How to Be A Brand New You

By Masimba Biriwasha | OpEd | January 02, 2013 | @ChiefKMasimba

It’s not easy to make a brand new YOU. After years of doing the same things, change can be like an exercise in futility. Think of it like climbing a mountain on a soggy, cloudy day. Or worse still like pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with boulders down a slippery path. Old habits set themselves as booby traps for your failure: if they had a face, they would grin every time you stumble.

Exasperation with failure along the newly chosen path can make you slide back into the very behaviors and patterns of thought that you want to abandon. The most common reaction is to berate yourself. You blame yourself for not making the brand new YOU in one big swoop.

Along the way to becoming a brand new YOU, you’ll be confronted by two choices: to either give up or fight it out. What will ultimately decide your success is not the BIG outcome you seek, but the blood-sucking punches you’re willing to take and torturous steps that you’ve to take on a moment-by-moment basis.

What is difficult about change is that the old-self revels in established pattern. Any attempt to change the set up is faced with resistance. It’s akin to a despotic political system that sinks in its feet when faced with a threat to its self-serving ways. That’s why it’s important to be committed to go all the way even amid missteps or initial failures. Gird yourself.

You must badly want to be the brand new YOU that falling does deter you to get up, dust yourself and march on towards the prized goal. That’s why it’s so important to have a clear-cut picture of what exactly you want to become. You need to have fully formed picture of the person that you want to become etched in your imagination. It must be bold, loud – totally unmistakable.

Having that image fully formed will prove handy during the times when your old habits and thought patterns sneer at you like a famished serpent. If you think of it, old habit are pregnant with venom and at the slightest ruffle stand up to maintain their grip. They’re like an old dictator. They know their ways around you so much they’ll fool you all the time clouding the path to becoming the brand new YOU.

So here are three quick steps:

  • Develop a full vision of the brand new YOU. Without a full picture of the brand new YOU, you’ll falter at the slightest irritation. The brand new YOU must be so bold and inspiring to carry you through the rough paths.
  • Commit to seeing it through. Whether you want to drop an old habit or forming a new one, commitment to seeing it through as trite as it sounds energizes you to put failure into context. Say, if you commit to quit candy, if you find yourself having fallen into the temptation to eat candy in one moment, remember you still have the next moment to pursue your commitment.
  • Be inspired by the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly. Ultimately change begins inside you: you’ve to develop a new self concept based on the vision, of course. The process of the caterpillar turning into a butterfly is a highly painful process. Through embracing the pain of developing to become a brand new YOU, you can emerge a beautiful better self. Develop the courage to change from within.

Security Versus Privacy in Tech Age

By Masimba Biriwasha | OpEd | December 29, 2013

When you make a telephone call, just remember you’re not alone. It’s not really a surprise, when you’re on a telephone network, you can never be sure who is listening in.

In the US, there is a growing storm over revelations that the government harvests information about every telephone call to, from or within the country. That information otherwise known as “metadata”, includes the phone numbers involved, when the calls were made and how long they lasted.

It’s a pretty daunting and amazingly breathtaking task at best. At worst, it invokes images of Orwellian prying. Think, Big Brother is watching you.

The rationale is to prevent acts of terrorism, either in the US or somewhere else in the world. By sifting through huge troves of telephony metadata, patterns can emerge and suspects hunted down or preventive actions put in place, so the argument goes.

In the era of big data, it is becoming increasingly difficult where to draw the lines between personal privacy and security. US’ National Security Agency’s collection of huge troves of telephony metadata in the name of security revealed by the agency’s estranged contractor Edward Snowden hits at the nerve of how much government snooping ought to be in line with civil liberty, in this case, the right to privacy.

While the idea of maintaining security is noble, what is frightening is the “unknown unknowns” which the data can be used for. The bulk storage of telephone records by the government is antithetical to privacy, and without privacy there can be no democracy.

As the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, succinctly put it: “Without the right of privacy, there is no real freedom of speech or freedom of opinion, and so there is no actual democracy.”

The ultimate challenge is not so much that the US government should not collect information but how to define the parameters of how this is done. Is it necessary for government to engage in what New York Times refers to as ” … a daily, indiscriminate sweep of hundred of millions of phone records?” Or should that data be kept by private providers or by a private third party and only accessed if there is a court order.

At the least, there is a debate about this in the US but one shudders to think what some pariah states with call-log technologies can do to silence opponents and further aggrandize their powerbases all in the name of maintaining security.

Whatever the case, it is clear that advances in technology – instead of furthering progress – have a potential to erode human freedoms that we have for long taken for granted.

Africa’s Smartphone Future

English: Mobile phone evolution Русский: Эволю...

English: Mobile phone evolution Русский: Эволюция мобильных телефонов (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha | Editor At Large | December 27, 2013

 Africa’s future as things look will undoubtedly unravel on the screens of smartphones, mobile phones built on a mobile operating system, with more advanced computing capability and connectivity.

In the not so distant future, the smartphone’s screen will play a greater role in the trajectory of the continent. Though feature phones largely dominate the market, the continent is increasingly becoming ripe for a disruption. Feature phones contain a fixed set of functions beyond voice calling and text messaging; they may offer Web browsing and e-mail, but they generally cannot download apps from an online marketplace.

Increased connectivity and a drop in the price of smartphones is making it possible to build a content ecosystem on mobile phones that has potential to radically reshape the way African do things from commerce, health, education and – even finding love. Whoever will succeed on the African market has to think of how to deliver a smart ecosystem to complement devices.

While traditional mobile phone giants – think Samsung, Nokia, Blackberry – have a grip on the market – whoever will deliver a mobile specifically designed to address Africa’s unique challenges will emerge the winner.

According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa is now home to approximately 650  million mobile phone subscribers, a number that surpasses the United States  and  European Union, and represents an explosion of new communication technologies  that are being tailored to the developing world.

Mobile phone adoption on the continent from 2000 to 2010 accelerated at an  impressive 30 per cent compound annual growth rate powered by affordable feature phones sold at mass market price points.

While just 16 percent of the continent’s one billion people are online, that  picture is changing rapidly.  According to International Data Corp (IDC), a  tech  research group, smartphones account for 18 percent of all mobile phones in Africa.

The continent’s smartphone market is expected to double in the next four years and device manufacturers who dominated the narrative over the past decade such as Nokia are making big bets on the continent’s smartphone future.

Falling wireless data prices, the extension of high-speed networks and a burgeoning middle class are driving a sharp rise in smartphone use.

According to IDC, 52 percent of all smartphones sold on the continent in the second quarter of 2013 were Samsung phones and the company  has quickly ascended in a short period of time to become Africa’s smartphone leader.

As mobile broadband infrastructure continues to develop and as the cost of  smartphones and other technologies continues to fall, new technologies will have an even  greater economic and social impact on the lives of Africans.

A key challenge will be developing applications that improve and simplify the daily lives of Africans. As smartphone penetration grows, more people will increasingly using their mobile devices to manage their lives on a daily basis – anytime, anywhere. The good news is that the marketplace is open (well, not exactly, you’d still need to have the skills and knowledge) and whoever is creative enough to satisfy needs will emerge the winner.

The mobile revolution is taking off. And a lot of work needs to be done to determine what services Africans prefer on their smartphones and that could be via an app, SMS text or mobile browser. In a word, it’s open game. But Africa’s smartphone is coming, and coming fast.