My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica

Thursday, November 26, 2015

How to make Glow-in-the-Dark Jamaican Christmas Fruit Cake

Christmas is not Christmas in Jamaica without sorrel, which seems to be in short supply this year as noted in my blog article entitled “Why Great Jamaica Sorrel Shortage of 2015 caused by increasing yearly demand - How Turner Innovations Sorrel picking machine might save Christmas 2015”.

A staple that I always look forward to is the traditional Christmas cake, which is also known as Black Cake or Christmas Cake with all those raisins and fruits soaked in rum. But wouldn't it be great to make a Glow-in-the-Dark Jamaican Christmas Fruit Cake so that you can find the cake downstairs, even in the dark?

Here are the ingredients for my Glow-in-the-Dark Jamaican Christmas Fruit Cake that's sure to have the kids excited come Christmas Eve:

1.      6 ounces or 1.5 cup flour
2.      8 ounces margarine or butter
3.      8 ounces sugar
4.      4 eggs
5.      1 cup Schweppes Tonic Water
6.      1 pound raisins
7.      1 teaspoon cinnamon
8.      1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
9.      1/2 teaspoon salt
10.  4 ounces mixed peel
11.  4 ounces cherries
12.  1/2 pound mixed fruits
13.  1 cup wine/brandy
14.  1 cup Schweppes Tonic Water
15.  1 teaspoon baking powder
16.  1 teaspoon vanilla
17.  Finely grated rind of 1 lime/lemon
18.  2 tablespoons browning

The secret to the Jamaican Christmas Fruit Cake glow is the infusion of the Schweppes Tonic Water. To make this marvel that will delight the eye and amaze your guests, even your annoying mother-in-law, follow these simple instructions:

1.      Soak the fruits overnight in the Schweppes Tonic Water
2.      Sieve all dry ingredients together into a separate mixing bowl
3.      Melt the Butter
4.      Mix in the sugar and browning and blend with a mixer until soft and fluffy
5.      Beat eggs and combine with wine/brandy and Schweppes Tonic Water
6.      Add egg mixture to creamed butter and sugar.
7.      Add fruits soaked overnight in the Schweppes Tonic Water
8.      Add the dry ingredients, including the flour and fold in, taking care not to over beat the mixture
9.      Bake at 350F for 1 1/2 hours.

You'll get a nice 9 pound cake or you can pour out the batter into several baking tins and get multiple cakes for your friends. To make the cake glow in the dark, make sure that you have UV lamps, like those used to identify money, turned on and the lights off.

The kids will be delighted to see their cake, fruits and even the crumbs glowing in the dark. Best of all, the can wash it all down with glow-in-the-dark Sorrel, which can do that by adding Schweppes Tonic Water.

Why WeChat ewallet in South Africa as ScotiaBank Jamaica and Digicel going Cashless

“Like a physical wallet, you can securely store your bank cards and make instant cash payments within WeChat with the new feature. With WeChat Wallet, users can electronically send cash to friends and family, just like handing cash to a friend to get you lunch or pay for coffee or a drink at the bar.”

Tencent in a release for their new eWallet for their mobile app WeChat

Jamaican who travel to South Africa regularly, you might not need to travel with your credit card anymore, just your smartphone!

WeChat, a popular Mobile Social Network provider owned by Chinese Internet giant Tencent, now has a mobile wallet or eWallet that's accessible within the popular Smartphone app as reported in the article “WeChat launches its peer-to-peer mobile wallet in South Africa, no bank account required”, published November 25th 2015 by Michael De Waal-montgomery, Venturebeat.

The WeChat Mobile ewallet does the following transactions:

1.      ATM withdrawals
2.      Merchant purchases
3.      Remittance

South Africa is one of those countries that Apple Pay is yet to conquer, despite making in-roads into most English-speaking countries including the UK and now Australia as noted in my blog article entitled “Apple Pay wins over Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland – England is now Apple Pay Country as Apple Pay set to conquer Australia”.

Apple Pay is in Australia's hard-to-access Banks in November 2015, with only American Express supporting their mobile wallet platform as noted in the article “Apple Pay arrives in Australia for Amex cardholders”, published November 19, 2015 by Lance Whitney, CNET News.

Apple Pay is also in Canada with plans to conquer China by February 2016 as reported in the article “Apple Pay reportedly to launch in China by February”, published 24 November 2015 by Steven Musil, CNET News

However, they seemed to have ignored South Africa, despite the Rainbow nation being quite close by. So how does WeChat Mobile ewallet work that takes it so special?

Tencent’s WeChat ewallet – Why South Africa is going Cashless

Mobile e-wallets isn't something new in south Africa, with QR code based startups like SnapScan and FlickPay already dominating the market as noted in the article “Cape Town goes cashless as mobile payment apps take off”, published 5 December 2014 By Tom Jackson, BBC News.

Apple Pay will have a difficult time come into South Africa, as their platform requires the use of Apple iPhones and a dedicated POS (Point of Sale) terminal, whereas mobile payment options like SnapScan and FlickPay only need the app installed and QR Codes, which are basically square shaped barcodes.

Like SnapScan and FlickPay, the WeChat mobile ewallet uses your camera to scan the QR code, a service that complements their Mobile Social Network. Once you’ve signed up, registered and connected your credit card to your app on your smartphone, you can do transactions with merchants that have a QR code, no POS terminal required.

Setting up the service is also blessedly simple:

1.      Log into WeChat
2.      Tap Me,
3.      Tap Wallet
4.      Follow the step-by-step instructions

The App does the transaction in the cloud, updating the accounts of the persons involved in the transaction to reflect that the transaction has taken place.

The person paying confirms the payment via their fingerprint or by entering a PIN number, receiving a notification and an email with copy of the transaction receipt from the merchant to print at the recipient’s leisure. The merchant then receives a confirmation that the payment was made via notification on their app or an email with a copy of the transaction.

This is the highly competitive market that WeChat's ewallet is being launched. It's only available to South Africans who are 16 or older with a valid ID number toting iOS or Android phones. WeChat also released a series of Videos to explain how the service works.

To differentiate themselves, they’re offering to store up to three Credit Cards in their service, to quote the press release from Tencent: “Information of up to three chip and PIN debit or credit cards, which are verified by Visa and MasterCard security systems, can be saved in the WeChat Wallet. Cards can also be used to Cash In and increase your wallet’s cash balance, pay for services on WeChat such as airtime, electricity, food or pay SnapScan merchants.”

You can also use a Debit Cards and purchasing mobile airtime might be the most popular use for the app along with your local newspaper as noted in the article “WeChat launches wallet in South Africa”, published 25 NOV 2015, Mobile World Live

Expect WeChat to start being use to purchase food and pay the bills as well. Best of all, most of these services do not require a bank account; you can collect your money at a local remittance office or even the ATM, no bank account needed!

Jamaica Mobile Money Revolution – Supreme Venture, ScotiaBank and Digicel partnership possible

In a way, this a lot like CONEC mobile in Jamaica, which has Paymaster as their Third-party Bill Payment Processor as noted in my blog article entitled “JCUES now CONEC Mobile Wallet - Why CONEC Mobile Wallet still inconvenient despite Paymaster and Remittances in the JCCUL-Mozido Jamaica mix”.

However, CONEC Mobile cannot do merchant transactions or ATM withdrawals and is restricted to local and international remittance services as well as buying mobile credit. So Jamaica has some ways to go to even catch up with South Africa!

Jamaica is on the cusp of a Mobile Money revolution, with Supreme Ventures IFLEX Betting platform enabling them to provide ticket purchase and prize collection capability via their Supreme Ventures app as reported in my blog article entitled “Supreme Ventures Limited IFLEX Betting Platform Upgrade - How Mobile Gambling via Smartphone is finally coming to Jamaica”.

Scotiabank is already preparing to do mobile money transactions, possibly in partnership with Digicel by enabling cross-bank transactions as noted in my blog article entitled “Why ScotiaBank is introducing Cross-Banking Transfers – Supreme Ventures Mobile Money on the horizon”.

So will Jamaica go cashless by 2016 with the help of Digicel, ScotiaBank and Supreme Ventures? 2016, the New Year of the Monkey, is only six (6) weeks away!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

AquaBounty Technologies GMO AquaAdvantage Salmon – Why GMO Salmon in the Wild will be an Ecological Disaster

These are strange times indeed for GMO!

It's very strange to see the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approve GMO (Generically Modified) Salmon on as noted on Thursday November 19th 2015 as reported in the article “The FDA just granted approval to a fast-growing genetically modified Salmon species”, published November 20, 2015 Ed Oswald, Digitaltrends.

The approval was handed down for a specific breed of genetically modified Salmon made by AquaBounty Technologies, making them the first to get approval for a GMO as noted in the article “Salmon is first transgenic animal to win US approval for food”, published 19 November 2015 by Heidi Ledford, Nature.

They’d submitted the concept back in 1995 and it has basically been 20 years of deliberations within the FDA before they lived at their decision.

Not only are the Salmon declared safe to eat, but there is apparently no requirement by the FDA for AquaBounty Technologies to label AquaBounty’s Salmon, only that they be kept in inland storage tanks.

AquaBounty Technologies GMO AquaAdvantage Salmon – Why GMO Salmon in the Wild will be an Ecological Disaster

This is because the FDA says no real difference between the GMO Salmon and traditional Salmon, to quote from their website: “Because the data and information evaluated show that AquAdvantage Salmon is not materially different from other Atlantic Salmon, the FDA has determined that no additional labeling of food from AquaAdvantage Salmon is required”.

AquaBounty Technologies states that these GMO Salmon are genetic cross between Atlantic and Chinook breeds. They are also enhanced with growth factors in their genetics and can grow to full size in eighteen (18) months rather than the three (3) years it takes traditional Atlantic Salmon.

AquaBounty Technologies argues that this means that the Salmon are more efficient and thus use less feed to grow, reducing the turnaround time for farmers as well as their carbon footprint.

What worries me and others concerned about GMO's is that these Salmon, if they escape from their inland storage tanks and into the wild, can grow rapidly and outcompete fish in the local ecosystem for food just like the oversized Goldfish in the River of Australia as based on research by Murdoch University as noted in my blog article entitled “Murdoch University says Goldfish Destroy Freshwater Ecosystems - Why Jamaica must avoid Goldfish becoming Kingpins in our Rivers”.

On this basis alone Center for Food Safety director Andrew Kimbrell will be filing a lawsuit against AquaBounty Technologies, quote: “The review process by FDA was inadequate, failed to fully examine the likely impacts of the Salmon’s introduction, and lacked a comprehensive analysis. This decision sets a dangerous precedent, lowering the standards of safety in this country”.

After all, if you cannot tell them apart from real Salmon and they can grow twice as fast, if they escape into the wild, they'd be the equivalent of goldfish competing with local species and driving them to extinction.

How to find work in Jamaica at Call Centers - GraceKennedy’s Call Center at CSO to open November 2015

“They will be able to have access…by the end of this month (November). We anticipate that, very shortly…there will be another floor that will be (another 50,000 sq. ft….by early in the New Year (2016); and then, eventually, the entire 200,000 sq. ft. will be available”

Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, commenting on GraceKennedy Limited Call Center in CSO (Central Sorting Office)

Call center expansion seems to be an undeniable force for employment in Jamaica and GraceKennedy Limited is a part of that trend.

They're are now plans in place for GraceKennedy Limited to occupy some 50,000 sq. ft. of the 200,000 sq. ft. of space at the CSO (Central Sorting Office) on East Street by November 2015 as reported in the article “Central Sorting Office to Accommodate BPO Operations”, published November 24, 2015 By Douglas McIntosh, The Jamaica Information Service

Guess they can't wait for the completion of the US$256 million dollar complex in downtown Kingston which will be completed by March 2016 as announced in the article “GraceKennedy To Break Ground On US$25m Downtown Complex Next March, Shuffles Team”, published Sunday September 27, 2015 by Camilo Thame, The Jamaica Gleaner

This is close to the Jamaica Gleaner Company, which is located at the corner of North and East Street, just a few meters away. According to Minister Paulwell, GraceKennedy Limited aims to create some 5,000 jobs, with FLOW to provide the first account with some 400 seats or 1200 jobs, based on a three shift system, quote: “We negotiated with Flow and a commitment was given that those 400 seats would be brought to Jamaica from El Salvador (and) they have confirmed…that, that will be done. So, it is just a matter of the building out of the space to accommodate those jobs”.

Meanwhile the CSO staff will be relocated to facilitate the build-out of the Call Center as GraceKennedy moves in and sets up shop, to quote Minister Paulwell: “There are some initiatives for a large space for them to be accommodated, and that is being pursued. We want to make sure that the transition is orderly… (and) that the staff… is not too inconvenienced. We have to ensure that they are comfortable, and that where they eventually go, will be suitable for them to carry out the work of the postal services. So we are trying to manage the transition very carefully”.

So why is GraceKennedy going into the Call Center Business?

Gracekennedy’s Call Center in CSO – Going for Growth in the rapidly expanding BPO Sector

One would have expected that this would have been something Xerox would do, being as they're expanding in the New Kingston area since May 2015 as noted in my blog article entitled “How to find work in Jamaica at Call Centers - Xerox's Three New Call Centers in Kingston for 860 employees for Future Expansion”.

After all, they're clearly investing big in the Call Center sectors, even teaming up with ACCT (Advanced Call Centre Technologies) to build dormitories for their workers in the newly-opened Barnett Tech Park in Montego Bay in may 2015 as noted in the article “Barnett To Invest In Dormitory Housing For BPO Workers”, published Wednesday May 6, 2015 by Avia Collinder, The Jamaica Gleaner.  
However, Call Centers are a rapid growth area and like Remittances, Mobile money and Exports to Africa and the US of A as noted in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “How GraceKennedy will achieve 20% growth in the USA via Amazon”, GraceKennedy is pushing into the increasingly expanding BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) sector.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How to make Glow-in-the-Dark Jamaican Easter Bun

Easter is coming and it’ll soon be time to make Easter Eggs!

Glow-In-The-Dark Cadbury Chocolate Cadbury Creme Eggs being particularly nice to make as noted in my blog article entitled “How to make Glow-In-The-Dark Cadbury Chocolate @CadburyUK Creme Egg with Cream Fondant - Jamaican Easter Chocolatiers DIY”. 

But we’re Jamaicans.  So what about Glow-in-the-Dark Easter Bun?

Well today I'll share with you my recipe for Glow-in-the-Dark Easter Bun.

Here are the ingredients:

1.      3 cups flour
2.      3 teaspoons baking powder
3.      3/4 cup brown sugar
4.      2 eggs beaten
5.      1 tablespoon browning
6.      1/2 pint milk
7.      1 cup Schweppes Tonic Water
8.      2 tablespoon melted margarine
9.      Raisins and mixed peel (amount based on your taste)
10.  1 tablespoon mixed spice
11.  1 tablespoon cinnamon
12.  1 tablespoon nutmeg

Making the Glow-in-the-Dark Easter Bun is fairly easy:

1.      Soak the raisins and mixed peel in 1 cup Schweppes Tonic Water
2.      Save some of the Schweppes Tonic Water for the mixing process
3.      Measure all ingredients in a bowl with 1 pint of the Schweppes Tonic Water
4.      Blend together dry ingredients then wet ingredients with a mixer until fluffy
5.      Pour into bun shaped baking pans
6.      Bake in a moderate 350F until done well.

You can glaze with caramel or glow-in-the-dark Chocolate Syrup as described in my blog article entitled “How to make Chocolate Syrup that Glows-in-the-Dark, the ultimate Ice Cream Party Treat”.

Make sure to have a UV Lamp handy and serve the Easter Bun in a low-lit room for that glow-in-the-dark effect!

Why Harvard University Chan School of Public Health says Coffee reduces hereditary lifestyle disease risk

“This study provides further evidence that moderate consumption of coffee may confer health benefits in terms of reducing premature death due to several diseases. These data support the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Report that concluded that ‘moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern”

Professor of nutrition and epidemiology and Senior author Frank Hu on the landmark study from Harvard University Chan School of Public Health on the long term health risks of coffee drinking

Some interesting new research has come out that seems to run counter to common sense.

Researchers at the Harvard University Chan School of Public Health has published a long term study that seems to suggest that heavy coffee drinkers are less likely to die from hereditary lifestyle diseases as reported in the article “Coffee-drinkers less likely to die from certain diseases”, published Monday, November 16, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

Their research paper, published in the November 16 edition of the journal Circulation, specifically suggests that drinking three to five cups of coffee per day reduces the risk of premature death from:

1.      Diabetes
2.      Heart disease
3.      Parkinson's disease
4.      Suicide

Alas don't get too happy; caffeine is still dangerous as explained in my blog article entitled “FDA to regulate Caffeine after Ohio Resident overdoses and dies - How Chocolate and Cocoa are healthier alternatives as No Caffeine High from Dark Chocolate” and there's no protection from cancer.

The study seems legitimate enough. So why did the Researchers at the Harvard University Chan School of Public Health get these results?

Harvard University Chan School of Public Health says Coffee reduces hereditary lifestyle risk - Why Killer Beans may be Good for you

The study was based on data gathered from three large, ongoing surveys over a period of thirty (30) years as noted in the article “Moderate coffee drinking may lower risk of premature death”, published November 16, 2015, Harvard School of Public Health.

The Group being studied was a large group, with some 300,000 nurses and other health professionals broken into three (3) groups as follows:

1.         74,890 women in the Nurses’ Health Study
2.         93,054 women in the Nurses’ Health Study 2
3.         40,557 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study

During the thirty (30) years the study was being conducted, 19,524 women and 12,432 men died from a range of causes wish the study did not account for as being connected to their coffee intake.

They also were representative of persons from different socio-economic backgrounds and agreed to answer questionnaires and track their medical conditions and habits at regular intervals during the 30 year period.

The entire group was divided into three groups; one control group of non-coffee drinkers and two experimental groups, one that drank coffee moderately i.e. 2 cups a day and another group of heavy coffee drinkers i.e. 3 to five cups a day.

Despite these considerations, the study is also more of a correlation, as it didn't establish a cause-and-effect for coffee and the reduced likelihood of certain diseases. Also despite the researchers accounting for risk factors such as smoking, body mass index, exercise, alcohol consumption, and diet, the participants might have fudge the results to make themselves look healthier.

The fact that this was a self-reported survey where the participants reported what they consumed rather than being monitored under controlled conditions like lab rats suggests this was possible. After all, the 300,000 strong surveyed are mostly health professionals!

However, it does suggests increase coffee intake, be it decaffeinated or caffeinated, was connected to the reduction of premature death from the hereditary lifestyle diseases listed above.  

Also it doesn’t explain why moderate drinkers also benefitted and why heavy drinkers showed increased benefits from coffee to quote the abstract: “In the whole study population, moderate coffee consumption was associated with reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease, and suicide”

Coffee’s hidden benefits – New Elixer of youth yet to be discovered in the killer beans

Quite simply, it indicates that something is in the coffee that's good for you.

We already know that caffeine in excess is bad, which is why it's on the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) banned list as explained in my blog article entitled “FDA to regulate Caffeine after Ohio Resident overdoses and dies - How Chocolate and Cocoa are healthier alternatives as No Caffeine High from Dark Chocolate”.  

Regular consumption of coffee is good for you; just don't drink it if you're pregnant women or below the age of 18, to quote professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard and lead author, Dr. Frank Hu: “Regular consumption of coffee can be included as part of a healthy, balanced diet. However, certain populations such as pregnant women and children should be cautious about high caffeine intake from coffee or other beverages”.

So apparently other chemicals in the coffee are helping to extend the lives of coffee drinkers a postulated by first author Ming Ding, a doctoral student in the Department of Nutrition, quote: “Bioactive compounds in coffee reduce insulin resistance and systematic inflammation. That could explain some of our findings. However, more studies are needed to investigate the biological mechanisms producing these effects”.

Perhaps a new drug that may be the elixer of youth and a clue to extended life waits to be extracted from coffee beans. For that, further research is needed.