hacking, Internet, Life, social media

I am an addict

My phone’s vibration signaling new whatsapp messages has been rattling my office work station all day, I think I had like 13 mentions on twitter. Occasionally I heard the familiar BBM new message and PING sounds. I also think I got like 10 email messages and 16 google+ alerts. I actually can now differentiate what message I get and from what application on my phone based on the tone and length of the vibration.
What the heck is special about this?
Ever heard of phantom limb syndrome experienced by amputees? mine is the case of phantom alerts. My phone is not with me right now, its somewhere in my house some few miles away from here and to make matters worse, its actually switched off.
Hello, my name is Pystar and I am an addict.

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hacking, hardware, Life, programming

Simple power hack

Everyone has experienced this, that heart stopping moment when your computer froze and stoped responding to anything. You then reached for that quick solution to the perceived problem i.e. pressing the power button. I did exactly that and my laptop went nuts, it would blink for like 2 seconds, die and keep repeating the process.
I did a harried quick read online and online gurus said I had to press down my power button 10 times and then hold down for more than 30 seconds on the 11th press to reset the power cycle. Well I did that and…. surprise, it did not work. Well I had to put an object on the power button to hold it down for more than 2 hours and glory be to God, it started working again. Now my blood pressure can return to normal.

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business, hacker spaces, hacking, Internet, Technology & Startups

Why tech startups should not move to Yaba

For all those sitting in traffic right now.
– JASON FRIED

The above quote is from “Remote – office not required”, the latest book from the guys at 37signals. I guess having just finished reading the book and the intense debate that went on here birthed this post.

WHY TECH STARTUPS SHOULD NOT MOVE TO YABA OR ANYWHERE AT ALL.

1. Work doesnt happen at work: We all are guilty of goofing off on facebook, twitter, youtube et.al instead of working. Some employers even go as far as installing blocks to the Internet on office systems (this didnt stop certain adventurous individuals from bypassing it though *cough, cough*).

Programmers, designers etc produce their best work when they are inspired and in a state of flow and this has a 1% chance of ever happening in the office. IM’s, endless emails, co-workers stopping in for mindless chitchat, purposeless staff meetings etc would ensure this never happens.

Inspiration can’t be called up on demand and ordered to deliver. There are days, weeks and even months when I don’t create anything, when looking at code hurts my eyes but oh boy when the inspiration hits, my heart rate would go up, insomniac mode comes on and I just keep at it till its all out of my head. So being forced into a cubicle farm and ordered to produce stuff would be pure torture and a waste of time. Back to the warm embrace of fair lady twitter.

2. Traffic, traffic and more traffic: “Commuting is associated with increase rate of obesity, insomnia, stress, neck and back pain, high blood pressure, heart attacks, depression and even divorce” Study. You wake up very early and jump into the jungle called Lagos to fight the beast called “go slow” and after some hours, bloodied and sweaty you slay the beast and arrive in your office. How long do you think you would need to settle down and then get into that state of mind when you can produce some quality work? driving or commuting via public transport in Lagos can be a really hellish experience, just imagine if your daily commute was a maximum 5 seconds from your bed to your home office?

You could wake up 5am get some stuff done in 1-2 hours, eat, exercise and even go back for a short nap. This is time you would have wasted in traffic. If you live in the Yaba axis, good for you and best of luck if you commute from Okokomaiko to yaba everyday, you would die!!!

3. Yaba isnt the Mecca of Nigerian tech startups: Yaba, Yaba, Yaba, left, right and center (pun intended), thats all you hear. How Yaba is the place to be if you are into technology in Lagos, Nigeria. How CCHUB is the home of all the code ninjas and picasso-ish designers in Lagos. Talent has no hotspot, even infrastructure, i.e. uninterrupted power and fast internet speed found in cchub (my generator, Inverter and Swift modem aka The holy Trinity) and the mainone cable being laid in Yaba doesnt offer a bigger offset to the downside of a long commute.

As an employer, restricting your hiring to a small geographic region means you’re not getting the best people you can. As an employee, restricting your job search to companies within a reasonable commute means you’re not working for the best company you can.

4. Magic doesn’t always happen when we are in the same room location: People who would support the great Yaba march would say that there is strength in the collection of tech heads present in Yaba, there are talent hubs in Yaba (CCHUB, IDEAHUB, UNILAG, YABATECH et. al and other tech companies) etc. Not that I dispute that fact but at the same time we dont need to all move to Yaba to harness these resources.

There are ways we could all collaborate without necessarily being present in Yaba: e.g. github, bitbucket dropbox, IRC, skype, screen sharing, google groups, etc the list is endless.

Some people find the very idea of living in Lagos with her attendant madness reprehensible. Does that mean that those people would miss out on the “gold rush”?

***Original artwork by Mike Rohde***

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hacking, Internet, programming, Technology & Startups

#2,000 and 10 minutes later

I had a domain name I wanted to hock so I decided to host a static site with purchase instructions for would be buyers and point the domain name to it. It made no sense paying for hosting so I decided to use github pages.

Github pages is a way of hosting static HTML pages on github and there are two types:

(1) User pages
(2) Project pages

Steps to hosting User pages on github.
1. Go to github.com/new and create a new repository i.e. assuming you are already a github user.
2. For the repository name enter “[githubusername].github.io”
3. Make the repository pulic
4. Check “Initialize this repository with a README”
5. Click Create Repository
Now it gets technical. Please note that the following instructions are for UNIX based OSes not Windows.
Open your Terminal and enter the following commands:
$ mkdir /path/to/source-code
$ cd /path/to/source-code
Download your newly created GitHub repository and go inside it.
$ git clone https://github.com/username/username.github.io.git
$ cd username.github.io
6. Now create your static website in html inside the git directory that you are in.
$ git add . (This command would add all the tracked files in your working directory into the staging area awaiting commit)
$ git commit -m “1st static website commit” (All your files are now committed to the HEAD of your git directory)
$ git push origin master (This command pushes your local repository containing your local website to the remote repository on github)
After 10 minutes your should be able to view your static website at http://username.github.io/

P.S: if you want to host your static website with a custom domain, “CD” into your directory and run:
$ touch CNAME
Edit the CNAME file with any text editor of your choice and enter the domain name you might have already registered [1] and save it. Re-run the above commands and if successful, you would be able to also view your static website at http://yourcustomdomain.com. [2]

Notes:
1. Registering a dot com should not cost more than #2,000/year.
2. My static website hosted on github pages can be found at http://hacki.ng. Offers are welcome.

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critic, funding, hacking, Life, Technology & Startups

Has the bubble burst? developed a leak? or was there even a bubble at all?

“Today, across my network of companies, I directly and indirectly employ around 200 people. 90% under 27. 150 or so in Lagos but hope by 2015 that number reaches at LEAST 1,000.”
May 7, 2013.

“Today I had to fire retire 13 people.”
October 13, 2013.

What happened in the time between the 2 posts?

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critic, hacking, Life, Technology & Startups

Did Blackberry just commit Hara-kiri?

Hara-kiri
noun: hara-kiri, noun:harakiri
1. Ritual suicide by disembowelment with a sword, formerly practised in Japan by samurai as an honourable alternative to disgrace or execution.

I strongly feel Blackberry committed hara-kiri by releasing BBM as a free app on both iOS and Google Play app stores. Correct me if I am wrong but the reason why 99.9% of people got a Blackberry phone was because of BBM [1] while the remaining 0.01% are the weirdo’s who got it for push email et.al. Blackberry phones are whack, battery life atrocious, their app store is filled with crappy applications.
Why did Blackberry give away their crown jewel (i.e. BBM)? to remain relevant in the mobile space? too late. Back in 2009, it would have been a stroke of genius.
Now that BBM is available for both iOS and Android, would any sane person actually go to a store to pick up a Blackberry phone? NO!!!
If the release of the iPhone dug the grave site for Blackberry and Android put her in a coffin, then the release of BBM just said the final rites and poured sand over the coffin in the grave.
Even if Blackberry wants to transition into a SAAS company and somehow charge for BBM via TELCO’s, would anyone actually pay to use BBM when whatsapp and its ilk are free?

Notes:
1. The sole reason for my short lived romance with a Blackberry phone was basically because of BBM. I was tired of people asking me for my PIN. (covers face in shame).

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critic, hacking, programming, Technology & Startups

You dont know anything

buffer

https://mobile.twitter.com/pystar/statuses/6391239737868289

Look at the timestamp of the image above. I tweeted it in 2010 after reading glowing reviews of the bufferapp on Hackernews, I just couldn’t get why someone would pay just to schedule posts on twitter (they only supported twitter back then). Joel responded to my tweet with optimism about the app. 3 years on, look at the tweet below:

buffer2

This goes to show that we don’t really know sh*t about anything. If you have an idea you think would work, run with it first. Let your target audience accept or reject it and don’t place the power of life and death in the crucible of some so-called expert who probably doesn’t know sh*t about anything,

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funding, hacking, programming, Technology & Startups

Building your startup on the side is freaking hard.

My typical day: I wake up by 5am every weekday, go through my daily ritual and leave my house by 6am to begin my 10 km commute to work (I am a “factory worker”) to get to work almost an hour later [1]. My factory shift resumes by 8am and ends by 6pm officially although this might extend into late hours of the night on some occasions. I do not work on anything IT related (which factory worker does?) so none of the hours I spend at work contributes in any way to gaining startup experience. After work I start another 10 km commute back home which can extend for almost 3 hours most times no thanks to the crazy traffic on Lagos roads, so I get home earliest by 8pm on a very good day. Most days I am so tired I hardly can code or do anything substantial before crashing on my bed. Most times the stuff I can do are only on weekends when I have some few hours to concentrate.

Building a startup on the side is freaking hard, scratch that, extremely hard. Some people do it but it’s no easy feat.

Pros of building your startup on the side.

1. Focus: when you have so few hours to work on your startup per day you tend to focus and prioritize on what is really important and what isn’t. I work an average of 50 hours at my day job and the few hours left have to be spent with laser focus or I might just wake up and discover that 6 months have passed by. [2]

2. Funding: Most Nigerian founders complain about not having funding for their startup ideas so having a day job will actually allow you to funnel part of your salary into your startup till it starts generating income of its own. I have a relatively well paid factory job so I can bootstrap for now until I start generating real income.

3. Work experience: If you are lucky enough to have a day job where you are gaining skills and experiences that are directly transferable into you startup, all well and good but if you are not like I am, you can learn people management or if your day job is so bad, you would learn how not to run a business.

Cons of building your startup on the side.

1. Burnout: Working nothing less than 50 hours per week on a day job for some years can have a terrible toll on you, your health and motivation to work on your startup. Most times I am so tired I can’t do anything reasonable during the week. This directly leads to my second point.

2. Speed: Most times I imagine and wish that the hours I spend on my day job could be funneled into my side project. I imagine where it would be by now. My startup might look slow and lethargic due to the fact that I barely even have time to work on it.

3. Burning hunger: Having a well paid job can actually make you lazy and take away the hunger to having a successful startup. If on the 24th of every month a substantial amount falls into your bank account with a loud bang, putting your all into a startup might not be topmost on your list of priorities. You might wake up after some years to discover that you have become a boring old fart with a receding hairline and your startup, still a pipe dream.

P.S: Thanks to this article on joel.is for inspiring this post.

Notes:

1. I get most idea’s for these blog posts and write them in my head while driving on my long commute to work. It’s a wonder I haven’t hit anyone yet.

2. Talking about focus: I developed my infamous unofficial nairaland API in less than 20 minutes in a frenzied coding spree.

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hacking, programming

How I “hacked” up a Nairaland API and got banned

 

Disclaimer: I was bored, alone at home and this nairaland.com post inspired the hack.

After reading the nairaland post, I actually started thinking if it was possible to actually design an API that programmers could use to extend the capabilities of nairaland.com like logging in, creating new topics, consuming nairaland data and other common functions programmatically. I fired up my text editor and started trying to reverse engineer the basic nairaland functions I wanted.  The awesome PYTHON Requests library came in very useful and after some few minutes my API could login, logout, create a new topic on any board, edit user profile (i.e. change email and password).

I guess my posts to nairaland during my build process of the API was suspicious due to the fast rate it was coming in and the random boards I was posting to as I was promptly banned from the site.

REASONS WHY NAIRALAND IS ANTI-API

1. PAGEVIEWS, PAGEVIEWS and PAGEVIEWS: Since nairaland started selling self serve adverts, one of the selling points it uses to woo advertisers is the number of pageviews/visitors or eyeballs it has. I think the reason why the nairaland overlords are anti-API is because they feel once users start consuming nairaland without actually visiting the site, pageviews would drop and also advertising revenue (Which is a rather myopic view).

2. SPAM: Nairaland.com currently has 1,005,971 users. Although this is a debatable figure as it is known that most users have more than 1 user account on the site. Most do it to advertise goods and services, create topics etc. Some people with ulterior motives once they get a live working API might start to automate posting, trolling and most likely drown the site in spammy topics etc.

3. Nairaland is resistant to change: It took nairaland almost 7 years of existence to move from simple machine forums to a home grown solution done in Python (cherrypy and MySQL) to be exact. The UI of the site might hurt sensitive eyes and this wont change any time soon.  If the most basic basic things wont change for the better, why would the nairaland overlords embrace an API?

The above reasons are just speculations on my part.

Update: I have since been unbanned by nairaland, but since I am no longer bored and idle, the API might not be receiving any developer love from me any time soon as I am working on more interesting stuff. In case you are interested, you can check it out here: https://github.com/aitoehigie/unofficial-nairalandAPI (pls note: use at your own risk of being banned too).

Latest Update: I posted a link to this post on the programming board of nairaland to see if I could get some takers on the API but before I could blink an eyelid, I was immediately banned again from the site and the link was instantly deleted by the mods,which goes to prove my above theories to be 100% correct.

Pystar

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