Newspapers going online

I just got a text message ad from a cloaked number telling me about
reading the Punch newspaper on my mobile phone for 600 Naira a month.
First thing that ran through my head was: SCAM. This is just my hunch.
I've got no way to prove it. Now, I wonder, why would a newspaper like
The Punch use such a medium, a relatively expensive one at that, to
advertise a new service that required payment, and payment into an
unnamed firstbank account. How did they get a hold of my number? They
are intruding on my solitude by sending me an unsolicited text
message, and providing me no way of opting out, or even voicing my
lack of interest.

With these questions unanswered, i did take a look at the site:
mobile.punchng.com. It looks legitimate, even though i've got images
disabled on my browser, and i'm not sure if that is the newspaper's
usual domain name. The site looks well-designed, and does contain
news. I goes a-checking, and pretty soon, it asks me for a login. Not
exactly professional or thoughtful, methinks. I mean, i've searched my
brain for all the news sites i browse. I can't remember any that
charge me for online access. Some niche journals yes, but a general
newspaper?

Well, if this site is legitimate, and the rather klunky subscription
process works, then praises to them for taking such a forward-thinking
step. However, i don't think requiring subscription is a winning idea.
Moreover, i still suspect that this is an elaborate scam.

Morale of the story: don't use spoofed phone numbers to send sms
requesting prospective clients to pay cash into an unnamed bank
account in order to access a service that nearly all your competitors
offer for free. Also, the distinction between mobile sites and
full-fledged ones is blurring ever so fast. My mobile phone has a
300mhz processor equipped with 96mb of RAM and a browser with some
javascript support as well as flash lite. In other words, only the
screen size prevents me from viewing full-featured websites in their
original layout. I won't want to pay extra to view a site specially
formatted for small screens. Among other reason…

Hmmm, I'm getting really bored in this orientation camp.


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Camp day 11

Weekends are usually light for us. This saturday wasn't much
different. Most of the morning was ours, and we had drills in the
evening.

We had a "party" at night, another one of those boring parties. I
didn't bother attending. Slept long hours this night as well. One
piece of sad news we had was that our usual sunday morning break from
camp wouldn't hold. The state director gave us a flimsy excuse for not
allowing us have the customary break, but he was the ultimate
authority, so we had no argument.


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Camp day 10

The main point about this day was the lecture. A manager at the
central bank of nigeria, together with a few folks from some
commercial banks operating in nigeria came to educate us on the
opportunities available for funding businesses we might conceive
during our service year. This was one of the interesting and engaging
lectures. At the end of the lecture however, the lecturer threw in a
care-free "praise the lord", and this became a big deal amongst those
present.

In my opinion, this was a harmless statement. The man was introduced
to us as a reverend, so this was not out of place. Secondly, he did
not expect us to respond. I believe he just wanted to lighten the
mood.

I still bang my head against the wall trying to figure out why we
derive joy arguing about overly simplistic things such as this. This
was not a statement worth making a fuss over, yet many people insisted
that better was expected from a man of his stature, since he was
addressing a multi-religious audience. Another moot point. That
statement is not strictly tied to any religion. Furthermore, it falls
into a class of statements i call "rallying statements", at least in
this situation. Such statements serve only to draw attention to the
speaker. I did get a fair amount of flak for arguing in favour of the
lecturer, but well, i'm sure the sensible folks agreed with me.


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Camp day 9

Parades, one lecture, badly organised. I guess the previously
acceptable lecture was only so because it was interesting.

I'm making new acquaintances but so far, my hostel-mates are the ones
i've got familiar with.

I'm still bored of camp and the counting days left…


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Camp day 8

The lecture we had on this day was about entrepreneurship. We were
given various tips on how to write a good business plan, resumé, and
various strategies for seeking jobs. We were also told about the
various things put in place to assist people who are willing to become
self-employee.

We had one motivational speaker come talk to us about how we can still
be something despite weak grades in school. Fine and dandy. Many
people believed him. For some, this was the first encouragement they
had got since leaving school. For me, i always knew this, i was more
concerned about the next step.

Back in the hostel, many people spun stories based on today's
lectures, some were naive, some were sensible. I think the worst were
the pompous: folks who felt they already knew all this. I always try
to check myself on this point. I knew most of what he was saying, but
more important, i believe, was the fact that i knew that this
knowledge in itself was worthless. It matters more what i do with this
knowledge, and only time will tell. So, i urge myself to always try to
make the best use of the knowledge i have, while acquiring more. This
is not as simple as it looks…


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Camp day 7

Today we returned to the regular routine. I had a bad cold so i
skipped the 4am parade. Luckily, no attendance was taken.

I attended today's lecture though. It was about the millenium
development goals. Today's lecture was better organised, and i found
it interesting. Most of these lectures are held in order to inform us
of the various options we have for our community development service.
I haven't mentioned this before, but the NYSC programme has four major
activities: the orientation programme, which i'm in currently, the
community development programme, the primary assignment (year long)
and the passing out programme.

Evening was spent doing the parades and watching volleyball and
soccer. I also had to go and fix a typo the NYSC folks made in the
spelling of my name.


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Camp day 6

The lecture was just as poorly organised as the first one.
Consequently, very few people participated in it.

One of the highlights of today was that it was a public holiday, and
so we were excused from the usual regimen. I ate, relaxed and strolled
around in a bid to quell the depression growing on me. I have even
started counting days to when this cycle will end, and i can't help
but tap at my phone every 5 minutes, hoping there's a text message or
email that needs my attention. RSS feeds aren't updated nearly as
often i check.

To add weight on my spirit, i have an annoying cold which keeps me
taking medication thrice daily, and feeling correspondingly drowsy.

The inter-platoon sports competition kicked off today. Not as much fun
watching as taking part though.


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Camp day 5

We weren't woken up at 4am as was usual here. Another good thing about
this day was the fact that we would have about 5 hours of freedom to
leave the camp if we wished.

I didn't know anyone in this town, but i had a friend, a former
colleague of mine, whose brother stays in town. We went out together,
stopped at an ATM So i could get some cash, then we went to the
friend's brother's house.

Ate fried rice and chicken, drank some fruit juice, and watched a
movie "The Score". We got back to camp on the brink of time, and the
rest of the day was spent washing clothes and chit-chatting.

For some reason, i'm getting bored of this camp. Perhaps it's because
i don't have much access to the things i love doing (computers, tech
magazines, internet, music)… I try to remind myself that staying in
high spirits is actually my choice, and as we were told in man o' war
training, i have no option but to be happy.

We played soccer in the evening. Everyone who cared to. Tomorrow, we
shall have a lecture about HIV/AIDS. I am reasonably educated about
it, and well aware of the damage it is doing to my society. I hope i
don't make stupid mistakes… Once again, i get a positive feeling
about the ideal behind this orientation programme.


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Camp day 5: the welcome party

Today i had to remind myself that keeping a journal wasn't easy.

The day began with the morning meditation, and we had quite a number
of speakers address us afterwards on topics which were then promptly
forgotten. The only thing which everyone looked forward to, yet no one
expected much from was the welcome party. It would be the first real
opportunity we would have to interact in a less formal and purposeful
setting, but the party wouldn't be exciting. For one, there would be
no intoxicating drink, and secondly, it will take place in a crowded
hall, and no food would be served. Everyone wondered how the
organisers would manage to make it engaging.

Since we were allowed to dress as we pleased, "without revealing too
much statistics", everyone took part. There was music, and some
restrained dancing. Well, i'm not such a fan of these wildly erotic
dances that go on at parties, but i have to admit i like the
atmosphere they create… Hey, i'm a young man :).

For the most part, we acted responsibly. Another round of applause to
the state coordinator for trusting us to do the right thing.

I did meet a lady from my tribe at this party, so it wasn't so boring
for me. One thing to look forward to on this night was the fact that
we won't have to wake up at 4am tomorrow.


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Camp day 4

We have the lecture today. It felt just like school. It was held in a
theatre that wasn't well adapted to giving and recieving lectures,
which lacked a practical public address system, was crowded, and did
not contain enough seats… It was a disaster. Can't really blame the
camp officials, they could only make use of what they got.

This disastrous sequence continued into our afternoon parade. Some
hard-headed and unreasonable fellas picked up the habit of imitating
the parade commander's funny accent whenever he gave a command, and he
got quite annoyed. We were cautioned strongly and threatened with
punishment but it still took more criticism of our colleagues on our
part for them to desist. I recall telling one guy who kept insisting
that he is hard-wired to have fun that he was simply asserting that he
was an idiot. I guess he wasn't such an idiot after all, because this
seemed to strike a chord in his cranium, and he adjusted as if to
prove me wrong…

Subsequently, the parades felt like torture. We kept practicing the
moves we thought we won't be needing again until our left thighs hurt
from being stamped on the ground in performing the "attention!"
motion.

It finally came to an end, and we all retired to the dining. I did
come out for a stroll later, in order to confirm for myself the rumors
that NYSC orientation camp is usually full of illicit sexual
activity… Much like i expected, this was wildly untrue. I believe i
can confidently say that most people just make up stories of what they
did in camp, or what happens in camp. Yes, a certain level of flirting
goes on, but this is just like a university campus. Maybe this is just
Katsina state camp that is this calm, and maybe this will all change
in the coming days, but it doesn't look at all likely. We shall see.


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