What is Andela, the Africa tech talent accelerator? – gpgmail


As someone who covers Africa’s tech scene, I’m frequently asked about Andela. That’s not surprising, given the venture gets more global press (arguably) than any startup in Africa.

I’ve found many Silicon Valley investors have heard of Andela but aren’t exactly sure what it does.

In a bite, Andela is Series D stage startup―backed by $180 million in VC―that trains and connects African software developers to global companies for a fee.

The revenue-focused venture is often misread as a charity. In 2017, Andela CEO Jeremy Johnson described the organization as “a mission-driven for-profit company” ― a model for the concept “that you can actually build businesses that create real impact.”

I asked Johnson recently to clarify the objective behind Andela’s drive. “It’s the exact same mission as when we started, based around our founding principle… that brilliance and talent are distributed equally around the world, but opportunity is not,” he said.

“We’re about breaking down the walls that prevent brilliance and opportunity from connecting to each other.”

A major barrier for Africa’s software engineers, according to Johnson, is simply the fact that the continent has been totally off the network that companies look to for developer talent.


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Emojivision app turns your iPhone’s camera into a real-time emoji painting machine – gpgmail


Your iPhone is capable of some impressive feats of computational photography, and a new app created by developer Gabriel O’Flaherty-Chan shows one way all that power can be put to creative use. Emojivision lets you see the world as if it were made up entirely of emojis.

The free app (which induces an in-app purchase for $2.79 that unlocks more emoji packs) works by breaking down your iPhone’s camera sensor input to its color palette fundamentals, finding its nearest neighbor from a subset of emojis (organized thematically within the app) and then rebuilding the image with a filter that overlays the image, and that can run at 60fps so you’d be hard-pressed to spot any lag between it and a real-time feed.

You can use the app to take selfies, interpret photos from your phone’s photo gallery, or just mess around with resolution to see how finely detailed, or how abstractly and yet obviously emoji-based you can get. This isn’t the app to go to if you’re looking for a hyper-realistic or clear visual interpretation of your face, but it is a fun thing to show your friends – and an impressive bit of software engineering, too.

O’Flaherty-Chan has create some noteworthy mobile software projects in the past – including when he managed to hack a fully playable version of Pokémon Yellow onto an Apple Watch. He’s currently working on building a gigantic real-time strategy game set within a procedurally-generated universe – like a ‘No Man’s Sky’ but with a focus on the RTS elements that should make for a very compelling and evolving approach to gathering resources and expanding your empire.


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Kobiton raises a $5.2M Series A round for its mobile testing platform – gpgmail


Kobiton, an Atlanta-based mobile testing platform that helps developers test their apps on real devices using the open-source Appium automation framework, today announced that it has raised a $5.2 million Series A round. The round was led by BIP Capital, with support from seed investors KMS Technology and Kinetic Ventures, as well as BetterCloud executive chairman Jon Hallett, former Infor COO Ken Walters and Kevin Lee, the CEO of Kobiton. Previously, the company raised $3 million in seed funding.

KMS Technology actually incubated Kobiton before it was spun out into its own company in 2016.

Current customers include Cap Gemini, Frontier Airlines, GreenSky, Office Depot and Q2.

One thing that sets Kobiton apart from other on-device testing services like Microsoft’s App Center Test Cloud, the AWS Device Farm and Google’s Firebase Test Lab is that it offers a cloud-based lab but also allows you to test set up your own private and local labs as needed. In total, Kobiton supports over 350 devices  and, of course, provides detailed logs for all tests, including full video, screenshots, system metrics and more.

“Our own survey of over 1500 organizations confirm the trends we’re seeing in the industry: First, companies have greatly advanced on the maturity testing model with more and more realization that extensive real-device testing is necessary to create flawless user experiences for all users on all devices,” Kobiton CEO Kevin Lee told me. “Second, organizations of all sizes have acknowledged that moving to automated testing is imperative to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced world. Time-to-market is becoming a critical measure of overall quality and the only way to get there is through extensive automated testing.”

Lee argues that until now, it too a lot of developer-level expertise to write the test scrips necessary to run automated tests. The Appium project has made this easier, but it’s not a trivial undertaking to set up tests with it either. He also argues that automated test scripts tend to be brittle. “They break when the underlying App changes, and worse, tend to break for the same App being tested on different device types,” he said.

Kobiton allows developers to create tests without having to write scripts by using tis “record and playback” feature. This still creates regular Appium code in the background, but developers don’t have to interact with it. Because that code is there, though, the company can then work its magic and add an abstraction layer (“Appium Anywhere”) that allows those tests to run on any device.

“What that means is that your test script will run the same on every device without requiring changes to your test script,” explains Lee. “Combined, these technologies will allow organizations to adopt mobile automation, at scale, in a cost effective and time efficient manner.”

Like most companies at this stage, Kobiton plans to use the new funding to expand its sales, marketing customer support and product development efforts. On the product side, a lot of that work will go into the “Record and Playback” tools.


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GitHub adds 21 new partners to its free Student Developer Pack – gpgmail


For a few years now, GitHub has been running a program that gives students around the world free access to GitHub Pro and various free and discounted services from other partners as part of its GitHub Education program. In total, over 1.5 million students have now signed up for the program, with about 750,000 being currently active, and with the new school year about to start, the company today announced that it is doubling the number of partners in the Student Developer Pack program by adding an additional 21 companies to the list.

The new partners cover a wide range of developer tools and services. They range from web design tools like Bootstrap Studio, which actually quietly joined the program over the summer, to the domain registrar .TECH, SSH client Terminus, ConfigCat for feature flag and configuration management, and Icons8 for making applications look better.

“Our philosophy what it comes to the pack is that it is about preparing students for all the premier tools they are going to encounter in the workplace,” said Scott Sanicki, the Senior Program Manager for the GitHub Student Developer Pack. That means that there can be partners with competing products, too, but as Sanicki noted, GitHub hasn’t seen any pushback from existing partners so far, including Microsoft.

Indeed, over the summer, GitHub’s new owner, Microsoft also added its Azure cloud computing services to the Student Pack. That’s no surprise, but it’s worth noting that AWS, DigitalOcean and Heroku were already part of the pack and offered students free and discounted cloud computing resources. They remain in the program and as Sanicki told me, it’s part of the company’s promise to remain open, even after having been acquired by Microsoft.

“[GitHub CEO Nat Friedman] was asked directly at the time of the acquisition whether we were going to sunset the student developer pack and he committed that we were continuing the pack and, in fact, make it stronger and that’s what we’ve we’ve attempted to continue to do,” Sanicki said. “We’ve seen support from Microsoft, from leadership, to give us the resources that we need to not only dream bigger with what we want to do with the pack and GitHub Education but to actually now attempt to accomplish it.”

Sanicki expects that the team will continue to add new partners over the course of the next few months. To sign up and see if you qualify for the program, head over here.

Below, you can find a list of all the new partners and what they are offering.

  • .TECH domains — A powerful domain extension to convey that you belong to the technology industry. One .TECH domain free for 1 year: https://get.tech/github-student-developer-pack
  • Better Code Hub — Better Code Hub provides a definition of done for code quality and actionable refactoring feedback for every push and pull request. A free upgrade to an Individual license to analyse your personal private repos: https://bettercodehub.com/github-student-developer-pack
  • Bootstrap Studio — Bootstrap Studio is a powerful desktop app for creating responsive websites using the Bootstrap framework. A free license for Bootstrap Studio while you are a student: https://bootstrapstudio.io/student-pack
  • ConfigCat — Feature flag service with unlimited team size, awesome SDK documentation and super easy integration with your application. 1000 feature flags, ∞ users for free: https://configcat.com/student
  • Cryptolens — License and sell your software securely. 10 licenses and any number of end-users for free for students: https://app.cryptolens.io/user/githubstudent
  • Frontend Masters — Advance your skills with in-depth JavaScript, Node.js & front-end engineering courses. Free 6-months access to all courses and workshops: https://frontendmasters.com/welcome/github-student-developers/
  • Gitpod — An online IDE for GitHub that provides a complete dev environment with a single click Free personal plan subscription for six months for students: https://www.gitpod.io/github-student-developer-pack/
  • Icons8 — Design resources: icons, UI illustrations, photos and software to class up your projects. 3-month All Access subscription with icons, photos, illustrations, and music: https://icons8.com/github-students
  • LogDNA — Log management platform that offers aggregation, monitoring, and analysis of server and application logs at any volume, from any source. $100 of credit every month for 1 year: www.logdna.com/github-students
  • Name.com — Domain names, web hosting, and websites. Unicorns and rainbows come standard with our customer support. One free domain name and free Advanced Security (SSL, privacy protection, and more): https://www.name.com/partner/github-students
  • Netwise — Turnkey data centre services for the hosting of critical IT infrastructure systems. Free single unit server colocation package free for 12 months: https://www.netwise.co.uk/students/
  • Next.tech — Learn tech skills and build software directly from your browser with real, online computing environments. 10,000 minutes of compute time for students: https://next.tech/github-students
  • Phrase — A cloud-based translation management system built to accelerate the development of multilingual digital products. Phrase Lite Plan free for up to 12 months for students: https://www.phraseapp.com/lp/github-student-package/
  • PomoDone — With PomoDone, hack and track your time and boost your productivity by applying Pomodoro technique to your workflow — eliminate distraction, sharpen focus and prevent burnout. PomoDone Lite plan free for 2-years: https://pomodoneapp.com/pomodoro-app-for-students.html
  • PushBots — The easiest way to engage your mobile & web app users via push notifications. Free Premium account for 6 months: https://pushbots.com/for/education
  • SQL Smash — Productivity plugin for SQL Server Management Studio for writing maintainable SQL scripts and faster navigation. Free standard license for students: https://student.sqlsmash.com
  • SymfonyCasts — Master Symfony and PHP with video tutorials and code challenges. Free 3-month subscription for students ($75 value): https://symfonycasts.com/github-student
  • Termius —SSH client that works on desktop and mobile. Termius securely syncs data across all your devices. Free access to the Premium plan (normally $99/year) while you’re a student: https://termius.com/education
  • Transloadit — A versatile uploading & encoding API to automate any file conversion. The Startup plan for free, including 10GB of encoding credit (valued at $49/month): https://transloadit.com/github-students/
  • Working Copy — Powerful Git client for iPhone & iPad. All Pro features for free while you are a student: https://workingcopy.app/education/


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GitHub gets a CI/CD service – gpgmail


Microsoft’s GitHub today launched the beta of a new version of GitHub Actions with full continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) capabilities built right into the service. General availability is planned for November 13.

The company also today announced that it now has more than 40 million developers on its platform.

Ten months ago, GitHub launched Actions, its workflow automation platform. Developers could already take actions to trigger all kinds of events and use that to build custom CI/CD pipelines. At launch, the GitHub team stressed that Actions allowed for building these pipelines, but that it was a lot more than that. Still, developers were obviously quite interested in using Actions for CI/CD.

“Since we introduced GitHub Actions last year, the response has been phenomenal, and developers have created thousands of inspired workflows,” writes GitHub CEO Nat Friedman in today’s announcement. “But we’ve also heard clear feedback from almost everyone: you want CI/CD! And that’s what we’re announcing today.”

With this updated version of Actions, developers can now build, test and deploy their code on any platform and run their workflows in containers or virtual machines. Developers also can test multiple versions of their applications in parallel thanks to a new feature called “matrix builds,” which lets you, for example, test three different versions of Node.js on Linux, Windows and MacOS at the same time. Because GitHub Actions are defined in a basic YAML file, making those changes is only a matter of adding a few lines to the file.

Supported languages and frameworks include Node.js, Python, Java, PHP, Ruby, C/C++, .NET, Android and iOS. Actions is also integrated with the GitHub Package Registry.

As the application is built, you also get live logs streamed to the Action console, and it’s easy to link to any line in a log file to discuss issues with the rest of your team.

These new features are available for free during the beta and will remain free for all public repositories.

Actions for GitHub Enterprise Server will launch next year and will include a hybrid option that will allow you to keep the code in a private data center and still use GitHub to orchestrate the workflows.

“GitHub Actions is the democratization of CI/CD and software automation. Developers can write workflows reacting to any GitHub platform event and reference open-source GitHub Actions — reusable pieces of code — to supercharge their software lifecycle the same way they are used to writing application code,” said Max Schoening, GitHUb’s senior director of Product Design. “It truly is community-powered CI/CD with a pricing model that works for everyone.”

With this launch, GitHub is now also competing more directly with some of the CI/CD startups that have built businesses on top of the platform. That’s likely to create a bit of friction.

“GitHub has made a commitment to keeping their platform open to all partners, but only time will tell,” CircleCI CEO Jim Rose said in a statement. “Ultimately, developers are smart and will choose the best, most powerful tools available on the market, and we’re confident that that’s where CircleCI will continue to be. […] With more than nine years of data and experience on how teams move from idea to delivery, CircleCI is the leader in CI/CD and we are confident we have the best solution for developers.”

I expect that Rose’s comment will echo that of other CI/CD players, though it’s also worth noting, as Rose did, that Actions can be integrated with other continuous integration services to allow developers to trigger builds on their platforms. These providers can also make their own Actions available on GitHub.

“We see GitHub actions as complementary to what Codefresh does. It’s an additional way that users can leverage Codefresh to build robust pipelines in a scalable way. One interesting thing is that GitHub followed our lead in how they architected Actions. You can actually use GitHub actions as steps inside a Codefresh pipeline. So you see, we’re actually very aligned,” said Dan Garfield, the chief technology evangelist at CI/CD platform Codefresh. “Developers can find the Codefresh action right on GitHub!”

When I asked GitHub about this, Schoening provided the following statement: “GitHub and our community believe in choice and an open ecosystem. That is something we take seriously and build into everything we do. GitHub Actions lets developers integrate with all their existing tooling, mix and match new developer products, and hook into all parts of the software lifecycle, including existing CI/CD partners.”


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GitHub confirms it has blocked developers in Iran, Syria and Crimea – gpgmail


The impact of U.S. trade restrictions is trickling down to the developer community. GitHub, the world’s largest host of source code, is preventing users in Iran, Syria, Crimea and potentially other sanctioned nations from accessing portions of the service, chief executive of the Microsoft-owned firm said.

Over the weekend, GitHub CEO Nat Friedman wrote on Twitter that like any other “company that does business in the US,” GitHub is required to comply with the U.S. export law. The confirmation comes months after work collaboration service Slack, too, enforced similar restrictions on its platform.

As part of the push, Friedman said GitHub has enforced new restrictions to prevent users in sanctioned countries from accessing private repositories and GitHub Marketplace, as well as maintaining private paid organization accounts.

A selection of GitHub services such as access to public repositories will remain available to everyone, the company said in a statement on its website. “This includes limited access to GitHub public repository services (such as access to GitHub Pages and public repositories used for open source projects), for personal communications only, and not for commercial purposes.”

For developers intending to store export-controlled data, GitHub points them to its enterprise server offering, a self-hosted virtual appliance that can be run within users’ own data center or virtual private cloud.

Several developers began to complain about their inability to access some of GitHub’s services last week. News outlet ZDNet reported about a Russian developer living in Crimea whose GitHub account had been restricted, for instance. Hamed Saeedi Fard, a developer who is based in Iran, wrote in a viral Medium post that his GitHub account was blocked without any prior notice or the option to back up his data.

Interestingly, the restrictions are imposed based on a user’s location — by tracking their IP address and payment history — instead of validating their nationality and ethnicity, GitHub said on its website, where it mentions that Cuba and North Korea are also facing the U.S. sanctions.

For those who are considering a workaround by using VPNs (virtual private networks), GitHub has ruled out that possibility: People in U.S.-sanctioned countries “are prohibited from using IP proxies, VPNs, or other methods to disguise their location when accessing GitHub.com services.” It remains to be seen how GitHub enforces the rule.

Banned users who believe their accounts have been wrongfully suspended can fill out an appeal form, where they are required to produce a copy of their government-issued photo ID to prove their current residency along with a selfie, signaling GitHub’s step towards imposing real-name identity check.




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