"Never settle for less than your dreams.
Somewhere, sometime, someday, somehow, you'll find them

- Danielle Steel, Bittersweet.

Get more Insight, Inspiration and Self Discovery at The Walkabout.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Video of the Week - Barack Obama's Best Speeches

US President Barack Obama is a great orator. That is not in doubt. He is also quite inspiring, thanks to his moving speeches.
Since his election in 2008, the President has delivered many speeches, some in great moments of political victory and others at the lowest and most difficult moments.

Today, we share what is arguably his best speeches.

Don't Tell Me Words Don't Matter

A More Perfect Union

Election Victory Speech, 2008.

Do you agree with our picks?

* * *

A clear majority remain sceptical and quite cynical when it comes to politics and government systems.
Funny enough, moving speeches by great orators such as President Obama above may at times sway one, almost to the point of restoring faith in political leadership.
Do you remain steadfast in your belief that the system is irrevocably corrupt and rotten a la Mashifta below?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Podcast of the Week - Science Weekly on The Guardian

Today's podcast concludes our science theme this December. We started with Science Friday, then Inside Science and last week, The Science Show.

This week, we focus our attention on The Guardian, for the Science Weekly podcast.

Science weekly is a weekly program, part of The Guardian's extensive audio output across several genres viz Technology, Books, Arts, Business and many more.
Science Weekly presents analysis and interviews from the world of science and technology.

Science Weekly was mainly presented by Alok Jha, during his decade-long career with The Guardian's science and environment desks. Since 2014, Alok is a science correspondent at ITV News.

Favorite Episodes

Why we should leave fossil fuels in the ground. Download audio (mp3).

Staying safe in a risky world. Download audio (mp3).

The science of the invisible. Download audio (mp3).

A brief history of humankind. Download audio (mp3).

The role of genes in our sexual orientation. Download audio (mp3).

Podcast feed

Here is where to subscribe to the Science weekly feed.

* * *

Science has this ability to open our eyes and realize the beauty of things all around us.
Likewise, beautiful people bring out the joy in our hearts. A simple look and you feel the sun shine...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Need we say more?

Happy Holidays, from Connect Magazine!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Video of the Week - Alain de Botton on Success

With only 10 days remaining in 2014, many people are now taking stock of the last 12 months, with a view to making resolutions, effecting changes in both professional and personal life... and the list goes on.
The end of any year presents an apt opportunity to take a closer look at one's career and comparing it with current objectives and future aspirations, one is able to make informed decisions which will enhance his or her success in the coming year.

Speaking of success, do you ever get the feeling that we often push ourselves too hard, as we succumb to societal pressures and submit to an ever punishing philosophy of success? Modern philosopher Alain de Botton thinks we do.

Here is Alain's acclaimed TED Talk on success, delivered in July 2009.

* * *

Becoming successful in any endeavor inevitably involves dealing with competition.
Bamboo, a most talented yet controversial Kenyan rapper, doesn't hold back when telling a potential suitor to keep off his lady... Enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Video of the Week - The Life and Times of Jomo Kenyatta

The day before last, Kenyans were celebrating Jamhuri Day.
On this day half a century ago, Kenya became a republic. One year before on December 12, 1963, Kenya had gained full independence from Britain, having first attained internal self-rule on June 01, 1963. The latter date is celebrated as Madaraka Day.

Jomo Kenyatta is the man who became the first President of independent Kenya. Before this, he had been Kenya's first Prime Minister from 1963 to 1964.

How much do you know about the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta?
Today, we share two television features that tell Kenyatta's story.

In June last year, CCTV Africa put together this feature about Kenya's first president, who was in office from independence in 1963 until his death in 1978. The feature is aptly titled Jomo Kenyatta: The founding father of Kenya.

The Nation Media Group's NTV, had earlier on produced this great documentary about Jomo Kenyatta in August 2010. Meet Jomo Kenyatta presents aspects of the late President's life that some may not be too familiar with. Watch it below:

* * *

Once again, Joseph Kamaru accentuates today's weekly video with a song that rekindles memories of the struggle for Independence in Kenya. Thankfully, it is a struggle which was ultimately won in spite of great suffering and untold anguish.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Podcast of the Week - Inside Science on BBC Radio 4

December is Science month on Connect Magazine and we started off last week with Science Friday.
Today, we head back to good ol' BBC.

Our weekly podcast is Inside Science on BBC Radio 4.

Hosted by Dr Adam Rutherford, Inside Science is a weekly program which tackles science across a wide variety of disciplines. One good thing is Dr Rutherford's light approach, with witty and often humorous anecdotes both at the start and within the program whose result is a very enjoyable listening experience.

A good example is the ever present reminder that Terms & Conditions of use are available on the BBC Radio 4 web site, something Adam is required to do. All this despite the fact that he has literally NEVER looked at said T&Cs.

Favorite Episodes

Printed meat and lab-grown leather. Download audio (mp3)

The science of ageing, and scientifica authorship. Download audio (mp3)

Stem cell breakthroughs, power from sewage. Download audio (mp3)

Therapeutic hypothermia and American methane crisis. Download audio (mp3)

How sperm recognizes the egg, plus invasive plant & animal species. Download audio (mp3)

Podcast feeds

Episodes are updated weekly and remain available for download indefinitely.
You can subscribe to the Inside Science podcast feed on iTunes, MyYahoo, Zune and RSS.

* * *

Today is Jamhuri Day. This year, it is the 50th anniversary since Kenya became a republic on December 12, 1964.
That calls for a patriotic song to commemorate. Eric Wainaina's Kenya Only would have been a most apt song for the occasion but we featured him just the other day with Twende Twende. So what better person than the late Daudi Kabaka?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Solutions to Lateral Thinking Exercises

Last week in Midweek Digest, we had some lateral thinking exercises where as always, you had a chance to win 100 bob worth of airtime for simply being the first with the correct answer to any of the 5 questions. Getting all the five questions right was a sure way to win some 500 bob.

Sadly, no one submitted a correct answer in the Facebook messages, twitter DMs and Emails we received.

Here are the correct answers:

1. The man's horse is named Monday.

2. The dog can run into the woods only half way – then it would be running out of the woods.

3. Push the cork into the bottle, and shake out the coin.

4. Switch on the first switch, leave it for a minute, and then switch it off again. Then switch on the second switch and enter the room. The second switch will be connected to the light that is on, the first switch will be connected to the light with the warm bulb, and the third switch will be connected to the light with the cold bulb.

5. Pour some water into the pipe so that the ball floats up on the surface.

* * *

We are still celebrating Kenyan music on Connect Magazine this December.
Today, we highlight what has emerged the most watched music video in Kenya. Interestingly, it is the one video that a good number of music shows on television opted NOT to play on 'National TV', thanks to its "lewd content." The same way some countries banned Christina Aguilera's Dirty and a whole lot of Lady Gaga's music videos for indecency.

Is Sautisol's Nishike really dirty and pornographic? You be the judge:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gadget of the Week - Sensoria Fitness Socks

Last week, our weekly gizmo was the Liftware Smart spoon from LiftLabs, a company that was recently acquired by Google.

This week, as we continue to feature gadgets with direct health benefits, we focus on a slightly different area - health monitoring.

Our gadget this week is the Sensoria Fitness Socks.

The smart socks package includes an anklet (shown above) and a pair of socks. There's also a charging kit for the anklet. The anklet attaches magnetically to the socks.

From the Sensoria web site:
Sensoria® socks are infused with proprietary 100% textile sensors. They are paired with a Bluetooth Smart cool and detachable anklet that not only delivers superior accuracy in step counting, speed, calories, altitude and distance tracking, but goes well beyond that to track cadence, foot landing technique and weight distribution on the foot as you walk and run.

Where it stands out

Sensoria does make other products besides the Fitness socks, such as a smart bra and a fitness t-shirt.
These garments, in concert with the Sensoria app, deliver information via Bluetooth to your smartphone.
This includes heart rate, foot landing technique, cadence metronome, and more.

Critical Reviews

These socks are yet to be sold to the public, but Fast Company and Internet Best Kept Secrets have each written about these socks.
The Sensoria fitness socks were originally introduced on Indiegogo. Following is the pitch video:

User Opinions

These should be available once the socks are publicly available, from early 2015.

Pricing and Availability

Sensoria fitness socks are available (pre-orders) for USD 179 on the Sensoria online store.
The fitness socks will be available for shipping in early 2015.

* * *

Connect Magazine is all about creating and sharing information that makes a difference, has meaning and adds value. It all amounts to arranging words really, and the result is something that is a joy to read.
Musicians on the other hand,blend words into something that is a joy to listen to. Here's Juacali doing what he does best, with Ngeli ya Genge. Enjoy:

Video of the Week - S. K. Macharia's Graduation Speeches

This December, we are celebrating Kenyan creative and cultural output on Connect Magazine. We've already set the pace with music by Mejja and Henrie Mutuku.

On Friday, December 05, 2014, the University of Nairobi held its 52nd Graduation Ceremony.
Shortly after 11am, the Chairman of Royal Media Services Ltd, Dr. Samuel Kamau Macharia was conferred with an honorary doctor of letters degree. This was reported on the University of Nairobi Facebook page:

It is at this moment that S.K. Macharia shared his life story with the graduating class of 2014 and invited guests. Here is a snapshot of his background, and there is more of the inspiring life story here.
Some of his remarks were captured in this news report:

His full speech is currently unavailable both on YouTube and on the University of Nairobi's media centre web site. We shall include it the soonest we can get it.

Now, on October 05, 2012, Dr S.K. Macharia was the guest of honor during the 21st graduation ceremony at St Paul University in Limuru. He delivered the keynote speech (commencement address).

This is the entire speech in PDF.

Dr S.K. Macharia's life story is a most interesting one. One can look at it from different perspectives (PDF) but what remains is that he heads a media enterprise whose influence in Kenya cannot be gainsaid.

Congratulations, Dr. S. K. Macharia!

* * *

Back in the day when Radio Citizen and Citizen TV were under intense pressure and unwarranted opposition from the KANU government, Joseph Kamaru hosted a vernacular radio show on Radio Citizen on Sunday mornings. To say that I was impressed by Kamaru's masterly of the Kikuyu language, culture and traditions would be an understatement.

Here he is with one of my favorite tracks, and I've no doubt Dr S. K. Macharia would love it too!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Podcast of the Week - Science Friday

Throughout November, we shared podcasts whose core premise was ideas.
This December, we shall focus on Science, and hope to share four of the best science podcasts out there.

We have in the past highlighted science podcasts. In September, it was Dr Karl on Triple J and in October, the Nature podcast.
Today, we start off with Science Friday.

Science Friday is produced weekly by the Science Friday Initiative.
Listeners can call in on Friday between 2pm and 4pm, ET. You can listen to the program on NPR.

