Monthly Archives: June 2014

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[I’ve CODE the POWER] 3 things to expect when learning to code

Programming is all the rage today. Everyone wants to learn how to do it; the use-cases are innumerable (and are increasing) and it doesn’t hurt that it pays well. You too want to learn how to program. I’d like to help you prepare for the exciting journey ahead

Writing code, like any skill, can be taught to anyone. Anyone can be taught to speak English; there are those initial bits that most of us struggle with (why laugh is spelt that way, why love isn’t pronounced lov, why the plural of sheep isn’t sheeps-for real, it isn’t dude), but after using the language for a while, all these tiny bits become second-nature. You stop thinking about them. So the first thing about this lovely journey is…

1. Be GENTLE on yourself


Don’t think you are dumb after looking at those t-shirt-and-jeans-wearing, strange-word-using(data structure, algorithm, immutable) people. They whip-up applications in hours because they spent several hours to get there. Every single one of them. You too can get there but …

2. Don’t Take SHORTCUTS

Programming is like exercise; you can’t take a pill and become fit. You MUST break a sweat. You MUST get down and do it. You cannot become fit by watching someone else exercise. You cannot become fit by listening to someone talk about how great their workout was. You need to get gear and go exercise. You have to get down and write code.
Like exercise, the initial bits may not seem to have any impact; writing “Hello World” and such “basic” tasks may not seem beneficial but it’s upon those fundamentals that everything else is built. You will not magically become good at this. The hard work you put in though WILL eventually show. To remove barriers to your own learning, make sure you..

3. Use the RIGHT resources for YOU

Pay attention to how you learn. Just as there are love languages, I believe there are learning languages. [Mental Note: Write book about learning languages, make lots of money, go on Oprah]. Do you learn better by watching someone do something? Do you learn better by reading about why something is done a certain way? Do you learn better by seeing working code and trying to find different ways to tweak it & break it? Do fun puzzles do it better for you? Are you driven more by results than by the mechanics behind? There are tonnes of great resources [Videos, Books, Courses,etc] out there on how to write code; find a teacher who speaks to your learning language. If one’s not working, try another one. If one’s working, stick to them and grow with them.

Good resource on how we learn: Lifehacker-How We Learn

Code Tutorials 

  1. Tutsplus I like the simple language used. No reaching for big words to teach a simple principle
  2. They teach you with various interactive tools

I’ll share as I come across more. What have you used though? Do share in the comments

Now that you are off on this magical journey, what does it take to be a good developer? I’ll share my thoughts in the next piece. I hope this one helped you prepare for this beautiful marathon, one I’m on myself

How to spread the World Cup fever

For an entire month, all you will see will be one thing or another about the World Cup. If you have caught the World Cup fever, here are a few ways you could spread it

In the taxi ride home, break out and sing “Olé, Olé, Olé Olé” when the taxi conductor asks for the fare. You could sing each time he turns to ask for the fare till he eventually joins in the song. Then give him his money

Go to work in soccer boots and with your phone to your ear, speak loudly to ‘the person on the other end’ and say, “I’m in Brazil but the people here aren’t dressed for the match.”

Do the Mexican wave in class when the lecturer turns to write on the board-you might need to coach the people on the far right on what to do. It’s usually the people on the far right in class that take long to pick-up on things. They are the ones who ask questions after the lecturer has dismissed class. Don’t sit on the far right

Suddenly scream “Goooaalll!!” at any time of day at work, at home, in a taxi, on a boda boda even in a queue in a bank. It would make for better effect if you punch the air in celebration. Don’t try to run and slide on your knees like they do on TV could be those are well-choreographed camera tricks. Besides, the terrain here won’t let you.

Start any conversation with, “Did you watch last night’s game?” or “What’s your team?” or “The USA definitely has the Cup in the bag. Did you see how they played?”

Show up to watch a game all decked-out in Uganda’s colours-face paint, jersey, vuvuzela and whistle. When everyone turns to look, ask “What time is Uganda’s game?” If they don’t get the joke then go watch the game from somewhere else-tell them you support Germany.

For you who isn’t moved by soccer, ha, this is one of those times you wish there were alternatives out there. The excitement just isn’t for you. Next week’s column will be written just for you.

This will be your safe haven-a place you can come and be sure that we won’t write about the World Cup. We’ll talk about a lot of other things.

8 things you must know about the World Cup

It is that time of year when we let go of all appropriateness and show our support for soccer teams by screaming till the veins in our necks are visible. Oh, the joy. We need to discover a way to bottle that energy and use it to power our electrical equipment. In the future, if you are in a bar watching soccer, your phone will have a tiny sensor that will pick-up the energy around you and charge itself. People watching exciting games-lots of goals, tonnes of flair-their phones would charge very fast. I’m sure you’ve already come to the logical conclusion that the phones of people watching Arsenal matches would never charge. That’s a joke. The world cup has kicked off; here are a few random facts that will hopefully get you to care

Eye on the ball

Eye on the ball

  1. The mascot for the games is an armadillo named Fuleco. If you aren’t sure what an armadillo looks like, picture a rat in a knight’s armour
  2. Samba, in Brazil, is a dance. Here it is to kick. This is the secret behind the nation’s success in soccer-they see it as a dance.
  3. The Uganda cranes are yet to qualify; I’m confident that I’ll live to see this happen.
  4. Only four nations(Yugoslavia, Romania, France and Belgium) took part in the first world cup; it isn’t far-fetched to think they believed the world revolved around them.
  5. If you are in Brazil and you are reading this online, to say “hello, what gives?” to that stranger peering at your phone over your shoulder, say “Olá, o que dá?”
  6. Brazil won its third world cup in 1970. Surprisingly, the rules say that a nation cannot donate a world cup to another. Brazil cannot for instance donate one of their world cups to us. After all the support we’ve shown for South American soaps, the least they could do, just one of them, is hand us a trophy already.
  7. If North Americans played soccer as well as they acted, USA would have won at least one World Cup. Maybe Jason Statham should try kicking soccer balls for a change
  8. If South America acted as well as they played soccer, Spain & Mexico would own Hollywood. Spiderman would be called araña Hombre and Iron Man would be Hierro Hombre.

We are all heroes

Today is Heroes’ day. Usually, the thing that comes to mind first is a picture of the president handing out medals to different individuals who’ve done one thing or the other for the nation. It is a great time to hand-out medals to different people who’ve had an impact on your life. Your heroes. On my part, I’d like to celebrate some people who are doing phenomenal work for the country.

First is that young man and woman with the same, if not more, pressing needs as his peers but has chosen not to resort to crime to make ends meet. Every week, there’s a new report of a kidnap, or a taxi heist; a passenger is robbed of everything by the other “passengers” most times in broad daylight. You are a hero for sticking to the straight and narrow; you probably are barely getting by but you’ve resolved never to look to violence to put food on the table. You might not read this paper but you are a hero.

You too are a hero for taking care of those who cannot fend for themselves; abandoned teenage mothers, orphans, children of people on death row, the poor, and children with special needs. You are a hero. Bless a child foundation, Wakisa ministries, Wells of hope academy, 40/40, everyone out there focussing on making a difference, you are a hero.

You the teacher; directing the next generation on the way they must go. You who’s taking care of others’ children all-the-while worried how you’ll raise enough to take your own to school. You who still shows-up inspite of all the undelivered promises from the powers that be, you are a hero


The individuals producing quality products right here in Uganda; you who’s chosen to take the high road and tread the narrow, less-trodden, no-cutting-corners path to bring us products that meet international standards.

The artists putting out music that goes beyond bump and grinding; content that makes us reflect. Art that makes us take a deep look in the mirror; the poets and spoken word artists giving us hope. You are heroes

People who’ve challenged us to think different; Moses Golola-who knew we’d ever have the faintest of interests in kickboxing, Phiona Mutesi, Jackie Batanda, you make Uganda proud.

On a personal level, you reading this column, you are my hero-you make the process worth it.

Police want to defy colonial masters

Word in the corridors of power has it that the Uganda Police Force is rebranding. The word actually was announced by the Inspector General of Police during the launch of a six-month campaign; that mode of delivery doesn’t entirely count as ‘corridors of power’ but you cannot fault a columnist for trying to sound sophisticated.

At the launch, the IGP said, “The people of Uganda deserve better police services than we are providing now, we must admit that.” That is true-this is us clapping to that profound truth.

“It (the police) was used (by the British colonialists) to hunt down freedom fighters,” he said. Then responding to the spontaneous cheers erupting around the room, he added: “the police has not served the interests of Ugandans because its architecture and character was inherited from the British colonial police.” Stone silence. That’s an interesting take on things. Let’s look at a few other ways that phrase can be put.

Because of our masters, we, the police, spend Shs 2.5billion to quell a single riot because of the British colonialists. It is their fault.

Thanks a lot Captain Lugard; you are the reason our policemen don't get paid

Thanks a lot Captain Lugard; you are the reason our policemen don’t get paid

We pay “ghost” police officers and fail to pay the real ones because of the things Sir Harry H. Johnston did to us. When we flag you down and expect a bribe even for smiling at you, it is because of the things those colonial masters did to us.

We won’t do any police work without “compensation”; photocopying a police report, investigating a crime or even recovering your property because they did this to us; they made us do this. Once in a while, we do beat-up some politicians in the opposition because of Captain Lugard’s rules.

The sorry conditions our police officers live in – those dingy facilities we have to cover-up with banners advertising soft drinks – that’s because of the 1900 agreement. This stands to reason since most of the said facilities were built by the colonialists so this is surely their fault.

Let’s also look at what else we can see as a direct result of “the architecture and character inherited from the British colonialists”. We have poor roads; they built some of them and they’ve never found time to upgrade them.

We have a failing health sector; they built some of the hospitals-it is their fault we have no drugs and doctors. Why didn’t they give us an abundant supply of either?
They even brought elections; it is their fault-we were doing just fine with monarchs.