Category Archives: Uncategorized

Nike Centre for Art and Culture and Lunch ( #ibmcsc )

In addition to our visit to Osogbo, we also had the pleasure to visit the Nike Center for Art and Culture which is under the artistic direction of Ms Nike Davies Okundaye. Her center in Osogbo was filled with artwork from herself and various other artists. After visiting her Gallery (and making some purchases) we were invited to see where craftworks were made including the indigo color that graces so much of the artwork in her gallery. Finally as a special event we were treated to lunch at her house – a magnificant house in which she has pets include turtles and peacocks.

I also pounded yam (a staple of the diet here in Nigeria) even tried Monitor Lizard which was cooked is garlic and ginger. It didn’t taste like chicken at all.

We were very grateful for her kindness and hospitality and for sharing her artwork with us.

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Nigeria Assignment – Day #1, Part 2 ( #ibmcsc )

Today we had the fun task of driving 6 hours from Lagos to Ado Ekiti.

We piled into the van which was very cozy for the enormous amount of people and luggage we had and eventually made it to our hotel. We saw many things along the way and took several pictures. One of the things you get really impressed by is the fairly large amount of nature that is visible, if not available for hiking and trekking just yet because the tourist areas are not yet fully developed).

Once we got to the Delight Hotel, we were welcomed with a refreshing drink and we checked in. If I had to describe our hotel, I would describe it as cozy enough to meet the needs that we have. I feel safe and secure in the hotel without a doubt. There is hot water and a shower and air conditioner. The hotel is of a good standard so I really can’t complain. The free internet leaves something to be desired (we only get 100 MB complimentary – yikes!), but otherwise that is my main thing. Dinner tonight consisted of jollof rice and chicken, which was probably my first Nigerian-themed dish. It was spicy. I mean sweating-in-my-shirt-and-mouth-on-fire kind of spicy. But it was good and a nice introduction to Nigerian food. During dinner we received a notification that the Governor of Ekiti State, His Excellency Dr Kayode Fayemi, invited us to his birthday party as an unofficial welcome at his residence. His generosity was greatly appreciated by us all. Not a bad way to spend our first night in Ekiti state!

Slowly but surely some pictures will start making their way into my posts. At the moment the internet connectivity isn’t always as consistent as I would like it to be, so I will add posts and pictures as often as I am able.


Picture with His Excellency the Governor of Ekiti State
Picture with His Excellency the Governor of Ekiti State
Delight Hotel - from the outside
Delight Hotel – from the outside
Mosquito net over the reminds me of my G.I. Joe tent as a child :)
Mosquito net over the bed…it reminds me of my G.I. Joe tent as a child πŸ™‚
Jollof Rice with chicken and plantain. Nigerian food is kinda spicy :)
Jollof Rice with chicken and plantain. Nigerian food is kinda spicy πŸ™‚

Saturday Morning Update

In hindsight, that handmade pasta and half bottle of wine weren’t the best idea to begin a night out. But it made for a cozy evening at home in front of the television. πŸ™‚

It’s been a bit a long and strange work week. In some respects I am very glad that it is over. In other respects, some good news about work came to me and that has made me happy. September has not been a very good month overall. I am happy for it to move along.

In line with my Corporate Service Corps assignment, I will need to polish up my website, photo site, and journal websites and make it all work with Facebook and Twitter. This will be the motivation that I needed to keep everything updated and do a full refresh of my digital branding. I plan to make it all happen over the next 4 weeks.

I learned yesterday that I will have to delay my tattoo appointment again. It’s a bit disappointing so today I will go and find a new place to get my tattoo done. Or maybe I will go to the same tattoo place again today and ask for someone else to ink me. The person who normally does it has been sick a lot lately. So I wish them a speedy recovery in any event and hope it is not serious.

