Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Tsunami aftermath

It's strange to realise that Boxing Day (or Annandag Jul in Swedish) will for a very long time be a day of mourning for literally hundreds of thousands of people. In many parts of the world, Sweden included, memorial services and other functions were held yesterday to commemorate those who lost their life in one sudden blow. It serves as a very grim reminder that sometimes the world can be a very harsh place and for that very reason we should do our best to enjoy life with family and friends and also to do what little we can to help improve life for the many that for various reason go hungry and suffer.

I promised to post a photo of Eric now that he is 2 years old and here it is! We all survived Christmas and had a good time with friends on Xmas Eve. Took some 4 hours to clean up the house the following day though... The bar is now by all standards officially inaugurated. Hope you all enjoyed Xmas and are now relaxing with friends or family. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Bar

I should really be writing a novel or something since it was so long since I posted. BUT I will leave that for now and just publish a photo of our new bar, installed last Saturday.

Lots have happened lately but this is (hopefully) the final day before Xmas break. Yesterday we met to plan for this year's Xmas Eve party to be held at our place. Then the bar will be very officially opened! Look very much forward to that...
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Friday, December 09, 2005

It never rains but...

Having made several comments on how nice it is that we have got rain lately I can now say ENOUGH. On and off lately we have had several heavy downpours but I have never during my years in Zimbabwe witnessed anything like Thursday night!
I had just got home and was actually waiting for a guy to come and adjust or satellite dish settings. It had started on the way home and by the time I got home there was no more signal so I tried to call him. Impossible, but he never showed up and just as well. It then started cascading down rather than pouring and after a while I had to go out to save some items that were sinking in a fresh mud puddle inside the garage. I discovered I was standing in a muddy current up to my ankles outside (we are on a slope).
Next it turns into a hailstorm and then (of course) electricity disappears. Then when I look out a window I realise that the lower end of our lawn is now a small lake and rising! A brown muddy mass of water has formed because the water can not find its way past our durawall fast enough! I attach a photo (sadly very blurry since it was quite dark and a phone-camera) that shows how the kids slide is partly under water.
Next morning it had, thankfully, disappeared but the lawn is all muddy and we have to punch a hole in the dura to avoid similar events in the future. And power was not restored when I got home on Friday 24 hours later - it came back after like 28 hours...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The most stupid mistake or misinformation I can remember

Being an IT-pro and worked with PCs since they were invented in the early 80's what I, by sheer coincidence, discovered earlier today that I had done must count as one of my silliest or most stupid mistakes/misunderstandings ever!!

I work mainly on a laptop PC. It has a number of settings and you name it what, some in Bios, most in Windows XP that I run on it. Today I thought I should check exactly what type of RAM memory it uses since I am think of buying more. So I run a software for this that tells me more than anyone normally need to know.

One of the things it tells me is that the processor seems to be running at less than half the possible speed!! Now I of course start trying to figure out why, I run various diagnose software, I tinker with Bios-settings for Speedstep, the technology that allows the CPU to work at a lower speed to save battery life. Nothing helps.

I search the internet high and low and had started downloading a driver from Dell when I read something about the "power status" in an article online. Off to Control Panel and select Power Options. Notice that the selected "Power Scheme" is "Portable/Laptop" that sort of makes sense. Change this to "Always On". Back to the software that helped me spot the problem - and VOILA we now run at max speed...

So I have most likely run like this for months, I don't recall when I was last tinkering with these settings. What is obvious to me is that "Joe Average" would most likely not even be aware that the PC is running at less than optimal since most persons don't fiddle around there at all. It seems to me that this particular setting/options needs to explain what it actually DOEs to the PC rather than just quietly slowing things down.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Tiddlywiki & others

After a very quiet weekend with plenty rain it is once again Monday. Strange that kids always wake up at 5-6 am during weekends when I want to sleep but easily sleep beyond 7 am during weekdays when I have to get up early?

Discovered Tiddlywiki today on a sheer coincidence. It is basically a system to easy maintain and update a website or a todo-list or whatever, there is quite a few things one can use it for. Since I had been looking for something to update my company site Orionweb for a long time now this seemed perfect and I have spent some time today to totally revamp it. And it feels as this could help me to maintain the site with interesting notes, feeds, links and so on.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Time flies

When you are having fun, so they say. Well, this week has zapped by alright. Monday was basically spent trying to put a 2-day working trip to Southafrica together. After much calling, emailing and booking via internet it was up around 4.30 am to get ready and then off to the airport.

Air Zimbabwe (who now flies on most routes again) is the only airline at Harare International where the aviation authority does not allow the "airport tax" to be paid via the ticket. This because they never got paid from Air Zim... so after (or before) checking in you stand in another queue to pay the "service fee" as it is for some reason called. It now stood at 1.8 million (or USD 30) which meant a good pack of 20 000 notes.

Off to Johannesburg and what proved to be problems. On drawing some money from my visa-card it was refused - by a forex bureau, not the ATM. I sadly did the mistake of punching the wrong PIN too many times a while ago. But has used the card since with no problems.

To cut a long story short it took phonecalls to Zimbabwe and a looong call to customer service in Sweden (thanks Gustav in Göteborg) to sort this out and I was already 1 hour late when I finally drove from Joburg airport in a rented Kia Cerrato. A thoroughly boring but perfectly pleasant car if you see what I mean.

Off on a +350 km drive to Pietersburg on very good toll-paid highways. Not much to say, was in Pietersburg round 3 pm and did some scouting around. Then off to a littel b&b called Eagle's Nest some 5-10 minutes on the Tzaneen road.

Spent the night almost sleepless since I forgot to close 2 small windows. Something like a million mosquitos must have tried to feast on my blood and still have bites everywhere. Hiding under a thick duvet doesn't work for me, I overheat too much. Not even under a sheet helped.

So woke up tired and started driving to Tzaneen. Beatiful road through mountains with lots of forests, small lakes, tea- and other farms. But damned slow progress thanks to up-and-down hill, fog, traffic and whatever. Took over an hour to get there.

Where I had a roughly 1 hour long meeting with SA Avocado Growers (www.avocado.co.za) that was both good and fruitful. Then back in the car and a nonstop (almost, bought a Snickers and a drink around 1 pm) drive back to Johannesburg. Handed in the car at around 3 pm and went straight to the check-in counter.

Shopped a bit in the Taxfree (Laphroig whisky, hurrah hurrah), had a bite to eat and a beer (so tired my hands were shaking) and then time for boarding. Back in Harare around 7 pm and the normal confusion around Immigration and Customs. Home to family and a very early retiring to bed.

Life is sometimes a bit absurd.

On my drive to Tzaneen I heard on the radio this awful story about an armed robbery. I know that poverty creates crime etc. but some are just too much. These guys had robbed a creche (daytime care center for kids if you don't know) at gunpoint, forcing the kids to lie down with arms on the back of their heads etc. They then stole all the money they could find including what the place had managed to collect for the kids Christmas party. This was a place run by volunteers for parents/children who are poor in other words. Now that is just TOO damned dirty low down for anyone, no matter how poor or high on drugs or whatever they might be.

Thankfully the radio channel had found a donor (a casino actually) who not only replaced the money but invited all kids for a free fun day in their childrens area. Good someone still cares!

It often baffles me how poor people hit out at each other more than at more well off people. During the food riots in the late nineties here in Zim what was looted, burnt etc. was the shopping centers in the poor areas. Now that will make food cheaper??? Note the riots were over food prices.

In SA some weeks ago disgruntled train commuters BURNT over 20 train coaches. They were angry over the delays. Now I am SURE their actions meant the trains will go on time from now on - or?

I know logic and anger does not go together well but some sort of "is this really gonna improve the service" reasoning must have hit at least quite a few of the involved persons. Still they go ahead and burn. Why anyone??