Thursday, November 29, 2007

South African Airport Crime Syndicates

My friend sent me this news story about the so-called 'airport syndicate' operating in Johannesburg. The deal is that visitors to the city are trailed from the airport and attacked usually at the entrance to their hotel or place of residence. The immigration and customs staff at the aiport are believed to work hand-in-hand with the robbers, who later way-lay the unsuspecting victims.

These robbers target certain nationalities - Nigerians included - who they know will be carrying huge sums of money on them.

So if the authorities know so much about this crime syndicate, why are these robberies still happening?

CMPC vs. OLPC

Intel has supplied its Classmate PC (CMPC) to students in an Abuja secondary, as part of its World Ahead programme, an initiative designed to "bring technology to people around the world."

According to the school's technical manager, Mr. Dennis Etsuke, "The pilot project consists of 280 computers, 8 teacher laptops, digital content, Wimax for internet access, and a repository where we can view content offline." Impressive, given that a generator was also installed so that the school could actually power the laptops.

Check out the photos.

In March this year, another Abuja area school was signed-up to participate in the One Laptop Per Child initiative, the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte, MIT's Media Lab co-founder.

Although both iniatives have roughly similar objectives of helping to bridge the digital divide, there of course has been a less than harmonious working relationship. Negroponte accused Intel of developing the CMPC because the OLPC computer uses an AMD processor, which is the rival technology to the Intel chip.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Anti-Virus Software Choices

I'm in the market for a new anti-virus software. Any recommendations? Saw this interesting post by Chxta outlining pros and cons from his pov of some popular anti-virus packages. I'm looking to move away from Nortons.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Black Looks' Carnival Against Violence Against Women

Sokari of Black Looks is organising a Carnival Against Violence Against Women. To participate, write a post on anything from "a personal story, images, thoughts, a link anything that highlights and informs violence against women." Complete a form from her blog or email her to notify her of your post. That's it! It's as easy as 1-2-3. It's so easy that I must remember to do it.

She also reminds us that the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which will run from November 25th to December 10th will incorporate the following:

November 25th: The International Day Against Violence Against Women
November 29th: International Women Human Rights Defenders Day
December 1st: World Aids Day
December 10th: International Human Rights Day

The Lagos Book & Art Festival (LABAF 2007)

I forgot to write about the 2007 edition of the Lagos Book & Art Festival. It ran from a Friday through to Sunday (Nov 9-11), but I was only able to go on Saturday.

It was held at the National Theatre, I suppose in part to showcase a national treasure that has been at the centre of much hoopla this year, stemming from the government's intention to sell it.

I haven't been to the National Theatre since secondary school and although I hear about events being held there once in a blue moon, I didn't seriously think that it was somewhere that people still used. I suppose my decision to attend the festival was partly out of curiousity to see this great landmark of old (well, aside from the fact that I attended last year and was looking forward to it anyway).

I'm quite ashamed to say that I got lost both getting there AND leaving (well, at least when I was leaving it was dark and so I had somewhat of a valid excuse). The time actually spent there was quite enjoyable. I easily located the part of the theatre being used for the festival from the crowd of cars parked outside and people milling around.

I got there during the final session of the day - a panel discussion entitled Writing in - Tales from the Diaspora, which (according to the program) featured Ayo Arigbabu, Henry Akubuiro, Toni Kan, Chuks Ohai, Tolu Ogunlesi. Also participating were Wole Oguntokun and Chude Jideonwo, who moderated.

The discussion flowed from musings on what defines writing as Nigerian; who was a Nigerian writer; which writers of Nigerian heritage could be said to be 'writing in' and who were writing 'authentically Nigerian'; what the hell made for 'authentic' Nigerian writing anway; and at the end of the day did all this matter? In response to the last question, which was posed by a member of the audience, the writer Toni Kan quipped that afterall that was what they had been brought together to debate.

I visited the few stalls that had not yet packed their wares up and bought two books that I know that I will not read for at least a year. After the day's proceedings wrapped-up, I spent some time chit-chatting with participants and guests alike outside and met two bloggers. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by me.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Taking Back the Tech

Alright, the 16-day VAW (violence against women) campaign starts tomorrow (Nov 25) and ends on Dec 10.

The Take Back the Tech website has many ideas of things to do protest VAW and could be as simple as blogging about it, sharing a story, sending SMS's or including a tagline in your emails.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Learning About Living - For Youths

I'm always interests in ways that ICTs (information and communication technologies) can impact people's every day lives. So, it was some fascination that I read about the Living project, two informational services for young people launched yesterday in Abuja (nevermind the slightly sensational headline).

One of the services is MyQuestion, which will enable young people to ask questions about reproductive health through text messages, online or using a telephone hotline. The second service is the competition, MyAnswer, where young people have the opportunity of winning prizes by answering a monthly question.

The initiative aims to provide a comfortable and safe forum where Nigerian youths can learn about sexual health and related issues affecting adolescents. Check www.learningaboutliving.com for more information.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Idris Elba Interview

Interesting Idris Elba interview on African Loft.

Cell Phones & E-advocacy

I spoke with Mary Joyce earlier this year. She was in Lagos for a few days looking into electronic means of participating in the democratic process. She was particularly interested in the use of mobile phones for elecronic or e-advocacy i.e. participating in the political process through electronic/technology tools e.g. to share information, lobby the government, protest. She talks about this in her interview on CafeBabel.com. You can download a copy of her report on mobile phone use for e-advocacy here.

The Helon Habila Book Reading

I attended the Helon Habila book reading this evening at Silverbird's Nu Metro bookstore. Or rather, I caught the tail-end of the Q and A. I sat the very back next to a crowd of people poring over the books on the shelf, deciding which ones to buy. Since I missed so much, of course I cannot do a blow-by-blow of the event. I haven't read either of Mr. Habila's books either, so I cannot write about them. However I purchased Waiting for an Angel, which the author signed and I look forward to the day when I will read it.

It felt like a long time since I'd been to a reading (could the last one have been Chimamanda's in January?). It was fun to sit in the midst of books, with people who like to read books and listen to people talk about books. In the brief time I was there, Helon Habila responded to all the audience questions with a quiet confidence (I think that's my favourite type of confidence. Hmmm, but 'quiet' as opposed to what? Showy confidence? Loud confidence? Does that even make any sense?).

I like the fact that he admitted that he likes books based on how interesting they are. He does not pay too much attention to genres. When a lady in the audience mentioned that she loved Coetzee's Disgrace (I think. I couldn't catch the author or the title), while her friend hated it and asked for his thoughts on the book (it felt almost like she was asking him to settle a disagreement between she and her friend), he politely shared his belief that what people like boils down to individual taste and preference. In short, we like what we like.

How I Became Drunk with IT, By Whizzkid

I meant to catch you all up on what I've been up to in the last couple of weeks (okay, I'll tell you right now - work, work, work), but I'm too tired right now to write creatively, so I'll just post this Gbenga Sesan interview.

I met Gbenga F2F (that's "face-to-face" for you non-Internet heads aka "people who actually have a life") for the first time this January in Uganda. Since then, I've hit him for all sorts of ICT4D and NGO advice (it is a testament to his amiable character that he continues to share his knowledge and experience with me happily and without cost). I was telling him that I read a profile on him in the latest issue of Genevieve magazine. He was unaware of this. I complained that all the articles I read about him could pass for duplicates of each other. I certainly never learnt anything new about him in any of them. It was then he pointed me to this Sun article, which I just got around to reading. Interesting to learn something new about Mr. Sesan. Good to see that not all papers are photocopying each other's work.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tech Repair

I remember when my iPods stopped working. It felt like my life was crashing down all around me. So dramatic I know. Luckily for me, Superior Technologies (they have store for Apple products at the Civic Centre and another one in Dolphin Estate) came to the rescue.

This New York Times article mentions some sites that can help you fix your broken down gadgets.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

C&H Quotes for the Day

My Calvin and Hobbes quotes for the day:

The only skills I have the patience to learn are those that have no real application in life.

I suppose if we couldn't laugh at things that don't make sense, we couldn't react to a lot of life.

The Anti-Fashionista

Was reading today's This Day Style and found someone who has some of my attitudes towards fashion.

Yinka Osobu, who owns CMC Interriors (a furniture manufacturing company) bluntly proclaimed, in a magazine devoted to style and fasion, no less, that she does not look forward to dressing up. She doesn't own a single pair of high heel shows and her Timberland boots and sandals are the most expensive items of clothing that she owns. She hardly goes out to balls and formal events, because she worries too much about how she will look and in the end cannot be bothered to make the effort. (The main photograph at the start of the interview was totally gorgeous, btw).

Although I am not quite so utilitarian as Mrs. Osobu appears from her interview, I have a very practical outlook to my personal style. Yes, it must look good but it must be comfortable and totally fit the occasion. Not for the me all the endless primping and fussing. I can get ready in 10 minutes and I kid you not. It's good to know that in such an image-conscious society, there are a few of us who could care less (okay, who care a bit but not too, too much. LOL!).

Timeless

Sade

I'm watching some videos of Sade's and I am struck by how timeless all the videos look. Even the clothes that Sade wears don't scream "Help! Stuck in the 1980s!" I want that look!

As it is, I look at some of my old pictures and wonder what the hell I thought I was wearing. Luckily, I never crested the fashion wave too much - I believed too much in trying to discover my own style. My hair always looked really good though (yes, I am saying so myself!).

The Evolution of a Blog

I met up with a friend yesterday and we spent an afternoon discussing many, many things. We are both bloggers and at some point, the conversation turned to our blogs. He commented on how I never discuss any personal things on my blog. I responded that was intentional. I had decided on starting the blog that I would not reveal too many details about my self on my blog. He also commented on how serious I come across in my blog. Hmmm, okay that was not intentional but maybe the fact that I try to steer clear of writing anything that I consider too personal is to blame for that.

Over time though, I have been blogging less. I also visit other blogs much less than I used to. As for commenting on my blog or on others, I definitely do that much, much less than ever. I've noticed that unless you write about controversial issues or things that a lot of people would find interesting, you would naturally get less comments. A blog also needs to be nurtured i.e. posting regularly (the ideal is daily; several times a day if you manage it), responding to peoples' comments on your blog and visiting and commenting on other peoples' blogs.

Alas, alas, life gets in the way sometimes, especially as the initial excitement dies down. This year has seen the demise of many blogs, as the authors move on to other interests. Naijablog is a rare example of a blog that has sustained a consistency of posts since its inception. I wonder how Jeremy manages it. Maybe I'll develop the discipline for that someday.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Stockholm Challenge 2008

"The Stockholm Challenge 2008 programme features six category awards for ICT for development projects and a chance to win the prestigious Stockholm Challenge Trophies. The prize ceremony in the City Hall will take place during Challenge Week from May 18 - 22, 2008. An extended programme of workshops, conference, study visits and social gatherings will bring together the most inspiring ICT entrepreneurs, researchers and students from all over the world to share experiences and knowledge." Read more ...