Monday, December 29, 2008

Economics Network

Neat site serving as an open-source online textbook in various Economics topics.

War in the Middle East

Since Saturday, Israel has launched an air raid on Gaza, killed over 300 Palestinians already, to fight Hamas. Read an Al Jazeera article from today here.

Some extracts:

"Israel's military is in an "all-out war" with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Ehud Barak, the defence minister, says.

...
Israel said it began pounding the Gaza Strip with missiles fired from warplanes and helicopter gunships in order to halt the rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian fighters.

...
Four young girls from the same family in the northern town of Jabaliya and two young boy from Rafah were among those killed in the latest raids, Palestinian medics said."


The conflict between Israel and Palestine is deeply ingrained in land disputes which have spilled into cultural and religious divides. To read on about the history of this conflict, check out the Wiki article.

<above photo from BBC news homepage, 12/29/2008.>

SMS Costs in the United States

My brother and I once had a conversation about how little it might actually cost cell phone service providers (AT&T, T-mobile, etc.) to send out our text messages. This article by Randall Stross came up in the New York Times this weekend; and brings to light some more detail about this.

Some extracts:

"All four of the major carriers decided during the last three years to increase the pay-per-use price for messages to 20 cents from 10 cents. The decision could not have come from a dearth of business: the 2.5 trillion sent messages this year, the estimate of the Gartner Group, is up 32 percent from 2007. Gartner expects 3.3 trillion messages to be sent in 2009.

... The written responses to Senator Kohl from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile speak at length about pricing plans without getting around to the costs of conveying text messages. My attempts to speak with representatives of all three about their costs and pricing were unsuccessful.

... But consider what is left out: In the past three years, the volume of text messaging in the United States has grown tenfold, according to CTIA — the Wireless Association, a trade group based in Washington. If T-Mobile enjoyed growth that was typical, its text messaging revenue grew fivefold, even with the steep drop in per-message revenue."

<above photo courtesy of this website.>

Friday, December 26, 2008

Shoe Flinging, Continued

Turns out Iranians are following Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi's footsteps (no pun intended). According to a BBC article, they have been flinging shoes at caricatures of George Bush.

To add on top of this, someone who had issues with the New York City Metropolicatan Transportation Authority (MTA) also tried flinging his shoes!

I guess Mr. al-Zaidi sparked an iconic trend, and even if it is stopped/prevented by authorities worldwide, I think it's definately going to go down in history (and perhaps replicated elsewhere, as we are seeing now).

Photo above courtesy of BBC website.

Oops

Merry Christmas! (huh?)

Lacking Classrooms

I was catching up on what's been going on at home, and I came across an article that mentioned that secondary-eligible students in the Rukwa region will not able to attend secondary school because there is a lack of classrooms.

This presents one cause of several that lead up to students not being able to progress beyond secondary-level education in Tanzania. While our Government continues to try and improve conditions that make secondary education more feasible, I think it's also important to think about how else we can help secondary-eligible students progress... Yes, we can try market-oriented measures to up the income of low-income workers. Yes, we can try improving and increasing the number of classrooms. Yes, we can try attracting more teachers. Yes, we can try and improve access to employment opportunities after secondary education attainment.

But could we also try to see if there are other alternatives to "a school"? Are there other educational mediums that we can use for secondary-eligible students who were/are not able to enroll into schools?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

acoldbutthankfulxmaseve






For those that looked at the title and said "wha-? who-?".. decifered: a - cold - but - thankful - xmas - eve

Took the above photo from the Zanzibar Blue Dolphin Tour company website (Asanteni). I played with it in Gimp, and got a painted-like copy... looked chill.

Time's supposed to fly only when you're having fun. It seems like it's been a not-so-fun year but it's gone by mad quick. I don't know. In any case, there is a lot to be thankful for. Golden Jubilee, everything else that was inaugurated during Golden Jubilee, and getting my first job were just a few things.

I managed to get my Echoing Green app in on the 1st of this month, and so far, the journey to retirement seems relatively on point.. Relatively.

I need to post photos tonight.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Added News Gadget, etc.

Just added a New York Times World News feed to bottom of the right-hand-side utility bar on this blog. Browsing through the different widgets made me realize how long it's been since I went into the back-end this blog and checked out what's new.

Been giving thought to streaming my twitter updates onto this blog, but then I realized they're almost two different things, ie: Someone reading my blog would not necessarily be into Twitter, and vice versa. So I think for now I'll let the two be their own things...

Having said this, I've begun using Twitter as a perpetual playlist, or randomly post to it when I am on the move and can only text a few words to describe a situation/idea/instance. And to be honest, it can be very fun reading everyone elses Tweets too :)

Ciao for now.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The US Stimulus Plan - Will it work?

My brother sent me this article from the Wall Street Journal the other day. It may have more importance than anything else relating to the Us recession and global economic slowdown.

The article, titled Barack Obama-san, mentions that President elect Obama's plans to pump money into the economy in his term as President may not be the best alternative at a time like this. It tells the story of Japan in the 1990s, when property prices were plummeting, and the stock market sunk 60% over three years. It also tells the story of how one stimulus package after another was thrown at the problem, but the only when leaders made the "decision to privatize state assets and force banks to acknowledge their bad debts, did the economy recover".

Maybe we have some lessons to learn and be precautious about what is being told to us.

Carpe diem.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

World Cup, South Africa, 2010


We have known that the next Football (Soccer, for my American friends) World Cup will take place over the summer of 2010 in South Africa. This will be the first time a World Cup event is hosted on the continent I was born in (at least in my lifetime)!

Today I was looking around at information on the event, and I found 2 website: The official FIFA one, and the unofficial one. FIFA estimates that the tickets will be as follows (all prices in US$, and table is courtesy of FIFA's ticket info page on World Cup 2010):

Match

Cat. 1

Cat. 2

Cat. 3

Cat. 4

1

450

300

200

70

2 - 48

160

120

80

20

49 - 56

200

150

100

50

57 - 60

300

200

150

75

61 - 62

600

400

250

100

63

300

200

150

75

64

900

600

400

150

So in summary: Yikes. I need a job if I am really going to SA that summer... got ideas? Write to me!

Mr. Jiwaji's back to blogging

After some time, my long-time friend Taha Jiwaji has begun reviving his blog. He's always got something cool about technology to say. I'm waiting for him to start posting this photos (dude takes epic shots).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shoes everywhere

A few days ago, and Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President Bush, calling him a dog. I found this on BBC today, and it sums the situation up relatively well.

I'll quote some of the article here...

"The brother of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at US President George W Bush has said that the reporter has been beaten in custody... Muntadar al-Zaidi [the journalist] has suffered a broken hand, broken ribs and internal bleeding, as well as an eye injury, his older brother, Dargham, told the BBC... Meanwhile, offers to buy the shoes are being made around the Arab world, reports say."

Enough said.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

44 Years

Happy Independence Day, Tanzania!

The World Continues To Spin...

Since my last post, a lot's been happening. Seems like every day I review the news, there's a bunch of things that have gone down that I had no idea about. This is partially the reason Neechi and I are working on a filtered news-headlines website... as usual, however, I will keep this under wraps until something has materialized.

About the world, though... a military jet place crashed into an urban area in San Diego, California yesterday, killing three civilians. Also in the United States, a plan by the government to "rescue" auto manufacturers is underway. Elsewhere, protests in Greece continue after a school boy was shot to death, raising tensions between the public and police forces. In Zimbabwe, France's Sarkozy has called for Mugabe's resignation, while Jacob Zuma (Zimbabwe opposition leader) has urged that talks are still in progress.

And back home in Tanzania, the government is starting to realise that more people lack proper housing than previously thought, which is going to call for adjustments in current housing policy. This will all be done with the aim to reach development goals by 2025.

There's a lot more going on, but those are the main things on my radar. In terms of personal projects, I already mentioned some web work between me and Neechi. In addition to that, there is Vyatu, a development blog I am drafting to support the efforts of Collaborative Freedom at Lafayette. I also submitted a second application for Echoing Green for Vijana FM on December 1st! Let's see how that goes...

Till next time, carpe diem.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gimp helped me do this!

D'loaded the original (first) photo from Interfacelift.com.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai attacked

Mumbai, India has come under attack by gunfire and grenades. Many believe terrorists have a part to play.

I'm wondering how it is the world moves when such things happen. Here we are in the United States, supposedly celebrating thanksgiving. Isn't thanksgiving also about others having the opportunity to give thanks, instead of just offering your own?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Youtube in WideScreen?

I was getting my daily dose of sampling music on youtube today, and realized the videos were showing in a slightly wider window. Word.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mozilla Minefield

So a friend of a friend mentioned using Mozilla Minefield.

Turns out Minefield is a "trunk" on the Mozilla browser project, and the official browser release is what we know as Firefox. Future releases of Firefox are beta tested on the Minefield trunk, and so Minefield is always supposedly a little faster since its farther developed, but it can also be unstable because it hasn't been officially released.

Thought it was fast on first impression, but it doesn't seem that much faster anymore. Anyhow, it's a cool project to keep up with. Here's some links:

Mozilla Firefox wiki

Minefield start page

Download links for Minefield

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Unnecessary

So I was working on a PowerPoint presentation that had a table on one slide. I needed to edit the original spreadsheet, but I had no working document of the original Excel file. So I right click the table, go to Worksheet Object and ask Microsoft to convert the table for me so I can work with it.

The above dialogue box comes up. Take a second to read it all.

"The selected Microsoft Office Excel Worksheet object will not be converted."

Thanks for nothing, Microsoft. It may have made more sense if you never let me even think I could convert this in the first place.

(Solution, in case this ever happens to anyone else out there: Right click the table >> Worksheet Object >> Open. Once it opens in Excel, File >> Save A Copy. Do what you have to do, and then Copy >> Paste back into PowerPoint.)

Gmail gets themes!

Login >> Settings >> Themes

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New York Times, July 4, 2009 (Part 4)

So this is The Yes Men's website! I quote:

"I would say if you've got one, hold on to it. It will probably be a collector's item. I'm just glad someone thinks The New York Times print edition is worthy of an elaborate hoax. A Web spoof would have been infinitely easier. But creating a print newspaper and handing it out at subway stations? That takes a lot of effort.I consider this a gigantic compliment to The Times."

- Alex S. Jones in the New York Times City Room Blog

And that's all there is on the website...

New York Times, July 4, 2009 (Part 3)

This article names the pranksters who pulled today's paper off as "The Yes Men".

It makes the paper out to be something people can use to look forward to - and to push, even - for Barrack Obama's presidency.

Fwd: New York Times, July 4, 2009 (Part 2)

More on Gawker about the fake paper today! 

New York Times, July 4, 2009

While taking a break outside of the building I work in today, I was given a free copy of a New York Times newspaper, dated July 4th 2009. The first headline: "Iraq War Ends". There were more headlines in the paper, including one of George Bush being tried for treason following the Iraq war...

More details tonight when I have looked through the whole paper. From some initial online research, I was able to find out (thanks to Flickr) that this is probably a fake copy. This is all very strange for me.

Boom Chikish Bam


Jemexx, V-squared and crew invited me to contribute to Boom Boom Chik, a blog dedicated to scouting the freshest in electronic beats. Among discussions about new singles and albums, the blog is a growing archive of diverse styles in the electronica genere from around the world.

The photo above is a sliced screenshot of my last post on Ferry Corsten's new album, Twice in a Blue Moon. Check out a promo video of one of the bigger the hits, Radio Crash, here.

Deadmau5 - Moonwalker

Deadmau5 is doing in this track something that I haven't seen him do in most of his tracks: added vocals.

To be brief, the vocal gives it a sick touch. Listen to Moonwalker here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Why so serious?

So Chris Nolan, director of The Dark Knight, is being sued by Hüseyin Kalkan... why? Because Mr. Kalkan is mayor of a Turkish city called, none other than, Batman!
(Image source here)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Crichton Dies

Michael Crichton, one of my favorite authors who wrote Jurassic Park, Sphere and other science-fiction stories, has passed away. Read the article here.

On a side note, I'm beginning to read Al Jazeera a lot more.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Freedom of Speech in Tanzania

Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete speaks in this article on the importance of freedom of speech. The occasion marked a 4-day official visit from the Queen of Denmark. There are also some notes at the end of the article on Mr. Kikwete's actions as Chairman of the African Union regarding the current situation of Congo.

Riz Khan and Al Jazeera News

I watched "Q&A with Riz Khan" on CNN religiously as a child whose father looked up to news reported like Riz Khan. In the last few years, Khan made a move from CNN to Al Jazeera that always intrigued me, especially since you can't find Al Jazeera being broadcast in the United States.

So I did some reading, and found a letter from Riz Khan himself on the Wall Street Journal, titled "Why I'm Joining Al Jazeera". If you have a few minutes, it's a good read (even though its from 2005).

I will quote a few sentances that struck the right note:

"Until now, U.S. administration-led efforts to promote a positive image of Americans to people in the Middle East appear to have failed miserably. A media push out of Washington into the region doesn't resonate well with those actually in the thick of things across the other side of the world. Al Jazeera International plans to be an open platform for global debate and dialogue. It will effectively become the best conduit the U.S. has to speak to the Arab world, and vice versa. Plus, the debate will be free and open."

That one paragraph makes adding Riz Khan to my Facebook a worthwhile move.

From the US to Congo

While people are settling into the thought of having Barrack Obama as the first African-American president here in the United States, General Laurent Nkunda is leading rebel troops across The Democratic Republic of Congo in an attempt to protect the Congolese Tutsi population.

This has been going on for about 2 weeks now, but see the latest Al Jazeera news article here.

Kenya, in the meantime, is rejoicing at having a son take over presidency in the US...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Face of Change

From http://www.patrickmoberg.com/november-4-2008.jpg

It's a new day ...



Barrack Obama has been elected the 44th President of the United States of America. Today is a fresh, new day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

So it's Election Day here in the United States of America. I have never been so caught up in the US elections, and it feels good to be working/living with a group of people who are supporters of Barrack Obama.

Although I can't vote, I am sincerely hoping tomorrow will mark a fresh start for the US... and maybe the world.

Barrack - do this man, and do it well!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

She wants him

Moussa Clarke - She wants him (Blake Jarrell remix)

Click the link to youtube. Black Jarrell will be mixing alongside Armin Van Buuren this Friday at the Roseland Ballroom (for Halloween). Should be a crazy gig...enjoy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Africa's Free Trade Zone

The Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) have united to create an even larger Free Trade Zone across Africa!

Read more about the zone here. The photo map is from the same BBC article.

-- updated: 11.44pm --

I had a conversation about the zone with two friends, and we decided there were two things at play here: (1) Foreign business, ie: business done with territories outside Africa, is likely to decline because of cheaper inter-African trade; (2) At the same time, African countries become less dependent on financial support from foreign governments and institutions.

What is needed is a balance between successfully reducing inter-African trade restrictions and a healthy injection of investment capital from abroad.

Let's see how this plays out. I'm hoping Tanzania keeps it up when working with the EAC.

bgc3: Bill Gates' new project

So Bill Gates is starting something new up... read here (thanks, Neechi). And here's the website.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Flow's Back

So Grimes wanted me to DJ for one of his concerts back at Lafayette. Along with the plan came 3 other artists, 2 of whom are also Lafayette alums. Should be a great time! November 1...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More on Pirates...

This article sites that there are still nearly a dozen ships off the coast of Somalia that are under the control of pirates. This includes the MV Faina, a Ukranian ship with tanks and other arms on board.

The United States, Russia and NATO have become increasingly involved in the MV Faina hijacking, and it seems (at least to me) that piracy in Somalia has been gaining much attention over the last couple of weeks.

Since code of international law is murkier on water than on land, it seems these pirates have found an effective source of income. There's a couple of things to think about here.

1) What incentive do the pirates have in hijacking ships and demanding random? Can anything be done to assist their households in gaining self-sufficiency through legitimate work or education?

2) Who do the pirates work for? If they are working for themselves, then point number 1 is appropriate. If they work for conglemorates, what is being done about the source, ie: the leaders, of these piracy groups?

3) Why does Somalia need the surveillance and counter-terrorist abilities of three, very powerful groups, ie: the US, Russia and NATO?

4) If Somalia is being seen as a concentrated area for this kind of activity, can policy makers establish secure boundaries (both literally and figuratively in terms of law) around Somalia's coast?

These are just food for thought that have driven me to follow the issue through these past few weeks. It may well be that some of these pointers have been addressed over years before today, and agreements just haven't been reached (which sucks, because then you get Ukranian ships hijacked with an $8 million price tag).

Having said this, the policy-shaping realm seems to be changing forevermore. Yes the US economy is heavily involved, but so are other factors, such as an increasingly restless generation that is always settling in different places in the world, or the ease with which people can communicate cross-culture/boundary/background.

Just my Sunday thoughts.
ak

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Last Debate

Democratic Senator Barrack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain had their last debate last night... a fairly accurate summary can be found here.

Man, I hope Obama wins.

Friday, October 10, 2008

(Last few) Sunny days

Life in my world hasn't been too harsh, but the world outside my life's been changing fast. I guess this is a good time to be thankful.

It's been sunny lately, and a lot warmer. It's good to have a three day weekend ahead of you.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Failed?

"Pirates from the failed African state of Somalia have attacked at least 61 ships in and around the Gulf of Aden this year, 17 of them in the first two weeks of September alone, according to the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Center in Malaysia."

So reads a sentence in a report posted on http://www.mareeg.com/ (read the full report here).

"Failed African State"... and since when has there been a Book of Rules Defining a Successful State and a Failed State? Since when do we have standards by which every country must prosper? Since when do we define "failed" as being in a situation of flux, or political or economic instability? Since when does having borders, a capital and a functioning government still mean that you may be a "failed state"?

Since when? I'm serious. I'd like to know, because apparently, I missed that boat.

If you claim to be a journalist on the internet, or if you claim to be a journalist anywhere for that matter, the least you can do is provide an objective perspective in your articles. I don't care about your thoughts, or the thoughts of people you work with. At the end of the day, your news gets out to other people who may not be able to tell between apples and oranges, let alone "successful" states from "failed" ones.

Bottom line: Don't write about what you don't know. And if you do, make an effort to represent the 9.5 million or more people that live in Somalia justly by learning about the country before making a fool out of yourself.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

About this $700 billion "bail out" ...

So, the US Senate approved a revised version of the financial "bail out" plan, involving some $700 billion. Simply put, that is a lot of money. I find it puzzling how the United States government can pledge that much to a private sector financial crisis. There are controversies surrounding why the crisis originally came about, but let's put these moral issues aside.

Let's instead try to assume that this is truly a life-threatening crisis (and in some ways, it might be), and that the Fed is doing what it can to protect its civilians. National security, is what they are calling it.

