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, 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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Letter from my present to my past.

Dear Past,

Like that wise old man would say, hindsight has 20/20 vision. So with the benefit of hindsight there are some things I would like you to know.

  1. Study a soft course: e.g. Sociology, English, literature, etc that you can easily sail through without really studying and with no more than a quarter of your brain and use most of your available time in the university to: (i) Code, code and code (hone your skills till its razor-sharp) (ii) Create your startup company while in school. Since academic work would be a no brainer, you would have lots of time to do the above instead of studying.
  2. Have loads of fun in the university: even while honing your coding skills, have lots of fun. Join clubs, go to crazy parties, do lots of sports, join a religious organization (if so inclined). Just go out and have fun, meet people, mix, interact. Why? doing so will make you have very strong social skills which would come in handy when running your startup, handling your workers, business partners etc. So you don’t end up being the typical geek who has zero social skills and names his laptop Wendy.
  3. Dont have a job: If your startup kicks off while in school, there would really be no need for you to get a job after graduation (not that there are any waiting out there) but I can’t stress this point enough, PLEASE DONT GET A JOB. Running a startup or young company is a difficult task on its own not to talk of combining it with a full days job. It would kill you. Read this to know why.

Mistakes always teach lessons that are hard to forget but there are some mistakes that should not be committed in the first place.

Yours Sincerly

Your Present.

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Geeks suck at kissing ass.

(ROUGH DRAFT)

A geek might not laugh at your joke if he doesn’t find it funny.

A geek might not talk to you unless he feels like it and might not respond sometimes when spoken to.

A geek might not try to be  friends with you just for the sake of it, unless he finds areas of intersection of interests.

A geek is totally clueless about how to “do eye service, grovel and play dog eat dog office politics”.

A geek doesn’t know how to flatter just to curry favour.

A geek basically doesn’t give a F.U.C.K

The corporate world is a very difficult for a geek or creative to thrive in, especially when the geek possess most or all of the prior stated traits. Your boss expects you to “do eye service” e.g. “Morning Ma, you are looking awesome today”, “Morning Sir, nice suit, you look dapper, thanks to madam” blah blah blah, bullshit. If you don’t do any of these, you don’t get into good books of your boss. Also, your colleagues expect you to be a Mr Nice Guy, fun, hyper, ever positive person, which isn’t easy to do.

Most geeks/creatives acquired the skills they posses by spending huge tracts of “alone time” so most times they might not have the same level of social skills as their coding skills due to lack of exercising it. Therefore a geek forced to work in a heavily regimented corporate environment would spend it walking around with a target painted on his back and a sign on his head saying “SHOOT ME”.

His colleagues might call him strange, queer, abnormal etc just because he doesn’t fit into the mould of who they feel a normal person should behave.

News Flash People!!! A geek is different and proudly so. You might ostracize him but he wont give a fuck because the more you leave him alone, the more time he would have to work on what he loves to do. To those who don’t know, they may find him aloof or cold but he is just being himself.

 

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News Flash: Interswitch just killed Nigerian e-commerce.

Short background story: On 13/05/2013 I decided to renew my subscription and like is my normal practice, I headed to http://www.quickteller.com.  After entering my card details, PIN and CVV number I was redirected to a never seen before page where I was told to enter an SMS OTP (one time password) that had been sent to my phone number, before my transaction could be consummated.

I waited……..and waited…….. and waited………..and as at the time of penning this post (15/05/2013) I am still waiting for the OTP from the almighty Interswitch.[1]

I thought it was just restricted to just http://www.quickteller.com which is owned by Interswitch, so I headed to topupgenie.com, went through the normal loops, was directed to GTpay which redirected me to Interswitch webpay and that “SMS OTP” nonsense came up again, until now, there has been no SMS from them. After getting frustrated, I had to walk down the road and buy a physical card which is something I have not done in like 2 years or so[2].

How Interswitch killed e-commerce in Nigeria

Enforcing SMS One Time Password’s : “Twitter, Facebook, Google et.al are doing 2 factor authentication, why don’t we?”. Whoever thought about sending one time passwords to mobile phones of e-commerce transaction initiator must have been high on some cheap shoe glue. This is Nigeria where Telcos can do whatever they want, a place where you can send an SMS that you will be charged for but might never have delivered, so it kind of beats me why anyone would base the success of an e-commerce transaction on the mercy of an unreliable factor like SMS delivery. Even if they wanted to prevent unauthorized usage of debit cards, I am online already and Interswitch has my email address, so why doesn’t Interswitch send their so-called OTP to my email address? at least email delivery is more reliable than SMS [3]. This new feature is an ill thought out one and needs to be trashed or suspended until Nigerian Telcos become more reliable.

