I now have a “now” profile

My now profile is now up.

After I created my “now page”, I notified Derek Sivers via email and he sent me a questionnaire to complete which I did.

The questionnaire was really short and asked what I do and my favorite book and quote and stuff. Finished it in like 5 minutes.

After answering the questions I was told that the now profile would take some time to be added to the site. Today I say a tweet about my new now page which is now available on the nownownow website.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”in” dir=”ltr”>Tawanda Moyo profile: <a href=”https://t.co/6cwkMElpcI”>https://t.co/6cwkMElpcI</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/tbmoyo”>@tbmoyo</a></p>&mdash; sites with /now (@NowNowNow) <a href=”https://twitter.com/NowNowNow/status/888428362145742849″>July 21, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Awesome. Do check it out.

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Expensive football is why I’ll never move to England

On average, pubs pay around £20,000 per year for both Sky and BT, with the broadcasters basing their fees on the rateable value of each individual pub. The costs are determined by the size of the venue, the wealth of the area and the various services they offer. So large venues in central London will be significantly greater sums than small, rural pubs. Sky and BT responded to the new TV deal by increasing their prices substantially: Sky upped their prices by 10% last summer and BT followed suit with an 8.9% rise.

The Guardian

Watching football in England is an expensive exercise.

I don’t get how a pub pays a TV company more than $1000 a month for TV rights.

For comparison’s sake a premium package offered by DSTV, the local satelite TV company, costs just over $70 a month and it comes with more football than anyone can watch plus maybe a hundred other channels.

Our pubs here also use the same packages to screen TV matches, maybe paying a little bit more to be able to show more than two different channels simultaneously. I would be very surprised if there’s even a single local bar that pays more than $1500 a year to show football.

The Guardian adds:

If an average pint costs £4.50, you might think that selling 35 pints means the pub breaks even, but the net profit on drinks is significantly lower.

Wait. What?

About $6 for a pint? Incredulous. A pint should be $2 tops.

There Comrades, two reasons I will never go to England.

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I Have Joined The Now Movement

Derek Sivers, a cool guy I greatly admire, has on his personal website a “Now” page which is a more specific version of the usual “about me” page. The now page focuses on what he’s currently doing.

Back when he created it, a retweet encouraged other bloggers and creatives to create their own and that’s how the now movement was born. There’s now a whole website dedicated to showcasing these “now” pages. Good to visit if you’re bored and just want to see random pictures of people and their random websites.

Sivers thinks we all should have one and I kinda agree. Like he says, it’s the kind of stuff you’d tell a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

In his words, “… a website with a link that says “now” goes to a page that tells you what this person is focused on at this point in their life. For short, we call it a “now page”.

Today I finally created mine, which I’ll be editing from time to time.

You can check out the now movement here.

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This and That

Been a while since I last posted.

I’m back now though. A few days ago I wrote an article on a much talked about political development in our country. Had not been commenting on political matters much but I thought to write down a few things.

That article is on my old blog Reflections of an Afrikan Youth. I kinda miss my old political and social commentary blog whose domain I allowed to expire.

In other news Zimbabwe won the Cosafa Cup earlier on today. We seem to be good at winning this particular tournament.

Also Romelu Lukaku joined the biggest club in the world. Would be wonderful to see what Lukaku can do in Manchester United colours. Rooney, meanwhile, has moved in the opposite direction. Football, it seems, is on its way back.

Interesting developments on the Zimbabwean political scene as Professor Jonathan Moyo, known for his quick tongue and Twitter outspokenness, has threatened to reveal “who really” wrote General Chiwenga’s PhD thesis. Gen Chiwenga is the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, and therefore the most powerful soldier in the land.

Ah, and by the way I hope to be writing more often.

I’m out

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Our petty, selfish prayers

I took this picture in Masvingo early last year. I remember it was very hot.

The city fathers decided to pray for rain. I don’t know if their prayers were heard and whether God answered them.

It later rained- it always does, at some point.

Got me thinking.

Perhaps the prophets should pray for miraculous rains to fill Kariba Dam which we have almost emptied in our efforts to generate more electricity.

However too much rain means floods so I don’t know what can be done about that. I’m sure the prophets will figure something out.

God surely has a lot on his heavenly plate- some pray for rain, others for there to be no floods, some just want the sun to shine so their clothes for tomorrow’s party will dry; there are people who pray for their football teams to win and others still who want those same teams to lose.

Makes me wonder if God really listens to our piddling prayers, our selfish requests. “Please Lord, I want that Benz”, “Make me get the promotion (ahead of Jonso)” or “Help me get 50% on my Electromagnetics test and I will come to church forever”.

Seems very self-centred to me. I don’t know if there’s heaven, or what God/gods think(s) but I doubt He’d be too concerned about the outcome of a soccer match in Chamakondo between two villages or whether Neymar scores so you can collect your $13 prize at Soccerbet.

It’s all very puzzling too. Where does it leave hard work? Can a professional athlete who works hard every day for a decade like Le Bron James, Floyd Mayweathr or Christiano Ronaldo be outplayed or outfought by faith alone?

Can someone who codes for years like Zuckerberg or studies hard like Elon Musk be on the same level as that Saith charlatan who “gets blueprints of inventions from God”?

I think not.

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How many cars are there in Zimbabwe?

Our roads are too congested
Our roads are too congested

If you’re like me you’ve probably argued about silly things, like the total number of houses in Zimbabwe or how many cars pass through a particular tollgate each day. These are the kinds of questions that arise after one too many drinks or during a very slow day. They are also the kind of questions you may be asked in an interview at Google or other tech companies.¹

Coming from a village small town, I have always thought Harare’s roads are too congested (don’t tell me about Beijing, New York or whatever, I live in Zimbabwe). The number of cars in Zimbabwe has risen dramatically in the past couple of years due to cheap second hand cars being imported from Japan.

So today, while caught up in traffic, my brother started talking about the high number of cars on our roads. He said there are probably so many cars in Harare that every person over the age of 18 can get one. We argued about this for a while and he said there are enough cars in the city for every household. Eventually I asked him how many cars he thinks there are in the whole country.

“Maybe 3 million,” he replied offhandedly.

But my brother is a lawyer and his understanding of numbers is ehmmm ….shaky. My own estimate was 1.5 million, a number he disputed with all the energy of a lawyer.

So I started thinking about how to get the total number of cars in Zimbabwe. There are a number of ways to go about it. The most accurate would be to go the Vehicle Registration offices and just ask, or somehow find the information from them or other official sources but then where would be the fun in that?

One could also use some statistical methods for a small sample, assume it’s random, and then extrapolate the results for the whole country.

However a  better method is to use the number (vehicle registration) plates. In 2006 the government introduced a new type of number plates.  These new plates are composed of three letters and four numbers such as in the image below.

Zimbabwean Number Plates (Image from The Bearded Man)
Zimbabwean Number Plates (Image from The Bearded Man)

Assuming that there are no plates with any letter combination followed by four zeros, eg ABX 0000 (and I haven’t seen any), any unique letter combination can have 9999 different set of plates i.e from 0001- 9999.

So far the latest cars getting registered are getting the letter combination ADX or maybe ADY. The task here is to establish how many unique combinations of letters- in incremental order and without repeating- there are from AAA up to ADX.

It’s not too difficult, just a little maths and knowledge of the alphabet.

There are 26 letters in the alphabet. Therefore from AAA – AAZ there are 26 different letter combinations and 26 × 9999 different number plates.

From AAZ the series goes to ABA up to ABZ where there are 26 other combinations, then another 26 from ACA to ACZ and so on. So from AAA to ADX there are 26 + 26 + 26 + 24  = 102 letter combinations, each capable of holding 9999 items. ²

Thus the total number of cars is 9999 × 102 = 1 019 898.

That’s it folks there are just over a million (registered & private) cars in Zimbabwe. There are of course other cars belonging to the government, military, police and other special classes. I’m also not sure where commecial vehicles- such as buses, kombis and trucks fit in.

If you add up all those- and the President’s considerable fleet- you may arrive at maybe 1.1 – 1.2 million cars which is actually near the official number according to the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration, ZINARA.³

Which means there’s roughly a car for every 11 Zimbabweans. Or a car for every 2 families.†

So I won the argument. That merits a blog post.

In case you are wondering, one of the reasons why the old plates were phased out was that we would one day run out of numbers. Under this new system the total number of possible number plates is a staggering 175 742 424 i.e 26 cubed × 9999 or 26 × 26 × 26 × 9999

Huge as that number may seem it’s still less than the estimated 254 million cars in the US. For comparison, Germany which is roughly the same size as Zimbabwe (but with way more people) has around 55 million cars.

Notes:

  1. Funny interview questions to test analytical skills are common in tech jobs, as reported by Forbes, Business Insider, Geekwire & others
  2. As far as I know a few minutes of observation revealed there are no cars with ADY plates, thus the 24
  3. ZINARA, on its website says “According to the central vehicle registry (CVR), Zimbabwe’s vehicle population stands at an estimated 1, 2 million”
  4. † There are almost 13 million people in Zimbabwe Wikipedia
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Lines of Code

stress
Code

Anyone who has ever programmed knows how frustrating debugging can be. After hours and hours of writing code you realise that the program doesn’t work as it should.

You feel like smashing the computer.

That’s what I felt a few minutes ago. But then I finally found the last error. And things are as they should- at least for now.

This is certainly one of the best feelings in the world. Almost as good as watching your team beat their noisy rivals.

It’s just after midnight. I feel like a boss. And I’m going home.

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Updates

So much has happened in the past few weeks. I’ve been very quiet, not because I did not have anything to say but because I was a bit busy and sometimes I couldn’t put my thoughts to paper (or rather keyboard) in the exact way I wanted.

Here’s what’s been going on, I completed week 9 of the Couch to 5K programme some weeks ago. It was an exciting journey where I learnt a lot and gained much.

I also started reading some economics texts, mostly because I felt Economics was the one subject where I was truly lacking. Economics is exciting- almost and exciting as Engineering and Physics. More importantly it helps one understand what’s really happening in the world and also to give reasonable prognoses of what’s coming.

I’ve been reading Sowell’s Basic Economics, The Armchair Economist, Why Nations Fail and a few other books to better understand why we are the economic situation we are in, why we are poor, and how we can be richer. It’s been good and enlightening reading.

Until next time comrades!

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Drinking and Tweeting

A close friend who spent the festive season in South Africa interacting with South Africa’s youth newsmakers such as Julius Malema, Malaika Mahlatsi, Floyd Shivambu and others expressed his disappointment with Zimbabwean youths on Facebook. He strongly feels that we’re not doing anything as young people.

I’m inclined to agree with him. We (with me being the biggest culprit) are simply not working hard enough. Instead we whine and complain about the government and other circumstances all day long.

We are also good at taking digs on each other online especially on Twitter where some have mastered the recently discovered art of “twarring”, with many twimurengas breaking out, giving us twar veterans.

And we love going out and having fun, which is not bad at all really. After all we are supporting local industries.

We are drinking...and tweeting
We are drinking…and tweeting

In fact a random walk in Harare will show that the fast food business, pubs, clubs and bars and “boutiques” selling clothes are the fastest growing businesses in the country.

Econet Wireless and Delta beverages are two of the country’s most successful companies.

So when the afore mentioned comrade exclaimed “What are we, the youths, doing?” in exasperation, I answered him with a straight face:

“Drinking and Tweeting comrade,” I said, “Drinking and Tweeting”.

 

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