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Showing posts from 2012

Solving DSTV Drifta "Cannot Initialize Display" and "service scrambled" Errors

The Drifta is a handy device for catching up with a number of DSTv channels on the go. The good thing with the mobile dongle is that you can offer it as a gift to someone, and link it to your DSTv account such that they don't have to pay subscription. Image quality may not be brilliant, but it isn't one can't stomach.

However, setting up the device, though simple, can be quite a task for many as I found out.

First, if you are call DSTv to connect your Drifta to a Premium or Plus bouquet, you may get "service scrambled" error, even when DSTv insist that they have activated the service for you. This can be solved by pressing the reset button (read the manual for how to) which is usually next to the charging port. You'll need a pen or something with a slim point and use it to press the depression, usually next to the charging port to reset the Drifta.

Resetting the Drifta may solve your "service scrambled" error (if subscribed), but may lead to a new …

RE: Appointment as Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya to The United States of America

Dennis Kioko,
Address Pending.

President to-be-elect,
Republic of Kenya,
Address Pending, Again.

Dear Sirs/Madams,

RE: Appointment as Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya to The United States of America 

I would like to draw your attention to news reported across various sections of the press (way behind your daily portraits on the front page) that several Missions to the country are equivalently vacant with the duty of appointed high commissioners having expired.

This includes Kenya's High Commission to the United States of America. Among your first duties, having assumed duty as Kenya's president, duly elected or otherwise, will be to appoint commissioners to these missions.

It is in this regard that I highly invoke you to consider me as a likely appointment to the position of Kenya's High Commissioner to the United States of America. 

I believe that I am very well suited as an ambassador of Kenya's and Africa's cultural values to the United States.

The highlight …

8 Types of Press Releases From Hell

Working in a media house, press releases make up quite a lot of what a journalist reads and works with. That explains why quite a number of us end up with poor grammar - it is so easy to pick up language usage from what we read.

Press releases are meant to pass relevant information to the reader, sand should be targeted. The keyword here is relevant. Sadly, press releases are not meant your companies feel good, they can pee on themselves for that warm feeling. Releases thus are of no value if the targeted reader doesn’t get much value from them, which means that your client is failing in delivering value.

Press releases also account for many the hardships journalists face. If you don’t believe me, below is a collection of characteristics exhibited in press releases send in from hell.

The title is longer than this paragraph. Such press releases look as if someone converted the first paragraph into a title. I mean, there is nothing wrong with a 20 word title, right?
Our company is the fi…

Why Nairobi doesn't need Syokimaus

On 13th November, 2012, Kenya opened its first railway station, as we get to celebrate 49 years since Independence. In a move hailed by many far and wide, Kenya also announced that it had finally broken the curse and built a two kilometre track to the newly opened Syokimau. It is said that this is the first time the railway had seen any action in more than 50 years.

To some, this was the equivalent of Kenya putting a man on the moon. It would bring lots of pride to millions of Kenya, just as the hundreds of millions of Indians see their chest swell with pride when their country launches a rocket into space, or successfully does a nuclear bomb test.

I even saw a few Ugandans, where the presidential motorcade is said to occasionally tag along a Howitzer (Google images), wonder where their country got left off in such remarkable feats.

However, it soon became clear that this national masterpiece wasn’t for all. The average Kenyan produces KSh. 146 per day. For a 15 kilometre journey into…

Dennis Kioko first Kenyan to offer a lift

For immediate release

Integrated Kenyan National Dennis Kioko has become the first Kenyan to offer a lift in his car to another deserving Kenyan. The remarkable act of humanity happened on Thursday evening when Kioko spotted a number of stranded Kenyans as he drove crawled home in his car, also known as a contraption in some circles.

The deserving Kenyans were rendered with no means of commuting home after clueless matatu drivers boycotted their nation destruction duty. Huddled at a nondescript bus stop along Uhuru Highway declared illegal by the City Council, and with dark quickly approaching, Kioko was able to spot them and pull over. Three passengers from various tribes then hopped in and were offered a lift, free of charge, to Kioko's neighbourhood.


The drivers are up in arms against new rules that will see them either driving like sane humans or parting with huge sums of money. It’s the first time that Kenyan matatu drivers are discovering Kenya has laws.

The strike left hundr…

Kibaki Government Spending Highly Focused on Infrastructure - Tool Shows

The Kenyan budget has placed lots of emphasis on infrastructure, an online analysis tool shows. The Kenya Budget Explorer, a tool developed by Uwazi at  Twaweza uses an Iconomical dashboard to analyse 9 of the country's 10 last budgets (excluding the recently released 2011/2012 budget).

Of 7 spending sectors, infrastructure was at 6th position in 2002/2003 at 6.7 per cent of government spending.  To date, Social Services consisting of health , human resources (government employees) and Education (free primary education) has taken the biggest government spending at between 40 per cent and 50 per cent.

In 2002/2003, governance/economic services (provincial administration, treasury, office of the president and prime minister) came in second at 17.39 per cent of government spending while defence and security came in 3rd at 12.96 per cent.

Government spending per sector remained unmoved in 2003/2004 from the previous year.

2004/2005 saw Infrastructure jump 2 positions to the 4th posit…

Nokia takes Android head on by sourcing for local applications

Nokia is looking to revamp its smartphone unit in Africa. This has seen them coming up with devices such as the Nokia 500, which is fully touch and features a vastly improved version of its Symbian OS (Symbian Belle), with cool features that allow it to match off with Android and OS.

With the new devices and improved Symbian software, Nokia is now looking for applications form the region to entice users. I am in the midst of reviewing the Nokia 500, and it has quite a number of applications that you would expect on other smart phones, including Angry Birds.
While Android and iPhone may have a few local apps here and there, Nokia is looking to up the ante by calling in 100 developers to come up with local Symbian applications. This will be at an event to be held this weekend in Nairobi. It will be interesting to see what will come off the event.

Maybe we will have a Nokia application to track your M-Pesa usag. What are your other ideas for local apps?

Below is a press release on the e…

Kenyans' spending habits fuelling inflation

Inflation in Kenya is quite high,  rarely falling below double digits. Many reasons have been fronted as the cause of the high inflation, including an expensive dollar and high bank rates.

With a fast growing economy, Kenyans have also been one of the factors driving inflation, with their spending habits.

Wonder not how Kenyans drive inflation. I once frequented Githurai town, a busy trading point along Thika Road, centred around what was once a roundabout, now a flyover. Githurai hosts what  they would call a bustling market. Barter exchange still thrives vibrantly here, mostly through involuntary exchange of phones, pocket items and other items you own, to people who will sell them to other people who would like to own them.

No, that's not how Kenyan's drive inflation. See, I used to travel from Kenyatta University to Githurai a lot, in a bid to beat inflation. See, the fare charged to town by those badly driven Githurai buses was almost a quarter of what you would pay if y…

My Heart

I need a dose of reality,
It's hard to question the clarity of my brain's thoughts,
not much unlike a clear blue morning sky,
but my heart is always out to cloud my thoughts,
like mist clouding a clear blue morning sky.

I need a heart bypass surgery,
before my heart finally attacks,
the kicks of a dying heart.

The Matatu, Nairobi's most notorious crime scene

As I got into a matatu, I couldn't help not having her catch my attention. She was like they are meant to be in Africa, tall, dark and striking beautiful. If you doubt me, you should have seen her smile, which is convincing enough , white and dazzling like the African ivory the East clamours. 
She looked familiar, and this was convinced by the I have seen you somewhere before  look that she gave me. This was soon confirmed as she proceeded to greet me and indulge me in talk. Teachers are so confident. We went to the same campus and she was a friend of a friend of mine, who apparently used to narrate to her stories about me. I didn't get to find out how bad the stories were. 
Our matatu soon left the bus station , and the driver bullied his way into Haile Selassie avenue. Our conversation was traded between rows, as I had instinctly taken a seat behind her, rather than next to her. This is Nairobi, there are other more important factors that determine where you seat in a matat…

The curious tragedy of Nairobi Water

Next year, Kenya will mark 50 years since it gained its indepedence. At 50 years of age, an average Kenyan citizen has 10 years to live, if they are female, or 8 more if they are male. A few years ago, they would already be dead, but we have  improved health care, standards of living and reduced HIV impact to thank for.

Not to be left out, the state of utilities and services in Kenya is wanting, like in many other countries. After years of neglect ,Kenya has proved sceptic wrong  (including yours truly ) by coming up with stunning highways, while the country''s power utility, Kenya Power, is ranked amongst the best South of the Sahara and North of the Limpopo. However, water has continued to be a big problem across the country.

Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company, Nairobi's sole water provider has not disappointed many. The firm, like a citizen at 50, has aged gracefully and might was well be dead by the time Kenya hits 60.

At one point, it is rumoured that Nairobi Water&…

Kenya Power customers suffer from Ksh 0.5 billion faulty prepaid meters

Kenya Power is a famous company in Kenya, one which draws what my colleagues in media will call "mixed reactions". While those in urban areas such as Nairobi regard Kenya Power as a very unreliable firm, I have heard of villages in rural areas where blackouts go unreported for even 3 days . To the rural people, recent electrification means that at least they get to get electricity for some days, which is better than no electricity.

In urban areas, the story is not any different. Around Imara Daima along Mombasa Road, power is mostly reliable, with blackouts been few in a week, and even at times been less than 10 in a month. In other places in the city, blackouts are a daily occurrence, and in some places, the blackouts are more than meals, counting two teas , breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Another aspect about Kenya Power is the prepaid meters, which like the firm, are equally loved and hated.

Ever since I became proud enough to start paying my own bills, I have used the Keny…

Why you should abandon your mama mboga for Wakulima Market

Bloody Nairobian's, why on this earth do they charge a whole 20 shillings on potatoes that  are outnumbered by my 10 fingers? However, the cost of potatoes are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to stuff that costs more than is sane.  That makes it insane that the demand from city residents for overpriced products still remains healthy

If you do not believe that Nairobians pay more than is sanely allowed for stuff, you are welcome to visit the Wakulima Market. Here, you will be shocked by the price of items like potatoes. You may find a 2 KG of bucket of potatoes  costing between Ksh 80 to Ksh 100. Just across the wall fence, a potato throw away at Muthurwa market, the same 2 KG bucket goes for between Ksh 120 to even Ksh 160.  Meanwhile, 5 potatoes may cost ksh 20 in the nearest vegetable vendor back in the estate.

The situation isn't that bad , until you discover that a 20 Kg bucket of potatoes costs Ksh 550.

It is for this reason that I have taken to shopping at the …

Kenyans pretend to be angry at CNN's violence depiction

On Sunday, Kenyans were very angry. Apparently , one of them was watching CNN , one of those stations only available on satellite dishes that require a monthly subscription. The Kenyan then posted a picture of CNN's coverage of grenade attacks in down-town Nairobi. CNN , as a background of the news report, had an image of Kenya's flag, very big flame's and the word "violence" in Kenya.

CNN was been sensationalist, trying to leverage on the image been a region as one prone by violence. By doing so, CNN was obviously out to increase its rankings by exaggeration the gory news that keeps their viewers glued to the screen, shaking their heads in disbelief, as they take bites out of cholesterol filled burgers.

The Kenyans, whom most have not visited Country Bus Stations- where the attacks occurred  - in a long while, were quite upset.

You could see their anger as they took to their smartphones to tweet #SomeoneTellCNN , appending their messages to the hashtag. Their m…

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Counterfeit alcohol hits Nairobi

Dishonest dealers in Kenya are now repackaging various alcohols and selling them off to unsuspecting buyers. The scam appears to target a broad range of popular spirits, including Smirnoff Vodka and The Famous Grouse Whiskey. Various residents have reported that the drinks are sold in shops in down-town Nairobi and cheap clubs.

Popular drinks are either substituted with similar looking forms of alcohol or blended with them. Vodka is substituted with chang'aa , a local moonshine drink while brandies are used to dilute, or wholly sold off as more expensive whiskies. There is suspicion that some of the alcohol used in this drinks is diluted industrial alcohol. Industrial alcohol is normally cleared, with tricks such as food colouring and perfume deployed to have the counterfeit alcohol look like the genuine one.

The syndicate appears to be recycling bottles which are collected from garbage dumps, especially in Nairobi Eastlands areas. Consumption of such alochols is high to provide…

A bad case of writer's block

On Wednesday morning, like any other Wednesday, I emptied my waste basket into a polythene "paper" bag, and left it outside for collection, before boarding a matatu to work.

However, unlike other Wednesdays, I received a text message from a friend, telling me that he had "seen my story in the Nation". I ignored it, thinking that probably he had seeing a similar story , with facts similar and assumed that someone had copied my story.

Getting into the office, I was checking on recent stories I have written and how other media houses  reported them, when I stumbled onto an article titled "Tech gurus caught napping as 103 websites hacked" .

While the story of the hacking was exposed on the Security Forum, I was arguably the first journalist to cover it, with a little bit more facts that I added from some research and my experience.

HIV and AIDS in Africa : The source, return and negligence

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a disease that has wrecked quite some havoc across Africa. "Although Africa is home to about 14.5% of the world's population, it is estimated to be home to 69% of all people living with HIV and to 72% of all AIDS deaths in 2009." says Wikipedia. 


AIDS is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and is usually an advanced stage of the HIV virus leading to death. With treatment though, HIV may not progress to AIDS.

In Africa, HIV statistics are quite complex, with Southern African countries being the most affected with a more than a 15% national infection rate. Eastern African countries are in the medium with 8% while Western African countries are in the lower percentages, with most at less than 5% , due to a weaker and less infectious West African strain of HIV. There are exceptions though, countries like Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have a lower statistic compared to their regions. It appears war somehow …