Congratulations to the Strathmore Mobile Boot Camp Winners

March 30, 2009

I attended the Kenya ICT Board supported Mobile Boot Camp winners presentation event last week Monday 25th March at Strathmore University.

The turnout by students, just there to witness the event, was impressive by all accounts. The Board was giving away Kshs 20,000 to the winner and Kshs 10,000 to the runners up.

In November last year, I attended the actual Boot Camp event and was amazed by the high trunout of students and other non-student software developers.

First Position – Grace Kihumba – EABL Sales Application.

This is an application customized to East African Breweries Ltd distributors. The application runs on a Blackberry phone and enables this data collection to be done from the phone. It consists of 3 modules namely:

Salesman module: The interface through which the salesman inputs sales data. An application interface that sets up a Http connection with a web server. Invoices are generated from the web server and sent back to the Blackberry phone.

Web Server module: A web server hosting servlets that receive the sales data from the Blackberry phone and inserts it into a database.

Report Module: Various reports are received by the EABL staff concerned with sales volumes and targets. These are received periodically on the Blackberry phone or upon request.

Salesmen usually collect data during their sales calls i.e. as they sell alcohol to the outlets they record how many crates of each brand were sold at each outlet. There are about 15 distributors in Kenya and each is assigned particular routes. Each route can have up to 90 outlets/bars. This application thus eases this process.

What was interesting to me was that she mentioned doing research to establish what the distributors actually go through. Grace has not sold the idea to EABL yet, but the ICT Board will ensure she establishes the audience she requires. The application can be used for any organization with similar logistical needs.

Second Position – Sospeter Muriu – ID3 Tag Editor for S60 phones

S60 phones often have the capability to play MP3 files. However, information such as track number, artist, genre, etc (often known as ID3 tags) cannot be viewed or manipulated. This simple Python application makes it possible to view and manipulate ID3 tags on your S60 phone.

Third Position – Hussein Lightwalla – Wordmatica

This is a simple word game in Python. The target platform is Series 60 Nokia cellphones. The game basically involves exchanging words with the computer. Each player must give, at each round, a unique, legitimate, English word that begins with the letter with which the opponent’s last word ended. One has to out-do the computer in the task of coming up with words beginning with various alphabetic letters and gain the most points by coming up with long words.

During the award ceremony the Kenya ICT Board Chair, Catherine Ngahu stressed the importance of applications being developed in response to consumer needs. The audience was also amazed by the level of interest and understanding the Chair demonstrated about the gaming industry in particular. She gave examples of the link between the World Cup and the FIFA games from EA Sports (www.ea.com). It was encouraging for the students to hear from her about the size and importance of the gaming industry.

Strathmore will do well as an incubator of student passions for ICT and could well serve the role that Stanford served in the formation of the Silicon Valley. It has two important ingredients and perhaps requires a few more. These two are; serious and passionate students and a committed faculty, as evidenced by the presence of the Deputy Vice Chancellor at the awards presentation.

I wish Strathmore all the best with the incubator project that the university has just began.

Paul

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