Posts Tagged ‘open source’

For all us non coders

// April 11th, 2012 // No Comments » // Cool Stuff, Technology, Tools

So I got an idea this evening and rather than the usual process of =>mind map => wire frame => call developer, I

instead decided to try and build a utilitarian

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version of it first. I love WordPress, it always works for me so I looked for a plugin that would help me make this app.

I found this:

Love it so far, but the learning curve is steep. It allows you to create interfaces, where you can view or input data from a DataBase. It’s all customisable by themes and CSS. It allows you to build apps in WordPress for WordPress as custom menus and widgets. Can even use short codes to include the app in posts or pages. It also supports pulling data from API’s and allows you additional functionality by your OWN API!!!

I hope this helps.

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Slash Roots 2012

// October 28th, 2011 // No Comments » // Technology

Hey everyone,

just want to update you on progress of the 2012 Slash Roots Developers Conference. The organising team is in full swing preparing for next year’s conference. The conference

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will be much larger and will have simultaneous events in other countries. Will release some more information as soon as I can.

Did you attend the last conference? We are interested in your feedback and suggestions for the next one. Just leave a comment on the post below.


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The Slash Roots Developers Conference

// February 17th, 2011 // 2 Comments » // Technology

Slash Roots Logo
Creating a technology industry that drives innovation and a community responsive to global trends cannot occur in a vacuum. In today’s world, specific institutional support systems produce the technical resources that drive business and competitiveness. The ./roots Developer Conference is about creating and fostering those support systems within the Jamaican context.

The conference reflects the goal of its parent group, Slash Roots – to foster collaborative innovation within the Jamaican developer and technology communities that is relevant to, and informed by, the needs of the private and public sectors. Slash Roots is a newly formed group of young tech developers and enthusiasts who have dedicated themselves to ICT development, guided by the belief that increased technological innovation and connectivity is crucial to the Jamaica’s development. The brain child of tech developer Matthew McNaughton, Slash Roots came to life through the union of himself and two tech entrepreneurs, Roger Pixley and Dmitri Dawkins. The trio has since grown to a sextet of organizers for the ./roots Developer Conference.

Hosted by the Centre of Excellence at the Mona School of Business, this year’s conference will be held from February 24-25 at the new UWI Faculty of Law Building.

The conference has attracted both local and regional attention and participation. Sessions include presentations by leading open data and tech developers from Cuba, Uruguay, the U.S. and from our local technology community. Additionally, persons outside of the tech development community will be speaking about their experiences as players in the second and third parts of the Slash Roots aim – the sharing and application of developed technologies.

The conference will also highlight projects that are innovative in their approach and which increase access to technology for the local population. This year’s main feature is the release of a new open data resource which has been developed for the Ministry of Agriculture. This data will be the subject of the conference’s most exciting element- the staging of a Developer Competition in which teams of developers will have 24 hours to create an application that visualizes some aspect of the agriculture data. Other activities planned include a Linux installfest and demonstrations from the Jamaica One Laptop Per Child Project.

The Slash Roots team hopes that this inaugural ./roots Developer Conference will mark the first of many annual ./roots conferences to come. We urge the Jamaican tech and academic communities, and private and public sectors, to show their support for this development initiative by engaging themselves in the conference events.

This conference would not be possible without the help of our partners, the Mona School of Business and the IDRC, who have given significant financial support as well as organizational guidance. In addition, the conference organizers would like to thank our sponsors thus far – Spatial Innovation, MC Systems, Lime Jamaica, Digicel, Samuda & Johnson, Pings Manufacturing and Trafalgar Tours – for coming on board in support of this effort.

For more information, to register for the conference or to apply to enter the developer competition, please visit the conference website at We hope to see you there!

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JAMPRO launches interactive web-based Investment Map

// February 4th, 2011 // No Comments » // Cool Stuff, Technology, Tools, Vision 2030 Campaign

Jampro Investment Map Launch

Parris Lyew-Ayee (centre at podium) Managing Director of Mona GeoInformatics Institute (MGI)

Yesterday I attended the launch of Jampro’s (Jamaica Promotions Corporation) Interactive Investment Map. Jampro is in charge of ensuring sustainable development arising from foreign direct investment into Jamaica. Without a doubt this new tool has helped them leap forward by providing factual information in an easy to use interface for the world.

The Investment Map is an online tool built atop the Google map platform that conveniently provides pictorial views and data on key infrastructure, investment projects, lands for development and natural resources. You can try it out by clicking here:

Dr. Parris Lyew-Ayee with the Mona Geoinformatics Institute developed the map for Jampro using data from government departments. The map makes it easy to find key investment opportunities in Jamaica. The map was developed at a cost of approximately two million Jamaican dollars, and praise was given to open source tools, which helped to keep the development cost low.

Dmitri Dawkins Question

Dmitri Dawkins asking about open access to the data

The first thing that came to mind was the possible 3rd party uses of this data. I asked about the access to this data for everyone, fortunately Claude Duncan, VP of Investment Promotion at JAMPRO, took the time out to address the question and said the data would be available to everyone. Currently they (Jampro) are considering ways to enable people to access the data for this map, outside of the map itself. This is good news for Jamaica’s budding software development industry, access to the data will allow them to

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create more tools that benefit the local economy making this a truly multi-faceted investment.

Investment Map Discussion

(From Left) Parris Lyew-Ayee, Claude Duncan, Myself and Kelroy Brown discussing the investment map

One guest at the function questioned who would be in charge of updating the data, Jampro with additional funding hopes to ensure the data is updated as necessary, including new data from the upcoming census. They also noted that some data is dated based on the source such as the last census (2000). Hopefully in the future with geo-location services like Foursquare gaining popularity in Jamaica, we can integrate social communication to update statistics in this map (venue names etc.).

Overall I like the push of this new tool, I think it will be very useful and I applaud Jampro for using available technology to promote Jamaica. Special thanks to Mark Thompson for inviting me and providing photos from the event. For more photos please see below:

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Reforming Jamaica’s Education System Using Social Media

// August 23rd, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Life, Technology

Jamaica’s education system is in distress. In the past, Jamaica’s education system used to be hailed internationally for churning out top students. Although we still do, the general standard of education has fallen over the years. In the 90’s a fallout was created when both the UK and US created special programs to recruit our teachers and other professionals. This brain drain coupled with a change in society and home life has fueled our growing education problem. The government now has an even greater issue, in trying to clamp down on spending and to control the country’s debt, it is cutting down on tertiary tuition subsidies.

In the past ten years though the internet has proven how access to information can change lives entirely. What we need to do now is embrace the technology available to us to solve our issues. Back in 2002 or 2003 I submitted an idea to Cable and Wireless for an international competition they were hosting to find the next big idea, unfortunately I didn’t win, however I think it can still be used today. The idea was to create an online platform like Wikipedia to store information for Caribbean school syllabi. Why is this better than wikipedia? Because it is controlled and precise, the information would be relevant to the current syllabus in an easy to read form.

Since then I have attended university online and taken part in web-casts and online tutorials. What was available in 2002 is nothing compared to what is available today. Now information exchange is affordable. Cheap cameras allow every class/lecture to be recorded on the fly. The video can then be uploaded for students to watch again, or to prepare themselves for the next class. Wouldn’t it be easier to do your homework if you could re-watch math class from this morning? We could have the best teachers do video lessons, so every student can have the same access to the best of the best. The tutorials also don’t have to be location specific, members of the diaspora could contribute time to help create a lesson. Also thanks to the Caribbean Examinations Council, all students in the Caribbean follow the same syllabus, so create it for one country and it applies to the whole region.

Today’s generation is fully integrated online, after video lessons / online notes are created they can then be shared using class mailing lists, Facebook, Twitter or any other social network. Allowing students to discuss and share content using platforms they are used to and want to use. Content can be hosted using free course management system Moodle, which is already being used by NCU, UWI and UTech, as well as thousands of schools worldwide.

OLPC XO Laptop

In Jamaica we have the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project. The project is aimed at integrating the XO laptop in our primary schools. The laptop is rugged, affordable and scalable. It is designed to be worked on (literally) by a young child (5-12) and the software is fully open source, with contributors all over the world. If the government and private sector would support a project to roll these out to primary schools it would totally change the way Jamaica learns. The laptops also network with each other, allowing a mesh network to be created to share information between students via wireless without the installation of expensive infrastructure. XO laptops also support Moodle right out of the box!

The fact is, if the government and private sector made an investment in technology and social media for education, we could greatly increase literacy rates and the quality of education overall. This investment would provide even greater returns if it was done as a regional effort. This is far greater than ensuring each school has a computer lab to learn word processing. Everyone would have the same access to information regardless of background or economic conditions. Tutorials can be shared online to give everyone access to the best teachers. The information is there for 24/7 access by anyone, making research and studying easier. Tertiary education costs could also be cut as some classes can be held entirely online, using material previously generated. The greatest gain from a project like this would be what we cannot imagine or measure now. The possibilities are endless.

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