Friday, October 19, 2012

Of Muhammad Ali, Kadaffi, Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong [or the danger of 'Idol'atery]

I've been following the fall of Lance Armstrong.. and reading all the interesting reactions of his fans,  the members of his foundation and the sporting world. Barely one week after a report stating that

"The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen"

Lance Armstrong has gone from Idol to almost ragdoll. Not only has he lost contracts with reputable the Nike, he has had to step down as the Chair of his Livestrong Foundation. I read a funny article this morning of persons cutting up their Livestrong  wristbands.

No, this is not just a Lance Armstrong story.  Few months ago I had a chance to catch glimpses of Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer who ever lived.  The one who will "Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee". It was a wow moment for me, to see him like this:

Ali  could no longer walk without assistance. Without much analysis, it is clear that no longer can he float like a butterfly, but he CERTAINLY could not sting like a bee.

The other image that comes to mind is that of  Moammer Kadaffi. I cannot bring myself to post the image of his dead body on this blog, or that video of him begging for life, or his body being dragged ont he streets.  So I am posting his "Greated UN photo".  I watched him live, give a speech in New York, "thrashing" the United Nations and literally thrashing the UN Charter.
 The list is very long.. of people rising and falling.. idols becoming ragdolls, stars that you revered turning out to be just ordinary morally-bankrupt individuals.

No wonder the Bible talks about not trusting in men, the sons of men.. and not worshiping any other  gods outside The Maker..

How many sports, cinema, fashion, religious or political "idols" have not crashed in our life time?  How many are yet to crash?  

My friend, NEVER trust anyone to be infallible. Simply put, remove all the IDOLS from your life..

Friday, October 5, 2012

ECOBANK Côte d'Ivoire: Smart cards, dumb ATMs

I was in Tanzania two weeks ago.  I go to the ECOBANK to pull cash, and my card is shown as "not activated".  I go to the bank itself to ask and I was shown the new card.  The one that has a SIM card.  I come back to Abidjan and I ask, and I was told "Yes, madam, we are changing the cards, go upstairs and collect yours.

I collect a new card and something tells me to keep the old card. The agent says I need to leave it with the back and I said 'Since the card is still valid, I'd rather be the one keeping it".

This afternoon I am coming back from Cairo and slot the new card into the ECOBANK ATM at the airport, "Impossible" is what I see. I check 2 other ATMs and I get the same result.  At the third, the security man tells me "Madam, these ATMs are yet to be configured for the new cards with SIM"

I call the 22400200, which is the ECOBANK 24/7 number and nobody picks.  Friday at 4PM.  I call the second number and the man could not find an answer to the question "Why will you circulate new cards when the ATMs are yet to be configured?".  "Why did you ask people to return the older cards when they could still be used?" 

After several "errm" "errm", I decided not to bother the man anymore. 

I decide to continue to the ECOBANK headquarters in Abidjan. On the way, I start putting one to one.  ECOBAK has been putting up new ATMs. Probably, these are actually the ones that are optimized for the new smart cards. 

At the ECOBANK Côte d'Ivoire headquarters, my suspicion was confirmed. There are 2 old ATMs and 4 new ones.  I try the smart card on the old ATM and it shows "impossible".  I went over to the new ones and I pulled cash.

I get back to the car and I start asking myself questions:
  1. Why is ECOBANK circulating the smart cards BEFORE upgrading the ATMs?
  2. Why cant ECOBANK give its clients the correct information about the dumb ATMs?
  3. Why will a service provider want you to deposit a card that works when it knows that the new one only works partially?
  4. How many ECOBANK ATMs can actually work with the smart cards?
  5. What technology will it require to put up a message informing clients, on the screen of EACH ATM, which cards it will accept, pending the time when cards and ATMs will be harmonized?
I have more questions.. but let me stop for now