Pareto Efficient

In search of pareto improvements

Posts Tagged ‘internet

My life has changed, a brief update

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Life is great.  Things are moving quickly, and I’d like to update everyone on where stuff is going.

Firstly, I married a great lady on August 29th on a 4,200 acre ranch in northern Virginia.  If you haven’t met Sarita yet, just take my word for it.  She’s perfect for me.

Secondly, I moved back to Gulu, Uganda to do some stuff here while Sarita continues her work with war-affected girls.  Lately, I’ve been teaching some business classes to the local peeps, starting a pineapple farm and doing some internet consulting for a company in the US.

Thirdly, Sarita and I have rented a house for 800,000 Shillings/mo ($400).  This is not easy in Gulu where NGOs inflate the housing prices to levels rivaling the US.

Fourthly, I have secured a device that delivers internet via MTN cell phone connection.  Its slow, but I can def use when creative inspiration strikes in the middle of the night — which tends to happen to me:)

Fifthly, I’ve rented a 100cc Bajaj motorbike for 40,000 Shillings/wk ($20).  Now, I’m mobile baby and things have been getting weird.

Next, I’ll write more about a few adventures I’ve had lately — drunk elephants, vehicle breakdown in the bush and other life-threatening situations.

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Written by thetyson

October 27, 2009 at 10:32 am

Posted in Life

Tagged with , , , , , ,

Day #7: Working in Gulu

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Luxury Computers of Gulu

In 30 minutes I found faster internet here, in the bush, than I could find in a week in Kampala.  Luxury Computers of Gulu is a great place to work.  The owner, Charles, is cool, everyone is quiet and productive – no distractions – its cheap and they take good care of me.

Visiting Italy without leaving Uganda

When I loaded up http://www.google.com, Goog auto redirected me to http://www.google.it (Italy).  No doubt the satellite signal was being bounced through an Italian IP address or something.  It took me 20 minutes to figure out how to switch it back to English.

Perhaps Google shouldn’t use geo targeting in the developing world where satellite internet is more common.  This is the primary reason why we don’t geo target at COUPONGOOD.org.  Other reasons include: 1. we don’t know how to do it  and 2. we really wouldn’t know where to start.

Now that's a real startup office

Think your startup is scrappy, check out my office.

Luke I have gone to the Dark Side

The general store next door sells coke for USD 30¢.  Do you understand what that means for a Coke addict?  Its not good, man. The sugar, the caffiene, the power coursing through my veins.  Wait, what?  Haha nevermind.

Doing a woman’s job…

In Uganda, washing clothes is seen as the “woman’s job” (along with almost all other forms of work).  So, when I, a white man, set out to hand wash my clothes in a basin, it drew considerable interest from my female neighbors.

I bought some Omo – local degergent brand – from a general store (hut) and got to work.  After a while, I had a small gallery of fans — who quickly turned to friendly critics and helpers.

In no time, all the dirt and blood stains were gone.  Strangely, my hands were tingling and felt rubbery to the touch… Which begged the question: What the is Omo made of?  Krytonite?  Asbestos? Unicorn tears?  I don’t really want to know.

If this is my last post, then you’ll know the Omo got me 🙂

Written by thetyson

October 14, 2008 at 12:05 am

Day #4: Search for Internet

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Thanks to my new found animal friends, I woke up early again today and walked into town.

MY MISSION: Find decent internet.

My search for “high-speed” internet took me down several of the major streets in downtown Kampala.  The ads for miracle drugs were everywhere.  It was like someone just printed out a bunch of email spam and posted it on the walls.

img_12491

Their targeting was uncanny...(sniffle)

Kampala, not a great place to walk around at night while drunk.  Could you imagine how many lawsuits we’d have if we tried this in the USA?

Walk at your own risk

Just a little barbed wire to protect the shrubberies, no big deal.

Ah yes.  I hear they’re putting one of these stores in downtown Houston, TX next month…

They're not going anywhere...

I asked the clerk if he had a sale on uranium or evil. He asked me to leave. I said I was just kidding. He asked me to leave. I smiled. The armed guard asked me to leave. I left.

I noticed the dominate consumer branding strategy was to use as many superlatives as possible.  Take, for instance, the automobile below.  In the US we know this to be the Toyota Previa, but Ugandans know it as…

img_1258

The Super Delux 4WD Limited Town Ace

Its just interesting that populations respond differently to branding.  My Ugandan Pizza business would be called “Best, Bester, Bestest Really Good, Most Filing, Most Luxurious Pizza”.  FYI: I’ve already bought the domain — http://www.bestbesterbestestreallygoodmostfillingmostluxuriouspizza.biz — so better luck next time. 🙂

Oh, I finally found suitable internet: The Sheraton Downtown.  Its expensive, so I’ll keep looking, but at least I could get some heavier duty things done online today.

Written by thetyson

October 11, 2008 at 8:07 am

Day #2: Setup Infrastructure

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I awoke early this morning (5:30 am) thanks to the dueling symphony of rooster(s), birds, dogs, goats and monkeys.

Pretty cool

Pretty cool

Loud

Loud

Creepy

Creepy

Despite the 10 hour time change I feel fine.  Perhaps my several month stint with polyphaic sleep has conditioned me to recover quickly with short naps.

Today, I need to get my infrastructure setup:

  • Exchange money
  • Buy a cellphone
  • Locate reliable internet

You can read my recommendations on infrastructure at the bottom of the post.

Observations

As I headed into town, it was clear that the labor force of Kampala was over-invested in transportation – especially the motorcycles (boda bodas).

You see, bodas are notorious for dangerous driving habits.  They are usually unskilled, untrained, young men who split lanes, drive into oncoming traffic, hold little regard for human life.  In fact, several months ago, the gov’t passed a law that required bodas to wear helmets and provide helmets for passengers too.  The law was completely ignored.

After talking with some locals, I thought of a way to promote safer boda driving and enhance the earnings of bodas.  You can read about it here if you’re interested.

How to…

Recommendations for currency in Uganda.  Don’t bring very much USD.  Just use your Visa ATM Debit card at the Barclays downtown Kampala.  Its fast, the exchange rate is fair and it reduces the likelihood of serious theft in transit.  Note: Stanbic Bank ATMs didn’t work with my Wells Fargo ATM card.

I was shocked at the ease of setup for mobile phones in Uganda.  I bought a low-end Nokia for $30.  Then, I bought an MTN sim card (the card that actually carries your phone number) for $2.  Then, I bought $10 of airtime and loaded it onto my phone by dialing *155# + the access code.  The entire process took less than 10 minutes.  Amazing.

Follow me! Follow me to freedom!

Security guards in the US carry flashlights.  In Uganda, they carry an AK-47s.  This guy was pretty cool.

I was trying to convince him to get his security guards together and carry out a coup against this store’s competitors.  That’s what I’d do if I had a store front in Kampala — just amass an army of security guards and mount offensives against my competitors.  When you security guard has an AK, who needs an army?

Though Red Chili has internet, it is slow.  So slow, in fact, that I could not even log into Godaddy to setup this blog.  I need fast internet, and, despite searching all day, I was unable to find it.

Written by thetyson

October 9, 2008 at 1:47 pm