Using Cell Phones as Teaching Aids

Some time ago there was a huge scandal where some students used cell phones to record videos of themselves engaging in sexual activity. This blew up into a storm of fury and calls of banning cell phones, that way the students can have sex and we won’t know. Well the Ministry of Education did not heed that call and thankfully so – the cell phones did not make the students sexually active.

I know the Ministry does have somewhere in the back of their minds that the mobile phone will someday play a part in education; there were some requirements for projects that I came across that stated that the solution should allow connectivity or have the capability to allow connectivity of mobile devices. Well there is one school district that has moved way further in making that happen.

The Keller Indepedent School District (ISD) has started a pilot project that uses smart phones for a 5th Grade class at Trinity Meadows Intermediate School. The phones can’t be used to make calls or send text messages, but otherwise all the functionality is there including MP3 player and camera. The educational applications built-in are tailored for the lessons being taught.

The idea behind the whole thing as I see it, is that the smart phone is a tool that students can have access to at all times and allows different methods and mechanisms for teaching concepts at a practical level.

The idea is not a novel one, as I know that Japan has been using the concepts for a long time and has so far gone to use the Nintendo DS in the classroom, but it does mean that the idea is catching on.

I strongly believe in education and anything that improves the chances of having better educated children and a society as a whole I am certainly for. Maybe, our Ministry should also look at this; with the amount of money that they are wildly spending they should at least put some to good use.

Recession on hold until after carnival

The Central Bank governor is saying that Clico is in a far bigger mess than what they thought, which has led to CL Financial sources saying that the CBTT is being harsh to them. I say that CL Financial got themselves into this mess and not the governor.

What is surprising to me is the lack of real concern by the masses of the turn of events. There was much brouhaha after the press conference announcing the buyout conditions for CL Financial by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GoRTT), but that has died down tremendously. I think that people only have Carnival in their heads and not taking on the goings on with CL Financial, but wait till Carnival finish and they have no money to buy everything that they are accustomed to.

Signs of a recession?

When the financial crisis hit the US (and other part of the world), our Government ministers went on record to say that we are in no trouble, then later the Prime Minister went on TV to saying, “time to tighten your belts“. After that, Finance Minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira says that the crisis won’t last for ever.

Now on the heels of plant shutdowns and government cutbacks, we get breaking news – Government Bails Out Clico! It seems that CLICO Investment Bank (CIB) just does not have enough liquidity – basically no cash – unlike the other banks that have truckloads of the stuff (while I don’t). Not being liquid, especially in these turbulent times, opens the door for panic and even legal action.

I cannot understand a few things though:

  • CL Financial is a privately owned company, not under the scrutiny of the public eye or shareholders.
  • Lawrence Duprey is like a gagillionaire, and under this plan he reduces his liability (and probably loses little as well)
  • CLICO gives millions of dollars in sponsorship every year to sports, parties and fireworks shows, is it that they were being really supportive, or just didn’t know what the heck was happening.

So why are we pulling Clico out of this jam with taxpayer’s money? The CL Financial Group is the parent company of CLICO (Colonial Life
Insurance Company) and manages assets of over $38 Billion Dollars (I
assume TT), which is about a quarter of T&T’s Gross Domestic
Product (GDP). That’s a really huge chunk of moola we’re talking about,
so we really cannot afford for the group to fail, but at the same time, I hope that someone is held accountable for this, as I am sure that there was signs of trouble long ago.

The question is whether the recession is here? Well, technically no, although it’s pretty close. We define a recession as two quarters of consecutive negative grown (positive shrinkage?), so what we have is really a slowdown, and depending on how it is managed, we can get through the current world economic crisis without going into a recession. It is to be seen what will come and what the goverment and people will do. Our actions alone will determine how we get out of this, so act wisely.

The New American President

So the new President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama, has been elected and taken office. I must admit that I really, really got tired of everyone in Trinidad (and the Caribbean) singing praises for the American President, especially when we have our own mess here to clean up.

I certainly do not expect in any stretch of the imagination that President Obama will put any emphasis on trying to help our Caribbean countries, especially when he has inherited a real sad state of affairs. I think that too much is expected of President Obama and we must realise that he is one man and that his priority is going to be trying to jump start the american economy once again and prevent a long and serious recession.

I am very happy for the new president, but I don’t accept that there is real change in the government. Change is not about colour, but about the way things are done. I guess only time will tell on that one.

In the meantime, stop showering praises and expectations on the man, and try stepping up to help yourself and your community.

My little bundle of joy…

Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express.

Joseph Addison 1672 – 1719

My baby girl, Sanjana Renuka Ganpat, was born on 21st August 2008. It was a bit tough going there for a bit, but thankfully both mom and baby got through it okay.

And now the real tough part begins… bring it on!

See more pictures in the photo gallery.

Ready for a Recession?

In the US there is a lot of talk and fear about a recession hitting this year. I don’t think I am in any position to debate that. From my pretty much uneducated opinion, though, I believe that one is brewing. Based on the sub-prime mortgage issue, the war on terror and the increase in consumer credit, it just looks like the US is setting themselves up for it.

We here in Trinidad and Tobago should not feel that we are immune to the effects of a recession in the US. As our main importer of our major export good – oil and natural gas – and our main country of origin of imports, we need to think again. I for one is looking carefully at developments.

The fact is that progressions and recessions are part of the economic cycle – what goes up must come down – but as countries develop the net gain should be a progression. As such we should be ready for one should one occur. I was catching up on some news and came across two blogs that discussed how to stay employed in a period of economic recession.

I invite you to take a read of these articles as they provide some pretty good advice. I have some points on my own (that are related loosely to the points in the articles.

  1. Update your skills. Just being continuously employed is not enough if you are not also ensuring that your skills are up to date – get those certifications or do those short courses that you have been putting off. Note that skills not only refers to the technical ones but also the softer ones. Organisations are progressively looking for the kind of skills that you can’t get from a class (although they do try don’t they).
  2. Improve your education. You would find that you not go very far in your own organisation, far less others, if you are not improving your education. If you don’t already have your degree then get going; if you already have your degree, then get an advanced degree or even an MBA.
  3. Have a plan B. Sometimes we will set our careers around only one path that should that industry collapse or become over-subscribed with employable candidates you become unemployable. Ensure that you have something else to go to if your chosen career goes bust, even if then change in career means a reduction on salary.
  4. Create your human network. Cisco has it right, the human network is one of the most important weapons in any one’s arsenal. Make contact by joining and being actively involved in professional institutions, non-governmental organisations or even sports clubs. You know what they say – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

One article (Are Gen Y-ers Greedy or Just Different?) though sees any recession being a wake up call for those Generation Y’s out there. It’s something you see with young school leavers and recent university graduates, especially in the IT industry. You have candidates calling for large salaries and nothing to show for it.

I know that if a recession hits it would be terrible for some, but a part of me wants it to happen to wake up the citizens of the country. With government spending out of control and prices of housing through the roof, we need something to get us back on track.

In Loving Memory of Uncle Prem

“You doh know that if Robinson couldn’t close he leg, he woulda fall through he asshole!”

Uncle Preman referring to former President and Prime-Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, A.N.R. Robinson.
25th December 2007.

 

Deonarine Parsan
Sunrise: 14th March 1951
Sunset: 27th January 2008

 

One of my best uncles passed away this weekend. Deonarine “Preman” Parsan passed away on the night of Sunday 27th January. Born way back on 14th March 1951, he leaves to mourn his wife – Tara – , three children – Sunil, Sunita and Kavita – and four grand-children – Jerome, Joshua, Vinda and Atma – as well as his mother and father, brother and sisters, nephews and nieces, and numerous friends.

He was always the life of the party and you could always depend on him for a laugh with his numerous jokes and antics.

He will be sorely missed.

It is ironic that I said to myself that this year I would keep more in touch with my family and friends. It just goes to show that the time to start anything is now, because you never know, you could be here today, and gone tomorrow.


Uncle Prem and his animated antics on Christmas Day 2004.


Uncle Prem (left) and my Dad at my wedding reception on April 12th 2003.

You can find more photos in my photo gallery.

The IEEE Computer and Communications Society T&T Chapter is now offical!

Those who saw my earlier post on the IEEE Computer and Communications T&T Chapter would know that the inaugural meeting was held on the 12th of January. The meeting was smaller than I had hoped, but did expect. Member apathy is one thing that we really need to overcome. The executives for the period 2008 – 2010 are:

  • Chair – Sachin Ganpat
  • Vice-Chair – Prof. Mansour H. Assaf
  • Secretary/Treasurer – Gifton Caesar

I think we have a very good team here, and I am extremely excited. Below was my address to the small gathering:

Good Morning fellow members, IEEE Executives and fellow professionals.

I would like to thank you for coming out today, taking time from your usually busy lives to come to this our first chapter meeting. And the first of many.

The IEEE is one of the world’s largest volunteer organizations. As such, it is through the work of the local Chapter officers that the work of the IEEE and its Societies is accomplished. To accomplish its goals, the IEEE and its societies are dependent on the involvement of its members through the local Chapters. This means that the future success of the Chapter, the Section and the IEEE as a whole depends on you, fellow members. [Read more…]

Security Heads Retreat!

So it seems that the Minister of Backpedaling, umm, I mean National Security, has taken the heads of all the security agencies and others to a nice weekend at the Salybia Beach Resort. While they are calling it a retreat, I think it is to breaks from the licks they are getting after Joseph admitted that the Government failed with it’s anti-crime initiatives.

Later Joseph recanted his statement after the PM said that they did not fail.

Now, I take the ole talk sometimes, but now is not the time; we need action and no amount of ole talk can create that. A source revealed that some of the new anti-crime initiatives were:

  • the return of round the clock bike patrols in residential communities
  • a gun amnesty
  • increased rewards for information leading to arrests
  • a return of the community police
  • a restructured Rapid Response Police

Now, does any of these “new” anti-crime initiatives look new? All these were suggestions made so long ago, by everyone, including the current government. Again, ole talk!

Are they going to address the public’s non-trust of the police service? Are they discussing the social issues regarding crime? Are they discussing the apparent non-intelligence of the police force? We don’t know what they are discussing.

The Opposition also only wants to politicise the issue when we need to come together to resolve this mess.

We need to have action now, and stop the blame game. The police service needs to get their act together and start enforcing the laws. We need to get the criminal elements out of the police service, and we know that they are there. And we as a people need to start holding the government of Trinidad and Tobago accountable for our security. Every month we pay for them to provide protection for us, we must ensure that we get our money’s worth!

Airplaneseatreclineology

I’ve never considered Stephan Pastis, the author of the comic “Pearls Before Swine”, to be much of a philosopher, but this one from the 23rd of December 2007 really got me.

It just made so much freaking sense!