Friday, November 25, 2016

Burna Boy and the case of disregard for Intellectual Property

It's absolutely terrible the way intellectual property is disregarded in this part of the world.

Hard working creative individuals are contracted to do work for one thing or another; and then the contractor turns around and uses their hardwork for their benefit, without due compensation. If we continue keeping quiet about this rubbish, it will keep happening.

In 2014, I published a post about Absolut requesting the services of my younger brother Anthony (and other artists) and skipping the compensation promised. Then going ahead to use the materials produced for their local marketing and growth. The same thing has repeated itself again, but this time the perpetrator is Burna Boy and his management.

To be clear, I'm a big fan of Burna's music, I jam his songs a lot of time when I code (and will definitely still do in the future). But if you disrespect or steal from my team (family is my no 1 team), you've drawn a line that is hard for me to ignore. I'll call your arse out.

On the 31st of October (which happened to be Anthony's birthday), he got home and announced to me that he got a phone call from Burna. Burna requested that his (nascent) graphics/animation company Insecta Studio, create materials (branding and stage animation) for his next performance. The performance turned out to be at Essence Festival in South Africa (Anthony didn't even know this then). I was excited for him and his team.

One discussion after another, he informed me that they had done a sketch for the proposal and Burna's people liked it. Then that they had sent out the proposal and bill, and waiting for response. Then that Burna's people say that they want to "pay" with publicity and free show (lol). Then they replied that they (Insecta Studios) don't do pro-bono, because they pay bills. Then that Burna's people aren't responding anymore.

We took it that they had decided that they aren't going to use Insecta Studios anymore, so Insecta looked elsewhere for business. Then suddenly, we discovered that the artwork that was sent to them as a sample sketch was actually used at Essence Festival and it is being fully used for ALL of Burna Boy's branding/social media.

WITHOUT CONCLUDING AND PAYING A DIME TO THE ARTIST!

What kind of terrible habit and disrespect is that? Every time Anthony called his people, the guy will say that he's on set and that he can't respond. Only for us to see this. We're taking legal actions against them already.

BTW, if you need any animation or graphics or graffiti or video editing, you can reach Insecta Studios at http://www.insectastudios.com/. Client include VConnect, Gidi Culture Festival, Falz (Karisika video), among others.

Follow on Twitter on: @InsectaStudios
Follow on Instagram on: @InsectaStudios


Anyways, find all their interaction attached below and all the place where Burna Boy and his people have used a material that they have decided not to pay for to do their public profile and branding.















video



It's important that this rubbish stops. Which is why I'm publishing this. Disrespect for creative people's work and IP shouldn't be tolerated in any form. Speak up against whoever does it to you, if/whenever it happens. Don't be silent.

Since I first tweeted about this (Find thread embedded), a number of visual artists have informed me that they've been exploited in one form or the other by other creatives. You would imagine that these people connect with the creative process and will be sympathetic, but no. This is absolutely wrong and needs to stop.




Friday, July 22, 2016

Always be experimenting. Always be measuring. Always be iterating.

Yesterday, I had a very long and detailed discussion with Chijioke (who does business and strategy for Tiketmobile) as regards Tiketmobile business; and it was really mind blowing. We started by watching the video below of Austin Ligon at Yale school of management, talking about how he co-founded and built CarMax. This helped put our discussion in the right context.


After which we revisited the assumptions which drives the current execution of Tiketmobile and reassessed the addressable market size (which we've chosen as the most important factor to base decisions on). Then we took a holistic view of the general addressable market of internet businesses in Nigeria. We looked at and tried to figure-out the highest possible valuations of some of the most notable tech start-ups around, while analysing why the really big guys (like Naspers) close their operations too often.

A very repeated sentiment, which both of us agreed to, is that the addressable market for consumer tech isn't large enough for extremely big things to be built and monetised locally (alluding to @asemota's post that tech in Africa is luxury). This is almost true for anything but FinTech.

Because what I'm really interested in succeeding at is consumer tech, all this time I kept asking "mehn, does this mean that I should leave this market and move to a place where what we build will be useful to a large number of people almost immediately?" I'm still considering this question.

However, our discussion led us to lots of different ideas being activated in our heads. We eventually settled on what direction we'll drive Tiketmobile to and the market we'll try explore next. This whole thing has become one very big experiment and I personally look forward to it.

In August, Chijioke will be off to Yale for his MBA.

P.S: Today is Chima, my baby brother's 25th birthday. Officially, all my mum's kids are 25 and above.

Friday, July 8, 2016

That day when I was at St. Gregory for Careerpedia's Career Day

On 8th June, Careerpedia held their Career Day event for secondary schools. Tiketmobile being one of the partners, I was there to talk to the students about technology and the opportunities in tech. I was amazed and impressed by what some of these students already say they do with the computer. A good number of others were just really curious about the technology around them.

