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Showing posts from 2020

Advice to Teachers conducting lessons remotely

A lot of WhatsApp groups for delivering tutorials have surfaced recently in the wake of the corona virus pandemic.  This was necessitated by the need to mitigate the effects of keeping schools closed for an extended period of time. Most students were falling behind on their studies before the mushrooming of such WhatsApp groups.
E-learning is not a new phenomenon to Zimbabwe but measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 ,like lockdown and minimizing of gatherings , have seen an upsurge in the number of tutors embracing the internet as a mode of delivering lessons. This article will look at the best  platforms available which teachers can use in their endeavor to continue educating people in these trying times.
In the Zimbabwean context, WhatsApp is likely the first option which comes to many people's minds when they think of distance learning solutions. This is mainly due to the great number of users on the platform. Many, if not all, smartphone owners have WhatsApp installed and also…

Advice to Teachers conducting lessons remotely

A lot of WhatsApp groups for delivering tutorials have surfaced recently in the wake of the corona virus pandemic.  This was necessitated by the need to mitigate the effects of keeping schools closed for an extended period of time. Most students were falling behind on their studies before the mushrooming of such WhatsApp groups.
E-learning is not a new phenomenon to Zimbabwe but measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 ,like lockdown and minimizing of gatherings , have seen an upsurge in the number of tutors embracing the internet as a mode of delivering lessons. This article will look at the best  platforms available which teachers can use in their endeavor to continue educating people in these trying times.
In the Zimbabwean context, WhatsApp is likely the first option which comes to many people's minds when they think of distance learning solutions. This is mainly due to the great number of users on the platform. Many, if not all, smartphone owners have WhatsApp installed and also…

Top 5 most technologically advanced African countries

A quick research I have conducted online has showed me that the top five most advanced countries in Africa, in terms of technology- especially information technology, are as follows.
1. Egypt 2. South Africa 3. Nigeria 4. Algeria 5. Madagascar
Keep watching this space as I will share with you the full criteria I used to consolidate the above list. 

Save yourself from embarrassment with this WhatsApp feature

A lot of people inadvertently send messages to WhatsApp chats which can potentially cause embarrassment especially if the content is highly confidential or just NSFW.  So how can one avoid such a predicament?
WhatsApp has two features which can reduce the likelihood of sending messages to the wrong chat. Usually such incidents occur when a user has two or more chats open simultaneously. 
When several chats are open and the user starts to receive a flurry of messages, the possibility of sending a message to a wrong chat when replying becomes high.
The first feature allows a user control on who can add him/her to a WhatsApp group. If a message which can damage your reputation is received by one user only it is easy to control the damage than when it is posted to a group. Therefore if you frequently send messages which are top secret or confidential then make sure you close some chats before replying with a highly confidential message or totally avoid  family and work groups. 
Avoiding group…

Recursion vs Loops, best overview.

Most reasons you find online about why we sometimes need to use recursion instead of loops are not compelling enough to persuade die hard loop fans to use recursion. If you are one of those people who resent or just can not understand why recursion is significant then this article will leave you with no doubt about why recursion is a must have tool. 
Let's look at loops. There are three types, the do while, while and for loop but no one questions why we need all three types instead of just one. This is because it is clear that each type has a place in programming. 
The programmer must have a wide variety of tools and must be versatile with all of them so as to choose the best tool. It reminds me of the  law of the instrument  that says if you only have a hammer , it is easy to see everything as a nail. A programmer should not ever be in such a situation. 
Each loop has a special purpose and so is recursion. Although in most cases recursion works just like a loop most programmers use …

Pointers made easy, C programming

Pointers store addresses or data. This means that at any given time they might either contain data or addresses. The good thing is that they can easily switch roles to suit the programmer but he must always keep track of the current role of the pointer so as to avoid errors. 
Using pointers to alternatively store data and addresses is a recipe for disaster. To avoid that you can use the following criteria of naming pointers.
Naming them for ease of use *a  for storing addresses only *b  for both. *d for storing data only (great for strings).
Just like variables, you can declare a pointers without assigning it a value. Initializing a pointer gives it a value which as mentioned earlier can be either an address or data. 
struct tree *d_node ; 
struct tree **a_node;
char *d_day  = "Wednesday";
int *b;
Is the above notation common? No, not at all. It is there for teaching purposes. In the real world of C programming there is another effective notation to avoid confusion. 
When using the firs…

