Amazing Love For Joomla.

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Last week marked the end of a long journey we have travelled to make sure that we put an event together. Organising an event in Nairobi is not easy. Its really difficult getting sponsors for IT event and maybe other events. I have had opportunities to be involved in a number of events, Joomla! Day Ke being one of them.

For four years now, iHub being both the main catalyst for regional tech acceleration and a role model for tech hubs across emerging markets has supported this event by sponsoring a venue for the Joomla User Group – Nairobi and JoomlaDay Event.

Founded in 2010, iHub is a globally recognized organization that is deeply steeped in the local tech innovation culture. We are happy to announce that iHub has been and is still home for JoomlaDay Kenya, and we hope that this will be a partnership that will benefit everyone.

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Joomla! is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) for publishing web content. Over the years Joomla! has won several awards.It is built on a model–view–controller web application framework that can be used independently of the CMS that allows you to build powerful online applications.

As of May 2018, Joomla! has been downloaded over 93 million times. Over 8,000 free and commercial extensions are available from the official Joomla! Extensions Directory, and more are available from other sources. It is estimated to be the second most used content management system on the Internet, after WordPress.

Open Source Matters has always supported Joomla Day Events, depending on the budget they have. JoomlaDay events are officially recognized, but not organized, by the Joomla! Project and Open Source Matters, Inc. Each event is managed independently by a local community.

The participation this year was as balanced as it could be, 50 attendees ranging from Joomla Community in Nairobi, Techies, bading techies and students.

But important to say that the support from Open Source Matters is always not enough to make an event happen, and so the need to bring in more sponsors becomes important.

This year Joomshaper came to our rescue.

JoomShaper is the home of beautifully crafted unique Joomla templates and highly functional extensions along with award winning drag and drop SP Page Builder for you to create your dream website in minutes.

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What was new during this Joomla Day? Apart from a wide range of topics being covered, Networking and discussions, we hosted our first ever Joomla Administrators Exams, the second in Africa.

The Joomla! Certification Program has been created to ensure the competence of Joomla! professionals through documented measurement of skills and knowledge. The program aims to establish a certain standard whilst promoting a qualified workforce.

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Professional certification can play an important role in the decision of a company or business owner when hiring skilled individuals for specific roles. Six people had given interest in doing the certification exam, but only one has the courage to actually do the exam.

We thank iHub for providing the room and dedicated internet to be able to have a successful certification exams. It took a lot of time to get everything ready, being the first time, Joel Mbugua, who was supervising the exam had some difficulty getting things started. This is understandable, but we have a good start.

One of our speakers from Italy couldn’t make it for the event, but he managed to send a video link of his presentation.

Our desire for the future is to push this event to a different city other that Nairobi…..to be able to grow the community.

I thank all the speakers, who have shared knowledge during this event. I thank the people who have worked on our social media campaign and all who worked on the background. What a wonderful team we had, and we hope that you all accept our sincere appreciation.

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We thank all our sponsors and partners, Host sponsors iHub, Open Source Matters, Joomshaper, CMS Africa, Kenic and Kenya Web Experts, whom without their support we would not have succeeded doing this event.

We value your genuine support and partnership.

A Successful JoomlaDay Kenya 2018.

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JoomlaDay event came and went. I would like to thank those who put in the time to volunteer, this includes the speakers. Last year our event did not have a good attendance, in our post event meeting, some of the things we overlocked were the timing of the event which affected the attendance, marketing and promotion.

We decided to start organization of this event in good time, early in the year. We also knew we will face challenges on funding. We started talking with people really early in the year and am happy to say it helped. We were really loud on social media, talking about the event, getting feedback and interacting with other joomlas.

I have said before, organizing an event is not easy, even a small event like JoomlaDay. But having a good team of volunteers really help. Having good partners too. For the first time we had our first Administrators certification Exam. Six people had expressed interest in doing the exam hours to the event. When the day came, only one of those was brave enough to sit for the exam.

It took a lot of time to get everything ready, being the first time, Joel who was supervising the exam had some difficulty getting things started. This is understandable, but we have a good start. One of our speakers from Italy couldn’t make it for the event, but he managed to send a video link of his presentation.

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Our desire for the future is to push this event to a different city other that Nairobi…..to be able to grow the community.

I thank all the speakers, who have shared knowledge during this event. I thank the people who have worked on our social media campaign and all who worked on the background. What a wonderful team we had, and we hope that you all accept our sincere appreciation.

We will be doing this again next year, hopefully in a different city. Check out our Joomla User Group page for more information about the jug meetings.

 

Thanking to Our Sponsors.

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This week will mark the end of a long journey we have travelled to make sure that we up an event together. Organising an event in Nairobi is not easy. Its really difficult getting sponsors for IT event and maybe other events. I have had opportunities to be involved in a number of events, Joomla! Day Ke being one of them.

Joomla! is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) for publishing web content. Over the years Joomla! has won several awards.It is built on a model–view–controller web application framework that can be used independently of the CMS that allows you to build powerful online applications.

As of May 2018, Joomla! has been downloaded over 93 million times. Over 8,000 free and commercial extensions are available from the official Joomla! Extensions Directory, and more are available from other sources. It is estimated to be the second most used content management system on the Internet, after WordPress.

Open Source Matters has always supported Joomla Day Events, depending on the budget they have. JoomlaDay events are officially recognized, but not organized, by the Joomla! Project and Open Source Matters, Inc. Each event is managed independently by a local community.

But important to say that the support from Open Source Matters is always not enough to make an event happen, and so the need to bring in more sponsors becomes important. This year Joomshaper came to our rescue.

JoomShaper is the home of beautifully crafted unique Joomla templates and highly functional extensions along with award winning drag and drop SP Page Builder for you to create your dream website in minutes.

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We would like to thank Joomshaper for supporting this event, and we hope that they will continue to partner with us in the future.

What’s new during this Joomla Day? Apart from a wide range of topics being covered, we will also be carrying out the Joomla Administrators Exams.

The Joomla! Certification Program has been created to ensure the competence of Joomla! professionals through documented measurement of skills and knowledge. The program aims to establish a certain standard whilst promoting a qualified workforce.

Professional certification can play an important role in the decision of a company or business owner when hiring skilled individuals for specific roles.

We welcome you to come and learn, interact and network with tech enthusiast and professional during this event.

For more information please visit http://www.joomladay.or.ke

 

 

 

Cool Tool: J!Dump

I just found another gem.
Remember how I was running around in circles trying to get my Joomla! OS Membership Pro Paystack payment plugin code to work? Well something drove me to ask my best friend Google about debugging, and I hit the jackpot.
Joomla! has documentation on how to debug your code at their JoomlaDocs.
I tried out the Joomla! Debug console, but it was not doing what I needed done: dump out variable values for me to see. Eventually I tried the J!Dump option in the list, and I fell in love.

J!Dump will allow you to dump variable, stack traces, and system information into a popup window at run time. This extension works like the PHP command `var_dump` but formats the output in a much more readable fashion. On the github page, the README says:

This utility makes life easy for developers and template designers. You use it to see what’s inside a variable, an array or an object. Instead of using print_r() or var_dump(), you can now use dump(). This will open a popup window with a nice expandable tree, showing the contents of the variable. It will even show a list of available methods for each object. You have to see it to believe it! You can use dump() in your extensions, in the core, in libraries and even in templates.

It has certainly made my life easier since I installed it.
It works with Joomla! 3.x and PHP 7.x which is what I have set up on my server. I’m yet to test it on Laragon, but I bet it would work.

Thank you to the seven contributors to this free open source project!

Get Certified at JoomlaDay Kenya.

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For the first time we will be hosting a Joomla Certification Exam during our JoomlaDay event which will take place on the 14th of Sept 2018. When I took my exams in Rome Italy, the last thing I was worried a bout was time, having 90 minutes at my disposal was more than enough. Shock on me, in the middle of my exam, I was pressed for time, and I was rushing to finish, That was followed but a not very good outcome.

My Experience.

Yes, the exam is not easy. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “I have been working with Joomla! for over 10 years, so passing a Joomla! exam will be a breeze”. Only the top 10-15% taking the exam actually pass it the first time. Out of eleven exam takers, maybe two will pass. The odds are tough, however, if you really want to pass, you can take what you learned, develop a strategy for studying, and take the exam again at the next Joomla Event.

Topics Covered in the Exam.

According to the official Joomla! site, here are the objectives to know for the exam:

  • Joomla! Architecture
  • Preparing and installing Joomla!
  • Website Structure
  • Managing and Editing Articles
  • Managing Users and Access (ACL)
  • Managing Menus
  • Security and Maintenance
  • Upgrading the System
  • Managing Extensions
  • Multilingual Sites

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There are no exam books available yet for exam prep. They are in the works, but not yet developed. Materials are mainly links to articles. I suggest if an article is unclear, check out OSTraining’s videos on the subject. They are the most updated information available. Note also, questions come directly from experience working in the product. Many answers will be clear if you have hands-on experience.

Why Spend money and time?

First, getting certified in any product is generally a good idea. After all, it tests your knowledge in a product, and forces you to remain current – you owe it to your clients and students who benefit from your knowledge to stay current.

Second, certifications are great for your resume, they can be the difference between you and your competitor getting the job.

Third, certifications prove that the product you work in has a solid reputation. Offering a certification in a product reveals it is worthy of certification. Deciding to take the exam shows your support for the product as well.

One last thing.

Study the articles related to the exam articles, read the Joomla documentation, watch OSTraining videos, and practice tasks in a sandbox environment. Take the exam, and if you don’t pass, TAKE IT AGAIN.

Support the volunteers who made it possible for you to prove your skills. Remember, they don’t get paid for their labor of love. Give constructive criticism to the exam prep team so they can make the exam better in the future. And, good luck!

We welcome you to take this exam during our JoomlaDay event, we hope to see you there.

 

Building a Payment Plugin for OSMPro

As I am known to do, I take on small plugin projects from time to time. Having small programming code work to keep my mind churning has always helped to distract me from other things that could drag me under.

This time around, I had just finished one Joomla payment plugin for Virtuemart, for the Nigerian payment gateway, Paga, so writing another should have been easier. I was wrong. I was still yet to test the Paga plugin live, as the client was unresponsive, but I felt I could also rush this one in three weeks and be done.

I repeat, I was wrong.

This plugin is for the Nigerian payment gateway, Paystack, a cool new payment solution that everyone in the Tech community is proud to be associated with. Its also heartwarming that the founders are old friends of mine, but don’t let me digress.

Joomla’s plugin system, called extensions, has a very different naming convention compared to WordPress. In Joomla, there are Components (think big complex plugins), modules (think plugins that can be displayed in different positions at the front end), templates (think themes), and plugins (usually do invisible work at the back end). Components can have modules and plugins working with them. There are also extensions exclusively for the front end, and for the back end.

I was to build a Paystack payment plugin for the OS Membership Pro component. Keep in mind that there is no documentation (I had to rely on the skeletal documentation for one of their other plugins which my client claimed he was told was similar). After three months of battling the code, I had something ready for testing, but could not get access to the file server of the client, so I could work on the files directly. No responses from him so I gave up.

Fast forward three more months, and someone at Paystack buzzed me for help. He noticed I was a Joomla! fan, and had developed payment plugins for other components in the past. He needed help with developing one for the OS Membership Pro component, and was wondering if I was game. When he realized I already had something going, he encouraged me to finish, and offer me help 😀

So here are the notes and lessons I learnt the hard way while battling with it. I know I am bound to build another payment plugin for this component, so I figure, having something I can refer to, tomorrow, to make my work easier, online, would be awesome.

  1. Recurring or not: if the plugin you are developing does not support recurring payments, then don’t test it with plans that have recurring subscription activated. I wasted valuable time testing because I did not do this – sounds easy but when you are not that familiar with the component, it’s not.
  2. Naming: the name of the plugin in the xml document must be the same as the name of the php file. That’s the only way it will show up in the front end as an option to be selected for payment.
  3. Blueprint: The PayPal plugin caters to both recurring and single payment modes, so use it as your blueprint for your plugin.
  4. Redirect or Credit Card: If you want to redirect to the payment gateway, use this skeleton they recently put up on their GitHub page . If you want to build a plugin that uses credit card, use this one. I worked on the Redirect option.
  5. Classes and functions: The main class extends MPFPayment. There are four functions -> __construct, processPayment, verifyPayment, and validate. Because of the different nature of the payment form, I also created my own renderRedirectForm function.

I will keep adding to this list.

Deploying Big Data for Security.

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Many organisations today are revolving and relaying on information technology, to many of those and to myself, I like to say that we are in the United Nations of information Technology.

With that, every minute we face new threats, the banks are hacked, there is fake news and even a presidential election is compromised. In the world of Data, we are reminded Data drives decisions, but decisions now write world history.

Stolen or manipulated Data can be used to assassinate character or disrupt democracy. Thats the real problem, cybersecurity threats is making it difficult to make good decisions. Data is more, its becoming the bedrock of our economies.

And Data plays a big role in  our decision making and we have to make sure that its being protected. If Data is manipulated it can be turned to a weapon and that weapon used against us.

Many businesses already use Big Data for marketing and research, yet may not have the fundamentals right – particularly from a security perspective. As with all new technologies, security seems to be an afterthought at best.

Big Data breaches will be big too, with the potential for even more serious reputational damage and legal repercussions than at present.

A growing number of companies are using the technology to store and analyse petabytes of data including web logs, click stream data and social media content to gain better insights about their customers and their business.

As a result, information classification becomes even more critical; and information ownership must be addressed to facilitate any reasonable classification.

Most organisations already struggle with implementing these concepts, making this a significant challenge. We will need to identify owners for the outputs of Big Data processes, as well as the raw data.

Thus data ownership will be distinct from information ownership – perhaps with IT owning the raw data and business units taking responsibility for the outputs.

In the run-up to Africa Cybersecurity Summit on 27th and 28th of September, I will be doing articles on a wide range of topics that we will cover during the summit. This mainly for drumming up support for the summit. For more information about the summit please visit www.acssummit.org 

Big Data is good, but big Data with an insertion of bad Data is big problem for everyone.

Is Working at Home the Future?

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In recent days Nairobi has found itself in a wet weather situation, and when it rains, it pours. There is something I have never understood about this city, things almost get to a stand still when it rains. We have seen crazy traffic in the morning and evenings, some commuters getting home in the. Middle of the night.

Last Thursday I called a friend of mine at 10am, she answered the phone in bed. She stretched and from a distance I had the bed crack, (I know she needs a new bed) but that is besides the point. We talked for a few seconds, and suddenly she was confirming what we were talking about on google.

If you are like me you know how cold or how warm a bed can be, it all depends with your investment. Today it poured the whole night and morning. Truth be told, the best time to have people work from their houses, just like my friend.

I have researched on a few organizations who have invested in systems that will make it easy for their employees to work remotely but still operate on a colonial mindset. Even though they have paid top dollar for the system, they imagine that you struggling to wake up in a cold wet morning, driving through a river like road and getting to work three hours later in part of your job description.

Why then would they care to have all this if its not put to work, even the United Nations still want to bus thousands of employees to Gigiri and still have programmes on reducing carbon emission.

I hope in the coming week some of you will visit the European Union office in Nairobi, which encourages people to work remotely. The boss says “don’t come to work if you don’t have shit to do” but still pays your salary at the end of the month.

But I will not end without saying this, if your work is cutting Kidero grass on Uhuru highways….and I say this with a lot of love, you gotta get to that shit. But if you are they guy posting how grass is being cut on Uhuru highway on the Governor’s FB page, that shit you can do it without leaving your bed. If you think people can not work while in bed, ask my friend, stretching in bed at 10am on a Thursday, she picked my call, she checked it on google and we were in business.

Before she hang-up she said she will mpesa 6 grants, am still waiting.

But there are a whole host of other benefits to home working, particularly from a health and wellbeing perspective. Below, we look at the seven reasons why home working is the future.

1. Reduction in commuting time

Not only is commuting often stressful and unpleasant, it also take up time that could otherwise be spent working or doing something else productive.

Employees who can work from home will also spend less money on petrol or train fares, which may give them less of an incentive to ask for a salary boost to cover travel expenses.

2. More productivity

Many people who work from home claim to be more productive because they’re not in a loud environment or distracted by co-workers.

In fact, according to a Canada Life survey, homeworkers rank their productivity as 7.7/10, compared with 6.5/10 for office workers.

A spokesperson for employment agency Reed said: “There are some obvious advantages of working from home that you’ve probably heard before – avoid the nightmare commute, work in your PJs – but the benefits go beyond that.

“Working from home can really help to increase your productivity, as the absence of office distractions makes it easier to keep your head down and actually get your work done.”

3. Fewer sick days

The survey also found, unsurprisingly, that home workers took fewer days off sick than those based in the office.

Employees working in an office took on average 3.1 days of sick leave last year, whilst homeworkers only took 1.8 sick days, Canada Life found.

That’s because employees who have a cold or are mildly sick can still get work done at home, while office workers are more inclined to take the entire day off to avoid leaving the comfort of their home.

In addition, the better work-life balance means workers are less likely to get ill in the first place because their stress levels are typically lower.

While the benefits of working at home are endless, I have only picked a few, am sure out there depending on what you do, you will find it beneficial working at home or if you are an employer, or if you are an employee.

East Africa Big Data Analytics and Cloud Computing Summit Held in Nairobi.

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Is East Africa ready to unlock the big data value? This was the big question that engaged the crowd of Tech experts that converged at the Strathmore Business School for this years East Africa Big Data and Cloud Computing Summit.

A couple of years back, the mantra “Content is king” ruled every aspect of innovation. We are now in an era where the trending terms are big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) and the new mantra is “Big data is king”.

Big data describes the massive volumes of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data that organisations can mine or analyse to gain insights which they can then use to enhance operational and strategic decision making, (If your Data can fit on a spreadsheet, its not Big Data). The sheer amount of data demands cost-effective and innovative ways to process information and make sense of it. That is where machine learning and AI come into the picture.

By effectively harnessing the power of big data, Kenya, and Africa, could drive massive productivity gains, cost savings and even new business models in sectors such as government, health, insurance and transport.

The East Africa Big Data Analytics and Cloud Computing Summit was born out of a much-needed opportunity to unite the data and analytics players and potential end-users of their expertise.

The event was scheduled for May 2nd and 3rd, 2018 at the Radisson Blu, Nairobi, Kenya, but we had last minute change of venus as the day approached and the two day event being shrunk to one day. The event featured 10+ industry expert keynote presentations, 12 panel discussions, covering a wide range of topics including Big data analytics, Machine learning techniques, Predictive modeling and analytics, Data security, Data mining, Cloud computing and Cyber security.

Industry players like Safaricom, where at hand to shade more light on how they have managed to create a data centre, their challenges and achievements and how they have continued to keep it working and more importantly secure. Safaricom and Equity group were louded to be the leading organizations in working towards the realization of millenium development goals – something that many Kenyans have forgotten.

Industry were encouraged to come up with mechanism that allows Telcos to disclose statistics that can be used to show trends and the need to close the gaps, while engaging in public participation in policies.

Check Point through their country manager Kendi Nderitu, put emphasis on security to enable the success of Big Data and Cloud Computing. Security involves everyone, whether the Cloud service provider or the user, security should be a priority at all levels. Gone are the days when the subject of security used to come last in a discussion when considering cloud services, now its top on the agenda.

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The internet in Africa has become more affordable and accessible to the masses. Kenya is ranked as having the fastest internet speeds in the continent, according to the ‘State of the Internet Connectivity Report’ by Akamai 2017 quarter one report.

Having the right infrastructure, capacity and security to innovate and explore these technology trends is crucial.

However, in Kenya, in spite of all our success stories already recognised globally, we are just at the beginning of our unique ICT revolution. We are huge contributors to the “Africa Rising” narrative. Let us continue to innovatively explore how we can invest in these exciting future technologies which will take Kenya into its bright destiny.

JoomShaper Sponsoring JoomlaDayKE18

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Once a year, JoomlaDay Kenya brings the local Joomla community & all developers,designers,security analysts, eCommerce, tech students, and organizations to a whole day on learning, networking and interacting. Our past events have seen the total growth in the use of Joomla and the local community at large. As you probably already know, Joomla is 100% volunteer based and so are JoomlaDay’s. 100% of the cost of the event is covered by sponsors, low-priced ticket sales and donations.

This year we would like a announce our Gold sponsor, JoomShaper. JoomShaper is the home of beautifully crafted unique Joomla templates and highly functional extensions along with award winning drag and drop SP Page Builder for you to create your dream website in minutes.

JoomShaper has a long-standing tradition of supporting Joomla events with sponsorships, promotions and in many other ways. They have been doing this from their strong intent on accelerating open source software innovation and grow the Joomla community to improve the entire web experience.

From the bottom of our hearts we would like to thank JoomShaper, for commiting to support this event and we are confident that their support will go a long way in ensuring we have a successful event. To find more about this event, please go to www.http://joomladay.or.ke