Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Imagine Cup 2009

Imagine Cup 2009 is the premier global student technology competition. Students are challenged to compete in finding ways to apply technology to solving some of the biggest problems faced by humanity today.
The next edition of Imagine Cup (IC 2009), the world's most talented students are challenged to "Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today." This could mean finding creative and innovative ways to use technology to for example, to help a brother or sister get an education, find entirely new approaches for medicine, discover ways to counter the inequalities that exist between genders around the world, deliver universal primary education etc. The challenge is well articulated through the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).
Students can make entries in categories ranging from Software Design, Embedded Development, Game Development, Algorithms and more.
Imagine Cup 2009 finals will be held in Egypt. Teams will advance through local and regional competitions with the best entries in the various areas eventually going for the finals in Egypt. The local competitions will feature local universities facing off and the best teams in each category making it to te regional competition. At the regional competition, students from different universities in the region who have qualified in their local regional competition will battle it out and eventually the winning teams will advance to the finals.
Winning teams at the finals will win prizes including cash prizes and a chance to carry their projects to the next level through Microsoft Innovation Accelerator program. Needless to say, teams which make it to the finals get great international exposure (including chances at internships, for example) and a great addition to the student's experience.
The more the entries made and the more diverse the entries (both within a category and across all categories), the better. You are therefore urged to encourage as many students as possible to form teams, register and participate. Teams are usually composed of 4 participants and a mentor. More details, including competition rules can be found on the Imagine Cup website here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Round Up : November-December TechScene

It's been two months of buzz, excitement, relief and disappointment for some. Not having been able to catch as much as a breath, I've decided to melt it all into a Round-Up, hopefully informative.

Information and Communications Bill
When the village-cryer's house is burning, he wails loudest! The fourth estate seem to be outdoing themselves this time round. Ofcourse we are all sad that they're getting the proverbial gag but in all honesty they seem to forget that they are mandated by their audience to give both the good and bad news as relates to this bill. I echo Al Kag's views on this issue. You may as well have a look at the draft -I still can't trace the final one- yourself and draw your own interpretations to be on the safe side. Again, it is not the 'Media Bill'!
Warning: A very long read!
Interesting debates on the BidiiAfrika, KICTAnet and Skunkworks Mailing Lists as well.

Econet - YU
Are YU serious? They'd need to do a whole lot better than that to make me even think to Vuka! First, they begin by an offer to register/reserve your preferred number. IMO, too much personal data being collected. Why should I tell my ID No., Current No., e-mail address? Who else wants to know. Just Paranoid... spam... overzealous sms marketing... who knows? Someone give me Unlimited 3G, then we can talk. So what if they charge 0.50 less than InZain(read Zain-Ke).
However, I've got to admit it's kind of cool to have, say, my number is 0750-EDOBIE (0750-336243) or 0750-OMINGO (0750-664646), huh, Omingosh! Now, off to reserve all those Blue-Chip Co.'s names who're sleeping on the job!!!

PS: Omingosh (read Oh-My-Ngosh... not related to my name)

Orange - 3G iPhone Launched
Another bunch of jokers! 
In the US the 3G iPhone 8GB costs US$199 and 16GB costs 
US$299. These come with the cheapest basic plan of US$74.99 per month which includes 200SMS, internet and 450 'whenever minutes' and 5000 'weekend/night minutes'! Post-Paid ofcourse.
In Kenya though to buy your post-paid 16GB iPhone you'd part with KSh.59,200(US$765) or 8GB at a cost of KSh.50,400(US$650) exclusive of monthly charges. On pre-paid it's however cheaper though still a taad too expensive compared at 16GB-KSh.42,700(US$550) and KSh.8GB at 33,900(US$440). How are we supposed to afford 'technology' at these prices with a foreboding economic  recession?

And why the discrepancy(a.k.a. Cow in the Living-Room)? 
(USD Rate@16Dec=KSh.77.40)

M-Pesa Wars
In the absence of a Finance Minister, the acting FM is one rattled snake whose prepared to bite abit more than he can chew(ama snakes don't chew... ). The success of M-Pesa in the country which has already been exported to Afghanistan and planned to 
expand to the UK and EastAfrican region will not be realised without some set-backs first. In a move to regulate the industry in fear of money laundering the Government is going to ruin the very basis M-Pesa's success which is the simplicity of the transaction. These concerns, I think, are misplaced since the average M-Pesa user transacts less than he 5000bob.

On the flip side Zain is going to launch their own version named Zap early next year which I hear will be launched across Africa and possibly on their One-Network which scales three continents. Do I smell mischief... ?

Skunkworks@Google EngEDU
Perhaps the last Skunkworks meet for 2008 was hosted by Google at their Pushorttam Place. Oh what a lovely place it is! How many of you have a living room for your office reception area with a Wii Console... ? Thought so! (I digress...) The purpose of the meet-up was to introduce Google EngEDU to Skunkworks-ke and vice versa. Google Engineering Education is a department of Google Inc. that is involved in collaborating with Higher Institutions of learning to support training by facilitation and engaging them in the working environment as experienced by Googlers(i.e. Google Staff). A brief discussion of the proceeding has been aptly done by Bankelele.

Animated Kenya
This was the biggest event of it's kind this side of the Sahara and a great success too. The PS, Ministry of Information and Communication took this opportunity to announce the 1 Million-Laptop campaign for the benefit of Rural Kenya. We invite you to give as some feedback on this event. 
A CNN iReport of the December 6th event has also been posted.

I ran a live blog for the event so you can catch some briefs on the proceedings here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Animated : Kenya - Live Blog

Join Pete, Micheal, Me(Obie) and Others as we cover this event. All are welcome to discuss or leave comments. Karibuni.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Google Policy Fellowship

Google is looking for students who are passionate about technology, and want to spend the summer diving headfirst into Internet policy. Students from all majors and degree programs who possess the following qualities are encouraged to apply:

* Demonstrated or stated commitment to Internet and technology policy
* Excellent academic record, professional/ extracurricular/ volunteer activities, subject matter expertise
* First-rate analytical, communications, research, and writing skills
* Ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously and efficiently, and to work smartly and resourcefully in a fast-paced environment
* General “googliness” (kidding!)

Fellows will receive a stipend of $7,000 for 10 weeks during the summer of 2009 (June-August) . Exact dates of the fellowship will be worked out by the fellow and host organization. Applications are due by Friday, December 12, 2008. Students who are accepted into the program will be notified by Friday, February 13th, 2009. To learn about their application process, click here.