Africa to send troops, food parcels to UK as riots spread

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Spare a thought….

ETHIOPIA. The African Union today adopted a unilateral resolution to deploy army troops and care packages to England as looting and violence spread from London to other major cities. Spokesperson Charity Khumalo said “We can no longer stand by while these savages tear themselves apart.”

The AU, meeting today in an emergency session to discuss the ongoing rioting in the UK, has declared that they will do “everything in their power to help bring civilisation to England”.

“It’s just so sad, you know?” said Khumalo, speaking from the organisation’s HQ in Addis Ababa. “Sitting here and watching them on TV while their society implodes. We cannot in good conscience remain idle and let it happen.”

The AU has announced a range of initiatives that Africans can get involved with to help alleviate the misery of the English.

“For instance, we have launched an ‘Adopt an English child’ programme,” Khumalo explained, showing journalists brochures featuring the faces of English kids. “If you donate a mere R50 a month, you can see to it that sweet little Johnny from Peckham receives a basic education, a pack of condoms and a pair of pimpin’ Nikes.”

Khumalo also said that the AU would be parachuting in dentists along with army troops as part of a ‘Feel better about yourselves, Brits!’ initiative.

“You can understand why they’re turning on each other,” the spokesperson told journalists. “You look in the mirror and you see teeth untouched by modern dentistry. It’s heartbreaking enough to make anyone put a brick through a Starbucks.”

The organisation also plans to air-drop care packages on major UK cities.

“Vegetables, mainly,” Khumalo confirmed. “We’re sending them vegetables and toothpaste.”

The AU’s flagship event, however, will be a star-studded rock concert to be held in Johannesburg, with all proceeds going towards the establishment of mobile libraries around the UK. Artists ranging from Mafikizolo to Steve Hofmeyr have pledged to perform at the show.

“As a humanitarian, it’s the least I can do,” Hofmeyr said yesterday. “I look at those photos of the adorable little beasts knifing each other in fights over looted X-Boxes and I want to hug them and give them a nice hot cup of Milo.”

Meanwhile, the week’s events has seen terrified South Africans in London and Manchester packing their bags for home.

“This country is going to the dogs, dude,” said Werner du Preez, a gap-year student from Johannesburg. “I’ve been offered a nice little two-bed place in Hillbrow where I can feel safe again.”

From Africa to the world, with love

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African technology to compete on a global stage

The landing of a series of undersea cables is going to solve an infrastructural problem that has long plagued Africa and will enable African technology developers to compete on a global stage. In order to properly realise the full potential of a global customer base, African technologists need to not only expose their work to the world, but to also expose themselves to the learnings and insights that the developed world has to offer.
- Written for TECH4AFRICA

New international submarine communication cables are starting to ring the continent, bringing with them the promise of cheaper broadband across the continent. That means Africa will soon have the infrastructure to be able to compete more effectively in the online space than it did in the past. But Africa has missed out on several years of important learning in this space. Now is the perfect time for African entrepreneurs to embrace business and technical expertise from the rest of the world and close that gap.

An all-too common and incorrect perception in South Africa and other parts of the continent is that African problems are different to those experienced anywhere else in the world, and that they should be addressed with uniquely African solutions. According to this view of the world, international best practices and experiences, especially those from developed countries, are not really applicable to African businesses. That is a misguided and parochial perspective in a world where technology and global trade have shrunk the world to a fraction of its former size.

In high-tech industries, such as Web-focused businesses, there is much that African entrepreneurs, public servants and technicians can learn from international experience. In fact, it’s imperative that African businesses embrace international experience and knowledge if they’re to catch up with what their peers are doing online in the rest of the world.

African challenges

Of course, Africa has infrastructure, political and social challenges that are not present in most parts of the world. Building an online business in an environment where the electricity supply is unreliable and where international bandwidth is slow and expensive is fraught with challenges that don’t exist for an entrepreneur building a business in the heart of Silicon Valley.

But in addition to their superb infrastructure, innovation hubs like the west and east coasts of the USA also offer an unrivaled depth of human capital. Whatever an entrepreneur’s business idea is, there are people around who have the experience and skills to help make it a reality. And of course, the more that experienced people share their skills and knowledge with each other, the more new ideas and concepts they come up with and the more successful they are turning their innovations into commercial products.

By contrast, an African entrepreneur trying to productise a nifty new mobile application or a new online service simply doesn’t have access to many local people who have the skills and experience. There is an abundance of great ideas and enthusiasm but a lack of experience in turning these ideas into commercial products.

There have been a few success stories – innovators such as Mark Shuttleworth, Elon Musk and Vinny Lingham come to mind – but they are exceptions to the rule and their skills are often lost to Africa when their businesses take off. An additional problem that becomes obvious from the above list, is that South Africans dominate the list of obvious success stories while technologists from the rest of Africa do not feature as highly.

Universal lessons

Most of the processes, technology and tools that African entrepreneurs will be using to create Web and mobile products and services will be similar to those used by people in other parts of the world. There are many universal lessons around project management, usability, product development, technology and many other areas that apply anywhere in the world, and they’re ones many American and European pioneers had to learn the hard way. Speccing and configuring a server, designing a good user interface, managing cashflow – these are all things that work the same way anywhere in the world.

So why not learn from international experience? The alternative is to stubbornly waste time and money reinventing the wheel and making the mistakes that others have already made. And that is something that no African entrepreneur can afford to do.

TECH4AFRICA

The TECH4AFRICA conference being held in August this year, aims to address the above issues by bringing a number of world famous technologists and African innovators to South Africa to share, teach and interact with Africans looking to make it in the technology space. It’s an exciting time for African technology and the opportunity that Tech4Africa presents is one that really shouldn’t be missed.

Tips for landing a php job in London

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OK, so I’ve not got long so will be brief and to the point with this one, in the hope that it will help some of the people that read this blog, and maybe even some of the folks that are looking for devs to join their teams.

I’ve had to run through a lot of agencies and candidates in the last month or so, recruiting for Kindo, and these are some thoughts in no particular order:

As a candidate

DO:

  • accept there is lots of good competition; you have to stand out to be noticed
  • research on the company you’re interviewing at – it’s polite and will help you with 3, 4 and 5
  • send a cv that is relevant to the job spec – java experience won’t interest someone looking for a php person
  • learn how to sell yourself and articulate your experience – enough said
  • accept you’re going to have to send code to show what you can do – send your best relevant code
  • describe what your code is supposed to be doing to there is context – don’t just send a bunch of methods
  • comment more than you think you should – esp if you’re going to work in a team or be contracting
  • write documentation in the code for something like phpDocumentor – that makes people happy

As a general rule (unless you’re a superstar), your work environment, the people you work with, and the work you’ll be doing, should all supersede remuneration unless you have a specific reason (like a mortgage for example).

As someone recruiting

DO:
Read this first:
http://www.nickhalstead.com/2008/07/01/10-reasons-why-i-hate-recruitment-agents/

  • accept that it is going to take up a lot of your time
  • have a clear job spec and role description in place to send around
  • use your personal network first
  • get your agencies to send some cv’s to assess the kind of candidates they have
  • ask for source code if you like the cv – you’ll do less unnecessary face to face’s
  • expect them to do some filtering and work for you; if not, bin them
  • turn your phone off if you want quiet time to work
  • agree on terms first, or re-confirm them if circumstances change on your end

Hope that helps!! ;-)

Intruders.tv interview on Kindo (about scale/product/marketing/revenue)

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Was at Open Coffee last week (looking for developers), and did this interview with Vincent and Eugene from Intruders.tv on Kindo. Talked about how we’ve tackled some of the usual web app issues like scaling our userbase, internationalisation, product dev, marketing tricks, revenue generation….
_ Intruders.tv interview on Kindo.com

Kindo.com is a “new take on the traditional family tree”. In this interview, we sit down with Gareth Knight to talk about Kindo and their user acquisition strategy. Gareth shares with us his experience of attracting users to the site and the effectiveness of strategies such as blogging, Google AdWords and PR.

If you’re building a webapp, could be useful ;-)

Ariadne Capital : Entrepreneur Manifesto

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Found this reading the London paper City A.M:
Ariadne Capital : Entrepreneur Manifesto.

… That Leaders are those people who create trust in society and their businesses, and that trust is efficient. Success is forged through competition and human greatness is possible precisely because people are not the same and they have the option to choose whether they want to lead or follow….

Pretty interesting reading if you’re an entrepreneur – any thoughts? ;-)

Thoughts from recruiting for php developers in London

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I’ve spent the last week or so busy with recruiting, and I’ve learnt some interesting things. So thought I’d post something small just before I take the tube home…. I’ll try not to be too sarcastic.

  1. Most recruitment agents seem to be early 20 something bottom feeders who don’t or can’t read, and have no industry experience
  2. Most of the agents don’t really know the difference between the various technologies or just do a search on language (instead of focus), so therefore send you crud which you still have to filter out – I received a Linux systems engineer CV for a php role
  3. Warning signals include:
    • “I called you earlier”
    • “so you’re hiring a developer, what’s he going to be doing day to day?”
    • “I’m sure he’s great for your social application, he’s got loads of enterprise Java experience”
    • and my personal favourite of today “an excellent web2 ASP Javasphere candidate” (*note, not knocking Java)
  4. There are some gems who know their stuff, who listen, and who actually have good candidates = these are gold
  5. Most developers don’t seem to know how to communicate why you should hire them, so learn to ask good questions that lead to what you want to find out
  6. Your ear is going to get warm, so get comfy
  7. Take water to phone call
  8. Update:Agents seem to get surprised when you contact previous employers to get feedback on candidates (surely this is something they should do??)

That’s it – hope that helps, and I’m wondering whether you’ve had any experiences with agents and recruiting? ;-)