critic, Internet, Life, social media, Uncategorized

Revealed: The Tech backstory behind the Nigerian Immigration Recruitment Fiasco

According to the interior minister Abba Moro, 520,000 candidates participated in the Nigerian immigration service recruitment exercise and each candidate paid #1,000 just to apply.
#1,000 X 520,000 candidates == #520,000,000
Different number of casualties of the botched recruitment exercise are still being bandied around by the press from 10 to 30. No matter the number, they didn’t have to die in the first place.

Questions that need answers
1. Who are the individuals behind Drexel tech global limited? The company that developed the recruitment website for the Nigerian Immigration Service.
2. How true is the rumor making the rounds that the wife of the president of Nigeria’s senate is the owner of Drexel tech global limited?
3. Why was the company website of Drexel global tech limited quickly taken offline?

After doing some digging around on the Internet, here are my findings
1. Although a whois check didn’t reveal much due to fact that registrar obfuscated the details of the registrants of the domain name (drexeltechglobal.com), I was able to glean that drexeltechglobal.com was registered on 05/01/2011 and would expire on 05/01/2015. The last time it was updated was on the 13/09/2013, before it was quickly taken offline.

2. A quick google search revealed some interesting information about the company, Drexel tech global ltd:
i. The company is registered in the United Kingdom as:
DREXEL TECH GLOBAL LIMITED.
RC: 07674680.
Registered Address: 72 High Street, Haslemere, Surrey, GU27 2LA
Nature of Business:
Other letting and operating of own or leased real estate

ii. The company has 2 directors and they are:
Mahmood Ahmadu
Year of Birth: 1966
Director ID: 916093233.
No 63 Apo Legislative Quarters Zone A Abuja Fct Nigeria

and

MS THERESA MAHONEY
born in 1964
Country: UNITED KINGDOM
County: CONNECTICUT
Posttown: SIMSBURY
Postcode: 06070
Country of residence: UNITED KINGDOM

I searched for Mahmood ahmadu on facebook and the only matching result is a staff of INEC Abuja while Theresa Mahoney brought out so many different search results I abandoned that route.

iii. I also noticed that some former staff of Drexel tech global limited are now current staff of swglobal.com. I discovered that swglobal.com formerly known as socketworks LTD is a child company of Drexel tech global limited and is owned by Dr Aloy Chife.

Posers, unanswered questions and assumptions.
1. The rumor that Helen Mark (wife of the senate president) is the owner of Drexel global tech limited is rather unfounded and untrue as there is no information to prove it to be true unless there is proof that she and Dr Aloy Chife are business partners. I stand to be corrected.
2. How does a company (i.e. Drexel) registered in the United Kingdom with no revenue and whose business description is REAL ESTATE get awarded such a massive IT government contract?
3. Does it make logical sense that a company (Drexel) established in 2011 is the parent company of socketworks established in 2003?
4. Is Drexel tech global limited a “briefcase company” established to do some shady underhand deals that an established and well known IT firm like socketworks would not want to stain itself with?
5. Why was the corporate website of Drexel tech global limited taken off line? Was it because it had served its purpose or was it to hide information? GOTO [1]

Questions demanding answers.
May the souls of those who lost their lives rest in peace.

@pystar
March 2014.

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critic, funding, hacking, Life, Technology & Startups

Has the bubble burst? developed a leak? or was there even a bubble at all?

“Today, across my network of companies, I directly and indirectly employ around 200 people. 90% under 27. 150 or so in Lagos but hope by 2015 that number reaches at LEAST 1,000.”
May 7, 2013.

“Today I had to fire retire 13 people.”
October 13, 2013.

What happened in the time between the 2 posts?

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critic, hacking, Life, Technology & Startups

Did Blackberry just commit Hara-kiri?

Hara-kiri
noun: hara-kiri, noun:harakiri
1. Ritual suicide by disembowelment with a sword, formerly practised in Japan by samurai as an honourable alternative to disgrace or execution.

I strongly feel Blackberry committed hara-kiri by releasing BBM as a free app on both iOS and Google Play app stores. Correct me if I am wrong but the reason why 99.9% of people got a Blackberry phone was because of BBM [1] while the remaining 0.01% are the weirdo’s who got it for push email et.al. Blackberry phones are whack, battery life atrocious, their app store is filled with crappy applications.
Why did Blackberry give away their crown jewel (i.e. BBM)? to remain relevant in the mobile space? too late. Back in 2009, it would have been a stroke of genius.
Now that BBM is available for both iOS and Android, would any sane person actually go to a store to pick up a Blackberry phone? NO!!!
If the release of the iPhone dug the grave site for Blackberry and Android put her in a coffin, then the release of BBM just said the final rites and poured sand over the coffin in the grave.
Even if Blackberry wants to transition into a SAAS company and somehow charge for BBM via TELCO’s, would anyone actually pay to use BBM when whatsapp and its ilk are free?

Notes:
1. The sole reason for my short lived romance with a Blackberry phone was basically because of BBM. I was tired of people asking me for my PIN. (covers face in shame).

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critic, Life, Uncategorized

Sorry to say this… but your work is shit!!!

Preface:
I basically told someone this, not in those exact words but somewhat similar.

How do you tell someone who takes an obscene pride in his creative work that it is basically bullshit without causing offense?

In that “once in a blue moon” moment I remember facebook and actually visit it, I saw a post by a “facebook friend” touting some websites he had created and also advertising his services to prospective clients. I was curious and clicked the links. The first thought that crossed my mind was …. “WTF is this?” This guy actually created a pre 1995 website for a Nigerian polytechnic and another for a socio-cultural organization. He had blinking text, background sound, he used flash and committed other the sins a modern website designer should not. I am no web designer but I was so incensed (actually taking panadol for someone else’s headache who got paid) that I just had to say something, my big mouth could not stay quiet. I tried to be nice, tried to be diplomatic, tried not to be offensive, read some books on emotional intelligence and after much brain racking and prayers, I finally settled on this comment:
Hello [---name retracted---]
Good work you have here {rolling eyes}, I am very impressed {now red in the face} with this. I never knew you were into web programming and design. {Now my goofing begins} Actually, you can try visiting themeforest.net for some very affordable {I didnt indirectly say he was an “el-cheapo”, honestly} and highly professional templates {subconciously saying his work wasnt professional, eh?} you could use instead of this. Anyway take care and keep up the good work.
Pystar.

You can guess his response to me. It was not pretty.

P.S: He deleted my comment on his facebook post. I still think the websites are shit though and wonder how anyone could have paid for it. I should have just figured out a nicer way to say it. Sorry, I am a geek, dont blame me.

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critic, Life, Uncategorized

How in the hell…

Could a man enjoy being awakened at 5am by an alarm, leap out of bed, say a “let my enemies die” prayer if so religiously inclined, shit, piss, brush teeth, bath, comb hair, dress, fight traffic with insane, high on drugs danfo drivers, police men, LASTMA officials with their spiked iron rods hiding in odd bends and corners ready to jump into his car, to get to a place where essentially he makes lots of money for someone else and be asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?
-An adaptation of Charles Bukowski, Factotum, 1975.

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critic, hacking, programming, Technology & Startups

You dont know anything

buffer

https://mobile.twitter.com/pystar/statuses/6391239737868289

Look at the timestamp of the image above. I tweeted it in 2010 after reading glowing reviews of the bufferapp on Hackernews, I just couldn’t get why someone would pay just to schedule posts on twitter (they only supported twitter back then). Joel responded to my tweet with optimism about the app. 3 years on, look at the tweet below:

buffer2

This goes to show that we don’t really know sh*t about anything. If you have an idea you think would work, run with it first. Let your target audience accept or reject it and don’t place the power of life and death in the crucible of some so-called expert who probably doesn’t know sh*t about anything,

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critic, Uncategorized

Dont go to school

 

[1] If you are a “creative”, you are going to find school extremely boring and restrictive. It would hurt more if you are an “outlier”, GOTO[5].
[2] Unless you plan on becoming a “professional”, examples of which include a doctor, an engineer, an academic, etc. it really makes no sense
going to school to waste 5 or more years to earn the rights to own a piece of parchment”. But who really wants to go to school to become a “boring old fart”? When the end game is to make money?
GOTO [4]
[3] You would be forced to cram and swot a lot of courses that have no relevance in the real world[iii]. GOTO[6]. Imagine being forced to
learn Fortran programming, and picture you using Fortran in the real world after graduation. That sucks ass right? BIGTIME!
[4] Self learning/development is the best. SECRET: for you to really LEARN something,
it has to have emotional impact (better +VE) on you, that way, you only learn what’s useful at a particular point in time and would likely never forget it.[i].
[5] An outlier here means “someone who can’t fit in because he just wont fit in and most likely wont even care to fit in because he is different”. An outlier is different, everything about him is, he wont fit into
the academic environment, probably wont even care about fitting in hence would be termed odd by his peers and socially ostracised [ii].
That way he probably will not be able to learn anything taught in school because he would come to hate school and his colleagues. GOTO[4].
[6] Its worse if you are in a Nigerian school. I wasn’t a comp science major, but I took some programming courses, hence my frequent reference to GOTO and Fortran. To say
that the educational curriculum in Nigeria needs a revamp is like overstating the obvious fact that the sun will rise tomorrow, baring the rapture occurring or the Malayan end of the world prophesy coming to pass.
Nigerian schools suck big time, understaffed with ill trained (corrupt and sometimes sex crazed) tutors, decayed learning facilities, outdated curriculum etc.[iii]
[7] If you plan on attaining any measure of financial independence, wealth or affluence, don’t look at school to show you the way. School trains you to follow the rules,
regurgitate all you are taught whether you understand it or not, not to think outside the box, be failure/risk averse[v] etc. And these are all of the things you need to do
in order to make it in the real world which school doesn’t prepare you for.
Was my going to school a waste of time? The answer I will keep to my chest. Would I have missed anything if I had not gone to school? the answer is a resounding wall of Jericho pulling down NO [iv].

NOTES
Whenever I mention school, I actually mean a higher institution, e.g. University, Polytechnic etc.
[i] I learn more flying blind and picking up stuff (I code for a partial living) than learning how to do stuff from a book, why? the mystique and wonder of discovery (that warm fuzzy feeling) is lost when I have my hand held all the way.
[ii] There is no intellectual product that wasn’t birthed in the cold damp corners of solitude, The feeling of being socially ostracised is one that any creative should sew into a cloak and wear with pride because out of it can spring forth greatness.
Most times you really need to be alone to spark and fan on the embers of genius to produce the white hot flames of greatness.(beginning to sound like some motivational speaker urrghhh!!).
[iii] I sometimes wake up in a cold sweat after having a nightmare about flunking Nuclear Physics (PHY 501). Although I didn’t, I am still scared shit less by the very thought. My brain has been 99.9% wiped clean of everything I learnt in the university, why? most of what I “learnt” wasn’t useful to me outside those 4 walls, in my opinion, if you
had a solid Montessori primary and secondary education, anything more, GOTO[1]&[2] would be a bloody waste of time.
[iv] I was a geek in school, so go figure.
[v] If you don’t fail, you wont succeed. If you don’t loose, you wont win. How many of lecturers or the old farts I warned against becoming in [2] have any measure of
affluence or wealth by just doing all that they were taught in school? ***And silence covers the earth*** In the tech sector, examples abound of successful people
who were anti [7], why? because that’s what it takes to succeed in the real world. Mostly.

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critic, hacking, programming, Uncategorized

Why the “noise makers” among us can’t code.

Let me tell you a true  story: I would rather spend time coding than going to a tech meetup https://twitter.com/pystar/status/227405814921568256, [1] I hate the very thought of marketing (I probably just  hate the fact that my sales pitch might get turned down). I guess that’s why my start-up hasn’t  “blown” and that of “noise makers” [2] among us, is a tale in the opposite.  But the thing is this, I could probably code rings around these “noise makers”, who probably cant write a line of code at gunpoint, but their start ups actually make me feel inadequate in a perverse way.

Unless you are building a deep Comp.Sci based start up like Google, you probably don’t need to focus so much on your code but invest heavily on marketing. Most problems here in a 3rd world country like Nigeria that can become viable start ups actually don’t require deep science but heavy marketing and legwork to enlighten people and also give them a reason to actually use your product. [3]

Most good programmers I happen to know are introverted to a certain degree and prefer coding than actually going out and meeting people, so how do you then market your product if you don’t go out? Social media doesn’t count.

Doing a quick and dirty survey of the most “up in your face” start ups here in Nigeria will actually tell you that they are started by non coding techies (if I can safely call them that)[4]. These guys are “noise makers” and thats why their start ups do well. These guys can’t code and probably are not interested in learning how to code because coding is a long tedious and lonely task (unless you are pair programming) and the emotional make up of these “noise makers” wont just allow them to do this successfully.

I have discovered that even if you write the best code with the most bleeding edge frameworks and languages and do absolutely no marketing or “noise making”, no one will beat a path to your doorstop begging for the rare privilege to use your app.

After thinking alot about this “phenomenon”, I can actually say that I agree absolutely with MrBankole when he penned http://techloy.com/2012/07/10/im-ceo-bitch/ . How does some techie who probably has a name for his laptop [5] succeed in marketing his start up? The most successful route I can figure out is getting a “noise maker” as a co founder. That way you get the best of  both worlds.[6]

Notes

[1] Probably the reason why I have never been to any tech meetup (apart the 1st ever barcamp held in lagos “09”) and most probably wont in the nearest future is because of my hectic factory day job schedule and organizers of such meetups refusing to fix events on weekends.

[2] The phrase “Noise maker” as is used in this blog post is actually used in a positive context. A noise maker is someone who is a natural extrovert, a born marketer, with little or no technical chops, i.e. someone in the mould of Steve Jobs.

[3] Imagine a start up with a Seun Osewa and Jason Njoku combo? yeah I can, in my dreams.

[4] Bloovue, dealdey, IrokoTv, Jobberman, wakanow all have non coding founders. (Correct me if I am wrong)

[5] I am guilty as charged.

[6] Don’t do this alone, collaborate, collaborate. Get someone who can pick your slack and is strong where you are weak.

Steve Wozniak (awesome technical chops) + Steve Jobs (most prolific tech marketer ever) == Apple(World domination)

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Live in Nigeria?(***insert your 3rd world country here***). This is why your startup will fail.

You live in Nigeria or any 3rd world country?, are a techie and thinking of starting a web startup? here are some reasons why your startup is doomed to fail.

1. Your startup is a solution to a “WANT” and not a “NEED”. If you can remember your basic economics, you should know what “WANTS” and “NEEDS” are. Quickly, I would define a “NEED” as something you have to have, something you can’t do without e.g. food, clothing and shelter, while a “WANT” is something you would like to have. It is not absolutely necessary, but it would be a good thing to have. A good example is music.

When developing your startup idea, ask yourself, “is what I am creating a solution to a NEED or a WANT?”  According to the Nigerian Bureau of statistics 60.9% of Nigerians in 2010 were living in “absolute poverty” i.e. less than $1 per day. Do you think that taking a hiatus to create a music startup to enable these people living in abject poverty listen to music amounts to a good use of your time? or “skills”?

2. Your startup is a clone of some popular 1st world website or application [1]. Why would you clone when there are a myriad of problems you could develop solutions for? If you are developing a clone, ask yourself this question “why would anyone use this (***insert the name of your clone***) instead of the main thing (***insert the name of the website you cloned***)?” .

3. Your startup will require loads and loads of traffic i.e. pageviews with gullible people who would be ready to click on Google ads before it can generate income. In Nigeria, there are no VC’s, no Angels, no startup accelerators, no Government support programs, no infrastructure, regular electricity supply is a pipe dream, Internet access is patchy and expensive, in short, “NO NOTHING”. So it kind of beats me why anyone would base his startup’s business model on the benevolence of Google? In between the time your startup comes online to the time it can generate enough traffic to keep the lights on and the servers humming, how would you survive? Do you have some gold bars stashed under your mattress somewhere? If not, why don’t you just develop a product where you can start charging from the very first day? [2]

4. Reading too much of Techcrunch et al. These tech blogs are written by elitist white techies who live in silicon valley where the difference between over there and here is like light and day. Any advice you can glean from those sites just isn’t applicable here in Nigeria. [3]

NOTES

[1] The current fad in Nigeria is creating clones of Groupon.com. It once used to be Twitter clones, bulk sms and then Facebook clones. Why coders still do this kind of beats me. Instead of cloning, why don’t you build on these sites and take advantage of things like Facebook’s “Social Graph” etc and develop innovative solutions? Developing another DROPBOX wont meet the need of the average Nigerian, he has no need for it, and if he does why wont he go for the original? patriotism? please!

[2] Despite the fact that 60.9% of Nigerians live under $1 per day and there are 90 million mobile subscribers in the country with at least 1 mobile phone, these phones have to be loaded with “call credit” by these people because communication has become a NEED and not a WANT. So despite the grinding poverty in the country, the major Telco’s still declare mind boggling profits every year, with Nigeria now having the largest mobile phone market in Africa with 60% penetration. So in order to be successful, develop a solution to a NEED and not a WANT.

[3] Sarah Lacy, a former columnist for Techcrunch, when she came to Nigeria in 2011 advised techies not to read Techcrunch et al. Its of no use, the stories of billion dollar valuations for 6 month old companies that do nothing but count your number of Twitter followers will actually screw with your head. That can never happen here, this is Nigeria, be creative, be innovative, think local but act global.

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Dear Mr Jimoh

Hello Sir,

Congratulations on your much deserved win @Startup weekend Lagos. While you bask in the glow of your win, let me hit you with some questions before you get a tan.

1. Data: your app is basically useless without the data of artisans. So how do you intend getting the data of artisans seeded into your app? And please don’t tell me artisans would do the profile creation themselves (I can see you have a form for that) you know why? Most of the artisans who are your target demographic are either illiterate and/or wont be interested in creating a profile on your app without them really seeing what value that adds to them i.e. monetary. And if you want normal users to create and rate profiles of artisans they have used, what would motivate them to do so? Whats in it for them to go through the whole process?[1]

2. Business Model: Although your app is quite innovative at least in our local web space, but I cant for the life of me deduce how you intend making money from this app unless you want to go down the very well beaten path of Google adsense? [2] Provided you can generate enough traffic to cover hosting cost and other sundry costs with that, then I wish you guys luck.

P.S: I would be monitoring your progress over time.  Congrats again sir.

Notes

 

[1] A very thought-provoking tweebate was the cause of this blog post and the major thing that was debated was how artisans details would be created on findjimoh.com and who would do the creation. Leaving that power to either the artisans or people who use the artisans would be a major fail, because you would be giving them the power to determine how fast your app would grow and how useful it would be to other users. At least in the beginning, do the seeding yourselves.

[2] Regarding your business model, a little bird just whispered into my ear that you intend making money whenever any artisan is recommended. I really don’t know how that would work. But a simple way I feel you can make money is by having a short code that anyone could text a requirement and have the top ranking artisan that matches that query sent back in response.

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