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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why I love Android

Earlier this week I misplaced my beloved Samsung Nexus S. I only realized when arriving at home my Android device was missing. After a frantic backtracking of the places I had visited just before, the phone was nowhere to be found. Every time I tried to dial the phone I heard it ringing but no one picked it up. I suddenly found myself in great distress as I very much live by my Android phone.

There are several apps for locating a lost Android device. However, they require you to have had the foresight to install the app before the phone is lost which - to my regret - I had not done. So my chance of recovery was looking ever slimmer.

Then, I came across Lookout Labs' Plan B. Lookout Labs claim that Plan B can locate your device after it has been lost even if you did not install it beforehand. Sounds unbelievable right? Well here's the punchline.... it actually worked!

Somehow Lookout Labs has found a way to install the app remotely from a browser via the Android market - pushing the app to the lost device. It will start tracking the device immediately and the phone's GPS location is sent to your Gmail address every minute. If you are unable to locate the device within 10 minutes you need to SMS the word 'locate' to the device and the tracking will continue for another 10 minutes.

Immediately the emails started coming in. I could see the phone was still in the area where I suspected I lost it and from the email updates it became clear the the 'finder' must be on foot following the road. This gave me hope that I could still recover my phone.

I called up a friend for some backup and we got in the car - me with my laptop running a 3G USB modem on my lap tracking the phone.
When we approached the location where Plan B claimed the device was located we saw a man walking towards us on the side of the road. As there were no one else in the vicinity it was apparent that - if Plan B was right - this person had the phone. We pulled over the car and got ready to confront the man. Fortunately, my friend is the level-headed sort and managed to talk the person into revealing that he indeed had picked up the phone and give it back without any hostile confrontation taking place.

You can see some of the screenshots of this quite intensive hunt for the Nexus S below. I just love that Android is open enough to allow Plan B to work. Surely, for most other platforms this would be close to impossible and the device would be unrecoverable. I also admire Lookout Labs for developing Plan B to work as well as it does. Well done!



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Thursday, November 10, 2011

HTML5 and Mobile JSF for the Java Web Developer

With the apparent death of Flash on mobile devices, all eyes are now on the emerging and powerful HTML5 development stack. The following video shows how to use the worlds most widely used programming language - Java- and HTML5 to create near native mobile apps. This video is directed at Java EE developers.

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Sunday, November 6, 2011

To Ghana's Minister of Education- Can we please Open Source the CSSPS?

Hello Madam Betty, this mail is being written to you on an OS called Xubuntu, it's open source and developed by people from all walks of life. The underlying skeleton, or code as it's called, is open for anybody's inspection. Anybody who thinks there's something wrong with it can have a look at the code and if need be, suggest changes that will better the OS for all who use it.


You may be asking why this long preamble? Well because as a youth of this dear country of ours, I always get headaches, heartaches, fever, high blood pressure among others anytime the senior high school placement- you know, that piece of algorithm that supposedly auto selects which school to place every junior high school student- system kicks in every year. To the best of my understanding Madam, that system was put in place to curb the annual frustrations that hard working, tax paying parents of this country go through every year in getting their wards placed in high schools.


That old system we were told- and we agree- was fraught with irregularities, corruption among others thus the need for a computerized system that does all the placements automatically, without any human intervention. Wow, that was an awesome idea for a country that still is technophobe at the government level. Until the computerized system became worse than the old system. You're a witness to it Madam, year in year out, parents keep going through untold agonies because the so called computerized system that we were told could not be comprised, is not doing what it was intended to. Far from it. 


We, and by we, I mean myself and like minded youth like me, don't have any evidence to suggest the computerized selection and school placement system has been compromised. However, what we are humbly demanding as a matter of urgency and desperation is for the system, the entire piece of software that makes up the CSSPS be open sourced. We want the government of the Republic of Ghana to make the code of the CSSPS available as an open source project for anybody to be a watchdog over it. 


