• How mobile phone operators become banks in rural Africa

    The abstract of Jan Chipchase's TED talk "Our cell phones, ourselves" goes as follows:

    Nokia researcher Jan Chipchase's investigation into the ways we interact with technology has led him from the villages of Uganda to the insides of our pockets. He's made some unexpected discoveries along the way.

    One of these interesting discoveries is how Africans use mobile phones to transfer money to rural areas where there's no bank let alone an ATM machine:

    • Person A buys a pre-paid card in a bigger city
    • Person A calls phone kiosk owner B in a small village. B doesn't have to own more for his business than a simple mobile phone that he rents to other villagers.
    • Over the phone, A tells B the pre-paid card's code number
    • B collects the amount of pre-paid phone credit
    • B pays villager C the amount, keeping a discount of 10-20%

    Imagine: People that aren't creditworthy enough to get a bank account practically become human ATM terminals, using the mobile phone infrastructure as a medium of money transfer. I find it fascinating how those people use the same technology we use -- but for a totally different use case. Is that what we meant with "developing countries"?

  • Exorcise your mobile with a microwave

    If sharing the bus with some teenagers hasn't already, this video will finally convince you that cell phones are evil.

    Cell Phones Are Evil - Watch more free videos

    (Via Nerdcore)

  • The placebo pill called CCTV

    Recently, I noticed that the tram I was taking from work to the train station, had more than 10 ceiling cams installed. That's one camera every 2 meters. Oh, did my feeling of security grow instantly.

    Meanwhile, the UK recognizes that installing "Closed Circuit TV" cameras is just a waste of money. As the Guardian titles, "CCTV boom has failed to slash crime, say police".

    Meanwhile, my commuting costs will increase because german transportation companies think playing "1984" was a better use for my money than improving my traveling experience.

  • Sharing Bush's mind

    The article "Krieg heißt jetzt Friedenserzwingung" on Telepolis facilitates a view into the minds of two of Germany's leading (and ruling) political parties CDU (Christian Democratic Union) and CSU (Christian Social Union), as explained in their paper "Security Strategy for Germany".

    Citing Telepolis:

    'The state's foremost reponsibility is security', said Andreas Schockenhoff, deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary party, in his speech before the security congress. Nobody disagreed. That says a lot about the CDU's understanding of state and democracy. The Grundgesetz [i.e. the German constitution] obviously takes another angle: 'Human dignity is not infringeable. To respect and protect it is every state power's obligation.' Nothing to be seen about 'security', much more about 'freedom', though.

    As neo-imperialistic as the CDU portrays their approach to internal and foreign affairs, as much creativity they show in their choice of words. Their strategic paper doesn't talk of war, oh no.

    Instead, it talks of "enforced peace".

  • Core values

    Recruiters are used to briefings where the head of HR hands them a carefully crafted job profile, explains the benfits and pension plans and finishes by pointing out the salary perspective.

    But sometimes, the briefing gets a different angle when you exchange the head of HR with leaders that know what's really necessary to get the job done.

    This obviously happens very rarely, judging from df5jt's excited blog entry (article in german).

    Let's see if my teams will benefit from that very briefing.