Monday, August 28, 2006

Field testing Mobile Miracle Solution

One video paints thousands of pictures.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Back to the bush

Jon and I had been waiting for the day when we could get back out to the bush with David from WEEC in Kenya and test the MMS with him. He was the test case for journal updating from the field. More than just being the credit officer operating in the most remote location he was also one of the least familiar with the digital camera and the computer. His two room office in Isinya has no technology.

He advised against a trip back out to the same clients that we had visited on our first trip because of the distance and cost of a cab and instead we went only as far as what might be considered peri-rural.

Beyond a few interface questions that whole process was very easy for him to complete and the time to find coverage was around 10 minutes in some cases. What is nice is that once he had pressed send we could leave to the visit the next client while the phone searched for coverage.

By the third visit to one of his clients he had sent a journal successfully without even notifying us so that we could capture it on video. We have some excellent video of the post in action. Between sentences he is batting away a pesky cow trying to get to the water faucet that he is seated on. All this under a vast Kenyan sky. Our access to the internet was once again poor in Kenya and we will try to post that video soon to the website.

As far as the ease of use and the coverage are concerned David was a milestone.

We celebrated a successful testing phase with few days in Mombasa.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Testing seriously

The response to the tests couldnt be better. Uninterrupted use of the phone and journal updates with everybody. Teopista (the woman on the left) is sending a journal communicating that the borrower has received the money while I'm taking the picture. Tomorrow we test with WEEC, but the response was positive already. Martha (credit officer) learned how to use it in a few minutes and send ... and send ... and send testing pictures to her own mail.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

5 in one blow

Yesterday was a bit like Christmas, gifts for all. Jon and I got confirmation that the MMS can indeed deliver journal updates to the Kiva site directly. So that means its all downhill from here. Kiva got lots of journal updates from the LiA credit officers and the lenders received those updates as well.

During the entire 7 weeks that we spent during our previous visits to the organizations that we have been working with there was not a single instance where we were able to witness the entire process of updating a journal entry from beginning to end. No matter how hard we pushed to see the entire sequence uninterrupted there was always some complication that stood in our way. Power and connectivity were by far the biggest impediments. Yesterday we saw the entire process five times in two hours.

I gotta say it was a good day.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

intocontext invites you to join their new 'hotblog'

So in the same way that the multi-media message service (MMS) is supposed to help the Kiva partners post journals to the Kiva site without power and connectivity issues, we are going to try it ourselves with this blog. We will continue to post when the conditions are favorable but when they aren't we have created a new blog format. Blogger is allowing posts to be made via MMS but the service doesnt extend outside of the US so I established a new hotmail account and access to the account is listed below. We will be sending blog entries to this email where you will be able to read them.

username: intocontext
password: hotblog

When we left East Africa at the end of July one of the service providers was charging 300 Uganda shillings for the service, about 15 cents. Now that we are back we learned that another provider seems to be running a bit of a pilot on the service and is offering to send the messages FREE of charge. To Jon and I that sounds like a dare. I haven't run a check on this new blog system but I will send the first blog soon. I'm hoping to fill up that account. We will see with what consistency they actually arrive to the address.

Monday, August 07, 2006

We are back

We arrived back to Kampala, somehow to our home within our homeless project. Mzungu party was going on in our garden but we didn't have much energy for it. I took Kelsey out yesterday in Kampala, Cale had to work fir the graduation report. We couldn't fit in the matatu in our way back, Kelsey got excited with the vegetables in the market and I would not stop her, so we decorated our kitchen with all kind of fruit and vegetables.

Today we had our first visit to Life in Africa. Extremely warm welcome and a comment: Jon! You are bigger! ABE (American Burrito Effect). But they also had new items. Peter and Monica (LiA credit officers) have new phones: Nokia with camera and MMS capabilities. They were faster than us. We can already try to test tomorrow with Peter our first: Miracle Mobile Solution. Anyhow some things haven’t changed. We expected to have a meeting today with everybody to explain our plan. Monica left to the bank 7 hours ago and still hasn’t come back. We are waiting (and Kelsey experiencing her nothing to do feeling for first time), will try to explain our plan when she comes back.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

What about storing SIM cards?

We have had several lost items along the project and the SIM cards have big chance for it. We have one for each country visited (plus the personal ones). Our project might require the exchange of those cards from user to user while the phone is shared in the organization. I was wondering where they will keep their cards when they are not used in the phone. For now we are using paper as solution. Let's see the African creativity.