Sunday, May 23, 2010

On four in one...

So we went up Mount Longonot yesterday, and I decided to wear my Teva Terra Fi sandals. And while these sandals are the best thing ever for a kayak trip or something, yet yesterday on the way down the volcanic ash got under the strap and started rubbing into my flesh... So I tried to speed up a bit to get the mountain over with as soon as possible, and then I sprained my ankle. And then I had to take the Tevas off for I was already trickling blood, and then the ground was so hot, like frying pan... that I burned the soles of my feet.

So now I have broken toe (last week), sprained ankle, bleeding blister and peeled off skin from the sole. All in one foot!

Some ninja, eh?

Friday, May 21, 2010

On minor news

As I have twittered I broke a toe. There were some pillows on the floor blocking my way to my suits in my wardrobe so I wanted to kick them pillows outta my way and kicked the corner of the wardrobe with the toe. Some ninja, huh?
This reminds me when it was the last time I had the same toe broken. When I started Aikido back in 1992 I asked my cousin what gi to buy. She told me to get the size bigger than my size because it will shrink. And this thing never shrunk and I kept breaking my toes for two years till I got another gi...

Another news is that after 6 months of going from office to office, bragging, bribing and begging, yesterday I got my Kenyan driving license!

Besides - still looking for the venue where I can expand my growing army of ninjas. I want to have Aikido at least 3 times a week. Have found some places, still under negotiation.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

On Polish bastards

So we got a new office.

In the new office the IT department installed these huge 50 inch LCD displays. Loads of them. Seriously, in every room on every floor. Everyone sitting at his desk sees at least one of them. You simply can not run away from them. But IT guys connected the monitors to some Cisco machines, and apparently these beautiful displays are of no use for us. Correction: were. Past tense.

And then there was a small power upsurge causing this Cisco machine to reboot and for a second it displayed its IP address and model name. And that was more than enough for Polish engineer. I looked up the model on the Web, and then logged in to it via web browser. Now I can play movies (no sound though) on 50 inch monitor or display every page I want, even this one.

Why? Because whoever installed the damn Cisco DMP 4400 did not care to change default admin password. Proudly Kenyan...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On safety in Nairobi

I still find it difficult to believe, but...

You know - you often hear gossip about stuff happening to people here in Kenya. Mostly to mzungus (read: white), but not only. You know - things like car jacking, side mirrors being stolen in the traffic jam (when you can't open door to run after thief) and breaking and entering, rape, murder and so on...

But yesterday Alison came home and said - I lost rear bumper. I thought - damn, again this black gangsta slang shit... But she meant literally - someone stole rear bumper of our car! But... I mean - how? When? And most importantly - why?

And then I remembered - dude, T.I.A.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On the stuff I use

This, second, part should be more interesting. Here I will cover software environment I work in.

Unfortunately I am still bound to Windows. I do not use Windows 7 pre-installed by Sony. Not only because there is a lot of so-called crapware but because... Sony tweaks its Windows installation by removing some components which are instrumental for a geek. Like gpedit.msc. Therefore - even though I will loose all these fancy-shmancy Sony shortcuts (like Fn+F2 to mute, etc) I get rid of Sony version of Windows 7 and install my own.

The source I have allows me to install Home, Professional and Ultimate. And you know what? After I looked into the differences I decided I do not need nor want all those extras that come with Pro or Ultimate. I install Home, of course 64-bit version. Which, as it happens - is just the very version I had installed by Sony - no licence breach here ;-)

As soon as I have brand new OS I launch Internet Explorer and download Google Chrome. Once it is installed I am ready for major surgery - I boot Fedora Linux from my USB drive, mount Windows drive and remove following directories:

Program Files (x86)/Windows*
Program Files (x86)/DVD*
Program Files (x86)/Internet*
Program Files (x86)/Microsoft*
Program Files/Windows*
Program Files/DVD*
Program Files/Internet*
Program Files/Microsoft*

This way I get rid of all Microsoft crapware (like DVD Maker, Photo Viewer, Media Player, Defender, etc, etc, etc) and still have fully working Windows 7 operating system. Interesting thing is even after I physically remove Internet Explorer I still get things like Windows Update working just fine.

Now I can start installing my applications...

It is kind of interesting that it seems I included web browser (Google Chrome) as a part of OS...

I install Microsoft Security Essentials to protect my OS. I remove UAC, remove System Protection and disable Pagefile. Why Pagefile? Because I use system hibernation and MS Windows actually uses both - pagefile.sys and hiberfil.sys as cached memory. So why duplicate, when even in the best case scenario Windows will not utilize more than your physical memory? It just saves me 4 GB of HDD space (yes, I have 4 GB or RAM on all my machines).

I use Rocket Dock and Start Killer to get rid of Windows Start Menu. I have my own set of selected icons and cursors that I insert into /Windows/Cursors, set up my own wallpaper. Then I install old version of Total Commander I inherited as I was leaving Siemens...
On the tiny, work-machine I install Rainmeter to have my projects' status on the desktop. I change by boot screen to match my desktop wallpaper with LogonStudio. To install application I use Daemon Tools Lite. Why? Because I have all of them as ISO images stashed somewhere on external HDD encrypted with TrueCrypt.

To access all my Unix machines I employ Ponderosa (Thanks, Mark). Awesome tool (again - to unify my environment I set the same wallpaper in Ponderosa as my Windows wallpaper and as my login screen background)

To rip stuff I use DVD Decrypter. Not much of ripping these days, as all I need is available via net, but you know - just in case.

I used to listen to the music using Bang Olufsen Beoplayer for a really long time - I liked the clean, dark UI. But Beoplayer relies on Windows Media Player so I had to switch to my main multimedia player - VLC.

For picture viewing I use Fast Picture Viewer, which has very clean UI. If configured properly it has no UI at all ;-)

For photo management I use Adobe Lightroom. Also use it for minor touches and corrections to my photographs. For more serious fiddling with photography I use Adobe Photoshop with two addons - Silver Efex Pro and (used less often) Color Efex Pro (Thanks, Beata).

For office work I am forced to use what corporations use. I have version 2007, planning to migrate to Office 2010 as soon as I manage to lay my hands on non-beta copy. Office only on small machine.

Ekhm... Games. I know, I know... I have here old Operation Flashpoint + Resistance. Completed all missions and all campaigns from each possible side. Kinda bored with it, but so far nobody came up with anything better ;-( I recently obtained Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising, but after initial playing it for a couple of days I kinda got bored and disappointed... It does not have this thing... I have Company Of Heroes with all addons, finished all campaigns and all missions on Expert level from all sides... Also a classic in RTS'es but also done deal ;-(... Recently went through Call Of Duty - Modern Warfare 2. That was fun while it lasted, but now is gone from my machine... Most of games are like logical puzzles - one you know how to solve them they are just boring... Last time I played was when I was stuck at Brussels Airport for the night. Perhaps I am getting old?

These steps allow me to use heavily customized Windows environment, enjoy all benefits of using Windows without most of its drawbacks. Some of my friends advocate Linux, others OSX. But I kinda like my Windows ;-)

I remove Windows splashscreen (run msconfig, go to Boot tab and check No GUI boot).
I disable CapsLock key via Sharp Keys, no need to physically remove this damn thing.

Monday, May 10, 2010

On Kenyan Police - again

No, this is not a joke. Another interesting case...

So the situation was like this - we're sitting at home with Alison, chilling out and having lazy Sunday evening. And then some persistent people tried to disturb us (read: rang the door) so we ignored them. But as some people just do not seem to get the clue - they tried to call us. But we did not want to be disturbed...

So in the morning I see that I got an SMS from my neighbor saying that my car was scratched by one of guests (there's a restaurant down there at my apartment). So I went down and... well, I would not call it a scratch. Just a smudge on the paintwork. In reality - nothing. If I went with this to the paint workshop they'd laugh at me. If it hadn't been pointed out to me I'd not see it myself.

But then... We found out the guy was taken to the Police station where he had to spend the night! I said WTF? I mean - why? So I had to go to the Kileleshwa Police Station this morning to tell them release him. I wasted 2 hours in the traffic just to say I have no grudge against this poor dude.

And no, you can not do this over the phone.

Kinda extreme to put guy into jail for a scratch that even was not there...

Friday, May 7, 2010


I decided to kill my Facebook account. Please do not worry that some cyber-censorship branch of Kenyan Police is trying to off me. I did it of my own free will. And no, nobody is standing next to me with a gun pointed at my head as I am writing this.

On freedom of speech

And you know - if I suddenly disappear from the face of the planet - you know why.

On local Police

So the situation was like that - some subcontractors of one of vendors were asked to go to the BTS site to do some maintenance work. Unfortunately someone spotted them and called cops. And KP (Kenya Police) came and started shooting at these engineers. Three died, one critically wounded in hospital. I mean - you know - shooting with guns and bullets. And I think to myself - what kind of country is this where Police just shoots. No questioning, no warning shots... nothing. Frickin' Wild Africa! And of course nobody was found guilty. T.I.A.

On parody of culture, Chopin, local traditions and future of Kenya

Phew, that was a good one.

There was supposed to be a piano concerto by Katya Grineva here in Nairobi. As we do not have a lot of such performances we decided to attend. Of course the event started half an hour later than scheduled, or rather - this time it was scheduled half an hour later, just nobody cared to inform the spectators as the tickets were sold. Nobody can organize an event without any glitches - there always have to be fuckups and delays and so on. Proudly Kenyan*...

A part of local tradition is to screw with all spectators further (because delaying the concert by half an hour is not enough) so there had to be those speeches. Generally in the world speech is an opportunity of someone who has achieved something to share his ideas and results with the wider public. In Kenya it is a must to have someone who is totally incompetent but hosts VIP position to boast on how much of a biggest fucker ever he is. No substance, no value, just bullshit...

As the pianist was Russian she was introduced by Russian Ambassador. I have only one thing to say: WTF? First of all His Excellency spoke English with this distinctive Russian accent. OK, this is how they talk, perhaps I am biased by stereotypes and he actually was not drunk. Dunno. But then he goes with his speech about World War Two, military parade to be held in Moscow where there will be - for the first time ever - US, UK and Polish troops alongside Soviet Army... Oops, Russian Army, Sorry Mr. President**... Piano concert and he pulls out WW2 stuff out his sleeve? WTF? But then he goes about the usual cultural international blah blah blah and then he says Chopin was of Russian origin. OK, people laughed, but the amazing thing is - I got the impression that the dude was not joking! During the break we approached him and asked him like - you know - what did you mean? And he goes in Russia we do not say Chopin, we say Żopen. Motherfucker! I am not very patriotic but this was just... too much. Sonuvabitch! For those of you who do not speak Russian - Żopen would be Russian for Asshole. But this reminds me of German attempts to germanize Copernicus. They started by writing in German schoolbooks Kopernicus (which actually makes sense in German not in Latin: Copernicus) and then moved to more subtle sabotages...

After the Ambassador there was Kenyan Minister of Culture and National Heritage. OMG, this guy was funny! He was a parody of a politician! He started off by saying that he's been a minister for 25 years. What? Die already and make room for younger, more efficient people! Then he goes through WW2 (again!) saying that it was Russia who won the war (WTF?) and twice mentioning General Marshall Żukow and his assault on Berlin, that Russia lost 30 Million people during the war and so on. Please point out to me relevance to piano concert, for I somehow missed it. And if you want show off your history literacy at least get your facts straight! And then he tells stories how he went to some rural community and after he left people there started getting married. Eh? And then he brags on how he and his office rely on external funding for building community cultural centre. What kind of minister is he if his main task is begging for money. Again - die already!

As I am not Kenyan (proudly or not) I looked at this and wondered - how much of a parody of democracy and government these people have here? I was slightly annoyed by these delays, I came for a piano concert, not for stand-up comedians. And I was sorry, for Alison sitting next to me must have been ashamed to have such country officials. And then I realized that these comedians of the stage are real people with power. These douchebags and narrow-mminded assholes run this country! Unfortunately this brings us to more serious matters - there will never be a real democracy here. This will always be third world. If former president Moi was a school teacher and after having resigned from presidency he was one of the richest people in Africa... If the President of South Afica rapes women (family's friend ;-) and claims that to prevent AIDS he takes shower after sex... and people cheer for he is so manly. As time progresses I find that most people in Kenya are either corrupt politicians/businessmen making loads of illegal money or totally delusional people. Or both. You can live whatever fantasy you have and nobody gives a crap. People are too busy making ends meet or stealing their country apart. And these behaviors propagate...

On daily basis you do not see these kenyan idiosyncrasies, but after some time around you start noticing them. These people who have power are above the law. OK, this is a joke - there is no law here. But the movers and shakers are beyond any justice. Even if the people of Kenya raise one day to oust them it will only be to fuel interests of another politician. Governments all over the world manipulate theis citizens. But nowhere in such a crude and unsophisticated way. The sad thing is people do not even notice...

Yeah, I know, I got carried away. The concert? There was this fat old (British looking) lady two rows ahead of me who just had to wear all those bangles that rattled and clang with her every move. And yes, she was restless. There were people who forgot to switch off their mobiles. Seriously? There were two or three couples who could not resist whispering, photographers did not care to switch off their camera's beep-beep everytime they got focus... the light operators had to switch off the light after Katya started playing with these loud Thungggs... But the pianist compensated for all of these. Schubert, Liszt, Chopin (sorry - Żopen), Bloch, some Spanish composers and she closed the evening with Ravel's Bolero, which she was able to make interesting! What I am affraid is that all these were pearls among the swines...

* Local slogan, aimed to be equivalent of Teraz Polska. But for me a synonin of all possible fuckups in this country.

** Who recognizes this?