2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


Kenyans and the social media

and they are many!

and they are many!

It is said that Kenyans are allergic to change given that they will take a long time before they adopt some new technology. However, I believe once they see a reason for adoption they embrace the  new technology in masses.  On the top 10 visited sites in Kenya according to Alexa Facebook comes first, YouTube 5th, Twitter 8th and Linkedin 10th. This clearly shows that Kenyans love social media. The twittersphere over and over has been coming up with TTs ranging from #someonetellcnn to ones like #KOTagainstMPsBonus and so many more.

Social media has therefore helped in improving the freedom of speech and has allowed many Kenyans to express their thoughts and be heard. Politicians are being taken to tasked on the social media, people are asking harder questions and the good thing is that one is able to interact directly with the people in question.

However, there are cases where people are using social media for the wrong reasons. Insults are being hurled left right and center. Some people are intolerant to other people’s views and instead of arguing it out like grown people they choose to insult people with divergent views. This is particularly dangerous as we are heading towards the general election. If not used properly the social media can be used to spread propaganda and incite people against each other.

Social ProBeing a country most of complainers and not doers ( I am not exempt) I was happy when I came across an initiative by the name Social Pro Clubs. According to Muthuri Kinyamu, business director at Social Edge Africa,

The core objective of these clubs is to teach, educate, create awareness and impart knowledge & skills of various disciplines of social media and platforms to the university students to unlock the massive potential on social media. The faculty will also benefit from these clubs as they’ll learn how to create and share digital content in various formats with the students across various platforms as well as help them embrace new media and integrate it to teaching.

The initiative targets university students. SocialPro clubs will provide a platform that boosts collaboration because all universities have computer labs, students can also access wifi connections through their laptops and mobile phones too so we just need to inspire students to look beyond ‘just being friends’ on Facebook to doing business and seeking partners through social media!

DR. Bitange Ndemo; the PS at the ministry will be the chief guest among other invited guest speakers at the launch of the social media clubs on the 25th of October at the University of Nairobi, School of Business before the pilot phase in four universities in November.
As we approach the March 2013 social media will play a big role in this election, as it might be misused by politicians or people with selfish interests and agenda to incite Kenyans and spread propaganda. We witnessed Twitter handles that called for killing of Christians in the recent riots in Mombasa recently so this inspired the SPC organizing committee to conceptualize and spearhead a sensitization campaign dubbed “AM A SOCIALPRO” that educates people on the ethical & professional ways of engaging online as well as promote responsible us of social media for society good. This campaign will run concurrently with the activities in these universities all the way until March 2013 and will heavily involve the media and SocialPRO ambassadors who will be announced at a later date.

So what are you waiting for? Be a “SOCIALPRO

Lesson 6: Employers vs Employees

*This is the last part of a series of posts I am doing about some six lessons I wish I had known better in school

My dad has had the biggest influence in my life; he is my hero. He is the one person who has always told me like it is. He is not the strict kind of dad though, my mum was the one who disciplined us. I am still afraid of my mum, I always feel if I do something wrong she might just give me a serious whooping. My dad has never been employed in his entire life. He is the classic hustler, you will find him doing this today and when we do the Kenyan thing of copying everything he jumps to the next venture. If you don’t believe me just open a shop or something and within no time someone will open a shop with the exact painting. The only difference is the name and I guess that is because it is illegal.

My dad started simple, with a bike. He used to deliver goods to shops. From there he bought a pick up and his business grew. After sometime he was able to open a physical shop as before he used to hawk his stuff from the back of his truck. Next was an insurance company (after he did a diploma in an insurance related course). He ventured into much more things, I am not able to keep track of all of them.

My dad was born an entrepreneur, he was born an employer. His mind was never set to work for anyone, a little bit of that sprinkled on me. I have always had a dream of running my own company in the future, I have always dreamed of having a product out there in the market. For some people like a friend of mine their ultimate dream is getting a job at the UN.

What is your dream? Not everyone can be an employer nor everyone can be an employee. Someone has to hire another and vice-verse. Somehow students have been fed the idea that we must all be entrepreneurs or that we all need to work for someone. Find out the kind of person you are and be the best you can be!

*I was a bit under the weather this week otherwise this post would have been up earlier, my body had rebelled against me so I spent a considerable amount of time in bed. I have not recovered fully but slowly by slowly I am getting there. I am going to create a section on the blog and have all the lessons there.

Lesson 5: The power of networking

Hanging out with Emilio

Hanging out with Emilio. It is a pity I closed my eyes. A camera is not my kind of thing

*This is the fifth part of a series of posts I am doing about some six lessons I wish I had known better in school

Sometime back last year during the launch of opendata.go.ke I had the chance of representing MChanjo at a showcase at the KICC. I got the chance to meet the president in person! The invite was courtesy of the ICT Board. This was just after the inaugural Pivot 25 competition.

Now you have the skills, you have slowly been improving day by day but nobody wants to hire you. At this point you might start wondering whats the point and even some people think of giving up. Let me use two analogies to put this point across.

In a football match a striker is a very important person (Unless you are a traitor like Van Persie then this point simply doesn’t apply). Need I say that no team has ever won a game without scoring. A striker consistently tries to put himself/herself in a scoring position. Without doing this the chances of scoring are nil.

What do people do when they are looking for a better half. I know some of my friends who stay in the house the whole time or go to the same places all the time and hence never get to meet new people. For the purpose of this post I will not be referring to them at all. We normally go to new places and try to meet new people in the hope that we will actually meet someone we like. You have to put yourself out there so that you get noticed. You have to meet people so that they can see that awesomeness you believe you have (You might not have it but at least you tried 🙂 )

How does this fit in to my post? Networking is pretty much  the same thing. People will not know of your capabilities unless they interact with you first. In my third year of study I made sure that I networked extensively as my external attachment was coming up and I never wanted to go to those places where you sit and do nothing. I made a point of attending many tech events and talking with the who and whos in IT. Through this I was able to meet Liko, the CEO Pesapal, and a few months later when I applied for internship they responded well and gave me a chance. Remember that we are all human, an employer is more likely to give you a chance if you have met before in a different setting. You are much better off if he/she remembers you.

Go out there, meet the key people in the industry and more importantly get to courage to talk to them. Leave an impression( a good one). It will help you in the future.

*Sevens here we come! As a result my last post will be delivered on Monday

Lesson 4, part 2: The cocoon mentality

*This is second part of the fourth lesson in a series of six posts I am doing on the six lessons I wish I had known better in school

Butterflies, such beautiful creatures. Whoever came up with the phrase butterflies in my stomach did the butterflies a great disservice. I would assume that was a good feeling but instead it is the opposite. Everything is a process, a butterfly develops in four stages

  1. The first stage: the egg
  2. The second stage: the larva(caterpillar)
  3. The third stage: Pupa (Chrysalis)
  4. The fourth stage: Adult butterfly

For this post I am interested in the third step, the pupa.  As soon as a caterpillar is done growing and they have reached their full length/weight, they form themselves into a pupa, also known as a chrysalis.  From the outside of the pupa, it looks as if the caterpillar may just be resting, but the inside is where all of the action is.  Inside of the pupa, the caterpillar is rapidly changing. The butterfly is however not exposed to the outside world at all. There can be an apocalypse but it would not even know. This is where the term “cocoon mentality” came from. The butterfly at this point is totally isolated from the rest of the world. However, the isolation is only for a certain period of time.

In the previous post I talked about jacks of all trades and the demerits of being one. As a result most people misinterpret the message leading to what the elder population refer to as the ignorant generation. How many of the three questions below can you answer without resorting to Google? Give it a try and please be honest

  1. In the forthcoming general elections how many leaders will you elect?
  2. Who is Mitt Romney’s running mate? (Please don’t ask who Mitt Romney is)
  3. When will Kenya hold it’s next general elections?

I have purposely asked about politics because most youths assume that it doesn’t affect us in any way. This will be a topic for another day so let me not dwell on it. You need to know what is going on around you. It doesn’t need to be in depth knowledge but you need at least to have an idea. Most coders have a problem, we can only take about code and as a result when we meet with people who are in other fields we run out of words pretty fast.

Get out of the cocoon, butterflies themselves never stay there permanently.



Lesson 4: Jack of all trades, master of none

*This is the fourth part of a series of posts I am doing about some six lessons I wish I had known better in school

First let me apologies for the interruption in the posts, I was otherwise engaged and was nowhere near a computer. By the end of the week I will have done the remaining posts. So let us get started!

Jack – A man of the common people; a lad, fellow, chap; especially a low-bred or ill-mannered fellow, a ‘knave’

The earliest example that can be find in print of the actual phrase ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ is in Charles Lucas’s Pharmacomastix, 1785:

The very Druggist, who in all other nations in Europe is but Pharmacopola, a mere drug-merchant, is with us, not only a physician and chirurgeon, but also a Galenic and Chemic apothecary; a seller of drugs, medicines, vertices, oils, paints or colours poysons, &c. a Jack of all trades, and in truth, master of none.

So Jack used to do everything and as a result was a master in none. Have you fallen into the same trap? Are you a software developer, a network guy, the repairs guy, the salesperson, the CEO, the project manager, the CFO and also the business developer? Is your core competency all the above? Do you apply for any IT job as you feel that you can fit in any of them? This does not only apply to people in the computing field, each career has several options.

There is a however a small spin to this line of thinking.Most people take this saying and inter-prate it to mean that you can only do one thing in order to succeed; I beg to differ. We generally have two kinds of individuals; generalist and specialist. Generalist a little about everything, specialist know a lot about one particular thing. However, we have people who don’t fit in any of these categories. They are neither specialist nor generalist. So how do we classify this group?

There is a reason campus is at least three years; it gives you time to discover yourself. During my first year I loved networking. The biggest to this, I guess, was the lecturer Mr. Kaguongo. In the second semester things changed, we had a different lecturer who taught exactly the same things although less effectively and with way less passion. Despite insisting that he was a guy who loved practical lessons we only had two the whole semester! In second year I did web development, both back end and front end development. In third year I focused on back end design and in my fourth year I ventured into cloud computing. This forced me to learn some system administration as I had to work on EC2. As a result over the four years I was able to experiment with various things. My core competence is software development but at the same time I can do limited system administration. I dropped networking completely and I would never apply for a networking job.

My advice, don’t be a jack of all trades but rather specialize in a sector and be the best you can be in it. However, before you choose a field try out several things first.

*There was a second part to this lesson, the cocoon mentality. I will do it as the next post and so we will have one extra post instead of the promised six

Lesson 3: It takes time

Does he look familiar?

Does he look familiar?

*This is the third part of a series of posts I am doing about some six lessons I wish I had known better in school

At the age of 21 together with Wozniack they started Apple Computers. This was in 1976.  Their first model, the Apple I, earned them $774,000. Three years after the release of their second model, the Apple II, sales increased 700 percent to $139 million dollars.

In 1985 he resigned as the CEO of Apple. It was not the happy kind though, he was pushed out. The board did not believe he was taking the company in the correct direction. Can you imagine being pushed out of a company you helped form?

Steve went ahead and formed another company called NeXT, Inc. A year later he bought an animation studio which later became Pixar Animation Studios. This was the studio behind several full animation movies such as Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. Apple eventually bought the company in 1997 for $429 million. He was back where he started 21 years later.

The next years were the most successful years for Apple. The rest is history, this is the man who captivated everyone with his presentations. While I still believed Apple products are way overpriced (or may be I am just broke, the jury is still out there on that) they still set the bench mark in the industry and the rest of the guys are always playing catch up.

Most of us want to achieve what Jobs did more than 21 years within a few months or years. We don’t seem to understand that things take time, I included. Isaac, a good friend and a mentor, once told me a story of an impatient man. The guy prayed to God, please give me patience…now! We seem to be in the same boat, we want to overnight success stories.

You hear people are earning salaries of over 150k and you want to start there, it just doesn’t work that way. Like everyone else you will have to climb up the ladder steadily and this translates to time. We all have to start somewhere and over time we will get to where we want to be. I am a big admirer Caroline Mutoko, she says it as it is. For the past few months she has been talking about Generation X, that is us. One of the things she noted is that we want to get there without putting in the time.

Put in the time, you will eventually get there.