Saturday, May 31, 2008

Waste management

I have to be extremely careful about what I write here as it may come very close to breaking the confidentiality clauses I have signed with my employer...

This week was a rather exciting one work wise, and it threw up the stark differences between the way the private sector operates and the way the public sector operates. It also made me realise one almost immutable fact, image is everything. You can be incapable of doing a job well, but provided you look like you are capable, you will get the job.

I'd earlier mentioned that my employer had come into possession of a new client that runs Macs on their entire network. Now some of the guys in my end, including yours truly, have had some experience with running Macs, but not one of us has ever had experience administering them. This means that we have to learn on the fly. Luckily Macs are Unix based, so it was a rather easy decision for the eggheads in the glass cubicles to make as to whom to send for a systems audit in the new clients, enter Chxta and our Alpha Geek. So on Tuesday off we went to the new client's to do a complete audit of their existing infrastructure, look for current failings, and suggest improvements. The idea being that as we are coming in, we are not just taking over, but we are adding value to their current IT support plan. I found that that isn't a very hard thing to do.

You see, if you think that finding Linux Systems Administrators is a hard task, then you haven't attempted to look for a Mac SysAdmin. That is kinda like looking for a needle in a rather large stack of hay. The new client has a Mac SysAdmin in their employ. He has been with them for donkey years, and he has them in an extremely bad place. They rely on him for all their needs, and he knows this. Problem is that he doesn't give a flying fuck! He takes his time to deliver on any requirement, doesn't meet deadlines and generally can't be bovvered (thanks Miss Tate). In December, a new GM was employed by the company and he decided that a shake up was necessary. First he introduced some Windows based applications, and that has met with strong resistance from the Mac god in da house. Can't go into any further details of what went on, but the bottom line is that like a growing number of small and medium size businesses in this part of the world, the decision was made to outsource their IT administration, and that is where we came into the picture. As it turns out, Mac god isn't terribly pleased with the new situation of things, which made for an extremely frustrating systems audit for myself and Alpha Geek. Questions thrown at the guy were answered in monosyllable, no diagram of the network was produced (that cost me extra hours on Wednesday as I had to produce a network diagram from scratch), and to make matters worse, Mac god took a very extended lunch break that Tuesday and made sure that the server room was screwed tightly shut! All this means that we can only guess at the current server configurations based on what he told us. O well, we've done what I consider to be the sensible thing and passed on these observations to sales let them communicate with the new client and find a solution. I personally wouldn't want to submit an 'incomplete' audit report on account of Mac god's territoriality...

I had to travel Friday to take part in the go live of the security system of a government agency which we installed. The trip turned out to be a fucking waste of my time! We arrived there and the workers at the agency simply refused to be take part because they weren't informed well ahead of time by their boss. This insurrection was led by a chap whom I was later to discover was the new union representative. Fair play to them, another team from the office is going in on Tuesday to do the go live. It would only cost the agency more £££s. However, that is not the only example of waste in that particular agency. Now consider this scenario: in just one of the offices in that agency (the Head of IT's office), there are four desks. Two of those desks have one computer each, while the other two have two each, making six computers in that office. Methinks that that is a waste of everyone's time as too much time is spent switching between computers, and on the desks there isn't enough space to even use the computers properly. I'd have recommended that the geezers who supplied the computers have managed their stuff more efficiently, and I voiced that opinion to the IT guy there. Then he told me something that stunned me: the computers are actually on lease from the suppliers, not owned by the agency. They pay the grand little sum of £100 per month for each computer. Now I know why my pay cheque gets smaller. It is on waste like this that all my tax goes. Isn't that just great?

Recommended reading

The Law talks about May 29, nine years later.
Pat Utomi reflects on a year after the last elections (need to be on Facebook to access that).
Yar'Adua still hasn't received any formal handover notes from Uncle Sege (thanks to Imnakoya for that link).
Akin declares his support for Mr. President.

Juve watch

This is to announce the official end of this segment of Chxta's World. Remember my promise almost two years ago? Well, our beloved la vecchia Signora are back in the Champions League, so that rather long winded prose from the last time round signals the end of Juve watch as it is. Of course I would still tell you about any major developments, but as all things must, this has to come to and end. Remember, FORZA JUVE!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Is Chris Rock the funniest man alive?

I think he is. The man gave me torn stomach muscles yesternight. I managed to take a few pictures, which if you want to see, you'll have to go to my Facebook page...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Micro$oft comes into one laptop per child...

Enough said.

Recommended reading:
No Longer King of Africa's crude
Akin's review on Yar'Adua's FT interview
Nigerians are the most educated sub-population in America (interesting reactions) thanks to Jeremy for the link.


We just came into possession of a new client, and all their computers are Macs. Not one person in my department has any significant knowledge of Mac support, so lots of learning on the way...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Like every other moron I've joined Facebook, and the image below is one of the benefits...

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Naija waka, a brief summary

Please spare a moment's thought for the victims of the latest pipeline explosion in Lagos. These guys were innocent souls, and most especially the children. May they rest in peace. Amen.

For me that is the best picture I took during my whirlwind tour of Naija, one that I'm still not quite recovered from. Notice how people are packed like sardines in the bus. And in that heat and humidity...

I arrived in the country on the night of Saturday 3 May, and upon getting to my uncle's was greeted by the no longer so familiar sound of the generator. NEPA had done it again. Nothing to worry about, that was something I'd prepared my mind for. I simply slept in only my boxer shorts when I returned from Ikoyi that evening. The next day (Sunday) I was off to Iyana-Oba by way of Yaba and Dolphin Estate.

I must say that Fasola's ideas with regards traffic are good. The problem (based on what I saw) remains one of discipline. Lagos drivers (and pedestrians) still have no clue as to what basic road ethics mean. At Onipanu, I saw someone climbing over the newly constructed road barriers when it would have been a lot easier for him to walk 100 metres in either direction and not have to climb. However, as far as he was concerned, his destinaton (and time) were just too important for him to spare a few minutes. That kind of behaviour summarises a lot of what is wrong with Naija at the moment, impatience and indiscipline. In any event, the day passed off well, and I must say that that Sunday (and the subsequent Friday) were my best days during this trip.

On Monday it was off to Benin. That MMA2 is a nice airport, but my stand remains cynical, and I will repeat what I told some friends of mine back in the day when the Abuja National Stadium was opened: I will only say that MMA2 is good if in another 5 years it has been properly maintained. I think it is one of life's little ironies that on account of the general clmatic conditions in the West (cold and frigid), they don't have to put in as much into maintenance as those of us from the tropics where the heat encourages destruction, yet, they put in a lot more into maintenance than we do. That attitude has to change. While passing through Marina on Sunday I was disappointed to see that the BCCI building which partially collapsed three years ago almost is still there in the same state that I last saw it, and I wouldn't be surprised if it has squatters living in it.

On the issue of maintenance, Benin is a wreck. No other words to describe it, and when I die, if I see Mr. L. Igbinedion in heaven, I'd most probably turn around and head for the other side. What the fuck??? The drive from the airport to my parents' place in the Ugbowo area of Benin was a journey through a once booming town (where I grew up), but one that is in a state of almost irreversible decay. I almost cried. My childhood neighbourhood is now a ghost town as far as I am concerned. It is rather simple, all the people that I grew up with have shipped out, so there is nothing left for me there anymore. Nothing at all.

The next day I was off to Asaba to see my grandma. Left Benin very early and also had a quick incursion by bike into Onitsha to hail a relation. It felt good to be on the back of a bike crossing the river after such a long time. That had always been my preferred mode of crossing the bridge, unless of course when I was going further eastward. Asaba and Onitsha have improved tremendously but as was the case in both Benin and Lagos, there was no light. Sad situation if you ask me…

By afternoon of that day, I was back in Benin en route Abuja. Again that sad ride from Ugbowo to the airport, and I don’t know whenever I would be tempted to come into Benin again…

Abuja as is usual was good. Hooked up with
Jeremy, then later on with The Law. Nice talking with them as is usual. Myself and The Law had a lot of catching up to do on matters both personal and legal, and I am still chuffed that he considered me important enough to take Wednesday off work and drive me around for the various meetings and visits I had lined up. I still think that El-Rufai did a wonderful job out there, and the new man needs to shape up before things start to fall apart. However the one terrible part of life in Abuja as things stand is the traffic. Every driver in that town is mad (in Lagos the drivers there are angry), and the madness in Abuja is down to the fact that the traffic lights don’t work. NEPA, over to you…

Back in Lagos on Thursday, and it was visiting day. Had some meetings lined up, but also a lot of people to see lest it be heard that Chxta was in town and Chxta didn’t drop in to say hi. I enjoyed perambulating on the bikes, as a matter of fact, that I found a biker mad enough to take me from Magodo to Dolphin Estate on Wednesday night was sheer bliss. That ride across the Third Mainland Bridge was exhilarating! As was hanging out with old friends later on Thursday night. It must be pointed out that Nigerians are getting richer. For crying out loud I am dead certain that someone who earns the same amount as I do in Naira terms takes home a fair bit more than I do, not after all the taxes that Gordon Brown and cohort choose to burden us with this way.

Howver, all this progress won't mean much if we can't get the basics up and running. Recommended reading, Melancholy by Marin. The truth is this: you may have all the money in the world, but the moment everyone else around you is dirt poor, you can never have a good night's rest as you'll be sure that they would come in to take some of it from you. That is what Nigeria's elite don't seem to get. In any event, I felt distinctly homesick that Thursday night. However, there is a skill set which I must get here. The moment I get that, Naija here I come.

Friday morning began with a meeting with
Uzo, then it was on to Iyana-Oba for the rest of the day. Saturday and I had to return to Blighty. I already miss home again.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Back from Naija

Seen things for myself, in four different cities no less, and while there are a lot of improvements, there is one thing that needs to be worked on: NEPA, or else everything else means nothing.

Would write more on my observations whenever (if ever) I get less depressed.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The KLM flight from Amsterdam landed at precisely 1902 hours. There was applause as it touched down. From the air and in comparison to the cities of Europe, Lagos was dark. Nkem described it only too well here. One of the Nigerians on the flight attempted to rush ahead of the rest of us and out of the plane. We promptly put him in his place.

I was impressed that we could actually queue at the immigrations. By the way, the Immigration counter needs a paint job. We waited for a while before our luggage which came out after a while. Then it was on to the Arrivals hall. One of the usual anything for the boys brigade members was on hand to ask. From this Igbo man, he got nothing. Had to do some serious expenditure there and then though as I had to roam my phone to call the person who had come to pick me up from the airport. We established where the person was, and I walked away from the hall to the UBA sign board where myself and U shared a quick embrace.

It feels good to be back home.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I just got terribly embarrassed

Okay so I've been working out of Reading since Tuesday, and the project we are working on looks like it's going to go overtime because it has been pissing rain since then.

This morning myself and one of my colleagues were standing just outside the place we are working in when one of the sales girls walked towards us. She was wearing a shirt that was part unbuttoned and revealed a very nice portion of her breasts, which are very well formed. In short, those are probably the most perfectly formed breasts I've ever seen, and they were pointing towards little old me. Suddenly the world stopped rotating.

I don't know for how long I stood there looking like a fool, what I remember happening next was my colleague nudging me a little, then I was suddenly aware of the girl staring at a particular region of my trousers with a look of amusement on her face. If I were Caucasian I would definitely have grown beetroot red. Then she walked away. My colleague then passed me his hanky. That was when I realised that a pool of saliva had formed on the floor just before me...