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Lifestyle

Beyonce to Sasha Fierce: Symbolic Occult Rebirth

Along with her new album, Beyonce has presented her fans to a new alter-ego named Sasha Fierce. The singer affirms that this new persona is the fun, more sexual and more aggressive side of her. This is however the “general public” version of the story. The esoteric meaning revealed by the  symbols surrounding this new persona is much deeper: Sasha Fierce is a symbolic representation of an artist taken over by evil to obtain success.

“I have someone else that takes over when it’s time for me to work and when I’m on stage, this alter ego that I’ve created that kind of protects me and who I really am”.
-Beyonce

Continue Reading …

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Lifestyle

Nigeria fails to enact cyber crime laws

Nigeria has failed to pass broad-ranging laws against cybercrime.

A collection of six laws put before the country’s parliament last month would have outlawed many forms of internet misuse, including spamming, online ID theft, and buying goods online using stolen credit card details.

All remain permissible in Nigeria, whose only legislation on internet crime (article 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code) famously bans advanced fee fraud.

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Lifestyle

Perhaps African Leaders Should Avoid Facebook

A new statistical analysis indicates that the more Facebook fans an African politician has, the more likely they are to be forced from power.

Statistics can be used to prove anything. In the realm of social media, for instance, they can even be used to predict the career longevity of African leaders. While correlation is not necessarily causation, it seems that the more Facebook friends an African politician has… the more likely they are to be thrown out of office.

African internet analysis site Oafrica recently published a data set of the Facebook presences of different African presidents, prime ministers and rulers. It revealed interesting data nuggets: Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan gained more than 250,000 online ‘likes’ for his official page in five months, while President Fradique De Menezes of far-off Sao Tome & Principe only had a mere 24 Facebook fans for his community page as of December 2010. In the following months, only two more Facebook users liked de Menezes’ page.

But then Ethan Zuckerman, a researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, discovered that having more followers on Facebook was directly proportional to regime instability:

Here are the top leaders, in terms of followers, as of December 2010:

341,759 – Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria
232,424 – Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia
61,510 – Mwai Kibaki, Kenya
59,744 – King Mohamed VI, Morocco
57,072 – Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe (Prime Minister to Robert Mugabe)
21,306 – Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania
15,723 – Hosni Mubarak, Egypt
15,377 – Laurent Gbagbo, Ivory Coast
14,714 – Jacob Zuma, South Africa
12,658 – Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria

In that top ten, we’ve got two leaders who’ve been forced out of power (Ben Ali, Mubarak), one struggling to retain power after losing an election (Gbagbo), one facing protests like the ones that toppled his neighbor (Bouteflika) and one in danger of arrest from opponents within his coalition government (Tsvangirai.) In other words, there doesn’t seem to be a strong correlation between Facebook friends and staying power of a regime.

Of course, Africa is in a uniquely unstable geopolitical position right now. Egypt and the Maghrebi states have been turned upside-down as a result of the 2011 Arab revolutions. Meanwhile, the Ivory Coast is still suffering from an ongoing political crisis that puts Gbagbo’s government in serious jeopardy.

Regardless of the correlation/causality debate, 50% of the politicians on Oafrica’s list have either been thrown out of power or have dealt with career-threatening crises in the past four months. While it may not compare with Anne Hathaway’s mysterious power over Warren Buffet, it is still quite impressive.

Source

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Gadgets Lifestyle

What is a DDC Machine?

Most patriotic citizens must have registered to vote in the upcoming April 2011 general elections. Even the ones who could not or refused to do so must have observed people queueing up to perform their civic responsibility.

And they must have noticed what “DDC machines” are. The Director Data Capture Machine.

Each unit of the DDC machine was supplied at an average cost of about $1,700 (equivalent of about N255,000.00 then). There were three suppliers who, collectively, were mandated to supply a total of 132,000 units. Whether they actually supplied everything is a story for another YEAR!

As an IT professional, my intuition immediately told me the cost of the DDC machine is DEFINITELY on a very high side! Say wetin?

Now, let us start with the base equipment itself:

I would opine that, to capture the biometrics of citizens, you do not need a full-fledged laptop. We are merely capturing data, remember?  A simple netbook with a webcam would do. And you do not need “quad-core” processors in those netbooks because all they are meant to do is capture the data. No heavy-duty processing. Based on the projected numbers of people that can be registered per centre, an internal hard disk size of 512 Gigabytes would be more than adequate. You need to capture the images of their ten fingerprints and photograph. No big data guzzling here!

A netbook of about N60,000 – N75,000 would suffice for this part of the DDC equipment. That is the prevailing cost in the Nigerian market! For such volumes we are talking about, the unit cost woud probably be about N55,000.

Are we killing an ant with a sledge-hammer by procuring full laptops where simple netbooks would do the job admirably? I think so!  More so, after the current use, I can bet my last Naira notes that we shall not be using or seeing those laptops again!  You disagree? Okay , ask yourself what happenened to the  various “equipment” purchased by former Maurice Iwu of INEC!

The other parts of the ‘equipment’ are

1) a bargain-basement laminator  – $100   –   N15,000

2) the usb-camera (why not use in-built webcams instead?) – $60  = N9,000

3) fingerprint scanner  (less than $100 = N15,000) I listened to the chairman of Zinox, the only local supplier of the lot, say  on television that the amount at which they (contractors)supplied the equipment was inadequate, and gave them very thin profit margins. The thin margin may be because there was too much ‘sharing’ at the “award level” (**lips sealed**) . The Nigerian factor!

But he did not convince ME.

Besides, since many units were being supplied (Zinox was given 80,000), the overall profit is what is important, not the profit per equipment.

Collectively, we are looking at a figure (cost price) of about N120,000  (with decent profit margin of 10 %- 15% built-in)  that could have got us what we needed. Instead, we are expending twice that.

Now N135,000 multiplied by 132,000 units gives me N17,820,000,000 (over N17 billion) – thrown away. That figure would fix the Benin-Ore Road! Heck, it would provide some better funding for some Federal Universities!

Is it a wonder that our democracy is reputed to be one of the most expensive in the whole wide world?

This voter registration exercise is just another example of how the nation’s resources are frittered away continually, year-in, year-out.

Before I forget, this same government  – this one that is capturing our biometrics for the forthcoming voting exrcise – also captured our data in the botched National Identity Card Project, the census attempt of a few years back and are also doing so for the SIM registration chop-and-clean-mouth exercise!

Now, how efficient is that?  How sensible?

I earnestly pray and look forward to the day when there will be frugality as well as accountability in public expenditure.

And the biggest prayer – of course- is that corruption BE reduced  so that what we want to ‘eat’ does not make us ‘foolish’!

Categories
Lifestyle

Circumventing Power Problems in Nigeria

We all know it. One of the greatest problems confronting Nigeria is the inadequacy of public electricity power supply. The inefficiency of this government agency is linked to the biggest singular problem holding us back from attaining our pride of place in the committee of nations – CORRUPTION. But that is a story for another day!

As  a techie, we should perpetually be on the look-out for how to use technology to circumvent problems confronting us. What alternatives exist to mitigate the effects of our self-imposed nationwide darkness?.

The first thing I did to confront our perpetual darkness was ensure I get a netbook and a smartphone that both have good battery life. In the case of the netbook, it can do about seven hours on a single full charge. This ensures that I can work during the major part of the day without worrying about PHCN and their inefficiencies.

My smartphone is a tool I cannot afford to do without. So, the good battery life saves me from running out of power unexpectedly. It will usually carry me through the whole day too as long as I am parsimonious (frugal, in English) as regards the use to which I put it. It is also wise to have a spare battery for your smartphone, unless you have an iPhone or a Nokia N* that do not support frivolous battery swapping!

A lot of people in the IT world  own UPSes (Uninterruptible Power Systems). This often comes in handy in charging your phone, temporarily powering your laptop , blending your pepper (connect your blender), as well as powering a fluorescent tube. The higher the power of that UPS, the longer it can serve before discharging. An inverter setup may be a better, but more expensive, alternative.

I have a small-sized OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode)  TV. Specifically for my use when there is a cut in public power supply. This TV It is power efficient. By connecting it to a high-power UPS, I am able to enjoy over one hour of interrupted viewing pleasure, when PHCN strikes.

An often overlooked  alternative power source is the car cigarette lighter. With the right adapter, you can also power your netbook / laptop and  charge your phone too. There is a lot that a 12-voltage power source can do.

You can buy a portable car television/radio/dvd player. That way, when PHCN does their bit, you can still keep in touch with news and information, as well as get entertained with sonorous music.

By making use of these alternatives, you are reducing your carbon footprint (by not putting on your generator), you reduce noise pollution, and most importantly, you save yourself some fuel (and generator maintenance) costs.

A hilarious but interesting solution mentioned by a car dealer friend to having a good, dreamless nights’ rest is this; He switches on the engine of his Mitsubishi car, winds up the windows, puts on the car-airconditioner, reclines the seat and goes to sleep! Can you beat that? The car has a V6 engine, the seats are comfortable, and the engine hardly makes any noise as it idles! And the 12-speaker system of the car ensures that mellifluous music fills the car. Great idea if your Landlord ever ejects you for failing to pay your house rent!

What about you? What strategies do you adopt to circumvent the problem of interminable power cuts? That is, apart from putting on that noisy generator and killing your neighbours gradually with noise and noxious fumes?

Categories
Lifestyle

Access Bank Visa Cards

Using the various measuring indices, i do not think Access Bank qualifies as the top bank in Nigeria. Compared to First Bank, Zenith, GTB, etc, Access Bank is definitely not in their league. That, to me, is a very big plus!

Banking in Nigeria, like the GSM sector, is usually a game of numbers. “I am the first to do this, first to get that…”, these unprofessional conducts probably contributed to the downfall of some of the troubled banks.

Almost every bank you go to, you find the same banking products being offered. The practice is very simple, get the product paper of a particular product from a rival bank, remove GTB or Zenith or whatever bank name from it (probably using “find and replace” function of Microsoft Word), insert your bank name, give it your own fancy name. Then you publish in the papers the “unique” product your bank is offering to “esteemed” customers. You may have heard of products like “easy save”, “platinum “, “GT Max”, etc. The sad part of it is that, in the bid to justify their salaries, the product dynamics are not even thought through at all! That’s why the products fade away in a few years.

I do not think Access Bank dollar denominated Visa card product is any different from what other banks are offering. What has differentiated their product is good Customer Service, plain and simple. For the 3 years i have used their card, i have not had any reason to quarrel with them. Trust me, i do that a lot! Quick response to email inquiries, prompt sms alert to card transactions,phone/email confirmations to card transactions, online access to view your transactions, assistance in confirming your card to foreign online merchants, 24 hour service from their contact center,etc. The list is endless. Except for a few “die-hard” anti-Nigeria sites like Symantec.com, my card has been accepted by at least 90% of the sites i visit. I believe all these are possible because of the smaller and more manageable size of the bank. Anyone been to GTB lately?!

Unfortunately, i do not have very nice words for their branches, i even had to close one of my Naira accounts with one of their Victoria Island, Lagos branches because of the terrible service i got.

If anyone is considering getting a Visa Card for legitimate transactions , i strongly recommend Access Bank Visa Cards!

Categories
Gadgets Lifestyle

Good Grammar – The role of Technology

For folks old enough to remember, there was this popular “soonest recover” musician who sang,

“Grammar, grammar, grammar no be MONEY

Grammar, grammar, grammar no be PROGRESS

Grammar, grammar, grammar no be my LANGUAGE”.

He was trying to belittle the importance of quintessential and accurate use of grammar when communicating. I would not subscribe to that!

As geeks looking to improve all facets of our lives, it occurred to me that, with the use technology, mastery of our Official Language here in Nigeria (English) can be facilitated through the adequate application of technology.

This post also has its roots in the recent depressing news that about 80% of students that sat for the Secondary School Certificate Examinations failed Mathematics and ENGLISH! Saddening.

Speaking good and impeccable English is predicated on reading articles by writers and listening to and interacting with articulate and compelling orators. The opportunity to be a voracious reader is right there by reading materials emanating from the Masters of the Language.

We learn MORE by DOING. We need to practice speaking and writing . To continually expand on, and improve upon your vocabulary, practice is essential and ineluctable! Practice also makes perfect. Hearing somebody speak or worse still, write with egregious unpardonable grammatical errors, has me unconsciously rating that person intellectually low.

Now, how can technology help us mitigate this problem of ubiquitous ‘grammatical murders’ being committed even by the ‘mighty?’ ( A certain first lady also jumped into this fray – recently –lips sealed)

I make use of a number of software to ensure my grammar does not send people into a paroxysm of derisive convulsive laughter.

My favourite word processor (MicroSoft Word), like most modern word processors – has a grammar checker. When a construction is suspect, it alerts me of this, then I can re-construct. It also has a Spelling Checker. When a word is spelt incorrectly, it indicates this, and suggests the correct one.

There is also an inbuilt Thesaurus. Communicating effectively entails using the APPOSITE words, at the right time. The English language is so rich that a wrong word in the right place can totally change the way the message is perceived by the reader or listener.

Other technology tools I use on my Netbook  Computer (NC) are standalone applications like TinySpell and The Sage’s English Dictionary and Thesaurus . I highly  recommend ‘TheSage’ . Its sagacity is irrefutable! Like with most applications I use on my Windows NC, these are both Portable Applications. On my Smartphone, I make use of the popular MsDict Viewer (www.mobisystems.com) . And on the world wide web, some sites to visit in your question to improve your grammar are: www.quizlet.com , www.dictionary.com , www.Thesaurus.com and www.wordnik.com .

One tip that most would probably find very useful is using the popular search engine, Google as your dictionary. To search for the meaning and the etymological ancestry of a word, visit  www.google.com (or  m.google.com  on your mobile phone);

type DEFINE followed by the word in which you are interested e,g type ‘DEFINE oppobrium’

and GOOGLE will DE-mystify all !

It must be emphasized that the possession of a prodigious amount of vocalulary does not make you a good communicator. Good construction is like building an architectural masterpiece. You can use the right materials and still get the building wrong. The trick is in how you utilize the pieces.

A certain Member of the Nigerian House of Assembly reputed for using highfalutin and grandiloquent words – comes to mind. While the words he uses exist in the dictionary, he hardly ever makes sense with his sentences!

What about you? Are you applying technology to make you a more compelling communicator? Are you eschewing committing grammatical ‘murders’ in public?

The punishment for such ‘murders is ‘public opprobrium’. I go laugh o o o o o …

Categories
Lifestyle

Regulatory Alert – NIGERIA: CBN upends 2005 Soludo-era banking reforms

I seek your indulgence to deviate from our regular I.T. beats to share a write-up i saw on PROSHARENG.COM website about Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi’s Banking reforms.

Reactions welcomed.

Nigerian Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi has true to form and our longstanding expectations finally upended the fundamental structure of the Nigerian Banking sector. In a 8 September directive titled ‘Scope, Conditions & Minimum Standards for Commercial Banks Regulation #1’ Sanusi has given the country’s 24 universal banks 90 days to present re-organization plans and apply for new licenses. In 2004, after taking office, the former central bank governor Charles Soludo issued a directive forcing the consolidation of the country then almost 100 banks into 25 large universal banks by requiring a new minimum capital requirement of N25 billion. The M&A activity that ensued concurrent with the broader macroeconomic reforms launched under former Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala spurred the Nigerian Stock Markets to multi decade highs.

While Soludo’s reforms dramatically improved the capital base of the local banks and boosted the local bourse to dizzying heights, the reforms however failed to have any major structural macroeconomic impact on two of Nigeria’s largest economic sectors – Agriculture and Manufacturing. By late 2007 the agricultural sector, which accounts for almost 40% of Nigeria’s GDP, and which still employs the largest number of workers on received on average only about 5% of total bank private sector credit. The manufacturing sector which accounts for about 18%-20% of GDP also got very little credit from the consolidated banks.

