Thursday, 29 March 2018

Q and A with ICT Association of Saint Lucia

When was the ICT Association of St. Lucia formed and what prompted this?

The ICT Association of Saint Lucia (SLICTA) was incorporated on 01-Nov-2011 as a not for profit.

The formation of SLICTA was facilitated and fostered by its parent association, the St Lucia Coalition of Services Industries, which was itself launched in January 2009, and tasked with facilitating the growth and development of the St Lucia Services Sector through the adoption of high service standards, fostering activism and education on trade services issues.

What are the aims and objectives?

SLICTA is charged with the responsibility to mobilize professionals within the ICT sector and to lead the development of this sector.

What are the activities of the association?

The events calendar for SLICTA includes various activities, such as the staging of workshops and conferences. A key item recurring on our agenda is the Digital Marketing Symposium, held in November. On March 06th 2018, we hosted a free event in collaboration with ARIN in the Caribbean .

We have held seminars in collaboration with bodies including ICANN, and the OECS. We are actively working on introducing monthly Tech Talks to provide a learning and debate space for ICT related issues, projects etc. e.g. The launch of Open Data portal.

We maintain a high profile in national consultations, dialogues and policy development seminars that impact the sector, and we publish responses to events taking place within the industry. We are particularly pleased to visit schools and participate in Careers Guidance activities to influence the next generation of ICT sector workers, and actively promote the interest of girls considering a career choice within the sector.

Describe the tech space in St. Lucia?

The ICT services provided by local companies can be categorised into two main groups: computer-related services and information services. Computer related services involve the retail of hardware, development of software, consultancy services, data processing services, maintenance and repair of equipment, web page design and hosting, and computer facilities management. Information services include database provision services to businesses, web search portals, software design, and training. The clients of these local firm are mainly private sector and public sector institutions. Approximately 20 ICT firms are known to export their services regionally, or supply service to foreign clients.

How can tech be used to improve St. Lucia?

The latent capacity of the ICT sector to enhance economic development and contribute to service exports depends on its dual role as an enabler, and also as an industry itself. Increased consumption of ICT and technology products would serve to enhance the capacity of other sectors, and therefore provide overall economic benefits.

One of the core values listed on your website is "ICT Excellence - embrace leading edge technology" - what are some of the leading edge tech being championed by the association currently?

We strongly believe in the benefits of embracing open source software, and the early adoption of IPv6 technology. Cybersecurity and DNS security improvements are also strongly encouraged.

One of your targets (also on the website) is "more young people are into ICT careers". Can you expand on this?

There are new and emerging career opportunities within IT every single day, even traditional jobs are becoming more technology driven and the need for an IT proficient workforce has become mandatory. We believe that by encouraging ICT as a career choice, we may stimulate long term participation in, and development of, the ICT sector. Not only through traditional employment streams but also tapping into the entrepreneurial side of things. Therefore, an ongoing goal of the Association is to improve the numbers of teachers and students who become members of SLICTA.

How important is CARICOM and the Single ICT Space to St. Lucia's ICT initiatives?

It is important, because of the improved economies of scale, and opportunities for shared learning and collaboration.

Do you link up with other associations in other Caribbean countries?

Yes, we maintain contact with the leadership of the other OECS ICT Associations, with a long term goal of strengthening our individual associations, and perhaps eventually forming a unified ICT Association.

Encourage persons in a few words to join this association?

We are progressive, dynamic, and are looking forward to making a difference to our industry. Join us, to have a shared voice in the growth and direction of the sector. You do not need to have formal training in ICT, just an interest in the development of the sector.

Anything else you would like to add?

Bring along a friend! For further background information, please consult our website: ictassociation.lc

Monday, 19 March 2018

UWI partnership with Global Institute of Software Technology in Suzhou


The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. 05 February 2018 — Twenty-five students from the BSc Software Engineering at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Mona campus, along with their parents, met with Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and Jamaica’s Minister of Education, Senator the Hon Ruel Reid on February 2, 2018. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the terms and conditions of their departure for Suzhou, China later this year as part of the programme.

Since 2015, Vice-Chancellor Beckles has been pioneering a strategy to establish a UWI Centre in China that will produce a generation of software engineers for Jamaica and the Caribbean, in order to lay the foundation for the much needed digital revolution in the region. Speaking at the meeting, Vice-Chancellor Beckles noted that the Global Institute of Software Technology in Suzhou, The UWI’s strategic partner, will receive the students for their completion of the third and fourth year of the joint BSc programme.

Minister Reid, to the delight of students and parents, reaffirmed his commitment to a science and technology scholarship for the Jamaican students who will be meeting counterparts from the Cave Hill campus in Suzhou.

Speaking on need to support Jamaica’s insertion and leadership in the fourth industrial revolution, Minister Reid also indicated that the scholarship was the Government’s way of preparing and investing in the next generation for the task at hand, which is producing skills for developing and sustaining Technology Parks for industrial transformation. The initiative, the Minister stated, “Will help to position Jamaica and the region, and UWI, squarely at the centre of the science education system of China and will trigger in the near future a considerable industry alignment with the China economy.”

Vice-Chancellor Beckles commended the Minister for his critical support and noted that The UWI, with the support of the Government of Jamaica, was implementing the wish of China’s president, Xi Jinping, who agreed with CARICOM to facilitate industrial technology transfer to the region during his visit to the Caribbean in 2015.

Applications are now open for the 2018/2019 intake to the BSc Software Engineering programme. Find out more at www.uwi.edu/softwareengineering.

GTT Launches Innov 8 Technology Summit and Dedicates $18 M to STEM Development in Guyana


GTT's INNOV8 promises hands on robotics, online gaming, a gaming tournament, animation, smart gadgets, a smart home and more…

Georgetown, Guyana, March 5, 2018: The promotion and development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in Guyana has been given a big boost by GTT's commitment to give G$18M to the Innov8 Initiative Fund. This announcement was made at the Innov8 Summit launch, GTT's technology Expo which will be hosted at the Marriott on March 24-27, the first and largest event of its kind in Guyana. GTT's CEO, Justin Nedd, said that GY $8M of the Innov8 Initiative Fund will be dedicated to STEM Guyana, in order to boost its continued work of training youth in coding and robotics.

Under the initiative, several schools across Guyana will all benefit from free internet service provided by GTT. The first three schools are Lusignan, Sophia and Paradise Primaries.

The Summit will have two events; the first titled Innov8 Expo, will be held on March 24 to 25 and the second, Innov8 Business Forum will be on March 27. The goal of both events is to showcase the diversity of technology and its impact on all spheres of life in Guyana.

It is an opportunity to display the innovations and gadgets created by some of the best and brightest players in Guyana's technology arena. It will also feature international speakers from Google and other industry trailblazers.

Additionally Innov8 Summit is an "open house" which will wow visitors as they experience all the innovation GTT has to offer. GTT will display technology possibilities available in the ways never seen before. Some exciting features that the Innov8 Expo visitors will experience are: hands-on- robotics, online gaming, a gaming tournament, animation, smart gadgets and a smart home. The Innov8 Business Forum on March 27 will feature GTT's newest enterprise solutions, host local and international Technology and Business Leaders while charting a path for the development of ICT in the business and finance arena.

"GTT's ongoing investment in technology and leadership is instrumental in the development of the Guyanese ICT (Information, Communication and Technology) sector and has created a platform for innovators to power their innovations", said CEO Justin Nedd. The event is free to the public and tickets are available on GTT's new paperless ticketing portal called GTT Tix To Go which was introduced to Guyana for the first time at the press conference. GTT strategic partners will have the opportunity to purchase exclusive booth spaces to showcase their products. Interested companies are encouraged to email innov8@gtt.co.gy for further details.

www.gtt.co.gy/innov8-summit

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

My Experience Backing Up My Wordpress.com Images

Started here - Wordpress > Support - Backups (this is the 3rd to last heading). This is really intended for technical persons because I don't imagine the average person being inclined to do this. The Tech Remix is hosted on wordpress.com for a couple of reasons including support, themes, stability, security and other things usually associated with SASS. In this instance I wanted my focus to be on blogging and not maintaining the blog backend and infrastructure. Not sure why there is no option to include the images in the export option. I will ask them and update this blog post with their response. (Update : There is the option of real-time backups using Vaultpress if you have the Business Plan - Setting up your Premium Services). I was manually maintaining an image folder backup but now I am switching to this option.

You have to install Wordpress locally and then import your export from Wordpress.com. The import process downloads the images to your local install. I chose this - Bitnami Wordpress Stack One-click Install. Used all the defaults expect the use bitnami in the cloud option.  Once installed and bitnami is launched select 'Go to Application'. This took me to http://localhost:81/. From here click on 'Access Wordpress' which takes me to http://localhost:81/wordpress/. Change this to http://localhost:81/wordpress/wp-admin and go to that URL. Enter the login details you specified during bitnami install. Import is located under Tools after you log in. For import you have to select 'Download and import file attachments'.

Having a local copy and being able to move from one platform to another is a useful thing to understand and this serves as a dry run if the need ever arises. Took me 10 mins to complete the import over a 40 Mbps internet connection. Images downloaded totaled 48 MB. The resulting folder had the images in folders by year and month. Wordpress stores resized versions of the images so I was seeing 4 different sizes. The resized images end with the size at the end of the name e.g. image-300x169.jpg. The images were found in C:\Bitnami\wordpress-4.9.4-6\apps\wordpress\htdocs\wp-content\uploads\. Related to importing your blog is the type of formatting used inside your blog post. Some types of post formatting will not translate if it is not supported on the platform (and version) you are moving to. Maybe stay away from formatting that ties you to one platform.

Got these type of failed messages - Failed to import “Hassan Voyeau - 2016-08-27 16:44:49”: Invalid post type feedback. Before this I did not think that info submitted through my contact form was being stored on wordpress.com. I got the email notification but that did not have a link back to wordpress.com like comments do. Now that I had the idea that it was being saved because it was being included in the export file I set out to look for it. Found it in the old WP-Admin under Feedback > Feedback. WP-Admin being the traditional looking backend UI over the more modern looking and simplified default backend UI. This link shows how to fix this import issue - When importing - failed to import: Invalid post type feedback. Side note - to use ngrok to access the local bitnami wordpress I had to modify the wp-config.php and hard code the ngrok URL there. I could not change it from the browser or on the database end.

Please let me know if you need help with what I shared in this blog post and I might even do a video tutorial for this. Video tutorials is something I will be experimenting with in the next 3 months.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Grenada Receives Equipment for Transition to Computer-assisted Data Collection

Friday, March 9, 2018 — As part of the OECS Commission's ongoing support to Member States to transition from paper to the computer-assisted mode of data collection, two desktop and three laptop computers were recently donated to Grenada’s Central Statistics Office.

Mr. Halim Brizan, Director of the Central Statistics Office in Grenada, expressed gratitude to the OECS Commission and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for the supply of computers to facilitate the new method of data collection.
This new approach in administering and processing Grenada’s household surveys has greatly impacted our effort to build sustainable capacity in statistics - Mr. Brizan added
The OECS Commission is assisting National Statistical Offices (NSOs) to improve their statistical business process, an aspect of which includes reducing the cost and time taken for data collection and data processing.

The transition to the computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI) method to conduct household surveys is one area where capacity is being enhanced with support from the World Bank, CDB and other development partners.

To date, Saint Lucia has fully transitioned to CAPI. Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Kitts and Nevis are gearing up to use tablets for surveys to be conducted in 2018. The NSOs in each of the OECS Member States have all been CAPI-trained and have received tablets to support their transition.

The supply of the equipment to Grenada was done under the CDB-funded Enhanced Country Poverty Assessment Project.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Interview with Herbert Lewy - General Manager, Microsoft Caribbean


Tell us about some of the main focus areas for Microsoft in Trinidad and the Caribbean?

Expand on the following key areas - Creating more personal computing, reinventing productivity and business processes and building the intelligent cloud platform.

Microsoft is very excited about extending our impact in Trinidad and Tobago, and the wider Caribbean. There is certainly significant room for opportunity in this marketplace, and our solutions can be key to driving innovation that will be central to the region’s development, and especially to help solve some of the region’s challenges.

Microsoft’s intelligent cloud platform, Azure, is central to enhancing efficiency, reinventing productivity and business processes, and empowering users to tap into their latent capabilities. We are in the process of expanding our datacentres, which brings Azure to 42 regions globally with 69 compliance offerings, the most comprehensive compliance coverage in the industry. This means that customers across the Caribbean are able to comply with national, regional, and industry-specific requirements governing the collection and use of individuals’ data, while taking advantage of the scalability and flexibility the cloud provides to them. We are very pleased to bring this world-class capability and security to our valued customers in the Caribbean. This certainly levels the playing field for companies, allowing small and medium businesses (the engine of our economies), access to enterprise-grade technologies.

Can you say more about the Caribbean being treated as a distinct region now?

