My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica

Friday, August 26, 2016

How GraceKennedy and Hi-Lo can achieve 98% of soap powder market in 2 years

What if I told you that almost 98% of the soap powder in Jamaica is imported?

That's the situation that currently exists, which GraceKennedy sees as an opportunity as pointed out in the article “GraceKennedy targets growth in import dominated detergent market”, published Wednesday, July 20, 2016   by Avia Collinder, The Jamaica Observer.

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GraceKennedy estimates the powdered detergent to be a JA$15 billion per annum business in Jamaica, based on estimates from their subsidiary Grocery chain, Hi-Lo Food Stores. Currently, GraceKennedy has a mere 2% of this market but hopes to eventually capture another 6% in the next four (4) years!

GraceKennedy currently owns three brands (3) in the playing in powdered detergent market:

1.      Spring Time
2.      Big Blu
3.      Freshness

Good to note that strictly speaking, Spring Time also includes other non-powdered laundry products:

1.      Liquid detergent
2.      All­purpose cleaner/disinfectant
3.      Fabric softener
4.      Dishwashing liquid
5.      Bleach

Also Big Blu is laundry detergent bars, with challengers Blue Power having an advantage thanks to their cheaper Blue Power Mosquito Repellent Laundry Soap and Castile Soap as detailed in my blog article entitled “Why the Blue Power Mosquito Repellent Laundry Soap and Castile Soap cannot stop Zika Virus Infections”.

GraceKennedy also has competition from ADA, a Chinese manufacturer based in Portmore, St Catherine.

So with approximately 90% of powdered soap powder estimated to be imported, offering a plethora of low-cost option to wash your clothes, why does GraceKennedy think they have a chance to capture this JA$15 billion per annum business?

Gracekennedy and powdered soap powder - How to achieve 98% marketshare in less than 2 years

Part of the reason has to do with fact that culturally, Jamaicans still prefer to wash their clothes by hand.

Unlike our North American counterparts who are addicted to their washing machines, 74% of Jamaicans still wash their clothes by hand. The typical method, which use to wash my clothes, is to let them soak for 30 minutes and then runs them out.

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Most laundry detergents have active ingredients that basically remove the ground in dirt and grease after immersed in the detergent laced water for at least 30 minutes. This as physically rubbing clothing isn't necessary, as that will cause the colours to fade out of you clothes.

Gracekennedy plan to outsource the production of their powdered soap powder to China, as the currently do with Freshness, which is available in 200g, 1,000g and 4,000g packaging formats. But this isn't actually necessary, as competing on price alone would not work.

Rather Gracekennendy needs to compete by making the packaging of their soap powder cheaper, not the soap powder itself cheaper. Currently, powdered laundry detergent is package in branded plastic container and sold in Hi-Lo supermarkets.

By making it available in bulk for wholesalers to package out and sell, they can undercut their competition, in much the same way Hi-Lo already sell their own branded products on their store shelves.

They can also sell advertising space on the back of the soap powder packaging in much the same way Amazon makes their Tablets cheaper using ads as explained in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “How Amazon’s Special Offers means JA$5000 Samsung S7 from Digicel and FLOW Possible”.

Finally, they can also engage their customer in recycling the packaging to get GraceKennedy Reward Points, as if they regularly use laundry detergent, then like me they will probably have a ton of plastic packaging lying around the home.

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This can be recycled back into plastic for packaging, making the cost of packaging the powdered laundry detergent zero plus the cost of the recycling, manufacturing and transport. Combining all of these benefits, Gracekennedy could technically sell their soap powder for JA$1, as advertising and recycling would fully subsidize the cost of the product to the market!

Once done correctly, both GraceKennedy and the customer benefits; cheaper packaging and increased marketshare for GraceKennedy and GraceKennedy Reward Points that customer can accrue towards the purchase of more products in the Hi-Lo Stores. 

In so doing, they can actually achieve 98% marketshare in less than 2 years!

10 million pounds of Wisynco's General Mills Gold Medal Flour replaceable by Cassava flour

“Consumers who have any of these products with the codes listed, are being asked not to consume the product(s) and to return them to the point of purchase for a full cash refund and we are asking all persons to cooperate and help us to clear their cupboards and pantries of the products cited,”

Wisynco trade marketing manager Karen Rosen commenting on the General Mills Gold Medal flour recall

Remember the recent recall of Flour by Wisynco back in June 2016?

I found this incident quite surprising as I had no idea that Wisynco sold flour for General Mills as noted in the article “Wisynco issues recall of selected General Mills flour”, published Thursday, June 02, 2016, The Jamaica Observer.
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The recall, which focused on Gold Medal flour, was due to some 10 million pounds becoming contaminated with E. coli back on Tuesday May 31st 2016 but had been shipped to Jamaica back in December 2015.

Specifically, the Gold Medal flour products being recalled are as follows:

1.      GML10720 Gold Medal All Purpose Flour .9kg EXPIRY CODE 27MAY7KC
2.      GML10730 Gold Medal Self Rising Flour .9kg EXPIRY CODE 23AUG6KC
3.      GML12610 Gold Medal All Purpose Flour 2.3kg EXPIRY CODE 29MAY7KC

Albeit no one got sick and the recall was done just in case anyone got sick, what caught my eye was the fact that this recall was issued in The Jamaica Observer and a passing mention in the article “Recall Issued For Gold Medal Flour Products”, published Thursday June 2, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Interestingly, by July 14th 2016, the recall has been extended to Betty Crocker cake mixes as note in the article “Wisynco issues second product recall”, published Thursday, July 14, 2016, The Jamaica Observer

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For all we know, some of the Gold Medal flour  and Betty Crocker cake mixes that was potentially contaminated may have been disposed off to unscrupulous vendors downtown to resell packed out in the usual polystyrene plastic bags.

But what if Jamaica could make its own flour?

How to make E. Coli contaminated Flour Safe to Eat - Making our own flour to replace imported flour

The flour recall means that the contaminated flour, all 10 million pounds of it, would have to be destroyed. However, despite this fact, it can be used safely if you know a little food chemistry.

If the flour was irradiated using a radioactive source as described in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “What is Radioactivity, Half-Life and Radioisotopes”, it could kill any E. Coli bacteria present.

After that, the flour could be safe for consumption. Alternatively, if you have a microwave, you can irradiate 1 lb of flour in a microwave resistant glass bowl for at least 5 minutes to kill any E. Coli bacteria present in the flour, once properly sifted out.

Despite the fact that the flour is contaminated, this is really an example of food waste, as unlike contaminated with Salmonella that SERHA had warned the public about back in September 2015 as documented in my blog article entitled “SERHA warns of Salmonella laced Eggs - Why Salmonella Poisoning on the Rise as Egg and Meat Shortage loom”, flour can be made safe to eat again.

Even better if we were to make out own flour, as we have lots of starch-rich foods, such as Cassava, which is already being used to replace hops in Beer as noted in my blog article entitled “US$10 million Red Stripe’s Project Grow helps 2,400 Cassava Farmers for Beer for African Exports”,  we could easily displace imported flour.

This flour recall is a bit overblown, based on my sifting of the news, as too many ways exist to make the flour safe to eat and avoid wasting food. However, it also points to a need for a local alternative to an imported product and the fact that Jamaican manufacturing can potentially fill that gap.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How to use Free Mass Mailing Applications to send Bulk Email to your Followers Online

Are you a blogger with a growing following and you need to keep them in the loop with what you're doing?

You might have considered creating an email list and then sending a lot of BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) Emails.

This is especially true if your blog produces a newsletter for your avid readers, as pointed out in the article “Five mostly free mass mailing applications”, published November 4, 2013 By Brien Posey, TechRepublic.

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But you're Gmail account will get shutdown for sure, creating another headache of the nature which is difficult to recover. Unless it's the fast rising Mobile Social Media platform such as WhatsApp on a smartphone, posting online hardly generates traffic.
So what's a blogger to do?

Free Mass Mailing Applications - Step up to paid for advanced features

If you really need to legally and ethically send out lots of email to your flock, you can take advantage of mass mailing applications online.

