Sunday, 4 January 2015

How to Copy VideoCD .DAT files on Ubuntu. Simplest Guide.

Do you have that VideoCD that you would like to rip? Wanna save those precious .DAT files on your Ubuntu hard drive? If so, follow these simple steps:

1. Go to Ubuntu Software Centre and type 'mplayer' and afterwards 'mencoder' and then proceed to install them both.

2. After that, open the command Terminal and type the command mplayer vcd://1 and push Enter button

That will display the tracks inside the disk, or rather the files, as follows: (It's important you know the number of tracks since you will be copying them individually.)

desktop:~$ mplayer vcd://1
MPlayer 1.0rc4-4.5.2 (C) 2000-2010 MPlayer Team
mplayer: could not connect to socket
mplayer: No such file or directory
Failed to open LIRC support. You will not be able to use your remote control.

Playing vcd://1.
track 01: adr=1 ctrl=4 format=2 00:02:00 mode: 1
track 02: adr=1 ctrl=4 format=2 00:18:68 mode: 1
track 03: adr=1 ctrl=4 format=2 01:05:02 mode: 1
track 04: adr=1 ctrl=4 format=2 01:18:22 mode: 1
track 05: adr=1 ctrl=4 format=2 44:20:67 mode: 1

Exiting... (End of file)

Now it is showing that the vcd has 5 tracks. So we can extract each track individually using mencoder as follows

3. mencoder vcd://1 -o track1.mpeg -oac copy -ovc copy and push the Enter Button

Wait until it is done (upto 100%) and movement stops. This will extract track 01 only, which will be on your Home Directory. For track 02, just rename as follows

mencoder vcd://2 -o track2.mpeg -oac copy -ovc copy and push the Enter Button

It is a bit tiring to keep extracting one by one, but I do not know another way, and besides, as long as you get your tracks then there is no problem, and still, it is quite fast.

For track 03,

mencoder vcd://3 -o track3.mpeg -oac copy -ovc copy

And so on.

But remember: Remember to rename as instructed or you will be copying and overwriting the tracks. You can have a pen and sheet of paper to avoid copying the same file twice, so as you can tick the file you copied. If you would then afterwards like to change the files into .mp3, I suggest you also install WinFF. Good luck.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

How to install ZTE USB modems on Ubuntu

Although you can still use the modem by setting it from the edit connections (upper right corner on the network icon) and then clicking on add, scrolling to Mobile Broadband..., you will not be able to access the modem's menu, like texting and all that stuff. That is why I went to pains to make - or rather edit - the readme.txt from the linux folder.

This is the correct way:

The readme.txt of the software. These installation procedures are written by Kimani wa Mumbi. (

 The "readme.txt" a simple help file. It is best to read "readme.txt" before install the software. The "readme.txt" 
 contains the following sections:

 WHAT IS the software             General description of the software.
 INSTALLLATION             How do install the software.
 UNINSTALLLATION         How do uninstall the software.
 RELATED SOFTWARE                Other stuff you should get.

 Other documentation files in the distribution are: "PCL_BATAFR.tar.gz". The tar.gz file include following files or folders:
 Airtel_Internet.tar.gz        This is the installation packet;                                This is a setup script;
WHAT IS the software
 The software is a application software for Linux and it is a manager for the mobile device. It will allow 
 you to establish a connection to the Internet using 2G/3G cards, and it will also allow to send and 
 receive short messages from your computer. 
 In order to use your 2G/3G device, you should run a fairly recent version of the Linux kernel. 
 The application has been tested on Linux 2.6.20 and newer. If you have an older version installed, we 
 would recommend to update it before going on. 
 Before installation, make sure you have the needed dependencies installed (qt3, wvdial1.5.6 or newer). You can get them on Ubuntu Software Centre. Type wvdial and you will see them. (If you are using anything after Ubuntu 13, typing qt3 will not give you any results, but they will probably be included in wvdial.)

 The steps of installation are as following:
 1. Copy the installation packet "PCL_BATAFR.tar.gz" to Desktop or other path;

 2. Extract and get a folder, the folder include following files or folders:
    Airtel_Internet.tar.gz            This is a installation packet;                                This is a setup script;

 3. Open the Terminal and change the current working directory to "Desktop" (if you extracted your ".tar.gz" there) by typing "cd ~/Desktop", then change your current working directory to "PCL_BATAFR" by typing "cd ~ /PCL_BATAFR". (The instructions on the "readme.txt" on the Modems is misleading as you cannot make a "tar.gz" file a directory). Ignore the quotation marks (" ") when typing the commands.

