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Steve Wozniak (Apple co-founder) On iTunes and Android

October 3, 2012 by muyiwa

“Apple’s real rise from the small market-share Macintosh company to the iProducts of today began with iTunes and the iPod. This turned out to be a 2nd huge business which roughly doubled Apple’s ‘size’. If you remember, we ported iTunes to Windows. We now addressed 100% of the world’s market with this integrated system (iPod/iTunes) and it began the era of Apple that we are now in. So why don’t we port iTunes to Android? Did something get closed up? I love Apple products and iTunes and wish it were on my Android products too.”

Lost in translation - "No entry" or "out of the office"?

November 1, 2010 by muyiwa

When officials at Swansea council asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed.

Unfortunately, In a case of an "out-of-the-office" auto-response gone wrong, the e-mail response from the translator said in Welsh: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated".

So that was what went up under the English version which barred lorries from a road near a supermarket.

Moral of the story? Always check with the locals.

Open source goes to high school

September 21, 2010 by muyiwa

Yes, it's happening. A high school not only heavily reliant on open source technologies, but one which has an open source curriculum -

The FreedomBox

September 18, 2010 by muyiwa

"We're not going to win the freedom of the Net argument by taking FaceBook on our back".

"If you want to know who I talked to on Friday night, get a search warrant and stop reading my e-mail"

"We're surrounded by stuff listening to and watching us, by mine-able data"

"So, let's give ourselves a direction in which to go - towards freedom, using free software to make social justice"

Watch Eben Moglen's video presentation at NYU to understand why that corporate Google email may not be such a good idea afterall.

More information about the FreedomBox Foundation

Free, open, and easy access to data and books

August 6, 2010 by muyiwa

This post is about free access to good stuff.

First, the World Bank Group now provides free, open, and easy access to its comprehensive set of data on living standards around the globe—some 2,000 indicators, including hundreds that go back 50 years through its new data portal at

This new site currently contains the full World Development Indicators (WDI), Global Development Finance (GDF), and Africa Development Indicators (ADI) as well as several other World Bank databases such as Global Economic Monitor (GEM), Education Statistics, etc.

For a full list of data sets available please go to Most of the data is available in Arabic, French, and Spanish in addition to English.

Second, there's free access to more than 2000 book chapters and journal papers at

Finally, if you've ever used Gapminder, you'll be thrilled that you can now download and use Gapminder World, with all its indicators, from an installed application on your own computer. This means you can use it even without an Internet connection. You can also save your own favourite graphs on your computer.

Gapminder have developed this application because it was the single most requested feature on the Gapminder website. According to Gapminder, the application was designed with two usage scenarios in mind: first, for personal use in locations where there is no internet connection, or a very slow connection. Second, for lectures and presentations.

You no longer have to depend on the internet being available in the classroom or meeting room to use Gapminder. Once installed on your computer Gapminder Desktop will automatically check for updates so that your graphs are always up to date with the latest data available. Get Gapminder Desktop from

UK replaces Highly Skilled Migrants Programme with Highly Skilled Workers Visa

July 2, 2008 by muyiwa

On June 30, 2008 the UK Boarder Agency will complete the implementation worldwide of its new Tier 1 points based system, to replace eight earlier visa categories, among which is the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme.

Interested persons can find more information at (page opens in new window).

I'm putting this here because it's virtually impossible to reach by e-mail, all the people I know who will be interested in this news.

I need to stress that the appearance of this information here does not imply that it, and indeed any information on this website, is in any way endorsed by the UK Home Office or the UK Border Agency.

Microsoft gives company US$400,000 "marketing expenses" to put Windows on Nigerian government computers!

November 12, 2007 by muyiwa

According to this story, a Linux company, Mandriva, had sold computers with a customisable, open source operating system to the Nigerian government at a very low price. According to the head of Mandriva, the reason the Nigerian government chose their solution was because it could be customised to suit the customer's needs. The machines were tested, the government signed for a consignment of 17,000 computers, and the company started delivering. Suddenly, TSC, the company handling the contract on behalf of the government said to Mandriva, "we will pay you for your software, but after you supply the computers with it installed, we will delete it and install Microsoft Windows".

Now, Windows is not customisable, and there are several undocumented little programs that can send information back to Microsoft if you don't take steps to stop them. Fortunately, someone at the government funding agency in Nigeria, Nigeria's Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), seems to have their head screwed on right, saw through the scam that the arrangement is, and stepped in to shut it down. Did I hear you say "Hooray!"? Well, it's not quite as simple as that.

It turns out that "Microsoft is still negotiating an agreement that would give TSC US$400,000 (£190,323) for marketing activities around the Classmate PCs when those computers are converted to Windows" according to Microsoft's Nigeria Country Manager, Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu (see here). Mandriva's François Bancilhon, in a sarcasm-laden letter to Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, says the deal got "more competitive". Others might say it got dirty. Others may even say that Microsoft is bribing TSC. Or what would you call a situation where someone is paid to replace a perfectly good operating system with a bloated, buggy, and insecure one?

The Nigerian government, or its anti-corruption agency, the EFCC, must investigate who has been offered and obviously agreed to take money in exchange for compromising not only the security of Nigeria's IT infrastructure, but perhaps more importantly, potentially lock in the next generation of Nigerians into an operating system that other countries are rejecting in their national IT infrastructure. Anybody found guilty should be charged with nothing less than treason.

Of Christopher Columbus, Trojan horses and the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

October 25, 2007 by muyiwa

The One Laptop Per Child ( is a US$100 laptop that promises to revolutionise education and development among some of the world's poorest children. According to the OLPC Foundation, "starting November 12, One Laptop Per Child will be offering a Give 1 Get 1 Program for a brief window of time in North America. For $399, you will be purchasing two XO laptops—one that will be sent to empower a child to learn in a developing nation, and one that will be sent to your child at home." In other words, $400 gets your child a laptop, and another one is sent to a needy child in the developing world. And, your child gets a pen-pal in that child, since they can stay in touch via e-mail. You can donate here.

As they say, touch a child's life and you never know what other lives might be touched in turn. Read more about the OLPC and the "Get 1 Give 1" program in this New York Times article.

There has been a lot of negative comments about what's wrong with the laptop — no hard drive, no CD/DVD drive, etc. But until you see one in operation, you have no idea what a powerful idea this rabbit-eared laptop represents, and about its potential to change the world. This YouTube video review by David Pogue of the New York Times also shows what a powerful kid-magnet the OLPC is.

According to Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC founder and former chairman of MIT's Media Lab, complaining about the perceived shortcomings of the laptop is "as if people spent all of their attention focusing on Columbus’s boat and not on where he was going". Walter Bender, a computer researcher who served as director of the Media Laboratory after Mr. Negroponte and now heads software development for the laptop project, likens the XO to a Trojan Horse — “the soldiers inside this Trojan horse are children with laptops.”

Your fingerprint isn't yours

September 27, 2007 by muyiwa

This video shows how easy it is to copy another person's fingerprint and successfully authenticate using it on a fingerprint reader, the sort that is becoming increasingly common either built into laptops, or as USB attachments. Although the sound track is in German, it's quite easy to follow what's going on. Basically, all you need is some reasonably good computer skills, plus

  • The lid from a plastic bottle
  • Superglue
  • A digital camera
  • Wood glue
  • Cosmetic glue
  • An image processing program
  • An inkjet printer

So, if you think fingerprint recognition is safe, you probably want to think again.

Cornrow braids

July 10, 2007 by muyiwa

"In 1999, Eglash discovered that fractal geometry – the geometry of similar shapes repeated on ever-shrinking scales – is apparent in the designs of many cultures on the continent of Africa, revealing that traditional African mathematics may be much more complicated than previously thought. He documented fractal patterns in cornrow hairstyles, weavings, and the architecture of villages, as well as many forms of African art."

Image Credit: Rensselaer/Eglash

African women have been braiding their hair for centuries, and indeed, braiding seems to be a hairstyle fashion that never goes out of vogue in Africa. So, i was quite intrigued to discover that there is actually some "serious maths" behind those cute-looking braids. This happened when I stumbled across Ron Eglash's work on "culturally situated design tools" (CSDTs), a set of computer programs which help "educate students about the mathematics principles used to design cornrow hairstyles, Mangbetu art, Navajo rugs, Yupik parka patterns, Pre-Columbian pyramids, and Latin music, among others". Read about the African origins of cornrow braiding here, and here for how Eglash's software tools are sparking student interest and increasing their achievement in mathematics.

Apparently, as in the case of nanobiotechnology which I blogged about some time ago, fractal geometry has been long known to the peoples of Africa, and it's true what the good book says about there being nothing new under the sun.

As we enjoy great Advantages from the Inventions of others, we should be glad of an Opportunity to serve others by any Invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.

— Benjamin Franklin

quoted in Benjamin Franklin by Edmund S. Morgan.

Reclaim your computer!

A personal computer is called a personal computer because it's yours. Anything that runs on that computer, you should have control over.
— Andrew Moss, Microsoft's senior director of technical policy, 2005

The most serious impediment to a lasting archive is the evolution of media, platforms, formats, and the applications that create them. Unique, proprietary, and constantly evolving data formats such as Acrobat-4, MPEG-4, Oracle 8, Quicken 2001, Real G2, and Word 2000 suggest or even guarantee obsolescence.
— Gordon Bell, Senior Researcher in Microsoft's Media Presence Research Group.

LIMITATION ON AND EXCLUSION OF DAMAGES. You can recover from Microsoft and its suppliers only direct damages up to the amount you paid for the software. You cannot recover any other damages, including consequential, lost profits, special, indirect or incidental damages.
— Clause 26 of the Windows 7 License.

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