Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Tech Tip: Whatsapp Groups for Record Keeping Purposes

Over the years my wife and I have been sharing lots of information via Whatsapp some of which we need for tracking purposes, the most common being weekly metrics from a business operations where I am a silent partner but key stakeholder

One neat trick that I discovered from a friend, I have forgotten who, was to leverage Whatsapp groups as a record keeping tool, this group only has the 2 of us, is named Farm Finances, and only contains the information we need to share with regard to the specific topic

Try this for your next business endeavor, wedding, construction activities, long or short running project whose records you do not want to have across the noise of day-to-day communications as you prepare to move this into a more formal tool

As I wrote this I figured out that you can also do the same for keeping notes for yourself, to-do-lists, project reminders etc

Agile driven requirements wishlist for Integrated Telcom Service Provider Packages

I am constantly frustrated by having to remember voice, data and SMS bundles not only for my own use but for my family and dependants, and I am envious of family data plans in the rest of the world.

Being an agile practioner here is my user story

As a telecom service customer I would like to purchase and track a single package for the users in my household and dependants

Acceptance Criteria

  1. The package includes the following services at a minimum
    • On-net voice calls
    • Off-net voice calls (same country)
    • SMS messages
    • Internet access
  2. All phone numbers on the package use the services transparently
  3. The package is paid for monthly, with the ability to purchase additional optional services as need
  4. Ability to add and/or remove numbers at will
  5. Ability to pay for additional batches of numbers e.g., 5 numbers – the service fee helps the telecom cover losses due to the service discounts
  6. Weekly and monthly payment options – to help manage cash flows
  7. Generation of tax invoices for the service payments
  8. Web/app based monitoring of service usage broken down to a daily usage
  9. Ability to set usage thresholds for all user at least 2 levels – I know individual thresholds may be difficult so nice to have
  10. Reminders to pay for services before they expire

What do you have on your wishlist for your telecom provider?

Styx Technology Group Launches Poultry Farm Revenue Calculator App

As part of the Styx Technology Group mission to leverage technology to support executives identify, implement & refine strategic technology interventions in their business & target market segments, we are proud to partner with Kkungu Poultry Farm Enterprises Ltd to help bring relevant, useable cutting edge technology to Uganda agriculture executives.

Leveraging the experiences shared in this post Poultry Feed Economic 101 – Changing the Supplier Scenario, the team has built a simple easy to use calculator to address this question using minimal inputs to help poultry farm managers:

  1. Estimate their spot profitability based on the cost of inputs and revenue from sales of eggs
  2. Use simple data to decide whether to make the feed change based on the impact on the bottom line.

Download the application today from Google Play store with this link http://bit.ly/poultry-farm-calc

Please do share your feedback and let us know to improve this by sending email to poultrycalc at styxtechgroup dot com

Screenshots below:

Layer Profitability computation

Layer Profitability computation

Sample Layer Profitability computation

Sample Layer Profitability computation

Feed Switch Comparison Computation

Feed Switch Comparison Computation

Sample Feed Switch Comparison Computation

Sample Feed Switch Comparison Computation

Alternate Approach to Legal Independent Election Tallying

The Uganda elections are more or less over with less than 6 hours for the Uganda Electoral Commission (EC) to announce the results for the presidential elections.

Given all the time on our hands, with no social media, the team at Styx Technology Group designed the following alternative approach to independent electoral vote tallying for future elections that provides inbuilt mechanisms for audit and verification of results.

The primary data sources for the process are:

  1. Official EC list of polling stations and voters per polling station
  2. Photos of the signed election tally sheets from each polling station. To ensure that the photos are not tampered with and provide an audit trail:
    • Each photograph has to be taken with information on the camera, the GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken, date and time when the photo was taken which is available in many cameras that share it using the Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF)
    • Two separate photos of the tally sheets have to be taken by different cameras
    • The cameras taking equipment may be registered beforehand to provide validation of the source of the information
    • The signatures of the returning officers and stamp must be clear and visible in the photo

The architecture for the technology solution is as follows:

  1. Web based solution accessible via any browser. Due to poor Internet connectivity in many areas of the country, an Android app would be provided to assist in data collection, then data sent once the user gets into an area with Internet.
  2. The field officers who capture the photos would also be provided with an option of entering the candidate vote tallies.
  3. In the tallying center, candidate vote tallies are entered from the photos received and vote tallies entered by data clerks. In order to reduce errors the following approach would be used:
    • The clerks are randomly assigned photos as they come in
    • The tally for a station must be entered correctly by two separate data entry clerks, then approved by a supervisor. This process is formally called the two-pass verification method or double data entry.
  4. All correctly entered data is shared with the rest of the world for download and analysis.

This system is mission-critical having to be available for the entire vote counting period of 48 hours,  so the architecture includes the following paths for data collection:

  1.  Multiple access IP addresses and domains for the website in case some are blocked off
  2. Any data collected via the Android app can be sent via email to a dedicated tallying center address. To ensure that only data from the app is received and not changed in transit, encryption is used.

The inspiration came from a quote by Ghandi “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, disproving the myth that there is no local capability to design and implement such solutions and most of all that such solutions have to be complex.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions…

Tech Tip: Websites on Github with Jekyll

We have been facing a challenge on how to manage the Styx Technology Group corporate website without having dedicated resources to host, deal with security, updates and maintenance. Having been in the website business for over a decade at the turn of Y2K,  having an easily maintainable solution was key for the long haul.

Enter GitHub pages (https://help.github.com/categories/github-pages-basics/), of course any decent software developer and team are using some form of version control, but the beauty is that it allows projects, users and organisations to have self hosted sites that are managed through a repository.  That in combination with Jekyll (http://jekyllrb.com/) supports content management without a database.

To further speed up our development process, we leveraged existing themes for the website look and feel that were close to our need, while keeping the site design very simple so that we focused on solving the problem at hand.

It was suddenly music to our ears as the team did not have to leave their IDEs (random plug for Jetbrains IDE tool suite that we have standardized upon)  in order to make updates to the website. Just create a new markdown document, verify and push … And bam!! the updates are done, version controlled and all, no more hassles with database configurations …

Need help getting your website up and running in such a fashion do shoot us an email at consulting at styxtechgroup dot com and we shall be happy to help and engage…. Have a great weekend

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