~/`~/`Tech Podium~/`~/`

About life as an info-tech - arguing (preaching?) about what tickles my mind. I like Internet Protocol (IP). Which version? Never mind. But I run on IP. Yes, I do ~/`~/`~/` on IP!
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Location: Riverside, CA, United States

Regular guy? Maybe. Was lucky enough to go places on foot, riding, driving, sailing, flying and even dreaming. I do tricks connecting tech-devices and teaching device users - that gave me the wherewithal to go places in Africa, Arabia, Europe, America and want to go to Asia, then into space to Mars (dream on, dreamer) ! Childhood pass time was always in a mechanical workshop fixing something - so i tinker a lot. I like meeting and knowing people.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Users are users - everywhere

Am talking about computer users. Computers users in Dubai, Nairobi, London, Kampala or Los Angeles have one thing in common - they call the computer guy when they are at their wits end. They also tend to pile all their computing problems on the computer guy. Users look at the computer guy and see strange things.

Recently, i embarked on revamping a choking small network of about fifty mixed static and dynamic users largely depending on a SAAS infrastructure. After about two weeks of traffic sampling and random tests, i proposed a couple of changes on the Internet provider's interface. That got done. For the first time, the online speed tests reported the right bandwidth for the network.

Going forward, i got approval for more changes on the internal network. But as in any transition, a few things get in the way and you get a glitch here and there. At times like these, users who have no clue what you are doing come up with crazy suggestions - to help you - or, to help the company. They suggest restarting the router. They suggest (behind your back) getting someone else who knows what he is doing.

As usual, i fixed the problems. Just another network. Done.

When users call me and say: "my computer is not working", i switch from normal hearing mode to selective hearing mode. That way, i start with a problem and end with a solution. That trick works all the time.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Of poverty, bribery and corruption

On the morning of the 23 of October 2013, i arrived at the Entebbe International Airport, Uganda, set to board a British Airways flight to London.

I had with me the usual stuff people carry to relatives and friends who live abroad - salted smoke-dried fish, inter alia. The man at the security scanner looked dejected and kind of mean when he asked why i was carrying a lot of dry fish. To him, ten pieces of dry fish was a lot! He said that i must be taking it for export.

Well, i explained with due humility that it was for home consumption and of little value, to say the least. Then he kept asking this and that question, and quoted airport and aviation rules against fish. I found it incredulous and i told him as much. Matter of fact, one of my sisters had flown out with lots of fish with her only a couple of weeks earlier. My explanations fell on "deaf" ears!

Then he suggested that i buy him soda (or tea?) to allow me take my fish. I did not pay attention to that and proceeded to zip up my luggage. He stopped me from zipping the bag and insisted i get him some money first. I hate bribes. I preach against bribery and corruption. Anyway, i just told him i have no money. The man insisted that i go back out and get money from my people outside. Strange!

When i showed that he was wasting my time and that i was not going back, he left everybody else pass and he zeroed in on my bag like it had a special interest item. At one point i thought he wanted to plant drugs on me and get me behind bars for fun or something. So i asked him: "By the way, how much money do you want"?
"Fifty thousand", he said.
"Oh, i do not have that with me." The man became even more serious. I could now see tears of poverty or sheer greed welling up in his eyes. Mr Festus Kananura, shame, shame, shame! On a good day, i could give you twenty dollars without doing anything for me, but demanding a bribe from a law-abiding citizen is way off.

Poverty is a disease. Bribery and corruption are driving our country down the drain of backwardness. Entebbe is the gateway to Uganda and to the world. Simple minds like that of Festus Kananura should not be there, stamping mind-dirt on hardworking jetset personalities.

I missed my flight and of course caused a few heads to roll. To my face, Kananura denied asking for money. He has a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:2)! The Civil Aviation Authority's security department personnel showed clear absence of impartiality when they refused to play back the CCTV footage of my time at the security scanner. I wonder whether the CCTV even works. The automatic ticketing gates were working on and off. Someone must have "eaten" the maintenance budget!

When i came for my flight two days later, no one made a fuss over my fish? Why? Oh, Uganda! For me it was just dry fish, but some people fly around the world to save lives. Delaying them causes death.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Write it down, tech support

A few weeks ago, i received a call that appeared too important to avoid answering. My usual phone was switched off for about a month and i was using another number known to a select few. (I do that to take a break from the constant haunting of the connected world). That usual phone had rang just a couple of minutes after turning it on! When i answered, it was a call from a high office - a really high office in my tribe - Office of the Nnabagereka. Nnabagereka is the official title of the wife of the king, Kabaka, of Buganda.

After the usual pleasantries, a lady who works in that office informed me that they could not connect to the Internet, and asked me to go over and fix it for them. I established that the router was up and running and then guided her through a few check mouse clicks. Her report indicated that her machine just needed credentials to connect!

So, i cleared the phlegm in my coarse throat, and popped the big question in a robotic voice: "Do yo have the small book that came with the Internet thing?".
Positive.
Then i switched back to my normal voice and said: "Okaaay. Check and see what i wrote in there, use it to connect". And she reconnected herself to the cloud in just a couple of minutes.

Being a Christian, i thought the lady must have prayed before calling me, causing me to turn on the phone.

Techs: always write down the basics your clients need to get going. Keep a copy and leave a copy with them. It is not always necessary to drive to your installed base - and it is not always necessary to invoice them for minor support.

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