Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ministry of Agriculture say Ginger can achieve 5% of Global demand by 2019 - Boost to Ginger Farming Coming as it’s easy to Grow

“Once the farmers continue to embrace the best practices, and there is sufficient buy-in from the market," the country could meet that demand "in five years"”

Ministry of Agriculture Export Division General Manager Byron Henry commenting on Jamaica intention to meet 5% of global Ginger demand by 2019

This might come as a surprise to many Jamaicans, but despite the negative things being said about Jamaican Agriculture, we are really on the cusp of Greatness!

We’re already in the process of exporting Mangoes to the United States of America, once we have a Processing Plant will be needed to meet the requirements of the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as explained in my blog article entitled “Jamaica to Export Mangoes to America - Why US$20 Million Processing Plant for Radiation Therapy and Hot Water Baptism needed to Tap US$500 Million US Market”.

The Ministry of Agriculture recently revealed that Jamaica can produce up to 5% of global demand of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) by 2019 as stated in the article “Jamaica could meet global demand for its Ginger by 2019”, published Sunday, October 19, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.

According to Ministry of Agriculture Export Division General Manager Byron Henry, it's economically feasible as when our powdered Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is compared to the imported variety, mainly from China, ours is cheaper:

1.      US$1000 per Kilogram for Imported Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)
2.      US$813 per Kilogram for Jamaican Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)

Production is looking quite positive in 2014:

1.      320 hectares (790 acres) under production
2.      3,000 metric tons (tonnes) expected yield

To put that into perspective, when compared to figures for Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) yield from 2009:

1.      5 times the 409 tonnes
2.      20 tonnes more exported than what we import

To achieve the 5% of global Demand of Ginger would require:

1.      1,460 hectares (3607.7 acres) under production
2.      21,000 metric tons (tonnes) expected yield

So after Mangoes and possibly Sorrel, which can potentially be made into Sorrel Wine for export as a unique Jamaican Product as explained in my blog article entitled “How to make Jamaican Sorrel Wine – JA$2500 for 5 1 Liter Bottles of Sorrel Wine goes well with Chocolate Christmas Cake”, Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is the next crop that Jamaica has the potential to export competitively to the USA and even Europe.

Ministry of Agriculture and Ginger - Boost to Ginger Farming as it’s easy to Grow

The Ministry of Agriculture isn't sitting by idly.

Especially as growing Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is relatively easy as it start sprouting within 5-10 days after planting, requires no fertilizer, albeit that increases yield and the ratoons that remain in the ground produce Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) year after year as noted in RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) Growing Ginger Brochure.

When the leaves start to die off, usually after eight to ten months (8 to 10 months), the Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is ready for harvesting as noted in the article “Growing Ginger Root”, viewed by Lindsworth Deer on October 30 2014, Tropical Permaculture.

Its extract from its powdered form has known medicinal uses should also be of interest to the Ministry of Health according to Dr. Tony Vendryes in his article “GINGER Is A GREAT MEDICINE”, Published Tuesday July 12, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner:

1.      Cancer
2.      Inflammation
3.      Motion Sickness/morning sickness
4.      Side effects of Chemotherapy
5.      Sore throats from Cold
6.      Upset stomach

Despite missed opportunities, including a JA$500 million (US$6 million) dollar opportunity reported back in December 2011 to export Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) to an American company named REED that produces Ginger Beer and was seeking supplies of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) from Jamaica in the article “Jamaica Squanders $500m Ginger Export Prospect”, published Friday December 2, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner, the Ministry of Agriculture has still pushed ahead with incentives to increase production overall.

They’re been proactively promoting the Ginger Industry since February 2012, when the Ministry of Agriculture put in place measures to encourage Jamaicans to grow Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) as noted in the article “510 Acres To Be Planted With Ginger, Turmeric”, published Sunday February 26, 2012, by Avia Collinder, Business Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This should be especially welcome News to the Farmers in Hanover and Westmoreland, the current leader in Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) production in Jamaica as declared in the article “St James, Hanover Lead Ginger Production”, published Saturday April 26, 2014 by Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator, The Jamaica Gleaner.

During 2013, the Ministry of Agriculture took a deeper interest in the Ginger Industry:

1.      JA$31 million in 2012
2.      JA$114 million in 2013
3.      JA$40 million of the 2013 figure was interest-free loans to 502 farmers to cultivate 445 hectares (1099.61 acres)

Jamaica's is still in a recovery mode from the Rhizome rot and bacterial wilt diseases which devastated Jamaica's Ginger Industry during the 90's. 5% of Global Demand for Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is now in our grasp with even more for VAP (Value added Products) such as Wines and Powdered Essence that can fetch a great deal more on the Global Export Market.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Microblink PhotoMath Solves Algebraic Math Equations - How OCR Personal Math App Solving Algebraic Equations in Steps can make Online Banking Safer

“Children can use it as a tool which helps them to learn Math, while parents can use it to check the homework to their children. With PhotoMath, you can have a Math teacher in your pocket”

Excerpt from the description of PhotoMath updated Saturday October 25th 2014 on the Apple iTunes Store

Math Teachers at the MICO University College, you just got replaced by PhotoMath, the World's First Camera Calculator. High School students; now would be a good time to cancel those Math Extra Lessons classes or get a Windows Phone or Apple iPhone smartphone, whichever you can do first!

Remember Season 4, Episode 12 of The Big Bang Theory entitled the Bus Pants Utilization when the Gang wanted to make an App suggested by Leonard Hofstadter that could solve any mathematics equation? Here’s the video to jog your memory!

Well, for the math-challenged, rejoice, as your Christmas and relief from the drudgery of solving complex algebraic mathematical problems is over!

Microblink, the London-based company behind the PhotoPay Technology used for automated Bill Payment in European Banks, has decided to use its technology for evil by developing an App that solves mathematical equations as reported in the article “PhotoMath Is A Free App That Can Solve Equations Through Smartphone Cameras”, published 10/22/2014 7:58PM, by Amit Chowdhry, Forbes.

The free App, billed as the world's first Camera Calculator, is currently only available for Apple iPhones and not Google Android smartphones, can be seen as either a Student's little helper or a Math Teacher's Nightmare as described in the article “Use your phone's camera to solve equations with PhotoMath”, published October 28, 2014 11:01 AM PDT by Matt Elliott, CNET News.

It can solve arrange of mathematical problems:

1.      Basic arithmetic
2.      Fractions
3.      Decimal numbers
4.      Linear equations
5.      Logarithms

The website for PhotoMath pitches the product and the accompanying video explains in greater detail how PhotoMath Works:

Basically it uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) from another App that they developed called PDF417 Barcode Scanner that reads 1D barcodes, 2D barcodes and QR codes to read the algebraic Math Equation on printed pages recognize it and solve the equation for the unknown.

How to use PhotoMath – Algebraic Equations a Step at a time with a Math App Teacher

There are four (4) buttons on the screen:

1.      History
2.      Light
3.      Steps
4.      Help

History is just like the one in your computer Browser; it keeps track of the previous mathematics equations you’ve solved. The light just turns on your smartphone Camera light so as to allow you to solve equations in the dark. 

Steps to me is the best part; it can show you in steps how to solve the equation. And of course Help assists you with the App, albeit in my book, if you need help using this simple App, then no Math teacher, real or AI (Artificial intelligent) can help you with your math problems!

The instructions for use are quite straightforward:

1.      Place the equation with the red square frame, dragging the frame to enclose the entire equation while holding your hand steady
2.      PhotoMath will then solve the equation and display the answer onscreen
3.      Tap the Steps button, swiping up or down to view the Steps to solve the equation

First off the bat, I'd like to say it would be great if it I had a Social Media element where math-minded peeps could also hold conversation about Math equations and explore different aspects of Mathematics. A Developer Platform would also be good, as this has uses beyond just solving mathematical equations but also applications in 3D Geometry as well.

More updates are coming, so it’s early days yet as to what the developers of PhotoMath  have in store for the mathematically-challenged. That being said, PhotoMath does have limitations though:

1.      It can only read printed text, not written text or test on a printed screen, unlike the App proposed in the show the Big Bang Theory
2.      It needs refinement, as it often mistakes the “x” unknown in the equation for the multiplication sign
3.      Has difficulty identifying the unknown in the equation, albeit it solves for the value of the unknown
4.      The  red coloured Frame may not be large enough the capture all of the equation.

Microblink PhotoMath - How OCR can make Online Banking Simpler and Safer

Microblink PhotoMath, as simple as it looks, is harnessing the full power of all those cores in your smartphone.

Their technology is a lot like MadBits, a company that Twitter purchased as they specialize in the emergent field of Artificial Vision that involves the development of AI (Artificial Intelligence) Systems that can extract data from images as explained in my blog article entitled “Twitter buys Madbits – How Torch7 powered Artificial Vision will make Twitter more like Facebook

Microblink knows this; they plan to use their PhotoMath App and its technology to build Apps to enable online banking using Credit Cards.

Instead of having to enter your Credit Cards, possibly such an App would automatically scan your Credit Cards details and utilize them on online shopping websites such as Amazon or even Facebook and Twitter's soon-to-come Buy Button as described in my blog article entitled “Twitter’s one-click Buy Button – How One-Click E-Commerce is Twitter’s Great Smurfberry Scam Confessions of a Shopaholic”.

But in the meantime, you can try out this App that Microblink built which the Gang on the Big Bang Theory never got around to making that’s available on the Apple iTunes Store and the Windows Phone Store, with a Google Android App set to be released in 2015.

Male Student hacks TIS Project Tablet as Distribution Expands - Tablets Problems require Creative Jamaican solutions to deliver Lessons to the Learners We Teach

“From last September, you were told that we were getting Tablets, and this September has come and gone.... they are here ...... We know everybody will leave here with their Tablets today.....that is a promise from the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining and the Ministry of Education. As a pilot school, we welcome it”

Principal at Irwin High School, Aldin Bellinfantie on receiving Tablets under the TIS (Tablets in Schools) Pilot Project from Telecom Provider Digicel on Wednesday October 22nd 2014

Since the launch of the TIS (Tablets in Schools) Pilot Project in September 2014 as chronicled in my blog article entitled “Tablet In Schools Project launched for September 2014 – How Teachers Benefit as Female interest in ICT Industry Blossoms”, the rollout has been slow and steady.

The latest recipient recorded in the media thus far has been Irwin High School in St James, who receded JA$59 million worth of Tablet computers from representatives from Telecom Provider Digicel on Wednesday October 22nd 2014 as stated in “Irwin High Gets Promised Tablets”, published Thursday October 23, 2014, by Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

TIS (Tablets in Schools) Pilot Project Expands - Tablet Rollout Roll-Call across the island

Clan Carthy Primary got thirty (30) Tablets under the TIS Project in late July 2014, much to the delight of Principal of Clan Carthy Primary Sheldon Richards as stated in “Clan Carthy Primary gets Tablet computers”, published Wednesday, July 30, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.

Haile Selassie High School in Kingston had also gotten their Tablets as well as part of the TIS Project as stated in “Tablets To Boost Learning At Haile Selassie High”, Published Wednesday October 1, 2014, by Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Principal of the school, Lorenzo Ellis, had the Tablets distributed to students on Wednesday October 1st 2014. This even as the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-miller, warned the students against posting on Social Media Websites, particularly YouTube, as the Tablets are purely for learning as noted in the article “Tablets Not For Posting on Youtube – PM”, published September 29, 2014 By Alecia Smith-Edwards, The Jamaica Information Service.

They join Cavaliers All-age School in West Rural St Andrew who received their Tablets on Wednesday September 17th 2014 as stated in the article “Cavaliers All-Age students get Tablet computers”, published Friday, September 19, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.

Steer Town and Parry Town Primary in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, got their Tablets bright and early on Monday September 1st 2014 as reported in the article “Steer Town Academy, Parry Town Primary To Get Tablets”, published Monday September 1, 2014 by Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Salt Savannah Primary and Infant School in Clarendon, who also got their Tablet in September, are already reporting very enthusiastic learning among the children as noted in “Tablets arouse students' interest at Salt Savannah Primary”, published Friday, October 10, 2014, The Jamaica Observer. In fact, the teachers claim that the children are so enthused by the Tablets that they engage in playing educational Games even during Break and lunch periods.

The Teacher Colleges also have been getting the Tablets for Training and use in the Classrooms, specifically Sam Sharpe Teachers' College as reported in the article “Sam Sharpe Teachers' College Gets 250 Digital Tablets”, Published Saturday October 18, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner.

No mention anywhere about the MICO University College, but I’m still hopeful!

Most likely they’ll eventually be a part of the initial 25,000 to 30,000 Tablets to be distributed in the first phased of the TIS Project as mentioned by Minister of Science, Technology, energy and mining, Phillip Paulwell during an Awards Ceremony on Wednesday August 27th 2014 as stated in the article “Tablets issued to 1200 Secondary school teachers -- Paulwell”, published Wednesday, August 27, 2014 7:26 PM, The Jamaica Observer.

Tablets in the Hands of Kids - Security concerns about as some students not using them for education

Many will now be rightly concerned about the future of the TIS Project, now that an unnamed male student at a High School has officially cracked the software on the Tablets that block their access to non-educational material i.e. Pornographic material as stated in the article “Schoolboy Beats Software To Access Inappropriate Website On Gov't-Issued Tablet”, Published Wednesday October 29, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner

Not sure if the male student managed to override the GPS Tracking System installed on the Tablets by GeoTechVision Enterprises Limited as stated in the article “TEENAGE Tracking the TABLETS”, published Tuesday, September 30, 2014 By Kesi Asher, The Jamaica Observer.

That would have serious implications.

Especially if that knowledge leaked to the Tablet and smartphone Thieves in the New Kingston area as explained in my blog article entitled “How smartphones are stolen and IMEI changed – Uninformed Jamaican Police Tracking Jamaicans even as GOJ ID Registration by Telecom Providers needed”.

TIS Project on the Move - Digicel at the forefront of Tablet in Schools long before TIS Project

Telecom Provider Digicel is one of the four (4) contractors that have been contracted to supply Tablets as well as the CMS (Content Management System) and DMS (Deice Management Solutions) under this JA$1.4 billion initiative to get computers into the hands of students who can't afford them as noted in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Science and Technology signs four Contractors in March 2014 to procure Tablets - Test Pilot Project in September 2014 means Teachers can monetize e-books”.

Telecom Provider Digicel is scoring a lot of PR (Public Relations) mileage out of this, as they're basically endearing themselves to the Jamaican public via this very public donation to education.

This was indeed the sentiment expressed by Digicel Deployment officer, Rohan Williams as Irwin High School in St James got their kickstart into the 21st Century with these Tablets, quote: “We have always strived to be part of new innovations and we have always tried at all times to be part of the upward growth of our nation in whatever way we can assist.... and as such, we are very happy to be a part of this e-learning project, as we see it as another opportunity to offer aid to our nation as we strive toward Vision 2030”.

Telecom Provider Digicel  was already giving Tablets to Schools, mainly Primary Schools in East Kingston and Port Royal as far back as April 2013, long before they got officially drafted into the TIS Project  as noted in my blog article entitled “LIME and Digicel both make Donations of Tablets to Preparatory and Primary Schools - How Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark started a Love for Computer Programming Languages in Jamaica”.

Telecom Provider Digicel  followed up with partnerships with CSTS (Cyber School Technology Solutions) in a program to package eight hundred (800) Tablets with CSEC (Common Secondary Education Curriculum) Tutorial Material for schools our West such as Hampton High in Malvern, St. Elizabeth as recorded in my blog article entitled “Digicel partners with Cyber School Technology Solutions to provide 800 Tablets with CSEC Tutorial - Corporate Spirit spreading to help Schools get Tablets”.

So for them, this is just a continuation of the same process, to again quote Digicel deployment officer, Rohan Williams: Williams continued: “As we distribute these Tablets to the Irwin High School, it is our desire that the students will use these Tablets in the best way they can and to aid in the teaching-learning process”.

Tablets Problems require Creative Jamaican solutions - delivering the Lessons to the Learners we Teach

The Tablets are part of a yearlong Test Pilot to introduce Interactive Learning in the classroom by empowering students with Tablet Computers in order to their work and reduce the need for books as predicted in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Education Select Content for Jamaican TIS Project - How Tablets will Empower Interactive Learning and make Students Aim High”. 

Hopefully too, it'll boost innovation among females as I’ve predicted in my blog article entitled “Tablet In Schools Project launched for September 2014 – How Teachers Benefit as Female interest in ICT Industry Blossoms”.

This is a learning opportunity for Jamaica as we dance our education system into the 21st Century. As the Tablets are deployed and these problems arise, creative Jamaican solutions will be found to the problems that these Technological products present in delivering the Lessons to the Learners we Teach.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Inbox by Gmail for your Smartphone - Why Miconians will love Bundles of emails with Snooze Button that Assists with Email Coursework Hell

My Gmail Inbox is cluttered with files from Lecturers and fellow students in my groups from the MICO University College, making organizing this mess a chore that I have to regularly engage in. Folders help and Gmail automate which emails go to what folders help even more.

But what about your smartphone?

No, I don’t have one, but the comely females at the MICO University College must be trifle annoyed with checking their emails on their smartphone and Tablets. Especially on such tiny screens, making work productivity flow difficult to achieve even when perched with friend underneath the Tree at the  MICO University College courtyard or under the Gazebo

Well the Gmail Team has got you covered with their latest App launched Wednesday October 22nd 2014 called Inbox by Gmail that promises to sort the Gmail clutter on your smartphone and make it more manageable as reported in the article “Google unveils Gmail alternative: 'Inbox'”, published October 22, 2014 12:10 PM PDT by Richard Nieva and Seth Rosenblatt, CNET News.

Inbox by Gmail – Email automatically sorted by algorithm into Bundles

Inbox by Gmail is designed to complement Gmail on your smartphone, not replace it. I still this might do the trick for the smartphone-toting crowd as it appears well put together as noted in the article “Inbox is Google's new killer email app”, published October 23, 2014 10:18 AM PDT, CNET Reviews.

Basically it sorts all email into three (3) categories as shown below:

1.      Inbox
2.      Snoozed
3.      Done

The Bundles option sounds like a version of what the Folders in Gmail should have been; creating custom folders i.e. Bundles, then having the emails automatically sort themselves into those folders, maintaining a clean inbox at all time or kill them all at once.

I personally want to have improved email search as that would make finding all those emails in all those folder a trifle easier. Inbox by Gmail seems to partially have scratched that itch with phone numbers, flight status, images and attachments available on the fly without you even having to take peek inside of that email.

Makes spotting enemies easier albeit not so sure I like Google using its automated algorithm to tell what's hot and what's not as opined in “With Inbox, Google dares to be different”, published October 23, 2014 6:59 AM PDT by Stephen Shankland, CNET News.

I like this a lot as the video above clearly shows. So what other neat tricks does Inbox by Gmail have up its sleeve?

Inbox by Gmail - Snooze Button finally added an Assist never misses an Appointment

Google Now reminders are now customizable with the option to create your own reminders. Are you a big fan of your Alarm Clock's Snooze Button? Especially if it has an option like “someday”? Wouldn’t that be dandy, fellow Miconians, doing it with thy might?

Inbox by Google has a big one set just right with messages pre-programmable to snooze and then pop-up and scare you when you’re more sedated and able to handle the distressing news as noted in “Hands On With Google Inbox: Useful Email Triage Tools For A Mobile Workflow”, published Oct 22, 2014 by Darrell Etherington, Techcrunch.

Assists is the main feature of Inbox by Gmail. It reminds me of Google Alerts but for truly real time tracking of important events e.g. weather, flight information, as it happens. Perfect for the jet-set crowd! Never miss another appointment or plane out of town with this handy Assist-ant!

So how to get this email-sorting wonder of an App?

If you have an Apple iPhone or Google Android smartphone, you can get the App from the Apple iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store. Google Chrome users are in luck; it’s available as a Web App in the Chrome App Store as well. Have fun finally clearing that deep well of emails that's probably spanning pages in your inbox with a little help from Inbox by Gmail.