Thursday, April 29, 2004

Just read this article on the ACM site, by a Boeing Engineer. It won't make much sense to non-techies, but it is spot on in terms of the bullshit that unthinking adoption of 'UML as a religion' can cause.
Death by UML Fever

In particular its applicable to this project here, many of the 'symptoms' described in the article are EXACTLY the kinds of problems that certain bullshit-filled individuals have brought to Mozambique.

Here is a quote from the end of the article, with which I completely agree:
"Unfortunately, some users of UML leave their brains in the lobby, get settled behind their keyboards, and get busy drawing UML diagrams because doing so is a much easier alternative than doing difficult software engineering work. "

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Today as I walked down out of the office the street had a particularly empty feel to it. My work is in the Baixa (downtown) which is never big on street-lighting or any non-illicit activity after dark at the best of times.

But tonight is the first of two Gilberto Gil concerts and they have cleaned the city out. Gilberto Gil, longstanding famous musician from Brazil, is now culture minister in Lula's centre-left government, so concerts are fairly rare even on the other side of the Atlantic. Given that, when someone as famous as him does a gig in Moz everyone who's anyone goes, even if they're not a fan.

So why I am I not going, you cry? Well, Gil's visit has a specially Mozambican rub: he's playing for two nights. Tuesday is a USD50 per head seated event, and Wednesday is for the commoners, with tickets for only USD6.50. Guess which night sold out immediately?

Yup - the expensive one - when people are rich here they really have money. Apart from being slow off the mark, I balked at paying 30 quid plus none of my Moz friends could have afforded to come. So I am going to tomorrow's plebeian mayhem instead, which will no doubt end as usual with drunken crowds cleverly managing not to actually fight in the streets around the venue (which is just down the road from the Ministry of Finance, actually...)

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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Today is my 10-month anniversary here in Moz, in some ways it seems to have gone in the blink of an eye. I may well be staying another year, in which case I will have to organize any trips to the UK or elsewhere very carefully. So please can anyone who is getting married or anything let me know of dates etc.

I already have:
- October: visit Tini in Indonesia??
- November: Mark & Hilary wedding

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"This is Africa, my boy, shweating is what we do..."

Seen Canary as Allan Quatermain in 'The League of Extraordinary Gentleman' - very accurate as we are living through the hottest April on record, everyone here says that by now the weather should be cooling down but it simply isn't. Some of the days are as hot as anything we had in 'summer'.

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Friday, April 16, 2004

Here is a useful site, a 'Scottish' dialect translator. It also sports Scouse and Ali G dialects etc.
Whoohoo Scottish

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Friday, April 09, 2004

Have just finished the least-hard week I can remeber since I got here. First of Wednesday was 'Day of the Mozambican Woman' and thus a holiday. Certainly worthy of at least one day of celebration, in addition to 8th March (international women's day). Then friday afternoon was officiially 'ponto de tolerancia' for Catholics so that they can celebrate Holy Week. The practical effect of this was that many people developed mysterious colds and didn't show up to work on Thursday or today, and everyone else, Catholic or not, skived off home at midday. Though to be fair all of my team stayed to finish off the tasks they were doing rather than leaping out the door at noon on the doubt.

We took a leisurely drive home and stopped to eat on the way. Half the shops are closed and the place has an 'evacuated' feel about it as so many people leave the city to visit their 'machambas' (family farms in the rural areas). While we were eating one of the new managers in UTRAFE walked past and stopped to have a drink with us. Poor guy - he is a Mozambican just back from several years working in Australia, he has been thrown in at the deep-end full of sharks on this project. I think he is just beginning to realise how rough its going to get but I half-think he is too nice to survive this particular show. Darth Vader is the Kraken but he is not the only predatory fish by any means. Still, we will help him out if we can - we make a point of befriending all enemies of Darth and all the 'discarded people' who aren't important enough for him to treat decently. There are whole legions of them (anti-Darth rebels) in many government departments now so at some point there is going to be a reckoning, it is getting to the point where some Mozambican members of the state administration resist his initiatives simply because he suggested them.

Since he works for a key Bretton Woods institution who are really pushing this reform, at some point they will have to realise how unpopular is and ditch him if they want to have any hope of the whole show keeping the ligths on.

Sorry cryptic as usual but for the moment I'm still working here...

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Thursday, April 01, 2004

"Bin Laden Captured by US Forces".

That was the story on the back-page of Mozambique's biggest-selling daily today. Funly enough neither BBC or CNN mentioned this upturn for the books.
Since its a government-owned paper, perhaps America will withdraw funds in protest at such a cruel joke. Or perhaps the CIA don't actually bother to read 'Noticias' cover-to-cover every day.

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