Offline Pledge

When I held my first mobile phone, I was fresh from high school and it was something of a life achievement to own a mobile phone. My old man figured I needed the gadget, not so much for communication but so I would not label him and my mum failed parents. As a young adult, it was extremely important that my friends saw me as a trend setter as opposed to a trend follower. And so I was one of the few S.6 vacists with a mobile phone at the time.

CellMy first baby the Nokia 5160

My first mobile phone was huge, most times without credit, but always fully charged and constantly in my hands. It had no internet access and the most high-tech attribute about it was infrared. I loved it nonetheless and it always made me appear cool despite its size and limited functionality. I could often be seen fingering the device with untold pride, extreme delight and strange frequency. It didn’t matter that half the time I was playing the snake game and the other half I was changing from one monophonic ringtone to another. The phonebook was mostly filled with numbers I copied from billboards, news papers and random magazines. Since I had few actual phone numbers that belonged to people I knew, I had to find a way to fill up the phonebook. The huge device was my pride; it was my love; it was my everything!

Toy

The closest most peers had come to owning a phone 

As time went by, it became impossible to separate me and my phone. The relationship we had was something of a symbiotic one; I constantly charged the device and it rewarded me by winning me approval and substantial envy from my peers. Being one of the first among my friends to own a mobile phone was something that constantly gave me pleasure and massaged my ego substantially. And so without warning, my addiction to the mobile phone started right there.

baby

Nowadays the addiction starts right from birth!

Several years later, the addiction has become so powerful that I often wonder what my life would be like if I spent just a few days without my phone. At the beginning of this year while everyone was making resolutions to become richer, get marriage partners, switch jobs or become less abusive, I was quietly having an interesting conversation with the universe about my addiction to my mobile phone. I told myself that I would set aside a one week period where I would be offline. Being offline would mean having no internet access on my phone which is something I cannot risk doing for a number of reasons. First of all, my job requires that I am constantly online. Secondly, I have this strange addiction to following events online right from sports, to current affairs to entertainment and everything in between. Thirdly, isn’t life just so empty without the internet? Seriously; is it not?

heart-shaped-free-social-media-icon-coloured1

Oh the things I will miss!!

Naturally, this addiction and desire to stay online all the time comes at a price. There is the issue of using up way too much data which increasingly takes a toll on the wallet. Then there is the issue of having to walk around with cables and such things so as to constantly charge the bloody phone. Quite a hustle! And then of course you have all these notifications and alerts awaiting response every now and again.

truth

Trues Story

And so when I was having that other conversation with the Universe, I was keen to promise myself a week when I would have no access to the internet on my phone. It appears Karma was eavesdropping because just last week (on Friday), I got an unexpected visit from Lady Karma. My phone blacked out and has since refused to respond to any pressing, loud cursing, polite begging and earnest prayer. The damned phone just will not budge.

The natural thing for one to do when their prized Samsung Galaxy Tab stops working is head to the technicians to try and get the little baby to work again. Or if the worst came to the worst, have the gadget replaced. However, having remembered that I owed the Universe the promise to stay offline for at least one week, I decided against it. Also, I was too broke to get the phone fixed or replaced. So I decided to spend some time offline, starting with the weekend. Big Mistake!

For starters, a number of folks had gotten used to getting in touch either via whatsapp, Twitter, Faebook or email which unfortunately cannot be accessed when one is offline. Access to the internet on the phone is something that offers an opening to so many avenues of communication. Each of these will come with specific benefits and shortcomings. A good number of my contacts are actually wondering what the heck is going on with me especially since they are used to my online presence 24/7. I have received a few phone calls from people who think ‘something is wrong’. And yes, they are right – the phone with which I access the internet is dead.

no-internet

The phone I’m currently using  as no internet access. 

It is therefore safe to say that for one week, there is a chance I will be in a dark, cold, lonely, uninformed and totally sad world of only phone calls and old school text messages. While everyone is constantly updating their status on Facebook, sharing details of their boring lives on Instagram, spreading false rumours about themselves on Twitter and sharing updates about their boring jobs on LinkedIn, I shall quietly be stuck with phone calls and Text messages.

