roulette tips

Star Times Reduces Prices of Decoders

The digital migration hullabaloo  died down, thanks to several parties and court cases; none of which had the interests of the end consumer at heart (like anyone ever does).

Anyway, you don’t have to wait for the migration order by the government to switch to digital TV. Lots of Kenyans have subscribed to providers of digital TV such as Supersport, Zuku, GoTv and Star Times.

star times logo
star times logo

Star Times are trying to gain numbers in the market and have reduced the cost of their decoders, they are now the lowest in the market. The new prices are below:

  • The  Pay TV is now Ksh 1,999 from 2,999 (with monthly payments ranging from 500Ksh)
  • The Free-to-Air box for a one-time price of Ksh. 4,499 from 4,999

If anything, you can purchase the set top box to view free to air channels (ie NTV, K24, KTN, KBC etc) clearly. The only strong signal in our area is K24 and I wonder if it’s a conspiracy. I have the pay TV Star Times decoder, but the last time we renewd the subscription, my brothers messed up with it and now it no longer works.

Have you used Star Times, what is your experience?

Guys, It is Time to Let Go

What makes a classifieds website work, such as olx, is the depth of content and information available. It is the number of items and listing that they have on their website. And they depend on the public to put up those listings, for free. A free marketplace with lots of potential buyers, a chance to make money on oddities and items that are no longer useful in your life.

Keep calm and let go, or whatever
Keep calm and let go, or whatever

Wardrobe

Your wardrobe should look like this. Image from linkedin
Your wardrobe should look like this. Image from linkedin

Take a look at your wardrobe. How many handbags/shoes/clothes and other items do you have that you have not worn in years? Personally I know I need to do some spring cleaning. Some stuff is good enough to earn some extra cash on olx. So take a look at your wardrobe and let go of anything you haven’t won in the last 1 year, including jewellery and watches. That dress you bought years ago when you thought you’d lose weight or for the perfect occasion that has never arrived.

Furniture and Accessories

Your living room should NOT look like this. Image from clutterbgone.ca
Your living room should NOT look like this. Image from clutterbgone.ca

You might have lots of furniture lying around, such as computer desks for when you had a desktop. Some decoration accessories stored boxes. Maybe you need a new set of furniture so in this case, sell the old one, and top up for a new one. So, tidy up your life and let go of furniture and decorating accessories that are crowding your space. Anything and everything can be listed on olx.

Phones, Tablets and Electronics

These must be the most selling items on the site, so if you have extra phones/tablets/electronics lying around, let these go too..

In fact, a classifieds site is the perfect de-cluttering tool, and there is the extra motivation of making some extra cash. So stop hoarding stuff, it’s unhealthy :)

Image from forbes.com

Bitcoin, the Virtual Currency, Explained

First, what is bitcoin? spending-bitcoins Bitcoin is a crypto-currency that exists only in the digital sense – in your mobile phone, or computer (digital wallet). There is no bitcoin hard currency like notes or coins. It is secured using cryptography (public-key encryption) to make it hard for hackers to spend bitcoins from other people’s wallets. To understand bitcoin, I suggest you read this comprehensive article from Forbes. It’s not hard to understand digital currency if you can understand M-Pesa.

  • You want to buy goods/services, you can send someone money via M-Pesa (or via bitcoin exchange), you just get their number(identifier) and send it using your M-Pesa SIM Toolkit (bitcoin app) on your phone;
  • You can also receive money from someone through M-Pesa (bitcoins).
  • You can pay for stuff online as well, just like you do using VISA cards or M-Pesa or Paypal. The charges of using bitcoin for transactions are less than the traditional means.
  • At the end of the day, if you want cold, hard cash (some places don’t accept M-Pesa (bitcoins)), you can go to an M-Pesa agent (bitcoin exchange) and withdraw the cash in Kshs(dollar/euro/pound). There are a number of people making money from buying bitcoins at a lower rate and selling when the rates are higher (speculation).

What’s So Fascinating About Bitcoin?

1. Process of mining it

What I find interesting about bitcoin is the process of creating bitcoins. For traditional currencies such as the Kenyan Shilling, the Central Bank of Kenya is responsible for printing the cash (although De La Rue is the contracted printer) and regulating supply. For bitcoin, the digital sequences that determine the bitcoins are generated by an algorithm designed by Satoshi Nakamoto. The maximum number of bitcoins that can be generated is 21 million. The process of generating these coins is called mining. Currently, about 12.3 million bitcoins have been mined, or brought into circulation. You too, can mine you own bitcoins, with special hardware that you buy. (You need money to make money!). Here’s a techcrunch review of a bitcoin miner. However, for small scale miners coming in late in the game, it is going to take you ages to make any decent return on your investment. The reviewer ran a collection of three 1 GH/s ASICs (each costs about $12) and got about $1 a month. In this case, it will take you 3 years to break even. Who said mining was easy?

2. Mysterious founder of Bitcoin

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto, the original designer of the bitcoin algorithm? Is he one person, is it a group of people? Is he/they really Japanese?

Satoshi Nakamoto?
Image from jimharold.com

We will never know. Nakamoto is believed to be in possession of roughly one million bitcoins. At one point in December 2013, this was the equivalent of US$1.1 billion. Have a look at the original paper by Satoshi Nakamoto and if you’re a profiler, please leave a comment on who you think he is. The fact that he doesn’t want to be found seems to make bitcoin even more popular.

3. Control is Peer to Peer

While traditional currencies are controlled by the equivalent Central Banks, bitcoin is unregulated. The bitcoin system has no central repository and no single administrator, rather transactions are recorded in a public ledger which every user in the network has access to. It is not recognized legally as a currency but it is gaining acceptance and popularity steadily.

4. Its popularity and volatility

A number of travel agents, and online service providers are accepting payments in form of bitcoins. Although it was launched in 2009, it didn’t gain popularity as much as it did last year. In the beginning of 2013, the exchange rate to the dollar was $13. It heat a peak of $1,200 in November 2013 and right now as I blog it is at $644.65. If you’re into gambling, purchase some coins from bitcoin wallet providers. There is actually a Kenyan wallet provider called bitX Kenya!

5. Coin Exchanges

To exchange bitcoins for traditional currencies, a number of coin exchanges (forex bureaus?) are available. Here is a complete list. Note: there are several other crypto-currencies following in bitcoin’s path.

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The Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi

The Kenya Association of Bloggers (BAKE) annual awards were held at the Intercontinental Hotel on 2nd May. To celebrate the winners and the organizers, the hotel invited us for a cocktail and showed us around. On an evening after work, I stepped into one of the conference halls to enjoy the hospitality.

table set up at Intercon
table set up at Intercon

The Intercon is, in my opinion, the only five star hotel in the city center which still retains the feeling of freshness and class. Others (that I shall not name) feel run down, threadbare carpeting and washrooms with a hint of smell. It’s location works in its favor. The management wanted us to know what’s on offer you know, just in case we feel inclined to blog about it. Because after all, they did invite the winners of the bloggers’ awards!

Aerial view of Intercontinental Nairobi
Aerial view of Intercontinental Nairobi. Image from sleepout.com

I’ve been here a number of times before and I like the poolside bar. It’s set up in the open with a view of the pool, and there is a large screen that’s been set up for watching the World Cup. The hotel has 380 rooms, 16 suites, 9 meeting rooms and 4 restaurants (they do open for Sunday brunch). If you are so inclined to spend a night, an average room will cost you about $250 a night (anywhere from Ksh 19,000). It’s not for your everyday Kenyan!

The management, who were our host, gave us a tour of the rooms, fed us on snacks and bitings, mingled with us and gave us a short presentation about the hotel. We tweeted throughout.

bloggers
Tweeting at the Intercon

 

The drinks were in plenty

Bloggers toasting to Intercon, hear, hear!
Bloggers toasting to Intercon, hear, hear!

The food too, was amazing.

The food at the Intercon
The food at the Intercon

 

Overall, it was an evening well spent. All pictures above were obtained from their PR agency’s facebook page. Check out there rest of the pics on the link.

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

It’s not easy being a working mother. At the tender age of 3 months, you will leave your suckling infant in the care of another, and leave them there for the better part of the day. You will arrive at work disoriented but soon you will adjust to the reality that as a working mother, you will only see your child in the evenings when you’re tired after work and they are sleepy and ready for bed. So you make the most of the weekends. Weeks will turn into months and you get used to it but you ask yourself, given a choice, would you be a stay at home mother? Can job satisfaction from your career equal satisfaction from watching over your child(ren), especially when they are young? What exactly are you doing in your career, are you a replaceable foot soldier or are you the general making some change in the world?

In my experience, I would choose to work from home for the first three years of my child’s life, then as he starts school I go back to work. Many mothers have to juggle both work and family; and when they are forced to choose, who would choose career over family? It’s not a secret single women without children will rise faster in the employment. But can women with families rise too, and to the very apex? Can they compete on the same level as their single counterparts, and men? The situation might be almost ideal in the entry and middle levels of employment, but what about at the top?

Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg
Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In is a book by Sheryl Sandberg, the CFO of Facebook. Hers is to encourage women to Lean In at the table, don’t hold yourself back. A better world is one in which women run half the work, and men run half of our homes. Often, it is the woman who sacrifices her career for the family, rarely the man. The book gives examples of research findings over the years, that show just how much women are always afraid to Lean In, always afraid to push ahead, always having to make the sacrifice of family over career. She thinks that with more women on top to show by example (she is married with 2 kids), more women will join the table.

Throughout the book she shares anecdotes of her own experiences and her journey to the top; her marriage to Dave Goldberg who is the Survey Monkey CEO, how they work together as partners both at home and offering support for each other’s career; her observations growing up etc etc.

I rarely read non-fiction, and when I do it is biographies. However, this was one book I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It brought to fore the story of working mothers all over the world, and it’s a story I am familiar with. We make the best of the situation, but we should never hold ourselves back from reaching for the very top.

P.S. I have the book in pdf somewhere in my laptop, holla if you want a copy.

How to Get Your Ad Noticed on OLX

I know a number of people who are trying to sell their stuff online, but they wait by their phone all day and it doesn’t ring, and they wonder what they are doing wrong.

Here are tips to get noticed:

Have a Clear, Detailed Title

Your title should be descriptive, if it is an electronics gadget, make sure it has the manufacturer name, type and model.

Examples of good titles
Examples of good titles

 

Pictures, pictures, pictures

Take good, clear pictures. Don’t use generic images from the web because you won’t look genuine. Anyone can get images from the web… so take your own pictures, and not just one.. but many. You can upload up to 17 pictures!

You can upload up to 17 pictures
You can upload up to 17 pictures

 

Description

Be precise, but provide enough detail. You can ramble and praise your item as much as possible, but honesty is key to winning a buyer’s trust.

Pricing

Pricing is of course, key. Look around to see how much others are selling similar items, and set the right price. And because you have the title, the pictures and the description well done, then you’re likely to sell your item faster.

Provide a reliable contact

When you give out a number, be available for contact, or state the hours you will be available. If someone calls your number several times and you don’t pick, they will move on to the next person.

Every few seconds, people’s ads are popping up online of similar items. So after 3 days if you ad hasn’t sold, you might consider editing the above details.

What other tips do you guys use to sell your stuff on classified sites?

If you have any unanswered questions, check out the FAQs.

 

 

Money Matters: Men Borrowing From Women

Money
Money

Money is a sensitive issue. Money can and does cause a rift between siblings, friends, spouses, lovers… Last week, I was reading Biko’s Saturday Magazine article about people (especially women) who borrow money and never return, and they make it so hard for the lender to ask back for their own money without being embarrassed. Even if it’s 200/- or 200,000 shillings, do pay back without being asked. It’s the honorable thing to do.

Anyway, today it’s about the men.

Disclaimer: the following story may or may not be fictitious. 

I met a man once. At a car wash, and you know they don’t have magazines for you to read while your car is being washed, all they can offer for a waiting lounge is plastic chairs in the open. I checked my phone and my battery was running low so the only source of entertainment turned out to be the guy who was also waiting for his car to be washed.

Ulikuwa umeenda ushago?” he asked. (Had you gone upcountry?)

“Why?” I wondered how he got to the conclusion.

Nimeona matope kwa gari yako” Your car is muddy.

Ok I admit, Bella is not the cleanest car in town. I hadn’t washed it in over a month, mostly because it had spent a number of days in the garage sorting some acceleration issue. Finally, when I thought I might develop a cold from all the dust, I took it to the car wash and that was when I met the guy.

From the beginning, he came on strong. Sharing personal stories at that first meeting, instead of sticking to safe topics like the weather, politics, Raila, explosions, (in)security, Anglo leasing, scandals, Manchester United, the world cup, what’s your favorite colour (mine is blue), music (the proper way to watch Sauti Sol’s video is on mute)…

Red flag #1: Eager to share personal experiences/details too soon, to create a false sense of intimacy and imply their total trust in you. And you also start to think you can trust them since they trust you so much.

In fact, from the first meeting I knew where he worked, his family history, his relationship status, and how much money he was making/spending etc information I didn’t particularly want to know. But he let it slip, no I mean, he let it be clearly known, that he is a rich man.

Red flag #2: Implying their wealth when you have not asked for it. No one volunteers information about their financial status.

Thereafter we exchanged numbers and went our separate ways. As he started his car, it made some funny noises (this will be relevant later) and he left. I got into Bella, wet floor mats dripping in the boot, and took them home to dry.

The first coffee date went well. He paid the bill and a date was set for the second one some 3 days later.

So after we had ordered for drinks, he said he didn’t have his wallet, he must have left it home. I didn’t think it was a big deal, I mean it is possible to forget one’s wallet home. It happens. So I said fine, don’t worry I’ll pay the bill.  I have blogged about men and paying bills before. But this guy said that he would refund the cash the following day, and in fact he also needed to fuel and *cringe* I gave him 1K. He renewed his promise to refund the following day.

Red flag #3: He leaves home without knowing how much fuel he needs for the day? Maybe he’s not organized: personally I fuel once a week because I know my usage.

Once again we parted ways, I zoomed up to Mombasa Road towards home, the thin traffic working my favour. As is the polite custom in Kenya, when you get home, you text to let the other person know you got home safe and inquire if they did too.  He called to say, actually no.. something had happened to his car and it had stalled on his way home. Could I call him back? No big deal, I have a lot of talk time thanks to Safaricom’s post paid tarrifs that are now set to end. But I did wonder why a rich man didn’t have credit. Another red flag?

Remember the funny noises his car was making? Yes.. that was some issue in the hood that caused the car to stall. My friend later said rich people’s cars don’t funny make noises, lol. They buy their cars still in plastic from DT Dobie, and not sbtjapan.com (very nice site for importing cars btw, but their sales people are AGGRESSIVE!).

Red flag #4: Rich people car’s don’t make funny noises

Calling him back, he starts to imply well, that he needs money to have the car towed. Could I lend him?

I was astounded.

I had just met the guy. Of all his friends from childhood, secondary, university, neighbours, relatives (and you know in Kenya we have over 100 relatives), workmates, family, his entire network; he forgets all of them and borrows money from the girl he is trying to impress?

So of course not, I could not lend him.  I hadn’t known him for longer than a week. In fact, I was broke. Just because I drive a small car and pay my own bills doesn’t make me rich :-)

The following day dawned bright and early. Wanting to find out how it all went, I called the guy and he said the car had been towed successfully but he must have lost his wallet because he still couldn’t find it. So he had gone to the bank but we all know you can’t withdraw money over the counter without an ID, which he had also lost. So he wanted to ask me for a small favour.. and you guessed it, money. Again.

I told him to consider asking his friends or family or colleagues. This is someone who was implying dealing with millions. With the right connections even, so he was saying he’d get a replacement document/ID within 24 hours. I told him he could also wait those 24 hours.

We didn’t talk much after that.

To this day, he hasn’t refunded the bill or fuel soft loan. Making it embarrassing to start asking back for it. Same thing Biko talked about in the magazine.

Anyway, the point of this post is: at what point is it okay for a guy to ask money from some woman he is trying to impress? I think that unless you are engaged/married, a man should never borrow money from the woman he is dating. He should first of all exhaust all his options (family, friends, relatives, colleagues), but even then, there is M-Shwari. Loan sharks. Faulu and other banks hawking loans. Sell his phone on OLX. Salary advance. Chama. Sacco loan.

Never the woman he is dating, but if it comes to that, the first priority on his list should be refunding the loan.

So if you see all those red flags above, please run. This is not someone you can trust. There are those who will borrow the first small loan and refund in record time, so that you can give them without hesitation the next time they ask. The next they will ask for some more money; and then you will never hear from them again.

What is your opinion?

OLX: Beyond Buying and Selling

Like I posted last week, most people do not think that they have things worth selling, which is not true at all.  A survey concluded that Kenyans, particularly Nairobians, have tons of stuff lying unused in their homes (about 69 Billion shillings), which they could easily turn into cash.

Anyway, beyond buying and selling, the  olx site now has a database of information that one can use for:

  • Pricing on items. If you are selling/buying something, even offline, be sure you check olx first to figure out the competitive prices of some of the items on offer
  • Business Ideas: stuck up on ideas on what to sell that has a market? See what others are selling, olx can give you a window into the retail business world. Some entrepreneurial guys are selling rabbit urine.  No kidding. (I think it’s used as a fertilizer). So if you have been wondering where to deposit your rabbits’ urine, why not sell it? Everything sells on olx!

    Rabbit urine on sale on OLX
    Rabbit urine on sale on OLX
  • Job Listings: There are a number of job listings posted, and it seems an easier process since you don’t have to register, upload your CV etc. Just call the employer directly.
  • Learning: sign up for classes, or offer classes to boost your income if you are good at something. Share you knowledge, or learn something new. Dance classes, music, computer knowledge etc
  • Community: there is also an interesting category called community for car pooling services, events, volunteers, lost and found etc.

What do you use olx for?

What I Learned From the OLX BAKE Experience

This past Tuesday evening, OLX was invited to interact with bloggers at Nailab, from 6pm. I hope you received the invite, otherwise send a message to BAKE to be added to the mailing list for (awesome) events.

OLX Sell It
OLX Sell It

Unused Goods at Home

So the OLX Kenya country manager, Peter Ndiang’ui and the Marketing Manager Priscilla Muhiu spoke about their experiences running OLX and one thing they asked was: How many times do you rush to borrow money when you are broke, while you have tons of stuff you don’t use that you could put up for sale online? 

They presented the results from a survey carried out by Nielsen Kenya and presented in April, 2014.  Kenyans could be having as much as 158B shillings in their homes in form of unused goods in their homes. The survey did not include the Western and North Eastern Regions. Nairobi region takes the lead in unused goods worth 69B shillings followed closely by Eastern and Central with 26B and 22B respectively.

So the next time you are thinking of borrowing  money, think of how much stuff you don’t use that you could easily sell on OLX.

On Frauds

OLX Kenya closely works with the CID (Criminal Investigations Department) to report and arrest criminals who could be using their site to buy/sell illegal stuff. OLX uses algorithms to flag any suspect deals, and report these to the CID. They also blacklist these dealers, who could later resurface using different email address. So OLX is planning to use phone number authentication, because it’s a little bit harder to obtain a SIM card now that you have to register each new SIM with details of your name and ID, location etc.

For reporting of suspect ads, OLX currently uses a form which takes long to fill. They will introduce a “Report ad” button, and if there are too many people reporting a certain ad, it will flagged for faster investigation.

On How OLX Makes Money

OLX believes in increasing the database of sellers first. They want to grow the numbers and are focused more on individual sellers with better deals, as opposed to commercial listings. When will they start to charge for listings? Not soon. So take advantage of this time to sell all that stuff pending in your house. Be it art, electronics, toys.. and buyers please use this site to compare prices and look for deals. There are some genuine deals out there.

Remember to be always careful when shopping online.

 

Google Doodle Art Exhibition for Kenya at 50

Google Doodle Exhibition for Kenya at 50
Google Doodle Exhibition for Kenya at 50

As part of the celebrations for Kenya’s Jubilee year, Google invited students to take part in the Doodle Competition. They received about 5,000 submissions and the winner of the competition was one  17 year old Esther Wambui Githinji. Her doodle, “Feet of Gold,”  was featured on the Google Kenya homepage on Mashujaa Day – 20 October 2013.

 

 

feet-of-gold-google
Feet of gold winning Doodle

But do you ever wonder what the others who submitted their entries drew? To see this creativity galore, pass by the National Museum, Agha Khan Hall, this May. I think I will pass by soon and take some pictures .. and perhaps a tour of the museum as well.

Anyway, Google runs the Doodle for Google (D4G) competitions worldwide and to date, they have run the competition in over 30 countries. D4G is one way Google can bring art and technology together while encouraging children to get creative both online and offline.

 

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