Google can now tell you what song is playing


Late last year in one of my night outs the DJ played one song that stuck in my head. It rang on and on and on. Problem is, I didn’t know who sung it and the song didn’t have any lyrics just the instrumental and catchy chants. So for once Google was of no use to me and I was a junkie to a song to which I couldn’t get a fix! I was angry and fidgety.

I wish I had The Google Play Sound Search then. The widget can help you recognize music and songs playing around you. It’s basically a Google Search for audio. After identifying a song, the app will give you every detail about it including; the artist, writers, lyrics, You Tube video, when and where the artist will be touring and even a link to the music store you can purchase the song.

Apart from telling you what song is playing, this app can also identify songs, directly from your home screen, purchase identified songs straight from Google Play and add them to your Play Music library and keep a song identification history, synced across all of your Android devices, so you can purchase a song later.

After you’ve installed the Google Play Sound Search widget, go to the widget picker and drag the Sound Search widget onto your home screen. Click on the widget to start recognizing. Surprisingly, the app doesn’t only recognize English songs; it also has an ear for Hindi, Chinese, French and many more. I’m not sure about its Kiswahili proficiency yet.

The song I was talking about in the beginning of the article, Million Voices by Otto Knows.

Pesos: Free
Thoughts: For Android users, this is better than Shazam.



Live in the moment with Snapchat


If you use Facebook then you’ve probably spent a lot of time trying to edit or crop an image that would create the most flattering impression of you to your friends. If you’re tired of this self-censorship then Snapchat is what you need.

Snapchat is an Android and iOS app that is used to send fleeting images to friends. The catch is that the image self-destructs in less than 10 seconds so you can lose the concern and just capture the moment. As their website says, the image might be a little grainy, and you may not look your best, but that’s the point. It’s about the moment, a connection between friends, and not just a pretty picture.

The app was developed by now CEO Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy in 2011 as a Stanford University class project. The two thought that emoticons were not enough to transmit the emotion of a person at that particular moment.

So how does it work? Once you download the app from the store, create an account that allows you to connect with other subscribed friends of yours. You can then take a photo, add a caption or even doodle over it and then send it to selected friends. There’s an option to set a timer from 1 to 10 seconds in which the recipient would be bound by to view the image. When the set time expires, so does the image- never to be seen again.

Currently, Snapchat has over 10 million unique users who share 200 million photos daily. It’s the ninth most popular free app in the Apple app store and is especially popular with teens. The app is available to both Android and iOS users with word spreading that Windows Phone and Windows 8 versions are in the development.

So join the fun and cool world of Snapchat to share those funny faces and googly eyes you’ve always been scared to put up on Facebook.

Cost: Free
Verdict & Rating: Only downside is the interface which is not so appealing compared to its iPhone copycat Clipchat. 4/5





Facebook hookups? There’s an app for that: Bang With Friends

bang with friends

She liked my status update…she wants the D! I don’t know what the reverse gender version of that statement is (thinking of it, I don’t even want to know) but we’ve all juggled with the happy thought of “By God, if I could convert that Facebook Like into a hookup.” And oh yes, there’s an app for that!

Bang With Friends is a mobile application that simply exists to help people sleep with their Facebook friends. If you’re married or a poor bloke like me whose friend list is half family, be smart and keep off this app. According to the creators, this app is the anonymous, simple, fun way to find friends who are down for the night.

So how does this work? Well after getting the app and signing in with Facebook, the page gives you a Pinterest-like slideshow of all your friends- of the opposite sex. Below every image is a tab that reads “Down to Bang”, and that’s what you click on if you like what you see. They will only show your friend that you’re interested if they are too. So until that person you’re “Down to Bang” is also down with you, no communication is made. Once you are both down, they will send you both an email – when and where is up to you.

The app claims to have more than one million users and 200,000 matches. However, questions of privacy and morality have naturally dogged this app since it launched in January 2013. The iOS version has already been banned from the Apple Store but the Android version remains.

There have also been concerns of just how secure the app is, with claims that your Facebook friends can tell if you’re using BWF. The creators counter this by saying that the user’s default setting has now been changed to “Only Me” instead of “Public” or “Friends” after Facebook’s Graph Search functionality opened up to a wider audience.

So, are you down to Bang?



Let’s give change a chance!


Before I start

This is an intensely personal article.

For some time I have wrestled with whether to post such a patently political post on this blog. I have done so before, in August 2006 and December 2008, writing on tribalism and on what Obama’s chances would have been in Kenya.  I am first a Christian and only later a Kenyan. There are those who would say that a Christian should sit down and keep quiet about the evils going on in his/her country. Secondly, from what I have read about the Welsh Revival of 1904-5, from my study of church history and from personal conviction, I believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be the greatest force for social change in any community. For this reason it is highly unlikely that I will ever seek political office. It is not my place.

On the other hand, it is also…

View original post 1,736 more words

Plus ça change, Plus c’est la même chose

Courtesy of GADO (Facebook page)

I hardly know French. Apart from Bonjour and Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, that’s the only other French I know. But I like the said statement, mostly because it makes a mockery of hopeless hope. We believe in change and “Yes We Can’s”until the peddlers turn around with a smirk and tell us how silly we were to fall for their one and only trick yet again.

I hadn’t had the chance to follow on the recent national developments over the course of the week. But I had seen people make a lot of noise about our parliamentarians on social media. Words like selfish, self-serving, monkeys-in-disguise, dropouts were being thrown around. I thought to myself, “Did Kenyans just this week have an epiphany?  Our MP’s have always been that way.”

So I decided to wait for the weekend, when I’d find time to catch up with all the parliamentarian’s newest sins. Saturday came, I copped as many dailies as I could and I started digging. I learned that the entire outcry was about the lawmakers chopping and changing our year-old constitution. Through a series of amendments, the ‘honorable members’- in one sitting- saw it best to unilaterally piss on the 70% ‘YES’ referendum votes by Kenyans.

They proposed to allow a Presidential candidate vie for other positions and they also proposed that sitting MP’s be cushioned from the budget proposal that every Kenyan pay their taxes. In all his wisdom, the Speaker threw out the obnoxious suggestions. But the scheming was just beginning. What followed was a legion of crazy proposals that would make this man happy.

They altered the Political Parties Act to allow party hopping up to two months before the General Election from the original five. They also changed the Elections Act to provide that parties can present their presidential candidates can be up for nomination to the 12 special seats in the National Assembly- never minding the fact that these were reserved for the disabled, youth and the marginalized. They also meddled with the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Act and the Sexual Offences Act.

However, the most highlighted amendment and that which caused Kenyans to turn red in their Facebooks had to do with education qualifications. The legislators crafted a clever way to go around the possession of a university degree requirement for anyone to vie for an elective post. So, they exempted themselves from that requirement. See I had never realized that while the likes of James Orengo and Martha Karua referred to each other as ‘learned friends’, there was a bunch of others who would feel discriminated due to their unlearned nature. This is when it hit me that our Legislature is littered with dropouts.

That amendment proved to be the final straw. A day of national outrage followed. This is where my theory comes in. Picture a Kamukunji of the smarter MP’s:

“Ok learned friends, the nation is turning against us. What to do? Hmmmm…”
“We shall not suffer the scorn of Kenyans because of those few fools among us.”
“Let us confuse them with complex amendments that will puzzle their little minds.”

So Amos Kimunya walks into Parliament the next day with a new proposal. He says that it will be mandatory for MP’s to hold university certification in 2017. The rest of the House take this to mean that they have been given leeway to contest the 2012/2013 elections. They unanimously pass the proposal and consequently proceed to exchange high fives and chuckles. Charles Kilonzo (after getting a clever wink from a fellow smarty- again, completely my theory) then gets up and cuts short the cheers. He suggests that the Legislature goes back to the original amendment by the ‘unlearned friends’ and do away with it. So the rest of the House sees no harm in that and again they unanimously pass the proposal. Cheers, roars and handshakes of mistaken victory continue to ring in the Chamber’s air. This happens until they are notified that they have bizarrely dropped the axe on themselves.

Now, as Kenyans petition the President not to assent to the amendments, the disgruntled ‘unlearned friends’ are also writing to him begging him not to seal their political demise saying they did not understand what they were doing! So the President is now stuck with amendments that neither Kenyans nor the Legislators that passed them want signed into law.

But then, why are Legislatures amending a constitution that a majority of them and Kenyans supported and overwhelmingly passed as a break from the eerie past? Why is there more amending than there is implementation? The answer is, any promise of change coming from a politicians tongue is just a false dawn. For them, and also us who tolerate them, THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME.

Chatroom Blues

Before Facebook, before the Twitter, before Google+, before the words ‘Let there be light’ (okay, you get my point) There were chat rooms. I mention them with tender emotion, a heavy heart and watery eyes. Rest in peace roomies. My sentimentality with chat rooms springs from the fact that I did a lot of ghost socialization in them. I had my first ‘digital kiss’ in one and I even went as far as to break my ‘digital virginity’. I did a lot of growing up in these rooms.

But enough with my chat room melodrama. Chat rooms were more than that. They were the Garden of Eden of social media until Facebook and The Twitter bird nipped on the apple. In the process they doomed us all and took us back to what we were all escaping from- reality.

Chat rooms made online socialization a fantasy. Somewhere you could log in and let your imagination float to the high heavens without any attachment and consequences. No names, no tags and the only liking that happened was in a private section of the room.

The main pillar in which chat rooms were built on was anonymity. All you gave was a user name, city and country. The pseudonymous nature of such connections brought out the creative best in everyone involved. The screen names ranged from witty to absurd and the rest just bordered on insane. There were the Hollywood inspired- WesleyPipes, MonsterBall, Mufasa; the smooth operators- Kasanova (he was from Kasarani), DonJuanMachakos, CandleGuy; and there was just the outrageous ones- 1 + 1 = 69, DevilInMyPants, UuuiiAti?Uuuuuuuuuiiiiiiii

Those who have been to such chat rooms know how they worked. It’s like a huge mansion with a variety of rooms inside. Every room is governed by a particular theme- like Flirting and Sex, Friends, Sports, Late Night and so forth. One was at complete liberty to hop in and out of any of these rooms. It’s no riddle which my favorite room was (as was any other teenage boy and girl). So as we all met in the Friends room…

What I liked most was the honest and competitive nature of the chat rooms. One was not judged by their appearance, pockets or mode of transportation. Just the power of their written word. In the Friends room for instance, everyone would come out with the best plagiarized sonnet and lay it down on their target. Since there happened to be more suitors, the whole room would have the aura of a 14th century theatre.  In the end, he who hath the most convincing written tongue would get the honor of being requested to accompany their fine maiden to a private one-on-one session.

That is mostly where I brought out the big guns and got my Edgar Allan Poe on. One time, I opened a private session with, “I have seen your photo and I must say your luminous eyes are brightly expressive as the twins of Leda.” And just like that, I had myself a ‘digital girlfriend’, never mind the fact that her eyes were lifeless and I didn’t even have a clue who the twins were. I must add, sadly, that the ‘digital relationship’ did not last long. She caught me ‘digitally cheating’ and after a long ‘digital argument’, got ourselves a ‘digital break-up’.

I remember feeling adventurous or rather bored one time. I was hoping in and out of every room trying to find something different. I landed myself in the Italy room. Within a minute of joining, I had private room requests from 3 lovely ragazze. I credit that to my username ‘OthelloOfKenya’. I think it ringed a bell…So I picked the fruity one and in brief- this is how it went. Let’s call her Desdemona.

Desdemona: Hi
Othello: Buon giorno!
You speak Italian?!
Othello: Only when punished
Desdemona: kassssshhhhhhhwaaapp
Othello: Mamma Mia!
Desdemona: hahah
Othello: heheh
Desdemona: so what are you doing in Italia
Othello: I am in search of the fairest maiden to make my Queen. My father died and left me his kingdom- I need to do the same too.
Desdemona: Die?
Othello: Not before I get a heir
Desdemona: Are you from Zamunda?
Othello: No! that is Eddie Murphy’s Empire…

Here’s another interesting chat room conversation that one of my crazy friends partook in.

CrazyFriend: So what you upto?
Lady: Nothin much, just chillin in bed with my John Grisham
CrazyFriend: Uuuuh! I’ve never heard of that one
Lady: Seriously?!  It’s really nice
CrazyFriend: How much of it is left, I’d love some
Lady: Uhm, I just started, I’m on page 54
CrazyFriend: That must be a classy one- they measure it in pages
Lady: Kwani what do you think John Grisham is?
CrazyFriend: A drink
Lady just checked out of the chat room.

That is what I miss most about the chat rooms. They allowed you to be foolish and childish. But they are dead now. And their chief assassins- Facebook and Twitter do not allow you to be that way. Since no one likes to be publicly associated with foolishness and childishness, the last time I tried some chat room antics on my Facebook page, I lost friends quicker than a billionaire gone broke 😦

Salamu Maria

‘Bow down, pray to God hoping that He’s listening’ – Tupac

Reader discretion is advised. I’m delving into very dangerous religious waters with this one. Before I get deep into the topic, I’d like anyone reading this to know that these are nothing but my own personal opinions. I have had enough of these arguments to know that speaking contrary of people’s beliefs is the quickest way to be hated. It’s at this point that I invoke my freedom of worship.

I write this for my mother and her prayer group. I write this thinking of Desmond Tutu, Timothy Njoya, Archbishop David Gitau and all other dutiful religious leaders of their kind. Finally, I write this for everyone who makes an effort to live in a righteous manner.

Recently I took a big step and renounced my Catholicism. I hope my mother does not read this because it will break her heart (I have since learnt that she is now following this blog 😦 ) She put in a lot of energy to ensure that her house remains a faithful Catholic unit. I remember with a lot of nostalgia all the evening prayer sessions our mother used to lead us through. We all sat in an arc with rosaries in hand and recite endless ‘Hail Marys’ and ‘Our Fathers’. Do I need to point out how boring such moments were for a young kid? I slept through half the sessions.

I should be clear that my recent renunciation had little to do with the Church and very much to do with the general state of religion currently. I only renounced Catholicism because that is what I was. I would have done the same if I was a Pentecostal, Jehovah’s Witness, Anglican, Orthodox or Evangelist.

I feel like religion in our modern world has turned against humanity. Religion at its purest is meant to nourish our souls with spirituality and instil righteousness in all of us. Instead it’s now being used to blind and poison the masses. The problem is not with religion as much as it is with the leaders of these institutions. Religious leaders have turned into the modern version Pharasees. Most of these shepherds have lost touch with the realities of their flock.

Churches have turned into the very same commercial hubs that Christ so angrily warned against. Every time I see a preacher on TV they have an M-Pesa number accompanying them. With such materialistic tendencies, I fully expect to see churches list themselves in the stock exchange quite soon. I even saw one preacher chest-thumping to his congregation, saying how he moves around in a lavish vehicle. Kinda like Christ choosing a muscular stallion over the humble donkey. Unthinkable. I am not perfect; I would also choose material possessions any day of my life.  But once the people that are supposed to be helping me get rid of my moral imperfections become even more immoral, you have to ask questions and demand answers.

What of religion getting mixed in with politics. I see religious cum political leaders accused of stealing from the same people who trusted them with leading them out of poverty and into the gates of heaven. I have seen religious leaders go on laughable political campaigns to deny an oppressed society their ticket to freedom. Even the corrupt are hiding behind the false image of Christ, unapologetically declaring themselves religious leaders.

I always look around at all the pain and anguish that man causes fellow man and wonder, where do all the religious teachings we receive go. I read somewhere that religious wars have cost more human lives than both world wars combined. I cannot verify it. It may be just another bogus statistic concocted by anti-religious forces. But it does point to the unnecessary violence springing from the most peaceful of intentions.

Muslims, Jews and Christians war, No one’s left to praise the Lord!

So back to the day I renounced my faith. To be honest I had already started losing it long before. I got tired of institutionalized spirituality, I got tired of routine spirituality, I got tired of justifying to others and to myself especially, all the current and historical allegations against the Church. So I broke free. I declared myself a free spirit. I still try to live by the ‘Good Book’ but I will also try out all teachings and practices that would build my soul and bring me closer to Godliness. It will be a long torturous journey for my soul but I think it’s time it discovered it’s own way rather than settle on the one it was born in.

Despite all of my recent declarations, I greatly miss those childhood days when we would all sit together and pray as a family. I miss reciting all those ‘Hail Marys’ and ‘Our Fathers’. I don’t know why but maybe that’s the secret power of genuine prayer.