Tag: technology

iManagement Consulting Launches Afro Emoji to Help Africans Better Express Themselves on Social Media

(Afro Emoji Image via VenturesAfrica.com)
(Afro Emoji Image via VenturesAfrica.com)

article by Hadassah Egbedi via venturesafrica.com

“No worry yourself”, “Bigz boyz”, “E make brain”, “Any better?” These are common slangs in West Africa, particularly used by Nigerians. Slangs keep conversations fun, easy and real, one of the major reasons behind the creation of Afro Emoji. “We, as Africans, definitely have a distinctive way of communicating with one another and Afro Emoji is a fun, graphic depiction of that,” say the creators.

Afro Emojis are African-themed stickers or “modern African hieroglyph” as described by the creators, a Washington D.C based company, iManagement Consulting. This unique range of emojis was launched a day ago on google play and iOS and is available for free download. What’s more? They are customizable and can be used on any social media platform, Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Google hangout and Skype.

Credit - Afro Emoji Facebook
Credit – Afro Emoji Facebook

With the increased conversation around inclusivity and diversity, coupled with the fact that emojis have become a standard part of social conversations especially among younger mobile consumers, major brands and social media platforms like Apple and WhatsApp have made efforts to introduce emojis with a variation of skin tones.

“Diversity is not about skin color. It’s about embracing the multiple cultures out there that have no digital representation,” – Alpesh Patel

Although these are steps in the right direction, the mere introduction of different skin tones won’t do, as people are more drawn towards characters that are relatable. In this case, iManagement Consulting is making the necessary efforts to bridge this cultural gap in digital representation by introducing characters that represent Africans, with the hope that they will become “part of Africa’s conversation currency.”

Afro Emojis are not about the characters alone, but also the language. The traditionally decked characters come with common captions including “Abeg no vex’, “My Oga at the top”, and “See Linda tinz.” Afro Emoji launched on Google Play Store and the App Store with 50 free characters, and in-app sticker purchases at $1.99 for over 300 stickers.

To read more, go to: http://venturesafrica.com/afro-emoji-the-latest-innovation-for-africans-to-express-themselves-on-social-media/

President Obama Pledges $4 Billion Toward Computer Science in Schools

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House isn’t just relying on legislation to make computer science education a priority in the US. President Obama has launched a Computer Science for All initiative that gives states $4 billion in funding to expand computer science in K-12 schools through a mix of better course materials, partnerships and teacher training. The move also sends another $100 million directly to school districts, unlocks $135 million in funding from government organizations and gets further cooperation from both local governments as well as tech leaders.

Some of those leaders include companies that have already promised support for the President’s educational initiatives. Apple, Cartoon Network, Code.org, Facebook, Microsoft, Salesforce and Qualcomm are all widening their education efforts, investing in programs or both to help improve computer science in the country.

Throwing cash at a problem won’t make it go away, of course, and there aren’t any guarantees that the money will make a difference. However, the effort at least tackles one of the core issues head-on: getting computer science into schools in the first place. Roughly three quarters of schools go without any CS programs, and 22 states don’t accept these classes as credit toward a high school diploma. If the extra funding works as planned, it’ll get CS courses into more schools and help create a generation of kids that know how to code before they reach college.

article by Jon Fingas via engadget.com

Candace Mitchell and Chanel Martin Found Web-and-Mobile-Based Platform Myavana to Integrate Scientific Analysis into Care for Black Women’s Hair

Myavana creators Candace Mitchell and  Chanel Martin
Myavana creators Candace Mitchell and Chanel Martin (photo via gtalumnimag.com)

Scope out the hair-care aisle in the beauty section of any major retailer and you’ll find a familiar scene: a woman with a bottle of shampoo in hand, staring in dismay at the horde of options on the shelves in front of her. Should she pick sulfate-free or biotin add-in shampoo? Should she be looking for hydration or volume in her conditioner?

The process of reviewing ingredients, comparing prices and questioning the purported hair-care benefits can be overwhelming—particularly for black women, who over the past few years have seen an uptick in the number of products tailored to their specific hair texture needs. The inventory that was once relegated to a small section of a single shelf, or worse, not available in major outlets at all, now spans entire store aisles and endcap displays.

The creators of Myavana, a web-based mobile and social platform, understand firsthand the frustration of the shelf scan. Computer scientist Candace Mitchell and chemical engineer Chanel Martin launched their Atlanta-based startup in 2013. “The goal was to leverage science and technology to provide women of color with a personalized hair-care experience that takes guessing out of the equation and delivers hair nirvana,” Mitchell says.

The Myavana website (myavana.comis a destination where customers can discover new hair products, hair styles and salons in their area. It joins the zeitgeist of blogs, Instagram feeds and YouTube channels that deliver black hairstyle tutorials and homemade solutions to hundreds of thousands of subscribers. No doubt social media has helped this movement gain traction throughout the United States and abroad, Mitchell says.

Increasingly, black women are going online to share stories and tips in their journeys as they move away from harsh chemical straighteners and the synthetic products associated with them, and turn toward unprocessed, curly hair styles and natural products. Myavana seeks to tap into this ever-expanding market—with an estimated buying power surpassing $500 billion annually—with the goal of providing end-to-end hair-care guidance to women of color.

Myavana’s linchpin is its new custom hair analysis service that promises to find the right product for each customer. “Yes, we want women to send us their hair,” Mitchell says. “But only a little bit of it, and just long enough to view the hair through a microscope and to offer customers meaningful hair product recommendations.”

Consumers initiate the process on the Myavana website, where a one-time fee of $49 will buy a single Hair Collection Kit. The kit includes a special comb for the sample, instructions for getting a proper cross section, a questionnaire and pre-paid postage. Once the kit arrives at the Myavana lab—the company rents space on campus at the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology—the hair strands undergo a nine-point data analysis.

Continue reading “Candace Mitchell and Chanel Martin Found Web-and-Mobile-Based Platform Myavana to Integrate Scientific Analysis into Care for Black Women’s Hair”

NBA Champ Dwayne Wade Releases Fitness App “Dwyane Wade Driven”

The Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade released a fitness app called “Dwyane Wade Driven” while his team was simultaneously celebrating its third NBA championship with a parade and rally. The app offers customized training programs and videos for basketball players and other athletes. 

“It shows people ways to work out, a lot of different ways to work out, whether it’s basketball drills or not,” Wade told The Associated Press. “A lot of people work out at home. A lot of people don’t have access to a gym. A lot of people don’t have trainers. So it’s kind of like I’m the personal trainer for basketball and fitness and I’ll show them a lot of things I do with my body and for my body.”

The app was available for download starting Monday. It includes basketball drills and a fitness routine, along with ways for users to track their progress. Driven Apps, the publisher, plans to release additional bundles for users to download once they have mastered or completed the initial Wade program.

Continue reading “NBA Champ Dwayne Wade Releases Fitness App “Dwyane Wade Driven””

TECH: Four Tricky Facebook Scams to Avoid

(Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma, AP)
(Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma, AP)

From snake-oil salesmen and pool-hall hustlers to Nigerian princes and Spanish prisoners, scams were happening long before the Internet. Unfortunately, the Internet has only made things worse.

Modern scammers can reach billions of potential victims with a single message. And their scams are getting better every day. If you aren’t paying attention, you could fall for a scam and not ever realize it.

One of the easiest places to encounter online scams is Facebook. Facebook encourages sharing, which means certain scams can travel far and wide. These aren’t harmless scams either. Some of them can install viruses that take over your account or steal your money. Yikes!

Here are four popular scams that should set off your warning bells as soon as you see them:

1. Free giveaways

The easiest scam to fall for on Facebook is a free giveaway. You’ll see everything from gift cards to free tablets, laptops and smartphones. Who doesn’t like free? Just one catch. You have to give the “company” your information. Or you have to download a program to qualify. 

This is a variation on a classic survey scam. These trick users into giving out their information or downloading malicious files onto their computers. With the information you enter, a scammer has a foothold into stealing your identity. Entering your cellphone number often leads to bogus premium charges appearing on your wireless bill.

It’s true that some companies do give away free stuff through Facebook. When they do, however, it’s promoted on that company’s official Facebook page. If you check the company’s page or website and don’t see the giveaway, steer clear. Even if it’s real, only enter through the company’s official page. And only if it’s a company you trust. Scammers like to set up fake sites and pages that mimic the real thing.

2. Viral videos

Almost as exciting as free gadgets is seeing the latest viral video. However, many supposedly salacious celebrity “videos” posted on Facebook aren’t videos at all. When you click to watch, you’ll be asked to update your video player first. You’ll even be provided with the updated program file. How helpful! Of course, the program is really a virus. Plus, it will automatically share the scam with all of your friends. This one is easy to avoid. Type the video’s title into Google. You should see a link to it on YouTube. If the video isn’t on YouTube or a legitimate news site, it’s a scam.

Continue reading “TECH: Four Tricky Facebook Scams to Avoid”

California’s Greene Scholars Program Seeks to Place Black Youth in STEM Jobs

The 6th Annual Atlanta STEM Career Fair organized by the Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link Inc. (Photo by Ojo)
The 6th Annual Atlanta STEM Career Fair organized by the Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link Inc. (Photo by Ojo)

Over the next few days, 95 academically gifted African-American children with an aptitude in math and science will attend a highly-competitive summer camp in California’s Silicon Valley. The Greene Scholars Program, established in 2001, works with 3rd to 12th graders to cultivate academic abilities in science, technology, engineering and math.

“What’s unique about the program is that we’ve a long-term initiative to help stimulate the intellectual capacity of our kids to pursue STEM (sciencetechnologyengineering and mathematics) field careers,” says program director Gloria Whitaker-Daniels. “I feel in love with the model,” says Whitaker-Daniels, who initially was a parent-volunteer whose brood all completed the program.

“We stay with kids when they enter the program till they enter college. I have not found another program that does this over this duration.”

Every Greene Scholar goes to college

Since its inception, every GSP scholar has gone on to college. “The majority takes up STEM related bachelor’s degrees but of those that don’t we are confident they can face the world with a good grasp of math and science,” she says.

Continue reading “California’s Greene Scholars Program Seeks to Place Black Youth in STEM Jobs”

TECHNOLOGY: You Can Now Send Money Through Gmail, Google Announces

Send Money Through Gmail

This is huge, potentially.  Along with a flurry of other announcements made on Wednesday at Google I/O, Google’s annual developers’ conference, the company announced that it’s integrating Google Wallet with Gmail, meaning Gmail account holders will soon be able to send money via email.

The amazing thing about this is how easy it is. As you can see in the YouTube video below, all you do is hit a “$” symbol to attach money to an email — just like you would attach any other file.

Google Product Manager Travis Green wrote in a blog post that this feature will be rolled out “over the coming months to all U.S. Gmail users over 18 years old.” You can also get early access if a friend — perhaps who works at Google — already has the feature and sends money to you.

This could pose a threat to e-commerce startups like Venmo, which allows you to send someone payments through an app for iPhones or Android phones. “Holy startup killer,” said Artur Adib, a senior engineer at Twitter.

Jeff Peters, a new media and marketing consultant, wrote in a tweet about the news, “This could be big…if (when) people trust it.”

Tech executive Ray Nolan went even further, declaring, “eCommerce just changed.”

article by Craig Kanalley via huffingtonpost.com

From Harlem to HALLO: Tech Leader Ali Abdullah Takes Childhood Talent to the Next Level

Tech entrepreneur Ali Abdullah (Image: Abdullah)

We have good news for you. You can have a cool career and make a good living. No need to choose between loving your job and paying your mortgage. The following profile, part of the BlackEnterprise.com Cool Jobs series, offers a peek into the nuts and bolts, perks and salaries behind enjoyable careers.

The It Factor: Founded a not-for-profit. Check. Started a digital sports marketing company, 5th Avenue Sports. Check.  Led successful ad campaigns for Fortune 500 companies including Mountain Dew, GNC and the NBA. Check. Became founding partner of the HALLO voice mobile app. Check. Check. And another check. And all this before the age of 30? Need anyone say more? Ali Abdullah took a love for creating and building things and turned it into lucrative ventures, with revenues in the millions and growing. Among his latest boss moves, Abdullah serves as founding partner and chief marketing officer of Players 2 Fans (P2F), a sports entertainment media platform set to change the social media game when it launches in July.

Early Self-Learning: Abdullah, 27, remembers back to this teenaged years when he knew exactly what his passion and purpose was. “When I was around 13 and my father bought me my first computer, I knew I wanted to be in touch with technology,” he says. “And not just basic learning, like software and basics you learn at school, [but I wanted to go beyond that.] I picked up a book and mastered a few things immediately, and I saw the bigger picture.”

Abdullah says he knew, then, that technology would play a major role in how people communicate with one another and share their experiences. “I knew computers were going to take over in terms of communication, and I was very intrigued and wanted to know how I could get involved.”

Full-Court Advantage: As a youth, Abdullah took classes to learn HTML and other tech skills, even while appeasing another passion for playing basketball. He would later study computer science and marketing at Alfred State College in upstate New York while balling there. “I was the only African American in the program. … My roommate and I would be up all night programming. … I loved playing sports, but really what was my exit strategy? I thought ‘I could focus on what I really love to do [that had longevity], which was sitting at my computer, being creative and working as a collaborator to build software and platforms that could affect millions of people.’ ”

Continue reading “From Harlem to HALLO: Tech Leader Ali Abdullah Takes Childhood Talent to the Next Level”

10 Travel Apps To Make Any Trip Better

Travel

From Clutch Magazine:

Smartphones are a way of life these days. I take mine everywhere, and look at it approximately 3,458 times a day. With so much time and attention lavished on our mobile phones, isn’t it about time they did something useful for us? As we come to the end of our two weeks of wanderlusting, we’ve compiled a list of 10 smartphone apps that’ll help make any trip easier and more enjoyable — from booking tickets, to what to bring, to how to chat up the locals. These apps will help you get the most out of your phone, so you can get the most out of your trip.

Take a look at our list, and share your favorite apps in the comments!

1. PROBLEM: I need to get my travel plans together!
TripIt will help you plan your next vacay and all from your smartphone. You can create custom itineraries and plan everything from your rental car to your hotel to excursions.

2. PROBLEM: But what do I bring?
PackingPro allows you to create lists of what you need, where you’re going and what to bring, so you’ll never be without a toothbrush, pair of undies or weather-appropriate jacket again.

3. PROBLEM: I just got to town and my hotel lost my reservation. Where do I stay?
Hotel Tonight helps you find great last-minute places to stay at deeply discounted rates. Available in 12 countries and in close to 100 destinations, the site’s options are carefully curated designer and boutique hotels, so you won’t get stuck staying at a crappy Red Roof Inn or something. A warning: Because of the high-end selection, even discounted rates can be on the pricey side.

4. PROBLEM: But what’s that really going to cost me?
I’m a zillion percent guilty of treating foreign currency like it’s Monopoly money. Onanda Currency Converter provides quick and easy conversions for 126 currencies, along with the option to add your bank’s international currency fees.

5. PROBLEM: Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!
Help Call automatically detects your location and provides a direct connection to local police, fire department and ambulance services. You also have the option of contacting — by dialing or by simply shaking the phone — a pre-set emergency contact.

6. PROBLEM: How do you say “Want to make out?” in Farsi?
Converse helps you quickly and easily translate what you want to say from English into any other language. That way you too can have beautifully profound conversations with French waiters!

7. PROBLEM: Uh, what’s that sign say? Do not enter? 
World Lens translates signs, placards and posters by simply pointing the app in the direction of the written words. Works in Spanish, German, Italian and French, so far.

8. PROBLEM: Cabs are expensive. Where’s the nearest metro stop?
AllSubway
 is an app that connects you to more than 160 subway systems around the world.

9. PROBLEM: I want to take pictures like a pro, without having to carry a huge camera around. 
Photosynth allows you to create panoramic, geo-located and interactive photos on your smartphone. You can then post them up to your Tumblr, blog and Facebook page to make all your friends jealz.

10: PROBLEM: I want to learn about that building without having to pull out my guide book every five seconds.
Okay, Google Goggles is amazing. You can use this app to find out information about virtually anything. Just aim the app at a painting, a famous landmark, a storefront or, really, whatever you want, and it will provide you with information about that thing.

Texting Becomes a Health Tool in Kenya

Red Cross volunteer uses mobile phone RAMP survey to gather health information in rural Kenya.  (Credit: IFRC)

Mobile phone use in Africa has spread far, wide and fast. By the end of last year, it was estimated that 70 percent of the population would have a mobile phone. Now, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says it’s using the technology to save lives.In Kenya, the IFRC has developed the Rapid Mobile Phone-based survey, otherwise known as RAMP. It allows the medical aid group to learn a lot about the health of people in remote, rural communities in very little time.  Jason Peat, the senior health officer for malaria, says the idea for the survey came from IFRC volunteers.

“There are volunteers using those mobile phones to communicate. They’re doing it two ways. They’re using them as a regular phone, but more often than not we see them use the phones to send text messages back and forth because they’re a very inexpensive way to communicate. Red Cross volunteers and other community health workers at a very local level were already figuring out a way to manage activities, to manage programs and not just health programs, but all programs using mobile phones,” he said.

Continue reading “Texting Becomes a Health Tool in Kenya”

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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