Experiences with Documentation

I had never done documentation before. Maybe I did it indirectly but it was not professional. The only good work I can recall is providing steps for installation and operation of some programs such as the functionality of ODK aggregate using Google app Engine and SDK platform.

Over the last week, I have been preparing documentation on User Controls and R Syntax Class for the African Data Initiative project. User controls are user defined form controls which can be added to tool box and using them ensure consistency in form design and quality. Some of User controls that we managed to come up with are: Data Selector and Data Selector Add Remove-for loading variables from the columns whenever data is loaded, Data Receiver- this included three set of receivers namely,: Single Receivers, Multiple Receiver and Receiver which inherited the properties of either multiple receiver or Single Receiver and lastly, the Base buttons controls of the Dialogs and sub dialogs. R Syntax Class is set of code the enabled the writing of R functions in the Visual Studio easier to the front end designers.

I must say I did not do a lot for the start since I had just provided the description of the User controls and R Syntax class and the steps involved in their implementation.

As usual, I had to present this to the ADI team and received all forms of criticism which I termed it positive criticism. Some discussions were done and this was a learning process to me.

Improvement after Discussions:

We managed to come up with the tables of contents for the whole body using word designer.

A good introduction which entailed the background was implemented.

The working example of both User Controls and R syntax class were included in the documentation

We also managed to come up with further work on User controls which entailed inclusionof factor when designing data receivers

And lastly, we managed to come up with a good conclusion and agreed even to come with text file for good online documentation

Conclusion

This was a very exciting exercise and I learned on how to deliver and at the same time learn a lot from the project. I would like to carry on with this exercise in future.

 

The Power of Prezi and Beamer

Presentation skills are key for the success of any seminar, conference and even passing knowledge in any educational system. Good presentation skills enable better learning and also, can build recognition for the presenter. But skills alone cannot make your presentation outstanding.

I have been having a series of presentation for the last four weeks and it was very evident that the presentation can be planned for or impromptu.

Maybe, to make my argument very strong, let me take you through some of the tools that can make your presentation colorful and leave the audience amazed. First, I would like to start with PowerPoint. This is a Microsoft package that enables one organizes his ideas in form of good looking slides. It also provides the presenter with opportunity to animate the presentation. Secondly, Beamer is another tool that is mostly used by scientists.  I understand this is not a vocabulary to those guys who have used Latex before. Lastly, I would like to base my arguments on Prezi.

I have only used Prezi twice despite doing several presentations. My first presentation in a series was at African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, where I presented about African Data Initiative and I used PowerPoint. The second one was on Open Data Kit, A digital application for collecting and managing data. This training was also conducted at the same institution with Maxwell and I being the facilitators. But my stay at AIMS attracted me to learn Latex since I attended several presentations on Statistics and Entrepreneurship and I can tell you for free that Beamer was the only powerful tool being used. My last presentation at AIMS was impromptu since I was just called upon to brief the students and Lecturers the progress of New Instat development. This was an easy task since I am actively involved in the development of this new Statistical tool that is running Instat in the Front End and R at the Back End.

When I came back to Kenya, The team was given a task to present to the CLIMSOT team at SUNSET Hotel in Kisumu. And here Prezi came in. I was given a task of designing the presentation using Prezi, a powerful tool. I had used Prezi before but I was not quite efficient in using it. So, Patrick Njoroge, a colleague at AMI had to come in with Support of David Stern which led to the designing of a very wonderful presentation.

From my argument, it is very clear that the tool you use for presentation matters a lot. If I may asked to select one I might be indifferent. And so the choice depends with the skills of the presenter though Prezi and Beamer seem to more superior if you may allow me to rank them.

Lastly, the preparation and research on the topic also counts. Doing a mock presentation and getting critics from your colleagues help to boost your actual presentation

Immigration Officers, a Menace to the Country’s Economic Growth and Development

These are the guys who could be trusted to take good care of both citizens and visitors, ensure that the country is secure and that the activities at the border are running efficiently. But this is not the case more so in developing countries like Kenya.

When I went to apply for my passport at Kisumu, I learned a lot about poor customer care at Immigration offices. These guys, instead of serving you are guiding you to make mistakes. These mistakes are meant to make you give them something small. The same case was observed at the border.

Before, I thought this a problem affecting only Kenya but then I reached the Tanzania side during my AMI visit for an inception meeting with the Missing tool project team. Here, you are not supposed to queue if you have some small cash. Give them something and you will be served very fast. . Also, when I reached AIMS Tanzania, It was the same case when I tried to share my experience with a certain lady from Nigeria. She said when you go to apply for a passport, charges are discriminated. Haha, she reminded me of First, Second and Third degree Market discrimination knowledge I acquired at Kenyatta University where I did my undergraduate.

But this is not market discrimination neither is it monopoly but clear Corruption cases which are pulling Africa’s development backward. Africa cannot develop with such level of corruption. I don’t blame the government but individuals. Corruption is a state of mind and is mostly experienced when the gap between haves and have-nots is very big.