Advantages of Competitive Programming

Competitive programming has numerous benefits. Other than financial gains, one can build a career in software engineering from engaging in coding competitions.
The sites which are well known for competitive programming are Google Kickstart  or Google Code Jam, Code forces and Topcoder. You can be awarded points , T-shirts or money by participating in any one of their online challenges. 
The first advantage is enjoying sport from the comfort of your home. It feels good to compete with other coding enthusiasts and get to see how you rank among coders worldwide.
If you are a student or aspiring software engineer, you can benefit immensely from coding competitions as they can help you perfect the idea of testing software, or to appreciate data structures and algorithms more as you are pushed to write code which meets strict nonfunctional requirements. 
Nonfunctional requirements do not have a direct bearing on the functioning of the program. However the choice of algorithms and data structure…

Tough C programming language quiz

1. Under what circumstances should we not use a semi colon (;) to terminate a printf statement. For example, the following statement is not terminated
printf("hello world")Answer
In a ternary, that is a statement like this:
x<y? printf("True") : printf("False");You do not need the semicolon for the first printf statetement.2. Give another example, other than the one stated above, in which a semicolon is not used after a statement in C.Answer
When declaring a constant using #define
#define CONSULTANCY_FEE 800.003. How can you initialize an array using a variable? The following code will show compilation error (CE) because array was declared using a variable.
#include <stdio.h>
#define MAX 10int arr[MAX];int main(){printf("%d", arr[0]);return 0;}}Answer
Use scanf("%d", &n);
int arr[N] This way you do not get an error.4. How can you make this assignment possible
rent = "May";Answer
if rent is an array you…

Family Guy vs The Simpsons

What is your favourite animation series? I enjoy watching Family Guy. Growing up I used to read about how The Simpsons was a favourite of many. I am not going to do a comparison of the two anime but invite your comments.
A posted a poll on Twitter and Family Guy was voted as the best. What's your take?

WhatsApp should tweak its audio or video call settings

Technology is there to provide solutions to problems bedeviling humanity. Even though, most aspiring entrepreneurs find it hard to come up with home grown solutions or ideas for startups. They know the problems but can not provide solutions at times due to several factors like inadequate funds or technology limitations. In this article I would like to highlight a challenge that some users are facing on the WhatsApp platform and propose a solution which I believe the technology giant can easily implement.

Some organisations use messages from WhatsApp platform to interact with their customers but do not entertain calls. An example is a radio broadcast in which listeners are allowed to send messages to be read on air. Radio presenters always complain about some people who call instead of texting and they say it disrupts their broadcast.

I believe it is high time that WhatsApp introduces a call blocking feature for those occasions when a user would like to receive messages only instead o…

Best free alternative to DSTV

Well, it might not be totally free but most of the content is free. I have written about  free alternatives to Netflix and have been mum about any Dstv alternatives. It is because I had not found one. How do I mean I had not found one when there are so many streaming apps out there?
Dstv has certain channels which can not be found anywhere else with ease. I needed an ideal replacement where I could find channels like Jim Jam, for my kids, and Bollywood or Zollywood channels for my wife. I finally found the solution in On StarTimes.

StarTimes has everything you need in a streaming app. It gives apps like Netflix, a run for their money. It also promises to takeover Tubi from the pole position of my favourite video streaming apps. How is that so?
StarTimes allows you access to live TV and you can also find downloadable content for watching later. The latter, is a feature which is common in top video streaming apps like ShowMax and Netflix, Youtube or Prime Video. Data is expensive in Af…

Pexels versus other stock image sites

I fell in love with Pexels the very first time I tried it. I submitted only four photos in the name of experimenting and I was wowed by how well the images performed. I had just uploaded the few high resolution photos I had in my phone and they were not my best photos. 

I checked in two days after uploading and noticed that several people had already started interacting with my photos. 
Following my success with Pexels, I decided to try other photo sharing apps to check if there was anything I was missing out on. I tried Shutterstock and Adobe and my findings made me fall in love with Pexels even more.
I was amazed by how Adobe uses machine learning to automatically come up with keywords after uploading a photo. I could not believe my eyes when their platform could detect a rainbow in my photo!
I did not notice the same in Shutterstock. I had to manually add keywords after submiting my photos and it was painstaking. 
I am still waiting approval of my photos on both Adobe and Shutterstock. …

Apps I missed from the Roku store

In Zimbabwe Roku devices are hard to come by and when they were made available around 2018 through a deal with Kwese Play I was one of the first people to buy the Roku 3 device. However, the fun did not last long as the devices were rendered obsolete after the deal was terminated. That left me with a deep ache in my heart as I had already started enjoying some apps I had installed from the Roku app store. So how am I coping, you might want to know.

I bought an android TV box and continued enjoying Netflix , YouTube and Tubi. I use the latter when I can not afford my monthly Netflix subscription. Somehow, I still missed something from Roku. What is that? I pondered about it and finally realised that Roku had got me attached to Redbull TV and Aljazeera. 
I then decided to check Google Playstore to see if I can install the apps to my TV box. I know most people could have figured this out earlier than I did. I then remembered a saying that being wise today is painful as it reminds of how fo…

Zimbabwean bank with the best mobile banking platform

If you ask me which bank I consider to have the best mobile banking platform I would say ZB Bank. Why? They provide a lot of valuable services than most banks do through USSD codes.

When you dial *440*600#, the code to access the ZB Bank mobile banking menu, you are presented with several options like top up and bill payment.
You can top up any mobile number regardless of MNO, mobile network operator. I know that most banks can allow buying airtime for only the MNO associated with the number you used to register for mobile banking services. 
On bill payment, ZB Bank allows you to pay for prepaid water as well as prepaid electricity. Most banks just allow for the payment of ZESA tokens only. I stay in a town in which there is prepaid water and therefore I find the service convenient. 
Another advantage of ZB Bank is the ability to send money using ZIPIT. Believe it or not, there is a bank I know which does not have that kind of a service.

Online Learning Platform for Zimbabwean Kids

I have launched an online platform on which kids aged four to twelve can practice reading and listening skills in Shona and English. 

The content is interactive and free. More features will be added in due course. Learning is through word games and an interactive yet simple to use interface.
Head to Shona Words and get your kid to start learning from the comfort of your home today.

Binary Search, C Program

I have implemented a binary search algorithm in C language. Having gone through a college module on data structures and algorithms, I came across the binary search algorithm and decided to implement it.
The following is the code. I have included a test driver for the algorithm in the form of a sorted array of ten elements. You can modify and use the binary search code as a module or function in your application
The program can also report if an element has not been found, this is important since I use a while loop which must not become an infinite loop.

USSD code to check for airtime balance for Netone Zimbabwe

It seems like Netone has changed the way to check for airtime balance using USSD codes. I shall show you the new way to check for airtime balance.

In the not so distant past, users had to dial *134# to get their airtime balance. Nowadays, when a user dials the service they are instructed to use *171# instead.
Some users like myself got frustrated at first to find that after dialing *171# and selecting option 7 there is no further option for airtime balance. This is because the airtime balance is displayed right on top of the menu where you least expect it to be!
Here are the steps you should take to get your airtime balance: 
1. Dial *171# 2. Choose  option 7 (Balance Inquiry)
That's it! Your balance will be displayed right on top of the menu options. The move by Netone to let users check airtime balance is a great idea since one can get most services related to balance inquiries ,be it data bundles or other promotions, on a single menu.

Shona Quiz, make words using letters of the word 'Fudzamombe'

FudzamombeFudzamombe is a Shona word for cattle egret (a bird). Take our quiz to see how many Shona words you can form from the word "fudzamombe" Rules: Do not use a letter more than the number of times it appears in the given word. Target: 20 words
Good luck! 

Check Below are clues which you can utilize to get your brain juices running! You can also visit Shona Word Game for the full game with more words to choose fromExpected Words 1. F--ZA reveal 2. -OM-- reveal 3. Z-D- reveal 4. MAF--- reveal 5. -EM- reveal6. MB--Z-reveal7. M-M-- reveal8. BU-- reveal9. ---ZO reveal10. M-D- reveal11. DZ--B- reveal12. F-Z-reveal13. D-M- reveal14. MB-- reveal15. -AM- reveal16. ME--- reveal17. D-MAreveal18. Z---reveal19. UD--reveal20. DZ-MU--- reveal

A Free Alternative to Netflix or Prime Video

There are several video on demand streaming services which are great alternatives to Netflix or Prime Video. Some of them like ShowMax require a subscription while others like Iflix and Viki offer both free and premium content. You might wonder if there are any VOD services which are totally free. The answer is yes!

The first one that comes to most people's minds is YouTube, I explore more about this alternative in a different article. My best  free alternative to Netflix or Prime video is Tubi. It has all the features you are familiar with on most VOD web or mobile applications. Movies are categorized into several genres which make searching for content that suits your taste easy. There is the option of adding movies to a queue for watching later, this is one of the best features- it is more like bookmarking a website. 
To enjoy that function you need to create a account with Tubi. Let me take you through all the stages you need to complete in order to start streaming movies from …

Avoiding data loss when importing XML document into Microsoft Access

XML offers a brilliant way of storing and transporting data. Given an XML document, you can easily import data into Microsoft Access. However, depending on the structure of your xml file all or some of your data maybe imported. This article will show you how to create an XML document which can be imported into Microsoft Access without any loss of data.

Micross Access requires XML files which are element-centric rather than attribute-centric. Access also recognizes one root in a document, therefore avoid structuring your XML in such a way that there is deep nesting.

Access also enforces integrity. It ensures that no duplicate data is stored. To avoid data loss when importing data into existing fields of a table make sure that you indicate the primary key of your tables except for weak entities. For those tables with no unique fields , you can use two fields to form a composite key.

Zimsec-Combined Science O'level Revision Questions

I have created a quiz which will also appear in my educational android mobile app called Pasa. The quiz comprises of forty questions. The questions are based on the latest Zimsec syllabus. Press the start button to reveal the questions. 
You can get immediate feedback on whether your answer is correct or wrong and if you need to reveal all questions and answers you can use the show answers button.
Example  1 Which instrument is most suitable for observing specialised cells?  A microscope B telescope  C bio viewer  D magnifying lens

Zimsec- Computer Studies O'level Revision Questions with Answers

Here are forty typical Zimsec O'level exam questions with answers. The revision questions were compiled using my online quiz maker found at You can also create your own quiz today to share with your pupils if you are a teacher, visit for more information.  Questions
PrevStart Review
Show Answers

A chance to become a social media influencer

Each time a new social media app is released, you get an opportunity to become an influencer on that platform. How is that so? By creating a profile earlier than most people, you get a chance to grab the best username as well as to gain a huge following.

That opportunity is beckoning right now. The platform which is trending now is Tik Tok. It was launched on 14 September 2015 and has to date been downloaded over 500 million times. It has currently the same number of users as Twitter and it is continuing to grow.

In Zimbabwe most social media influencers are not yet on Tik Tok. I only noticed John Coles profile. This is the right moment to become famous and capitalize on the fame.

Why 360 capture is not supported on some devices

I once got frustrated when I downloaded Google Street View app and found out that the device did not suppport capture of 360 photos. I tried the app on two more devices with the same result. I then sought to investigate why that was happening and finally got an answer.
Street View requires certain sensors particularly the gyroscope in order to capture 360 photos. The gyroscope is different from the accelerometer in that it measures angular velocity while the later measures linear acceleration.
In case you are now wondering which phones have gyroscopes, I shall compile a list of a few budget phones with gyroscopes. From the quick research I conducted I found that most if not all Samsung J3 phones have the gyroscope sensor.

How to pass the provisional driver's license test

Most people struggle to pass the test required to obtain a provisional driver's license. With the advent of mobile apps, that is going to be a thing of the past.
Quite a number of people buy a highway code, a publication from the Zimbabwe Traffic Safety containing road rules and regulations of Zimbabwe as well as booklets from the street with practice questions and answers.

After completing the highway code, they then start practicing typical exam questions. The exam has questions which should be completed in 8 minutes. To pass one has to score at least 22 marks. Diagrams on road intersection pose the most challenge to most people and practice  and thorough knowledge of the road rules and regulations is vital before taking the exam.
Despite having the much needed resources in the form of booklets found on the street, a great number of people still fail the exam. They end up seeking tutors and incurring more costs towards their endeavor to get a provisional driver's license. A s…

A new way of developing 3D images on mobile phones

As a Google Local Guide I am always on the lookout of new technologies to enhance my contribution on Google Maps. Recently I discovered a new way of creating 3D images on mobile phones. Google's Street View app is one of the best way of creating 3D images. Panorama 360 is also a good alternative and now there is Display.Land. I am yet to try the app as it was not compatible with my phone just like the Street View app therefore I am still stuck with Panorama 360. As soon as I install the new app I shall post a review but at the moment I am so excited about the new development based on the quality of images the app can produce as shown on their website. Displayland currently supports the following devices: Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, S10
Pixel 4, 3, 3XL, 2, 2XL
iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max
iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, X
iPhone 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 6s, SEAs to why some devices do not yet support Displayland, Ubiquity6- the creator of the app- mentions on their website that the app r…

A review of the Qwant Search Engine

After  France's recent announcement which appeared on some technology websites that it has resolved to use Qwant as the default search engine for their government's departments, I decided to try it.
I visited Qwant's website and performed some searches to find how much results it could return. I tried searching for my name and I was astonished to find several results including those about my personal website. I then asked myself if Qwant was a meta search engine or it had its own spiders which could crawl the internet to collect information which would then be stored in a database or index as it is refered to in the world of search engines.
I researched further about Qwant and I established that the company had its own website crawlers or spiders but it had also reached an agreement with Microsoft to display results from Bing. That arrangement between Qwant and Bing makes Qwant a metasearch engine which simply means it is more like Yahoo which provides results from other se…

I still miss some features that were on phones running Symbian OS

It is almost a decade after the inception of Android OS but I still miss some features that were present on some phones running the now discontinued Symbian OS. 
Symbian OS was first released in 1997 and the last release was in 2012. It was written in C++ although developers could create apps for the platform using Java ME, Python, Ruby and C/C++ among other programming languages.
Nokia phones were among the top of the range phones which used the Symbian OS. Back in the day one had to open the Ovi Store to install third party apps. The Opera browser was as popular on smartphones as it is today. The features I enjoyed using the most were video call, call conference and cell location display.
Android OS still lacks native apps for video calls and cell location display although it now has native apps for one of my favourite features on smartphones, call conference.
As an Android developer I once attempted to bring back cell location display but in vain. I found that I had to come up with…

Where to get free stock images

Most writers on Medium get free images to use in their posts from two major sites. Posts with images tend to perform better than those without images. To get more people reading their articles, writers need a source of high resolution images. The good thing is that there are websites which provide quality stock images for free.
Images from Pexels and Unsplash are the most commonly used on Medium and blogs. The reason is that talented and professional photographers submit their work on Pexels and Unsplash. There is no need to give credit to the photographer or the website although most people consider acknowledging the owner as the most appropriate thing to do.
What benefits does the photographer have? It might seem like a waste of time to give away your photographs for free but there are some advantages too. The images are free but donations can be sent to the photographers  and there is an opportunity of advertising one's work through the stock photo sites.
I have profiles with bot…

Hide your phone recordings from music players

Have you ever played music loudly from your phone and out of the blues you start to hear a call recording you made sometime ago. The conversation was supposed to be private and suddenly a lot of people heard it loud and clearly from your bluetooth speakers. It is embarrassing, isn't it?

Instead of deleting your recordings to avoid embarrassment you can simply tell the music players not to show or even play your recordings. I am a song writer and whenever I get inspired I compose a song usually by singing out a few words loudly which then form a basis for my composition. I can not do without a sound recorder on my phone. But since the songs would be unpolished, I need to keep them from the public to avoid unnecessary criticism on something I might eventually choose to discard later.
ES file explorer makes the process of hiding your private files easy. Simply open the file manager and head to the recordings folder and click the menu button and select the create file option. Name t…

Why you should install a mobile tracker

A mobile tracker can increase your chances of recovering your phone if you lose it. Most phones now come with a mobile tracking feature. I shall show you how to turn the feature on as well as explain the logic behind the mobile tracker.
To turn on mobile tracking, go to call settings from the phone app and select mobile tracker. Enter device password and set the your phone number. When you lose your phone you can send SMS commands to your number. The command can be to lock the phone or to wipe data completely.

If someone steals your phone you will receive an SMS on your number with details about your phone's location and the phone number of the new SIM card. This can help you locate and recover your phone.