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God Mode: Try If You Dare!

10703-god_modeFor the old timers, it should please you to know that the legendary “god mode” still works in Windows 10. A throwback from Windows Vista, by creating a new folder and renaming it with the following text string;

GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

the folder brings together a long list of customization settings allowing you to change all your PC settings from one place, making it very easy to tweak your computer.

How To Enable GODMODE:

  • Right click on the desktop
  • Create a new folder
  • Then right click on the new folder
  • And rename it: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}
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Cost Benefits Of Making Voice Calls Via Whatsapp In Nigeria

Made a Whatsapp call this past week to my wife on Globacom Nigeria’s 3G mobile Internet. It was my first.

In my estimation, a one minute call consumed about 360kb of data. If you are subscribed to the popular Globacom “So Special” data plan of N2500 for 4.5GB, a minute call would cost 20k (1 second call = 0.33k). Those on the network’s Blackberry Internet Services would get an even better deal at only 12k for the 1 minute call (1 second = 0.2k). Please note that this rate is constant irrespective of whether the call is a local, National or International.

A comparative analysis of the call rates between Whatsapp and Globacom Nigeria’s popular voice plan “Infinito” is shown below;

[ws_table id=”25″]
The Snags
1. Call recipients must be subscribed to Whatsapp services.
2. Both parties pay for the call. The data consumption rate is constant, whether you are initiating or receiving the call.
3. 3G services is not available in all locations in Nigeria. And where it is available, the signal strength may be flaky. This will impact negatively on the call quality.

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Windows Operating System And The Even-Year Jinx

I was and remain a committed fan of the Windows 8 Operating System. I found it very painful that the OS did not gain widespread acceptance as expected.

Microsoft’s attempt at forcing what they (and I) felt were features for an OS of the future was met with stiff resistance, which was expressed in its rather poor acceptance. A far cry from the success of its predecessor, the Windows 7.

I guess its true what they say, the customer is king. Moreso, the customer now has a lot more options to chose from now.

However, many had predicted doom for the Windows 8 OS long before it was even conceived. They call it the “Even Year” jinx. All Microsoft OS released in even years flopped! All, except Windows 98 – released 1998 & 1999 (2nd ed).

Roll Call: Windows 3.0 (1990), Windows 3.1 (1992), Windows Me (2000), Windows Vista (2006) and Windows 8 (2012).

PS: Windows 2000 was actually released in 1999.

Perhaps not to take chances, Microsoft is releasing the next iteration of its popular OS in 2015 – an odd number year. It has also listened to the complaints of its end users, incorporating the features they yearned, yes, especially the “Start Menu”.

I am presently taking the Preview Version of the new Windows 10 Operating System for a spin. Watch out for my review!

Screenshot (1)

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BASIC Is Now 50, and I Still Miss It

One of the most popular computer programming languages ever just turned 50, but almost no one uses it anymore. BASIC, short for Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code, may have gotten its start in 1964 at Dartmouth College as a math project. But it ended up defining home computer ownership for an entire generation.

BASIC BEGINNINGS

As a kid growing up in Brooklyn in the early 1980s, getting my first real computer—an Atari 800—was a huge turning point. Radio Shack TRS-80, Apple II, IBM PC, and Commodore 64 owners all experienced a variation of the same thing. As a certifiable Atari nut, I subscribed to the then-new Antic magazine; the contents of all issues can be found at www.atarimagazines.com. Each monthly issue had plenty of BASIC programs to type in. I killed a lot of evenings and Sundays in elementary school doing just that.

The results were laughable by today’s standards. I distinctly remember my dad and I spending one Sunday afternoon typing in this flag program in BASIC; it was one of the first ones we did, when we first got the computer. It seemed really long at the time (though later I would type in programs ten times its size, and spend several days on them). When we finished, it naturally didn’t work at first; we had made at least one mistake somewhere, so we spent even more time figuring that out.

After all that, when we finally got it right, we typed RUN, and—ta da!—it displayed a blocky, pixelated American flag on the screen, complete with white dots for stars. And that was it. “This is what we get for all that? You’ve got to be joking,” my father said. After that, I was the one who typed in all the programs. I didn’t mind.

CODING FOR FUN AND (NO) PROFIT

From then on, it was off to the races. I typed in code for more graphics demos, puzzle games, text adventures, disk utilities, printing projects—you name it, and there were probably a bunch of nearuseless-but-still-fun programs I could type in or write myself. Eventually, I started running a BBS on the Atari 800. Being in Brooklyn was key for that, because I ended up making some close friends who all happened to be in the New York City area.

At the time, schools began adding computer labs; my elementary school had a lab full of Commodore PET machines, and we were issued great big yellow binders full of exercises and programming examples to type in over the course of the semester. We learned about avoiding spaghetti code (too many GOTO statements), how to design simple and clear user interfaces, and how to program rudimentary graphics and sound on what were even then considered obsolete computers.

To be fair, BASIC had something of a less-thanstellar reputation among true power users at the time. Because it’s an interpreted language, there was a huge amount of memory and CPU overhead to get it to work. Before you could run programs, you had to run BASIC first, and then run your code on top of it. Games programmed in BASIC tended to be sluggish and unresponsive compared with those written in assembly, which was much tougher to learn but gave you more direct access to the “metal,” or hardware.

“There’s still a need for new software—but not for the kinds of things you’d program on your own.”

“C” ISN’T THE SAME

Time magazine’s Harry McCracken recently wrote a stellar overview of how BASIC impacted being a computer user in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I’m definitely on his side; I believe something is lost today in that more people don’t know how to program.

Granted, it’s different now; the computer was a completely novel thing back in the early 1980s, and it was great to learn to program it and watch it do things. If you needed a mortgage calculator, or (ahem) a Dungeons & Dragons character generator, you’d look up the necessary BASIC commands in whatever book you had, and write it yourself. Game programmers would make all their own art and sound effects, and because resolution was so low, you could even get away with it.

Now, with a single tap, you can download any of more than a million apps on your phone, all of which do much more than that out of the box, and look and sound amazing in comparison, with professional art and sound design. If you want to write something yourself, it’s much tougher now, given the complexity of each OS, and less immediately gratifying.

There’s still a need for new software—but not for the kinds of things you’d program on your own, like that mortgage calculator or character generator. If you need a rudimentary app that does X, you can probably find a zillion of them on the Web with a Google search. Many will even run in your browser, so you don’t have to install anything. And although BASIC itself still exists in newer forms like Visual Basic and QBasic, they’re footnotes rather than the main story, at least with regard to owning a computer.

I went on to get a computer science degree, but I never really enjoyed C programming in the same way I did BASIC and didn’t make a career of it. I’m heartened that so many people do, and I’m in awe of their skills.

But that’s the thing: Even though I wasn’t a natural-born coder like the John Carmacks of the world, BASIC meant that I could still learn to program, and learn everything about how computers work.

“BASIC programming looks pretty tame today. But I can’t imagine my childhood without it.”

In a world of quad-core phones and highdefinition game consoles, BASIC programming looks pretty tame today. But I can’t imagine my childhood without it, and it’s a bit sad to me that there isn’t a modern-day equivalent of an easy-to-learn programming language for everyone.

 

Source – PCMag

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What IT Skills And Roles Will Be In Demand In 2014?

Indeed, much of what follows should sound familiar. This could be a good thing. Earth-shattering predictions have a knack for missing the mark. (Apocalypse 2012, anyone?) So the job-market calls that Jack Cullen, President of IT staffing firm Modis, and other industry experts shared with InformationWeek are more realistic and more useful if you’re looking for a new position in 2014.

“There’s nothing that I would say is the new ‘hottest thing ever’ ” coming in 2014, said Cullen, in an interview.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Big data experts.

Yesterday’s buzzword is tomorrow’s hot job market. While the hype around big data isn’t new, Cullen thinks actual hiring in the category will start to gain tangible ground in 2014. “The area where I think we’ll see some pickup, that people are still trying to figure out, is this whole world around big data — whether it’s products like Hadoop or big data analytics” or other relevant skills, Cullen told us.

2. Business intelligence (BI) designers.

Tom Hart, CMO of staffing firm Eliassen, offered another specific example within the big data universe: the ability to turn all of that information into stuff the executive suite, marketing, and other non-technical business units can actually understand and use. (PowerPoint achieved popularity for a reason, people.) Enter BI designers.

“There are plenty of companies that can help you to store data, build redundancy into storage, and normalize the data for efficient storage and access,” Hart said via email. “But there’s clearly a shortfall of talented developers that can help you to interpret and present the data in a meaningful way, in the form of executive-level or business-level dashboards, guiding the decision-making process through the intelligent discerning and representation of that stored data.”

3. DevOps experts with cloud and mobility skills.

We’re cheating a bit here. IT pros with serious DevOps chops are in high demand right now, according to Kevin Gorham, recruiting manager at Hollister. That’s going to continue in 2014; DevOps experts who build and maintain cloud infrastructure and mobile apps are sitting pretty in the labor market.
“If I have people with this skill set, I can call my clients and easily get several interviews set up for these candidates. They really are a walking placement,” Gorham told us in an email. “They can command higher salaries, and I’ll often get into a bidding war with my clients over these potential hires. Developers who are more of an engineer and can program and script in Linux — not your just your run-of-mill admins — are highly marketable, too.”

4. Linux pros.

Indeed, while “Linux” and “hot” don’t often appear in the same breath, IT pros with Linux expertise will remain in demand in the coming year. In 2013, the “Linux Jobs Report” — produced by Dice.com and the Linux Foundation — found that three out of four Linux pros had received calls from headhunters in the previous six months. Meanwhile, 90% of hiring managers reported difficulties filling Linux positions.

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, expects even more favorable conditions for Linux job seekers in 2014.

“Demand for Linux professionals continues to go up and represents a multi-year trend that is the result of Linux becoming more and more ubiquitous. It is the software that runs our lives, and we need more systems administrators and developers to keep up with the growth,” Zemlin said via email. He attributes much of the demand to wider business adoption of open-source technologies in general, and added that the Linux Foundation will ramp up online learning and advanced training opportunities in the coming year to help meet demand. “If you’re an IT professional looking for long-term career growth, there is no better place to be than working with open-source.”

5. Mobile developers.

Stop the presses: Mobility is hot. Specifically, IT pros with legit mobile development skills can effectively call their own shots right now. Hart of Eliassen points to mobile as a job category that essentially has negative unemployment: There are more open positions than qualified people to fill them.

“While there have been plenty of early adopters, many companies are just starting to figure out how to either enhance access or boost sales, related to their product and service offerings,” Hart says. “Mobile application developers are in great demand, and this will continue for some time to come. If you’re looking to secure your employment status for the long-term, enhance your mobile app development skills.”

6.The “old” reliables: .NET and Java developers. Sticking with the development side of IT, Cullen of Modis expects .NET and Java programmers to have no trouble finding work in 2014. The two platforms remain ubiquitous in application development. They’re “going to remain relatively hot,” he predicts.

7. Business Analysts (BAs) and Project Managers (PMs).

Cullen said his firm’s clients continue to seek qualified BAs and PMs for their IT organizations. Both are “old” job titles. What’s changing, Cullen said, is that employers are increasingly seeking very specific experience and skills in those roles. “What companies are looking for, instead of just bringing in a generic BA or PM, they’re looking — particularly in the financial services sector — for some real specific areas,” Cullen said. For example, “derivatives experience, capital markets experiences, low latency-high frequency experience — they want skills very specific to a type of application in those areas.”

8. Small and midsized business (SMB) IT pros.

This one’s not so much a skill set as a growing employer pool. Cullen said Modis’s SMB accounts have robust hiring plans heading into the new year. “Companies that used to have maybe a one- or two-person IT staff are expanding that to four or five.” He attributes that expansion to several factors: business growth, competitive advantages, and — perhaps most of all — more SMBs figuring out how IT investments can help them cut costs in other areas of their organizations. In other words: SMBs aren’t necessarily adding headcount overall, but instead are redirecting existing resources into IT — welcome news for job-hunters.

What’s not hot? Traditional telecommunications roles will shrink as more and more businesses move into cloud environments, according to Cullen. (Cloud computing, meanwhile, can be a lucrative career path.)

Cullen also says IT pros with Oracle and SAP skills may find a flatter job market next year. He points to the expensive, cyclical, and sometimes slow-moving nature of large enterprise software deployments as the reason: 2014 may simply be a quieter year for internal enterprise application projects.

“The demand for Oracle and SAP — I can’t say it’s gone dramatically down. But it’s not as robust as some of the other areas,” says Cullen. “A lot of these companies over the past two years have invested in their enterprise [applications], so maybe it’s going to be a little bit less of an investment on that side [in 2014], as opposed to a big increase in investment on their web side.”

 

Kevin Casey is a writer based in North Carolina who writes about technology for small and midsized businesses.

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Confessions Of A Compulsive Digital Hoarder

HoarderI have accumulated over 2TB of movies over the years, scattered across 3 external drives. This is not taking into consideration the 2TB drive i lost a few years back to a hard disk crash, also containing movies. As of the last count, i had barely watched a fraction of these movies.

Added to these are a few other drives containing music files (most of which i have never and probably will never listen to), softwares, thousands of digital books that i will never read,  archived emails, documents, and a dump of other digital files.

Many will consider my stash a digital heaven. Think it, chances are that i have it.

However, beneath all this, there is an underlying problem – Hoarding. Digital Hoarding to be precise. I am not the type to delete files. There is always the nagging fear that i just might need them in the future, a psychological condition not much different from those that hoard physical items.

Wikipaedia defines Compulsive Hoarding as “a pattern of behavior that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects … cause(ing) significant distress or impairment.

Yes, I am a Digital Hoarder. But before you start putting your nose in the air, chances are that you are probably neck deep in it as much as i am. Unfortunately, this is an increasingly common phenomenon and in one way or the other, we are all guilty!

Searching through the digital pile is a time consuming task. Files improperly labelled, duplicate copies of files, not always sure which file is the latest version that i need … trust me, it really can be a jungle at times.

How do i get out of this nightmare?

 

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“Diary of a Geek” Rebrands!

aw logo wDiary of a Geek started out in 2010 as a meeting point for technology enthusiasts with especial focus on Nigeria. Technology is very much the first love of our readers and has been the focus of the blog.

But over time, there have been an increasing demand for a more inclusive and wider range of topics to be covered on the blog.

In the past, we had flirted occassionally with bits of socio-political news and this received mostly favourable responses from viewers. Also, my interactions on Twitter with my handle @diaryofageek has been anything but strictly technology.

All these informed the decision for a subtle and proactive rebranding of the blog, for it to evolve to meet the yearnings and interests of its readers – evolving to remain relevant. The entire rebranding exercise would also allow the blog to reach broader horizons, reaching out to new audiences of varied interests.

As a first step of this rebranding process, the primary domain name of the blog has been moved from artwales.biz to diaryofageek.com to reflect a more professional appearance and, of course, a more memorable name. Naturally, all the old links on the artwales.biz domain still works, linking directly to the new domain name. (Why would we call ourselves geeks if we can not undertake such a simple task?! 🙂 )

Secondly, the blog would now feature social media news, news and developments in mobile, entertainment, online video, business, web development, technology , music (on the old school tip!) and gadgets. Also expect loads of geek stuff written in SIMPLE English (no geek speak!), read about tips, tricks, downloads and the technology that will help you work and live smarter and more efficiently in this digital age.

Look out for blog posts as “Diary of a Geek” rebrands to a lifestyle blog, from the viewpoint of an introvert geek.

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20 Important African Startups to Watch

Kenya’s huge success with mobile money and the M-Pesa platform has launched Africa into the startup spotlight.

But African innovation goes way beyond mobile money. Whether it’s ecommerce in Nigera, price comparison in South Africa or mobile advertising in Tanzania, African startups are not only changing their continent, but the world.

1. Saya – Ghana

Chat messaging clients are hugely popular across Africa. Mobile chat app Saya Mobile builds on the success of such services. It works across the iOS, Android, Blackberry and Java platforms, and is a product of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) based in Accra.

2. Ushahidi – Kenya

Ushahidi, which means “testimony” in Swahili, was initially a website developed to map reports of violence around the 2008 Kenyan election. The company has since evolved to become a tech non-profit that specializes in developing free open-source software for data collection, visualization and interactive mapping.

3. AdsBrook – Ghana

Digital and mobile advertising is big business everywhere, including Africa. AdsBrook provides a network of channels for advertisers to run integrated campaigns. Headed by New York-born Derek Jason Bossman, who relocated to Ghana with his parents as a teenager, the company operates in West Africa and is rapidly expanding across the continent.

4. Gloo.ng – Nigeria

In Lagos, a city of 21 million people with 30,000 more arriving every day, the idea of running an online grocery business seems insane, but Gloo somehow manages to grow. Founder Dr. Olumide Olusanya gave up his medical practice to devote time to building his business. It now employs more than 100 people.

5. Mara Online – Uganda

Mara Online is a family of web and mobile platforms that allow users to communicate, interact and collaborate. Sometimes referred to as Africa’s answer to Skype, the May launch of the company saw a chartered jet fly over Silicon Valley with a Mara-branded banner that read, “It’s Time For Africa.”

6. Aim Group – Tanzania

This digital agency is disrupting the media, marketing and brand space by harnessing social media and traditional communications. The company works with major African brands, such as Vodacom, Castle, Tigo and Ndovu to extend their reach and messaging.

7. PriceCheck – South Africa

As the largest price comparison site in South Africa and Africa as a whole, PriceCheck considers the prices of thousands of products. In May it faced 100,000 other entrants to win the International “App of the Year” at the BlackBerry Live conference in Florida.

8. Iroko Partners – Nigeria

Iroko is the world’s largest distributor of African entertainment, including Nigeria’s huge Nollywood film industry. Launched at the end of 2010, the company has a global audience of more than 6 million users from 178 countries — it’s regularly referred to as “Africa’s Netflix.”

9. biNu – South Africa

BiNu mobile app platform can boost Internet speeds by 10 times, which means even the most basic phones can have smartphone-like capabilities. Its more than 100 channels include social media, news, weather, entertainment and free books. BiNu users can also interact with each other via news feeds, social profiles and messaging.

10. Konga – Nigeria

One of Nigeria’s leading online megastores, Konga is growing rapidly across its mobile and SMS platforms. Founded in the summer of 2012, the company now has 150 employees. It promises to deliver products that range from flatscreen TVs to cosmetics anywhere in the country, within five days.

11. Bozza – South Africa

Backed by HP Ventures, Bozza is a mobile social networking startup aimed at township users. It’s headed by entrepreneur Emma Kaye, who describes the service as “a place to discover and share content, enabling small enterprises in a township environment to collaborate and prosper.”

12. Njorku – Cameroon

Launched in March 2011, the Njorku job search engine helps users find careers across Africa. Active in seven countries, the platform offers free and unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of job listings. The company has already raised seed funding from a business angel in France and a Canada-based technology company.

13. Fawry – Egypt

Fawry is a payment service customers can use through banks, post offices and a nationwide network of retailers. Services range from bill payment to Internet and mobile banking. The company employs 250 people and has already collected more than $220 million.

14. Spinlet – Nigeria

As a mobile music download platform, Spinlet offers media distribution to emerging markets in Africa. It encourages the social aspect of music by making it easy to create and share playlists to friends within the application, while enabling both the purchase and discovery of new music.

15. MXit – South Africa

MXit is Africa’s biggest social network, with 50 million users across more than 3,000 different mobile phones. Users can send free online messages, enjoy multiplayer games, buy music, exchange goods and even trade on the stock market.

16. Dropifi – Ghana

Dropifi users can see data in relation to industry metrics, access demographic and social media profiles of message senders and analyze the real sentiment behind the messages they receive. In May 2013, it became the first African company to join the 500 Startups Accelerator Program in Silicon Valley.

17. ForgiveMeNot Africa – Zimbabwe

ForgetMeNot Africa’s optimizer technology converts Facebook “actions,” emails and chat messages into SMS formats, without connecting to the Internet. The company’s ECONET Wireless Zimbabwe’s eTXT service is a cheaper alternative than a fixed-line Internet connection or most Internet cafés.

18. Jumia – Nigeria

As Africa’s biggest online shopping mall, Jumia operates in Egypt, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Kenya as an “African Amazon.” In March 2013 it received a $26 million investment from Summit Partners, which it will use to expand business to other African countries.

19. moWoza – South Africa

The company’s commerce service focuses on mobile as a delivery platform. Customers can “shop wherever they are, at any time” and register with a licensed agent. When the transaction is complete, both the customer and beneficiary are informed by SMS, which also indicates where the parcel can be collected.

20. Afroes – South Africa/Kenya

Afroes produces applications and content for young people, which contain educational and social messages. It is in development with a series of mobile games and SMS reporting platforms that will form the interactive component of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, “Champion for Children campaign.” In 2012, the company won the prestigious MEF Social Responsibility and Development Award for its Moraba game in London.

 

Source

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Computer Village: Traders Worry Over Relocation

nigerian-geekComputer Village, located in Ikeja, Lagos is arguably the biggest computer and allied products market in the West African sub region. Daily, huge sums of money  exchange hands between buyers and sellers of phones, laptop computers and many other devices in the market. The market has also proven to be one of the biggest employers of labour as thousands of youth struggle to eke out a living by repairing phone and  laptops. However, like most markets in Lagos, Computer Village is always overcrowded and this has been a source of worry for all stake holders in the market.

The Otigba area of Ikeja where the market is located was once a  residential area with no plan to accommodate such a big market but today every house in the area has been converted into shops and offices at very high rates. Due to the thriving phone and computer sales and repair business in the market, even the kitchens of many houses in the area are rented out as shops. On the streets of the market, different sizes of makeshift kiosks litter everywhere. Walking through the market to make a purchase could be a terrible experience.

Mindful of this problem, the Lagos state government announced over three years ago that it wanted to relocate the market to Oke Ado area of the state. The state government planned to relocate the market to Katangowa market in the area and move traders in Katangowa market to another area.

Since the announcement of the relocation plan nothing appears to be happening and there are insinuations that the state government may not be serious about the plan.

P.M.NEWS BusinessWeek findings revealed that the only effort the state government has made concerning the relocation plan is to organise a pre-qualification bid for interested companies for the construction of the Katangowa market. Our checks also revealed that no effort has been made to relocate traders at the Katangowa Market.

Although a source within the government said the plan is on course, most traders who spoke to our correspondent say they are worried over the delay in the relocation plan.

A trader in the market, Johnson Ekwe wondered why three years after the pre-qualification exercise was carried out, no actual bidding exercise has been conducted.

He said: “We were happy when government announced the relocation plan. Our thinking was that within a short period, everything about the relocation will be concluded and work will commence at the site. Really as things stand now, we don’t know if the state government is still serious with the plan. Let government conduct the bidding exercise if they are serious and let the best company be contracted to do the job.”

Another trader, Ifeanyi Okoro believes that there maybe forces behind the scene trying to frustrate the relocation plan.

He said: “I can tell you that not many stakeholders were happy  with this plan to move us to Katangowa market and this is understandable because that part of Lagos is really not conducive for our kind of business. Aside from the fact that the road to the place is terrible, the location is just not good for business. Many people come here from different parts of the state and country to buy things from us because this market is located in a central area. I can assure you not many customers will take the pain to come to Katangowa market since it is on the outskirts of Lagos.  I would not be surprised if some stakeholders who are not happy with that location may be trying to frustrate the plan”.

Another trader who does not want his name mentioned said that owners of buildings in the area who charge exorbitant rent are also not happy with the relocation plan.

The trader who said he pays N750,000 for his shop noted that some owners of buildings in the market are still going around to ask their tenants for advance rent and telling them that the relocation plan will not work.

He said: “My landlord is still asking me to pay advance rent for my shop. When I asked him about the relocation plan, he just simply told me that it may take ages before that plan materialize.”

A landlord, Akeem Lasisi who spoke to our correspondent however said he preferred that the market is relocated as the area has become too congested.

Whether the state government is serious about the relocation of the market or not, it is pertinent to note that previous efforts by government to relocate markets in the state, have not been successful.

Some time in 2010, the state government tried to relocate building material sellers from Coker in Orile Area to Satellite town area. Only a few of the traders relocated to the site while majority remained in the former site. Similarly, the state government  effort to also relocate trader at the Idumota market to another location failed.

It is hope that computer village relocation plan will not suffer the same fate.

PMNEWS

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Using The Right Charger For Your Mobile Device

usbAbout three years ago, 10 major mobile devices manufacturers, including Apple, Nokia and Samsung, committed to a voluntary agreement to work towards a universal charger based on a micro USB connector, in an effort to reduce unnecessary waste. But no such universal charger has been settled on, and Apple appears to have backtracked on the idea with the introduction of a new proprietary Lightning charger for its iPhone 5 that is likely to be the standard for several generations of future iPhones.

Not withstanding this seeming setback, many manufacturers have already adopted the micro USB connector for their chargers. Devices having this charging port are now very common place and is not unusual to see a single charger being used across numerous devices in homes and workplaces

However, just because the plug fits into your charging port does not mean you are using the right cell phone charger for your phone. Unfortunately, such mistakes can be costly!

But why is this?

Voltage

For a replacement charger, it is important to get one with the right voltage. While the device may work with chargers with voltages that are close, it is often at the expense of shortened lifespan of the batteries being recharged. Some devices, however, are quite tolerant of voltage variations and will work just fine. Others, not so much. Problem is, how do you know this detail about your device? There is no easy way to know which category your device falls into, so it is best to simply get the right voltage from the start.

Amperage

Also, the ampere rating of your charger is very important. This is usually represented by notations like “1.0A” on your chargers. Many people are confused by amperage ratings and what they mean when it comes to power supplies and replacements.

One easy way to look at it is this:

Voltage is provided by (or pushed) by the power supply.

Amperage is taken by (or pulled) by the device being powered.

In other words, while the voltage is a constant and should match, the amperage is something that varies based on the devices need. A device will “pull” more amps when it is working hard than when it is not. The voltage will remain the same regardless.

The amperage rating of a power supply is the maximum number of amps that it is able to provide if needed.

Thus, as long as you replace your power supply with one that is capable of providing as much or more amps than the previous supply, you’ll be fine.

If you replace the power supply for some reason with one that has a maximum amperage rating that is less than the previous and less than what your device actually requires, then you may end up with a burnt out or (at least) overheating power supply, and the device itself may not function, or may not do so well.

Rule of Thumb

Your choice of a replacement charger for your mobile device should be guided by the following:

  • Make sure that the voltage matches as closely as possible.
  • Make sure that it is rated to provide the same amperage or more.

Lastly…

For those who use their laptops to charge their mobile devices, they probably would have noticed that it takes a bit more time to get a full charge using this means.

Most laptop USB ports are of USB 1.0 and USB 2.0 specifications and do not deliver more than 500mA (0.5A). This is a far cry from the recommended requirements for a lot of devices. Apple’s iPad charger provides 2.1A at 5V. Amazon’s Kindle Fire charger outputs 1.8; My wife’s Nexus 7 needs 5V/2A and my fancy Samsung S3 needs 5V/1A.

Probably better are quality car chargers that can output a range of 1A to 2.1A.

If you use a standard USB charger, these devices will probably charge, but slower than the stock charger.