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 !!!