hacking, Internet, programming

Swift 4G LTE unlimited plan and a simple cronjob

As a subscriber to Swift’s unlimited data plan which offers free unlimited Internet access from 12am to 6am and also having a full time day job, I kind of noticed that I wasn’t “milking” the free segment as much as I could because most times I would be asleep during that period.
So I decided to write a simple cronjob (the cronjob calls up my download manager already preloaded with my download list at 12am, downloads all the items on the list and shuts down at 6am).
Voila!!! I have my money’s worth.

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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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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, 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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critic, hacking, programming, Uncategorized

Why the “noise makers” among us can’t code.

Let me tell you a true  story: I would rather spend time coding than going to a tech meetup https://twitter.com/pystar/status/227405814921568256, [1] I hate the very thought of marketing (I probably just  hate the fact that my sales pitch might get turned down). I guess that’s why my start-up hasn’t  “blown” and that of “noise makers” [2] among us, is a tale in the opposite.  But the thing is this, I could probably code rings around these “noise makers”, who probably cant write a line of code at gunpoint, but their start ups actually make me feel inadequate in a perverse way.

Unless you are building a deep Comp.Sci based start up like Google, you probably don’t need to focus so much on your code but invest heavily on marketing. Most problems here in a 3rd world country like Nigeria that can become viable start ups actually don’t require deep science but heavy marketing and legwork to enlighten people and also give them a reason to actually use your product. [3]

Most good programmers I happen to know are introverted to a certain degree and prefer coding than actually going out and meeting people, so how do you then market your product if you don’t go out? Social media doesn’t count.

Doing a quick and dirty survey of the most “up in your face” start ups here in Nigeria will actually tell you that they are started by non coding techies (if I can safely call them that)[4]. These guys are “noise makers” and thats why their start ups do well. These guys can’t code and probably are not interested in learning how to code because coding is a long tedious and lonely task (unless you are pair programming) and the emotional make up of these “noise makers” wont just allow them to do this successfully.

I have discovered that even if you write the best code with the most bleeding edge frameworks and languages and do absolutely no marketing or “noise making”, no one will beat a path to your doorstop begging for the rare privilege to use your app.

After thinking alot about this “phenomenon”, I can actually say that I agree absolutely with MrBankole when he penned http://techloy.com/2012/07/10/im-ceo-bitch/ . How does some techie who probably has a name for his laptop [5] succeed in marketing his start up? The most successful route I can figure out is getting a “noise maker” as a co founder. That way you get the best of  both worlds.[6]

Notes

[1] Probably the reason why I have never been to any tech meetup (apart the 1st ever barcamp held in lagos “09”) and most probably wont in the nearest future is because of my hectic factory day job schedule and organizers of such meetups refusing to fix events on weekends.

[2] The phrase “Noise maker” as is used in this blog post is actually used in a positive context. A noise maker is someone who is a natural extrovert, a born marketer, with little or no technical chops, i.e. someone in the mould of Steve Jobs.

[3] Imagine a start up with a Seun Osewa and Jason Njoku combo? yeah I can, in my dreams.

[4] Bloovue, dealdey, IrokoTv, Jobberman, wakanow all have non coding founders. (Correct me if I am wrong)

[5] I am guilty as charged.

[6] Don’t do this alone, collaborate, collaborate. Get someone who can pick your slack and is strong where you are weak.

Steve Wozniak (awesome technical chops) + Steve Jobs (most prolific tech marketer ever) == Apple(World domination)

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