Thursday, May 10, 2007

150 Mbps download speeds

[Nairobi, Kenya]
WOW, DID somebody say 150 Megabit per second? Am I on Planet Earth? You betcha...courtesy of some amazing advances in cable modem technology, which always seems to blow DSL (via telephone company) out of the water. Too bad cable TV is not in these parts. Everything down here on the idiot box (oops, I mean TV!) comes in via satellite. Anyhow, check this out and be prepared to drool:

Comcast Corp. Chief Executive Brian Roberts dazzled a cable industry audience Tuesday, showing off for the first time in public new technology that enabled a data download speed of 150 megabits per second, or roughly 25 times faster than today's standard cable modems.

The cost of modems that would support the technology, called "channel bonding," is "not that dissimilar to modems today," he told The Associated Press after a demonstration at The Cable Show. It could be available "within less than a couple years," he said.

The new cable technology is crucial because the industry is competing with a speedy new offering called FiOS, a TV and Internet service that Verizon Communications Inc. is selling over a new fiber-optic network. The top speed currently available through FiOS is 50 megabits per second, but the network is already capable of providing 100 Mbps and the fiber lines offer nearly unlimited potential.

The technology, called DOCSIS 3.0, was developed by the cable industry's research arm, Cable Television Laboratories. Instead of using one TV channel to transmit data, it uses four...

...In the presentation, ARRIS Group Inc. chief executive Robert Stanzione downloaded a 30-second, 300-megabyte television commercial in a few seconds and watched it long before a standard modem worked through an estimated download time of 16 minutes.

Stanzione also downloaded the 32-volume Encyclopaedia Britannica 2007 and Merriam-Webster's visual dictionary in under four minutes, when it would have taken a standard modem three hours and 12 minutes.

"If you look at what just happened, 55 million words, 100,000 articles, more than 22,000 pictures, maps and more than 400 video clips," Roberts said. "The same download on dial-up would have taken two weeks..." {source}

Good lords, but those are some fast download speeds. Do you know how productive I could be if I had access to that kind of technology? And can you imagine the implications for Africa if her ISPs were able to offer said technology to her bandwidth-starved netizens?

Patience, Max, patience. :-)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Use Enhanced DVDs in the Classroom

[Nairobi, Kenya]
EUREKA! WHAT a great idea. This is going to be huge. What is it? Well, it appears that documentary and movie producers are about to come out with educational versions of specific movies with class lessons, and other great teaching material in order to finally get the kids interested in learning. After all, parents do pay taxes, and they expect their kids to actually learn something at school. Right? I don't know about you, but I sense that the art of learning & teaching has gone downhill over the years...out the window. Students just aren't interested in learning anything. Heck, how do you expect them to "concentrate" in school with all that senseless garbage (er programming) on the idiot box (oops, I mean TV!), which prefers viewers with non-critical minds? :-) And teachers? Well, they seem more pre-occupied with their salaries, benefits, vaction time and what not.Enhanced learning
So, what's an enhanced DVD? Well, I really can't explain the damn thing any better than this:

When indie producer Hart Sharp Video released Morgan Spurlock's Oscar-nominated fast-food documentary "Super Size Me" three years ago, two versions came to market: a regular edition for consumers, and an educationally enhanced edition for teachers, with 24 lessons and various game-like assessments and quizzes.

The enhanced edition, which allowed Hart Sharp to break into the lucrative institutional market and sell thousands of additional copies of the film to schools, was produced by Scope Seven, a Los Angeles production company...

...The documentary chronicles former "Inside Edition" correspondent Rick Kirkham's destructive drug addiction. The enhanced DVD, which is being marketed to schools, includes a wealth of educational features the company hopes teachers will use in the classroom, including lesson plans in health, life skills and language arts; on-screen prompts to guide student viewing, spark discussion and lead to classroom activities; and curriculum connections linking the film to the standards-aligned Anti-Drug Education Program from the New York Times. The DVD also comes with an instructor's manual and printable teacher guides and student handouts.

"Films have long been used in the classroom to educate students, but learning doesn't always happen in a linear fashion," said Bob Hively, chairman and CEO of Scope Seven. "Through educationally enhanced DVDs like 'TV Junkie,' youth are able to explore the issues presented in the film as they arise, rather than waiting to discuss them at the end of the movie." {source}

Now, isn't that amazing? I see big opportunities for savvy documentary producers all over the world who jump on to this potential gravy train of cash. And that includes Africa too. Heck, why didn't I think of this idea? Just think of how many schools there are around the world. And don't forget the additional income to be had from producing said topics in other languages. Anyhow, I've got a ton of enhanced DVD topics running through my mind right now. :-)

So, you think this concept is gonna catch on fast?

"This resulted in an educationally enhanced DVD that is fully aligned to teaching standards, which further legitimizes its use by educators in the classroom," he said. "From the very beginning of the film, it was clear that this story had the power to help others battling addiction."

In a related development, 20th Century Fox and MGM are adding optional tracks of bright, bold "Kids Captioning" to popular family films in an effort to build reading skills. The first wave of enhanced "Follow Along" DVDs arrives in stores July 10 and includes "Robots," "The Sandlot," "Ice Age," "Garfield: The Movie," "Anastasia," "Ferngully: The Last Rainforest," "Stellaluna," "Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids," "Good Boy!" and "Thumbelina." {source}

Monday, May 7, 2007

Women in Politics

[Nairobi, Kenya]
WHAT THE HELL is it with women when it comes to ceasing power? Everywhere you look, they're getting marginalized, and ending up on the short end of the stick. In some societies, they get treated worse than cattle. Don't they realise that the only way to make long, lasting changes in their plight is by obtaining political power? It seems logical to me. No?

A stroll down memory lane
I remember when I lived with my remarkable
step-mother (Martha) in Barbados for a good 2 years or so - when I was 11. Well, she tried to educate herself, but my dad would burn her books & clothes, and also physically abuse her - badly. After 16 years of putting up with that bullsh!t, he hit her one times too many, and she proceeded to chase him out of his house with a cutlass (used to cut grass, sugar cane, etc...a panga in Africa?). Finally, she wasn't afraid. Well, he never came back to the house, and she was finally free from his reign of terror. The courts also awarded her the house, and she was free to raise my little (half) brother in peace.

Now, I'm sure that this crap would not have been tolerated had there been a culture of women running government in my country of birth. Right? And that's my point. In order to make serious changes, you must first cease power. Then, you appoint people (women in this case) into strategic positions (judges, police administration, MPs, etc.) in order to affect change immediately. Not next year. Today! See, it's so simple. [image: Women In Ancient Iran]
Ancient Iranian Women WarriorsWomen, wake up!
Today, I'm going to repost a comment I uploaded relating to
an article on Nicolas Sarkozy's win in France at Ségolène Royale's expense. I truly believe that it's relevant here because Africa (indeed the world!) needs more women in politics who are committed to real change. Again, when will women stop competing with each other see the big picture? After all, women usually represent a larger percentage of the electorate. Anyhow, here's what I wrote:
"Royal had repeatedly appealed to the women of France to vote for her in a show of female solidarity. But Sarkozy, a conservative who made his reputation as a hard-line minister of the interior, got the majority of the women's vote, according to Ipsos, an international polling company." {source}
WHAT is it with WOMEN? They're hardly represented in French politics! They probably earn less money compared to their male counterparts. And they probably face sexism in many parts of their society. Yet when they have a chance to let a fellow female take the reigns of power, they vote for the sausage. No wonder they never make inroads on key legislation relating to equal pay, women's rights/issues, political representation et al. Mrs Royale was an outstanding candidate that should've made all French women PROUD.

Oh well, I guess French women deserve what they get for not at least giving one of their OWN a CHANCE.

Go Africa go! {source}

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Letters & Opinions: issue 1

[Nairobi, Kenya]
I MENTIONED the oil boom in East Africa here. Can this reader, Tom, see into the future? Maybe. But let's see what transpires in Uganda. Read my thoughts below.
Title: Watch out for the Curse of Oil
Source: The East African (April 2-8, pg. 13)
Tom Ole Sikar (Arusha, Tanzania)
Karl Lyimo's recent article ('As if gold weren't bad enough, now they have found oil' The East African, March 26-April 1) served as a warning that before we rejoice about oil and gas discoveries in our countries, we should learn from countries that have discovered oil and gas. It brought to mind a passage from Thomas Friedman's bestseller, The World is Flat:
"Nothing has contributed more to retarding the emergence of a democratic context in places like Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Iran than the curse of oil. As long as the monarchs and dictators who run these oil states can get rich by drilling their natural resources as opposed to drilling the natural talents and energy of their people they can stay in office forever. They can use oil money to monopolise all the instruments of power army, police, and the intelligence and never have to introduce real transparency and power sharing. All they have to do is capture and hold the oil tap. They never have to tax their people, so the relationships between ruler and ruled is highly distorted. Without taxation, there is no representation. The rulers don't really have to pay attention to the people or explain how they are spending their money through taxed. That is why countries focused on tapping their oil wells always have weak or nonexistent institutions, property rights, rule of law, independent courts, modern education, foreign trade, foreign investment, freedom of thought, and scientific enquiry to get the most out of their men and women."

With oil around, things could worsen unless we take note to do something.

My Thoughts
I agree 100% with Tom’s observation. However I don’t think the author (Mr. Friedman) he quoted above should’ve included Venezuela in that list. Perhaps he was referring to the “state of democracy” before Hugo Chavez was democratically elected (3 times) by his people - unanimously. You’ll note that Chavez has re-allocated most of his country’s oil revenues to benefit the poor - unlike his predecessors who only catered to Venezuela’s elite.

In addition, Chavez is a very popular figure in Latin American politics, so obviously he’s doing something right, or has struck a chord with the masses over the general dissatisfaction of politicians who cater to the few. With regards to how the comment relates to Uganda, I do hope that their politicians don’t allow this newly found oil wealth to hinder their democratic institutions. I read somewhere in the same paper that MPs were annoyed with the Energy minister because they were not told what percentage of the revenues from the people’s oil wells would go to the government. Bad mistake. That sort of nonsense would not work in places like Canada, Germany, or Sweden.

Related links:

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Letters to the Editor

[Nairobi, Kenya]
NOTHING PROVIDES a better gauge of current events than by quickly perusing the letters or comments from ordinary citizens (or readers) to the editor of a newspaper, magazine or an online publication (especially web forums). There’s simply no better way to see which way the “wind is blowing” on important issues that are near and dear to the people’s hearts. That’s why you’ll find lots of letters here on Go Africa go! Each will highlight ideas or opinions that relate to the blog’s stated theme. Quite frankly, I value letters more than the opinions of paid, seasoned writers. Why? The answer is quite simple. It takes a passionate (angry or happy) reader to get on his computer and comment on a particular issue that he/she feels others should take seriously. You can click the letters or opinions tags below to see the entire archive starting from today. the way
If you've read an interesting comment or letter in any newspaper, magazine or online publication anywhere in Africa that you’d like us to include right here, please email it to me at MaxTheITpro[at] Just take a look at the format we’re using right here. It'd be great to get such editorial letters from publications in places like South Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Congo, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Botswana and all the other countries that I forgot to mention. Please note that we’re not really discussing politics (ie. who should be in power, etc.) here, but mostly issues relating to economics, development, business opportunities, self sufficiency, empowerment, etc. Now, policies (not politics) are another issue altogether as I've pretty much have lost faith in democracy. Don't get me started! :-)

Anyhow, enjoy the people’s views, and try to put yourself in their shoes.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Accounting for your business

[Nairobi, Kenya]
THERE'S NO escaping the fact that accountants are necessary in today's fast-paced business world. Heck, if you want your company to fly high and operate smoothly without crashing into the jagged rocks of oblivion below, then you have no choice. Right?Survival of the fittest
Now, I assume you know that all accountants are not created equal. Actually, if your accountant is behind the times in terms of understanding or applying ICT solutions in a business setting, then I suggest you throw him/her to the wolves lest you loose your shirt. Why? Because the accountants at your main competitors are probably up to date on the latest ICT applications, which translates into a smooth running operation for their bosses. As you can see, this is no laughing matter.
Julius speaks your language
Okay, so what's next? Well, if you want to stay ahead of the accounting curve, then I suggest you take a peek at Julius Gakure's blog, Julius Speaks. Here's the url if you have a good memory: Oh, this dude is a professional accountant
in Nairobi for, arguably, Africa's biggest insurance broker. In addition, he's not afraid to open up a PC to fix any hardware problems. This is exactly the kind of versatility I like in a professional. Heck, he's a number cruncher who eats, sleeps, and drinks anything & everything to do with accounting. But what I like about him the most is that he's also aware of what's going on in the realm of ICT, which is really just a tool to be utilized in the right hands.

Anyhow, here are a few of his posts that might be of interest to you:
Corruption, be gone!
One other thing. This dude really hates corruption and provides some excellent insights on how proper accounting practices can reduce or eliminate this. Just take a peek at this:
Further, it can be argued that, accountants are already among the best-equipped group of professionals through their training and experience to participate in a major way in the fight against corruption. As Accountants, auditors or consultants they are trained to put in place good (internal control) systems to prevent corrupt practices and to detect weakness in existing systems. Further, their training can come in hardy in giving early warning of corrupt dealings in organisations and also in following audit trails to uncover corrupt deals and to catch the perpetrators.

What it all boils down to is that however much we might want to pretend otherwise, accountants are right in the middle of the corruption saga; either in what they have actually done or failed to do or in what the man in the streets perceives them to have done or failed to do. {source}
If you have a comment or would like a question relating to your accounting scenario answered, then don't look at me. I don't count beans. :-) Instead, I'd fire an email off to Julius at JGakure[at]

Happy accounting!