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Ian Lawrence

A Bitcoin project

2014-03-26 21:10 UTC  by  Ian Lawrence
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Some words about hedging

The Bitcoin market is pretty fresh and unstable at the moment. It is greatly affected by any news on this market. We expect slow grow of exchange rates in the long-term. This assumptions is based on the following facts:

Click to read 1848 more words
Categories: Bitcoin
Ian Lawrence

We have been hard at work developing and improving the Nokia Data Gathering solution, and will be launching an exciting new version in May 2012. The Nokia Data Gathering 4.04 (Dazzling Dourado) release will include bug fixes and new features on the Java mobile client, as well as a brand new Nokia Data Gathering server and user interface. We will also be launching the first Windows Phone client of Nokia Data Gathering.

Come discover and try out Nokia Data Gathering 4.04! On 16 May 2012, the Nokia Data Gathering team will be at Seton Hall University to tell you all about the new Nokia Data Gathering 4.04 server, the new Windows Phone mobile app, mobile data collection case studies from around the world, and to give you a chance to try out Nokia Data Gathering 4.04 for yourself.

Please join us!

Event Nokia Data Gathering 4.04 workshop Date Wednesday, 16 May 2012 Time 09:00-12:00 AM Place Seton Hall University, 400 South Orange Avenue, South Orange, NJ 07079, USA Room Beck Rooms A, B, and C (Ground Floor of Walsh Library)

Nokia Data Gathering 4.04 is the result of a collaborative effort between Nokia, the Center for Mobile Research and Innovation at Seton Hall University and Microsoft. Learn more at http://projects.developer.nokia.com/ndg/

For more information about the workshop and/or Nokia Data Gathering, please contact kulsoom.ally 'at' nokia.com

Categories: Communities
Ian Lawrence

Tangaza or 'announce' in Swahili

2011-10-14 13:54 UTC  by  Ian Lawrence
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Despite the rapid growth of mobile data and mobile internet, many (most) people in developing countries do not have access to mobile data. For example in Africa, there are around 45 basic mobile subscriptions but only 2 data subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Peer to peer communication, voice calls, SMS and 'beeping' are the standard communication tools and techniques currently in use.

The success of Twitter and other group communication tools has been undeniable and the development and introduction of mobile app based messaging systems remains active. But would it be possible to design a group messaging system for people who only have access to a basic feature phone with standard GSM features available on every mobile phone?

Tangaza is a mobile phone based group messaging system targeted at moderately low income users. Through the use of missed calls, a basic SMS command set and concise touch tone menu, Tangaza is designed to enable affordable spoken communication among flexible groups of users. Developed in collaboration between Nokia US and African research units, Nokia Tangaza was piloted in Kenya in 2009 and a research paper (.pdf) on this pilot and on Tangaza's design decisions was presented at the 1st Annual Symposium on Computing for Development in 2010. The software has now been open sourced under the AGPL and I have just submitted an ITP to the Debian Bug Tracker. We aim to have Tangaza in the next Debian release and the Debian VOIP team are helping with this effort.

Tangaza runs on Linux and you will need to have

  • Perl 5
  • Python 2.6
  • MySQL 5.0
  • Django 1.2
  • Kannel 1.4.3
  • Asterisk 1.6.2
installed on your Debian based system if you want to build Tangaza before it reaches the main repositories . You need to
git clone https://github.com/tangaza/Tangaza

git checkout -b upstream --track origin/master

(The '--track' option alters your .git/config file and adds a [branch "upstream"] section telling Git where you fetched it from. That means you can later just say "git pull" and you will get both the 'master' and the 'upstream' repository merged into your repository automatically.)

git checkout master

git-buildpackage --git-ignore-new --git-builder=debuild -i.git -I.git -us -uc
and install the resulting .deb package

During the last development cycle we built Tangaza a web enabled administrative interface in Django where the groups, members and organization information can be modified and the messages (called Tangazo's) can be listened to We also wrote some documentation about the API calls we make available through RPC for developers who want to build applications on top of Tangaza.

There is some interest in using Tangaza as an agricultural early warning system in East Africa. A Humanitarian Innovation Fund expression of interest passed through to a call for a full proposal which is pretty exciting both in terms of potential impact and also for the new features which can be developed with increased funding


Categories: Africa
Ian Lawrence

I have just published the software I wrote for my MBA in Strategic Management of Technology Innovation.

A slightly customized version of the software is currently in use as a innovation funnel at INdT.

It is a commonly accepted fact in business that social projects bring some tangible benefits to an organization. Unfortunately, even if the project is very successful this often does not impact directly on the financial bottom line. And, in a world of razor-thin margins, a set of activities that drive up corporate cost without any directly identifiable return is a tough sell, no matter how worthwhile and noble the project might be. The business case for social projects is therefore contingent on finding a suitable method for valuation — one that allows managers to understand the implications of an indirect benefit and then make ’intelligent’ decisions about which projects to choose and the most feasible level of resources to commit.

I approached the problem using techniques from agile development. Scrum sizings were run with stakeholders experienced in the type of project under evaluation which estimated the intangible values present in the social project.The values were then passed into an algorithm which ran an economic analysis of the project with its associated series of estimates as projected 'cash-flows'. The economic indicators calculated are net present value, internal rate of return and efficiency of investment

Projects are then ranked on their efficiency of social investment score.

The customization used at INdT is that instead of using scrum estimates the software has values assigned by answering questions. This makes the software then useful for all kinds of projects.The following questions were used

  • What is the quality of information presented.?
  • How much does this project align with strategy?
  • What is the probability that the project will build competencies?
  • The project opens new, significant markets for customers (What is the potential for market and revenue creation?)
  • What is the project's capacity to leverage competitive position (Impact on competition)
  • If the project is approved what is the span of possible applications that the resulting product might be applied to?
  • Are there any IPR implications?
  • What is the technological feasibility of the project?
  • Assuming the project is implemented the set up costs of it are likely to be?
  • What are the technological risks?
and the software also has a 'stage-gate' built in now so that projects can be eliminated early on if some basic requirements are not met. Things like the project conflicting with the current portfolio or not adding value fit this description.

The software is published under the AGPL and it uses a standard Django set up. It should be relatively bug free but YMMV depending on what you want to do with it. The full thesis - How to choose social investment projects by calculating their efficiency of investment using agile software development techniques - is available to download here. Enjoy!

Categories: AGPL
Ian Lawrence

Software shortlisted for sustainability award

2011-03-11 09:32 UTC  by  Ian Lawrence
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NDG has been shortlisted for the Just Means 2011 – Social Innovation Awards, an important program which recognizes innovative software in the social and environmental areas. The result will be published during the event “2011 Redefining Value”, which will occur on the 25th of March, in London.

The software is competing in the category ‘Most Strategic Use of Philanthropic Funds’, disputing the prize with other three companies – Nature’s Path Foods, Oracle Corporation and Barclays PLC.

“The initiative to submit NDG to the prize came from Nokia's Corporate Social Investment team. Those involved believe that the work done recently with the software has brought many positive effects to communities in need worldwide and for this reason we have the potential to compete,” explains Ian Lawrence, a software developer at INdT, whom along with Rodrigo Ramos – also an INdT developer – works on the NDG project in Manaus, developing new features and offering support to NGOs and companies which wish to use the tool.

NDG was launched in 2008, and it is used for the collection of field data, substituting the use of paper survey forms and allowing the secure transfer of this information to a server, in real time. In 2009, the State of Amazonas’ Secretary of Health (SUSAM) adopted the software to conduct a campaign to fight Dengue Fever in Amazonas.

The results were so significant that NDG was adopted worldwide by many different organizations. Examples are the Philippines’ Government who along with the WWF use the tool to map the agricultural sector in the country and the Kenyan Government who run child birth registration programs in rural areas.

Categories: Africa
Ian Lawrence

Install Kubuntu Mobile on the N900

2011-01-07 14:05 UTC  by  Ian Lawrence
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Some time ago I wrote a post about a project we were working on called Ubuntu Liquid. Well since then a lot has happened.The Bossa Conference came to Manaus with a great plasma mobile talk, the project changed its name to Kubuntu Mobile, the awesome KDE and Kubuntu communities became involved and we managed to finally get a Technology Preview release out of the door for Ubuntu Maverick!.

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Categories: Communities
Ian Lawrence


Nokia Data Gathering is released on a six monthly cycle. At the beginning of a new development cycle, community developers, NGO's and interested users gather to help shape and scope the next release of NDG (3.04).

The road mapping meetings are open to the public, but they are not conferences, exhibitions or other audience-oriented events. Rather, they provide an opportunity for software developers -- who usually collaborate online -- and technically orientated system integrators to work together in person on specific tasks related to the planning of the next Nokia Data Gathering release.


We were really fortunate for 3.04 that the University of Nairobi allowed us to hold the meeting at the Computer Science Department and that so many passionate staff, students and users came along and made the meeting so special. I think we all (well I am sure I did anyway) learned a powerful lesson about software development.

Build features which people want, need and will actually use rather than what we think people want.

We came with many great shiny new ideas for data gathering but it was simplicity, accessibility and security which were requested.

When that new feature I wanted to build (to scratch my own itch in all reality) falls over and a field worker in Liberia for example cannot send a Birth Registration Form no-one recognizes that child as a member of society able to receive medical treatment, go to school or find legal work. I can sleep well hungry, penniless, lonely or cold but I cannot sleep well knowing that is because of me.

Maybe itch scratching is an easy trap to fall into after working for so long on free software projects but it nearly bit me here and I am eternally grateful to Africa and to our community for the heads up and guidance. A big shout also must go out to Peter Wagacha and the rest of the team at the University for giving us this chance to learn and finally special congratulations and new mobile phone go to Bryann for the winning proposal for the release name. The next release will be called Brave Batian and it promises greatness!



The peak of Batian (17,057 feet) is the highest peak on Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa. Mount Kenya has a girth of about 95 miles at 8,000 feet, from which it rises boldly to its restricted summit zone. Mount Kenya is the source of the name of the Republic of Kenya.

Categories: Africa
Ian Lawrence

Open Innovation Africa Summit

2010-10-29 08:22 UTC  by  Ian Lawrence
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This is a nice initiative that Nokia is spearheading with Capgemini and The World Bank to explore and foster the innovation eco-system in Africa.

It's called the Open Innovation Africa Summit and it's happening the week of November 29th 2010 in Nairobi, Kenya!

The summit aims to promote creation of new innovation services and collaboration models, which ensure continuous alignment between different players of the innovation ecosystem as well as to embed end-user driven co-creation and open innovation as critical elements to African innovation systems.

They've launched a great ideation platform as part of it that revolves around the four main streams for the event:

  • Ecosystem for Innovation
  • Emerging Market Business Models
  • Mobile Services Revolution
  • Human Capital - Education for All
You can check out the website and find more information here: www.innovateafrique.com

We're launching official communication about the event next week but I wanted to let readers of this blog know about this extraordinary initiative and to get your help providing insights and ideas (there are also 8 seats dedicated to the top contributors and readers here could for sure contribute greatly at the event itself, so I thought I'd give you all a heads up :)

The road mapping meeting for the 3.04 Nokia Data Gathering release takes place directly after this event at the School Of Computing And Informatics, University of Nairobi.

Categories: Africa
Ian Lawrence

Nokia Data Gathering Open Source

2010-08-18 09:03 UTC  by  Ian Lawrence
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In January of this year we began discussing the idea of releasing Nokia Data Gathering under an open source license - 8 months later, a couple of days early and here we are. All the legal and IPR issues have been resolved, the corporate site has been updated and we have a new project home on Forum Nokia with training guides, documentation, and a tutorial on setting up a development environment.

To celebrate this achievement we decided to scratch an old itch and package the NDG server for Debian. It was fun learning about the state of Java packaging in Debian and the awesome work of the Debian JBoss team. Jon and I managed to get some of the work done at Debconf in NYC (thanks Nokia) and the rest, well most of it in fact was done by Rodrigo, a new member of the NDG Open Source team.

To try it out add
http://people.debian.org/~jbernard/debian unstable/
to your
/etc/apt/sources.list
and run
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install ndg
The packaging work is taking place on the mailing list so please join us if you are interested in this work.

Reaction to the source code release has been great with a nice review up on Mobile Active and a lot of new users on our playground

The positive feedback has inspired us to be creative and we have some great ideas for the future of data collection on mobile devices including porting the mobile client to Series 40, scoping out the design of a 'legacy connector' to talk with existing data sources and integrating Bluetooth sensor support into the server and mobile client.

In the second half of 2010 we will also further develop our university collaborations, particularly in Africa. Here the University of Lagos is already working to select 15 - 20 of its more promising students to work on a data gathering project to assess the extent and nature of patronage enjoyed by alternative medicine practitioners in Nigeria.

Indeed the university collaborations have already been a great success. Rodrigo was one of my students at the INdT/FUCAPI Mobile Linux Development Center and his application Tweego recently won the Maemo Coding Competition.

His prize is a trip up to Ireland to the Meego conference. Well done Rodrigo, for sure you deserve it and watch out for great things from him (and NDG Open Source of course) in the future

Categories: Amazon
Ian Lawrence


A great opportunity has arisen to come and work with us on the Service Experience team @ INdT

I need someone to work on my team creating, maintaining and supporting a community of open source developers and implementers around the world. The full job spec is pasted below but the most important skills are experience working with open source development, fluency in English and some experience working with social projects in the areas of Education, Health or the Environment.

Please, if you would like to be considered either send me your CV or get in contact directly with our human resources department at INdT.

Please pass this opportunity on to anyone you think might be ideal for this role and I am looking forward to meeting some really cool people at the interviews :).

Mandatory

Education Level: Degree - but exceptional candidates without will be considered
Desirable Experience: 0-1 year
English: Fluent
Must Have: Demonstrable open source community involvement preferably as a committer to an open source project.
Would Like But Not Essential: Java, Debian, MySQL, ECMA script, Previous voluntary work in the fields of Education, Health or the Environment

Job Role

You will evangelize the adoption of our developer products and support implementations of our solutions worldwide. You will bring strong and well-rounded coding skills in a wide range of open source technologies along with excellent writing, presentation and support skills. You will be measured on growth in adoption of our developer products and customer satisfaction in our implementer communities. You need to be able to work equally well answering simple questions with NGO's, highly technical ones with developers at our partner companies as well as reporting accurately to senior managers.

Key Responsibilities

  • Actively tweet, blog and write sample code, developer articles and tutorials for our products as well as provide support online through our forums.
  • Provide on-line support and advice.
  • Advocate for and evangelize our developer products and APIs in multiple mediums.
  • Participate in architectural,design and support discussions with strategic partners to speed adoption and ensure best practices during implementation.
  • Influence our developer product strategy by working with product management, engineering, marketing, business development and operations.

We are building an outstanding team around our social investment projects here at INdT - if you want to be a part of this write and tell us why.


Good Luck!


Categories: Communities
Ian Lawrence

I am going to Debconf 10

2010-06-01 10:31 UTC  by  Ian Lawrence
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Yes, thanks to the excellent Valessio Brito I already put the “I’m going to DebConf10” button on my front page. Absolutely stoked!

Categories: Conferences
Ian Lawrence

Rodrigo and I were invited to talk about Ubuntu Mobile at the Bossa Conference this year in Manaus.The finished presentation is here but what follows is a short rundown of what the Lucid release means for Ubuntu. Some highlights are

  • Rootstock/Rootstock gui – integrated with oem-config
  • Qemu-arm-static
  • ARM/Thumb2 support - the archive in lucid is built for the ARMv7 architecture with thumb2 support.
  • EFL 2D Launcher

Rootstock is a graphical (and command line of course) set of tools to create a fully configured tarball or VM image of an ubuntu rootfs from scratch

so that you can extract it to a root device. One nice thing about this is that various tasks can be included in the image. This is very useful when working with ARM. Other tools such as Moblin Image Creator exist to do more or less the same thing but Rootstock is leading the way in innovation at the moment IMO. If you want to really customize an image then you need to use seeds and germinate a set of packages - for this you will need to read our book ;)

The binfmt-misc module in the Ubuntu kernel makes it possible to execute binaries of foreign arches under linux. This means it is possible to have an arm eabi enabled chroot on a i386 system :) - this is as simple as running

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install qemu-arm-static
$ build-arm-chroot karmic eabi-chroot

ARM/Thumb 2 is the instruction set underlying the ARM Cortex architecture which provides enhanced levels of performance, energy efficiency, and code density for a wide range of embedded applications.The whole Ubuntu archive is being ported to Thumb 2 and we still have some some build failures- if you can help with ftbfs (failed to build from source) please help out here.

This has already been covered extensively elsewhere but the new UI for ARM based Ubuntu devices will rock hard for Lucid. The tool will detect hardware and if a device does not have 3D capabilities it wall fall back to the EFL launcher   It is hard to stress why this is rocks so much but a unified user experience across i386/Atom and ARM devices should ring a few bells in marketing departments everywhere, right.

Exciting times.

Categories: Bossa