2 years @iHub

The iHub Green Members 2014 onboarding session. Photo courtesy: iHub

The iHub Green Members 2014 onboarding session. Photo courtesy: iHub

It’s a few weeks shy of 2 years since I joined the iHub. When I joined, I wasn’t quite sure what being a Community Manager meant exactly. Or if I would survive in employment after being a freelancer for a whole year before that. But meeting with Jimmy Gitonga (former iHub Hypemaster) and Nekesa “It’s handled” Were who had both been working here for a while, I was convinced that it must be a cool place to work.

And it has been one exciting journey.

Working with individual iHub members and seeing them grow has particularly been exciting. This heartwarming list includes Jackie and Ondieki of Kleva Solutions who met in the space and have since built a payments solutions business that employs 6 developers, Cynthia who built Ujirani App within her first couple of months at the iHub, has already launched it and is incubated at the Nailab. Ian who builds beautiful functional mobile apps in just 2 days, Kenneth, who runs an international startup and has recently qualified to be one of 5 GDEs (Google Developer Experts) in Africa. Startups like Card Planet; first Kenyan startup to be accepted into Silicon Valley accelerator 500 Startups, and Kidogo ECD that has since received investment and proceeded for incubation at m:lab East Africa, and Twiga Fruits, first African startup to win the overall 1776 Startup Challenge Cup in Washington DC. I have seen real exciting growth.

I have seen more engagement online and offline.

Offline with our current Green and Red Members braving life away from their laptops and engaging more with each other, hanging out together at the iHub for BYOB Friday, and forming impromptu (karaoke) bands together, then coming together and working on startup projects together.

I have seen our social media following grow from 42K to 82.9K today. Increased engagement, courtesy of a kick-ass team.  I have seen the launch and constant improvement of our community portal courtesy of our amazing web team, which has seen iHub take the online engagement of its global community to the next level.

Personal growth

I have had the chance to travel to conferences across the world and speak on behalf of the iHub about the Kenyan tech ecosystem.

I was challenged to start a tech blog, did that despite feeling very un-qualified at the time, and I have found my space in writing about tech.

The 5 year tech bash was a feat in mobilization and the sheer logistics of planning that party required us to become giants overnight. And step up we did. I was involved in coordinating online communication for the bash. This involved putting up content on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube as well as coordinating the 3 step release of 3000 tickets on Eventbrite. Convening Nairobi’s biggest tech bash and having everyone in one place reaffirmed for me the importance of the work that the iHub does and how critical the tech community in Kenya is for the country’s economic growth. I learnt by interacting with many of you, that to sustain an industry as vibrant as ours, community and collaboration are key. I will carry this lesson with me, always.

I have seen some things go wrong and made some decisions where hindsight swiftly kicked me in the behind. But I’ve seen a lot of things go great! I’ve had a lot of achievements. And many times just stood in awe of my teammates, because the team at iHub is made up of rockstars.

iHub is truly the nexus.

While at the iHub, I have met people I never thought I’d have an opportunity to meet so easily and effortlessly. From Ban Ki Moon, UN Sec Gen, Joi Ito, MIT Media Lab Director to founders of well known global companies, and African Government officials for ICT, to young genius men and women resident at or visiting the iHub.

I have been mentored, advised, and supported by some amazing people including Erik, Juliana, Jimmy and Nekesa who by constantly interacting with, have made me step up my game. Awesome Ninjas like Scott, Mutheu, and Dennis taught me that your next big idea can come from anywhere.

I can say with confidence that if iHub’s resident members are anything to go by, Kenya’s tech community will continue to dazzle the world with endless big innovations. I am inspired everyday by the go-getter attitude here and I will hold the iHub resident members close to my heart.

As I move on to the next chapter of my life, I can only stand in gratitude for what iHub has done for me, and confidence that my vision for the community, seeing them turn their innovations into sustainable, scalable businesses, will be achieved.

Chronicles of a haggard community manager

via Bitstrips

via Bitstrips

What does it take to lead a community?
What do you do? What are you in charge of? What does a typical day look like for you?
Questions I get on a daily basis.
And almost every time, I pause. I sigh. I say “almost everything” Then I attempt to list everything that I do.
It may appear scatterbrained to an observer but any fellow community manager will understand exactly what I go through and why its ambigious.
 
And the struggles are real…
From disagreeing with everyone else in the organization (because you are mostly the only community facing person in the organization; which gets worse as the organization grows) to the event struggles, to those colleagues who treat you like the office receptionist – you know, coz your job is unclear to them and they’d hate for you to while your days doing nothing :-P.
Also how do you measure success?
Can you measure engagement? Online we have tools for that. Offline, not so easy. Is it by the number of meetings you have and how bubbly you are during? Is it from how hagard you look after a day of 10 meetings at least 4 days a week?Is it by the number of tours you can do without dropping dead? Is it by the number of emails you were able to respond to today as we aspire to inbox(0)? Which , in case you are wondering hasn’t happened to me in a long minute.
How do you measure success of the startups you support when you are not the Community Manager(CM) of an incubator or accelerator and cannot even track clearly the number of startups that you churn out, seeing as you pre-incubate innovative individuals who might or might not become startups during or after your time with them?
Let’s keep talking about the chronicles of a haggard CM 😉
This is the first post in a fortnightly series about being a community manager. The highs, the lows, and a place to share tips for engaging a community. Wanna contribute an article? Email mugethi@hergeekyness.com.

Why can no one take a decent “selfie” of me?

Definition: “A selfie is a photo of oneself take by oneself.

In this article, we shall expand the word “selfie” (in quotes) to also include casual photos of oneself not necessarily taken by oneself using a phone camera.

Let us go ahead and exclude professional photographers the caliber of @Truthslinger and @WhiteAfrican from this definition

Now I love photos. Offer me photos of myself when I’m looking halfway decent and we have a deal.
And I love taking photos. I am the one forever taking “selfies” of my friends and they go “niiiice”, then when it’s my turn we do 1 blurry, 1 dark, 1 where I am too far and 1 just plain weird before I give up and take an actual selfie!

So for public service purposes, here are some tips.

Fundamentals of taking a good photo

Composition

Take a photo of something, not of everything. Let’s say you are at a friend’s wedding. Do not try to document everyone who attended in one photo! Not only will you not succeed, this will  also not make for a good photo. Focus on specific things, each photo  should tell a story.

Focus

Focus on something. Photo Credit – @HerGeekyness

 

Rule of thirds

Not everything has to be smack in the middle of  your photo. For awesome photos, employ the rule of thirds. This is where you divide your photo into 3 and place your subject into either the left 1/3 or the right 1/3 of your screen.

Rule of Thirds-2-1024x682

Rule of thirds. Photo credit -@Watumutiz

 

Focus!

Here is the sequence. Aim – focus – shoot. That sequence does not change and is not interchangeable.
It’s amazing how many people do not focus before pressing the shutter. When you aim at your subject, the most phone cameras nowadays will start to focus. Let it! Typically it will be shown by square brackets or a square that will turn green once it has achieved focus. At this point, shoot! After you have shot, hold the phone still for at least 3 seconds (or until you see the photo in the gallery preview) and say goodbye to blurry photos forever ☺

To flash or not to flash (lighting is key)

Most of us acknowledge a Higher Power, who is responsible for nature. The Greatest Artist so to say. It then follows that when you do take a good photo, it should look natural. I’m all for taking out the spots and zits and making faces all sophisticated. But it should look like you.

If your are taking a mirror shot, or a glass shot, turn off your flash (see below)

Glass pic - thou shalt know when to turn off the flash. Photo credit - @Watumutiz

Glass pic – thou shalt know when to turn off the flash. Photo credit – @Watumutiz

 

The photo should be bright, and of good quality when you take it. I never fail to be amazed at people who bring dark, grainy, or blurred photos and ask me to Photoshop it and make it all better. Here’s a newsflash,  (pun intended) the photo needs to be good quality (read high resolution. We are professionals, not miracle workers 😉

Now thee forth and take decent selfies.

-her royal geekyness-

What’s so cool about the Lenovo K900?

So this is the step up (and quite a step up it is) to the Intel YOLO. It has an Intel Atom Dual-core 2Ghz processor and a PowerVR SGX544 graphics processor.

Back view

Back view

It’s sleek! Super light. From the faux brushed metal exterior, the tiny rivets on the back cover (no taking out the battery and no SD card business either it comes in with internal memory of 16GB or 32GB, take your pick) that match the Lenovo logo engraved on the back to the neat Micro SIM slot on the side. This phone is sleek.

The packaging redefines cool – Black box with a red interior that which peeks through the etched out K900) logo. Too cool.
This phone. Is sleek.

This box redefines cool

This box redefines cool

What needs work?

1. The OS.

Android contact manager keeps crashing

Annoying especially because it every time you use messaging, it crashes. It also brings up the error message when you use the phone log, contacts, Hangouts, Whatsapp, and Telegram. I assume it will do this for all messaging apps.

Lenovo - crash screen

The crash screen

At 6.7” (hull, display is 5.5) this phone is actually a mini-tablet with phone capabilities. A phablet.
At 162g this phablet is superlight.

Camera
I am in love with the 13MP camera with its dual led flash. The split second autofocus and continuous shoot turned out to be an invaluable feature during a 7-hour event that I was live-tweeting. It meant that I could capture the targets while they were still doing what I wanted to capture, instead of a blur of the person who moved just when I finally focused. (That’s my other phone, story for another day)

The front 2MP Camera had me taking some pretty cute selfies (in good light of course as it has no flash).

The 2GB RAM makes for some awesome performance. I can do stuff on the K900 that I normally wouldn’t be able to – like Skype, a very resource heavy app, which came pre installed by the way.

What needs work?

1. The OS.

Android contact manager keeps crashing

Annoying especially because it every time you use messaging, it crashes. It also brings up the error message when you use the phone log, contacts, Hangouts, Whatsapp, and Telegram. I assume it will do this for all messaging apps.

2. Battery

Not impressed. At 2600 mAH it’s clearly Bigger than my other phone’s 2100mAH . But, with the K900 I always seem to run out of juice during the day. Also, would it kill them to provide a power backup

3. Welcome screen

Really? Was there not a designer in the vicinity?

4. Usability
I have a few objections here.

The icons are customized (read different). It took me a while to get used to.
This is not helped by the new android settings interface. After 1 month of use I still have no idea where the battery settings are. I gave up and got an app to manage battery use.

5. Naming of system apps

OK I know we want to be unique, but it took me a while to find the camera (named Super Camera) and the gallery (named Super Gallery). The phone has no camera button.

6. Size
While the phablet is superlight, it’s not very comfortable to text with for long periods. Especially lying down. It has a 5.5” display but the actual phone is almost 7”.

7. Accessories
These could use some work. The charger came apart within the first week of use. I had to patch it up for continued use, then it gave up the ghost in the 4th week.

The earphones could be more ear-friendly.
I would have voted for eardrum earphones. Those are way more comfortable and by way of proximity, noise cancelling 😉 The sound quality of the Lenovo earphones is fine though.
Jpeg
Her Geekyness’ verdict

This phone looks good, it’s superlight, superfast and takes awesome photos. If the manufacturers fix the bugs and improve the accessories, I would say go for it. Especially is you are a social media freak (Instagrammers will love this one)

-her royal geekyness-

A slightly different version was published on UP Magazine (Print Version)

Have you tried the phone? Share your experience in the comments section.

Emoji Discrimination?

 

image from Yahoo!

image from Yahoo!

If you are an avid texter/IM-er then emoji and smileys are your friend. Then no doubt you have noticed how discriminative most popular IM apps (WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook messenger, Hangouts) are to Africans, especially African woman. Right?

A number of very important emoticons for Any African woman (or man) to express herself are conspicuously missing from the IM apps.

  • Hands on hips  – any self-respecting African Woman, ahem, metro man or really macho man needs this emoticon. This is the ultimate expression of indignation.
  • NKT!  – We all need this one, duh! It is the proper African way of expressing annoyance. No matter how much you like the person you are chatting with, they are bound to annoy you at some point. At this point quickly put in your African click  – NKT!
  • Mscheeew! – Your traditional African sneer right there. It comes accompanied by the appropriate facial expression. This is necessary when you hear something so nonsensical there is no other way to express it.
  • African sassy head shake (not to be confused with the Indian shaking of the head yes. Or just generally shaking their head, LOL)

And the list goes on. Feel free to add more missing emoticons in the comments section.

Excited to learn of the messaging app Telegram which was thrust into the limelight by the acquisition of WhatsApp by the NSA, oops, Facebook. (My bad. You’ve all heard the rumors) And just to give us a taste of what’s coming, we had a couple of hours down time on Saturday 28th Feb. (Things is gonna be different), after someone has spent USD 19B on an app (you know, just USD 7B above Kenya’s entire budget!) nobody expects that’s its going be business as usual.

So Dear Devs

We look to you to work to create plugins for emoji that will capture our imaginations and our hearts and make us feel right at home. We fully expect you will work with UX/UI designers to give it that real authentic feel.  A couple of stern matriarch emoji are necessary to keep everyone online in line.

Let me know.

-her royal geekyness-

Is it cloudy yet? (Adobe Creative Cloud)

image from adobe.com

image from adobe.com

So if you are a visual artist who does it commercially you probably use the Adobe Suite of products. Illustrator (I’m a vectors girl), Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere, the works

A few of us have bought a copy of CS6 (or are using a corporate licence courtesy of their employer).  Based on a statistic that Photoshop CS5.1 is the no. 2 most pirated software I am willing to bet that quite a few people out there are using a cracked copy. That’s right, I used the C word.

In our defence, some of us might have USD 3000. But it’s not for buying software! The rest of us do not have USD 3000. Yet.

So armed with those solid justifications, we comfortably use our alternatively sourced CS6.

 

Enter Adobe Creative cloud.

Ahem

So it’s 50 dollars monthly.

First time I heard that I went, 50 dollars EVERY month? Why??

Granted I as an individual have been having challenges considering software as a tool of my trade. Many artists I know are perfectly happy to spend at least USD 1100 or much more on a MacBook Air, software is a whole other story.

Someone I look up to pointed it out to me that it was not USD 50 compared to nothing, it was compared to USD 3000! (He said a few other things about loving freebies but let’s not go into details) Now that got me thinking.

He then further challenged me by asking me how much I am worth hourly as a designer. I did the math and came to USD 40 hourly. “So what you are saying is that you need to work for 1 hour, 15 minutes, to pay your monthly fee for the cloud?” Aha!

When you put it like that, it doesn’t sound too bad.

So I decided to have a chat with someone who is already using creative cloud – our video and photography guru and find out why anyone would want to pay 50 good ones every month to use software on a cloud.

  • First of all, updates are instant. You don’t have to wait for cs7 to be released for the new features and bug fixes to be done. It’s instant. (Well you know how annoying bugs are). And you don’t have to buy that. It’s a free update.
  • Secondly it’s light on your hardware resources. The whole suite is available to you but you only download what you use. So this guy downloaded Photoshop, InDesign and Premier. While I the vectors girl; can download Illustrator, and Fireworks J
  • Thirdly, You have access to the cloud. Your work will not only be safe and portable, but if you get the team or enterprise package, you can easily collaborate due to the central access
  • To crown it all you will have the peace of mind to know that you are using a legally acquired suite of excellent software (his words, not mine)

So I throw it to you

  • Should you as a visual artist (not) pay for the tools of your trade?
  • Is USD 50 monthly a reasonable amount to expect from a freelancer?
  • Has the time come for us as a community to abandon the culture of “alternative sourcing of software”?

 

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

-her royal geekyness-

The Acer Iconia W5

This compact hybrid laptop/tablet runs Windows 8 on an a Intel Atom, Z2760 / 1.8 GHz dual-core processor.

 

The Unboxing

The very unboxing of this tablet/laptop is a treat.

The box interior is plush charcoal grey with at least 3 hidden compartments.

I couldn’t hide my delight (I was in the office) as I discovered something new in each secret compartment.

unboxing

the unboxing

• Secret compartment 1 unleashes the most amazing, soft, faux leather, beige laptop wallet.

• Secret compartment 2 unleashes a Branded screen cleaning cloth with handy quick-start manual booklets. Nice touch :-)

• Secret compartment 3 unleashes a charger, USB extension cable, stylus, and a 6-inch Mini Display port to VGA Adapter Cable for your convenience.

• The tablet and the keyboard are in compartments too, though not hidden

 

Design

 

Design

The sleek, matt silver faux metal body design is reminiscent of a MacBook. Actually, the Faux part is so good, I had to read up to discover that it’s not metal. It’s pretty ☺. Both male and female geeks and non-geeks appreciated the design and silver color. A few fell in love with it, but that’s a story for another day ☺.

It’s also small and fits into my small handbag – unlike the rather giant bag I need to carry when toting around my 13” laptop.

 

Battery

The Dual 2-cell 3540mAh batteries promises 8 hours on tablet only and double that on dock. It doesn’t disappoint. The tablet almost made it to 9 hours during use at an event where I was taking photos and posting online, and using Google Chrome browser. On dock (connected to the keyboard it easily goes to 17 plus hours). Needless to say, charging this device is not a top priority for me.

This feature is especially useful for me while travelling. Before you are able to settle, find a power outlet, and possibly an adapter (if you are travelling abroad), you will manage nicely.

Touch pad/Windows 8

 

pic 7 Windows

Adapting to the Windows 8 interface poses a particular challenge for me as a Mac/Android user. So I enlisted a die-hard Windows 8 user as a co-reviewer for this part.

The Intel Atom processor does not disappoint. Both as a tablet and as a PC, the performance is great and my co-reviewer was able to happily do all their regular office work on the Iconia.

The touchpad I found rather cramped – to be expected on a 10.5” device – Good news is you can touch the screen!

It might be worth it for Microsoft to consider teaching people how to use Windows 8. It’s not intuitive at all. Not even for Windows 7 users.

 

Camera

The 8MP camera on a tablet was a rather exciting concept, until I tried it out. In different lighting and settings. The images kept coming out rather grainy or fuzzy. The front 2MP camera/webcam is fine for Skyping and doing Hangouts.

 

 

Top heavy

I found it a bit top-heavy so when placing it on your lap, one needs to be careful lest it topples over.

 

Her Geekyness’ Verdict

This tablet/laptop is compact, versatile, beautiful and stays charged for ages. It sounds good when playing music (good enough for a hotel room party) and is pretty fast and responsive.

 

-her royal geekiness-

The Techno Phantom A+

Branding breakthrough?

So as a PR/Communication/Branding enthusiast, I have been watching Tecno’s entry and penetration into the Kenyan mobile phone market with interest. It has not been without woes. For starters, in Kenya, the word “China”, (no offence to Chinese people) is almost a synonym for “fake”. This has been due to the huge influx of fake/counterfeited goods from China that have tormented Kenyan consumers for years. I mean it’s way cheaper, therefore tempting, but when you buy it, it will surprise you every time with a new way of not working. We all know that cheap is expensive (I mean, the *Wahenga said it and we are constantly being reminded), but if your products keep teaching us practical lessons, we ARE going to hate you.

So Tecno have had the uphill task of proving that despite being a Chinese brand,

1. They are not purporting to be anyone we are not and

2. They are making quality stuff (go ahead and test them, the warranty is 2 years) (Not anymore, I was rather vexed and impressed at the same time to discover)

image from Google

image from Google

So when the Tecno Phantom made its debut, it was not just a phone (IMO) it was a symbol of how far the brand has come. On a scale of HTC to Samsung, well, Tecno has arrived!

What I love about this phone:

Screen (size and resolution)

The 5.0 TFT High Definition screen display rocks. It’s great for reading. I am currently reading a Kindle book on it and it’s very comfortable. Its also pretty roomy and accommodates the keyboard quite nicely, that I haven’t had to use the auto-rotate feature for typing.

Camera

This is one of my favorite things about this phone. On an auto setting, this 8MP camera will focus and take a clear, bright picture. You can easily zoom in during a shot by a pinching open motion on the screen. The image resolution is pretty good. (You have to zoom into the image quite a lot for it to become blurry) It makes me happy that I do not have to be a professional to take decent pics for Instagram using my camera phone.

I took this photo using my Phantom.

I took this photo using my Phantom.

Note that I am not that tall so I had to zoom in :-)

Design and feel

I am a big fan of large phone screens. And at 5.0 this phone is pushing it. The flip side is however, that unless it’s a pricey phone, a larger screen usually means a heavier phone. However, this phone is surprisingly light and easy to handle. So while we are on the subject, this phone looks so much like an S4, that everyone gets shocked when I tell them it’s not. The resemblance is such that I once spent a full day with a colleague who had just acquired a black phantom, A+, assuming that his phone was an S4, and he spent the same amount of time assuming that my white one was an S4! (we had a laugh over that one when I finally asked!)

I must say however, that while I like the idea of the protruding camera lens (gives the impression that the camera is uber-powerful) it makes it so much more vulnerable to breakage. Mine is already cracked, though I am happy to report, it hasn’t affected the image quality, yet. If anyone is listening, may I suggest a rubber ring around the lens? Or silicone? You get my drift.

Battery life

Technical specs aside (I know you can Google those 😉 ) The practical battery life of this phone is pretty impressive. Normally, despite what manufacturers claim, smartphone battery life sucks! So much so, that in Kenya it’s common practice to carry a basic phone as well (widely known as a *kabambe) coz you know you will run out of charge right about the middle of the day (that is if you are economical with usage).

Now I am a pretty heavy phone user. (I have heard complaints 😉 ) On a typical 2 hour trip to the office (when I am not the driver ) I will play music, Tweet, Whatsapp, do my emails (Gmail app), and the rest of the way read on the Kindle app or Bible Gateway app (which keeps crashing, by the way).

Usually I will switch off mobile data in-between using apps that need connectivity to preserve battery. And I will NOT play a game if I don’t want my charge to run out before I get to the office. With my previous phone (you can read about it here) I would get to the office at 25% or so battery. But with the Phantom, I do all that and still get to work at 70% battery! (I am trying to calm down here) I am in battery heaven. I do not even bother to switch off mobile data because I hardly notice its effect.

Powerbank!

To make things even better, this phone comes with a Powerbank. So if I run out of charge enroute, all I have to do is connect my phone and voila! As long as I have a charged Powerbank in my bag, I can go up to 10 hours or more without needing an electric outlet. For me, with a smartphone, this is huge.

Dual SIM

Another feature I like is the dual sim. Like many Kenyans, I have more than one sim card, which if you were using a smartphone would mean having an extra phone to keep both lines on (because no smartphone worth it’s salt would be dual-sim!) Well, yes, until Tecno went and did it with the Phantom! This was a risk, I’d say especially keeping in mind the branding thing that we talked about earlier.

The user interface is also a win, especially with regards to sending texts and making phones. One is able to do so with a single screen tap, not being taken to an additional, annoying menu that prompts you to select the sim card you want to use.

Apps! Especially Flashshare

The Phantom comes with a lot of considerately pre-loaded apps. My favorite being Truecaller, Whatsapp (which I love to hate – story for another day – but is convenient) and the one that had me all excited, Flashshare! So with this app, you do not need to be online to share stuff with another Phantom user. You connect (it creates a hotspot) and you shake it to send whatever you have selected (including apps!) to the paired device. I got a little carried away with this feature and received way too many videos into my internal memory. And now I can’t delete them before I watch them!

What sucks

Earphones

So the earphones sound pretty good, but they don’t seem to work on my laptop (MacBook Air) or my colleagues’ Windows laptops. That is a bummer as I had to get different ones for use with the laptop. Also, I recently misplaced my phone earphones (bummer!) and discovered that the earphones I got to use with my computer, do not work with my phone! (To clarify, when you plug them in while playing music, the instruments are audible but the vocals sound like they are being sung in a far away land. Very acoustic)

Covers

So the phone comes with a free flip cover, and a back-cover for those who do not want to use the flip (like me). I wish it came with a protective back cover for those anti-flip people whose phones tend to drop a lot! E.g. when you have a tech savvy toddler ☺. I for one would love a rubbery, yellow, floppy cover. I am yet to find one – and this is not from a lack of scouring the streets in search of one.

SD card

Well, Tecno seem to be good in a lot of things, but making SD cards is not one of them. The phone comes with a free 8GB card (my first thought was, “awesome deal!”) so from my normal usage, I determined I would not need to buy an additional card. However, every time I switch on my phone, it suggests that I format the card. Because it is damaged. Every time! So all my lovely photos that I have been taking with my awesome camera, have been disappearing on a regular basis.

Her Geekyness’ Conclusion

image from techpost.ug

image from techpost.ug

Overall, I think that at KES 24,000 this phone is incredible value for money. From the unwrapping the box experience (kudos for the awesome packaging), the extra accessories (especially the Powerbank), to it’s processing that is fast and robust (even with many apps open). I would buy this phone all over again. ☺ –

-her royal geekiness-

*Wahenga – wise people of the olden days who came up with all the wise quotes and proverbs in Africa (LOL)

*Kabambe – this would be a very simple feature phone, rarely internet-enabled. Most keep charge for days.

From “Just Geeky” to Savvy Entreprenuer

image from www.thefilmthugs.com

image from www.thefilmthugs.com

Your traditional image of a geek overlays comfortably with that of the mad scientist.
Hair unkempt, shabbily groomed, largely introverted and ill at ease in social situations prefers to sit and work away from everyone else, mostly in their bedroom at home. And of course, the compulsory geek glasses.

Your traditional geek (who we shall call Geek. Let’s allow Geek to be a he) is extremely intelligent, comes up with brilliant innovations and products. However, (s) he is largely lacking in social skills, has no idea how to pitch his/her product to a potential investor or partner. Geek has no clue on how to make his product attractive to a client, and is at a loss on how to begin letting people ‘out there’ know that it exists!

Because Geek is brilliant at what he does, he assumes that the market will just gratefully receive his app or e-platform, what with it being the perfect solution to the problems he identified. And tends to get rather easily disillusioned when the client critiques his ‘baby’.

So one day, through referrals, Geek lands his first big client. The down payment is larger than any amount of money he has ever received before! Yes!!! It’s time for Geek to go shopping! It’s time he upgraded from this tired, old computer anyway! A new high-performance smartphone is also necessary. After all, these are the tools of his trade. Connectivity, no?
To Geek’s rude shock, within 3 weeks, (2 weeks before he is done customizing the app for his client), his bank account balance is alarmingly low! Now he has to trudge on with this job, with hardly any of the comfort the down payment was meant to guarantee. Bummer! And who knows when another deal will be closed?

The iHub Jumpstart Series, whose maiden unconference took place on the 4th and 5th September at the iHub, is the answer to Geek’s dilemma.

iHub Hypemaster @Afrowave

iHub Hypemaster @Afrowave

Conceptualized and by Jimmy Gitonga (@afrowave), Jumpstart consisted of eight sessions in total (4 on each day) that were unconventionally facilitated by an expert and a start-up. They were tailored to address Geek’s questions.

• How do I manage my finances?
• How do I protect my idea?
• How do I go about ideation and testing my prototype?
• How do I brand myself and my product?
• How do I pitch to an investor/partner?
• How do I incorporate a company, and register a business/product name?
• Which business model would work for me?
• Where do I get funding?

Bootstrapping 101 with @TheMacharia

Bootstrapping 101 with @TheMacharia

The expert addressed the how-to, while the start-up gave their experience on the topic, including challenges and how they overcame them. The participants engaged the speakers in vibrant debates, sometimes having to stop on account of time.

The Branding session by Fadi (@fadzter) of @ARKnative is the expert session that stood out to yours truly. Simple. Clear. I understood not only what a brand is, but I felt I could verbalize the whole vague concept that is branding.

The start-up session that I enjoyed the most was Macharia’s (@TheMacharia) bootstrapping session. A candid poignant narration of his PesaTalk experience.

The iHub jumpstart series shall be a quarterly affair with the next one expected in December.

~Her Royal Geekiness~

HTC Sensational Rant

I had wanted a HTC phone for the longest time. Word was it was a true techie’s phone. Built for excellence. HTC did not even mass-produce phones like it’s counterpart in Android; Samsung.

image from Google

image from Google

No, they made quality, targeted gadgets. Any techie worth his (or in my case her) salt should be rocking that brand of a phone! This was from a college classmate of mine (which makes him a techie, too) whose name I shall not mention on here. He had been using his HTC Onex for about 6 months.

Buying a smartphone, the smart way

So after a particularly good gig, I was all set to buy my first real smartphone. I had smartphones before but hey, I was finally getting my HTC. I did my window shopping and finally got a Z104e  at the best bargain around. I wanted white, but they only had it in black. The Sony Experia Arc, which is the other phone I was considering getting, had a screen of 4.92in compare to HTC’s 4.96, with a higher resolution of 540 x 960 pixels to the Experia’s 480 x 854 pixels. For me, with screens, the bigger the better. But the Experia came in white, which was more than I could say for the Sensation.

Sony Experia Arc

image from Google

The HTC claimed superior battery capacity with talk time of 8.25 hours to the Experia’s 7.41 hours.

Then to crown it all my Sensation (I was already calling it that) boasted a  Dual core, 1200 MHz, processor. To the Experia’s mere Single core, 1400 MHz I was hooked.

My HTC experience

When I got my gadget I could hardly wait to charge it and use it! I was going out on a date that evening. Rather than wait until I got home and charge it there, I gave it to the waitress to charge it for me while my date and I chatted so I could start using it ASAP.

Battery life

This was a shocker to me. I mean, I knew it was a smartphone with all those superior features. Therefore it could do so much more that an ordinary phone, which was a strain on the battery. But seriously? On a trip to the office, which ordinarily takes 1.5 hours, I had mobile data on, and tweeted, Whatsapped and responded to the occasional GTalk chat. On getting there  I was on 25% or so battery. Then annoyingly on attempting to take a photo, the phone told me that since battery was lower than 30%, I could not use flash. So much for indoor photography.

Heartbreak

Then came the heartbreak. About 4 months into the use of the phone, this phone that I protected like a baby. Silicone cover, and I still had the original screen protector.( I know it came with corning Gorilla glass – aka scratch proof glass but I was not taking any chances.). So about 4 months of using my phone, the unspeakable happened. It hung! I was smack in the middle of typing a text, the keyboard stopped responding. I tried going back to the home screen, and that didn’t respond.

Not wanting to think too much about what this meant, I did a hard reboot (pressed down the power button until the phone went off then switched on).  It responded.

But over the next 2 days, the problem recurred enough times to be a real pain in my behind.  I synced my contacts, emailed myself all the texts I thought I needed to refer to, then – FACTORY RESET.

That gave me reprieve for a day or two, then back to the same story.

I gave it to someone who rooted it. (Lost all my texts and non-synced contacts) The hanging persisted. Things were getting to a point where I couldn’t receive calls sometimes because the screen would just not respond.

Oh yes, and my earphones only worked a couple of times, then the left earpiece went mute, and the charger head died within a week of usage.

Not a singular problem

One day after a particularly annoying episode with my phone, I went on a rant on Twitter. Turns out, about 5 of my friends with different models of the phone, and a few other random tweeps all had nasty things to say about theirs’.

One has a One X  (It takes the best pics by the way) (Did I mention that mine tended to take washed out pics half the time?) suddenly messed up her contacts. Most names disappeared and some numbers got matched to the wrong names. Don’t ask me how that happened.

Another one has a One X, which he does not use anymore because it “randomly hangs and sometimes just dies”.

My friend who has the exact same model as me experienced hanging for 2 weeks (this despite factory reset and uninstalling unnecessary apps) and now it’s dead. Won’t respond to charging, poking or prodding.

The only person who seems to be enjoying his HTC, one year down the line is my techie friend who convinced me to buy one in the first place.

I asked everybody I saw with different models of HTC about their experience for about a month (about 15 handsets) and most of them mentioned hanging, and lousy battery.

Might never happen again

So while I acknowledge that HTC phones have tons of really cool features – the swipe keyboard, the muted ringtone on pickup, the louder ringing while in bag/pocket, the loudspeaker on flipping the phone – way cool.

It is very unlikely that I will fork out any of my hard earned cash for a HTC phone. Especially because I am yet to hear of HTC going public and admitting any flaws in their hardware or firmware, and for that matter, recalling any model.

-her royal geekiness-