Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year to one and all! 2011 is going to be one helluva year :)

In typical style, Google's logo has changed today to celebrate the coming of 2011...
FYI - MMXL = 2011 in Roman numerals... :)
So to all my readers and to everybody out there, Happy New Year and may 2011 be the most incredible year yet!
Thanks for reading my ramblings everybody, and if you are going to go big tonight, do it responsibly!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Time for a dilemma of note... Nokia N8 / Nokia E7 / iPhone 4 / Android... what to choose?

Time sure as hell is moving at a rapid pace...
It seems like just yesterday that the courier arrived with my brand spanking new Nokia N97, much to my disbelief (and joy!) at the time...!

I can hardly believe that I am due for another handset upgrade in about 3 months - 108 days to be precise.
So the question on my mind now, is what phone do I go for next?
I must say that my N97 experience has been a mixed bag, although the pros far outweigh the cons.
The N97 (when it was launched) easily out-specced most other smartphones out there, iPhone included (relax Apple fans :).
For example, only now has the iPhone 4 managed to include a 5MP camera, which the N97 had years back (with Carl Zeiss optics no less).

So on the plus side, this is what worked for the N97 big time:

- 5MP Camera.
- FM Transmitter (I still use this in my car daily).
- Flip out QWERTY keyboard (awesome for typing long emails).
- 32GB onboard storage (class-leading at the time, and still unsurpassed in the market) + microSD slot (up to 16GB).
- TFT resistive touchscreen, 16M colours.

...and the not-so-great stuff:

- Laggy performance (much improved after several firmware upgrades, but still weak due to the 434Mhz CPU and small amount of system RAM).
- Occasional tendency to randomly restart (mainly in earlier versions of the phone firmware).
- Camera lens cover scratching the camera lens on opening and closing.

Overall though, the N97 has earned its place in my book of awesome devices, and it is with that in mind that I now trundle through the various options on offer when I next upgrade my handset.
...and the contestants are, in no particular order:

Nokia N8

Wow - a 12MP Camera with Carl Zeiss optics and a Xenon flash?
No frikkin' way...!
At launch, the Nokia N8 sported the most powerful camera on any smartphone at the time, and one of the best ever, according to many online review resources.

Coupled to an all new Symbian platform (apparently worlds apart from the laggy N97 version), an ARM 11 680 MHz processor, 3D Graphics HW accelerator, 16 GB storage, 256MB RAM, 512 MB ROM, AMOLED capacitive touchscreen (16M colors), FM Transmitter and much more, the N8 promises to be all that the N97 was and a whole lot more, just quicker!

There is just one little con that bugs me... no flip out QWERTY keyboard. That one feature just comes in so darn handy on the N97!

Nokia E7

Although this stunner is only going to market early 2011, it has already made waves in the smartphone world due to its sleek anodised aluminium case, impressive side-slider form factor (a la N97) and awesome hardware specs.
Basically the E7 is the business-targeted version of the N8, as I understand it.

Core hardware is much the same as the N8 (CPU, RAM, onboard storage, but with 1GB ROM instead of 512MB as on the N8).
The obvious difference though is the full QWERTY keyboard, which according to many reviews is simply incredible to use... and trust me they come in handy when you need to do a lot of typing on the go!

The E7, however lacks a few of the best features of the N8, namely:

- No 12MP camera. Instead an 8MP camera (not the Carl Zeiss variety) is included, with a dual LED flash (not xenon as on the N8).
- No FM Transmitter (sounds petty, but I use this feature all the time).
- No card slot for microSD cards to increase device storage.

Even so, initial reviews online are raving about this device big time...

iPhone 4

People either love or hate Apple products.

In my opinion Apple do not sell products. They sell a name - a lifestyle if you like.
Apple people see an Apple logo and they reach for their wallets. Even if that logo is on a brick somewhere, supplemented by the name "iBrick".

They will then proceed to randomly whip said iBrick out, at social events, with an air of smugness that you simply cannot emulate if you own any other brand of device... :)

That being said, the iPhone 4 is one spectacular device.

I have had the pleasure of playing with one of these babies and I must say that I was very tempted to switch to the Apple side of life...

Although the camera is not particularly headline-inducing (5MP), and there is no QWERTY keyboard, the UI experience more than makes up for those absent features.
If you have ever used an iPhone, you will know what I am talking about. The iOS 4 interface is about as slick as you can find on any smartphone, and plenty responsive to boot.
Powered by the 1GHz Apple A4 CPU and packing 512MB RAM, this phone is no slouch.

Perhaps one of the biggest drawcards of the iPhone 4 is the App Store - the selection of applications (paid and free) that you can get for your device is really amazing - something which Nokia could learn a lot from (their OVI Store 'aint quite as good...:)

Seriously worth considering...

Android-based phones...

There are so many new Android-based handsets on the market right now, that it is just ridiculous to try and pin down any one handset.
HTC, Acer, Samsung, Sony, LG, Motorola... tons of brands are jumping onto the Android bandwagon, and for good reason.

Android gives you choices - choice of brand, choice of thousands of free apps for your device, even choice of different UI's for your device.
Having played with several Android devices, I can also say that the Android platform is very slick and responsive.
Being Google developed and backed also adds a great deal of strength to the platform - I tend to rank Google products pretty high up there!

I have however looked at a variety of Android phones, and I cannot find one with hardware specs that quite match up to the Nokia N8 or Nokia E7...

So all in all, it's gonna be a tough choice when it comes to the crunch.
Which phone would you choose?
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Stuck for Christmas gift ideas? Check out this 8Gb Waterproof MP3 Player for only R600.00

I came across a nifty 8GB Waterproof MP3 Player at the Namhost online store, and I did a bit of delving to find out more about the product - click on the photos to view them full size.

Now I am not a very sporty type person, and when in the sea I am a total wuss - more than knee deep and my eyes are peeled for any sign of fins breaking the water surface around me... you get the idea!
Even so, South African beaches are a surfers paradise, and our awesome weather lends itself to water sports in a huge way.
So with that in mind, this little gadget really deserves a spot on the must-have list of any surfer, swimmer, wake-boarder, body-boarder, kayaker, kite-surfer or any other sporty (or not :)) person.

The rubberised earpieces are designed to fit exceptionally well, audio is pristine, and the entire player is easy to use. 
With a dive depth of ten metres you can listen to your favourite tunes while you snorkel or even scuba dive!

Order yours today for only R 600, at the Namhost Shop:

There is limited stock and once sold, you will have to wait until next year before getting your hands on one of these nifty devices!
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I wonder when some random newbie pseudo-musician will wreck "Come on Eileen"...

I would guess that "Come on Eileen", by Dexys Midnight Runners, must be one of the most instantly recognizable and popular dancefloor songs pretty much all over the world.
The track is a great example of a "one-hit wonder", although the band did achieve a number one spot on the UK charts 2 years earlier with their song "Geno".

Nowadays, however (as I moaned about in one of my posts last year), anybody who wants to be cool, just picks a popular track that someone else wrote, and records their own dumb lyrics over the tune.
This is called "sampling", and it allows pretty much anybody to become a musician overnight.
They rely on the fact that the new generation of teeny boppers were not even born yet when the original track was actually aired, so their new abomination is now seen as "original" and they become instant stars off the original artists' hard work.

So I wonder... how long will it be until someone decides to create a train-smash out of one of the greatest number 1 singles of all time...?
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New Pick 'n Pay store now open in Orchards...

If you work or live in Orange Grove, Orchards or Norwood, there is now a conveniently situated Pick 'n Pay store open on the corner of Louis Botha Avenue and Louis Road, Orchards.
Situated right next door to the 24 Carrots Event Design building, the store opened at the end of November, and it is great if you don't want to visit Norwood Mall but still need to stock up on some basic groceries.

Pop in sometime!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brendan Venter's embarrassing interview after a defeat to Racing Metro 92...

I don't really follow rugby at all, but this clip is just classic.

It shows Brendan Venter's rather strange interview to Sky Sports, after Saracens lose 21-24 to Racing Metro 92 in the Heineken Cup on December 11th 2010.

Watch and be amazed... and amused :)

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Who makes the best pizza in JHB?

Now that's a blog post title to get people talking - after all, when it comes to pizza, EVERYONE has an opinion :)
So first off, for all the Italian readers out there, "my Nonna" is not a valid answer in this case :)
It's restaurants that I am talking about here...

When I was but a wee lad, I did not know a whole lot about pizza, but I sure loved the stuff.
Back then, in my opinion at least, the Apple Bite Roadhouse in Edenvale was the king of pizza making :)
Admittedly, I have not eaten anything from the Apple Bite in years, so I cannot speak for their quality now.

Enough with the reminiscing.
As all pizza-loving humans know, when the pizza-hunger-bug strikes, it does so with a vengeance.
The pizza-hunger-bug takes no prisoners, and it demands immediate and complete satisfaction.

Not wanting to upset the pizza-hunger-bug then, I have in my time sampled these savoury circular Italian treats from many different spots in JHB - and here in the commercial capital of South Africa, we are most definitely spoilt for choice on that front...!

Off the top of my noggin then (in my humble, non-chef kind of way) the following places come to mind...:

- Nonna Mia (Bedfordview, Senderwood, Illovo) - a great pizza experience - although the non-traditional rectangular shape may catch you off guard :)

- Mimmo's (all over JHB) - generally tasty and good quality, although this can be branch-dependent.

- O'Crumbs (formerly in Sunnyrock, JHB) - no longer in operation, but they deserve a mention for what was once their consistently good quality, 24 hours a day. Boy oh boy - pizza at 3am in the morning on the way home after a night out... 'aint nuttin better than that!

Please understand that this has to be the most brief list ever compiled - as you read this I am sure that a million pizza places are popping up in your head, but I just wanted to put a few out there.
The title of this post, however, asks who in fact makes the best pizza in JHB...

Again, this is only my opinion, and I am no chef, nor am I a pizza connoisseur of any kind.
To answer this burning, and indeed critical question, I must cast my mind back a while, to when I first saw the words "Primi Piatti" tattooed onto the side of a building somewhere...
My first impression of Primi Piatti (Italian for "first dish") was that of a trendy hangout, designed for and geared towards a young, upwardly mobile generation of go-getters who enjoy getting tanked after a day of corporate ping pong at the office.
For that reason, I never really took an interest to the franchise, and so I continued on my merry, blissfully naive journey in the world of pizza eating.

It was only recently, that for some or other reason I decided to pop into the Stoneridge branch of Primi (known as Primi Fusion), for a good old Regina pizza.
Not expecting terribly much, you can imagine my most pleasant surprise and amazement, when I discovered what I would call the best pizza I have eaten in years, inside what is a rather average-looking pizza box :)

I am not sure what their secret is, but in terms of flavour, base thickness and crispiness, consistency between branches and generally excellent quality, Primi Piatti are certainly doing something right.
So much so, in fact, that I do not even think twice anymore, when that little pizza-hunger-bug dude shows up on my doorstep... Primi Primi Primi!
The mark of good pizza!

Not wanting to upset anybody though, I would love for you all to comment here if you know of any incredible pizza places / restaurants etc. in JHB (or anywhere else for that matter...!:).
Hey, who knows - you may find yourself stranded sometime, somewhere on the far East Rand near Nigel, far away from the nearest Primi Piatti, but urgently in need of a pizza fix... 

Let's help those needy people and get a list of great pizza spots going here :)
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas tree spotting in JHB malls...

Spotted these funky Christmas trees recently, at Village View Shopping Centre (Bedfordview) and Stoneridge Shopping Centre (Greenstone) respectively.

More to come as they get spotted!

Seen any awesome Christmas trees or spectacular decorations in your hood lately?
Send them my way and I will put them up here for all to behold :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lateral thinking - a real world example...

Having been fortunate enough to travel locally recently, I found myself in a situation where lateral thinking was demonstrated in a good way, in an everyday situation.

Slowing down as I approached the MariaanHill tollgate just outside Pinetown, I spied an empty looking gate to the right and made a bee line for it - it is always amusing to watch how all the cars scurry in the final dash to get the emptiest tollgate :)

Feeling rather smug as I waited in the (short) queue of 3 cars, I noticed how the driver in front repeatedly (and fruitlessly) swiped his card through the automatic card machine, each time slightly more urgently than the last...

After about 10 unsuccessful swipes and with cars piling up behind us, the driver in front eventually got out of his car and made his way over to one of the manual booths, where he could interact with a human being, rather than a card-refusing machine.
A short discussion then followed, after which the 2 of them then headed over to the stubborn machine.
They then took turns trying to make the questionable card work, unsuccessfully.

Eventually, they gave up and the tollgate operator waved his hands at the now decidedly long queue, in what was a rather enthusiastic gesture for us all to reverse back (into oncoming traffic), and use another tollgate.

Not an easy task.
As the reverse lights all started coming on, and with trucks and a variety of other vehicles now bearing down on the stagnant queue of stranded vehicles, the task seemed just about impossible.

There we all were - a stationary queue of cars lined up one behind another, all behind one bottleneck, all trying desperately to escape.

Trouble is, we weren't going anywhere because it's a bit tough trying to reverse into oncoming traffic, in the hope that said traffic will just understand why several vehicles are reversing towards them... :)

It is also truly amazing how transfixed and overly focussed one can become, when faced with what appears to be an insurmountable situation - one such as this for example.
So when the (fairly large) passenger in the car behind me suddenly got out and made his way to the car responsible for the blockage, my first thought was "Oh hell... Here comes a fistfight..."...

Surprisingly, there were no fists, and indeed, no fight.
Instead, the fairly large passenger and the blockage-causer exchanged a few words, at which point the fairly large passenger produced his own petrol card, proceeded to swipe that, and lo and behold - the boom lifted and the day was saved.

I was speechless for a few seconds before the thought hit me... "Now why didn't I think of doing that?".
Who knows what mechanism makes us lose sight of the most obvious solution to a problem when we are involved in it - all I can say is that the idea of moving an entire queue of cars at a toll gate, seemed such a massive task, that all the other people in the queue simply failed to think of paying for the toll themselves, in order to get the whole queue moving again.

The funny thing is that the toll for that specific plaza is something like R7.50... Not really an account breaker...!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

So Cell C has now OFFICIALLY upgraded JHB and Pretoria... So how will this benefit you?

Well for starters, you will only feel any kind of benefit if you are a Cell C subscriber (duh) :)

Second to that, your phone needs to be capable of the data speeds that Cell C now offers.
The JHB upgrade actually started about 2 weeks ago - all of a sudden one Saturday, my Nokia N97 started displaying a little blue "3G" icon under the network signal...

Much to my disbelief, I was able to download a 4MB song in 10 seconds, onto my phone... A feat which would have been totally impossible on their previous infrastructure.
So I have been testing the new data connection for about 2 weeks now - first impressions?
Well it certainly pushes my little handset to its limits - because the N97 can only download at 3.6Mbps...
To get a true picture of Cell C's new data network speeds, I would need to get hold of one of their USB modems and try that out.

Trouble is, I don't really need one, since my ADSL serves me just fine :)
So unless Cell C want to donate one to me, it 'aint gonna happen soon!

In a "real world" setting though, it's all going to depend on what type of cellular user you are - if you just make calls and send / receive the occasional SMS, then Cell C's new "4Gs" network isn't really going to do much more for you (and don't be deceived - it 'aint true 4G - it's Cell C trying to be clever - they explain that it stands for "for great speed, for great service"...)

If, however, you call, SMS, email and surf the net on your phone regularly in your average day, then your life is about to get a little easier.
From my short 2 week testing stint, I can honestly say that emailing and surfing the net on my phone is now a total breeze, in comparison to the past.
My only gripe is that I still come across lots of areas in JHB where my phone only gets EDGE (i.e. dog slow)...
Maybe now that the JHB rollout is official, this situation will improve?

All in all though, a huge pat on the back goes out to Cell C for having finally delivered on a long awaited promise!

Are you with Cell C?
If so, have you felt the benefits of their network upgrade?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Plebs with Kids has gone live!

In case you missed it, or in case you have not been picking up my updates on Facebook and Twitter, I launched my new blog "Plebs with Kids" this week.

Plebs with Kids has been a work in progress for over a year now - something that I have been working on and building up gradually.

In a nutshell, Plebs with Kids is an online resource for parents who need places to take their little ones, where they can be sure that the kiddies are well catered for, and where the parents can also get themselves a decent cuppa and a bite to eat :)

For the plebs...
...and for the kids :)
Truth is, JHB can be pretty limited when it comes to entertaining the little ones, which is why Plebs with Kids came about in the first place.
There are hidden gems to be found all over the place though, if we just take the time to find them... and that is exactly what we do :)

Plebs with Kids writes detailed reviews on venues that it visits, primarily in and around Johannesburg.
Sometimes we do venture further afield though - just this week we reviewed The Waterberry in Ballito.

You can keep in touch and up to date with our reviews and activities in several ways:

- Visit Plebs with Kids directly at
- Subscribe to our RSS feed at
- Receive automatic email updates when new reviews go live
- Follow us on Twitter
- Join our Facebook page
Share your own experiences with us
- Suggest places to review
- Share articles using the Social Networking icons on the site (Facebook, Twitter, Email etc.)
- Email us at

Want to advertise on Plebs with Kids?
Just drop me an email at for further information - we have tons of ad space available.

Come and visit often - we are adding new reviews and updates all the time, and we welcome your feedback and participation!

Get yourself the HP G62 Core i3 laptop for only R 6750!

*Please note that this special is no longer available*:

The HP G62 notebook has been making a few waves in the industry of late, mainly due to the impressive specs it boasts, for the decidedly competitive price tag that it carries.

Check it out - stylish and sleek:
...and the specs:

Intel Core i3 2.26Ghz
4GB RAM (2 modules)
15.6" HD LED
Webcam & Built-in mic
Wireless LAN (802.11b,g,n)
3 x USB
1 x VGA out
1 x HDMI out
DVD-RW with Lightscribe
5-in-1 Card Reader
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit (no media in box - user needs to create recovery DVD's in Windows)
6 Cell Battery
1 Year Carry-in Warranty

Current pricing = R 6750 (in stock now)

Now these specs are all nice and shiny here, but how does this baby run?
Well I have setup several of these machines this week, and my first impressions were really good.
From experience, any laptop that retails for this kind of price will be capable of a Windows Experience Index base score of about 3.5 - 3.6.
That sits squarely in the middle of the road in terms of performance - for more about Windows Experience Index scores, see this article.

The HP G62, however, generates a Windows Experience Index base score of 4.6, which is well above the average in this price range - and it certainly shows.
Add to that the "future-proofing", inherent in buying a Core i3 notebook, and you have a sure winner for the price.

The HP G62 is currently in stock, but they are going fast so click here to get your order in now!
Alternatively, fill out our Contact Form for any queries about the product.

...and the fine print: :)

- Terms strictly COD
- Strictly no returns or credit on opened goods
- All pricing above is subject to stock availability - to be confirmed on placement of order
- Above pricing is valid for 7 working days only
- Please allow 4-6 working days for delivery
- Nybbles and Bytes cc is not VAT registered

*Please note that this special is no longer available*

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Some more money savers that I conjured up... :)

I posted this article a short while ago, outlining a few simple tips to save a few bucks each day.
For any international visitors who are perhaps a trifle confused at this point, I am not talking about wildlife conservation here. Bucks = South African Rands. :)

Since then, I have picked up on a few more ways that may help you out somewhere along the line - I know I sure as hell keep trying :)

- Make your own lunch for work:
Making cheese and cucumber sandwichesImage via Wikipedia
This may or may not apply to you, depending on your personal work context...

However, if you are someone who regularly (perhaps daily?) heads over to KFC, Steers, Macdonalds (Burger King if you are in the USA :) etc... to pick up a quick lunch, then this is a total no-brainer:

1. Before the week begins, buy a loaf of bread and something to put on it, some fruit maybe and a selection of snacks;
2. Come Monday morning, take 10 minutes before work to pack yourself a homemade lunch;
3. Enjoy your lunch a great deal more than you normally would;
4. Marvel at the amount of money that you suddenly save daily;
5. Marvel at the decreased indigestion post-lunch... ;)

Sure, it is going to cost you initially to buy the ingredients required for lunch, but trust me, it will be nowhere near what you would normally be spending on fast food (which probably leaves you feeling shoddy anyway)...

- Delay the take-away... :)
This kinda follows on from the previous tip - if you are someone who frequently gets take aways to avoid having to cook at home, then this is for you.
It's pretty simple - make those take-away pizzas / ribs / burgers that you love so much, a weekly / monthly treat, rather than a regular occurrence.
It is all too easy to pop out and pick up take-aways, and don't they always just taste so damn good?!

Give it a try it though - next time you habitually find yourself heading for take-aways, stop for a second and think: "What do I have to eat at home...?".
Something quick out of the freezer? Perhaps whip up some pasta?
This doesn't mean that you need to cook a complicated dish in place of take-aways - the point is to save money by eating food that you already have.

The other benefit of this, is that take-aways will once again re-establish themselves as a novelty in your life - a treat that you look forward to - and when take-away time does come around, you will just enjoy it that much more :)

- Resist the urge to check your email on your cellphone...
Nokia n95 SmartphoneImage by KhE 龙 via Flickr
I confess. Guilty as charged.

This is one that I struggle with daily, sometimes hourly... :)

Having email on hand at all hours is a fantastic new way to work, what with Smartphones now being able to deliver our email no matter where we are or what the time.
The flip side though, is the trap of becoming obsessive about this.
By obsessive, I mean checking your email on your phone all the time - something which as I said before, I have struggled with personally.

Now unless you own a Blackberry, repetitive checking of your email can soon add up to a decent chunk of cash being spent on your data bill... sometimes a few hundred bucks... and for what?
Added stress. Yup - that's all that you are getting for your money.

Try and get into the habit of checking your email on your phone slightly less frequently - start out small if you are a hardcore email checking machine... :)
It is tough - trust me I know, but just equate this to how much hard cash you are spending (wasting...?).

It's that simple.
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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cell C has upgraded JHB... finally!

I never thought I would see this day...

A bit earlier today, my phone started showing a small 3G icon just below the network signal.
"Could it be?"... I wondered in a cautious, yet ever so slightly hopeful manner...

So I quickly located a 3MB song online on my phone, and downloaded it... in 10 seconds flat!
That equates to roughly 300 Kilobytes (or 3 Megabits) per second, and that means that Cell C have finally delivered on their promise of a JHB rollout of their HPSA+ network.

At last my previously stunted Nokia N97 can now download data at full speed - and from the first impression it is pretty darn quick!

Oh and in case you are wondering why I only got 3Mbps in download speeds (Cell C have boasted about speeds up to 21Mbps), it is because the Nokia N97 only supports data speeds up to 3.6Mbps.
If I wanted to test out the maximum speed of the Cell C data network, I would need to get myself one of those new USB data modems that Cell C is offering on their new data bundles...

So unless Cell C maybe decide to offer me the opportunity to try one of those out (hint, hint), I will have to just make do with what I have for now :)

In any case, well done and "big up" (as they say in the States) to Cell C - this has been a long time in the making and I hope that it pushes you guys way ahead of the competition!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cell C update - latest cities just upgraded to HSPA+ data network...

Cell C are in the process of upgrading their data network locally in a big way - to the point that a new city is being added every 2 days in some cases.
This is the current situation as regards their rollout - for some obscure reason, JHB and Pretoria are not yet featured as red dots on this map... and so we patiently wait...

The newest additions are Nelspruit and Polokwane:

Come on Cell C - has my loyalty and persistence not yet proved to you what a dedicated customer I am?
So dedicated, in fact, that a free data modem + some data would be a great way to show your appreciation of my continued support... :)
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

It must have rained glue last night in JHB...

Were the roads in JHB coated in a thick layer of glue this morning? No?
Strange then, that every possible road in existence here was a traffic nightmare this morning... and I didn't see a single prang or broken down vehicle anywhere - nothing to indicate what was actually causing the congestion.

- Perhaps people wake up, see that it rained, and all decide to drive at an average speed of 2km/h?

- Or maybe it is in fact the case that there is some kind of glue in our rain, resulting in vehicles not being able to drive faster than 2km/h because their wheels are getting sticky?

- Maybe it's just a mindset that people snap into when they see that it rained, and they think "OMG it rained last night, so traffic is going to be terrible...!!!"... and voila, so shall it be.

Thoughts are powerful things, you know...!
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I thought Pretoria was supposed to be "the Jacaranda City"...

Indeed, I have always associated Pretoria with the purple wave of Jacaranda trees that inundate the city in springtime - a truly beautiful sight!

These photos, however were snapped this weekend in Houghton, Johannesburg - and this was just the tip of one truly gargantuan floral iceberg...

In areas with lots of wind, the purple flowers are literally blanketing the roads - it's as if some art student came along and gave our roads a purple makeover - it certainly adds some beautiful colour to what would otherwise be a drab tar road surface :)

So when you hit the road tomorrow (not literally of course, unless you are a road construction worker maybe :), take the time to notice how prolific the Jacaranda trees are right now in Jo'burg - they are all over the place!

People of Pretoria - watch out!
You had all better be on your guard - Johannesburg is hot on your heels and might soon snatch your "Jacaranda City" status from under your noses...

...and when that happens, I think that the Jacaranda FM offices will need to relocate somewhere a little closer to JHB... ;)

Alex and Twitch on SYTYCD - a hip-hop routine you will want to watch over and over again...!

If you watch So You Think You Can Dance (the American series), then you would no doubt have been blown away last night, by this gem of a routine by Alex Wong (a trained ballet dancer) and Twitch (SYTYCD Hip-Hop All Star from a previous season).

The routine was choreographed by "Nappytabs" - Napoleon and Tabitha, who are regular hip-hop choreographers for the show - truly amazing work guys :)

In case you missed it, do yourself a huge favour and take a few minutes to watch this incredible piece of work:

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I wonder if Cell C thought of this...

A Cell C riddle to start the day :)

If Cell C's new broadband offering is running at full speed, i.e. 21Mbps, how long would it take for a user to max out their monthly 5GB cap if they are on the 60GB data bundle?
Let's also assume that we are talking about someone who likes to download a lot of stuff - music, videos, games and all that good stuff.

Well the calculation would go something like this:

21Mbps = approx. 2 Megabytes per second.
= approx. 120 Megabytes per minute
= approx. 7200 Megabytes (7.2GB) per hour...

Bear in mind that this only accounts for data downloaded - it would add up to more if I included data uploads and downloads...

So in summary, if you are someone who is thinking of using Cell C's new 60GB data bundle to download massive amounts of data, bear this little tidbit in mind - if you actually get the full speed that Cell C promise to deliver, you would use your entire 5GB monthly allowance up in less than 1 hour...

Which would leave you waiting until the 1st day of next month to resume your prized downloads... :)

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mid-November is the ETA for Cell C to upgrade JHB and Pretoria broadband speeds...

I must be one of the most ardent followers of this one - for years now South Africans have been sitting on Cell C to upgrade their outdated EDGE data network, to one that can compete with the likes of Vodacom and MTN.

While some South African cities have already been upgraded to the HSPA+ 900/2100 network in recent weeks, users inland in JHB and Pretoria have been left waiting...

Finally, though it seems that the moment we have been waiting for so patiently, is almost upon us.
The News section of the Cell C website, today reports that Cell C have won the 2010 Mobile Broadband Service of the Year award (congrats Cell C!), at the Annual MyBroadband Conference held at Vodaworld yesterday.

In there somewhere it mentions that the JHB and Pretoria upgrade is scheduled for mid-November... I hope that means November 2010... :)

Watch this space... the second that my Nokia N97 indicates anything even hinting at a quicker data connection, I will be jumping on here to post about it.
On the other hand, Cell C could maybe just give me a call beforehand, offering a free tryout of their new "4Gs" data network? ;)

Come on Cell C - you know you wanna!

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Can you be TOO secure when it comes to internet banking and viruses?

Of late, South African banks have stepped up their efforts to stop internet banking fraud, by introducing a number of 3rd-Party applications that are supposed to protect the end-user from potential threats.

The ones that I have encountered include Prevx (FNB) and Rapport (Nedbank), and they add an additional layer of protection onto your web browser, specifically targeted at protecting internet banking sessions.
End-users will happily install whatever the bank recommends, because in doing so, the end-user then has grounds to claim, should their account be hacked or breached in any way.
If an end-user has done everything that their bank has advised in order to stay safe online, then it minimizes any responsibility placed upon them, should the proverbial sh1t ever collide with the proverbial fan...

Now this is all fine and well, one might say. Anything in the name of security!
Then I inevitably get a call, and it goes something like this:

Caller: My PC is running really slowly lately...

Me: What has changed on your PC recently that may have caused it? Have you installed anything new? Changed anything?

Caller: Nope, just installed this banking software thing to protect me when I am online...

Me: Ah. Ok, and what other antivirus protection etc. is running?

Caller: ....dunno.

The call out that follows, invariably involves the discovery of one or more of the following software packages installed:

- Prevx
- Rapport
- Some antivirus (Avast, Norton's, BitDefender...)
- Windows Defender

The important thing to remember here is that each new antivirus / anti-spam / security package that gets installed on a PC, does 2 main things:

- It tries to protect you, and in doing so it scans opened files, web pages, RAM, folders on your hard drives, flash drives that you may plug in etc.
- In the process of trying to protect you, it uses system resources - i.e. RAM and CPU mainly.

Ultimately, trying to be as secure as possible on the internet is a delicate balancing act between safety and speed.
It is also not necessarily true that more is better - I have seen antivirus software identifying banking protection software as a virus... go figure...?!
So, in addition to speed concerns, you could end up with an arm-wrestling match between different software packages. It can become quite confusing!

As a guideline, I would say that one antivirus package, coupled to a single internet banking protection package should be sufficient.
If you happen to bank with different institutions who each want you to install THEIR preferred software, then you have a dilemma on your hands, because you are likely to end up with an antivirus package (assuming you already have one), and 2 or more packages aimed at protecting your online banking experience = potentially slow PC... :)
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Dear Cell C - is Johannesburg one of South Africa's less important cities?

Here comes some more Cell C ranting from my corner of the world...
Every few days now I am hearing news of another South African city being upgraded to Cell C's new "4Gs" network.

The order in which they are rolling out though, seems rather odd I have to say.
One would reasonably expect that Cell C would want to address the bigger centres in the country first - unless they were just scared that their network may not take that kind of strain as they launched their "4Gs" data offering...

So as I continue my rant, let me first tip my virtual hat to the fine folk in Port Elizabeth.
Lovely as it is though, why was P.E. chosen as the launch city for Cell C's 4Gs network?
I don't really get it at all - maybe somebody with knowledge of the inner workings of Cell C would like to comment here and fill me in...?
Surely a launch of such huge importance for Cell C would have been better suited to one of our larger cities?
Some justification of the launch city choice is offered here, but I am still not convinced...

So far these are the South African cities that Cell C has upgraded to the "4Gs" standard:

- Port Elizabeth
- Bloemfontein
- East London
- Cape Town
- Durban & Pietermaritzburg
- George (announced today)

That's great for them, but how about coming inland a bit guys?
JHB is only the commercial hub of the country you know, and your loyal fanbase here is crawling along at painful speeds.
I bet that if I go onto and "Tell Trevor", my comment will just get ignored anyway...
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Got a Flash Animation that mysteriously shrinks in Firefox? This might help...

This one plagued me for months, literally.

I was tasked with fixing a website that contains Flash - the problem is that the Flash displays 100% correctly in Internet Explorer and in Google Chrome.
Throw Firefox into the mix and the Flash suddenly shrinks to about 20% of it's full size, tucked up against the top margin of the browser.

Very odd - especially considering that I had checked and double checked all my scaling settings etc. etc.
After much Googling and research though, The Daily Reviewer came to my rescue, with a magical little piece of code which you can find here.

Just insert the code into your page, substitute the values "Untitled-1.swf" with the name of your own SWF file, and VOILA!

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