Wednesday, August 17, 2011

News from Kenya: food price spike worsen hunger, smartphone sales skyrocket

While the emergency in the Horn of Africa was triggered by prolonged droughts, especially in areas struggling with conflict and internal displacement such as Somalia, food prices that are near the record high levels seen in 2008 also contributed to the situation.
- The World Bank, Food Price Watch report according to The Guardian, August 2011 / Africa famine: soaring food prices intensifying crisis, report warns.

In a related news report by France 24 a 14 years old is armed with an AK-47 when herding his skinny goats in drought stricken northern Kenya.

Earlier this year, the Chinese firm Huawei unveiled IDEOS through Kenya’s telecom titan, Safaricom. So far, this $80 smartphone has found its way into the hands of 350,000+ Kenyans, an impressive sales number in a country where 40% of the population lives on less than two dollars a day. The IDEOS’s success in this market firmly establishes the open source Android as the smartphone of the people and demonstrates how unrelenting upswings in price-performance can jumpstart the spread of liberating technologies.
- Singularity Hub, August 2011 / $80 Android Phone Sells Like Hotcakes in Kenya, the World Next? (via Slashdot).

The tecnical specs are just slightly below those of "our" iPhones, Samsungs and HTCs but the price is about one tenth (yes, 1/10). In other words, Huawei and Google just saved Kenyans (800 USD minus 80 USD) times 350.000 equalling 252 million USD. At least. (Shows how incredibly conservative my 3 billion USD estimate on how much Linux has saved people and business recently was; see Apple, PCs, Linux and the economy.)

An entrepreneurial conference in Nairobi called Pivot25 showcased some of the most innovative Android apps in East Africa. Among these include M-Farm, an app that allows farmers to broadcast product prices and locations to the world via SMS. Another agri-app developed by Makerere University helps diagnose and track the spread of crop diseases via crowdsourcing. In a nation where agriculture accounts for nearly a quarter of GDP, apps like these could prove invaluable in maximizing harvests and facilitating the spread of precision farming.

[This blog post has been cross-posted to Ecowar and TH!NK3.]

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Linux is only free if your time has no value"

A web developer blogs about moving from Linux to Mac. And back! Read Arnaud / Mac OS vs Linux:
I have been using a Mac for a bit more than a year now. I bought a Macbook Air second generation. This was the most expensive laptop I have ever bought. But I thought: I am fed-up of fixing problems with my Windows OS or Linux; and I have work to do! So the Mac seemed to be a good option. It worked indeed. It really really worked well. Mac OS is a really nice thing. The hardware is also really nice. You pay the price, but it is totally worth every dime.


I [recently bought a Win7 laptop on sale at $299]... I cleaned Windows... I installed Ubuntu. I had to fight the cheap hardware to make it work properly and I "wasted" some of my precious time tweaking every part of the OS to make it really usable... After playing around A LOT with my cheap Ubuntu Natty laptop; and after over one year using a Mac, here is my conclusion: There is a lot of time "wasted" using and configuring and playing around with Linux... But I missed that!


Mac is simple and stable, so it is supposedly unleashing your creativity... but, hacking around pushes you out of the box whether you want it or not. It makes a creative person out or you, naturally.

As a Linux proponent of course I have been met with the "Linux is only free if your time has no value" argument:

This Facebook screenshot shows the comments to a person asking for a code to install Windows with. 1st comment is, basically, "buy it". And the 2nd is mine linking to Linux distros.

But as a Linux user you spend zero time asking people for codes to install your pirated MS Windows copy. And you spend no money buying a legitimate copy (no time earning those no money). Neither the time or the money spent on either of those things for Windows will make you smarter. Installing and hacking a bit of Linux will.

I wager you'll spend less time with Blue Screen of Death type incidents and you'll lose less data with linux (or Mac). Plus if you do hack around, report a bug or help out a fellow user you will be contributing to a grateful community, not doing free work for a multinational corporation.

Unfortunately, the installation part is now so easy a sea gull could do it. But a die hard Windows pirate can't.

UPDATE: This post badly needed a picture of a sea gull. So here it is. A sea gull photographed from the deck of a ferry between two Faroe isles. Need I mention the post processing was done in Digikam?


(Emphasis in quote added by me.)