Friday, October 25, 2013

Curiosity killed the cat

So in May of 2013 I joined this cool global software company as a developer. On the internal forums in this company people talk about how difficult it is to hire and keep experienced developers. Here in Kampala we are experiencing the exact same issues.

In Uganda developer teams of 5 or more are rarer than an honest politician. In my previous job I was one of 2 developers; we were superstars with the aura of magic makers or illusionists. I recently attended the leaving party for our former head of department and in his speech he described how even though we left more than 6months ago, we are still spoken of in reverential terms. That, it is universally accepted that there will never be another pair of developers as genius as us in that organisation. 

By now you are wondering why I left a place where I was the Olivia Pope, the Harvey Spector, the guy who gets stuff done. The short answer is curiosity. For a person who was adored as a messiah, the ceiling had been reached. The pressure was now on to become God's only prophet; Muhammad. But I wondered; if may be, instead of starting a new religion, I could just continue as a christian and possibly move from messiah to holy spirit. Still part of the technology trinity (ICT) rather than taking on an entirely new religion like Operations and Administration.   

But curiosity is a dangerous thing and we all know what happened to the curious cat; it ended up dead. The first real project at the new company and suddenly all my years of C# super stardom are replaced by python mediocrity. Every day I am getting scolded and lectured about bad coding practices and breaking the build. This 'feedback' is being delivered by kids on the team that just left university this year.

In addition, Agile is the project management method of choice in this new company. Agile prescribes pair programming, and bloody build monitors littered all over the office. Plus, mbu to enhance 'collaboration' the entire office is as open as my high school dinning hall. If you lift your head away from your computer screen, you can see everyone in the office. So there is nowhere to hide when the stupid build monitor turns red and your name is on it. Some of them even make weird sounds (Rick Dees bonehead song) when the build is broken. I wonder who thought that would be a good idea.

So curiosity has gotten me from messiah to Judas. Letting the team down and, worst of all, not even getting the 30 pieces of silver. The recruiter never said there would be days like these.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Air Travel Musings

Have you ever traveled through the Dubai airport? Going to one of the global north countries? Its like these guys were paid by the CIA to keep terrorists out of the western world. Your visa will be scanned by all manner of electronic devices and Sherlock Holmes' magnifying glass. There will also be random extra checks at the boarding gate. So imagine my surprise when the border chaps in New York just waved us all through, no questions asked. This despite the UN general assembly being on that week and Obama coming to town. The US had basically moved the first line of defence to Dubai.

Have you flown on the big bird; the A380? First you may be stunned, as I was, when the man mumbling on the PA introduces himself as Captain so and so; and also introduces another Captain so and so. Since this is the A380, you may conclude, as I did, that it was so big that it needs 2 whole Captains to fly it. So do not be surprised when the person who comes on the PA 12 hours later to prepare you for landing introduces himself as 1st officer so and so; and thanks you on behalf of the other 2 Captains as well. Basically the damn thing needs 3 people to fly it.

So we are boarded. Sitting next to this lady with a baby who has just soiled his diaper. But she cannot change it because we are taxiing to runway13-R. Going by my previous experience, we should be in the air in no more than 5 minutes; not such a long time to stand the stink. But this is JFK, and, using Entebbe as a reference again, bloody runway 13-R is in Ndebba and there is that massive jam from Stella too. It took well over 40 minutes to get to the runway and then we stood in a line for a further 10 minutes awaiting our turn to take off. A whole hour smelling the poo of a vegetarian baby. Forgive my pun, but that shit aint cool.

Not surprisingly, when you get to the super clean dubai the only 2 houseflies in the superbly sanitized airport somehow home-in on you. Including the 13 hour flight and the 2 hour cab drive from Manhattan to JFK, you have been in these clothes for just over 20 hours (nanti you checked out of the hotel at 12 noon and lingered in town to await your flight at 11pm). Thankfully there is a hot shower; and using the remaining soap from the Carlton hotel on madison, you smell fresh again. Flies banished to find the chap just in from the 16 hour flight from San Francisco or Australia.

If you were flying to Uganda from Dubai, am sure you noticed how the gate was like in the basement of the old terminal building, with no proper shops but just a few kiosks. Then on top of that they load you into buses, and if we use Entebbe for reference, they drive you all the way to Bwebajja to catch your flight home. That stuff pisses me off. Surely they can devise a system whereby the plane to Uganda parks at the terminal just in time for us to board without having to endure 30 degree Celsius heat. As Ugandans we are just not used to that kind of weather. Especially when we have been waiting in an air-conditioned terminal building for 13 hours.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Have the mighty fallen?

So they had been great in the past. I mean really really great. There was continental titles that few today even know about. Really badasses and serious heroes. But lately those accolades sounded hollow. They looked lost and had to endure taunts from fans of the new hero.

But this weekend, just for a few days, the feeling of being admired and respected by multitudes was one they got to experience again. They did that by defeating the new hero. And it was done in the most clinical of fashions. No slicing of the throat and the mess that can cause. There was no affixiation and the leaving of DNA that can arise. This was more like a single bullet between the eyes; BAM!! Very little blood and no struggle.

She said Titus (what a name) Tugume and the speeding magulu kumi he walked into in the form of a Golola Moses right upper cut.

He said Manchester United and that 1 nil defeat at the hands of their greatest rivals Liverpool FC.

Of course now obituaries are already being written for the heroes downed on the weekend. It is funny how people are always waiting for the gallant to fall. They come up with the very well researched obituaries immediately that indicate the hate is just under the surface waiting to come out. Humanity is such an envious bunch.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Kenyan Job

Finally a big job. The call came on a nondescript Tuesday evening. Someone wanted some Kenyans taken out by the next Thursday. The lead came from the Chennai super king, Kivev a.k. Minion. "Magso you will run this", he simply said.

So I set about setting up a team. I reached out to my advisor Reemas in Jozy. Over there he was simply known as the delivery guy. Well, he delivered a list of names from India of people who had the sort of experience I would need for this job. The unit was led by Diptra the slave driver; and consisted of Vivek the singer, Hareesh the thinker and Sriram the brain.

For the trigger man, I chose a Kenyan lady Buiwam. Even though she was new in the organisation, she had a massive reputation in Kenya for this sort of operation. Working with her would be the American Doctor, a.k.a the Haitian. Legend has it that he cut his teeth in Haiti's health space.

To round up the team I roped in Christopher the philosopher. Originally from a potato farming background in Australia, Chris had solved many a quagmire in Europe and Africa.

I sent Buiwam in to case the places where the hits would go down. It turned out several of the targets were actually Ugandans living in Kenya. In fact I had an old childhood grudge to settle with one of them. This would be a gratifying job on a personal level.

D-day came and tick tock the hit went off like clock work. Looking forward to the next bog job.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Snowden leaks project Obama details

So he said, mbu a long time ago, some white men sat in a room and contemplated the results of a yet to be released US census bureau report that showed that the white race was not the majority race in the US anymore. This was just the turn of the century and it was obvious to these guys that superiority of the white race had to be maintained. Several proposals were discussed and categorized as short term, medium term and long term.

In the short term, they agreed that the Hispanics would now be split into white Hispanics and black Hispanics with white Hispanics counted as whites but black Hispanics counted as Latinos. The result was that white numbers rose and could actually be reported as a growing majority race. A sinister move indeed.

But more sinister was the scheme proposed to reverse this trend for the long term. For purposes of making it easier for Ugandans to understand, I will call it Project Obama.

The gist of the plan was to ensure that a black man gets elected as President of the US. The plan was for it to be an intelligent and liberal black man so that the black race is not suspicious of him. This cabal reasoned that as a result of a black man ending up in power, the white race would be scared into not taking their superiority for granted. At the same time they would ensure that the black president oversaw policies that so alienated the black man that it reinforced his deep seated belief in his own inferiority. In simple terms the plan was to give the black race enough rope to hang themselves.

In truth, the plan is working to perfection. The lot of the black race in the US has never been lower. Not even during the rein of Ronald Reagan, was it this bad. The numbers of black people being entrusted with political office has fallen during Obama's rein. The number of black men ending up in jail has risen during Obama's rein. In general the black race has taken a massive step back during his 2 terms.

He has also overseen one of the most tyrannical US presidencies in recent times. Eroding away freedoms that were taken for granted in the US, but are now threatened by a massive big brother spying machine. Every morning Obama signs the kill list. This is a list of targets to be bombed by drones. After taking out the primary terrorists they are now taking out what they call potential terrorists. Yes, if you are the son of a terrorist they killed and in which drone attack your mother also died, then its only logical that you will turn into a terrorist 10 years from now when you turn 18. So you must be killed now.

In essence Obama is no different from a true African despot. Spying on his citizens and infringing their freedoms while at the same time spreading terror and heart ache outside.

Just like how the new 13" Macbook Pro is best Windows notebook PC, Obama is the best thing for white supremacy.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Join Us - Let us take Africa back

I recently started a new job in a company called ThoughtWorks inc. If you visited our website, you will learn that ThoughtWorks is a company that builds custom software for companies and it also has a very strong social impact program.

While they were trying to recruit me, I had a meeting with the chairman and founder and he broke down for me what this social impact program is about. I left that meeting feeling radicalised and since then, I have been behaving like a member of a cult. I have tried to recruit everyone that is at a loose end and now I have moved on to those with ongoing careers. A pal who wanted me to join him at Microsoft has now retreated after I turned the guns on him and tried to recruit him for ThoughtWorks.

Many of you are probably not surprised that techies (read geeks) can be cult like. But your lack of insight is not the half of it. We are fighting digital colonialism ( perpetrated by the likes of Google, Microsoft and Oracle. Led by our fearless leader, Neville Roy Singham (google him), ThoughtWorks intends to empower Africans to take their destiny into their own hands.

So now, I am going after my friends running the rat race in the diaspora. It is time to stop careering and start contributing. But be informed that there will be no soft landing. You will come and you will jump out of a helicopter taking heavy machine gun fire from Alshabab militias. The government closing down media houses, Besigye getting beaten on the streets and civil servants stealing all our money is what you have to live through everyday. The pot holes, the dust, and the boda bodas will be your every day experience as opposed to your 7 days experience may be once or twice a year.

I know some of you will think that Uganda is better off with you over there sending serious hard currency; especially now that diaspora remittances are almost rivalling coffee as a major earner. But the truth is, most of that money gets stollen in taxes and or used in consumption. What we want is your brains. You have the ideas that will transform this economy and make the lives of your brothers and sisters better for generations to come.

Only you can effect the real fundamental change. Join us...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Time is Money

Time, she says, is money. If that be the truth, then my time at IDI should be worth a lot of money in the bank.  I was thinking about this as I wrote my farewell email to all staff after receiving the letter from HR telling me what my gratuity/separation payment was going to be. It seemed my 8 years at IDI was not worth a lot of money anyway.

Later that day I went home and, as happens every day once I put my key in the door,  those Pavlov conditioned daughters of mine came hurtling towards me screaming, ‘daddy daddy….!’ I did not have any children 8 years ago when I joined IDI. But here we are and I feel so much richer for having my kids.

Since I made the announcement, I have discovered that I was actually a star. Everyone has been telling me I am a star and I shall be missed. Already I am feeling 10 feet taller. Even this issue with the gratuity has not spoiled my mood for long. It has all left me feeling like Alex Ferguson. May be I should be knighted...

8 years ago if you wanted to watch a video online it took almost 10minutes to load the damn thing. Now it takes just over a minute on my smart phone (its Chinese, do not snigger). 8 years ago there was no mobile money, Liverpool were still turning corners and the same well-meaning dimwitted politicians were running this … oh sorry about that last one.

So I think I have grown very wealthy over the last 8 years. I have a very lovely wife. I have 3 wonderful kids; even though the 2 big ones are actually fatter than they are big. I actually have 2 years of senior management experience to put on my CV.  IDI gave me the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives too. We serve over 10,000 clients in the HIV clinic and we have published studies that show that my work has impacted on the treatment outcomes for these people. And that is real wealth.