All posts by David Gitonga

I am a freelance web developer with a passion for writing. My online projects are a labor of love and caffeine. I am a avid reader and writer and student for life. You can follow me on G+ at

Facebook Acquires WhatsApp for a Whopping $19B


Probably one of the most hostile takeovers of our time, Facebook has acquired its rival WhatsApp. In terms of value creation, this is the biggest on record.

Sequoia Capital reportedly invested only $8 million back in 2011 in WhatsApp and no additional funding was announced after that. This initial investment has thus turned out to be a huge payoff. Sources say that Sequoia has between 10-20 percent ownership of WhatsApp and if this turns out to be true, they will be looking at about $3.2 billion in cash and stock.

Why WhatsApp?

Facebook currently has over 1.25 billion users and the acquisition of this popular messaging app, which is on a path to connect 1 billion people,  will only mean more control over how the word is connected.  WhatsApp currently has over 450 million active users making it larger than Twitter and LinkedIn. WhatsApp is growing by 1 million new accounts per day. It has been able to penetrate a market that Facebook has not been able to in developing countries, places where mobile take up is expected to skyrocket in the coming years.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, “the growth rate they have today and the monetization that’s early but promising and in place, we see a clear trajectory ahead and are excited to work together on this.”

WhatsApp is a free service that does not have any ads. Users however are charged $0.99 after a year of use. This yearly subscription will likely remain while still leaving out advertisements based on an announcement by the founders, Jan and Koum, former Yahoo engineers.

Zuckerberg has compared WhatsApp acquisition to that of Instagram, which means that it will continue to operate independently.

What do you think? Is WhatsApp worth $19 billion?

Sputnik, a state-controlled search engine to compete against Yandex and Google

The Sputnik search engine, which is expected to launch anytime in 2014, will be the latest entrant into the search engines list. According to Mashable, Sputnik will be a state-controlled search engine under the Rostelecom telecom service and will be competing directly with the local search giant, Yandex, and Google.


Despite the late entry into this area, many local search engines outside of the United States control a large portion of search traffic. Yandex, for example, generates 62 percent of search in Russia with Google at number two with 25 percent. Search targeting beyond Google is thus an important marketing goal for midsize companies looking to reach more potential customers.

Giving Search Priority

Senior IT executives with search engine experience are well aware that search traffic contributes to smarter commerce. In most cases, such traffic is targeted and has a good chance of conversion. In the case of the Sputnik search engine, the goal is to target ordinary web users at the level of competition with no filtering of objectionable content. IT search professionals can take into consideration these new ways of reaching a new demographics through targeted searches that are bound to show up based on locations or search terms used.

Search traffic offers very targeted leads; people who are looking for a certain product or service with a view to making a purchase. These visitors are usually in a buying mode and having a focused marketing method through search optimization is bound to deliver. By ensuring that content posted on the company website or other online resource is optimized for these search engines, the likelihood of these new entrants picking up this content is drastically improved.

A New Search Avenue Means No Competition

Since the Sputnik search engine is a new entrant, it offers a level playing ground for any brand, organization or entity getting started into search. This is a great opportunity to get some real estate on search and promote brands while offering them the same level of viewership as other established brands. IT executives that are looking to get their feet wet into search are now in a position to onboard and reap real and immediate benefits from search.

In addition, new entrants like Sputnik can offer small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) a new approach to search with nothing to lose. For these midsize enterprises who are likewise new to search, they can go in with everything to gain.

PS4 vs. Xbox One: The console wars take a new turn


Depending on how you look at it, the game console wars just took another turn with the launch of the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One consoles.  What is even more amazing is the close and fierce competition between these two consoles in price, design, specs, and game varieties.

How do these two consoles stack up against one another?

The PS4

Playstation has always been primarily a gaming device and the PS4 stays true to the cause. The console and controller have been completely redesigned. A new controller, the Dualshock 4, comes with improved ergonomics with slightly indented trigger buttons while the analog sticks have a slightly elevated rim to keep a player’s thumb from sliding off.


Other improvements to the controller include a touchpad and a light bar. The touchpad dominates much of the middle space but is fairly responsive to touch especially for in-game navigation. A Playstation camera, sold separately, allows the console to detect the movement and depth of field in front of it via the light bar.

The PS4 comes with an additional app, the Playstation App, on both iOS and Android, which lets you carry your game beyond the big screen, on the go. You can purchase and download games for the PS4 on the move and even play from where you left off right within the app.

Some of the games you can start playing immediately you purchase the console include Killzone Shadow Fall and Call of Duty: Ghosts. The console debuts at $400.

The Xbox One

Xbox One comes in a completely new design in comparison to the previous Xbox 360. Xbox exclusives like Halo may not be motivation enough for you to purchase the console, but the added features like voice command support and motion control to the system via the Kinect will definitely make you want to reconsider your options despite the $500 price tag.

XBox One

What really sells it for Xbox One though is the fact that you can use it for more than just playing games. The machine comes with a cable port for watching your TV. What is even more interesting is the fact you don’t need to switch between the game and the TV. Simply tell ‘the One’ what you wanna watch. For instance, you can say, “Xbox, Watch ABC” and it will switch.

Other services you can access include Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, Xbox Movies. You also no longer need to fire up services like Skype and Internet Explorer separately. These have been integrated with the One and you can pull them up onto the big screen just as fast.

The Xbox One also comes with the SmartGlass app for Android, iOS, and Windows.

Bottom Line

The question of which is better, the One or the PS4, is hard to answer when you have two big players with two big consoles. Never before has gaming had two such stand-out consoles to choose from. The Playstation 4 has the best bits gleaned from three generations of systems while the Xbox One offers much broader experiences.

Why Commenting Systems on Websites Are Getting Overhauls

When you look at a popular website, the commenting system is probably one of the few places where there is little control in terms of content. However, this is about to change with two large websites and online resources, YouTube and Popular Science, announcing a revamping of their systems.


For YouTube, all comments will now be linked to a real persona via Google+. However, for Popular Science, the website has gone the easy way, removing comments entirely from their posts, and here’s why.

1. Why YouTube Adopted the Google+ Commenting System

For most of us, YouTube and Google+ are one and the same thing; they are both owned and run by Google. The Google+ social platform has largely been criticized for being a ghost town, but this is about to change when Google integrates this social layer onto YouTube. The new system offers benefits to all, commenters, video creators, and viewers. However, it may not be good news for trolls who have made the current commenting system one of the filthiest destinations on the Web.


With Google+ becoming the only way to leave a comment below a YouTube video, this may just breathe life to the social platform and bring conversations to this otherwise dead part of town. Current features of Google+ now come to YouTube including the ability to join a conversation either publicly or privately, new tools of reviewing comments, and the ability to determine what posts appear on top of a video.

Google is well aware that recent does not necessarily mean relevant, which is how the current YouTube comments operate. However the new system will see relevant comments, say from the video creator, your friends, or some other popular personality, take the top spot.

Conversations on YouTube and on Google+ will also cross the borders and appear between the two platforms. A YouTube comment that you post will now appear on your G+ stream if desired. Likewise, a G+ comment with an embedded YouTube video will not populate the comment section below that YouTube video. This offers a whole new way of video promotion and creating engagement.

2. Why Popular Science Shut Down Its Commenting System

According to Popular Science, comments can be bad for science. posted a lengthy post explaining why they came up with this decision, of course using science to state their case.


Popular Science posted a study and research information showing that commenters shape public opinion which in turn shape public policy, which in turn shape how and whether and what research gets funded. According to the site:

“Scientific certainty has now become “just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grosteque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.”

While you may no longer be allowed to leave you comment on articles posted on the site, you can however share your thoughts through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, email, and more.  A few select articles that lend themselves to vigorous and intelligent discussions will also be open to comments.

It is clear that uncivil comments not only polarize readers, but they also change their interpretations of the story of video.  A fractious minority has enough power to skew a reader’s perception and these two websites have clearly recognized this fact.

By blocking out inappropriate attacks and rude comments, these two approaches may very well contribute to a much cleaner and a more tolerating Internet.

Facebook Ads primed to replace Google Ads

facebook_vs_google_featuredFor years, Google has proven to be the giant in Internet marketing with returns paralleled to none. With statistics predicting a growth of up to 77.3 percent this year, you should be expecting Google to make a fortune out of the business that it has continually monopolized courtesy of its firm control over search traffic, YouTube and Google Adsense.

Statistics Show that a new Giant is on the Rise in the Market

Google’s dominance faces challenges from upcoming Facebook, which is taking the ad market by a storm courtesy of its convenient support for mobile devices. In 2012, Facebook claimed $390 million off the ad market. Even though this is a mere 9.5 percent of the total market and minimal compared to what Google earns, it is an improvement for Facebook that experts believe will hold with the values for this year expected to climb to 13.2 percent.

This apparently trivial market percentage covers for over 88 percent of Facebook’s revenue collection in the past 12 months.  Even though Facebook has shown its intent of being more than a social site by venturing into search engine service provision with its Facebook Graph, the ads constantly popping up on your Facebook for Android or iOS app are still the main revenue sources for Mark Zuckerberg and his team.

Is the Growth just for a Season or is it Here to Stay?


As the number of smartphone owners grows by the day, the number of hours people spend in front of their computer screens decreases exponentially. The number of people accessing their social site pages and other Internet services through their mobile devices is on the rise making ads placed on such platforms more viable that those targeting PC users. Since Facebook strongly focuses on access while on the go, I believe that it has what it takes to capitalize on this new Internet use trend.

Though Google Ads might still command more clicks per unit time, the price revenue generated per ad on mobile is comparatively lower than what Facebook has on offer. Experts argue that Facebook has an upper hand in the move from fixed to mobile computing since it was born in the era and has had to work out its solutions from scratch, unlike Google which has had to modify its strategies.


Facebook’s ability to merge mobile and desktop ads (unlike Google that needs different designs for each platform) makes it easier for advertisers to deliver the same content to their audience without incurring extra cost. With Facebook ad efficiency this high, demand for advertising space is bound to go up, and so will the total revenue generated per fiscal year. In essence, Facebook has the winning formula it needs to make it big in desktop and mobile advertising!

Android fragmentation may not be a bad thing after all

Android Fragmentation

Each month, more mobile device designers announce the release of one or more Android devices. Out of 682,000 unique device downloads of the OpenSignal cellular coverage app, the organization recorded 11,868 unique devices, a staggering improvement from the mere 3,997 recorded in the previous year. With the diversity comes the headache of creating apps that work well with the hardware specification variations.

Buyers Can Enjoy Device Flexibility and Feature Sets

As if the hardware specific fragmentation is not enough, Google, the custodian of the open source operating system, further agitates the fray by releasing new versions of the operating system every now and then. By factoring in the variation in operating systems, the number of unique devices in the market is no doubt going to increase. Many people critique this uncontrolled development and view it as a disaster in the making while others believe that it actually works for the best.

To some consumers, the fragmentation is highly welcome since it places thousands of devices on our hands. This gives us the power to make tradeoffs between hardware performance and cost of the device. You can satisfy your smartphone or tablet taste with different feature combinations. This flexibility will let users get no more than what they need from their Android devices and applications.

Developers Can Build Optimized Experiences

Android Fragmentation 2However, developers will most probably not welcome this idea of diversity. Most face the problem of having to scale their applications to accommodate the software and hardware diversities. To avail an application to several devices and OS versions, developers have to go an extra mile and make accommodations that either make their applications bulkier or even take a completely new approach and develop different applications for each unique device.

If developers decide to design different apps for different devices, users will download applications tailored to leverage the strengths their devices have on offer. Even though applications might not be the same in the app stores, users will always have access to an optimized application that works effectively on the device they have at hand.

A Chance for Us to Exercise our Human Resilience

What many people view as the downside of Android fragmentation might actually be a strength. With so many devices in question, there will always be something new to do regardless of the native operating system of firmware a manufacturer loads into their phone. This is evident in the many efforts freelance developers put into the development of customization apps and ROMs. This encourages the birth of new ideas in bid to make inferior devices and operating systems match their high-end counterparts.

As the number of unique devices jumping into the bandwagon increases by the day, developers and buyers just have to look for a way of making the best of this unstoppable event. It is an opportunity to exercise human resilience by converting shortcomings into strengths and scaling the hardware and software shortcomings to deliver applications that do more or less the same tasks regardless of what device they run on.

The Current State of Platform, Software and Device Security

The year 2012 and the better part of 2013 have witnessed the birth of new computing platforms, social network platforms and general computing trends that not only make the gadget and internet a better place, but also a more dangerous one. These innovations and developed habits expose us to a variety of threats that we must be aware of in order to survive in the modern digitally connected world.


The release of new platforms gives both legitimate technology users and hackers something to look forward to. Users have to test new features and functionalities as hackers seek to exploit loopholes in the innovations’ firewalls. Since the adoption of new technology improves our efficiency, we will always be vulnerable to the accompanied hacker attacks and hope that the platform, gadget or software developer will release security patches as soon as security related bugs show up.

Are Security Risks Increasing or Decreasing?

As genuine developers come up with new software pieces, malicious developers are also at work trying to come up with re-engineered pieces that are better at breaching current and yet-to-come systems. This trend, confirmed by the attempts to improve on Skywiper/flamer to Stuxnet, gives system administrators something new to think about since they will be facing better-equipped criminals in the near future.

Even though the security trends of the future might strongly lean on the weaknesses of the new platforms and operating systems, we cannot overlook the birth of mobile devices. Since most people do not believe that, there are systems that can intrude the innate security of their mobile devices, cyber criminals might have an easier time in gaining access into the information people share through their devices.

With the number of possible additions to this list almost endless, the number of risks grows exponentially. The diversification of platforms and computing behaviors might give the average person an information overload that might force them to overlook some important security features or give cyber criminals more options to explore.

Do We Have a Choice?

Apart from the security issue, the manner in which we interact with other people is bound to change. The adoption of online solutions will greatly reduce personal level interactions while reducing the control we have over some of the information we might refer to as “personal.”

Nonetheless, the productivity per unit time is bound to increase since we no longer have to do all the hard work. The new systems and hardware products will take care of most of our needs despite the security and privacy risks, making them almost as important as the basic human needs. We will have no option but to live with the emergent vices and make the best out of the available virtues.

3D Printers Approaching Mass Production as Key Patents Expire


Even though the existence of 3D printing isn’t alien, it might be news to many, especially those who don’t deal with architecture, industrial, automotive, or other forms of designing. Since the production of the first working 3D printer in 1984, different designers have selflessly contributed to the project leading to innovations that could even present a functional 3D printer like any other desktop printer.

The Dawn of a New Era as Patents Expire

Nonetheless, the realization of the 3D printer for every homestead campaign remains just but a dream since most of these ideas are patent protected. However, the impact of these patents is bound to wear off come February, when high definition 3D printing will soon be a reality to many.

The patents cover the most sustainable 3D printing technology, Laser Sintering. Apart from the low cost of producing printers utilizing this technology, getting the raw materials for the printing procedure is also cost effective and less hectic than it is the case for current 3D printers. In addition to this, Laser Sintering has a reputation of producing high resolution three dimensional products that can easily pass as any other hand-modeled finished products.

What to Expect with Patent Laws out of the Way

Once the patents expire, experts believe that accurate 3D printers will flood the market, though the versatility and quality of the gadgets might remain questionable since different producers will have access to the technology. The influx of cheap 3D printers from Asia and other countries that can source cheap labor will be inevitable and so will be the wide adoption of 3D printing technology in general.

3D Yoda

Image Credit: Gizmodo

If 3D printing goes mainstream, the general population will definitely come up with new ways of using them that will make them necessities in future technology. If all goes well, the 3D printer story would be like the normal printer story that started with noisy dot matrix machines that have evolved into silent efficient inkjet printers that we know today.

Currently, a desktop Laser-Sintering 3D printer retails for around $3,300, with purchasers having to wait for up to 18 months before laying hands on their investment. Even though 3D printing is definitely a cheaper approach to the manufacture of some device components, or even devices as a whole, it still remains minimally applicable since all the accurate printers require a fortune to purchase. This is bound to change come 2014, and so will the cost of production, and ultimately the products we buy at the convenience store down the corner.

Why LinkedIn remains the only international social site available in China

LinkedInIn what the Chinese government terms as a move to keeping its society sane and couth, it has blocked the use of social sites like Facebook and Twitter among many others. Actually, accessing these sites is next to impossible, and if attempted, is punishable by law. This unquestionable move to block out international social sites has however taken a surprising and unexpected twist manifested in the government’s decision to let the citizens access LinkedIn.

Though the reasons as to why China has let its citizen’s access LinkedIn still remains a mystery to many, there are many speculations that in the opinion of many contain all the logic needed to render them tangible.

