Company Hike

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This morning started off early with short drive from the office up OuKaapse to the entrance of Silvermine where we met for a company hike to, what I hoped would be a flowing waterfall.
We set off just after 9am, taking in the scenery that was still recovering from the fire, there were many green shoots still and fresh plant life abound. After 20min we could hear the gushing water of the 14m drop over the rockface.

The top

After a few minutes resting and exploring the river and surroundings we descended the cliff side into the canopy below where we were able to enjoy far more than just the glorious shade.

The walk down

Katy for scale

Another angle

A little further down we found a nice spot to sit and chat about important things, such as how this is a much better way to start a friday or how hot it was.

Loyiso in all his majesty

The cobi team

Unfortunately all good things do come to an end and it was time to head back up the trail and onwards to work.

Just a couple of snaps on the way up for artist’s sake.


Google Developer Summit 2015

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Cobi attended the Google Developer Summit on Tuesday, 25th August 2015. The event was organised by the Google Developers Group for Sub-Saharan Africa and was divided into two tracks: Android and Web Development/Cloud. The team attended the Android track to gain more knowledge on this rapidly changing platform.

The first of the morning’s talks was called “Building for the next billion users” and was presented by Abodunrinwa Toki, a software engineer at Google focusing on Android UI Toolkit and Google Docs. The talk discussed the challenges that developers face when developing Android apps for users in emerging markets. These challenges include:

  1. Smart data usage
  2. Minimising APK size
  3. Smooth and responsive user interface
  4. Minimising memory usage
  5. Minimising battery usage
  6. Optimising app architecture

The following talk gave us deep insights into Material Design and was presented by Takuo Suzuki, Developer Relations Japan Lead at Google. Takuo explained that Material Design is a set of design principles that unifies apps across all platforms whether it be mobile, web etc. The talk explained the four tenets of Material Design: tangible surfaces, print like design, meaningful motion and adaptive design, followed by a discussion of the design support library.

The afternoon was devoted to a code lab that was coordinated by Alex Koller. This gave developers an opportunity to experiment with the new material design features available in the design support library. We implemented some of the most common features such as Toolbar, RecyclerView, CoordinatorLayout, SnackBars and the FloatingActionButton.

Google Drive

Amazon AWSome Day Johannesburg

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Amazon recently held the first business and technical AWSome day event in Johannesburg. Since Cobi utilises an array of AWS services, we decided that it would be beneficial to attend. The event was a full day crammed with interesting talks from the high-level developers of the services themselves and featured two streams, catering to the technical and business orientated attendees. I chose the technical track and gained a better understanding of the products Amazon offer and how they interlink. There are a number of improvements we, at Cobi, can make to better utilise the platform.

A few things that stood out are the granularity possible with the EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) instances, we are doing it wrong by having a non-scalable instance that is capable of meeting the maximum demand. We should instead be using small instances that have scalability in place to handle higher demand. This could decrease our net cost considerably.

Other interesting services include the SNS (Simple Notification Service), which offers a centralised location to handle push messages for all mobile platforms. Other powerful products would be a combination of the RDS (Relational Database Service) and Lambda could prove a powerful combination for hosting mobile API functions, but requires some further research.

The most impressive aspect was how Amazon and their AWS platform have grown over the years, with incredibly high numbers. Its no wonder they’re the leading company in cloud computing with their millions of servers hosted on nearly every continent.

More information on the event, including copies of the slides can be obtained from the AWS Johannesburg website.

AWSome Day

It’s here! The Oculus DK2

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Cobi received an Oculus DK2 today to help us play with VR. We’re hoping to implement some interesting ideas in the coming  months on the Oculus and Google Cardboard.

Loyiso couldn't wait to try it out

Loyiso couldn’t wait to try it out

Justin fully immersed in a VR demo

Justin checking out a VR demo

Coupling the Oculus with the LEAP motion makes for a immersive experience.