why are so many of us scared of technology yet it should make l

Photo from pngimg.com

Waiting for an Uber at my office the other day in frustration at how long the driver was taking to figure out the Uber technology, I was distracted by five fully grown men struggling to fit some office furniture onto the back of a medium-size pick up truck.

The first bit of furniture was brought down and placed immediately onto the centre of the truck bed. I thought the truck would leave there and then but the men went upstairs and returned with more – all of which found its way onto the bed, with adjustments.

At some point, they had to stop.

As they stood looking at a couple of obstinate pieces of furniture, I was distracted by my Uber driver who was on the phone and failing to read his map. The way Uber works that makes it revolutionary includes the use of technology. Unlike your usual special hire driver who needed to be given directions by way of fenne trees and other landmarks, the Uber driver has a smartphone and internet access.

Using that phone you connect with your driver, indicate on a map where you are and where you plan to go, and you even get an estimate of the cost of the trip. That map is so complete that it identifies some surprising land marks.

For weeks now, I have been using Uber or walking rather than drive a personal vehicle. The experience is very fitting for my harsh microeconomic circumstances, and it is healthier (when I walk). My only frustration with most Uber drivers, however, is their refusal to use the technology the way it should be used.

Like my driver at the time the five fully-grown men were being baffled by the size of their pick up truck bed and the quantity of furniture that needed to go onto it.

He was so confused that he thought the blue blinking dot on his map was an indicator of where I was, rather than where he was. So he kept going round in circles. I lost thirty minutes waiting for the fellow to finally figure out how the maps work, and was confounded at how we sometimes reject technology yet its right there for us to use.

That includes technology such as the screwdriver. If those five fully-grown furniture carrying fellows on the roadside at my office had applied a screwdriver onto five screws in total to some parts of that furniture they could have stacked it neatly on the truck bed. The entire moving process would have been cut short by at least fifteen minutes, as the furniture was the fabricated screw-on type.

I pointed this out to them, and saw the light of realisation blinking ‘On’. But they figured they had gone so far into the process that they struggled on. They lifted the biggest desk, turned it onto its back and placed the smaller bits on its underside. Things worked somehow, and they left.

Before my Uber guy had arrived. I blasted him quite a bit for the delay he was occasioning by not using his technology. He was a little bit worse than a few other chaps – and I have had many encounters with them over technology. Just the week before, after hearing another driver claim that his map wasn’t working, I grabbed his phone and activated the map with voice directions.

Being unaccustomed to the technology he kept turning to me for affirmation that the lady’s voice was not misleading him. I don’t know who hurt him in his earlier life but he must have had a bad experience around these technologies, which made my ride uncomfortable because I now had to spend the journey directing him over the voice on the smartphone app.

Having to direct the driver verbally erodes another benefit of my using Uber – the ability to get some extra work done in the back seat of the vehicle, or to catch up on some entertainment (TV programmes and podcasts). Which means that the Uber drivers’ refusal to use the technology properly loses me time doing more useful work.

That is what technology is for – simplifying things and freeing up resources to be more productive. In fact, as my Uber guy was getting lost I took the time to type out this article on my phone, and sent a few emails, while standing under the heat on the verandah being lightly entertained by the five fully-grown men lacking a screwdriver.

If those fellows had used a screwdriver, turning it ten revolutions each per screw, they could have saved enough time to do more work in their new offices and earn more money to invest in more technology.

They might even have had a screwdriver in the glove box of their truck, but without the mindset required to make use of it, it was useless. As @like_a_gem said, on Twitter, “Omutwe omunafu gukooya bigere.”

the ‘ebola is Africa’ bullshit needs to be stopped BEFORE the disease itself

Earlier today you must have seen this map:

Ebola In Africa

Please share it with anyone and everyone in THE WORLD so that they begin to understand that this continent is not one big tent under which lives this big, close-knit family called Africans.

And kindly go over to people like the professionals who run kidshealth.org and make them replace their entire philosophy with this map.

This evening, while checking on a couple of ideas I had in the middle of handling my four-year old’s feverish cough (NO – she does NOT have Ebola!), I landed on this page (http://kidshealth.org/kid/) and was surprised to see the section titled ‘Ebola’.

Ebola 1

Do you see what they are doing there? This is a website that communicates DIRECTLY to children, with a clear focus on the ones in the United States of America, and their idea of Ebola has it linked to the continent of Africa in our white entirety.

Don’t think, by the way, that the purveyors of this website information are so stupid that they show you a picture of the full human body to depict a headache:

Ebola 5

They understand the idea that the body is made up of different parts, and, presumably, that an ache in the head is called headache and so on and so forth. The idea that the continent of Africa does not have Ebola across the entire landmass, therefore, should be easy for them.

Luckily, on one level, this is not the type of page that a medical researcher will visit for information on Ebola, judging from entries such as:

Ebola 2

But the children who read this, I fear, will be traumatised for life with the thought that these “many people in Africa” are sick.

And one cannot therefore fully blame American children or their ignorant parents for all manner of silly reactions such as:

1. The teacher who had to resign her job because she had returned from a visit to Kenya and parents of her school in Lousville, I-Can’t-Be-Bothered-To-Find-Out-Which-State – which is probably closer to the Ebola case in the United States than Kenya is to any case of Ebola in West Africa this year. (http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/education/2014/11/03/louisville-catholic-teacher-resigns-amidst-ebola-fears/18417299/)

2. The two children from Senegal who were beaten and shouted at for being African and therefore probably having Ebola.  (http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/28/us/ebola—-school-beatings/)

And many other stories besides.

Isn’t there a high possibility that these students and their parents had sought some high quality information from the likes of http://kidshealth.org/kid/?

You see, their editorial policy…actually, read it yourself:

Ebola 3


“extensive review”

“by medical professionals”

Okay, they don’t know geography or communication, obviously, and need help in that field – thus the need for them to refer to the map above.

Ebola 4

Showing them the map above would help them in their ’18-step process’ that has hitherto failed to notice that the VAST MAJORITY OF THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA DOES NOT HAVE EBOLA.

I’ve done my bit, and gone to their ‘Contact Us’ page where, politely, I have suggested: “You should not spread the stereotypical error that Ebola is linked to the entire continent of Africa, as the map you have presented for the disease indicates. Be clear in your communication so that the children of the United States of America don’t grow up associating everyone from Africa with this disease. You might also wish to mention that some people in the United States and also Europe have contracted Ebola…”

I know that on its own this is a weak blow.

So, please, join me, go over and submit your own suggestion?


Help the American child to NOT be mis-educated so?

yet another comedy of small errors

This week’s unnecessary chaos around the State House salaries made me angry on two levels – one because of the number of people involved in perpetuating this comedy of errors to national levels; and two because of the number of adults involved in propagating a very untenable idea that resulted in the otherwise entertaining #PayMe96Million social media chants and rants.

Starting with the second, to me it was obvious that in this country where people with second hand US$20,000 cars (liabilities) earn the label ‘tycoon’, we would have known long ago if anybody were banking a Ushs96million a month salary for even a week, without it being documented in Parliament with the media present.

As soon as I saw the offensive sheet indicating monthly salaries in State House PayMe96Mn - highlightedranging from Ushs20million to Ushs96million, I knew it was a stupid mistake but quickly moved on because I believed Members of Parliament would be more interested in addressing the close-to-100-deaths of Ugandans in western Uganda last week.

Besides, I was handling a stupid mistake in my own environment: That morning, I had concluded a transaction that should have earned about Ushs2.5million in one fell swoop, in US dollars – less than a day’s salary of that (mbu) highly-paid State House employee.

Issuing instructions for official documentation to complete the transaction, I left for a meeting and along the way made a couple of debt collection phone calls and monitored emails. One of those emails contained the invoice we were supposed to send the client for the above Ushs2.5million job card, but it read US$112 (One hundred twelve United States Dollars).

A quick glance had me frowning because the original calculation involved was ‘75,000 x 38’ (Shillings) – to me, clearly much more than the invoice read.75,000 x 38 I emailed back my accounts guy asking, “Is the mathematics correct in this?” and he responded minutes later with “Yes it is” (no punctuation marks AT ALL).

The confidence with which he had responded, underscored by the poor punctuation, shook me a little so I asked the people I was with to do a quick mental calculation to confirm that ‘75,000 x 38’ was, indeed, only US$112.

Even now, as you read this, it isn’t.

