Solutions

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[Shimoni, Kenya]
WELL, I’M back in Shimoni here on the Kenyan coast by Wasini Island for a day or 2 and I need to set up a FREE web stats for a friend. Decisions, decisions. I think I’ll still continue to go with StatCounter (SC). Any of you guys use Google Analytics (GA)? I’ve always heard good things about SC so I don’t think I’m gonna change.

I fondly remember my dear pal Anne Holmes (aka The Vigilante Journalist and photographer) who used to get her web stats via GA until we met up — as a result of being roomies in Lavington. Back then, I introduced her to StatCounter because she didn’t like GA one bit. Heck, she even subscribed to the paid version of SC.

BTW, this Franco-American gal travels the world like no other person I’ve met in a while. One moment, she’s living in Bangkok; the next moment, she’s hanging out in Chad, Turkey or some other “hot spot” doing the journalist thingy. And then she’s back at her Bangkok pad once again…with occasional trips back to France — probably to see her love: goood French wine. Aah yes, she’s a true Frenchie. :-)

Anyhow, peek these links:

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[Karen, Kenya]
THE eCommerce wars are hotter than ever now that the free open sourced Magento eCommerce platform (features) has come onto the scene with a bang. Heck, they’ve amassed over 750,000+ downloads already over a 2 year period. Amazing!! This is gonna put lots of pressure on paid solutions like CubeCart, CREreloaded, and SquirrelCart. Even the free ZenCart and OSCommerce product offerings are gonna have to deliver the eCommerce software goods nicely, or these projects just might lose momentum. Advantage: YOU the consumer.

Anyhow, the $64,000 question for me is this: Does Magento run well on a shared server hosting platform like HostGator? I know it’s a bulky piece of software and early betas were sloow like a dog – even on a dedicated server. But I’ve heard that they’ve really polished things up now, and imporoved the code to make things more efficient. If anyone has taken it for a spin on a shared hosting server, do let me know.

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[Nairobi, Kenya]
SO, IS Windows Vista better than Mac OS X? This is one of the most hotly discussed topics in cyber space. Quite frankly, I’ve just become a Mac convert after scoring an iBook G4 (1 GHz PowerPC G4 chip, 640 MB DDR RAM, OS X 10.4.11) of a friend. In short, I’m hooked on OS X, and ya know what? “I AIN’T GOING BACK…TO WINDOWS. NEVER!!!!” Yep, you heard me folks! MaxTheITpro is now a 2-timer who’s cheated on Windows to start a long lasting love affair with Apple’s deliciously sexy line of Mac laptops, desktops and software (OS X, Mail, iLife).

It’s the little things…
Why did I break up with Windows? Well, she just didn’t pay any attention to me. For instance, I’m tired of catching all of her STDs (System Transmitted Diseases) when we’re together. Also, she has this insecure desire to be continually updated with the latest (bug) fixes in order to make me (and her) feel safe and secure about our “relationship.” There are times we’d be “together” and then she’d flip out on me, and get all blue in the face. Sometimes I’d insert my stick (USB) when we go on dates at the cyber cafe, and she’d give me a damn virus even though she’s supposed to have protection – considering she’s been around the block (Windows 95/98/ME/SE/XP) for so long now. You call that love? :-)

In short, she was just a fussy gal that everybody wanted to take for a ride simply because she’s good at “playing games” and performing other unique hard/soft-ware tricks that no one else had an answer for. Plus, she was much cheaper to take home on dates compared to that red hot Apple gal. But I’ve learnt my lesson: You get what you pay for. :-)

Viruses be gone…
All joking aside, I just can’t overemphasize to you all how “LIBERATING” (in more ways than one) it feels to go to a cyber cafe, connect my iBook to the network and not have to bloody worry about viruses. Heck, I’ve always been nervous as hell whenever I insert my USB stick into one of those sleazy Windows PCs at the cyber cafe, and then take it home to my “innocent” desktop PC. I’ve lost count of how many times that damn autorun file has started up upon connecting my USB stick to the home PC. Then, it proceeds to load a nasty virus, worm or trojan horse on my machine. You can see it just by hitting CTRL-ALT-DEL and peeking your process list.

Remember those annoying AdobeR.exe entries? Well, no more worries folks! What’s good about OS X is the fact that it’s based on the rock-solid BSD Unix architecture that goes waaaay back to the 1970s at that great American institution of higher learning: The University of California – Berkeley. Oh, BSD stands for Berkeley Software Distribution.

Mac die hards, reveal yourselves…
Ya know, I’ve read a lot of reviews on a wide range of topics since I became an Internet whore around 1993. Never in this period have I read a review that’s as moving as this one. This dude’s passionate beliefs about Mac computing is truly moving. He’s sold me. See for yourself!

It took awhile for me to understand this article…then it hit me. You can’t write an article about why Vista is better than Mac without your tongue planted firmly in your cheek! Congratulations – you had me going for a bit :-)

The essence of the article is that Microsoft makes broken software intentionally – a blatantly ludicrous concept. It is broken, that is for sure. It is broken because they don’t know how to do it right, don’t want to take the time to do it right, have such powerful marketing that they don’t need to bother…but certainly not because it is better that way. Nobody is customizing Windows XP or vista because it is easier with all the broken parts. They customize it in a huge, costly and never ending effort to compensate for it’s flaws – not to celebrate them. In the Windows World, the word “customize” is a euphemism for “fix.” They do it because they have to.

With the Mac, which just works right out of the box perfectly, there is nothing you need to fix, or “customize” for most people (some gamers and scientific apps aside). Anything you can do on XP/Vista to actually customize usability you can not only do easier on a Mac, but now you can do almost identically with VIsta, because they knock off the Mac OS. But why even bother – the Mac works just fine as is for most people and is easy to learn.

Microsoft has been knocking off the Mac’s usability features for years, and never more “transparently” so than now with the coming of Vista. The real customizations users need aren’t in the user interface anyway – they’re in the hardware – more memory, bigger hard disk,faster graphics – and these days the Mac can keep up with anyone there. A Mac APPEARS less customizable to XP/Vista users only because it doesn’t need to be fixed or customized, but they need a justification to “believe” in. Like many mindless fanatics, so called “believers,” it is a blind act of faith not founded in facts.

That also applies to the more software argument. Other than some very technical, scientific or business apps or some games, most users will never need anything that is not available, and working better, on the Mac. You don’t even need Parallels to switch to Windows, unless it just makes you feel better or saves you the cost of replacing some software you already have. I do audio & video editing, photography and retouching, Powerpoint, flow charts, web development, office apps, you name it – all on the Mac. And there are some things I do now on a Mac and never could do on a PC.

And then there is the experience of FREEDOM the Mac gives you, freedom to get your work done without worrying, freedom from hours every day fighting off viruses and malware, freedom to just love and enjoy your computing experience. There is no price for that, it is quite literally invaluable. So there goes your cheaper PC argument. If you value your time, your “cheap” PC is far more expensive than the highest priced Mac, far too expensive to even be in the running. At minimum wage, a PC user is probably spending over $1,000 a year as a premium or service charge – for the time they spend servicing their own PC. Bill Gates made his billions stepping over the dead bodies of million sof Windows users. Businesses that bought PC’s because they seemed cheaper have been spending untold billions on computer support, repair and maintenance. In terms of total cost of ownership, productivity, reliability and every other measure, Microsoft has stifled industry, crippled innovation and reduced productivity. In the long run, there is never anything really gained by using something cheap and low quality to substitute for a quality, well made and effective product. The short term gains are illusions.

Since its inception, Apple has been reinventing every market paradigm it touched, inspiring innovation and creating new opportunities. The Apple II virtually invented the modern personal computer. The Mac, inspired perhaps by Xerox, reinvented computing. The Laserwriter reinvented publishing and typesetting, with help from Pagemaker. The Newton, though not successful at the time, was a vision of the future of PDA’s and smart phones ultimately leading to the iPhone, which successful or not will reinvent the cell phone for everyone. The iPod reinvented the MP3 player and turned the music industry on its ear. The Intel Mac is just such an opportunity.

