Hey U!

**This blog post is sticky, so scroll down to see newer content  – Max**

[Diani Beach, Kenya]
GREETINGS FROM the the tranquil, escapist shores of Diani Beach – just around by the 40 Thieves beach bar and the famous Ali Barbours restaurant!

beautiful Diani Beach on the shores of the Indian Ocean

So, you’ve dropped by for a visit, eh? Well, come in…make yourself at home. I don’t blog as much as I should (or could) because I’m here in East Africa (primarily Kenya) where data services can, sometimes, be challenging – although that’s rapidly improving thanks to Safaricom’s speedy 3G broadband plus about 4 undersea fibre optic cables landing here at Mombasa on Kenya’s fantabulous, picturesque Indian Ocean coast.

Anyhow, I’m over here exploring, so you might as well explore with me. Right? Go to my Welcome page first because, really, I’m glad you decided to drop by and I want to roll out the red carpet for YOU. (continue reading)

Some quick links around this site:

About Me | Contacts | my IT-related posts | my entire blog Archive | my Africa experience | I LOVE Music | I’m very Opinionated | my Travels

Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or feedback. I plan to seriously overhaul this site with some kool WordPress stuff once I get some spare time and my lappie fixed. Cheers!

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Hello from Kampala!

[Kampala, Uganda]
WOW, I’VE FINALLY made it to Uganda! I’ve always heard that this is the PEARL OF AFRICA. Well, I think those peeps might be correct. After crossing over from Busia, Kenya a few days ago, I’m simply blown away by the green space in this, um, GREEN country.

Food here, there, everywhere…
Heck, EVERYTHING grows here. No shit! Everywhere I go, there’s a banana tree here, a mango tree there. Rice growing over there. Fish from Lake Victoria over thar. Good lords, I doubt peeps starve in this country. LOL. You have to be HERE to SEE it for yourself. And food is a heck of a lot cheaper than even Kenya.

Uganda @ work…
And then there’s the huge investments in the energy sector by the government. You’ve got the massive Bujagali hydro project in Jinja and other hydro projects in the works. {I’ll add more info here l8tr!}

Oh no…OIL!
And don’t forget the oil that was recently discovered in Lake Albert by the DRC (Congo) border. If this country can harness these potentials, god damn it, but look out East Africa! Seriously, if these peeps can use that oil locally to SAVE a big chunk of foreign coin from importing oil, they eventually WILL surpass Kenya in terms of economic development.

Kenya is on fire…
And although Kenya’s humming along economically — Safaricom & its virally innovative & addictive M-PESA mobile money/banking service; Kenya Airways (aka KQ) is flying high; Nakumatt has taken supermarket/department store shopping to a whole new level of convenience (for Africa); The Nation Media Group is king of African media; Kenya Wildlife Service is attracting lots of tourists; Bamburi Cement is a major supplier to a majority of the commercial/residential real estate development projects cropping up all over the country; Equity Bank with James Mwangi as its innovative CEO is hauling ass by ‘out-innovating’ the competition & even has branches in Uganda & Tanzania; Kenya’s tea, coffee & flower farmers are raking in the dough; Nairobi is headquarters for the United Nations in Africa; massive road projects thanks to the Chinese, etc. — politics (ie. post election violence of 2007/2008, hypocritical ICC drama, corruption, etc.) will always be her Achilles’ Heel. I hope I’m wrong though because East Africa has literally taken off like KQ’s brand new Boeing jets. Smile 

Folks, ya heard it from me first: The East African Community (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda & Burundi — maybe Southern Sudan & Somalia in a few years?) is THE place to BE if you wanna see where Africa is heading. And once they harmonize their currency (East African Monetary Union), this region will be untouchable, leaving the rest of Africa in the dust. Smile

Ooops, back to Uganda… Smile
So yeah, I’ve now visited Kenya, Uganda & Tanzania. And I gotta say that each country is supremely unique. I think Uganda’s gonna surprise a lot of peeps though. I was walking down Kampala Road in downtown KAMPALA and I was blown away by all the computer hardware shops selling PCs, laptops, printers & the works. I’m guessing there must’ve been over 50 computer shops I passed by. I hope they’re all making money.

Mountain views everywhere…
Kampala is a hilly city (think San Francisco) and the views are spectacular. Again, trees are everywhere so you feel like you’re in a city that was carved out of a forest. I had the pleasure of taking the boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) everywhere. And their rates are el cheapo, too. I think Kampala is built on 7 hills so you can see fabulous real estate from various vantage points.

Safe Kampala…
I feel so safe when I’m in Uganda. Actually, I’ll have my guard up when I cross back over to Kenya. Sorry, but that’s a fact. Police are everywhere! Yes, I know this is an election year and some shit is hitting the fan with rivals trying to usurp President Museveni’s reign, but it’s so safe in this country compared to Kenya. Seriously! Is this because food literally grows everywhere so bellies are not grumbling? LOL. Smile

To be continued…
Pics coming soon!

Posted in Africa, Travel | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Chilean Miners story an inspiration for all

[East Africa]
I DON’T KNOW about you, but I’m tickled pink at the positive outcome regarding those Chilean Miners. First of all, let me say this: The real heroes are those engineers and planners who implemented a remarkable and professional rescue effort. Big props go to Chile’s Mining Minister, Laurence Golborne, whose future is as bright as the sun.

Chile's mining minister, Laurence Golborne, in action.

In addition, the engineers from Center Rock Inc. of Berlin, Pennsylvania (USA) deserve serious credit. If it wasn’t for their drilling equipment, those miners would still be languishing 700m below. One other thing. I was amazed at how the rescuers under-promised and over-delivered. We all thought the miners would be out around the beginning of December. Nope, these techies found the resolve to implement a strategy that has never been done before. And they carried it out like clockwork.

33 trapped Chilean miners

All I’m saying is that if these miners are going to be offered book deals, movie deals, free vacations, money and what not, please remember who SAVED whose ass.

Now, regarding this whole ordeal, something else came to mind. WHY oh why does mankind react in such a helpful manner when and only WHEN really bad situations such as this occur? Here in Nairobi, I see so many homeless people as well as kids on the streets begging for food or money. Why can’t the government lend a helping hand? Oh yeah, what about the plight of Kenya’s 2007/2008 post-election violence IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons)?

By the way, how does the Chilean government respond to similar and LESS HEROIC issues? A perfect example is Haiti. WHY can’t we get some Chilean “rescue effort” willpower so that Haiti can get back on track? What’s holding things up? I know it’s not as glamourous as rescuing 33 trapped miners from the 700m depths of Mother Earth.

Oh well!

Related links:

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Big Chris & Little Chris – The Boss

[East Africa]
MY HATS OFF to Guy Ritchie for creating a frigging masterpiece in Lock, Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels. After replaying this flick over and over this weekend, I’d have to say that it’s one of the BEST flicks I’ve ever seen. The dialogue, the plot, the remarkable characters and their “fucked-up-ness” [if I can coin such a term]. Let’s just say I love the way Ritchie thinks.

Anyhow, thanks to this flick, I’ve become fixated on James Brown’s funky-soul 70s track, The Boss, where Big Chris and his son, Little Chris, take centre stage collecting debts for the mobster, Hatchet Harry. In fact, the soundtrack to this entire movie is absolutely brilliant. I heard elements of Ambient, Drum & Bass/Breakbeats, Alternative Rock, Soul and even some UK Garage — if I’m not mistaken.


Related links:

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James Brown – The Boss

[East Africa]
WOW, THIS IS a groovilicious FUNKY SOUL track by James Brown – the godfather of Soul. I was watching Guy Ritchie’s amazing flick, Lock, Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels, over the weekend and I heard this “bad-ass” funky beat around the 13:13 mark on the DVD. Damn, I was blown away! I had to keep rewinding the DVD to the 13:13 mark to hear the beat and kool lyrics in my headphones.

All I can say is this: James Brown is a fu*king genius. If you looked up the word “groovy” in the dictionary, you’d see his name. BTW, this track blended in perfectly with the scene in the movie when Big Chris and his son, Little Chris, goes into the tanning studio to collect a debt for Hatchet Harry, a notorious mobster. Pure genius I tell ya. Please have a listen.

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Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader is bloatware

[East Africa]
FOR THE LOVE of god, what on earth is Adobe doing with its free Acrobat Reader? Honestly, I haven’t a fuc*ing clue why naive users download this piece of crap software! Seriously. First of all, it’s a bloody 40 MB download. Excuse me, but I thought the purpose of this program was to allow me to “view” PDF files. WTF!? By the way, the word on the street is that Adobe’s PhotoShop and other Creative Suite apps have gone mondo pork-belly over the past few years.

Goodbye Acrobat Reader, Hello Foxit PDF Reader…
Well, thank goodness we live in a world where software development is an extremely competitive field. Folks, please say hello to an amazing PDF reader that does everything Acrobat does and a lot more. All you need to know is that it’ll open your PDF files without any fuss. You can even annotate your PDF documents and then re-save them.Ya don’t believe me? Well, take a peek at the screen shot below. You’ll see my edited text in blue. Try that in Acrobat Reader. Psst…you can’t do it!

Editing & viewing a PDF in Foxit Reader - Goodbye Adobe Acrobat Reader!

It’s obvious that Foxit Reader is a well-crafted piece of software. My hats off to the company’s developers for keeping things on the “slim side” of things — if ya know what I mean. Heck, version 4.11 is only 6.8 MB and version 3 last year was like 3.6 MB. Acrobat Reader, you are hereby banished from my hard disk – forever!

Oh kool…they even have a version for Desktop Linux, Windows Mobile, Embedded Linux, Symbian, Windows CE & U3. Nice. And if you want to create your own PDF files without having to plunk down a pile of cash for Acrobat 9 Standard at $299, then you should take their $129 Foxit Phantom PDF Suite for a spin. I’m sure it’ll do a waay better job than that Adobe’s $299 app.

Foxit Reader banner

About the company behind Foxit Reader…

In 2004, Foxit launched its award winning product – Foxit Reader, a small and fast PDF document viewer with extremely easy-to-use features and Foxit’s best-selling desktop software – Foxit PDF Editor. With over 90 million Foxit Reader downloads worldwide, Foxit software has become a high quality, affordable and popular alternative to other PDF software tool suppliers. {source}

90 million downloads? Wow, I’m bloody impressed. Well folks, don’t say I didn’t warn you about the largess Adobe Acrobat Reader. Repent, and use Foxit Reader instead. :-)

Other bloated applications

Related links…

Posted in Info Tech, Opinions, Solutions | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Giraffe attacked by Lion

[Maasai Lodge Road, Nairobi]
ONE OF THE benefits of living on Maasai Lodge Road is that you’re next to the Nairobi National Park. Oh, there’s no fencing or anything so that the animals can migrate to other areas if need be. I’ve heard of lions venturing out of the park and it’s not uncommon to hear them roaring at night or early in the morning. We often hear hyenas “laughing” as they prepare to ambush some hapless prey. One other thing…if you have dogs, you need to bring them in at night lest a stealthy leopard hop over your fence and take your best friend on a 1-way trip to its stomach. You don’t believe me? Just ask Nani Croze from Kitengela Glass down the road how many animals she’s lost to leopards.

Sometime in April, my good buddy Rolf Schmid of Rolf’s Place saw a lion attacking a baby giraffe and he and his staff tried to rescue it. But alas, it was too late.

Rolf Schmid observes a baby giraffe that was killed by a lion on Maasai Lodge Road - April 2010

If you ever get a chance to experience fine dining at Rolf’s Place, you just might see about 6 tall giraffes hanging out on the other side of Maasai Lodge Road munching on leaves from the tall trees bordering the park. I hear they never sleep…always on the lookout for predators. This would annoy the heck out of me. I value my sleeeep. :-)

Rolf, staff from Rolf's Place & neighbours move the giraffe away from the main road

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Crocodile near Rolf’s Place

[Maasai Lodge Road, Nairobi]
EVERY ONCE in a while, I drop by Rolf’s Place to pay my buddy Rolf a visit, catch up on his latest projects (his new book, fish farm, chicken farm, organic farming, etc.) and relax for a few days. On this particular week, a new visitor of the reptilian kind also decided to have a meal by the ravine next to Rolf’s Place.

Crocodile dining by Rolf's Place - Maasai Lodge Road, Nairobi, Kenya

After all, everyone knows that Chef Rolf makes the tastiest dishes (I can’t get enough of his lemon cheesecake) in all of Nairobi. So I guess we can’t blame this croc for feasting on a hyena that he probably ambushed at the ravine. Many thanks go out to our dear friend and artist extraordinaire, Theo Stone, who identified the unlucky prey. Rolf thought it was a pig. Enjoy!

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AMD chips “inside” Future MacBooks?

{Nairobi, Kenya}
THIS IS AN interesting development; that is, if Apple isn’t using AMD just to keep Intel in line. Anyhow, here’s my take that I left as a comment on ZDNet:

It’s accurate to say that the computer industry has a soft spot for AMD because they’ve really done a lot of innovating (K5, K6, Athlon, Opteron, Turion…) and pushing the envelope against Intel since the late 80s/early 90s starting with their fiery founder Jerry Sanders {is he still around?}

"AMD vs Intel" - the stakes are always high!

I’m all for AMD getting a piece of Apple’s pie. :-) They deserve it and I’m rooting for them — ALWAYS. It’s not that I hate Intel per se. It’s just that they did some sneaky things back in the 90s to try to screw AMD. Ask former CEO Andy Grove (the “paranoid one”). If it were not for AMD, I’m positive the pace of new chip releases would have slowed to a crawl so that Intel could milk us dry. {Max “The IT pro”}

Mind you, I have mad respect for what Andy Grove accomplished at Intel from a manager’s point of view. But Jerry Sanders was the kinder, gentler leader.

Go AMD go!

Posted in Info Tech, Opinions, Technology | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Trance mix by the Blue Room Project

[East Africa]
I WAS SO THRILLED to find what is perhaps my favourite Trance mix of all time — courtesy of the Blue Room Project. Peek what I wrote over at YouTube:

Wow!!! I have this track!! I got it of the Net around 2002 but it probably came out around 2000 or 2001. This is what I like to call Classic Trance. It’s soooooo peaceful, and full of energy & pure karma.

I’d say this has got to be one of the greatest Trance sets — ever. My hats off to the Blue Room Project. Does any1 know what the name of the mix is exactly??

I’d be nice to get the track listing too…some really great TRACKS here. lol! I’m more of a Houser but I like this style of Trance.

All I can say is that this mix — with a “progressive trance house” sound — will be part of music collection until the day I depart this earth for greener psychedelic pastures in the cosmos. I never tire of listening to it. This is why I LOVE the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) scene.

Heck, can you imagine if I didn’t meet those kool girls in that clothing store on Yonge Street (near Bloor) in downtown Toronto back in 2000 who invited me to Turbo? As they say, “the rest is history.” Afterwards, I discovered Life, The Comfort Zone, The Guvernment, Benson & Hedges Gold Club Series music events, Smirnoff music events, iDance and a ton of other EDM activities.

Talk about being at the right place at the right time. I’d probably still be going to Hip-Hop and Gino clubs where everyone has a bloody attitude and lots of alcoholic fights galore.

Related links

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Apple vs HTC over iPhone patents

[East Africa]
I DON’T KNOW ABOUT you, but if a $200 billion company like Apple — which has about $40 BILLION stashed away in the bank — is threatening to sue you, I’d be a little skeerd. Folks, this story just isn’t going away.

Will Apple be the next SCO or the next Microsoft?

Once again, the ugly realm of patents rears its ugly head, threatening to stiffle or slow down competition…and innovation too. Is Apple right to sue HTC? Take a peek at this hotly commented ZD Net blog post and try to determine who’s in the wrong.iPhone 3G vs HTC Diamond - front

Here’s my take. I actually left the following comment over there:

If it’s true that no one else had these new iPhone-like ideas before it hit the market, then Apple should have the right to defend its patents. Did HTC coincidentally have the same idea for the touch screen? We’ll never know.
How does HTC prove this in a court of law. Very tricky. But what makes Apple “think” that a company like HTC, Motorola, Nokia, Google, Sony et al would not have invented the idea for a touch screen — sooner rather later? Again, very tricky stuff.
Patents suck in the scenario where 2 companies are developing similar technologies but 1 company applies for the patent before the other. That would be a bitter pill to swallow for the other company out in the cold. Wouldn’t it?

Speaking of Microsoft, lawsuits like this reminds me of Microsoft’s legal department insinuating that the free open source Linux operating system has infringed on its numerous intellectual patents. In this situation, I think they’re just worried about free viable alternatives (Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Mandriva, Linux Mint, Fedora et al) eating away at their Windows monopoly and putting the brakes on their multi-billion dollar profiteering.

Heck, I ditched Windows last year — for Linux — so maybe they have reason to be skeered too. :-)

Posted in Opinions, Technology | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments