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Makerere University To Acquire New Student Management Information System

Makerere University is looking to overhaul its system responsible for storage of administration, finance and student data. This comes after allegedly some staff in the academic section “hacked” the system and altered marks for students.

The accused staff have since been arrested but the alleged tampering with the system caused a delay in issuance of transcripts to students who graduated in February 2017. Added to this, the accused staff also allegedly altered students’s marks and listed some 58 students into the 67th graduation booklet.

Makerere administration has been apologising to the affected students and promised quick action.

The International Tertiary System (ITS) that integrates finance, human resource and academic data was brought in to Makerere from Stellenbosch University about ten years ago. It was a donation costing about $700,000.

Now the University wants to upgrade the ITS, which is unique and was tailor-made for Stellenbosch University and has since become obsolete.

“We have been operating a system purchased from South Africa but it is now obsolete that is why some unscrupulous staff managed to beat it. So we shall either upgrade it in the medium term or buy a new system,” said Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the deputy vice chancellor in charge of finance.

Prof Nawangwe explained that either decision would rely on the cost but only if they failed to agree on upgrading the ITS with a new version would they buy a new system.

When Makerere administration realised that there were anomalies on the 67th graduation list, they halted the issuance of transcripts which affected over 14,895 students.

Prof John Ssentamu Ddumba, Makerere University vice chancellor, instructed the IT team to clean up the system and ensure that it is not tampered with again.

In mid March 2017, Mr. Alfred Masikye, the academic registrar wrote to all university stakeholders alerting them on a temporary shut down in processing transcripts which alarmed the recently graduated students who wanted their transcripts for either further studies or to apply for jobs.

According to Masikye’s communication the university management had discovered that names of 58 students had their marks altered and henceforth withdrew them pending further investigations.

Press reports show that as early as 2015, Makerere withheld about 14,000 students’ transcripts until they verified their results. Prior to that incident, in 2008 a meeting had noted that the ITS was insecure and ill functioning.

A source who did not want to be named told me that since inception, the ITS has always had major flaws and was incompatible with Makerere University.

One of the reasons is that the ITS was never configured to Makerere’s requirements but implemented the way it was working at Stellenbosch University, the source said. “It was like do it here as you did it there. It was also a donation and the administrators could not refuse it.”

Stellenbosch University and Makerere University have major variables. As a software that was tailor-made to Stellenbosch, its failures or repairs meant calling someone from South Africa, which was costly, the source said.

She said the two universities with major differences could not be aligned to fit the ITS at Makerere. For instance while the ITS was using the calendar year in Stellenbosch, Makerere uses an academic year so data inout and storage was a challenge.

Makerere university, as its legacy, has always registered students using registration numbers but the ITS system uses a ten-digit student number. When this anomaly was realised the Makerere administration started issuing student numbers on top of the registration numbers to fit the system.

Users at the administration level complained and they requested that one of numbers be dropped but Makerere had to keep its legacy of registration number so both of them were maintained causing more chaos.

The other issue is that the ITS would allow students to register online only after paying at least 60 percent of the tuition fees. The way the ITS was modelled is that it would automate registration with that data input from finance and enable the student to register.

Since Stellenbosch University is a state-subsided most of its students would have no problem with that requirement but Makerere has been in running battles with students to pay their school fees on time.

However, another source who also preferred anonymity says the students results management system responsible for input, storage and administration of student marks and production of transcripts was locally designed.

He said Makerere is just not saying the truth about the problem and not effectively managing issuing of transcripts to graduated students on time.

Makerere University officials, however said the two were aligned so the locally made system, which was tampered with by its staff was aligned to the ITS and students records would be imported into it. But the matter would soon be resolved.

Article by Esther Nakazzi

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Silent Speech Communications: Facebook aims to let people type directly from their brain at 100 wpm speed

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Facebook revealed on Wednesday that it is working on technology to let people type straight from their brains at 100 words per minute.

A team of over 60 scientists, engineers and others at its secretive Building 8 research lab are working in the area Facebook describes as silent speech communications. Another project is directed at allowing people to hear with their skin, for which the company is building the necessary hardware and software.

“So what if you could type directly from your brain?” Regina Dugan, vice president of engineering and Building 8, asked Wednesday at F8, Facebook’s annual two-day developer conference.

For Facebook, the question seems to be far from speculative. “Over the next 2 years, we will be building systems that demonstrate the capability to type at 100 wpm by decoding neural activity devoted to speech,” Dugan wrote in a Facebook post. The executive has previously headed an advanced technology and projects group at Google and was earlier director of the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). “It sounds impossible but it is closer than you may realize,” she said.

The concept isn’t exactly new. Researchers at Stanford University, for example, have shown that a brain-to-computer interface can enable people with paralysis to type via direct brain control, using electrode arrays placed in the brain to record signals from the motor cortex that controls muscle movement.

Facebook’s approach will be focused on developing a non-invasive system that could one day become a speech prosthetic for people with communication disorders or a new means for input to augmented reality, Dugan wrote. She said in her keynote that the planting of electrodes in the brain was not scalable and Facebook was looking instead at non-invasive sensors. Optical imaging techniques hold the most potential for providing the spatial and temporal resolution required for mapping brain signals, she added.

In a bid to placate privacy concerns, Dugan said that the technology was not interested in decoding a person’s random thoughts. The aim is to decode those words that the person decides to share and sends to the speech center of the brain.

“Our brains produce enough data to stream 4 HD movies every second,” wrote Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post. “The problem is that the best way we have to get information out into the world — speech — can only transmit about the same amount of data as a 1980s modem.” The human brain streams 1 terabits per second although speech is transmitted at 40-60 bits per second, said Dugan who described speech as essentially a lossy compression algorithm.

The company’s aim is to develop a system that will let people type straight from their brain about five times faster than they can type on their phone today, which will be eventually turned into wearable technology that can be manufactured at scale. “Even a simple yes/no ‘brain click’ would help make things like augmented reality feel much more natural,” Zuckerberg wrote.

On hearing through the skin, Dugan said that we have two square meters of skin on our body that are filled with sensors, and wired to our brain. Braille took advantage of that by helping people interpret small bumps on a surface as language in the 19th century, but since then techniques have emerged that show the brain’s ability to reconstruct language from components. “Today we demonstrated an artificial cochlea of sorts and the beginnings of a new a ‘haptic vocabulary,’” she wrote on her Facebook page.

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Microsoft ends support for Windows Vista

windows vista desktop

Microsoft’s support for Windows Vista ended yesterday. This is by design: Microsoft provides at least 10 years of support for its operating systems, split into two distinct types. Mainstream Support ended on April 10, 2012, and now Extended Support is ended on April 11, 2017. Windows Vista hit general availability on January 30, 2007. Microsoft thus supported arguably its most hated product for just over its minimum 10 years.

About Windows Vista

The release of Windows Vista came more than five years after the introduction of its predecessor, Windows XP, the longest time span between successive releases of Microsoft Windows desktop operating systems. It was succeeded by Windows 7, which was released worldwide for retail on 22 October 2009.

Mainstream Support includes free incident support, warranty claims, fixes for non-security as well as security bugs, plus design changes and feature requests. Extended Support consists solely of security updates. In other words, Windows Vista is dead in Microsoft’s eyes.

If you continue to use Vista, your computer will still work but it will become more vulnerable to security risks and malware. Software and hardware manufacturers will be even less likely to make products that work with the operating system, opting to focus on more recent versions of Windows.

It’s also worth noting that Microsoft has stopped providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows Vista. If you already have it installed, you’ll continue to receive antimalware signature updates for “a limited time” but again, your computer is already compromised regardless of what security suite you use since the operating system is no longer being updated.