What has Microsoft given us – incremental improvements in an operating system that was and still is a bad knock off of the Mac/Xerox concept? Crushing innovation and competition to the point they were investigated by the Justice Dept.? An OS so full of holes that it can never be secure (perhaps intentionally- ever wonder what happened to the vigorous pursuit of MS by the Justice Dept., and why they suddenly didn’t feel a need to keep pushing the industry for a “back door” into all computers in the name of national security?). Office apps that basically just copied, bought out or scavenged, and destroyed other existing products that were actually less bloated and better in some ways? The Xbox? Well, ok, I’ll give them that one.

I have a Powerbook G5, which I will keep another few years since I have learned to love life without anything from Microsoft (I love using open source software). I wouldn’t exchange even this slightly older Mac for the latest high-end Vista notebook … though I would consider donations of a new MacBook :-)

What about you? Are you now convinced that Mac computing is the greatest thing since sliced bread, Barrack Obama, Bal en Blanc, The Winter Music Conference, The World Electronic Music Festival, and House Music? I knew you’d see things my way. :-)

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[Nairobi, Kenya]
AS THE undisputed Internet whore of the world, I’m used to browsing interesting websites loaded with tons of handy information. Today, I’m gonna introduce you to a site that’s one of my many “secret weapons” of knowledge deep inside cyber space. Folks, please say hello to TechRepublic.

Word: the bitchy, fussy processor…
I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m using Word, I feel as though I’m on a hot date with the ultimate tease who won’t do my bidding. :-) If you feel the same way, perhaps this blog post will come in handy. It came in my trusty GMail inbox courtesy of a free ZDNet email subscription. No doubt this text got my attention:


Conclusion
I know for a fact that tons of people here in East Africa are using Word to create various types of , um, documents. Hopefully these tips, courtesy of Jody Gilbert, will go a long way in helping them tame that unpredictable wild beast hiding behind that pretty graphical user interface. :-)

Peacies.

PS–> If you have problems with the above link, try this: http://blogs.techrepublic.com/msoffice/?p=183

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyhow, here are a few of his posts that might be of interest to you:

Corruption, be gone!
One other thing. This dude really hates corruption and provides some excellent insights on how proper accounting practices can reduce or eliminate this. Just take a peek at this:

Further, it can be argued that, accountants are already among the best-equipped group of professionals through their training and experience to participate in a major way in the fight against corruption. As Accountants, auditors or consultants they are trained to put in place good (internal control) systems to prevent corrupt practices and to detect weakness in existing systems. Further, their training can come in hardy in giving early warning of corrupt dealings in organisations and also in following audit trails to uncover corrupt deals and to catch the perpetrators.

What it all boils down to is that however much we might want to pretend otherwise, accountants are right in the middle of the corruption saga; either in what they have actually done or failed to do or in what the man in the streets perceives them to have done or failed to do. {source}

Comments?
If you have a comment or would like a question relating to your accounting scenario answered, then don’t look at me. I don’t count beans. :-) Instead, I’d fire an email off to Julius at JGakure[at]GMail.com.

Happy accounting!

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[Nairobi, Kenya]
MOST people who know me all too well can attest that I am a health freak. Well, what do you expect? I was raised by 4 strong-minded women (grandmother, aunt, mother, stepmother) when I grew up in Barbados, Canada and the USA. Heck, they were always cleaning, and I had regular chores (vacuuming, doing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, etc.) to do around the house. It wasn’t that bad though. Now, I kind of like doing dishes. To me, it’s very therapeutic. Go figure!

Prevention: the secret to good health
Furthermore, I like to take care of myself by going to the gym, rollerblading, playing pick-up basketball, running or any other enjoyable form of exercising. My motto when it comes to health is “pay me now or pay me later.” In other words, I prefer to exercise, eat healthy, etc. in order to prevent or delay health problems. Why? Because I absolutely hate hospitals and the toxic drugs that doctors like to push on their unsuspecting patients – usually at the request of unscrupulous drug companies.

I figure that if I take preventive measures today (pay now), then I shouldn’t expect any nasty surprises in the future (pay later). Right? Anyhow, the following Wired article brought back some wonderful memories because I have fed my body probiotics (good bacteria) after undergoing a colon hydrotherapy courtesy of an amazing Naturopathic Doctor in Canada. In short, it’s an excellent remedy for detoxing your body of years of unwanted, undigested stuff, which means that your body will be thanking you for years to come.


Here’s some good food for thought courtesy of the above link:

Modern humans are bacteria-killing machines. We assassinate microbes with hand soap, mouthwash and bathroom cleaners. It feels clean and right.

But some scientists say we’re overdoing it. All this killing may actually cause diseases like eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and even diabetes. The answer, they say, is counterintuitive: Feed patients bacteria.

Probiotics (pills containing bacteria) have resulted in complete elimination of eczema in 80 percent of the people we’ve treated,” says Dr. Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr., a practicing physician and former member of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. Pizzorno says he’s used probiotics to treat irritable bowel disease, acne and even premenstrual syndrome. “It’s unusual for me to see a patient with a chronic disease that doesn’t respond to probiotics.”

Clinical trial data on probiotics is incomplete, but there are many indications that hacking the body’s bacteria is beneficial. {source}

Conclusion
As you can see, we’re able to control our health to a certain degree if we take prevention seriously. Probiotics, if used wisely, can provide your body with a resilient health insurance package if you get with the program today. And try to remember this quote by Dr. Tim O’Shea who happens to be my favourite Naturopathic Doctor on the planet:

How do the friendly bacteria, called probiotics, keep the bad bacteria in check? Well, think of a crowded theatre. You walk in, and there’s no place to sit; all the seats are taken. So you can’t stay. Same thing with bacteria. There’s only a certain number of “seats” in the colon. If they’re all taken by friendly bacteria, then there’s no chance for the bad bacteria to set up shop and start to duplicate themselves. According to most researchers, like Simon Martin, normal probiotics should be more numerous than the cells of the intestinal lining itself.

Here’s why probiotics are so important. Normal people generally have some cancer cells, Candida yeast, E. coli, staphylococcus, strep, and any number of other potentially bad organisms you can think of in their tract most of the time. But they don’t get any disease. Researchers know, for example, that 50% of men over age 75 actually have prostate cancer, found on autopsy, but only 2% die from it. Why? The body encapsulated the cancer: limited and controlled its growth, walled it off. The discoverer of the HIV virus himself, Dr. Luc Montagnier, said that HIV alone cannot cause AIDS. (The Coming Plague) Depressed immune environment is also necessary. Same with Candida or most other bacteria; normally they’ll be held in check by sufficient friendly bacteria. E. coli is actually a probiotic when held in check by normal friendly flora. It’s only when the friendly probiotic bacteria get killed off that the potentially bad organisms get a chance to get a foothold and take over. The bad bugs are then called opportunists.

So probiotics (friendly bacteria) are extremely important. The whole key is balance. Problem is, our friendly bacteria are constantly being killed off. How? Same culprits as cited in the ALLERGIES chapter: {source: Journey to the Center of Your Colon }

Here’s to your good health.

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[Nairobi, Kenya]
I’M BULLISH on Intranets as the foundation in which to deliver all sorts of powerful web-based applications (accounting, customer service, ERP, HRM, asset management, eLearning, etc.) for any organization (SMEs, NGOs, government, large companies, educational institutions, etc.) that’s looking to save big dollars on their IT budgets. What’s amazing is that this software can be obtained for free. All that you require is a decent PC (about 512 MB of RAM, P3 or higher processor, a network card, and a fast hard disk) running Windows (preferably 2000/2003 Server) or Linux (also free), and then the fun begins.

Next up, you need to install a web server (Apache is free) running PHP (also free), and an RDBMS (Relational Database Management System) like the ever-popular MySQL or PostgreSQL, which is hailed as the world’s most powerful open source database manager. Oh, both of these apps are free too. Isn’t this amazing? Heck, a few years ago, this entire setup would’ve been very expensive if you had to pay for all the software.

XAMPP to the rescue

Now, setting up Apache, PHP and a database manager on your Linux
or Windows PC was not always a pleasurable task. But that was the past. Thanks to the IT gurus from Apache Friends and their free XAMPP (LinuX, Apache, MySQL, PHP/PERL) executable download, any one can set up a powerful Intranet server. And you don’t have to know “jack squat” about configuring or installing all of these separate applications. Trust me. This is a huge time saver. By the way, here’s the latest set of goodies that you get when you download XAMPP. This is from the email I just received from Kai Seidler of Apache Friends:

New XAMPP version for Linux and Windows
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After two months of hard work we are proud to announce a new release of XAMPP
for Windows and Linux. New in both releases of XAMPP are MySQL (5.0.37), PHP
(4.4.6), phpMyAdmin (2.10.0.2), and OpenSSL (0.9.8e). The Windows version also
contains up-to-date versions of: FileZilla FTP Server (0.9.23), ADOdb (4.94),
and Zend Optimizer (3.2.4).

With XAMPP 1.6.1 we tried to make the Windows version ready for Vista. The
beta tests were very successful and most people reported a very smooth XAMPP
under Vista but there were also people having still problems. Please get in
touch with me if you also encounter problems on Vista. Currently please avoid
installing XAMPP into the Program files folder.

One other thing. When you install XAMPP on your Windows machine, it doesn’t mess around with your registry or any of that silly nonsense. Kai and his friends truly pay attention to detail without annoying users.

Conclusion
The main benefit of running an Intranet throughout your organization is simplicity. There’s no doubt in my mind that the web browser has become the universal GUI (graphical user interface). Furthermore, system administrators don’t have to worry about configuring desktop applications for every user. Instead, you simply update the web-based software on the application server. This now becomes your company’s most important IT asset. That’s why I think it’s wise to spend a bit more money on this machine so that everyone gets a nice quick response in their web browsers. One other thing. Your network infrastructure is very important because everything’s running over the TCP/IP (http, https. ftp, smtp, etc.) stack, which is the universal transmission standard for all Internet/Intranet data traffic.

I strongly believe that XAMPP will make have a huge impact on the bottom line for any organization in Africa looking to streamline it’s IT operations. That’s why it makes a great Go Africa go! story. Why? Because key business applications are running safe and secure on a locked-down server. Hence, end users simply have to point their web browsers to the appropriate internal IP address in order to get down to business. How much simpler do you want it? The other side benefit of this solution is that scalability is easy as pie since you simply spend a little more money on hardware (faster processors/network/hard disks, more RAM, etc. ) in order to improve performance as more users (browsers) come aboard. In the past, programmers would have to re-write the application in order to improve scalability. This is way more expensive as opposed to throwing money at hardware. Got it? :-)

Happy computing!

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[Dar es Salaam, Tanzania]
I CAN’T say enough about Google. They are waaay ahead of the curve when it comes to utilizing the web (Internet) for maximum productivity. Best of all, they’re always giving stuff away for FREE. What, you don’t believe me? Well take a peek at this goldmine of Google freebies. Now, I used to be a Yahoo and Hotmail email whore, but then I saw the light with GMail. By the way, this weblog you’re reading is provided by Blogger, which is owned by the Big G (er Google). Since they updated said blog service with a ton of new enhancements, I won’t be looking at a competitor any time soon.

Any how, I urge you to check out the info below regarding their new SMS flight info service. I really don’t know when they’ll come out with a similar service for Africa. I’ll email them to find out, so stay tuned.

Oh, Go Google go! :-)


Flying high with Google SMS
Monday, March 26, 2007 at 7:58:00 PM
Posted by Deepak Sethi, Software Engineer, Mobile Team

Ever spent 15 minutes on the phone shouting answers at the automated airline attendant while rushing to the airport? How cool would it be to get real-time flight info just by sending a quick text message? Well, now you can, using Google SMS.Simply text your flight number to 466453 (‘GOOGLE’ on most mobile devices), and the status information will be sent back to you. Or text a specific airline name, and Google will send back the main phone number to call.Google SMS is available for flights departing or arriving in the U.S., and all of the information is provided by flightstats.com. And as always, it’s free. Give it a try, and let us know what you think.

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[Dar es Salaam, Tanzania]
THEY say “the best things in life are free.” Perhaps. Now, when it comes to fresh water, that’s not the case in most places around the world – especially here in Africa. In all honesty, growing up in Canada has sort of spoiled me to the point where we, as Canadians, never had to worry about water. Why? Because Mother Nature was kind enough to bless us with more fresh water than any other country on the planet. The 5 great lakes (Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Huron, Superior) along with numerous other large bodies of water (Great Bear Lake, Great Slave Lake, Georgian Bay, James Bay, Lake Athabasca, etc.) scattered throughout the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast provides us with, virtually, unlimited supplies. And with a population of only 30 million people inhabiting the 2nd largest country in the world, this means that water scarcity should never ever enter the Canadian vocabulary. :-)

Try to picture this. Lake Superior (see above) is the world’s largest freshwater lake covering a staggering area of 31,720 miles (82,103 sq kilometers) with its deepest point at 1,335 feet. That’s massive.

Seeing is believing
When I touched down in Africa (Nairobi) for the first time near the end of 2005, a new reality began to sink in. On numerous occasions, whenever I woke up, the watchman had to pump water so that I can proceed to take a shower. And if the electric company couldn’t supply enough power on that particular day, we were in big doo doo because the pumps need electricty. This was a totally new experience for me, and I realized then and there just how lucky Canadians are — to the point that we take a lot of
things (electricity, universal health care, free K-12 education) for granted. I don’t any more.

Water scarcity everywhere
Everyday in the news, I’m always reminded of how delicate the water situation is throughout Africa. In particular, this week is Maji Week (maji = water in Swahili) in these parts, and there’s just no way to escape the “down pour” of negative news regarding maji (er water). It’s agonizing to think that, at any moment, bad scenarios can result from the lack of this precious resource. I read some where the other day that Dar es Salaam (Haven of Peace) is not able to supply all the water that it’s citizens demand. This is so sad because I absolutely looove this city. Knowing this, I decided to cruise the Internet to see what’s new in the world of high technology that could end Dar’s water scarcity once and for all.

Sea of hope
Without a doubt, a city like Dar would be wise to look at the Indian Ocean for its water supply. After all, it’s right there, and so convenient to access. The only problem is the damn
salt. Now what if there was a large scale method of extracting fresh water from the ocean – and cheaply? Well, I was watching the idiot box (um, TV) this morning and saw an excellent story (courtesy of SABC) about a South African company called GrahamTek that’s making waves (pun intended). It appears that they’ve invented (or improved) a new cheap method (process?) to take the salt out of the sea water that’s far more efficient and effective than desalination plants of yester year. The secret is reverse osmosis desalination and it’s a technology that you’ll be hearing a lot about – hopefully soon.

The salt on desalination
In a nutshell, desalination is a complex process of removing salt from sea water.
I remember reading a long time ago about how Saudi Arabia was one of the world’s biggest users of desalination plants. But I also heard they were expensive (about $400 million) to build and required a lot of power to operate. Well, Saudi Arabia has cheap energy thanks to its oil jackpot, but I don’t think the old desalination plants they were using would work in Dar. Too damn costly. Enter GrahamTek Systems with some fresh, innovative thinking to the entire field of desalination.

GrahamTek to the rescue
After seeing that short SABC news article about GrahamTek Systems (runs Ocean Mineral Water), I was determined to find out more information about the company.

Ocean Mineral Water is run by local group Grahamtek Systems, which has been working in the field since 1994. They believe they are years ahead of other companies elsewhere in the world. Jean Vos of Ocean Mineral Water said: “The basic point is that we can give Cape Town water and that is a fact. “The company recently erected a plant in the Maldives that produces half a million litres a day and was erected in a single day at a cost of a mere R1.5 million.

In the past the prohibitive energy costs of desalination have prevented widespread use of the technology. However, the local scientists say they have improved technology and are now able to supply desalinated water at a cost of R4,80/1 000 litres, which is substantially cheaper than the water provided by most municipalities. “Seawater is the healthiest water on the planet as it has all the minerals that you need, reverse osmosis simply removes what is bad for you and retains the good part. This is the best water for any living being to consume and even for agriculture,” said Martin Lyons of Ocean Mineral Water. {source}

Wow, that is simply amazing news. In short, I think GrahamTek has no where else to go but up. Heck, where can I buy some shares? :-) But honestly, I think Dar es Salaam should seriously look into using this technology to solve its water problems. I’ll write more about this later.

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