Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Social Experiment: Get #Twaffic Updates here!

Late today afternoon, I had a thought to crowd-source traffic information via Twitter, just for Nairobi. I passed on the idea to fellow Iborian tweeps (twitter-people) and response is slow but sure, sure. Not wanting to sound cliche, however, we are a peculiar people. If M-Pesa worked 'on' us and refuses to work in TZ, what else could? I wonder...

So this is how it would/could work. When in traffic, be it slow or fast anyone who's on twitter may tweet the traffic situation on the road they are using with the hashtag #Twaffic to show it is a traffic update and the hashtag #yourRoad refering to whichever road the tweep is using. For example
"#twaffic #JogooRd Very clear. No need to use Eastleigh route..."

"#twaffic There is a parking lot on #UhuruHighway Just popped out to the Iko-Toilet to take a leak and I'm back!"

Now, with everyone sending in such info, knowing the traffic situation before you leave for work/home or as you are driving would be as easy as checking your #twaffic updates! Easy peasy, right? Of course, you hope fellow tweeps on #yourRoad do the same, thus result for #twaffic + #yourRoad are more useful. For those who have not used the summize search tool for twitter, it is available at

Let's see if we can do this tweeple! It'll benefit us all, heck, we can even have a hitch-hikers club (actually *carpooling*) like this one!

Further Reading: This is just part one of the social experiment. If it goes as planned we could make it a bit juicier maybe by also tagging the traffic situation (go ahead if you could though), i.e.
#Level1 - Clear/Cruising
#Level2 - Almost Clear/Afew stops though
#Level3 - Moderate/Slow but moving
#Level4 - Very Slow/Almost at a standstill
#Level5 - Parking Lot/Please use another route if you can

PS: Hash tags were not actually invented by the Founding Fathers (@ev and @biz) they were actually trended into being... :-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

#YouKnowYourKenyanGeek when...

This space has been very lonely lately... mostly my fault. I'd actually delayed some posts hoping to put them up once I re-launch... as if I need to! Anyway, this post is just a reminder that I still do exist in this here blogosphere. I mis-read my timetable which I still refuse to copy, that is, until I can get them into my phone organizer, as in, in soft copy. Now I have some time to spare- I seldom do.

Brings me to the topic of the post. Am I that much of a geek? Many of my pals think so. But I don't. No. Really! If I am, well, here goes a few traits that will get you branded a geek. Kenyan version.

Obie's list of #YouKnowYourKenyanGeek when...

1. You think facebook is for wimps and twitter is uber cool lakini myspace ilikupita...

2. You subscribed to skunkworks mailing list and even once did to dear Robert's Bidii<--- *awesome dude, that one!*

3. You hate SufferingCon(and actually use that whack satire) but always gawk at their myriad of offers... *speakin of which does okoa jahazi really work with data*.

4. You know everything about cool gadgets you have never/will never own.

5. You met the most influential people in your life via twitter, linkedin etc ofcourse not via facebook.

6. #you #use #hash #tags #like #these #orevenmuchbetterlikethis!

7. You carry your laptop in it's branded back-pack/ruck-sack(whatever you call it) and still think you've concealed the fact that you are carrying one.

8. Most of the books you claim to have read are Audio Books.

9. You have tried surfing or have modems for every provider in the country Safcom, Zain, Orange, Yu(IkoNet?).

10. You actually understood everything in this list and can come up with a list of geeky kenyan traits, but you actually haven't been outta the country!

Feel free to add more Kenyan flavor to this list. I'm sure I got some wrong. But left out alot too. Anyway, the above will mostly get you branded one! Notice that I ain't really a geek?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

RoboCon Kenya '09 Nairobi Regional

First Peeks

The Ministry of Higher Education and Technology has organized a Robot Contest (RoboCon), between Kenyan Universities and middle level colleges. The regional competition is taking place today at the Kenya Polytechnic. Here are the first looks at the Robots from institutions taking part in the competition.

Nairobi University Robot, Stephanie

Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology Robot

Nairobi Technical Training Institute Robot

Kenya Technical Training Institute Robot

Machakos Institute of Technology Robot

For more information on RoboCon click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My TEDx Nairobi... Part Two

Paula Kahumbu - WildLife Direct

This self professed tree hugger does not watch TV. Instead she has 'the wild' for her daily dose of actions and admits she fights for the environment for a selfish reason. She just wants to enjoy it.

Many Kenyans, including me, have grown up being taught that we should conserve and preserve the environment for the sake of tourism. To get the much needed foreign exchange! But do we value the abundant resources that are bestowed on us for our own sake. She made an interesting comparison between our GDP KSh~25-30Bn compared to what the US makes from Bee Industry KSh~15Bn.

To 'save the world', ecologically, there needs to be invested a sum of $45Bn towards conservation, preservation and restoration efforts. The ROI on this is estimated to be upwards of $1Trillion. Aly-Khan Satchu would agree that this is a damn good investment, she quips!

Paula runs WildLife Direct whose focus is communicating real stories in real time concerning WildLife and Environment preservation and raising funds to create awareness on the need to do so.

Boniface 'Tear-Jerker' Mwangi - Picha Mtaani

Knowing Boniface from his accolades of Photo-Journalism, there I was wondering how one who expresses his experiences through a camera lens would do so without one now that projector' s (Tonee's PC) was just being M$. His piece was definitely last but not least. Infact IMHO this was the climax of the event.
Don't think I'd tell it better than the TED vid will. Born to a mother of seven, fathered by five and orphaned at seventeen, the story of his life up until the PEV and the awards that followed his pictures is nothing short of breathtaking.

As, I'd said before the Vids should be out from soon

Thanks Kaboro for the invite!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My TEDx Nairobi... Part One

Now this was one event I that will live in my heart. It was as it promised to be, a confluence of people with ideas worth spreading! For a moment there, I couldn't help notice that there was a little part of me in everyone who spoke... and what was most thrilling was the emotional roller coaster that we rode.

The Line-Up

Moses Kemibaro (Dottsavvy)

Crystal Watley (Voices of Africa for Sustainable Development)

She, like I do, believes access to knowledge is a basic human right -infact it is the line tha seperates the rich and the poor. She runs three local non-4-profits that help distribute information and skills to some dis/misinformed rural communities. She says many women where she works do believe that their fate is to live through struggling.

From her experiences in trying to get them informed, she describes listening as not asking the community-folk how they can be helped, but rather having the patience to know the right questions to ask.

Crystal and her team are soon launching self-sustaining MICEYs(Mobile Information Centre Empowering Youth) which are similar to the government's Digital Village, but on wheels.

"Information impoverishment causes material poverty."

"The road to where I am has been long and streneous, but through faith, creativity, and determination, I know we will change the future of Kenya".

AlyKhan-Satchu (Rich Management)
Author: Any one can be rich.

Call me slow but still did not get the Alphabet Soup Title. Correct me if I'm wrong (L-Burst, V-Boom-Burst-Boom, W-Boom-Burst-Boom-Burst-Boom)? Anyway in such a gathering it would be prudent to believe that I was surrounded by genius!

Aly-Khan Satchu was born in Mombasa , read Law at the University of Durham and worked for 15 years in the City Of London. He now runs a finacial portal, which again, is disseminating live information from the NSE floor. I think this became the informal theme of the event... Since 2003 Aly-Khan has been trading his own funds primarily Commodities (particularly Oil) Currency Futures and Options, Equity Indices and Single Stocks.

One of the interesting facts that he mentioned was that Kenya has 1.75M share holders registered at the NSE compared to about 100,000 at the JSE, insinuating that we have a very volatile yet unpredictable stock market that could swing both ways.

Africa – The Old Story is one of exploitation, where 90% of trade has been crude oil which has only benefitted the power brokers.
Africa – The Last Convergence (ie the Last Frontier in terms of information - Fibre), is plugging in the 'Little Boy', by investing in Information.

Tonee Ndungu

Now this is the 'act' I was waiting for, and Antony said he had prepared for this one. He fell just short of a stand-up comedian, but pushed through an inspiring message.
Having studied IR and Journalism at USIU he's worked for UNDP and a local FM station, he cheekily contrasts the former as one where most knew more than he did and the latter where most knew less than he did.

He is passionate about helping young kenyans to use new media for self expression, self assertion and self reliance. He founded Wazimba (swahili for extraordinary). He is also working on a project (NOCON- Blue Tooth Stumbling) for virally disseminating potentially powerful information which I had described here.

As many people tell us the information that we require to transform lives in Africa is at our fingertips. Tonee is more worried about 'who' these fingertips are. He poses a challenge to us, the informed 'finger-tips' to play a role in forming partnerships and networks like his and be the difference.

“The story of my life is rather simple. It's complex.”
To twitter-folk, “We don't want to change the world.”

Elizabeth Njoroge ( The Art of Music / Classics Magazine)

Liz is a pharmacist turned musician who began the story of her life from her undergraduate years in the UK and her love affair with music. When she finally came home she was baffled by the lack of appreciation of Classicals, a genre that's typically regarded as 'un-african'.

Liz decided to tak it upon herself to bring together listeners and musicians alike who appreciated the music and began a five page newsletter. The newsletter is now a full-run magazine. She runs a weekly show on Capital FM where she plays classical music and encourages it's appreciation and performance.

Amongst other projects she uses music as a platform to teach kids from dis-advantaged background certain values such as patience, teamwork, their culture and hopefully for some to take up the music itself to another level. This, she calls Edu-tainment.

Liz also runs Classicals Evenings (Monthly) – Safaricom Sponsored, Kenya Boys Choir (Obama's inauguration performers, Robert de Niro's -private bash:-), whose debut album, Spirit of Africa was successfully launched in London at the end of June,

and now documenting folk music. She wound up her talk with a very very BEAUTIFUL 'Benediction' song. This was definitely one of my highlights.

Dr. Nyokabi Musila (Sci- ArtCulturist)

Nyokabi is not your typical Doctor who knew didn't know what she wanted to be when she grew up. She couldn't bear complacency with the fact that scientists loved to work in their own 'little box' away from the people they are trying to help.

As a health care professional and honorary post-doctoral research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, she however believes in the fusion of Arts and Sciences. Nyokabi drew inspiration from Leornardo da Vinci (personal favorite) who was a polymath, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer - The Rennaisance man.

Nyokabi wants to change the world by spreading happiness and challenging us in the science field to discover our artistic selves.

"You are an artist, what's the canvas of your expression?"

Kwame Nyongo (jimmy humuhumunukunukuapuwa's little brotha ;))

I first came across Kwame Nyongo's work here. He's an advocate for the promotion of arts and animation in Africa. At TEDx, Kwame presented 'A Case for animation in Africa'.

Citing the Japanese Animation Industry, of Naruto etc fame, Kwame would like to see Africa's Artists take the this form of art and make it theirs. Instead of trying to make the 'Cow and Chicken's' which are based on foreign markets, Kwame sees a great opportunity for providing local content.

He has recently been involved in the UNESCO Africa Animated Priject where he served as an animation trainer and has more such workshops planned for the near future.

Kwame spent much of the fall of 2008 working as a Computer Art Director for Tiger Tinga's 'Tinga Tinga Tales'. This 52-part 11 min childrens animated series is set to become the next big thing when it hits the world's airwaves on The Disney Channel and BBC C-Beebies in December 2009. More on his online portfolio...

Paula Kahumbu (Wildlife Direct)


To Be Continued

Monday, August 3, 2009

Skunkworks Meeting/Talk: Dr. Bitange Ndemo

There will be a Skunkworks Meeting, this Tuesday, 4th August at Teleposta Towers, 4th Floor, MMU. The we are honored to have the Information and Communication PS, Bitange Ndemo, giving the talk. The talk will cover the following topics:
  • ICT Entrepreneurship in Kenya
  • Fibre; What it can do for Kenya
  • The one million laptop's project.
Meeting starts at 6pm.I understand there will be 'swagger'... Refreshments will be served.

Invitation to Public Talk on "Technology and Business in Kenya"

Time: 2.30 pm Date: Tuesday, 4th August
Venue: Engineering Department, University of Nairobi
Speaker: Dr. Luke Ouko

Luke Ouko graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology's
Media Lab in Media Arts and Sciences specializing in Media Technology.
He did most of his research at MIT's Architecture department's
E-Commerce Architecture Group as a fellow. Previously he studied
Computer Science at Stanford University, Public Policy at Georgetown
and Marketing at Nairobi University.

Ouko's main research interests are in the areas of technology and it's
impact on learning, innovation and development, the semantic web and
cellular automata.

Ouko is currently in charge of technology at an IT consulting company,
Verve, where their main focus is providing information management
solutions to local organizations. The company is also building a
portal for grey (unpublished material) in the East African region.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


The newly acquired MIT Fablab at the University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is a unique and exciting design environment created to encourage innovation. The Fablab is equipped with mostly table-top CNC machines will serve as a rapid prototyping center in the Science Park’s business incubator.

This new set-up requires furniture suited to laboratory work. The Science Park Management is launching a competition for the design of the furniture. The winner of the competition will receive a special mention at the forth-coming MIT Fab 5 meeting in India, and a feature on the Fab web-site. They will also be given the opportunity to be part of the team that fabricates the furniture using the ShopBot CNC router.

The specifications are as follows:

  • Working surfaces made from block-board which can be used for placing computers on (neat arrangements that ensure that cabling is barely visible)

  • Facilitation in the working stations for localized lighting so that work can continue at night

  • Lockable storage space for electronic components and materials for laser cutter, vinyl cutter, CNC sewing machine, laser scanner

  • Lockable storage space for workshop tools such as drills, hammers, vices...

Contact me if you would like to participate!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Maker Faire Africa: Ghana, Aug 14-16

From Afrigadget, WhiteAfrican

Maker Faire Africa (MFA) is a new event celebrating the innovation, ingenuity and invention within Africa - happening August 14-16 of this year in Accra, Ghana.
Maker Faire Africa in Ghana

It'll be a convergence of the types of individuals who show up on AfriGadget and Timbuktu Chronicles, and the ethos of the greater MAKE community, all with the blessings of the good folks at Maker Faire. The dates were chosen to coincide with Amy Smith’s and MIT’s International Development and Design Summit (IDDS), which will run for 3 weeks before MFA, also in Ghana.

As Emeka puts it:

The aim of a Maker Faire-like event is to create a space on the continent where Afrigadget-type innovations, inventions and initiatives can be sought, identified, brought to life, supported, amplified, propagated, etc. Maker Faire Africa asks the question, “What happens when you put the drivers of ingenious concepts from Mali with those from Ghana and Kenya, and add resources to the mix?”

How You can Support MFA

get a Maker Faire Africa badge!First off, help spread the word! Let people know where and when it will be. Share the link to the site, grab a badge, blog it.

Second, help us find sponsors. If you know an organization or individual who would like to support this amazing event, put us in touch with them. It could be monetary, or it could be donating some cool gadgets, gear, tools or devices for people to hack on while there. (example idea: we’d love to get some LEGO Mindstorm kits for the local high schools).

Third, come. If you have the time and ability, we’d love to have you, your ideas and your gadgets at MFA.

The Team

Want to get involved yourself? Get in touch!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

2nd Strathmore Mobile BootCamp

A mobile boot camp is a crash-course session usually spanning 2 – 3 days, whereby participants will gain insights on mobile application development as well as acquire practical skills on the use of current platforms, frameworks and tools used for the development of mobile applications.

Strathmore University’s inaugural Mobile Boot Camp was held was held on 28th and 29th of November, 2008. More than 100 information technology developers (programmers) and students attended the event. Strathmore Research and Consultancy Centre (SRCC) hosted the event in collaboration with the Faculty of Information Technology (FIT).

This year Strathmore University will hold the mobile boot camp on the 9th to 11th July, 2009. The camp will be held under the theme; “Mobile Applications for Development in Africa“. The event will be capped off with a mobile development competition, inviting mobile applications in the fields of M-Learning, M-Health and M-Agriculture.

Charges for this 3-day event are:

Students: 700 /= (inclusive of lunch for the 3 days)
Non-students: 1500/= (inclusive of lunch for the 3 days)

Register on Facebook and check out

Also see what was discussed on our live blog then. Watch this space for more!

Monday, July 6, 2009


The ministry of higher education has organized a Robot Contest between kenyan universities and middle level colleges. The contest will be based on the need to provide sufficient food to the Kenyan communities for their upkeep. For this to be achieved the food must be transported from the granary to different communities by a community leader referred to as “MFADHILI” (our robot in this case). Read more

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Budgeting for UoN Electric Vehicle Project

Following up on the Electric Vehicle we will be building, I collected sample quotations and the budget would look something like this. Since we have been generously granted a sufficient budget through Atelier Vrijdag we have these two otpions either for remodelling the Subaru to a 144V EV System or building a smaller 72V system from scratch!

The 144V (30hp Continuous) Subaru conversion using 12v Batteries with a full drive system and battery system. We however would like to change this to an AC Induction motor since Regenerative Braking which is an important consideration for our EV.





(603) 569-2100

FAX (603) 569-2115





1 FB1-4001A Advanced DC Motor with dual shaft $1,550.00 $1,550.00

( 72V - 144V ) 18HP - 30HP

1 1231C-8601 Curtis Controller $1,495.00 $1,495.00

96V - 144V 500 Amp Limit

1 Aluminum Plate/ heat sink compound/ 12V fan $50.00 $50.00
1 PB-6 Curtis Potbox $90.00 $90.00
2 Albright Contactor SW-200 (12V coil) $150.00 $300.00
1 Adapter Plate with Spacers (2) $400.00 $400.00

Manual Transmission - Clutchless

1 Motor Coupling (Aluminum) $325.00 $325.00

Manual Transmission - Clutchless


1 Quick Charge Charger Programmable QPXW-144-20/8 $880.00 $880.00

144VDC 230VAC 20Amps 115VAC 8Amps

24 Battery Terminal Protective Covers (Red & Black) $1.50 $36.00
25 ft 2/0 Cable - ( Black ) $4.00 $100.00
25 ft 2/0 Cable - ( Red ) $4.00 $100.00
40 2/0 lugs - Magna lug ( includes 6 90 degree ) $2.50 $100.00
5 ft Heat Shrink with sealant $6.00 $30.00


1 80-180 Voltmeter (Westberg 2in Black) $65.00 $65.00
1 0-400 Ammeter (Westberg 2in Black) $65.00 $65.00
1 50 mV Shunt - 400A $30.00 $30.00


1 Gast Vacuum Pump (12V) $225.00 $225.00
1 SquareD Vacuum Switch $135.00 $135.00
1 In-line Fuseholders with 20 Amp Fuse $5.00 $5.00


1 Littelfuse L25S-400 $55.00 $55.00
1 Littelfuse holder $25.00 $25.00
1 KLK Fuse & Holder - HV Control Wiring $20.00 $20.00
1 Pair Anderson connectors SBX-350 (Red) $64.00 $64.00
1 Fuseholder (4) - Control Board $15.00 $15.00
1 First Inertia Switch - Auto Shutoff (12V Sys) $45.00 $45.00


A/R EVA calculations
1 EVA Installation Manual

Includes schematics, drawings, etc.

1 Safety First & S-10 Conversion Video DVD
A/R On-Line Assistance @

1 year Subscription to EVAmerica



EVAmerica Coupons - Package


TOTAL ( Shipping - not included)

New Hampshire has no Sales Tax!

This saves people in some states - hundreds of dollars!




1 203-06-4001A Advanced DC Motor with dual shaft $1,350.00 $1,350.00

( 72V - 120V ) 16HP - 26HP

1 Motor Mount for FB1 motor $180.00 $180.00


1 Quick Charge Charger Programmable OP-144-8 $500.00 $500.00

144VDC 115VAC 8Amps

1 Quick Charge Charger Programmable QPX-144-20 $800.00 $800.00

144VDC 230VAC 20Amps

1 Zivan NG3 Charger On/Off Board 144VDC 220VAC 2800 Watts $1,030.00 $1,030.00
12 Trojan T-1275 12V Batteries Upon Request


1 0-500 Ammeter (Westberg 2in Black) $65.00 $65.00


1 Vacuum Gauge (Initial Set-up) $15.00 $15.00


1 Astrodyne SP-480 DC-DC Converter $280.00 $280.00

132-370VDC Input (pair Anderson SB-50 red and Relay)

Recommended for headlights, wipers, etc.

1 Zivan DC-DC Converter 144 VDC Input 14 VDC Output $530.00 $530.00

Recommended for headlights, wipers, etc.

1 Littelfuse L25S-400 $55.00 $55.00
1 Pair Anderson connectors SBX-350 (Red) $64.00 $64.00
1 Pair Anderson connectors SB-50 (Red) $20.00 $20.00
1 Electric Heater Components $180.00 $180.00

(Heater, mount, contactor, Anderson SB-50 connector, fuse)

14 Ft - 1 1/2 inch clear vinyl hose for 2/0 cable protection $1.50 $21.00
10 Insulated Metal Clamps for Vinyl Hose $1.00 $10.00

The 72V (2-12hp) 'Vortex-like' NEV construction also using six 12v Batteries with full drive system and battery system. Have a look at the XP-HUMM-E to have an idea of what I have in mind.





(603) 569-2100

FAX (603) 569-2115




1 A00-4009 Advanced DC Motor $575.00 $575.00

24-72V 2-12Hp

1 ALLTrax AXE-7245 Controller 24-72V 450 Amp Limit $640.00 $640.00
1 PB-6 Curtis Potbox $90.00 $90.00
1 Albright Contactor SW-180B (12V coil) $90.00 $90.00


1 Quick Charge Charger Programmable OP-72-20 $500.00 $500.00

72VDC 115VAC 20Amps

12 Battery Terminal Protective Covers (Red & Black) $1.50 $18.00
10 ft 2/0 Cable - ( Black ) $4.00 $40.00
10 ft 2/0 Cable - ( Red ) $4.00 $40.00
32 2/0 lugs - Magna lug ( includes 6 90 degree ) $2.50 $80.00
4 ft Heat Shrink with sealant $6.00 $24.00


1 0-100 Voltmeter (Westberg 2in Black) $65.00 $65.00
1 0-400 Ammeter (Westberg 2in Black) $65.00 $65.00
1 50 mV Shunt - 400A $30.00 $30.00


1 ANN-400 Fuse and Fuseholder $67.00 $67.00
1 Fuseholder (4) - Control Board $15.00 $15.00


1 EVA Installation Manual

includes drawings, manufacturers data, etc

1 EVA "Safety First" Video



EVAmerica Package Discount


TOTAL ( Shipping - not included)


1. Shipping extra.

2. Battery Prices may vary slightly with location.




1 203-06-4001A Advanced DC Motor with dual shaft $1,350.00 $1,350.00

( 72V - 120V ) 16HP - 26HP

1 1209B-6402 Curtis Controller $780.00 $780.00

48V - 72V 400 Amp Limit

1 Magura Twist Grip 0-5 K pot $55.00 $55.00


1 Curtis Fuel Gauge 72VDC - 900R $150.00 $150.00
1 0-500 Ammeter (Westberg 2in Black) $65.00 $65.00


1 Zivan NG1 Charger On/Off Board 72VDC 115VAC 900 Watts $530.00 $530.00

I have a tough task ahead to source for the parts locally since the shipping may cost us half our budget. If you are in Kenya I would appreciate any information on the best deals in town. I will keep you posted...