Favorite Episodes

You are when you eat

Chilling in Antarctica.

Where good ideas come from.

Secrets of the spleen.

Treating depression.

Podcast feeds

All past episodes are available on the Science Friday web site, to listen, comment on, and share on the web.
Subscribe to the RSS feed here. A similar feed is available on NPR.
The Science Friday podcast is available for download on iTunes.

* * *

December is the beginning of the end of any year. You cannot begin to talk about Kenyan music without mentioning one of Kenya's most loved musicians - Eric Wainaina. He started his musical career in the early 90s with Five Alive, a gospel a capella that comprised Victor Seii, Bob Kioko, Chris Kamau, and David Mageria, who was replaced by Joe Kiragu. Eric is arguably best known for Kenya Only (Daima).

Back in the day when France Telcom acquired a 51% stake in Telkom Kenya and launched Orange GSM services, this was the theme song:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mind Games: Lateral Thinking Exercises

Every first Wednesday of the month, we present some Mind Games in Connect Magazine Midweek Digest. These are basically simple puzzles to help you relax barely a week after receiving your salary, paying house rent and utility bills... I digress.

Looking back at past Mind Games: In September it was mathematical puzzles, October it was time puzzles and in November, family issues.
This month, it'll be good ol' lateral thinking exercises.

As always, be the first with the correct answer to any of the 5 questions below and you win 100 bob worth of airtime. Simply drop us a Facebook message, tweet us or Email connect@complit.co.ke.

So here we go..

1. A man rode into town on Monday. He stayed for three nights and then left on Monday. How come?

2.  How far can a dog run into the woods?

3.  If you put a small coin into a an empty wine bottle and replace the cork, how would you get the coin out of the bottle without taking out the cork or breaking the bottle?

4. Three switches outside a windowless room are connected to three light bulbs inside the room. How can you determine which switch is connected to which bulb if you are only allowed to enter the room once?

5. A table tennis ball fell into a tight deep pipe. The pipe was only a bit wider than the ball, so you can not use your hand. How would you take it out, with no damage?

We shall publish the correct answers and the winners next Wednesday, December 10, 2014 on Connect Magazine Midweek Digest.

* * *

We are celebrating Kenyan music all December on Connect Magazine.
Now looking back, the much celebrated Henrie Mutuku released Nakuhitaji, Manze wa Maana and Usichoke before going into a decade-long hiatus.

She then made a comeback earlier this year.
Here's the song she's arguably best known for - Nakuhitaji. Enjoy :-)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Gadget of the Week - Liftware Smart Spoon

Finally, it is December guys!

30 more days and 2014 will be history!

That aside, this is the month when we start realizing we are running out of days if the resolutions made 11 months ago are anything to go by. The good news, however, is that it's never too late to set things right.

Throughout December, the gadgets we feature will be those technological marvels whose core objective is to make life better, even bearable for the disadvantaged. We find it necessary to deviate from our usual smartphones, tablets and computers, in the belief that there is no better time to celebrate technology that enhances the quality of life for those in distress among us.

Today, our weekly gadget will be Google Smart Spoons. Yes, spoons!

 In September 2014, Google announced that it had acquired Lift Labs, a start-up that built a smart spoon for those with tremors that impede eating, especially victims of Parkinson's disease. This acquisition, noted Forbes, was yet another effort to build on Google's Life Sciences in its biotech division.

The Liftware smart spoon is now being developed and produced at Google X.

Where it stands out

The smart spoon works by detecting the tremor in the user's hands and using stabilizing technology, it is able to detect and 'correct' the tremor that would otherwise result in spillage of food before it reaches the mouth.

This is achieved by vibrations that counter a patient's tremor.

Here is how Liftware works:

Lift Labs explains more in this video:

Expert Reviews

The New York Times bits blog features a promotional video for Lift Labs that shows how Liftware works.

Given that Google CEO Larry Page has seen firsthand the travail occasioned by Parkinson's, it is worth noting that his dedication to the smart spoon development can only result in a better quality of life for those afflicted by the disease.
..the push to fight neurodegenerative diseases may also be a personal cause for Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who spends much of his time on Google X projects. Brin's mother has Parkinson's, and he's said he has a genetic mutation that gives him a higher chance of developing the disease himself.

The NDTV gadgets report on the Liftware smart spoon notes that other adaptive devices have been developed to help people with tremors such as rocker knives, weighted utensils and pen grips.
The technology senses how a hand is shaking and makes instant adjustments to stay balanced. In clinical trials, the Liftware spoons reduced shaking of the spoon bowl by an average of 76 percent.

When CNET contacted Lift Labs, this is the statement that was issued:
Lift Labs' "tremor-canceling" technology could "improve quality of life for millions of people." The company also said it is looking for new ways to use an "understanding and management" of neurodegenerative diseases.

User Opinions

Here are some reviews on Amazon:

Eric Hendrix says:
All I can say is, excellent engineering! I'm completely at a loss - I really never knew such technology existed in this form factor. It really is a truly amazing piece of machinery. My wife and I still giggle watching it do it's thing to keep my peas onboard...

Lynn, however, complains about the size of the handle:
Sent this to my father as a gift. The handle is size of a computer mouse! It is not able to use it and we have requested a return authorization.

Kelly Kemp is certainly impressed and writes this:
This is definitely a MUST HAVE for anyone dealing with tremors! For once I can eat my meals and not wear them. I had Chinese food yesterday and as usual with a regular spoon, it went all over unless I used two hands to hold it. Today I brought the spoon to work and am now eating my leftovers with one hand and not one piece falling all over the place. This is absolutely incredible. I can eat soup finally too!

This is the best invention ever! Can't wait for the fork. I am so grateful to you all for creating this and making my life just one step easier.

Pricing and Availability

A Liftware smart spoon costs $295.
More information is available on the Lift Labs online store.

* * *

This past weekend was an end-of-month weekend and many, oblivious to the harmful effects that excessive drinking of alcohol has both on your body and your brain, did indulge.
From shouting "Cheers to the freaking weekend" last Friday, we just hope you haven't woken up today asking, "Kweli jana kuliendaje?"

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Video of the Week - Freedom and Redemption

50 years ago, Nelson Mandela gave this speech during his trial. Following is a short clip:

He made the 'An Idea for which I am prepared to Die' speech from the dock at the opening of his trial on charges of sabotage, at the Supreme court of South Africa in Pretoria, April 20 1964.
Listen to the entire speech on Soundcloud below or download audio (mp3).

Here is the transcript of the speech above.

Upon his release from prison after 27 years, Nelson Mandela delivered the following speech:

This is the transcript of the above speech, delivered in Capetown, South Africa on February 11, 1990.

* * *

Speaking of freedom, think about what, in addition to lifting your hands and saying "Free at last free at last, thank God almighty I'm free at last", you can do once you're set free. Freedom totally rocks, right?
How about we sing a redemption song?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Job Interview Tips: Dressing, Cover Letter and Questions to Ask

In our previous Midweek Digest post, we reiterated our commitment to our readers - whether employees or entrepreneurs - with quality content that addresses their unique needs in the workplace.

We shared an info-graphic with some interview tips touching on dressing, non-verbal communication, the top questions you may be asked and common mistakes made by interviewees.

Today's Weekend Connection post is a corollary that offers more interview tips on dressing, plus book recommendations on how to write effective and compeling cover lettersto help you land that interview in the first place.
In addition, what questions to ask once you face the interviewer. It is interesting to note that many candidates take for granted the very importance of asking questions during a job interview.

So, here are the dressing codes for a job interview. This is what to wear on not wear to a job interview:
Courtesy of Rasmussen College.

The next part of our tips is books.
The first is titled 201 Killer Cover Letters, written by Sandra Podesta and Andrea Paxton.

This book is introduced on Google Books as a guide that "provides job seekers with an unbeatable competitive edge by arming them with surefire sample letters for every job-hunting situation" and is available on Amazon.

The other book is 201 Best Questions to ask on Your Interview. It is written by John Kador, who also authored The Manager's Book of Questions.
This book is available on Amazon.

In fact, there is a second edition by the same author that lists 301 questions, also available on Amazon.

There you have it guys. Having read the aforementioned books, they do offer useful tips which will help avoid some of the mistakes many candidates make in interviews. They also offer insights that help keep you ahead of the competition.

* * *

Okay. 201 questions is a whole lot. Alanis Morissette once listed the 21 things she wants in a lover. So, how about asking some 21 questions?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Podcast of the Week - Ideas on CBC Radio

This Novemeber on Connect Magazine, all our podcasts are about ideas.
We started with the TED Radio Hour on NPR, The Forum on BBC World Service and thereafter, Big Ideas on ABC's Radio National.
For this week, we travel almost 15,000 km from Australia to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Ottawa.

Our podcast of the week is the Ideas show on CBC Radio.

The program is aired on CBC Radio One  at 9pm on weekdays, 1pm on Fridays and on Sirius XM satellite radio: weekdays at 9pm with repeats from Tuesday to Saturday at 3am.

The program host is Paul Kennedy, an award-winning and widely traveled journalist. He has been hosting Ideas since 1999.

Favorite Episodes

Beyond Human Rights. download audio (mp3)

Hit Delete. download audio (mp3)

I'm Sorry: The Art and Artifice of the apology. download audio (mp3)

Genetic Genius. download audio (mp3)

Machiavelli: The Prince of Paradox. download audio (mp3)

Podcast feeds

Ideas on CBC Radio podcast feeds are available to both listen online and download in mp3 format.
You can subscribe in several ways, viz: iTunes, MyYahoo and good ol' RSS.

There is also an extensive archive dating back to the 1970s where you can listen/download to past Ideas episodes.

* * *

Ok. Here's an idea. What if men were meant to ride with clouds between their knees?
Apparently, even Superman has issues, and is quick to assert his right to dream and to bleed.
Ideas may be lofty, but they are worth pursuing and discussing. It's not easy, but we can all agree it is worth it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Job Interview Tips

Formal Employment is indeed necessary

An avid Connect Magazine reader, who is particularly interested in our Cents and Sense posts, Emailed the other day and asked if we do have a bias towards self employment and running business. Don't we have some insights for the formally employed? This sentiment seems to have been cemented by our most recent Cents and Sense post.
The short answer is that we do recognize entrepreneurship as a tried and tested way to wealth - not just riches - and profound fulfillment in life.

Having watched The Men Who Build America however, we remain alive to the fact that entrepreneurs on their own cannot cut it. As we noted in the aforementioned post, running a business is always better than freelancing. Engaging other people's time and skills (labor) is invariably good for business. In essence, formal employment is a necessary and key ingredient for economic development.
To put it on a light note, the guys in t-shirts do need guys in suits to work for them. And yes, it is true that you can be serious without a suit.

So today, and later this week, we shall focus on the job interview. First off, some things you may not have known about interviews. The questions you may be asked, top common mistakes made in an interview, the impact of your dressing and some ways you can screw up before you utter a single word in an interview.

Here they are, courtesy of Classes and Careers:

(Click on image to enlarge)

Coming up next..

In the next installment, we shall dwell a bit more on the dressing code for job interviews for both men and women and finally, share some two books that are of great help to the consummate job seeker who wants to shine both at writing effective cover letters and asking the right and necessary questions during the job interview.

* * *

Elated. Excited. Ecstatic.
That may not even explain what you'll feel once you land your dream job. All we know is that it is such a good feeling, much better than Flo Rida's. At such a time, you are indeed allowed to scream and shout..

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gadget of the Week - Lenovo Thinkpad Helix

Hybrid computers are admittedly a clear favorite here at Connect Magazine. There is partly due to our bias toward function as opposed to form. Our technological approach is informed by a belief that technology should be useful. For this reason, we tend to lean more heavily towards computing devices with which one can do actual work, not just consuming media.
Hybrid (tablet+notebook) computers combine mobility and productivity in one device, and that is an intuitive innovation worth writing about.

Previously, we have looked at the Samsung ATIV Smart PC, ASUS Transformer Book T100 and most recently, Microsoft Surface Pro 3.

Our gadget this week is the Lenovo Thinkpad Helix, 2014 edition.

Where it stands out

 The 2014 Thinkpad Helix comes with a new, faster processor - the Intel Core M processor.
It has a combined tablet and laptop mode.
The display is full HD (1920 by 1080). Front camera is 2MP and the dual cam is 5MP.

Another good feature is wireless broadband connectivity thanks to an embedded chip. The keyboard is full-size and spill resistant.
Last but not least, is the digitizer pen. See full specifications.

Expert Reviews

PC Pro UK reckons that this 2014 upgrade of the previous ThinkPad Helix makes this slim ultra-portable 2-in1 an impressive device.
The review ends with the following verdict:
The Levovo Helix has undergone what looks to be a thoroughly impressive update. It joins the Surface Pro 3 in the large-yet-impressively light category of tablets - you'll be shocked at how little effort it takes to hold the slate in your hand once it is removed from its keyboard dock - and features the very latest in Intel's mobile CPU technology. We can't wait to see if Intel's claims bear fruit.

Engadget compares this device with the previous Thinkpad Helix, and there is significant improvement:
Other than that slimmer profile, the other big improvement is in battery life. The tablet now promises up to 12 hours with the keyboard dock, versus 10 on the original. As it turns out, most of the enhancements come from the tablet, not the dock: Even on its own, the slate is now rated for eight hours of run-time, up from four.

User Opinions

Helix users on Reevoo give Thinkpad Helix a 8.9 out of 10 rating. Some of the reviews:

Jeffrey, a business user in London says:
PROS: Fast, light, functional. Build quality is superb.
CONS: The cost is high, and there are not enough USB ports on the keyboard dock

Tim shares the following experience:
PROS: The battery life is great for a non-Haswell product, and the ease of transforming from a great lap top to an equally great (if slightly heavy) tablet cannot be beaten
CONS: The tablet mechanism broke after 3 weeks of use. The machine is being replaced under warranty but it is a little too flimsy. 

Pricing and Availability 

On Amazon, Thinkpad Helix costs an average of $1,400.
On the Lenovo Kenya site, Thinkpad Helix is not yet listed among other convertibles, but digging a little deeper reveals the Thinkpad Helix here.

* * * 

Here's some anthropomorphic shenanigans for a gadget that is so promising. Lenovo Thinkpad Helix, I simply need you now!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Video of the Week - Chimamanda's 2009 Commencement Address, Kalamazoo College

How did you first get to hear about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie?
Well, many of us know the lovely Nigerian writer from her books or the profound TED Talks she gave back in 2009 about stereotypes and in 2013 about feminism.

In 2009, Chimamanda was invited to speak to the graduating class of 2009 at Kalamazoo College, a private liberal arts college in Michigan, USA.
This is what she said:

And if you take only one thing from her entire speech, then this may as well be it:
Please make room for hope and for fear
You’ll trip many times. Don’t be surprised when you fall.
Maybe even lounge in the dirt a little. And then, get up! 

Here is the transcript to the above address in PDF.

* * *

In the past week, Kenya has had its fair share of bad news. We started with men stripping women for skimpy dressing and much worse, the week ended with the killing of 28 non-muslim passengers in a Nairobi-bound bus in Mandera by Al Shabaab militants.

It is indeed sad that human dignity and life are no longer treasured both in Kenya and beyond.
What does John Mayer have to say about Fathers and Daughters?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Podcast of the Week - Big Ideas on ABC's Radio National

November is Ideas week on Connect Magazine. In past weeks, we have featured the TED Radio Hour and The Forum on BBC podcasts.

This week, he head down south to the Australian Broadcasting Network.

Our weekly podcast this Friday is Big Ideas on Radio National.

Hosted by Paul Barclay, the Big Ideas program is broadcast Monday to Thursday evenings at 8pm.
According to the Big Ideas web page:
[Big Ideas] brings you the best of talks, forums, debates, and festivals held in Australia and around the world, casting light on the major social, cultural, scientific and political issues.

Favorite Episodes

Obesity, Food and Family. podcast audio (mp3).

Enslaved by our technology? podcast audio (mp3).

Stigma of mental illness. podcast audio (mp3).

Space travel. podcast audio (mp3).

The culture of narcissism. podcast audio (mp3).

Podcast feeds

There are several Big Ideas feeds. Subscribe to the XML feed for the full program.
Also available is the separate stories feed and the RSS text feed.

* * *

One of our favorite podcasts above featured Lionel Shriver talking about her new book. Another of her books inspired the movie 'We Need to Talk about Kevin' and the song In My Room by the Beach Boys is from the film's soundtrack. Enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Gadget of the Week - Nokia Lumia 730 Dual SIM

Recently, Microsoft announced it will ditch the Nokia name in the Lumia smartphone range.
This is after Microsoft acquired the Nokia mobile division.

Nokia's story with phones is certainly a most interesting one. Back in the day, Nokia was the preferred brand  with Motorola and Samsung a distant second and third respectively. The tables have since turned and Apple and Samsung are now at the top.

Don't we all remember Nokia's inspiring Fourth Screen commercial?

This week, our weekly gizmo is the Nokia Lumia 730 Dual SIM, a smartphone that according to Microsoft, is made for selfies.
Lumia 730 is among the very last devices that will bear the Nokia name. Others are the Nokia Lumia 635 and Nokia Lumia 735. After this, it'll just be Microsoft Lumia.

Where it stands out

Lumia 730 has an uncompromising 5MP front-facing camera with a wide-angle lens. It is designed specifically for Skype calls and selfies. Given the huge size of these photos, Microsoft offers 15GB of free storage on OneDrive.

In addition, is has a 4.7 inch Corning Gorilla glass 3 'ClarBlack' OLED display, a microSD card with 128GB capacity, 1080p video recording, a HTML 5 browser and FM radio. The battery is a removable 2200mAH Li-Ion battery.
Connectivity speed is 21.1Mbps  DL and 5.76Mbps UL.
Lumia 730 Dual SIM has a quad core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 CPU processor. Internal memory is 8GB with 1GB RAM. This phone runs Windows Phone 8.1 with the Lumia Denim update.

See all specifications.

Expert Reviews

The Digit review highlights the phone's bright display and impressive battery life. It then concludes with the following verdict:
The Microsoft Lumia 730 does the job that it was built for very well and then some. The phone is not the best that you can expect, but it is still one of the better Lumia devices that you can buy right now. It has good cameras on the front and back and will fit users who use their phones for basic mails, social networking and of course, selfies.

The Indian Express calls Lumia 730 Dual SIM a treat for the selfie addict.
This phone is a good buy for its price and if you’re okay with the Windows OS and not having all the apps an Android device would give.  The camera simply blows you away and will be a favorite with selfie addicts. The Moto G only outscores the Lumia on built-in memory, marginally bigger screen and the perceived higher resolution camera. On the whole, this device is a good mid-range phone

This phone is a good buy for its price and if you’re okay with the Windows OS and not having all the apps an Android device would give.  The camera simply blows you away and will be a favorite with selfie addicts. The Moto G and only outscores the Lumia on built-in memory, marginally bigger screen and the perceived higher resolution camera. On the whole, this device is a good mid-range phone. - See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/technology/mobile-tabs/nokia-lumia-730-dual-sim-review-a-treat-for-the-selfie-addict/#sthash.YA7U7lFg.dpuf
This phone is a good buy for its price and if you’re okay with the Windows OS and not having all the apps an Android device would give.  The camera simply blows you away and will be a favorite with selfie addicts. The Moto G and only outscores the Lumia on built-in memory, marginally bigger screen and the perceived higher resolution camera. On the whole, this device is a good mid-range phone. - See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/technology/mobile-tabs/nokia-lumia-730-dual-sim-review-a-treat-for-the-selfie-addict/#sthash.YA7U7lFg.dpuf
User Opinions

Arkajyoti Misra shares this on NDTV Gadgets.
Microsoft finally seem to have got it right. This seems to be a very good phone if the price is kept around 16-17K INR. It has the usual "Nokia Reliability", coupled with the new Windows 8.1 (which is far better than the previous version). It ships with Lumia Denim out of the box, which includes Live Folders(which looks brilliant, constantly showing you all the information you need through the live tiles). It also features a 720P OLED 4.7 inch display which is an upgrade over the previous Lumia 720. The only downside I can see is its inability to capture 4K videos (Snapdragon 400 can't do that), and the absence of wireless charging (which was present in the Lumia 720). 

Aravind Ekanath on Amazon India is impressed!
Having powered with quad core snapdragon 400 along with 1GB of RAM,this phone makes the perfect mid range smartphone...In terms of camera,it's packed with 6.7 MP carl Zeiss optics which has a great clarity than that of 8MP exmor lens..It's worth the every penny of your buy..

Gautam says this on GSMArena.
Excellent phone! I got mine yesterday....and have been utilizing the same to its full capacity i.e. dual sims, whatsapp, fb, twitter, instagram, instasize, 2 emails accounts, mix radio...lumia selfie, main camera....and the device is just too good. No lags, no crashes....smooth functioning totally recommended.

Pricing and Availability

Being a very recently announced device, there is no listed price on Amazon or the Microsoft web site.
There is still no update on when the Nokia Lumia 730 Dual SIM will be available in Kenya.

* * *

Now that we have said 'Seven' so many times in this post, how about you walk with me?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Video of the Week - The Perils of Indifference

This past week, the Kenyan media has been inundated with video footage, discussions on both radio and TV, and thousands of words both in print and on the web all reacting to two separate incidents where ladies who were allegedly scantily dressed were stripped by some irate members of the public.

One happened at the Coast and the other in Nairobi.
I must say the two videos are quite distressing, and one can only wonder what would justify this kind of savagely.

We recently examined crowd behavior thanks to another incident where Gor Mahia fans allegedly looted and damaged property in Machakos town. At some point on Nation FM's morning discussion the day before last, Lorna Irungu-Macharia suggested that human beings are now more violent but thankfully, Chris Hart quickly busted that myth, as Steven Pinker also did at TED. You may be surprised to realized that we are now more peaceful than ever before.

Back in April 12, 1999 in Washington DC, Eliezer 'Elie' Wiesel gave a moving speech on the perils of indifference. President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, among other guests were in attendance. Mr Wiesel survived the Holocaust and is the author of Night.

Whereas I do not condone what happened to the two ladies and other victims of such violence, I'd thought of staying away from the discourse emanating from the two cases, but on second thought, I realize that it amounts to indifference. Here's what Elie Wiesel says about indifference:
Of course, indifference can be tempting -- more than that, seductive... for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the Other to an abstraction.

Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment. - See more at: http://blog.peternjenga.com/2010/01/perils-of-indifference.html#sthash.dnMgmGTe.dpuf
Of course, indifference can be tempting -- more than that, seductive... for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the Other to an abstraction.

Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment. - See more at: http://blog.peternjenga.com/2010/01/perils-of-indifference.html#sthash.dnMgmGTe.dpuf
Of course, indifference can be tempting -- more than that, seductive... for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the Other to an abstraction.

Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment.
Connect Magazine has a significant readership and I can humbly submit that this post may just change the attitudes of one person - which will be in line with our stated objective to write what has meaning, makes a difference and adds value.

Watch Elie and the Clintons below:
April 1999, in Washington, D.C.
April 1999, in Washington, D.C.

An extract of the above speech with some excerpts is available on The Walkabout.Be sure to check it out.

* * *

I personally maintain the firm belief that society can indeed change, and for better.
This may as well have been Amy Grant's Grown Up Christmas List, but it remains my everyday wish as far as human interaction is concerned.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Beyond Employment: Freelancing, running a Business and Investing.

In partnership with Autumn Men's Collection.

The song Believe, from the February 2000 album Times & Seasons by Commissioned starts with sweet voices of kids saying what it is they'd like to be when they grow up.
Years later, some deviate from these lofty dreams and aspirations, upon realizing that even the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. In other words, plan and reality are usually very different entities.

Despite the challenges, however, a good number do stay true to their stated objectives and with time, determination, self discipline and great effort, realize their goals.

To do all this, every person needs to do gainful work and earn. Formal employment for many, presents the best option to achieve one's goals. To others, business offers one a chance to be their own boss and personally be in charge of life.

To better understand employment, freelancing, running business and investing, we spoke to two seasonal professionals whose insights are worth considering both in areas of personal finance, progress and business development.

The Benefits: Formal vs Self Employment

First off, what clear advantage does formal employment present that is largely lacking in self employment?

Stephen Nzioka is the lead web developer and co-founder of Websoft Development Ltd, a company that offers turnkey web design and online marketing business solutions. He reckons that formal employment guarantees a regular and consistent source of income."In addition, there are fewer risks are associated with formal employment especially so for employees." Steve adds.

"In formal employment, you are assured of a salary every month and your Job description is well defined, The employer cushions you from the real erratic nature of the business," says Sakong Kirui. Sakong is an upcoming business man with interests in Petroleum, Clothing and e-commerce.

He goes on: "There are also quite a number of benefits that come with formal employment, such as medical insurance, business travel, group personal cover among other things."

In view of the aforementioned, one would then be surprised that some guys leave formal employment and either start freelancing or running a business. What makes self employment attractive?

Steve gets straight to the point. "It presents an opportunity to pursue one's dreams to the fullest, enjoy life & make money while at it."

Sakong offers an impressively elaborate answer:
"Being the boss: I think apart from basic needs, a human being draws a lot of satisfaction from making decision that concerns his or her work life. You'll decide your business plan, your procedures, your pricing and marketing strategies—everything. In self employment you make all the decisions and reap the full benefits of such decisions.

Flexible working hours: I greatly value spending quality time with my kids, and self employment allows me to wake up early to work, drop them to school at about 8 am and continue working after that, which is not possible in formal employment. This does not mean you will work less hours....most business people end up working longer hours than people in formal employment

Profits are better than wages: I also believe that you are paid a small percentage of the work you do for the company to make a profit, in self employment you make take 100 percent of the profits, which is compounded when you factor in profits you make from those who work for you.

Leaving a legacy/inheritance: When you build a business that improves the lives of people, this will not only line your pocket, but people will also remember you for some time. It is also possible to hand over a business as inheritance which is not the case with formal employment."

Look before you Leap!

Apparently, self employment is the way to go for those willing to take full charge of their personal and professional lives. The question that begs asking is: Is there ever a right time to leave full employment?

"Any time an opportunity presents itself and you are passionate about it, I guess, is the best time to quit formal employment." says Steve. He then proceeds on a cautionary note. "Of course this should be after doing extensive research & accessing the viability of the venture."

Sakong recommends that one only leap after looking. And the preparation involved takes years.
"You need formal employment for about 5 years, which is important for you to learn how to build structures and systems that will ensure the business will run without your day to day involvement."
Striking the balance, it seems, is the hard part. "If you get into self employment too soon you will find it hard to grow a business beyond yourself, if you stay too long you become too comfortable to take risks."

Speaking of risks, what are the pitfalls that many encounter upon leaving full employment and how does one avoid these?

"The biggest challenge is the uncertainty of the new environment, with no assured salary at the end of the month, no medical covers and other benefits that come from formal employment. Many businesses are not profitable in the first few months, even years and hence the need to be super motivated and determined since only these can keep you going during this dry period." Sakong says.

"Not assessing & mitigating the risks involved in starting a business & working without a clear strategy or plan are some of the common pitfalls. Lack of self discipline also plagues most beginners. Steve reckons. His advice? "Do extensive research, plan and work hard. There are no two ways about it."

To this, Sakong adds: "I am driven by the dreams of a prosperous business empire in my head. I also know that many a multinational brand started off from a dream."

What then, does Sakong recommend to someone who has a dream and is motivated, but still has to put dinner on the table?
"Having sizable savings will keep you going over this period. If your idea is very brilliant you can pitch for a venture capitalist, who will provide a cushion in exchange for a share holding. I will strongly recommend you keep a network of people who are in business for support and mentorship during the transition period."

To Freelance or Run a business?

Anyone familiar with Robert Kiyosaki's cashflow quadrant (above) will realize that freelancing in itself is limited by the fact that you only get an income if you actually work, and as Sakong points out above, freelancing can also mean that you never rise beyond yourself. Is it advisable to freelance or run business?

"To run a business." is Steve's curt reply. Thankfully, he explains: "As early as possible as a business owner, strive to focus on the important things (growing the business) rather than the urgent things (making money). As a rule of thumb, get yourself off the grinding mill (production) & focus on building a team to do the same which gives you more time to strategize on how to scale up the business and/or pursue other things.

Mistaking the urgent for the important is something we should all avoid.

Sakong has similar sentiments, underscoring the value of creating systems bigger than the individual.
"This depends on the business you want to engage in and your passion, I believe in creating systems that can exist without you, freelancing is heavily dependent on you whereas using other people skills is a little complicated but will reap more benefits in form of profits and stable business."

Challenges of Self Employment

Self employment, it must be said, is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage and an iron will to do some of the things that an entire department in an organization would normally be tasked with. It takes courage to not be held back by rejection and deals falling through. What are some of the challenges both Steve and Sakong have faced?

"The risks involved are too many." says Steve. "Lots of sacrifice and hard work are inevitable for one to make it. It eventually pays off with time if you navigate your course well."

Sakong outlines several challenges:
"Raising working capital: Many businesses start as ideas. Now, the current financial institutions depend on the track record of the business or the asset base to finance any venture. New business lack both, hence a challenge in accessing finances. Many small businesses depends on personal savings or family and friends to raise capital.

Attracting and retaining human resource: Start-up businesses are not able to attract and retain qualified and experience human resource, because most employees look for stability and job security which can only be offered by big, stable businesses. The business will therefore depend on the skills of the owner and employees without experience which has its own disadvantages.

Uncertainty of the business environment: In any business environment there are good season and not so good seasons. Start-ups do not have the financial muscle or experience to handle the not-so-good seasons. A significant number of start-ups do not make it to the 5th birthday.

Building business models: They say there are a number of people out there who can make a better burger than McDonalds, but McDonalds have a business model that the rest have not managed to beat. Small businesses struggle to create business models that will survive beyond the owner."

For those in school. Employment or Business?

We all wish entrepreneurship is taught as a core unit in Kenyan Universities and Colleges. This would dispense with the shenanigans of educated, unemployed youths who incessantly blame society for their sad but avoidable plight.

"Well, there are so many opportunities out there to be explored in whichever discipline. If you are not sure about your area of placement or specialization seek formal employment, learn the ropes and quit when you are ready to pursue your dream. If you are certain about what you want to pursue then delve into it instead of wasting precious time in formal employment." Steve advises.

 We all know the above is much easier said than done. Aware of this, Steve adds: "But in either case, be conscious of the current, emerging and future trends in your area of interest so that you remain relevant and ahead in your field at all times."

What does Sakong have to say to this, having spent almost a decade employed in the oil industry?
"Getting a job in the current market might be a little harder but there is always work to be done. My advice will be to work hard in school and then apply the knowledge they gain to create jobs for themselves and the population looking for jobs. They should think of themselves as a solution to the problems and not victims of the economy and government policies."

This echoes something I first heard in Culture Talk back in the late 90s on KBC English service, where Prof Egara Kabaji emphasized that even if there are no (white collar) jobs, there is always work to be done. And for those who can recognize opportunity even when it comes dressed in overalls, such work is gainful, rewarding and profoundly fulfilling.

Contemplating Resigning?

 It should be understood that this article in no way bedevils formal employment. That said, however, we all know that enterprise is what results in  economic development. If you watch The Men Who Built America, it becomes evident that both employers and employees are important in any economy.
And the more people there are willing to start business and employ others, the more a society progresses.

What then can say to anyone thinking of saying something only Eric Cartman would say, and flying solo in the challenging world of business?
"If you do not take risks, you'll always work for the person who does. They just need to be prepared physiologically and jump." says Sakong.

"If you've done your Math right and weighed the options correctly, then resign and pursue your dream. I also strongly advise seeking guidance from others who've gone before you and are successful so that you learn from their mistakes, so that you can get your big break sooner with fewer challenges." Steve concludes.

* * *

It seems deciding whether to be formally employed or flying solo in business is like walking a tightrope.
So is the game of love, says Kylie Minogue.