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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Express: Vision 2020 coming closer to the people

A statement from the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Planning and Development on the much-maligned Vision 2020, published in the Sunday Express of November 18th, 2007, with emphasis mine.
Please permit me the opportunity to respond to some issues raised in the Sunday Express editorial of November 11 with regard to Vision 2020.

The first point I wish to underscore is that Vision 2020 represents the change in the quality of life of all citizens which is expected to be attained by the year 2020, as a result of the policies, strategies, programmes and projects being pursued. Such initiatives as well as the indicators and targets to track and measure progress are all identified in the Vision 2020 National Strategic Plan and related Operational Plans which were all tabled in Parliament.

Some of the key indicators are:

Per capita income; employment/unemployment levels; price stability; productivity levels; literacy rates; access to quality education at all levels; availability of quality housing; access to quality health care services; state of the environment; incidence of serious crime; poverty levels; commuting time; availability of basic amenities.

Fundamental to the social and economic transformation that is envisioned is a critical change in values and attitudes at both the individual and national levels and in the social relationships which will have to characterise our everyday lives. All citizens must want a better society and must be prepared to make the commitment and sacrifices consistent with the attainment of this goal.

Formulation of the National Strategic Plan drew heavily on the expert contributions of a wide range of nationals drawn from both the public and private sectors including representatives of civil society, and as the work progressed, it was further informed by nationwide consultation both in Trinidad and in Tobago. Moreover, plan implementation is being driven on a continuous basis by the Programme Management Office of the Planning Ministry.

The Vision 2020 National Strategic Plan became a public document since 2004. The Strategic Plan as well as the Operational Plans are all available online at the Vision 2020 website: www.vision2020.info.tt and were also distributed in hard and electronic copies to all the media houses including the Express.

As part of its communication strategy to bring Vision 2020 closer to the population, the Planning Ministry will continue its outreach programme in communities and schools throughout the country. The media will also be important for updating the population on the status of plan implementation.

The ministry wishes to thank the Express for the focus it has brought to the Vision 2020 project through its editorial. We certainly appreciate the opportunity presented for updating and enlightening the national community on this project of national importance.

Anthony Bartholomew
Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Planning and Development
If we want it, we have to work for it too. All of us do... Not some of us on behalf of the rest of us... Not some of us only if we see someone else making an effort...

If not, then the bureaucrats are wasting their time fighting to achieve a standard that the populace at large seems to refuse to believe that it deserves.

We are far better than the pit in which we choose to wallow, covering ourselves over with pity at our collective perceived condition. But we must want better, be willing to work for better. We must stop throwing up our hands in frustration that things are not better faster. We must be patient with those who don't or can't see it, and not chastise them but encourage.

It's not going to start over night. Indeed, it's already started. But it needs to continue with you.

You don't need to wait on Central and Local Government and the public service to take charge of things within your personal sphere of control.

Friday, November 16, 2007

TSTT Broadband Modem Settings Advisory

As most would realise by now, TSTT is the enterprise behind the new Blink Broadband. They have re-branded their high speed Internet access service "Blink Broadband" as they upgrade their infrastructure and simultaneously reduce the monthly subscriber access charge.

As part of the upgrade process, current subscribers have been asked to make a setting change in their DSL modems to allow them to work on the upgraded infrastructure.

Unfortunately, TSTT has sent the advisory detailing the changes required to each subscriber's TSTT email address, an email service that hardly anyone seems to use. As a result, a lot of subscribers seem to have (1) missed the advisory, and (2) don't know that there was an advisory until their DSL fails to connect and they start to call their tech-savvy friends and relatives for help.

Fielding three calls for help so far and having felt the "Dammit! TSTT again!" frustration myself when the service switched on my own connection, the text of TSTT's advisory is re-published here as a public service. It's without permission, but I'm sure they'd be glad for the help getting the word out.

Note that the following is copied verbatim from TSTT's advisory, and I bear no responsibility for any negative impact.

If in doubt, as they indicate, do call TSTT Internet Services/Blink Broadband at 62-BLINK.
Dear Valued Customer,

Further to our earlier, "Modem Settings Advisory", which referred to our website http://www.blinkbroadband.tt/ModemSettings.html for screen-shot based instructions, we wanted to also include simple step-by-step text instructions, in the event that any issues were encountered in opening and downloading the attachments.

In that regard, please refer below to the instructions for each modem type - Speedstream, Netopia, and Paradyne:

Speedstream 4200 and Speedstream 5200
  1. Open your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc)
  2. In the address bar type and press Enter
  3. Click on Login
  4. Enter admin in both the username and password fields, and click Login
  5. Click on Setup
  6. Then click on Wan Interface
  7. Locate the VC column and click on the 0/35 below
  8. Choose VCMUX where it shows Select the Encapsulation Type (if VCMUX is already selected, proceed to next step)
  9. Click Next
  10. PPPoA should already be selected, if not click on PPPoA
  11. Click Next
  12. Click Next again
  13. Select Auto-connect on Disconnect (if already selected proceed to next step)
  14. Click on Finish
  15. When prompted to reboot, click on Reboot
  16. Another reboot prompt would appear, click Reboot
  17. Once the countdown is complete, you should be connected to the internet
Netopia 2241/3342
  1. Open your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc)
  2. In the address bar type and press Enter
  3. When prompted for username and password, enter admin in both fields and click Ok
  4. Click on Expert Mode, and then click Ok
  5. Click on Configure, then Click Wan
  6. Click on ATM
  7. Ensure that Encapsulation shows PPP over ATM
  8. Change Multiplexing to VC muxed
  9. Click on Submit
  10. Then click on the yellow triangle in the top right-hand side of the window
  11. Click on Save and Restart
  12. When the router has completed rebooting, you will be prompted for username and password
  13. Enter admin for both the username and password, and click Ok
  14. You should be connected to the internet again
  1. Open your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc)
  2. In the address bar type and press Enter
  3. When prompted for username and password, enter admin in both fields and click Ok
  4. Click on Advanced Setup, then click Wan
  5. Click on Edit (located on the right-hand side of the screen)
  6. Click Next
  7. Change the Encapsulation Mode to VC-MUX (is already selected continue to next step)
  8. Click Next
  9. Ensure that the Keep alive option is enabled
  10. Click Next
  11. Click Next again
  12. Click Save
  13. Click Finish
  14. It takes about 1 to 2 minutes to complete the reboot, but once the Paradyne has rebooted, you should be connected to the internet.
If any difficulties are encountered, please contact 62-BLINK.

TSTT Internet Services.
PS: Of course I'll never turn away my own friends' calls for help...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Site Updates...

People reading the last post would have noted a few of the more obvious site updates made this weekend...

New Graphic Banner
The site now features a new graphic banner, replacing the text-based one. Personally, I think it's snazzy without being too fancy and adds a nice touch to the site.

Subscription Options
Readers have had the option to subscribe to the blog, and get notified via RSS or email when new posts are generated. The subscription box in the sidebar hasn't had any functionality changes, but it too has been cleaned up a bit. It also takes top position in the sidebar, replacing the "About Me" section.

Search Options
Google powers the search box at Keith in Trinidad. Previously, clicking the button searched all of Google by default, and you had to explicitly select "this site" to search for content here alone. The default has been switched to "this site" and that box too has been neatened a tad.

2008 Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Calendar
Scroll down a bit and in the sidebar, by popular demand, you'll find my interactive Carnival Calendar (powered by Google). At present, it contains basic information on some of the major fetes for the season. However, as we wind down through Christmas and into Carnival, it will be updated with more events and more detailed information as comes to hand. Play with it and comment on it. Send me corrections if necessary and your event information for inclusion.

T&T Bloggers
If you're here, it's likely that you read more than most. There's a list of notable fellow bloggers of varying opinions and styles, but with one thing in common - all are Trinbagonian proud. Read me. Read them. And that list is still not all of us. There are quite a few more listed here, and I still don't think that's an exhaustive...

Feedback, as always, is welcome.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Things that Trinbagonians should know...

Almost everything that you want or need to know about what the Government Service does, what it has been doing and what it intends to do is available online via http://www.gov.tt, the Trinidad and Tobago Government Online Portal, also known as "TTConnect".

TTConnect is a searchable and apolitical space chock full of information, including how citizens can access various services available to them like:
The portal also features links to Government ministries and bodies, state enterprises and agencies, such as:
I won't even pretend that the lists above are exhaustive. Take a half-day (there is indeed that much content!) and go through TTConnect. There's a lot that you probably don't know that's there that is and a lot that you don't know that your Government does for you.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Silly Season Statements from the Segments of the Society

Overheard on Charlotte Street:
"Doh arkse mih who ah votin' for. Ah doh tell nobody who ah votin' for... But yuh better vote PNM if yuh now wha' good fo' yuh!"
Posted on Facebook:
"... it's only in this country that it could come down to who to vote against and not who to vote for."
In conversation in a Port of Spain Mall:
"I personally like what the Government is doing, yuh know... The only thing that really concerns me is the constitutional majority thing... I mean, yes, we need to reform the constitution... but I don't want the PNM to just re-form the constitution just so... yuh know what I mean? Like... they should have an Opposition that should make then do the right thing, yeah? But... *steups*... I don't know nuh..."
Parroted loudly in an office building:
"We movin' with See Oh Pee! Allyuh make sure allyuh move wid See Oh Pee!"
On the Chaguanas Main Road:
"But Mr. Warner is a businessman! He ain't do nothing wrong! Wha' wrong wid making money? I sure allyuh woulda do de same t'ing too! Me ent see nothing wrong wid him! And he care about we Indian people too!"
A senior citizen on a PTSC Round-De-Town bus:
"I am riding the bus for free every day in air conditioned comfort, you see me here. 82 years old last month and I don't need the free drugs that they are giving to people, but I glad for them if ever I need them. I get up and cook good food every morning before first light, and I don't get sick. People don't eat properly. That's why they're always sick. You will never catch me lining up to buy Kentucky Fry or cooking tinned corned beef for my husband. Good fresh food all the time for me and mine. Look here. See! It's the market that I just come from to get a little provision and some salt meat for tomorrow. I get my little pension and I say thank you for it, and I know how to make it stretch. I don't know what those other people are going to give me... Or what they are going to take away from me either... So long as my grandson comes to pick me up, I will be going to stain my finger for the PNM. They have such a nice young man running for the seat this year too..."
On the Southern Main Road in a bar:
"It's victimisation! Dey only victimisin' we Indian people! Yuh cyah trust none o' dem neemakeram and dem! I go put God out my t'oughts an' vote for Duck-and-Run?! Nevah!!!"
Judy Raymond, in Trinidad Express story The Hunter and the Hunted:
"While a few people waited in vain for Mr John of the UNC to arrive, a COP constituency chairman tried to enlighten me as to what the party sees in its leader. He agreed Mr Dookeran was a poor speaker, but he was a brilliant and honest man: 'It's just that his brain and his tongue aren't connected.'

Somehow that wasn't as reassuring as he intended..."
On the radio:
"Winners Vote PNM!"
On the radio, two weeks later:
"Winners Vote COP!"
In front the Bank on pension day:
"Whole day in Parliament, they crying down all the things that they PNM doing. Now you listen to them on the platform and read the manifestos and all that they want to do is what they were crying down all the time... You telling me that I should have time with them?"
A cell phone user on the road:
"Gyul! Dey was givin' way jersey up by me Sunday wid a two bills wrap up in it! Ah send de husban' and chirren in de road... Yes oui! We get ah gran' and a half easy! And we ent have to buy chamois cloth to wash de car wid for a year!"
Me in email, one morning last week to a pardner who sent a missive to a group of us containing, in caps, the words "CRIME" , "FOOD PRICES" and "SHADOW CONSTITUTION" encouraging us to vote in a particular direction for party and leader of his choice, and purporting that Trinidad and Tobago is going literally to Hell in a hand basket otherwise:
I agree with your encouraging citizens to go out and vote. I am not though about to make a pronouncement and tell people who they should cast their ballot in favour of. I will say that they should attempt to wade past the hype and electioneering and carefully assess their options. None of the parties is perfect, and it has been a campaign filled with much innuendo and mud-slinging. The winners this season are the advertising companies.

Crime is a problem. But it is not true to say that the ruling Government has done nothing nor have they sat around idly. Pop over to the Ministry of National Security ask about the Citizen Security Programme that runs in all of high risk areas all across the map. No, they don't get much press. Their website is still a work in progress but you can take a look at what's there at http://csp.gov.tt/ Ask too about the other programmes run by the Ministries of National Security, Social Development, Gender and Culture to deal with some of crime's root causes.

Looking back at [name removed] grandfather's incident [a case of road rage], crime isn't always about the kidnappers and the rapists. It's also about indisciplined Trinidadians and Tobagonians who feel that they can do what they want and get away with it. I myself am waiting for the iron fist to fall in the citizenry when the authorities get fed up appealing to you and me and the rest of the ordinary man in the street to behave. It will not bode well not if but when it does.

There is much debate about inflation. Much of our inflationary pressure is imported. With rising oil prices, global transportation costs have increased, meaning that the import price of many of the imported goods that Trinis insist on buying at the grocery are going to be more expensive. In the face of a weakening US dollar, goods imported from Canada, South America and Europe are also going to rise. While some Government policies may have impacted inflation negatively, that it's down from almost 10 to 7 percent in a year is an accomplishment that one must admit should be lauded.

The health sector, yes, is of concern. We have had thrust on us a recalcitrant sub-group of medicos and a less than efficient regional health authority system. However, one of the Government's major accomplishments is C-DAP. Drugs that the poor, the elderly and persons falling within particular illness categories now receive their medication for free or dirt cheap from private pharmacies, no longer at the behest of the hospitals' dispensaries. I can tell you that this has made a major difference in the lives of many Trinbagonians, and has allowed persons to hold onto more disposable income for other essentials like food. Again, this programme has not only impacted the poor. It covers any citizen who falls within particular categories of illness. Up to the end of the current term, the Ministry had been considering expanding the programme further.

The Government's subsidised housing programme has permitted [a domestic worker that I know] and her family, as a pointed example, to move out of her father in law's home. She has made no down payment and her mortgage is $585 per month. She, and many others, who lived at the behest of private landlords or lived in uncomfortable conditions with family can now turn their own keys. The money that the Government has spent here has made a difference for many, and has and will put pressure on the private real estate market. Not enough yet though, I do admit, but the pressure is there. It's been a sellers' market for a long time. We've seen the real estate bust in the United States, and it will come here eventually.

You have to admit that the Government's continued commitment to education is also laudable. Free primary and secondary education has now been augmented by free pre-primary (a boon to many working mothers and grandmothers), tertiary, and subsidised graduate education. Tertiary education options are expanded with the UTT, an institution born out of UWI's lack of responsiveness to the nation's true education and training needs.

The Government has also spent [expletive] loads of money on training programmes like MuST, HYPE and OJT, programmes that have broken the shackles that KFC, Royal Castle, Hi-Lo, Tru Valu and the like have placed on the untrained and untrainable in the society. Indeed, many a private citizen has benefited from utilising the OJT to staff their companies, given the fact that the Government pays half of the enrolees' salaries. Ask the head of [very profitable company] who I understand is the owner of the Ferrari that we say pics of earlier this year.

Foreign-based Trinis have lauded the modernisation of Port of Spain, and look forward to the completion of the Waterfront Project, for one, and the plans for rehabilitating the East Port of Spain slum condition that is now creeping into Henry Street from Charlotte.

Much money has been spent, yes, but it's not being burned in piles on the Beetham like some would have us feel.

On the constitution question, persons have begged for years for constitutional reform. Your own party has determined that the direction to be taken is to devolve to the local Government level. So has the current administration, and I hope that whoever comes into the majority does just that but also puts measures in place to ensure that the local Government authorities are staffed by persons with IQ's over 90, which is one of the current problems.

I've never been able to understand where the dictatorship question comes in. Hazel, Joan Yuille, Martin Joseph, Danny Montano, Abdul, Colm, John Rahael, Rowley and Christine Kangaloo to name a few have all too clearly run their own shops over the last five years. The PM has also said that he will take an even more hands-off approach by not taking his own ministry and focus on coordinating activities instead. The Minister of Legal Affairs has taken charge of the responses on the constitution question, which is where the response should come from incidentally. It's her area. For Patrick to be responding on EVERYTHING would in my mind cement the Strong Man argument.

We all have our views. But as an educated community, this microcosm of society that we call the Link, let's all look past the fluff and the smoke, and do as [my pardner's name] says. Vote on issues and realities. The three major parties' manifestos are available for download at the following websites:
All have about the same type of content and are well organised, so you can compare apples with apples where policy directions are concerned. We have the weekend to drink much coffee and read.

Do vote. But vote on issues, accomplishments, documented policy direction, and on conscience. Don't let people tell you who to vote for. We're all thinkers here. Vote for yourself. At the end of the day, it's you and you alone in the booth.

One love.
Another pardner, in response to the above email:
42 megabytes?! Dem ent want nobody read dey manifesto or wha?
Yet another pardner, in another conversation:
"I have a feeling that 5/11 is going down in history, and hopefully not for the wrong reasons!"
Me, to all my readers:
Forget the fluff. Forget the comess. Forget the unsubstantiated rumours and cross talk. Stop letting people wave things in your faces and have them tell you to take their word for it that it is what they say it is. Stop letting other people think for you. Forget the talk about whose vote will be wasted if they vote where.

Look at the three-plus names on your ballot and choose the one that you think will best represent you.

You the voter have no real control over who will be prime minister. You the voter have no real control over which party gets a majority. But You the voter do have control over who sits in your constituency's seat in the Parliament.We need to break the "Crapaud with a Symbol" system that politics has become in this country. Forget party. Forget who the leader is, because each of them could quite realistically lose their seats in this three-horse race.

We the voters must install smart and independent thinkers who show a clear interest in responsibly representing the interests of their constituency, and not persons who will always put party or their leader first. And there are people fitting that description in all three parties.

We experienced a brief twinkle of light in the Parliament a few months ago when two persons broke party ties and voted on sense and conscience. We the voters have the power to make that twinkle shine brightly and permanently.

Can you imagine what the Parliament would look like if Hulsie beat Bas, Assam beat Patos and Vasant Bharath beat Dooks in this election? The country's business would still have to go on, and without the maximum leadership.

And on that note, I have a hard choice to make between two bright newcomers myself...

God bless our nation.

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