The Caribbean region is a testament of a strategic decision Microsoft made to be a Global company, with local reach. Right now in Caribbean we are serving 33 countries through 5 offices, and having one of those offices in Trinidad and Tobago exemplifies further our commitment.

We appointed in late 2017 a new Country Manager for Trinidad and Tobago, Ms. Racquel Moses, and she is also leading Public Sector efforts for the Caribbean Market. In her role, she executes Microsoft’s vision of digital transformation throughout the Caribbean region, and facilitates the enhancement of the customer experience and public outcomes through an emphasis on people and sustainable solutions. We look forward to a more focused approach to growing not only Trinidad and Tobago, but also the entire Caribbean region through technology. In addition, we’re able to have teams that work across the Caribbean leverage each other’s ideas, and work alongside our partners across the Caribbean to create technology solutions that help our customers in their digital transformation journeys.

What would you say to customers who are doubtful about moving to the cloud?

Some of the key things to consider when moving to the cloud are the scalability and costs savings, and the privacy and security of their data. In terms of scalability, companies that move to the cloud can save up to 60% on storage costs; they can deploy solutions faster using what they already have, and go to market 4x faster; they can reduce travel and communication costs, seeing up to 40% reduction in travel expenses; and, among others, they can reduce cost of training and deployment by up to 30%.

Now, privacy and security are extremely important. Microsoft has decades of experience in running some of the largest online services in the world, which translates to decades of continuously working to improve security-aware software development, operational management, and threat-mitigation practices that are essential to the strong protection of services and data. Our customers can be confident in the security of Microsoft and our commitment to protecting data. The security and peace of mind of our customers is paramount, and as stated before, we are in the process of expanding our datacentres, ensuring that our customers have the security of the most comprehensive compliance coverage in the industry with regard to the collection and use of data.

What is coming in the future from the Microsoft Innovation Center in Trinidad?

Our partnership with CARIRI to launch the Microsoft Innovation Center (MIC) has been incredibly successful and the results so far are wildly exciting. The innovation center has served over 10 cohorts with more than 75 graduates. Fifty (50%) of those graduates have implemented their ideas, which continue to grow and gain momentum. Examples of successful projects include the Hyperglycemia in Pregnancy Trinidad and Tobago (HiPTT)¹ application that utilizes Microsoft Azure technology. Diabetes is a major public health problem with pregnant women being a particularly vulnerable group. This app launched in October 2016 is a collaborative effort that allows doctors, laboratories and patients to manage and review medical results on a mobile device or computer.

The MIC has also launched a pilot program in biotechnology, which is showing real promise. All of these are the tip of the iceberg. Microsoft has 116 such innovation centres worldwide. We are currently working to connect our local MIC with the others to share ideas and innovations. We have as much to share as we have to learn, which is truly exciting as our projects have the ability to generate international recognition for the work we are doing here.

Briefly what is BizSpark and how can local entrepreneurs access this?

We recently announced the launch of Microsoft for Startups. Microsoft for Startups, is a new initiative that aims to accelerate the growth of startups around the world. With the program, we are committing globally $500M over the next two years to become the first major cloud provider to offer co-selling options to startups, along with expanded access to our technology, increased technical and business support, and new community spaces that promote collaboration within local ecosystems. On the technology side, we continue to invest heavily so startup developers can iterate quickly and easily with the open source tools and resources that they already know.

In this recent interview Satya talks about "mixed reality and AI" being the next big waves. Any words on this and will the Trinidad public be able to experience these? Maybe a Holo Lens demo and setup in one of the malls?

When Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft more than 40 years ago, their goal was to bring the benefits of software for computing — then largely locked up in mainframes — to everyone.

Today, Microsoft is aiming to do something similar with artificial intelligence. Our AI systems are designed to augment what people do and our goal is to make AI available to everyone. And we’re committed to making sure that our AI tools and technologies earn the trust of all.

AI is already having a tangible, useful impact on many people’s day-to-day lives, including in Trinidad and Tobago. For example, it could be helping someone quickly create an impressive PowerPoint presentation or allowing people from two different countries to communicate across language barriers. There are plenty of other examples where anybody around the world can already experience AI, and in order to make Microsoft AI accessible to everyone, we have created APIs and other tools that developers, customers and data scientists can use to add intelligence into existing products and services, or to build new ones.

¹ Video infomercial - Microsoft & HiPTT (Hyperglycemia in Pregnancy)