To get rid of corruption one should:

Learn to be honest: This can be achieved through trusting yourself and learning to do things on your own under minimum supervision.

Be patriotic: A sense of patriotism makes one to avoid breaking the rules set by the law

Lastly, Be respectful. No one will ask for bribe if she/he is truly respectful.

Nurturing Talents through Computer Programming in Africa

I remember, while I was a high school student at Nyang’ori Boys High School used to respect guys taking computer studies for no reasons. Why? There is a notion created by a set of people in the society that learning how computers work is hard. What really is computer programming which is better known as Programming? Wikipedia explains it as “a process that leads from an original formulation of a computing problem to executable computer programs”.

I think this a bit harder for a beginner to comprehend. Personally, I would describe programming as giving a computer a set of Instructions that is aimed at solving problems. From my definition, Programming is then driven by innovations, creativity and surrounding problems.
I first came across serious programming while working as a volunteer at AMI. This was mostly R programming and other set of Programming languages such as Python. It is due to this that I was pushed to research more about programming and its effects to the society and currently working on the Climsoft project. This project has enabled me to interact with Visual Basic.Net a lot and it has really helped me build my programming skills and passion too. In fact the task on mapping using Gmap.net was one of the best throughout the period.
Also, when I was watching a documentary about Google and saw kids being introduced to programming I got excited. Even my favorite music artist, Black Eyed Peas, mentioned in that video that everybody must learn how to read and write codes which I thought was a very good idea. He ended up saying that he had enrolled for programming sessions.
Talents then can be best nurtured through programming since one is trained on how to think creatively, critically and abstractly, which boost innovation in society. To borrow some information from Maseno Math Camp 2015, students were introduced to Scratch. They used scratch to come up with games after which they had to play and enjoy. Also, the end of camp survey report showed that most students liked the computer sessions and I think this is the way to go Lastly, University students had a construct 2 sessions at AMI offices to create simple mathematics games for Kids and many of them really liked the Idea. I was really happy since I was among the guys who organized the event. . Such sessions are supposed to be carried out frequently to see students excel both academically and talent wise.
Although, we have drawbacks in Africa created by inadequate or lack of resources, we must use the resources we have to improve the state of education, knowledge and our countries’ economies. Economies are driven by both talented and knowledgeable scholars and Computer programming can help achieve these.

Crowd sourcing, The concept yet to be adapted in Africa

As the name suggests, if you hear the mentioning of ‘crowd sourcing’ what really comes to someone’s mind is something being done by a large number of people. According to Merriam Webster dictionary, crowd sourcing is explained as a process of obtaining needed services, ideas or content by soliciting large contributions from a large group of people and especially from online community, rather than traditional employees or suppliers. Before I was actively involved in crowd sourcing, African Data initiative campaign, I ever wondered how large tech projects were being financed and the procedures involved.

In my own understanding, Crowd Sourcing is a concept that can spur Africa Economic development by funding good projects and at the same time getting people to understand what is happening around them. It also enables the people behind the project to get various thoughts from the community that is either directly or indirectly affected by the projects. I think this is a bit different from crowd funding which is aimed at only funding the projects. Some good example of crowd funding are: Google raising 11M dollars for refugee crisis in Europe, Kenyans raising money via MPESA pay bills to help victims of terror attacks and even resident in poverty stricken areas, Bring Zack Back Home funding initiative that aimed at raising KShs. 250M to build a spinal injury treatment center in Kenya and, lastly, Face Book and twitter funding on Kick Starter.

Why African Scholars Should Consider Blogging Part of Their Culture

Sincerely speaking, I learned how to blog when I was working under Danny at African Math Initiative. Before, I used to think blogging was only meant for ‘geeks’ or tech savvy. I came to realize that anyone can be a passionate blogger if you have interest, a desire to improve on your writing skills and educating the society. It is through blogging that I developed interest to study HTML and CSS on Code Academy.

To start with, I have been doing research on blogging tips and characteristics to get to have good knowledge and also improve on the way I blog. A blog post is any piece of writing which is published online while blog is regularly updated webpage just like a journal. A blog enables one to post content, edit and also allow readers to post comments. Blog post must have a title and the body which is posted by publishing.

Some of the good blogging tips are: Getting ideas from your audience which can be achieved through engaging people on social media, writing for yourself, learn to give stuff for free and learning how to engage your critics.

Blogs can be used in various ways: blogs can be used for commentary purposes, marketing, business purposes, educational platform , even as a platform to publish your research content and also, blogs can be used to get people understand what you have previously been working on.

Meeting Giovanna’s students from the School of Development and Strategic Studies to talk about my experience with blogging was one of the exciting things in my life. I had a clear understanding that Development Studies, International Relations and Political Science scholars think a lot and they can only make their thoughts important by publishing them online. We shared a lot and students got to learn various ways of creating their blogs. From the interaction with the students, I learnt that being kind with your knowledge is only way to make the society learn and also it is a way forward for the best blogging.

Wide knowledge which is readily available is the only way to spur development in Africa and I think blogging can be used to achieve this.