My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: April 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

@LIMEJamaica 4G not in Rural Jamaica - Why Summer 2015 in Clarendon will be a @Digicel_Jamaica Zero Summer

While Telecom Provider Digicel rolled out Digicel Zero on Friday April 24th 2015 in response to WhatsApp rollout of WhatsApp to WhatsApp Voice Calling on Thursday April 23rd 2015  as noted in my blog article entitled “Digicel launches Digicel Zero - How @Digicel_jamaica is testing VoLTE vs @WhatsApp's Free Voice Calling to boost smartphone sales”, Telecom Provider LIMEW is taking a different approach.

Seeing that VoIP calling from WhatsApp is going to be the main driver for smartphone purchases as well as the ever present popularity of Social Media sites such as Facebook, Telecom Provider LIME has opted instead to put the Huawei on a JAS$3999 one day Sale.

So says their LIME Jamaica Twitter Feed as shown below.

But does this mean that their 4G service is finally coming to the rest of Jamaica? Apparently not!

LIME 4G not in the Rural Areas – Focused on Making Money from Business Services

Telecom Provider LIME appears unruffled by this latest update from the Facebook Camp, possibly because their business isn't purely mobile.

Their focus is on the Business side of Data, despite having launched their upgraded 21 MBps 3G+ Network in Kingston and St. Andrew , which they've dubbed “4G”, in April 2014 as noted in the article “LIME To Roll Out New 4G Network - 5G Being Developed By UK, Germany”,  published Friday March 28, 2014,The Jamaica Gleaner.

Albeit Social Media does get people to buy more smartphones, Mobile Data from regular customers isn't a growth area for them. Evidence of this can be seen from their "4G" offerings across the island a year late in April 2015, as they've yet to cover most of the island.

Instead they've chosen to focus on areas that have large populations, like Mandeville, Manchester  in November 2014 as noted in the article “Mandeville Goes 'Superfast' With LIME 4G Upgrade”, Published Monday November 3, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner.
Since that last major announcement for 4G Deployments across Jamaica, I've not heard any more updates on 4G coming to anywhere else in Jamaica.

Milk River, Clarendon uses Private WiMax – Summer is going to be all about Digicel Zero in Clarendon

In Milk River, Clarendon, which is fourteen (14) miles from May Pen, Clarendon, we’ve been subsisting on Wireless Internet thanks to a private contractor who installed a private WiMax Network powered by a FLOW Jamaica head-end in our community as noted in my blog article entitled “FLOW rolls out Hosted PBX - How 100 MBs FLOW Ultra can power a Private WiMaX Community Network”.

Just last year in the fourth Quarter of 2014, we began to pickup Digicel “4G” Internet, thanks to an antenna re-alignment in neighboring Gimme-Me-bit that's giving us coverage. However, thus is only the “4G” Mobile Service which is only for smartphones; we're yet to get access to their 4G Broadband service.

This means I can't get to use my EX-250 modem which I've spoken of upgrading to a DX-250 Model as noted in my blog article entitled “@Digicel_Jamaica Greenpacket Ex-250 Modem – No Exchange for a Greenpacket Dx-250 Modem as Data Prices haven’t changed since 2013” in Milk River, Clarendon when I go home for the summer.

Telecom Provider LIME is totally non-existent in Milk River as well as the rest of Clarendon.

Their low cost JA$3999 Huawei Ascend Y330 which was very competitively priced against the JA$7599 Digicel DL700  purchased during the World Cup 2014 as noted in my blog article entitled  “JA$3999 Huawei Ascend Y330 vs JA$7599 Digicel DL700 this Summer of 2014 - Waggonists Transfer Form not Required to get new smartphone” are the main reason why most Milk River and Clarendon people as a whole have a smartphone.

Telecom Provider LIME continued with this strategy against the then overpriced JA$13,688 DL750 from Digicel as noted in my blog article entitled  “JA$3999 + GCT Huawei Ascend Y330 from @limejamaica - JA$13,688 DL750 price cute expected from @digiceljamaica for Christmas 2014”.

Telecom Provider Digicel eventually capitulated, resulting in the great Christmas sale of the DL700, the DL750 and the introduction of the DL800 and DL900 smartphones as noted in my blog article entitled  “JA$6,950 DL750 and JA$8,250 DL800 on Sale at Digicel – Alcatel One Touch Pop C1 as ZTE Force Awakens and Alcatel’s Empire Strikes Back”.

But we can't use their Data Service, as they’ve got no “4G” coverage in Milk River, Clarendon.

So when I go home this Summer after exams are over at the MICO University College for my Professional Diploma in Teaching course, I'm willing to bet everyone in Milk River, Clarendon and the rest of Clarendon as a whole will be hooked on Digicel Zero.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

@Audi, Sunfire GMBH and How SynGas makes e-Diesel for Motor Vehicles

Audi is now officially my favorite Car Company.

This as they’ve partnered with German company  Sunfire GMBH to create e-Diesel fuel from Water (H2O) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) using the Fischer-Tropsch Process as announced in the article “Audi makes eco-friendly diesel from carbon dioxide and water”, published April 27th 2015  by Jon Fingas, Engadget.


Their research partnership has yielded a test plant in Dresden where they’ve improved upon the  original technology researched by  Sunfire GMBh as noted in the article “Audi Just Invented Fuel Made From CO and Water”, published 28.04.2015 by Kevin McSpadden, TIME.

I already did an article on this process which was developed by the SOLAR-JET Project as described in my blog article entitled “SOLAR-JET Project create Kerosene from Syngas - How Fresnel Lens in SynGas for Fischer–Tropsch Process means Fossil Fuel a Renewable Resource by 2017”, albeit it involved the use of Solar Power and it was partnership between several companies, including Shell.

So how does this differ from SOLAR-JET? For one, we may eventually see this being used in Motor vehicles, even if it’s an additive and eventually being produced commercially as fuel in its own right for motor vehicles.

Audi  and Sunfire GMBH produced e-Diesel  - How SynGas makes e-Diesel for use in Motor Vehicles

Sunfire GMBh process converts convert Water (H2O(g)) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2 (g)) into Syngas, a mixture of Hydrogen (H2(g)) and Carbon Monoxide (CO(g)) as explained in the article “Audi Has Made Diesel From Water And Carbon Dioxide”, published April 27, 2015 by Josh L Davis, I Fucking Love Science.

This Syngas is then fed into the Fischer-Tropsch Process to convert Hydrogen (H2(g)) and Carbon Monoxide (CO(g)) into Kerosene using concentrated sunlight s noted in my blog article entitled “Sunfire GmbH Power to Liquid Technology produces Synthetic Diesel, Kerosene and Gasoline - SOEC Hydrogen Reduction SynGas for Fischer–Tropsch Process”.

The result is e-Diesel that is free of impurities and is this referred to a "Blue diesel". It is composed purely of hydrocarbons and had no sulphur or other impurities. This “Blue diesel” is then used in Audi line of motor vehicles directly or mixed with traditional Diesel fuel to reduce the amount of knocking in the engine.

This e-Diesel as it’s known is perfect for such engines, as it cannot damage the vehicle’s engine due to the lack of any impurities to make combustion difficult or to clog the delicate intake valves. Audi intends to scale up the process to produce e-Diesel on a commercial scale as the test plant in Dresden owned by Sunfire GMBH can only produce some 3,000 liters (792.5 gal.)

Not sure if this will be fuel that’ll be commercially available or sold as an additive, but I’m hoping that the technology will become common place, if only to be used in high performance vehicles like those made by Audi.

But it would be a start towards making motor Vehicle fuel from scratch and weaning ourselves from the mining of oil which isn’t sustainable in the long run. It would also see the continued usage of Combustion engines and reduce the damage caused to motor vehicle engines fuel that contains no Sulphur impurities.

Here’s the link:

NOW expands to capture JA$35 million Jamaican Edible Mushroom - How Jamaican can grow and store Edible Mushrooms

This story is so interesting because I've always wanted to do this.

I'm of course referring to the farming of Mushrooms by NOW (Network of Women for Food Security), who are on a path towards exporting them as noted in the article “Cashing In On Mushrooms”, Published Sunday April 5, 2015 by Neville Graham, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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The group literally, in the space of a year, mushroomed from twenty (20) women mushroom farmers to their current number of fifty (50) women mushroom farmers. Now they're on the cusp of going into the supply of Mushrooms to offset the JA$35 million in export demand for mushrooms annually, based on 2012 figures.

They're not the first to grow mushrooms commercially, as Carl and Juliet Duncan have been growing Gourmet Mushrooms for the past twenty seven (27) years since 1998 as noted in the article “Gourmet mushrooms”, published Thursday, September 19, 2002 by NOVIA MCDONALD-WHYTE, The Jamaica Observer.

The variety of edible mushrooms that Jamaicans seem to enjoy is quite extensive:

1.         Black trumpet
2.         Chanterelle
3.         Cremini
4.         Cultivated mushrooms
5.         Enokitake
6.         Horn of plenty
7.         Oyster
8.         Portobello
9.         Wild Mushrooms

So how did these women get started in Mushroom Farming? And is this an opportunity that Jamaican Farmers can partake?

Mushroom farming - How to grow them and store them for cooking purposes

Of the fourteen thousand (14,000) different kinds Mushrooms that exist, only three thousand (3000) are considered edible as noted in the article “Mushrooms As Food And Medicine”, Published Tuesday June 4, 2013, By Dr Tony Vendryes, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Mushrooms are grown from spores as shown in the video below.

It takes about six (6) weeks from the planting of spores to reap a full crop of Mushrooms, very fast turnaround for such a well love product in Jamaica.  Surprisingly, they are as nutritious as actual fruits and Vegetables and in Jamaica have been long overlooked, possibly because they're imported and very expensive to produce.

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Fresh mushrooms are firm and moist with no damp or wet spots. They, however, 90% water and very absorbent, so soaking them when cooking isn’t at all necessary! Care should however, be exercise in storing them, as like vegetables the sweat and can easily spoil and get slimy. Instead, store them either in a paper bag or in Newspaper in a plastic container that's left open to the air.

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Even better, get satchets of silica gel and place them inside of little plastic bags and then punch holes in that plastic bag Then place the plastic bag with the silica gel inside of the same container as the mushrooms to absorb all moisture and thus help them stay fresh for weeks.....that' what I do to keep my carrots fresh.

Finally, don't clean until just before cooking, and only do so with a pastry brush or damp cloth. No running Water is necessary.

NOW and Mushroom farming - JA$7000 per week for Groups involved in Mushroom Farming co-operative

NOW is a farming co-operative located in central and northern Manchester of run by some fifty (50) mushroom women. They initially started out with approximately twenty (20) women mushroom farmers less than a year ago in August 2014.

The NOW farming-co-operative is thanks to a partnership with Jamaica National Foundation's SEBI (Social Enterprise Boost Initiative) and FFP (Food For The Poor) as noted in the article “Network Of Women Mushroom Farming - Rural Women Partner With FFP, Social Enterprise Boost Initiative For Mushroom Production”, published Friday August 8, 2014 by  Tamara Bailey, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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By Monday, September 29th 2014, they'd begun building their first mushroom house outfitted with classrooms, labs, offices, bathrooms and a kitchen as stated in the article “Ground Broken For Mushroom House”, Published Monday October 6, 2014 by Tamara Bailey, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Back then, the idea was that the Mushroom houses would be used by 25 groups of contracted farmers with each group being made up of five (5) women farmers.

They'd grow their mushroom in their sections inside of the Mushroom grow House and then NOW would purchase the mushrooms from the women at a rate of JA$551.16 per Kg (JA$250 per Lb) as explained by NOW Executive Director Pauline Smith, quote: “The idea is that we train five women in a cell and they will be given one mushroom house, which will come with 60 ready-to-grow mushroom bags/kits ... each bag will produce seven pounds of mushrooms per flush and there are five flushes before you discard the bag, so 35 pounds can be received from one bag”.

NOW then distributed the Mushrooms to their clients, mostly restaurants and hotels, with the farmers making a minimum profit of $7,000 per week! Not bad for growing Mushrooms!

NOW Mushrooms in expansion Mode - JA$35 million mushroom Market up for grabs

Thought these funding facilities, they've be able to raise some JA$43 million in venture capital funds to expand their operations just to feed this growing JA$35 million local demand from their hotel and restaurant clients, to quote NOW Executive Director Pauline Smith: “We just got signed off on $43 million of the $54 million needed to really get us started, and by May we should be gradually building up to full production”.

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To this end, they've gone into expansion mode as according to Pauline Smith, there's good earning in growing Mushrooms:

1.      JA$1,200 per Kg for button mushrooms
2.      JA$5,500 per Kg for oyster mushrooms
3.      JA$19,000 per Kg for shitake mushrooms

To meet production targets, NOW currently has ten (10) grow houses. Two (2) women run each house where the mushrooms spores are grown under optimum conditions.  The farming co-operative also has a Building that will house the following component to their Mushroom farming enterprise:

1.      Processing operation
2.      Laboratory
3.      Test kitchens
4.      Spore germination facility

April 2015 will see them delivering packaged compost for growing the mushrooms to start small-scale production by May 2015.  NOW long term strategy is a slow ramp up to about 25% production capacity and increase to close to full capacity after a year.

Food For The Poor, seeing that the NOW farming co-operative is doing so well, will give them another twenty five (25) grow houses. Six (6) women will run each of the 5x5 m (16x16 feet).

The spores and the technical-know-how is being supplied by co-operation with the Penn State University with help from the USAID and a boatload of US Peace Corps. When production is up to full capacity, the NOW Group can produce the following amount of Mushrooms:

1.      7,700 Kg of various mushroom varieties per month
2.      92, 400 Kg of various mushroom varieties per month

That translates to 50% of the total JA$35 million worth of mushrooms imported annually from NOW farming co-operative alone. Jamaica, are you ready for the next big food crop that’s also very good or you?  Mushroom farming co-operatives may soon spread from Manchester to a Community Farm near you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Why Facebook Messenger Free Video Calling beats Meerkat, Periscope and WhatsApp

Facebook is wasting no time taking advantage of the bigger real estate of the desktop and Mobile.

Not only are they going to challenge Microsoft owned Skype but possibly Meerkat and Twitter owned Periscope as described in my blog article entitled “@sxsw @AppMeerkat vs @Twitter’s @periscopeco – How Periscope submarine-like launch sunk the Meerkat Destroyer”.

Today, Monday April 27th 2015, they've just announced that they're rolling out Video Calling for Messenger as announced in the article “Facebook's Messenger adds video chat”, published April 27, 2015 by Ian Sherr, CNET News.

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I had just returned from the MICO University College only moments ago when I saw the announcement in my Twitter feed. This bit of news caught me by surprise and was announced on Facebook's Newsroom in their Press Release entitled “Introducing Video Calling in Messenger”, published April 27, 2015, FB Newsroom.

And unlike Facebook Hello, another service launched earlier on Wednesday April 22nd 2015 that's available only in US, Brazil and Nigeria  as stated in my blog article entitled “Introducing @Facebook Hello App - Brilliant Anonymous Caller ID People and Businesses Finder with @WhatsApp Wi-Fi Calling”, Facebook Messenger Video Calling is launching in the following countries:

1.      Belgium
2.      Britain
3.      Canada
4.      Croatia
5.      Denmark
6.      France
7.      Greece
8.      Ireland
9.      Laos
10.  Lithuania
11.  Mexico
12.  Nigeria
13.  Norway
14.  Oman
15.  Poland
16.  Portugal
17.  USA
18.  Uruguay

More counties will soon get this service in the following months, with Jamaica possible being one of them.

How to make a video Call using Facebook Messenger – Meerkat and Periscope have a new competitor

To be clear, this is Video Calling not only just over Wi-Fi but also over 3G and 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) Networks absolutely free as noted in the article “Facebook Messenger Launches Free VOIP Video Calls Over Cellular And Wi-Fi”, published 27.04.2015 by Josh Constine, Techcrunch.

That means both the Messenger app and the Messenger website can do video calling, albeit apparently not to each other. The reason has not been explained by Facebook but they’re sure to fix it soon.

To initiate a Video Call, first you have to have either a smartphone with a decent Camera and a Data connection of a Laptop or Desktop computer with a webcam. Once in Messenger app or website, look for a video camera icon in the top right corner.

A simple click initiates the Video Calling Feature, with the user on the other end accepting completing the call, which starts up using the front facing camera. The Video calling features also allow you to toggle to the rear-facing camera, giving them a view of whatever you're doing.

Something tells me that like Meerkat and Periscope, a lot of persons will be using this service to stream live video.

Many, though, will opt to use Wi-Fi, as Video Calling will eat up your Data Plan my blog article entitled “@sxsw @AppMeerkat vs @Twitter’s @periscopeco – How Periscope submarine-like launch sunk the Meerkat Destroyer”.

But if you're friend on the other side of your Video Call has a poor connection, you can assist them by switching to VoIP more or switching off your video feed so that they have more bandwidth to show you the majesty of their surroundings.

Facebook Messenger Free Video Calling - Digicel Zero defends them against WhatsApp but not Messenger Video Calling

In fact, this news is so big, it even got picked up by our local Newspaper, the Jamaica Observer in their article “Facebook rolls out video calls on messenger”, published Monday, April 27, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

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It's also surprising as Facebook had launched Messenger on its own website on Wednesday April 8th 2015, some three (3) weeks and five (5) days ago as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “Now Facebook has a Messenger website for your Desktop”.

In fact, Facebook owned WhatsApp had just launched Voice Calling a mere five (5) days ago on Google Android smartphones via their  WhatsApp Version 2.12.1 as reported in my blog article entitled “@WhatApp Voice Calling comes to Version 2.12.1 - How Wi-Fi Calling by Proxy coming to Jamaica with Features to Boot”.

So what kind of Data Plan will Digicel roll out to counter this onslaught of free VoIP Apps, aside from Digicel Zero, Digicel's response to WhatsApp as noted in my blog article entitled “Digicel launches Digicel Zero - How @Digicel_jamaica is testing VoLTE vs @WhatsApp's Free Voice Calling to boost smartphone sales”?

Digicel is sure to want to please their customers by rolling yet another Data Plan that’ll address the need to make Video Calls.

We'll soon know in a few months time when Facebook Messenger Video Calling comes to Jamaica, as Telecom Provider Digicel and LIME cannot avoid these services for much longer.


Monday, April 27, 2015

US$250 Philips Fidelio L2 headphones - Great bargain Headphones that's a Quiet Achiever

I don't usually do articles about a particular product, especially headphones.

But the US$250 Philips Fidelio L2, a pair of well built over-the-ear speakerphones caught my eye as they were quite made and had the same comparative quality of more expensive speakers as noted in the article “Philips Fidelio L2 (Black) review: A hidden gem of a headphone”, published April 22, 2015 By David Carnoy  and Steve Guttenberg, CNET News

The 260 g Philips Fidelio L2 headphone isn't much talked about. In fact, on doing this article was the first time I'd heard of this set of over-the-ear headphones.

Philips Fidelio L2 headphone – Surprisingly well built for a US$250 pair of headphones

They're surprisingly well built with an aluminum headband and padded leather covered ear cushions with memory foam that conform to every contour and shape of your ears.

260 g is a little heavy for a pair of over-the-ear headphones, but you won't mind that much when you take a listen in them. They're basically a pair of semi-open-end headphones with the padded leather-covered ear cushions that keep out as much of the sound as possible.

Good to note that the Philips Fidelio L2 headphones come with two cloth covered cables.

However, only one of them has an inline remote and microphone for mobile smartphone usage, compatible with both Google Android and Apple iPhones. This inline remote can play and pause tracks and skip forward and backwards and also allow you to answer calls while listening to music, but there's no volume control button.

Philips Fidelio L2 headphone – Great for Jazz and Rap but not Classical or Electronica

The Philips Fidelio L2 headphone has good bass and dos Jazz and Rap music really well, but doesn’t handle music that's got multiple tones and frequencies, like classical and electronica.

This may be because it’s an open back design, making it sound a lot fuller and less like you're inside of a bubble.

Alternatives to the Philips Fidelio L2 headphone that provide similar performance at the same price are as follows:

1.      Sennheiser Momentum 2.0
2.      V-Moda Crossfade M100
3.      NAD Viso HP50
4.      Audio Technica ATH-MSR7
5.      Sony MDR-1A

Albeit a little known product, at US$250 it's worthy of its place among these headphones and trumps those in the US$300 to Us$500 price range as listed in my blog article entitled “Five Great Over-the-Ear Headphones - Noise Cancelling, Comfortable, Fashionable Bluetooth Music Streaming”.

So if you looking for a little known pair of headphones with the same quality as a US$500 pair of cans, then the US250 Philips Fidelio L2 headphone is truly a bargain.