Mifos is forking from Grameen Foundation’s Technology Center. MIS Technology provides the back bone to a microfinance organization and is more than vital. A good open source solution is an important member of the playing field for microfinance MIS. I hope that COSM will do well carrying forward Mifos!!
I decided to write the Arusha Times today because after months of
working with Airtel to fix a serious issue that affects prepaid
internet users, I was finally told the truth today. That truth? “NO.
Now go away”
I am a very experienced network engineer & security auditor from the
US with 26 years of IT work under my belt. After moving here to do
volunteer flight medical work, I bought an Airtel modem and subscribed
to the 3GB/Week plan. Being a computer geek, I use A LOT of bandwidth.
So I finish 3GB quickly, and then recharge and do it again. I quickly
realized however, that it was cutting out before using the full 3GB I
paid for. Having the access, I installed professional grade network
monitoring software to see what was happening. I did this on several
computers, with several SIM cards. What I found was that the service
would cut off after only 1.5GB of usage, or 2.3GB, or only 1GB.. etc,
randomly. I would check my account balance and Airtel would respond
that I had used 3GB of data.
I brought this to the representatives at the Clock tower office. It
didn’t take them long to get a response from their technical staff
that yes, they could see this happening, and that I wasn’t the only
one to report it recently. By the time of writing this article, I have
lost (pro-rated) 130,000 TSH from this. All the while being assured
that I would be refunded and that this issue would be fixed. For FOUR
months I was strung along, always being told it would happen soon.
Finally today, I demanded that the refund be issued, and that I be
given contact information for someone up the corporate ladder to speak
to. I was told that they aren’t authorized to give this information.
That was it. Not only were months after months of my time wasted, but
even worse, who knows how many other customers are being defrauded
because they aren’t as technically proficient as I am? Now, I want to
take a second and mention that while Airtel has failed miserably in
both honesty and customer service, the representatives I worked with
here in Arusha, despite being unable to accomplish anything for me,
were very friendly and understanding. I hold no animosity in their
So in the end, the fact remains that Airtel is taking money for a
service and giving less than what is being advertised. They have
decided to acknowledge this while at the same time refusing to do
anything about it. Why should they? They are getting free money from
us! Beyond that however, is the blind greedy arrogance to deny us the
ability to resolve our issues with them civilly. Support emails go
unanswered, repeated trips to town are necessary to follow up, and
when finally given a flat denial.. access to those who have the power
to do WHAT’S RIGHT is blocked.
So here I am. Thank you Airtel for giving me incentive to be proactive
and fight back."
∴ Angry Airtel Tanzania customer writing a letter to the Arusha Times.
e-learning for the GRE
I took the GRE in December, 2011 and had to prepare myself while living in Arusha. Because the GRE test service, ETS, had recently revised the test, all of the print GRE study materials that I saw in Tanzania (very few) related only to the old GRE. To study for the revised test I decided to use only internet resources. This was one of my first full circle user experiences with e-learning: almost all study on a computer and the GRE test itself was a computerized exam.
For the sake of future GRE test takers who happen to come across this blog, here are my brief reviews of my study materials. They are listed in order of importance to the test.
Magoosh.com/gre - $99 - was an awesome online study resource. Magoosh has practice questions with clear written and video explanations for each answer. There is a video library that covers all question types and a wealth of questions for each test section with dashboard to set your own study sessions. The Magoosh study materials are spot on for GRE difficulty, especially the Math. If you can master the Magoosh math, you will do really well on the GRE Math.
GRE Vocab iPhone App by Brainscape - $4.99 - was my ‘crack the GRE Vocab’ tool. This iPhone/web app helped me to get through memorizing thousands of arcane vocabulary. It is a very basic flash card study system with card sets of 100 words. The flash card system has a built in word rating function, where you rate your level of knowledge on a specific word. The lower rated words would appear more often and give you more chance to view them before moving on to new words. The vocabulary set was highly relevant to the GRE. One big area where this app could be improved would be a quiz functionality for each card set.
My GRE Tutor - ~$10 - was a good and inexpensive website with a revised GRE practice exams, plenty of practice questions, and clear question explanations (written only). The material was a little bit on the easy side, so this resource might be good for someone just starting to study for the GRE. The best part about this website was that it made a good amount of study material available for a reasonable price.
ETS Practice GRE - free - is a full length practice GRE using the test day software. This got me used to the test format and the test taking software. It also gives an estimated score for the verbal and quantitative sections (but not the essays). I highly recommend this practice test to get used to the GRE format and to give a baseline for studying.
BenchPrep.com - $149 - was my least favorite web app for GRE studying. I purchased the BenchPrep membership when I was just beginning to study for the GRE in July. When ETS announced their introduction of the revised GRE in August, I asked BenchPrep customer service if the GRE section would be updated with new materials for the revised test. I was assured that it would be done within a few weeks. It is now March, 2012, and as I am writing this, BenchPrep has still not updated my account with study materials for the revised GRE. For such an expensive resource, this is hugely disappointing. Additionally, the BenchPrep flash card application (web) is terrible. They also built in chat functionality to the site, but it seems glitchy and always displays the same messages. I did not try BenchPrep’s iPhone app or Android app and for budding GRE scholars I would not recommend purchasing BenchPrep’s GRE materials.
Overall, this was a great experience to expose myself to an end to end e-learning experience. All of my studying was done online or iPhone (with the exception to writing some of my study notes!!) and the revised GRE is a computerized exam. I really liked getting immediate ‘tutor like’ video or written feedback on my right and wrong answers, especially the Magoosh Videos. This helped me to focus on the question areas where I needed extra practice. I also found that my performance on practice quizes, getting 50% correct answers for example, fueled my motivation to improve my results. Also, the online materials helped me to prepare for the computerized exam, as I was very used to answering questions on a computer screen before taking the GRE. This could be especially useful for someone who has not yet taken a computerized exam.
E-learning is a technology branch that holds much promise for making education more accessible, fun, and engaging. This experience confirmed for me that e-learning is a viable channel for education and especially test prep, where there is a big potential user base and the materials are fixed to the test.