Saturday, 20 November 2010

A Digital Green Africa

We have finally selected a logo design for NATC. 

It is a digital green Africa with NATC spelled across it in our four website colours (Purple, Green, Orange and Yellow):

If a perfect logo conveys a clear vision, ours is a digital green Africa. 

Let us imagine a technologically advanced and green Africa. 

We are already on our way! 

Friday, 19 November 2010

New Product: the Meraki MR58

Contributed by Onesimus Borkuah
NATC wishes to inform you of the latest technology and equipment it has been working with over the past months: the “Meraki MR58 Outdoor Wireless Access Point.”
Here are some experiences of two of our staffs (Onesimus and Jonathan) have had whilst working with this device on a client site:

The MR58 provides high speed wireless coverage to large areas quickly, easily and cost effectively.

It also has a friendly graphical-user interface dashboard on the product site: that allows the network administrator to create an account for his/her Meraki network, registering his/her product on that network (using the serial number) and configuring it for his/her preferred use.

Whilst studying the product carefully to meet the needs of our customer, we observed the following:

1.      For better encryption and design of your network, the MR58 has basically three unique ways of encrypting/securing and designing it:

i.                    A “splash screen” appears whenever a user has logged on wirelessly, giving him/her a local access for a short time until he can launch a web browser, read the designed content and then accept to browse the internet.
ii.                  A “dashboard” appears, similar to the splash screen that allows each user to log on using their username and password given to them by their network administrator.
iii.                You can also monitor your network from anywhere in the world to know who’s using how much of a speed once you have access to the internet and you’ve created an account on the meraki dashboard. And it's all for FREE!

2.      Any other device (i.e Linksys or D-Link), not a brand of Meraki product, can connect to the “Ethernet” port of the MR58 Access Point for better extension of the wireless indoors. 

3.      With the help of third-party sector antennas (We used the ARC-PA5823B01), you can boost your signal to get a larger coverage area. The ARC flat panel we used had a range of  2.4GHz-5.0GHz.

      This is the kind of deployment we used (image from the Meraki website):

This equipment was used on a mining camp in the south-eastern part of Liberia to enable better internet (wired/wireless) for employees on the camp site.

It worked very beautifully within that region with less worries!

Here are a few pictures of us at work:

We would also like to state that we had an excellent support from the team at Meraki all the way in California while this deployment was going on! Thanks, guys!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Designing the company website

Commissioning of the company website was an interesting project. We decided to work with a family member in Karachi, Pakistan with whom we are interested in forging a long-term business relationship. It really is nice to be able to work with people you want and choose your partners. 

We really wanted a very fresh-looking and funky website. The colours are vibrant or as a friend said, "It looks like candy!". The images are of our staff with big welcoming smiles. A professional photographer was hired for a day to take pictures of our young and energetic staff. We were very happy with the results. Our office is painted in yellow and that on the day of the shoot, it was particularly sunny giving the photographs a warm glow. 

As for the design of the website, the basic layout was decided upon early on. It was the little details that took a long time to finalise given the 5-hour time difference between Liberia and Pakistan. Scores of e-mails were sent back and forth and, a few telephone calls had to be made as well. I also sent the various drafts to friends for instant feedback and my friends were extremely helpful. 

I was not very happy with boring fonts like New Times Roman or Arial for the basic text. But if you notice, almost all websites use this basic font. I guess I wanted to be different and edgy. My graphic designer friend recommended looking up fonts on It is an amazing resource. After experimenting with a lot of fonts, we decided to do was to put in a very retro-looking font for the main text. It basically looks like a type-writer font. 

We also used a graphic font that is entitled 'Africain' to give an African-looking aesthetic sense. It needs a bit of tweaking but so far it looks good. 

I really wanted something like the one below but the geek font does not seem to upload on our website so we just have to stick with the one above. 

I think the website is more or less final. We have achieved our goal which was to have an online presence and project a certain image. 

What was the feedback like? 

We received a great response and people like our funky website. The response to the type-writer font is mixed, though. Some people love it, others hate it. Here is my favourite response to the typewriter font. 

"Yes, it is true that the font is different, but I think it still works. If it was more extreme, then it could affect the perception of seriousness of the company, but I think this one is within the limits, and it shows freshness and a young spirit. I guess it is subjective and when you try to be different there is always risk. It worked for me!"

The best part is that we have two websites already in the pipeline for our clients. I can safely say the website was a success! 

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Which L-O-G-O?

Now that we have a new website, a change in name and a clearer overall business direction, we need a new logo. 

A logo is as important as a website for our company's image, perhaps even more so. A customer will not visit our website every day but will certainly be seeing our logo much more frequently. A logo appears on paper work such as invoices and proposals, on ID cards and business cards as well. Given its close association in all our communication to our customers and even the wider public, I need to have a sharp, funky and highly 'talkative' logo.

If you look at well-known logos, you realise they are instantly recognisable and effective because they are quite simple. Hence, we need a 'talkative' logo that can convey a lot about the company it represents. In the words of my friend who also has her own business, the logo needs to work across our "marketing collateral."  

We were fortunate enough to get help on logos from a friend who is a graphic designer and has generously given a lot of her energy and time. We also commissioned some logo ideas from a graphic designer in India. 

Here is their hard work and creativity: