Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas coming up

End of this year is rapidly approaching and I am signing off from work in a few hours. Then of course there is still x number of items to shop and things to do before we can actually sit back and relax and say "finally Xmas lets enjoy and take it easy".

FINALLY all business with the borehole is finalised. Water was found, pump has been installed. It was, as so often happens, a loooong story but all ended well and we now have our expensie water. Now all we need is a generator for those powercuts ;-)

Today Eric turns 3 and we are nil prepared, good thing we celebrated him together with his brother earlier this year.

Merry Xmas to all of you and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Corner Bar & Water

A typical weekend scene from Corner Bar in Dar es Salaam (copyright Maria Wall). This famous waterhole (also called Royal Chole Road Country Club, Losers Corner etc) has reportedly been cleared out together with all other container shops and bars along the same stretch. It won't be the same next time we come to Dar.

Other news; we finally managed to sell the Ford Taurus in which Eric was born and have used the money to drill a borehole. After a diviner pointed out 2 sites we contracted a driller and then - waited. And waited. And waited.

Endless stories of problems, repairs and promises keeping us waiting home weekend after weekend. But at last they did start last Friday and hit water eventually. Not as deep down or as much as the diviner promised but we are not willing to risk losing what we have found by going any deeper (they were hitting hard rock). It is predicted to produce around 500 litres / hour - should be enough for anything basically.

Now "all" that is left is to install pump (already bought) and other equipment needed to use the water.

Also had the first real rain and thunder today so happy we managed to get drilling done before that. A relief for the garden and newly planted veggies and maize.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Kids Birthday party

Some friends want more photos so here is one from our recent party for the boys. As can be seen Bradley can hardly wait until Hellen has cut Spidermans face into pieces! Well he is also helping as best he can. Of Eric you see a piece of t-shirt... also in the photo is Sheilla and little Albert and leftmost is Wedlyn, Hellen's younger sister.

Otherwise working late trying to fix X number of downloads, updates etc etc.  Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 13, 2006

Jakaranda trees in bloom

By popular demand a photo of jakaranda trees in full bloom. Interestingly they have all the flowers first and after that the leaves come and they "turn green".

Harare has hundreds of these and really look fantastic in September-October.

What else in life? Well busy arranging birthday bash for our boys tomorrow (I decided to do it same time since Eric is not really worried/aware and Xmas comes more fun for him that way. Next year that will NOT work) and waiting for borehole drillers to arrive on Sunday. Plus all the usual. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 05, 2006

In the very very copyright protected world

According to this article on CNET Microsoft is going to make sure that Windows Vista will run with "reduced functionality" if its license can not be validated online. As I have already had problems with this attitude of overzealous (in my opinion) license system that hampers reinstallation and moving of licenses I think MS is taking another step in the wrong direction. My move to Kubuntu Linux now feels even more correct.

Otherwise I slipped on a rug yesterday and banged my laptop computer. So the screen is now very literally unusable! Arrgh!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Finally Linux

Well, after lots of talking and thinking and testing and planning I have finally switched to Linux on my main laptop Dell Inspiron 500M. Actually I have set it up to dualboot with Windows XP but have not been in XP for over a week. Not since I got dial-up working, that was a bit of a trick.

So I am now running Kubuntu ( and using Kontact (a pim), Firefox and OpenOffice. All of it perfectly free software.  Posted by Picasa
A photo of Bradley and Eric at Blue Banana restaurant during the week. Went there for good food but also because they have a play-room with minder. Only that it is not staffed Mondays and Tuesdays. Of course this was a Tuesday...

We have otherwise hired the services of a water diviner to see if we can sink a borehole. This man comes recommended from others who says he was spot on about the depth and amount of water to be found.

He claims we have 2 possible sites, the better one should give well over 1000 liter / hour. It will be very interesting to see if he is right! So as soon as the drillers are starting I will keep you updated.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 28, 2006

We are alive...

Well, it has certainly been a very long time since anyone wrote anything on this blog. No, it is not that nothing is happening or that something really bad has happened or likewise.

It is just that combinations of lots of work, travels and other commitments and incidents have led to a situation where I have not felt like spending 1 minute extra in front of the computer after everything else has been taken care of.

So this is more or less just a lifesign. Harare is beatiful, the jakaranda trees are in full bloom and it is getting warmer by the day. We are all fine and I hope to post some photos soon.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lilongwe experience

Have spent almost a week in Lilongwe, Malawi. One thing I have noticed is that Malawi is very different from other places in the region in some aspects.

For starters; driving. It is probably the most "non-aggressive" driving experience you can think of. Which actually makes me a bit stressed rather than opposite. Am not used to commuter bus drivers who behave, a general tempo in town of around 40-50 km (have they been instructed that use of gear 4 and 5 will damage the car I wonder?) and everyone being sooo nice to stop and let others pass etc.

Another thing; trust. Nowhere else has the owner of a bar (Diplomat's, nice place) who has seen me once in his life offered me run a tab if I did not have cash enough (he asked me if the ATM was helpful which it wasn't, not at all). "You can pay tomorrow or Monday or whenever". I did not have a heart rotten enough to utilise this generous offer as I am leaving tonight and could not have paid him back. Also others tell me of the same attitude in shops "no worry you can come in later or tomorrow". Very strange. But heartwarming, I hope it can stay that way.

Malawi names itself "the warm heart of Africa". It is refreshing to walk the city centre after dark without a worry of being robbed or something (I am sure it can happen but is apparently very rare). Only annoying thing is streetkids and beggars but in a very poor country that is of course to be expected.

Exploding notebook batteries...

Well, for those of you who follow IT news this is not really news. For others it might be very important news. Especially if you have a Dell notebook computer!

For some time now there have been reports that some Dell notebooks have very literally burst into flames, almost exploded actually. The problem was traced to a certain type of battery, manifactured by Sony for Dell.

Dell is now recalling/replacing these batteries and have set up a special website where you can check your battery: Dell Battery Return Program

Well I checked and what do you know, I have been carrying around a small bomb for some time now... I was advised to immediately remove the battery and run the PC on A/C power until they can send my replacement battery! Well, the battery was already out as serialnumber is on the side turned to the inside of the PC so no problems there. And I am sure not putting it back!

Now when I get back home I have to check my extra battery and hope that it is not one of the possible bombs too.

Monday, July 31, 2006

It never rains

..but pours is what they say. Power was restored Thursday evening and then disappeared again Friday morning around 9 am!! This time a tree had fallen over the wires a couple of houses from us.

The good thing was that plenty of houses were affected, the bad thing that this type of fault is dealt with by Mabvuko Depot that we know since before are sloooow in arriving.

It was Saturday afternoon when they finally showed up. Without a chainsaw. To a fallen tree!!! So back they went to get the chainsaw. By the time they got started it was getting dark so they left again. I was more than irritated when I called the fault center to hear what I suspected, they were leaving for another 12 hours or so.

It took them the better part of the Sunday to clear the wires and reconnect things etc. They then came to our house to ensure wires were not touching each other. After that we walked to the substation together only to find no power whatsoever! Another fault somewhere else was being fixed.

And how do they "replace" a blown fuse? They wire a copperwire round the blown one... I shudder to think what spikes could come from that system.

Finally power was restored around 3 pm only to disappear again after 30 minutes or so. I was ready to breathe fire over the phone when it did come back again after some 10 minutes.

And I hope that is enough for a while now, I think we have had more than our fair share of outages lately.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Powercuts here, powercuts there, powercuts everywhere...

It has been a while, have been busy with work and what-what. July has been freezing cold and that has meant that the much predicted power shortage has hit Zimbabwe. A nice schedule for load-shedding was set up and publicised. It has never been followed. As usual. As of now we are experiencing more or less daily powercuts from as early as 6 am to lunchtime and sometimes in the evening.

Just back from an unexpected trip to Dar es Salaam together with friend Andre Bongers. Apart from sitting waiting 5 hours at Harare International for fuel before we could take off it was a very nice visit to a much warmer place. BUT powershortage there too... every second day from 7 to 7 no power. At least you knew and could plan for it.

Back here it is now getting a bit warmer but powercuts are getting worse if anything. We now on top of loadshedding has a "normal" powercut and to even manage to report it is a 3 hours attempt to get thru on constantly busy lines. And then they could not come because we "reported it late". Talk about Catch 22. Now we have been without power for near 36 hours and that is not good for freezers.

Time to go and pick up kids and then home to see if power might have been restored. Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

How to play soccer

Completely "on spot" comment by Bradley yesterday as I was watching Germany - Argentina;

"Today I was playing soccer with Matthew (his friend at Montessori preschool) and I was falling because that's what you do when you play soccer"

He has obviously observed how the professionals behave when they play soccer...

Above a photo of Bradley and Eric taken in April

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Raising 2 boys

It is an interesting and sometimes rather tiring experience to have 2 boys aged 5 and 2.5... Eric is now in a very strong "it is mine"-phase and that is a headache for his older brother who also wants to play with toys sometimes. Or be in the same chair/sofa/bed or something. Well, the few toys that survive more than a day or 2 that is. It is completely pointless to buy something that is not extremely sturdy (wooden building blocks or such) or very cheap. A nice expensive car will break just as fast as a cheap piece of plastic.

Did I mention that it is also expensive? 2 days ago I intended to play a CD with Mozart, one of the very first CDs I ever bought in the early 80s (when there were not many CDs around yet). Opening the CD case reveals - nothing. Very likely theory; a certain 2.5 year old boy picks it out to "play" it, discovers he can't do that and then discards of it "somewhere". Am still looking but do not have very high hopes on finding it.

Can't wait for the day when he is old enough to understand exactly how angry and disappointed I get when CDs, books, DVDs etc is scraped, torn or go missing.

Last post on World Cup

For me a lot of the fun went out of the cup when Sweden were massacred by Germany and then Holland left after a scandalous game. Am still watching but not with the same interest. I guess we Swedes will now pin our hopes on Sven-Goran and England.

The refereeing has been completely sub-standard though of if it is their instructions. Best example was of course the Holland - Portugal game but also in several others one wonders why on Earth cards are waved for just about every little event.

Nice to see France - Spain last night was a very clear exemption and so that also became one of the most exciting games so far. Poor Ghana though - fought bravely but could not score...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Winter and World Cup part III

Still freezing here and all my Swedish friends are on about midsummer celebrations and how warm it is in Sweden and the rest of Europe. Good thing is that midsummer there means midwinter here so it should not be much worse...

Watched Sweden - England with friend Mikael J at his house last night. Sore throats from shouting "no" and "yes" the whole game. Scary first half for Sweden, scary second half for England. Probably 2 - 2 was fair though it means Sweden will face Germany on Saturday. And that is what we will be doing for "midsummer" celebrations 2006...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Winter and World Cup continues

Well Sweden's first game did not make any of us gathered to watch happy. Long periods of rather sloppy play that Trinidad/Tobago actually had little problem to cope with.

It was more fun to watch the game against Paraguay where they played much better even though it took almost 90 minutes before they finally scored. I was at home watching and likely woke up the whole neighbourhood with my scream of joy.

Tomorrow it is time for the final group stage match against England and I of course hope for the best. A draw is the minimum needed to continue to the next stage.

Otherwise winter continues and powercuts are now a very regular occurence. Still have not managed to buy a generator so we survive on candlelight and a small camping gas kitchen. Last night was again freezing and that likely will mean cuts tonight. Which reminds me I had better leave so I can buy fresh milk on the way home.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Winter & Soccer Fever

Zimbabwe has been freezing cold for a while now, it is a bad winter really. Today is like the first day this week that I don't wear a jacket or sweater while I am working. Indoors. One thing that makes winter so cold here is the absolut nonsense standard of house-building.

Otherwise (apart from >1000 % inflation) it is all about soccer here too now that the World Cup starts today. In spite of the fact that no team from Southern Africa qualified there is a massive interest. I have a feeling many here favor England but would love to see a team like Ivory Coast make a good go for it.

Being who I am I of course hope that Sweden will make it to semi-finals or better so it was disappointing news that the keeper was hit so hard by a ball that he got concussion and can't play for 5-6 days! So new a rather "newbie" guy will have to take over in our opening game, not the best situation. Though of course Sweden are massive favorites to win over Trinidad.

Tomorrow we gather at the house of a Swedish friend (who has a generator just in case) to watch the game. Keep all fingers crossed!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dogs and the earth shakes again

Following a rather long discussion on the mailinglist Grrringo I have posted a photo of our 2 dogs Mishi (the lighter female) and Scooby. I discovered that taking photos of dogs is not easy - either they are right up your face or running away. It took like 5 attempts before I managed to get this not very good shot.

Last night the ground shook again, a light tremor or earthquake. This time we woke up! A strange experience, first it sounds like some really heavy trucks are driving somewhere but when things start vibrating you understand what is happening. Did not last very long. Must have been very small because it has not been mentioned on any news site to my knowledge.

Then woke up later by the sound of 2 gunshots somewhere in the area. Now that is a lot more scary. All in all not really a good night's sleep.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Never a dull day

You have to admit one thing with Air Zimbabwe, life is not boring when you use their services.

Flying home on Saturday I was of course extra early to check-in at the airport. Actually I was the first one to do so. I was met by the same lady who the day before was trying her best to sort out the mess and she said "if there is business class on the plane I will upgrade you" and "we are using the bigger plane so the flight home will be shorter".

At least the short flight was of course good news, it was only that I don't have phone coverage in Zambia and even if I had my battery was flat. Asked a fellow passenger if he had coverage and yes he had but no money left in airtime.

On top of that we leave early! And I had no way of telling Mia until I get to Harare.

Well, there was no business class on this flight but instead they reserved the first 2 rows for me alone and gave me "business class treatment". So I had the little hot towel, choice of newspapers, served before anyone else etc. Nice of them to at least try and I am sure the rest of the passengers were asking themselves what VIP I might be, specially given that I was now in all but fresh clothes.

Arrive home some 45 minutes early and after finding a way to call Mia I find that she is on the other side of Harare at a birthday celebration. So I was stuck at Harare Airport instead but OK, I had an interesting newspaper to read and at least I was now HOME.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

AWA - Africa Wins Again

You did not help by crossing your fingers! In other words - I am still in Lusaka on Saturday morning writing this.

What happened? Air Zimbabwe happened. I had just paid my airport tax when all of a sudden we are told that Air Zim check-in is "closed". Note this is like 1.5 hours before takeoff... after much confusion it turns out that they had overbooked by at least 10 passengers. Great....

Amidst all this I all of a sudden see a familiar face, old friend Maren Lieberum from Zimbabwe many years ago, I think she left around 2000. Not only was it good to see her again but I could use her phone to get hold of Elias who had just dropped me and left for town (I have no roaming cover in Zambia). So he comes back and we try to sort out the situation.

After well over an hour of angry passengers, a very tired but kind lady from Air Zimbabwe, Zambian Airways trying to help, calls to Lubumbashi to find out about empty seats on an Air Zim plane there etc. I gave up and decided that another night in Lusaka seemed like the "least bad option".

Back to Chrismar Hotel that now was fully booked... Elias performed some sort of trick and a key to another suite magically appeared out of thin air.

I was by now feeling decidedly pissed off and tired so went to Spar and bought some red wine and decided to spend evening in front of TV or on famed wireless internet. Returning to hotel I find out 2 things; wireless internet still not working "technician out of town" and TV only showing 2 local channels "technician out of town".

Now more desperate than anything else decided to treat myself to nice dinner (no burger thank you) and some really strong double GinTonics (also known as GinTalkShit). About a liter or so of them.

Sitting drinking I notice 2 single ladies at a table are actually sort of trying to wave me over to their company. Feeling all but in the mood I do my best to ignore them. That turned out to be difficult as one of them came over and introduced herself as the sister to the singer in the band that was busy warming up and said "you look bored why don't you join us instead more people will join later".

I thought - what the heck. Why sit here and feel like doomsday when I can chat away in possibly good company? If I was not happy with something all I had to do was to sneak back to my room right?

All in all it turned out to be one of those very unexpected great nights out. The women were good fun (Joyce one of those people who you start thinking when does she even breath during all that talking), the band was good, the brother a really nice guy. When the friends showed up they turned out to be 3 more decidedly good-looking women. So I am now the only guy at a table with 5 good-looking women. Do you think I was the envy of about 90% of the "single men on the chase"-crowd? Yes I was. And had good fun at it since my intention was nothing else but to enjoy myself. Danced, drank and chatted the hours away until they took off to next club around 1.30 am.

Well, I am paying for it today by feeling rather "dull" but nevermind, a really boring evening turned out to be good fun instead so how can I complain?

BUT if I don't get home today I think I am ready to kill someone at Air Zim and/or borrow a car and just start driving towards Harare. One extra night is more than enough!!

Now PLEASE keep those fingers crossed, OK?

Friday, May 12, 2006

A somewhat mixed day...

Some days are just strange. Thursday 11 May started just fine, both kids off to the Montessori preschool, for Eric his first day ever and he did not cry or want to go home or anything such.

Then I am off to the airport to fly to Lusaka for a 2-day (or 1-night if you so wish) working visit there. All goes well and I arrive on time to a considerably warmer Lusaka (Harare really has winter temperatures already).

Off to the office where work goes almost too smooth. Lunchtime I check in at hotel Chrismar and notice that thanks to my complaint last time (got a mouldsmelling room with non-working aircon next to the restaurant...) I now was upgraded to a suite. And they now offer wireless internet access free! Great!

Passed the shoppingcentre as well and prices are still completely absurd though, around 2 times the prices of Zimbabwe and Zim is mad compared to other places. Well, guess I save money not "having" to buy stuff to the family.

So after a long day back to the hotel, looking forward to an early dinner followed by jacuzzi (yep part of the suite) and then internetsurfing just for fun.

Alas, that was not quite to be. I got as far as to the restaurant where after about 20 minutes I got my gigantic burger (the smallest dish on the menu..) and decided to add some chilli sauce to it. Shook the bottle first and quickly discovered the lid was loose.

Meaning I had chilli sauce all over myself. If anyone ever asks you why you bring an extra set of clothes for just 1 night away I have a very good reason. You might end up with chilli sauce all over your clothes!

After finishing my otherwise nice meal I now REALLY looked forward to that jacuzzi bath. Just thought I would get the internet wired up first so I call reception for password and settings. "Sorry Sir but the computer with all that is down and the IT technician will not be in until tomorrow. After 8 am". By which time I will either be having breakfast or on my way to work already. Well never mind not important anyhow.

So start filling up the bathtub. When it is about half-full the geyser is clearly empty as incoming water is now decidedly luke-warm. Jump in and put on the jacuzzi. The sound of a car without exhaust fills the bathroom. In other words, the motor is all but discreet.

This is somehow a picture of Chrismar as a hotel. Ambitions and ideas but somewhere along the line someone trims the budget a bit too much and the whole concept fails. Like sitting in a half empty, somewhat lukewarm jacuzzi that makes more noise than bubbles and a wireless internet that doesn't work when the guests are in their rooms.

But nevermind, I can do other things with or without computer and the room is otherwise nice. Now just cross your fingers that tomorrow don't hold any nasty surprises!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Month of May had a rough start

This month certainly did not start too well. Woke up around 2.30 am on 2nd May of strange, banging sounds. When I got up and switched on lights they stopped.

A check outside revealed that burglars had been busy trying to pry a window open. Using our tools. A closer check showed that they had broke into both cars by smashing windows. Tore the CD-players out (and I mean tore, no nice job at all). Then broke into our toolshed and stole most of our tools and a mountainbike.

Not fun at all and the extra costs in form of new windows for the cars and so on we certainly could have been without. Now to add salt to injury it turns out that a neighbour's gardener actually SAW the whole thing and did nothing. He saw 4 men chase the dog away and break into toolshed and cars and did - nothing. "Thought it was the owners as it was so early in the night". Now anyone pleaese tell me why I would enlist help of 3 persons to break into my own cars????

I don't know if the guy is honestly so damned stupid or if he just did not want to get involved. But it makes me even more angry to know that the whole thing was being watched and could have been stopped or at least interfered with.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

If anyone thought I was paranoid....

Following my earlier post on Microsoft validation, below is a long quote from CNET (click the link for the full article):

"Starting Tuesday, the software maker will push out a test tool that checks whether the copy of Windows a PC is using is properly licensed. It will be sent to millions of people in the United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, Microsoft said Monday.

Following download and installation of the "Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications" tool, users of a pirated copy will see alerts at startup, login and during their use of the operating system. The alerts read: "This copy of Windows is not genuine; you may be a victim of software counterfeiting."

Those who use a legitimate copy of the software won't see any messages, Microsoft said.

People will be able to decline the tool download, said David Lazar, director of the Windows Genuine program at Microsoft. Once installed, the alerts can be suppressed by right-clicking on them when they appear during the running of Windows, but the tool can not be uninstalled, according to Microsoft.

In addition, Microsoft this week is kicking off Office Genuine Advantage, which checks on installations of the productivity package, which includes Excel and Access. The plan is to test out the program initially in seven languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Greek, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Russian and Spanish.

The efforts are part of Microsoft's antipiracy fight. Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) was launched in September 2004. Since last July, Windows XP users have had to validate their operating system to be able to download additional Microsoft software, such as Windows Defender, Windows Media Player or Internet Explorer 7. Hackers, however, have repeatedly found ways around the checks.

The alerts include a link that goes to a Web site that explains what people with pirated versions of Windows need to do, Lazar said.

Earlier, Microsoft confronted people with the piracy checks when they attempted to download such add-ons. The switch to desktop alerts was introduced on PCs in Norway and Sweden in November 2005, then expanded to the Czech Republic, Denmark, Israel, Poland, and Taiwan in February. Tuesday's move is a further expansion of the trial program.

The WGA expansion is a precursor to the antipiracy features Microsoft is building into Windows Vista, the update to the operating system expected in January 2007. In Vista, certain operating system features will only work as long as it is a properly licensed copy.

Microsoft isn't pushing Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications out to all Windows users, but to a random subset, Lazar said. It is using its Windows Automatic Updates feature to deliver the tool. Automatic Updates, typically used to deliver security fixes, is enabled on the PCs of most Windows users, according to Microsoft."

IT or rather computer OS thoughts

For starters as a follow-up on the previous post we had a great meal at restaurant Armanzi, I strongly recommend a visit should you be in Harare and have the money and something to celebrate. Fabolous food with a strong asian influence, excellent surroundings, really good service!

Topic of this post is however a very different one. I have just tried out the beta version 7 of Internet Explorer and yes, it looks way better than the existing v6. HOWEVER you can not install unless you first validate that your copy of Windows XP is an original, this is done online with Microsoft.

I am not really objecting to Microsoft trying to stop the use of pirat copies of their software but I HATE the system now set up for validation and license restrictions. I, who constantly tinker with my computer, basically need to reinstall 3 or more times a year. the computers performance slowly grows - slower... due to all install/uninstall/upgrades and experiments that I do.

This is near impossible with an ordinary license as it will be seen as I am installing on several computers. Moreso, if I change the hardware too much I will have to "re-validate" online that I am not installing on a new PC, something that cost me several working days a while ago on a server installation here. Because it did not work, in short.

So I am using a so-called Corporate version instead of the one I have actually bought. It can be installed x times without any further questions than a license number but will not validate online. So I am stuck. Either I reinstall my "proper" version and go through reinstall hell every now and then or I live with the fact that I can not update to newer versions of certain software such as Internet Explorer.

From what I read I understand next version of Windows, Vista, will be even more tied up this way. I think MS is making a huge mistake here.

Why? Because I am already toying with the idea of installing a Linux desktop version without any such problems and just keep Windows XP as a small "must have for business" portion of my computer. And I believe that many users of illegal copies of Windows XP will go that way instead of buying a, in many parts of the world, expensive license for a software that have an increasing number of built-in restrictions. It could backfire badly, actually promoting the use of desktop Linux as a serious contender for Windows XP and Vista.

It is in many ways more interesting than it has been in a long time to work in the ICT sector because a near-total domination of Microsoft is starting to dissolve. I look forward to next version of Kubuntu Linux with great anticipation actually, I think that might be the one I choose to put on my Dell notebook.

For now I just note that I will stay with Firefox as browser instead of new Internet Explorer...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Soccer and birthdays

It has been rather hectic lately for many reasons so no postings for a long time. And today when I sort of decided to take some time for this then internet decides to have one of those "fun" days when the international link goes down frequently. Blogger is not exactly lightning fast when you sit in Harare and connection breakdowns does not make things any better.

Why soccer? Well, I am very likely to be one of the few male persons in Harare with access to TV that will not sit glued to the Villareal - Arsenal game tonight, though quite a few uninterested will be at the HIFA opening show.

Would have loved to see it but it is Mia's birthday and I am taking her out big time, she (especially but also me) deserve an evening without kids and with some degree of luxury.

Wish her the best day today and many more to come!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Where is Clint?

Old friend Clint showed up last Friday and claimed he had posted a comment on the "eRider"-post. Where is it? Can't get hold of you on the phone. This must be one weird way of communicating while living in the same city.

Otherwise life just too busy to have time for pet projects lately. Easter coming up and am looking forward to it though a "banking-mistake" means we are likely to have to stay at home and live off whatever we have in store whether we like to or not.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


It has been a busy but interesting time lately. Have been working a lot with an upgrade of an accounting system and that was a challenge, mainly because of the size of the files we had to send between Sweden and Zimbabwe. And of course a key CD delivered via UPS had faults and we had to get the files via internet instead. Well, that is now behind me unless disaster strikes!

Spent 2 days at workshop around the concept of eRiders, a very interesting idea on how to deal with the fact that IT and ICT is seen as either "something on the side" or sometimes "a necessary evil" within NGOs and other small idealistic organisations. Also getting more and more involved in FOSS (free and open source software) and find it refreshing to enter a world of enthusiastic IT users and creators once more. Am planning to swap to Linux as main OS and Windows XP more for professional support reasons.

Otherwise way too cold for this time of the year and still raining. Looks like winter will be tough.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A tough time

Eric has had a hard time lately. First he got tonsilitis once more, second time lately. So off to the clinic where he got antibiotics and then came home to a house yet again without power.

Not that I think that particular issue bothered him too much. But when I got home he once again had fever and high at it, over 39C. When it did not come down Mia took him back to the clinic and when they could not get it down he was admitted to hospital. So I packed a "nightbag" for the 2 of them and found him very much asleep on arrival.

Of course no power at home or water so a very dark and rather sleepless night (the alarm freaks out after a while) followed by a "no shower no coffee"-morning.

Next day the doctor judged it better to keep him for another night and now it was Mum who needed fresh clothes and more items plus sleeping blanket and sheets etc. I looked like some freak variety of Father Christmas when I got there.

Found a now very active and bored little boy (the boredom shared with Mum of course... we are not talking single rooms with TV here) who screamed of frustation when he could not leave with Pappa.

Next day I went there to be there when the Doctor made the round. Found a totally hyper boy and very frustraded mother. He was now all over the place and utterly tired of it. Thank God he was deemed OK to go home now.

BUT with a load of medications I have rarely seen the like of. We are now trying to make him take 3 different medications 3 times a day in rather large quantities and at least one seems to taste very foul. On first attempts all of it came up instead so we now try to dish it out in intervals which basically means he is being fed one medicine or the other almost all the time.

I really feel sorry for him and hope these 6 more days of medication will pass quickly and that it is the end of it for some time now.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Drats - as a friend of mine often says when something is not going her way. We do have power back and all that but the chaos, frequent cuts and surges I suppose created by these over the last weeks has led to a very unpleasant surprise.

Our electric gate stopped working and when the guys had a look at it they told me that both the control-board, the intercom and the intercom cable were beyond repair.... to fix this is almost as expensive as putting a brand new gate (actually the guy is suggesting we replace the swing-open "Jurassic Park"-gate with a sliding gate) and there went all plans for various nice items or mini-holidays or whatever. Thank you ZESA!

They have by the way officially sent us notice that Zimbabwe can look forward to a cold winter. Not weather-wise but they foresee that they will not be able to supply enough power and will so introduce load-shedding during morning and evening hours. Great... we can look forward to like 3 evenings and 2 mornings a week without electricity.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Powerless and waterless

Aaargh! We are now entering the 3rd day without electricity OR water at home. Calling Zesa (power company) does not help much "we have so much to do but will send a team today/tonight/this morning" - the reply varying with the time of the day we are calling them.

Thanks to a friend nearby our meat is at least in a working freezer but we are sick of cooking on fire, reading by candlelight and "bathing" in a bucket.

There are times when living in this country can be quite stressful.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Never give Gary Glitter money

I see in the news that Gary Glitter, or Paul Gadd as his real name is, for the second time has been convicted of offence in connection with underaged children. In UK he was booked for child pornography, in Cambodia he has been declared a non-wanted person and thrown out after being accused of similar offenses (rather more serious actually) and now in Vietnam sentenced to 3 years in prison for "offensive acts" involving underage girls.

In my humble opinion there is no possible excuse for these crimes or this sort of behaviour. If you own music by Glitter, go on playing it at home if you like. BUT if you in any way have influence over any sort of public playing (radio, arena, TV or whatever) or sales of DVD/CDs by this man - just don't! Don't give him more income from royalties! Remove him from playlists and remove his works from your shop. Don't support him with more money to travel round the world looking for other poor countries where he can lure children to be involved in his sick behaviour!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Picked up my Zimbabwe ID "card" this morning. That is, I picked up a very flimsy piece of paper that serves as a "temporary" ID "card" until the proper one is produced.

Only problem is that I know people who have waited for many years for their real ID-card. These are made in metal and near indestructible but, in other words, difficult to produce.

Nevertheless, I am now 631687943R00 where the last two digits tell that I am an alien. Will be difficult to learn this number instead of the lifelong habit of the Swedish ID-number based on birthdate + 4 numbers at the end.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Sweden won the icehockey Olympic Games gold medal!! And I did not see the game... though I actually for once had the opportunity to. It was being screened on DSTV and a friend was watching it anc I could have gone there.

IF not things had got in the way. Friday evening the power went for the whole area or line we are on thanks to a rather impressive thunderstorm. Then on Saturday it came back for all but us and 2 of our neighbours. Again.

So once more harassing ZESA to get power back and finally got it back just before the game was to start and then we had multitudes of cleaning up and cooking and whatnot to fix so did not feel right to leave Mia alone with it all.

Speaking of power - we must have been the only family in Zimbabwe (or Harare at least) that never noticed the earthquake last week! All slept through it and were more than surprised the next day to hear of rattling houses and moving beds. Strange since I am normally a very light sleeper but I guess that either I was really tired or that our house was spared somehow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In a place gone mad

Am currently in Lusaka, Zambia and oh boy has this place gone mad or what?

Since last time I was here the currency (Kwacha) has strengthened against the US and other major currencies so that from close to 5000 K to 1 USD we now have 3200 K to 1 USD.

But - prices have if anything gone up! This has made this place possibly one of the most expensive places to be for a foreigner right now. Some prices; I had a "burgerlunch" yesterday and drank a beer to it. Over 10 USD...

Today I had a pizza for lunch. Most likely my first ever "normal size" pizza to cost in the area of 14 USD!! In the shops it is the same, prices are easy twice what they were last time I was here.

Did I mention that a very "average" hotel room is around 120 USD a night...

Small wonder those I know here that are paid in foreign currency are complaining bitterly on a daily basis. Their cost of living must have at least doubled in the past 6 months!

And arriving tourist will get a very rude awakening if they are planning for a "cheap" holiday, to say the least.

My advice; travel somewhere else until this weird situation has normalised....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Heaven and hell in Kariba

First of all a nice photo of the Victoria Falls bridge spanning the Zambesi river and some 111 m high. From this Sandra did her bungyjump...

Last weekend we spent at Mauya Lodge in Kariba and that turned out to be a great place! OK no elephants in the pool as on the photo but at a nice viewing distance. We relaxed and spent time catching up with friends HÃ¥kan Lutz and family. Also drove around the lake a bit.

So what was the "hell" part? Well, waking up the first night with Eric first vomiting and then having a burning hot fever! At 00.30 we decided we would have to try and find a clinic, hospital or whatever. Now driving in the pitch dark night on bad roads towards a clinic you have no idea where it is with a kid with high fever is not fun. At all. In fact I have not been so scared for long long time.

We eventually found the place thanks to a busdriver we stopped but what a hospital... nothing like what we have in Harare. A nightnurse was the staff and he took the temperature and immediately dosed up a malaria-cure. When we asked why he said "well the child has high fever and this is a high-risk area for malaria". When I pointed out that we had just arrived and that he was on malaria prevention then he wrote us a prescription for antibiotica to pick up in the morning and assured the temperature would go down. As it actually did but I did not sleep until 4 am or so and was not much fun the following day.

Lesson learnt; next time we go "bush" we load up with medications and check the kids look OK before we leave... but otherwise a fabulous place for spending a lazy weekend! And special thanks to the caretaker Shadreck who turned out to be both a most friendly person and a really good cook!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Victoria Falls experience

Mia and visiting niece Sandra flew to Victoria Falls day before yesterday, due back later today. They seem to have done everything except going down the Falls themselves....

First of all they visited the splendid restaurant The Boma (highly recommended) and ate food such as crocodile tail (taste like something between fish and chicken). Yesterday Sandra did the Bungi Jump from the bridge over the Zambesi river, at 111 m supposedly the highest jump in the world.

And then today they went white water rafting... check it out at

They got guts the girls!!

Monday, February 06, 2006


Got my niece Sandra visiting from Sweden! First visitor from "home" in 4 years, seems people are very intimadated by Zimbabwe's reputation. Admittedly, there have been times when I have not recommended people to come but for the moment things are OK.

Poor girl has had some bad luck I must say. First she forgot some money at home (found by my sister and all that sorted by now) and then this morning she and Mia were supposed to fly to Vic Falls for a couple of days of sightseeing and fun. Then she wakes up with a really itching skinrash all over her body!

Turns out she was having a reaction agains an antibiotic medicine she was given in Sweden. Hopefully all that sorted after visit to the doctor this morning, trip to VF was rescheduled for tomorrow instead.

Help her by keeping your fingers crossed for no more mishaps now!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Sick Sunday

One strange Sunday. Beatiful weather, really hot and wanted to do a number of things. BUT wake up with an extremely sore stomach (could hardly even touch it) that did not go away until afternoon and THEN I get a fever and start shivering/sweating.

Brilliant. Spent the day watching A1 motor-racing in Durban on TV, had no energy whatsoever and had full time problems stopping Eric from jumping on my tummy as he normally will do given a chance.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

National ID

Those who have, over the years, followed my meetings with the bureaucracy of different African countries in general and Zimbabwe in particular know that it is many times a daunting and very timeconsuming business. Like getting a birth-certificate for Eric, that took a few days of waiting in queues and running around. Getting a passport is more of a Kafka-like black farce and loads of patience is a must.

Because of this and other reasons I have never bothered to try and get a Zimbabwe national ID, something a resident is supposed to have if you have been living here more than 1 year. The last 2 times I have been to Immigration to renew my residence-stamp they have been "pestering" me over this so I have had on my "to-do" list for some time now.

So when a friend told me he had applied and it took no longer than around 20 minutes I had to try myself and see if this was really true!

It turns out that Registrar General (who handles these issues) have opened satellite offices here and there in Harare, one of these being a small cabin behind the City of Harare offices in Mount Pleasant. Very few seem to have realised this option. I went there with 2 copies of residence permit, 2 copies of passport "photo page" and Z$ 5000. It took like 15 minutes to fill in the form, get a receipt, do my fingerprints (yep) and take photos (they do this).

And now I have an id-number! In about 3 weeks I should get my "paper-id". After that one is supposed to get a metal-id (virtually indestructible) but how long that might take is a completely different story altogether...

Friday, January 20, 2006


Thank God it's Friday! And the sun is actually shining, it feels like it is the first time in ages. I was getting afraid the frogs in our garden were going to drown soon if the rains did not hold up soon.

Of course rain is good and this is the rainy season but it has absolutely been too much of late. Things like the traffic lights (robots in Zim English) stop working and there seems to be no spare parts to fix them. Makes driving to and from town during rush-hours extra fun.

Well, I am gonna call it quits and leave early. Off to the gym and later a bit of "odd jobs" at home, hopefully a couple of drinks with friends when the evening sets in. Wish you all a nice weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

An evening at work and KDE

Just spending time in an office trying to sort a troublesome download-and-installation problem. These things are not so easy when you live in a country where "broadband" access means a leased 128k link shared by a LAN. Not to mention that since all ISPs are forced to use TelOne (the government phone network provider) international links ALL of them go down when TelOne has a problem. Which is at least a couple of times a day. Good for the country's development, yes or no? Make your own opinion, I know mine.

Nevertheless, now we are only a few in the office and most other users have also left work so speed is picking up and my rather massive upgrade of Kubuntu/KDE Linux seems to be over in an hour or so. Then I plan to leave that experiment in a (hopefully) stable version for a while and work on a software I am coding in Windows. Just wanted this "sidekick" sorted first so I can concentrate.

The idea of spending time setting up a Linux in a LAN here is of course mainly to see how it works for normal office work and how "average" users will react. The idea of Open Source and Free software is of course very attractive in a poor and developing country. NOT having to fork out hundreds of USD with every PC for software or run pirat copies should be something that really has a future here.

If you are interested in how KDE looks check here

Monday, January 16, 2006

"Reality" shows

Among the most stupid things often shown on TV these days are so-called Reality shows. The only thing more stupid I can think of is american "wrestling"...

I have never understood the fascination for shows like "Big Brother" or "Survivor" (the later can be interesting in the "tasks"-section though) and lately the most absurd ideas are made into "shows". "Fear Factor" seems to be a lot about eating the yuckiest stuff (live worms, goats eyes etc) and I hear that in Prague they now have a "Big Brother"-show with the gorillas in their zoo. Duh?

The other day we watched Missy Elliots' own take on this. 13 rap or r'n'b wannabees are subjected to "tasks" and then one is voted out. I can tell you I heard more lousy rap and "yo bro watsup" than I need for the rest of this year. Not to mention watching the rather short and plump Missy herself constantly sucking on lollipops whenever she was on camera.

Did I mention "Cheaters"? This guy who tries out like he is some understanding man doing people a favour will spy on the partner of whoever thinks they are being cheated on and then follows, of course, nasty confrontations with either furious or crying people. Sick if you ask me.

To quote Nick Cave "People they aint no good" - and TV seems to attract our worst emotions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Burglars in the neighbourhood...

What a way to start the new year for our next door neighbours! Last Thursday some time after midnight we were awakened by screams, shouts and lots of noise. In all honesty I thought they had a bad domestic fight but I was very wrong.

It turned out that 2 guys armed with iron bars had managed to get into the house using a "flapdoor" for their dogs and cats. They normally lock this at bedtime but just happened to sit up late and had left it open.

To force the man in the house to open the safe they beat him with the iron bars, this being some of the shouts and screams we heard. They got away with money, cellphones and cameras.

Since I know how it feels to have armed intruders in your house I feel really bad I didn't react and check it up but the problem is that some years ago they had some really loud arguments...

I have never understood though how they think about security. No alarm, no guards and a very unsecure "see-through" old gate. Dogs scare many people but a lot of people don't give a damn and most dogs then back off actually.

Next day we tested our alarm only to find out that our "panic-buttons" that saved us that time were not working... the company recommends testing the alarm weekly and we will definitely increase our frequency.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hard year on the planet

Loudon Wainwright III once wrote a song called "Another hard day on the planet" (correct me if I am wrong someone) and when I reflect more on 2005 it sure seems to have been "another hard year on the planet".

From what I remember and can read more conflicts than ever either continues or refuse to die. A lot of these are connected to what used to be called the "north-south"-problem or in short the underlying conflicts between have and have-not. As an added dimension over the last few years we have the religious dimension and the seemingly increasing terrorism.

On top of that I can not remember any year that have been so clearly marred by natural disasters, one after the other. It seems our way of wasteful living is finally catching up with us. Many years ago (1976) the artist duo Godley/Creme of 10cc released a 3LP called "Consequenses", in many parts rather unlistenable but interesting. It dealt with the concept that Earth would hit back on humanity using natural disasters and I am asking if they were not simply ahead of their time?

It is thoughts like these that sometimes makes me wonder what on Earth(?) or maybe what kind of Earth we are bringing our kids up to live in.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Year

So 2006 has started "for real" with the first official working day. It feels good to be back after a relaxing break (though Xmas has a tendency to be rather hectic for a day or two). We certainly all hope this year will be a better one than last that was quite stressful in many ways - though not necessarily on a personal or family-level.

Not much to say really but thanks all for nice xmas- and new years-greetings via mail and sms and Compliments of the New Year!