Monthly Archives: November 2009

I Miss… #5

Wow it has been quite a while since my last installment in the, “I Miss,” series, but a recent discussion with a friend, combined with just a little time to write today, prompted this. However, when I have more time to write, you can look forward to the next installment in my Open Data Formats series, my Linux Series, and of course the long-awaited Ars Politico Africanae, Part 2. You might even get a brief history of the Internet so that we can all be caught up in the recent political wheelings and dealings surrounding ICANN, IANA and the internationalization of the control over the Internet. The future looks bright for my blog readers! Aren’t you all excited? Oh and for those not interested in computers, I have some entries ahead in what may become a new series, “Kenyan Conversationalism,” plus whatever else pops into mind. Stay tuned. And now back to our regularly-featured presentation.

I Miss

I miss summers hanging out around the pool at night with my friends. A lot. Now first off, let me preface this with telling all you that I have grown up with the best parents ever. They have been such good parents my entire life and have been amazing providers for their zany children (and we are a zany bunch, no?). In fact, I think we got in so many fights because sub-consciously I knew I would never be as nearly good a parent to my own children as my own are to me. I fear the day one of my children finally breaks down and asks, “Dad, why aren’t you nearly as cool and grandma and grandpa?” How this all come into play?

Well, every summer, our house became the central hang out for my friends (and my siblings’ friends as well). One of the highlights that made it all worthwhile was the pool. It was lit up beautifully at night, tiki torches all around, including an accompanying hot tub. It was perfect size for us all and for hosting some really fun nights. Earlier this week, my friends and I were talking and somehow the Mike’s brand of malted alcoholic beverages was brought up, and my instant recall was that of nights at the pool with my friends. High school (no Mike’s involved then) and college (Mike’s became involved after we had all reached legal age) summers are special times in life growing up; times to be treasured, where you have all the freedoms youth affords you, combined with still crashing at your parents’ place so you don’t need to pony up nearly as much money to have fun. Why anybody would actively seek out a lifestyle other than a youthful lifestyle I do not know. Maybe more money?

Yeah, I miss that. I just hope one day I will be able to provide and enable for my own children to have such an amazing youth as I did. Thanks mom and dad. Miss you and love you!

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Breaking News!

Recently, the Fund for Peace, a US-based think tank, released their fifth annual Failed States List. Of course, it’s always fun to see where your home country ranks, and well, living in the developing world always makes the game that much more interesting. So here are some fun facts as to how this list relates to my current life: Continue reading

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Ars Politico Africanae: National Youth Service Mombasa

Andy, if you read this, (or any other L atin nerds for that matter), feel free to correct the title.

With that out of the way, recently we have had some political developments in my life here in Kenya, both at the local level and at the nationwide level. I thought I would share them with you. I have split the post into two parts. Part one will cover recent developments at NYS, and part two will cover the release of the draft constitution here in Kenya. Continue reading

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Tips For Contentment in Peace Corps Kenya

“Insanity is the only sane reaction to an insane society.” -Thomas Szas

One of the most ruinous equations I have ever experienced in my life is that of: Coffee + Early Morning + Stimulating Conversation = Need to Write. Well, the planets aligned this morning, and if I don’t get the writing out of my system, it will only result in a complete shutdown later in the day. Those players of Magic the Gathering will understand the analogy that this feeling is akin to mana burn. For those less geeky in life, it is basically the simple fact that at least in my life, the buildup of mental faculties combined with the inability to completely use those faculties is sometimes more devastating then not building them up at all. I started and stopped and article three times, because I had thought about its body on the way over here, but never could get a proper introduction. So I have fallen back to my originally planned article for today.

I’ve noticed I have not had a list recently, so below I present my list of no particular length of steps one can take to be content in Peace Corps Kenya. Some of these may apply to Peace Corps as a whole, but they are mostly based on my personal experiences, and those are very Coastal Kenya-oriented. Feel free to abstract at will though 🙂 Continue reading

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Linux: It’s Everywhere and Nowhere

This entry is the second in a series covering GNU/Linux, an Operating System consisting of the Linux Kernel and applications from the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community, with an emphasis on its connections to the developing world.  These articles assume at least a moderate understanding of the Linux and FOSS communities.  For more information regarding these, I would direct interested parties to Linux.org as well as the Free Software Foundation and finally, for the truly interested, the GNU Manifesto. With all of this knowledge now in hand, I hope you enjoy the series. If you have not already done so, I suggest you go ahead and read the first post in the series: Linux: Not Ready for the Big Time.

Linux is Everywhere

In my first post in this series, I expostulated at quite length to the fact that Linux is not ready for the Big Time.  Yet, if one takes a closer look at the true state of Linux, one begins to notice, Linux is everywhere!  How is it not ready for the Big Time?  What even is the Big Time? To me, the Big Time is when it has become a household name, common to every person who is at least a bit familiar with computers, seen as an equal choice to Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh when choosing how you, the common user, will operate your computer. Continue reading

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Change in RSS Feeds

In my epic struggle to refine my, “blog experience,” I have switched my RSS feed to also use the Feedburner system that powers my email subscriptions.  Thus, I would kindly ask any and all of my RSS-syndicated readers to please switch to the new feed at their earliest convenience.  Cheers!

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In My Spare Time…

In my spare time, I moonlight as a graphic artist (though a bad one). Two teachers who are taking the same night classes on entrepreneurship and business approached me to help them with their logos.  Considering I have nothing to do but blog all day, I figured at least this would be helping friends, so I set about designing some logos.  The first two were options presented for an IT training business, and the third is for a Cereals mill.

kitb_logo_both

uzima_logo

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It’s Culture, But Not As An Excuse!

This past Saturday I headed into Mombasa for my weekly excursion for shopping at the supermarket (it’s cheaper than shopping local, though I buy veggies local), as well as for a change of scenery.  I sit all week in the same computer lab, go to the same hoteli for lunch, and rarely have conversations because my lab is so far from all the other teachers and apparently I am just not a good conversationalist when it comes to things Kenyans are interested in.  To compensate, I got to town.  As I have stated before, I seem to have more of a social life with Kenyans I meet on the Internet who share my interests, than those I meet in person.

However, this past Saturday I lucked out.  First, some preface.  During training out bosses solicited us for information about ourselves to help them in our placement.  They told us to tell them anything we thought might impact their placing us.  This is not unprecedented, as every PC office is allowed to handle placement however they want.  With request in mind, I sent off an email explaining to my boss (APCD is the correct title: Associate Peace Corps Director), that though my interests are in computers, I am also very interested in History (with a capital H).  Due to this interest, and knowing full well that Peace Corps is also about integrating and learning about the culture, I told him that I would be appreciative of a coast placement, as my research of Kenya informed me that the coast had always had interactions between Arabs, Westerners and Africans.  Score!  Email sent, I banished the thought from my mind but was more than pleased when I discovered I would be not only in Coast Province but also right near Mombasa, the center of a lot of coastal historical intrigue. Continue reading

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Open Data Formats: Intro and Documents

This post is the first in a series regarding the use of open data formats. The series will cover practical uses of open data formats in documents, music, movies and graphics and may continue to grow as people express interest in one area or another.

In previous posts I’ve mentioned such topics as Free and Open Source Software and as well as Open Data Formats.  However, in previous posts, it’s mostly been rhetoric, and not much in terms of practicality for you, my devoted readers.  Now I would like to introduce you all to the more practical side of FOSS and open data formats. Today we will go over a brief introduction to the notion of open data, as well as go over some practical uses of open data formats in the real world. Continue reading

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Profile: The Kenyan Middle Class

Recently, an fellow online Peace Corps volunteer directed me to a recent blog post of his entitled, “How (Not) To Write About Africa.”  In it, he syndicates another article written by a Kenya, Binyavanga Wainaina, which goes at length to satire the most common topics of white Westerners writing about Africa.  I don’t want to take the time to go and compare all of my blog entries against the list, but I am sure I myself have written in this stereotypical fashion at points, though there really are monkeys all around my house that I frequently catch engaging in the most monkey-like antics you have ever seen!  With these points in mind I thought I would write about the least stereotyped topic I could think of that I have more than average engagement with: the Kenyan middle class. Continue reading

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