The #Mindspeak that was

16th  February  2013, saw the assembly of great minds in an event coined mind speak, a bid to encourage the undecided 4.3 million Kenyan voters, also called the swing voters of 2013, to vote and avoid a runoff election which may bear out to be a very bad bet for Kenya’s development. The event was held at the intercontinental hotel hosted by Aly Khan Satchu with John Githongo as the main guest. The event pulled participants from different walks of life with the youth constituting a large part of the audience which was  quite impressive, that they(the youth) have decided to take charge and get involved in issues affecting them rather than leaving the decision making to the older generation.
The event attracted public interest as witnessed in social media especially twitter. It was meant to sensitize the public on issues concerning governance and most importantly, the value of choosing our leaders based on merit rather than on tribal lines. John Githongo touched on a couple of issues regarding the coming elections and I quote ‘’the cost of opting not to vote this election is very expensive considering it’s a very tight race’’
Light was shed on the distressing fact that voting is left for the unwaged and the low class and that we are being governed by leaders who were voted for by a diminutive part of the population as the middle class always opts out of participating in elections. He also observed that with the intricacy of the coming elections, it’s critical that the middle class votes as their vote could sway the outcome and we could have a clear winner with the first round. Mr. John Githongo urged everyone to get out and vote saying that each vote counts regardless of tribe for security, stability and peace. We undeniably cannot meet the expense of going through what we witnessed in 2007 as Kenyans have what it takes to make the elections peaceful.
Being on the verge of a huge takeoff, with oil discoveries, our primary asset is our young energetic and enterprising people. To ensure that the environment is favorable for development and to avoid plunging the country into political and economic instability, each person needs to vote, so we can avoid runoff elections. It is possible, let no one sit this one out, it’s your constitutional right to elect your leaders, vote in your interest and be an ingredient of this approaching historic moment.

Chrome can now ‘talk’ to Firefox

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Google chrome can now” talk” to Firefox. This is now possible for the reason that we now have the WebRTC technology that allows your browser to access your computers microphone and camera. WebRTC is an open-source project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera. The API and underlying protocols are being developed jointly at the W3C and IETF.
This technology brings clear crispy voice, sharp high-definition video and low-delay communication to the browser. The common objective of this technology is to help developers offer affluent, secure communications, integrated straight into their web apps.
To try out this you will need the Chrome 25 beta or the Firefox Nightly. Additionally, in Firefox, you’ll need to go to about:config and set the media.peerconnection.enabled pref to “true”. Then head over to the WebRTC demo site and start calling.

Mozilla App Day

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If you’re a developer interested in web technologies, you should plan to attend and participate in the Nairobi Firefox OS App Day. The Nairobi Firefox OS App Day is part of global Firefox OS App Days; a worldwide set of 20+ hack days organized by Mozilla to help you get started developing apps for Firefox OS.
At each App Day event, you’ll have the opportunity to learn, hack and celebrate Firefox OS, Mozilla’s open source operating system for the mobile web. Technologists and developers from Mozilla will present tools and technology built to extend and support the Web platform, including mobile Web APIs to access device hardware features such as the accelerometer.
Interested participants will also be shown how to use the browser-based Firefox OS Simulator to view and test mobile apps on the desktop.
Firefox OS App Days are a chance to kick start creation of apps for the Firefox Marketplace, and represent a great opportunity to build new apps or optimize existing HTML5 apps for Firefox OS, as well as demo your projects to an audience of peers, tech leaders and innovators.
This event has been organized by exciting local Mozilla Reps who are helping organize these events in partnership with Deutsche Telecom and Telefónica, who are supporting a number of them across the World.
How to Sign Up
Firefox OS App Days launch on 19th January 2013 and continue all through up to 2nd February 2013, with the majority of the events taking place on 26th January 2013 globally.
This wiki page  has a master list of all the events and their registration forms, from Sao Paulo to Warsaw to Nairobi to Wellington — and a host of others.
Find the App Day nearest you and register. Venue capacities vary across the world but most are limited to 100 attendees with invites being served on a first come first served basis. This is not an opportunity you want to miss.

Getting Ready
To participate, one only needs to come with the following:
1.    A laptop which you will be working on during the event
2.    An idea for an app you’d like to develop for the Firefox Marketplace
If you have an Android device, bring that along with you too. You can see the Firefox Marketplace in action on the Aurora version of Firefox for Android.

For anyone interested in getting started before the event, below are some useful resources that will help you start off.
1.    Hacking Firefox OS
2.    Firefox OS Docs
3.    Firefox Apps Docs
4.    Firefox Marketplace Developer Hub
5.    Firefox OS Simulator

Alternatively bring a HTML5 app that you’ve begun and want to continue, get feedback on or recruit co-developers for.

About Mozilla:
Mozilla is a global community dedicated to building free, open source products and technologies that improve the online experience for people everywhere. We work in the open with a highly disciplined, transparent and cooperative development process, under the umbrella of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation. As a wholly owned subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation organizes the development and marketing of Mozilla products. This unique structure has enabled Mozilla to financially support and cultivate competitive, viable community innovation. For more information, visit http://www.mozilla.org

First day at the Asian tiger, Singapore

It was my first time in Singapore and the thing I wanted to see the most is the status of this Asian tiger since I hear that Kenya was at par economically with Singapore in the 60s. To set the record straight, it is abusive to compare Singapore with Kenya even from the air you breathe while you arrive at the airport let alone the airport itself which is a 13km2 monster. Anyway, we possibly will enlarge our own  JKIA but the land grabbers would not let us do it. Just before we land the pilot does his usual thing of briefing us about the weather outside but this one was a modified edition strictly for Singapore since it had the ‘chilling’ statement; “Ladies and gentlemen, drugs in Singapore are illegal and if you are caught with any, capital punishment shall be administered”

To hell with that, I am not the Kabogos and Mwaus. As I proceed to the V hotel Lavender I meet with the Mozilla chairlady Mitchel Baker at the metro station and she shows us our way to there. Yes that is how Mozillians role! I freshen up and head to the Youth Park where the reception of the ~ 200 Mozillians is done. On my way there, I could notice other Mozillians along the way at least from their T-shirts.

The first item in the wait in line was the country faire where all countries present what they have been doing at their respective geographies. From Mozilla stuff to cultural stuff and other awesome stuff. The most memorable part of the night is the Gangnam style dance by some random Mozillians and trust me they can dance. Our choreographer Rowe was awesome and the Gangnam style sinks home within few minutes.

My Wordcamp Experience

Wordcamp 2012 was bigger and better than any I have attended in Kenya! By my own judging, there were more people attending, a better environment and the rooms were awesome. The food was also plenty yet we were in Kamba land :) Most of the presentations were awe-inspiring and the evening of  Saturday got better at the bonfire which was by the swimming pool.
The key message I got from Word camp was;  content and internet access via mobile is a key aspect when devising ways to propagate content in Africa. Top amongst them all was “Be a positive influence” which was delivered in soft copy by word of mouth and as hard copies on the T-shirts.
My most out of the ordinary bit was the “night I was exorcised”. Kumbe watu wanaweza fungua roho bila kulima drinks (so folks can talk w/o taking one for the road!). It was a session I would like to attend anytime in the future. The message across the room was clear that 2007/08 was a trying moment for this nation and that nailed the message home to be the +ve influence on social media.
Let me now share some memorable quotes I took with me:
“Social media has given a voice to the voiceless, but at the same time it is a privilege that should not be abused.”
“Whatever is illegal offline is still illegal online”
“The Kenyan bloggers can shape the consciousness of Kenya people. Everyone has a role;If u try you may loose, if you don’t you have lost”
“Politicians promise to build bridges even where rivers do not exist”
All in all  this year’s theme was well-timed, well-put and well-presented. See you all at next year’s Wordcamp.

My Wikimedia Universe/.

For the time I have been contributing to Wikipedia, I would say most of the time has been spent learning how stuff works and I can say that it is only now that I can make very meaning full contributions. By no means am I implying that the simple typo corrections or Wikignome work is useless, every contribution is definitely important and very welcome. I have been thinking of how long the time ticks away for folks to learn without compromising any fundamentals like the copyvio laws and other aspects of Wikipedia contributions.

Africa‘s coverage is minimal or quite low because of lack of awareness of Wikimedia in this part of the world. And the ones aware of it are lost on where to start or how to proceed. To increase coverage from this part of the world we need contributors who cannot just edit an article but those that can do much more advanced stuff like create templates, nav boxes, category trees, advice on Coypvios, answer OTRS queues, offer support in Wikiprojects and so on. I would propose this project be undertaken under the English Wikipedia since it is well mature with all the structures in shape. After users get to know the mechanisms and structures there, then they can move on to other Wikipedia languages that serve African languages.

I once had the privilege to give a talk to librarians and professors in Tanzania in 2011. At first I thought 2 hours was a lot to give the talk, it later spilled on to have Wikipedia sessions for the whole day and the participants were still begging for more in the evening. The talk involved hands on sessions with practicals and it was quite an enjoyable experience for me and the attendees. I was later sent the report of the whole workshop and the Wikipedia day was voted the best of the sessions. ‘..From then I discovered that it is possible to summarize work done on 4 million articles in just a day:-)..’ I have a copy of the report from the organizers and I cannot upload it to commons since am not certain of its license :-(

Wikipedia in itself does not work alone but it depends on other projects like Wikimedia commons, meta wiki and the other Wikimedia projects.

There is a lot to learn in this ‘Wikimedia universe’. I have tried to break down most of the stuff into the packages as below;

  • All Wikimedia projects with an incline on the most important/popular/most used
  • Editing — GOCE, Wikification, Wikignomes, Wikimark-up
  • Programming — JS scripts, mediawiki extensions, CSS, Bots
  • Internet based tools — IRCs, Mailing lists (Public and Private lists), QR Pedia,
  • Law — Copyrights, Creatice commons, BLP policies
  • Librarians — Categorization and other info organization methods
  • Translations — The multilingual Wikimedia projects are, the closer we get to “..Sum of all human knowledge in a language at least everyone can understand..”
  • Media — Commons, WLM, Wikipedia Takes Cities
  • AGF — The cornerstone of Wikimedia
  • The chapters — WCA, Governance
  • Wikipedia tools – STiki, Wikipedia Cleaner, Huggle, AWB, Igloo to mention but just a few
  • The Wikipedia interface
  • Wikipedia structures – Wikiprojects, Templates, Essays,

I believe approaching Wikipedia in this manner  will bring more contributors on board and make the existing from this part of the world more productive.

My opinion anyway.

4 MILLION!

Woot Woot! We are at 4 million articles in the quest to compile the sum of all human knowledge. Wikipedia is in  deed an idealized perfection bringing togetW letterher so many and so diverse to built it. Having been founded in 2001 by Jimmy Whales and Larry Sanger, it is now the largest on-line collaborative work in progress. With 4 million articles, we are in deed getting closer to the sum of all human knowledge mark. This milestone came during this years Wikimania and it gave the Wikipedia editors that nice and blissful feeling of having pressed the [[edit]] button and even better for those who pressed it for their first time at Wikimania! Most eyes were on new pages log trying to catch the 4 millionth entry and when it clocked it was all ululations at Wikimania in Washington DC. This time the lucky article was Izbat Al Burj which was authored by User:Meno25.

I cannot forget the previous millions from previous years; 1M articles (Jordanhill railway station) on March 1, 2006,, 2M articles (El Hormiguero) on September 13, 2007 and 3M articles (Beate Eriksen) on August 17, 2009. The next question is which Wikipedia language out of the 282 shall be next to achieve their next million?