Thursday, 18 August 2016

“Sweet” Liberia – Boom or Bust?

By Haresh Karamchandani


I first set foot on the soils of this blessed country way back in October 1982, a week before my 17th birthday. 

The idea was, or the mission was: make some money > stand on your feet > become independent > support the family back home > get married > have children > support the children and wife > get divorced > get married again > have more children > support the family > get old > retire. 

I got down to checking out the above list from day 7, my birthday:

- Secured a job and started earning money, check; 
- Stood on my own feet > became independent, check; 
- Started sending money back home to parents, support the family back home, check; 


The first million dollars was deposited into my bank account at the age of 24 and now it was time to check out the list again:

- Get married, check; 
- Had 2 daughters, check; 
- Support children and wife, check; 

By the age of 35, it was time to check out the list again:

- Get divorced, check; 

By the age of 45, it was time to check out the list again:

- Get married again, check; 
- Had 1 more daughter, check; 
- Support the family, check; 
I am going to be 52 this October. Not yet time to get old and retire. 


The idea is to check the list in the next 10 years’ time. 

Meanwhile, i have been given an assignment to write a blog, by my CEO, my wife, my life partner. She sent me any email saying that I should write on the below points: 

- state of business 
- economy 
- growth prospects 
- challenges 
- HR challenges 
- Latest IT news in Liberia 

She also threatened that she will not sign any more checks until the blog is written and posted. 

I have no choice, but to consider writing. 

Reading and looking at above list, I really do not have much to say. 

But nevertheless, since I do not have a choice, here I am writing away. Let me try and tackle the challenge, point by point.


State of the business: Business is good. I know most other businesses will say “Bullshit, not true, business is bad”. But I say business is good. Why do I say so? Well, we are a debt free company, we have regular income which helps pay the bills, the salaries, the holiday bills, the wining and dining. Yes, it was better last year or the year before last. Yes, it will get worse, according to predictions. People say, the Government is not spending money, UNMIL has departed, Oil prices are down, Commodity prices are down. All these factors show doom. I am talking out of experience. 36 years of experience. It could be worse. Notwithstanding all the above factors, we are still able to keep the pot boiling. Therefore, business is good. 

Economy: Farzana did not mention which economy. International or Local economy? I will assume she wants me to talk about the local economy. But I will talk about both. (I never like to do what she wants!) The local economy: It is one year to elections, general Presidential elections take place in 2017. There are already 22 registered political parties with the National Elections Commission. Another 21 more are trying to get registered. Therefore, all things going well, we will have 43 political parties and 43 Presidential candidates come 2017. The total voting population should not be more than 1.5 million. I see a lot of drama. The rumors are that the ruling party has the edge. The current VEEP should take over. But then, there are also a lot of other rumors. Last week there was talk of some rebels in the bush. Nearly every day there is a demonstration at the Capitol Hill. I smell instability. I hope I am wrong. The world economy is in a mess. The USA is in a trillion dollar debt, they are facing a very embarrassing elections, BREXIT, War in the Middle East, Russia posturing, North Korea shooting missiles, Kashmir, Yellow Fever, Zica, Global warming. Only bad news. What will be the situation, in 10 years’ time? Where will I be able to retire peacefully?


Growth prospects: Yes, when everything is bad, how badder can it get? It can only get better. This is my belief. So yes, there are growth prospects. Let me be positive: 

- The Liberian elections will happen without any issues or situation. More investments will flow, business will boom. 
- Even if Donald Trump becomes the next US President and USAID stops, CHINAID will come in and business will boom. 
- Oil prices will go up, and business will boom. 
- Commodity prices will go up and business will boom. 
- Liberia will boom. 

Challenges
- Living and working in Liberia is challenging. Electricity, Water, Medical facilities, Emergency care, Education, to name a few.


HR Challenges

Yes, this is challenging. We lost our senior most staff last month. He committed fraud/forgery at a client site. Not that we are missing him at all. There was an issue at the same client site last week and we were able to resolve the problems more efficiently. Our umpteenth accountant has left. I guess this position is the most demanding for Liberians. We are unable to find a competent Liberian staff to handle our Book-keeping. Should we opt for an Indian? Not yet. I still have hope. There are a few interviews lined up and we will continue to hope for a suitable Book keeper in the near future. There is some light at the end of the tunnel.


Latest IT news in Liberia: “Pokemon go”, the new worldwide gaming craze, does not work here! Cool. Novafone and Lonestar are merging to form the biggest GSM provider yet. Hopefully this will mean cheaper internet service. Time will tell. NATC is and will continue to be Liberia’s Number One ICT Services and Supplies Company. 

JAI HO! 

Monday, 25 July 2016

Blog Post for June

Dear readers, 

In this blogpost I will be showing you how to go on resolving problems like this ’’Windows is unable to add this printer, the printer spooler has stop, restart the spooler and try again.’

I had same problem when I was sent to setup a Cisco E900 router and two HP LaserJet network printers for a client, GIZ's office at the Ministry of Public Works.

The configuration of the router was done in less than 3mins, tested and working perfect. I powered on the two printers and assigned a static IP address in each to be identified on the network via LAN cables.

The processes above went well until when I begin to install the printer driver on the client's laptop where I kept receiving the above error message. The driver of the printer was uninstalled and installed several times including restarting the spooler in Windows Registry but still the problem couldn’t resolve at the end of the day. I informed the client that the process could not be completed due to time but I would be back the next morning. 

It's hard to stop the work.

Until a solution is found, whenever I do not complete a task, it bothers my mind especially middle of the night. I kept thinking on other methods to use by downloading the printers driver from HP website. The next morning I went back to my office to download the drivers from HP website on a USB drive and took it with me. I uninstalled the previous once and installed the once that was downloaded but in the end I kept receiving the same error message. I felt very discouraged and thought what could be the problem. I have been working on many sites and had never experienced such. I thought on reinstalling the OS on his laptop but this could take a lot of time backing up data and installing other drivers.

The next day I found the last solution to apply if not I would have no option but to reinstall the (OS) Operating System of the laptop. When I got on site that afternoon the client said, ‘’you look smiling today, I guess you’ve found the solution to my problem’’ I said to him. ‘’Sure Sir, everything will be okay today." 

I powered on the laptop and typed ‘’system restore point’’ and this took up to 45mins to restore the computer to a new stage. No files were missing or effected. I installed the drivers back on the laptop and all went well. The client was well satisfied but I was more that satisfied with myself.

Thanks for reading and hope this information will help if you encounter such issue like this.


Prepared by Daniel Collins.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Pokemon Go articles flood the Internet



Yesterday, we’ve read and shared 9 articles on our Facebook page about Pokemon Go. As a science and technology page, we read and share dozens of interesting articles every day. However, since yesterday, the Newsfeed has been reporting non stop about this new gaming craze. See the list of articles and snippets below:

1) Nintendo shares soar on Pokemon GO craze, Richard Morgan,  July 11

Pokémon Go’s massive blastoff as a mobile game pushed Nintendo’s ADRs up 34 percent Monday — adding $9 billion to the video gamer’s valuation over the last few days.
The free game has dominated digital downloads since its US launch on July 6, with 7.5 million users signing up at Apple’s App Store and Google Play, according to SensorTower, an app-analytics company.
SimilarWeb, another app analyzer, reported the game has already eclipsed Tinder in installations on Android phones and is running neck and neck with Twitter in terms of daily active users.


"Pokémon Go is a (possibly overrated?) augmented-reality game that launched in the United States late last week. In a nutshell, the game lays a sort of semi-transparent Poké-world over your actual, geographical location, which you can explore by physically walking around while staring zombie-like at your screen."

3) Trading is coming soon to Pokemon GO, Sal Basile Jul. 11, GEEKhttp://www.geek.com/games/pokemon-go-ceo-teases-trading-in-future-update-1661289/:

"Pokemon GO is taking the world by storm but a major core element essential to the franchise is missing: trading. Even John Hanke CEO of Pokemon GO developer Niantic knows trading is what makes Pokemon go round. In an interview with Business Insider, Hanke said trading would tie in to Pokemon GO’s mantra of encouraging players to interact. He went on to say that a plan to implement some kind of trading aspect is very much on the horizon.”


First of all why does a Pokémon game need full access to your account? Second why aren’t users warned that this is the level they are granting and given a chance to reconsider? And third why didn’t Google say a thing when it happened "Notably, Niantic’s previous AR game, Ingress, only required partial access." like “are you sure you want to give a game about making made-up animals fight access to the confidential documents in your Gmail and Docs?”

5) Drivers are offering to chauffeur Pokémon Go players to hot spots, Why walk when you can ride?, Julia Alexander, Jul 11 2016, POLYGONhttp://www.polygon.com/2016/7/11/12152978/pokemon-go-hot-spots-gyms-drivers?utm_campaign=polygon.social&utm_medium=social&utm_content=polygon&utm_source=facebook

On marketplaces like Craigslist, people have begun to offer their services for a hefty fee. In Vancouver, (where the game hasn't even officially launched, but is available through side-loading APKs on Android devices) one driver says they'll pick up drivers at a requested location and drive them around the city. The poster says they've been playing Ingress for about two years, and as such, has an idea of where to go for popular PokéStops and gyms.  This particular driver is charging $30 for the first hour and $20 for every hour after that. They will not, however, do anything illegal like stop in the middle of the highway, users must wear seat belts, and they're not speeding.

6) Pokemon Go: Gotta catch all your personal data, If you signed into Pokemon Go with your Google account, you might have just handed your digital life over to the game's developers, Laura Hautala, CNET, JULY 11 2016, http://www.cnet.com/news/pokemon-go-gotta-catch-all-your-personal-data/?ftag=COS-05-10-aa0a&linkId=26452776

The developer of the wildly popular Pokemon Go, Niantic Labs, has full access to your Google account if you used it to log into the game from an iOS device. In response to reports of this all-you-can-eat data buffet, Niantic said in a statement it's drastically limiting the access it requests going forward and that it didn't access anything beyond user IDs and email addresses.  "We recently discovered that the Pokémon GO account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user's Google account," the company said in a statement. "Once we became aware of this error, we began working on a client-side fix to request permission for only basic Google profile information, in line with the data that we actually access."  But for the time being, the full account permission could give Niantic access to all of your information, as well as the ability to post, delete and send things from your account. In other words, logging in with your Google account is a super effective way to hand over your email, contacts, photos, documents...everything!

7) The top game in China right now is a Pokemon Go clone, Steven Millward, Jul 11, 2016, TECH IN ASIAhttps://www.techinasia.com/pokemon-go-clone-china

Everyone seems to be going nuts for Pokemon Go right now – but the game hasn’t rolled out to a number of countries, including China. That might explain why the top free game in China today on the Chinese iOS App Store is a Pokemon Go clone.  The knock-off game, City Spirit Go, features a creature in the app icon that looks like Pikachu crossed with a racoon.

8) Pokémon Go is doing what few apps can – driving real-world traffic, Darrell Etherington, JULY 11 2016, TECH CRUNCH,  https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/11/pokemon-go-is-doing-what-few-apps-can-driving-real-world-traffic/?sr_share=facebook

Already, people are using the tools made available by Niantic and Nintendo in Pokémon Go to capitalize on the potential for real-world traffic. Forbes contributor Jason Evangelho details how smart business owners are using “Lures,” an in-game item that turns any existing PokéStop into virtual feeding frenzy for players looking to catch Pokémon.  But this requires there to already be a PokéStop nearby – so naturally, businesses are already looking to get Niantic to add ones to their locations.  Not only Niantic, but Nintendo, too has a history of using the popularity of its products with consumers to drive foot traffic. The Nintendo Zone service offered special downloadable virtual items to players when they connected to specific locations, and Nintendo worked with McDonald’s in Japan and Boingo in the U.S. to provide access to Nintendo’s content free to users. 

9) From Pokéstops to Pikachu: everything you need to know about Pokémon Go, The game has been flooding the news and neighbourhoods but for many it seems as silly as it is impenetrable, Clem Bastow, 11 July 2016, THE GUARDIANhttps://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/11/from-pokestops-to-pikachu-everything-you-need-to-know-about-pokemon-go?CMP=fb_a-technology_b-gdntech:

If you’ve been out and about over the past few days, chances are you’ve seen people frantically swiping their smartphones in front of places of interest, or listened with slight alarm as friends chattered excitedly about how they “caught a Sandshrew behind the supermarket”. You may have wondered: what the heck is happening?  The answer is Pokémon Go, the new smartphone game from Nintendo and Niantic Labs. According to data tabled by Digital Vision, two days after the app’s launch, Pokémon Go was installed on 5.16% of Android devices in the US and had roared to the top of the iTunes app store’s free app charts. Nintendo’s stocks are reported to have risen to their highest value since 1983 and demand for the game was so high, with servers crashing regularly, that Amazon’s chief technology officer, Werner Vogels, even offered to share the traffic load.

End Note

But what does it all mean for us reading this news in Liberia? A company's valuation increased by almost US $ 10 billion because of a computer game.  Apparently, everyone is walking around like a zombie trying to catch computer game characters on their screen that shows a virtual character embossed on a real view of the world through the device's camera. Urban spaces and other companies are riding the craze by offering cab services and hot spots in cafes. And, disturbingly, the game gets full access to one's e-mail account. 

It would be easiest to say news of this game bears no relevance for us in Liberia but not entirely correct because a significant portion of the population has a mobile connection and, even has a simple smart phone. Almost everyone is on Facebook and other social media platforms. I often see youngsters and even marketeers playing a video game on their phones.  Selfies and posing for group photographs are loved in Liberia. Addiction to mobile technology is common everywhere and, changing the way we interact with our world, our friends, and even how we communicate. Am I little glad, though, that no Pokemon Go craze will catch here soon? Yes. 

Living in Liberia, one sometimes envies the latest technological progress elsewhere: better public transportation, medical innovations that battle disease and treat illnesses better, greener urban spaces, newest gadget to convert garbage to energy, interactive museums, digital access to art and history, etc. 

Do I wish I had Netflix? More apps to automate my life or useless devices? Selfie sticks? A Kindle? Another tablet besides my laptop and smart phone (already too many devices)? No. 

Social media, apps and hyper connectivity has not really made our lives more enriched. In fact, even grown up adults have sacrificed etiquette, art of conversation, and the virtue of patience because of their addiction to their phones. It seems society has not paused to reflect on how much has changed and, what we are losing at lightening speeds. Unless there is a technology out there that will actually improve the lives of Liberians, I am not envious at all. 

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Antivirus Configuration on the Server

Hello Everyone I am going to talk about how to install and configure Antivirus on your workstation that are not Domain platform or Domain network so that the workstation can update Antivirus on your client computer or your Clients computer can get update from your workstation.  This platform and setup is very good because it help cause less bandwidth consumption on your network.   During my work on one of our client site, I was able to setup a files sharing Server and all the clients’ computers are getting Antivirus update from the server without internet access. This is what I did for the client:

   A.  Antivirus Configuration on the Server   

1.    I installed Antivirus   on the windows Server  and all the Clients computer or users computer   
2.    I created a folder with the name AV Update in C drive of the server, in that folder is where the server will storing  all the AV update that it will get from internet or Antivirus server.     
3.    On the server, I open the Antivirus and, click on setting in Antivirus.   
4.    In setting of Antivirus  I click on update   
5.    In the update settings I checked in the box of copy update to folder and browse to the (AV) Antivirus folder that I created in the C drive of the Server.     

B.   Configuration setting for all the clients computers   

1.    After installing the Antivirus on the entire clients or users computer.   
2.    I Clicked on Schedule tasks and went  to update     
3.    In update, I went  to setting and clicked on Source   
4.    In update source setting, I went to add and added the update source by Browsing for the server on the internet and browse for the (AV) Antivirus Update folder that was created in the C drive of the server.     
5.    After  that  Clicked ok and save the configuration     

Note:  you can also use this configuration for any windows Operating System. This is working for the client and it can also work for you.   Watch out for my next blog post on how to configure WSUS.   

Thanks   By: Jonathan Barwon            

Friday, 10 June 2016

BLOG POST FOR MAY 2016

Dear Readers,

For the past months, I have solved lots of complex problems for our customers in and out of Monrovia.

We got a purchase order from one of our clients for supply of laptops with the following system requirements: Brand: Lenovo, OS: Windows 10, HDD: 500GB, RAM: 8GB Office: 2013.

These laptops were configured, setup and supplied to the client. Early one morning I saw an email in my inbox requesting urgent need for technician. Thou I was surprise for I know even newly supplied computers give problems when going into first boot or power on. I quickly arrange my tools and other necessary software to take on the customer site just in case the problem may be a software of hardware issue.

I arrived at the client 18st Sinkor Monrovia office and my presence was announced by the securities to the office manager. She took me the end user desk were they both explained the issue to me. According to her, the laptop goes Off & ON. I asked her in a very professional and polite manner to save her work and turn the laptop over to me and so she did. I open this laptop and checked every hardware component and software as well. Restarted the machine, observed it for one to two hours and nothing happened. I went back to her and asked her to continue her work while we both observe it.

She left the laptop on her desk for about 2-3min and the laptop suddenly went to sleep. When she turned around she saw that the lap screen had gone dark, she responded ‘’ you see? This is what happening. It has gone off again’’. Then I said to her that you have left it for a while madam, it is not off but rather at sleep and you don’t have to press on the power button, if you do you are turning it off completely. You can type the ‘’Enter’’ or any key as many times to wake the computer up but she still wasn’t satisfied.

After few weeks the same complain came in again. I was disturb that night until the next morning I went back at their office and started to show her the settings from the Control Panel. I set the computer on ‘’ ‘’Never go to sleep’’. We both observed it again the laptop never went to sleep. This wasn’t a good idea I told her for this will weaken the laptop battery life and it was set to go to sleep after every 1 hour. Since then they have never complain of such problem. 

As a technician here at New Africa Technology Company, we do not only solve complex issues for our customers on site. At times there are some puerile issues we have to resolve like this one.

Prepared By: Daniel W. Collins
IT Technician (NATC).

Thursday, 9 June 2016

LEC Crew comes to our aid

We have not had light at our house for 2 weeks. We rang up LEC every day, twice a day. Finally, the crew arrived late at night. One of the crew climbed up the pole, fiddled with something, and came back down after 1 minute. The light was back on. We spent $ 20.00 on a tip because crew coming at this house expect tips.

You'll see a photograph of Head of Operations, Haresh, down in the street with the crew.

With all the ups and downs with LEC service, I'm finally beginning to appreciate some business owners' frustration who do not even depend on LEC. They are fully dependent on generators.