From Technology in a Wireless WSIS

Emmanuel.K. Bensah Jr. has 59 followers on Google Buzz

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Brave New (Laptop-less) World Beckons...

I've been laptop-less for the past one week, choosing to put off going to the STARLITE shop in Osu, deep in the capital of Accra, which outlet is at Accra Mall, where I bought the-said HP laptop tx1000 last April. I know the warranty still covers, but I am prepared for the worst--that they'll tell me they won't cover it as the year is practically out.

Whatever the case may be, I'm thinking about procuring a DESKTOP computer for myself as a long-term investment. My old laptop (Packard-Bell) is unusable, and I am so in need of one. But I will cope!

Whilst I do that, I cannot help but wonder which regulatory authority exists anywhere, but an effective consumer association that sets standards on goods that come into the country. I was thinking that the National Communications Authority might be the one, but I believe probably that Ghana Standards Board is more apt.

My search continues--oh, and so does my need to take the laptop for examination and accept the consequences!!

Labels: , , , ,

Emmanuel.K. Bensah Jr. has 59 followers on Google Buzz

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nightmare on HP Pavilion Street (1)

Nightmare on HP Pavilion Street (1)

By E.K.Bensah II

It all began last week when a good friend of mine gave me some frantic missed calls, which ended up providing me with a compulsion to call, only to obtain a profound revelation about the state of a particular series of HP laptops.

His misadventure began almost twelve months ago when he purchased a sleek, HP Pavilion tx1000 Entertainment laptop from one of the retailers at Accra Mall. I won’t mention the price—it might just give him a small heart attack, considering the current woes!—but suffice-to-say it was a price that befits the mean, sleek status. To cut a long story short, there he was having happily used it for the past eleven and a half months when suddenly, the screen goes blank. That he had put his work on “hibernate” was sufficient to prompt him to switch the laptop off and on many times to see whether it was not a glitch.

No go.

He related that he plugged the machine on; took the battery out (adding curses for good measure)—all to no avail. Deciding to take it to a professional, he gave it to his colleague at work who did a google search—only to read that there were manifold—strike that, hundreds of—complaints about that same laptop! The genesis of the laptop defect finds its origin in an NVDIA chip that is so defective it’s not funny, enabling the laptop to heat up unnecessarily. Times I had used his laptop were times I wished I had brought an egg along to fry on my lap: no need explaining the profound heat that emanates from it.

The story about a defective chip that HP is clearly aware of but plays possum over does little to assuage the frustrations of many increasingly disappointed HP users. HP has pedigree, so this attitude is not just uncalled for, but totally out of order. I have not quite had the epiphany that will show me the way on what agencies in our dear country cases like these would require the attention of, but I will certainly get back to you on them.

Tech Appeal 191

  • Given the spate of lights-off off late, it might be a good idea for ECG to help Ghanaians a bit more by establishing a toll-free number. I have been calling the 021.611.611 number for the past few weeks the lights have been disappointing us, but it’s getting a tad expensive. I continue to wonder what the point is of a hotline that inhibits people from calling it! Undoubtedly, you will always have consumers call—out of frustration or hope is moot—but it stands to reason that calling a landline from your mobile phone (which is frankly more ubiquitous these days than the former), coupled with the nebulous talk-time tax is off-putting. I would like to humbly appeal to ECG to think of going the way of the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) that has a hotline on mobile networks for their own hotline!
  • Another noteworthy development during the past week is a sobering one of deaths on the roads. A combination of illiterate and ill-disciplined drivers driving very badly has conspired to remind us that there needs to be something done rather quickly on sensitizing both car-owners and otherwise about road safety. To that end, it is great to hear from NRSC hotline (ONETOUCH 0800.10.800) that they now have an MTN version of the hotline, which can be reached on MTN 18008. One would be glad to know that this is a toll-free line! The appeal this week is to ask NRSC to ensure that there are sufficient media campaigns about the hotline so that everyone can be involved in alerting the hotline (and the Motor Transport Unit of the Ghana Police (MTTU) by extension) of non-roadworthy cars; speeding bus-drivers and whatnot.

Highlights on

The initiative for started in 2008. The brainchild of a group of dedicated Ghanaian bloggers, it is fair to say that it is one Kajsa Hallberg Adu who has spearheaded the group, and put energy into ensuring that there are monthly meetings. Over the next couple of editions, there will be more about the group featured in here, but today, I begin the first of highlights that have featured on the website

We begin with *Accra by Day & Night*, which latest entry “Cautionary Tales of Taxis” provides a vignette of some of the things that go wrong when you take a taxi in Accra and it blurts to a rude stop: “The reason was a simple one: petrol--or lack thereof! We had to wait some ten minutes before the taxi driver ran up to GOIL, get some fuel, and get back to the car to fill it up”.

Nigerian internet entrepreneur *David Ajao* writes about visiting the E-tranzact show that took place at Aviation Social Centre, but starts off by giving us an insight in to what the service is all about: “eTranzact is an online real-time payment system that allows account holders to pay for goods and services purchased from merchants, transfer funds to any bank account, cell phone, any card, pay bills, order products e.t.c. This is possible because etranzact allows cardholders to use any of the following channels to transact: web (using any internet browser in a secured transaction), mobile phones, POS terminals (Point of Sale), ATMs, or bank branches”.

*Ramblings of a Procrastinator in Accra* entertains us with her piece on smoking in Ghana, and reminds us of some of the uncomfortable views Ghanaians hold on smokers of the female persuasion. She writes: “Smoking in Ghana is an interesting phenomenon.You hardly see people smoking in public but when you go out at night, swarms of smokers come out of hiding. Well, maybe these folks are mostly social smokers. There is something socially unacceptable about smoking in Ghana. Seeing a woman smoke is almost considered an abomination and there is an unflappable stereotype that a woman smoking by herself in a club/pub is a commercial sex worker!”. She concludes with a little warning: “…to all you ladies who may find yourself flying solo out at night ciggie in hand.”

We finally end with *Why so serious? Blogs of a MIghTy African* who offers a candid piece on how most of the best comedians in Ghana are…all Nigerian! He writes: “Nigerian comedy has become viral and it's not only popular on Facebook. It's popular on the pen drives (USB drives for y'all non-Ghana' lingo savvy people) of Ghanaian students. As a shout-out to these pen drives, I'll feature a video I got from one, about the genius of Naija's Klint da Drunk. Watch him make Nigerian reggae music. The emergence of these Nigerian comedians, at least on the West African scene, has spurned more people going into stand-up comedy. Some of these guys are Julius Agwu, Teju BabyFace, Okey Bakassi, I Go Die, Ali Baba, AY, etc. You can check out all these guys on Youtube.”. / ONETOUCH.755.08.45 /

Labels: , , , , ,

Emmanuel.K. Bensah Jr. has 59 followers on Google Buzz

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Welcome to the Real Three “G”--the Globalised Google Generation!

By E.K.Bensah II

In many more ways than we can imagine, technology has begun to assume a multi-disciplinary approach. In other words, you find that it is associated with, say, the security services (how the police, for example, can make effective use of camera phones and checking traffic infractions; and the service industry (as exemplified by how you can place orders online to have your food delivered, for example).

Only last Saturday, the BBC world service, in its “Heart and Soul” programme looked at the degree to which religion had gone hi-tech to the extent that people were even cyber-worshipping, without the need to step into a physical building. The conclusion the presenter drew was that for all the double-edged swords that come with the web, it continues to offer a platform for freedom of expression of all kinds; in that respect, he averred, it might not be as bad a place to worship as any other.

In my last article, I touched tangentially on the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), without fully going into how ICTs would help serve the organization. In this week's article, I yet again refer to it, albeit superficially, in the context of the multi-disciplinary approach of technology. That I was able to, in two past articles, look at the role of technology as it pertains to both the small and big screen, in my opinion, speaks volumes of how integrated and wired it has become in our lives. What it also does, though, is buttress the multi-disciplinary aspect that has been conferred it.

This hydra-headed element of technology is both interesting and noteworthy. It is interesting because it enhances many facets of our lives; and noteworthy because it makes us pause to reflect and question whether there is sufficient literature on an emerging discipline. Should there be insufficient material out there that pertains to the developing information society of developing countries like that of Ghana, then surely, it behooves not just our ICT practitioners and academics join forces, but also our omnipresent regulators that have taken too much flak for too long to help educate us.

NCA Continues to Fail Ghanaian Consumers!

Let us take the case of the NCA. If we were to visit the website of Independent UK regulator OFCOM at the week of 9 March, 2009, we see that it is consumer-oriented, with, inter alia, features on how the global recession will affect consumers; how consumers can make and submit complaints to OFCOM on harmful or offensive material they hear on the radio; research and market data and advice for consumers. Back here in Ghana, never mind that you'll get similar material, you don't even know what website to check the NCA on--is it, or the erstwhile The

fact that there's a new government might be all well and good, but I don't see how the website needs to change from its server each time there is a change in government. If this were the case, then surely the portal would be non-functioning; yet the very week the new government came into office, the site was updated!

Still on the multi-disciplinary approach, just as in the face of the global credit crisis, we seem ready to bury globalization and cast it back to the bowels of the earth; it has made me wonder whether it is not analogous to the study of technology?

Cruising to a Google Generation…

At the superficial level, could we not say that like globalization, technology is everywhere we turn--from our mobile handsets to the more-obvious desktop and laptop computers. On another level, could we not surmise that technology has globalised us all? Let's face it: here in Ghana, how many tech-savvy consumers of technology do not own either a YAHOO or GMAIL account--or both, and a Facebook account for good measure? If there is any distinguishing characteristic between me and the average literate [and middle class] Ghanaian, will I not find affinity with them in these three?

For most of us who can remember when Google became a verb (back in 2006), you might note that we never say “I'll MSN/askjeeves/altavista this”; the refrain is all too familiar--“I'll google” this or that. This surely has to be the google generation that never was! But it is also more--it is a google generatiojn that is globalised; globalised because everyone is talking about it.

…that is Globalised?

My only problem with this Globalised Google Generation is that we run the risk of becoming perfunctory beings operating on similar levels of consciousness. Surely the beauty of life is the diversity of it? Why risk becoming imitations of each other when we can become radicalized, different beings? Then I think about the astronomical rise of Facebook, and wonder whether I am truly living in 2009. The Facebook phenomenon has been discussed elsewhere and this column more times than one can imagine, but its phenomenal status cannot -and will not - be sneezed at. Its revolution has not--and will not--be televised.

Long before Facebook came to steal its thunder, MySpace held the fort as the veritable social networking site. These days, it seems to be so old news to even mention it. Yet, when we pause for a nano-second, we realize that there was a rationale for calling it a social networking site. We did not need Aristotle to remind us that man is a social animal before we went out there to start networking and connecting. We have always sought to connect and integrate. Human relationships are perhaps the greatest redemption of our desire to connect, and marriage, as one British commentator Chief Rabbi Jonathon Sacks said on BBC Radio Four in 2000, is “the greatest redemption of our loneliness”. What technology ultimately does is offer one of many platforms to facilitate socializing and networking--with Facebook taking it to amazing levels.

The Real "three G"

Some mobile providers have forever-talked about offering us 3G services, further connecting us. Some of us--Luddites and all--will choose to opt out; the up-and-coming generation might dig in as if their lives depended on it--till they get bored. Given that there is only so much technology can offer, it has become incumbent on us to find how it can complement--and not serve as a substitute--of our lives. I don't know about you, but in so many ways I am in a paradoxical way happy to be part of what I call the “real three G”: the Globalised, Google Generation.


Labels: , , , , , ,