Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Free Wi-Fi hotspot locator in Nairobi

The other day someone commented on my facebook status that Kenyans love free things, just because I suggested that the big hotels should emulate high level restaurants and give free wi fi.

I could not answer the guy because I knew he would engage me in a long winding argument over why I should pay for internet. I would have told this guy how in Bangkok, you can catch free internet virtually everywhere including one provided by the city council. But I thought I should just shut up.

Forget about free wi fi and think of the many times you have tried to use the GPRS and it just failed because of congestion within the city; and it is the same old story.

Then I met this guy from DataDyne and we got into the discussion of where he could get free wi fi, I noticed that he needed more hotspots beyond Java upperhill and fairview. He actually suggested that this could be valuable info for tourists and other business visitors as well as those of us who love free stuff.

So, we can count down the places I know.

If you are in Westlands,

Alan Bobbe's Bistro at Andrews Apartments- Rhapta Road

For me, the Andrews Wi fi is the most stable, of course the place is very nice and Alan Bobbe's offers gatronomic cuisine which is pricy too. The place is quiet and I think they have too much bandwidth, but am not saying they should strangle it (Kunyonga).
If you have a free afternoon and would like a treat of good food and flawless internet, Andrews is the place. www.andrews.co.ke

Sarit Center

Dormans coffee house

This is on the basement on the extreme corner from Java or safaricom advantage customer care.

This wireless is password protected but you can always set you laptop to remember the network and you don't have to keep entering the password. It is super fast and stable, except in the late afternoon, when you have solar outage; common is satellite connections.

Dormans staff are basically nice and will always welcome you with a smile even when they think you are just there because of the free wi fi. With time, you also get to know the regular customers who are always there with their laptops, and with time, you start saying hi to each other and behaving like you actually know each other.

By the way, Dormans serves very nice Cafe Mocha.

Rating- ****

Java Coffee house

This is next to Safaruco customer care on the basement. The wireless is open to anyone, so your info can be susceptible to preying eyes and other malicious people, that is if you have super sensitive data.

The wi fi used to be very nice and stable but for the last three months, either they reduced the bandwidth or reconfigured their network. The network has IP address issues and at times some people access the internet and others can not.

It is frustrating when you can see others surfing and there is no way in for you. You start asking the waiters and they say the person incharge is away, which is usually a lie or a way of telling you to get off their back.

This has been a constant problem that I could see a couple of other tourists migrated to Dormans where the network is stable.

Besides, Java switche off the wi fi at about 12.30 to 2.30 to keep off idlers and serve serious spenders, which makes commercial sense but woe unto you if you were in the middle of the sentence or trying to attach a large document. Dormans is open through out.

Rating **

Westgate Shopping mall.

There are Java and Dormans Coffee houses with internet and the network is the same as above.

There is also the network known as Westgate, which is not protected but is usually up and down.

In the Central Business District

None of the Java or Dormans Coffee houses in town give free internet, for obvious reasons.

The Mug- Kaunda Street

This is probably the most stable because it does not keep going down and is not password protected.

Rating ***

Lifestyle Lounge- Monrovia street, opposite Nakumatt Lifestyle

This is bottom of the crap, can not stay up for five minutes and when it goes away, its off for about 20 minutes.
If you can, avoid this place, only for emergency internet usage.

Rating *

Ngong Road

Java Upperhill

Java Junction

Dormans Junction

I am planning to use Google maps for easier location but if you have other places you have visited and experienced their Wi fi, please leave a comment and will benefit all the others interested.

Why Equity Bank should rethink e-banking

There is no doubt that Equity bank revolutionized banking and the way customers are treated. It made ordinary men and women believe that they can own bank accounts and they do not need special permission to talk to the manager.

I think it also came at a good time when people wanted hassle-free loans. For many of us who fear giving matrimonial title deeds as collateral, Equity said that even the chicken and the cows qualified as collateral.

But now the bank has moved into the more sophisticated area of e-banking. Many Kenyan banks misunderstand or mislead us to believe that receiving SMS alerts translates to e-banking.

So, being the member I am, I finally got tired of queuing for an hour or taking time to dash to the bank when I can get the same service on the internet. So I applied for e-banking services and filled the form.

The strange part is that after two months, Equity had deducted the annual fee for e-banking but I could not access the service. They had not sent me the password. By the way, the e-banking am talking about is just the one that allows you to check balances online and monitor transactions, I am hoping I will be able to do that.

After making trips to the bank to check on it, it has left me bitter, wondering why Equity is bothering about sophisticated services it can not deliver.

I think it is only fair if the bank stops struggling to offer what it can't. For the other basic services, the bank has no problem, but for e-banking, I guess the bank should leave it out.

I guess they should say like Safaricom; if you are frustrated, just move on to the next provider!


Monday, August 24, 2009

SEACOM is here but we are still unsatisfied

It is a month since the SEACOM cable went live.

The cable company had promised how the cable was going to make bandwidth cheaper but when pinned down to explain how exactly the cost would come down, SEACOM executives rebuffed "uninformed" consumers asking them to ask their ISPs about connectivity and costs. It is ironical that a company hypes up issues and when pinned down, it points to another party.

But what SEACOM did not tell Kenyans who may not understand the tier system was that when the cable goes live, SEACOM would be the big boy at the highest level, interacting with the public data operators and big telcos and not the ordinary kenyans with limited technology knowledge.

What SEACOM did not tell us was that they are investors who are out to recoup their investments and did not care about incessant questions directed at the wrong party- after all, it is my ISP that provides the last mile solution and not SEACOM.

That is why even if the costs have not exactly come down, you can not question SEACOM because they are not involved in how you put your food on the table, whether the ISP overcharges you or does not deliver what is promised, there is nothing you can do.

Yes, KDN and Access Kenya have taken time to say how the bandwidth has come down. KDN Butterfly allegedly dropped by 90 percent and Access Kenya doubled subscribers bandwidth at the same cost. This is good news, if only you are in areas where you can access butterfly or are within the Access Kenya network.

For many people who are in diaspora, this blog post may seem unfair given that SEACOM and the others have touted this as a new era for Kenyan internet users, but on the ground, the situation is different- try using the GPRS or 3G service offered by GSM companies, its slow and where it works, its fast and you pay through the nose because the costs are still high.

You may not understand why people are bitter about the providers yet Michael Joseph, the chair of TEAMS has already indicated that the costs are not coming down soon. But that is not the story we were hearing for the last two years; they were all saying how bandwidth will come down to $ 400 per MB.

This is not a problem of the the common people who may not understand technological jargon and all that other garbage that is camouflaged as working for the consumer but in essence does not, it is a concern for techies too.

Last week there was a bitter discussion on most Kenyan technology and policy mailing list, with people wondering whether the Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Information and Communication should be compelled to resign after it became clear that the cost and quality of connectivity was not improving.

You could tell from the discussions that these comments were by people who had endured bitter disappointment by Kenyan providers. They argued that the reductions were mainly targeted for the Media, that is likely to report anything without actually testing.

There was another group that argued that you can not blame the PS for the failing of the private sector and that the cables are home, where it was promised and that the issues of cost were merely details.

One thing that you can not dispute is that the Skunkworks mailing list, which had the most discussions is the best testbed; after all, it is composed mainly of techies, the guys who will tell you whether the bandwidth quality and cost has changed to the better.

So, when the techies say they are not happy with the status of the connectivity, who can dispute? The manager who does not know the difference between the bits and bytes per second?

For the Kenyans in diaspora, enjoying the best connectivity out there, you can continue saying how it has all improved but listen to the guys who actually man the pipes and are expected to make sure the connectivity is uninterrupted.

For the interested choir members, you can continue singing how the cost of bandwidth has come down, but ask the purported beneficiaries whether the benefits are accessible to a few or to all,


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Kenya's gigolos, gay and lesbian flex online muscles...

Kenya's gigolos, gay and lesbian flex their muscles online read it here ...