Monday, September 23, 2013

Even Cinderella Had Till Midnight

I’m sure many would understand what it is like to get an inspiration on something to share, but never really get around doing it. That is the case with this post. As time passed I’ve also had different ideas on how to title it, from ‘Yes the grass may just be greener on the other side, but the owner of the field probably has blisters’ to ‘It’s not going to come or stay that easy’. Finally I decided on this perhaps because it’s the most recent.

For all who recall the famous Cinderalla story, her wishes did come true (courtesy of her fairy godmother) but then could only hold till Midnight. ‘Cos in reality, wishes are limited. They could set us off on the course but we have more to do in reality. And this actually is the message I’ve carried in my mind for so long, with too many incidents hitting it home over and over again.

Life allows us very often the occasion to compare. To look over the fence and often just wish for the results and accomplishments of others, but very rarely the efforts that have been put in. It’s about time we go beyond that, and consciously move to being deliberate and purposeful about what we truly wouldn’t mind, what we really want in every area of life.

 No relationship for example would blossom without being cared for. Be it with family, friends, colleagues or even God. It’s easy to watch others and desire the intimacy/rapport we see. But it wasn’t automatic for them. Choices were made, actions were deliberately taken that is why they enjoy what they have. Are you willing to be humble, to compromise for fairness, to serve, to give (hugs, kisses, time, encouragement and support or gifts), forgive offenses and even to pray? Are you ready to show courtesy, saying ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ at the right time and in the right way? So if you are fortunate to be married to a rare gem, you’ll need to brace yourself up more consciously for that gem to remain rare, even to you.

That child of yours is not going to be a believer in your faith, ideals and values just because you are. You need to make sure you walk the talk, in addition to teaching because that’s what kids know best. No school is going to make a genius out of your child (academically or in extra-curricular). Look out for the “outliers” in your child’s school, there’s definitely something different the folks are doing. What have you observed in your child? What have you done so far? Are you ready to motivate, encourage or pay an expert to coach to help him be the best he can be?

Yes you graduated the same year as that friend of yours. Probably you even got your great job months before he got his. How come he rarely complains of needing funds for personal things, he even just invested in another income generating opportunity. And he also gets to go on vacations to take a break now and then. Yet you don’t understand how your take home isn’t actually taking you home. You shouldn’t be wondering, instead ask questions, read books (e.g. the Richest man in Babylon, simple and practicable), make a plan, if possible get someone you can be accountable to, note your expenses and review it, save something as often as you can, invest in other streams of income…it won’t be easy but your grass will get greener.

The same applies to your health. How careful are you about what and when you eat? Don’t just sign up at that gym, get started. What of that skill/knowledge you gained a while back? It will only remain unproductive as long as you don’t upgrade or creatively apply it, even if voluntarily.

In all honesty, it’s difficult to push though on anything that doesn’t even mean anything to us. It’s tough to consciously study and learn about what we don’t value. Perhaps it’s a re-orientation that is required, to begin to value, and stop taking casually those things that really matter. But if for any reason, that relationship means the world to you, if your health should tell a different story in your lineage, if your child is indeed your treasure… by all means, go beyond wishing, become deliberate, even get the blisters because the sun and the rain would come and they will help guarantee the greenness of your field.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

With calls now averaging just under 20kobo per second, should telecomm service be so damn poor?

The good news with my Airtel line is that I get to call 2 special numbers for 2k/s.  Also with my Glo line I can call 5 special numbers for 5k/s.  The bad news is the two kobo service I'm getting.  Why?  Anytime me and my babyboo start to say something important, the call is dropped.  Every two to five minutes, a dropped call. 

But texts are worse.  In the past few days, I've recorded only about one in every four text messages delivered.  You can imagine the madness, when people exchange text messages and the sender gets billed (and gets a delivery confirmation) and the receiver gets nada, nothing to hint that a message was ever sent.  Things were better when text messages at least bounced with a "message undelivered" report, so you could retry or at least be aware that the message failed. 

Nowadays I just call rather than text if I want a little more reliability, before they spoil my market for me.  From the phone company's standpoint, that may be more revenue, but isn't it more channel-intensive to phone, and aren't the phone networks already congested, so shouldn't they encourage people to rather text than call, rather BBM than browse, until they can beef up their facilities?
Last week I sent a text to my friend who was sitting next to me in the car.  It arrived several minutes later.  :) 

It's been a terrible summer for Nigerian phone users.  I know we've said that before, but really things got better then got a lot worse this summer. 

As for internet, well...
The internet modem speeds have gone up on average.  Up-time too.  (I use Visafone.) 
That's the good news.
See a brief history of my internet service (disservice).

The blackberry plan by Airtel is currently quite rubbish (I'm mostly on Lagos Mainland, it might be much better on the Island or other states.)  I want a refund, seriously, the thing is down more than it's up.  And when it's up, it's most useful for sending quick emails.  It's also reasonably useful for BB chats, which I don't use.  But when I tried, chat messages took several minutes to zoom across the Atlantic.   
Using their so-called Complete Blackberry plan with a browser, e.g. searching for a word online in google takes real patience...enter the search item, count to 100 in Chinese, then MAYBE it will return a results page, or maybe you will have to retry/cancel your effort, or maybe you'll fall asleep waiting.

The blackberry plan by Glo was better, but then I switched my Glo phone to a non-BB to take advantage of their G-BAM with very basic internet for N5 per day.  I noticed Glo stopped deducting my daily five naira, which makes sense because the service provision was down to just about zero and I was starting to wonder if my N150 a month wouldn't be better spent eating cassava bread or something.  The great thing about Glo is that when they screw up, they fix it before people get too angry.  Unlike MTN which I wouldn't touch with a long bamboo stick.  Really.  MTN IS REALLY REALLY BAD.

There has to be a solution. 

I thought government said no more promos, but see the proliferation of promos and the death spiral of quality.  Can we really afford to have undelivered text messages (billed and masked as delivered?)  What if somebody dies?  What if somebody loses business?  What if me and babyboo break up because of this stupid service lol. 

Naija!  Naija! Naija!  How many times did I call you?  Are you the first ones to use mobile telephony?  Or to use electric power?  How come what works in other developed and developing countries would come here and suddenly be a source of drama?  Mobile phones and internet browsing are becoming more popular, does that not mean the phone companies need to increase or rationalize their resources? 
First, let me ask: 

Have the network engineers, telecom managers, been given any mandates to ease congestion
If so, aren't there methods out there to simply copy?  Google "Network Congestion Technical" or something.
If not, (more likely to be the case since there seems to be no penalty for bad service), then back to the regulation question.  Let me be paid (a refund plus 100%) for every bounced message.  Let me be paid a small apology fee for every dropped call.  Give me back my 400 naira plus an apology for the poor 'complete blackberry' service.  See how the quality of service can improve once it starts costing something to give poor service.
Another way to 'make it cost something' is to publish comparative data on the available services.  A weekly report, for example, showing for each service provider:
  • Up-time/Down-time?  (For phone, for internet, with reasonable thresholds/cut-offs, e.g. 5kb/s internet is off/down let's be real. Phone access switching between 0 and 1 bar is no access )
  • How many bars?  
  • Call drop behaviour?  
  • Failed texts?  (Failed texts should NEVER happen, it's just wrong and dangerous) 
  • Delayed texts?  (Texts delayed under 2 mins and texts delayed over 2 mins might be counted separately)
This might let everybody take advantage of the number-portablility to dump the worst service-providers. 

Monday, September 02, 2013

Social classes; definitions

Social class is not identical to wealth, but the two concepts are related (particularly in Marxist theory), leading to the combined concept of Socioeconomic status.
 Partly as a result of different economic conditions of life, members of different social classes often have different value systems and view the world in different ways. As such, there exist different "conceptions of social reality, different aspirations and hopes and fears, different conceptions of the desirable."
The way the various social classes in society view wealth vary and these diverse characteristics are a fundamental dividing line among the classes. Source: Wikipedia/Wealth

The lower class 
Those with the least amount of wealth are the poor.  Wealth accumulation for this class is to some extent prohibited...Most of the institutions that the poor encounter discourage any accumulation of assets.

The upper class

Upper class values include higher education, and the wealthiest people value the accumulation and maintenance of wealth, the maintenance of social networks and the power that accompanies such networks. Children of the upper class are typically schooled on how to manage this power and channel this privilege in different forms. It is in large part by accessing various edifices of information, associates, procedures and auspices that the upper class are able to maintain their wealth and pass it to future generations.

The middle class 
The middle class places a greater emphasis on income.
The middle class views wealth as something for emergencies and it is seen as more of a cushion. This class comprises people that were raised with families that typically owned their own home, planned ahead and stressed the importance of education and achievement.
They earn a significant amount of income and also have significant amounts of consumption.
However there is very limited savings (deferred consumption) or investments, besides retirement pensions and homeownership. They have been socialized to accumulate wealth through structured, institutionalized arrangements. Without this set structure, asset accumulation would likely not occur.

Source: Wikipedia/Wealth

Previously on UpNaira