Picking up the phone, I asked someone else at the office to go over to the accountant and set him right just in case he was stuck with a really faulty calculator or computer or mobile phone or neighbours, since all these were available to him to cross-check the mathematics instead of insisting on the wrong answer.

She walked over to him, conducted an arithmetical exercise with the fellow and confirmed that, indeed: “It’s 258,000.”

I wavered.

But I refused to turn to electronic assistance because as far as I knew, 75,000 multiplied by a simple 3 (three) was already more than 210,000. I had a slight headache at the time, and thought that perhaps the problem was with my general body functions, so I asked them to check again and, indeed, their answer was still “258,000”, with a little irritation in their tone.

I hung up and moved on with what I hoped would be more understandable aspects of my work day. One of those was a meeting with a finance guy from one of my debtors, who told me the payment I was chasing after had already been remitted to my bank.

We went to and fro a few times saying “It wasn’t!” and “It was!” enough times to sound like children, then stopped to discuss the matter more seriously.

That’s when he admitted to me that months ago, when the payment had first been remitted, the bank account number had been wrongly written out, so the money had bounced back to them but they forgot about it for a couple of months till we started chasing them down for it.

“So I am sure we sent it this time!” he concluded. We had investigated jointly for a number of hours, querying both our banks at various points till, on this Tuesday, the suspicion came to me that perhaps the money had been sent to the wrong bank.

I was right.

It had gone to an old bank account we had closed over a year ago, in spite of the fact that this same client had received two sets of correspondence advising them of the change and had thereafter made several payments into the new bank account.

“Error”, they apologised, and got about fixing it. And so later on Tuesday night, after disregarding the #PayMe96Million thread a little bit, I looked up sharply remembering that we hadn’t concluded the matter of the ‘75,000 x 38’ invoice to the client – many hours later.

Luckily, the duo at the office had put their heads together after the phone call; investigated the matter further, and had written to me:  “Each item is UGX38. For 75,000 the equivalent is 285,000…”

That’s when I turned back to the #PayMe96Million thread and studied the offending offensive document a little bit; and I called someone to ask why it even existed.

“What?! But a correction was sent to Parliament…” PayMe96MnLetter

To cut a long story short, I eventually got hold of the corrected document and saw how the error had occurred, with the annual salary somehow getting pasted into the column for monthly salaries, allowing the rest of the formulae to take hold… …and to me, after my experiences and especially the one of that very morning, it was clear why the junior officer’s error had gone past the supervisor, bosses, proof-readers, printers, document signers, and so on and so forth.

All of them committed errors in NOT spotting that initial error – as would have I, if that ’75,000 x 38’ hadn’t jumped out at me. And even though the correction had arrived at Parliament DAYS before Tuesday, the loud, indignant, sensational allegation on the floor of Parliament had gone unchallenged by ALL the Members of Parliament who HAD received said correction but had not read it – another error. #PayMe96Million 1 #PayMe96Million 2

So for all of Tuesday night, ordinary people who hold loaded guns at the compound gates providing overnight security and those that mix up food in kitchens next to dangerous detergents were angrily considering that their bosses earn salaries such as Ushs96,000,000 a month.

Revolutions and wars have been triggered off by minor errors such as these.

I still can’t imagine what the people whose names appeared on that original list are telling their spouses and domestic staff, if otherwise intelligent professionals are still crying wolf over #PayMe96Million.

Presidency Minister Frank Tumwebaze was gracious in admitting that mistakes happen everywhere and refusing to consider firing the person who committed the first error – otherwise very many people elsewhere would be losing jobs for ‘errors’ – including Cecilia Ogwal et al for failing to read the correction document or even doing some arithmetic before tickling an angry revolution among common folk.Ssebaggala

In a perfect world, my accountant and all State House employees in the chain that led to that document getting to a Parliamentary Member disinclined to basic arithmetics, would be out of jobs right now and providing opportunities for more efficient people to run things with the seriousness required. We would be surrounding ourselves with people who understand that small errors sometimes have a large impact on serious matters.

And Uganda would generally be less prone to incendiary political action such as we saw in Kasese, Bundibugyo and Ntoroko, that the Members of Parliament found much less interesting than the sensational Ushs96million-a-month salary.

dismay is reading newspapers without warning aka “fwaaaaa”.

DISMAY, according to my Apple dictionary, is: “concern and distress caused by something unexpected”.

I got to Page 12 of today’s The New Vision at 2100hrs/9:00pm and that’s the word that came to mind to describe what I felt.

Of course, I have more than my fair share of lugezi-gezi, which I confirmed by asking a couple of people whether they had read the papers today. They had, much earlier in the day, and had moved on with life.

I couldn’t.
The first box story on Page Two titled ‘Govt to set up productivity centre’ was accompanied by a photo of Minister of State for Labour, Mwesigwa Rukutana, who said the poor mindset of Ugandans coupled with the poor education system has led to low productivity.

Therefore, the government is to set up a productivity training centre for people intending to be employed in the public service so as to boost the country’s productivity, economic growth and gross domestic product.

What does this mean? NO, SERIOUSLY? 

I went to the website, as advised at the end of the clip, to see if there was a more elaborate story about this productivity centre there but found none.

So I googled the headline and the first entry was a story from The Standard of 2002!

‘Kenya: Govt To Set Up Productivity Centre’:
31 January 2002
Plans are under way to establish a National Productivity Centre in Kenya, Minister for Labour, Mr Joseph Ngutu, said yesterday.
Ngutu said the proposed centre aims at spearheading a productivity movement and ensure there is a paradigm shift to performance management…”

Lower down on the page was another small story titled, ’Nandujja wows House’ that referred to Annet Nandujja as a “crooner”, which title I grew up associating with the likes of Freddie Jackson, Luther Vandross and Keith Washington.

It irritated me to read and I just had to check a couple of dictionaries, all of which converged on the decisive definition of a “crooner” as “male”, “soft”, “sentimental”, “low voice”.

I turned the page and tried to forget.
Only to land on Page 5’s ‘Besigye, Lukwago arrested in Kampala’ which carried the memorable: “Besigye reportedly arrived in Kisekka disguised as a passenger in a taxi.”

In short, he got there in a taxi.

Is there a costume or something worn by a passenger in a taxi?

Do they have a certain look about them? A smell? A posture, perhaps, by which they are widely recognised and can camouflage themselves to evade detection?

Is the act of entering into a taxi itself the complete disguise?


Now disguise yourself as a reader and move on:
To the other end of the same page where the snippet ‘Youth want MPs support on health’ irritated me more than the thought of Nandujja crooning.

“A group of youth health activists want MPs to join them in a campaign dubbed” ‘A clean Uganda’…the leader of the activists, Hannington Kato, said the campaign…needs financial and moral support from MPs…”

This is the idiotic dependency syndrome that is being cultivated amongst Uganda’s youths and that somebody must put a stop to soon.

Unfortunately, it won’t be the MPs because they put everything on the bill that taxpayers have to pay – including their iPads – and you try getting them to email you back or read this blog and make a comment off their (my) iPad.

The youth health activists asking for financial support to do some cleaning, though, might have been prompted by reports that the MPs had just received a Ushs36billion parking lot and were now asking for Ushs16billion security system for it.

Like I said, another story for another day. (And I got back to politicians and the youth a few pages on.)
First, though, the Page Six report of Buganda Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga’s fundraising visit to Parliament: “After the motion was moved by Mityana North MP Godfrey Kiwanda and seconded by Betty Nambooze (Mukono), MPs wondered why it had taken the Government so long to release the report (on the Kasubi Tombs fire).”

Which MPs wondered?

Just last week the Parliamentary Committees themselves presented reports to plenary that were two years late – such as the Ad Hoc Committee report on Oil & Gas considering allegations of bribery and the Ad Hoc Committee report on Energy.

In a Monitor story on the delayed Report on Oil & Gas, the Committee Chairman Michael Werikhe is quoted as saying: “Our investigations were issued based and the report is going to be strong and issue based. Let people sit back and wait…”
We did, and there was a story last week saying the allegations were found to be false and baseless.


Strong and issue-based.

I can almost hear him saying, “Yah!”

As for the Ad Hoc report on Oil & Gas, it’s main thrust was to sort out the high energy bill presented by the thermal fuel power generators. One of the companies stopped supplying Uganda with electricity and left the country in June last year (Aggreko), the other two haven’t supplied electricity in 2013, and…ah!


