My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica


Sunday, January 7, 2018

How Western Union Cash to Bank Program may boost GK MPay Push if BOJ makes it Mandatory

“The service is gaining traction as customers are indicating that they have greater control over how they use their funds. We are finding a growing number of persons showing a preference for accessing cashless options”

Group CEO of GraceKennedy Limited Don Wehby commenting on Western Union in Jamaica 'cash to account' service

Happy New Year dear readers! Do you receive money via Western Union?

If you do, then you'll be happy to know that you can now have the money sent directly to your Bank Account or your GK MPay Account as reported in the article “Western Union Pushes Bank Accounts Transfers For Remittances”, Published, Sunday January 7, 2018, The Jamaica Gleaner

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Western Union in Jamaica is ramping up its campaign to get customers to send remittances directly to bank accounts. This will not only make life a lot more convenient for recipients but make scamming nearly impossible.

This as Electronics Transactions and Bank Accounts require Picture I.D's to be created, making identifying the recipients quite easy as explained in my blog article entitled “How Electronic Transactions in Jamaica can eliminate Hidden Economy via Universal Consumption Taxation”.

This is a long time in coming as Western Union, which is run by GraceKennedy here in Jamaica, had rolled out their 'cash to account' service since 2016 in five (5) other countries:

1.      United State
2.      United Kingdom
3.      India,
4.      Japan
5.      China

There are now fifty (50) countries where Western Union people can have their remittances sent directly to their Bank Accounts. So does this mean an end to standing in line at its retail outlets? Also, could this be the start of a gradual shift toward Mobile money and

Western Union Cash to Bank Program - GraceKennedy's MPay Push may get a boost if BOJ makes it Mandatory

It depends on how Jamaicans respond. However, they may not have much choice eventually.

Jamaicans have been slow to adopt to GraceKennedy's MPay Mobile Wallet for the reasons as listed in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to get Jamaicans to use Quisk, GK MPay for more than just Phone Credit”.

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This latest option allows any Jamaican using Western Union to send their remittances to any bank account, not just NCB. Transfers depend on the following bits of information relating to the recipient:

1.      Country i.e. Jamaica, USA, Canada
2.      Bank of the recipient
3.      Money transfer limits and conditions
4.      Transfer Fees

Please note that Money transfer limits and conditions and Transfer Fees are similar to those that apply to retail stores as laid out in my blog article entitled “How NCB Quisk Compares to CONEC Mobile Wallet as Jamaica goes Cashless”.

Recipients of remittances can have their money sent to their NCB Bank account, a possible herald of the coming of ATM withdrawals I’d originally predicted would happen in 2016 as noted in my blog article entitled “How NCB Mobile Money by AIS and Quisk heralds Mobile phone ATM Withdrawals by December 2016”.

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This is possible once they call Western Union customer service centre (1-800-325-6000) with their money transfer control number as pointed out by Group CEO of GraceKennedy Limited Don Wehby, quote: “For the receiving customer, we also facilitate them being able to have their remittance sent to their bank account with the deposit direct service. A receiver has to be registered for the deposit direct service, after which they have the choice of calling our customer service centre with their money transfer control number and authorising disbursement to their bank account”.

If their NCB is connected to a GK MPay App, they can receive notifications of the remittances arriving via their GK MPay App, once they're on the Internet. Conversion to cash from the GK MPay App is still cumbersome though; if you don't have a Debit Card you STILL have to go to a Western Union outlet to withdraw cash using your GK MPay App.

So this latest move is a push by GraceKennedy to get more Jamaicans interested in GK MPay while allowing transfer of remittance to NCB and other Bank accounts, effectively putting a damper on scamming as explained in my blog article entitled “How Electronic Transactions in Jamaica can eliminate Hidden Economy via Universal Consumption Taxation”.

I suspect that most Jamaicans, who may still distrust the GK MPay App and banks in general, will still want to line up at retail stores; Western Union in Jamaica has to go viral with their Marketing Strategy to get Jamaicans to see this as a viable option.

But if the Government of Jamaica via the BOJ (Bank of Jamaica) makes it mandatory that all Remittances have to go to a Bank account registered with NIDS (National Identification System) , especially when dealing with the Government as predicted in my blog article entitled “How NIDS coming in January 2018 means Electronic Transactions with GOJ to become standard”, we may see the not only the end of scamming....and the rise of GK MPay.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

How Jamaicans can update their Wireless Router firmware for faster Internet Connections

This is 2018!!!

Time to update your Wi-Fi routers as most of the really good ones allow for firmware update within the web interface. In fact, my list of the best Wireless Routers goes like this:

1.      Linksys 
2.      Netgear 
3.      Asus
4.      TP-Link

The process, called “flashing the firmware”, helps a router work better as suggested in this How to video from CNET.

Resetting your router is also an option that fixes many problems as noted in this video.

In the case of the FLOW Jamaica Arris Modem as described in my blog article entitled “How to reset and change your FLOW Jamaica Arris Modem Wireless Network Name and Password

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But sometimes a router reset doesn’t fix the problem. Problems and bugs may still persist requiring that you upgrade your router’s firmware.

So here’s how you do the manual update of your router’s firmware!

How to update your Router – DIY or AUTO Update options

Most will use a web-based interface and the procedure will go something like this:

1.      Download the firmware from the vendor's support website, as a .zip file.
2.      Open this zip file and copy the firmware file out.
3.      Log into the router's web interface by typing in your computer Browser
4.      Enter the login and password. This is usually written on the bottom of the router but it may also be login = admin and password =admin…..or just blank
5.      Navigate to the section where you can update the firmware usually in the Administration, System, Setup, Advance or Tools area.
6.      Click on the button to browse for the new firmware file
7.      Click on Update (or Upload)
8.      Wait for a few minutes for the process to complete

Let the update process run without interruption as if you unplug/turn the router, you might brick it. If in doubt, follow your Network Vendor's instructions on how to flash their router.
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Most routers have their specific instruction set. In this age of paperless, you may either have to download a *.pdf document or watch their YouTube videos in order to do this, if the instructions do not come in the box. Here’s a handy video on speeding up your Wi-Fi Connection that may also be helpful!

Good to note that many routers have the automatic firmware update function; mighty convenient as all you need to do is let the router download the firmware and update by itself.

Sharing is caring so share this with your other friends!!!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goat Islands a UNESCO Biosphere Preserve in order to fight Green Iguana Invasion

“The two Goat Islands are a very special part of our Jamaican heritage, as is the Jamaican Iguana.....I look forward to visiting Jamaica's newest wildlife sanctuary in the near future, and congratulate the Government of Jamaica for this long-awaited decision”

Diana McCaulay, JET outgoing CEO on the decision to make Goat Islands in the PBPA (Portland Bight Protected Area) a Wildlife Sanctuary

Folks the unthinkable has happened…..and it's all good!!!

As we close off 2017, we start on a good note for Goat Islands in the PBPA (Portland Bight Protected Area).

The UDC (Urban Development Corporation) has decided to declare the area as a Wildlife Sanctuary as reported in the article “JET Celebrates Goat Islands Being Declared A Wildlife Sanctuary”, Published Thursday December 14, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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The JET (Jamaica Environment Trust) received the news from NEPA (National Environment and Planning Agency) Wednesday December 13 2017. The UDC and NEPA will establish as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Biosphere Programme.

These were the same Goat Islands that the Government led by the PNP in 2014 had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese to construct a transhipment port. In 2016, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that the Goat Islands were to be protected and halted the Hub plans.

Suzanne Stanley, incoming chief executive officer (CEO) of JET, was very pleased that the Save Goat Islands campaign had finally achieved its aim, quote: “We are elated to hear this news. The Save Goat Islands campaign has been one of JET's greatest successes to date under Diana's leadership, and this is a great note on which to celebrate her retirement”

But why the sudden change of plans by Prime Minister Andrew Holness?

Goat Islands a UNESCO Biosphere Preserve – Cashing in on Nature Tourism as Green Iguanas Invade

On the surface, it appears to have been made possible thanks to vigorous opposition by the following groups:

1.      JET
2.      Managers of the PBPA
3.      The CCAM (Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation)
4.      Other interested parties

But it wasn't really these people and groups that won the day. Government don't just scrap Memorandum of Understanding with multibillion dollar partners unless something of greater importance may have come along.

More important than Chinese Money; Iguana Tourism.

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In this case it's all about iguanas....or possible an ongoing invasion of Green Iguanas in Jamaica similar to what's happening in the Cayman Islands as explained in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “Iguana Invasion in Cayman Island presents Iguana Meat Export Opportunity”. 

Yes, Jamaica doesn’t have any Green Iguanas, but blue ones.

NEPA and UNDP jointly run a Jamaica Invasive Species Database as pointed out in my blog article entitled “NEPA and UNDP Jamaica Invasive Species Database - Why Jamaicans may be the Environment's worst Enemy”, so teaming up in this way makes sense, as they can protect the indigenous Blue Iguana from the more aggressive Green Iguanas set to invade Jamaica in 2018!!

Tourism, after all, is the biggest money earner, even more than mining.

Our natural environment, for better or for worse, is attracting more Airbnb visitors as noted in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Tourism says Airbnb brings 32,000 to Jamaica to Bob Marley's Trench Town”.  

But with the threat of an impending Green Iguana invasion as noted in my blog article entitled “Why Jamaica faces a Green Iguana Invasion and how eating Iguana Patties may help”, by making the area protected, it will preserve these rare animals as part of a push towards Nature tourism.

So it only makes sense for the Ministry of Tourism and the Government to be seen as protectors of the environment, making more tourism dollars in the process....while they secretly prepare to fight the coming invasion of Green Iguanas that threaten to derail their Nature Tourism cashcow....

JPS, USAID and How removing 60% import duty on Electric Vehicle will reduce Jamaica's Oil Bill

“Electric vehicles have a positive contribution to make to our economy. Not only do they have zero emissions, and are therefore good for the environment, but they can also potentially lead to the significant reduction of the fuel import bill which the country now bears”

JPS Senior Vice President of Energy Delivery, Sheree Martin, commenting on the importation of electric vehicles at the Electric Vehicle Seminar

Jamaicans are interested in Electric vehicles. So why are they not more widespread in Jamaica?

Maybe because the import duty of 60% is too high as noted in the article “Stakeholders want Gov't to reduce import duty on electric vehicles”, published Monday, October 02, 2017, The Jamaica Observer.

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This was the obvious stumbling block pointed out by those attending the Electric Vehicle Seminar hosted by JPS and the USAID Caribbean Clean Energy Programme held on Wednesday September 27th 2017 at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston. The event facilitated discussions about issues that need to be tackled before electric vehicles can go mainstream:

1.      Type of infrastructure required
2.      Regulatory frameworks 
3.      Types of Electric Vehicles

Jamaican is clearly behind, as Barbados has 200 electric cars and 20 electric panel vans on their roads. This was pointed out by Joanna Edghill, whose company MegaPower, uses these vehicles.

Jamaican and Electric Vehicles - Reduce Import Duties needed followed by First World Subsidies

Yes, this article may be a bit late, but the interest in Electric vehicles is just revving up globally, as the world is going Renewables according to the IAE (International Energy Agency) as pointed out in my blog article entitled “IEA says Solar PV is fastest growing Energy source while Jamaica is adopting LNG”. 

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In addition, most of the early adopters are the First World countries, with the Developing world countries still punch-drunk on cheaper Fossil fuels based internal combustion engine as noted in my blog article entitled “Why IAE goal of 600 million electric vehicles in 2040 needs Developed World Subsidies”. 

Clearly subsidies are needed from the First World Countries for us to buy their electric vehicles and electric charging infrastructure programs. This along with help to go Renewables in order to reduce the dependence on Fossil fuel based Power Plants.

A lot of that love need to start right here in Jamaica with our Government supporting Electric Vehicles with legislative and personal action. But what are the benefits of Electric Vehicles to Jamaica?

Benefits of Electric Vehicles to Jamaica – JPS Co’s SmartGrid and Tesla Charging Station coming

According to Dr. Gary Jackson, Managing Director of Electric Vehicles Ltd. and owner of an electric vehicle, the benefits are as follows:

1.      A 33% reduction in the cost of running his vehicle, compared to a gasoline run car
2.      Reduced maintenance compared to a gasoline fuelled car as the electric vehicle has no internal combustion engine

This sounds a lot like the benefits that former CEO of JPS Co Kelly Tomblin gets from her electric/hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander as noted in my blog article entitled “How JPS Co CEO Kelly Tomblin Mitsubishi Outlander means importation of Range Extender Electric Vehicles Needed”. 

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JPS Co can get the ball ruling by installing Tesla Motors Charging Stations across the island as a part of their US$5 million Smart Grid initiative as noted in my blog article entitled “JPSCo US$5 million Smart Grid and Tesla Motors Battery Storage Tech Fixes Low Power Periods”.

Conclusion – GOJ Ministers need to walk the Walk and Talk the Talk

So overall, not only would Jamaican motorists benefit, but so would our country, as electric vehicle would significantly reduce our fuel bill; a reduction in the import duty of 60% is needed.

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The Government of Jamaica need to show support, not only by reducing the duty but also ditching their old gas guzzling SUV and modernizing themselves by driving electric vehicles as argue in my blog article entitled “Why the GOJ needs to support All-Electric Vehicle Importation and ditch their Toyota Jamaica SUV's”. 

Whether they can handle the roads is another matter, albeit by the time they get here, toll highways may be the only roads in Jamaica.

Friday, December 29, 2017

What are Light Dependent Resistors and How do they work

LDR (Light dependent resistors) are often used in circuits to detect the presence or the level of light. They can be described by a variety of names:

1.      Photoresistor
2.      Photocell
3.      Photoconductor

Please note that they are not to be confused with photodiodes or photo-transistor, which are P-N Junction based devices; LDR are purely resistive with resistance falling as the level of light increases. These changes in   resistance for a particular light level can be quite large.

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LDRs or photoresistors are a particularly convenient electronics component to use such as in photographic light meters or even to control when streetlights turn on. 

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So what are they made of? And how do they work?

LDR - It's all about Electrons trapped in a Crystal Lattice

Most LDR are made of semiconductor materials that have light sensitive properties. Many materials can be used, but the most popular material for these photoresistors is cadmium sulphide, CdS.

The appearance of a typical Photoresistor is as shown below:

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There are two types of LDR or Photoresistors:

1.      Intrinsic photoresistors - Intrinsic photoresistors use un-doped semiconductor materials including silicon or germanium. Photons fall on the LDR excite electrons moving them from the valence band to the conduction band. As a result, these electrons are free to conduct electricity.
2.      Extrinsic photoresistors -  Extrinsic photoresistors are manufactured from semiconductor of materials doped with impurities. These impurities or dopants create a new energy band above the existing valence band. As a result, electrons need less energy to transfer to the conduction band because of the smaller energy gap.

Regardless of the type of light dependent resistor or photoresistor, both types exhibit an increase in conductivity or fall in resistance with increasing levels of incident light.

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To understand how they work, it's first necessary to understand that an electrical current is the movement of electrons within a material based on an applied p.d (potential Difference) or Voltage. This allows us to divide material into three classes:

1.      Good conductors - have a large number of free electrons that can drift in a given direction under the action of a potential difference.
2.      Insulators - high resistance have very few free electrons, and therefore it is hard to make the them move.
3.      Semiconductors - These are materials that are in-between the properties of Good conductors and Insulators. They have charge carriers called holes (positive) and electrons (negative) that only move when a specific voltage is applied in a certain direction.
As light falls on the semiconductor, the light photons are absorbed by the semiconductor lattice. Some of their energy is transferred to the electrons.  This gives some of them sufficient energy to break free from the crystal lattice causing electrons to flow. This results in a lowering of the resistance of the LDR resistance.

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The relation between Resistance and light intensity is linear, once you plot the values logarithmically; as more light shines on the LDR semiconductor, the resistance falls further. This results in more electrons being released from the crystal lattice of the semiconductor material making up the LRDR, causing more electricity to flow.

Why IAE goal of 600 million electric vehicles in 2040 needs Developed World Subsidies

There are now more than 2 million electric cars on the world's roads.
So says this explainer video from the IAE (International Energy Agency) on their Twitter page:

This is more than the 1 million sold in 2015. Interestingly, 40% of them are in China!!

Despite their bad track record on pollution, they are leader in the use of Alternative energy as pointed out in my blog article entitled “IEA says Solar PV is fastest growing Energy source while Jamaica is adopting LNG”. 

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All told, China has managed to electrify quite a bit of their transportation infrastructure:
1.      2 million electric Bikes
2.      4 million small low speed electric vehicles
3.      350,000 electric buses

But it's not just China that is showing impressive growth in going Electric.

Progress in the Developed World - 10 accounts for 95% which is still 0.2% of the global vehicles

Progress is popping up all over the world, albeit 95% of the electric vehicle adoption is in the following five (5) Developed World Countries:

1.      Britain
2.      Canada
3.      China
4.      France
5.      Germany
6.      Japan
7.      Netherlands
8.      Norway
9.      Sweden
10.  United States

Basically, most of the major oil producing countries that have large budgets can afford to make the switch in terms of vehicles and supporting infrastructure.

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All told, 2 million electric vehicles plus all those sold before only account for 0.2% of the global vehicle sold and on the roads.

Developing World Countries and Electric Vehicles - Subsidies needed along with Renewable Energy

To really effect change and reduce the global temperature caused by fossil fuels based motor vehicles, 600 million of them have to be sold by 2040.

The best solution is quite the most obvious; ban the production of not only fossil fuels based motor vehicles but the internal combustion engine altogether. Wealthier countries such as those mentioned above need to push for electric vehicles in Developing World countries such as Jamaica.

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This can be achieved by providing economic subsidies for electric vehicles and electric charging infrastructure programs. Also, the introduction f cheaper sources of electricity from Renewable resources are needed such as from Wind Energy as detailed in my Geezam blog article entitled “How PCJ Offshore Windfarm may be used to export Hydrogen and Uranium”.

Technical expertise to build and maintain these electric vehicles and electric charging infrastructure programs also needs to be dessimated freely.

If the First World wants the Developing World to make the switch to electric vehicles to save the planet, this has to be done, as for us, fossil fuels based motor vehicles are still cheaper to operate. Otherwise these electric vehicles will be costly and contribute to pollution indirectly through combustion by Fossil fuel based power plants.