In short, you better not be using Windows Vista anymore. You have multiple successors to choose from, including Windows 7 and Windows 8, but Microsoft naturally recommends moving to Windows 10.

 

Be prepared for the demise of Windows 7

Microsoft has also announced that the extended support of the Windows 7 operating system would be terminated in 4 years. Although the mainstream support ended in January 2015, an extension of 5 years, which provides security and technical supports to users was given. Unfortunately, that will also end soon.

 

Windows made it clear that the extension support protects users of Windows 7 OS from malicious attacks, hackers, viruses or any form of internet spyware, that could corrupt their systems. However, when the extension support is terminated, users of Windows 7 risk exposure to harmful malware , which could wreak damage on the OS and sabotage its performance. Therefore, it is advisable that Windows 7 users upgrade their OS before its death  on January 14, 2020.

Window Operating Systems graveyard
Window Operating Systems graveyard

 

If you’re still using Windows Vista — and thankfully less than 1 percent of the world is — it’s really time to move on.

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Wow! I have Secured my Website with HTTPS!

Mukalele.net now secure with HTTPS

Glory to God, my website can now be safely reached at https://www.mukalele.net! I have also added an e-shop on my website where I will be selling some of my products and services. I have already setup the PayPal payment gateway and now everything is set for me to start expecting e-cash to drop on my bank account!

 

Background

It’s long been recognised that all eCommerce web sites should have an SSL certificate; the thing that makes your site secure with HTTPS and gives you the little green or yellow padlock.

However, what few web site owners know is that SSL is advantageous for all web sites. As well as user confidence, search engines and browsers have for some time now favoured web sites with SSL. This is now changing again to the extent of almost making SSL mandatory.

Major web browsers and search engines have now started to effectively penalise web sites for not having encryption. Websites without HTTPS are given negative security indicators and actively labeled “not secure” in the browser address bar.

 

What is SSL?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral.
In simple terms, SSL establishes a way for a client (your browser) and a server to know that each party is who it says it is. They establish this trust using an SSL (or, more recently, TLS) protocol, a cryptographic key that enables a digital “handshake” between them. The server coughs up a certificate that confirms its identity, and the encrypted data exchange can begin.

 

How can you secure your website with SSL?

That might seem complicated, but it’s not nearly as tricky as it once was. “Several years ago there was a certain cost and effort to go through in order to get a site set up for HTTPS. The good news is that these days the process is really simplified, and in fact many companies are providing free SSL certificates.” Those companies range from CloudFlare, a global CDN which offers “one-click SSL,” and Let’s Encrypt, a project led by the Internet Security Research Group that offers SSL certificates to anyone who owns a domain.

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The importance of forgiving and getting over offences against us

Emotional Mukalele Rogers

If you are carrying around a lot of resentment, anger, or hurt over something that happened in the past, you may find that you are unhappy and unable to find peace. Perhaps the best thing that you can do for your own emotional health is to practice forgiveness, even if the person who wronged you does not appear to feel sorry.

 

Offense is a stumbling block that Satan uses to keep many Christians from experiencing life to the fullest. You probably will not progress in your relationship with God if, every time someone hurts your feelings, you get offended. The word for offense that is used in the New Testament means “the part of the trap on which the bait lies to lure in its victim,” and offense is part of Satan’s trap to keep us from going forward in our walk with God.

Apostle Paul’s Example

The apostle Paul was offended by other brothers in Christ, but in each instance he decided to leave the person with God. For example, there was a man named Alexander, who did Paul a great deal of harm. What’s Paul’s response? The Lord will pay him back (2 Timothy 4:14). In that same passage, Paul writes about how various people have left him: At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. However, he asks God, May it not be held against them (2 Timothy 4:16).

 

Paul may not have had power in his ministry had he been bitter towards others. Decide to forgive others through the power of God’s grace. If you’re offended about something others did to you, ask God, May it not be held against them. Forgiveness is the solution.