"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.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Podcast of the Week - Nature Podcast

Throughout October, our weekly podcasts are from publishers. So far, we have featured The Guardian, Wired and Engadget.

This week, some science from the Nature podcast!


Well, Nature is a leading journal on various scientific disciplines. It was first published on 4 November 1869.
The Nature Publishing Group publishes the journal in print and on the web at Nature.com.

Nature Podcast
The Nature podcast is a free audio weekly show that is hosted by Kerri Smith, with reporters Noah Baker, Ewen Callaway, Thea Cunningham and Charlotte Stoddart.

So what makes up the Nature podcast?
Every show features highlighted content from the week's edition of Nature including interviews with the people behind the science, and in-depth commentary and analysis from journalists covering science around the world.

Favorite Episodes

How a mother’s vitamin A deficiency impacts her baby’s immunity.




Using the immune system to attack cancer.

 

Cooking that kills.
 




Subscription

There are several subscription options available on the Nature podcast feed such as the iTunes and XML feeds, among others.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Examining the Gor-Mahia vs Sofapaka Shenanigans in Machakos

This past weekend, a football match was held in Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos County. The contending teams were Gor Mahia and Sofapaka.



Okay, we're not BIG on Sports at Complitly Connect Magazine, so we have no idea what the scores were. We however know that the match ended in chaos and following Gor Mahia's defeat, there was vandalism, property damage, arrests and lots of tear gas. Some of the damage is shown below:






All this was widely reported across the web.

This post is NOT about who did what, who was wrong or if the punitive measures taken after the fact were fair and just.
Given that it already happened and continues to happen elsewhere around the world,ours is to examine exactly what causes this type of uncalled for behavior and how it can be mitigated. We shall take a historical and philosophical perspective and highlight ways that may be used to forestall such hooey.

Teams
Back in 2009 and 2010 on The Walkabout, I wrote about objectivity and self righteousness, and ideology and openness to experience. Bothe these posts were inspired by Jonathan Haid't TED Talk. Here's the video:


You see, our righteous minds are such that everybody thinks he or she is right. Consider these excerpts from the video above:

...when people all share values, when people all share morals, they become a team, and once you engage the psychology of teams, it shuts down open-minded thinking.

...our righteous minds were designed by evolution to unite us into teams, to divide us against other teams and then to blind us to the truth.

It's only among humans that you find very large groups of people who are able to cooperate, join together into groups, but in this case, groups that are united to fight other groups. This probably comes from our long history of tribal living, of tribal psychology. And this tribal psychology is so deeply pleasurable that even when we don't have tribes, we go ahead and make them, because it's fun.

Here is the entire transcript


The Group Dominating the Self
Rioters display the same traits that ancient tribesmen had when they invaded other tribes or engaged in battles with opposing groups of people. Of particular note, is that a person’s approach to a situation changes according to whether that person believes that he or she is at that moment acting on behalf of a group or as an individual.

In other words, a person’s behavior changes to reflect the beliefs and aspirations of the group rather than those of the individual. This has been very well explained in The Psychology of Groups.

Following the London Riots in 2011, efforts were made to try and explain the mayhem. In this Discovery article, Jack Levin, a professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University explains the two phases of rioting:

Phase 1: Dropping one's personal identity and responsibility and adopting those of a group's (a behavior known as de-individuation)

Phase 2: The free-for-all bouts of looting, which happens when newcomers join with individuals they already know, pressured by one another to act destructively rather than acting to support the original grievance.

This is why otherwise law-abiding citizens get caught up in lawless acts they can never do by themselves. In a recent post about the back and forth between Scangroup CEO and RMA Kenya on Twitter, we pointed out the ganging up of tweeps against another Twitter user (corporate or individual) where people who are unaware of the goings on get an opportunity to make personal attacks post disrespectful or libelous things.

In essence, participating in riots lower people's standards for themselves, whether they have a criminal history or not. And that is why,
it has become trendy to riot over less serious events such as the victory or loss of a sports team.

The group polarization that is inherent in riots, is the reason otherwise peaceful and decent people easily turn into a vicious lynch mob. This is when it gains dominance over that of an individual’s self identity in situations of conflict, competition or war.

Results
Barely a month into my very first semester at JKUAT in 2000, the Daily Nation published an article that  largely claimed halls of residence at the University (particularly Hall 6) were criminal dens where sex, drugs and other social ills were rife.
The folowing day, JKUAT students, led by JKUSO Chairman Adrian Ouma raided Nation Centre in Nairobi CBD.

Following day-long riots, a JKUAT student lost his life, some students were shot, others were arrested and following a 6 weeks closure of the university, some were suspended. For the rest of us, we had to endure a crash program thanks to a contracted semester. It was a net loss for the students. And as happens in almost all such cases, the juice is never worth the squeeze.

In the Gor Mahia case above, Machakos Governor Dr Alfred Mutua banned Gor Mahia from Machakos and the two clubs were fined hundreds of thousands of shillings. Additionally, Gor Mahia is been help liable for the damage to property running into millions of shillings that happened in Machakos.

All in all, a better understanding of why and how people behave in rioting crowds would be most useful in preventing such dangerous and wasteful acts of violence in the future.



The Blogs we Loved... and Miss.

"A man must be made of steel so that when the fires of life come, he emerges stronger and without defect. These are the chronicles of my time in the flames. 
I am the Acolyte now but will not be so for long........"
- Acolyte


On November 8, Complitly Connect Magazine will publish an in-depth feature on the state of blogging and other online user generated content with respect to the emergence and growth of social networks such as Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Facebook.

In preparation, we look back at those bloggers and blogs who shaped opinion and kept readers entertained, those who made sure there always was something to look forward to on the Internet besides Email (YahooMail or Hotmail, there was no Gmail then).

It was in 2005 when I started blogging. I initially had a WordPress.com blog, then migrated to Blogger. Eventually, upon registering ComplitCommunications.com, I used self-hosted WordPress for my Greening Kenya, The Walkabout and Complit Design blogs.


Definitions
So, what exactly is blogging?

I find it irksome when government officials keep referring to guys who post hateful or silly stuff on Facebook and Twitter as bloggers. Does the ability to post on forums, online newspaper articles and on social networks make one a blogger?

BLOG:
A blog is an abbreviated word used for weblog, which is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

BLOGGER:
A blogger is simply someone who posts on a blog.
It should be noted that bloggers do not only produce content to post on their blogs, but also build social relations with their readers and other bloggers.


Blog Discovery


As earlier mentioned, there was no Twitter or Facebook where you could share links to your new content.
To discover new blogs and share content, there was Feedburner, RSS and ATOM feeds, readers such as Google Reader (defunct), and blog aggregators.

The South African Afrigator, the US-based Mashada and the Kenyan KBW were very popular in Kenya.
It is these aggregators that inspired the current Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE).


Favorite Blogs
I had and still have a good number. Some are no longer available e.g. Intelligensia's blog and Darius's Stone Cold Haven. Some are seldom updated, either because the blogger passed on (such as Idd Salim), decided there are better things to do than blogging, or succumbed to enduring writer's block. Occasionally, a blogger makes a technical appearance after years. Both SisBigBones and Bomseh recently did so after a 4-year absence!

Some bloggers, such as Our Kid, simply stopped writing without as much as a goodbye. Others have been kind enough to let readers and the blogging community that they'll no longer post online.
For instance, this was Kahenya's last post on Friday, May 04, 2007:

Last night I got a Lost One. Its a very difficult time for me, so blogging goes to a minimum. I need some time to work and be alone. So sorry blogging world.


Following are just a few of my favorite blogs:

And many, many more.

The above 21 blogs represent the 21 reasons writing is far more than a labor of love. Some are regularly updated, others are not. Some of the blogs, even the bloggers may be long gone but the words shared in them continue to endure, and to make a difference.

For each and every person who once blogged or continues to do so, and the many others who share the links or extend dialogue through comments.. you simply set my world on fire over and over again. Kudos!



What are your favorite bogs or bloggers? Let us know in the comments below.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Gadget of the Week - Samsung Galaxy Gear

We have in past weeks looked at computers and smartphone, including hybrids that blur the lines between phone and tablet or laptop and tablet.

This, we look at an emerging category of tech gizmos - wearable tech.
Our gadget of the week today is Samsung Galaxy Gear. Specifically, Galaxy Gear 2.


First off, something about wearables.
Recently, Google released an operating system for wearable tech, which is known ad Android Wear. It should be noted that Google Glass, a unique wearable tech in its own right has been around for a while now.

Other manufacturers such as LG, ASUS and many more who already make devices powered by Android are currently working on, or have so far released wearable gizmos, especially smart watches. Some watches already powered by Android Wear include the LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live and Motorola Moto 360.
The competing Apple Inc. has already announced the Apple Watch which is due for release in early 2015.

Now back to Galaxy Gear 2.



What sets it apart

With the Galaxy Gear 2, you can make and receive calls, send messages and receive notifications on the large, super AMOLED watch screen. It runs Tizen OS and the straps can be swapped.
It also has a stand-alone music player which can be paired with a Bluetooth headset.

Galaxy Gear 2 can be used as a TV remote and has a 2 MP camera with which to take photos and capture video. It is water & dust resistant and unlike past iterations of the Gear smart watch, it is compatible with several Galaxy phones and smartphones. The battery also lasts significantly longer.


Expert Reviews

Tech Radar agrees this is a greatly improved device, but throws cold water on it since Gear 2 Neo offers only slightly less and is much cheaper.

CNET boldly calls Gear 2 a smartwatch that tries to be everything. And this is not a good thing, as captured in this verdict:
Samsung has made strides with the Gear 2, but this smartwatch is on its own island with few apps and Samsung-only device compatibility. At this point, you're better off waiting for Android Wear.

It is good that Gear 2 has "an improved design, better notifications, a heart rate monitor, and basic fitness tracking offer a lot of extras." Sadly, however, it has "a limited number of apps, poor S-Health fitness app syncing, can only be paired to Samsung phones, [and the] camera is an unnecessary extra for the $100 it costs over the Gear 2 Neo".

The Verge gives Galaxy Gear 2 a score of 6.7, noting that the most obvious benefit is the improved battery life. The smart watch gets a thumbs up for the improved design, great display and the changeable straps.
The fact that is works only with Samsung devices, plus the clunky interface are a deal breaker.


User Opinions

Stephen Clark, is particularly upset, and says:
I bought the gear2 on the strength of the running app.its terrible.but ithought id live with it until I found that a 6 mile run showed as 9.5 miles...making it not just terrible but useless....what can I do?

Roger Frogger seems impressed by Tizen OS:
If wearables really are the next big tech thing, imagine if Tizen became the OS of choice for them? This is probably Samsungs strategy here.
Liking the new Gear, I think they may really take off in the next few years, just need better battery life and functionality. Don't know if I could bear to part with my eco-drive Citizen though.


Other Gear owners have had this to say:

I loved it!!!
Today is my first day wearing it and its amazing. All my email reminders, phone calls notifications, dial pad etc are just perfect. Heart rate and other fitness apps are made for my day to day use.
I recommend all to have one.

Too small for my wrist, does not fit with Galaxy S5 features
I am not small with a 19.5 cm or 7.75 in wrist, but am not a Hulk either. However I can barely close the band and it is very uncomfortable. The heart monitor is not ANT compatible and is not recognised by S Health on my Galaxy S5.
Her heart monitor does not work well on hairy wrists. It is a fairly good gadget, if you can wear it, but don't expect too much.



Pricing and Availability

Jumia sells Gear 2 for Ksh28,499 while OLX listings have a price range of between Ksh 15,000 and Ksh 32,000 for a brand new Gear 2.

On Amazon, the list price is $299.99. Used ones are at $199.99 and refurbished watches at $ 229.99.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Video of the Week - Amazing Choreography by Pilobolus

How is your Sunday? Let's try and make it much better with some inspiring creativity.

I first came across Pilobolus in a TED Talk and was greatly impressed and amused by their coordination and creativity. Check this out:



Later on, when the Chris Kirubi backed Capital TV aired CNBC on UHF channel 45, I came across some Bidvest ads which featured performances by Pilobolus. These were Automotive People, Boundless People, Service People and Ideas TV adverts.

Here are two of them:

Bidvest Boundless People ad




Bidvest Automotive People ad



You may want to look out for the other aforementioned ads. They'll simply blow your mind.

Have a lovely Sunday!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

How Locally Built, Custom Software Simplifies Life and Business

In association with Enfinite Solutions Ltd:

Whenever the word software is mentioned, computer programming comes to mind for many. It is true the two are closely related. They however mean different things.

Software and Computer Programming


Software is defined as any set of machine-readable instructions that directs a computer's processor to perform specific operations. On the other hand, computer programming is a process that leads from an original formulation of a computing problem to executable programs. Making software, or coding happens to be just one aspect of programming.

For the purposes of this article, the software we shall focus on is application software, specifically desktop applications. This particular class of software may be run on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. It is then commonly referred to as 'apps'.


Desktop applications use the computer system to perform special functions beyond the basic operation of the computer itself.

 Learning to Code

Computer programmers, or coders are usually thought of as the geeky geniuses with no social life to speak of, guys who stare at computer screens all day (even night) in the belief that code is poetry. A classic example is Neo in The Matrix.


That aside, what really goes into coding and becoming a competent computer programmer? Is coding easy, difficult, for the precocious or anyone can learn? "Learning how to code takes a long time. For anyone to become good in what they do, they would have to spend 10,000 working hours on what they are doing. After you clock the 10,000 hours which to some people equals 10 years, you can be called an expert. It's not easy but anyone can learn." Says George Njoroge, CEO and founder of Enfinite Solutions Ltd.

George's reference to Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule prompts us to ask if there are some who are more predisposed to becoming adept faster. He adds, "it does come easy to those who think logically and are able to see different ways of solving a problem in a logical manner."

Given that many programmers loudly and proudly shout that they learned to code in their bedrooms, how effective is formal training in school or can one simply self-learn with the aid of resources available across the web?
"Though most people learn programming in school, school can only teach you the basics. From there, one would have to learn on their own. Programming learned in school is different from what we do in the outside world. The internet provides tools to learn and program so it's a very important tool." George says.


The Language of the gods geeks.


Any discourse about software is not complete without mentioning programming languages. According to Webopedia, a programming language is "a vocabulary and set of grammatical rules for instructing a computer to perform specific tasks. The term programming language usually refers to high-level languages, such as BASIC, C, C++, COBOL, FORTRAN, Ada, and Pascal."

It should be noted that all programming languages are not created equal. As such, not any computer programming language can do anything. There are limitations, and actually, different languages are used for different tasks. What then, are the most important languages for the aspiring programmer?

"Programming languages have changed a lot over the years. The most popular languages nowadays include: PHP, Ruby, Java, Javascript, C/C++, Python, among others. In our software applications, we normally use PHP, Javascript and SQL." George says. 


Local, Custom Software vs Generic Applications


Upon purchase of a computer, many people, especially college students fill them up with pirated software and other applications shared freely on the web and in local area networks.
This unfortunate scenario is often replicated in the enterprise market where pirated and often dubious software is used. This has seen stakeholders such as the Kenya Copyright Board and Microsoft wage war on software pirates.

Does it mean that locally made software is not competitive enough or not affordable? Do local software solutions present any unique benefit to make them favorable over generic software applications?

"Locally made software is just as competitive as off-the-shelf software. The two types have their place in the market as both offer different benefits. Locally made custom software better offers the ability of the software vendor to customize the software for what the client needs."

There has however been cases where local software is allowed to get out of date, with unpredictable release cycles, irregular updating and patching. Are local software makers able to change with the times?

"Business processes change a lot and for the software to be beneficial to the client for a long time, its modules and features will have to change with respect to the changing business needs. As such, a locally made custom software is best." George responds.

He goes ahead to counter the aforementioned frailties of local coders. 

At Enfinite Solutions Ltd for instance, and in response to changing business needs, we offer additional services which complement our software solutions business. We perform system audits and IT business consultancy, software training, set up call centers and manage call center software.


Challenges faced by local software companies


Despite all the advantages that local software brings, there are still challenges that software makers have to overcome to gain market share and win the hearts of local enterprises whose operations greatly benefit from use of software solutions. George lists the following are some of the issues Enfinite Solutions Ltd and similar companies have to contend with:
  • The sales cycle with enterprise software is sometimes long. One has to make their software unique so that it can be differentiated from competitors. This however extends the sales cycle as clients would want to first understand the uniqueness of your software before purchasing.
  • It is difficult at times to get an audience from the client you are trying to sell to.
  • Advertising is expensive and not many software firms are able to market their creations appropriately.
  • Some clients feel that the price of our software is high and they have limited budgets. They thus opt for cheaper alternatives which in most cases do not fully meet their needs.


Is programming and making software a viable business? 

Given the widespread application of local software, an ever growing market and the challenges highlighted above, what should an aspiring programmer or anyone keen on offering software solutions make of all this?

 "Do market research on clients' needs before developing anything." George immediately advises. He then adds, "find out how you will market your software before you build it, and don't wait until you have a 100% complete software program. All software is nearly always 80% done and invariably a work in progress. Have your first modules ready, then release them to the market for beta testing."

How about customer relations and the ever alluring temptation to be really good in all coding aspects and expert in all programming languages? At what stage should one specialize?
"Always try to meet deadlines that you have been given on various modules and projects." With clients, regardless of the nature of the business, it is your output and exceptional customer handling that makes or breaks you. Software makers should especially go to great lengths to put the end user first.

"Pick a technology and invest time in it. There is tremendous value in understanding the repetition of patterns across engineering domains, but you need to gain deep expertise in one before you can effectively do the same in others." Essentially, such advice underscores the Google philosophy of focusing on the user, and on doing one thing and doing it really, really well.

The insights shared by George above, in many ways capture David Ogilvy's advertising mantra which can equally be applied in other types of business. It can be summed up in the following principles:
  • creative brilliance.
  • research.
  • actual results for clients.
  • professional discipline.

* * * 
Note: The above article is written in memory of Idd Salim, a coder of great repute who passed on in September 2013.



The Benefits of Being Multilingual

In partnership with Bonjour Institute.
Many Kenyans can speak and write more than one language. Thanks to our education system, many of us are fluent in at least three languages namely English, Swahili and vernacular (mother-tongue).
In some regions however, people are only fluent in just one language. Consider a lovely lass in London who can only speak English, or a gentleman in German who speaks and writes only German.

Multilingualism was the subject of a recent episode of The Forum on BBC World Service. Bridget Kendall had a most impressive panel of experts viz; writer and academic Gustavo Perez Firmat, developmental linguistics academic Antonella Sorace, and cognitive neuroscientist Ellen Bialystok.

They discussed how the brain is affected by juggling between different languages and what effect being bi-lingual or multilingual has on the way people feel about their identity. Also, the effect of fluency in several languages on a child's development.

Complitly Connect Magazine recently sought the views of several multilingual persons, to better understand what goes on both n the minds and lives of those able to speak and write more than one language.

Who can be multilingual?

First off, can anyone speak several languages or that is the preserve of a select, lucky few?

"The ability to speak any number of languages is inherent in all of us, with the exception of those who are mentally disabled." Andrew Kiriti, Director at Bonjour Institute says. "If you spent a summer in Perpignan in the south of France you would come back having achieved a relative fluency of the French language." 

This certainly sounds very interesting, and is music to the years of those who still have 'learning an extra language' in their bucket list. Which brings the age of the learner into the question: Can it ever be too late or one be too old to learn a new language?

"Of course one can learn as an adult but the effort required is understandably more." Andrew says. This seems to suggest that kids have it easier, and we seek a clarification.

"The ideal age to learn a language is when one is young. Children can pick up almost any language if they are thrust into the language's environment. Noam Chomsky attributed this to the Language Acquisition Device (LAD), a theoretical module that explains children's innate predisposition to learning new languages." Andrew adds. Noam is an acclaimed linguist, philosopher, and cognitive scientist.


The Benefits of Multilingualism

Andrew says there are many benefits, and lists the following:
  • it facilitates global travel.
  • increases job opportunities
  • improves cross-cultural interaction
  • increases one's sense of self-worth
  • improved ability to resolve conflict
  • physiological benefits such as delayed onset of dementia.

This makes learning a new language very attractive indeed. So why aren't we all learning all the possible languages this world has to offer? 


The Challenges

"As a tutor," says Andrew, "I'd list the mother tongue's influence as a key challenge, which mostly affects pronunciation. Add to this the fact that one is already fluent in some language or other and this natural urge to 'think in' and therefore speak, a language one is already conversant with makes learning difficult."

And so we ask: Are these the same challenges you encountered when you learned French back in the day?

"For the student, and looking back to my days in high school, I blame it on impatience. Additionally, lack of dedication is a major hindrance." He then goes ahead and adds, "this lack of dedication can be by either or both parties - tutor and student."


Does being multilingual make you any smarter?

In view of the aforementioned benefits to the brain, can we safely assume that fluency in many languages makes one brilliant? Back to the episode of The Forum, for the experts to confirm or deny such an assertion..
Unknown to many, being multilingual actually makes one smarter.
Here's a clip on the benefits of speaking two or more languages:


So what languages would be great to start with?

"This mostly depends on your main area of operation and why you are learning the language." advises Andrew. He breaks it down thus:
  • In Africa and Europe,  French is the most beneficial given the extent of use and opportunities in careers such as Translation and Interpretation which pay quite well.
  • In the Americas I believe Spanish and Portuguese would make more sense for the same reasons.
  • Mandarin would be essential for trade with China.
Which then, among these languages are offered at Bonjour Institute? "We only specialize in the French language." says Andrew.




Finally, all this talk about speaking and writing several languages reminds us of these words:

Well, I feel like they're talking in a language I don't speak
And they're talking it to me..

All said and done, let's just talk!





Friday, October 24, 2014

Podcast of the Week - Engadget Podcasts

Throughout October, we are featuring podcasts from online publishers who cut across different areas of interest. In the past, we have shared The Guardian's Tech Weekly and Wired podcasts viz: Gadget Lab and Wired UK podcast.
Today, we head over to AOL's Engadget for our weekly podcast.


The Engadget Podcast


Well, Engadget is all-tech web site that has since been aqcuired by American Online (AOL).
The Engadget podcast essentially curates what you find on the Engadget web site and packages this in MP3 and AAC audio formats.

Some episodes we recommended:

Dr Dre makes 3.2 billion on Apple Inc buying Beats.

The Lenovo Motorola deal.

The Xbox One release.

The best of CES 2014 awards.

The Amazon Fire TV.


The Engadget Eurocast


This is intended for an European audience.
It is mainly presented by Dan, James, Mat, Sharif, Jamie and Steve.

The audio output format is AAC.

Here are some episodes worth checking out:

Samsung device creation is like McDonald's global burger dominance.

HBO - Google UK deal.

Oscar selfies, Bitcoin drama and Facebook drones.

Google Android Wear announcement.

Netflix up, Surface RT down and Ubuntu on the edge.

* * * 

All said and done, here's where you can get all engadget podcasts in one place.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Is a public 'Outburst' on Social Media ever Necessary?

Bharat Thakrar vs RMA Kenya

On Monday morning, Scangroup CEO Bharat Thakrar was not having an awesome Mashujaa Day as every other Kenyan is assumed to have been. He was upset because his top of the range Range Rover was spending too much time at RMA. He tweeted:

He went on:

RMA is the official Jaguar and Land Rover franchise holder in Kenya. Land Rover makes the * magnet that is Range Rover.
Anyways, RMA, specifically it's customer care representative on Twitter, was having a great time. S/he first informed Mr Thakrar that RMA CEO has tried the Scangroup CEO on phone, albeit in vain. On this day, guys were at home putting families first.
The following tweet then suggested what he ought to do with the rest of the day.


Note: The tweet depicted in the above image has since been removed.

At this point, Bharat Thakrar reminded RMA that he runs a digital, public relations, and communications business.


This story was then reported on Daily Nation and elsewhere on the web. It elicited a Twitter storm where the usual Kenyans on Twitter, #KOT had much fun with the back and forth. At some point, a competing dealer of premium vehicles was brought into the 'conversation'.

Click to enlarge image

And here is a warning to those interested in buying a Range Rover:



Eventually, RMA Kenya tweeted this:
RMA Kenya CEO also responded in this Daily Nation article, saying:

"None of our other high profile customers have ever resorted to discussing their issues and slating us in the public arena. Generally owners of these type of vehicles (and we have many delighted such customers) are private, discreet and very friendly."

What I find interesting is the thrust of the article:
In this rejoinder, RMA stops short of calling Mr Thakrar a hostile customer out to besmirch the dealership's good name. RMA also took issue with Mr Thakrar, saying that none of its high-end clientele had ever taken their issues with the motor dealer public.

Mr Sanjiv is also happy with the publicity Mr Thakrar has garnered for them, terming this a bitter-sweet moment for the company.

All said and done, Bharat Thakrar is now a happy man:

Safety in numbers and moral support?

The above has made me consider the growing use of social media in business and customer handling.Simply scrolling through the social media timelines of companies that daily deal with the general public such as banks, the power utility, telecommunication firms and media houses shows just how impassioned some users are in complaining to all and sundry.

It even gets worse when other users join in a la rabid dogs, many with scanty information on the matter at hand and launch personal attacks on either or totally unrelated parties in a dispute. This was one such attempt to address a very genuine issue but at a most inappropriate time and place:
It seems to me that mob psychology, and the invincibility that many wallow in while hiding under usernames and avatars on the Internet finds its best manifestation on social networks. It is in such fora on the web where many get the balls guts to say to others they may not like, the one thing they can never say to them in public.

In the Daily Nation article above RMA questioned Bharat Thankrar's reason for raising his concerns in public through his Twitter "outburst", unlike other high profile clients. Whereas I do not hold brief for the Scangroup CEO, the fact that he enjoined AlyKhan Satchu in his initial tweet who to my best knowledge does not work at or represent RMA Motors points to a desire that friends on Twitter (popularly known as tweeps) to pick on a story, retweet or voice an opinion perhaps and thus enhance the gravity of any complaint, genuine or otherwise.

As expected, others soon joined in the fray and soon, the conversation went out of hand and eventually became a trending topic across the web.
Most of what those #KOT who joined in tweeted was, however, not at all relevant to the issue at hand.


Do we just love to complain publicly?

Consider the following post on Wazua:


It seems to me that we are too quick to post things on the Internet, something that recently informed the Think Before you Click post in CCM Midweek Digest.

In Public Interest

At times, I do feel that it becomes necessary to share a concern with a company or organization that deals with others in the belief that a particular issue is in public interest. By this, I mean that same issue may be something others may also be going through. Additionally, addressing the issue at hand in public may directly or otherwise benefit members of the public.

Care should however be taken to avoid creating the impression that one is deliberately tarnishing a company's image on the Internet or actively disparaging those persons (yes, it is humans with real feelings) who handle the social media customer care centers.

Yet another reason to engage publicly on a personal matter would be when all else has failed.
Some months ago, I had a situation where I received many spam texts on a daily basis from a premium information services provider. After several unsuccessful requests to my service provider to unsubscribe me from said service, I resorted to airing my grievances on Twitter in addition to an Email copied to CoFEK, the ICT Authority, CCK and the service provider. CoFEK went ahead and published my complaint online.

These are the texts I received in under 5 hours in one day:


Only after this matter was addressed publicly did it receive due attention and conclusively sorted out.

At the end of the day, what matters is what every person participating in any online discourse hopes to achieve through their words and whatever they may be construed to mean.

I end with one of my favorite quotes which I keep seeing every time I read through the topics on Wazua:

"I am only responsible for what I say,  
Not for what you understand."

 But as an experienced communication specialist such as Bharat Thakrar will most likely tell you:

Communication is about what they hear, not what you say



Have a great Wednesday guys!




Solutions to Time Puzzles and Lateral Thinking Exercises

Following are answers to last week's puzzles: time and lateral thinking exercises in CCM Midweek Digest Mind Games.


Husband and Wife ages


The gentleman's age must have been 54 years and that of his wife 45 years.


Almost Six o'clock..


26 minutes.


No baby was harmed in asking the question.


The baby fell out of a ground floor window.


The eggs issue


The last person took the basket with the last egg still inside.


Going the wrong way


The truck driver was walking.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gadget of the Week - HTC Desire 700 (CDMA + GSM) Dual SIM

Every Monday on CCM, we present the one gadget we feel has a differentiating or unique feature that accords great benefit to the end user.
This may be a smartphone, tablet, laptop computer, tablet/notebook combo or any other gizmo. It doesn't have to be the newest, priciest or famous gizmo. All it has to do is meet a unique need through innovation.

This week, our gizmo is the HTC Desire 700 smartphone.

It is a 5 inch qHD screen, Android smartphone with a 1.2GHz quad core processor, 8GB internal memory and 1GB RAM. Rear camera is 8MP and front camera 2.1MP. It has FM Radio, HTML5 browser and video recording at 1080p. The battery is a removable Li-Po, 2100mAh.
See full specifications. Detailed specs too, are available on GSMArena.


Where it stands out

 HTC Desire 700 is a dual SIM, dual SIM phone. More interesting, is that SIM 1 is a CDMA/EVDO micro UIM or 3G/GSM micro SIM card. The SIM 2 slot takes a GSM micro SIM card. 

 This phone is a great choice in markets with both CDMA and GSM networks, and it offers the best of both worlds in a single device.
Kenya has all these, and it would be a great choice for those who wish to be reachable both on their personal (read GSM, 07xx..) and business (read CDMA, 020xx..) lines. I am such a person, and this need recently prompted the following tweet: 
This was Orange Kenya's response:
Methinks this is a great opportunity that Telkom / Orange Kenya should seriously consider exploiting. The company has both a HSPA (GSM) and EVDO (CDMA) network that professionals and business people who are highly mobile can use in a single device.
This and other CDMA + GSM mobile devices (including mobile broadband dongles) would be a great value proposition for anyone who may want seamless access to both network types, especially in places where the UMTS/HSPA 3G signal is weak or unavailable.

At a time when mobile subscriber choice is enhanced in Kenya through Thin-SIM, it would be great to have my 020xx.. number on SIM 1, and both 073x.. and 076x.. numbers on SIM 2.


Expert Reviews

The Times of India has an extensive review covering many phone aspects such as design, hardware configuration, performance, software, and camera.
It ends with the following damning verdict:

Desire 700 is one of the few smartphones in the market to offer GSM+CDMA configuration, but it is not the only one. Local manufacturer Micromax has got this need covered with the Canvas Duet 2.

But if GSM+CDMA is not your main concern, then you would be better off without Desire 700. Pick any dual-sim smartphone, preferably Moto G, but definitely don't buy Desire 700. It is simply not worth the money.

You can get better dual-sim smartphones, such as Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 and Xolo Q3000, at that price. In our view, the price simply does not justify the features in Desire 700's case.

In regard to the design, Phone Arena considers it a "sturdy, elongated phone, with a removable back cover." The display is "fine for the average Joe, but picky users would want better definition." Here is the full review.


User Opinions

These as always, are varied.

On the HTC reviews page, VineethK has this to say:
Body & Style is good, But i'm not satisfied.
The body & style are excellent, battery life is satisfactory, BUT the device is not opt for usage due to some software issues.

kingkhan calls HTC Desire 700 an Amazing phone:
Amazing phone.
Really superb phone, but battery backup is not too good. Expecting more changes in forthcoming updates
This is what Faouzi Abou Haidar feels:
Adorable smartphone.
i bought it for my wife, she is very happy with it, big screen, 8MP camera etc... i do recommend this HTC.

Others are not so impressed:

An anonymous user says this on GSMArena:
I hv been using desire 700 since 6 months... Nd till date i hv found no problem in the phone... Except camera Zoom capacity... Itz very less... Otherwise excellent phone. Itz d first ever phone i hv been using for 6 mnths. Fast, cool look, and nyc sound quality.

This sentiment is from someone who is definitely upset:
Within 10 days of purchase i had to go service center bcoz the sim put in slot one was creating problem. The sound was not clear ,also incoming and outgoing call from this slot last long for few seconds. Service centre expert said that slot one is for CDMA. U have to go for CDMA. When i seen the specs it was not like this. I think one should not go for HTC.

Pricing and Availability

OLX prices for HTC Desire dual SIM range from Ksh 26,000 to Ksh 35,000.

On Jumia, it costs Ksh 31,999. BidorBuy has a similar price.

On Amazon, the phone costs USD 349.99.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Video of the Week - Profound Life Lessons from Animals

Welcome to the CCM Video of the Week.
In past weeks, we have watched J.K. Rowling speak about the benefits of failure as well as seen first hand, the methamphetamine drug epidemic in the United States.

This week, what life lessons can we learn from animals?

First off, there is this very interesting TED Talk that National Geographic's Beverly and Derek Joubert gave back in 2010.




Titled Life Lessons from Big Cats, it is a captivating talk with footage from the wild where we learn a lot about some cats viz: lions, leopard, cheetah and the other animals they coexist with.

In the video above, the elephant simply refuses to give up. Back in 2012, a post on The Walkabout titled Stop Hoping, Start Dying was predicated on the video above.
And if you think refusing to give up and die is an easy or natural thing for an elephant to do, how about escaping from a crocodile's jaws? You  may think this is impossible, but this monkey actually did it:




What other life lessons can we learn by observing the animals around us?
Share with us in the comments below.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Reminisce: Remembering 101.9 Metro FM

By Pete R Njenga.
As I type this, I'm listening to Indian music on 101.9 FM (Nairobi Area), reminding me of the Metro FM I once loved and truly miss.



101.9 Capital FM

Back in the day, specifically in April 1996, Kenya's national broadcaster KBC started test transmissions for what many considered revolutionary broadcasting. The frequency was 101.9 MHz. The station was 101.9 Capital FM.

To understand why this was so important, Kenya had only one public broadcaster at the time - the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, ne Voice of Kenya (VOK). TV broadcasting was from 4pm till midnight, on Channel 4 VHF. Radio broadcasting was through General (now English) Service, KBC Idhaa ya Taifa and the Vernacular Service. All radio broadcasting was on Medium Wave (MW). Radio broadcasting was from 5am to midnight.

This new station would broadcast on FM and for 24 hours, seven days a week.

It is worth noting that the privately-owned KTN (Kenya Television Network) had since 1990, been transmitting on Channel 62 UHF.

98.4 Capital FM 


In August 1996, another private FM station commenced test transmission on the 98.4 MHz frequency. This station was headed by Lynda Holt.
101.9 Capital FM was then renamed 101.9 Metro FM and this second FM station took on the initial name to become 98.4 Capital FM.

The Original Metro FM

The original 101.9 Metro FM had a most interesting tagline: The Power is in the Music!
The music format was quite broad with specialist shows during the weekend. With few competitors, Metro FM had R&B shows, Ra and Hip Hop, Lingala and Reggae Shows. There was even a French Show hosted by one Kajuju Kaburia!

Other memorable presenters are veteran Jeff Mwangemi, Ann Lemaiyan, Tony Msalame (RIP), Yunia Amunga, John Karani and Josh Maiyo. And many others.

In all honesty, Metro FM was an amazing station. I kept praying and hoping that KBC would move the broadcast antenna from Broadcasting House in Nairobi CBD to the KBC Transmitting site at Rironi which accords any station better coverage and a stronger signal. For the record, the Rironi site is the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) designated official broadcast site for Nairobi and its environs. It is for this reason that KTN moved its Channel 59 to Limuru and ceased Channel 62 which originally broadcast from Nyayo House in Nairobi. At this point, I must loudly wonder why 98.4 Capital FM still broadcasts from Nairobi CBD (Lonrho House) instead of Rironi as everyone else is supposed to? ... I digress.

Sadly, this never happened until the bad stuff started hitting the fan at KBC and Metro as I'll explain later.

During a class visit when I was a member of Journalism Club at Mangu High School, I recall the Metro FM boss at the time telling us how much people love Metro FM. Which was actually very true. Advertisers too, loved it. It was competing for top advertising revenue spots with, and often making more than, KBC Swahili, Sound Asia (FM 88.0 MHz) and 98.4 Capital FM.

But as all things which are not built to last go, Metro FM's downfall was soon to come.

The Reggae Station


Thanks to bad management decisions and the rise of specialist radio stations, KBC decided to rebrand Metro FM and make it an all-reggae station. The day that happened, I moved on to other stations, for good.
At this time, the Metro FM signal became very strong and covered a much greater area, after broadcasting was moved from Nairobi CBD to Rironi in Limuru.

Blame it on my dislike for that particular kind of music, but the market too decided this was a bad decision. Make no mistake, Reggae and Ragga music is wildly popular in Kenya. I always heard it played in near all the 'Kitchen' parties next to my Hall 6 room in JKUAT. Heck, even Capital has a popular reggae show on Sunday afternoons (hosted by Ras Luigi). Ghetto Radio was much better at handling reggae than the all-reggae Metro FM.
Audience numbers plummeted and advertisers vanished.


The Funny, Final Fatal Change

Something needed to be changed, and thanks to management changes at KBC and the emergence of celebrity radio personalities, one Walter Mong'are was appointed Head of Radio at KBC. With all due respect to the Redykulass hero aka Nyambane from his days at Kiss 100, what Walter did to an already dying Metro FM can be considered very funny would it not have been so tragic. He decided to make it an all-girls station. Consequently, Metro FM became Venus FM.



We Want 'Metro' Back!

In this post, I personally add my voice to the many who once loved and now miss the original Metro FM. I must admit that I currently find radio in Kenya most wanting. For this reason, I often find solace listening to BBC, VOA and at times CRI. To a point, I even wish I learned French in High School, which would make RFI one of my favorites.

Other than the Morning Show on Nation FM, many radio stations often spew garbage and what I personally consider (and make no apologies calling) garbage. No intelligent talk. Lots of needless personal information. The same music over and over again. Mindless discussions and scripted phone-ins. Regurgitated news with no attempt to putting context to it. Merely reporting what we already know thanks to Twitter and the Internet.

I end this rant with a personal appeal to the higher ups at KBC to reconsider and bring back Metro FM. Not the original Metro FM but a radio station that will carry relevant music and significant amounts of sensible talk radio that will shape opinion, elicit topical discourse, shape perceptions, make a difference and ultimately add value.

Locally, that is what Bob Kioko and Zawadi Mawanda once did on Nation FM's Morning Drive. What Angela Angwenyi and Lorna Irungu-Macharia currently do every weekday morning on the Nation's Talking Point. That is what Julie Gichuru used to do on Capital Openline. What Jimmy Gathu did on The People's Parliament on Kiss 100 evenings.
Across the world, you can take a cue from ABC's Radio National, NPR, PRI and BBC Radio 4.


The 101.9 FM frequency is a scarce public resource entrusted to KBC by the government of Kenya.
Do the needful and use it to broadcast content that makes the lives of Kenyans better.





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