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Showing posts from May, 2020

Third mobile operator in Trinidad and Tobago

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CWC Insights sent out a Post-Lockdown Survey-Trinidad today and the last question asked,
Based on your experience during the quarantine, would you consider a new mobile service provider?
I did a Google search to see if there was any new info related to a 3rd mobile operator in Trinidad and Tobago. The only info I came across was this bit from wikipedia
"FLOW plans to add a mobile network to their portfolio in Trinidad. The company applied to the governing telecoms body, Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT), in 2014 for a mobile license. To date, however, FLOW has yet to receive a license despite being named as the recipient of the license being tendered by TATT. They plan to build an LTE network as well despite incumbents, bmobile (TSTT) and Digicel, having well established mobile customer bases."
I will update this blog post with any new info that I get as time goes by.


RFID number plates in Trinidad and Tobago

There is a plan to introduce RFID number plates in Trinidad and Tobago. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. Radio waves are used to read data stored on a chip. These chips are in the form of tags that are attached to objects. Like a vehicle for example. The data and communications is encrypted and the tags are designed to be difficult to tamper with.
EVI is another term that you will come across. This stands for electronic vehicle identification. I imagine the roadways will be equiped with readers so that the police can easily locate particular vehicles involved in crime. What happens if the plates are removed? Will the system be able to identify vehicles without chips or invalid chips or switched chips? These are situations that should be considered and provided for.
From searching Google, it does not appear that many countries are using RFID vehicle tags. Is it cost outweighs the benefits? In this article, China wants to track citizens’ cars with mandatory RFID chips, it s…

Getting older

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This month I turn 40 years old. Child of the 80s. Age brings wisdom. We can choose to make use of this wisdom and we should. I don't feel old. I do feel like a young adult. Often times we hear the term "grow up" but is this a worthwhile pursuit considering the bad state of many parts that are managed by "grown ups". I want to keep the passion, learning, exploring and energy of the younger me.
According to what I read, I am borderline belonging to the millennial generation. Millennials were born between 1980 and 1994. We are currently between 26 and 40 years old. I also read that the song Call Me by Blondie was popular during the week I was born. Let me hang up a disco ball and grab a pair of bell bottom pants, thank you.
I don't do anything special to celebrate my birthday. If I happen to buy something special around my birthday, I would say that it was for my birthday. I have no cake but I have muffin mix to just add water and bake. I have no cupcake cups bu…

FOSS - Free and Open Source Software in Trinidad and Tobago

The free part and cost benefits of FOSS is very attractive but we shouldn't forget the open source part of this where we can review the code and contribute modifications. FOSS are distribured under different licenses, for example, there is GNU GPL (General Public License) and BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution).
Our latest national ICT plan 2018 - 2022 makes no mention of open source. I am very surprised at this. I am contacting iGovTT to see if they have plans for FOSS locally. Over the years we have had several national ICT plans, Fast Foward, SmarTT and Fast Forward II. The SmarTT plan (2014 - 2018) had a section on FLOSS and states, "Research and position papers have already been developed at the National ICT Company Ltd. (iGovTT) to aid in developing policies for FLOSS uptake."
There have been attempts over the years to develop a position on FOSS by the government. In my research, I found, The role of Open Source Software in Trinidad and Tobago (2006 – 2008) A Consul…

Our Silicon Valley in Trinidad and Tobago

What is Silicon Valley? This is the home to many startup and global tech companies in California, United States. Words like disruption and innovation are often used when talking about Silicon Valley. The name came from the large number of silicon chip innovators that were based in the region.
What is our tech startup culture like in Trinidad and Tobago? Where is the innovation? What are we missing? How does this fit with our economic diversification goals? I would say that startups and innovation are limited because we have mainly risk-adverse investors. There is limited startup funding including venture capital and angel investors. We have become complacent because of our dependence on the energy sector. Tech and tech startups would be pivotal to our diversification efforts.
In this article, Tamana Intech Park marries ecology with technology, then minister Maxie Cuffie says, “This can be our Silicon Valley – where creation and collaboration can produce new high-paying sustainable caree…

My years at Morehouse College, Atlanta, 1998 to 2002

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At that time there was less than half the government scholarships that we have now. Added to that there was no GATE programme. A full SAT scholarship to Morehouse College in Atlanta was my ticket to a tertiary education.
Missing home and my mom was the hardest part. I cried on the flight to Miami. I was not on cloud nine from the opportunities that could come from this because I was filled with sadness. I set my goal as finishing this degree and made that my focus.
I scored a perfect 800 on the SAT Maths exam, got all As in Dr Ng's tough courses and graduated with the 3rd highest GPA among the 400+ class of 2002 at Morehouse. No problems there. I am bright and naturally gifted.
Morehouse college is a liberal arts HBCU, historically black colleges and university. Martin Luther King Jr is among the many noted past students. Two years before I started, Atlanta had hosted the 1996 Olympics. In my last year I remember taking walks from Morehouse to downtown Olympic Park.

Fun for me was wal…

Internet and underserved areas in Trinidad and Tobago

The first thing we need to do is know the underserved areas in Trinidad and Tobago. We know Flow does not cover Tobago for example. I contacted TATT as follows, does TATT have info for each ISP stating how much of the population that ISP covers. Trying to determine the underserved areas in Trinidad and Tobago. I am also contacting iGovTT and Ministry of Planning with the same question.
I am thinking that TATT should have these numbers and maps as they are developing a National Broadband Strategy and Plan. We also have related projects in this space like 3rd mobile provider, IXPs (internet exchange points), universal service fund, digital divide survey, and white space spectrum usage.
The last digital divide survey was in 2013. We are due for a new one. The digital divide survey has as one of its goals to indentify underserved areas and groups. I think we should include ISP population coverage maps in futute surveys. Wrt to white space spectrum usage, the update I got recently was that t…

Dreaming of Tobago

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The TTAL (Tobago Tourism Agency Limited) has launched their #DreamingOfTobago campaign. We are being encouraged to share our memories and dreams of Tobago until we can travel again, using that hashtag. What does Tobago mean to me? For me Tobago is a getaway. A vacation. A time to relax. A reason to let go of my problems and worries. A time to reflect. A time to dream of a good future.
When I was an office worker, I would look forward to taking vacation and taking the ferry to Tobago. The ferry is less expensive than taking the plane and is an adventure in itself. As the ferry departs we see the waterfront cityscape and the port area then through the bocas passage. The 3 hour ferry ride is enough time to listen to music, eat some good food, take a nap, and write a blog post.
Walking is my favourite thing to do. When I stayed in my uncle's place in Sou Sou lands, I would get up as soon as the sun started and I set out to walk. My walking has taken me to Crown Point, Grange Bay, Little…

Daily Coding Problem 10MAY2020

I am subscribed to dailycodingproblem.com. From time to time I will share problems I attempt and have a discussion around it. My solution might have bugs or might not be the most efficient but it would be my attempt. Feel free to criticise.
Today's problem I got
This problem was asked by Jane Street.
cons(a, b) constructs a pair, and car(pair) and cdr(pair) returns the first and last element of that pair. For example, car(cons(3, 4)) returns 3, and cdr(cons(3, 4)) returns 4.
Given this implementation of cons:
def cons(a, b):     def pair(f):         return f(a, b)     return pair
Implement car and cdr.
This was my solution in javascript. I am using the Javascript for Android app.
function cons(a,b) {   return function pair(f) {     return f(a,b);   } }
function car(pair) {   function first(a,b) {     return a;   }   return pair(first); }
function cdr(pair) {   function last(a,b) {     return b;   }   return pair(last); }
console.log(car(cons(3,4))); console.log(cdr(cons(3,4)));
The language they used looks lik…

Cloud Computing in Trinidad and Tobago

What is cloud computing? It is the delivery of computer services over the internet. Think servers, networking, applications and such provisioned as needed by a provider. The cloud here is the internet. The cloud symbol started from flowcharts to represent networks where we did not know about the internal workings.
In March 2020, the government published their Cloud Computing Consideration Policy. In the introduction it states that the public service must become agile, responsive and cost efficient. Also, the provision of secure, reliable, cost effective ICT solutions is a potent instrument of good governance. After reading this document, I would say that the government has a good enough grasp of what is needed to make use of cloud services.
Cloud services are usually pay as you go. There are 3 delivery models and they are IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as as Service). Then there is public cloud, private cloud and hybrid. For some data…

Things to consider as a tech professional

I have been working in tech for the past 18 years since graduating from university. In this blog post I am sharing some things that I think tech professionals should consider in their career journey, especially recent graduates.
Mentors
A mentor would be an experienced and trusted adviser. I don't see much emphasis on this in Trinidad and Tobago. Is work overwhelming you? Are you unsure about your next career move? Dealing with imposter syndrome? These are examples of questions you can discuss with a mentor. There are many online articles that can help with how to choose a good mentor?
Forums
Forums and groups are great channels for knowledge sharing and discussion. Discussions on tech trends, tech news, tech events and the likes. Maybe you have a great idea and you want to share it. Maybe you are stumped by a coding bug. Maybe you want to help others. We have a handful of tech related forums in Trinidad and Tobago. Think also about starting your own forum. Tech changes quickly and of…

IoT examples for Trinidad and Tobago

IoT stands for internet of things. It is about connecting devices. These devices can collect data and perform actions. We are talking use of sensors, devices, internet, analytics, big data and such. For me, an easy way to understand IoT is by using examples. As such, I am presenting 5 examples of how IoT could be used locally.
Flood alert sensors
A big problem we have in Trinidad and especially in the rainy season is flooding. Flood alert sensors could monitor the weather and water levels and provide location specific alerts. Sensors and analysis could also be used to notify us when and where to clean particular water courses.
Location of buses
If we knew when the next bus was coming or how soon we missed the last bus, we would be more inclined to take the bus. We can also monitor the number of persons at bus stops on the route. Over time with enough data the bus company could do some demand analysis and apply to scheduling and route management.
Connected guest books
What are tourists sayin…

Daily Coding Problem 7MAY2020

I am subscribed to dailycodingproblem.com. From time to time I will share problems I attempt and have a discussion around it. My solution might have bugs or might not be the most efficient but it would be my attempt. Feel free to criticise.
Today's problem I got
This problem was asked by Uber.
Given an array of integers, return a new array such that each element at index i of the new array is the product of all the numbers in the original array except the one at i.
For example, if our input was [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], the expected output would be [120, 60, 40, 30, 24]. If our input was [3, 2, 1], the expected output would be [2, 3, 6].
Follow-up: what if you can't use division?
This was my solution in javascript. I am using the Javascript for Android app.
var numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]; var total = numbers.reduce( (a,b) => a * b );
for (i = 0; i < numbers.length; i++) console.log(divide(total, numbers[i]));
function divide (a, b) { if (a == 0) return 0; if (a < b) return 0; if (b <= a) …

Daily Coding Problem 6MAY2020

I am subscribed to dailycodingproblem.com. From time to time I will share problems I attempt and have a discussion around it. My solution might have bugs or might not be the most efficient but it would be my attempt. Feel free to criticise.
Today's problem I got
This problem was recently asked by Google.
Given a list of numbers and a number k, return whether any two numbers from the list add up to k.
For example, given [10, 15, 3, 7] and k of 17, return true since 10 + 7 is 17.
Bonus: Can you do this in one pass?
This was my solution in javascript. I am using the Javascript for Android app
var map = {10:1,15:1,3:1,7:1}; var k=17; var result=false;
for (m in map) { if (map[k-m] == 1) result=true; }
console.log(result);
I used a hash table (problem did not specify that an array had to be used) where the values were the keys and made one pass, looking for the difference. I would say the time complexity of this solution is O(n).

5 Things from our National ICT Plan Trinidad and Tobago

Today I decided to revisit our national ICT plan. I like action items, due dates and responsible person. It is easy to visualise what is going to be done. There are no due dates in the plan but there is a programmes and projects listing that identifies the strategy, programme / project, and driving agency.
I have picked out 5 things that catches my attention and that I will follow up with the driving agency to see where this has reached. I encourage you to also look at the plan and see what you can make of it, especially if you are working in tech.
eForums
Under headline targets, there is an item for, 50,000 users participate in eForums moderated by Government. There is no entry in the programmes and projects listing. I messaged iGovTT on facebook about this. I imagine this to be very useful and a good way of having discussion and getting feedback.
Net neutrality
The global hype around net neutrality has subsided but that does not take away from its importance. I support net neutrality. Ne…

Digital currencies in Trinidad and Tobago

Let me start by defining commonly talked about terms in this space. Digital (or virtual) currency is currency available only in digital form and not physical form. Cryptocurrency is a type of digital currency where cryptography is used to create, secure and verify the currency independently of a central bank. Blockchain is a decentralised and distributed digital ledger. Bitcoin is one of the available cryptocurrency. Fintech or financial technology is the use of tech to improve and automate financial services
In January 2019, the Central Bank of TT issued a joint public advisory on virtual currency. It states that digital currency is not legal tender in Trinidad and Tobago and providers are not regulated or supervised here. In early 2018 the central bank stated their position on fintech and virtual currency and in that stated that, the bank does not consider the establishment of a Central Bank digital currency a priority at this time but will continue to study developments in this area…

Using Estonia as an example in Trinidad and Tobago

I read in today's papers that our PM wants a key identity card system like that used in Estonia. Additionally it was stated that we are not using technology like other countries.
We in Trinidad have a national id card. This is a photo id. The key identity card system in Estonia uses chip cards and e-identity. We can easily convert our photo ids to chip cards but that is only the beginning and a small part of what is needed to be done.
What we then need are systems. Up to date systems. Systems that are talking to each other. Paperless and online systems. So for example, if I submit my id card for the relief grant, the information that I would have had to enter in a form would instead be pulled from the available systems and an algorithm would determine if I qualify or not and the money would be wired to the account on my file.
How do we have all these systems? We need leadership that says we want these systems. We want these improvements. We are going to invest in systems and technolo…

My Roadmap to Recovery submissions

Sharing my submissions to roadmap2recovery.gov.tt
Enabling Environment/Recommendation
I would like to see "work from home" become the new normal. The excuse the ministry told me in the past was, this is not policy and there is nothing we can do. Look how quickly things were put in place for work from home during the lockdown. We really had no excuses. There are many benefits for "work from home".
Agriculture/Recommendation
Have we considered the benefits of smart farming? What components of smart farming can we use? Let research staff at Min of Agriculture tell us where tech can be used in agriculture.
Other/Assistance & Donor Support
We could develop an easy text to donate system. This would be very accessible. NGOs sign up and are vetted and given a code that the public can text to. Charity is vital in times of recovery.
Other/International Technical Cooperation
We are currently working on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. I am thinking that these goals like goal…

Open Data in Trinidad and Tobago

What is open data? Open data is free to use and share and made available in standard formats that facilitate this. The data is available without legal, technological or social restrictions.
Why open data? At a high level we are looking at ease and facilitating data driven decision making and its benefits. We looking at accountability, efficiency and innovation. The open knowledge foundation does a good job of answering this question in their open data handbook under why open data?
As a coder and web developer, I am particularly interested in the apps, visualisations and infographics, among other things, that can be created. At the recently held GDG POS firebase study jam I saw examples of how the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Health covid-19 stats could be nicely graphed and filtered. That data had to be scraped and manually entered instead of being accessible in an open data format.
We are ranked 67th (out of 94) in the 2016 Global Open Data Index with a score of 21%. That is pretty d…

Laptops for students in Trinidad and Tobago

The idea that every student, including primary and secondary school, should have a working laptop and access to the internet is a good one in my mind. When a student has access to a laptop and internet, the entire family can also have this access.
I see two big questions arise when we look at this. The cost to put measures in place to facilitate this and the usefulness of this. We can reduce cost if we focus on those who cannot afford. We can make this useful by making tech part of the teaching and homework process.
The idea is a good one. The benefits are numerous. But we have the power to make this a success or failure. The idea is not a bad one because we went about it the wrong way and then we can try again. We are in a good position now because we have tried one laptop per student in secondary school and then laptops in labs. We should be able to identify the problems and ways it could be done better. We can learn from other countries. We can learn from this pandemic and lockdown w…