My cell phone is my ‘shadow’. I often call it my ‘heartbeat’ or my ‘lifeline’, because I can do so much with it - BROSDI, executive director, Ednah Karamagi.
When I switch my computer on in the morning, the first things I check are my e-mail messages. I go to my webmail for work-related e-mails, then my Yahoo and Gmail accounts. I use both these services for different purposes. Yahoo is for friends and relatives, while Gmail is for more formal communications and even for work sometimes when the webmail system is down. The webmail has a good spam filter, and I have managed to block unwanted mail in Gmail so that I don’t receive any there either, but I haven’t quite managed that with Yahoo yet.
I also look at the websites of the main donor organisations for their latest news, get more information on their work, and find out what other types of projects they are funding.
I use the bookmarking tool in Firefox to store the web addresses of the sites I visit regularly, and I split them into subfolders, depending on whether they are for personal interest or for work. I use RSS feeds too, to stay updated with new postings on a few sites where I don’t want to miss anything.
I use Skype a lot, especially for meetings, and use Yahoo Chat with friends, but I use the latter for work communication too as I find it more stable than Skype with my current internet connection.
PBworks, a collaboration application, is very useful, and I use it every day. I love this type of type of wiki because it allows me to have sub-wikis within one main address, which makes it easy to access the different sections. It is a very flexible and efficient tool for work. I use it to write reports and proposals with office colleagues, but it is especially useful for research projects. I post everything there, including photo links, practical methodologies, literature reviews and even the final report. ( www.pbworks.com)
We use Yammer in the office to update each other on what is happening in each programme, and it allows us to comment on each other’s activities from the previous week and for the week coming. ( www.yammer.com)
Doodle is the latest application that I use. This is basically for scheduling appointments and events. The reminder function is particularly useful. Too many of these scheduling applications have to be linked to a particular e-mail program, so I like the fact that this one can operate independently from any of my e-mail accounts. ( www.doodle.com)
When I am stressed, I turn to Facebook for refuge. Here, I am able to laugh and comment on friends’ posts. I chat about anything on this platform, work and fun, or do ‘wolokoso’ as we say here in Uganda. I find Facebook a great way to discover other people’s opinions. Because I have a wide variety of friends, it is easy to ask for information and get advice. I received some great feedback when I asked about a new cell phone I wanted to buy, on how to download videos from YouTube, and when I was looking for details on educational opportunities.
I also love Twitter. I love it especially when I attend workshops, and my friends and colleagues want to know what is happening there. I can update them easily, and I can read their updates when they attend conferences and seminars.
I am on LinkedIn too, and use it mainly for networking with people within my sphere of work.
Apart from the usual office programs, like Word, Excel and Adobe Reader, I use PowerPoint, to prepare presentations, and Publisher for design. I edit and resize photographs with Photoshop, and share and organise the results using Picasa and Flickr. For video, I find Windows Movie Maker very useful and easy to use, as is Dreamweaver, which I use to design and publish websites. I taught myself to use Dreamweaver from the manual alone.
My cell phone is my ‘shadow’. I often call it my ‘heartbeat’ or my ‘lifeline’, because I can do so much with it. I will use it to call someone if it is likely to be a long discussion, or if I just want to chat and laugh with friends. For short messages I send an SMS, and I sometimes use my cell phone for conference calls with groups of farmers. There is a lot of competition between the telecom companies in Uganda these days, which means exceptionally low calling and SMS charges. And the cost of a SIM card is almost negligible, so I have SIM cards for all the networks in the country. There any many inexpensive phones that take up to four SIM cards per phone, so I don’t need to have so many phones and can respond to callers using the cheapest network.
From the CELAC (Collecting and Exchange of Local Agricultural Content: http://celac.wordpress.com) project, I learned how to rear chickens. These are very delicate birds and so when they fall ill, I have to act quickly. I can use the camera on my phone to take a photo of a sick chicken and then go to the vet in town, who can diagnose the problem, provide advice and any medicine if necessary.
I sometimes use my phone to record short videos, or even just audio, from farmers when I visit them. Video is often better for capturing moments that you can so easily miss with a photo.
Karamagi Ednah, executive director, Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative