Originally posted on Opening Lines:
Woody Norris has a saying he likes to repeat to anyone who will listen. “Nothing has been invented yet,” he says, “we’re only just getting started.” Sure, more than 8 million patents have been issued by the U.S. Patent Office alone so far, but according to Norris, those were the easy inventions.
“The good, easy, teeny-weeny stuff is gone. Hula hoops, the flashlight, the wheelbarrow and the wheel, the ladder, they’re gone. The light bulb, a coil of wire in a vacuum, how lucky was that? Stuff is more complicated today,” Norris says before reverting back to his mantra. “I’ll say it again: almost nothing is invented yet.”
This kind of talk might sound ludicrous coming from anyone else, but Woody Norris has proven the point by doing what few can: inventing products that will change the world, over and over again.
So last Christmas we did a two-man nyama choma preparation stunt. See whenever we’re doing nyama choma (roasted meat to the uninitiated) there’s always three or more guys involved. This time it was only me and my bro available for the job and we bravely took it on. We now know better. It took the whole day, morning to night, to run through the whole process! This is actually fun if it were not for the super-tiredness at the end of it. So one piece of advice to all those contemplating a one or two man nyama choma stunt this Christmas: Beware!
Now how do you turn a live goat into that delicacy? The process is really quite simple and has been carried out by generations of young men since waaay back in Kenya’s history. In summary, you
- identify a suitable volunteer,
- chop off his/her head,
- hang them upside down to remove hide and disembowel,
- split into pieces and
What you need around you for the smoothest execution is enthusiastic labour. The hungry kind.
Jupiter is back in the news. This time not for it’s proximity to earth, but for appearing very close to Venus in the night sky. I have been observing the two planets getting closer and closer together in the last couple of weeks, but hadn’t realized there was anything particularly special about it until I came across this article by National Geographic.
The coming together of these two planets is known as Planetary Conjunction and happens every thirteen months for the case of Jupiter and Venus. The occurrence itself isn’t that rare, but this year it appears spectacular due to the fact that the planets are visible for several hours after sunset. They can be observed in the western sky just after sunset and stay visible for about four hours after that. The climax of the conjunction is going to be on the 15th of March when they shall be just 3 degrees apart.
Jupiter and Venus are the brightest celestial bodies after the moon, which makes them quite easy to pick out in the night sky. However, there are two more planets that have been showing up closely behind and are easily visible to the naked eye. Mars has been appearing in the eastern sky about two hours after sunset followed shortly by Saturn.
Mars is easily distinguishable from other stars around it due to its yellow/orange color. Saturn is a lot harder to pick out if you don’t know where to look. It appears just below and to the left of Spica in the constellation Virgo.
BuddyPress is a plugin that brings social networking capabilities to WordPress. It comes with features such as Friend connections, Activity streams (status posting), Private messaging, Groups and Forums. There is lot’s more you can do with it via BuddyPress Plugins. These are simply WordPress plugins that are compatible with BuddyPress. You can work with BuddyPress as just one component of your WordPress website’s functionality, or you can have it as your central component and completely hide the rest of WordPress. Just like WordPress, BuddyPress is completely open source and almost as flexible.
How BuddyPress Works
Being part of the WordPress ecosystem, BuddyPress employs hooks liberally in its implementation. These help theme and plugin developers greatly when it comes to interfacing with BuddyPress in a future-proof manner. When used correctly, the hooks allow developers to write code that doesn’t break on newer versions of BuddyPress.
Among the most important hooks in BuddyPress are:
bp_screens: It processes functions that respond to user input with visual feedback. Basically this is the hook to use when you want to output a page in response to user input. A good example is displaying a list of friends in response to the clicking of the friends menu.
bp_actions: This hook is similar to
bp_screens, but does not give visual feedback. A good example of such is when accepting a friend request. This hook is called before
bp_screens and we shall use this rule in implementing the image field.
Functionality in BuddyPress is delivered via components. Roughly, a component maps to a feature. For example the Groups feature is handled by the Group component. Components contain the various bp_screens and bp_actions hooks required to respond to user input. A fresh installation of BuddyPress has the following components:
- Extended Profiles: maintains user profile details such as name
- Friend Connections: allows users to make and accept friend requests
- Private Messaging: handles messaging between specific users. Only the users addressed in the messages can view them.
- Activity Streams: handles the posting of public statuses and generally tracking the actions of users.
- Groups: handles the creation and maintenance of user groups. Users can create groups, invite other users etc.
- Forums: this component allows topical discussions to be carried out among users either site-wide or within groups.
The ROM is the soul of your Ideos. It controls how the phone performs and also what hardware features are accessible. You can install a great many apps to transform your Ideos into any one of a wide range of tools, but if a feature required by an app isn’t supported by the ROM, then it wont work. For example, a good number of Ideos phones support multitouch at the hardware level. However, the standard vanilla Android ROM that runs the Ideos does not support multitouch. As a result, pinch-to-zoom that is supported by apps such as Opera Mini and Google Maps does not work.
If you want to transform the ‘personality’ of your phone, then you have to change the ROM. This is known as ROMing. There are people that ROM their new phones as standard procedure not only to access functionality that doesn’t come standard, but also to feel that they have free reign over their phones. I stayed away from such radical customization owing to the risk of bricking a perfectly working phone. Besides, it wouldn’t have served any purpose beyond feeding my curiosity. However, over time my Ideos became sluggish, and boring. I’d go for days without tinkering with it to discover a new app, or new ways to customize it. And I was getting really pissed off at the sluggishness. So one day this here guy passed by my blog and mentioned Dronix. I hadn’t heard of it before and I liked the name right off the bat. I was hooked, and I went searching.
Dronix isn’t really that unique in the sense that most of its features can be found on other ROMs. But it does have that name… and it promises a significant speed boost. Among the features that it boasts, Dronix won me over on:
- Multitouch support
- Speed boost of up to 748MHz – My Ideos was previously running at 600MHz
- SSH support – allowing me to access the files on the phone over wifi, therefore avoiding the whole USB connectivity drama.
- Responsive user forum – very useful when you get stuck on something
- Extremely good reviews – especially from people who have tried out a number of ROMs
So this guy Ray Kurzweil believes that we can achieve immortality through backup. Yep, that’s right. Walk into a phone booth, pick up the receiver, dial your private number and a backup of your mind is uploaded to Telkom (or any one of competing providers). There are all sorts of packages on offer – post-paid unlimited backup, pre-paid backup-as-much-as-you-can-afford-right-now, there’s a free annual backup which however has a hefty fee when you wish to restore, and so on.
“Yes, it’s bigger on the inside”, to quote the words of Doctor Who whenever he’s addressing a first time visitor to the Tardis. Anyone regarding the Ideos from the outside tends to dismiss it. Despite being a nice looking phone, it has characteristics that immediately put you on your guard when phone shopping. For starters, Huawei is not exactly a leading name in the smartphone market. Next up is the size. It’s small, very small. So you can be excused for being skeptical about its utility as a smartphone. Finally comes the price tag. USD 100 (KES 8,500). In Kenya it’s even cheaper when you factor in the bundled talk time and data package. Did I mention it’s unlocked? So in your mind there must be a catch. Someone somewhere is going to be having a good laugh at your expense if you buy this phone.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been having an Ideos for some time now and, well, I’m still the one laughing. There’s so much you can do with this little smartphone, you literally forget the size. All courtesy of the Android 2.2 operating system running inside it. And the best part is I haven’t had to invest in a larger SD card like I had originally planned. The 1GB card is sufficient for plenty of apps and data. What apps you ask? I love customizing any device I own, so I got down to shaping the Ideos to my preferences from the moment I unboxed it. Here’s some of what I’ve done with it: