Nybbles and Bytes...

loves good coffee!

Nybbles and Bytes...

wants to know if you need this button on your keyboard...?

Nybbles and Bytes

...loves exotic places...

Nybbles and Bytes

is occasionally old school...

Nybbles and Bytes

loves smartphone debates...!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Does the current weekday control how you feel?

I love how bad stereotypes make massive inroads into our lives, affecting us in ways we may not even be aware of.
The most common example of this is the "Blue Monday" or "Thank God it's Friday" syndrome.

When someone wakes up on a Monday morning and subconciously (or verbally) says to themselves "Oh hell it's Monday - what a draaaaaaag", surely that's gonna mess up the day right from the start?
With that attitude, everything in that Monday is going to be a darn drag for that person. It's effectively a cop-out, allowing something external like the current weekday to control moods and feelings entirely - "because today is Monday, I am going to allow myself to feel totally crap".

On the flipside, come Friday it's the opposite. "YAY it's Friday!!! Friday controls me by allowing me to feel good!!"
No dude, Friday does not control you.
Nor does Monday, Tuesday or any other weekday for that matter.

YOU control you. How we feel is entirely up to us, and not up to anybody or anything else.
Just because the workweek has begun, does not mean that we should automatically feel dodgy - trust me, we can all find plenty of reasons to feel good and happy on a Monday, Tuesday or any other day, if we just take the time to appreciate the things in our lives that we should be thankful for.

So why can't Monday be a fantastic day?
Why can't every day be a "Thank God it's Friday" day?

:)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cell C pins April as launch date for "4G"...

This topic has been flying around "the interweb" (thanks to "Die Antwoord" for that one :)) a lot lately.
The question is whether or not Cell C is going to make a move beyond their current EDGE data offering on their network.

Talk is rife of Cell C launching "4G" sometime soon, with data download speeds in the region of 21Mbps (approx. 3 times faster than the current Vodacom and MTN offerings).
In truth this is not actually 4G (4th Generation), rather an advanced version of 3G (3rd Generation).
Now a lot of very important people are unhappy about this apparent deception, this sneaky and devious attempt to fool and mislead the consumer!!
They say "That's not 4G, it's 3.75G!! OMG Cell C are doing us out of 0.25G!!"

Get over yourselves guys, the bottom line here is that Cell C (if they do indeed deliver), will be bringing some seriously high-speed mobile internet access to the general public.
That's a good thing. Don't try and bring a good thing down.

Honestly I don't really care if it is TRUE 4G, as long as it's flippin' fast!

p.s. I heard a rumour today that April 2010 is the launch month for Cell C's new data network... hold thumbs and watch this space!

Help! Some websites don't want to show up... but others work fine. What's going on?

This has been a week of breakthroughs for me in the world of IT odd-problem solving.

For starters, I came across the massively useful OutlookTools, which sorted out some long-standing Outlook issues for me.
Another killer has been a problem involving some websites which will simply fail to load, or take extremely long to load, in an SBS 2003 Domain environment.
This while other sites load without any hitch or headache... weird...

When I first came across this problem, the first thought that jumped into my noggin was "DNS"... must be DNS.
This kind of problem just reeks of an incorrectly configured DNS, and so my fruitless quest began to reconfigure DNS settings, double check Firewall rules, double check IP / Subnet Mask settings, clear browser caches, reset browser settings to default, disable antivirus software... you name it I did it.

That is, until yesterday when I realised (through much testing), that the problem lay not on the SBS 2003 Server, but rather on the workstation in question.
A little setting called "MTU" turned out to the source of all my frustration. MTU, for those who are now tilting their heads slightly to the left in confusion, is the size (in bytes) of the largest protocol data unit that the layer can pass onwards.

Umm.. OK...?
Well in layman's terms it's a network setting that can either help you, or hinder you depending on the type of internet connection you use and your network environment.
For ADSL (in my case), the ideal setting should be 1492, and not the Windows XP default of 1500.

So without getting too technical, the quick way to fix this was to head over to Speedguide.net, and download a program called TCP Optimizer, which does just what its' name would suggest.
I ran TCP Optimizer, selected the relevant network connection, selected "Optimal Settings", and then (this is the important bit), I selected "PPPoE DSL", and I clicked on "Apply Settings".

After confirming the changes, TCP Optimizer asked if I wanted to reboot to apply the settings, to which I said Yes Please, and so the problem made its' way out of my "headaches" tray, and into my "solved" tray :)

YAY!
Hope this works for you as well :)

My Outlook won't display embedded images - I just get a red X. What to do?

This is an old problem that has haunted me and many others for a long time.

What happens is that in Outlook 2003 / 2007, emails you receive do not display any embedded images. Instead you see a red X at top left.
Also, emails that you send may show embedded images before you send them, but once in your Sent Items
the images disappear.

I have adjusted security settings until I am magenta, cyan, mauve, and occasionally a combination of puce and eggplant in the face (ya, those are real colours...:)), both in Internet Explorer and in Outlook, but to no avail.

Finally yesterday I came across a SERIOUSLY useful piece of information in the fight against non-displaying images in Outlook... and here it is:

http://www.howto-outlook.com/products/outlooktools.htm

I won't reproduce everything at the link above, except to say that this tool allows you to clear the Outlook Cache folder - a folder that most people don't even know exists, and which is a bit of a mission to access normally.
The Outlook Cache folder is used to store temporary items such as attachments and embedded images, and over time if it fills up, this can cause problems displaying embedded images in your mail.
Hence the need for something like this:


It's pretty straight forward - open up OutlookTools and hit the "Clear Folder" button - this cleans out the Outlook Cache folder and your images should now show up as they once did :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nybbles and Bytes e-store gets facelifted... slightly.

I started up an e-store last year, powered by Amazon and offering a range of products from Amazon's huge variety of techno-geek type merchandise.

Honestly it hasn't done very much, but I decided to head on over to Amazon Affiliates anyway, and change the layout of my e-store page a bit.
Give it a haircut, short back and sides, maybe trim the moustache a bit (can a website have a moustache?)
That kind of thing.

So without any further ado, I present a much oranger looking Nybbles and Bytes e-store :)
Not much has changed... it's just a lot oranger.

So head on over and order something online now - I have crammed in all the IT / Technology / Geek / TV etc, categories that I could possibly fit into one galaxy.

- Want MP3's? Not a problem - buy them at the Nybbles and Bytes e-store.
- How about that Wii console you have been oohing and aahing about. Stop procrastinating and get it at the Nybbles and Bytes e-store :)
- Maybe you have been out of touch and still need to get yourself an iPod... yup you guessed it. Nybbles and Bytes e-store is the place.
- Need to catch that action shot at the FIFA Soccer World Cup Final in June? Better head on over to the Nybbles and Bytes e-store and pick up a great deal on a camera!

Ok you get the idea. I will stop now :)

How to get infected while browsing the internet... a DIY guide!

Despite the presence of antivirus software, firewalls and anti-spam software, many people still fall for the sneaky tricks of virus-spreaders online all the time.
Avast - my antivirus software of choice (and it's free!)
AVG - another decent free antivirus program

One of the tricks I have come across of late happens when the webpage that loads, looks exactly like a Windows Explorer window, which (apparently) shows your hard drives, DVD Drives etc.
A fake "scan" then runs on top of this window and alleges that you are infected by millions of viruses and spyware.
The entire "scan" window is a giant hotspot, and at the end of the "scan" you are encouraged to click a link to fix the problem.
If the link is clicked, you then open yourself up to an actual threat, possibly a downloaded script, dodgy website or some other malicious means of infecting your PC.
Nicely done, you fiendish skanks...!

How to get your self into a fix... buying into this nonsense is a great way to get started!

So in order to get you to click on their dodgy links, they first play on the paranoia of being infected.
Once they have convinced the gullible user that they are in fact in some kind of grave danger, the paranoia then drives the user to click anything that promises to make it all better.

So what to do if you think this may have happened to you?
Well if you went ahead and clicked the link, you will no doubt know if you have been infected because you are probably being bombarded by a message along the lines of "Your system is being infecting by serious bad virus", or some other similarly dodgy message.

A key giveaway here is the unusual / incorrect usage / incorrect spelling of the English language - antivirus companies like to uphold a professional image and appearance, by using well constructed sentences, perfect spelling, and by following the general rules of a language.
Virus creators on the other hand, despite their allegedly massive levels of intelligence, cannot seem to grasp the very basics of how one puts a proper sentence together. Spelling too, it seems is beyond their primitive level of understanding.

If you are infected, get yourself a free copy of Avast or AVG fast...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Alien Landscapes on Planet Earth... incredible photography by Martin Rietze

I am no photographer, that's for sure.
At best I may get an accidental shot that looks kinda ok, or I might have success by catching a bolt of lighting in a long exposure shot, but a photographer I am certainly not.

More's the pity - I wish I had a knack for picking out that exact moment in time, that particular angle of an object, or that rare and fleeting coming together of elements to make up a magnificent photo.
Thankfully there are real photographers out there who go about their day doing just that - waiting for the perfect shot.

One such photographer is Martin Rietze, who has a specific love of landscapes that look like they don't actually belong anywhere on our humble little blue planet Earth.

Take a peek and be amazed... and bear in mind that these 'aint "Photoshopped"...!:

Looks like something created in Bryce3D

Lightning INSIDE a volcano ash cloud..? Seriously..?

Northern Lights over Iceland

Sulphur "Lava"... this is just downright freaky stuff!

The photos above should serve to whet your appetite - now head on over to Martin Rietze's official website for tons more Earth eye-candy.

Download Tunewiki now for your Nokia, iPhone, Blackberry or PC... FREE of course!

Wiki what?
Wiki is the buzzword on the net right now - everything has a wiki in it somewhere - Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikihow, Wikiquote, Wikisource... man the list just goes on and on and on...

So why not get the latest wiki for your phone right now - it's called Tunewiki and it is one awesome audio and lyrics application.


Tunewiki is a "social media player" for cellphones and handheld devices. In plain English, you can connect to huge amounts of online streaming audio or play your own audio directly from your phone, and then connect to social media networks to share your listening experiences and hear from other online users about theirs.

Tunewiki also goes online and finds the lyrics of the current track, and displays them onscreen live, verse by verse as the song plays.
Seriously nifty!

Get it here for FREE!

p.s. ever wondered what "wiki" actually means?
It happens to be a Hawaiian word meaning "fast".
Quite apt I would say!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Just for Jorge

For the biggest Star Wars fan on the planet, and in fact in the entire known (and unknown) Universe... check out this set of bedside lamps that double up as speakers (clock radios perhaps?)...


Courtesy of Funko Toys.

Viagra switch "turns on" the lights... :)

Got this in my inbox this morning, courtesy of FHM Calendar Girl Ana Trujic... just had to share it!

I emailed it to my Chinese doctor friend.
So he emailed back: "If the light stays on for more than 4 hours, call your erectrician."... :)

P.S. this is Nybbles and Bytes' 100th post! YAY for Nybbles and Bytes!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nokia N97 gets new firmware - V 21.0.0.45


The Nokia N97 has been many things since the hyped-up release of the phone during the middle of 2009...:

1. First-off, it has been a serious multi-tasking machine. It is feature-packed to the brim, making it a serious business tool and multimedia powerhouse;

2. It can be flipping IRRITATING at times... Yes. The N97, for all of it's features (GPS, 5MP Camera, QWERTY Keyboard, FM Transmitter, Kinetic Scrolling, 32GB Internal Memory... the list goes on...) can be downright unstable at times. Reboots after every call, SMS's not arriving until the next reboot, random days of shocking battery performance, jittery kinetic scrolling... (and the list goes on :))
These are some of the things that the N97 throws at you, to make you want to test its ability to withstand a brick impact.

3. Some of its features though, are just incredible:
  • The FM Transmitter is awesome, taking your music with you wherever you can pick up an FM signal, be it in the car or anywhere you have a radio.
  • The QWERTY keypad makes short work of that long-winded email you need to send when you are anything but close to your PC.
  • The 32GB internal memory is a pleasure - that's a whack of music, videos, photos, or whatever else it is that you would use to fill up 32GB of free space :)
  • The 5MP camera is excellent, taking great quality shots without too much effort.
4. Nokia just love updating this phone. Is that good or bad? Actually it's both. Good because new software means new features, increased stability etc. Bad because it might mean that Nokia are patching up issues that should have been resolved before the product was ever released...

On that note, the reason for this post was to announce that Nokia have released yet another firmware update for the N97 - V 21.0.0.45.

According to Nokia Software Updater, the new software offers the following improvements:

- improved call reliability
- smoother touch screen scrolling

Seriously Nokia, is that all you can offer?
How about "no more crashing", or "GPS that locks within 3 hours" or maybe even "only 1 reboot per hour".

Seriously though, despite my ramblings above, the N97 is a fantastic phone. Overall it does the job damn well, and if Nokia can overcome the niggles that I have mentioned, then the N97 still stands tall as one of the best all-rounders (in my humble opinion at least :))
I will even risk my neck here, and say that it matches the iPhone 3GS pound for pound... (run for your life... here comes the Apple brigade!!)

Free EBooks online - download yours now!

I found this awesome site while looking for EBooks online - check out http://www.onlinefreeebooks.net/.

They have a large variety of free downloadable books in various genres - as far as I could tell they were all non-fiction though.
While you may not find every single book ever written there, it is still a fair selection to choose from and you should find something to interest you among their library of books.

Best of all.. it's free! There ain't nothing cheaper than free... :)

Is Cell C getting 4G...?

For many years I have been a loyal Cell C supporter, despite their lack of anything faster than EDGE on their data network.
Cell C have also constantly advised me that 3G is coming soon, not sure EXACTLY when they say, but soon.
That was back in 2008.
So now, 2 years on, I did a little poking, prodding and prying, and a rumour has emerged which claims that Cell C may in fact completely skip 3G (and 3.5G), and launch 4G sometime during 2010...
Now if this turns out to be true, it will be quite an awesome move on the part of Cell C, who up till now have lost a lot of customers based on data speeds inferior to those of MTN and Vodacom, who both currently offer 3.5G (or 3G HSDPA).

Not sure what I'm talking about?
Courtesy of the guys over at Wikipedia:

"4G refers to the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards.
It is a successor to 3G and 2G standards, with the aim to provide a wide range of data rates up to ultra-broadband (gigabit-speed) Internet access to mobile as well as stationary users."

So in layman's terms, 4G is flipping fast mobile internet - the next step up from HSDPA - and therefore faster than anything we currently have available to us in South Africa.

Come on Cell C - your loyal customers await news of 4G!!

How to synchronize your Tissot T-Touch

The Tissot T-Touch is an awesome timepiece - the touchscreen simply blows minds wherever it goes, and the watch certainly looks the part!

Only problem is that when something goes awry with the T-Touch, not many people know that you can perform a process called "synchronizing". What this basically does is allow you to get your analog and digital sections of the watch back in sync with each other.
De-synchronization can occur due to exposure to a magnetic field, from devices such as cellphones, speakers etc.
Symptoms of de-synchronization include:

- the time being different between the analog and digital sections of the watch
- the hands of the watch no longer line up to the selected function on the dial, when selecting them using the touch screen
- compass alignment is off. e.g. the hour hand may point South, while the minute hand points East.

The synchronization is pretty simple:

- Press the center button marked "T". The watch should beep once;- Touch the center of the touch-sensitive face until 24H Cm appears in the digital LCD display;
- Press and hold the center button marked "T" for approx. 5 seconds. The watch will beep once and then again a second time, after 5 seconds have passed. The digital LCD display should now read SYNCHRO;
- Press the upper button marked "+" to move the minute hand until it is positioned exactly at 12:00;
- Press the lower button marked "-" to move the hour hand until it is also positioned exactly at 12:00;
- When both hands are aligned together and pointing directly at 12:00, press the center button marked "T" to save your settings.
- Your watch is now synchronized, so no expensive repair work is required!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Help!! Why can't I see my wireless network anymore?

So there you are, plodding along with your daily activities pretty much like any other day.
You shut your PC down at the end of the day and nothing untoward happens, it's all good.

Next morning when you boot up, all of a sudden you find that you are no longer connected to your wireless LAN... hmmmmmmm now that's weird.
When you search for Wireless Networks on your PC, you can't even pick it up as an available network to connect to. It has simply vanished.

This one confused the heck out of me for a while, before I decided that this was just too darn odd to let it go.

What you need to know about wireless networks is that they operate on any one of 13 possible channels or frequencies.
This channel is set to a default value by the manufacturer of the access point, but little-known to a lot of people, is the fact that other wireless devices in the area can interfere with, or even totally corrupt your wireless signal if they are sharing a frequency.

The solution? Simple. Change the channel that your wireless network uses.
To do so, you will need to connect to the access point using an ethernet cable (because your wireless connection is obviously dead at this point, hence the reason for you reading this :))

I cannot give a per-manufacturer guide on how to change your wireless channel (mainly due to my own laziness), but in general what you are looking for is the section dealing with the WLAN / Wireless LAN / WIFI setup and configuration, once you are logged into the access point.

- Once there, look for a setting called "Wireless Channel" or "Radio Channel" or "Channel"... you get the idea!
- Drop it down and simply change the current value, to another one of the available values (this should be a list of numbers from 1-13).
- Make sure you have saved your settings, and then check if your PC / Mac has reconnected to the wireless network.

Once the network is back in range and visible (should only take a few seconds), your machine should reconnect automatically.

Happy WIFI re-configuring!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happy 9.02.10 day!!

This is just plain cheesy, but hey it is 9 February 2010!
I didn't actually watch the show, but for those die-hard Beverly Hills 90210 fans out there, this post is just for you :)


Friday, February 5, 2010

Dicken's Cider ad... you will laugh out loud at this one...!

KFC has the worst taglines in their adverts...

Maybe it's just me, and I am in no way an advertising buff, but I cringe everytime a KFC ad flights on TV nowadays.

Here's the thing. There could be a million (maybe more) different ways to promote something like the KFC Twister® on national television:

1. Being a fast food product, I would think that maybe KFC would want potential customers to see just how amazingly good the Twister® tastes (I assume... I have never eaten one). Food = something you eat and taste, so taste and flavour would top my list of product selling points.

2. Maybe price comes into to it as well - let customers know how affordable the Twister® is compared to some other fast food chain's offering. Good value for money and all that.

3. How about the nutritional value of the product... ok this may or may not be applicable to the Twister®, but customers may want to know that the Twister® has less calories than some other fast food, or maybe it has a low GI value, or maybe KFC only use organically grown ingredients / organically farmed chickens in the product. Who knows - there must be something they could use as a positive in terms of how healthy the product is... I think. :)

So with the above in mind, how on earth did KFC come up with the tagline for the Twister®, as illustrated in this short summary of one of their current ads...?:

A girl walks down a corridor, eating a KFC Twister®. A guy follows her. She glances nervously over her shoulder and ducks into an alley, then kicks the unsuspecting guy in the crotch as he approaches. She does this because she thinks the guy wants to mug her.
Instead, the (now mute and sterile) guy produces her wallet which she dropped, and he is returning it to her.

"At least your KFC Twister® won't make a mess of things!"...

What?? So if I go and buy a KFC Twister®, it won't make a mess of things?
Can someone please explain...? Surely the creative people at KFC could have come up with something a bit more relevant to food, than "making a mess of things"...?

The only logical thing I can think they are trying to say, is that the foil / plastic / paper packaging is somehow incredibly strong and impervious to any kind of splitting, spillage, breakage or leaking. Hence the reference to "making a mess of things".
Who knows.

I won't even get started on the "inspiration" centered KFC ads that are currently flighting...
To their credit, and so that KFC don't totally hate me when they read this, the Twister® does look pretty yummy in this pic:

I just hope it won't make a mess of things if I go out and get one...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

How to extend your wireless network

A lot of people have asked me about this subject - either at their homes or in their offices.
They are running a wireless network and as soon as they move into a certain room, or beyond a certain distance from the access point, their wireless signal becomes weak or is lost completely.

The obvious solution is to move your access point around, but this is not always possible if the access point is also an ADSL modem, and therefore limited in positioning by Telkom wall jacks etc.

There is another option, but only if your existing Wireless access point supports something called "WDS". WDS (courtesy of Wikipedia), is defined as follows:

"A Wireless Distribution System (WDS) is a system that enables the wireless interconnection of access points in an IEEE 802.11 network. It allows a wireless network to be expanded using multiple access points without the need for a wired backbone to link them, as is traditionally required."

So in plain English, you can extend your wireless network by placing another access point somewhere else in your home / office, and your 2 access points can then be configured to form one virtual access point, i.e. your laptop / PC will see them as one access point, just a whole lot larger than before.

In order to achieve this though, the following conditions need to be met:

- both access points must support WDS / Wireless Bridging
- both access points must have the same SSID
- both access points must be broadcasting on the same wireless channel
- both access points must be on the same IP subnet
- WDS / Wireless Bridging must be enabled on both access points, and the respective MAC addresses of each access point needs to be associated with the other access point.

Wow what a mouthful! I must say that I had quite a time getting this right initially, but if you meet all of the above conditions then you should be good to go.
If you are not sure what Access Point you can use to get this right, the Netgear WG602 is a great device that supports Wireless Bridging (provided that your existing access point is up to the task).

Want one? Drop me a mail now - the Netgear WG602 is currently available for R 700.
As always, T&C's apply.

Sleepbox - a cheap place to crash while on the move :)

I am not sure if this is just a prototype, and I would guess that it is, but it's pretty darn nifty all the same.
Sleepbox is a booth that can be installed at airports, train stations or other public transport facilities, and it can be rented as a small space to hideaway from the world for a while.
The Sleepbox can be rented for anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours if need be.


Features inside include:

- a 2 foot wide bed
- a drop down shelf for your laptop or whatever you would want to put on there :)
- storage space under the bed
- automatic change of bed linen (that's the part I was wondering about... imagine shacking up inside the Sleepbox after hundreds of other sweaty tourists have done the same in there... and possibly more... :))
- (apparently)... LCD TV & Wifi






They remind me of one of those sci-fi films where passengers of the spaceship live in little life-supporting pods...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

JHB gets some proper Public Transport... finally!

Take a drive through central JHB these days, and as you head down Commissioner Street you will notice that new bus stations have popped up everywhere along the road.
They look something like this:

Joubert Park Station

While this prototype station (Joubert Park) was launched in 2008, I have personally been out of date with the new BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system, so I was rather surprised when I first saw a Rea Vaya station on Commissioner Street.
I am hopeful that this will be a huge step forward in bringing Johannesburg up to speed with other major cities in the world, in terms of transportation - coupled to the Gautrain this should be a winning formula, especially with the Fifa Soccer World cup only a few months away...!!

A Rea Vaya Bus taking a breather

Get more info on Rea Vaya, routes, stations etc. at their official website here.

...and this is what Harties looks like in flood!

The rain has continued unabated this past week, flooding roads, offices and public spaces all over Gauteng.
Re my post last week about Benoni in flood, check out these photos of Hartebeespoort Dam taken this week.

Anyone for a spot of white (or perhaps green?) water rafting...? :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

This is what USB 3.0 looks like...

For the longest time now, USB 2.0 has been the USB speed standard - released in April 2000, USB 2.0 has a maximum speed of 480 Mbit/s, which is pretty quick.
Walk into any tech store and you will spot one of these logos in a matter of seconds:
Yup - that's the "Hi Speed" logo used by USB 2.0
Well you better watch out for the next generation of USB devices - look out for these logos cropping up on electronics in the very near future:


2010 is the year of USB 3.0, and consumer devices are already rolling out featuring the new "SuperSpeed" spec. 
USB 3.0 will theoretically run at speeds of 3.2 Gbit/s, which is crazy fast (approx. 10 times the speed of USB 2.0) in terms of moving huge chunks of data around.
Currently I have spotted the following manufacturers (among many) pushing out USB 3.0 compatible products:

- Western Digital (External Hard Drives)
- Asus (Motherboards)
- Seagate (Portable Hard Drives)
- Gigabyte (Motherboards)

Seems like Intel and AMD will be holding off for the time being for various reasons - read more on it here.
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