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Gadgets Lifestyle Mobile Religion

Ebook Readers – Technology meets Religion

As a rule, issues relating to religion or politics will not be discussed on this site, EXCEPT, as it relates to technology.

Religion is said to be a way of life, so expectedly, the digital revolution is bound to be interwoven with our spiritual lives. For people living in Lagos, Nigeria and other major big cities around the world, it has become increasingly difficult maintaining a healthy spiritual life, no thanks to the fast paced world we live in. Wake up 4:30am, jump into you car 5am, get immersed in your daily work routine at your office, stuck in a hold-up coming back from work, get home 9pm, too fagged out to even eat. The next day, the circle continues. Yeah, on Sunday, you fish out your Bible from wherever, blow the dust off, away to church. Sunday, Sunday medicine, that should do right?

Enter Bible Readers, a comfort and convenience to a lot of us these days. They come in form of dedicated Bible reader devices like those from FRANKLIN and ECTACO or in form of third party software installations on phones. People rarely leave home without their mobile phones, and if they do, they go right back for it. So where best to have your Bible? If you are chauffeur driven or in a public bus, the time spent shuttling to and from your office is enough to grab a message or two from your electronic Bibles.

Naturally, this habit has been taken to the church. It is no longer uncommon to see people reading from their phones in church (though i can’t help but feel that some of them may be doing more than just Bible reading). One thing has not really changed though, the church is still a largely conservative one when it comes to the use of electronic Bibles. I could swear that eyes (apart from my Wife’s) are always drilling into me whenever i read from my phone, but eh, the major thing is for the word to sink in, isn’t it?

I was in a church somewhere in Ibadan a few years back. When it was time, the Pastor came to the pulpit to deliver his sermon. Guess what? From a Bible Reader! Wao, that’s new, ehm, but i wasn’t too sure about that. Was used to seeing Pastors brandishing the biggest Bibles around, so i was a bit taken aback. Anyways, i was quick in flashing out my phone based Bible Reader with confidence and settled in for a good sermon. At least, i have the Pastor’s approval

It’s been a while since i thumbed through a “hard copy” version of the Bible and i can’t help but feel a litle guilty about this, don’t know why, but the ease and bliss i feel when scrolling through multiple versions of the Bible on my phone during church services and Bible studies, is a feeling i’m not ready to let go of in a hurry, if at all.

Unfortunately, my write-up is a bit one sided as i do not know what is obtainable with my muslim brothers although in the past few years, i have assisted quite a number of people in installing Quran Readers on their phones.

So if you are a savvy old youngster like me and you are cool with your phone being more than just a phone, point your phone or PC browsers to Olivetree, E-sword and Getjar amongst others. These sites have tons of Bibles and Qurans for your phones, almost any phone.

God bless you all!

Categories
Lifestyle Linux

I Hate Windows – I am Afraid of Linux

Below is an excerpt from an article on www.osnews.com. It was published way back 2002.

First, a little background. I am a Windows user who has been using Windows since 3.1. I am not a programmer or a developer, I am a user. I process photos, use the internet, e-mail, write letters, play the ever important games and even use it to develop my comic strips. I am not computer illiterate and I use my computer with confidence and skill. Now with that said. I hate Windows.

Windows is what has always been around and I have always used it. I have seen the “Blue Screen of Death”. I have lost countless documents and information I have so carefully assembled. I have had a complete corruption of my hard drive by Windows. I have updated to new Windows products and found out that vital software programs that I use will not work. I have had to update my hardware to keep up with the ever-hungry latest version of Windows

The first dillemma that I faced (with Linux) is what company should I go with? As a Windows user I really never heard of the many different companies that produce Linux. I have heard of Red Hat and Mandrake (now known as Mandriva). I have read about them sort of on web pages, but since I never wanted to use Linux before I did not pay much attention. I wanted to find a version that was easy to install, I have heard the nightmares of having to configure all the hardware yourself. I read the web pages and decided to go with Mandrake. I really could not make heads or tails of the different distrubutions, even in the reviews. I picked Mandrake because it seemed like an easy install. Why did I have to pick? Why not just go to store and buy what ever and it is the right one?