Two Pages later, the story ‘CAOs, town clerks warned over budgets’ promises that “Chief Administrative officers and town clerks have been directed to submit budget framework papers by November 30 or be fired. The directive was given by the acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Patrick Mutabwire.”

I dare any newspaper to report on this come December 1, 2013.

Even The New Vision.
Page 10: Back to the youth issue, with ’Stop politicking, youth told’.

“Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Daudi Migereko has asked the youth to stop wasting most of their time politicking but invest such time in productive activities.”

I personally disagree with the call for them to stop politicking, and prefer instead that they be told what type of politics to engage in – and certainly not the type most of the people older than them seem to be wasting time doing.

But in the last paragraph the fundamental problem with our approach to the youth presents itself, after the story tells us that Migereko pledged Ushs2m and MP Vincent Bagiire promised Ushs1m to the group: “The chairperson of the Jinja Development Group, Asuman Kambo, explained that they started in 2010 with 50 chairs and one tent, which they hire out to event organisers, but they have now grown to 500 chairs and 10 tents.”

THIS is what the youth do – stuff like boda-boda, hiring out tents and chairs. NOT assembling boda-bodas, making tents and chairs or any wealth creation, and not using loans that they must work hard to pay back.

Perhaps they should attend Rukutana’s Productivity Centre?
On Page 11, the story ‘Dokolo farmers use beehives as coffins’ finally appeared (advertised on Page 1, so I had been waiting for obvious reasons because I have always known bees to be quite small…beehives, too).

“Five years ago, the Ministry of Trade and Industry trained 250 people in beekeeping to boost honey production in Dokolo district…following the training, each participant was given a beehive and the minister (Fr. Simon Lokodo) promised to establish a honey factory in the district if production shot up…”

But then recently, according to Cecilia Atim Ogwal, Dokolo Woman MP, “some residents have used the beehives to bury their dead children, while others split them for firewood.”

Julius Okello, a resident of Atwako village in Okwongodul sub-county, added: “some people use the top iron-sheets of remaking doors and preparing brick-making boxes.”

!!!! #smh #eish!

So maybe the training and intervention should have been in support of brick-making?

Maybe they lost the plot because the honey factory wasn’t established?

No, because Dr. Richard Enyang, the district production officer, “said the production of honey in Dokolo district has gone up due to the many farmers’ groups formed under the programme”.

So perhaps the journalist should be asking Fr .Simon Lokodo whither the factory…

Meanwhile, “Robert Okodia, a farmer and honey dealer, attributed the misuse to ignorance…”

Even after training was conducted?!

I believe the problem is that the beehives were given to them free of charge instead of as a loan secured by the threat of serious personal loss, but again I just have lugezi-gezi.

In the long run of the story, “In Dokolo…the biting poverty has prompted the government and other humanitarian agencies to devise several intervention measures…”

Another thing I disagree with, because it interferes with Darwinism and natural selection.
Below this story was ‘Dr. Obote College picks science prize’ claiming that the College “has received 20 computers after it won this year’s Science and Innovation Challenge…and beat seven traditional giants to win the contest.”

How did they do so? No information. What did they create? No information. Okay, what was the innovation challenge they met? No information.

The rest of the story lists the seven traditional giants in full, names the contest organiser and the sponsors.

Like the beekeepers, you learn nothing.
On Page 12 I gave up after reading ‘MP Cadet advises farmers’ which thankfully was a brief stating in full: “Bunyaruguru Member of Parliament Cadet Benjamin has urged the people of Rubirizi district to engage in commercial farming as one way of eliminating poverty from their homes and improve on their living conditions.

“Poverty and hunger can be eliminated if all people practiced commercial farming for both food and cash crops because this area is suitable for coffee growing,” said Cadet.”

Besides the fact that he was stating the obvious, why is this news? Why do MPs get to gather people in places to listen to such statements?

I can’t be bothered to go and check the Hansard to confirm whether he contributed to discussions on Genetically Modified seeds, biotechnology and other agricultural development debates; or to hear whether he pushed for government expenditure to be re-prioritised to support commercial farming – like asking for Ushs36billion to be re-allocated from a parking lot to tractors for every district or something.

But this is the first time I have heard his name so…fat chance.
In my dismay I really wish we could leave a lot more to natural selection rather than MPs and productivity centres.