Blue Zone for Nigeria

I recently lost a dear friend, to kidney failure and blood transfusion complications. It was heart-wrenching. This guy was a quiet, gentle and focused giant, with a ready smile for every occasion. He was cut short in his prime, and left behind no wife or child – another pain-point for me. This brought on a lot of memories, of reaching out to old friends and trying to evaluate if I am actually living my purpose.

Some days ago, I stumbled on the word “Ikigai”. Wikipedia told me that

Ikigai (生き甲斐,) is a Japanese term for “a reason for being.” The word ‘Ikigai’ is usually refers to the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile.[1] The word roughly translates to the “thing that you live for”[2] but it also has the nuance of “the reason for which you wake up in the morning” similar to a daily purpose.[3] Each individual’s ikigai is personal to them and specific to their lives, values and beliefs. It reflects the inner self of an individual and expresses that faithfully, while simultaneously creating a mental state in which the individual feels at ease. Activities that allow one to feel ikigai are never forced on an individual; they are often spontaneous, and always undertaken willingly, giving the individual satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.[1]

Then I found Thomas Oppong’s Medium article on the subject and understood a lot more. Thomas mentions Dan Buettner (who deserves another article on his own, about how he has made his passion his work), who studied hotspots of places where people lived the longest, and published books on this, with titles that included the phrase “Blue Zone”.

Buettner has been able to prove that applying his Blue Zone Principles to cities can improve the overall health and lifespan of its inhabitants. The key to success involved focusing on the ecology of health – creating a healthy environment rather than relying on individual behaviors. His first try in 2008, in Albert Lea, Minnesota was successful. Other cities and communities have applied the principles successfully too.

I know these applications happened in cities in a developed country (USA), but it got me thinking: what if we could work towards creating that healthy environment in Nigeria? What if we could study the principles, and herald it to our leaders for them to use as blueprints for the next four years?

They say that our country is so unique, no theory works out of the box in it, and I agree. What if we could derive a Nigerian version, that will also allow a family on any income level to embrace the tenets that would guarantee better health, and longer, more fulfilling lives?

The Blue Zone Principles promise results in such a short time, I wonder why we have not given it a try before now. If only our leaders were readers more often than spenders. I guess we can decide the next set, come 2019 – if our votes truly count.

As for me, I am going to spend a bit of time each day, trying to figure out a way to bring this about in my environment. Do you know anyone who can help kickstart a movement?

Daydah, September 23, Writer

My birthday is in a few days, and while I am nursing a bad cold, and trying to get work done, I am actually not looking forward to it this year.

I will tell you why.

For as long as I can remember, I have always tried to make my birthday, a day of joy for others. I plan matchmaking parties (got many friends hitched this way), or outings, or even lunches, where I go the extra mile to cook up a three course meal.

But this year, I just want to run away. I want to sit and reminisce on all the years of my life. I want to contemplate on where I am now, and how I have miraculously survived on my own, as a single mother for the past two years. I want to sing to myself, laugh at my memories, cry to a stupor and smile as I remember my son’s antics.

I would prefer a spot where I can be part of nature for a while, just listening to the birds chirping, the wind rustling the leaves, or the sea lapping at the shore.

Just for 48 hours.

But I can’t.

I have to be there, for others once again.

This time, I know most of the people that will reach out on Sunday will be those who care about me; those who are still not used to the idea that I might have died in 2017 and there was nothing they could have done to save me; those who remember the old jovial happy me of about a decade ago, and long to see her once again, shining with warmth, hugging everyone within reach.

I long for her too.

Ever since I got back, I catch a glimpse of her sometimes, hear her boisterous laughter once in a while. I know it will take time to heal, so I am patient with her. I know all the broken pieces of her shattered heart can only be put together in time, but I wonder.

Can the broken edges can be sealed up once again? Can she ever love again? Can she ever remember the pain and not hurt inside?

I got a mail from NaNoWriMo today. Someone there remembered my birthday. The letter encouraged me to prioritize my creativity. While it may be just another promotional newsletter to the writer, it touched me because a part of me that I wish I could revive, is my creativity.

I wish I could make one-of-a-kind stone bead jewelry again. I wish I could write again, with gusto, and actually finish a piece. In time, again, I guess.

One of the things mentioned in the mail that I did immediately, was to check for famous writers and authors born in September too.

I did not find any one for September 23. I could not believe it! I checked IMDb, and Famous people, but could not find any author, only songwriters, and lots of actors. Then I checked On This Day, and saw some, but none of them was born in my generation!

The most recent writer (not songwriter), is Peter Allen David, an American writer born in 1956. He’s still alive, known as PAD, and writer of comic books like Incredible Hulk, Aquaman, Super girl and more (maybe I should consider writing comic books eh?). He also wrote Ben 10: Alien force. I like him already 🙂

So for this generation, I submit to you,

Adedayo “Daydah” Makinde, Nigerian writer born in 1984.

Watch out for that name 🙂

Cool Lady: Titilade Adeniran

I just read a feature at SMEPeaks and I have to say I am impressed. Titilade Adeniran is popularly known as Titilade Railings, and is the first female Nigerian to own and lead a firm in the decorated railings industry.

Here’s the interview for your consumption: https://smepeaks.com/2018/08/06/titilade-railings-nigerias-female-engr/

 

Cool Find: Mystery Shopper

Back in 2006, I was a student, looking for several ways to earn money. I have always been fascinated with working online, and working remotely, so when I found Bare International, despite the misgivings of the people around me, I plunged in and tried it.

Bare International provides businesses with the opportunity to get information about their businesses that they could not otherwise attain directly. They help get answers to questions like:

How much are customer service issues costing my business? Am I missing opportunities to engage my customers? Why are my sales down? I have data about my business but how do I interpret it? How do I identify the real problem points in my business?

Bare International operates in more than 100 countries and has completed over 50,000 evaluations all over the world. No region is too tough for them to penetrate.

Enough praise – the real deal about BAI is that ordinary people like you and me get to make some money doing things we would ordinarily do like shopping at a grocery, taking an exam, buying make up or receiving money via Western Union. Sure, there are instructions on how to act, but you have to keep your eyes and ears open to gather all the information requested.

I enjoyed doing it because I got to be someone else for a few minutes. I remember one occasion that I had to act being an ignorant belligerent Western Union recipient at a bank. Even I laughed at my performance when I left the place. The poor attendant was so harried, I almost stopped and told her its only an act. Almost.

The pay, at least, is small change, but it covers the cost of transportation to the location, and sometimes you get reimbursed e.g. when paying for an exam or buying a cocktail at a bar (yes, you could choose a job to evaluate a cocktail bar!).

You can also take on evaluations if you travel outside the country – just set it up in your profile. I can imagine travelling and doing mystery shops that will at least cover some of my return ticket costs. You can also earn money (up to $25) referring friends, family and enemies to the Evaluator program.

Awesome!

 

Cool Tool: Namechk.com

Ever wanted to know if someone else was using your chosen name or brand name elsewhere? Well, this cool tool actually checks all over the web for you, and within few seconds too!

I found it on Pinterest, while searching for essential oil blends (story for another day). I saw the pin in passing, and decided to give the tool a try. It’s really fast! And the results pane is so intuitive – within seconds, you get to assimilate a lot at once.

Apart from showing you where your search word is in use, it also shows you were its not yet in use. I’m definitely signing up to the available sites as soon as possible.

You should check it out too, if you are serious about online branding for yourself or your firm.

After my phone got stolen

So my phone got stolen some weeks ago. It was a rainy day and I had looked away for about 2 minutes, but I guess the thief was already monitoring because he was quick. So I was faced with the daunting task of securing my phone line to prevent fraud.

I cannot emphasize this enough – do regular backups to the cloud. It was when I lost my phone that I found out my last backup was months ago. So many pictures, documents and audio recordings were “gone with the wind”.

I had to try hard to remember the apps I had on the phone and block them accordingly. some of them include:

  1. Google Accounts – Change your password. Do security check up using this page. Also remove the device from your Google Play device list.
  2. Linkedin – I found a very useful article that enabled me to log out of other Sessions on this page.
  3. WhatsApp – Do you use the WhatsApp app a lot? I do, and especially for business. It was important that I deactivate my account immediately, to avoid impersonation. I found a WhatsApp article that instructed me to send an email immediately to them to deactivate my account.
  4. Facebook – On this Facebook page you get to see where you are logged in, and log out of the stolen device instantly.
  5. Authy – Do you use Authy for 2 Factor Verification? Then you need to request for a reset. This is tricky because it will send a message to the phone line that was used when registering the app. If this is the stolen line then you will have to find a work around. It will also send an email to your registered email, so its not too much of a bother.

After I got a new phone, I had to reinstall the apps and set them up again. I also activated the Google Find My Phone feature which allows me to do things like play sound, even if on silent, secure my device, or sign out of Google on the device.

The phone that was stolen from me was a Samsung Galaxy Prime Plus, and my real loss was my 10 year old reliable SD card in it – I was constantly complaining of the lack of space on the device, and I could not even install half of all the apps I was used to having on the former device.

The loss gave me an opportunity to explore another brand, but definitely not Techno. My terrible experience with Techno W3 is not something I want to remember or go through again.

All in all, I hope I can keep this new phone for longer, and also keep my data safe.

 

 

Cool Tool: Wattpad

Today makes it seven days I have been without my phone. It was stolen while I was attending a meeting, with Jaden in tow, but the story of July 21, 2018 will be written another day. Today its about Wattpad.

I used to write a lot of stories, and took to blogging like a fish takes to water, but along the way, life happened and I found myself writing less. I joined a group called IBcoco to ensure I wrote more often, about two years ago, but I find that story-telling, which was what drove me to writing in the first place, was missing in my posts.

So I took to writing a bit at a time, on my phone. I lost a half-finished story when my phone got stolen seven days ago. My heartache drove me back to Wattpad and I began writing afresh.

What is Wattpad?

Wattpad is the best place to read and share stories. It’s the place where stories are redefined.

Wattpad is a community for readers and writers to publish new user-generated stories in different genres, including classics, general fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, poetry, spiritual, humor, and teen fiction.[5] It aims to create social communities around stories for both amateur and established writers.[6]

The platform claims to have an audience of more than 65 million users, who can directly interact with the writers and share their opinions with fellow readers.[7]Although available in over 50 languages, 77% of its content is written in English.[8] A number of Wattpad users are translating stories to continue to build the platform.[8]

I have been on Wattpad since 2009, but mainly for reading stories. Wattpad offered mobile reading solutions from then, and I loved the ability to read anywhere any time. You can also vote for your favorite stories and comment.

The site has evolved to more than just a reading service, and even offers awards called Watty Awards, to the best and highest voted writers on the platform.

If it were not for Wattpad, I would not have found PreOrdained, a wonderful Nigerian story of hardship, choices, and victory, by Ad_zy1. Nor would I have found the story of the year 2015, Storm and Silence by Robert Thier, a juicy read that also teaches you about the old English aristocracy and culture.

I hope to complete my stories soon, and this time, share them with the rest of the world.

Good Deed: Do_action Lagos 2018

Last weekend, I was part of a team of volunteers that worked in the do_action Lagos 2018. What is do_action?

do_action is a charity hackathon that uses WordPress to uplift local communities.

do_action hackathons are community-organised events that are focused on using WordPress to give deserving charitable organisations their own online presence. Each do_action event includes participants from the local WordPress community coming together to plan and build brand new websites for a number of local organisations in one day.

from the do_action website

A month ago, when I was asked about volunteering, I was sure I would not be able to participate because I could not see how I would be able to balance my time. The worst thing would be to volunteer, then not be able to show up or help. I was able to offer assistance a few days before the event though, and I am glad I could still find a place.

I was the official assistant to the convener, Mary Job, for the day. This means I was everywhere and running all over the place. I enjoyed it. My joy increased when I realized that one of my friends who runs an NGO made it to the final list that would be assisted.

The five NGOs that got websites that day were REEL Foundation, Life’s Beacon Initiative, St. Don Bosco Foundation, Seedtime Foundation, and Al Hurriyah Foundation. I spent most of my time working with the Don Bosco team.

Here are more pictures from the event:

Building a Payment Plugin for OSMPro

As I am known to do, I take on small plugin projects from time to time. Having small programming code work to keep my mind churning has always helped to distract me from other things that could drag me under.

This time around, I had just finished one Joomla payment plugin for Virtuemart, for the Nigerian payment gateway, Paga, so writing another should have been easier. I was wrong. I was still yet to test the Paga plugin live, as the client was unresponsive, but I felt I could also rush this one in three weeks and be done.

I repeat, I was wrong.

This plugin is for the Nigerian payment gateway, Paystack, a cool new payment solution that everyone in the Tech community is proud to be associated with. Its also heartwarming that the founders are old friends of mine, but don’t let me digress.

Joomla’s plugin system, called extensions, has a very different naming convention compared to WordPress. In Joomla, there are Components (think big complex plugins), modules (think plugins that can be displayed in different positions at the front end), templates (think themes), and plugins (usually do invisible work at the back end). Components can have modules and plugins working with them. There are also extensions exclusively for the front end, and for the back end.

I was to build a Paystack payment plugin for the OS Membership Pro component. Keep in mind that there is no documentation (I had to rely on the skeletal documentation for one of their other plugins which my client claimed he was told was similar). After three months of battling the code, I had something ready for testing, but could not get access to the file server of the client, so I could work on the files directly. No responses from him so I gave up.

Fast forward three more months, and someone at Paystack buzzed me for help. He noticed I was a Joomla! fan, and had developed payment plugins for other components in the past. He needed help with developing one for the OS Membership Pro component, and was wondering if I was game. When he realized I already had something going, he encouraged me to finish, and offer me help 😀

So here are the notes and lessons I learnt the hard way while battling with it. I know I am bound to build another payment plugin for this component, so I figure, having something I can refer to, tomorrow, to make my work easier, online, would be awesome.

  1. Recurring or not: if the plugin you are developing does not support recurring payments, then don’t test it with plans that have recurring subscription activated. I wasted valuable time testing because I did not do this – sounds easy but when you are not that familiar with the component, it’s not.
  2. Naming: the name of the plugin in the xml document must be the same as the name of the php file. That’s the only way it will show up in the front end as an option to be selected for payment.
  3. Blueprint: The PayPal plugin caters to both recurring and single payment modes, so use it as your blueprint for your plugin.
  4. Redirect or Credit Card: If you want to redirect to the payment gateway, use this skeleton they recently put up on their GitHub page . If you want to build a plugin that uses credit card, use this one. I worked on the Redirect option.
  5. Classes and functions: The main class extends MPFPayment. There are four functions -> __construct, processPayment, verifyPayment, and validate. Because of the different nature of the payment form, I also created my own renderRedirectForm function.

I will keep adding to this list.

Work: The Future

A friend of mine sent this to me and I thought I should share to a wider audience:

*The Future of Work and The Work of The Future… A Presentation by Olufunke Amobi, Country Head, Human Capital, Stanbic IBTC. Compiled by ‘Kunle Ajayi, Co-founder Enterprise Innovation Laboratory.*

The future of work is already upon us and it is clearly defined by Technology. This implies that the work or Jobs of the future belongs to those who can maximize and explore modern Technologies to their advantage. By the year 2025, which is just about 8 years from now, a lot of jobs would have been taken over by Technology, because the rapid transformation experienced in the world in the last fifty years is six times more than that experienced in the thousands of years of world existence. This means that there are bound to be job losses. But the good news is that, there would be so much more jobs… Only for those who are prepared for it.

We are already in the fourth industrial revolution. Which means that we’ve had three previous revolutions and they are :
1) The mechanized or Agricultural revolution
2) The Electrical or mass production revolution
3) The internet or Jet age revolution
4) The digital revolution

The digital revolution is characterized and dominated by Robotics, Artificial intelligence AI, Machine learning, Virtual reality VR, Augmented reality AR etc. These technologies are already prepared to take away jobs and replace them. For instance Robotics would take care of Admin/paper works, clearing, investment/financial analysis etc. Artificial intelligence AI would take care of voice recognition, cyber security, Biometrics etc. Machine learning would efficiently handle Data Science, predictive analysis etc. Infact, Larry Page, one of the founders of Google said that AI is the future of Google Search engine. Meaning that Google Search engine would simply be taken over by AI.

Some of these technologies are already on us. We have seen the Drive through mall in Saudi Arabia, The Uber Air Taxi, Pepper robot by Stanbic IBTC Bank, Alexa on Amazon that has over 3,500 skills & growing, Driverlss Taxi, Robotic Waiters, IBTC Sami on Facebook that can help you open your account without battling an eye lid and a whole lots more. They are already in use.

Globalization would be really diverse and interesting because we would witness a great rise in Freelancing, outsourcing, E-commerce, Teleconferencing( Skype, VR etc). We would also experience an increase in Demography and a change in it as well. The population of the world by 2050 is expected to hit whooping 9 Billion people. Research has it that those born in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s & 70s, known as Baby boomers does not have the kind of immunity and life expectancy like those born in the late 80s, 90s & the millennium children. While life stops and slopes downward for the Baby boomer generations, who by 60 have to retire, for the millennial children, life just begins for them at 60. Because their life expectancy is placed at 100. It would be so because, the world is working towards low carbon emissions as well as a Green economy. These millennial children also have the capacity to redefine things in their own way, not to be constricted within the four walls of either classroom or that of an office.

It is very important to say that young people needs skills and experience for the Future and not for/of the Past. Jobs are becoming 70% Automation. Entry level jobs are disappearing. One fact that is worrisome is that 60% of Students are still being trained in Courses that will be radically changed by Automation latest by 2025. By the year 2025, research has it that people will prefer to work from home and not from the office to avoid hassles, wear and tear. It means there would be flexible work schedule for plenty employees as well as several freelancers who have gotten the skills and needed Experience.

*32% of current jobs globally would fall away and be in extinction by year 2020* just 2 years from now. This would be as a result of innovations, disruptions and productivity. Innovate or die👌🏻

As young people, we must become *Ambidextrous*. You must be able to do more than one thing. Be hungry for much. Don’t just stay put with that Old fashioned sentence… “I’m a medical Doctor ” or “I’m a Lawyer”… My response to you is… *So what*💁🏻💁🏻💁🏻. What else can you do? You must have double digit skills. You must evaluate yourself. Don’t have less than 10 skills minimum because Enterprise skills are the work of the Future.

Where are jobs going to be? This should guide the courses you would take in the higher institution. If you are a graduate, go back to school either online or On-site and hone your skills.

They would be in the following sectors and in this order:
1) Media, Entertainment and Information

2) Consumer focused

3) Healthcare

4) Energy

5) Professional Services

6) Information Communication Technology ICT

7)Mobility

8) Basic and Infrastructure

9) Financial Services and Investors.

It would be an aberration and self injustice this age to go and study Psychology, philosophy, History, Banking and Finance, Business administration etc. Why? Because these courses are already Saturated in the Market. Hence employers are looking for something new! When we have courses like Actuarial Science, Deep learning, Neural Network etc.

By the year 2025, Creativity skills would be 260% demanded, Presentation skills would be just 110% demanded while Digital Literacy skills would be 680% demanded. Therefore, you need to learn new things. Learn second languages like French, Spanish, German, Mandarin etc. Do take note, that 70% of the jobs of the Future would be Enterprise Skills!

Finally, look for skills that would make people keep knocking on your door, not the one everybody is doing.

Stand out!!! Do not react to this presentation, rather Respond to it by Taking Actions.

*Don’t Learn for the Past, rather Learn for the Future!*

Thank you.