These programs, some free and some paid, are especially useful for the following:

1.      Opt-in advertising
2.      Communicating with group members (clubs, churches, etc.)
3.      Newsletter for an online Website
4.      Blog post distribution

The last one applies to me, as I get considerable traffic from my current subscription service and I've been bulk email people my blog articles. Using Social Media, especially Facebook, is proving to be

Quite difficult, especially as Facebook is blocking certain content from being published, making mass email that more attractive as noted in my blog article entitled “Facebook Controversy Shows Why You Need to be Email Marketing”, published May 16 2016 by David Boutin, SocialQuant.

However, after having lost two (2) Gmail accounts due to my online shenanigans, I've invested some time in researching mass mailing applications online. In the process I’ve uncovered a few free mass mailing applications:

1.      Bigg Mass Mailer
2.      e-Campaign

Most of these free mass mailing applications have built in reporting and tracking to allow you to do the following:

1.      Track who received your email
2.      Track who opened your Email
3.      Send individually tailored email
4.      Database Cloud storage for your mailing list
5.      100 emails per send

So now you see the limitations of the free version, perhaps the paid versions may be to your liking

Paid Mass Mailing Applications – Email Renaissance

To get more advance features, like unlimited sending to hundreds or thousands of people as well as scheduling the sending of your email, you'll have to upgrade to a paid version as noted in the article “The Best Email Marketing Software of 2016”, published JULY 28, 2016 by Molly Mclaughlin, PC Magazine.

Here’s a list of the best paid Mass Mailing Software if you’ve decided to get serious about your email campaign:

1.      Campaign Monitor
2.      Zoho Campaigns
3.      SendinBlue
4.      Constant Contact
5.      Infusionsoft
6.      Campaigner
7.      Emma
8.      RedCappi
9.      AWeber
10.  MailChimp

 Still, if you have more than 100 followers, you may have to invest in multiple Gmail accounts as well as use all of these email services until you can afford to upgrade to a paid version.....just saying! With the problems being experienced by Facebook users as it relates to content censorship, email might just be on the cusp of a renaissance!

Sharing is caring so share this article with all of your followers!

Monday, August 22, 2016

How Helium One, Oxford and Durham Helium field discovery in Tanzania herald Noble Gas Recycling

Helium, a gas necessary in many industries, was in short supply.

So the news of a discovery of a massive supply in Tanzania by researchers from Oxford and Durham Universities collaborated with Helium One as explained in the article “Giant helium field could inflate the world’s dwindling supply”, published June 28, 2016 By Andrew Liptak, The Verge.

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The researchers from Oxford and Durham Universities in collaboration with Helium One studied samples at Tanzania’s East African Rift valley. They calculated that the field could potentially contain over 54 billion cubic feet of helium, twice those in the United States Federal Helium Reserve, which was set up in 1925.

So what is the United States Federal Helium Reserve?

United States Federal Helium Reserve – Too much Helium spoils the World Supply

In 1903, scientists in the United States discovered vast quantities of the gas trapped in petroleum wells, leading the country to become one of the world’s largest producers, setting up the National Helium Reserve in 1925.

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The Bush Dome reservoir was set up at a cost of US$300 million to store the US supply in 1960. However, due to a lack of demand, the loan use to set up the reserve grew to US$1.54 billion.

Realizing that they had to repay the loan quickly, Congress passed the Privatization Act in 1996 that pegged the price to the growing debt. This made the price of helium artificially low but had the adverse effect of discouraging recycling of this rare resource.

Due to overuse, the National Helium Reserve is set to run out in 2021. The discovery of the Tanzanian Helium field will save the world’s supply of helium for future generations.

So how is helium produced? And how did the researchers from Oxford and Durham Universities and Helium One discover the size of the Tanzanian Helium field?

Helium field in Tanzania – Africa replenishes Helium reserves as Recycling Needed

Albeit helium is the most abundant element in the universe, the result of nuclear fusion in Stars, it's rare on earth due to being lighter than air.

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Our helium is produced from the radioactive decay of uranium to produce alpha beta particles as descried in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “What is Radioactivity and what are alpha, Beta and Gamma Particles”. 

It has many uses including:

1.      Party balloons
2.      Airships
3.      Rocket Fuel coolant
4.      MRI Machines
5.      Industrial leak detection
6.      Nuclear Power Plant containment
This latest discovery will hopefully encourage more responsible usage of helium, such as recycling as suggested in the article “That Dire Helium Shortage? Vastly Inflated”, published 29 June 2016 by Brendan Cole, Wired.

Also, the researchers from Oxford and Durham Universities and Helium One may find more resources of Helium to expand the world supply of this precious gas!

Friday, August 19, 2016

China Micius QESSS satellite heralds Quantum Communications, encrypted Fiber Waveguides and Li-Fi

China has decided that Quantum encryption is a standard worth experimenting and investing in to protect their Telecoms from State sponsored hacking.

To this end, they've launched Micius, the first Satellite that uses Quantum teleportation to test the concept as reported in the article “China launches quantum-enabled satellite Micius”, published 16 August 2016, BBC News

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Quess was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in China's North West early on Tuesday August 16th 2016.  The 1,300 pounds is called Quess (Quantum Experiments at Space Scale) and is named after the ancient Chinese scientist and philosopher Micius, a Chinese philosopher and scientist who lived in the fifth century B.C.

Check out the launch below.

The satellite is experimental as this is the first time that scientists are testing the idea of sending encrypted data in the form of a light beam. This laser will transmit the state of two samples of quantum entangled bits whose qubits are being manipulated to form 1's and 0's standard in Telecommunications transmission.

I'm personal thrilled at this test, as the use of quantum entanglement to transmit qubits is an idea I've mentioned in my blog article entitled “Kavli Institute of Nanoscience demonstrates Quantum Teleportation – Super-cooled Diamonds demonstrate faster-than-light potential for Computing and Telecommunications”.

The quantum entangle state of the atoms being transmitted by the Micius Satellite is the quantum state of the qubits, will be received and decoded by the other sample at base stations in China and Austria.

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The beauty of this type of encryption is that any attempt to intercept changes the quantum state being observed, indicating that someone is tapping the data.

Quantum Telecommunications is coming - Near Light speed Fiber Optic Waveguides

This would solve the problem of transmitting encryption keys securely, effectively making satellite communications and telecoms unhackable. But what has me hopeful is that this technology can be brought down to Earth be combined with the development of near light speed encrypted Fiber Optics Data Transmission.

The idea is to combine Quantum Communications with hollow Fiber optic cables developed by University of Southampton in the UK which are effectively waveguides that allow light to achieve speeds close to light as reported in the article “Researchers create hollow fiber optic cable, almost reach the speed of light”, 26 March 2013 by Myriam Joire, Engadget

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Because the waveguides are hollow, not only does the UV (ultraviolet Light) move faster, but it also can carry the quantum states of entangles atoms, making detection of spice attempts by intruder nearly impossible.

Quantum Telecommunications would also make Laser Radio Technology Networks more secure.  Laser Radio Technology Networks more secure are a free space technology based on lasers to communicate in much the same way Fiber Optic Cables operate as described in my blog article entitled “@AOptix testing Laser Radio Technology Networks - How Laser based FTTH Networks delivers Broadband to Communities in the Last Mile”. 

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Quantum Communications could also be used to make secure FTTH (Fiber to the Home Networks) without Fiber Optics. More importantly, it would also add an encryption layer to Li-Fi, which is looking more and more to be a part of the 5G roadmap as explained in my Geezam blog article entitled “5G Networks with Renewable Energy, Fiber Optic Waveguides and AI”.

Quantum Communications which will definitely be a part of 5G Networks in the future as Optical Processors are already in the works thanks to researchers at  the University of California Berkeley and MIT (Massachusetts of Technology) as explained in my blog article entitled “Why @UCBerkeley and @MIT Optical Processor means Li-Fi and 5G Wireless by 2020”. 

Albeit the Chinese have beaten the world by testing this tech first, it will eventually have to come down to Earth if it is to be practically applicable.

Kaspersky and Symantec discover ProjectSauron malware keylogger spying since 2011

“The attackers clearly understand that we as researchers are always looking for patterns. Remove the patterns and the operation will be harder to discover. We are aware of more than 30 organizations attacked, but we are sure that this is just a tiny tip of the iceberg”

Kaspersky researchers in a report published Monday August 8th 2016 on ProjectSauron

Telecom Provider and Government Agencies, beware!

Some computer viruses are very clever in their design indeed. So much so that they can avoid detection by virtue of not behaving like a virus.

Such is the case of a malware program named “ProjectSauron” by Kaspersky and “Remsec” by Symantec as reported in the article “Advanced Malware Stayed Hidden For Five Years”, published August 9, 2016 By Justin Pot, Digitaltrends.

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Kaspersky researchers discovered the malware in September 2015. The main purpose of the malware was:

1.      Obtain passwords
2.      Cryptographic keys
3.      Configuration files
4.      IP addresses for encryption software

According to sources, a Western-friendly government organization hired Kaspersky to investigate anomalous network traffic. They discovered a library of code hiding in the domain controller servers, masquerading as a Windows password filter.

A Windows password filter is a piece of software used by Network Admins to make sure passwords are unbreakable. The library of code modules stated each time a network or local user logged in or changed a password, enabling it to view passcodes in plaintext.

So who was being targeted by this very sophisticated malware?

ProjectSauron or Remsec targeted Governments - Sleeper cells and keylogger since 2011

ProjectSauron or Remsec, whichever you prefer, has been active since 2011 and possibly longer in the following countries:

1.      Russia
2.      Iran
3.      Rwanda
4.      China
5.      Sweden
6.      Belgium
7.      Italy

The virus has evaded detection these long five (5) years because it's designed to have no definite infection patters. The malware mainly targeted the following computer systems:

1.      Government entities
2.      Military operations
3.      Research institutions
4.      Banks
5.      Telecommunication companies

According to Kaspersky, the malware was quote: “designed to perform specific functions like stealing documents, recording keystrokes, and hijacking encryption keys from both infected computers and attached USB sticks”.

Basically, it is a sophisticated keylogger similar to the ones referred to in my blog article entitled “Professor Marco Gercke warns of Scammers using Keyloggers and How to use Keyloggers and Protect yourself”.

But how did it avoid detection for so long?

ProjectSauron lays low by being chill - No patterns makes it harder to detect

Not much is known about the malware program named “ProjectSauron” by Kaspersky and “Remsec” by Symantec.

Most likely, it was designed by an unknown country, possibly North Korea, Israel or most likely the US of A, to spy on Western-friendly Governments as pointed out in the article “Researchers crack open unusually advanced malware that hid for 5 years”, published 8/8/2016 by Dan Goodwin, ArsTechnica.

Kasperksy’s name “ProjectSauron” refers to the character in the book Lord of the Rings, who possess a ring of power and is represented by a single eye.

Sauron has an army made up of rag-tag conscripts all fighting to destroy humans and elves in Middle Earth. This use of symbolism by these state-sponsored hackers implies that they probably are hackers who live and operate within the in the Darknet and their sponsored has ambitions similar to the character in the Lord of the Rings; to possess the one ring to rule them all!

Its design made it look more like a passive file than a virus while performing the function of a keylogger, spying on its targets and sending information back to its client. For instance, it changed its name depending on the type of computer and operating system it infected as shown below, thereby avoiding suspicion.

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It also had a multi-vector approach to infection, spreading itself via email attachments as well as via infecting files in USB drives in order to carry out its keylogger function.

It most likely did this by sniffing USB mouse and keyboard nearby and hopping across via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections as described in my blog article entitled “How Bastile's US$12 Geetech Crazyradio Bluetooth dongle can hack Wireless Keyboards and Mice”.

It even changed itself into fifty (50) possible plugins to record keystrokes form various machines. One would have though IT Admin would have spotted it when it sent back data to its host. But this malware had clever methods of sending the keystrokes it captured, such as converting the data to metadata and sending it via a DNS connection.

More reason for Governments to secure their systems, as this is not a case of malware, but espionage, possible sponsored by the USA, Israel or North Korea.