Technology done right

Mobile video studio for training videos

We are proud to anounce the launch of our mobile recording studio.

Following a succesfull release of our online learning platform we have set up a video recording and editing packadge to assist instructors and teachers to get their content online.

VideoLearn’s mission is to improve lives through learning in South Africa. We enable anyone anywhere to create and share educational courses (instructors) and to enroll in these educational courses to learn (students). We consider our marketplace model the best way to offer valuable educational content to our users.

Do you have something to teach, a course to offer but don't have the expertise to record your own videos? We can help. With our recording studio we we can either come to you, or you can make use of our in-house studio if you don't have the space.

Professional backdrops, lighting and sound at a reduced price if you load your course on VideoLearn.


Hording data and data retention needs

This blog post will be about a topic that I haven't even thought about in my 13+ years of software development and technology. Hoarding - especially the data kind.

Image result for hoarding data

Tonight while eating my dinner I was watching a show on Netflix about hoarders and people collecting junk, which made me cringe. Over the years I have watched many such shows, without giving them much thought.
My house is always clean, free of clutter, I hate paper to start with and everything must have a place, I periodically throw away or sell unwanted stuff that I don't use.
This is not always possible, as you know "life happens", but I do try and because of this I have never given the hoarding topic much time.

Everyone that knows me will tell you that I have a thing against paper, or the use there of. In this day and age with cloud storage and connected everything the use of paper is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Tonight I realized with a shock that this can easily lead to a different kind of problem, not just in our personal lives but corporate as well.

Lets first look at what is hoarding:

Compulsive hoarding, also known as hoarding disorder, is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by excessive acquisition and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment. 

So basically hording comes down to collecting junk and not being able to get rid of it. I definitely don't have a problem there, but it triggered a thought about all the different kinds of hoarding, especially in the technology world and I realized that an excessive collection of data can also be considered hoarding.
After a simple search on the net I quickly realized the topic have been debated quite extensively.

Digital hoarding (also known as e-hoarding) is excessive acquisition and reluctance to delete electronic material no longer valuable to the user. The behavior includes the mass storage of digital artifacts and the retainment of unnecessary or irrelevant electronic data. The term is increasingly common in pop culture, used to describe the habitual characteristics of compulsive hoarding, but in cyberspace.

With a horror shock I now know that I have fallen victim to data hoarding, and yes, it happens to all of us. I have a lot of old hard drives with countless backups over the years, even as far back as my school days, data lying on cloud services, data from way back when, and it goes on and on.
I won't classify this as a problem yet, as I haven't yet shown a reluctance to get rid of it, I simple haven't though about my personal data retention policy - we'll get to this in a bit. But the question everyone should ask themselves is "Do you really need that data from back in 2005?".

Hoarding data in business or corporations even now has a name, called Big Data, and people are making a living trying to give meaning to the endless amount of data that everyone, even businesses collect over the years.
It's perfectly understandable to store data because of legislation or local laws, such as storing medical or financial information for a number of years.

As more and more systems, people and businesses becomes connected and start to generate vast amounts of information it becomes more and more pressing to know what data you should keep, what data you need, and the data that is causing clutter.

In our personal lives we are generating so much data on social networks, chatting, texting, emails, digital photography and videos that losing track of it all is a real concern.
I for one definitely did and will start to put measures in place to not only delete data but to organize the data that I need to keep.

Data retention defines the policies of persistent data and records management for meeting legal and business data archival requirements; although sometimes interchangeable.

Now that we know what data retention means, we will need to define what we will store, why and then lastly a plan on how we would clean up our data.

My steps for a data rention policy looks like this:

  • Is the data a temporary record?
  • Does the data primarily consist of intellectual property?
  • Is the data a permanent record?
  • Have I needed or used the data in the last 3 years?
  • Is there a legal or contractual requirement to store the data?

My plan of action to deal with my data problems will be as follows:

  • Sort photos and videos accross cloud services, social media, delete duplicates, organize into albums and consolodate into one service.
  • Look at all hard drives lying around and delete data that I have not used in 3 years, or no need to keep then consolodate the data that I do need or use.
  • Consolodate all IP and code written to VSTS under the respective projects, including the code written for micro controllers and hobby electronics.
  • Sort and store business related data and properly backup or archive a single copy in accordance to contracts.
  • Securely erase data from redundant or old hard drives and physically throw away the drives.
  • Ensure that I have a backup strategy in place that works, for example using the 3-2-1 strategy. This means having 3 total copies of your data, 2 of which are local but on different mediums (read: devices), and at least 1 copy offsite.

Now that I have a plan I can start getting rid of my digital clutter, clean up my life, and get away from this data hoarding thing.

If anyone have interesting stories regarding data hoarding, please do leave me a comment, or send me a message?

Life update and response on digital propaganda

Part 1

Once again I find myself writing to you after many months have passed. Time goes by so quickly.
Many of you might have wondered where I went and what I am up to lately and this post is to give all my readers a quick update as well as to what is coming.

The last few months have been extremely busy and I found myself working a lot a overtime at a particular client trying to get everything done before the deadline - Such is the nature of IT. It is so easy to get caught up in the rat race, but if you are one of the sought after developers it’s easy for clients to want more, and the more you deliver the more is asked. It’s a wonderful feeling but you need to keep a balance and not get lost in the work you do, which I’m unfortunately very good at – getting lost in my work.

I have in the bit of spare time I had worked on a few exciting projects, one of them being a connected vending machine. This project is still on-going, but if I can I will share some of the things I learned especially with the communication between c# and Arduino. I have also started working on a facial recognition smart lock which I will post on YouTube in the coming months.

One of the biggest things coming for me is a personal brand revamp as well as launching my YouTube channel. That’s right, I am launching my YouTube channel officially next months, and I hope that it will be exciting and that I can bring a lot of the cool work I do to YouTube land.
I will focus on training, making gadgets as well as interviews with industry leaders in SA. If anyone want’s to nominate themselves, please drop me a mail or a Tweet.

I have thought a lot about what interests me, and by heart I am a maker. I love building things and solving problems and my YouTube channel will be a way for me to showcase and hopefully inspire young makers to do the same in SA.

Part 2

Now on to the second part of this post which is in response to an article on linked in written by my friend and collogue Rory titled ”Caught up in digital propaganda

“I had almost forgotten how important it is to not neglect the non-digital experiences as well.

I realized that, even in this digital age, we are still humans. And as human beings, we still perceive the world through our "analog" senses. We are still biologically wired up to see, hear, taste, smell and touch to understand the world and process experiences. With so many companies scrambling to "go digital", is becoming somewhat of a luxury.” ~ Rory

I found this article most interesting. We as humans are currently so focused on technology, automation and robotics that I think we are forgetting to be human. As Rory stated in the article we need to design our digital transformations around human experiences and not just automating everything but rather using it to enrich the human experience.

This article made me think of the movie WALL-E, especially the scene where all the humans are blobbing in front of the screens chatting, but no one is actually interacting with one another while the robots are going about doing everything including making a mess of things.

I am definitely inspired to change the way I approach my making especially my home automation to try and center it around human experience instead of trying to do everything automatically. Robots are a good things, but humans need to be happy too.

If we all can focus on this and not lose sight of the human experience I think technology in a few years will look much different that what we are currently seeing in sci-fi movies.

Old school values

This post is about something you don’t see every day anymore. You know, the kindness and old school values you only see in movies.
It’s a bit of an unusual post considering most of my posts is about something technology related.

Yesterday just as I were about to order my Saturday morning coffee, on the way to the JHB office for the training that I facilitate every Saturday morning I was greeted by a very friendly and polite gentlemen in them most unexpected manner.

I think I am not alone in saying this, but we are getting way to used to in retail stores for one to be greeted by rude people, half a grunt, or in some cases not at all. This is becoming the norm, especially by younger people, and it’s scary.

Well yesterday morning this friendly gentlemen greeted me with a very friendly “Good morning milady” followed by a slight bow. Now normally this is done in a joking kind off way but this gentlemen was sincere and did not come across as trying to be funny, but rather the opposite. I greeted him back in the same fashion followed by a curtsy.

He did not expect that, and while he was preparing my coffee we talked a bit about how I was the first person in a while to greet him back with the same respect he exchange every morning.

It was refreshing to experience this kindness especially in a retail store, from someone who you can see really enjoys his job.
I sometimes wonder how we lost this respect for the individual, and general kindness towards people as well as making formal introductions?

The great thing was that on this particular Saturday morning my own mood were a little down, feeling exhausted even after a good night’s sleep. But the kindness and energy from a random stranger managed to somehow lift my mood and give me the energy I needed to facilitate a training session, and even made me again aware of how important good old fashioned values are in this world.

What happened to honor, valor, courage, Integrity, trust? Is it because of the way we bring up or kids, did we become so busy and money focused that we forget about ourselves or the people around us? Are we so focused on our own survival we forget about the people next to us?

I think if we all can be a little better every day, just a little and strive to be the best of humanity, the best we can be and then better than what we were yesterday, we will very quickly start to see a positive change in this world we live in.

New year same resolutions

Dear blog followers happy 2016, or as we say in SA happy 20, 6 and 1

This blog follows my usual new year kick off blog and I hope that I will be able to bring more interesting blogs and apps in 2016.

2015 in review.

2015 was focused on productivity apps to help developers deliver apps and websites much faster.

The year started off with the Mock-KingBird app that helps with building mock api endpoints for mobile application development.

From there I moved on to the KooBoo Enterprise Framework & POCO Generator which helps to generate a complete entity and data access layer from your database.

The last utility for the year was the Sql Batch Script Runner that helps with database deployment from scripts, or just running a bunch of scripts as a batch.

Being focused on client projects for the most part of any day and then trying to create utilities in your spare time does take some extra effort, and thus a lot off apps could still be enhanced with many features to make them more enterprise ready.

2016 Planning

In this coming year I am going to try and blog about SMPP (SMS gateway) and how to set that up.

I am also going to try and extend the KooBoo framework and POCO generator to generate a complete API with authentication using your database, and also try to enhance it with more features around the generation of code.

There might also be a demo on using azure media services and some insight into my drone-vision and AI research that I have been working on for a long time now.

Looking forward

I am definitely looking forward to 2016 and the possibilities that await. This year will start off with hard work that should pay off.
Hopefully there will be many personal stories that I can share during 2016 and not only have techie topics on my blog.