Generally, I had a good time relating with the kids, it reminded me of when I started all these computer things. Much kudos to Joshua and the Careerpedia team for this. I also need to keep reaching out to my contacts to keep encouraging them.

Below are photographs from that day.








Thursday, July 7, 2016

Microsoft's confusing dilemma with Project.json and .csproj: my experience with ASP.NET Core.

It's been quite a while since I posted here, but I'm in some kind of sweet pain and I really want to document it.

So after hanging out with Ifetayo yesterday and having a good dose of Guinness, we got back to his place at Surulere and it was pressed in my mind that I needed to continue work on the new Tiketmobile website.

Constance had designed a set of static web pages which I'm meant to add dynamic functionalities to. However, being caught between running Tiketmobile business (understanding and redesigning sales process with John, on-boarding Jacinta and intermittent phone discussions with Chijioke about business performance and the possibility of another pivot), I hadn't done much with the web pages for a couple of days. So when I got back yesterday and was watching the Portugal vs. Wales semi-final match, I was caught between dozing off and coding. Nature had its way and I passed out on the couch.

As my body is always prone to do, I awoke at 2AM and immediately reached for my computer. I had decided to use Slim framework + Twig to add PHP functionality to the static pages and invoke the original WCF service, which the back-end of Tiketmobile runs (as is the current architecture). But after having some 30 min battle with myself, I decided to re-write the back-end and eliminate WCF finally.

You see, when we first started the Tiketmobile project in 2011, REST-based Web APIs weren't quite as common place as they currently are. So we had built the back-end with WCF, a Microsoft technology closest to Web API then. I'd written the codes. However, as time went by, we'd tried out event ticketing for a very brief moment + pivoted to our current pick-up and drop-off service, on a poor architecture meant that a lot of technical debt had built up on, mainly because spaghetti codes. This is the perfect opportunity to fix it. So I'm going to rewrite the back-end.

Now, I faced another mild dilemma. Should I rewrite in the API in PHP using Slim or should I continue with C# .NET? (Yeah, I know that there's Rails and Node and Go, and all that new "cool kids" tech, but I'm not really about that life.) When I remembered all the things I take for granted in C# -- like static typing (compile-time type checking), easy multithreading, background activities, the fact that the database is SQL Server, etc -- I decided to continue with C#.

Decision was made easier when I discovered that .NET Core (Microsoft's cross-platform offering of .NET) is out. I shutdown my Visual Studio and opened up Sublime Text, downloaded the installer and everything was set-up in 15 to 30min. I created my first ASP.NET Core web application in Sublime, and ran it without IIS (ASP.NET Core ships with an in-built lightweight web server called Kestrel). I was excited that when I get that Mac, I can continue with the Tiketmobile dev whenever and on whatever platform I want to.

Time to integrate the Tiketmobile database with the current system, which meant a couple of NuGet package installations. Running everything on the command prompt, I whipped up the "nuget install" command and got all the packages I needed, but the new .NET Core project configuration (project.json) wasn't being made aware of the new packages. This meant that even though I'd installed them, I couldn't use them in my codes.

Usually, Visual Studio handles all that "bizniz", but I'd decided to stress myself about this. Hence I wasn't using VS, not even the cross-platform VS Code. So I had to worry about all the minutest settings. So I ran to Google to find out why this was happening, only to discover that Microsoft has decided to do away with Project.json and return to the traditional .csproj method of project configuration. Here's the post: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/dotnet/2016/05/23/changes-to-project-json/

Many questions. Why did they not update the new project creation process of .NET core to not add project.json? I mean, when I run "dotnet new", it still creates a project.json. I still even had to manually create a nuget.config to tell the nuget where to search online for new packages and where to save the packages locally. Are you guys this confused?

OK, I've accepted that I still need the "supervision" of almighty Visual Studio to bootstrap the project. I'm just about to whip-up my VS and import my ASP.NET Core app into it. (They said it will automatically convert the Project.json to .csproj when I import).

Fair job so far though. But I guess Microsoft isn't quite as ready about cross-platform like I thought. Maybe they'll sort all these out in a few months and then actually give Node.js that challenge that they're aiming for with ASP.NET Core.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Off to the races!

So I'll be catching a flight to Abuja tomorrow and I'll be there for a couple of weeks. No, it's not my first time in Abuja and it's not about the Abuja trip, but the philosophy around it.

Last year, when I left Interswitch to go back into entrepreneurship, I decided that I wasn't going to be in Lagos for over 1 month again after launching Ocaman, unless business demands. I mean, I have successfully honed a skill that is in demand all over the world, and have a good set of experience to go with it. As not-so-good as I [think I] am at selling products, I'm immensely amazing at selling my skills (Williams never fails to remind me of the interview he had with me, prior to hiring me at Interswitch). So I was going to sell my skills to the highest bidder, on a per project basis to fund my entrepreneurship drive, preferring to be physically present at location.

Last year, I was already concluding plans of setting out to Uyo and then Calabar, when my dad fell ill and I had to be around to take care of him. Unfortunately, he didn't recover from the illness. After his burial, I convinced myself that I needed to stay as close to home as possible, but definitely not take another 9 to 5 job, because it didn't fit into my personality. So I was stuck between freelancing at a spot and trying to raise investment. Both didn't quite go as well as I envisaged.

So I'm back to the spot of evaluation and I remembered that decision. By the 6th of August, it would be 1 year since the passing of my dad and having hung around for this long, I thought it was time I revisit this decision.

So I'm going to be that guy, who sells his skills to fund his start-up(s), while experiencing life in other cities. I'll prefer African cities though, so I can adequately build the local network I need to grow my Africa-focused start-up. However, I'll go anywhere if I'm offered a good deal (not just money, but also freedom of expression and on-project flexibility). If I don't get a good deal soon enough, I'll either sue for elongation of the one I have at the moment or return to my apartment in Lagos and start bidding again. No biggie!

I'll miss my workstation and current work environment, but I look forward to the time, learning and contributions I'll make to my new team at Abuja. While keeping an eye open for the next city.

If you'd like to hire me, check out my LinkedIn and email me on celestocalculus@gmail.com. To ensure my effectiveness, I only work on 1 project at a time, so I'm not going to be available for now, but we can discuss about my next availability & engagement.

I need to go pack my bags now... and I should blog a little more often. I know.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

You're never going to get over it

I'm wiping tears off my face right now.

The last time I shed tears was when my uncle, who was the doctor in charge of my father's treatments, announced to me that he had passed on.

Before then, the last time I remember shedding tears was in 2007, when my dad announced to me that my closest cousin, Ikemefuna Ezeokoye died at a car accident.

So why is tears streaming down my face now?

I was trying to decide if I should grow my dreadlocks again or not, then my thought wandered to what my father thought of it when he was alive.

He didn't like it. But he let me keep it anyway.

When I first started trying to grow the locks, my mum complained incessantly about it, but he always calms her down, while trying to make me see reasons to cut my hair. I didn't give in. In 2012, one Sunday morning, as I was waking, he came and handed me some money and said "go and cut your hair immediately after church today." I did without any hesitation. I knew pressure from my mum had forced him to do it and I didn't want to be the a cause of any issues between them.

So after cutting it, I moved out of home for good and went to grow my dreadlocks elsewhere.

When I had it on, every time we see, he says one or two things about how, as a gentleman I shouldn't be wearing dreadlocks, as it is usually associated with area boys. But he never tries to force me to cut it. When I took the Interswitch job and decided to cut my hair, he expressed his gladness. When I left the job and started growing the hair again, he just let me be.

The next time I had to cut it was when I had look normal, in honour of him, at his funeral.

That was the person he was. He won't force anyone to do something that they didn't want to do, especially once he believes that they have come of age. When we, his kids, were all going into the university, he expressed his deep desire to have a lawyer in his family. But none of us was interested. After saying it a few times he let it slide, but gave us his support nonetheless.

-----

When I told my friend Temitope that my dad had passed on, she said,"You're never going to get over it". She had lost her father a couple of years back, so she knew what she was saying.

Now I wonder how many future decisions would bring back the memory of my father and make me wish he was still alive. I now need to learn to be a man about it and not shed tears like a baby whenever those memories come.

My father usually said: "When you look around and you don't see me anymore, what would I have taught you?"

-----

I've decided that, in honor of my dad's memories, I'd not grow my dreadlocks anymore. I'd miss it and I'm sure my mum would be very happy (as I, and my dad, would like her to be).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Life of Service: A mini-biography of my late father, John Asiegbu Ezeokoye

My father passed away on the 6th of August. He went into coma, after 1 week of being admitted with stroke. Despite all the efforts to revive him, he didn't make it. His wake keeping was held on 2nd October 2014, at Oke-Odo, Alimosho Lagos, his community of residence. While the burial ceremony held on October 15th at my hometown, Aguluezechukwu, Aguata Anambra state.
 
It's really painful burying my father at 26, especially when he's aged only 61. I see his influence in many things I do and I wish he stayed longer and saw his future grandchildren before passing.
 
The composition below was done by me, based on personal discussions with my father, experiences of living with him and words I've heard from other people. It was recited by my elder brother, Francis Ezeokoye, at his funeral.
 
Enjoy.

--------------- 

John Asiegbu Ezeokoye (DE-JOHN) has passed on. A gem in the eyes of many and a foundation for many successes. In his not-so-short life, he affected a lot of people in several ways and the result of his impact will last for a very long time.

Born in AguluezeChukwu in June 1953 to Nkwonwe Eze-okoye and Antonia Eze-okoye, as the fourth of eight children, and the third son out of seven boys. He was a bright young boy who, in his own words “was always available to help out with chores whenever required”. He was baptised into the Catholic faith at his hometown, 7 months after his birth. In 1963, he received his first holy communion. The following year, he received the sacrament of confirmation.

After losing his eldest Brother Marcel at the Biafra war, and having lost his father earlier, his education had to be cut short after standard 6. After the war, he joined his immediate elder brother Late Dennis Ezeokoye (Nzedile) in Lagos to learn a trade, help elevate the living standards of the family and provide support for the education of his younger siblings.

With hard work and doggedness, he put in his all into his apprenticeship, doing several task at different times, in order to find a perfect fit for his personality and to diversify his income stream. He usually said that, at a point in his life, he was serving 3 masters at the same time and was delivering at all fronts, stretching himself beyond his comfort zone. In the end it all paid off and he made a consistent stream of income as a young man, operating under the business name “DE-JOHN”.

At the peak of his business success, he ran businesses ranging from sales of electrical & electronics materials to plumbing materials, and a small restaurant chain. His businesses were spread across different parts Lagos; from Oshodi to Ojo, from Idumota to Iyana-Ipaja. In all these places, he brought in apprentices to assist in running the business. At its peak, there were 7 shops and 12 boys learning trade under him.

John never joked with education. Being himself a collector of books and magazines, he had a personal library where he stocked popular novels written by popular authors during his days. These novels were going to whet the reading culture which he imbibed in his children in the future. He also ensured that every apprentice he brought in completed primary school at his supervision, if they hadn’t before he took them, to enable them manage his shops better. At the graduation ceremony of his younger brother Ernest’s set at Aguata Boys High school, he offered clothing materials to the best set of graduating students in order to encourage them to pursue their education further.

John was a family man to the core, sacrificing personal comfort most times, for the growth of his family. He contributed immensely to the education of his younger siblings. When required, he offered his siblings key positions at his business, in order to cushion the rigour of them having to build their businesses in the tedious manner he went through building his. After his younger Brother, Dr Ernest Ezeokoye, finished his housemanship and was ready to run his medical centre, he was one of the foundation instrumental to the setting-up of Esteem Medical clinics, which has helped saved life over the years.

The year 1984 was a bittersweet year in the life of John. It was in this year that he completed the completed the traditional marriage ceremony for his heartthrob, Miss Roselyn Nkechi Ezeilo. It was also in this year that he raised his decked building in AguluezeChukwu, despite losing the original architectural plan of the house. Unfortunately, he had to stop the project half-way due to some issues in his business.

In the following year, he wedded his sweetheart, taking the vows of holy Matrimony at St John’s Catholic Church Oshodi and a new chapter began in his life. He went on to father four sons: Chukwunonso Francis Ezeokoye, Chukwubuike Celestine Ezeokoye, Obumneme Anthony Ezeokoye and Chima Emmanuel Ezeokoye.

To his sons, he was an available father. Being there to sing poems, tell bedtime stories and help with basic arithmetic, when they were kids. He was also a strict disciplinarian, never failing to discipline his sons when they veered off the right path. Despite the collapse of his business post-marriage, he ensured that he imbued in them tenets that would be instrumental to their growth as useful citizens. He often promised to ensure that they are educated to any degree they desire. Unlike the prevalent nature of fathers, he also tried not to force them to pursue any discipline just because he wants it. Instead he gave his children the freewill to make their choices, trusting God that their upbringing would direct them in the right path. He lived long enough to witness all his sons acquire Bachelor’s degrees at some of the best Federal Universities in the country. They were trained as mechanical engineer, computer scientist, architect and biotechnologist respectively.

To his wife, he was a backbone and moral support. Even though, like every human, he erred once in a while, he always ensured he settled any differences they had in due time. He never drove her out nor considered leaving the marriage when they had misunderstandings, instead he showed love and brought an aura of peace into the marriage. He supported her business drives and in return, she supported the growth of the family where required. He created an environment where both were shareholders in family growth and proper upbringing of the children.

In his later years, he was actively involved in the building of a new catholic community at Oke-Odo, Alimosho Lagos, being his area of residence. He was an active member of the Catholic Men Organisation (CMO) at his community at St. Christopher’s Catholic Church and volunteered for causes which The Church needed services for, both in cash and in kind. He enjoyed the company of friends in the community, where he was respected as an elder and he never fails to lead by example wherever needed.

Dear John, you were a husband, father, brother, uncle and friend to many, before death plucked you from our midst. Even though we are saddened by losing you, we take solace in the Word of God which says:

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies” – John 11:25

And we believe that you are living and resting at the bosom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.