Saturday, February 11, 2006

Blogging in South Africa (SAOG Blog Course, Part 1)

I'll be spending a week in South Africa, as a co-trainer for an "Introduction to Blogging" course organised by the South African Online User Group. Flying off this Sunday (which is tomorrow and I've not packed!!!)

Naturally, my friends and colleagues were curious why I was going to South Africa. Here are my responses to Frequently Asked Questions I've received several over the last few days:

  1. I'm taking my own personal leave to do this. Will not cost Singaporean taxpayers any money, heh heh : )
  2. My participation in the training sessions is entirely in my personal capacity, though I have the moral support from my senior manager
  3. While my name was included in the letter of invitation, I'm not getting paid for doing this
  4. Why am I doing this doing it anyway? Especially when I have to pay for my own way even? Consider this -- some people pay their own way to help others in far, far nobler causes (like in war-torn areas or places struck by natural disasters). What I'm doing is hardly anything to shout about. In anycase, I see this as part of my personal development. The more I share, the more I learn. It's no different from paying to attend a course, except that in this course, I'm the active participant.

More important, I'm supporting my good friend and colleague, Rajen, who's conducting the course for SAOUG under the auspices of the National Library Board Academy (NLBA). Here's what the programme blurb says on the SAOUG website:

» Blogging 101 for Dummies workshop:
Workshop presented by Rajendra Munoo from the National Library Board, Singapore.
Monday, 13 February 2006: Medical Library, University of Pretoria.
Tuesday, 14 February 2006: Dynamix Training Centre, Witkoppen Road, Sunninghill.
Wednesday, 15 February 2006: Dynamix Training Centre, Witkoppen Road, Sunninghill.
Thursday, 16 February 2006: University of Johannesburg, Kingsway Campus.
Friday, 17 February 2006: University of Stellenbosch.

Participants will learn what a blog is, learn how to create blogs, name their blogs, how to post comments, change the template of the blog, and how to delete their blog (in fact everything you wish to know about blogs). It will be a practical hands-on workshop.

I see they've not included my name in the blurb. No matter. I'm not there in my official capacity anyway. The training schedule is very packed. Monday to Friday, with some days up to two sessions I think. Will be taking domestic flights to the different townships (did I use the term correctly?) I trust that I'd be up to it physically and mentally.

There will be little time for sightseeing but that's not the point for the trip. It'll be a homestay experience for me, with Rajen's family in South Africa.

Rajen (librarian, trainer, content developer for NLB Academy) hails from South Africa. He's of Indian descent, hence the Indian sounding name (he's got a very interesting personal story to tell and maybe he'll blog about it one day). Who knows, maybe he's got a secret blog somewhere...

He's an excellent trainer and the course participants will benefit from his expertise. He has this blog which he cites in training to show people that simply creating a blog doesn't mean you'll automatically get readers.

It's overseas trips like this that I appreciate the public libraries. I'd look up the Travel Guides section and browse different titles, specifically on "Things to bring" or "Travelling Essentials" for that particular country. Some interesting snippets as follows:

coverFodor's travel series is pretty good. In this particular one, this passage caught my eye: "However cuddly they may seem, many wild animals will happily take your hand off. Don't attempt to pet or feed animals, or even get out of the car for a better photo without an experienced armed ranger".

It also advises that travellers make "photocopies of the page of passport with photo, passport number, and other identifying information, as well as any visas, travel insurance policies, plane tickets. Carry one set of copies in a safe place, apart from originals, and leave another set at home".

coverHere's Let's Go, on lost passports: "Fool, don't lose your passport! But if you choose not to take our advice, and you do lose your passport, immediately notify the police and nearest embassy or... To expediate this, you need to know info previously recorded and show ID and proof of citizenship".

First time I've read any guide book that calls the reader 'Fool'! : )

I expect to be blogging in South Africa, but given the tight training schedule and the fact that we've to start the day around 5.30am to beat the traffic, I might not blog as often. We shall see.

Apart from packing my bags, I have to fulfil my household obligations before I leave, i.e. clean and mop the floor, do my laundry, tidy up my pile of papers and stuff. Saturday morning, I'll clear as much office work as I can.

And then South Africa, here I come!



  1. Ivan,

    I'm jealous. I spent a week in Cape Town last year and just loved it. If you have a high-speed connection, you can look at my photos on my website.
    Go to
    and check them out.
    The people are wonderful in SA. Try to see a bit of the country if you can--and try some wonderful SA wines--Stellenbosch is right in the wine country. Also look at their town museum--it is very well done. There are some pix of it in my slideshow.


  2. Wow! Have a great time, Ivan. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it!

  3. Anonymous5:53 pm

    crap crap crap! You're going to this one place that I'm dying to go! I am envy as hell! Have a wonderful time training there and send my love to all Africans. :)

  4. wow! have a great time =)

    isn't it amazing that just doing something you like doing can lead to becoming an "expert"?

  5. Hey Ivan,

    You are going to spend Valentine's Day in South Africa too. How romantic, with the lions, antelopes, buffalos, elephants and hippopotamuses. I read that they have luxury aircon tent holidays in South African safaris, complete with chef and butlers in waiting!

    Incidentally does your wife mind?


  6. Mrs OPL, CW, Heather, Von, Cool Insider -- thanks for all the well wishes. I'm now at Singapore's Changi International Airport as I post this comment.

    Ms. OPL, I took a quick look at your site. Very informative. You can be sure I'll look it up once I get back.

    Von - I'm no expert!!!

    Cool Insider - You mean does my wife mind they have aircon safari tents? Just kidding... I know what you were asking. Hey you've put me in a tight spot by asking that question here :) I think I know her just well enough to know that she wouldn't mind missing Valentine's Day. We've never celebrated it and she's never given me grief. But that being said, I must admit I can be more romantic towards her, Valentine's Day or not. So now that I've said this here... um, that's why I said you put me in a tight spot! She's gonna start quoting what I said. Heh.

  7. Wow Ivan, saving the world one country at a time. Impressive :P

  8. Anonymous8:07 pm

    Hi Ivan,

    Nice meeting you this morning. Thanks for an informative session - just a pity the bandwidth and access weren't cooperating. Next time you visit SA have a look at Veza at A multimedia product with a lot of info for the potential visitor.


  9. Kevin - It's "Sharing WITH" one country at a time. :)

    Hi Adele, it was a pleasure to have you with us.

  10. Hi Rajen and Ivan - am posting this as we do the SAOUG Course. Sorry you have to work so hard, and even more sorry you couldn't get close up and personal with a buffalo - not a happy thought if you know what the personal habits of a buffalo are liekly to be :-)
    Have had very good feedback so far - let's hope there'll be a lot more SA bloggers soon.


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