Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lost during transport

I am referring to me, not luggage though I was more than a bit nervous that would happen.

Let me tell you one thing about driving in Johannesburg: do not take a wrong turn, do not get lost (that was two). At least not without a cellphone, money on your phone account and someone to call who can help you out.

I was on my way from Centurion, small place between Pretoria (Tshwane) and the airport in Johannesburg. I had more than 2 hours before departure of my flight. BUT I took a wrong turn and by the time I realised it was I not only deep in Joburg city but stranded in a massive 4-lane traffic jam!

Lucky for me I got hold of Ishmael who lives down there and got some assistance. It took me 2 visits to a filling station and 2 more traffic jams and more than 1 hour before I found myself at the airport though. Now suddenly late!

So I am stressed, sweaty and thirsty when I get to a check-in that is one big confusion. Manage to get fast-tracked, fine. BUT that does not work on security scan and Passport control that both move at snail pace.

By the time I actually get to the departure lounge the plane is boarding (and it was, believe you me). I just about made it and was more than relieved when my suitcase full of all sorts of items (cheese among them) showed up in Harare.

Lesson to be learnt: check the route and make sure you have PLENTY of extra time if you are flying from Johannesburg.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The year of the virus

For me the year 2007 will be the year the virus became a real problem. I am not talking of any human or animal virus (HIV or bird-flu) but computer virus.

Despite putting more efforts and money in anti-virus software, firewalls, spam tools etc to protect the users I support and work with I have never seen such a flood of malicious and difficult to eradicate virus as this year. Quite a few times I have had to use a bootable Linux CD (google on Knoppix if you are geeky enough to be interested) to save a Windows PC infected by something that is so "deep" in the PC that one can barely do anything without it taking over.

And one very strange thing: the more remote the location, the worse virus. It is like they come from the wilderness somehow! A remote district in Niassa province in Mozambique and the PC is crammed full of trojans, virus and you name it all. Where do they come from when the PC is like the only computer for miles??

Half of the times (it feels like) when my USB memory has been used somewhere and I put it in my Linux PC I see files that should not be there and that are virus. It feels sooo good to just delete them and note they can not even try to get to my system. Though I fear the day will come with the growing popularity of Linux as desktop OS.

Otherwise I have a new laptop thanks to friends in Sweden who helped out with the logistics. I now use a Dell Vostro 1400 and am most happy with it. Have blown the preinstalled Vista all the way to where I think it should be - off my harddisk!

Here is a review by a user, not exactly same config though. No webcam for me (pointless here) and just Intel graphics card.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The year of Linux as Windows replacement?

For those who for various reasons do not want to think "out of the box" or who sees Windows as "inevitable" or "it comes with the PC so it is free" the following could be interesting reading:
Wal-Mart in USA sells out 10 000 Linux $200 PCs in 2 weeks
Dell is now selling PCs with Ubuntu Linux preinstalled and Lenovo (old IBM) has announced they are going to sell PCs with Suse Linux.
For those who might want to see how the gOS (Google OS more or less) in the Wal-Mart PC looks here is a link.

I think it is slowly gaining momentum. Several reasons, one being that Windows Vista is a nice-looking but beastly system, another is cost-related and I think also that many are getting sick of having to fight virus and spyware and younameit with extra software on a daily basis. Not to mention hardly being allowed to reinstall your computer should you need.

Finally if you think today's computers are boring have a look at this! One just have to love the person's dedication if nothing else...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Meltingpot in Maputo

Seems it now is more of a monthly thing to write somethng on the blog but the truth of the matter (as I see it at least) is that I work and/or travel to an extent where the remaining energy has to be spent on family life rather than more computer time.

As things go I am in Maputo, capital of Mozambique, as I blog this and for the first time in a very long time happen to have a weekend "in between", dedicated to nothing. So am sitting by the poolside at Terminus Hotel watching kids having a gas and just chilling myself. And with wi-fi hotspot and a draft Laurentina "clara" (clear, not stout) just being served life could be worse.

Well - it seems everytime I travel something happens at home. This time Eric had a bad cough and the night before I left had over 39C fever. So Mia takes him straight from airport to clinic where they are worried enough to keep him for observation due to the fever. Those are the times when you hate having to leave and drop everything in your loved one's lap. Thank Oden and Freya she is a strong woman and can cope.

So after a thoroughly stressful Friday with my recommended taxi driver Micas - who do speak about 3 words English and I speak about 3 words Portuguese but we manage. Somehow. I stop by this little "hole in the wall" restaurant opposite the hotel to have a well-deserved cool beer. It is HOT in Maputo this time of the year. So I ask if I can have a chair next to these guys who seem to have been enjoying their day since lunchtime or so.

Next thing my "neighbour" ask me where I am from. Stating Sweden he exclaims "Hej du" and tells me he is from Chile but lived in Turkku, Finland before coming to Moz some 10 years ago. His tennispartner Torsten is German and only the third guy is actually from Moz. When I tell them I am sort of "stopping over" on my way to Lichinga Torsten shouts (a bit high he was) "do you then know the King of Lichinga, Hans"? I tell him that I had dinner with Hans twice a couple of weeks ago - in Maputo.

Later that same evening I go to a Thai restarant close to the hotel. I am still a bit tired and not really up to go clubbing so I just have a nice meal and then decide to sleep my "jetlag" off. I could post a separate thing about the trip but let's just shorten it to say I spent 12 hours getting from Harare to Maputo and was dead meat by the time I arrived. As I finished my meal these two young guys are looking for a table and I hear they speak Swedish. So I tell them to take my table as I am about to leave. We chat a bit and when they hear I am going to Lichinga they ask if I heard of this boy from Sweden who study distance at the International School in Maputo. Yes... I know Anton who happens to be the son of the SCC manager Gunnel in Lichinga...

On Saturday I call my old friend from Zimbabwe, Emmerson, and we spend most of the day together at the seaside with his wife while frantically trying to call Zim (network headaches).

That is Maputo - sit down somewhere and you are likely to meet someone who knows someone and so on. Love this place and so much wish the family could have come with me!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Telephone & Bluetooth craze

Instead of writing about travels and logistical nightmares a few lines about our ongoing "cellphone madness" - or maybe I should say mine.

After Mia's very nice W300i arrived I inherited her "old" Z520i. Nothing wrong with it whatsoever but I guess the old "I also want" got me in it's grip. I got the chance when I heard that friend Anna T was going to Sweden for a short visit and bought a secondhand Z550i on Now all these have Bluetooth built-in but none of our 2 PCs have. So I asked friend Håkan Lutz to shop for me a usb-bluetooth "pin" and 2 bluetooth handsfree.

This he promptly did and Anna came back with a bag full of "goodies". It took me a day to get our Kubuntu Linux based laptops configured and the handsfree paired with the respective phones. And this is really neat - transfer of music for Mia is now really easy and for me files or software. All is neatly built-in to Linux and so far have not added any drivers or software. Though now I have to figure out how to synch my Kontact data with the phone calendar.

The story might continue....

Friday, September 21, 2007

A wedding and other news

It has again been a long time. Seems this is becoming more of a monthly habit than anything "daily". Well the excuse is travelling and more travelling.

Because of business travel I missed the wedding of Mia's brother Anjos and his (now) wife Dadirayi that took place in Bulawayo. Here some photos.

Otherwise the "drama" was that I managed to secretly buy Mia a new phone in Sweden, a SonyEricsson W300i, and with the aid of 2 persons get it first to Zambia and then Zimbabwe. Thanks Marie and Lloyd for the help! Someone damn near collapsed when I pulled it out. Problem is I like it way too much so regret I did not buy 2.. not that I want the walkman stuff but I really like how it is put together and works. AND it is already off the market, they pump out new models so fast that by the time I decide what I want you can no longer by it... the Z530i is a good example.

Zim is weirder than ever. The shops are very near empty and everything "normal" is either queued for or bought "informal". I came home with Mazoe drink (locally made and very popular) - from Lusaka. Nowhere to be found in Zim. Also from Malawi I brought mealie-meal - zim made... the whole shop was full of Zim pastors shopping frantically! The other day I witnessed a near fight in a shop. Over youghurt. Now if that aint depressing I don't know what is.

Gotta rush, it is Friday and I want to take early day since I fly early Sunday to Lilongwe.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Just an update

It has been over a month since anything was written on this blog. There are reasons for that, I have been travelling extensively and spent time both in Mozambique and Zambia. We are all OK though a bad bout of flu hit me, Eric and Mia. It hit a lot of people actually. August has been unusually cold (still cold nights and mornings) and maybe that has something to do with it.

Otherwise we now live in the country of empty shops. There is nearly nothing to be found in the shops apart from cheese, some polony/ham and such products. Forget bread, milk, flour, meat, sugar, cooking oil, drinks, washing powder, most tinned products and so on. The reason for this being price controls - once more. Unrealistic allowed prices coupled with now officially over 7000% inflation have caused a situation where near everything is traded outside the normal system. Let's just say it makes life interesting but rather tiring.

On top of that we had "plumbers" at home. They did one thing right - they cleaned out our hotwater-geyser that had stopped working. Otherwise they managed to create a large hole in the ceiling and reconnect the geyser basically backwards. We have since fixed a new ceiling (about time but even so...) and had a proper plumber reconnect the geyser. To add to that one of our cars is almost constantly parked at the workshop and this makes moving around a problem. Get a lot of cycling exercise lately.

Some photos from home, nothing sensational: Homephotos

Have had my first experiences of Microsoft Windows Vista in some different scenarios and am less than impressed. I am far from the only one, the editor of PC Magazine have given up and gone back to Windows XP and is considering switching to Linux: pcmag

I am increasingly happy with my switch to Kubuntu - no viruses, no intrusions, no spyware. And increasingly tired of "normal" users tendency to hit "OK" whether they have any idea of why or not.

Finally some photos from my youngest brother David's wedding and a link to Anna Tibblin's blogg about Zimbabwe (in Swedish)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dar es Salaam July -07

After a couple of hectic months we had a week-long break in Dar es Salaam recently. As usual we had a good time and it was great to catch up with friends, hit the beach, eat plenty seafood and enjoy the nice temperature (Harare has been freezing cold since June).

Did not lack drama though. Second night, sleeping over at Darrin's house, Mia woke me up saying she couldn't breathe proper and we had to go to hospital. Which we did, woke up TMJ staff at 2 am. Doctor put her on oxygen and gave x injections to calm down what was some kind of allergic reaction. Home in rented flat around 4 when the mosque starts waking up the faithful.

Next day all was fine until around 4 when she felt it coming back. She took off to TMJ once more and this time they did not let her go until they had taken blood samples and given even more injections. Turns out she had malaria and an infection so no wonder she was not OK. The doctor prescribed a truckload of medicines basically.

That was the end of drama though, from there on just relaxing and running around, eating good food and enjoying ourselves. A week is on the short side but could not be away longer this time around.

You find some photos here

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Terrible twins?

Life has been on the hectic side during the month of May. Have been to Lusaka, Nairobi and Maputo for different reasons and then of course the "normal" work and life in Zimbabwe.

I won't tire you with yet another "Air Zimbabwe" disaster description but yes, there was one. >24 hours this time.

Stayed with friends Tom and Susan in Kenya. One morning Susan discovered the men had put on more or less identical outfits, completely unintentionally. So here we are in all our "white men" glory.

Was nice to see Nairobi, a really hectic place though. Trafficjams like I have seen only a few times in my life. It seems to take at least 45 minutes to get from point A to B no matter where or when you are going.

Also had time for a short trip outside town to Ngong hills and a beautiful view of the famous Rift Valley.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Just an update

Have been quiet on the blog for some time. A combination of travels and more travels, visitors and now a rather bad bout of flu that I am still struggling with.

We have had numerous long powercuts, 2 of them even up to 2 days, so the generator has been very thoroughly tested. It is such a relief to just start the thing and be able to do most things we normally want to do such as having access to water. City water is becoming increasingly rare.

Am busy upgrading so at the moment there is - nothing! The idea is to create a more interactive environment using the free content management system Joomla. Will also update our PCs to the latest version of Kubuntu "any day now". I am running it on a test PC and this time it looks like they really got it right.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Using Linux to save a Windows PC

Have spent some days rescuing PCs that have not been maintained or protected against virus for months. One had over 1000 virus infected files and could barely start but I got it back to life.

Now today (Wednesday) I got a really tricky case. Whatever virus had hit this PC shut down every program you tried to start or run, including installing any antivirus software or running any software to change startup files etc. So what to do? Reinstall the whole thing and try to save documents etc?

I decided to try another tactic. I booted it using a Knoppix LiveCD, a special linux distrubition not meant to be installed but to diagnose or fix computers. After that I managed to install a linuxbased antivirus software and scan the computer and delete hundreds of infected files, still from the Knoppix LiveCD.

After that it started nicely with Windows, I could install an antivirus and get it up and running. A strange thing to use a free and open source software distro that Microsoft are doing their best to work against to save a PC using their proprietry and licensed operating system.

Overdesigning a good car

Have just driven the latest Toyota Hilux pickup up through Mozambique, Malawi and then Mozambique again and am more than a little bit disappointed.

Why? Well not because of the design or the engine, both really nice (even if the design is a bit over the top) but because it feels really unstable to drive on bad roads. And somehow I thought the type of car Hilux is was supposed to be at its best on bad roads.

But no, it is excellent on a good tarred road. But put in some potholes or drive on a dirt road with or without potholes and you feel like you could lose control at any given moment. The car wants to continue straight through curves instead of turning and a bad pothole makes you feel like the whole thing is about to jump off the road.

Bad thinking Toyota, go back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A tired but happy couple in Polokwane

Just thought I would put some photos of us after a looong nightdrive and a day of shopping in Polokwane. This is after shower and a bit of rest though, the "before" pictures will never be shown! Notice the somewhat tired eyes of mr. Sinclair...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mad trip to SA and back

We took a trip to South Africa and back last weekend. The "mad" part lies in achieving the trip in one weekend! Meaning we drove down during Friday night and arrived in Polokwane/Pietersburg around 9 am Saturday morning. Took turns driving down but nevertheless not so fresh.

Spent Saturday shopping around for a good generator (the main reason for going) and other items such as clothes (yes me too...), wine, cooking oil, hardware and so on. It was HOT in Polokwane and I looked exactly the picture; a guy who had not had proper sleep and spent the better part of 24 hours wearing the same t-shirt. Nevertheless, we got the car loaded, refreshed ourselves and had a good dinner and then hit the bed early for a good but short night's sleep.

Off around 6 am Sunday morning, stopped in Musina before the border for car fill-up/check-up and last-minute shopping. Then into the border post. Let me say this immediately: both ways we traveled the staff on the Southafrican side were SLOW, UNINTERESTED and downright RUDE. Example; putting only one stamp on a form instead of the required two despite advising us on where to next take said form. "Go back for stamp". Happened several times. Computer lock-up, supervisor needed. Took near 10 minutes before we managed to persuade the half-sleeping lady at the PC to get said supervisor who looked as if he was still asleep when he eventually showed up. Note it was now after 10 am so not the nightshift or something.

When we finally leave after all is done we are told by the gate guard that we have the wrong declaration form. Same form that had been checked and read and stamped in 3-4 offices! He eventually let us through.

The Zimbabwe side was a positive surprise. Last time I passed through in a car it was full of tsotsis wanting to "help" and bribes were more or less expected and it was chaotic. Now there was only staff and travellers, a reasonably clear path of actions were required, it took about 30 minutes and we had declared, paid and were clear to leave. This despite a problem with some friends faxmachine that we had picked up in Polokwane after it was repaired there. We had all forms we could think of but still were missing one... after some discussing we were let off the hook.

The only other "glitch" on the way back was that I missed the turn-off towards Masvingo/Harare in Beitbridge and drove a few km towards Bulawayo before realising the mistake. Arrived home tired and "carlagged" (see jetlagged) around 7 pm last night.

Now all we need to do is to get the generator installed :-)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A tradition gone wrong

In case someone didn't notice (living in the Gobi desert or such) yesterday was Valentine's Day. While I think it is a nice idea and tradition to express your apprecation for a loved one in some "extra" way this has clearly gone overboard of late.

Examples: a school here in Zimbabwe got the idea that the students should come dressed in red/white and carry flowers (I am not saying which school, enough to mention that is a highly respected school). This for KIDS not even in their teens or being in the lower teens. A friend's son was so stressed he stayed home instead. I fail to get the point, why should children behave like they are adults and have partners? In Sweden, a country that did not bother much about this event some 10 years ago, it has now reached the point where a school for older children closed on this day to avoid having the children stressed out by either getting or not getting flowers and gifts.

In Zim it used to be somewhat of a competition among ladies who got the biggest/best/finest flowers delivered to the office, and I guess it still is though it seems to have calmed down due to financial reasons.

What I am thinking is that everything can be overdone. Let's try and chill a bit on these things (birthdays and Xmas can be included) so they don't become a stress instead of a joy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

First day in school

Just a photo of a very proud (and rather "stiff") Bradley in his school uniform getting ready for his first day in school!

So far he is finding it very exciting (2 days...) and that is of course good.

Eric was more than jealous and insisted on wearing a hat too. Mayhem broke out when he realised he was not going! Luckily he started Montessori preschool today so now both have to get ready in the morning, take their bags etc.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Xmas Eve

Just thought I would put up a photo of the party that this celebrated Christmas Eve "Swedish style" at friend Göran's house. As you can see we were quite a few awaing the arrival of Santa.

Straight below me and Mia sits Eric who today managed to lock himself inside the toilet at home. Took me the better part of an hour to get home, persuade him to yank the key so I could push it out and then hand it to me out the window so I could finally unlock and get him out of there.

Otherwise we just wish you all a really good 2007 from us here in Zimbabwe Posted by Picasa