How safe is the internet is things.

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“On the flip side, a smart tea maker that knows just when you’re in need of a cup could be very handy indeed”.

Among its many other cultural and economic assets, Google is accumulating a rather comprehensive record of what is troubling us, from asking the search engine to diagnose our disease symptoms to whether we will ever find true love. It seems only natural, then, to turn to Google to decrypt the latest piece of technical jargon, “the internet of things”.

It is a term that internet users have been peppering the search engine with questions about. But what does it mean for real life?The internet of things (or as it’s also known, IoT) isn’t new: tech companies and pundits have been discussing the idea for decades, and the first internet-connected toaster was unveiled at a conference in 1989.

At its core, IoT is simple: it’s about connecting devices over the internet, letting them talk to us, applications, and each other. The popular, if silly, example is the smart fridge: what if your fridge could tell you it was out of milk, texting you if its internal cameras saw there was none left, or that the carton was past its use-by date?

IoT is more than smart homes and connected appliances, however. It scales up to include smart cities – think of connected traffic signals that monitor utility use, or smart bins that signal when they need to be emptied – and industry, with connected sensors for everything from tracking parts to monitoring crops.

Security experts however argue that not enough is being done to build security and privacy into IoT at these early stages, and to prove their point have hacked a host of devices, from connected baby monitors to automated lighting and smart fridges, as well as city wide systems such as traffic signals. Hackers haven’t, for the most part, put much attention to IoT; there’s likely not enough people using connected appliances for an attack against them to be worth the effort, but as ever, as soon as there’s a financial benefit to hacking smart homes, there will be a cyber criminal working away at it.

So the short answer is yes, IoT is relatively safe: you’re not likely to face serious loss or damage because of your smart things, any more than your home PC, at least. However, there’s no guarantee, and so far not enough is being done to ensure IoT isn’t the next big hacking target. On the flip side, a smart tea maker that knows just when you’re in need of a cuppa could be very handy indeed.

But the internet of things is one of those wider ideas that isn’t dependent on a single project or product. Smart fridges may well be the appliance of the future, or could fall by the wayside as too much tech for too little gain, but the idea of connected sensors and smart devices making decisions without our input will continue.

A decade from now, everything could be connected or perhaps only bits and pieces with specific benefits, such as smart meters; and we may call it IoT, smart devices or not call it anything at all, the way smartphones have simply become phones.

No matter where it is or what we call it, IoT is real – but what it will look like in the future is something even Google can’t answer.

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Bike Riding Karura Forest.

WhatsApp Image 2017-03-26 at 20.22.37

I have cycled to the mountain top, through the Aberdare National Park, I have cycled on the crazy roads, in the City of Nairobi, 50 km everyday for five days. I have cycled downhill in record speed, sometimes, many times thinking that my heart could pop out, could stop. I have cycled to the lake, and beside Longonot, down the rift valley in the pouring rain, and I couldn’t stop. I have been in places that has changed my life, I have been here and there, cycling down Florida road to Moses Mabhida, to Durban Waterfront.

Cycling is now a way of life, NO, its my way of life. Its not something I plan to do but something I have loved doing. Being on a bike is everything for me, almost everything, I live there and I am happy there. Riding a bicycle is one of the best ways to explore nature and experience the world that we live in as well as a pleasurable, environmentally friendly and economical way to get around, get exercise and to meet people or to become closer to friends and family.

Traveling through towns or into the country at bike riding speeds is invigorating and allows you to cover more ground than you could by walking and to enjoy and explore the world more personally and in more detail than you could by driving in a car. This is the spirit I woke up with today. I have a bike rack that makes it easy to carry my bike on my car, so the dark days I believe are behind me. Today, am going for the forest, but first its a drive to Karura forest,…….the place where magic lives.

Karura is a place I have failed to master, when i am here, I just look at the bike track and speed, cutting through the wind, my bike taking on the earth and roots and still being able to conque. What gives me the most enjoyment or pleasure from bike riding is, of course, going to be personal and will be dependent on your own riding style and preferences. As for myself, I love nature, being outdoors whenever possible and a long bike ride on a beautiful day. The love of bike riding is the wind on your face and the sweet smell of flowers in the spring as you glide down a gentle hill.

In summer……like today, it’s finding and exploring new places, the cooling effect of a gentle breeze as you ride through a canopy of trees, a bike path bridge over a stream or even the sound of thunder and the smell of the coming rain. The love of bike riding is a fast ride along a winding bike path, the smell of dried or burning leaves, the color of the trees in the distance or right alongside the bike path that you are on and a scenic sunset at the end of a long ride. This is what makes this day special, because Karura gives you all that.

The first time i biked here, I met two guys and together with my wife, who then was my girlfriend made great memories together. It was a long day for us trying to find the waterfall, the caves which we couldnt find despite them being a walk away from the waterfalls….a real walk away. So we asked, for the way….and that helped. But everytime I come here I discover something new, something I havent seen, and I have always wanted to keep it that way. I don’t need to master where everything is, I want Karura to remain a mystery, that place that is different everyday I bike here.

So for my day out today, for the first time I used the Kiambu road gate, 15 minutes into my cycling I way in the caves, peaceful and quiet, it was also cool very cool. The trees were tall, very tall. The walk down was steep very steep, at some point I had to carry my bike. I crossed different bridges…small and tiny. The the waterfalls was infront of me, infront of my eyes, and it was all new to me. I had approached it from a different point, and that did not remind me the last time I saw it.

Then I had to make it to the picnic field, where food, cold drinks and water was waiting, and event with that motivation, I still got lost….in the woods again. That is why I have to keep coming, not to master the forest but to get lost, because I love being lost…….

when i am lost….that is when I find myself.

The Art of Questioning.

A beatiful Question

 

When starting any design project, you need to ask a lot of questions. The perceived problem and actual problem may not be the same. So how can you get better at asking the right questions?

I decided to brush up on my questioning skills by reading A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger. Berger illustrates how questioning is an inherent skill we’re quite adept at during childhood. He notes that children haven’t developed a “mental model” of the world, so they question everything. But as we go through standardized education, we begin to suppress our curiosity.

As adults, it’s frowned upon to ask too many questions in the workplace. On the flip side, we’re often embarrassed when we don’t have immediate answers. But Berger claims the ability to admit you don’t have all the answers, but can ask better questions, is a superior skillset.

By analyzing innovative figures, Berger identified three common types of questions that lead to breakthroughs.

Why?

Why does something have to be the way it is? Has everybody else missed something obvious? Are we basing our understanding on assumptions? Asking ‘why’ questions is about challenging assumptions and the status quo. A famous example of a ‘why’ question is when Edwin Land’s son asked, “Why do we have to wait to see our pictures?” Land answered that question by creating the Polaroid instant camera.

What if…?

This is where you mash up ideas, go against common logic, or add/remove factors that make the challenge more interesting. Sky’s the limit here as each wild idea often yields a workable element. This thought process is sometimes referred to as “divergent thinking.” Thank the candy gods that one day H.B. Reese, inventor of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups asked, “What if you put peanut butter and chocolate together?”

How?

This is where the rubber meets the road. Propose solutions, create testable hypotheses, perform a bunch of tests to gain insight. This is typically the “prototyping” stage where you have to see what elements of your ideas are compatible with reality. A near legendary example of the rapid prototyping is the story of the Google Glass team creating a working though ugly prototype of Glass in just 45 minutes.

Questioning in Business Culture

While most modern enterprise companies use buzzwords like “out of the box thinking”, they seem to rather question averse. Instead, they’ve created a culture which rewards employees on measures of efficiency, while punishing those who ask too many questions.

Enterprise software design treats the Lean method more as a process than a mindset. It’s used to move a project from concept to creation, but not to iterate and discover. In a true spirit of Lean, a team needs to be ready to try many approaches and fail. A strong culture of questioning is essential to achieving innovative results.

UX and product designers must adopt a questioning mindset. Skilled questioning leads to better outcomes and paradigm changes within organizations. You may stir the pot a little bit, but you may also help shape a new direction and encourage others to move forward.

#cmssummit17….Empowering Businesses through Open Source.

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A gentleman walked up to me in the lobby of Chelsea Hotel central area, Abuja. Its was 8am, he saw us instaling roll-up banners and wanted to know what event we were preparing for. This is CMS Africa Summit 17, premier open source tech event that brings together top ranking web developers, online marketers, software engineers, online retailers, web administrators, online banking admins, company owners, Open source enthusiasts and tech students to a two day conference. This years conference was in Abuja Nigeria, getting here, a long and difficult journey.

