Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Aaargh! Sometimes things are just so frustrating

I read today about a $1.5 million "investment" from AECF to Monitise to "develop m-banking services" in africa. AECF which is backed by the Rockefeller and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations is supposedly to be helping africa to develop, which it obviously desperately needs, but I fail to see how this kind of "investment" really helps africa.

If this investment was really to help africa it should be "invested" in african companies that will develop real skills and IP that would stay in africa and be of long term benefit to africa. If it is not going to do this it just ends up being the first world gaining an aura of respectability by appearing to "invest in the development of africa". I can just hear the nay-sayers saying that an "african" company couldn't possibly develop this kind of product to which I say bullshit; there are probably at least 5 small companies in south africa alone which can and have developed mobile banking platforms and this is without even looking at zimbabwean and kenyan companies which could do just as good a job.

If you don't believe me, just ask yourself what IP this investment develops that will remain in africa? What are the software development skills that are developed that remain in africa and loading an OS and installing an application doesn't count as real skills development. My prediction is that on both counts the answer will be NONE and if this was really about the development of africa the answers should not be NONE.

Even worse, this not only takes an opportunity away from an african company but actively keeps african companies from developing by removing potential customers from what is already a small market place. The "investment" effectively subsidises first world software development and helps to ensure that third world software development can't and won't compete.

Now that the rant is over, I have to say that I really hope that AECF is doing this unwittingly and that their intentions really are what they consider "best" for africa but what they consider "best" doesn't make much sense to me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Don't call me stupid ..."

... as the immortal line from Kevin Kline goes in "A fish called Wanda".

Last week the UCT rag magazine had an article which insulted and basically called christians 'stupid' which led to a torrent of responses from indignant and insulted christians. What a mess and all because people fail to distinguish respect of people from respect of beliefs and ideas and then within these two domains, the stupid from the clever.

By way of example, a person with an IQ of below 100 is commonly held to be, dare I say it, 'stupid' in the same way that a person that has an IQ over 140 is commonly held to be a 'genius'. But just because someone is below average in IQ does not mean that it is acceptable to insult or be derogatory of them as people.

Illustrating a 'stupid' belief; if I was of the opinion that if I dropped a ball it would remain suspended in mid-air, people could justifiably consider my opinion to be 'stupid' even though I myself may not be 'stupid'. Unlike calling a person 'stupid'; pointing out unsubstantiated ideas and beliefs as being 'stupid' does not hurt the feelings of the beliefs or ideas. If, however, people holding those beliefs or ideas choose to feel insulted that is an emotional problem where people can't distinguish between what they are and what they believe. Unfortunately, this is a reality that needs to be addressed which isn't so easy.

So while we should not shy away from pointing out ideas and beliefs that are 'stupid' it is not the same as pointing out people to be 'stupid' - that is just insulting behavior and shouldn't be tolerated. If you need to point out the opposing person as stupid rather than the argument they are presenting as stupid; you're the one with the problem or as Desmond Tutu so succinctly put it: "Don't raise your voice. Improve your argument.",,752-2460_2474006,00.html
or in english:,,1-2-147-151_21738,00.html

signed kkkkkkkk...Ken

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way

In one of the newspapers this weekend there was a really great article about someone who was fed up with the number of potholes in our roads and the incompetence of the municipalities in maintaining them so he planted about 100 trees, one per pothole, in and around bloemfontein I think it was. This sounds like a great idea to highlight a problem but I didn't realise that I would fall victim to a pothole the very next day.
This morning I did a 2:45 ride with Jason and Sam and at one stage Jasons orienteering skills let him down and we ended up riding across some mowed grass to get back onto the path. I wasn't concentrating too hard and rode right into a hole dug for a tree but the digger had forgotten to plant the damn tree. The grass had grown and pretty much covered it so the first thing that I knew about it was when my front wheel went in and I went head over the handlebars - much to an oncoming mountain bikers amusement. I didn't actually fall very far; it was more like the bike just disappeared from under me and I skidded to a halt having landed chest first on the grass beyond the hole. Very undignified but nothing hurt or broken so no real problems although my head is a bit sore at the moment.
Having experience the first hand effects of tree holes without trees in them I am in complete agreement that potholes really need to be greened!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dischem Ride for Sight 2009

