Archive for May, 2009

Top 5 Printing Problems

May 30, 2009

The top 5 printing problems I’ve found so far, in no particular order…

Printing Paused

Somehow (and everyone denies knowledge) pause printing has been ticked.

Not Connected to Computer

USB or Parallel cable is unplugged from the computer. This is necessary for printing to work.

Not Connected to Power

The printer has been unplugged from the mains. This is also necessary for printing to work.

Wrong Paper Size

This is quite a common cause of printing woe in the UK as well. The paper size has been set to “Letter” for printing but the printer only has A4 and so won’t output.

Microsoft One Note

Microsoft One Note installs along with Office 2007 and sets itself as the default printer. So when you try and print you get a nice window on the screen containing the output you would have liked to come from the printer.


Ice Ice Baby

May 29, 2009

ice1Rather aptly given I’ve just read The Mosquito Coast I’m now producing ice from my fridge.

Ice I tell you, ice!

Now just to show it to the locals; they’ll never have seen the like.

The Water in Namibia Doesn’t Weigh Like What It Ought To

May 29, 2009

As part of the process of playing house I bought a measuring jug which slightly strangely has the measurements on the inside.

It has volume on one side and weight on the other. All very well and good.

Apart from the fact I always thought 1ml of water equals 1gram and so 1l = 1kg etc. Not according to this jug where…

Volume of Water

Volume of Water

Weight of Water

Weight of Water

As you can see (I hope) about 1300ml = 1kg. Hmm.

Which do I believe? Should I buy a 1l bottle of water and use that as a guide? But who’s to say that is accurate.

Yes that is exactly the sort of pressing concern that I fill my day with. Jealous? You should be.

Last Shower. Or Not.

May 29, 2009

Today I had to give the keys back to the guestroom as it’s needed for some people arriving this weekend.

I’d held onto them until the very last moment in the hope of enjoying one last hot shower this morning.

Of course, having been on for almost a week, the water was off.

For No Dollars More

May 29, 2009

Currently I’m not just cheap labour – I am free labour.

I try not to let it worry me though and reassure myself with the fact that I am useless so they’re still not getting value-for-money from me.

Apparently the way it works for Ministry of Health hangers on like me (unlike the real health workers who are paid directly) is that VSO invoice the Ministry for my time, the ministry pay the invoice and then VSO pay me. This is the theory.

In practice the Ministry is notoriously late at paying (so notorious that very few places will even accept MoHSS purchase orders) and of course I’m assuming VSO have invoiced them in the first place.

During our first in-country training there was a section on finance and we were told it was the Ministry of Education that was late in paying. Turns out my education colleagues are rolling in endless cash.

Still, thanks to a financial transfer from the UK while I was still toying with buying a car I’m not quite on skid row yet.

And there are always the travellers’ cheques to fall back upon should I wish to rile Bank Windhoek up and begin the long-winded process of bluff and counter-bluff required to get them cashed.

Playing House

May 28, 2009

This week I’ve spent some time playing house and trying to find the things I need for my new wonder-pad in the various shopping multiplexes of Opuwo.

It turns out that, if you do look hard enough, just about everything can be bought in the town to get you to almost the level where you could move in.

It was on this basis that I sampled the wonders of the Opuwo PEP. PEP is a big chain throughout Namibia (and SA I think) which does all sorts of clothes and household stuff. In Windhoek and other cities the stores are huge department-store affairs with wide isles, point-of-sale signage, organised queues, trolleys and all that other good stuff.

The Opuwo version of PEP is a dingy store next to (naturally) a shebeen pumping bone-shattering Otjiherero rap music out. You can tell if it’s open by the nature of the crowd hanging around outside. If some of them look sober and/or have shopping bags then it’s open.

Inside they have gone all out to maximise the retail space (see my DSG training didn’t all go in vein). They have accomplished this by cramming a massive amount of shelves and freestanding units in leaving at best 1-foot gaps in between.

Just in case you could manage this discomfort and close proximity to your fellow shoppers to add an extra level of challenge they have distributed goods around the place in such a way as to make precisely no sense. There is no pattern, don’t try and look for one.

Hence pillows are on one wall and pillow cases on a totally different one, next to cups (naturally).

In typical Opuwo fashion at least seven hundred people are packed at any one time into the store, if for no other purpose than to make you squeeze past them along the impossibly small isles.

Luckily, also in typical Opuwo fashion, everyone is friendly enough and are wildly amused by the white devil trying to do his shopping and make sense of the system.

So through the wonders of PEP, PowerSave, the China Shop (run by people from China in case you were wondering hence the name) and Ok I managed to get most of the stuff I needed, including sheets, pillow, pillow case, duvet, two saucepans, a cutlery draw thing, some mugs, a kettle and some cutlery. No duvet cover, that would be too simple, everywhere has sold out and I must wait for next week.



May 28, 2009

Just before I left the UK I came to realise keys are (for me anyway) a reflection of how involved locally your life is.

In January 2009 I had the following on my keyring:

  • House keys (main front door, flat door and back door)
  • Work keys (various)
  • Mum and dad’s door keys (two)
  • Car key
  • Key I never knew what it was for but kept anyway
  • USB memory stick

By the 7th of March 2009 I had dwindled to the following:

  • USB memory stick

Now, ten-ish weeks in Namibia later I have:

  • House keys (main door, weird hall door, bedroom door and A.N.Other)
  • Guesthouse keys as I haven’t totally moved (two)
  • Work keys (three – one for main front door and two for inside)
  • Spare work key for the main door
  • Key I have acquired but don’t know what it’s for
  • USB Memory stick

If I ever get my act together with a cable tie I’m going to add another USB memory stick as well.

I also have started attaching a small multi-tool at various points. Namibia is the first place where I have actually had regular use for such a thing, Indiana Jones or what.

You ARE Moving

May 28, 2009

Thanks to a distinct lack of hot water in my new place and the inability to buy a duvet cover in Opuwo I have kept my room on at the guesthouse and so have two executive pads each fulfilling their own niche.

One (new flat) where I can cook, sit, read and enjoy the wonder of refrigeration and one (guesthouse) where I can commune with the cockroaches, sleep (with all necessary bedding) and enjoy warm showers.

Sadly it seems next week some “HR Specialists” are arriving and they need the guesthouse room and so yesterday I was told that I am moving out fully by the end of the week.

Investigations have since found the leaky pipe is in fact a leaky valve (that the government stores may have) and the lack of hot water is definitely a busted element (that the government stores almost definitely do not have). A fellow VSO here has been without hot water for about three months waiting for a similar part. Deep joy.

So now I have to pack up and move all my stuff, hopefully leaving my friendly cockroaches behind for the HR Specialist to find.

Network is Go

May 27, 2009

Breaking news from the meeting of the Economising Committee… I can spend up to N$ 2410 (about £200) on the last few bits of network equipment to start installing wired ethernet.

Previous volunteers have managed to get a 16-port switch, 1000m of CAT5e cable, 50 RJ-45 ends, a crimping tool and trunking.

I have now got authorisation to buy a patch panel, a Krone tool and RJ-45 wall sockets. Also, being weak, I have included lots of 1m and 3m patch cables (making cables up… argh).

Structured cabling here we come! Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the purchase order to arrive and then to see what the supplier lead times are like.

Stabby Things

May 27, 2009
A Stabby Thing

A Stabby Thing

These stabby things have recently begun to appear everywhere.

I presume they’re some sort of seed pod that cleverly attach themselves to whatever is passing to propagate onwards. I’m not too convinced of their ability to germinate successfully in my room though, after all that is firmly cockroach territory with the odd spider or two for luck.

They are however incredibly painful when you accidentally stab them fully in, especially between two bare toes. Double-ouch!

A Stabby Thing in My Thumb

A Stabby Thing in My Thumb