and put relevant material on and also modify the Graphical user Interface (GUI) to reduce migration time and training cost. The motivation for the students is that they can later sell the finished product to KU at a fraction of the cost.

The Githurai commodity Exchange
The objective of this project is to make farmers aware of the cost of there produce thus reducing increasing their profits.
This will be done using information transmitted through an SMS gateway that will provide the suppliers of the info with credit loaded to their phones and those requesting for use of the information will get it at premium cost say +5/= above the cost of the SMS thus making it a self sustainable project.

Essay Competition
An essay writing competition targeting undergraduates and graduates to write on Pan African perspectives on development and technology.
This competition will open mid August to end of December.
The objective of this competition will be
voice out opinions of African Youth.
Identify new action driven approaches.
Create a forum on African Development.

This usually facilitates African leaders to speak Georgia Institute Of Technology
Previous Speakers are president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Nathan Eagle - talk on 3rd July 07

Speaker – Nathan Eagle

email - i forgot :)

Nathan is a research assistant at MIT Labs, currently in Kenya where he works with KEMRI in Kilifi and with University students in UoN (why UoN only?) to develop mobile applications.

He gave a talk on his Phd research whose aim was to use data obtained from people's mobile phones to demonstrate social patterns and predict their social behaviours. Basically, social studies based on mobile phone data. I hope i am right on that one.

He developed this cool application that runs in the background of a mobile phone collecting all sorts of statistics.. e.g, calls made, messages received, which cell towers the mobile phone is, e.t.c. The data was sent monthly via GPRS to a server. He actually got kicked out by AT&T coz of the large amount of data he was transferring coz they saw it as a Denial of Service attack.

He also had stations throughout the campus with devices that continually scanned and recorded all bluetooth devices around the station.

Next step - analysis of the data, and he actually showed that patterns were repeated every 24 and every 168 hours. He could do all kinds of cool things with the data...even predict who is a friend to a subject.. with relatively good accuracy. He used some mathematical models that were quite frankly, scaring. Some very complicated and huge formulas.

The discussion then turned to why don't the mobile phone companies provide the data to the subscribers? Kina safcom and celtel actually have all this data. Suggestions were made as to how the data can be useful in real life, e.g. for observation of traffic patterns, or even auto-diaries. Mobile phone applications were also discussed, with the question of whether to use J2ME or Python for the applications arising. I didnt even know that python can be used for mobile applications.

He also has data about all calls made in UK for Aug. 2005. He is trying to make sense of it by making some advanced mathematical models... Good Luck!

Nathan - can you share the presentation online?

Lionbridge Internet Assessors Program

This is a part-time gig that I highly recommend to any of you (in Nairobi) who consider yourselves web-savvy and have a high-speed internet connection at home.

See full description here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tuesday 3rd July Meeting

Dr. Nathan Eagle will be giving a talk on the research he did at MIT at today's meeting.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

26th June DSL presentation by Kip

I came a bit late so I missed out on some of the tuff
Started off at 6.10 p.m by giving the technical background, defining DSL- Digital Subscriber line, explaining the underlying techcnolofies-lots of Acronyms like OFDM(Orthogonal Frequency division Multiplexing), QAM(Quadrature Amplitude Modulation), ISDN( Integrated Services Digital Network etc, and other stuff which require an Electrical Engineering degree to understand.He also gave an excuse for Telkom Kenya's exhorbitant rates- too much uptake and limited uplink bandwidth, yeah, yeah.

After that there was a Q&A session. discussed alternatives to DSL like CDMA2000 EV-DO(coming soon to a phone near you), Power line networks, iBurst, GPRS/EDGE. Once again this question came up- "When shall we have reasonable internet access for home users?" It was suggested for Ksh1000 per month but that was on the cheap side.

Monday, June 25, 2007

UoN Tech Day

So - this is probably like my first real blogged article - as in I sound like a journalist ;)

The UoN Tech Day is an Annual event - a day where computer science students showcase the final-year projects they've been building. A very cool concept that other universities need to adopt.
It's really weird ... whenever I go to these student project showcases, I come away very impressed at what I see ... yet it's hard to notice the same results in the real world :) I've always mused where these students go ...
The thing that struck me about the projects on Saturday was the completeness of most of the products. They were really thought through, and some are even marketable immediately.
Didn't get to see all of them (below is only a small section of what was on display). And sadly didn't carry a camera :( Looking for pictures ...

1. mobile maps for nairobi
Jessica has built an app for querying maps of nairobi from a mobile phone. The maps sit on a server, and she built a grid of points on that. The mobile app has a menu where you can select points of interest in Nbi eg Hilton, street names etc. The app is capable of zooming into the map and displaying the location (including a picture), and also giving directions from point A to B. Works over GPRS.
Very neat - Google are you listening ?
Real world - can probably link to live GIS data from someone like Geomaps or Ramani.

2. facial recognition
Billy uses a webcam to get video input of his facial features, and can then control his computer by moving his head around :) The application can control stuff like Windows (selecting menus etc), and is very cool when it comes to playing games (you can look around in Quake, Doom by turning your head). We must get him to present this at one of our sessions.

3. mobile blogging
Judith built a j2me app that allows bloggers to create posts via GPRS on their mobile phones. She built this on her own blogging platform. Wants to take it further - lots of options - eg SMS-based posts, linking to a platform like WordPress, and she's very keen on adding support for blogging images/photos etc.

4. interfacing car remote with a computer
Peter and Charity linked up the wireless remote of a toy car to their computer (managing to only blow one transistor in the process). The computer app can then control the car. They built in a recording function such that the car could be driven by the remote, and the whole sequence/motion could then be replayed by the computer alone. Self-driven cars.
This seems to be a popular project with all universities - got Titus very excited. I think they need to take it to the next level - robotic competitions, or things like the DARPA challenge - that would be so cool if we built that.

Very fun day - trip to the toy store :)
Eric Magutu - a lot of these guys need to join skunkworks .....

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Next Meeting - 26th June 2007

Kip will be talking about ADSL, Broadband stuff in general.

As usual - Wananchi Online training room - 1st floor, Loita Hse. 6pm.
Tuesday, 26th June.

We hope to have Wesonga from Peupe to come in the very near future and guys from the recent UoN Tech Day exhibition

We're also still looking for a lead to roll with the "Linux for beginners" series.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Annual Tech day at UoN

UoN School of Computing will holding their annual Tech day this Saturday (22nd June). There'll be interesting project presentations by students and talks by people from industry.

Venue: UoN Chiromo campus, Millenium Hall
Time: 0900hrs.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Meeting: 12th June

Jean-Antoine BORD did a presentation of

If you have some skills and feel you'd like to make some money on the side, or for guys in campus, while living cheaply in campus :), sign up and have a look.

It has a simple enough interface to look for 'micro' jobs (typically lasting for less than one week). Lots of job categories, with the more active ones being IT related - web design, logo design, IT consultancy. is also going regional, and will be looking for people to spearhead that effort.

Apart from working from home in pajamas, he talked about setting up an ISP observatory - to act as a sort of watchdog and ensure quality provision of internet services is done locally.

Quote of the Week:

May the FOSS be with you. (Gituma found it somewhere online :) )

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

ipv6 meeting recap

*** Presentations available at

From: Michuki Mwangi
Subject: [Skunkworks] IPv6 URLs
Date: June 6, 2007 10:32:10 AM GMT+03:00

Further to my presentation yesterday evening on IPv6 the following links
will shed more light on some of the issues discussed.

* Comparison of IPv7 proposals

* Geoff Houston's site (see second presentation on IPv4 Exhaustion
prediction) presentation done at Ripe 54, 9th May 2007

* Randy Bush's presentation on NAT

* Reason for removal of IPv6 checksum header


Michuki Mwangi

Monday, June 4, 2007

Next Meeting

Next meeting is tomorrow (Tuesday 5th June)
Topic is Migrating to IPv6 and will be presented by Michuki Mwangi KENIC and Patrick Muiruri of Wananchi Online, now that Vincent will not be able to do so.
Meeting starts at 6pm at the Wananchi Online Training Room - 1st Floor Loita House.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

June 1: Techie and Blogger Meetup

From the skunkworks mailing list:

we're having a MEETUP on Friday, 1st June at a place called ALPENOF -
it's right next to the entrance of Prestige Plaza on Ngong Rd.

everyone's welcome - we've confirmed a number of techies & popular
bloggers attending ... so pop in to meet new faces, and hang out with
friends. we'll start at 5pm and go on till late.

penguins welcome.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

LPA Presentation - Meeting 29th May

I came late for this one, so someone else (Gituma?) will be adding on to this.

Evans Ikua, a major proponent of the Linux Professionals Association of Kenya, and a FOSS advocate made a presentation on what the LPA is about. LPA membership is currently 500 KES only (student rates - though we all qualify). To register visit the website - and register, then contact them by email. Evans mentioned that he would probably need some volunteers to help with maintaining the site, taking part in the LPA running so feel free to contact him. He's on the skunkworks list too.

A very active discussion ensued, with several questions being raised, key among them being:

Why would I want to Learn Linux - (the answer to this from most people was - so that I can get a job)

From a user point of view, most people even within the meeting, hardly used any Linux flavour for desktop use.

Why would an Organisation want to use FOSS?

From a organisational point of view, a way forward was to change tack and start advocating for solutions based on FOSS. Most businesses just wanted stuff that 'worked'. They are not interested in the flavour of linux running under it, or whether it is using Postfix or Sendmail as the MTA.

The best approach would be to create solutions that work, possibly managed solutions that are supported by organisations that develop solutions based on FOSS (there are quite a number currently), and since licensing is not a big cost, offer these solutions competitively. After deployment of such solutions, case studies can be developed and used as proof that FOSS is indeed a viable business software alternative.

More later

Next weeks meeting should be IPv6 migration by Vincent & Co (to be confirmed)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Uni of Nbi dorm LAN

I've been talking to a few Uni of Nbi guys lately ... and apparently they now have a dorm LAN going. With internet access too - they've tapped into some free ports into the universities' main network, and expanded it using switches - the usual model as the rest.
So far estimates of users is between 50 to 100. Mostly using it for internet applications ... not many local apps apart from LAN Talk for chatting. It needs to grow a lot ... if any of you is reading - skunkworks would love to talk through getting more content/apps hosted on the network.

Their estimates of number of PCs on campus checks out too - 70% of uni students have their own computers.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

15th May meeting

Here's a summary of the happenings at Wananchi on 15th May 2007

Joseph Wamicha Gave a presentation on web video streaming. He showed some of the cool tools used like RED5 and FLV as well as some of the theory on stuf like unicasts, multicasts, TV systems Like NTSC & PAL as well as how to reduce frame size. Hea lso gave us some of the advantages of his tool of choice.

The presentation showed us the nuts and bolts of streaming, so now what can we stream? This led to a discussion on local content a number of sugestions came up.
  • Educational material i.e lectures and historical clips
  • Politics- Parliamentary sessions, The Budget etc
  • Traffic Cameras
  • Archived footage from KBC

A raging debate ensued about information, or is it misinformation by our media houses and how user generated content can help the situation. We discovered that the content has to be what is relevant to us- the Kenyans, what makes you pick up a phone to make a call and What makes you go ut to buy.

Also got some interesting statistics tha 80 % of the inteenet traffic in Kenya is outbound and only 30% is relevant to us. We also heard a rumour that some time soon a server should be up and running to serve up some hot local content so get creating!

Finally a note was made that female participation was greatly lacking, so all you ladies out there kujeni mjienjoy. Once again we revisted the topic of hangout time and venue, suggstions are welcome.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Meetings Planning Update

Current Discussion Topics & 'Facilitators'
  • 15th/22nd - Joseph Wamicha - Web Video Streaming - tentative
  • Michael Kamunge (JKUAT) - Presents his final year project - smart card based (will confirm the exact topic and date) - Mike will confirm when he can do this
  • John Maina on System Audit - please confirm?
  • Local (Linux) Distribution on BitTorrent - Riyaz?
  • IPv6, Migrating from IPv4 to IPv6 - Michuki Mwangi
  • local content and locally hosted forums - - to confirm
  • .More
  • .More

Upcoming ( this is where you add yourself as a presenter, add a topic you'd like talked about)

  • Web Development - using PHP
  • Web Development - using Ruby on Rails
  • Web Development - on a .NET Platform
  • Linux - Comparison of Linux Distributions
  • Linux - Is Linux Ready for the Common Mwananchi?
  • Local Content - Setting up a weekly podcast
  • Local Content - Blogging Server
  • Local Content - Locally Hosted Forums
  • Local Content - Wiki
  • Local Content - Techie Directory
  • Communications - WiMax
  • Communications - WiFi WarDriving
  • Community - Kenyanized GeekCorps
  • .More
  • .More
Past Topics
  • Asterix (Parts I to III)
  • BarCampKenya
  • Laban Mwangi & Robert ( - on FOSS Systems Software & Application Dev
  • Java and Jahazi - Mugambi & VST Studios

Jahazi & Java

Last Tuesday's presentation by Mugambi was on jahazi, a product of VST Studios Limited (I'm told that VST stands for Very Sawa Technology :) ) which is involved in Web and Print Design, 3d Simulation and modelling as well as, well Jahazi.

Jahazi (currently only available on windows) is a Web top/ Internet OS, a framework/engine where diverse Internet Applications can run (some of the applications available include Chat, SMS, Email, Web Browser, RSS Reader - but in the near future you could be able to contribute your own applications via a to-be-released SDK - software development kit)

Mugambi also talked in general about Java (he described it as the best development language in the world :) - i'm sure some have divergent views) - described as suitable for distributed computing, cross platform, easy development among other features. - loads of freebies with Java Software and Tools on the CD that he was giving out. He also talked in brief about J2EE as a standard/architecture on which a good number of vendors have built application servers (think WebLogic Macromedia Jrun) etc - he says that it is best suited for huge conglomerates and not small companies :) - that tells you the scope of jahazi. He also talked about XML as the means of exchanging information between various

Visit and try it out for yourself. I'm really excited about it.

White African has his review here.

Monday, May 7, 2007

VST Studios -

8 May 2007 (tuesday)

Lecture session at Wananchi Online - Loita Hse 1st Floor (6pm)

Mugambi from VST Studios is going to talk about (java and J2EE)

He will have FREEBIES - 50 CDs with Jahazi 1.0 plus extra open java dev software eg Eclipse, Jetty server, jdk 1.5.0 update 9

So let's have 50 ppl show to pick up the freebies at least :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


I recently got hold of a Linksys WRT54GL

First order of business :) ---> Flashed it and put in OpenWRT

Downloaded the corresponding White Russian image from and used the routers web interface to perform a firmware upgrade.

I had performed some previous configurations with the official firmware and the configurations remained intact except from the administration password now with user root.

I installed the NAS package afterwards so as to use WPA

I then came across WebIf - part of the X-WRT extensions - package has a pretty nifty web interface.

I installed WebIf by adding on the package via the web interface

(too easy so far)

The White Russian image comes with SSH server and so many packages available, I don't know when to start

I'm still hacking abit here and there.. But so far so good.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

BarCamp Videos

Finally some of these are available online:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Seven Reasons Microsoft Likes Open Source

Interesting thoughts here

Linux Distributions Downloads

Here is a list of Linux Distros that you can download.

Hopefully we can get a semblance of this in Kenya in the near future ?

If you scroll down you should be able to change the selection option from desktop editions to servers etc.

Jacob @ OSSKENYA is working on a download repository - you can follow that here

Meeting 24th April

Apologies to all who went to Wananchi Online - 1st Floor, and for those who did not get to the venue (near Norfolk University).

The venue of the meeting was changed at the last minute to accommodate a group of students from UON :)

Robert and Laban from did their presentation on FOSS software, presenting arguments on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS):

Why use SQLServer2000 unless you are focussed on Business Intelligence, Oracle unless you want grid computing. You could use MySQL or PostgreSQL for your projects.

FOSS provides you with freedom. No need to worry about the Business Software Alliance (BSA) knocking at the door of your office or home asking you to pay up for all the unlicensed software you are using.

FOSS is not free (as in cost) - It requires effort to implement.

Some applications: - a phone running embedded linux with among other features GPS and GPRS.
The phone when released will retail at around $300. Think of all the applications you could have with such a phone. GPS location based software that alerts you that you need to buy your girlfriend a chocolate when you enter Uchumi :) - Look for Laban's previous post.

An SMS application that consists simply of a mobile phone, linux box and abit of code and you could offer a myriad of services. This compared to the cost of setting up a similar Windows based system, where you will need to buy the OS license, Antivirus, software development platform, among other things.

From a business point of view, it is important to provide a solution (using open source software)
It is important to think of providing a FOSS based software solution that solves/meets business needs and processes.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Next Meeting - 24th April

Laban Mwangi ( will be leading a discussion on FOSS Systems Software & Application Development at the next meeting on Tuesday 24th April 2007.

Venue - Wananchi Online - 1st Floor Loita House on Loita Street
Starts at about 6pm

Friday, April 20, 2007

Geek Dinner

We are meeting today evening for a "Geek Dinner" at Carnivore ... meeting early at 7pm so that the totos can make it home for curfew :) The rest can go on til they're all geeked out.

call 0724-334558 if you get lost.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Forget the IPHONE: Neo1973 is here!

This is the phone to have. Simply put, this phone puts all else to shame. Yep the Iphone included.

so here we go:
Software stack is open
  • Mainline Kernel (2.6.20 at the moment)
  • Gnome Interface
  • Libs for GSM/GPRS module, GPS module, USB, ALSA, Bluez (PAN?)....

Hardware specs for the Neo1973:
  • GPS chip
  • GSM & GPRS
  • 128MB SDRAM (maybe i can run Apache??)
  • Hammerhead AGPS for GPS... (think location based svcs)
  • micro-SD card (+2GB support). (2GB for star treks.. Where's my ported mplayer?)
  • 2.8" LCD which doubles as a touchscreen
  • Bluetooth,vibrate function,USB2 support, Onboard Speaker, Power MGT,....
while being totally open!! What i would love to see is a WLAN chip

Yes, there have been Linux phones before, but this one is doing it right:
  • tracking mainline kernel;
  • no binary drivers allowed, period; which implies
  • complete and deliberate standards adherence (USB spec, interfaces to all components, etc); which means
  • using existing kernel drivers wherever possible, and when new code has to be written, doing so in a way that is most likely to be accepted by the kernel as a whole

Other awesomeness:

  • the debug board they came up with is a full JTAG adaptor that’s so with-it that people have started using it to debug other devices;
  • a build service whereby you can submit code and they will build you an image you can test immediately — no need (at first, anyway) to go through the immense pain that usually goes along with setting up a build & cross compile environment;
  • a hardware emulator that runs in QEMU, so you can even get on with testing code without having to wait for a build

And, of course, near and dear to my heart:

  • runs the GNOME stack: that’s GTK running up in that picture there!, and
  • there are GObject APIs to talk to the device libraries, GLib main loop integration, all the goodies.


Things i would love to hack in

  • SyncML support (all my contacts backed up)
  • ical support (google calender, evolution...)
  • Location based services (Based on GPS output... ex. Passing by Mobil, and u happen to be a pizza fun and it's TUES.... = BOGOF{BuyOneGetOneFree} )
  • apt support if it's not there
  • social networking apps (traffic mgt and info in nrb)
  • Bluez Personal Area Network with laptop/Devcons
  • ssh port
  • .....Free your mind

General availability was slated for oct 2007. I hope they are ontrack.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Skunkworks (Edited...)

It looks to be that after BarCamp on 31st March, things got rather quiet. :)
We did not have a meeting yesterday as we did not have a speaker for the day so apologies for all those who were siked up.

We need to have more people actively participating in skunkworks for its objectives to be met - it's community. From the reactions at BarCampKenya - there is lots of stuff that we can learn from each other, and several projects that can be done.

I propose that people sign up for topics that they can / would like to present. We really haven't scratched the surface on what this group can do.

Current Discussion Topics & 'Facilitators'
  • 8th May 2007: Mugambi (VST Studios) - Java and Jahazi
  • Michael Kamunge (JKUAT) - Presents his final year project - smart card based (will confirm the exact topic and date) - Mike will confirm when he can do this
  • John Maina on System Audit (please confirm
  • Local (Linux) Distribution on BitTorrent - Riyaz?
  • local content and locally hosted forums - - to confirm
  • Joseph Wamicha - Web Video Streaming
  • .More
  • .More

Upcoming ( this is where you add yourself as a presenter, add a topic you'd like talked about)

  • Web Development - using PHP
  • Web Development - using Ruby on Rails
  • Web Development - on a .NET Platform
  • Linux - Comparison of Linux Distributions
  • Linux - Is Linux Ready for the Common Mwananchi?
  • Local Content - Setting up a weekly podcast
  • Local Content - Blogging Server
  • Local Content - Locally Hosted Forums
  • Local Content - Wiki
  • Local Content - Techie Directory
  • Communications - WiMax
  • Communications - WiFi WarDriving
  • Community - Kenyanized GeekCorps
  • .More
  • .More
Past Topics
  • Asterix (Parts I to III)
  • BarCampKenya
  • Laban Mwangi & Robert ( - on FOSS Systems Software & Application Dev (Next Week - 24th April)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Kenyan Geekcorps

WhiteAfrican interviews Ethan Zuckerman on his blog this time.

Ethan is the founder of Geekcorps - inspiration for an idea i've been toying with for some time.

Geekcorps is an NGO that brings together techie volunteers to work on projects like Peacecorps does - but only ICT based. eg setup of a community-based wireless network ... and many more.

Imagine a Kenyan version of Geekcorps ... there's a ton of uni students who spend months, years tarmacking ... how about empowering these guys with a little bit of guidance (maybe funding at some point) - to go do things like setup a cybercafe the way Harry did. They would go out to semi-urban and rural areas to run their own ICT ventures.

There's financial incentive (tough to convince current uni students to do anything without this) - since the guy will be running his own business ... you just have to provide some guidance again on accounting systems & running a business.

The whole thing should be organized, so that it takes care of churn - bet guys don't want to be stuck in shagz forever, and there's always new students graduating ...

Other ideas of projects these guys could undertake ? some software development type stuff ? write up some inventory systems for farmers ?

Also in the interview - Ethan recommends you read The Cathedral and the Bazaar - interesting stuff !

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

3rd April Meeting

I wasn't able to attend it, but seems people are already on Easter Holiday :).

I think we need more guys coming forward to organise the meetings, present etc.

Perhaps in the interim, a sort of spill over from discussions that did not end during the BarCamp could work out?


Light at the End of the Tunnel

great news ...

World Bank Approves US$164.5 Million for Connectivity to Make Kenya,
Burundi and Madagascar More Competitive

Press Release - World Bank

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 2, 2007 — The World Bank Board of Directors
approved on March 29, an International Development Association (IDA)
financing package of US$164.5 million for Kenya, Burundi and
Madagascar as the first tranche of the US$424 million Regional
Communications Infrastructure Program (RCIP) for high-speed
connectivity in East and Southern Africa.

The region is being held back by the prohibitive costs of
international connectivity. Businesses are unable to compete in the
global economy; university students suffer because they cannot access
the Internet; and Government agencies cannot communicate effectively
with each other and their citizens because they are not connected.

East and Southern Africa is the only region in the world that is not
connected to the global broadband infrastructure and accounts for less
than one percent of the world's international bandwidth capacity. As a
result of this 'missing link', the region relies on satellite
connectivity, with costs amongst the highest in the world.

To continue reading the rest of the article, click here:

Sunday, April 1, 2007

HOWTO: BarCamp

The idea of BarCamp came up during discussions with Erik/Hash/WhiteAfrican. There was loads of different guys doing their own things - techies, developers, designers, bloggers, entrepreneurs ... and a forum such as BarCamp was needed to bring them all together.

We decided to keep this one simple ... test the waters. We didn't want to have any complicated budgets etc for it. And we just wanted to see how it would turn out ... pretty amazing for a first time. And boy was it really simple to put together :)


  • Get a venue ... turns out lots of students are psyked about this stuff - you can easily get a venue on campus.
  • Depending on size - get some minimum sponsorship for stationary & water etc ... (we got that from Wananchi)
  • Line up a projector & five backups (again, depending on size)
  • Publicize - put the word out there ... and be prepared not to expect your friends, but complete strangers mostly :)
  • Ways to publicize - we had bloggers, Genius, our own companies, and posters around campus. The blogging forums were pretty effective. Hugest turnout from universities. Viral marketing also works wonders.
  • Get WiFi
  • Setup at least 2 hours before setup to finish before start-time.

Lessons Learnt

  • Backup Projector is a must - Thanks Eric !!! you're a life-saver
  • Has to be a circle - the lecture format just automatically restricts how much discussion can go on.
  • Fewer Presentations ... turns out a lot of people barely got through presenting their idea in 10 mins ... and we had to stretch it to allow questions and discussion ... and started running really short on time. One of the ideas is to have smaller BarCamps focussed on specific issues - eg blogging, or content.
And then have a properly organized BarCamp that would be for bringing together all the chaos again in an entire longer weekend session. At a beach possibly :)

  • The above works out pretty well - the Skunkworks forums are actually mini-BarCamps every week ... and then once every quarter we can put together a massive event. We even got sponsors already ...
  • Get some kind of online streaming, blogging etc ... and publicize it well before the event. Was running a skype call with Vincent (Kenyamoto) but am sure a lot of ppl were awaiting feedback.
  • People don't get what "BarCamp" is all about still ... pole for some dude who came for wine-tasting.
  • Has to be more informal ... more chaotic ... with more breaks. That's why the next one is going to be in Mombasa - save your busfare.
  • Some more vinywaji for guys.


- The volunteers on site - Kiania, Sande, Linda, Edgar
- All the speakers and startups
- Ashok for WiFi
- Kenyamoto for the cameraman - we should hopefully have video out shortly.
- KBW and all individual bloggers for spreading the word - whiteafrican, mental, AfroM (our groupie !), Kenyan Pundit, KikuyuMoja, mashada, bankelele.
- Erik for the BarCamp logo - it caught so much attention !!!
- Genius (Harry) for publicity, and the lovely reception welcome :)
- Wananchi Online - for anything that required a budget - flyers, bottled water, stationary etc. Huge thanks.

Looking Forward

- all our tools are "open-source" - feel free to ask to use the barcamp-nbi GoogleGroups and the BarCamp Wiki is already open. The group contains all participants on Saturday.
- join skunkworks - i think you'll find a lot of our ideas also come up there ... specially the chillout sessions every other week.
- JUST DO IT ... anyone can organize this - so just take up the intiative. Be sure to let us know so we can attend.

Eric, Josiah, Riyaz, Timothy, David, Nick
This was so much fun !!!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Post BarCamp Nairobi Kenya - 31st March

This is an initial write up of the meeting's proceeding:

Started at around 1.30pm with about 10 people in attendance. :) Typical Sat Afternoon in Nairobi. But this rapidly grew to more than 50 people coming in ... most were probably not Arsenal or Liverpool fans - or valued this more than football :)
We covered a whole range of issues ... read about them below.

Aother post coming up with all our experiences of organizing BarCamp.

Other BarCamp coverage:

The fastest car in the world The Bugatti Veyron by Josiah Mugambi, video here :)

AfricaDotNet by Edgar Okioga

Edgar heads up the .NET user group in Kenya and also lectures part time at the university. He talked about:

  • The .NET platform, dished out FREEBIES - MSDN community CDs
  • Getting involved in the .NET user group and other community groups
  • Individuals taking action - go and volunteer to lecture at the universitites !!

Equal Opportunity Manufacturing
Kamau Gachigi (Phd) of Uni of Nairobi

  • This guy is my new hero ! There do exist some amazing people in the academia sector ... just wish we could have more guys like him.
  • Dr Gachigi is passionate about what he does ... and it's addictive ! I hope we'll do a lot more with him in SkunkWorks ... watch this space ...
  • He talked about the MIT Fab Labs project - which provides a "lab" or "machine" that helps people fabricate & create ... tools, electronics, aeroplanes even ... much easily. All you need to bring is your own creativity.
  • He then answered a lot of questions about why there is a big disconnect between academia and the real world. And how the universities are trying to bridge the gap:
  • Creation of UNES (a fund to finance startup ideas of students)
  • Presention is here

Software Defined Radio by Nick a JKUAT student (This was really techie oriented)

  • Talked about GNU Radio among other things and how to utilize various technologies (even GSM) to transmit radio
 by Ashok

  • Talked about collection of information from various sources ranging from hard copies to proprietary software copies and open technologies.
  • is one of the end results - check it out!.
  • Clearly from his presentation, open standards go very far in allowing information to reach as many people as possible.

Long Tail Economics of Abundance by Kiptum (MamaMikes)

  • Kiptum first talked about MamaMikes - the history, where they started, and some of the interesting experiences they've seen in the e-commerce business with expanding offerings etc.
  • Then he went on to talk about the long tail

Presentation is here.

Residential Networks with Kiania
(oops i didn't find any DK fotos :) ) but there are some of him preparing his presentation in the photos linked (look out for a guy in ORANGE)

Kiania in his bright orange Asterisk shirt talked about how to take infrastructure development in your own hands and start creating community-based networks in neighbourhoods ...

  • Create a backbone infrastructure of wifi or fiber or utp hooking up your estate
  • Expand your estate to the neighborhood - imagine a South C wide community owned network.
  • Add content ... an asterisk setup, a chat setup for the girl in house 4B :) etc.

Skunkworks and the Halfway Proposition - Riyaz

There is a movement happening in Kenya ... it's evidenced by the drastic jump in traffic when KCSE results were released - local traffic to the servers jumped five-fold. Or on Valentines Day.

There are more and more people developing local content. Online startups, information sites etc ... the key is building this up to critical mass.

More local content = less use of satellite resources, and faster loading = a better user experience ... leading to more adoption of online technologies.

Skunkworks is a free open community for techies by kawa techies. We provide a forum for free exchange of ideas, and in the process hope to start developing "projects" which will grow into web applications - making it easy for people to add local content to the web.

Signup and Come for our weekly sessions - we've realized they're actually like mini-BarCamps.

StocksKenya by Ted Muganda

  • was initially developed for private use :) but later realised it's potential and its ability to meet the needs of many retail investors in Kenya
  • Has a vibrant online community of users.
  • Will hopefully be hosted locally soon?

University LAN networks - Melvin

The guys over at JKUAT have built their own dorm network after the uni admin was unable to provide them connectivity. Put together with strings literally ... this network has exponentially grown in numbers of subscribers.

Most common apps are multimedia - yay Scofield !

They've setup a prepaid card system where students can go buy a set amount of credit - this minimal charge helps them grow and run the network (and pay for the internet link)

Their model has changed slightly - they now ask halls to setup LANs and then interconnect them together. Network is so big they don't know how many devices they have anymore.

Laws of Kenya, Genius Executive Center and Startups in Kenya - Harry Karanja

Harry doesn't always seem to have his hands in other people's pockets like most lawyers :) This entrepreneur does some really cool stuff !!

Harry's SoftLaw idea creation company started off digitizing all the laws of Kenya. They intially put it all on CD, and later put it up on a prepaid website. Now Laws of Kenya is all free as they explore other ways of monetizing.

He's also started an incubation center - Genius - located at ViewPark towers 15th Floor. The center provides a complete office workstation - with PC, phone, internet, messaging etc services. Helpful & affordable for lots of startups.

Harry blogs at Startups in Kenya - which has some really interesting content ... check it out.

Gituma Nturibi on electronic ticketing

We truly live in a paperless world. Now you have no excuse that u forgot your ticket at home when you get to the airport....

More photos, and video to follow..

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tuesday Meeting (27th March 2007)

Our weekly meeting for Tuesday will mostly focus on BarCamp planning,
among the usual hangout topics we bring up ...

come with your ideas !

steers as usual ... 6pm. (Muindi Mbingu)

we're also probably going to start having the hangout sessions moved
to weekends at a place like Buffet Park - what say you ?

BarCamp - Saturday - hope to see you all there !!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Meeting Recap

The last meeting winded up on Asterisk ... Next topic we're getting to is WiFi

Covered the setup of extensions.conf which is the Asterisk dial-plan ... it contains all the information about call routing of extensions within the Asterisk PBX. Covered the basic syntax of the configs, and went into details about various patterns used to make the config simpler. Also covered patterns on how to setup queueing, voicemail, call-center, IVR, meetme conferencing.

Extension Patterns

Sample Dialplan

Asterisk Variables

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Google in Kenya

First of all, thanks to Josiah for inviting me. My name is Chris Kiagiri from Google HQ in Mountain View, CA and I have been lurking on the mailing list for a short while prior to this post.

Here at Google, we have just announced that we have signed a deal with the Kenya Education Network (KENET) to provide universities in Kenya with Google Apps™ – Google’s set of hosted and customizable communications services. This includes access to Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Docs & Spreadsheets under their university's domain and, as always, for free.

The University of Nairobi’s ~50,000 students will be the first to be offered Google Apps for Education in Kenya. These services will then be extended to ~150,000 Kenyan students in universities across the country. The rollout will be jointly coordinated by Google and KENET.

You've heard by now that our mission here at Google is to help organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. This deal is the first step in doing our part to make sure that people in Kenya have access to the same online services as the rest of the world. You can expect to hear more on this in the near future, including the integration of free PC-to-PC phone calls.

(For more on what makes Google Apps tick, check out this video.)

On a separate note, stay tuned for the customizable skins that we are about to unveil on the google home page tomorrow (or later today, Kenya time). They are really cool and will contain some delightful geek-inspired "Easter eggs," for the more observant ones among you.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Asterisk pt 3

The final Asterisk session for now ... will deal with configuration of the dialplan (extensions.conf). This shows you how to do call routing, dialling patterns, and covering more fun things like IVR setup for call-centers.

6pm at the Wananchi Online training room (Loita Hse 1st Floor) - 20 March 2007

Next topic we're getting into is "war-driving" for WiFi ... pls give suggestions of topics you'd like covered.
Edgenet folks - what happened to you guys ?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Meeting 5 review

Last meeting was held at Steers - opp Jeevanjee Gardens on 13th March 2007

As usual, it was a free for all discussion. Main points discussed were:

The best techie enviroment in kenya and what they should stock...
  • Beers
  • Ice Cream dispenser ..huh??
  • Loud Music (what would you prefer?)
Personally i prefer Beers and Techno/Trance o'er earphones... And oh gimme a swimming pool any day!

M-PESA and the ripples it would:
  • E-Commerce gateway for M-PESA... (maybe a download service) would open up a market of ~5Million potential customers
  • Easy Transfer of money.. and why choose M-PESA over PostaPay
  • Fraud
  • Possible technical implementations
Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs probably have the worst site on the planet. After much lamentation and wailing on the mailing list, a couple of people volunteered to do a 'free as in beer' implementation. Please refer to the list for an update.

Upcoming BarCamp topics list and possible presenters. If you are interested please talk to eric on the list.

Hacking wifi by encoding packets into ICMP instead of HTTP Quoting Riyaz 'i have no idea .... hehe'. Ditto

Monday, March 12, 2007


Tomorrow (13th March 2007) - Meeting #5

Chill Out - Proposed that we meet at Steers (on Muindi Mbingu Street?)

Next Week (20th march 2007) - Meeting #6

Wind up VoIP on Asterisk Session (Part III of III )
Start discussing 'Exploring Wifi' probably
Brief update on BarCamp - 31st March

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

2nd Hand rack mount servers

As mentioned in the meeting yesterday - it is possible to get second hand rack mounted servers for about 15k from Computer Planet @ Visions Plaza on Mombasa Road. Specs should be around PIII, 512/1024MB RAM, 40GB, dual ethernet cards, some have dual processors. - should be brand names like IBM.

I suggest that for anyone who wants to get hold of one - get to pass word around so that a group can go there and negotiate for lower prices (e.g. <10k clear="all">
Then hacking on stuff like asterisk etc (and for those guys who'd want to starting thinking of colocation) can start in earnest


Friday, March 2, 2007

VoIP - Asterisk Pt. 2

Next meeting is on Tuesday, March 6.

Venue: Wananchi Online at 6pm (Loita Hse 1st floor)

We'll be going into the second part of Asterisk - covering the actual setup & configuration of trunks, SIP ports, dial-plan etc.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

community networks, broadband ratings

Last meeting was held at Steers - opp Jeevanjee Gardens on 27 February 2007

Techies lamented at the lack of cheap broadband availability. Current options include (not rated):

- popote - 3500 shs per month but damn slow (dialup)
- GPRS - 3500 shs per month unlimited package from Wananchi
- GPRS packages from safaricom and celtel
- Jamii Telkom offers 128k shared service for about 12k shs. (128k throughput achieved)
- 128k service from ISPs typically at slightly below 20k shs.
- eDSL - new offering from EdgeNet - including their new eTV streaming service. 5k shs or so.
- Net@Home shared internet for 5k shs.
- iBurst at 8k shs (128k throughput achieved)
- Butterfly at about 2500 shs ... but poor coverage areas.

Josiah - post your review ... ;)

The idea of building out estate/community networks was raised ...
Techies in various estates can get a 128k link into the apartment/estate ... cable it themselves cheaply, and share a 128k internet link. The techie living within the estate would provide 24/7 support to users with their computer issues.
Setup costs would be shared amongst 10 users ... so not more than 5k per user. Most likely a lot less. Monthly charges would come to about 2k per user.
Techie would setup a local "server" for mail, caching, voip, file-services and more ... All these local servers could be connected together eg a larger asterisk network.

This idea would work well if organized ...
With a large enough base, ISPs could be convinced to provide a bigger pipe at night - say bursting to 1mb

Also noted that this is the year for consumer broadband - a lot more offerings expected from all providers.

Also discussed was how to approach existing users of legacy PBXes and provide an asterisk solution. Kiania - help ?

- meeting schedule was preferred fixed on tuesdays. same format
- next meeting will be Tuesday, march 6 ... will be continuing with Asterisk setup/configuration. Wananchi Online training room.
- need more volunteers !! for organizing meetings, lectures, maintaining the blog etc
- BarCamp Nairobi - 31 march at Uni of Nairobi

Friday, February 23, 2007

all things VoIP

Second lecture session focused on VoIP including an introduction to and applications of Asterisk – the open-source PABX/softswitch software.
Held at Wananchi Online training room on 20 February.

The most "cool" application for asterisk appeared to be calling an askari automatically to "washa the generator" when the power went out. Jinis at work !!!
Some of the real-world kenyan applications are asterisk implemented at Gertrude's - the project will be covered in future sessions.

For the most definitive guide to open-source VoIP.
You can run through the Getting Started section first, or search for a specific topic. The site caters for all users – beginner to expert.

The Asterisk Handbook

An example of a quick way to get a US telephone mapped to an IP softphone (softphones are software that run on your PC and enable you to make VOIP calls)

Other notable sites include:
Asterisk (main site)
Digium (makers of asterisk)
Asterisk Now (easy peasy asterisk)
SER (Sip Express Router)
Skype (500m users)

To get started with asterisk … basically, it is composed of 3 parts:
- configuration of SIP extensions
- configuration of trunk extensions (E1s and international IAX links)
- configuration of the Dial Plan

sip.conf (used to create extensions)
Zapata.conf (used to configure trunks into the PSTN)
iax.conf (used to create international trunks)
extensions.conf (configure the Dial Plan)

The best way to learn as with all open-source apps – download, install & start hacking away … use the list for any questions you may come up with. Use the “search” feature on the voip-info wiki extensively !!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Meeting #1

The first Skunkworks meeting was held at Steers Wabera Street on 13th Feb 2007. About 15-20 tech enthusiasts from Nairobi were present.

Was an informal meeting with people getting to know each other.

Planning was for a weekly meeting, alternating between formal discussion forums and informal chill out sessions.

EDIT: We first started out at GPO food court ... where we got chased away for holding an unlicensed "kamkunji" :) Meeting was then moved to Steers.