My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: May 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Flood Beacon designed by British Designer could save lives from Flooding in Jamaica

“I noticed that all the Flood Data available was purely based on predictions. No Data was available in real time and we know very little about the present state of Floods until it's too late”

British Designer Samuel Cox explaining how he designed the Flood Beacon

Not every bit of innovation in Technology comes from kickstarters in America. In fact, there are those whose innovative genius also hails from the faire Isles of Britannia and I'd like to highlight the genius of British Design and his invention of the Flood Beacon  as declared in “Flood Beacon warns of danger in real time”, published April 24, 2014 11:09 AM PDT by Amanda Kooser, CNET News.

The above intro tells the story in part, but what gets me interested is the fact that the Flood Beacon can transmit live Data.

This makes it a lifesaver and making it another example of an Internet connected device  that is in the same useful vein as the Nest Protect Internet connected Smoke Alarm as reported in NEST PROTECT, A SMART SMOKE DETECTOR THAT ISN’T ANNOYING”, published October 8, 2013 By Drew Prindle, DigitalTrends  and Nest Protect: Thermostat Start-Up Now Wants to Make Your Smoke Detector, published Oct. 8, 2013 By JOANNA STERN, ABC News.

The Nest Smoke Detector is a Wi-Fi Connected smoke alarm that alerts its owner via the email, text or push notifications to an App that there is a fire at their premises. This gadget designed by Samuel Cox does the same thing, but for Floods instead.

The Flood Beacon does it thing via using sonar to determine the height of the water it's in after being anchored in a river at a Flood-prone area. The Solar powered gadget allows it to basically operate forever, until eaten by Crocodiles. The main information that it sends out in real time is very vital and should be of interest to Town and City Local Government:

1.      Water Level
2.      GPS coordinates,
3.      Direction of Water movements

This Data can be then be graphed and used to calculate how fast the water is rising in certain areas and thus determine if Flooding is a possibility in certain areas. More on the tech side, it can be mapped and made into a 3D representation of the area to show visually how the Flooding in an area is progressing.

Once deployed in rivers, lakes, and floodplains, it would send live real-time Data alerts or push notifications which would apparently transmitted over a Telecom Providers GSM (Global System Mobile) GPRS (Global Packet Radio System) or EDGE (Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution) Network or even as Voice chirps or SMS (Short Messaging Services) Text messages.

This Data would be received by Transmitters and their individual Data processed by Servers, based on preset levels of water and water flow. If there is an indication that a flood is imminent, it will alert the Local Government NOC (Network Operation Center) or the National Disaster Planning agency. Thus they would then make the decision to send out alerts or radio announcements via Traditional Media i.e. Radio, Television, giving people more time to prepare and evacuate.

Flood Detector needs automation – Make it Crocodile and human proof and it’ll sell

Of course this gadget isn't without its problems before it would ever get road tested in Jamaica. It has some inherent maintenance issues which would make it a hard sell, even to Local Government Councils and businesses in the UK to mass produce the device.

First is the fact that it would be very attractive to thieves after the manpower was expended to anchor them in place, something a re-design could solve. Then there is the collection and maintenance of Servers for all that live Data. 

It would be best automated in order to make it possible to automatically alert people of flooding instead of Local Governments having to have someone watching the Data coming in and then sending out an alert.

Such an adjustment would basically be handing over trust to a machine, something I'm not fond of personally and so neither would City Councilors. Especially as I'm not so fond of Bots on the Internet already as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “61% of all Traffic on the Internet is generated by bots”.

No cost was given for his gadget or any estimates on the cost of deployment, but until it's Crocodile proof, it'll still be a target for 2-foot crocodile in Jamaica interested in stealing its rechargeable batteries and mini Solar panel kit it has built in, which are surely attractive to anyone with an interest in stealing these parts.

But the fact that it may take some of the workload off the hands of town and City Administrators by automating the alerting of people of Flooding Disasters would eventually be what sells this product.

Throw in app for smartphones now that Jamaicans are slowly getting into the swing of things as it relates to smartphones and we have a gadget that’s set to be a lifesaver not just in the UK but potentially worldwide, including here in the Crocodile infested Rivers of Jamaica.

CleverPet Gaming Console gets Dogs into a Game of Foods even as Cats Cry Kittyo

This was bound to happen soon, at least in the United States of America. 

There is now a Gaming Console for Dogs. Yes, you’re not hallucinating and I didn’t slip anything into your coffee…..the CleverPet as described in Level Pup! Canine gets their own Game Console”, published May 5, 2014 11:48 AM PDT by Amanda Kooser, CNET News is getting a Kickstarter from Dog lover all across America by February 2015!

Your Dog will never suffer from Separation anxiety again or be bored due to inactivity. He now has his own Game Console that he can play while munching on as pointed out in the article "Can Dogs Eat Bananas?", published October 5, 2016, Petconsider!

I suspected this would eventually happen, as if Americans are willing to shell out US$300 for a Droplet Robotic Water System that can recognize your Pet’s watering bowl as explained in my Geezam article entitled “Droplet Robotic Watering System is A Green Thumb’s companion to the Miimo Lawnmower”, then it was only a matter of time before a project was kickstarted that could play Games with your Pet.

But not any old Games, like Tag or Fetch. Rather, CleverPet is an over-glorified refillable Food Dispenser that engages your Dog in a Game of Mortal Food Combat!

This US$199 CleverPet Fashion Forward Pet Bowl is even Wi-Fi connected, meaning your Pooch can be monitored to see if he's cheating on the game while he checks out his Facebook Profile or Twitter Account! Seriously though, it actually connects to an App that the Kickstarter Team has designed to allow Human owners to monitor Man's best Friend's level of engagement with the Game and make sure he isn’t gorging himself all day.

And the Game on this one-of-a-kind Game Console for Dogs?

Well, it’s basically a Touchpad with a sequence of LED (Light Emitting Diode) Lights that lights up. The Dog is challenged to press the buttons in the exact sequence that the Buttons Light up, reminiscent of those Dancing Disco Arcade games or even Guitar Hero minus the music.

Dogs are supposed to be smart and may get easily bored with this simple tap dancing routine. So like any good Video Game, it's designed to ramp up and get even harder the higher the Level the Dog gets.

The end of a level being signified by when the Dog manages to beat the Game and Get a Doggie Treat! Some of the Games include Spotting the different Colours in order to get treats or even learning to press buttons based on voice commands, possibly in another Language as explained in “Who's a clever boy! The $279 'Xbarks' games console for DOGS that teaches your pet to solve puzzles for food”, published 21:10 GMT, 6 May 2014 By MARK PRIGG, UK DailyMail!

Hopefully your Dog won't get bored to easily with this Game of Foods Pet Bowl and decide to hack the bowl with his teeth by biting out and clawing apart the Food Dispenser Section. Otherwise like the Droplet Robotic Water System, you'll be out US$199!

There is also a Kickstarter Project for the Cats called Kittyo that is the exact same thing costing US$189 except geared towards playing with your Cat remotely using a laser as described in “Kittyo looks after your cats so you don't have to”, published APRIL 23RD 2014, AT 7:45:00 AM ET BY DANIEL COOPER, Engadget. You can play Laser Tag with your Apple iPhone with the Kittyo App that connects to this Wi-Fi Cat-Friendly Dispenser of Kitty Treats!

Cats may already be occupied enough running from the US$129.99 Orbotic's Sphero Robotic Ball as I’d penned in my Geezam article entitled “The Apple iPhone as a Remote – The R2-D2 Effect of Orbotic’s Sphero Robotic Ball”. Or even dodging the flying terror that is the US$40 PowerUp 3.0 Module that turns paper planes into 10 minute kamikaze pilots as described in my Geezam article entitled “US$40 PowerUp 3.0 Module that makes you a Paper Plane Top Gun”.

Curiously both of these toys cost less that the US$199 CleverPet or the US$189 Kittyo. Worse, they may not even survive your Dog’s rage at not beating the Game that only Behavioral Scientist Ivan Pavlov would love as declared in the article “CleverPet makes every Dog Pavlov's Dog”, published MAY 6TH 2014, AT 8:23:00 AM ET BY DANIEL COOPER, Engadget.

Oh well, at least he’ll get his old bowl back while the Cats and Dogs fight over sitting in your lap while you lounge in your Iron Throne in a Game of Bowls!

Check out their Kickstarter Page Here to place your pledges:

Nike gives the FuelBand the Kibosh to make way for Apple iWatch as Fitness Tracker Field gets crowded

“As a fast-paced, global business we continually align resources with business priorities. As our Digital Sport priorities evolve, we expect to make changes within the team, and there will be a small number of layoffs. We do not comment on individual employment matters. The Nike+ FuelBand SE remains future”

Nike’s PR (Public Relations) spokesperson Brian Strong commenting on the scuppering of the Nike FuelBand

Well that was quick! The Nike FuelBand, a product which I gave a fairly stellar review in my Geezam Blog article entitled “Caribbean rides the Fitness Craze as Nike FuelBand SE making Apple iPhone users healthier” recently got the axe with the merry men working in the Nike's Digital Sports Hardware division being re-assigned or fired as of Friday April 18th 2014.

As in, 80% of the Team that is responsible for making this and other products, including their Fitness watch and other up and coming Gadgets as reported in “REPORT: NIKE MAY KILL THE FUELBAND, FIRES MOST OF THE HARDWARE TEAM”, published April 18, 2014 By Mike Flacy, DigitalTrends.

Shock and Awe!

Word initially leaked via Secret, an anonymous Mobile Social Network that is similar in structure to Whisper. Most likely a member of the Nike FuelBand Team, like Whisper, Secret allows it members to post anonymous posts that are matched by a picture by the system to express the angst of the sender as described in my blog article entitled Whisper, the Anonymous Secret Sharing Social Mobile Network - Confession of Awkward Moment being revealed fuelled by the desire to Bare your Soul to Strangers”.

This sender certainly was experiencing angst as expressed in the exclusive article “Exclusive: Nike fires majority of FuelBand team, will stop making wearable hardware”, published April 18, 2014 4:41 PM PDT by Nick Statt, CNET News.

Possibly more upset because of the wasted man-hours and energy channeled into the Nike FuelBand as he laid the blame squarely at the feet of management, to quote the anonymous source:  “The douchebag execs at Nike are going to lay off a bunch of the eng team who developed The FuelBand, and other Nike+ stuff. Mostly because the execs committed gross negligence, wasted tons of money, and didn’t know what they were doing”.

The obvious clue can be seen from a statement issued by Nike’s PR (Public Relations) spokesperson Brian Strong, which indicates a reshuffle of employees to various products as well as continued support for the Nike FuelBand. Sources that leaked info to CNET claim a reshuffle is on the cards, with team members located at Nike's Hong Kong office as well as the Big House at HQ in Beaverton, Oregon riding out the month of May until the axe drops.

Those who may be deemed "valuable" may be kept to focus on Software projects in Nike's Digital Sports Hardware division. clearly ongoing long term support will be given to the few who'd purchased the US$149.95 Nike’s FuelBand SE, albeit it's price for a device that really only worn for Exercise was a bit on the high Luxury Watch Side.

However, his energy is somewhat misplaced. Albeit I’m not fond of management of any company shuttering any research project, especially if you put Heart and Soul into it, their decision are usually based on Business as pointed out in With FuelBand exit, Nike signals the limits of tech's appeal”, published April 22, 2014 7:49 AM PDT by Nick Statt, CNET News.

In this case, it’s all about the as-yet-to-be-seen-but-much-talked-about Apple iWatch which I’d predicted to make its debut in March 2013 but never showed up as per my Geezam Blog article entitled “Apple to debut Apple iWatch in March 2013 – iWant one and iCant Wait”.

Nike’s fairly close to Apple, evident from the fact that their Nike FuelBand SE was and STILL is exclusively for Apple iOS. Since Nike gave their Nike's Digital Sports Hardware division, whether or not it was an immediate success, it implies Apple may have offered them the chance to use their software in the design of their Smartwatch.

Thus, to avoid a conflict with their long-time business partner, they just folded Nike's Digital Sports Hardware division and gave up their Software and other hardware innovations to Apple. I’m willing to bet the 80% that got cut, may soon be getting calls from Apple to both jump ship and become a part of Apple’s iWatch Team.

Working part-time as Software Engineers on a Team to provided continued maintenance for the Nike FuelBand, now resurrected as the Heart and Soul of the Apple iWatch that powered by a combination of Kinetic Motion, Solar Power and Inductive charging as suggested in Building a Better Battery”, published February 2 2014 By BRIAN X. CHEN and NICK BILTONFEB, The New York Times.

This isn’t so bad as it’ may be exactly what I’d predicted in my blog article entitled “Apple considering Inductive, Solar and Kinetic Charging for Apple iWatch - Apple iWatch will start the Post-Power Adapter Era and kill the power Brick, the last vestage of the Analog Era”, given the “Secret”-ive nature of how the team members in the Nike's Digital Sports Hardware division got the Kibosh!

Samsung’s Milk no longer free as it’s paid for by Commercials and sports US$4 Premium Streaming

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, as it couldn’t have been free for too long. Samsung Milk Music, which was a Slacker supported Free Streaming Music Service launched on Friday March 7th 2014 as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “Don’t cry over spilt Samsung Milk as Samsung Galaxy S5 and smartwatches disappoint” exclusively for people toting Samsung Galaxy smartphones, just threw up a paywall – of sorts.

They’ve now decided to introduce advertising in the free Streaming Service to nag you with annoying Audio and Video ads in your Music Stream as well as on the App’s interface as stated in “SAMSUNG’S MILK MUSIC ADDS COMMERCIALS, LOSES EDGE”, published April 18, 2014 By Alex Tretbar, DigitalTrends.

But if you want the premium quality service, you’ll have to pay a premium quality price: US$4.00 per months for Streaming as reported in Samsung Milk Music soon to feature ads, $4 ad-free option”, published April 18, 2014 7:23 AM PDT by Don Reisinger, CNET News!

The surprise announcement was easy to miss if your eyes’ weren’t sharp, as it was in the form of an infographic on Samsung Blog published on Tuesday April 15th 2014….which strangely they’ve since removed from their Newsfeed on the Samsung website!

It was bad enough that Milk Music was available only on Samsung Galaxy smartphones and available only to Americans and not on all smartphones running Android. Now –  to no-one’s surprise - Samsung decides to up the ante and effectively make it harder for them to compete in a Music space that’s already crowded with rapidly expanding Music Streaming Services that have rapidly expanding customer base.

Samsung free Summer Milk offer just went Sour with the addition of Artificial Advertising flavourings and a Premium Service no-one can afford.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How to make Glow-In-The Dark Ice Cream from Scratch using the US$25.95 Zoku Ice Cream Bowl

So with the Summer coming up officially on Tuesday June 1st 2014, I’m already getting my clothes and stuff packed to return home to Milk River, Clarendon for the long holiday. I’m going back to my parent’s house, which at the back of a shop P&L Enterprises in the Rest Square across from the Milk River Police Station.

That means days filed with nothing more than watching Television and doing blog article for publication later in the Summer for my personal Blog, My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica and the Geezam blog, for which I’m and Associate Editor. It also means I’ll have to go back to my parent’s Kosher diet of just Fish, unsalted Brown Rice and Vegetables.

Right now I’m looking forward to returning home. But after being in Kingston where everything is sugary and sweet, the Bland diet of my parent’s isn’t gonna go down too well. In my blog article entitled “How to make Chocolate Syrup that Glows-in-the-Dark, the ultimate Ice Cream Party Treat” I’d explained how to make Glow-in-the-Dark Chocolate Syrup.

That would go great with some homemade Ice Cream made with the US$25.95 Zoku Ice Cream Bowl as described in “Zoku Ice Cream Bowl makes ice cream while you eat it”, published May 15, 2014 5:27 PM PDT by Brian Krepshaw, CNET News. So Today for this DIY (Do It Yourself) I’m just gonna show you how to make Glow-In-The-Dark Ice Cream.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

1.      2 cups of heavy whipping cream
2.      1 cup of whole milk
3.      ¾ cup of sugar
4.      2 eggs
5.      4 teaspoons vanilla extract
6.      1 Cup Cocoa Powder
7.      ½ teaspoon salt
8.      6 Egg Yolks
9.      1 Bottle Schweppes Tonic Water
10.  Stainless Steel or Ceramic Non-Stick Pot
11.  Hand Blender or Metal Whisk
12.  Gloves
13.  Gas Stove
14.  Ceramic Mixing Bowl
15.  Wooden Spoon
16.  Metal Spoon for Testing Chocolate Syrup
17.  UV Lamp
18.  Cooking Thermometer

The instructions are fairly simple really.

1.      Place the US$25.95 Zoku Ice Cream Bowls in the Freezer to chill for 24 hours
2.      Mix all the above ingredients together while blending them with the Hand Mixer
3.      If making Chocolate Ice Cream, use Cocoa Powder, otherwise use the Vanilla Extract
4.       Pour in the 1 Bottle Schweppes Tonic Water into Stainless Steel or Ceramic Non-Stick Pot
5.      Set to Boil
6.      Once Boiling pour the ingredients into the boiling Schweppes Tonic Water
7.      Whisk while Boiling
8.      Boil until thick enough to coat the Wooden Spoon
9.      Set to cool down to Room Temperature using the Cooking Thermometer to check the temperature
10.  Once at room temperature, start stirring while pouring into your US$25.95 Zoku Ice Cream Bowls while serving
11.  At this point the thickened mixture will form into Ice Cream before your very eyes
12.  Pour On your Glow-In-The-Dark Chocolate Syrup and even a few sprinkles to taste
13.  Turn off the lights at nights and turn on the UV Lamp to make the Ice Cream Glow-in-the-Dark

Trust me, making home-made Glow-In-The-Dark Ice Cream or Jello is for me the highlight of the Summer. Goes down even better with some Glow-In-The-Dark Chocolate Syrup and a Glass of Port Wine or Merlot to wash it down to calm the nerves, should a Hurricane come barreling through as stated in my blog article entitled “2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season looking Fairly Quiet - How Hurricanes are formed as Hurricane making Landfall equals Disaster”.

This Summer will be special as it’s the World Cup 2014, about which I’ll be doing an article quite soon. So Glow-In-The-Dark Ice Cream coated with Glow-In-The-Dark Chocolate Syrup using the US$25.95 Zoku Ice Cream Bowl seems to be just the sort of thing that would make any Hurricane bearable.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Red Stripe Beer Festival in the Middle of May 2014 a success – Beer Festival an Annual Event to stave off Sweet Palcohol

“The Friday night went well. Hundreds came out to support the inaugural beer festival. Patrons were really excited about the samples and also the international beers that were here. There was a lot of entertainment from the different beer booths. Consumers were engaged with the prizes and giveaways, and the interaction with the crowd was awesome”

Brand PR (Public Relations) Manager at Red Stripe, Kamal Powell commenting on the Inaugural Red Stripe Beer Festival

Looks like the local Beer Industry in Jamaica controlled by the Beer Barons from Diageo is safe from Palcohol! This as from their account, their Red Stripe Beer Festival was a resounding success, with plans afoot to make this an annual event as stated in “Beer festival success sparks annual plans”, Published Monday May 26, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Take a gander at the pictures from their official Red Stripe Facebook Page, as it tells a better story than my words can describe. Please note, you have to be a friend of mine on Facebook or join Red Stripe Facebook Page to see this.

Red Stripe is deathly afraid of Palcohol and other powdered alcoholic alternatives taking away their market. To this end, the Red Stripe Beer Festival, held for the first time at the Barbican Beach Bar and Grill on Barbican Road in Kingston, went all out in its targeted approach towards wooing Millennials (ages 18 to 28).

Aside from the flavoured versions of Red Stripe as mentioned in my blog article entitled “Red Stripe Beer Festival in the Middle of May 2014 – Weirdness Level off the Chart means Palcohol has Red Stripe sweating but Long Hair Hide it”, they also featured the 1 Litre Red Stripe along with its companion, the 1 Litre Guinness.

Red Stripe has their work cut out for them for the next few years; if the DNews Video is to be believed, that “mad frenzy” will be coming to Jamaica once the price for this product comes within the reach of the regular consumer. Once it starts to be sold over-the-counter in liquor stores in the length and breadth of Jamaica, Red Stripe will be facing certain extinction!

Red Stripe worried about evolving Beer Market – Beer Festival an Annual Event to prevent the inevitable

Red Stripe clearly is fearful of something and it’s not just the sagging demand for Red Stripe Beer. Even at the event, it was clear that many patrons had a taste for the sweet and savoury, preferring other Imported Brewed brands that Diageo carried such as Heineken, Smirnoff Ice and Guinness as they're more for these sweeter beverages and less in tune with the Red Stripe of their Grandparents time.

Then again they're Uptowners; supposedly, for them EVERYTHING has to taste of a flavour of a fruit or sugar for it to be nice to their sense that are mainly excited by sweet instead of gradually acquiring a love for the bitter flavour of or Local Brewed Product Red Stripe.

The popularity of the 1 Litre Red Stripe suggests that it's more seen as a chaser than a brewed product in itself, as I often use Red Stripe whenever I'm cooking to add flavour to Rice and Peas or even Stewed Chicken as a replacement for water. Most likely this may be the interest in Red Stripe, as it's a cheaper alternative to a bottle of Wine for use in cooking or general consumption, as a good vintage will set you back at least JA$5000.

All this should worry Red Stripe. That suggests Palcohol and other variants with their portability advantage and flavor are a better fit to the experimenting Millennials who love bright coloured, sweet tasting drinks that are alcoholic and don’t wanna be limited by what’s in the Bottle. I just hope they don’t discover Butt-chugging, otherwise Palcohol will be labeled as an addictive drug on the same level as Ecstacy!

Red Stripe has no choice but to make this an annual affair, according to the upbeat tone of Brand PR (Public Relations) Manager at Red Stripe, Kamal Powell, quote: “Everybody is excited about the overall beer festival package, so it's something we are looking forward to for next year. The vision we have for beer festival is that it will become a new destination for beer lovers. From a national perspective, we have been looking to rebuild Kingston as a tourist destination and the Red Stripe Beer Festival will be one of those activities in Kingston that will definitely drive consumers from around the world to experience the festival”.

It’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out. I’d hope to see some statistics to indicate that Palcohol will result in a decline in Red Stripe Beer consumption. So rest assured a follow-up will be coming the next time this Red Stripe Beer Festival is held. In the meantime join the official Red Stripe Facebook Page and the Red Stripe Twitter Page to hear their side of the story!

How GOJ removal of CET from Phablets means CET-Free Tablets by Emancipation Day

“With the rapid changes in technology, it was felt that this classification was prejudicial as many of the Tablets had similar characteristics to Phablets. It was therefore felt in the interest of equity...that the classification for Phablets should be the same as that for Tablets”

Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Peter Phillips at the opening of the 2014/15 Budget Debate in Parliament on Thursday, April 17th 2014

Folks, brace for the impending Bomb-rush of Digicel and LIME Stores this Summer 2014 by Tuesday July 1st 2014!

This thanks the Council of Trade and Economic Development of CARICOM granting the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) permission to remove the 20% CET (Common External Tariff) on smartphones as reported in “Tariff Suspensions To Make Smartphones Cheaper For Jamaicans”, published Wednesday May 21, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Telecom Provider LIME already is announcing plans to drop the prices on smartphones long before Tuesday July 1st 2014. Smartphones that are usually priced in the JA$10,000 range will see prices drop to as low as JA$6,995 as stated in “LIME Cuts Smartphone Prices Ahead Of Tax Removal”, published Monday May 26, 2014 6:17 pm, The Jamaica Gleaner. Telecom Provider Digicel may soon follow with an announcement of their own for the DL700 and possibly a new DL800 smartphone for the Summer!

This is exactly as I’d predicted would be needed to jumpstart a 4G LTE Broadband Revolution in Jamaica; cheaper devices, particularly smartphones and Tablets as opined in my blog article entitled “Digicel and LIME's 4G LTE Adoption in Jamaica – Budget Tablets with Microsoft Productivity Software spark Wireless Broadband Revolution”.

After all, it has already occurred with Alternative Energy Gear as stated in my blog article entitled “Common External Tariff Removed from Alternative Energy and Energy-Saving Devices - Prepaid Power realistically Possible as Electricity Thieves can seek Repentance by going Solar” , so why not with smartphone, Phablets and by extension Tablets?

Cheaper Phablets was the start – Removal of Tariff on Tablets should be next

A month earlier, Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Peter Phillips had announced the removal of the CET on Phablets at the opening of the 2014/15 Budget Debate in Parliament on Thursday, April 17th 2014 as  reported in “No Custom Duty on ‘Phablets’”, published Sunday, April 20, 2014 2:12 PM, The Jamaica Observer with the Horses’ mouth, the JIS (The Jamaica Information Service) in the article “No Custom Duties on Phablets”, published April 22, 2014 By Alecia Smith-Edwards, The Jamaica Information Service bring the Calvary!

At the time, I’d ignored it at the time, merely archiving the article. After all, I reasoned, why would anyone in Jamaica want a Phablet as despite their growing global popularity up north as noted in my blog article entitled "Samsung Galaxy Note III is an excellent alternative to the Apple iPhone - Phablet competition from the HTC One Max and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra signals long lasting trend", they're a throwback to the larger cellular phone devices of yesteryear.

That's a definite fashion no-no for the image conscious in Jamaica and the Trendsetters that are bound to get you locked up by the Fashion Police and singled out by our local Paparazzi! Worse, you’ll be unable to get RSVP’s to parties and events on Jamaica’s packed Social Calendar!

But the devil is always in the details, it seems! Turns out the removal of the CET on Phablets actually relates to regular smartphones as well, by default if you read Dr. Peter Phillips, Minister of Finance Budget Presentation 2014.

According to Minister of Finance Dr. Peter Phillips, Phablets are indistinguishable from smartphones or regular Tablets, due to their ginormous proportions. So the JCA (Jamaica Customs Agency) had decided to classify under Tariff Heading 8517 and Tariff Heading 8471.

Effectively, Phablets were a dual-citizen; CET was collected for the device being a smarftphone under Tariff Heading 8517 but not for being a Tablet, which under Tariff Heading 8471 made them appear to be Laptops and thus no CET was collected for that particular feature.

20% is still a hefty burden to bear. With no clear guidelines from the WCO (World Customs Organization) the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) went ahead and created their OWN description of the Phablets by amending Tariff Heading 8471 with a new sub-section for Phablets, Tariff Heading 847130.  Tariff Heading 847130 classifies Phablets as thus, quote: “portable automatic data processing machines, weighing not more than 10 kilograms, consisting of at least a central processing unit, a keyboard and a display”.

This means that now that it has its own unique Tariff Heading, it no longer has to be a dual-citizen with held the rights. Now, the CET on Phablets vanished altogether by Thursday May 1st 2014, as basically Tariff Heading 847130 classifies Phablets as a portable Laptop!

But that means smartphones, which fell under Tariff Heading 8517, were being unfairly taxed as many of them, via their largess, were effectively mini-Tablets in their own right. Just a well, as Phablets or even smartphones with at least 5" screens are useful for Teaching, even at schools in parishes as far away as St. Elizabeth as stated in “Smartphone as teaching tool”, published Monday, April 21, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.

So this CET on smartphones will also vanish on Tuesday July 1st 2014.

Call for a Removal of the CET on Tablets – September Test Pilot Project for Tablets is Coming      

With the Hurricane Season set to start officially on Sunday June 1st 2014 as pointed out in my blog article entitled “2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season looking Fairly Quiet - How Hurricanes are formed as Hurricane making Landfall equals Disaster” and the Summer Solstice set to start on Saturday June 21st 2014, a Sale on smartphones is expected and most welcome by most Teenagers (ages 13 to 17) and Millennials (ages 18 to 28) saving up their JA$10,000 to buy a smartphone. 

Parents should also have concern to be hopeful. Smartphones are useful for Teaching. But Tablets are even moreso.

Especially as the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science, Technology Energy and Mining has plans to introduce Tablets in High Schools starting with a Test Pilot in Academic Year 2014/2015 which starts September 2014 and ends June 2015 as stated in my blog article entitled Ministry of Science and Technology signs four Contractors in March 2014 to procure Tablets - Test Pilot Project in September 2014 means Teachers can monetize e-books”.

Thus we may be looking at yet another Tariff rollback by August 2014, possibly to coincide with Emancipation Day, which will be celebrated on Friday August 1st 2014. If Tablets are to be used in the Teaching of Classes and by students, they have to be cheap enough that many parents can afford the subsidized price of JA$5000.

Even better, if by then, e-books exist that can replace the purchasing of Textbooks in High School, then we may be looking at not only a flood of purchasing of smartphones, Phablets and Tablets but also a renaissance of e-book publishers as Teachers rush to make content to be used on these devices to educate the Next Generation!