We want to be able to see what the code looks like, keep an eye on it so no single entity has complete control over it. We don't know who the government did contract to write that software, but as tax payers, and as a democratic country that prides itself on the tenets of transparency, we the youth of this country want to be vanguards of the code that has been the cause of so much controversy in our educational system for sometime now. 


You may be wondering what's there to gain by open sourcing the code right? Well for starters the government won't need to spend hard cash in paying whoever it contracted to write that code. Me, him, they, us and everybody around the globe can be a maintainer of that code once it goes open source. We save money which can be used elsewhere. Secondly all doubts will be cleared and trust restored in the system. You know for sure parents have lost trust in the entire selection and placement process. They strongly believe the system is corrupted. And what's there to stop them from believing that when only a select few know what the code is like and have access to it?


Third, we can be a model for other African countries when we open source the code. They can look at it,  adapt it to their needs and then on we move as Africa. To give you an example of what open source can do, take a look at that massive, 800lbs gorilla called Google. Yea. That company whose annual revenues is almost equal to our GDP runs on open source. It's a central, necessary part of that company. It's Android OS is a prime example of the power of making code available to all and sundry.


I could go on and on about the benefits of open sourcing the CSSPS. But I know you're hard pressed for time so I'm just going to end here. Just a recap Madam, we're asking that the gov takes the CSSPS project and make it available as open source so the entire nation can be vanguards of the process and we assure you that the entire hiccups that have become a necessary annual ritual and characteristic of this school selection and placement exercise will be a thing of the past in no time. 


This is my first mail to you Madam, but you can bet it won't be last. We're waiting to hear from you. 

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

3 iPhone Apps That Make Divorce Much Easier


Modern-day technology can be of great help when it comes to getting a divorce. The divorce process is not only painful but also quite senseless at times, with people struggling to understand it, and that’s where phone apps come in. Fortunately, Ipod Touch and iPhone users dispose of a number of apps, which are sure to assist in terms of learning new things about the process of divorce.


Cost of divorce
One app worth mentioning is the Cost and Prep App. This app will tell you how much money you will probably end up spending on the divorce, as well as what kind of information you need to have. This can be very helpful because we usually end up spending a lot more than we planned, which is a cause of stress on top of divorce being an extremely stressful event in life as it is. So, this app offers two advantages – you spend less money than you otherwise would, and you face a lower degree of stress.


An app within the one mentioned above, which is called Divorce Cost Estimate, is what helps you establish the costs and differentiate between soft and hard costs. Hard costs are those that can be measured in exact dollar amounts, while soft costs are more subjective – they involve the impact on you personally.


Another feature of this app, Divorce Preparation, gives information on the type of documents you need to get and at which time. You will be told when to file, which documents can be printed off a web site and which cannot.


Estate division
A second useful app for divorcees-to-be is the so-called Estate Divider App. This app is like a calculator in that you can enter the cost of your assets and liabilities depending on how much each of you own and owe. Then you can divide these costs and values based on the percentage of your choice. This app can also give you the values of the alimony, the respective amount in taxes, and whether either of you will be liable for any kind of tax advantages or deductions by structuring and adjusting the alimony payments. The app also lets you email the estate division to your soon-to-be-ex, if you are no longer on speaking terms, and wait for their reply.


Divorce goals
Another option, this one for men only, is the Divorce Source. This app comes with two helpful books on divorce. One feature of the app, Divorce Goals Assistant, lets you set your divorce goals. This includes issues like child custody, division of assets, establishing the divorce cost and more. You can email these to your future ex and your divorce attorney. The app also features access to thousands of family law articles, answers to common and not-so-common questions, and a Family Law Reference Section. The app allows you to find divorce attorneys near you, email stories or share stories on Facebook and more. This app can be used by iPhone and iPad users. Having said all this, do not rely on apps only. Divorce is a very complicated process.


Melissa Dean writes about , Credit Cards in Credit Cards Canada

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