 - Make sure you are in root privilege. Run the shell-command "sudo ./". It will ask you for the sudo password so enter your Admin password. If you are new to the Terminal, ******* will not be seen when typing the passwordso just type your password and Enter. You should then see the process. The airtel icon can be searched for at the dash.

 System Requirements: Linux Kernel version 2.6.20 or higher
 Make sure you are in root privilege.

 The ways of uninstallation are as follows:
 way 1: Double in the directory "/opt/Airtel_Internet" to uninstall the software.
 way 2: Open a shell-terminal as root and run a shell-command "/opt/Airtel_Internet/" in the shell-terminal.
 - the related libs with qt3: libqt3-mt_3.3.8,libaudio2. the installation order of the qt3 related software is as following: 
   a. libaudio2; 
   b. libqt3-mt;
 - the related software with wvdial: ppp2.4.4 or newer, pppd2.4.4 or newer, wvdial 1.5.6 or newer. The installation order of the wvdial related 
   software is as following: 
   a. libxplc; 
   b. libwvstreams; 
   c. libwvstreams; 
   d. libuniconf; 
   e. wvdial.
   In the installation process, all the packages above aren't installed necessarily. User can select integral parts to install. 
 - the related software with sound: aplay (If it doesn't exist in your Linux operating system, please get it and copy it to /usr/bin/ and make it executable: chmod +x /usr/bin/aplay ).
   The ways of getting these related softwares are as following:  can get these related softwares from your distribution OS setup CD/DVD ; also can get them from following websites:
     1) Fedora:
     2) Ubuntu:
     3) Debian:
     4) the rpm-packet's website:

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Naming System in Kenya

Traditional communities of Kenya used the patronym or matronym.The Kikuyu used 'wa' to mean 'of' so, Kimani wa Mumbi is Kimani (male) son of Mumbi (female). The use of the mother's name among the Kikuyu was a result of polygamy, where a man would have more than one wife, sometimes upto 10. Using the mother's name was important, moreso to the father who needed to know which wife gave him which son, or daughter.

The Kalenjin use 'arap', as the Maasai use 'ole', while the Meru use 'mto' sometimes just shortened as M'. So if my Meru name is Kiraitu M'Murungi, it means that I am Kiraitu son of Murungi. And you read the name as Kiraitu Mto Murungi, not Kiraitu Mmurungi.

Even though Kenyans adopted the English tradition of using the paternal surname, after being colonised, most - if not all - did not use it the English way. Look at the example below to clearly understand:

A man called Paul Kimani Njuguna,
is the son of John Njuguna Gitau.
And John Njuguna Gitau,
is the son of William Gitau Kamau.

Clearly, the surname in the English concept should be Kamau for all, from Paul, to John. This discrepancy was brought about by the fact that even though the Kikuyu, and many other Kenyan communities, adopted Christianity, and hence English customs, one's given name was always a Kikuyu one, or an African one. The English/Biblical name is what was, and still is referred to as the 'Baptism name' and one did not get that until after going to church to be baptised. This baptism could happen two weeks or even months after one was born. That did not mean that you had no name. One had the African name. Still, under the influence of the missionaries, the baptism name came first i.e. before your African name, and so your first (African) name became the middle name, and your given (baptism) name became your first name.

To make it simpler:
When a child was born, Africans already had their naming systems - maybe after seasons, conditions, ancestors, family, etc. - so if a child was born today they would name the baby, for instance
Wambua mwana'a Nzeki, i.e.
Wambua child of Nzeki.
(Wambua means the child was born during the rain - mbua.) This is an example of the Kamba way of naming.

So, after Wambua was old enough to take to church for baptism, the name Wambua would become his middle name, preceded by say, Paul. And that is how Paul Wambua Nzeki would come into existence, according to the colonists.

By this argument, it would be safe to conclude that Kenyans did indeed name like Ethiopians, where in Ethiopia the name:
Hamerti Paulos Gemechu,
means that Hamerti is the daughter of Paulos, who is the son of Gemechu. I come to this conclusion seeing that Africans in Kenya did not really consider the baptism name when naming their kids, and neither did they use their father's name (last/surname). They merely used their first (given/African) name. Otherwise, we would have been able to trace our ancestors a long way up the tree by just a name, the family name. Only a few communities like the Luo do that, hence the Obamas, the Nyong'os, etc.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Kilometre – The Snob

I would like to start by informing the reader that this is a true story. It is about a snob who is still alive as I write this. His name is Kilometre.
Not many are sure about when and where Kilometre was born, but he was alive during Kenyatta I’s regime, and he was born around Kigumo in Kiambu County, the exact village unknown. I have seen this man with mine own eyes and therefore I believe what I was told about him since I do not see any reason why anyone would make up a story about an innocent man, and also due to the fact that the whole story was too good to be a fabrication.
During his youth, he was a conman, a fraudster, and Kenya had a dictator for president at the helm, contrary to what many people mistook Kenyatta for – a statesman. If you happened to look up dictator in Collin’s Gem dictionary during the 70’s, you were sure to see Kenyatta I’s picture and an example in a sentence about him, so I was told. But there are no more dictionaries of that kind – 70’s – these days and you would therefore not see what I am trying to say.
Kilometre was from Kenyatta’s Kikuyu ethnicity and so using the dictatorship to his benefit, he would go around Central Province terrorizing land-owners, telling them that Mzee wanted them to vacate their premises. So he got a lot of land that way – whole coffee plantations. And the people were not that educated to know their rights, nor their lefts, and even if they should have been, Kenyatta I was so busy grabbing land for his future generations that he would not have given a rat’s ass about anyone’s rights. If he needed your piece of land you had to vacate as soon as you possibly could. And so Kilometre enriched himself with stolen wealth. He became extremely rich. Filthy rich.
It is said that he spent money like it meant nothing. Every time he went drinking it is said, he would leave his Land Rover’s engine running, saying that since he was drinking, so should his Rover. And the Rover’s tank was always full. He had all the money in the world. After such drinking sprees, he would often ask the poor what it was like to be poor and would often ask God to send him just a drop of poverty so he could experience what the poor man did.
Those who knew him say he had two more Land Rovers but he would often exaggerate at the bar, saying, “I’ve got four sons, and four Land Rovers, what else would I need in the world? Each son with his own!” They also add that should his Rover Jeep have stopped because of any minor problem, he never tried to start it again. He would have several boys rounded up who would push the Rover home, no matter the distance, with himself sitting as comfortably as if he had not the slightest care in the world. Many say there was quite a close connection between man and car.
I believe you now think that I must be a terrible story teller for not telling you how he got his name in the first paragraph, but everyone has a way of doing things. I believe this is the right time to do so. Well, during his drinking sprees, Kilometre used to boast of his great many acres of land and that a deer would not run a kilometer in his woods before a hunter shot it. In other words the woods were so extensive that a deer would rub a kilometer without getting out. Whether this is true is a matter of opinion, seeing that he would boasts of 4 Rovers for his sons, and yet they were two.
This very day, as if God used to listen to his ‘prayers’, the man is poorer than a church mouse and the only indication of his now gone greatness is his great compound is its size and the ruins. No one knows how exactly he squandered his wealth.

The Ethiopian Beggar

Ethiopia is the ultimate beggar-tourist destination. All beggars in the world should endevour to make that trip to Ethiopia to see how business is conducted. Of all beggars in this wide world that I have had the fortune to meet, the Ethiopian one stands in a class of his own. He is just as filthy as others in the business, and just as poor, but what makes him stand out is the fact that he seems to be always informed on the hottest markets year round. Now, in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, every day of the month is dedicated to some saint, and they celebrate most of them in some flamboyant way. They do not celebrate all the saints but the most notable ones in the church’s history, but that does not in any way mean that they degrade other saint’s. in Ethiopia, too, they name their different cathedrals after the different saints and that means that if today is Kidist Mariam (St Mary)’s day, they all flock to St Mary’s cathedral; if it is Kidus Yosef (St Joseph)’s, they still do the same. And these cathedrals may be located miles apart but people hire out taxis and buses to ferry them to the different locations. And who else would you least expect to be absent from there than the Ethiopian beggar: young and old, sturdy and sickly, beautiful and ugly, hungry and satisfied.
They line up the paths, streets and highways that lead to these holy places of worship and lay down their rags and wait for the faithful to come drop a coin on their mats, or rags. And Ethiopians come by their hundreds, with so much loose change to give them. They make sure that they get as much loose change in coins to give these hundreds of beggars and they drop them coins until they run out of the coins. Should they run out of coins, they get a bigger denomination, drop it at the nearest beggar and then take change! Imagine that! I drop a quarter and take back and dime! Such professionalism! Then they proceed to go pray. Ethiopians are so pious.
On the other hand, the beggar sits by his rag and patiently awaits a coin while at the same time uttering loud enough prayers for mercy while mentioning several saints and the Trinity, evoking that empathy that exists in the human nature. The beggars are not so pious.

Though I do not despise these beggars, there is a class of beggars that I do not wish existed. These are the ones that go around showing very ugly parts and deformations that are so vile. They show you diseases that would make you cringe, whatever that means! A missing limb, a missing eye, with a part that looks like it once belonged to an alien. And boy they make you feel so bad, showing wounds that would make a little kid run with fear to the end of the world. Anyways, it is not my business to classify these beggars, I have to leave them at that.

A Trip from Moyale to Nairobi, Overland

Before you leave for Nairobi, from Moyale, get ready for the journey is quite an exciting one. I booked a seat, no. 37 on a Moyale Raha bus, and waited till the next morning for departure. Well, morning eventually came and I boarded a bus, along with my luggage. We started the journey at 7.00 am.
Moyale is at the border with Ethiopia and that means that you should have come in contact with skista, the Amharic dance. If you didn’t then no need to worry. The best skista dance lessons are on the way. There is no tarmac road for about 300km and there the bus jolts you this way and that and the driver seems to care less, being seated at the very front where there is no ups-and-downs, literally. We jumped here and there, at times for an inch, at other times for many several metres that would have made a pole-vaulter jealous. I remember after hitting a crater on the road – the driver often thought they were nothing but mere potholes – I was tossed so high in the air that I hit the roof and came landing on the wrong seat, or rather on a very beautiful creature, the species of mankind, of the opposite sex. I landed awkwardly such that I looked like I was her dear baby that she was holding in her arms. I did not want to waste such a precious moment that the lord hath provided for me. I kissed her sweet lips fast and then apologized, blaming the driver and even cussing him out loud, but deep in my heart I was blessing the same driver. After that I was in secret prayer, fervently praying, asking God to bring the whole Great Rift Valley at the next moment we got to hit a crater. I wasn’t very successful at this request, but we danced all the same.
And then we got to some desert, which I think was called Chalbi. My o my! I have never seen an area flatter than this, and all full of nothing except miles and miles of rocks covering the ground, and men with hundreds of camels travelling to a drinking hole, from a grazing place, carrying nothing but a stick to control the camels. They carry no water or nothing! And they survive. That is where our bus broke down and we made camp for about five hours as we waited for another bus from Moyale. The sun and the wind are involved in that epic battle for supremacy, as the wind blows with all its might and the sun shines with all its glory.
But the road is under construction at places and so you enjoy a short smooth ride that tricks you to believing that all is going to be well after that, but that is pretty much what you experience all the way. You experience a short smooth ride, and a looong one that makes you utter cusses you never thought you would utter. There was nothing else special except all the police barriers looking for illegal aliens, which they might as well have ignored – they were just as corrupt as Kenyan police officers are inherently supposed to be. There was a codename “Mahabusu” which in Swahili means “convicts” but this was used by corrupt officials to transport illegal foreigners to Kenya without the police disturbing them. It is a complicated network, and these police must be compensated otherwise they wouldn’t allow these aliens in without being bribed. I think the guys who do this are based high in the government, or at the immigration department. These “mahabusu” usually travel with some “official” who books them seats at the very back, usually, and he sits at the front. That way if there is trouble, he can deny them and they get arrested and jailed or deported or whatever happens to them.
There was nothing else interesting on the way except that the bus got a flat tire, it was safe, but while we were changing the tyre I lost my ID.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Wonderful Ethiopia

1. Of Butcheries

Muslim and Christian butcheries exist in Ethiopia, with a crescent and cross to indicate the same, respectively. Christian butcheries are mainly pro-Orthodox Church and so non believers, pagans, and Protestants really must feel left out. Kenyan Christians are so tolerant: they don't care what you told the cow before you killed it. Why, they would eat beef from a cow that was slaughtered by Old Nick himself! As long as the cow is made of meat they will have it. The reason I say this is because it is a well known fact that in all the slaughterhouses in Kenya, a Muslim is always available to kill the cow while uttering "Bismillahi", telling the cow that it is being slaughtered in the name of Allah, the most magnificent, the most graceful. If there wasn't one for the same, no Muslim would eat the meat from Kenyan butcheries. I am so proud of the many million Kenyans who don't care about the cow's religious affiliation. In Nazareth I had friends asking me why I visited any butchery and they were offended when I told them that in Kenya animals don't attend mosques and churches, hence no need to care. As long as the cow was free of mad cow disease and made of delicious meat, bring it on. I have always experimented on the meat. I have brought both my Muslim and Christian friends to my place at different occasions and without telling them where the meat was from, they all attested to the fact that the meat was delicious. But all Ethiopians coexist amicably, despite their different butcheries.

2. Transport System

I may not have travelled all across Africa but I can comfortably say that Ethiopia has the best, most organized transport system in Africa. They even have the best airline carrier in Africa: the Ethiopian Airlines. This is due to government "interference". The government sets fares for all distances from the biggest buses to the smallest Bajaj autorickshaws, leaving no chance for greedy conductors and bus owners, or the cartels we hear about in Kenya. If it rains in Kenya we all know fares go up. And not only are they set by the government, but the fares must be indicated by way of a sign at the front where everybody can see, with an official stamp. Talk about a responsible government! It might sound like communism and many people hate it  I wonder why - but, hey, it's for the good of the public.  Even basic goods like sugar and cooking oil have their prices controlled by the government. This makes sure that all Ethiopians have access to them. I'm sure if the Kenyan government came up with such an idea, political temperatures would flare. Kenyan politicians are just politicians. Few seem to care about the welfare of the citizens. On that note, I would like to tell you that my salary is higher than the Ethiopian Prime Minister's, by about 2000 Ethiopian Birr! Politicians here are about as honest as any can get.

About transport, the government owns a fleet of buses that charge as little as Br 1 (1 Birr) in the cities. Do you know how much that is in Kenya? Ksh 4-5! If this isn't amazing then nothing else would amaze me. They remind me of the city stagecoaches but we failed to keep them. These are called Anbassa Buses in Addis Ababa, and are red and yellow, and some are two combined like two train cars, and are all assembled locally. Anbassa is Amharic for lion. In Kenya the minimum you would pay must be Ksh 20, or around Br 4. These days bus and Matatu conductors in Kenya do not recognise 5 bob as legal tender, no matter how short the distance you have travelled. You might hear one say: Hiyo patia mtoi anunue pipi (Give that to a kid to buy sweets). It wouldn't be so in Ethiopia if it wasn't for the government regulating, and not only that but also monitoring continuously. In Kenya they decide to implement things but then they don't monitor progress and  before you know it, everything goes  back to "normal". First time I came to  Ethiopia I would just take the autorickshaws and travel from one Kebele (village) to another. It was so cheap I just had to do so.

To show how serious the government here is, roads are paved and new ones constructed, year after year. If you ever take the road from Nairobi to Addis, like we passionately call the capital, you would see the difference. The last time I travelled we left the Tarmac near Isiolo. From there to Moyale, there was something that looked like a road, with curious small mountains and craters in it, and the driver cared nought for that. We danced the whole way, and got painted in dust such that when we arrived in Moyale, we looked like one large family, of lunatics! At Turbi - which is so named after the seven hills around it (Turbi means 7 in the local language) - your vehicle must be stuck on the mud about 3 hours during the rainy season. And if not, there must be something wrong with your vehicle. As soon as you cross the border, you make the acquaintance of Tarmac and you converse all the way to Addis, except small portions that are being resurfaced.

When the Kenyan government is giving and canceling contracts amid charges of corruption in the tendering process, Ethiopia gives contracts and projects are started immediately. The railway in Ethiopia is almost complete, what we call standard gauge. In Addis parts of the railway are elevated, and some underground. Buildings have been brought down for the same. We know what happens in Kenya when a building has been bulldozed - drama - and these have been brought down in the very heart of Addis! When we were still dreaming of the Thika Superhighway, Ethiopia had completed hers and it was no longer a novelty to the locals. Ethiopia has recently just completed a toll road - the Addis-Nazareth expressway - a great highway that charges motorists, from Nazareth to Addis. Do we have a toll road in our beloved Kenya? Nope. Ethiopia is truly amazing. Maybe we should follow Ethiopia's footsteps to develop, Kenya.

3. Location of Ethiopia

Kids and adults alike innocently tell me that I don't look like an African but that I look more like an Ethiopian. This inspired me to write a poem, Nappy Head. You might have noticed that I seem to mean that Ethiopia is not in Africa but this is what they think. The kids innocently ask me, "You say you don't speak Amharic. But you look like an Ethiopian. If you are not Ethiopian, what are you? African?" I think Social Studies teachers here are sleeping on their job. They aren't working hard enough to tell these kids that Ethiopia is in the heart, not exactly but on the dexter shoulder of Africa! I am not usually amazed when I go to some place and they whisper that I am African and some even have the audacity to call me "Africa" and all the countries they know  in Africa. Sometimes I'm "Nigeria" all the way to "Uganda"! I just smile at their blissful ignorance and also because I love Africa. But with a Rasta hat and speaking English, I sometimes become "Jamaica"! They tend to associate the word Africa to Sudan, if you know the Arabic literal meaning. I was dazed when one guy strongly declared that my parents must have emigrated from here and he parted with him calling me a liar.

Kimani wa Mumbi travels Africa whenever possible