Well, the day finally arrived after what seems like ages of training for us to ride the race. I picked Carl up at 05:30 and Hennie and Hannes were meeting us, also at carls at 05:45. Carl and I were waiting outside and we heard a motor gunning it down the road and I said to Carl "Here's Hennie" as a car roared past the front gate. "Obviously not!" quipped carl and I had to agree although i did see bicycles on the back of the car and the odds of that happening at 05:45 on a sunday morning have got to be slim. Two minutes later Hennie reversed back to the driveway looking sheepish at having missed a house he has been to dozens of times.
We drove in convoy out to Boksburg stadium for the 116km long race which fortunately doesn't contain any real hills but it is still 116km long which is a good days riding. We decided to stick together and ride as a group which we pretty much accomplished for the majority of the race.
Up until the 30 or 40km mark we just rode at our own pace and didn't realise that we had attracted a big peleton of about 50 riders all tucked in behind us; it felt quite good riding at the head instead of lurking in the pack like I normally try and do. About the first 60km is gently downhill which is great fun but at about 40km I got a puncture - the second in a month which is a lot for me as I normally get punctures quite seldom. After fixing the puncture I didn't check my brakes and as a result spent the next 70 odd kilometres riding with the brakes rubbing. I don't know how much of a difference it really made but I can say that I struggled over the last 40km. In the end; Hannes and Carl finished together with me a couple of minutes behind and Hennie another minute or so behind me which is actually great that we all finished so close together. I actually think that Carl looked the freshest afterwards. Hannes, Hennie and myself were all knackered but now that there is some distance between me and the finish line; it really is a great race to ride. Highly recommended even though I spent the rest of the day recovering and even a bit of monday.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Licenses have a habit of expiring at inconvenient times

I went to get my international drivers license last week friday for our upcoming trip which starts on 1 April only to be told by the AA (No, not Alcoholics Anonymous) that my license expires while we are away. Bugger it! Getting a new license takes some time and a lot of time queueing in government offices waiting for people to come back from their lunch break, waiting for the computer system to work, waiting for - oh, any number of totally unbelievable excuses. In addition to this I actually couldn't get my license application in because the JMPD was on strike so I had to wait until this wednesday to hand the application in. It takes 6 weeks, or so they say. I leave in 7 weeks so it sounds like I'm going to be in for a nerve wracking time during that last week.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Blood sucking

On Saturday morning I had a PR disaster in my subtle anti-smoking campaign waged on Caron. It all started innocently enough, we took Samuel and Hannah to the health shop to show them their blood under the microscope which was fascinating and entertaining. The lady operating the microscope picked up that samuel was gluten intolerant which, given his parentage, is actually quite likely and would really explain certain things. He isn't violently gluten intolerant so I don't think that is going to lead to massive changes in his diet; he just has to be a little careful. Hannah had just recovered from a bout of flu and the number of bacteria in her blood was noticeably higher than the rest of us. It's amazing to see the bacteria swimming between the blood cells; I was hoping to see a white blood cell pac-man gobble one up but it was not to be. Not really much wrong with either of their blood which is quite cool to know but it would be really nice to have a copy of the slides so that one could track the blood with time. The last to go was caron and I was hoping for another arrow to my anti-smoking armoury but I was sorely disappointed! Caron, who smokes and does no exercise had better looking blood than me who doesn't smoke (much) and exercises perhaps more than strictly required. Eish! boomerang arrow!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The builders are ....

GONE and just not having them on the property has increased the quality of life dramatically. For the last 4 months we have been building a patio as shown below which is quite a long time for a fairly small job.

but then expecting the 'quality german' builders to actually finish on time seems maybe just a bit too much. Anyway, it's done and despite the numerous imperfections it does actually look quite good at first glance.

At the moment we are both sitting at the table with out laptops connected via wireless while the cat looks on from his perch on the puke green cushion. The night is one of those perfect african evenings, cool and quiet with the sound of cicadas and the odd bird to entertain us. Sometimes life down here really is just too terrible for words!

New TOY!

There is something about being in IT (pronounced as "it" as in "where is it?" if you're my mother-in-law) and requiring a constant stream of new toys. 'Officially' my new toy is a necessity for our upcoming travels in the first world in order to continue writing my blog whilst away from my latop which is just "too big" to lug around europe. Enter the EeePC pictured below ...

with my current laptop in the foreground for comparison. Aside from the actual size of the EeePC it has a SSD drive of 20GB which has no moving parts. When I purchased it I thought I was buying the linux version but when I booted it up the windows virus had spread and greeted me with the BSOD so I just had to nuke it and put ubuntu (being all african and that) on which had been pretty impressive. A small amount of problems with the wireless network card because of hardware drivers but fairly simply sorted out. What is really remarkable is how usable it actually is given it's tiny size of screen and keyboard. This is my first blog from my new laptop.