It may appear that I am going offline because I am trying to cut back on my addiction to my phone but really it is mostly because I cannot afford to get back online right away. While I have resigned myself to waiting for one week before I can replace the now dead smart phone, I know that I will pay quite dearly for this. One or two business deals might go south, my boss might complain here and there and I might even miss an invite to a party somewhere. But I like to think it is for the greater good. So then, my dear friends, if I do not respond to your whatsapp message or I if reply your email only in the evening when I am seated on a computer, it is because I am trying to follow up on my pledge to the Universe. It might have taken the death of my beloved Samsung Galaxy Tab but hey, the call must be answered. The regularity with which I am online is going to reduce substantially for just a week. But even though I walk through the shadow of no mobile internet for a week, I shall fear no evil!

offline

Back in a Week

“A man who can’t bear to share his habits is a man who needs to quit them.” ― Stephen King, The Dark Tower

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
Follow @beewol on Twitter

 

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Telecom Divorce

Technology has undoubtedly become the greatest frontier in the struggle to advance and improve our existence on earth. Tasks can now be accomplished faster, people can communicate easier and life generally seems simplified – at least on the surface. Because of technology, distance is now just another eight letter word that has lost meaning over the years, along with other eight letter words like humanity, marriage, learning, kindness, courtesy, original, merciful, trusting and morality.

altruism

Another 8 letter word that could do with revival

In terms of communication, it is safe to say that mobile phones have helped us uncover a world of efficiency and speed we never imagined possible. Mobile Telecom companies have wasted no time in cashing in on the madness and along the way, they have somewhat gone back on some of their original promises. When you are joining any network, you will be told about the cheap call rates, the clear network signals, the great data packages and generally a truckload of benefits. Not long after, you realise that you were sold a raw deal, albeit after getting hooked to the network.

I have been a victim of this raw deal and I would like to share my very sad experience with my service provider who for obvious reasons will not be mentioned lest I become a moving target. I will only mention them when I have effectively finalised my divorce with the said network – something I am working on quite rigorously.

The Wonky Internet Connection

For someone whose life is substantially wasted on the internet, there are few things as frustrating as failing to access the internet when you otherwise have plenty of data. It is likely that in a few years time, I will have no problem sleeping hungry, having no clothes on my back or being impotent – as long as I have access to the internet. The addiction to the internet is not something I am proud of – heck I think there is a fairly hot place waiting for me in Hell because of my addiction to the internet. However, I feel like it is my right to have access to the internet especially since I pay through the nose to be able to access the service. I am very rarely in remote places where internet access is understadably wonky. However, I can not start to count the number of times I have failed to access the internet because my service provider is undergoing ‘routine maintenance’ or having ‘technical problems’. Soon, I will find myself taking a leisurly stroll to the said service provider’s premises and hurling a brick at one of the windows. Might not solve any problem but will certainly help me release much collected negative energy that has build up over the years. Total frustration!

page-load-speed

sssllloooowww internet sucks!

Then the Clueless Customer Care

The last phone call I made to my mobile telecom service provider’s customer care lasted exactly 18 minutes and 26 seconds. 16 of these minutes were spent ‘waiting for the next available consultant’ and the other 2 minutes were spent trying to figure out why my phone was playing games on me. I am a very patient person – most times. I could have waited even half an hour for ‘the next avaialble consultant’ but what I cannot stand is a customer care consultant who picks up your call and makes  it seem like you have no idea what you are talking about. For starters, by the time I call customer care, I’ve sort of explored all possible avenues for a solution. I absolutely dislike calling customer care so I only do it as a last resort. Half the time they too are clueles and the other half they are telling you to do what you have already done 4 times over – restart the phone (that is the standard solution to over 50% of phone related problems). After I have explained what my problem is and the other person is simply taking me around in circles, I kind of lose my patience. I was brought up by my parents to be civil and not utter harsh words no matter how frustrated or angry I may be. Telecom customer care individuals test my resolve quite a lot. Most times I pass with flying colours but only because I cannot reach through the phone to break a few bones or crash a jaw.

bad customer service card

Well done guys, well done indeed!

