Friday, April 17, 2009

Traffic & Roads & Rails

I wonder:

If GK vehicles break traffic rules with abandon, how would we expect mat guys to behave. Last time I checked only the president (and the PM now ?), fire engines and ambulances could skive traffic legally. But nearly every day, I see GK (and parastatal, anything gova related) drivers driving on the wrong side of the road (I had a few plates crammed even) - like on Processional road(?) between State House road and the Nairobi Serena, and at the Museum hill road-Chiromo roundabout where policemen insist on a single lane of traffic to the Museum road.
Perhaps we could safely say that the culture of impunity will be a thing of the past when such things don't happen. I'm afraid though that it might be  rather utopian.
Kenyan traffic(and many things as well) is more or less a manifestation of our values and regard for each other. I think I mentioned this in a separate post a while ago.  So we really shouldn't expect much improvement until our values change.
At the end of the day, the road is not mine or yours, but ours... but we all seem to be in a hurry to beat the other driver to the next junction (never mind that we might stay there for another 30 minutes stuck in jam), cutting into the other lane without as little as an indicator.
is it a sense of: I can drive faster than you, or my car is better than you.. which at the end of the day results in:

-> an adrenalin rush 
-> stress (after several narrow misses) and possibly a bad day or evening
-> a minor scratch here or
-> a major dent there
-> worse
Trying to be sober, considerate and not too accelerator-pedal-itchy is not easy - but it's probably worth trying. Today is Friday (at least not mid or end month) and I think Friday & Saturdays tend to have more accidents (especially when people have a few more coins in their pockets and purses).


There was a large advertisment in the dailies this past week about Nairobi (and environs)getting commuter rail transport. I'm eagerly waiting to see if this will be operational in the 3.5 years that they've highlighted. It would be really be useful in easing jam in Nairobi.

The Kenya Railway Corporation should have completed their website before advertising it on the ad. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Android part II

Looks like the next major release of the android platform is coming out soon with a few interesting features:

This are some of the user features I'm looking forward to..

  • Faster Camera start-up and image capture
  • Much faster acquisition of GPS location (powered by SUPL AGPS)
  • On-screen soft keyboard
  • SIM Application Toolkit 1.0 (think MPESA, ZAP)
  • Google applications
  • Batch actions such as archive, delete, and label on Gmail messages
Full feature list for both users and developers are here:

Nothing about battery life though. The best way it seems is to turn off data and GPS when not using them.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Android Review

I've got to play with the world's first android based phone, and it's been quite interesting.

The good:

Loads and loads of applications on the market, a good number of them for free. Among my favorites:
  • Astrid - task list that's more than just that
  • APNDroid - Easy turn off/on your data connection stays on
  • Browser - the native browser is pretty cool to use
  • Bonsai Blast - this game should be on every phone
  • GMail for Android - very easy to use
  • Compare Everywhere - I like this one though it's not too applicable outside of the US. Scan a bar code and get a price comparison online.
  • Tunewiki
  • Twidroid - Twitter :)
The Not So Good:

  • Issues with Bluetooth - sending files is a problem
  • SIM Applications (think MPESA, ZAP) have not worked for me - possibly since the sim application toolkit has not been implemented (as far as I know) yet in the current software release.
  • Battery Life - especially if you use the phone alot for GPS and data

Other than these it's quite a phone.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Money or Life?

I've been reading about Money! Yes money... 

It seems that the whole world revolves around money:

  • Yesterday the G-20 nations voted for a 1 TRILLION $ stimulus package (mind boggling figure - $1 000 000 000 000 ) . 
  • There's clamour for Kenyan MPs and other senior office bearers to pay taxes on their full allowances.
  • Everyone is looking for a side hustle to make that extra coin, even it means spending 18 hours working a day.
  • The dash in the morning to beat the jam, so as to get to work early, and score brownie points with your boss.. so that maybe when the next appraisal comes round, you might get a pay rise.

I haven't started on hunger and famine in Kenya, and why we can't just blame the unreliable weather patterns.

This book - Your Money or Your Life is quite a thought-provoking book. One of the key elements is that the author doesn't advocate for a lifestyle that revolves around getting more and more and more money. Instead, one's focus should be on how to align money with values and principles. So one of the exercises isn't just tracking every cent you spend, but calculating how much of life energy you use up when spending e.g. 12000/- on a new phone.. Can be very revealing. 

I've also added some new words to my vocabulary: Life Energy and Gazingus Pins