Trunk or Branch based development

An interesting discussion that I had with my team mates over the last few days, whether we should create branches then merge later or keep working on the trunk within our Git based version control process. As the team is small, we are in the same premises but different locations, we agreed to move to work exclusively on the mainline for the following reasons:

  1. Reduce the amount of work having to remember which branches are active, so branches are an exception rather than the rule
  2. Adding practices like a CI pipeline (that’s additional work for all of us to setup) will provide a needed stability in the long-run as some of the projects are expected to be long running
  3. Working on the main line forces us to talk to each other, rather than IM away, so design decisions are shared across the team
  4. Branches discourage refactoring mostly due to the pain of merging refactored changes, and the fact that not everyone can benefit from the refactoring as soon as its completed – thanks to Twitter – Chris Ford

We used the following resources as research:

1. Martin Fowler – Feature Branch – http://martinfowler.com/bliki/FeatureBranch.html also talking about Feature Toggles – http://martinfowler.com/bliki/FeatureToggle.html

2. Apologists Defense of Trunk based development – http://www.tuesdaydeveloper.com/2015/05/an-apologists-defense-of-trunk-based-development/

3. What is Trunk Based Development http://paulhammant.com/2013/04/05/what-is-trunk-based-development/

4. Shades of Trunk based development – http://paulhammant.com/2014/09/29/shades-of-trunk-based-development/

What do you use with your team and why?

Launching Syzygy – Uganda Focused Utility Calculator

Just as Google has rebranded into Alphabet, on behalf of Styx Technology Group I would like to officially announce the launching of Syzygy which is a platform for a comprehensive utility calculator for Uganda based on PAYE Calculator (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.databud.payecalculator) which was released by myself in 2012.

There are many calculators and utility apps out there, but there are none focused on Uganda specific computations and tools required within the country today. This initial launch is an upgrade of the look and feel of PAYE Calculator to the Android material design, refactoring of the back end to provide the necessary modularity for expansion.

Need any specific features or computation for consideration please contact us at styxtechgroup at gmail dot com

Looking forward to hearing from you

The link to the Syzygy app is http://bit.ly/syzygy-ug

Update 3:

Just had a little techie moment there so I thought I would add some more meat on the technology thinking and approach used for this new platform:

  1. App Compat Library – which provides material design features for pre-Lollipop devices, and this app should load on Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) devices
  2. Model-View-Presenter (MVP) design pattern akin to Model-View-Controller for web applications. The models will be POJOs (Plain Old Data Objects)
  3. Theme and other functional customizations are being kept as minimal as possible to speed up development and reduce the quantity of testing
  4. Layouts will be as fluid as possible to handle multiple screen sizes, however more focus will be placed on functionality to make this app useful after all Material design is already beautiful.
  5. As few permissions as possible will be requested of you during installation, after all the app does not need them.

Update 2:
There have been quite a number of questions on the inspiration behind the names, so here goes:

  1. Syzygy – In astronomy this is when there are three (3) celestial bodies in a straight line usually the earth, sun and moon. At this point once could argue that the bodies are either in conjunction (working together) or in opposition. In reference to this utility all the tools are meant to work together so that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
  2. Styx – In Greek mythology this is the river in between this world and the underworld, with the power to make one invincible. We at Styx Technology Group seek to bridge the divide between those who understand and those who do not understand technology, its impact to society and how to leverage it for growth.

Update 1:
Screen Shots

Home Screen

Home Screen

Navigation Bar

Navigation Bar

PAYE Calculator

PAYE Calculator

GeekDIY – Manually Upgrading Samsung S4 to Stock Android Lollipop 5.0.1

I would not consider myself an early adopter, neither am I a laggard, but somewhere in the middle for software upgrades. So when I heard that my Samsung Galaxy S4 would be getting Android Lollipop in December 2014, I was over the moon. What made me envious was that my colleagues with LG, Nexus and Sony devices were getting this update over the holidays.

So patiently I waited stalking the net for news on when my S4 would get an OTA update but no avail, 4 months later I am still feeling left out till, I found this post S4 Stock Lollipop came up in my Google+ feed (yes I use that) which led me to look for options of manually updating my phone to an official stock android for Samsung phones.

This led me to a guide How to get Android 5.0.1 Lollipop on the Galaxy S4  which walked me through the process.

75 minutes later, I had Lollipop 5.0.1 installed on my S4, now to understand how the new notifications & other enhancements can be leveraged for my day to day use most especially the battery life improvements.

My biggest worry was bricking the phone, so I followed the instructions to the letter, and ensured the laptop running Odin was on UPS just in case of power outage.

Uganda National Housing Census 2014: Completed, Results Out but What Next?

The Uganda National Census has wrapped up. Or has it? Really not sure, but my household is a statistic for the next 10 – 20 years as a basis for planning. There are outcries of enumerators not reaching some areas, children answering questions for households and the general apprehension that the census exercise is just a waste of time.

Census information is a great help for national planning process, however in order for the statistics to be useful and relevant, it is important to continuously update and trend the statistics against existing circumstances.

The one disappointment that I find in the entire result is that the only statistic being reported is that there are 900,000 more females than males, but there is no breakdown or context or analysis of the number. What other statistics or data point can be derived from the numbers?

The question in my mind then is what else can be done to improve the process till the next census and how can technology be leveraged?

– Over the next 10 years regional data collection centers need to be setup to collect data trends over time to update the overall survey. This will leverage the national backbone infrastructure to provide a centralized location for data capture and hosting with localized analysis.

– Civic education for the population on why the information is being asked for, and what the importance is. I still wonder what the number of mobile phones, donkeys and wheelchairs as assets provide to the overall picture. The advertisement process should have been started over 6 months before the exercise, however it was barely noticeable that such an important activity was happening. TV and radio were used, but social media, SMS based options could have improved the coverage.

– All the questionnaires were coded, but the data entry still had to be done, with the advent of $150 tablets, couldn’t this process have been done electronically especially in the towns to cut down data entry errors? The tablets could have been setup to take GPS coordinates to ensure that the enumerators were not filling in the sheets while under trees (common survey issue) providing an opportunity to kickstart electronic data collection in Uganda

– Follow up on missed enumeration, using GPS coordinates overlaying satellite maps along with the white chalk reference numbers would ease the process of identifying and following up households that were missed during the enumeration.

Apart from technology, the following areas were not catered for:

– Enumeration data changes: what the basis for changing the data collected is, how the missing data will be extrapolated where need be, how the new data sets are going to support planning going forward

– Post-enumeration follow up surveys: to collect additional data to correlate the results of the census, as well as pick up localised data points such as transient populations (refugees, migrant workers, nomadic movements), local economic activities, which may not be important nationally.

– Local council authorities owning the census enumeration processes and results in their areas, and raising the bar by verifying the data that comes from their regions

Overall the 2014 census took place and the data is being released. However it is time to take learnings from this exercise and use them to put infrastructure and processes in place improve the next one.

Uganda Youth – Radical Change Needed

This cold February morning signaled the start of the rain season in Kampala, which after the blistering heat is a welcome change before the populace starts complaining about the floods, mud and wanton debris associated with rain storms.

That being said the morning was punctuated by an insightful article by Simon Kaheru titled “it’s no wonder some of these youths are unemployed”  where unemployed youths are exalting how they have no opportunities, but do not put skin in the game to actually work their way up the ladder.

The response from Mwine Edgar, An Open Letter to Simon Kaheru is a clear picture to the entitled nature that the new generation of youth have today, and their expectation for a silver spoon to be provided by the government and community.

Out of the blue was Paul Busharizi’s, The Unwholesome pressure we put our children under, which underpins the fact that the populace is pushing children through the education system into a white collar career yet there are alternate options.

Not all is doom and gloom, however there is need to change the orientation of the messages going out to the youth and their parents/guardians to set them up for success in the future:

  1. It is okay to have a blue collar job career – everybody in the country is targeting a white collar job, but that means you have to work and compete to get the job and keep it.
  2. Education is an enabler for a successful future and not the end all for life. While Bill Gates, Steve Jobs & Mark Zuckerberg did not complete their education, they are an exception rather than the rule.
  3. Wealth and riches require hard work, patience and time. Majority of the successful entrepreneurs that we admire have over 2 decades of working under their belts.
  4. You do not need alot to start your journey, start small and grow what you have, like the saying goes easy come – easy go.
  5. Get off your high horse and get a job, any job because that will give you the appreciation of what it takes to make money and keep it.

Your thoughts and additions are welcome …

Mobile Money will not die by 2020 but Evolve to Survive

Nicholas Kamazi has an interesting perspective in his article, 5 Reasons Mobile Money Is Going To Die By 2020, which I fundamentally disagree with. While he caters for challenges with Mobile Money (MM), he does not take into account who uses MM and why, which are the reasons for the pervasive nature. Rebutting each reason for the death of MM:

  1. Death of Feature phones:
    • Battery life: smartphones are no where near the battery life usage of feature phones, and in areas where there is little availability of electricity to charge the phones, this becomes a deal breaker
    • Cost: I do not see $35 dollar smartphones becoming that popular
    • Rugged: Feature phones can take alot of abuse, falls, drops, plus general wear and tear which current age smartphones cannot match
  2. Digital Currency: Africa in general and Uganda in particular, are cash economies. MM just allows people to move money from one place to another very quickly.
  3. Unnecessary Charges:
    • The cost of sending MM is usually less than transportation and time for moving to acutally deliver the money without the risk.
    • Most transactions are between UGX 50,000 to UGX 150,000 (US$20 to US$60) usually under urgent situations
    • Urgency of transfer – most transactions happen with a need for urgency for example school fees, social functions, emergencies of different nature. Which can happen at any time of day or night, until there is an option which is that flexible MM is here to stay
  4. Capital Investment:
    • MM is a defensive option for telecoms as their core business is getting eroded, and will evolve in order to remain relevant.
    • I do not see any startup having the size, and capabilities to compete with the telecoms in this market, Uganda in particular and Africa in general.
    • Even in Asia the agents are the key, however managing them is not an easy process so the incumbents will remain in play for the next 5-10 years.
  5. Business environment shift: the telecoms are here to stay, and MM will evolve along with the business environment.

Mobile Money is here to stay as it is:

  • Pervasive with 20,000+ agents and counting
  • With the telecoms opening up to 3rd parties for utility payments, diaspora remittances, merchant transactions
  • Rural-urban social dynamics which form the bulk of MM remittances within a country
  • Infrastructure challenges such as roads, railways which also provide a conducive environment for MM as an option for money transfer.

Your thoughts?

Utilities can Leverage Technology as a Competitive Edge

Utility companies are virtual monopolies in the sectors that they operate, however the stifling regulatory oversight coupled with fierce attacks from startup based innovation requires rethinking of how customers perceive and receive value.

Technology can provide a catalyst for utility companies to improve their service, defend their positions and develop new business models to remain relevant in the future.

read Utility Services can get a lot more smarter with these Technology hacks for more ….

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,524 other followers

%d bloggers like this: