The strong also fail and it’s no big deal

Sometimes you just need to know when to call it quits. Does that make you a loser? Hell no! Or maybe. You can’t be sure until it’s all over.

The way it is, the most important thing is to win the war but you may lose some battles or side street skirmishes in the interest of overall success of your military or career campaign.

Some stories come to mind – Apple dropping Ping, a social network (I wonder if any of you know about it) like a bad habit when it wasn’t going north. Microsoft quarantined Nokia like a virus and took a $7.6B haircut while at it.

Recently, the folks at Google had a serious heart-to-heart talk with each other and decided that Google+ should go the way of the dodo. Starting weeks ago, Google+ is getting kicked out of Google assets, inclusive of YouTube were forcing users to have a Google+ accounts has drawn backlash.

Which comes to a critical question – how do you know when to throw in the towel and declare the current adventure dead or push through and succeed? The world is replete with anecdotes of people who succeeded despite odds stacked against them. Same world is also replete with anecdotes of those who didn’t pull back on time.

Sometimes life feels like a coin toss with two heads or two tails. The luck isn’t in the spin, it’s in the pick.

How to run a WordPress blog on Amazon AWS (for free)

I got into blogging before it became a common word. Sometime in March 2001 I created my first website, dejiolowe.com, put some random information there and just literally talked about crap.
Fast forward to 2005, I moved my blog to a ColdFusion engine, BlogCFC by Raymond Camden and started real blogging. I was active once in a while but then the host was very unreliable. After all, I got it for peanuts.
Incidentally my big bro had quite a bit of leftover server capacity somewhere so I ported to WordPress. I ran that for a few years before it started fraying at the edges. The server just had a penchant for going down randomly.
Along the line I became an ardent a fan of cloudy stuff and Amazon AWS leads everyone shoulders and above. Feeling jobless I decided it’s time I tried out a bit of that.
So my assignment was to create a new WordPress website on AWS from scratch.
Follow my steps:

  1. First thing you need is basic knowledge of what to do. So I searched for “how to run WordPress off amazon AWS” on Google and got some interesting links
  2. I followed Amazon’s tutorial which is pretty clear and straightforward
  3. I went over to AWS on Amazon to log in. Now if you have an Amazon account, all you need is that same username and password
  4. Following the tutorial on step 2 above, I created a free tier Windows 2008 R2 instance, configured it as explained.
  5. Then I went over to my old website to export out the content into a WXR file (a WordPress XML file format).
  6. I went over to my registrar’s domain panel (mydomain.com) to change the IP address of my domain name to the new one given by Amazon (A records in technical terms) however you can buy your domain name with Amazon on Route 53.
  7. Once the DNS name propagated across the internet, that is my domain name is now pointing to the new host, I logged into the new server to upload the WXR file in step 5 above.
  8. I downloaded a new theme for the blog.
  9. I installed all the previous plugins such as Akismet, Exploit Scanner, Jetpack and StatCounter.
  10. The interesting bit about this setup is that it’s free for the next 1 year. If I end up becoming a celebrity by then, I can use part of the endorsement money to move it to a bigger server so I can handle the expected spike in traffic. But I seriously doubt that.
  11. You don’t need steps 5, 6 and 7 if you are starting your WordPress website from scratch.

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s it.

Crispr is the new Little Boy

You’ve probably never heard of Crispr but then who has? I bet you are creepier than a centipede that killed a snake if you ‘ve.
I was trolling some biology news of recent when I bumped into an interesting story about gene editing.
By the way, I’m curious about genetics. I once did a genetic algorithm in school which succeeded in messing up my head more than anything else. Since I was already messed up anyway, another dose of scary gene science won’t put me in a worse place.
Crispr, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, is a genetic basis of gene editing using Cas9, some fancy protein (not your regular protein shakes) that makes this to work.
Don’t let me bore you to tears.
In a nutshell, this technique and protein will allow you to edit any gene in any cell – cut, add, do whatever you like, even if you are under the influence. You can also apply Instagram filters. Ok, that’s a lie, or maybe not! Unfortunately, it doesn’t have UNDO, AKA CRTL Z!
Scientists are already using it to edit a mosquito that won’t be susceptible to Plasmodium, but nobody is sure of what happens after. Chinese are even crazier; one of them edited an embryo, left behind by some unfortunate mum, to remove some lousy ass gene that causes beta thalassemia, a disorder that unhinges human ability to make good red blood cells. Thankfully (for now) it failed.
Realizing the power that this can be, scientists are running around to create rules to govern everyone.
My dear friend, as we all know, some dudes never play along nicely. Imagine terrorists creating superhumans? One that is strong, super intelligent (removes the gene that wants to watch Africa Magic and Telemundo), grows to adulthood in a month and can live forever.
We are doomed! Maybe not.
Someone is going to invent a type of software that can help prospective mothers select genes, behaviors, and have perfect kids. It may even be an Android or iPhone app for convenience. The Blackberry version won’t be released on time, or it may just produce annoying kids. Caveat Emptor! If the price is too high, someone will release a hacked version on Pirate Bay. Unfortunately when the baby is born, baked or cooked, it may come with a natural tattoo – ^^#^^Crispr^^%^^.
I have lost my mind.
Did I mention Little Boy? That was the first atomic bomb dropped. It brought everyone a healthy fear of mortality.
I thought artificial intelligence is going to change the world; I may be wrong, it could be something very crispy.

Micro-lending, or lack of it, didn't kill Financial Inclusion

My recent rant on what’s making mincemeat out of financial inclusion in Nigeria generated quite a bit of talk within my little circle of friends. Some thought I must have mistakenly installed someone’s mind while looking for my lost one. A pitiful few others felt it made some sense, which is something that’s rarely said about me.
Along the line, I read somewhere that lack of micro-lending killed financial inclusion and that because there is easy credit in places like Kenya, financial inclusion bloomed.
I fell off my chair and almost cracked my skull. A tile broke instead (Agbari Ojukwu!).
I think it’s time we laid it out clearly for some of my fancy armchair consultants, financial inclusion + mobile money software purveyors and self-styled rich-do gooders.
Micro-lending and other types of consumer lending haven’t worked in Nigeria because if a bank ain’t sure money would come back home, she ain’t lending it. If you ever spent 2 minutes working in a bank, that’s the second thing you are gonna be taught. The first lesson? Always get to work on time!
For those who ever made a mistake of transferring money to wrong accounts, the lucky account holders always clean out before Bart Simpson could blink. Give a loan to someone without proper ID or means to punish, you will never see his dirty backside again.
Nigeria is a special country where only fools hand out kishi without a guarantee of getting them back. Bankers are not the smartest but not fools either.
Who doesn’t want to do micro-lending? Bankers can smell money better than sharks could smell blood. The margins are simply better; fewer concessions; shorter terms with more rollovers. I can smell heaven and bonuses! But without a means of scaring bejesus out of erring borrowers, when there’s need to do that, nobody’s gonna play dice.
Because of this, banks, CBN and hapless staff of the banks came together to do the BVN which is a biometric identification that’s unique across the financial estate in Nigeria. They want to ensure that even if you take money and skip from paying, you will be permanently locked out of banking until you pay back, do penance, both or just die (whichever comes earliest).
Some people have called this the sign of the beast and I think there is an element of truth in that. Calling it The Financial Beast would be more appropriate: It bites your backside when you misbehave, financially.
The Banks spent about $55M putting this contraption in place – if they weren’t serious about KYC and financial inclusion (really?) they wouldn’t have done it.
Which comes to the lack of ease of account opening because of KYC. Frankly it is a chicken and egg problem.
Accounts are very easy to open in most Nigerian banks as long as you have a passport photograph, barely legibly filled account opening form, a government ID and proof of address such as original utility bill – it doesn’t even have to be in your name. What else can we ask for?
But original ID is hard to come by and the average banker trust most IDs less than they trust New Year prediction by new age prophets. The ease at which you can invent an ID would make PhotoShop software makers proud of themselves. Most IDs are non-verifiable which lead to the previously discussed BVN.
Does the BVN make a good man out of everyone? Maybe not but the punishment for lying is eternal damnation in the pit of financial exclusion. Too bad, you are probably stuck with your ten fingers and their wobbly prints unless you take some drastic actions.
So some people will lie to get their BVN but how they will unlie when they need other documentations and accounts in the future, is something I’m sitting on my chair, sipping Pina Colada, waiting for.
I’m still rubbing my sore head.

Where are the killer apps?

So many things don’t work in Nigeria – too many to count. But one thing, I mean absolutely one thing, that Nigeria or Nigerians are at par with the world would be phones.
We just love the damned mobs.
But that’s not the end of it; the real McCoy is the smartphone.
At first only the middle class, the rich guys and the Yahoo boys got smartphones. Then girls discovered Blackberry and I don’t even know which is worse – Eve eating the forbidden fruit or girls chatting on Blackberries. Even a movie was made about that shitty stuff. Anyway, Blackberry committed suicide and folks moved on to Android and sometimes iPhone.
This’ where it’s started getting interesting.
The thing about Android + Google is, they ain’t elitist. While the big boys dumped Blackberry for Apple, unfortunately there ain’t no iMobile for poor folks, Chinese guys came along and practically drowned everyone with knockoffs that’s affordable. So here we are, everyone I know has a smartphone.  Even my old driver threatened me on Facebook using his smartphone (the phone is probably smarter).
So what’s the big deal?
It’s a big deal people! We could really have the next payment revolution on those damned things. (Never trust a banker, they never think beyond money, that includes me).
But frankly, payment aside, where’s the killer app? Today all I hear is Facebook, Twitter and Linda Ikeji. Where’s that Nigerian app that’s gonna put us on the world map?
The phones ‘re there. The internet is somehow there. The eye balls are there. And then nothing!
The thing with killer apps is that you can’t will them to life. They just have to happen but can’t find out why it isn’t happening in Nigeria. Where is our TenCent? Our WhatsApp? Our PayPal or Square? I have seen guys try though but it ain’t just happening. Tsaboin did traffic app but no dice. Some other random dude did a JaiyeJaiye club app, but the alcohol haze hasn’t provided the required lift.
You know the sad thing is even the big companies like banks and telcos can’t see nothing. No bank has gone big on mobile; their websites are not even designed to work on phones even though nobody sits (save for unfortunate office workers) all day using desktop to do stuff. To get a bank Mobile App on your phone, you probably need heavens to detail an Angel escort to help.
I’m waiting for that proud moment when a Nigerian is going to build some random app that do some random useful thing or things and be used by 400M random people in many random countries with 100M of those random people in 774 random local governments in Nigeria.
Is it going to happen? Maybe, maybe not. All I can do is cross my spindly legs and wait it out.