My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica

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Monday, July 9, 2018

Government of Jamaica ponders E15 in 2020 as World moves toward Biofuels, LNG and Electric Vehicles


“We’re not there just yet (but) I have asked my team at the Ministry and at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) to see how best we can increase it,”

Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley at the launch of Total Jamaica’s Excellium fuel at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on May 16.

Jamaican may soon be driving on more ethanol based fuel.

This as the Government may be moving up to 15% or higher ethanol blend by 2020 as reported in the article “Gov’t Considers Increasing Ethanol Blend in Petrol”, published May 18, 2018 By Chad Bryan, The Jamaican Information Service.

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The aim is to reduce the carbon footprint of Gas Stations in Jamaica without reducing vehicle performance. Ethanol is offered across the island offer E10 fuel, which is a blend of 10 per cent ethanol from sugar cane in both 90 and 87 octane gas.

However, according to Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, globally it's at 15%. So Jamaica has a bit of catching up to do.

So will this make a real difference to motorists? And what about the introduction of purely E100 vehicles?

E15 in 2020 - Biofuels, LNG and Electric Vehicles should be the aim by 2020

Ethanol is a clean-burning, high-octane fuel based on a rather elegant organic molecule. Ethanol is also found in alcoholic beverages in various concentrations for safe human consumption as listed in my MICO Wars blog entitled “A Jamaican List of the Alcoholic Content of Wines and Spirits”.
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It can be used in 2001 of newer vehicles or flex fuel vehicles and is on the lower rung of Ethanol blended fuels which includes:

1.      E10
2.      E20
3.      E30
4.      E85

It can be produced from common crops such as:

1.      Corn
2.      Sugar cane
3.      Potato
4.      Cassava
5.      Hemp

Ethanol use reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 50%. This is because unlike gasolene it does not contain harmful chemicals like the petroleum additive, MTBE and lead.

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However, its energy density is very low and may be the reason why Jamaica is yet to step up to E20, E30, E85 or E100.

Jamaica and Biofuels – Reducing Oil Importation and Carbon footprint the aim for 2020

Biofuels would be a better substitute as the PCJ (Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica) and UTECH (University of Technology) been working on a biofuel based on Castor Oil for some time as noted in my blog article entitled “PCJ, UTECH develop Castor Oil-based Biodiesel to reduce Oil imports by 97,000 barrels”.
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Not only does biofuel have the potential to reduce the importation of oil and its use among heavy polluters like large diesel Trucks and buses, but it can be mass produced more easily. Biofuel can be produce from a wider range of organic material that is not food related, such as wasted organic matter e.g. grass cuttings, organic debris and even cooking oil.

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Already, the Government is moving to test LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) on JUTC Buses in 2019 with a move towards Hybrid Gas-Electric vehicles by 2020 as reported in my blog article entitled “Why JUTC going Hybrid indicates removal of 60% import duty on Electric Vehicles”. 

Hopefully too, Jamaicans who drive gasolene powered vehicles will have a similar option to convert their vehicle to use LNG or just invest in an electric vehicle in 2020, instead of just more alcohol in their vehicles. That would go a long way to not only reducing our carbon footprint but also our importation of fuel.




Saturday, July 7, 2018

Wholesale Airtrack makes high quality Airtrack Inflatable mat for Gymnasts


Wholesale Airtrack is the seller of a very interesting product, the Airtrack Inflatable mat. This is basically an inflatable gymnastics air mat that allows gymnasts and athletes to do various exercises safely and with fear of injury.

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Wholesale Airtrack has years of experience in developing their high-quality air tumble track. So what are the air tumble track made of?

Wholesale Airtrack Mats - Gymnasts assured of a quality tumble

After being in the business of making airtrack mats for years they develope testing procedures where they perform hundreds of tests. The gymnastics air mat is made from a material called DWF (Double Wall Fabric) consisting of 2 layers of coated vinyl with thousands of threads connecting the two layers (80.000 per m2!).

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One such test involves blowing up the airtrack mats for 16 hours in the factory. This is done in order to perform pressure tests to ensure airtight seals to ensures that each their product has the best quality.

Wholesale Airtrack works closely with customers from all over the world, from experienced business to new entrants. Their products are tailored to meet the customers' requirements and are made of top quality, strength materials, which used for inflatable boat production.

Once you place an order via their website using either Paypal or Credit Cards, your product will arrive in 12 weeks time and can come in any colour you want. So are you ready to tumble?

Email Wholesale Airtrack to get more information before you place your order:
sales@wholesaleairtrack.com

Sunday, July 1, 2018

CARPI Taxation and Recycling Partners of Jamaica Bottle Deposit Scheme will eliminate Plastics by 2025

“We are providing financial support to Recycling Partners of Jamaica – a private sector-led initiative towards the island wide collection and export of plastic bottles under the Housing Opportunities Production and Employment (HOPE) programme,”


Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz on the allocation of JA$75 million to the Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica campaign

World Ocean Day, which is celebrated on June 8th of each year, will never be the same again in Jamaica.

That's because the government of Jamaica has partnered with Recycling Partners of Jamaica to set up a plastic bottle deposit scheme as reported in the article “Gov't Allocates $75m For Plastic Bottle Buy-Back Scheme”, published Sunday June 10, 2018, The Jamaica Gleaner. 

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This announcement was made by minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz on June 8 at the World Oceans Day event dubbed ‘Save Our Sea’.

Hosted by Conservation Through Education Jamaica at the Urban Development Corporation’s (UDC) Orange Park in downtown Kingston, World Oceans Day aims to raise awareness about the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the important ways people can help to protect it.

The Government, in collaboration with United Nations (UN) Environment and the Government of Japan, was also working on a plastic minimization project to reduce and manage plastic marine litter. This is mainly from Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics which includes:

1.      Plastic bags
2.      Straws
3.      Soda
4.      Water bottles
5.      Food packaging

This JA$75 million will be spread over a three year period and will be used by the Recycling Partners of Jamaica to basically pay Jamaicans to collect and return plastic bottle.

Hopefully, that will translate to JA$100 per bottle as the environment is that important as noted in my blog article entitled “How JA$100 for recycling 500ml Plastic bottles and Styrofoam Ban will save Jamaica's Environment”.

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However, CAPRI (Caribbean Policy Research Institute) believes taxation of manufacturers and retailers usage of plastic bottles, bags and styrofoam products will have a better effect on the environment than an outright ban as noted in the article “Think Tank Favours Taxation Over Plastic Ban”, Published Friday December 8, 2017 by Avia Collinder, The Jamaica Gleaner

So which policy is best: ban or taxation? And will a bottle deposit fee run by Recycling Partners of Jamaica make a difference in Jamaica?

Recycling Partners of Jamaica – JA$100 per 500ml bottle Plastic bottle deposit scheme

Recycling Partners of Jamaica, more popularly known for their “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica campaign”, have already collected some 1.3 million pounds of plastic waste for export since November 2016.

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A plastic bottle deposit scheme is necessary, as Jamaicans use and dispose of almost one billion PET bottles annually. That translates to some 350 bottles per Jamaican each year. But that's been through voluntary collection using their colorful bins that have the slogan Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica as well as encouraging Jamaicans via advertising to turn in their plastic waste.

Now they are basically resorting to money, with the idea being that a value should be placed on plastic bottles so that Jamaicans have an incentive to return them.

This makes sense, as the same is already true for Glass Bottles. Already Red Stripe has a Glass Bottle Return Program that allows bottle collectors to make money from collecting glass bottles as explained in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “How Jamaicans can make money from collecting Red Stripe Bottles”.

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So JA$100 per 500ml bottle is more than enough value to encourage Jamaicans to return plastic bottles that have been collected from the environment. Especially seeing as it costs the NSWMA (National Solid Waste Management Authority) and the PWD (Public Works Department) more money to remove them from the environment when they clog drains. It could potentially be a source of income rivaling even scrap metal, if it is incentivized in this way.

But what about plastic bottles sold by retailers, plastic Bags and styrofoam containers, the so-called single use plastic? Should there be a tax on their usage to prevent them from entering the environment in the first place?

CARPI and Plastic in Jamaica - Fee not Ban and DRS is required

A ban on the production and usage PETE Plastic, Styrofoam and single use Plastic would create a lot of resistance, as alternatives are expensive.

CAPRI (Caribbean Policy Research Institute) is therefore recommending a tax be charged on the sale of plastic bags by retailers to consumers, gradually changing behaviour over time as noted in the article “CAPRI | Reducing 'Scandal' Bag Use In Jamaica: Ban Or Fee? - Denmark First Country To Tax Plastic Bags”, published Monday February 5, 2018, The Jamaica Gleaner

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Evidence of the effectiveness of Fee vs Ban can be seen when by comparing the reaction to Ban on plastic bag usage in Bangladesh, Rwanda and Kenya vs Retailers charging a Fee as was the case in Denmark and Ireland. Good to note these are actions in Third World or Developing Countries with little taxation oversight and rampant corruption vs First world Countries that can easily implement, manage and collect a fee on plastic Bags, thereby modifying their populations behaviour.

Alternatives can also be provided by retailers, making them thing to avoid the fees by investing in a reusable container as noted in the article “CAPRI | Towards Eliminating 'Scandal' Bags”, Published Monday November 27, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner.

CARPI recommends the following:

1.      Large retailers be required by law to charge consumers at the point of sale for all single-use plastic bags under 24''x36''
2.      Report annually on number of bags distributed and profits from the charges
3.      Extensive stakeholder consultation and public awareness campaigns be carried out prior to implementation
4.      Reduction targets to be set and fees revised upward each year.

As it relates to plastic bottles, CARPI is recommending a DRS or Deposit refund scheme as described in the article “CAPRI | Solving The Plastic Bottle Crisis”, Published Monday April 30, 2018, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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A DRS for plastic bottles involves the payment of a sum of money by the consumer when he/she purchases a drink in a plastic bottle. Once this bottle is returned, the deposit is refunded fully. This acts as an incentive for consumers to return their bottles to designated collection points to get their refund.

It also makes centralized collection for recycling of the bottles easier and is where the Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica campaign plastic bottle deposit scheme would come into play.

In summary, the JA$75 million is best spend on a DRS at the retailers combined with a JA$100 Plastic Bottle return scheme for plastic collected from the environment. Combined with a fee on the use of single use plastic, Jamaica would be free of single use plastic by 2025.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Jamaican students doing CSEC Exams online in 2019 heralds Open Source Software Developement Future


“With a growing emphasis on incorporating information and communications technology (ICT) into the teaching/learning process, easier access to resources in multiple formats, such as audio, video, animation, text, images, hyperlinks, e-books and links to CXC social media platforms, should prove very attractive and useful to current students and teachers alike, and particularly boys,”

Minister of Education Senator Ruel Reid at a Press Conference at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Thursday May 10th 2018 to launch the CXC Learning Hub

CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) Exams are finally stepping into the 21st Century.

By the next set of CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) Exams in 2019, the Paper 1 (Multiple Choice) part of many exams may be done on a computer as noted in the article “Online CXC Exams Coming”, published Friday May 11, 2018, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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So said Minister of Education Senator Ruel Reid at a Press Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Thursday May 10th 2018! This was during the launch of the CXC Learning Hub, which will allow students to have increased access to CXC past papers with solutions produced by the examination body’s external partners.

This shift to e-testing may be welcome news for male students. Paper 1 of most CSEC exams aka Multiple Choice, will most likely the first to go online, will now have audiovisuals, videos and animations (think GIF's tailored made for CSEC Physics!!) making the examination come alive...or be a distraction.

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Soon CAPE (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination) and CCSLC (Caribbean Certificate of Secondary-Level Competence)…a whole world of animated Examinations await future student sitting CXC Examinations!

So how will this be done by many schools, most of which do not have computer labs to seat so many students?

CXC Examination Platform - BVI did it out of necessity

First a bit of a background as to why this may be happening….

Jamaica will not be the first to go this route; the BVI (British Virgin Islands) have already gone this route. They've experience the brunt of Hurricane Irma and lost a lot of the physical records of many of their students.

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A switch to e-testing makes sense for them, as the exam can be marked in a matter of minutes, allowing them to know their grade at the end of the exam, if they are so inclined. It's also not a problem in terms of cheating, as the computer can be locked with the proper software so as to make communication during exams difficult.

Also less paper is used, making this a cheaper examination option. Finally the exam results are stored in a Database hosted in a Cloud Storage Server not located on the island; this safeguard the data from potential loss due to natural disasters.

Interestingly the BVI did both paper 1 and 2 of the CSEC, Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), [and] Caribbean Certificate of Secondary-Level Competence (CCSLC) online, with mathematics and English done without a hitch.

So says CXC Registrar Glenroy Cumberbatch, quote: “This year, [BVI] has decided to do all of their examinations – Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), [and] Caribbean Certificate of Secondary-Level Competence (CCSLC) online, both paper ones and paper twos”.

So if the BVI can do it, then so can Jamaica, but for totally different reasons!!!

So what is the CXC Learning Hub? And how does it relate to Jamaica opting to have student do their CSEC Exams online?

CXC Learning Hub – Test run for Jamaican Online Exam Guinea Pigs

The CXC Learning Hub can be seen as a herald for the CSEC Online Examinations Platform in the future as pointed out in “Online CXC Exams Coming”, published May 12, 2018 By Ainsworth Morris, The Jamaica Information Service.

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Resources in the hub will support CXC’s suite of qualifications:

1.      CAPE and associate degrees
2.      CCSLC
3.      CPEA (Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment)
4.      CSEC
5.      CVQ (Caribbean Vocational Qualification)

The CXC Learning Hub will provide the following resources for free for learners and teachers:

1.      Interactive syllabuses
2.      Subject reports
3.      Practice tests
4.      Digital toolkits

These Digital Toolkits will contain the following:

1.      Animations
2.      Audio
3.      Images and videos.
4.      Infographics

Games, process animations and other multimedia learning objects created by CXC will be a part of the premium content offered by the CXC Learning Hub. In short the CXC Learning Hub is a Test Run for Jamaican Online Exam Guinea Pigs!

So how will the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information implement this in the future?

Jamaican and CXC Examination Platform - Open Source will make it Secure

This is also possible in Jamaica as many examination centers are already equipped with labs to handle the number of student required. Most likely, they'll also utilize Open Source for their Computers and Web Platform, as these are more secure from hackers and anyone trying to sabotage the CSEC Exams!!

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Telecom Providers, working with the Ministry of Education, can help provide high Speed Internet to stem any bandwidth issues due to so many webpages being opened at the same time, as the CXC Examination platform will most likely be cloud based.

Finally, should there be a shortage of computers, Laptops running the CXC Examination platform can be provided by the Government of Jamaica, soliciting help from various private sector organizations.

They can even turn to competitive bid to the same contractors that did the Table in Schools Project as noted in my blog article entitled “Why Tablet in School Rollout in September 2016 means Contractors and Kinesthetic Content coming”. 

Hopefully too, this start a movement towards developing our own Open Source Platforms in Jamaica as advocated in the Geezam blog article entitled “Tertiary Institutions in Jamaica should use more Open Source”...... but that is an article for another time!!!


Saturday, June 23, 2018

How Jerome Campbell's ArrowEX CodeApp App makes 10 Digit dialling transition easy


“I quickly realized that this was an opportunity, because to change out the numbers manually would be tedious. So, CodeApp was a pre-emptied solution to the problem. There are other international apps out there but I still wanted to put my app in the game”

Jerome Campbell, 31-y-o developer and app designer for the CodeApp

The date for the transition to 10 digit dialing came and went without much fanfare in Jamaica.

 10 Digit dialing took effect on Thursday May 31, 2018 with little or no problems as noted in the article “Mandatory 10-Digit Calling Takes Effect Today”, published Thursday May 31, 2018 by Romario Scott, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This is because the Telecom Providers made sure that whenever anyone made a call without either the 876 or 658 dialing codes, they were told that they had to add those digits in front of the number in order to make the call.

Still, many were caught off guard despite being told about it since last year as reported in my blog article entitled “OUR, NANP 658 area code for Jamaica heralds MVNO Telecoms for Digicel and FLOW”.

Some jamaicans, however, who did not have the time to add the new area codes, turned to the Google Play Store on their smartphones, seeking a solution.

They soon found one brilliant Jamaican software developer Jerome Campbell, who had developed the CodeApp App, which many Jamaicans have since downloaded as reported in the article “‘App-Solutely’ Jamaican - UTech Graduate Creates One Of The Most Popular 10-Digit Converters Available In Google Play Store”, published Sunday June 17, 2018 by Carlene Davis, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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So who is Jerome Campbell? What is 10 Digital dialling? And how does the CodeApp Apphelp?

CodeApp App - 10 Digit dialling App clocks 50,000 downloads

CodeApp App, was developed by a 31-year-old Jamaican information technology specialist and app designer named Jerome Campbell. The app, which is mentioned on his CodeApp Websiteis the second highest rated country code converter in the Google Play Store, clocking in at more than 20,000 downloads and boasting a 4.5 rating out of five.

The CodeApp App is currently available in the Google Play Store in the formats:

1.      Free
2.      Premium

The iPhone version is still in development and will be available by June 30. A very popular app, its clocking in at about 50,000 downloads thus far, making money mainly from Google Adsense, to quote Jerome Campbell: “At the current rate I’m expecting 50,000 downloads by the end of this month, it’s making a bit of money, it’s building”.

For persons thinking that after the numbers are converted the app is useless, Campbell had this to say, quote: “The app has value added features to check data and credit balances, send please call me and please credit me messages and other (quick) codes. Its download size is less than four megabytes”.

This means that the app is a value buy, helping many smartphone owners in Jamaica to switch to 10 digit dialling as heralded in my Geezam blog article entitled “OUR’s 10-Digit Dialling means MVNO and Competition coming to Digicel and FLOW”.

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And no, according to the developer, he's not collecting your data to resell to a third party advertiser, quote: “In this age of scamming and hacking, persons might think that Jamaicans are not tech-savvy, but we are very aware and very cautious, as opposed to other apps, which we don’t know who is behind it, I’m putting my reputation behind this app, so that is a guarantee that I’m not harvesting the contact information”.

Jerome Campbell's CodeApp App –Lecturer ArrowEX, Inc on the Rise

A Lawrence Tavern native who grew up with both of his parents, he was quite an earlier achiever. After having attended Lawrence Tavern Primary and Oberlin High schools, he then went to UTECH (University of Technology) at the age of 15 years old.

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Currently an adjunct lecturer at the VTDI (Vocational Training Development Institute), he teaches Mobile App Development along with other information technology based courses to young students. Thus this company is a quite a feat considering that when he went to UTech, he had no idea what a programmer was, muchless that he could make a career out of it, quote: “When I entered UTech, I didn’t know what a programmer was; I was told there were a lot of jobs working with computers, so my mother encouraged me along that line. Programming came naturally to me and I just began to become good at it.”

Several years later, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from UTech and a Master of Science in Computer Science from the University of the West Indies. Unable to find a job, he started his company called ArrowEX, Inc which is incorporated in Delaware in the United States.

His company currently has global reach and multinational invests, with all the development being done in Jamaica by Jamaicans. He started the company due to the fact that he was unable to get a job immediately after leaving university.

He began developing apps for himself, with CodeApp App being among the successes among his 20 apps he's developed thus far. So what will he develope next?

Stay tuned as we go through the adjustment to this new paradigm as we'll soon run out of area codes in the next few years!

Here’s the link:

For more information, please contact the:
Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR)
36 Trafalgar Road
Kingston 5
Telephone: 876-968-6053, 1-888-CALL-OUR (2255-687)
Fax: 876-929-3635
Website: http://www.our.org.jm
Email: consumer@our.org.jm