Friday, March 25, 2011

Cannot receive Paypal Payments East Africa? Try these 5 Free alternatives

In East Africa, receiving money via paypal is not possible except Kenya which has finally joined South Africa on paypal's list of countries where sending and receiving money is possible. Because of paypal's bias, several local NGOs, companies and individuals cannot receive donations or payments for services or products via paypal's network, which is the most trusted way to pay and receive money online.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Send Free SMS from Gmail to Mobile Phones in East Africa

I often get asked by friends on the best website to use to send free SMS to Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania. Google Mail (GMail) has now made this possible.

Steps on how you can send free SMS to people in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

1. Get a Gmail Address - Sign up for a free Google email address here.

Gmail Send SMS to phone
2. After you have signed into your Gmail email address, you should now see the Send SMS box just above the chat box, as in photo on the left.

Gmail Send SMS to phone
**If you do see the Send SMS box, just skip a few steps below. Otherwise, go through them so you can help your friends enjoy this cool feature.

If you do not see the Send SMS feature in your Gmail address, do the following:

Gmail Settings
3. Sign in to your Gmail address. Look at the top left corner of your open email address and click on settings.

4. On the Settings page, locate and click on the Labs tab.

Gmail Labs tab
Enable SMS Gmail Labs
5. On the Labs page, search for SMS and click on the circles next to Enable to activate each of those items, as shown in the photo below.

Remember to click on Save Changes at the bottom of the Gmail Labs page.

After you have done that, you should now be able to see the Send SMS box above the chat box just below the links to your inbox.

Otherwise, type in the number of person you would like to send an SMS & press ENTER key.

Gmail SMS contact details box
6. You will get a small pop dialog box in the middle of your screen.

Fill in the name of the owner of the mobile number you sending SMS to. Select their country from the country list (extremely useful feature to send SMS to friends allover East Africa).

Remember to click on Save when you done.

Gmail SMS to phone chat-box
7. A small chat box will appear at the bottom corner of your GMail page. Go ahead and type away your SMS (keep it to 160 characters like a normal SMS).

****Challenges of the Gmail SMS to mobile phone:
- As sender, please include your full name. The SMS don't display  sender's name, only their email address.
- If you send the SMS in the local language (luganda, kiswahili...), the reply instructions on the mobile are still displayed in english. You may consider writing to the receiver in the same local language how to reply to your SMS.
- The number listed as the sender's name on MTN Uganda is 0902801159, which is most likely a non Ugandan network number, replying or calling it could cost more than local telecom rates.
- There is no delivery report system in Gmail that an SMS has been delivered to the phone you sent it to.

Supported East African carriers
Tanzania (+255): Vodacom
Uganda (+256): Orange (0790), MTN (0772, 0782), Uganda Telecom (0712)
Kenya (+254): AirtelorangeSafaricom

Tips about the Gmail SMS to mobile phone:
1. Each Gmail user has 50 free SMS. Every time you send an SMS your SMS quote decreases by 1.
Every time you receive an SMS message in Chat (for example when a phone user replies to one of your messages) your quota increases by five, up to a maximum of 50.
2. To buy more GMail SMS, send an SMS to your mobile phone and reply to it several times. Each time you reply to your SMS using your mobile phone, your GMail SMS count goes up by 5 SMS.

3. To block SMS from Gmail user, just reply to the message with the word 'BLOCK'. If you change your mind about the user and would like to receive Gmail SMS from same user, reply with the phrase 'UNBLOCK' to the phone number from which the message was sent.
Get more help from Google Support

Use this free service sensibly. Please do not spam your friends with wedding meetings SMS, death of your mother SMS or that you have no money.

Animation Contest - Use animations to explain your ideas

There is an ICT4D comic contest running at the great knowledge sharing platform which am sure you would want to participate in.

All you have to do is to write a script a man and a woman (or boy and girl) walk onto the scene. He walks bent forward (as if he is burdened by something).
She says: "What's the matter?"
He says (scratching his head): "[xxxxx]"
She says: "[yyyyy]"
He jumps up and down.
They walk away

Here is the link to the comic contest. The recent entries should be a cue enough for you to be as creative as you can be.

I went a step further and created a free account at the GoAnimate website. Their help in getting you come up with your first animation is great - you do not need to be an animation designer to do this. Here is my animation out of their training.

Am going to use create animations like this in future using their platform to explain my ideas. John ICT cartoon by kjohnah

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Huawei e1752 on eeepc running ubuntu 9.10 netbook remix

At the beginning of this week, we got a new Orange internet everywhere modem from Orange Uganda. The company has slashed modem prices from UGX 110,000/= down to UGX 99,000/=. You are also given a choice between the huawei ball modem with 2GB valid for 4months or the the new huawei e1752 with 1GB. (both modems are same price, ugx. 99,000 though Orange website is yet to reflect the change in prices)

The huawei e1752 does not work out of the box easily with linux. The post in the ubuntu forums, especially a post by birkopf, did the trick.

Here are the steps on how i got the huawei e1752 modem working on the eeepc running ubuntu 9.10 netbook remix:

1. Install usb-modeswitch (Navigate to System > Synaptic Package Manager. Search for usb-modeswitch & mark it for installation). You can also download the usb-modeswitch .deb file here.

2. Right-click on network manager icon and click on "Edit connections". Select "Mobile Broadband" tab, if you this install guide doesn't pop up on your computer. Go through the steps as demonstrated here on the Orange website.
You don't need to add DNS server numbers manually.
3. Open the terminal & issue this command.
$ sudo nano /etc/usb_modeswitch.conf $ {enter your password}

4. When the file opens, add this info to the file:

# Huawei E1752
# Contributor:

DefaultVendor= 0x12d1
DefaultProduct= 0x1446

TargetVendor= 0x12d1
TargetProdct= 0x1001

MessageEndpoint= 0x01

MessageContent= "55534243000000000000000000000011060000000000000000000000000000"

Press Ctrl+X to quit. Press "Y" and "Enter" to save your work.

5. In terminal:

$ sudo nano /etc/udev/rules.d/usb_modeswitch.rules $ {enter your admin password}

Add the following code to the last part of the file. Ctrl+X to exit. Press "y" to agree to the changes & press "Enter" key.


ATTRS{idVendor}==”12d1″, ATTRS{idProduct}==”1446″, RUN+=”/usr/sbin/usb_modeswitch”

Use this command in the terminal whenever you plug your modem onto your eeepc.

$ sudo usb_modeswitch
$ {enter your root password}

You should notice your network manager icon connecting to the Internet.


Ubuntu 10.04 users: Use the Orange uganda linux instructions to setup a connection with the e1752 modem. It works fine.