Found this today on our way into the Ngrongro park in Tanzania.
So I am on the third day of my trip to Africa, and beside the giraffes and elephants, a mysterious creature that has highly intrigued me is nevertheless the Africans themselves.
From day one, the motto which led any interactions with the locals was the phrase Akunna Mattata, which, as translated by our lovely though quite guide, means ‘All Good’. Apparently, this is the motto that have derived the African community thru the last one thousand years, and in some regards, this way of living seems to be the exact opposite of leadership, action and thought for that matter.
The first example of such behavior was seen the moment I had set foot in the dark continent. As 200 people stepped off the 757 in the airport, it was instantly noticeable that this terminal was never intended to have such vast amount of people step thru it’s gates. The officials in the terminal, which indeed seemed very nice, did ask us for our passports and the 50$ visa fee. But when we asked them where we will be able to find our passports later, the answer we received was the meaningful Akunna Mattata, which in that case translated to “do not worry, some magical force will come down to this land and help us organize your passports in a while. For now, just relax and try not to think about it”. Of course that to our deep sorrow, this magical force has never came to help us, and as the confusion grew, the faces of locals only accumulated with calmness, as they showered us with Akunna Mattates as these where relief medicine. The only hope came when one of the fellow passengers took leadership and methodically organized the otherwise purely planed process of generating visas for all of the travelers. The common belief in our group until this day is that without the help of this kind man, we would still be in this thick aired airport, but yet, everything would have been Akunna Mattata.
This just shows how things work in Africa – no responsibility must be taken. The common belief is that man must do nothing, a magical entity is eventually going to climb down to earth and sort everything out.
The next anecdote origins in a question we asked our guide while passing next to a Massai (a local tribe) village (constructed mainly of mud huts and traveled to by purely maintained gravel roads) – how (and where from) do the locals get water. The answer was pretty simple – once upon a time, after a well dried in their old village, those nice locals moved to this new place, only to find out that the liquid of life was nowhere to be seen there. Of course, the thought of looking for some water never accrued to those calm locals. Everything will be Akunna Mattata as they believed… At the start it was hard, and some even died from the lack of water. But than, just as everything might have seem lost to a foreign spectator, the magical force sent it hand to the Tanzanian people, in the form of a donation to construct a new well, given out by kind tourists who were shocked by the poor conditions of the Tanzanians.
Once again, the Tanzanians left their future in the hand of the magical force, and chose to belief that everything was Akunna Mattata, and so ti was. Eventually, thins sorted themselves out after a short delay.
But us that the way? To leave life to chance and to throw your soul at the Mersey of a promising, funny sounding phrase?
To me, Akunna Mattata is a state of mind, and it is the soul murder of leadership and human progress. If everyone just believed that everything will be Akkuna Mattata, where would we be today? My best guess is hat we would be like Africa, struggling to stay afloat with no technological advancement, living like our ancestors did hundreds of years ago. All leadership, creativity and action is essentially derived from the exact opposite of Akunna Mattata – the will to do something and the worry to the future.
But on the other end, Akunna Mattata can also make you calm and relax, not having to worry about a single thing.
So the question is, do we prefer action and power, or do we rather prefer relaxation and standing in place?
You may or may not like the future, but you must remember – you are going to spend the rest of your life in it…
So apparently I have been using AWS services for a year now (something I found out about by getting an email saying I will no longer be eligible for the free tier, a feature I will talk more about later). I want, at that point, to have a look at what I adore and what I loathe about it. Now let me disclose something – I am a very monotonic user. I use AWS for either web hosting of web apps, or app backbends at 99% of the time. Moreover, being a relatively small user, I don’t utilize many tool offered by AWS for bigger organizations, seeking scalability and versatility.
Well just to create the ground work – I am an independent web developer, and most of the time I just want to quickly create a web server, running Apache or Node JS, and maybe have a small MySQL database. So one of my favorite tools in AWS is EC2 – the Elastic Cloud, as referred to by Amazon. EC2 does something really nice – it enables you to have a web server up and running in the fluffy amazon cloud in about as much time as it takes to make a cup of coffee (or 1cct – coffee cup time). For me this is a rather perfect solution – it enables me to create a simple web server and install all the programs on it quick and easy. But yet, while Amazon lets you easily create server instances in the cloud, it offers a vast range of options – from your choice of OS, to instance size, to disk space.
When creating a new instance, you start of by choosing an instance size – one of the instance classes offered by AWS. You can make the instance as large or as little as you need, in terms of CPU capacity, RAM space and bandwidth. Moreover, you can have your own take on which OS you would rather work with – from a list of hundreds of Linux (and windows….) OSs offered by Amazon. My personal preference is Ubuntu, mainly because I have a lot of experience working with it.
The last step in the process is creating (or selecting a pre-existing) security group. Security groups are kind of like firewalls – they let you choose which ports are open to which IP addresses. Now while you may do very cool things with security group, I usually make a very simple use of them, opening the port 80 to all IPs, and allowing all ports from my IP address (so that I can access the instance with SSH, use FTP to upload files etc.).
And that’s it! The simplicity of EC2 – allowing you to create, use and terminate web server instances with a snap. That being said, there are yet a couple of things I would like to see improved in AWS.
One thing that also makes EC2 appeal to entrepreneurs and independent developers is free tier – for the first year of being an AWS customer, you can get the most basic class of almost all services for free, so that you can play around and experiment with AWS without spending a dime.
Firstly, the AWS documentation is very lucking, mainly when concerned with basic topics. This may be caused by the fact that AWS is aiming itself at enterprises and large companies, which have people that are familiar with web hosting already. I would like to see Amazon creating more tutorial and more documentation, as to allow new developers to get into this platform.
Another thing I would like to see changed is how pricing works. While I think the actual prices are pretty fair, I think the way the pricing works is cumbersome. Amazon only gives the hourly rate for their machines, without the price for EBS volumes, CloudWatch alerts etc. Seeing a better, simpler way to calculate pricing would be rather appreciated.
To sum off, I think AWS is a great platform for aspiring web developers wanting to get their apps online quickly and simply, while still maintaining root control over their servers. I am actually soon going to upload a tutorial on creating a simple EC2 web server to host a simple website / database, so stay tuned!
In the latest issue of wired (September 2012), a very interesting article caught my attention. It is called ‘Apocalypse Not‘, and it is talking about ways people previously thought the world would end, and how it actually didn’t… I have to admit that in most cases, they are right in the fact that people have exaggerated in their belief as for how the world will end. As an example, epidemics previously believed to cut world population by half ended up killing less than a 100 people. But here is my question: as a result of fear from the ever nearing end, people have taken great precautions, and stopped these disasters from happening. If we just believe everything is not peril and just let it sort itself out, without taking these vital precautions, would it actually sort itself, or would that be a death sentence to humanity? People have always been fighting a battle for survival, and so far won every time, but does it mean that there is no point fighting these battles, or does it mean that we are simply great worriers?