Notes:

[1] On observation, I noticed that the first time you initiate a transaction, the sms OTP gets delivered promptly but if you are doing a series of transactions in quick succession, the other OTP’s never get delivered to your mobile phone. I don’t know if it’s a network latency issue or a delay put in by Interswitch to prevent gaming their system.

[2] I do not know of anyone who would need something done urgently online and would actually wait for Interswitch without abandoning the transaction just like I did.

[3] This is not rocket science because as long as my supplied email address isn’t wrong, the email will get to me almost immediately.

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When I went Pro.

I did not know anything about setting up a server.
FTP? no idea, just a buzz word.
I had tried my hands at PHP some time in the distant past (stone age actually).
My knowledge of CSS was less than zero.
Interactivity was limited to some Flash hacks (***hides face***)I did not know a thing about Javascript.

My only claim to geekry was a sparse knowledge of Python.

The only thing that was in my favour was a willingness to learn.

I did and got paid. Heavily……

#Rinse&Repeat

Pystar – February 2013

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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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RE: Live in Nigeria? This is why your startup will fail.

“I think this guy is just plain wrong” [1], that was the first comment I got on my guest post @ Techloy.com. For the records, I never claimed to be right or a know all.  I only articulated a few thoughts of mine, which have been rattling around in my head for weeks now. So I wonder why the post elicited a lot of negative backlash from some highly “respected” Nigerian tech entrepreneurs. This response is  to put some facts straight but trust me, this is no retraction. Ok, let’s get down to business.

1. Starting a startup is HARD, very HARD: Not everyone has the opportunity to have a friend who has $160k to invest in his untested idea. A startup started in more advanced climes is most likely to fail, talk less of a place like Nigeria where nothing works. There is no place in my post where I claimed that “starting a music startup is a stupid idea” or “that you should not start a startup in Nigeria”, you only inferred it. This brings me to what is known as the “Law of Effection”  which states that “the more lives you affect in an entity you control, in scale and/or magnitude, the richer you would become”. In tech speak, the more people your startup provides a service to, the more likely you are to succeed. This is not the time to develop “me-too” or “I too can do it” website or application unless you have some safety net somewhere. Whenever you have a startup idea, which you feel has the likely hood of succeeding, ask yourself, “would the average person use my application?”. When I say average, I am talking about the market woman, the jobless youth, the stay at home mum, the middle class white-collar banker etc. If the answer to that question is yes, then take the plunge and run like hell with that idea.[2]

2. Clone Wars: I still stand with my dislike for clones, you know why? There are a million problems here in Nigeria that require bankable, innovative and profitable tech  solutions. So why in the name of anything you call holy should you clone? unless its a remix of something with a unique twist, see this [3]. Mention was made of Dealdey and how profitable is it, I might not be privy to their financial statements but I would really doubt that assertion (I stand to be corrected), you know why? I am yet to meet anyone who has consummated a transaction on Dealdey, that’s to tell you that it is not yet something the average person uses.  See my first point.

3. VC’s in Nigeria? as in really? Venture capital firms in Nigeria? If that is true, then that is awesome news. I just hope Angels are not now being mistaken for VC firms.

NOTES

1. I wonder why some people would allow their emotions to becloud their sense of reasoning.  My “random thoughts” are now being misconstrued as personal attacks at some imaginary startup founders? #AWESOME. Telling startup founders to ignore me actually sounds like a very personal attack to me, these are my opinions not the 10 commandments cast in stone from Mount Sinai. As you said, it is very easy to identify problems and since talk is cheap, lets see what “solution” I come out with.

2. Dangote group has a market capitalization of #2.28trillion as against the whole banking industry that has a capitalization of #1.8trillion. why? The group produces what the average Nigerian buys and finds useful. salt, sugar, cement, juice, etc. But not everyone has a bank account or would have the use for it.

3. I definitely won’t advice any would be startup founder to develop a 1-for-1 clone of Facebook, Twitter or even Nairaland for that matter. Anyone who does that just raised the odds of him failing to sky high levels.

Postscript: The original title to my blog post was “Live in Nigeria? (***Insert your 3rd world country here***). This is why your startup will fail”. If you marry the title to the body of my post, you would see that the attacks were unwarranted. The editors felt their title was better than mine I guess. Enough said.

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