The gentleman, his name is Mud Yahaya, working for Greetings Media in Abuja. He was really keen that his staff be given a chance to attend the conference. We had been organizing this event for months, on the 3rd of March, the D-day for the event, we were fully booked. This, was devastating news for Mr. Mud, there was some determination of his face that I wouldn’t find anywhere at that time, especially in Abuja, where people like to start their day after 9am. As I said, it was 8am. We organized seven slots for him, which he paid for, and he was glad but wanted more slots for his other staff. An hour later the registration table became busy, we were ready to launch.

There are many things that always run my mind, on the day of the summit. Normally, I have to make sure that things are in order, especially for the launch. This day, I was holding the camera…..I was the photographer amongst other duties. And my mind kept flashing on my encounter with Mr. Mud, and my mind flashed to his office, a place I have never been and the sight of young people I had denied opportunity to attend the summit. So after battling with my soul when the keynote speech was on going, I decided to call Mr. Mud and told him to bring the employees he would bring. Minutes later, a van was at the front entrance, with young men and women ready for their experience of their life. At that minute, I felt very proud, and very happy.

This has been my experience every summit we have held since 2013. I have meet and interacted with young men and women who want to do something new, and they are determined and focused. CMS Africa has worked with institutions around the Africa, focusing on Information Technology. I have always shared that I have met 20 year olds who already know what they want do with their lives, I have also met 50 year olds who still don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Its just Life. Some people will grasp it early in life and for other it will take time. Some harness opportunities in front of them while for others, they flush it right in front of their eyes.

The cmssummit17 was represented well, all areas of content management, business development and start-up and e-Commerce. Nigeria is a country of 180 million people, for a country this big, trade always thrives and e-Commerce is a developing idea here. Site like jiji.nj is open platform where people are allowed to buy and sell stuff without having to pay anything. This year, the vice president of Magento Association was among the speakers. This is the second time he is speaking in this summit. Speaking on Meet Magento, the open source that is changing the world. Job Thomas, leading the team of developers and happiness engineers from Automatic speaking on a wide variety of topic on different products from Automatic including WordPress and the world of content, eCommerce for fun and profit, WordPress customizer and JetPack and many more.

The first and only Joomla! certification in Africa is in Abuja, Nigeria. The centre is run by Adedayo who is also Nigeria Lead for CMS Africa Summit. In her presentation, she highlighted about her journey as a female developer in an area dominated by men. The Joomla! Certification Program has been created to ensure the competence of Joomla! professionals through documented measurement of skills and knowledge. The program aims to establish a certain standard whilst promoting a qualified workforce. Professional certification can play an important role in the decision of a company or business owner when hiring skilled individuals for specific roles.

Later that evening we went to a tour at the Venture Platform, a world-class full-service innovation hub in Abuja. At the core of VP’s value proposition is an intensive 16-week accelerator program, a residence for need-based cohorts and a paid co-working space for free-lance entrepreneurs and professionals on the go. Its a creative place, with positive vibe. We were taken on a tour of the premises and what they offer. One of the products they are offering is VP Hub’s accelerator program,  a pro-founder series of coordinated activities and interventions designed to support startups at the MVP stage with mentorship, business re-engineering, work space, living space, back office support, shared services and seed funding.

The goal is to ensure that by the end of the 3 to 4-month program, our accepted startups will have attained product/market fit, gained traction (revenue, partnerships, and commitments) and will be ready for early stage investors that they will meet during the program and at the Demo-Day event, that ends the program.

On the last day of the event Mr. Mud came to me and held my hand, for a minute he thanked me for a great experience and invited me in his office. I had made a new friendship, away from home. This was the first dry summit in four years, the temperatures in Abuja were as high as 38 degrees. I have shared pictures of the summit on the link below, Abuja had been great and see you next year.

Photos-https://www.flickr.com/gp/141544812@N04/2q1y0T

 

A Letter from Abuja.

I arrived in Abuja on Tuesday 28th 2017, it was 11am local time but it felt like it was 2pm. It was hot, hot with more than enough humidity. I didn’t feel it until I got out of the terminal to pick my cab. As they say here, somebody was “fetching me” from the airport. First, I was in a connecting flight, 8 hours of travel through Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, before I could find myself in Nigeria, my entry port – Abuja.

I headed straight to immigrations, – the guy who decides who walks in and who doesnt. I have my invitation letter printed, with a copy of passport bio page of the friend inviting me. No questions asked, a few people shouted on the que “visa on arrival” and there I was, with all my papers and my passport. In a small office at the terminal, a visa was manufactured, for $25 dollars. Without questions.

With a visa on my hands I went back to the counter, for the entry stump. The gentleman at the booth looked at me, then at my passport. Can I see your return ticket he asked, so I placed it on his hands, he looked at it then he asked for my invitation letter and confirmation of where I was staying. The Hotel. At that moment I remembered 4th of December at O. R Tambo International, when I was almost denied entry to South Africa, I had to tell the immigration officer it was my third visit to the country.

I was staying at an Airbnb, I had no confirmation of hotel and I believe Airbnb is not a hotel, so I passed. Then he asked for my yellow fever certificate, for a second there I was thinking, it should have been the first thing to ask. I finally got my passport stamped and picked my luggage and finally kissed the sun in Nigeria. I waited a while to be “fetched” it was a long while. I looked for a cool place to wait but it was unthinkable luxury at that moment. So I removed most of the clothes I was wearing to adjust to the weather, then from a distance somebody shouted my name. Thn started “Life in Abuja”

My friend who has been here for a week now narrated to me how he first arrived in Abuja, with no invitation letter and no hotel confirmation. He did have a visa. He had arrived from Nairobi and the only thing he could present to the immigration was himself and his passport. I have since picked a few visa experiences from those who were traveling from other countries for the CMS Summit Event. One friend from Poland said he was asked at the Nigerian embassy in Poland to pay express mode, that was additional money on the visa fee and after he paid for it, the gentleman just pocketed the money on his face.

With all the drummer behind me, Abuja is a great place. If you are from Nairobi, used to roads full of traffic from 5am, this city, gives you peace. I hear Lagos is like Nairobi, people who have lived in Lagos and are now in Abuja say, they aren’t cut for Lagos, they they are at peace in Abuja. The road network works well, it’s while though with very little creativity. Nigerians live big, and you can see it here. The presidential visa is build under the biggest rock in Nigeria, what is to be a tourist attraction now a no go zone-protected area. We had a view of it from the Venture platform, a startup incubation company we visited for a tour.

At venture platform, we came face to face with entrepreneurs wanting to make it in Nigeria, with different products on innovation. This young and have found a home at venture platform. I have been in many places like this but this place, provides accommodation for the people who travel from far and they want to see their dream materialize. I have loved my stay here, I have loved to food and the people. Taking my uber-ride everywhere, a trip to the market, and 4am dush to the airport. All this has been worth every moment. I have made good friends, people I will work with for many years to come. I did not have an opportunity to drive in Nigeria, they drive on the wrong side-the left side.

Other that that, it has been amazing stay.

Ideas to sleep on.

 

The world right now is a common heaven for “Do It Yourself” projects. From repairing your car, kitchen projects, landscaping etc. Do it yourself (DIY) is the method of building, modifying, or repairing things without the direct aid of experts or professionals. Academic research describes DIY as behaviors where “individuals engage raw and semi-raw materials and component parts to produce, transform, or reconstruct material possessions, including those drawn from the natural environment (e.g. landscaping)”.

DIY behavior can be triggered by various motivations previously categorized as marketplace motivations (economic benefits, lack of product availability, lack of product quality, need for customization), and identity enhancement (craftsmanship, empowerment, community seeking, uniqueness). Depending on where you live for example, if you live in Europe, tools bought on a long term projects are cheaper than labour. While visiting my friend in South of France, I was paid €50 for helping in preparing a summer home, it took me less that thirty minutes to earn it.

I was however very enlightened by the project my friend does together with his wife. Living in a small village called Fitou, they buy old houses and renovate them…..making them new and putting them on market as AirBNB. The interesting thing about all this is that they have mastered this art on DIY, and when they are hard at work, they seem to be having a lot fun. This encouraged me to if not to live like them, to atleast try. The difference between Europe and Africa is that when you talk labour, in many parts of Africa, is very cheap if not affordable. The tools on the other hand, are very expensive and out of reach for most people unless you are profiting on their use.

Dress the bed all you want. For me my first complex project was doing my headboard for my new bed. Don’t get me wrong, being an artist, I have involved myself with projects that are art related which included creating murals on big walls, but those kind of projects are normally easy for me to execute. However working with large wood, …..and i mean not making a picture frame, was very new to me. Everybody can have the same cell phone or furniture anywhere in the world. That’s what the Industrial Age does. But with such mass production, what is lost is the personal aspect of the handmade connection of one human being to another.

It’s not about sets, but about mixing different styles, such as a classic bed frame with a modern table or light and dark woods. My DIY projects have basically focused on reclaimed wood. At any given time, when you look at the back seat of my car, you see this old wood that to you would be destined to the dumpster but luckily  for me, its the beginning of a new life, a life that involves creativity. Using reclaimed wood in a renovation requires more legwork than just stopping at a home center for lumber, but home improvement project highlights the unique beauty that used timber can bring to a renovation,….and I love that.

Old timber has it’s strength. Recycling timber has become popular due to its image as an environmentally friendly product. Common belief among consumers is that by purchasing recycled wood, the demand for “green timber” will fall and ultimately benefit the environment. For me, I view, recycled timber as an environmentally friendly product.  I have used this kind of timber for a few projects now, and I will not stop today. If this will encourage you to start projects of your own, it will be great for you. You will have fun in the projects you take-up and convert normal space into ideal spaces.

 

 

Drought and Hunger hits parts of Kenya.

drought

My last article was about spicy food, something i am really passionate about. Then came my post on Facebook, “Hunger is now a national disaster, all this time we’ve been telling hungry people to register as voters”. One of my friend wanted to know more about that, and since I could not have explained it in a few words, I decided to write this article.

Over 80 per cent of Kenya’s population of 40 million derives their livelihoods from agriculture and pastoralism. Four million small farm households produce three-quarters of the country’s food. Yet Kenya’s farmers face massive challenges. Their landholdings are small, productivity is low and most have little access to inputs, financial services and markets to sell any surplus produce. Poverty and hunger remain deep and persistent. Around 48 per cent of Kenyans, especially subsistence farmers and pastoralists, live in poverty and over 40 per cent – around 16 million people – lack sufficient food. This is graphical I know, but true.

By end of 2016, five coast counties were ravaged with drought and hunger. The situation threatened 1.3 million lives in Kenya, according to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA). Kilifi had been identified as having the severest vegetation deficit. Kinango in Kwale and Lamu West sub-counties are also in the severe vegetation deficit band. But thats where it all ended, today, this figures are a reality.

Today, more that 2 million Kenyans are facing hunger and starvation because of prolonged drought. People and animals’ lives are at risk because they have not had a chance to recover from drought in 2014 as rains were also poor in 2015 and 2016. The 2016 long rains were poor, leaving 1.3 million Kenyans in need of food aid, according to the government, which has started distributing maize, beans and rice to hungry people in the worst-affected northern and coastal regions.

Generally, responses to drought or crisis are too little and too late, it can take several months for emergency aid to reach people on the ground. Most of the worst hit area have poor road network, None if not little access to communication, and very limited representation. Kenya has declared the ongoing drought affecting many parts of the country a national disaster, calling for aid to counter the situation which is posing a major risk to people, livestock and wildlife.

The Kenya Red Cross estimated about 2.7 million people were in need of food aid after low rainfall in October and November, with the next rainy season not due before April. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called for “local and international partners to come in and support the government’s efforts to contain the situation”.

Out of Kenya’s 47 counties, 23 have been deemed to be facing disastrous drought. Early this month, residents in drought-struck northern Kenya said at least 11 people were killed and a tourist lodge torched due to conflicts when armed cattle herders flooded onto farms and wildlife reserves. Our nation has faced this situation before and efforts to create a permanent solutions have not yielded fruits.

With a score of 21.9 in Global Hunger Index, Kenya is ranked among the top 50 countries failing to provide their people with enough food. Kenya is ranked marginally ahead of conflict-prone Iraq which has a score of 22 and is outpaced by Egypt with a score of 13.7 which has in recent years been faced by conflict.

Ending global hunger is certainly possible, but it’s up to all of us that we set the priorities right to ensure that governments, the private sector and civil society devote the time and resources necessary to meet this important goal. I feel sad when I witness what is going on in our nation, my soul and prayers goes to those affected and in my little way, I contribute with kindness to the people affected.

We continue to hope, We continue to pray and we continue to fight.