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"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Mobile Tales: Part 1 - The Blues

The last time I switched on my phone hoping for
adifferent result after prayer and desperate hope
proved ultimately unsuccessful :(
It is a well documented fact that mobile phones are the number one technology in Africa right now.  We love our phones. Not only do we on the continent adore and worship them, we hang on to them to the bitter end, till they die.  Let's be honest, until they are beyond the grave really! This is because we have such faith in our phones, and we know that our love for them will resusciate them.   They are so much more than a communication device and a must-have accessory. That and phones are expensive man, we do not have developed world deals that allow you to change your smartphone like your underwear. Having said that, I do hope people out there do not change their underwear once a year like many people do their phones.  I digress...

My phone started its slow decent into unwanted obsolescence in the final quarter of last year, after its first birthday.  I remember exactly when it happened, it was during a Whatsapp conversation with C-ZED and the e stopped working.  The e would proceed to toy with me for a coupla months before finally disappearing, taking the number 2 with it (as on a BB to access the 2 when not in dial mode you have to press alt > e).  This was an easy hurdle to overcome.  I simply copied an e and adapted my thumb typing style. The QWERTY format was initially designed to ensure secretaries didn't type too fast so their bosses could change their words during a dictation session.  Unfortunately, what was not counted on, is the power of human cerebral and kinetic adaptability.  Our minds are so cool that once they learn the hodge-podge placement of our abcs, they are able to type at lightening speed with practice.  This same mental and physical agility came into play with my BlackBerry.

Repetition is such a simple concept and/ or strategy, but one of the most highly effective ways of learning and pummelling one's way to success.  After my thumbs had done the BB menu button > scroll to select paste for the e (and when needed the e would be temporarily substituted with a cut and paste 2 job) to appear on the screen, I was able to type as quickly as I had done before.  Of course, this solution did have holes in it. Most importantly, e is one of the most used vowels and letters in the frigging English language! If I had typed the precending sentence I would have had to do perform the aforementioned action 9 times (plus if I was writing a professional email I would have had to search for a capital E for English if I couldn't go round it with spell check)!  There are certain functions that do not allow this quick fix paste job.  You can dial and paste, so calling new numbers or entering in credit top-up numbers was not a problem, but when using the phone keypad selection menu when calling in customer service or using USSD services like Xapit was not possible if navigation to the correct department or service required a 2.  This was especially annoying when trying to do things with my mobile internet router and when trying to use my mobile banking account.  In desperation I would temporarily steal my younger sister's or my mother's handset but this was not always possible.
My earring wall in the US 2009-10

So I decided to go to the BlackBerry store at Manda Hill and see what could be done.   They told me that my keypad needed realignment and it would cost me K450 000 which is close to $100 or £70.  What did I think about that: HELL TO THE NO! WTF! That's a decent Nokia phone or multiple basic functionality ones that come with a really cool torch or a pretty cool Samsung man!  I might as well buy the second handset I have promised myself to reactivate my dormant simcard.  This slight inconvenience was not worth that much, come to think of it, I could buy a pair of nice shoes with that. Or 45-90 pairs of earrings from the Sunday Market (to understand my love of cheap and stylish earrings read this post)! That is fuel for a month with deliberate and careful usage!  That's three times as much as I spend on airtime and BlackBerry services per month .  Jeez!

Things could only go downhill and they did in superb fashion.  For the first four months of 2012 the trackpad would stop working and basically I would have to rub it so hard pretty much everyday, multiple times, to get it to start working again, and the same for the whole keypad. The only way I could turn off my phone was by taking the battery out as the off button retired unannounced and unsanctioned.  Sometimes I would have to give the phone a time-out and put it in a corner with its battery out for a coupla hours till it learnt that hissy fits and petulant i'm-not-gonna-work behaviour was unacceptable. Every now and again the e would become the only letter working or it would teasingly reappear for a bit before deserting me again. Or I would press a key and get multiple iterations of letter(s) I didn't even press and/ or would barely touch the keyboard and a whole load of gobbledy-gook would appear on the screen and would refuse to be deleted.  Instead more nonsense would appear. I became addicted to this vicious cycle and would be waiting with baited breath for my phone to malfunction and would get such a high from being able to fix it with my primitive ingenuity.  I should have known the end was nigh when my phone would die for a day and I would have to take out the battery and let it rest for 24 hours as the corner trick was not sufficient in restoring funcionality anymore.  

Thanks to social media documenting our lives, I can actually track the last days of my beloved phone:

3rd May: My phone has thrown one of its hissy fits so to the 5 people who have tried to call me, I cannot answer my phone and to SPORTS GUZA whom I assume is the person who whatsapped me I can't open up the app  to check your message :(. Phone has been put in the corner till it calms down and rights itself. Please comment on this update or message me if it's for my eyes only...

SPORTS GUZA: not to worry, wasn't a personal msg, but dude it's now really time to get a new phone...

MbA: are you paying for it, right now the phone works enough for me to be able to get through the week. i have things to take care of with higher priority. if all goes well, i can upgrade in coupla months, if not i'm going to have to suffer with my diva phone!

4th May: My phone has died :(. Trackpad and keyboard have refused to resusitate themselves and so I have had to get a new BlackBerry. I blame SPORTS GUZA for my phone's demise. Usually a rest would do it but it sensed someone wanted it to cease living and it just gave up...Good news is I am reachable again...

SPORTS GUZA: about time too!!!!!!

So now I have a new BlackBerry thanks to a wealthy benefactor, aka my lovely Mother who felt sorry for me and had witnessed me struggling with my phone for months.  I am however toying with getting a Android phone when things fall into place in order to take advantage of Instagram.  I am an Apple-hater so have refused to join the i-family and so far have not suffered too much.  Heard that Samsung have a coupla phones that I may like, and at the moment I'm really feeling their "Built for Africa" campaign.  Them sponsoring Chelsea and having Drogba, Essien and Mikel in their ads doesn't hurt either.  Their solar powered netbook is truly inspired!  Nokia left the door open for new suitors to court me when they failed to  upgrade with me as I moved from basic phone functionality to smartphones.  I have been cheating on them for a while but as I have learnt in life, you never forget your first love, but you don't necessarily (have to) end up with them.  

In honour of my first BlackBerry, here are links to mobile posts in 2010: TIA: This is Africa, Testy-Testy 1-2-3 ;}, and all mobile posts can be found here. You can find Part 2, about the Mobile Monday Lusaka Launch here.

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