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[Nigeria]Nigerian glossary


Recent things

Filed under: family,tech — kevin @ 18:18

I know I haven’t updated this for ages, but I’m living a much less exotic (although no less enjoyable) life these days.

Mum and Dad came out to visit me for a few days, against all the warnings of my colleagues (the weather is notoriously bad here in November). We were quite lucky with the weather, less lucky with catching tourist attractions open. For example, in Vadstena the main attractions are only open on weekdays during winter.

Here are Mum and Dad outside the Arbetets museum (Museum of Work) in Norrköping:
My parents standing on a bridge in front of part of a river, surrounded by former industrial buildings.  Mum and Dad are wearing big warm coats.

I also just bought myself a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner:

It should make keeping the many square metres of floor space in my apartment clean.


Kaduna bus map

Filed under: tech,travel,VSO — kevin @ 08:32

I recently spent a couple of Saturdays riding around Kaduna with my GPS and a little notebook, puzzling and confusing many bus drivers and passengers. The results are now ready: The Kaduna Bus Map!
[Kaduna bus map].

If you want to print a copy you’re better off using the PDF version, it prints out nicely on a single A4 page. I had terrible problems finding a business centre that had a colour printer, ink and electricity all at the same time.

Update 13/6/07: Corrected a typo in the map legend, it’s “Tudun Wada” not “Tudun Wasa”. My original version would mean something like “hill of dancing/sports”.

Update 18/6/07:Corrected a colour mismatch between the “Tudun Wada” route on the map and in the legend. I originally made it yellow but changed to magenta so it would be easier to see in print.


In Abuja

Filed under: friends,tech,VSO — kevin @ 15:42

I just travelled down to Abuja for tomorrow’s VSO Leavers’ Forum. They’ve still not quite explained what it’s for and what we’re going to be doing (helpful as apparently I’m facilitating) but it’s a good excuse to meet up with lots of people.

The journey down was uneventful and I was having trouble staying awake, as usual. It is always amazing to see the change in scenery caused by the little rain we’ve had so far. Bright green grass is starting to cover the deep red soil and the dust has washed off everything, making it all look fresh and new.

The bush taxi journeys have been more enjoyable since I got back from my holiday in April. At Schiphol I bought myself a set of noise cancelling earphones (Sony MDR-NC22, review), the idea being that I can listen to my iPod without having it turned up to ear-destroying volume. I was surprised to find that they actually work really well in cars, given that they’re really designed for use in aircraft. The tight-fitting earphones block out a lot of noise by themselves and the active noise cancellation circuitry is very effective at reducing the wind and road noise.

Abuja is changing rapidly, I think I notice the differences more since I moved to Kaduna. New road junctions, construction sites for new buildings and a rash of new street signs and signs indicating the way to major landmarks. Somewhere in the city there’s even a building site that’s the beginning of Abuja’s rail mass transit scheme.

While I was writing yesterday’s post I had to sit out on my doorstep to get a decent wireless signal. As I was typing away one of the conference centre staff strolled past to the grassy area opposite my house, stripped off and started having a shower. Seems odd given the huge number of empty rooms in the place, maybe management won’t let staff use them or maybe he just prefers showering outdoors.


Dead laptop

Filed under: General,site,tech — kevin @ 09:53

My lovely IBM ThinkPad laptop seems to be dead, it suddenly turned off last night and won’t come back on.

This means that I’m temporarily without access to my saved emails and most of the rest of my personal stuff. I’m hoping the hard disk is still OK and I can get all the useful data off it but until then I won’t be checking my email very often.

Looks like it’s just as well I’m taking a holiday back to the UK in April, the laptop is still under warranty and I’d rather have IBM/Lenovo’s UK people deal with it than send my laptop to the “service provider” in Lagos.


Keeping up to date

Filed under: site,tech — kevin @ 19:21

If you want to be notified of updates to this site there are two ways:

  • RSS: this is part of most modern browsers (even Internet Explorer if you have version 7), the browser will automatically check for site updates and give you an excerpt and a link to the full post. The address should be automatically detected, you’ll see an orange icon in the address bar that you can click on to subscribe. For manual configuration the address is
  • Mailing list: when I add some significant updates to the site I usually send an email to my kevinnigeria mailing list. To subscribe send an email to:
    kevinnigeria-subscribe at

    Don’t worry, you wont be bombarded with email, it’s usually one or two a month.


Fun with dodgy wiring

Filed under: tech,VSO — kevin @ 09:10

I arrived at work this morning to find that although there was electricity (for a change) the network wasn’t working. A quick look in the server room revealed that the router was off.

The wiring led back to one of the usual dubious Chinese multi-way adaptors (called ‘multisockets’ here), I waggled the plugs in case it was a bad connection (quite common with those) but still no power.  I then tried waggling the multisocket’s plug and was rewarded with the power coming on briefly and some sparks.

When I pulled out the plug I got this:
A melted poor quality 13 amp plug

The plug (of course) has no fuse and very thin wires soldered directly to the top of the pins.


Work at Radio Nigeria

Filed under: tech,VSO — kevin @ 17:20

I spent part of this afternoon wandering around taking pictures of people working at Radio Nigeria. My first stop was the newsroom, while they were busy putting together the 1600 news.
Assembling the 1600 news bulletin Radio Nigeria newsroom


Bad software, bad support

Filed under: tech — kevin @ 09:03

[updates below]

I’ve not written much about techy, computery stuff recently, but this morning I’m angry.

I’d been looking for a way to keep the numbers on my mobile phone synchronised with my Sony Clie PDA. SonyEricsson’s software would only synchronise with Microsoft Outlook, and I didn’t want to install that huge lump of bad software just to store phone numbers. Instead I found a shareware program called Mobile Master. I tried it out and then paid £18 to register it.

At first it seemed to work fine, synchronising my phone with Palm Desktop and so with my PDA. Then I noticed that it had subtly corrupted my PDA’s address database. All the fields were in the wrong places and people’s surnames had been replaced by some kind of ID code. I reported the problem to Mobile Master’s authors and waited for a reply.

Update: I’ve now received a reply to my problem report and an apology for how long it took. Unfortunately it’s too late as I’ve uninstalled the software and am using Outlook and SonyEricsson’s software.



Star Wars: Episode 3 (and dodgy Video CDs)

Filed under: films,tech,VSO — kevin @ 10:02

We sat down to watch Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith last night.

I bought a video CD of it at the market on Saturday, getting the guy on the stall to check that both discs played, but failed to notice that the discs were badly scratched and it was too jerky to watch. Marebec managed to get hold of another copy, so we settled down in the dark and hoped the laptop battery would last long enough.

The first annoying thing was the presence of timecode numbers at the top of the screen, but that’s quite common on these pirated CDs. The second was irritation that the video had been very badly encoded, making the whole thing look a bit cartoonish and blocky. The final straw was that the disc kept stopping every once in a while with a “media read error”.

I can put up with the occasional skip but it really started to get annoying having to bring up the media player control panel, start playing the disc again and then find the first point after it had stopped where it would be prepared to continue. This is probably a combination of problems with the disc and bad user interface design in WinDVD.

So, I’m not sure what I think of the film. There didn’t seem to be much character development and the big special effects scenes looked awful with the bad encoding. I’ll have to try watch a better copy of it at some point.

I’m sure various people would say that the problems with the discs are all my own fault for buying pirated Video CDs. This may be true but:

  1. On a VSO allowance you can’t afford to buy imported DVDs
  2. I don’t even know where I could buy legal DVDs here

There is no cinema in Abuja, in fact I’ve yet to see one in Nigeria (not counting the burned-out shell of the Northern Cinema in Sokoto). Going to the cinema is one of the things I miss from my former life in Cambridge.


Almost ready to go…

Filed under: family,tech,VSO — kevin @ 22:53

I’ve spent a while this evening packing up some of my stuff, ready to set off for Nigeria tomorrow. Today has been quite relaxing, a trip to Perth with Mum, Dad, Clare and my little niece Eve (picture below). We had a fantastic lunch at Kerracher’s, a fish restaurant above a fishmongers, the scallops were especially lovely.

Eve sitting outside in her pushchairEve in her pushchair, not happy that I’m distracting her from watching traffic

I was also very impressed by IBM’s technical support today. I phoned them yesterday to report that my laptop’s hard disk was sounding unwell and a replacement arrived around lunchtime!

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