Then there is the rapture

On a number of occasions, I have been scared into thinking the worst could have happened to someone simply because their phone is off. Most times, as it turns out, the phone is actually very much on but the network has just stubbornly volunteered to switch off someone’s number. Other times, you have a conversation with someone, hang up, remember you were supposed to say something else, call them right back and suddenly ‘the number you have dialed is not on the network’ or ‘you have dialed a number that is not in service’. What the hell!! Did the rapture just happen within a few seconds of the other person hanging up or what? I would rather call up someone and be subjected to a bogus country music ring tone as opposed to calling and being told that the number I have dialed is a wrong number even after I have cross checked 8 times!

angry_on_the_phone

 

We just talked and suddenly the number is wrong? Are you kidding me!

Then the Messages!

One of the reasons why my phone is an absolute problem in my life right now is because of unsolicited text messages. It has become apparent today that sending unsolicited text messages is one of the most effective ways of bombarding people with information that they would otherwise rather not receive, given a choice. The number of times I have been told that I am the day’s lucky person in an SMS gambling scheme are way too many I am starting to think that maybe I am not so special after all. I am not a gambling person and so the odds that I will actually follow the instructions are as slim as the odds that I will grow an afro. I requested that my number be removed from the list of ‘lucky customers’ who receive the daily reminders of great chances at gambling. My number was removed but after a few days, I was right back up there with millions of other ‘special’ customers – receiving my daily dose of lucky messages with a chance to win big. Useless!!. If that is not reason enough for me to leave a network, then nothing is.

IMG_20140428_150633I am tired of this rubbish!

I could go on and on about the raw deal that these Telecom Companies have sold me but God knows my voice is just but a whisper in a crowded place. So I’ll patiently give myself one extra month with the said network and if nothing better happens (which is likely) I will quietly leave the network and see what else other networks have to offfer.

“The telephone is the greatest nuisance among conveniences, the greatest convenience among nuisances.” ― Robert Staughton Lynd

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
Follow @beewol on Twitter 

Online Presidency

Rumour has been doing the rounds that Citizen 001 is finally getting the hang of things in terms of technology and social media. Rumour is also rife that the big man has joined the selfie Olympics with so much vigour the Selfie Olympics Committee is considering changing the rules so that he doesn’t sweep all the trophies. I have also heard that Mr. 1986 has put together a formidable team to help him join Instagram, FourSquare, Facebook and whatsapp among others – with a bang! And that is not all; I have also been reliably informed that we might soon have a public holiday to celebrate the launch of Citizen 001’s YouTube channel. Apparently it will have some of the baddest Harlem Shake videos from the entire cabinet along with some hitherto unseen footage from Kyankwanzi. Also, I am told that the video of Mpekoni has been finalized and it will be one of the first uploaded videos on the Legendary YouTube channel.

From what I gather, Citizen 001 is all out to embrace progress. Finally, one can afford a smile knowing that the big man will not just be associated with thumbs, hats, sacks, elections and envelops but other things like Instagram selfies, Twitter hashtags, hilarious YouTube comments and massive online Klout. Kudos big man, kudos! Once our president becomes an online president, I know for a fact that we will reap very big as a nation.

Just in case anyone is not too sure about why we need an online president, I shall gladly share my two cents on the issue. I give you reasons why we need an online president.

Fulfilling Campaign Pledges

Not-so-long-ago, a certain presidential aspirant promised that once voted into power, he would champion so many things including ‘modernization’. This might come a few years (or terms) late but hey, better late than never. Nothing screams ‘modernization’ as loud as a FourSquare check in by the Mayor of State House saying “Breakfast in Bed with my sweetie Kataha XOXO!”. I am confident that all those who have been alleging that the president does not deliver on his campaign promises will quickly shut up. He promised you modernization, did he not? Well, go and check who the mayor of State House is now… Boom! – Mr. 1986!! In your faces, you old dweebs who are against our modern strategies!

Sevo Mr. 1986 and one of his buddies in taking a stroll. Runkeeper would come in handy here

And the Selfie King is … 

During the events that surrounded the passing of Nelson Mandela, a one president Barack Obama took the Selfie game to a whole new level. He raised the stakes so high that many world leaders tried but totally failed to match up. Along the way, the Pope joined the Selfie Olympics and so did British PM James Cameron, Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and a few other world leaders. Very recently, a new entrant in the form of our very own Mr. 1986 joined the competition and for once in a very long time he actually did have a chance of finishing ahead of many world leaders. True, he is only a new comer but I know many rookies who have been anything but rookies in their first seasons. With the new trend of events I foresee a very tough competition and if all goes well, our very own President might be in the running for the top position. When the crowning of the selfie king of the word comes forth, I have a feeling Mr. 1986 will be close by; if not as the newly crowned king, then as the Holy Visionary who crowns the new king. He’s gat this!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I predict a Podium finish for the Musevenis and Obamas

Understanding the Data & UMEME hustle

Two of the most painful experiences of anyone who has a smart phone are; having low battery and running out of data. Unless your battery has run out completely or your data runs out, you cannot appreciate the importance of having electricity or data respectively. Once Mr. 1986 joins the data hustle, he will quickly come to the realization that a good number of our service providers are giving us a raw deal. When he fails to access his Twitter DM while somewhere in Kyankwanzi because of poor network, then maybe the Internet service providers will receive a phone call asking them to better their coverage. Also, when the big man wants to upload a selfie with one of his gorgeous daughters to Instagram and the battery is warning because there is UMEME load shedding going on, then maybe a phone call will be made for UMEME to clean up their act. I see good things happening because of this www experience.

Museveni

Let one of those service providers fool around and we shall see

Death to False Rumours

People have on several occasions wrongfully blamed the president for involving himself in a number of things, saying he was somewhere doing something despicable or undemocratic when indeed he was never there to begin with. When Mr. 1986 joins FourSquare, it will be easier for us to know for sure whether he is in Soroti opening new NRM offices, in Kayunga giving out sacks of fortune or in Rwakitara tending to his cattle. That way, we can know for sure where he is and what he is doing because after all, isn’t transparency part of what the Government should foster? With FourSquare, our online president will be able to absolve himself from any wrongdoings in Bank of Uganda seeing as his FourSquare check in will probably have him creeping on someone’s turf somewhere in Nebbi district and not counting shillings in Mutebile’s chambers.

Four squareThere can only be one Mayor of State House!

Your president, my president, our president 

Many people have constantly been complaining that they are denied access to the president by those around him. Well, with the new campaign to get the president online, this will be a thing of the past. As long as you can access the internet, you will be able to get in touch with the President himself without having to spend millions going through brokers, middle men and negotiators. The president belongs to the people and we should be able to access him, add him to our Whatsapp groups, send him DMs on Twitter, tag him in our baby photos on Facebook, laugh at jokes with him on Google Plus and share our cat videos with him on YouTube. I see no reason why the president should be hidden away from us like a Holy Grail that must not be seen by those who are not worthy or worse, like a Plague that must be kept away from the people. He is your president, my president, Lukwago’s president, Kataha’s President, Bebe Cool’s president, Pastor Sempa’s President and most definitely everyone’s president. So we should all be able to access him; if not physically then at least via Skype.

It is high time we got off our behinds and showed the president that as much as he may have the vision, we have a mission, and it’s to make him an online president – our online president!

“The Internet is like alcohol in some sense. It accentuates what you would do anyway. If you want to be a loner, you can be more alone. If you want to connect, it makes it easier to connect.”  ― Esther Dyson

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
Follow @beewol on Twitter

 

 

Employment Crack Code

Nearly every adult Ugandan has voiced their concern about the unemployment levels in this otherwise blessed country. Political parties have been set up, associations formed and tantrums thrown all in the name of the high levels of unemployment. I was recently chatting with a Human Resource Manger of a major telecom company (NO, I do not have her phone number so please do not ask me for details). Our discussion centered on the employment market and how crowded and pathetic it is. True, we did veer off topic once or twice; it was hard to concentrate with her Dollydagger Dita black red polka dress screaming for attention right there, in front of me. Also, she had a dragon tattoo that kept peeping from the back of her neck – as if asking me to say something. That said, most of our discussion was about the employment market and it’s perks. Red

The dress that almost stole away my attention

You see, gone are the days when one would hold a graduation party while they have 2 or 3 job offer letters lying around somewhere in their house. Today, several years after you have graduated, you may still be seen languishing in cafes, coffee shops and parks looking to bump into old friends who can offer you jobs. The hunt for jobs has dangerously been elevated. You may come across a bunch of employment opportunities advertised in the local press but it will be quite a while before any of them actually works out for you.

JobSearchNewspaperTough luck!

In light of this, one would wonder how the heck we are going to survive. Why do Universities still churn out graduates anyway? It is not like new jobs for fresh graduates will suddenly be manufactured from a factory somewhere in Kyankwanzi. In addition, it has become apparent that older folks have more active taste buds and more insatiable appetites than the younger folks. How else would one explain a grey haired dude occupying four or five  jobs which could easily be filled by five different young and energetic people? Overall, it is safe to say that the situation may not improve any time soon.

Many vital questions can be asked in 2014. Is Pharrel Williams a vampire who never ages? What really happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? Does Beyonce’s fart smell nasty? Is Tamale Mirundi a descendant of the Mayans? Will Nigeria colonize Uganda one day? Who is more beautiful between Lupita Nyong’o and Jenniffer Hudson? Very many unanswered questions still haunt us. However, the biggest question right now would be: How shall we deal with unemployment in Uganda?

My humble suggestion lies in two very simple solutions. If I may;

1. Stop waiting and make the call

Many unemployed Ugandans are guilty of sitting back and waiting for nature to call them to the dinner table. Unfortunately for them, nature has way too many problems to deal with that she will need a lot more time to attend to each and every one of them. Instead of waiting for lady luck to smile your way, how about getting off your lazy bottom and going out there to do hunt down this fat lipped lady luck? Instead of sitting back and reading the dailies in search of job opportunities, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to think of doing something on your own. Something that will not require you to send in an application letter or appear before the firing squad at an interview committee that will leave you all drenched in sweat. Go out there and do something that you are passionate about, something that may not bring in as much money at the start but is bound to do so with time and dedication. Many unemployed people today blame the Government for the apathy that they suffer. Blaming the Government is something we must all do – it is our civic duty to blame the Government for bad roads, ugly girls, poor service delivery, lousy weather, slow internet, anything and everything… not to mention unemployment. However, after the blame game has been played, one needs to wake up to the realization that while you are busy blaming the Government, your neighbor (who strangely is also under the same government) wakes up at 6:00 am every morning to set up his Rolex stall where he will then proceed to make some really good money without waiting for the Government to come and light his sigiri or buy him baking flour. About time you got off that lazy ass and stopped waiting for the Government to find you a job – the Government is busy dealing with more important issues like the 36 Billion shilling MPs parking lot that flooded and drafting a bill to curb the smoking of shisha.

Rolex

The Government did not set his alarm for him to rise early

2. Embrace your passion and package yourself already! 

Very many unemployed people are quite talented at certain things and they are not even aware of it. Just because you graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Chemistry does not mean you cannot become a fine writer, movie star or Human Resource Manager. In Uganda, many of the courses we do at the University have to do with how we performed at ‘A’ Level. Sadly, this may not exactly be one’s passion in life. I know someone who passed ‘A’ level literature with flying colours but can barely write a 50 word story without making thirteen grammatical errors. Their passion is in another field – beer. Not drinking it, but marketing it. So he now works for a top Beer company where his skills are better suited. The onus is upon everyone to know what they are good at and go out there to embrace exactly that. The days when elders were worried about you wasting your Bachelor’s Degree in Development Studies by becoming a Nursery School Teacher are long gone. If your passion is in teaching little kids, direct your dreams, aspirations and focus towards exactly that. Not only will it help you garner the mojo to go out and hunt for an opportunity that best suits you, it will also help you grow your strengths and thus increase your chances of performing well when the time for the job arrives.

chicken

You’ll be shocked how much money you can get from Poultry!

Why so serious?

A traditional reader of this blog will probably be wondering why I decided to tackle a ‘big-people’ subject like unemployment when there are several lighter and more humorous subjects. The thing is, after talking to the dragon tattoo lady, I realized that the power to change the state of affairs lies in people who have a mouthpiece or platform. If I can say a word or two about something, I may as well do my part and help one or two people. Also, it will give me a chance to appear wise and insightful no matter how contrary the evidence may suggest.

So then, for your weekly dose of inspiration –

“All the possibilities of your human destiny are asleep in your soul. You are here to realize and honor these possibilities.” ― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Bernard

a.k.a Beewol

The Talkative Rocker

Follow @beewol on Twitter