For those who haven’t seen it, this will be the new tattoo joining my Phoenix tattoo:

That’s all for right now. Now since I am up so incredibly early, I am off to a little farm stand to find some fresh fruit to make some homemade scones. Yes scones. And later bingo if I can my orthopedic shoes. Sigh…I live a life with too many contrasts.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

The lessons of online backup

So earlier this week (Wednesday) I got my HP laptop back from the repair shop. It turns out that the fan was broken which is why my laptop sounded like a lawn mower and you could hear it from the other room. I will give 8 of 10 stars to Info Care (who HP along with many others subcontract to) because they fixed the fan problem. They lose 2 stars for 2 reasons:

  • I had some problems with 2 files that were corrupted and rather than replacing those files they simply just reformatted my machine. Fair enough since they warn you that they might do this, but you get the feeling that reformatting is their first solution – not their last solution.
  • They installed a Swedish version of Windows onto my machine. I am near fluent in Windows but I still prefer that my OS be in English for the time being. So this required some additional e-mail and chat support to get right.

Anyhoo, so this weekend was spent bringing my laptop back to some semblance of the way it was. Luckily for me that basically my laptop is an expensive tablet in the sense that I don't keep a lot physically on the hard drive – for that I have my NAS. So looking over the 60 or so I had installed on my other machine, I used this opportunity to not install the 25 or so programmes I could live without or didn't know what they did anyway. I'll tell you right now, it pays to keep a list of everything you have installed so you don't have to guess. Simply just take screen shots of your programmes menu from the control panel every now and then and save it somewhere as a word document. That just left the restoring the 20 GB of data that Norton Online Backup had determined was important.

So I will come right out and say that this secure online backup concept is really cool and I like it. There is actually 20 GB of music, video, and photos that for various reasons I didn't keep on my NAS and this experience will give me an opportunity to correct that. The biggest drawback has been the amount of time. If I had kept the backup locally (say on a copy on my NAS for example, then I would have been done restoring within 1 hour. However, because it is online storage it has taken the better part of a weekend. Also, when I have looked at what I really have been backing up, I can now see that actually the true amount of stuff that has been useful is more like 11 GB and not 20 GB. And I have some other observations as well. So I have learned the following lessons:

1) I should have 2 backups – one which backups to my NAS and the other which backups to my online storage. The online storage can then be the "nuclear option" in case something really bad happens to my physical space.

2) I should be more specific about what to save. Selecting the defaults means that the backup programme errs on the side of caution, and probably backs up more than it needs to (and misses some things).

3) In some cases, you have to remember the order in which you have installed things. The biggest loss of this experience? I lost all of my user data for The Sims 2 – a game I have played on and off for like 6 years. When thinking about it is no catastrophic loss and it was just a mindless way to pass the time, but still, it killed my motivation to play as I have to start from scratch (and it is a reason to migrate to The Sims 3 instead,,,?)

4) I have a 2 TB NAS which holds everything everything with a mirrored disk (known for geeks as RAID1). Mirroring is not that same as backing up. So I trust that both disks will never fail at the same time and I trust that the physical location is secure, safe, protected enough such that it is unlike that I would lose access to them. This is the part that worries me. I am wondering if I should set up a NAS at a friend's place and have the data backup at their place. Anyone who has experience with this let me know πŸ™‚

Anyway, overall, as I spent the midsummer solo it was a good time to tend to these things. And I will tell you all, if you aren't backing up your data on your computer regularly, you're taking a big risk. Storage these days is free or cheap so there is no real reason to lose all of those awesome pics, fun e-mails, important documents, and other things you have stored on your computer. But of course it is up to you πŸ™‚

Ahead of the curve yet behind the times, digitally speaking

It dawned on my today as my internet domain name renewal reminders came that there was actually a time when I can remember not really caring much about my digital personna. It was cool simply to have a hotmail address or an e-mail alias that centralised all of your mail.

Today is really different.

In addition to my own website – which admitted I don't keep up to date it is just to prevent others to taking the domain name – I also have several 'rodneycornelius' domains that I register and am just too lazy to point to my main address. Maybe some day…some day…

In addition to websites, now there is a need to maintain facebook and linked in….and even friendster and myspace (even if they aren't popular, then I have a presence there until they die out).

Then of course there is my main blog here at LiveJournal, not to mention Tumblr.

And for good measure, photos using Flickr, Fotki, and Picassa (but primarily Fokti).

So keeping all of these things going all require work and effort. And it just amazes me that 15 years ago we wouldn't have even thought about it.

So in some respects, I feel ahead of the curve…I am in the age demographic that is supposed to be anti-technology and yearing for simple things like wired telephones, record players, and typewriters. But I actually like and have a passion for new technology.

Where I fall behind is that in rushing to adopt all of these new things, I don't really put the energy into any of them that they truly deserve. For the moment, I am okay with that. But I guess at some point I have to either select fewer ecosystems to participate in, or wait for another tool like TweetDeck that can help even more with digital presence management.

That typewriter is looking awfully good right now…

My September 11th – 10 Years Later

So it's hard to write this, but I will try to anyway. If for no other reason than sharing with the collective might give me a measure of peace, some ability 10 years later to comprehend what has happened. I understand the political points, the policy points, the hawks and the doves. But I measure this day in more personal terms.

I should start this by talking about where I was. And I couldn't have been further away from New York City, yet still felt closer. For me, my September 11th was ending in Beijing, China.

After a long day in the office and a dinner with my colleagues, I was back in my hotel room when I got a call to "turn on the TV and turn it on right now." It's the kind of call usually reserved for when a bit of interesting news about your favourite celebrity has done something stupid or you have a friend who somehow (usually for nefarious reasons) has landed themselves on TV. I remember responding "I'm tired and it's late…I catch it in the morning." But then they said "A plane has flown into one of the towers and they think it was a terrorist attack." I lept up out of bed and turned on the TV. And I saw as the second plane hit the other tower. Smoke and fire everywhere. Images of firefighters and police rushing in to burning buildings. My thoughts went to the people on the planes – what a terrible way to die. And then my thoughts went to my address book. I know several people in NYC, and I was worried about them. I shamefully felt relieved that I didn't know anyone personally who worked in the towers. I tried calling those friends to no avail – busy signals at each attempt.

Urgent text messages out, I felt all I could do was wait. And hope that people were making their way out of the towers. And then the South tower fell. Years later when more interviews and footage became available they tell of loud noises and a swaying building. It doesn't look that way on TV. It looks rather controlled. Floors collasping on each other with terrifying percision. You know in your heart that there aren't any survivors. I prayed for those on the ground. I pray for my friends working anywhere near the towers. I pray for returned phone calls or sms messages.

While all of this happening, I then focus on the fact that a plane crashed into the Pentagon. I don't know anyone who works there, but taken in the context of everything that has happened, I begin thinking what is next. I unfairly think in terms of proportion. "The Pentagon is a tough building" I remember thinking. "They'll get everyone out safe." But a plane is a plane is a plane. And it is about as much as what went into the building as who comes out of it. Planes as weapons of mass destruction is unfathomable to me. Then the news comes in over CNN that the FAA is concerned about more aircraft not responding. It can't get worse I think and hope.

Even with a hole in the pentagon, even with the thought of more planes as missles, my thoughts on squarely on the North tower. They were built in the same way, so my thinking is that I hope that although people are exhausted, those trying to make their way out of the tower get new adrenaline to get out of the tower in time. It isn't so long that we then see the North tower fall. Thousands of lives vaporised. People walking around covered in ash and debris. The internet has footage of what appears to be people who chose to jump from windows and plummet to their deaths so that they could die on their own terms. What a shitty choice to have to make. And I kept wishing for rescue helicopters, but I know that flames, smoke, and wind would make that impossible and besides, the doors to the roofs are usually locked. But I kept wishing that life was more like the movies where the daring rescue at the end saves many. But real life is more solemn than that. I start to cry and vomit. It's too much. And then I hear about United Flight 93 and I cry some more. And I cry and cry and cry and cry, because there is nothing more that I can do. And I am still getting no responses from anyone I know who would have been in NYC nor from people whom I have mutual friends.

The next day at the office was surreal. I put on my game face and go on as normal. As normal as one can be. Eventually the e-mails and sms start trickling in. The calls from my family come in – just so that we can hear the sounds of each other voices even though my family was also far away from the terror attack. I stand with my country on this day. Say what you want about Democrats vs Repiblicans, rich vs poor, and all of the debates on multi-culturalism. I'm quite simply an American whose country was attacked. The "aftermath" interviews were conducted with CEOs and Janitors, cooks and celebrities, fund managers and blue-collar workers, families of employees in the towers who were of European, African, Asian, Muslim decent, and so on. None of that mattered. We are all Americans. I know in this endeavour, despite my personal views, I owe it the government to enable them to do what needs to be done without the normal commentary in order to defend America's values and constitution. I mute my opposition to the policy point of the moment. What matters is how the government will evaluate and respond. I feel in my heart that the only one verdict for those who did this – guitly. And there must be only one punish the scale of the atrocity.

I went through most of 12 September secretly relieved that I knew no one personally who was killed in any of the attacks, although I was sad to learn of a few acquaintences (friends of friends) that were killed. Morning became afternoon and then I got an e-mail confirming that a personal friend was killed in the tower, Amy Toyen. I don't think she normally would have been there, but on that day she was there for a meeting. I excused myself from our work area to go cry again. The attacks had hit home even deeper than they had before.

Amy was not only a brother in my fraternity (Delta Sigma Pi) but she was a personal friend as well. I am friends with her fiancee Jeff. The loss becomes real. Amy was someone who I had bonded with in our love for trying new things and thinking about the wider impact of what we want to achieve. We didn't always agree on everything when it came to the fraternity, but friends don't have to do that. They can disagree on some points and walk out of the room still as friends. They can paint a mural on a wall as Amy did to extol the values of community and multiculturalism. I need a moment to collect myself in the bathroom. I can't stay in there too long and cry, and I feel I can't make any sounds like I am crying. That's weakness. So I pick myself up, dry my eyes, and decide that the focus is to make it through the day and cry in my hotel room at night. But there is a hole in my heart. Because to know Amy is to understand how kind and gentle she was. How she held to her faith and her belief in the goodness of people. How undesserving her murder was. How she deserved to complete life's journey like the rest of us. How she deserved to be a mother and a grandmother. How she deserved to to define her future on her own terms instead of having it violently defined for her. We were of different faiths, but I prayed that she didn't feel pain. I prayed that her passing was quick. I prayed that she somehow managed to find calm and in her last moments. I pray she knew that she was loved by many. I pray. I hope. I hope this for all the victims.

So I remember the pain. I remember the sadness. I remember that the shock turned to silence, the silence to grief, the grief to despair. But I also remember that there were moments in which the goodness of people shined through. I remember reading news reports of Jewish and Christian citizens patrolling outside Mosques across the US to help protect them. I remember Buckingham Palace playing the Star Spangled Banner during the changing of the guard. I remember both houses of Congress on the Capitol steps singing the national anthem. I remember that there were heros that day large and small. I even remember Oprah's show "Islam 101" so that people would understand that a minority prevert the honorable religion of a majority. I remember acts of kindness large and small shown to me on my subsequent travels. The good things will never negate the tragedy. But it helps.

In susequent trips to New York I have visited Ground Zero. And emormity of what has happened continues to impact me. I don't talk about the politics before and after. We have 364 other days to let the poison of blood-sport politics tear us apart. What I would leave you all with is a hope that 10 years hasn't faded the feeling that for whatever it is worth, we are in this together. Whether it is the December 2010 terror attacks in Stockholm, the July 7th terror attacks in London, or the domestic terror attack in Oslo. The attack on the towers killed hundreds of citizens from around the world. There is a shared danger and a shared responsibility to get through this together. To become big picture thinkers again and not the circumstances of the moment divide us. That would be my wish for you and yours. And lots of blessings, positivity, and happiness.


Media Monkey vs iTunes – Initial Impressions

Media Monkey vs iTunes
Okay, so this will be a tech geek, music lover kind of post. If your interested lies outside of these 2 areas, you’ll get bored by the 3rd paragraph and I won’t hold it against you if you don’t read through it. Really I won’t. I mean it πŸ™‚

So yesterday, after pointing iTunes back to my NAS server in order to access all of my music, movies, and multi-media content (for the 5th time…why does it keep on doing this?), I finally gave up on iTunes when I tried to play a song and it kept skipping and having significant problems to access the track. And I know that Apple fans will want to start a war, but actually, the problem here is entirely iTunes bloatware which while cool in many respects, doesn’t seem to handle network-server access very well.

Now before you say "you must have an old computer," I assure you that I don’t. I bought a brand new laptop with all of the bells and whistles and lots of extra computing power. I probably only use 30% of what the laptop would be capable of doing. So it’s not that.

And before you say "all software has this problem," let me assure you that’s not true either. For example, if I want to stream a movie to my TV using Apple TV, the movies freezes about 40% of the way into the movie. I can plug my laptop directly into the TV and use VLC player and it just works. If I want to listen to music on my network server with Media Monkey, coupled with AirFoil, I have access to my 20,000 songs with no hiccups or delays. Using iTunes, it might work for a song or two and then it fubars.

So, all things being equal, I’ve decided to say ‘Goodbye’ to iTunes until Apple feels like putting out a decent piece of software that can handle large collections of media. I have taken years to convert all of my DVDs and CDs to digitial format because I wanted instant access whenever (and now even wherever thanks to advances from even 5 years ago when I starts to convert my collection), and it was stupid that the iTunes applications wouldn’t let me take advantage of that.

Anyway, I am now about 16 hours into Media Monkey, and while that might be a short time to some, it is more than enough time to make a comparison between Media Monkey and iTunes.

What I like and dislike about iTunes

+ A very clean and simple interface. Much cleaner and simpler than Media Monkey. I do miss that.
+ Music and Video media can be seen and accessed quite easily. With Media Monkey you have to dig around a bit (and I still haven’t found my movies and TV shows visible yet…but it’s only been 16 hours and I was interrupted by an overnight hospital visit)
+ Connection to the iTunes store, especially useful because I have an iPhone and iPad (and this means I can never truly get rid of iTunes unless iCloud changes that for me)
+ iTunes radio and podcast features are actually quite nice. They just work.
– Doesn’t access content through a NAS server properly. Songs take a long time to load, often hiccups, and editing your music (ID3 tags, etc) can take 5 minutes per song or longer. Even if you keep your iTunes library files on your local machine.
– Is a real resource hog. Upon startup it can consume up to 50% of system resources and then continues to take up a lot of resources even after
The NAS access issue is actually a huge huge negative. It overrides anything else positive about iTunes. Many people are moving to NAS server at home nowadays because the technology got cheaper, the broadband acccess better, and quite frankly – many office, productivity, and other applications are bloatware themselves. So something had to give. And for most people, that means keeping the content separate from the local machine. The local machine runs better and the content can be accessed by multiple devices. So Apple should really fix this, even if they want to charge around $20 for a "iTunes Server Edition," I am sure a lot of people would pay for it – I know that I would.

What I like and dislike about Media Monkey (MM)
+ It handles all content (whether local or on a NAS server) quickly and efficiently. No hiccups or slow starts detected so far
+ Tagging seems to work great
+ You get many options for recovering lost album art to make your collection more polished (actually, too many options, but whatever). This is great for me because after converting over 500 CDs to digital format, I long gave up on scanning the album covers. And it seems like MM will help me to make progress on associate album art with my songs.
+ File monitoring detects very easily when anything in the target directory has changed.
+ Seemed to handle importing of podcasts very well. The real test will come when updates are available and that hasn’t been tested yet.
– Library directory could use some improvement. MM doesn’t do a great job of grouping an album together if there are featured artists (as an example, the issue comes up if MM uses Janet Jackson featuring Carly Simon as both the Artist and the Album Artist even though the song belongs to a CD put out by Janet, it will treat them as 2 different albums unless you do a manual correction).
– Interface is not as simple to use in my view. Probably because you can do so much customisation. This isn’t a bad thing as much as you just have to use it for a few hours to get the hang of it.
– I still can’t figure out where my movies and TV shows are. I am one of those who still download seasons using iTunes so this would be helpful to know if I can use Media Monkey or just need to get used to using VLC player or trying through my Sony PS3
– Internet Radio isn’t inherently built-in to MM. You get sent to internet directories where you can choose. Was nice in iTunes to have the listings presented to you.

Overall, I have to say that so far I am glad I made the switch to Media Monkey. Combined with AirFoil, I get my music all over my house just as if I was using iTunes. And of course now I have access again to my 20,000 songs which play without hiccups. While I am happy with Media Monkey, it is also disappointing that Apple doesn’t really give a damn about it’s customers and the way that they are using technology. There is a host of problems and complaints about this issue on various forums and Apple gives no indiciation that it is listening. Maybe your experience is different if you use a Mac or something, but enough of us are having this issue and we can’t all be stupid uneducated morons. The sooner Apple fixes the NAS server reliability/playback issue with iTunes, the sooner their user base will grow as people migrate back to iTunes. And since when did growing your user base become something uninteresting to any company. It seems only to be uninteresting to Apple.