My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: September 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why @jacustoms US$100 Duty Free shopping coming as Jamaicans shopping online

Jamaican clearly have more money to spend this Christmas 2015.............and Christmas isn't even here as yet!

This as the Jamaica Customs Agency has posted some interesting stats that indicate that Jamaicans are shopping more online as reported in the article entitled “Online Shopping Duty-Free Limit Could Be Increased, Customs Considering Move”, published Monday September 28, 2015 by Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Here's what Commissioner of Customs, Major Richard Reese, revealed about Jamaicans and importation up to Wednesday September 23rd 2015:

1.      7% increase in Customs Duties revenue collected compared to the same period in 2014
2.      JA$83.8 billion Customs Duties revenue collected up to Wednesday September 23rd 2015
3.      JA$78.1 billion Customs Duties revenue collected up to Tuesday September 23rd 2014

So why are Jamaican shopping more online? And what does the Jamaica Customs Agency plan to do to benefit from this trend?

Jamaica Customs Agency Stats - Why US$100 Duty Free shopping coming as Jamaicans shopping online this Christmas

Most likely, this is being driven by the trend towards Jamaican buying School items and supplies online, which they can do by shopping at online deal store in bulk.

This as Jamaicans have more disposable income to spend seeing as the price of Energy i.e. Gasoline and consequently Electricity have both been trending down as the price of Oil drop below US$50 as reported in my blog article entitled “US$50 per barrel Oil from OPEC – Why Ford Motors is predicting a bright future for All-Electric Vehicles”.

I know this as traffic on my How-to articles related to Shopping Online on Geezam entitled “How to ship things to Jamaica after you’re purchase them online”. Traffic to my other blog article entitled “How to purchase items and subscribe to Magazines online and ship them to Jamaica” has also seen a steady increase as well.

Jamaica Customs Agency Stats - Why US$100 Duty Free shopping coming as Jamaicans shopping online this Christmas

Encouraged by these signs, the Jamaica Customs Agency has put in place a twelve (12) point plan to raise an additional JA$2.1 billion in revenue. This will involve raising the duty-free limit for online shopping to US$100 from the current level of US$50.

That means any item that costs under US$100 can be shipped to Jamaica Duty Free. While this may not sound like much, a lot of small items such as book, stationary and school supplies cost under US$100.

A few electronics gadgets such as the uber-popular just-releasedUS$49 Amazon Fire Tablet as reported in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “US$50 Amazon Fire Tablet and US$50 Amazon Fire TV Stick makes Christmas bright” will be on every Jamaicans' shopping list this Christmas.

 For the more Developer oriented, the US$35 Raspberry Pi 2 Model B beckons as reported in my blog article entitled “US$35 Raspberry Pi 2 Model B to run Windows 10 - Why Windows Developer Program for IoT is Microsoft 's IoT Push”.

You can also get the Raspberry Pi 7” Touchscreen for US$60 and make a really cool touch screen controller as explained in my blog article entitled “How the US$60 Raspberry Pi 7” Touchscreen can be used as a Touchscreen Controller

But that’s' just what I'm planning to buy for myself, if this proves to be true.

So we wait with baited breath for the Jamaica Customs Agency to make another announcement and make this official as Christmas nice again. Also, it means I can start posting ads in the Sunday Gleaner!

Facebook M is a Text-based AI - Why Facebook OS smartphone may be in the works

The machines are slowly taking over, it would appear.

Facebook had joined the foray into AI Voice Assistant world on Wednesday August 26th 2015 with their own version called M as reported in the article “Facebook adds Siri rival to Messenger”, published August 26, 2015, by Ian Sherr, CNET News

Facebook broke the news in a Facebook post by Facebook Messenger lead manager David Marcus as reported in the article “Facebook Is Adding A Personal Assistant Called “M” To Your Messenger App”, published Aug 26, 2015 by Drew Olanoff, Techcrunch.   

Facebook has now joined the ranks of Google Now, Microsoft Cortana and Apple Siri as yet another Voice Assistant in a field that’s slowly crowding up with these helpful AI as pointed out in the article “Facebook launches M, its bold answer to Siri and Cortana”, published 08.26.15 by Jessi Hempel, Wired.

These AI's make owning a smartphone more like having a personal friend that can talk with you and laugh at your jokes while helping you navigate these increasingly complex smartphones.

Possibly, she can also form conversations and even tell stories like similar to Georgia Institute of Technology's Scheherazade AI as reported in my blog article entitled “Scheherazade AI from Georgia Institute of Technology - Why Writers and Journalists will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence and Robots”.

Bu what makes Facebook M special?

Facebook M is a Text-based AI– Top down design with Human handlers

Facebook M is unique, though, in that its conversations are text-initiated by typing queries in Facebook Messenger as reported in the article “Facebook launches M: Not James Bond’s boss, but a Siri-like virtual Assistant with a huge twist”, published Aug 27, 2015 By Chris Smith, BGR

However, it has human handlers who will every now and then help M with more complex queries and thereby improve the AI’s capability to answer more complex queries. After this hand-holding period, M will be on its own, suggesting that M is a top-down design AI i.e. built to tap into all the information needed with  set of basic Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language API while being guided by humans. 
This was launched nearly a month ago and this privilege up to the time of the publication of my article is restricted to a few hundred people in the San Francisco Bay Area. When does Facebook plan to release this feature to the American public as well as to us Internationals?

Facebook M is a Text-based AI - Why Facebook OS smartphone may be in the works

This is possibly a very nice idea, almost as nice as making Facebook Messenger available on Desktop as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “Now Facebook has a Messenger website for your Desktop”. Yet this is strictly a Mobile experiment, as it’s not yet on Facebook Messenger for desktop or integrated into any other Facebook Apps or the main website!

It also doesn't tap into all of Facebook's Social Graph, just Messenger for Mobile as reported in the article “Facebook 'M' makes Messenger your personal Assistant”, published August 26th 2015 by Jon Fingas, Engadget

Still, I'm hoping that this means that Facebook plans to make a smartphone sometime down the road, as when Facebook M expands and leverages the power of the Social Graph, they can potential do much more.

Like answer Voicemails, as feature alledgedly coming to Apple iOS 10 thanks to IBM Watson in 2016 as predicted in my blog article entitled “Apple's Siri Voice Assistant to answer Calls in 2016 - How @IBM's Watson may power Siri AI in Corporate and Enterprise Cloud Heaven”. 

Hopefully, when it comes to all Facebook's platforms, be it Mobile apps or desktop browser interface, it'll also include Facebook Hello, the smartphone home screen that already parses your calls and allows you to match numbers to Facebook profiles as I'd argued in my blog article entitled “Introducing @Facebook Hello App - Brilliant Anonymous Caller ID People and Businesses Finder with @WhatsApp Wi-Fi Calling”.   

Then my prediction that Facebook may be planning to make a smartphone running a Facebook OS may finally come to fruition.

Here’s the link:

Monday, September 28, 2015

How to Block and Unsubscribe in Gmail for Android

Google's Gmail has finally realized that their anti-spam filters just aren't enough.

On Tuesday September 23rd 2015 they finally rolled out a block feature that basically allows you to block email on your Android Smartphone as reported in “Gmail now lets you banish annoying senders with new ‘block’ button”, published September 23, 2015 By Trevor Mogg, DigitalTrends.

In addition to Blocking, there is now an unsubscribe feature that lets you unsubscribe to any Newsletters that you are no longer interested in reading. All this was detailed in an Official Gmail blog post on Tuesday September 23rd 2015 entitled “Stay in control with Block and Unsubscribe”.

These new Block and Unsubscribe features, available only on Google Android smartphones with Gmail, combined with the Inbox by Google App to sort out your Google Inbox as described in my blog article entitled “Inbox by Gmail for your Smartphone - Why Miconians will love Bundles of emails with Snooze Button that Assists with Email Coursework Hell” will finally allow you to tame that Inbox and achieve email flow zen!

It also melds well with the ability to undo and unsend an email, a feature that was finally taken out of beta in June 2015 as described in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “How to enable Gmail’s Undo Send and How to Unsend an Email”.

How to Block or Ubsubscribed in Gmail – Web browser and Apple iOS next on the upgrade list

The Block and Unsubscribe feature basically routes your blocked email to the Spam folder as noted in the article “Gmail gives you more control over annoying email”, published September 22, 2015 by Clifford Colby, CNET Downloads.

So basically, the same thing that happens when you press the Spam button in Browser based Gmail; just less confusing I suppose and psychologically, more satisfying, like blocking someone on Twitter as described in my blog article entitled “How to mute someone on @Twitter - To Block or to Mute for Silence of the Lambs as The Day the Earth Stood Still”.

Still, this aesthetic upgrade makes handling your email flow a lot easier as works as follows on your Google Android smartphone:

1.      Tap the Action Flow Menu (three dot menu) at the top right
2.      Scroll down the pop out menu
3.      Table the button marked “Block” or “Unsubscribe” to perform the required function

Changing from you blocking or unsubscribing decision is only a Setting click away, which really just removes it from the Spam listing. Hopefully this helpful feature will soon be coming to Web based Gmail as well as Apple iOS users.

Despite research published in Symantec's June 2015 Intelligence Report indicating that spam is at an all time low as noted in my blog article entitled “@symantec's June 2015 Intelligence Report says Spam down 50 percent - How Smartphones hacking saw Titan Fall of Email and Spam”  this would banish spam forever.

Here’s the link:

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Blackberry announces Blackberry Priv – The Venice slider is a Passport with a focus on Privacy

“Today, I am confirming our plans to launch Priv, an Android device named after BlackBerry's heritage and core mission of protecting our customers' privacy. Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform."

Blackberry CEO John Chen during an Earning Report for the Third Quarter of 2015 where the Blackberry Priv was confirmed on Thursday September 24th 2015

Blackberry has finally caved in to pressure from Android. Folks, I knew this day was coming but it’s still with a sad and heavy heart that I write this article: Blackberry has now officially crossed over to the Dark Side

This as Blackberry, on Thursday September 24th 2015 has decided to launch an Android powered Blackberry dubbed the Blackberry Priv this Christmas 2015 as reported in the article “Embracing Android, BlackBerry may finally put its BB10 software out of its misery”, published September 25, 2015 by Roger Cheng, CNET News

The Announcement was made in their latest Earning Report and Press Release for the Third Quarter of 2015 which hints at the Blackberry Priv coming out in the Fourth Quarter of 2015 as reported in the article “It’s official: Blackberry’s Android phone—the “Priv”—will launch this year”, published September 25, 2015 by Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica

Apparently, despite their best efforts, the US$275 Blackberry Leap just wasn't selling as it should despite its many work-centric features that was aimed at wooing away Android converts as I'd explained in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “US$275 Blackberry Leap is a Leap of Faith back into Corporate and Enterprise Arena”.

Ditto too the US$649.99 Blackberry Passport and US$419.99 Blackberry Classic, neither of which caught on with the physical Keyboard nostalgia loving hipsters as reported in my blog article entitled “US$649.99 Blackberry Passport and US$419.99 Blackberry Classic - Why Americans are ready to fall in love with Blackberry”. 

So why Android instead of say, Microsoft Windows Phone, which has enjoyed great support from Microsoft and has a suite of Microsoft Apps such as Microsoft Lens as declared in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “Microsoft Office Lens OCR Scanner converts images to Microsoft Office Documents”.

Blackberry Priv – The Blackberry Venice is a slider with a Passport

In case you're not been following my blog, Blackberry has basically confirmed the existence of the long rumoured Blackberry that runs Android codenamed Venice as I'd detailed in my blog article entitled “@evleaks says Blackberry Venice running Android is coming - Why a switch to Google Android will not improve Blackberry Sales”.

The specs for the soon-to-be-released-for-Christmas Blackberry Venice, now called the Priv as pointed out in “Android-powered BlackBerry Venice appears to have a new name”, published September 24, 2015 by Trevor Mogg, DigitalTrends are very similar to what was proclaimed previously:

1.      Screen: 5.4 or 5.6 inch
2.      Resolution: 1440p display
3.      Processor: Snapdragon 808 processor
4.      RAM: 3GB of RAM
5.      Internal Storage: 32GB of storage,
6.      Rear-Facing Camera: 18MP rear camera
7.      Front-Facing Camera: 5MP front camera

Please note, Blackberry provided no details on the actual specs, pricing or even the launch date in the Fourth Quarter of 2015. But it’s easy to guess that the Blackberry Priv, which looks like an elongated Blackberry Classic with a slider aesthetic and a keyboard taken from the Blackberry Passport, will be coming out in November 2015.

Blackberry and BB10 – Security and Privacy for Corporate and Enterprise is still a focus

Blackberry is late to the game and will be joining other OEM (Original Equiptment Manufacturers) in a crowded field that also the source of fragmentation and security vulnerabilities as pointed out in my Geezam blog article entitled “Why Android Fragmentation Worsens as Apple iOS 8 adoption almost complete”.

Blackberry is calling their android-flavoured smartphone the Priv to differentiate their product as having a focus on Security and Privacy for Corporate and Enterprise users as suggested in the article “BlackBerry Is Finally Releasing a Android Phone, The Privacy and Productivity-Focused Priv”, published September 25, 2015 By Brian Heater, TechTimes

From all accounts, Blackberry is still keeping their BlackBerry’s BB10 as this move is really to gain some traction in sales by adoption the Open Source Android OS as noted in the article “BlackBerry to Launch Android Smartphone”, published Sept. 25, 2015 by Ben Dummett, The Wall Street Journal.  

At the same time, they still plan to keep their BB10 OS developement going, meaning that possibly more smartphones running that operating system are still in the works.

This as there is a marked trend away from smartphones to wearables and security, uniqueness and the ability to pair with any smartphone will make your smartwatch or fitness tracker successful as argued in my blog article entitled “Android Wear comes to Apple iOS – How Motorola, LG, Asus and Huawei smartwatches are hot this Christmas 2015”. 

Hopefully, while benefitting from Android 1.6 million Apps in their Google Play Store, they'll also keep developing and pushing BB10 OS as Microsoft is currently pushing Windows Phone and may launch new devices come November 2015. 

Here’s the link:

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Journey's End Wine Company to launch Sugar Cane Wine in October 2015 - The Wine that Invented Rum to be a hit this Christmas 2015

Journey's End Wine Company, the makers of the signature Ackee Wine that been the talk of Jamaica since 2011 as noted in the article “Chilled Ackee Wine, Anyone?”, published Thursday, August 04, 2011, The Jamaica Observer is set to embark on yet another journey.

This time, they're set to do a promotion at Megamart Portmore on Saturday August 26th 2015 and also at Megamart on Upper Waterloo Road on Sunday August 27th 2015 starting 11am until 7pm. Journey's End Flavours of the Past set of Wines will be in full force, including the Ackee Wine many have come to know and love:

1.      Ackee
2.      Sorrel
3.      Ginger
4.      Pimento berry
5.      Noni

Journey's End Wine Company will also be unleashing a new flavour, which Journey’s End Wine CEO Howard Coxe teased in an interview with the Jamaica Observer as reported in the article “BRANDED Howard Coxe”, published Thursday, July 02, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

That new flavour, shared exclusively with the My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica and the MICO Wars: The Teacher Force Awakens blog in an email interview, is called Sugar Cane Wine.

Journey's End Wine Company to launch Sugar Cane Wine in October 2015 – Why Ackee Wine was the Start of the Journey

Slated to be launched in October 2015, Sugar Cane Wine, which has the tagline “The Wine that Invented Rum ®”, is basically Wine made from Sugar Cane.

Sugar Cane is usually associated with rum and the Sugar Cane Wine main ingredient is Fermented fresh Sugar Cane juice. This Sugar Cane Juice is the secret sauce in the Sugar Cane Wine and is Fermented fresh Sugar cane juice used to create Sugar Cane Wine.

Then again, Ackee, the starting material for his first foray into the Jamaican Wine making business wasn’t such an easy material to make Wine from and few would have believed it possible.

Starting out as a hobbyist, he perfected his craft during his twenty seven (27) years sojourn in the US of A. A love for raw Ackee proved to be the inspiration for Ackee Wine, which was the result of trial and error efforts with the different types of the National fruit.

After ditching a batch that wasn't up to snuff, he eventually perfected the formula.  His triumph in making Wine from a fruit that’s a part of Jamaica’s National Dish, is proof of his Winemaking prowess.

Sugar Cane Wine in October 2015 – Going Mainstream come Christmas 2015

He's been experiencing phenomenal sales since December 2014 when his products first graced the shelves of MegaMart stores at which time he'd introduced another new flavour, Noni Wine as reported in my blog article entitled “Noni Wine from Journey's End Wine Company by November 2014 - Panacea among the Flavours of the Past an @ackeeWine success this Christmas 2014”.

Journey's End Wine Company selection of Wines can also be found at the following highly trafficked locations as listed on Journey's End Wine Company website:

1.      General Food Supermarket in Liguanea
2.      Norman Manley International Airport in the Port of Call shop
3.      Things Jamaica Stores

Now with December 2015 coming up, Journey's End Wine Company has started early promoting their next Wine, Sugar Cane Wine. 

With the hope of going mainstream with a Wine that's based on locally fruits and berries, Journey's End Wine Company odyssey is just set to start in a massive run promoting Sugar Cane Wine, “The Wine that Invented Rum ®”, up towards Christmas 2015.

Here’s the link:

Here's their contact information:

Tel: 876-401-4476  

Friday, September 25, 2015

US$665 1TB Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Predator as Thumb Drives cheaper than Cloud Drive

Free Cloud Drive in the Gigabyte size from Google Drive (15GB) to Microsoft OneDrive (15) is now the norm.

Apple's iCloud is still overpriced as noted in my MICO Wars Blog article entitled “How to upgrade to more Apple iCloud Storage for a lower price”.

I use a cloud drive for storing documents, but I can't trust it, as I need the internet to access my files. When the internet is down at MICO University College, which is often, I'm stranded, unable to access my work.

I currently have a 16GB Thumb Drive that cost me JA$1000 back in 2014 to store all my files for my Professional Diploma in Teaching course at the MICO University College as well as my written work published on my blogs My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica,  MICO Wars: The Teacher Force Awakens as well as the Geezam blog.

I'd purchased it for a deal at Royale Computer during The Jamaica Observer's Fashion Night Out, now called TSO (Take Style Out) set to occur on Thursday October 1st 2015 as per the flyer below.

So with TSO now on the horizon on Thursday October 1st 2015, what options exists for thumb drives in the 16GB region or higher and how much would it now cost?

Thumb Drives with the Storage of an External SSD – Portable Storage for your Precious information

Turns out the answer is pretty expensive based on the article “Keychain not included: the five highest-capacity USB flash drives for your digital life”, published September 22, 2015 by Alex Madison, Digitaltrends.

1.      US$665 for the 1TB Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Predator 3.0 USB 
2.      US$340 for the 512GB Corsair Flash Voyager USB 3.0
3.      US$150 for the 256GB Patriot Super Sonic Rage 3.0  
4.      US$100 for the 256GB SanDisk Ultra USB 3.0  
5.      US$155 for the 240GB VisionTek Pocket USB SSD 

Al the above Thumb drive are available at Amazon and are worthwhile investments. So long as you don't lose them, these are basically equivalent and cheaper than Cloud Drive.

They may be a bit pricey compared to a SSD or regular Hard-Drive, like the US$49 Toshiba’s Canvio Basics 1TB Portable Hard Drive as detailed in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “US$49 Toshiba’s Canvio Basics 1TB Portable Hard Drive is a great Amazon deal” but the convenient form factor means they'll be popular with the tech crowd that can afford them.

Prices are gradually trending down, so expect these sizes to become the norm by 2017.  So soon, you’ll have an external Hard-drive that can fit on your keychain or dangle around your neck from a lanyard, convenient and ready to use anywhere, anytime.

Huawei and Lasco to sell Unlocked dual-SIM smartphones - Why Number Portability means Open Market for unlocked smartphone

“As a growing provider of retail financial services, Lasco Financial Services is aware of the changes and emerging trends in global mobile payments. In the near future, we envision consumers will be able to use mobile devices to conduct more everyday financial transactions through the use of mobile devices”

Managing Director of Lasco Financial Services Limited, Jacinth Hall-Tracey, speaking about LASF partnership with Huawei to sell unlocked smartphones and accessories

Partnerships are one of the best way to do business in Jamaicans. You leverage the strength of those involved in the partnership to help you to make progress in a difficult bear market.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Lasco has teamed up with Huawei to sell mobile smartphones as reported in the article “Lasco Financial Enters Phone Business”, Published Friday September 25, 2015 by Camilo Thame, The Jamaica Gleaner

LASF (Lasco Financial Services Limited) had now being authorize to distribute Huawei products and device in Jamaica. The partnership will result in them selling unlocked Huawei smartphones and original parts and accessories at their select locations across the island.

They'll also be selling dual-SIM smartphones, something that’s' sure to stir up the Telecom Provider stranglehold on the market, as they currently don't sell such handsets, to quote Managing Director of Lasco Financial Services Limited, Jacinth Hall-Tracey:  “Customers will be able to purchase affordably priced Huawei devices such as dual-SIM handsets, smartwatches, phone cases, etc”.

Already eight (8) of Lasco's cambios, which offer MoneyGram remittance services as well as loans, will be acting as test-run guinea pigs, selling these unlocked Huawei smartphones and original Huawei accessories. Basically, Huawei is cutting out the middleman, the local Telecom Providers and selling their handsets directly to Jamaicans.

LASF has been a strong performer for the Lasco Group of companies, contributing some 70% to the company's overall income. Remittances are on a roll, with revenue from LASF increasing 50% for financial year ending March 2015.

Already in 2015, they're steamrolling to another record year of profits, with the Second Quarter of 2015 already seeing LASF clocking some JA$192 million which represent an 8% increase when compared to the same period in 2014.

So this investment is just to broaden their profit base in the very competitive but rapidly growing area of unlocked smartphones and original accessories for Huawei, to quote Jacinth Hall-Tracey: “The telecoms retail industry is certainly competitive. However, we believe that the market for smart mobile devices and accessories will continue to increase in Jamaica, and Lasco Financial Services will employ the strategies necessary to become a leading provider is this market”.

But why is Huawei now going into the sale of unlocked smartphones directly to customers?

Huawei and Lasco to sell smartphones - Why Huawei sees Number Portability as an opportunity to sell unlocked smartphone

Not only is this a first for Lasco, but it follows on in the footsteps of competitor Samsung who also sell their smartphones and accessories directly to customer at their Samsung Experience Stores in Half-Way-Tree and Montego Bay.

In fact, the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus has already launched in Jamaica and is being sold in this manner as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “How Next is Now for launch of Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus in Jamaica”.

Huawei isn't responding to Samsung's direct sale of their Samsung product to customers, as most of Samsung product and accessories at their flagship stores are overpriced. Rather this move is really to cut out the Telecom Provider as the middleman by selling unlocked smartphones at cheaper prices directly to customers.

There is now a strong demand for unlocked smartphones ever since MNP (Mobile Number Portability) became a reality on Monday June 22nd 2015 as reported in my blog article entitled “Number Portability now possible in Jamaica - How the NPA creates efficient Number Range Management as Third Telecom Provider Coming”.

Number Portability should have seen both Telecom Provider Digicel and FLOW (formerly LIME) selling unlocked smartphones as I'd predicted in my blog article entitled “MNP and LNP delayed to Monday June 22nd 2015 - Technical Problem is Customer Knowledge, Misdmatched Demographics and no Unlocked Quad-Band smartphones”.

Instead, the Telecom Providers have stubbornly refused to make their smartphones unlocked.

Huawei, seeing an opportunity to secure the smartphone market, has decided that a partnership with LASF to sell unlocked smartphones and accessories directly to customer was a huge opportunity waiting to be exploited.

Digicel and FLOW Jamaica not selling unlocked Dual-SIM smartphones - Market is open for Huawei and LASF

Sales of smartphones have been relatively quiet since the DL750, DL800 and DL900 burst on the scene in the Fourth Quarter of 2014 as reported 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”.

Both Telecom Providers have been selling handsets costing JA$5000 at a fairly brisk pace:

1.      JA$1.2 billion (US$10.2 million) in sales in March 2014 for FLOW Jamaica
2.      JA$1.9 billion (US$16 million) in sales in March 2015 for FLOW Jamaica
3.      JA$14.2 billion (US$120 million) in sales in March 2013 for Digicel Jamaica
4.      JA$16.7 billion (US$141 million) in sales in March 2015 for Digicel Jamaica

Digicel's sales have actually seen a decline by US$8 million in the Second Quarter of 2015 to US$26 million when compared to the Second Quarter of 2014 due to declining handset sales in El Salvador and Papua New Guinea.

Good to note that these sales include non-feature phones and feature phones e.g. Nokia 1208 cellphones. So these figures are inflated and aren’t mentioning smartphones and whether they’re unlocked or Dual-SIM.

To their credit, Digicel did sell a Dual-SIM smartphone albeit locked smartphone the Acer Liquid E700 as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “Digicel going Triple-SIM with Acer Liquid E700 smartphone”. 

Also, the Alcatel OneTouch Pop C2 has a dual-SIM version that Digicel can sell in Jamaica, if they so choose to counteract this move by Huawei and LASF as hinted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Why the Alcatel OneTouch Pop C2 will start the Dual-SIM revolution” 

So LASF and Huawei are partnering to conquer the as-yet untapped Dual-SIM and unlocked smartphone market, which is in need of low-cost options to the current competitors such as BLU Mobile. In the process, they may potentially force Telecom Provider Digicel and LIME to start selling unlocked smartphone as well come Christmas 2015.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Water Wastage at MICO - How Waste Water Recycling and Rainwater Harvesting benefits Agriculture

If there was any proof that the NWC (National Water Commission) pipe system needed a serious overhaul, this incident proved it quite dramatically on Wednesday September 24th 2015!

While I was away on the MICO University College Campus hard at work on my Reflection for my CABM (Counseling Approach for Behaviour Management), the National Water Commission (NWC) Stanton Terrace pipeline finally burst after years of neglect as reported in the article “Burst Pipes Send Water In The Air Stripping Powerlines In Swallowfield Community”, published Thursday September 24, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.  

The Stanton Terrace pipeline ruptured at around 3pm on Wednesday September 24th 2015, sending water gushing out of a gaping hole in the Swallowfield community as shown below.

This sent water rushing down the Roosvelet Avenue road, also known as Herb Mckinley Drive, the same road that carries you down to the Bob Marley Statue just before you reach the National Stadium on Arthur Wint Drive.

Water also shot up in the air, spraying water on the power lines within the Swallowfield Community, causing them to arch and the insulation to ignite with fiery sparks, burning off in the reaction!

Residents in the community of Swallowfield, where I reside, could only stand and watch helplessly as good water went to waste even as they faced daily lock-offs, sometimes for the entire day.

This at a time when the Mona Reservoir, the source of water in Kingston, is at 21% capacity, which is seen as being critically low!

NWC Water Main burst because pipes are too old – Why Water Lock-off a bad policy in the long term

The cause?

Old pipes that have not been repaired for some time or have been broken and repair numerous times. Like a chain with a lot of weak links, this pipe just couldn't handle the fluctuations in water pressure as the NWC turned the water on and off, so it finally gave way.

The NWC has since locked off the water main to effect repairs to the Stanton Terrace pipeline as per this tweet via NWC’s Twitter account.

To quote NWC's Corporate Public Relations Manager, Charles Buchanan: “In a situation of drought where your system is operating under very abnormal conditions with widely fluctuating pressure levels in different segments of the network, you are going to have these instances, but the alternative is that most of the areas would be without water, because you simply won't do anything to ensure that the water get to them”.

So water lock-off cannot be a long term response to the Drought, as if this continues, more weakened pipes from frequent repair will be ruptured in a similar dramatic manner.

This is all the more reason for the Government of Jamaica to implement Waste Water Recycling to convert water from Sewage Works into potable and drinkable water as I'd argued in my blog article entitled “Water Shortage at MICO - How I'm dealing with the Water Shortage in Kingston”.

So aside from replacing the pipes yet again, what are the long-term solutions that the NWC and the GOJ could pursue?

Waste Water Recycling and Rainwater Harvesting – Why Water Resource independence can also benefit farming

Waste Water Recycling and Rainwater Harvesting are the best long-term solution, as it would recapture and reuse water that would otherwise go down the toilet. Even better would be if Jamaican households had Waste Water Recycling systems that converted Waste Water from their kitchen sinks and toilets back to drinkable water.

After all, once you use the water, it goes into the Earth, which filter it into underground aquifers and rivers. Assuming it doesn’t absorb any Rare Earth Metals from the Riverton City Dump, this water is the very same water that flows into the Mona Reservoir and ends up being processed into drinking water by the NWC.

This water may also pick up fecal matter from the River as well. But due to the low turbidity of the water and the natural filtering effect of the River as well as organic life that feast on this material, what little is left can be easily remove by the NWC Water processing.

So by practicing Waste Water Recycling, we basically cut out the long natural process for a quicker recovery of this precious commodity. Ditto too Rainwater Harvesting, as again as the water already falls from the skies, all that’s needed is an activated Carbon Filter, additives to remove Calcium Carbonate that causes hardness from the Water and an Ozone Sparging Unit to kill bacteria and make it potable and thus drinkable.

We already completed test-run of Electronic Waste Recycling under a NSWMA (National Solid Waste Management) E-Waste Collection Pilot Project in a bid to recover Rare Earth Metals before this happens as explained in my blog article entitled “NSWMA's E-Waste Collection Pilot Project - Why End-of-life Policy for E-Waste Collection needed in Jamaica”.

Therefore an islandwide Waste Water Recycling Project is needed to recycle Waster Water as well. Combined with Rainwater Harvesting, this would potentially alleviate the dependence on the NWC in much the same way Solar Panels help Jamaicans to get of JPS Co (Jamaica Public Service Company) Electricity Grid.

In the long term too, it would better insulate Jamaica against future droughts as Global Warming is now a global reality since 2014 as reported in my blog article entitled “JMA, @NASA and @NOAA say 2014 Hottest Year on Record - How Wageningen University revealed Humans causing Climate Change”.

Potentially too, the organic sludge can also be purified and used as fertilizer, as its rich in phosphorus and Nitrates.  Some of it could even be converged to BioGas and use to power the JUTC Buses, being a the composition of BioGas, which is rich in methane, is similar to Natural Gas as explained in my blog article entitled “GENeco Bio-Bus runs on Bio-Methane - How 10% of UK's Heating from Human Organic Waste Alone makes Shit worthwhile as GOJ Bio-Fuel Revolution needed”.

So the Agriculture sector could also benefit from lower cost Fertilizer, as we literally produce all the fertilizer we’ll ever need. All that's needed is a change in the National mindset and the removal of that psychological barrier against drinking recycled Waste Water, as Water is Life!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wisynco Group 1 MW Solar Power Plant - British partnership with Padero Solar UK for conquest of Africa and India

Looks like Solar Power Farms are the best bet to get away from the fluctuating Electricity prices from JPS Co (Jamaica Public Service Company) and guarantee Export growth.

Wisynco Group, has decided it's high time to push forward their plans to go solar as reported in the article “Wisynco To Commission Solar Farm”, published Wednesday September 23, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner

Wisynco Group are distributors of beverages such as Wata and Cran Wata, energy drink Boom, and its flagship soft drink, Bigga and maker of plastic party cups. So it's fitting that queue the song Whats in My cup, by Richie Loops.

The Solar Farm, billed as the largest of its size in Jamaica at with a power output of 1 Megawatt, will costs the company JA$200 million.

It'll be done in two (2) phases and will be built on an adjoining five (5) acres of land near to their warehouse and distribution outlet in Spanish Town, St Catherine, with 25% of the Solar panels being placed on the buildings as well.

So who is the contractor being tasked to build out the massive Solar Power plant? And why is Wisynco Group in need of so much Solar Power?

Wisynco Group 1 MW Solar Power Plant - British partnership with Padera Solar UK makes this possible

The project is being undertaken by contractors Padero Solar Jamaica as these plans had been advanced since December 2014 as reported in the article “WISYNCO Going Big On Solar”, published Wednesday December 24, 2014 by Christopher Serju, The Jamaica Gleaner

Padero Solar Jamaica is a subsidiary of the United Kingdom-based Padera Solar UK, with a penchant for such constructions in the United Kingdom and Europe!

They're confident that the partnership will bear fruit both for them as well as for Wisynco Group, to quote Managing Director of Padera Solar Jamaica: “I think renewable energy in the Caribbean is going to take off. Certainly, the price points would indicate that. The potential is here, but you need the expertise, you need the buying power to come here, and that's where we are. I think this is perfect time for us”.

The agreement, which was signed back then at an official signing ceremony at Friday December 19th 2015 at Lakes Pen, was hailed by the British High Commissioner to Jamaica David Fitton as a vote of confidence in the economic recovery, quote: “It's just generally a good news story that we're happy to support. I think it's a great start (and) it may be the start of something bigger for Jamaica. It's a sort of vote of confidence in the economy here getting back on track and things improving. So all around it looks like win-win. It's great.”

But with JPS Co Electricity Costs only just trending down due to the continued drop in the price of Oil due to OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Companies) beef with US fracking as explained in my blog article entitled “US$50 per barrel Oil from OPEC – Why Ford Motors is predicting a bright future for All-Electric Vehicles”.

So why invest in Solar if the cost of Electricity is still falling and may even go lower once the price of Oil falls below US$40 per barrel?

Wisynco Group following Grace Kennedy - Why Stable Low-price Electricity for conquest of Africa and Europe

Indeed he's right, as despite the harsh economic climate, the Wisynco Group’s investment in Solar Power indicates they are seeing a future export market for the Beverages and need to ramp up production.

After all, Beverages and plastic party cups are where the money is being made as noted in the article “Wisynco battles energy costs”, published Wednesday, June 13, 2012 BY PAUL RODGERS Business Editor, The Jamaica Observer:

1.      50% from Beverages
2.      70% from domestic sales

That future market no doubt loves their Wata and Cran Wata, energy drink  Boom, and its flagship soft drink, Bigga and are demanding more of the product. This may possibly be South America, the US of A, Africa and India.

After all, not all Jamaicans can afford Fruit Juices, often preferring to make their own. Plus Jamaicans population of 2.7 million cannot fuel the level of expansion that Wisynco Group needs. Export to these growing economies of South America, the US of A, Africa and India with a taste for natural product would seem a more logical decision to make.

Grace Kennedy is already expanding as their increased exports to Africa and Europe will soon account for 50% of their earnings as reported in the article “GK set to earn half its revenues overseas”, published Wednesday, April 22, 2015 BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter, The Jamaica Observer

Africa and India will be an even bigger market, as their populations are expected to grow the fastest as we head towards 9.7 billion people by the year 2050 according to the UNDP (United Nations Population Division) as reported in my blog article entitled “United Nations Population Division says 11.2 billion people by 2100 - Why Africa and India Population exploding as Insect Meat is coming”.  

Wisynco Group, eyeing this very same expanding market, has decided that Solar Power will give them the Electricity cost stability they need to be able to export to those markets.

To quote CEO of Wisynco Group Limited, Andrew Mahfood, this is truly a bet for the future, quote: “Our price of electricity this month will probably go (down from US 38-42 cents) to say, 24, US cents per kilowatt hour. When you factor in the costs of insurance and interest expense that you have to put to finance the solar, we expect our cost will be about US 16 cents for the first four and a half years. Once that cost is paid back, your only real cost is annual maintenance, which is minimal, and probably insurance on the panels and system. So it's a great investment”.

Summary of the Wisynco Group 1 Megawatt Solar Project - South America, the US of A, Africa and India Export expansion

So the pattern is clear for Wisynco Group for the next five (5) years.

The Wisynco Group is making a push to export into South America, the US of A, Africa and India. In order to do this they need stable power.

By building a 1 Megawatt Solar farm, their investing in a future expanding World population that'll definitely be thirsty for Bottled Water, drinks and those plastic cups to have their parties.

Folks, that’s what’s in their cup, Richie Loops style!

Here's the link: