[ The following text is an excerpt from an email written to the Skunkworks mailing list - a list for Kenyan technologists]
[ The following text is an excerpt from an email written to the Skunkworks mailing list - a list for Kenyan technologists]
This is a pretty good article to check out (or just read my summary below):
There's been an ongoing discussion over the past year about getting one laptop to every child in Kenya and how the ICT industry here thinks about that. Many people feel that, to the degree that this is a good idea at all, laptops should be assembled in Kenya. I don't agree and below is a summary of the thoughts I posted to that group.
Supporting industry and helping kids with a final product are two independent things. The more money that goes into spinning up manufacturing capacity, the less money that goes into getting the technology to the kids. Kenya can't magically produce laptops cheaper than China can.
As a consequence of the Kenya Communications Act, CCK has drafted a new regime for administering the apex .ke country-code top-level domain (ccTLD). It is still not clear if the CCK has an opinion on arbitrary second-level domain names under .ke from any of the documents, but in addition to a new license for the apex registry (.ke itself) and second-level domain registry (.co.ke), there are also licensing documents for registrars who will be allowed to lease domains to the general public (example.co.ke and possibly example.ke).
For those who are unaware, registries take on core responsibilities around rules and regulations regarding domains and registries need to be held to very high standards. Registrars are merely sales organizations that resell (or really, lease) domains from the registry. Typically, a registry does not sell to the general public and a registrar has no core maintenance or administration role with regards to the domains it sells.
As a background, [generic top-level domains (gTLDs) include .com, .org, .mil, .net, etc... In addition to the generic domains, each country has a TLD referred to as a country-code TLD (ccTLD): .uk, .ke, .de. There are also now internationalized domains (IDNs) such as .中国 and .香港.
First off, we should all be thankful to CCK for having a public comment period at all. It's very atypical for Kenyan government departments to give time for proper feedback. Sometimes one sees gazetted rules in the newspapers dated one-month back so that they go into effect immediately. CCK really deserves a round of applause for recognizing that releasing rules in that way is less than ideal.
Visiting Gandi (a registrar, not a registry) to see what TLDs are broadly available is a great way of understanding the current topology of domains globally - and which ones are well represented around the world. Unfortunately, CCK rules continue to deny companies like Gandi from reselling the .ke TLD and therefore, the number of registrations is very low.
Norfolk Island (a very small semi-autonomous territory east of Australia) has .nf and allows those domain names to be registered for $1,420 and renewed for $230/year thereafter. Large multinationals like Google seem to pay up for "google" under any TLD so this is probably a good strategy for a very small country to capitalize on its ccTLD when there is no chance of broad adoption.
Barbados maintains a semi-restricted ccTLD, .bb and has very little uptake - seemingly intentionally. The rationale for this appears to be that Barbados wants to assert strong authority over the domain name so that end-users know that hosts have met certain criteria in order to have been able to leverage the .bb ccTLD at all. The goal is not to have mass adoption .bb domains in this scenario.
Austria has a long history with its TLD (.at). It is currently managed as a public-private partnership that was spun out of a loose coalition of Austrian ISPs. They have a permissive registrar license not requiring registrars to be located in-country and therefore have many sellers of the .at domain name around the world and many registrants.
It is out of the scope of this article to discuss all of what CCK is trying to change with these documents but I'd like to discuss some obvious points:
Although some ccTLDs (.uk) do not allow second-level domains (like bbc.uk), many have moved to allowing second-level domains (like donteat.at). Second level domains can sell well (ca.ke might work or would it be a flu.ke?) and earn money for the top-level registry. They also overcome the often meaningless divisions between companies (.co.ke), organizations (.or.ke) and 'others'. CCK has not made it clear what the future is for second level domains under .ke, but this needs to be a discussion and I would strongly favor second-level domains for .ke in order to increase adoption. Note that allowing domains like 'example.ke' does not mean that 'example.co.ke' or 'example.go.ke' couldn't continue to exist.
Registrars act as an intermediary between the registry (the organization that administers the definitive database of all .ke domains, handles complaints, enforces regulations, etc...) and the domain holder. Typically, an end-user leases a domain name from a registrar on a renewable annual basis and the registry administers the database. Unlike many other countries, CCK will require that all registrars be Kenyan-owned.
Although it's totally reasonable that the dot KE registry be explicitly under Kenyan authority, I don't think it's in the best interest of the industry to force registrars to also be locally domiciled. It may be good for a narrow group of local registrars to protect their business registering domains, it is bad for boosting the overall number of .ke domains registrered. The vast majority of domain registrars globally are non-Kenyan and excluding them from being able to lease the domains means that .ke will continue to be a niche asset. Kenya uses foreign contractors for many specialized activities (building airports, laying roads, improving container ports) and there is no reason to treat potential .ke registrars any differently - especially when the cost is impact is a continuing low uptake of the .ke TLD.
In addition to the exclusion of most of the global registrar industry from participating, the "APPLICATION FOR DOT KE DOMAIN NAME REGISTRY SERVICES PROVIDER AND DOT KE SUBDOMAIN NAME REGISTRAR SERVICES PROVIDERS UNDER THE UNIFIED LICENSING FRAMEWORK" document places myriad burdens on even local registrars including the need to:
Note: It's been pointed out to me that my determination might be wrong. This document may only refer to registries (although it seems very clear that it's referring to registrars). I really can't say for sure and we would all be grateful if the CCK would clarify what it means here.
Although the officious application requirements are very bad for the uptake of the .ke TLD, many of the requirements are also intrusive. It makes sense for the main registry provider of .ke to be rigorously vetted and part of a public bidding process, but it is counterproductive to place the same high bar in front of the hundreds of registrars who should instead be welcomed into the program in order to sell more .ke domains. Requirements that should be stricken are:
Again, the documents are confusing so it's not really clear what CCK intends.
The research by CCK vis-a-vis the regulation and administration of ccTLDs globally as evidenced in these documents appears pretty minimal. Most of the background appears to come from other Kenyan law rather than other Internet governance regulation. I would hope that those who drafted the text read at least five or six sets of comparable documents from other countries - of which there are over 100. This is something which can easily be addressed and is well worth the time of the CCK researchers to not only read these regulations, but to reference them in an executive summary that should be attached to these drafts.
I recently responded to a query about security in the cloud and whether certain security-conscious apps should be deployed on an IaaS layer in East Africa. Here is my response:
I was recently reading this form for a work permit for non-Kenyans:
Today somebody asked me to tell them more about Kili, the public cloud we're trying to build in Kenya. I said that I can tell them a bit about Kili by telling them a bit about myself.
Agile development requires a couple of different meetings in order to get things done. Most people know about the daily standup meeting where all the members of the team stand and one at a time say what they did the day before and what they plan to do that day. Ideally you pass around a token (conch shell anyone?) and only the person holding the token can speak.
The other important meeting is called 'estimation'. This is held every sprint (week or two) and it's when cards are estimated by the people who will likely do them. Only those people can estimate (usually with point values of 1, 2, 3 and maybe 5).
Both of these meetings are absolutely critical to a team's success in the agile scenario.
There is a third meeting that some groups forget about but which is no less important. In fact, I would say it's the most important meeting and it can even be used without the rest of the process on a non-development project (for instance with a sales team).
First of all, get everyone in the room or simply commandeer the entire office. This is a group event and nobody on the team should be missing it (unless they're busy playing Starcraft of course). Don't be lame and exclude certain staff. If you don't value their input enough to have them in the meeting, let them go entirely. If there's a senior person who doesn't even want to come to the first meeting - know in your heart that that person doesn't value you and start looking for another organization to work at or start thinking long term about ejecting that senior figure from the group. Hiring and firing is an important part of all organizations - face it head on.
There is an exception to the 'invite everybody' rule and that's if an invitee might make other people feel 'unsafe' and otherwise keep members of the group from speaking up. This might happen if you're a consultant called in to fix something. If you're consulting, they've called you in to fix the problem. Don't invite the toxic character but do make sure he or she knows the outcome of the retrospective meeting and work with them to fix the problem. Hopefully you can fix the situation and earn your keep - or you can at least identify the problems for upper management who can then make tough decisions. If this is your team, this situation is really bad.
Anyway, once everybody is together, let them know this will take 1 hour (1:15 if it's 10+ people and it's the first time). Don't let meetings go more than 5 minutes over time - you really don't deserve the respect of that person who didn't come if you can't even end the meeting on time.
Cellphones and computers off.
* Post-it notes or index cards with tack/putty/magnets to stick them on a whiteboard.
* Bunch of markers to write on the cards.
Make sure to start things off by asking about safety and make sure that everyone is comfortable enough to speak. This is the organizer's responsibility. Everybody gets a stack of cards or block of post-it notes.
On each card, participants write about the previous 2-3 weeks (every 2-3 weeks is a good cycle for these meetings) with "things that worked" or "things that didn't work". Let them brainstorm for a solid 10 minutes or until there's not much else to write. When people have written all their cards, they all get put on the board either on the left side reserved for "things that worked", and the right side for "things that didn't work".
Some people add a 'puzzle' section on the right side of the board for things that people didn't understand (i.e. what's that giant box that got delivered last week and is sitting in the corner of the room shaking every couple of minutes?).
The organizer then reads the cards out loud one by one. If one is similar to another that has already been read, he puts them together in a cluster on the board. If the organizer needs clarification, she asks whoever wrote the card to offer more details to the group.
When all the cards are grouped on the board, each person gets a chance to vote on the cards they think are important by adding a dot. Each person gets a total of 3 votes (feel free to put 3 votes on one card).
It's nice to vote for "things that worked" but over time, people are going to focus on "things that didn't work" because those are the things people want to make better.
Now the organizer takes the top 3-5 cards and moves them to the upper right side of the board in order. Only the top 3 are typically discussed but sometimes there's time to talk about #4 or even #5 so it's best to just move them to the upper right as well if the vote count is close.
Starting with the top, you open the floor to discuss each item one by one. Give about 5-7 minutes to explain what didn't work and why it matters. At the end of the discussion (shut it down if it's taking too long), ask for a volunteer to be the point person to address the problem ahead of the next retrospective meeting. The volunteer DOES NOT HAVE TO FIX whatever didn't work. The volunteer just has to move forward with putting together the solution to the issue: getting the right people together, finding out how to fix it, assigning people to fix it, or of course, just fixing it.
Each session gets a bit easier and smoother and this is when the point people assigned to unwind (or at least start to unwind) the things that didn't work from the previous session get to talk about their progress. If progress isn't sufficient, the person keeps at it (or maybe somebody more senior takes over) until there's some sort of resolution. Not everything always gets fixed but the team sees how they were able to push forward problems and get them addressed - and that's an amazing step forward for most organizations
Just do it! If after you read this article, you're worried about buy-in and getting people on board, let the powers that be know that this is a great way to build a better organization and that the staff will really respond positively. And as with all things in the agile process, don't think too hard about it - just do it. You can always say "that was stupid" and never do one again. If a group can't try something just once to see if it works, it won't grow and be able to innovate. The capacity to experiment and innovate, sine qua non.
I just got another one of these VC email solicitations for an 'exclusive event'. At least youngStartup has the transparency to tell me upfront what the presentation fee is, but I find it disturbing that for $1,500 I can buy a "Top Innovator" award. Varud.com has only ever been a blog. About 2 years ago I worked on an idea for a social network based around future events and their outcomes - but it never materialized. It certainly doesn't merit an award. I'm surprised that people from Bain, etc.. could get suckered into attending an event like this. Obviously, the best ideas won't be presenting here, only the ones with money to play.
Don't get me wrong, established companies pay to present all the time. That's part of how they market. However, a startup spending $1,500 for something like this either doesn't know what it's doing (much better to spend that money on your product or more strategic marketing) or isn't well run - or it's already well-funded. Jason Calcanis has already written about this extensively. His message is that there are plenty of free ways to get an audience for your ideas. The most important thing is for you to have a partner whose skills complement your own and the time and money to work on your project. If you don't have the partner, worry about that first. If you have the partner and not the time and money, make your pitch awesome and then start pitching to whoever will listen - for free. Just getting in front of user groups and meetups is a huge step. At the same time, work on your product. If, after 6 months, you're not getting any traction, step back and reevaluate everything from the ground up.
Note: In order to not make this an ad hominem attack, I've taken out the sender's name.
Hey Adam - Let me know if you'd like to have Varud. recognized as one of 60 Top Innovators presenting at The 2010 New England Venture Summit being held on December 14-15 at the Hilton in Boston Dedham.
As you may know, this exclusive venture capital summit will bring together over 450 VCs, Corporate VCs, private investors, investment bankers and CEOs of emerging companies and will feature high-level networking, face 2 face meetings and over 40 VCs on interactive panels.
Partial list of VCs confirmed to speak includes:
Neeraj Agrawal, General Partner, Battery Ventures | Omar Amirana, MD, Partner, Oxford Biosciences | Christian Bailey, General Partner, incTANK Ventures | Michael Balmuth, General Partner, Edison Ventures | Dr. Jonathan Behr, Principal, PureTech Ventures | Tom Cain, Special General Partner, Sail Venture Partners | Carlos Cesta, Director, Verizon VC | Jon Chait, Partner, Dace Ventures | Andrew D. Clapp, Managing Partner, Arctaris Capital | Issam Dairanieh, US Director, BP Alternative Energy Ventures | Ohad Finkelstein, Partner, Venrock | Patrick J. Fortune, Ph. D., Partner, Boston Millennia Partners | Liron Gitig, Principal, FTV Capital | Jeffrey Glass, Managing Director, Bain Capital Ventures | Greg Kats, Managing Director, Good Energies | Alan J. Koenning, Fund Manager, UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund | Venetia Kontogouris, Managing Director, Trident Capital | John Lawrence, Partner & CFO, Longworth Venture Partners | David J. Martirano, Co-Founder and General Partner, Point Judith Capital | Chuck McDermott, General Partner, Rockport Capital Partners | Robert McNeil, Ph.D., Managing Director, Sanderling Ventures | Jeffrey B. Moore, Vice President, MP Healthcare Venture Management | Ira Nydick, Senior Technology Analyst, Panasonic Venture Group | Brendan O’Leary, General Partner, Prism VentureWorks | Patrick O'Neill, P.E., Investment Associate, Connecticut Innovations | Joseph Riley, Managing Member, Psilos Group Managers | Praveen Sahay, Founder & Managing Director, WAVE Equity Partners | Gavin B. Samuels, M.D., MBA, Senior Partnering Director, Teva Innovative Ventures | Bart Stuck, Managing Director, Signal Lake | Steven St. Peter, Managing Director, MPM Capital | Scott Requadt, Transactional Partner, Clarus Ventures | Chris Risley, Operating Partner, Bessemer Venture Partners | Jake Tarr, Managing Director, Kinetic Ventures | Louis A. Toth, Senior Managing Director, Comcast Interactive Capital | Markus Thill, Managing Director, Robert Bosch Venture Capital | Tracy S. Warren, General Partner, Battelle Ventures | Tom Whiteaker, AVP, Hartford Ventures | Caleb Winder, Vice President, Excel Venture Management | Bilal Zuberi, Principal, General Catalyst Partners and many more.
Our screening committee is busy reviewing the submissions and will be selecting the remaining companies by this coming Monday. If interested, I would need you to fill out the summary outline and submit by the end of Monday.
I've included the details of the opportunity - let me know if you'd like me to send over the summary outline.
Featured Company Benefits include:
* Recognition as a Top Innovator 60 company
* Access to leading VCs, Corporate VCs, private investors and investment bankers
* Presentation slot
* Three Complimentary passes for company executives
* Additional discounted registrations
* Two page Company Profile published in event guide distributed to all attendees and investors
* Media Exposure
* Two complimentary passes to attend “Featured Company” Coaching Session with active VCs providing feedback
* Two passes to opening reception
Fee to present: $1,485 (there is no fee to apply).
from south.modelsinspector import add_introspection_rulesin your fields.py file (which should be holding the custom field MyCustomField, in my case in the util app).