Archive for the ‘Tech Bytes’ Category

Of a 24-hr Nairobi, Wi-fi and Writing

It’s been a long weekend here in Kenya, thanks to our peculiar way of celebrating national holidays. If it falls on a Sunday, the following day is a public holiday, to reward us for the serious celebrations and otherwise that we engage in. So its been a whole 3 days, alot of time to sample what our lovely city Nairobi has to offer, albeit in daylight.

So inspired by some research I need to do for my book (see my other blog), I go down Ngong Road to Prestige Plaza, that icon of 24-hr shopping mall phenomenon. Many people wonder what Nairobians do up all night, but you just need to go to Prestige and the adjacent businesses and see. My visit was during the day, and I was there to hunt down a real wi-fi hot spot. Those innovative guys at MoMovies have again led the pack. They ae piloting a 24-hr wi-fi hot spot as a new channel of business, besides their 24-hr video library in the same mall. They hold the largest collection of original DVDs, complete with home delivery and online ordering, so go over and sign up.

After a little hunting for a power socket, I fire up my laptop, launch Ubuntu and am online in minutes. It really flies, by Kenyan standards. We have alot of broadband this and broadband that here, the word is grossly misused. The service is great, and I will be going down to pay for the same service when its launched commercially. I will even follow them to the other malls where they are planning to launch the service. Kenyan coffee and wi-fi, great combination.

So with blistering speed wi-fi, I did alot of research and filled tonnes of pages with material. Being a typical Nairobi end-of-month evening, I snapped my laptop shut and was home by 8pm.

We need that kind of service here in Nairobi. The person who extends the hot spot to cover my balcony has an instant customer. I wonder if the people who do business development, or whatever they call it, for ISPs read such pieces. I think they don’t.

How To Change Password In Ubuntu 7.04 PC Edition (with Dual Boot Win XP Pro)

This assumes you have a dual boot with Ubuntu 7.04 and Windows XP Pro. This is a great guide.

Boot up the PC and at the screen to select the OS (assuming you have edited the grub to automate the daul boot)

Select the option Ubuntu, kernel 2.6.20-15-generic (recovery mode) or equivalent

Press “e” to edit the commands

The next screen displays three lines as below

root (hd0,6) or equivalent
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.20-15-generic ………….. ro single
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.20-15-generic

Select the second line (starting kernel /boot/vmlinuz …..) and select “e” to edit

This takes you to the end of the line. After ro single type rw init=/bin/bash and press Enter

Then press “b” to boot into the shell. NOTE: You are now logged in as root, be careful with the commands issued here.

The shell looks like this


At the prompt type as below to display the usernames created in Ubuntu

root@none:/#ls /home

To change the password for user named admin100 whose password you want to set as linux!kenya type as below

root@none:/#passwd admin100
Enter new UNIX password: linux!kenya
Retype new UNIX password: linux!kenya
passwd: password updated successfully ( this is displayed if all is OK)
root@(none):/#reboot (this reboots the PC)

Now login to Ubuntu with your new password.

NOTE: To change the root password while still in the shell, type as below

root@none:/#passwd root
Enter new UNIX password: !@%^&jkjkireykjavik
Retype new UNIX password: !@%^&jkjkireykjavik
passwd: password updated successfully


Fibre Optic Cable, Broadband, Wimax, Wi-fi

Here in Kenya, we are the last frontier in the digital divide. We are happy to say though that all is not lost in the struggle to emancipate ourselves from lack of submarine FOC to our shores. Thanks to lack of visionary planning, silly politics and big brother attitude, we are submarine FOCless. Just when we were beginning to get frustrated and snail-pace connections were killing us with hefty bills, there is a flurry of announcements. Submarine FOC is coming our way. All of a sudden we have like 3 cable laying ships competing to hook up our shores to the global digital village.

Meanwhile, in Kenya the ISPs are working very hard. We have all manner of supposed broadband, from Africa Online’s Infinet to KDNs Butterfly. The Kenyan government not being left in the zeal to connect the villages with FOC and setting up digital kiosks / centers, known as Pasha. While on cables, fiber of otherwise, Jamii Telecom is finishing its Nairobi metro fiber network. In essence if the ISPs in Nairobi were reading this (usually they don’t bother), they would have found out where I live, asked Jamii to extend the fiber from the roadside outside my house to a wiring closet at the basement, and then hooked my apartment. I in turn would terminate the connection to my secure wireless broadband router, and retire to my balcony and surf, barefoot.

I have alot of faith in the entrepreneurial skills of Kenyans, so do not disappoint me.

Of Adobe Reader 8 Reading Out Loud

So am going through my Adobe Reader 8 and I stumble upon this nifty tool that actually reads back to me a selected paragraph. Okay, the words are a bit garbled and metallic, but hey, it pays to close your eyes and let the machine voice read back text from the pdf document. Quite nice especially when tired of staring at the screen.

Great stuff Adobe. More on text to speech

Am exploring more of this text to speech stuff. There must be some syrupy voice out there who can read better.