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Internet Cafes with Linux

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nokia - The Journey to the Gallows Continues

Like a person condemned to the gallows, Nokia solemnly sojourns to its decline. Today, Bloomberg reports the company has had its debt rating reduced for the first time by Standard and Poors from A to A-. Since 1998, S&P had always ranked the company A.

This new rating is a result of "market share losses and “weaker” operating margins at the Finnish company," said S&P. Is anybody surprised? Nokia's share prices have dropped significantly since Steven Ellop announced the company's partnership (or sellout?) with Microsoft to use the latter's WP7 for all its smartphone strategies.

A huge Samsung Galaxy tab billboard mounted at
Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah Circle

Anybody who has been a real, loyal Nokia customer for a long time knows the company committed a big strategic blunder by "jumping from the burning platform" to Windows phone 7. As to how Elop and the Nokia board are convinced a late to the game, untested platform from Redmond will redeem them, I don't know. But one thing remains constant: Nokia is being beaten on all fronts.
Come second half of this year, Apple will be introducing the iPhone 5, and we all know for how long this is going to be news headline. Android continues on the ascendancy, the so called "we make our monies from low end phones" is being neutralized by Samsung, especially in Africa. Announcing a big corporate strategy shift like this without having a phone on hand is a big meh at the very least.

As anybody who has used any of the company's groundbreaking phones that were released long before the advent of both Android and iPhone knows, Nokia's only hope is to return to doing what it does best: be the trail blazer it was. Be the company that introduced phones like 6600, E90, N93 and recently, the almighty N900. Seriously, how could a company with these phones to its credit ever find itself wanting and believe its salvation lies in an outside developed platform?

Again, my personal message to the Nokia board (Elop is too Microsoft for my liking) is simple. Go back to the days when your phones were more like James Bond gadgets than real phones. If you can't make a head or tail of MeeGo, you still have Maemo, that outstanding OS based on Debian, use it. But for your own sake, do not put all your smartphone strategy in the Windows Phone 7 basket. Your new partner looks to me like the inverse of King Midas.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 4 comments

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MeeGo Coding Competition 2011

The wait is over!

We are proud to announce the MeeGo Coding Competition 2011!

As successor it will follow the good example of the community driven Maemo Coding Competition 2010. Quim Gil wrote lot of good things about this "grass roots community success".

To make this year's competition bigger and better, we urge all MeeGo enthusiasts to organize events during the MeeGo Coding Competition 2011 in their Local MeeGo Network. We are sure that Intel and Nokia are going to assist you doing that. Please contact us, to get in touch with Intel and Nokia.

The Local MeeGo Network Berlin has planned the following events using the name "MeeGo Freeday":

Coding Qt
Qt is a framework for a cross-platform application development. Qt is pre-installed on our beloved Nokia N900. Software development using Qt is also possible for MeeGo, Symbian and WebOS. All these platforms support Qt. There are also libraries for desktop systems, like Windows, Mac OS and Linux available. Unofficially, it is also running on Android and iOS.

Therefore, Qt is a very good base if you want to publish your app on as many platforms as possible!

You never coded using Qt? You are already a Qt pro and want to work with Qt developers? You still have questions? Then come to the Qt Workshop on 01 April 2011 in the c-base in Berlin! The Qt gurus of Qt Berlin are present and help you with advice and support! By all this Qt-iness don’t forget the next step: publish your app in the largest MeeGo AppStores: Intel AppUp and Nokia Ovi.

Nokia Ovi Workshop
Therefore, on 15 April 2011 there will be the Ovi workshop also in the c-base in Berlin. In this workshop Nokia's specialists will teach you the process of publishing your app to the Ovi-Store.
Then you are a true Ovi professional. And who knows? Maybe there will be new info about Nokia's secret MeeGo / Maemo device?

Intel AppLab
On 29 April 2011, we bring you the Intel AppLab to Berlin (of course also in the c-base)!
During the AppLab coding examples are shown and you will submit your app to the Intel AppUp store. At previous AppLabs developers got MeeGo hardware to take home. This time? Come and see for yourself!

Think global, act local
The MeeGo Coding Competition is not an event restricted to Berlin! Everyone can and should participate! Just as in Berlin, Local MeeGo Events and Intel AppLabs will take place in other cities countries. Moreover, the events in Berlin will be streamed live.

But apart from the educational events and the fun at coding what it’s in for you? ... A lot!

Developers of promising apps will probably receive a MeeGo device.

If you will be selected by the community as one of the main winners, you will fly to the MeeGo Conference in November and sleep there in a nice hotel. There you will meet a lot of like-minded. Without having to pay a single cent.

If Nokia likes your app, they will preinstall it on their first MeeGo device!

But even if you won’t win one of the main prizes, that does not mean you get nothing! We will have cash prizes this time, too. Independent of sponsorship funds, last time the community extensively donated. About $ 1000.00 came together! Will we be able to beat this record-sum this year?

Procedure and rules of MeeGo Coding Competition 2011

To ensure that the event runs properly, there are a few essential rules:

  • Only individuals may participate. Companies are excluded from the competition because of equity reasons.
  • If you have coded your app in the team and you win on of the travels to the MeeGo Conference, your team has to designate a person as the winner.
  • Any number of apps can be submitted and elected as winner.
  • Apps must be uploaded as executable including at least two screen shots and a brief description on a yet to be named website to be take part of the election. The applications have to run on default hardware running on an official version of Maemo or MeeGo.
  • All applications, which are created and uploaded during the duration of the Competition will take part in the election.
  • For existing programs, only progress which has been made during the Competition will be considered.
  • When porting apps. only the work of porting will be considered, unless the original program comes from the same programmer and was developed or extended in this period.
  • The Competition runs from 01 April 2011 to 30 June 2011. After that the winners will be selected by the community.
  • Only users of maemo.org and meego.com who are registered for at least four months are entitled to vote.
  • There is no legal right to win.

More details regarding the election process to follow.
All new information regarding the Competition will be published first on http://meetmeego.org and shortly afterwards here.

Ready? Set, go! Grab your PC, start to hack and show us your app!

You still have questions? Contact us!
or here!

Thread on Talk.Maemo.Org.

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to copy Flash Video in Firefox 4

Earlier this week Mozilla finally released the long-awaited Firefox 4. With Firefox 3 on Ubuntu I used to be able to copy a flash video that was still open in a Firefox tab from cache using

cp /tmp/Flash ~/Videos/

To my surprise the same did not work with Firefox 4. It seems the problem is related to FlashPlayer 10.2. Apparently the cached file gets flagged as deleted:

lsof | grep deleted

plugin-co 4292 user 17u REG 8,6 18987840 3801105 /tmp/FlashXXJ3YUk0 (deleted)

The solution I ended up with is to use /proc, pid and fd like this:

cp /proc/4292/fd/17 ~/Videos/

It should work as long as the flashed tab is still open in Firefox.

You can install Firefox 4 by adding the 'mozillateam' ppa using:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-stable


sudo apt-get update

After this you can install Firefox 4 or simply upgrade if you already have Firefox 3 installed.

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OER Commons - Find and Share Open Educational Resources

OER Commons is a place where both students and teachers alike can find and use freely available educational resources for all levels of education.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse, without charge. Open Educational Resources are different from other resources a teacher may use in that OER have been given limited or unrestricted licensing rights. That means they have been authored or created by an individual or organization that chooses to retain few, if any, ownership rights...OER often have a Creative Commons or GNU license that state specifically how the material may be used, reused, adapted, and shared

OER Commons features among others

  • Full university courses, complete with readings, videos of lectures, homework assignments, and lecture notes.
  • Interactive mini-lessons and simulations about a specific topic, such as math or physics.
  • Adaptations of existing open work.
  • Electronic textbooks that are peer-reviewed and frequently updated.
  • Elementary school and high school (K-12) lesson plans, worksheets, and activities that are aligned with state standards
I personally find this site very useful and has come in handy in both my personal and academic capacities. Registration very simple and once registered, you have access to a whole new world of knowledge repository without needing to worry so much about licensing issues.

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Monday, March 21, 2011

What's In It for Me? Benefits from Open Sourcing Code

If you are considering riding on the back of open source to add value to your business but still remain undecided, Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick, speakers at Google Speaker Series discuss what's in it for you. Why you should consider open sourcing your code and the various methods of doing so.

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

How Open Source Projects Can Survive Poisonous People

Every open source project runs into people who are selfish, uncooperative, and disrespectful. These people can silently poison the atmosphere of a happy developer community. In this video, Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick help you identify these people and peacefully de-fuse them before they derail your project. 

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Minitube - A Lightweight Youtube Desktop Client

With its slogan being "there's life outside the browser", Minitube is a lightweight desktop client for accessing Youtube videos. Its main interface is similar to Google in that it only has a big search box where you type in a term for your video and it do the searching for you. 

Alternatively, you can also enter the name of a channel in the box to start watching its videos. Minitube is also capable of showing videos with resolutions from 360p to 1080p. Not relying on Flash, it leaves a low footprint on system resources.

You can also download videos in MP4 file format using Minitube. Aiming to be a TV more than just an interface, Minitube is a must have app if you are a huge consumer of Youtube videos (and who's not anyway?). 

Minitube is already available in the Ubuntu repos, but is outdated. You can get the latest version, 1.4 by
  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:neversfelde/minitube
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get install minitube

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

How to Install VLC Media Player on the N900

VLC, being the mother of all media players, can also run on the N900 as well. To get it installed, first download the files from here (it's a torrent file).
  • Open the terminal and run as root
  • Then simply use dpkg -i .deb to install the files.
  • You might want to first navigate to the directory in which you saved the file in case you did not save it in the root of MyDocs (now why would you not?).

Of course you'd need to change to the name of the files you just downloaded. To reduce the amount of typing you'll do on the terminal, you might want to rename the downloaded VLC files in simple terms like VLC1, VLC2 etc.

After running all of them, you should see VLC on the list of menu items or under multimedia if you have Catorise installed.

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Organize The Nokia N900 Menu with Catorise

By default, the menu on the N900 simply lists all the packages you have in an uncategorised manner. When the list of your installed packages begin to increase, navigating the menu can be a real pain of an exercise.

To bring some sanity to your menu, you might want to install Catorise. You can either use Hildon Application Manager, Faster Application Manager or open a terminal and running as root, type sudo apt-get install catorise.

As the name may imply, what it does is to categorise your installed packages into their group or category.

So for instance, when you install VLC, it is added to the Multimedia sub-menu. This keeps your menu organised, easy to navigate and eye pleasing.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Updating Clamav databases - Freshclam

When installing Clamav, one of the difficulties people encounters is to update the virus definitions.

The Clamav antivirus is composed of several virus signature files, the databases of viruses.

They are:
main.cvd, released on 14/11/2010 and the one that has the basis of virus signatures.
daily.cvd, which is updated daily, with the latest virus signatures.
bytecode.cvd, which is a file used to implement complex signatures of viruses, to search several variants of a virus (mutations or polymorphic)
safebrowsing.cvd, which is a signature file that implements connection with Google Safe Browsing, and is updated daily.

One of the files, main.cvd is updated when there's the release of new versions of clamav, the most recent is version 0.97, released in November 2010.
Other files, however, are updated daily. Therefore, to have a reliable protection, you need to update the databases of clamav as often as possible.
But, in most of the cases, one can not upgrade the databases. One of the error messages: "Database not found" - WARNING: getpatch: Can not download daily.cvd / bytecode.cvd / safebrowsing.cvd.

What Happens?
It happens that the default settings of Freshclam (which is the tool to update the database) does not specify the addresses of the several mirrors of the databases of Clamav. The freshclam.conf comes with default settings, and the information regarding the databases is commented  (#).

What to Do?
As root, look for freshclam.conf file in / etc / freshclam.conf and, with your favorite text editor, add the following line:

DatabaseMirror database.clamav.net

This line may be placed below the mirror databases section of clamav. As it is the fallback database (backup database), should work well in any country in the world.

Another configuration  to be made is to enable the download of bytecode.cvd by inserting the following lines:

# This option Enables downloading of bytecode.cvd, Which includes additional
# Mechanisms detection and improvements to the ClamAV engine.
# Default: enabled

Bytecode yes

You can also download the virus definition files directly from the site of Clamav in http://www.clamav.net/lang/en/, and manually download the CVD files one by one  and then copy them (as root) to / var / lib / clamav, which is the default location of virus definitions.
Once configured, run the freshclam command in a terminal as root.
Should solve the problems of updating Clamav.

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By Alessandro Ebersol with 1 comment

Sunday, March 13, 2011

3.5 Reasons Why Identi.Ca Sucks For Me!

Over the last couple of years, I've tried switching to Identi.ca as my primary social media hub but keep failing to do so. A careful look ties the reason to these 3 and half factors.

1. Lack of a mobile friendly site
Unlike Twitter which automatically redirects your browser to it's mobile site depending on its UA, Identi.ca to the best of my knowledge has no such mobile optimized site. There's only one site for using the service which makes it a real pain to acces on a mobile, especially on a slow coonection.

2. Lack of official apps
I don't know if there's any out there, but so far it's only one third party, regularly updated app on Maemo that I know does Identi.ca. Same with a search on the Android market yielding 2 third party apps. I'm not all for the app-craze, but if they won't develop a mobile friendly site, why not have official apps?

3. Link handling
I personally can't for the life of me understand why they'd actually let links open inside the same tab! Like seriously? The thing is basically for sharing, and what we share are links. Why let the thing open in the same tab? I would not have any problem with that if we still were in the days of IE6, but not today when all browsers do tabbed browsing. I can't keep right clicking to open links in another tab!

1/2. Unfriendly
I'm not sure if it's by design, but as a non-coder, non-developer, I always feel that Identi.ca is unfriendly to people of my ilk. With it being heavily patronized by mostly hardcore geeks, I've failed to make any serious friends on there barring just about 2 or so people. I understand this may not be an issue to it's core users, but as an 'outsider' it's a deal breaker for me.

These 3 and half factors have combined to make Identi.ca a secondary interaction platform for me. The day these things are resolved, it sure will be my primary social media and online ommunication hub, but for now...Twitter.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 6 comments

OhLife - An Easy Way to Keep A Journal of Your Life

If you're like me who religiously starts every year with an unflinching resolution to keep a journal of your life but can't even find your diary by the 10th of Jan, then OhLife is a tool for you.

What this does is upon sighning up, they send you an email at the end of everyday with a simple question: "how did your day go?" Simply reply to that mail with how your day went or anything at all you'd enter in a diary.

That reply you send becomes a journal entry neatly arranged in your OhLife account. The entries are arranged chronologically similar to a diary for easy reference.

So from now on, if you don't have the time to keep a physical diary for your life journals, then OhLife is definitely worth a try.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nokia and JA - Helping Connect Young Entrepreneurs in Ghana

Norwegian Students Visit Ghana to Sign Partnership Deal with Ghanaian Counterparts

An initiative by a not-for-profit organization JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT and NOKIA to encourage the youth in Ghanaian secondary schools (high schools) develop interest in entrepreneurship seems to be yielding fruits. Known as the Enterprise without Borders (EwB), the initiative aims at helping to build entrepreneurial partnership between schools in Africa, Middle East, Europe and the United States of America. Under the initiative, student enterprises are set up, and they engage in cross-border businesses via the internet.

One of such student enterprises, Half and Half Trade at Lambertseter Secondary School in Oslo, Norway are in Ghana to among other things, sign a joint venture agreement with a Ghanaian student enterprise GIANT LINK. They will also participate in diverse cultural activities. Giving further detail about the EwB initiative, the Executive Director of JA, Jefferson Agbai explained that the cross border international partnerships are facilitated through the Enterprise without Borders (EwB) portal. 

Teachers and students register for participation and students upload their company profiles and enter an entrepreneurial dating game. Mr. Agbai said the EwB is about students sharing good ideas, selling each other’s products in each others’ markets and visiting their markets. The portal operates as a web-shop. The products and services of the companies registered can all be viewed there.

On his part, the Head of Communications for Nokia West Africa, Osagie Ogunbor said Nokia is proud to be associated with the EwB initiative, which essentially promotes innovation and creativity among youths. He said the values being promoted among the youths through the Enterprise without Borders are in sync with Nokia values.

The EwB, which began in Ghana in 2009, has reached over 200 students across the five regions of Ghana. The coordinator of EwB in Ghana Kwabena Kugblenu disclosed that 14 student enterprises were created in the 2009/2010 academic session. He said Junior Achievement has concluded plans to get more students involved in the Enterprise without Borders initiative. He thanked Nokia for the sponsorship, which he said has helped a great deal in sustaining the programme.

About Junior Achievement® (JA) 
Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programs for students which focus on three key content areas: work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Today, 137 individual area operations reach more than four million students in the United States, with an additional five million students served by operations in 123 other countries worldwide. For more information, visit JA

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Internet - Leveling the Playing Field For Africans

There is no doubt that despite the relative high cost of bandwidth here in Africa, the Internet has become a big blessing to everyday Africans like myself and almost a billion others out there.

For a long time, we've had to contend with a myriad of obstacles in getting access to information and knowledge for various ends. For instance, it's now just a matter of goolgling one's question to have access to milions of resources, an exercise that takes a maximum of one minute.

Contrast that with times past when one had to travel physically to the local library (if there's any your community) and pray there are books there that matter to your quest. I once walked into an internet cafe and was very happy to see a young girl of about 12 years old reading an article on Wikipedia about the periodic table. Chances are this girl will forever keep turning to the Internet for almost all her academic work and research.

There is almost not a sphere of our lives here that has not yet been influenced by the modern virtual world. From health to education to politics, the Internet has permeated and is here to stay. Of course it also comes with it negative effects, with the popular being what we term in local parlance as 'Sakawa' or Internet fraud.

That notwithstanding, the benefits that the Internet bestows upon Africans far outweigh its detriments. However, the net as we know it, is under threat from an African perspective, and this threat is none other than what I prefer calling the app craze.

Rather than focusing on creating easily accessible applications and content irrespective of device and platform, we're seeing an increasing shift to locked down systems where one is coaxed into the use of apps to get the best of that platform. Of course if you live in an environment where you're surrounded by people wielding N1s and iPhone 4s, apps might be cool.

However, when you're still surrounded by people wielding monochrome phones with browsers that only display WAP pages, you begin to get worried at the app craze trend.

With an almost level playing field with contemporaries in advanced countries, the power of the Internet as a universal platform may not live long if the app craze currently raging is not countered by us (Africans) through the development of services, infrastructure, content and platforms that are suited to our perculiar conditions and context. Yes the Internet is leveling the playing field for everyday Africans, but we've got work to do to sustain that.

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ubuntu Linux - Not yet a Pariah but heading there

Yes, the most popular Linux distro is working hard to become the pariah of the FOSS community. To give you a typical example, take the case of the GNOME / UNITY switch.

If I were Shuttleworth, I'd not ship Ubuntu with my in-house DE just yet. I'd rather ship the usual GNOME but put a small script somewhere to inform users that "look, we're planning on shipping our own DE but think it's not ready yet. We'll need all the feedback we can get from you before shipping it as default. Click here if you want to install Unity and help us test."

That is how you ship something as default that digesses radically from the norm. How much testing can be done between now and April? Why the rush to ship Unity when the effort used to develop it can be contributed to GNOME? Of course I know there's always been a not so cordial relationship between Ubuntu and the upstream GNOME devs, but that is still not an excuse.

Then there is the case of that bloated music player called Banshee. A player that virtually crawls on my 1GB laptop is going to be shipped as default, and even that choice was also mirred in controversy. Did Canonical think because Apple can get away with whatever percentage it charges app devs using its app store so they can as well?

Oh but I forgot! Ubuntu takes a lot of inspiration from Apple? Remember the window button switch? Or the default themes? Ah yes Mac OS. I really like Ubuntu. It's the only distro that I've used consistently on my personal computer and really admire the philosophy upon which it was founded. Hey the word Ubuntu is from my continent Ok? :-D.

That not withstanding however, I honestly can't just understand why Canonical keeps committing one blunder after the other. Yes I'm aware the company must eventually make profit, but the strategy used to attain that goal should not be such that will alienate it from the community that is its lifeline! Errors are bound to be made, but are we learning from them as we ought to?

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By Seraaj Muneer with 5 comments

How to Fix the Android Market Issue on NITDroid Gingerbread

When you install the Nokia Internet Tablet version of Android, the Market somehow does not come with the complete catalogue of applications. To see this, try searching for an app like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.

You'll need to clear the Market app's cache and Google Services Framework data to correct this issue. To do that

    Go to Settings-- Manage Applications

    Click on the tab that says to see the list of all installed apps.

    Click on Market, a new window opens up

    Click on end process, click ok to confirm.

    On the same window, click clear cache, confirm if you are asked

    Then go back to the list of apps and choose Google Services Framework

    Again kill this process

    On the same window, click clear data, confirm when asked.

    Now close all the windows and reboot

Go to the Market and search for the app that you could not find initially, it should now show. If apps still don't show, you'll need to do a few reboots to get things showing.

That's how I got the Market on Gingerbread to show fully all the apps available on the Nokia N900!

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments
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