Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Have you read it?

I have one of those Huawei Ideos Android phones. Small but powerful device thanks to the operating system and a number of applications I’ve downloaded to make maximum use of the phone. I acquired it because I knew about its flexibility and capabilities and being a techie who likes being online it was cool to have a device that would keep me plugged in to the online world on the go. However all the goodies come with a price, the fast 3G internet access really takes a toll on the battery life as well as my airtime! First thing I learnt was the tricks of how to maximize the battery life and minimize data usage and even downloaded an application to help me out with that. So after a couple of months of studying the device I pretty much know my way around it and how to get every last minute of battery life out of it as well as minimize the impact on my pocket.

Yesterday I came across another who owns the same device and she was complaining about it as expected- how it is a black hole for airtime and the daily battery charging ritual. So I asked whether she’s turned off the automatic synchronization as well as managed the data use. It was news to her, all that time she was oblivious to the tricks I’d become so accustomed to. So being the techie I made a few tweaks and told her “now watch and see how much longer your airtime and battery will last.” There’s this little power management widget on the phone that allows you to control what running on the phone- wifi, synchronization, GPS and the screen brightness. Upon seeing it she asked “What does this mean?” pointing at the GPS logo I said that was GPS. Next question- “What is GPS?”. Okay! right then I realized not everybody speaks geek like me and knows these acronyms off head. Gave a brief explanation and told her if she doesn’t use it, turning it off will be to her benefit.

When complaining about how I had to learn all this in the first week or so and how the 600MB Safaricom offers was quickly finished. Another question ‘”what’s 600MB?” Now tempted as I was didn’t go all Sheldon Cooper (he of the Big Bang theory fame ) on her. Once again I was reminded was not among geeks, turns out she had no idea about the offer at all, heck she hadn’t even used the 1000 bob airtime that came with the phone! That was strange to me as all those riders are what had made the phone such a bargain in the first place but she knew nothing of them. So being the good helpful geek I am I activated the bundle and went on to explain how economical data bundles are as opposed to using airtime for browsing.

Now the point of this story is not to up my geek cred or to ‘Sheldon’ her about not being with ‘IT’ pun intended No what I wanted to highlight is that she did not know what she had in her hands. She did not know how to maximize the potential of the product she was holding. She was oblivious of the tricks of the game that the owner of the device needs to know. That got me thinking of the way as Christians we sometimes forget the power within that comes from Christ. The manufacturers of the phone- in this case Huawei printed a manual and tell you to read the manual before operating it- yeah I know you’re smiling because y’all hardly ever do that. One of the famous answers when one asks a computer related question is “read the manual”- that’s the nice version…

Similarly God as our creator can be likened to the manufacturer, He has also given a manual in His word the bible and many times we don’t realize the power of God because like the lady I met we are ignorant of what is in His word. Jesus said – ‘you have not because you ask not.’ Matthew 7:7 How can we know what to ask for if we do not know our rights and privileges as the children of God? We’ve got to get connected to the ‘manufacturer’ to know the tricks in this game of life. These tricks are also known as wisdom- knowledge applied to the situations in life.

So now I ask you who’s reading this. When was the last time you looked at the manual? You may just be missing out on the answers contained therein… If you are to succeed in the Christian walk it is important to do that. So how about giving the good old manual a look? I’ll leave you with these words
Ps 19:7 “ The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The testimonies of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”(NIV)

2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (NIV)

Be blessed

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Why do we pay?

As I watched the re-branding of KPLC to Kenya power I asked myself a question which I've asked before

Why do we pay them to get connections and transformers closer to us? i.e the Umeme pamoja scheme. Where do customers pay for a service to be brought to them? I mean their business is selling power. Do safaricom and the other networks ask us to  pa to set up base stations, I dunno the exact cost but I'm sure it's much more than the cost of a transformer and 2km of power lines! Isn't a business supposed to spend money on infrastructure? The mobile networks spend billions every year in expansion. Kenya Airways spends billions to acquire new aircraft to fill with passengers etc.

I think this is just an antiquated business model back from the parastatal days. Hey even their sister company Kengen does not ask us to pay for new generators... The only thing we should pay for is customer premises equipment like meters

Just thinking...

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Necessary Hating

"Those who can do - those who can not criticize"
I've done movie reviews and managed to put a book review now to try my hand at a theatre review. Uh oh I think I'm becoming one of those described above.

I've attended many a play done by Heartstrings Ensemble at the Alliance Francaise which are usually hilarious and well worth my money. They used to do a lot of adaptations of British productions but nowadays they have local works usually written by Daniel "Churchill" Ndambuki. Yesterday was my first and here are some of my honest observations...

The production was titled "Men are from Kenya women are from Pluto" so I was looking forward to a riveting tale about the battle of the sexes in Kenya. The best part was the humorous commentary by Larry Asego in between the scenes about the difference between men and women. The jokes delivered by the cast were great too, one liners that kept the audience in stitches. That's the good stuff however...

For all the jokes and humour thrown into the production there was a very important ingredient missing- the story wasn't flowing. It turned out to be a mish mash of one liners and skits strewn together for comic effect but no overarching storyline. This may be harsh but that's my honest opinion. Humour isn't an end in itself but a tool used to enhance a story. In the end I asked myself what exactly I watched and couldn't explain- like the title I was somewhere in Pluto. Sadly this kind of approach is way too common in our dramatic productions and it is worrying. I may never have written a play myself but I can appreciate a good one and yesterday I left disappointed and may even say annoyed. Sometimes honest criticism is needed to at least up the game! Churchill is a good comedian no doubt but his show is at times trite, comedy is a tough business so you have to keep re inventing yourself. Honestly on his show the person I see putting a lot of work into his act is Eric Omondi and it comes out on stage.

If we are to get our local arts industry at par with giants in the continent such as Nigeria who've flooded our screen we have to up our game in story telling. They're able to churn out hundreds of pictures typically  4 hours long in 2 parts which are able to engage people with their story telling. Same can be said about the Mexican soaps which have flooded our screens. We are being captivated by other peoples stories yet I believe there are great stories just waiting to be told here in Kenya. Let me give an example. Rhythm City is a South African 'Soapie' which has been running for about 3 years or so and can be seen at 1930 Kenyan time weekdays. For those few years they've been able for 5 days a week to keep a running story with humour, tragedy, contoversy suspense and the rest as well as character development. I long for the day when we can pull this off and I know we can. Through interactions in social media I know they are great 'creatives' in this country, poets, writers, screenwriters, directors etc just waiting to be discovered. When I see the works of a wordsmith as Bikozulu who recently called for writers I know it can be done. Others like Wamathai are creating a platform for poets and writers to put their work out. In this day in age traditional channels are not the only way to go e.g Justin Bieber was brought to us through youtube. Then again that's not the best example...

When I began writing this post what I had in mind was a raging polemic against a work that fell way short of my expectations but I find it more constructive to give a rallying call to all those with a dream out there to get it going. The tools are there with Wordpress and Blogger you can easily let your words, pictures, videos, music out. That brings me to my next point that of quality. One of the most memorable movie quotes comes from field of dreams 'If you build it they will come'. I apply it in the sense that if you create good quality creative works the recognition will come and in due course the $$$ . In Kiswahili 'Chema chajiuza kibaya chajitembeza' literally translated the good sells itself , the bad just fronts itself. Everybody loves a good story, a good laugh, good music or even a good photograph and people will detect the good stuff, but you actually have to put it out there. Sometimes I get complimented about good writing thinking, I look around and see greater ones, all I've done is simply put pen to paper. Another example is in order

I'm sure many of you have seen the photography work of @truthslinger on his blog and website. I've known him for a while and have seen how he has harnessed the power of social media to develop his passion and  bring his work out and in due time the quality was seen by all and he got the recognition he deserved. Looking through the blog and website you can see the craftsmanship and attention to detail in the design and also the execution of the shots. Now that's the way to do it, we all believe in our local artists but local is no reason to let the quality go down. So I was sad when a one time higher education minister suggested the govt cut down on funding liberal arts.

In conclusion I strongly believe we've got great artists out there and when you argue you lack a platform look at the story above. I can be done, yes we can! I was really annoyed by what I saw last night and saw it fit to make some noise and ruffle a few feathers if at least to awake some sleeping giant somewhere. Please let us make friends with excellence and make mediocrity our enemy Tuamke! Forward ever backward never...

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Beautiful Game

Artistry, poetry in motion, such beautiful movement it almost brings tears to your eyes... That's how football is when it is played at it's best and over the last few months we've been treated to team that has exemplified the tenets of this beautiful game. It goes without saying I'm talking about the exploits of the deserved 2011 European champions FC Barcelona. Some would argue like Jose Mourinho that they got a little help from match officials but in the final analysis the quality of the football spoke for itself. The red cards against Arsenal and Real Madrid may have been dodgy but I wonder what would have happened with even eleven men still on the pitch.

So what makes the team so great. Is it the triumvirate of Messi, Iniesta and Xavi with their slick passing and positioning? Is it Messi's trickery which makes one wonder whether he applies super glue on his boots before the game? Is it David Villa and his quality in front of goal? Is it the coaches tactics? I could go on and on to find out the secret behind this well oiled machine. Personally I don't think it's the coach so much as the quality in the players, I believe even a baboon could coach those guys and they'll still excel.

Barcelona are excellent in possession but what is even more important is what they do when they are off the ball. They keep pressing at you and you make mistakes... When they're on it you're afraid to press as you may expose yourselves to your own embarrassment. Not to taking anything away from their victory but I'm surprised Manchester United didn't learn anything from their loss in 2009. It was like a case of same script different cast. Granted the lackadaisical approach of players like Micheal Carrick and the old legs of Ryan Giggs were always going to find it tough going against team Barcelona.

So as the Catalan artists- sometimes actors especially one Sergio Busquets sit on their perch at the top of European football we ask who'll unseat them? in 2010 The Special One was able to navigate around but in 2011 it was tough going against 12 men. However I think his defensive tactics may have done it but Sir Alex's traditional 4-4-2 is clearly not the way to go. For now we;ll continue being Messimerized by them until somebody comes and unseat the 'best club side in history.' I've seen a few in my time like the Galacticos of real Madrid but I've never seen the game played so beautifully, a joy to watch and the Manchester United players clearly agreed with me...