Possible Reasons

Many people believe that LinkedIn’s approach to networking people is the only thing that has let it survive China’s strict censorship laws. LinkedIn focuses on professional qualifications and aims at letting employers meet employees without leaving the comfort of their offices. For a nation that is work-oriented like China, this is a gold mine since it will allow its population to network with professionals, both locally and internationally.

Unlike other social sites, LinkedIn did not come up with a simplified site version for China. Due to this, LinkedIn is more of a top-notch forum that will only work for Chinese who can at least construct coherent English sentences. Since English is not the first language is China, the number of people who can comfortably chat and exchange ideas on LinkedIn is effectively reduced to encompass only those who have gone through the pain of learning English for the sake of business.

Since LinkedIn is all about business and professional networking, loose talk and suggestive picture uploading that is rampant on other international social sites is unheard of. If we go by the fact that China’s basic motive in blocking other social site is for the sake of its societal ethical beliefs, then it would be right to conclude that LinkedIn does not have the capacity to breach these unwritten rules. In fact, all that LinkedIn can do is uphold the virtue of hard work and professionalism.

For How Long?

LinkedIn InNonetheless, it is almost impossible to draw a solid conclusion as to why LinkedIn roams freely in China, bearing in mind that in 2010, the Chinese lost access to one of the most powerful search engines in the world, Google. Perhaps, the Chinese government has realized that LinkedIn is the only safe channel through which its professionals can network with the international world. On the other hand, it could just be biding time before shutting down the service.

Apparently, China is confident that a social network that lets professionals meet and discuss job-related issues is not harmful to the society. After all, it is not the best place to plot or start a revolution or spend precious time chatting about celebrities and impossible fantasies.

4 ways to make your Android phone’s battery last longer

Android PowerageOne of the reasons why Android operated devices are highly welcome in the market is their exemplary multitasking capabilities. However, there is a price to pay for this. To maintain a good number of applications running in the background and on demand, the processor has to constantly keep a record of running apps and actively swap every now and then. As the number of services accomplished by the processor increase, so does the devices power consumption.

However, there are a couple of things that you can do to reduce your gadget’s power consumption. This freedom draws from the characteristic customization capabilities that Android devices possess. You can shut down some services and functionalities that you do not need and reduce the hardware performance to save battery juice for a nobler course.  Below are some of the basic tricks to help you accomplish this.

1. Turning off Unused Features

Most of the services and applications bundled into our Android devices do not have to run 24/7. For instance, you will not use you Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and data connection continuously. Even though these services make the device more functional, they also consume a good amount of power whenever they run, whether on active or idle mode.

To save on power, only turn on wireless connectivity when you intend to use it. Additional functionalities that may look cool but are unnecessary and power consuming include vibrations. Only use haptic feedback where necessary to conserve power.

2. Filter your notifications and reduce the number of apps that can ‘Auto-sync’

In bid to keep smartphones smart, most designers give them the power to ‘talk’ to the internet. The basic idea behind this is to allow the phone to access and process data on your behalf. However, such powers would be useless in some instances.

To ensure that your phone does not consume power processing unnecessary notifications or accessing the Internet every now and then for futile synchronization, you could turn off auto-sync and report generation for most of the apps and only let the most important applications retain this capability. This will help your device will stay alive for longer due to reduced power consumption.

3. Make Use of Power Control Widgets and Task Apps

Even though statistical reports show that the number of people purchasing smartphones is on the rise, not all of them know how to optimize their power settings. Developers seal this gap by releasing applications that help you regulate the number of processes your phone executes per unit time and the speed of execution to cut down on power consumption.

With a swift and convenient way to access most of the native setting from under the same roof, you are in a position to optimize your device to best suit your environment and requirements. The most basic things that you can change using these applications include screen brightness, processor frequency and allowed limit of process per unit time.

4. Power Efficient Customization Techniques

As device manufacturers struggle to create better display units, the power needed to run the high-resolution screens increases exponentially. Rendering high quality graphics on the screen at high brightness levels consumes more power than rendering still and dull graphics. When selecting your wallpaper and themes, go for something dull and simple to cut down on power hogging.

These are just some of the things that you can do to your smartphone in a bid to cut down on its power consumption. Though these measures might reduce your device’s performance, they are helpful especially if you do not have the opportunity to recharge every now and then.