Guide to SCRUM / Agile …


In Software industry, we are always confused as to where do we look for resources, when reading up on any given topic. I have been reading and discussing SCRUM with many people, and this is the most closest, and precise information I have read. Sharing it over here for my readers.

From: http://www.versionone.com/agile-101/what-is-scrum/

Introduction to Scrum

Scrum is an agile project management methodology or framework used primarily for software development projects with the goal of delivering new software capability every 2-4 weeks. It is one of the approaches that influenced the Agile Manifesto, which articulates a set of values and principles to guide decisions on how to develop higher-quality software faster.

Who Uses Scrum Methodology?

Scrum is widely used by software development teams. In fact it’s the most popular agile methodology. According to the 2013 State of Agile™ report, 73% of software teams use Scrum or a Scrum hybrid. However, Scrum has spread to other business functions including IT and marketing where there are projects that must move forward in the presence of complexity and ambiguity. Leadership teams are also basing their agile management practices on Scrum, often combining it with lean and Kanban practices (subgroups of agile project management).

Are Scrum and Agile the Same Thing?

No. Scrum is a sub-group of agile:

  • Agile is a set of values and principles that describe a group’s day-to-day interactions and activities. Agile itself is not prescriptive or specific.
  • Scrum follows the values and principles of agile, but includes further definitions and specifications, especially regarding certain software development practices.

Although developed for agile software development, agile Scrum became the preferred framework for agile project management in general and is sometimes simply referred to as Scrum project management or Scrum development.

Benefits Received from Scrum

Organizations that have adopted agile Scrum have experienced:

  • Higher productivity
  • Better-quality products
  • Reduced time to market
  • Improved stakeholder satisfaction
  • Better team dynamics
  • Happier employees

What Makes the Scrum Methodology Special?

Scrum addresses complexity in work by making information transparent, so that people can inspect and adapt based on current conditions, rather than predicted conditions. This allows teams to address the common pitfalls of a waterfall development process: chaos resulting from constantly changing requirements; underestimation of time, resources and cost; compromises on software quality; and inaccurate progress reporting. Transparency of common terms and standards is required in Scrum development to ensure that what is being delivered is what was expected. Frequent inspection ensures progress and detects variances early on so that adjustments can be made quickly. The most common Scrum events for inspection and adaptation are: Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum or “Stand Up”, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective (see Scrum Events below).

Challenges of Scrum and Other Agile Methodologies

Most enterprises first transition individual teams to agile before they “scale” to the rest of the organization. Scaling agile is not easy, which has recently prompted new frameworks to emerge, such as the Scaled Agile Framework® and Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) This popularity has made Scrum a significant piece of many agile application lifecycle management (agile ALM) initiatives.

Components of Agile Scrum

The Scrum methodology is defined by team roles, events (ceremonies), artifacts, and rules.

The Scrum Team

Scrum teams are typically composed of 7 +/- 2 members and have no team leader to delegate tasks or decide how a problem is solved. The team as a unit decides how to address issues and solve problems. Each member of the Scrum team is an integral part of the solution and is expected to carry a product from inception to completion.

There are three key roles in a Scrum team:

The Product Owner
The Product Owner is the project’s key stakeholder – usually an internal or external customer, or a spokesperson for the customer. There is only one Product Owner who conveys the overall mission and vision of the product which the team is building. The Product Owner is ultimately accountable for managing the product backlog and accepting completed increments of work.

The ScrumMaster
The ScrumMaster is the servant leader to the Product Owner, Development Team and Organization. With no hierarchial authority over the team but rather more of a facilitator, the ScrumMaster ensures that the team adheres to Scrum theory, practices, and rules. The ScrumMaster protects the team by doing anything possible to help the team perform at the highest level. This may include removing impediments, facilitating meetings, and helping the Product Owner groom the backlog.

The Development Team
The Development Team is a self-organizing, cross-functional group armed with all of the skills to deliver shippable increments at the completion of each sprint. Scrum broadens the definition of the term “developer” beyond programmers to include anyone who participates in the creation of the delivered increment. There are no titles in the Development Team and no one, including the ScrumMaster, tells the Development Team how to turn product backlog items into potentially shippable increments

Scrum Events (Ceremonies)

The Sprint
A sprint is a time-boxed period during which specific work is completed and made ready for review. Sprints are usually 2-4 weeks long but can be as short as one week.

Sprint Planning
Sprint Planning team meetings are time-boxed events that determine which product backlog items will be delivered and how the work will be achieved.

The Daily Stand-up
The Daily Stand-up is a short communication meeting (no more than 15 minutes) in which each team member quickly and transparently covers progress since the last stand-up, planned work before the next meeting, and any impediments that may be blocking his or her progress.

The Sprint Review
The Sprint Review is the “show-and-tell” or demonstration event for the team to present the work completed during the sprint. The Product Owner checks the work against pre-defined acceptance criteria and either accepts or rejects the work. The stakeholders or clients give feedback to ensure that the delivered increment met the business need.

The Retrospective
The Retrospective, or Retro, is the final team meeting in the Sprint to determine what went well, what didn’t go well, and how the team can improve in the next Sprint. Attended by the team and the ScrumMaster, the Retrospective is an important opportunity for the team to focus on its overall performance and identify strategies for continuous improvement on its processes.

Scrum Artifacts

Product Backlog
The product backlog is the single most important document that outlines every requirement for a system, project or product. The product backlog can be thought of as a to-do list consisting of work items, each of which produces a deliverable with business value. Backlog items are ordered in terms of business value by the Product Owner.

Sprint Backlog
A sprint backlog is the specific list of items taken from the product backlog which are to be completed in a sprint.

Increment
An Increment is the sum of all product backlog items that have been completed since the last software release. While it is up to the Product Owner to decide on when an increment is released, it is the team’s responsibility to make sure everything that is included in an increment is ready to be released. This is also referred to as the Potentially Shippable Increment (PSI).

Scrum Rules

The rules of agile Scrum should be completely up to the team and governed by what works best for their processes. The best agile coaches will tell teams to start with the basic scrum events listed above and then inspect and adapt based on your team’s unique needs so there is continuous improvement in the way teams work together.

Practicing Scrum

Getting Started
To get started with agile Scrum, it is not uncommon for an individual Scrum team to use simple Scrum tools like a whiteboard, sticky notes, or a spreadsheet to manage the product backlog and the progress of the sprint backlog items in each sprint.

Scaling agile practices to the rest of the organization is undoubtedly more complicated: The more teams use Scrum within an organization or are geographically dispersed, the more cumbersome simple tools like whiteboards, sticky notes, and spreadsheets become.

Taking Agile to the Next Level
VersionOne addresses the challenge of scaling agile practices like Scrum by providing an all-in-one agile project management platform that can be used not only by individual teams, but also by distributed enterprises who have adopted a scaled agile framework. The VersionOne agile ALM platform is a centralized environment for stakeholders at the team, program and portfolio levels to plan, track and report on software delivery regardless of location.

What is Release Management and why is it needed ?


This article was first published on http://www.cmcrossroads.com/article/what-release-management-and-why-it-needed previously. Re-blogging this article over here for my readers. Here is the article for your reading pleasure.

Release management combines quality assurance compliance activities with management of software artifacts in a central repository (source control), then releases those software artifacts to a client production environment for application deployment. The release could be done manually or automated, depending on the maturity of the release management processes.

It all started with the shift from project-based companies to product-based companies. For example, a company making websites for different clients sees that clients have started frequently asking for changes to their websites. One client wants the user to just be able to browse through their merchandise, while another client wants a more complex system where the user has a complete menu system to order every option and detail. Nearly all websites the company builds are different, yet they usually have some similarities, such as a top header, a navigation bar, something about the client’s product, and then some capability to attach a shopping cart or design a complete ordering system. So what arises from this challenge is a product-based website, which has all the same elements but with configurable mechanisms for deploying features as needed. This configuration part is the Holy Grail of release management.

Today it is common for every product to have a configuration ability built in. Android, for example, is highly customizable at many layers, including features for development, testing, and end usage. When all the products have configuration built into them, a central body is needed to ensure from beginning to end that requirements are made into a complete, sellable product. We also need to consider how these requirements are transformed to code, tested, verified against the requirements, and then packaged to be released to the customer in a production environment.

Release management provides these capabilties. It is the glue that holds all the key departments of a software development lifecycle together, including business and functional requirements, design, development, testing, deployment and ongoing maintenance.

The basic tenets of release management are as follows:

Code management: Proper code management of multiple clients means they have administrative access to source code repositories and how they are managed. To some, configuration management could be a part of release management.
Facilitation and collaboration: Release managers should be talking with all the people in a software shop and providing them with help or solving their problems related to release management.
Processes and policies: With time, different anomalies will be detected. For any anomaly, it has to be properly detected and analyzed, and then some controls needs to be applied to it. That implementation of control will be applied by release managers by making policies and procedures to enforce some additional practices.
Gatekeeper or guardian: Release managers are the gatekeepers to the production code. Any software code artifact that moves out of the organization has to be known to the release manager and should be approved by change management function.
Metrics measurement and productivity: With time, different metrics and measurement should be collected to help understand the throughput of releases given that the organization has some measurable skill set of people, technology, and current mature processes.
The Reporting Line of Release Management

Release managers may report to different teams, depending on how big the organization is. The release managers may report to the head of quality assurance, the project management office, the head of product development, or even directly to the chief operations officer. These variations are basically dependent on what level of process maturity the organization is at. The more process maturity the organization has, the more likely the release management function will be autonomous and the release manager can exercise control in making policies and procedures.

Skills and Expertise Required for Release Management

Who is best suited for the job of release manager? Basically, very mature people who have had experience in nearly all the phases of the software development shop. They know the ins and outs of how and when process changes impact the working habits of personnel involved in software development.

They should be good at work management, time management, and, most of all, people management. They are more like project managers, but armed with a Swiss army knife of processes and automation of working habits. They are the people shaping the organization’s internal IT controls, strengthening them with automated solutions known as continuous integrations and continuous delivery. Technically, they have to be proficient in maintaining the source code repository, including branching, labeling, and extracting a particular release from repository when the code is ready to be built, packaged, and deployed.

In other words, they should be able to inform anyone at a moment’s notice where a particular artifact (be that a requirements document, functional specs, project schedule, design documents, QA plan, QA test suite, deployment plan, deployment manuals, user manuals, release plan, client service-level agreement, etc.) is residing in the code repository and who should have access to it. There are usually qualifications that decide whether a particular document is to be shared with a particular personnel level.

Release managers should not be like the old-school auditors who are very strict with policies and procedures and are only concerned with following rules, no matter how slow they make the software development. Release management supplements the role of auditors by enforcing controls, but it focuses on automating every aspect of software development in accordance with the policies of the company. There might be some areas where release management will take a firm stand, such as ensuring a code review before the code is checked in, and some areas where release management might relax, such as providing the development and QA engineers the freedom to work until the tasks and policies are automated and tested.

In some mature organizations, release management also will have the developers associate check-ins with at least one work item or issue reported so that a particular check-in or change set has visibility. They might relax about how QA makes their environment after a build is provided by the technology team in the beginning. They will automate the whole process so that when a developer checks in his code, making and deploying the build is performed. If a successful build is made, it is copied to the QA environment by some automated test quality gates to pass a sanity or smoke test. This whole process is also called continuous integration.

Application of Release Management Concepts

Most of what is discussed in the article is achievable. For example, Android is already using these practices. Mobile users automatically get over-the-air updates to their operating systems with new features, which are then deployed on their devices.

Tell me in the comments what you think of release management and how much release management is implemented in your organization.

Next in line article would be tools to be used in Release Management.

Challenges of Mobile Wallet Implementation in Pakistan Payment Industry


A picture of Mobile depicting a Wallet, hence, the word, Mobile Wallet.

With the advent of smart phones in Pakistan, a big question that comes in the minds of Banking Gurus, is whether or not Mobile Wallet will take off in Pakistan? Since, people are keeping everything in mobile, why not their banks, their ability to pay bills, their ability to be agile in shopping, and keeping tabs on their account. Every bank / clients / switch involved in Payment industry of Pakistan is thinking of coming up with ways to connect their Bank Accounts with Mobile Phones, because they know that the future lies of Banking lies in Mobile Phones.

Brett King’s book “Banking 3.0” have a slogan that “Why Banking is no longer somewhere you go, but something you do”. Bret king provides a pictorial view of 2016, about how less and less a consumer would be interacting with physical banks and how more consumers will be interacting with their devices, tablets, mobile phones. This gives us a clear idea of where the Banking / payment industry would be heading and whether this is the time for Payment industry of Pakistan to move towards Mobile Wallets or not.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan quarterly report, the number of transactions through mobile (excluding Utility Bill Payments) in a quarter of 2014 is 59 thousand alone worth 232 million rupees. The similar figures are provided by Gallup Research (provided in list of articles section at bottom) in a much more visualized. These reports are giving a litmus paper test of how much ripe is the market for Mobile Wallets.

Let’s discuss of what constitutes a Mobile Wallet. A mobile wallet will be very much similar to our traditional wallets that we carry. In women’s terminology, clutches, purses. For example

#

Traditional Wallets have

Mobile Wallets might have

1

Money (Hard Cash)

Credits – Think Easy Paisa Credits

2

Debit Cards

Digitized / encrypted form of Debit Cards of Multiple Banks

3

Credit Cards

Digitized / encrypted form of Credit Cards of Multiple Banks

4

Loyalty Cards

Digitized Loyalty cards or Loyalty would be gained by using Transaction stats, or by the app itself.

Recently, in Pakistani Payment scene, MCB has launched their, Mobile Wallet – MCB Lite, but according to the definition, that is not a complete mobile wallet. Also, according to the news in Social Media, MCB Lite is using Mobile Wallets in LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) and they do have plans to make LUMS a Cashless environment. Latest Technology like NFC would be piloted in LUMS. This is because; mainly the target audience is young generation who don’t have any discomfort in using technology.

As PayPal’s president David Marcus says, for a Mobile Money to truly take off, it must offer more. It has to be the experience you have online today. You will go fast, pay fast, and the merchant will know more stuff about you, so that they will provide better options to you. In other words, the merchants will provide better services, which will enhances both the consumer experience as well as it will provide grounds for banks to innovate further services in mobile wallets.

So in other words, if a complete Mobile Wallet experience might be like a person wandering in a Shopping mall. Where by a Mobile Wallet app will sense, that one is near some restaurant that he loves to dine in. Based on time of Mobile (around 2000 hours, dinner time, and location, think Google Location / Foursquare) a Mobile wallet app might suggest or inform that the restaurant in the shopping mall you are wandering offers a discount. (Think checking in to Foursquare Venue or using OnTheGo.pk). One can avail that discount, by (A) tapping on the app, and redeeming it later or (B) physically going and ordering before a set time. Now at the time of actual transaction, the customer will have a choice of deciding which medium through which to pay. He could choose to pay via credits in his wallet (think Easy Paisa). or he choose to use his Debit / Credit Card. Again, one mobile wallet could hold multiple Bank’s Credit / Debit Card. Payments could take place via WIFI being offered at merchants end, or by using GPRS / 3G on consumer’s end. Another way of payments being done is to use alternatives like NFC, QR Codes, Near Sound Data Transfer ™ (NSDT™). QR Codes are already being used as discount redemption by Olaround (http://olaround.me) in Pakistan and at Starbucks internationally. At the end of the day, the merchant will know that you paid via Mobile Wallet, your feedback about the experience was good / bad, and that you came to the merchant via the location based advertising. This way, the merchant will provide better offers next time.

Mobile wallet could also have Inter Funds Transfer, where by Mobile phone holder’s Contact list could be scanned or provided by choice from the user by giving the app the permission of scanning not the complete address book, but by scanning a group in Contact list, or say, just scan my WhatsApp contact list or Viber Contact List. Since Mobile Numbers are unique, the funds could be transferred to any one on your contact list which has a Phone number and he would be credited with the amount of Money transferred. Again, a Mobile App would be needed, to send the Sender’s Mobile Number, Receiver’s Mobile Number and the amount (which could be debited off from receiver’s end. If, at the time of transaction, the receivers don’t have Mobile Wallet, it will be automatically created for them. This model of fund transfer is very similar to what Easy Paisa / Time pey / Mobi Cash is offering these days. This model could also be integrated into Mobile Wallet. Also, Wallet to Wallet transfer could also be made possible, if the two customers are on the same wallet or switch (think 1 Link / MNET) and app could display this information as well.

Another area which will add more value to Mobile Wallets would be providing Personal Finance Manager Apps. In other words, if a Wallet can keep track of Incoming Credits (Deposits) as well as outgoing Debits (Withdrawals), why can’t a wallet provide a complete Personal Finance Manager, which will inform beforehand, the consumer whether or not they have exceeded their budget or it they are near their border line of exceeding their budget in real time. Simple Mobile Wallet is already doing this. (https://www.simple.com/goals/ ).

Personal Finance Budgeting is a big area for improvement, where only a select few banks / financial institutions might go. On consumer end, there are people who may want to the keep their finances to themselves. The banks, if they do the math, they will actually know more about their customers (KYC), since they are already having their customer’s income in their account, plus the debits will be counted for and against the Credit / Debit payment cards / and / or Mobile based cards. They would offer something of a far greater value than what they are offering today, if they implement Personal Finance Manager app / functionality in Mobile Wallets. Think Personal Expense Manager App on Android. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=at.markushi.expensemanager ). All they have to do to is to provide the customers with the ability to manage their personal budget in their mobile apps. Again, Simple is doing an awesome job of managing their budgets and goals in the palm of their customers.

To truly take off a Mobile Wallets, the mobile wallets should provide

  • location based offerings from merchants
  • Loyalty points
  • digitized, secure, multiple credit / debit card in wallet
  • wallet to wallet transfer using contacts / phone numbers
  • Transactions could take on WIFI, 3 / 4G or using QR Codes or Near Sound Transfer or NFC (Near Field Communications)
  • Security of remote wipe of Wallets in case of Mobile snatching
  • Personal Finance Management would be big plus for consumers

There are are some parties that have to work together to bring in a consolidated, centralized mobile wallets. The following are the parties in no random order.

– Telcos – think telcos in Pakistan that is, Ufone, Mobilink, Warid, Zong and Telenor. They will be backbone of providing a Mobile Wallet, since Mobile Wallet has to be associated with a Mobile Connection / Mobile Numbers. Off course, like IP Addresses, there will be unique Mobile Numbers. Every Mobile is a Unique Mobile number and it is tagged with one unique CNIC) as per PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority).

Banks / Financial Institutions (to offer their Credit Card / Debit Card in Digitized / encrypted form in Mobile wallets, along with ability to provide fund transfer along with Loyalty points and / or finance manager functionality).

– Merchants (Naheed Super Store / Imtiaz / Butler’s Chocolate Cafe / Levis / Ego to name a few, who will offer their products to enable Mobile Wallet payment scheme, or if they want to be a part of Advertisement on Mobile Wallets). Plus, if they start loyalty based programmes, they can really capitalize on Mobile Money. (Think OnTheGo.pk [ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.activemake.pound ] )

– Clients / Consumers – They should be the driving factor behind Mobile Wallets. They should be comfortable in sharing their details, spending habits, locations to merchants / banks in a secure way, that will not hamper their privacy. These days, even when electronic Bill payments are active, there is small number of people, who are still accustomed to the electronic Bill Receipt they get as a receipt when paying bill to Bank’s Line. The small paper gives a small sense of security, had there been any dispute that paper might save their day. Since SMS in smart phones might get lost, they might not be searchable, the emails might get archived. Paper receipt rules. It is the basic perception of consumers that one has to be removed and to entice them to come to Mobile Wallets. It will be the same perception shift when ATMs were introduced in Pakistan in late 80s, and people were used to do banking in banking hours and visiting the branch. For that perception to change, the dispute resolution process might have to be changed to include digitized receipts, and to give the consumer a sense of security.

– App Developers / Companies – Off course, Mobile Wallets have to be applications on mobile platforms. Be them on Android, IPhone, Symbian, and Windows platforms. To truly fly with any mobile wallet, a mobile wallet has to be developed on all platforms. There are many financial institutions that could play a big part in development of Mobile Wallets along with adding layers of security which might remote wipe a complete wallet or remote freeze a wallet in case Mobile Phone is lost or stolen, by allowing the consumers to send an email / SMS to a fixed number of Wallet Administration and / or Bank contact and / or Carrier Help line. This is just an idea brought by Android phone security, but there might be better ways to lock down a wallet in case mobile phones are snatched.

It might not be wrong to say that just like visits to Banks are minimized, almost nullified because of ATMS, Mobile Wallets might have the potential to minimize the usage of Payment Cards. Our wallets will have fewer cards for us to carry and our Mobile phones will still be the same thickness or less, but will have more apps to carry our digitized cards, and our worries would be to keep our mobile batteries up and running and never to lose our mobile phones in public places.

What matters is how State Bank of Pakistan regulates mobile wallets in the payment industry of Pakistan, since third world countries are already moving ahead in the game. Again, we might be needing a good blend of App Developers / Financial Institutions offering development of mobile wallets, Merchants, Telcos and Banks along with providing a central consolidated service provision.

Links shared in this Article.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_payment
http://www.google.com.pk/wallet/
http://www.mcbmobilepayments.com/what-is-a-mobile-wallet/#.U1EbIVew7L4
http://www.mhitslimited.com/blog/what-is-a-mobile-wallet
http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2014/02/21/how-do-you-win-the-mobile-wallet-war-be-like-starbucks/
http://www.quirk.biz/resources/mobile101/296/The-Mobile-Wallet
https://www.paywithisis.com/
http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/digital-wallets/

QR Based Payments
http://www.ericsson.com/m-commerce/blog/ericsson-dot-alternative-nfc-0

Near Sound Data Transfer
http://www.tagattitude.fr/en/solutions/mobile-money/case-studies/54-wallet

OnTheGo.pk
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.activemake.pound

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140416221405-29200492-tweet-a-coffee-another-example-of-starbucks-brilliance?trk=object-title

Simple Banking
https://www.simple.com/goals/
https://www.simple.com/spending
/
https://www.simple.com/banking/
https://twitter.com/simple
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simple/id479317486?mt=8
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.banksimple&hl=en

Expense Manager Apps on Google Play
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=at.markushi.expensemanager
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.code44.finance
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ru.orangesoftware.financisto

OlAround
http://www.olaround.me/
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.flip.olaround

https://www.google.com.pk/search?q=MCB+lite+on+LUMS
http://www.mcb.com.pk/assets/MCB_Bank__LUMS_sign_MoU.pdf
http://lums.edu.pk/news-detail/lums-and-mcb-sign-mou-to-transform-lums-into-a-cash-2397
http://propakistani.pk/2014/01/01/mcb-launches-mobile-wallet-a-single-solution-for-all-financial-needs/

http://www.etechcrunch.com/mcb-lums-signed-mou-mcb-lite-services/6370/
https://www.paywithisis.com/
https://salmankhwaja.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/whats-a-mobile-wallet/
http://www.amazon.com/Bank-3-0-Banking-Somewhere-Something/dp/1118589637

State Bank Quarterly Report
http://sbp.org.pk/psd/reports/2014/First-Quarterly-Review-FY13-14.pdf

Gallup Report
http://www.gallup.com.pk/Polls/Mobile%20Money%20Cyberletter.pdf


Author Bio:

Salman, Khwaja has served professionally in Pakistani IT Industry as a Technical content writer / author, Quality Assurance professional, Information Systems Auditor / Process Consultant and is now serving as a Release Manager. He is passionate on mobile technology, technological advancements in payment systems and providing consultation on various IT related problems. He has been consultant for The Tooba Foundation / Smile Savers as a Free Lancer. http://thetoobafoundation.wordpress.com/ and http://smilesavers.com.pk/

He has an M.S in Computer Science from Muhammad Ali Jinnah University and B.Sc. (Hons) in Management Information Systems from University of London. He can be reached at twitter handle @salmaankhwaja or you can follow his blog at https://salmankhwaja.wordpress.com/

What’s a Mobile Wallet ?


Recently, I happen to attend Mobile Commerce on March 13, 2014 in Movenpick. Following are some of reports which are covered on Pakistani Social Media Scene.

http://propakistani.pk/2014/03/13/abacusconsulting-sap-sponsor-mobile-commerce-conference-2014/
http://propakistani.pk/2013/03/14/abacusconsulting-sponsors-mobile-commerce-conference-in-karachi/
http://www.dramasfun.com/latest-news/31005-mobile-commerce-conference-2014-in-karachi.html
(Mr. Ashraf Mahmood’s Speech about Mobile Commerce)
http://www.sbp.org.pk/about/speech/Governors/Mr.Ashraf.Mahmood.Wathra/2014/Mobile-Comm-BAlfalah-14-Mar-14.pdf

The panelists were Department head of Mobile Financial Services, namely, Mobilink’s Mobi Cash and Warid’s Time Pey to name a few. There was a small discussion of what is a Mobile Wallet. One of them was saying that make an Application (App) for a Bank’s Credit / Debit Card; that ‘s your Mobile Wallet. REALLY.

In IT Industry, one is always amazed about how a Person could start beating around the bush, without ever distilling the core concept of it.

Wouldn’t be a Mobile Wallet be something as simple as a Wallet that we (MEN) keep in our pants or women keep in their purses / cluches ? Wouldn’t a Mobile Wallet be as simple as a Wallet and it’s purpose ?

Let’s distill what’s a wallet, shall we. A wallet has CASH, our Credit Cards, Our Debit Cards, and some loyalty cards that we choose to. At the time of Transaction, we decide to choose, whether we do it via Cash, Credit / Debit Card and use Loyalty points along with it.

Would a Mobile wallet be any different ? I do think not.

A Mobile Wallet has to be an App, not tied to a Specific BANK. It has to be an app, which can hold CASH, AKA Credits points like Mobi Cash / Time pey / Etcetera. Then it has to have the ability to store Credit Cards / Debit Cards (digitally encrypted) in them. Plus it would be having some loyalty point system like Olaround (http://www.olaround.me/), or recently OntheGo.pk (http://onthego.pk/)  (if they start Loyalty Programs).

So at the time of Transaction, all the person would be doing is choosing which Credit / Debit Card / Credit points to use and if possible, can the loyalty points be used with it or redeem something along with that transaction. That Transaction could be done via NFC, or by scanning QR Codes (like what Olaround does). That’s all there is to it. Nothing complex.

THAT, would be a MOBILE WALLET.
Even Google Wallet has similar views (http://www.google.com.pk/wallet/). And we have a Google Wallet App too.

So What I am saying is that Mobile Wallet is a very simple concept, Yet its implementation is complex and has to be done by some third party processors not associated with one single bank.

I would be waiting for further comments.

Should I buy an IPhone, Andriod Phone, or a Black berry. (What Phone are you)


This is one the debates which is very similar to which car is best. Should I buy this car or that car? or in other words, which type of girl should I marry. Should I be marrying a working women, or the one sitting at home? (I wish answering this question was as easy as buying phone).

Anyway, back to buying phone.  Since the time, I bought an HTC Desire, many people were asking me as to which phone should they be buying. So I decided to write a blog post about what are the crucial factors one should consider on buying which phone.

Do apply the same technique on buying things which have multitude of brands / products, but not when marrying people, that is completely different arena we are talking about.

First off,

DECIDE ON YOUR REQUIREMENTS

Yes, you need to be absolutely clear about the requirements. What you need to do. Examples.

  • I need a Camera with me all the time, so that I do not loose any moment to shoot an awesome image.
  • Can’t compromise on Quality, you should be targetting anything not less than 5 – 8 Mega pixels.
  • I need a phone, which will act as an Email client (probably Outlook functionality) on the go
  • if emailing is of your highest importance, then you are better off with a BlackBerry. More on Black berries later. Not the ones you EAT.
  • I need a phone, which could run games like (Angry birds, Need for Speed, Sniper Attack)
  • I need a phone, which could make calls, video calls, use Skype
  • so and so forth

Also, do keep in mind, that what is your idea of SMART Phone. Are you the person who

  • likes to tinker a lot with your phone
  • or the one who would be looking at your phone to do all the stuff. No need to add / edit / delete stuff

As of time of this blog post being written, there are different platforms which you should consider when buying phone. Each platform has it’s own pros and cons. Here is the quick run down

Nokia Smart Phones

  • Nearly all Nokia smart phone have now access to NOKIA OVI Suite.
  • Nearly all Nokia smart phones will sync with your Outlook on your PC.
  • All all Nokia phones will import export your contacts to and fro in your mobile phones and PC
  • OVI suite app is a bit limited in Applications, but it does hold quite a lot of applications for a limited business users
  • Nokia phones are good in terms of re-selling a phone

Android SMART Phones, they being sold like hot cakes in market these days. The starking differences are as under

  • Whenever an android phone is purchased, it has to be linked with a GMAIL / Google account.
  • with that account, the phone will sync all the Emails / Contacts / SMS all the time, not just at the start of usage. All the time. So even if your latest brand new phone is lost, you do not have to worry a dime about loosing your contacts. All you need to do is to buy another android phone preferably a better one, sync it with same Google account, and within minutes, you will having all your previous contact
  • An extensive App Market, where you could download OTA (Over the air) applications ranging from multitude of suites (Productivity, Games)
  • Gone are the days, when you were keeping installers (on your PC) for Applications to install on your phone.  Google provides online (OTA) installers. Meaning, you are logged in (using the same account which is linked to your phone) from your PC to Google App Market. You browse to the application, select install in the PC Browser. Magically, after a short while, your phone will start downloading the app you selected. Your phone will off course, needs to be connected to either the WIFI, or GPRS connection
  • Importing and exporting Contacts is also very easy in Android. Even if you are coming from Nokia phone to Android phone, your exporting and importing contact process will be very easy and harmless.
  • You can use Custom ROMS to be installed on your Andriod phones, which will at times, change your Andriod Versions, meaning you can upgrade / downgrade to different android Versions plus you can change the entire look of your phone. For trying out Custom ROMS, you need to ROOT your Android Phone.
  • Andriod phones are becoming good in terms of re-selling points, since they are being marketed more and people are becoming aware of them.

Apple IPhones, in Pakistan, to have an Iphone, is like you need

  • Unlock it to be able to use local cellular network. Once unlocked, you need to Jail Break it. Without Jail Breaking an Iphone, you can’t use the phone freely. The process of Jail Breaking is quite similar and easy for a Techie Person, but a bit daunting for a non – techie. So if you are buying an Iphone, make sure its Jail Broken or have a Geek friend ready to Jail Break it. One can use the iPhone without jail breaking it, but then the free apps will be quite limited. Once jail broken, you will have plethora of apps
  • Once the Iphone is jail broken, you have the most awesome phone in your Hand. You will be happy with its utmost performance, but there is no warranty of this phone unlike other brands. However, with the iPhone in your hand, You can use it to
  • Place phone calls
  • send SMS
  • use Facebook
  • use Twitter
  • use Google Plus
  • use it’s very own fast browser (Safari)
  • use emails
  • Play games
  • Download Apps from it’s App Store
  • But on Iphone, your data is pretty much locked. You will be sharing data on your own IPHONE Web Space.
  • With an Iphone, there is very less re-sale value. You would be buying an Iphone by 50K PKR, but when you will be selling the same phone, the price may come down to 35 – 40 K. So be very cautious about owning an Iphone if you worry about re-sale value.

Black Berries

Black berry are most popular for their push Emails and Instant Messaging. Their one of the best selling points is their corporate usage. So if you are user whose primary functions is to use phone for the basic purpose (other than Calling / SMS / Alarms) is to have constant touch on your Emails and you need to respond to your mails ASAP, you will be better off with a Black Berry. Black berries do offer what other mobile phones offer but their starling differences are in corporate Emails / Instant messages.

CONCLUSION

Whether you have decided to buy an Iphone or Nokia or an Android Phone, you need to keep the following things in mind

  • For using an I phone in Pakistan, you need to unlock it (must) and then JAIL BREAK it.
  • For using an Android Phone in Pakistan, it is NOT Necessary to ROOT it. (Rooting and Jail Breaking the phone is the same thing). Your Andriod phone will continue to work even though you do not root it, however, once you have rooted the android phone, your phone will have
  • Increased Performance
  • More features will be enabled
  • Adverts will be removed
  • Many optimum Applications will be enabled
  • Moreover, you will have more control on your phone
  • Nearly all phone will offer the following
  • Capacitive / Resistive Touch Screens
  • Ability to make phone calls (DUH)
  • Ability to SMS (Oh DUH)
  • Alarms, Stop Watch
  • Emails (Be it connecting your office mails, or your GMAIL / YAHOO / Hotmail)
  • Web Browsing
  • WIFI / GPRS /
  • Connecting to your PC and Transferring your Images / Videos / Mp3s to and from your Mobile / PC
  • Sharing your PIC / VIDEOS over the web to your Facebook / Twitter accounts, without transferring them to your phone

Nearly all Websites these days provide the functionality to Compare and Contrast the (Two / three) phones of your choice in terms of Camera Mega pixels, Operating Systems, available Features, Pricing. Some of those sources are listed below. Alternatively you can check the some vendors websites too.

Have a nice time hunting for the phone.

  • http://www.whatmobile.com.pk/
  • Tring Tring  (A site for checking out OLD Cell Phones and selling your own phones). Quite nice site, if you are interested to buy second hand phones.

Vendor Links

First Pakistani Anti Virus and Recovery Tool developed.


Although I am very much against the Windows system and have opted for Ubuntu system around two or three years back. More details about installing Ubuntu can be found here.(https://salmankhwaja.wordpress.com/tag/ubuntu/)

Official Ubuntu circle with wordmark. Replace ...

Image via Wikipedia

It is the work of those two young bright students who created their very own first PAKISTANI ANTI VIRUS cum RECOVERY software known as “Instant Virus Killer“. They say, their software can detect the virus within 10 SECONDS, yes 10 seconds a USB is inserted in the system.

Windows 7, the latest client version in the Mi...

Image via Wikipedia

Below the video I would like to share in which the Developer

  1. Quick Formats the D Drive (the thing we can only dream about doing it).
  2. install a virus in background
  3. fiddles with the Windows Registry.
  4. and then he restores everything back.

I present the demonstration video here. You do have to bear the accent of the compare. ;). For my international visitors, this video is mostly in URDU.

If you are interested in giving this Anti Virus a go, the First Pakistani Anti virus can be downloaded from the following URL.

http://www.instantviruskiller.com/

http://www.instantviruskiller.com/ivkdownloads.html

As an end note, I am really against Anti Viruses and in particular Windows, because, viruses are one of curses of using windows, but I am dedicating a complete post for the purpose of showcasing Pakistani Talent. The developers have developed this Anti Virus keeping in mind the licensing requirements too. One License will only install on one PC. Obviously, they have monitored the System hardware setting with which they will be restricting the installation.

They should be praised by what they are doing.

Although I am very much against the Windows system and have opted for Ubuntu system around two or three years back. More details about installing Ubuntu can be found here.(https://salmankhwaja.wordpress.com/tag/ubuntu/)

Should you be staring at that monitor?


People like me, who are working day and night on PC would love this application, which automatically sets the brightness of your monitor according to the weather of your residing country. Off course, the time and place is optional, but one can tweak this application to suit their needs.

The people @ flux say,

Ever notice how people texting at night have that eerie blue glow?

Or wake up ready to write down the Next Great Idea, and get blinded by your computer screen?

During the day, computer screens look good—they’re designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the sun.

f.lux

F.lux fixes this: it makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

It’s even possible that you’re staying up too late because of your computer. You could use f.lux because it makes you sleep better, or you could just use it just because it makes your computer look better.

I have been using this app for like one month, and recently I sat late in my office, and the dull brightness was really soothing to my eyes.

The product home page is residing @ http://www.stereopsis.com/flux/

This application is available for Windows, MAC, and Linux. For my Linux readers, I haven’t tried this yet on my Linux PC, but here is the link I found. I will be updating my comments on how it went for Linux.

http://www.ubuntu-inside.me/2009/03/flux-better-lighting-for-your-computer.html