$700 billions dollars... Just to put things in context: The richest country in Africa by Gross National Product (using Purchasing Power Parity) is South Africa, and their GDP in 2006 was just under $600 billion. Compare this to Tanzania, which had just under $30 billion as their GDP in 2006 (click to view source).

Word. So the Fed is pledging a "rescue" with a cost that adds up to being higher than any African country's GDP. I don't think I have to get into how else $700 can be used, especially in terms of sustainable economic development ventures, or even immediate humanitarian aid.

And you know what struck me as amusingly infuriating this morning? The fact that the world will never see so much money (again, $700 billion... that's NINE zeros) flow into sustainable development ventures in one go. But when there is a military crisis, such as the "pirates" in Somalia (and ask me someday how I think this is really a stand-off between Russia and the US to project their physical power), there is always money pumped into supposedly preemptive measures... again, in the name of National Security.

That is all. I mean, seriously.

"End Of Ze World"

Was shown this in freshman year (4 years ago) and have been frantically searching for it since. Thanks Hannah for reminding me!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZMwKPmsbWE

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Somalia/Pirates update

Now the Somali Gov't is asking Russian ships to intervene with the pirates if necessary.

And the US Navy apparently has a USS Howard set up (amongst other vessels) to "monitor" the situation. Hmm...

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/10/01/Russia.Somalipirates/?iref=mpstoryview

Pirates, Coast Guards, et al.

"[A spokeman, Ali Sugule, for the "pirates" that have seized a Ukrainian ship off of Somalia] said that so far the pirates had been misunderstood by the world. "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits," he said. "We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard." "

There's more here: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/09/30/africa/pirates.php

Monday, September 29, 2008

New Website

Well, not really a whole new website, but a new design. Check it out here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What a day

So I'm not too impressed with what I've seen/read/heard about the Android so far. Particularly, I am sorry that the Android had to be put on a phone like the HTC Dream. Talk to me sometime about it and I'll try to explain.

Nevertheless, I guess I'll stick to my retro Nokia 1208 for a little longer until I decide to give in.

I think I'm more disappointed about being this pumped about something and then not seeing it live up to the hype.

Talk soon. Maybe with regards to music... ?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Android Update 5

Android Update 4

A lot's happened this morning. Check out http://live.gizmodo.com/ for details.

But I really need to see this phone. Although I may have problems with the physical appearance of this phone, I have a good feeling about how it can be used...

Android Update 3

Segey and Larry (founders of Google) are at the presentation... in rollerblades.

Man, I'm in flux right now.

Android Update 2

So I'm trying to follow the Gizmodo liveblog...

Highlights: Costs $179, T-mobile members can order it now, and there is no desktop sync application.

It does however use an accelerometer...

Android Update 1

So ... I couldn't stand it anymore after 1.5 hours of being at work so I went out to the closest T-mobile store and asked about the HTC Dream. All I got for the 21 questions I asked was an "I don't know". What gives?!

Now I gotta check out other stores. On Gizmodo Liveblog right now (thanks to Neechi).

Androided Out

I'm about to head out to work and I'm already stressing about the Android phone (HTC Dream). I just need to see it... I need a physical representation of all the imagination and speculation that's been building up over the last 6 months or so...

Please T-Mobile store... please have it?

General Assembly, The Markets, Android, etc.

So there's a lot going on. Last night, after a week's worth of drama involving both Lehman Brothers' corruption and Merrill Lynch's sale to Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs became bank holding companies under the Fed's regulation. There's a lot to it, but there's no use in me saying much because news.google.com has enough to fill you in.

Also, the HTC Dream featuring Google's new Android phone software comes out tomorrow in T-mobile's stores. I've been excited, but after a T-mobile sales attendant at the store near my workplace told me he didn't know if they would get it tomorrow, I've kinda had the air kicked out of me. I'm not sure what to expect. I'll be following up tomorrow.

And to add to a seeminly fast-paced environment, I just found out today that President Kikwete will be speaking on behalf of the African Union at the UN's General Assembly meeting tomorrow. I tried frantically to get a pass through an NGO I knew, but it didn't work out given the last minute call. Serves me right for being distracted by Wall Street news lately. I really would have loved to see the man speak.

Anyhow, a lot of working pending for Vijana FM... more updates soon.

Word. I'm posting this via e-mail after ages of not having done so. Hope it works.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

No Comment

what. the. HELL is going on in today's markets?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Older shots...

Some photos I dug out from an old website:

Port Authority lights:


Philly:


Philly:


Upper Manhattan:


Fall 2006:


Streetluminus:


Spring 2007:


Coke at a London wedding:


Off the coast of Zanzibar:

The other day...

I was walking home when I saw a man with a strangely cool device. It was a long string, and he had it hanging into the gutters on the side walk. I happen to be passing him right as he was pulling the string out. Attached to the other end of this string was what looked like a magnet, and he had been "fishing" for coins!

I found that smart, since other people are stupid enough to be throwing away small change. Small change makes a big difference.

Although it was an explicit indicator of poverty even in this city, I thought it was also a sign of how simple an innovation can be.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tanzania will change

I am tired of hearing people say "Tanzania will not change" (they could be talking about any African country for that matter). If you don't believe it will, stop saying it. Because it achieves no progress.

And if you do believe it will change, you should be prepared to be part of that change.

That is all.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chromatized

So I found out yesterday that Google had been working on their own internet browser, dubbed Chrome. It became available for download today, and so far, I'm liking it.

The gist of Google Chrome is that it is meant to make more efficient use of memory and space. It helps internet users get things done with minimal worries concerning the browser itself. The premise is that the browser should be used as a medium to get you to what you want to do, not be what you do (if that makes sense). Hence, fresh features such as each tab running its own set of processes and memorized search results in the address bar are part of Chrome's efforts to create a safer, more efficient browser.

And to top it off, Google has made the project open-source, which means other existing browsers (Firefox, IE, Safari, Opera) can take what they want from it and implement as they wish.

Some helpful links:

- Google's comic-book approach to defining the story of Chrome.

- Information and download site.

- Wall Street Journal article on Chrome.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tanzania Report (FT) and Other Thoughts

The Financial Times website lists a comprehensive report on the economic outlook of Tanzania in 2007. Although we have achieved solid growth in the last decade and are seen as one of the more-stable countries in Africa, there is much more emphasis that can be put on social business (among corruption, power and other issues). Maybe I'm just saying that because I'm biased towards doing it myself, but if there is someone out there that can prove me wrong, please do. All I read are the positive benefits of social entrepreneurship - and maybe it's becoming a newly-recognized field - but it would he helpful to realise some of the drawbacks.

One problem I see with applying business principles to socially-beneficial goods and services is the procurement of resources. Any business needs resources, and while their vision and purpose are noble, their back-office operations may not be taken into full consideration. These back-office operations may affect the environment and economy in the same way that all other profit-making initiatives do.

Another problem I see is that business principles quickly fold up into one simple rule: Making a profit. And since social-entrepreneurship involves emphasis on quantitative performance management, I'm afraid many of these social-businesses become ... well ... businesses.

These are only my thoughts. I am still keen on seeing Vijana FM all the way through. I am just a little concerned with a sector that has a lot of positive commentary, but rarely any analysis of potential pragmatic risks.

Anyhow, the report on Tanzania from the Financial Times paints a positive picture for Tanzania in general. It makes me optimistic about the ways in which we continue to strive for good governance and the proliferation of literacy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rich/Poor Divide

I found this article on Digg today. Interesting photos.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Villians over Superheros

I think I may like super villains more than the superheros. Whilst reading about the upcoming Wolverine movie (2009), I began thinking about why I have spent bulks of my life reading Marvel and DC comics, watching their animated series and their movies, and spending even more time speculating about the lives of superheros and their arch rivals.

I don't think it's because the superheros are the slick-costumed, quick-witted, amazingly-skilled, bright and rapidly-transported characters they always are. I don't even think its because they are constantly raging on for the survival of humankind.

I think it's really the super villains that make them better. I'm not just saying that because Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight was probably the best enactment of Batman's rival ever. I'm saying that because I've always looked at villains like Skeletor (He-Man), Doc Oc (Spiderman) and Magneto (X-Men) to do the craziest but smartest things to put our heroes to the test.

After all, our heroes are always look so much "cooler" when they outwit the villains. The better the trick or trap, the better our hero comes out.

Wait till Wolverine. Supposedly, he confronts Sabretooth.

I had that battle's collector card once.

This has got to be one of my most useless posts in a while.

Measuring success, et al.

I started work at Seedco last month, and on my first day, Michael Weinstein from the Robin Hood Foundation came to speak to us about measuring success.

Investments in any venture, be it public or private, will be made with a strong emphasis on obtaining tangible results. This makes sense, because before throwing money into something, an investor wants to know (1) if there is going to be a return after a period of x-time, and (2) what the number "x" is (that is, how long will it take these returns to procure).

Who the returns are benefiting will depend on what kind of investment it is. For-profit organizations or projects are likely to distribute returns in a different way compared to non-profit, or even hybrid organizations.

Still, returns - or projected returns - are looked upon favorably for investments.

In short, Michael Weinstein's talk gave me insight into what drives every project that ends up working well: A solid plan for measuring its success. If you cannot measure your results in some way, there is no telling whether your project or venture has made an impact on the market it serves.

Well, then. That sounds great.

Not quite. I am still very uncomfortable with how I will measure the benefit to youth from providing a space in which they can interact: Radio. It seems simple, because I can measure advertising revenues and gauge listnership that way. But it's not, because this does not provide me with a number that shows how a group of youth's lives "got better" from being able to communicate with one another.

Does that mean this project is not worthy of investment? Ask me in a couple of months. I might post something sooner.

Anyhow, so there's Seedco, my new-found full-time gig. There are also the DJ gigs, which I am desperately on the look-out for in New York City. There's CampuSMS, which is having its own share of trials and tribulations (and successes). And there's my website, which is in constant flux.

There's always more than just that, but a human can have trade secrets too.

Carpe diem,
PirateFunk

Saturday, July 5, 2008

From the beach

I love palm trees:




Crooked pole? Ask me about it sometime:




Tried a color threshold effect on Gimp for this one:




My little friend at the beach (on my hand):


Involvement

So people notice problems: Poverty, global warming, economic instability, terrorism, and more. And we talk about who's making change and who's not. Who's "involved" and who isn't.

As far as I'm concerned, everyone who lives on this planet is involved. Everyone is part of the problem, and is also naturally involved with the solution. It's about how that involvement is put to use that counts and shapes what is to come.

Thinking aloud.
AK

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hello, World

I know it's been a while (again), but I just graduated this past May from Lafayette, and I'm not occupying myself with an intense job search and continued refinement of the Vijana FM proposal.

A lot going on, but once I have results, I'll be posting regularly.

In the meantime, here's two articles that got me through senior year, and continue to keep me motivated:

The Secrets of Intangible Wealth - Ronald Bailey (Wall Street Journal)

The Age of Ambition - Nicholas Kristof (New York Times)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Electronica

Paul Anthony and ZXX - Boombox (Sandy Vee Wilheim Remix)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Long-witheld revelation

It's been a while since I've posted anything. That's partly due to the fact that I'm not sure who I'm putting up my blog for; there's a lotta folks taking up bandwidth on the Internet that is much needed for other purposes.

Anyway, I just came to terms with a lesson I probably knew about a long time ago: Dreams can be realized. People can make things happen, but when they can't, it's probably because they doubt what they believe in.

Carpe diem.