Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Been to Venice? Better go soon before it disappears beneath the waves...!

I received these photos of Venice in my Inbox yesterday - I gather they were taken during the December 2009 spate of floods, during which water levels rose approx. 1.5m, which is pretty darn significant...

Venetians are no strangers to the "acqua alta" (high water), as the city itself is built in the middle of a lagoon, resulting in a city which is completely at the mercy of changing tides.
It is a part of Venetian life to live life around the sea - residents regularly don boots and raincoats to slosh about their daily business.

Venice authorities are currently busy working on all kinds of projects to try and keep Venice above water, including ways to keep the water at bay, as global sea levels continue to rise.

Take a look - the pics tell a better story than I ever could!

Hurry up and take the darn photo.. I'm getting wet here!
Just taking a walk here, la la la OMG TIDAL WAVE!!

Could this be Venice Harbour - sometime in the near future maybe...?
Aahh... nothing like a drink with good friends while dangling your legs in the water...

Yes Sir, we do have tables available - where would you like to be seated?

Not sure about this one... how is this guy propelling himself?
Looking for the Fresh Fish Dept.? You're standing in it :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Edward Maya - Stereo Love. What an awesome track!

I heard this track played on the radio recently and I finally tracked the details down today.
Stereo Love is the 2009 debut single of Romanian musician Edward Maya, featuring Vika Jigulina.

It's one of those clubby tracks that will probably grow old pretty fast, but for the time being I dig it man :)

What does "Armageddon" mean to you?

I often refer to a classic passage from Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series.
The passage speaks about bad news, and how nothing travels faster. To quote the late genius himself:

"One of the problems has to do with the speed of light and the difficulties involved in trying to exceed it. You can't. Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws. 
The Hingefreel people of Arkintoofle Minor did try to build spaceships that were powered by bad news but they didn't work particularly well and were so extremely unwelcome whenever they arrived anywhere that there wasn't really any point in being there...."
The late, great Douglas Adams, contemplating... :)

In any case, this does not tie into the post title at all. What I am trying to do is show just how correct his views on bad news were :)
People just love bad news. This much is true.
What's more, people just love to indulge in their own special conspiracy theories about the world in general.

One of the biggies at the moment (and for the past few decades, and possibly well before that too), is the theory of Armageddon - The End of the World - The Apocalypse - The End of Days - 2012... you get the idea.
Humans are in love with this concept. Each person has their own unique take on how we are all going to die when the Earth eventually gives it all up, in what should be a rather impressive show of fire and brimstone :)

The word "Armageddon" as far as my knowledge goes, comes from the Revelation according to John in the Bible - it was referred to as the place where the final battle between good and evil is (was?) to occur.
A little-known fact is that "Armageddon" translates to "Mountain of Megiddo" - Megiddo is a real place in modern Israel, known for its historical, geographical, and theological importance.

Another commonly used theme from Revelation is the number "666" - the number or mark of the Beast, as John calls it.
Nowadays this number is seen as a mark of evil, and a lot of people believe that it is somehow related to an "Antichrist" figure and a pending Apocalypse, as supposedly outlined in the Book of Revelation.
Some religious sects like to concoct outrageous and far-fetched mathematical calculations around the number, in an attempt to try and prove that their Antichrist theories /apocalyptic prophecies are in fact true.

Another little-known fact creeps in here - the number "666", as used in the Hebrew Numerology of gematria, represents the name "Caesar Nero". At the time of writing, the Emperor Nero was known to have been responsible for especially vicious attacks on Christians in Rome.
Also, although Nero had at the time already committed suicide, it was not yet widely known and many people would have assumed that he was still alive.
John, being one of the many persecuted Christians of the time, would reasonably have had a bone to pick with the Roman Empire, and specifically with the Emperor Nero himself. He would therefore also reasonably need a way to communicate his message in a way that the Romans could not understand - hence the Hebrew Numerology of gematria.

So would it be totally unreasonable to conclude that John was in fact referring to a literal place "Armageddon" i.e. the Mountain of Megiddo, where a decisive battle was to take place between good and evil (Roman Empire (evil) vs. the Angels of Heaven (good))?
Further, would it be unreasonable to conclude that the "666" referred to in Revelations was in fact a direct reference to the Roman Emperor Nero, and those who carried the "mark" of the Empire?

From a historical perspective (at least to me), this theory seems to hold a lot more water than does some dreamt-up mish-mash about an alleged Antichrist, an alleged Apocalypse, and other such apocalyptic theories that are flying around the internet nowadays... :)

SHEEWEEEE... what a mouthful :)

A funny photo in Clarens :)

I spent some time in Clarens recently - what a wonderful little town. It reminds me a lot of Franschhoek, in terms of the coffee shops, restaurants and art galleries lining the main street through the town, and just the general arty vibe of the place.
It also has a fascinating history - read up on it at the Wikipedia link above.

I took this snap while walking around...:

A bit ambiguous don't you think?
Click on the image to open up a larger version, and look at the yellow sign in the window if you don't get it ;)

The Golden Gate National Park is only about 15km from Clarens - also worth a visit for it's awesome gold and red sandstone cliffs.

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Nedbank scam mail - and this one is still very active so watch out...!

Re all my ramblings recently about ABSA scam mails being sent around, it seems that no bank is off limits here - just got this Nedbank one in my Inbox a few minutes ago.
I am not going to re-hash all of the many ways to tell if this is a fake mail, or how to avoid getting caught by these losers, but be aware that the link in this mail directs to an active site, which WILL capture your login details should you take the bait.

The mail looks like this (or similar):
Keep your guard up and be very aware of this kind of thing - it seems the scammers are on a mission to catch unsuspecting people out. Always double-check any electronic banking correspondence you receive!

...and once again, a message to the scammers - please guys, get a dictionary or take some English grammar classes! :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The most irritating part of Windows XP...

I love Windows XP.
Well, I don't actually LOVE it in the traditional sense of the word, but man oh man it stands out as one great operating system.

Sure, it has already been double-eclipsed by the likes of Windows Vista (aaarrgghhhh!) and Windows 7 (...hmmm not doing too badly so far!).
Even so, many of my clients and colleagues alike still swear by it, either because of all the bad press surrounding Vista, or because they fear that Windows 7 may be as bad as Vista... :)

I just have one point of contention about Windows XP - when Microsoft were coding it, designing it, creating it and making it a reality, what on earth made them think that Windows XP will only ever be installed in a noise-friendly environment?
Have you ever installed Windows XP yourself? Try it out sometime if you haven't - there is a point near the end of the install where some chilled out "Enya"-like music decides to play (if the correct sound card driver loads), while you click through various configuration screens.
Now this is all well and good, and it certainly isn't the worst piece of background music that they could have chosen, but it wouldn't have killed Microsoft to put a darn MUTE button in there somewhere...!

I am a bit of a geek, since only a geek could ever be caught installing Windows XP late at night... the point here is that the last thing you need at that point is music to come blaring out during your installation - and Microsoft seem to have set the volume level to "just too loud".
The music continues on as you click through various options, and for the life of me I have never been able to find out how to shut it up.
No amount of "Mute" combo keys can do the trick, at least not in my experience. One post I found online suggested cutting off a 3.5" headphone jack and plugging it into the audio out, which tricks the PC / laptop into muting the sound :)

BTW, if you want to hear the music I am referring to, but don't feel like doing a full XP install, just navigate to C:/WINDOWS/system32/oobe/images/title.wma if you are running Windows XP - that's your song!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Is MWEB giving out Uncapped ADSL to existing customers?

So is this for real? Are MWEB ADSL customers getting upgraded to Uncapped ADSL at no extra cost?
Well so says an email I received from them earlier today... to quote:

"GREAT NEWS: Your MWEB ADSL account will be upgraded to Uncapped ADSL by the end of April. Even better, you won't be paying a cent more than you are now!

MWEB Uncapped ADSL gives you unlimited Internet access allowing you to do as much as you like on the Internet, without ever having to pay more for extra data."

SHEESH that's awesome!
Or maybe it's an early April Fools joke... :) Hope not though!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Update on the latest ABSA scam mail...

Yup, you guessed it. I got another one in my inbox today.
I wonder if the scammers have been reading my blog, because they have changed their tactic slightly...

The latest mailer is identical to the previous one in appearance, except for one thing - the embedded hyperlink APPEARS to be legit - it appears as within the mail.
So you may be thinking - well now that link goes to so it must be safe... Wrong wrong wrong!
You can use any line of text as a link - it's the code behind the text that directs you onto the internet.
So while the hyperlink appears to say, clicking it actually takes you to - clearly dodgy.

As I said before, if you actually click the link, carefully watch where you are taken to in the address bar of your internet browser... until the scammers read this post at least... :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

ABSA is the spammers bank of choice!

So here we go again... re my last post about fake ABSA mailers going around, here is the latest rendition, fresh from my inbox this morning:

If you read my last post, I made some recommendations about how to pick up if a banking email is fake or not... let's put this one to the test:

- it seems the scammers / spammers are trying to get clever, since they have used as the "From" address.
The presence of "absa" in the address does little to convince me though, if you care to read on;

- the wording / language usage in this one is just a shocker. Scammers, if you are reading this, go out and take some evening classes in English before you send out your next broadcast please!
Let's dissect this...:

- "...we had a major server update without prior notice...". Sorry I don't buy that. Any banking institution who is a major player will give customers a decent heads-up before any major maintenance takes place on their systems.

- "...update some informations to continue using this service..." COME ON GUYS! Update some infomations? Seriously? Is "informations" even a word? Sheesh.

- "...we are dedicated to bring you the best possible service we can and this means keeping you safe..." WTF? Really? Does it mean that?

Guys and gals you get the gist of this - there are several ways to catch these dodgies out before they can cause any harm. Go through the list of common things to look for and you should be ok.

I will keep posting any new scam mailers that I get :)
They make for some funny reading!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Places to stay for your next vacation...

I receive newsletters from Tripadvisor every so often, and most recently I received one entitled "Astonishing Amenities", so naturally it grabbed my interest.

Astonishing indeed.... just check out what these amazing hotels and resorts have to offer:

Mouth-watering stuff... makes me want to just get started booking some flights right away!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Up is one awesome movie

Man oh man it has been a while since I last saw a movie that I really enjoyed...
Then recently I watched UP (one of Pixar's recent releases), and I must say that it did not disappoint.
On the contrary I was left with a warm fuzzy feeling, after approx. 90 minutes of a wonderfully original journey through the imagination of the Pixar and Disney crew.

I cannot put my finger on any one aspect of the film that makes it (in my humble opinion) such a great film, but I was rather expecting something typical of a Disney animation - enjoyable and fun, yet predictable and "done before".
Man was I in for a surprise.

- For starters the visuals and animation (of course) are fantastic, as is the norm nowadays.

- The storyline is highly original, and it tells the tale of one Carl Fredricksen, a bitter and widowed pensioner who gets it into his head to tie thousands of helium balloons to his house and fly from his home city (presumably somewhere in the USA) to Paradise Falls in South America.
That synopsis is totally brief and does the film no justice :) For the full story just go out and get it on DVD, or read up about it here. :)

- The soundtrack is by Michael Giacchino and it really brings the movie to life. Even if you are not a classical music lover, you will find yourself whistling the theme tune days after you have finished watching the movie... :)
It won the Academy Award for Best Original Score, the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album, the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and the 2010 BAFTA Award for Best Film Music.
Quite a set of accomplishments!

- Dug the dog was my favourite part of the whole film - his lines were just hilarious as he over-described everything that he was about to do in his silly voice, as in this example:

Dug: Yes, I do! I so ever do want the ball!
Carl Fredricksen: Go get it!
[throws the ball]
Dug: Oh, boy! Oh, boy! I will go get it and then bring it back!
[runs off]
...and that silly huge black nose just adds to his character!
Something else that was really cool to watch on the DVD "extras" section, was how Pixar flew the entire creative crew to Venezuela beforehand, in order to let them see and experience the kind of landscape that they would need to be rendering in the film.
They really hit the mark on this one - Angel Falls in Venezuela (the highest waterfall on Earth) was used as the inspiration for Paradise Falls in the movie:

Unique landforms of Venezuela called "tepuis" were also called upon to be used as the scenery surrounding Paradise Falls - just check this awesomeness out...:
Sheesh now I think I need to go watch it all over again :)

Do yourself a favour and do the same - want to get yourself a copy?
Just click on one of the links below to purchase online now via, or get yourself a talking Dug the Dog and other cool Up merchandise :)
How totally convenient is that??

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

ABSA scammers are at it again...

I just received this lovely email from ABSA THEMSELVES!! YES - THIS MAIL SAYS "ABSA" ON IT SO IT MUST BE FROM ABSA!!

Guys and gals, please don't get caught here - if you do in fact click on the link in the email, you will be taken to a fake ABSA site - what actually happens is that you are viewing the real ABSA site, but VIA another dodgy site.
Which basically exposes your authentication details when you login, and voila! You are broke.

Here is a screen grab of the dodgy email:

So to prevent getting caught out, here are a few guidelines to follow if you receive an email like this, and are unsure of what to do:

- first check the senders address. In this case it is, which already sounds an alarm - no mention of ABSA anywhere;

- carefully check the wording of the email. As I mentioned previously in this post, the people who spend their miserable lives doing this kind of thing, usually have a poor grasp of the English language for some reason... While the english in this mail is not really bad, some small things in the wording can help us out - e.g. "We noticed some invalid login attempts..." sounds just a tad casual for a banking institution to use in an official email.
In addition, I would expect that any bank would rather contact customers telephonically, rather than send them an email about a security issue like this.

- if you actually end up clicking on any link in the email, take careful note of the website address that you are taken to (up in the address bar in your browser).
In this case, the link goes to: , which clearly has nothing to do with ABSA.
Rule of thumb - If it's ABSA, you would expect to go to something like . If it's FNB, you would be looking for something like and so forth for all the other banks.

When in doubt, keep a copy of the email for reference, and get hold of your branch or your account manager.
Better safe than sorry anyday.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jub Jub's dice with death...

Remember Jub Jub? He was the guy I posted about in January, after he wussed out of Survivor South Africa with an apparent groin disorder of some sort...

Well now his groin troubles are the least of his worries.
Turns out that yesterday, young Jub Jub and a friend were having a "dice" in Soweto, in their respective Mini Coopers.
In an attempt to avoid oncoming traffic, one of the Mini's hit the other one, and both cars were sent flying.
Neither driver was seriously injured, but the tragic part of this story is that 4 young schoolboys who were walking on the side of the road, lost their lives as one of the Mini's mowed them down.

3 of their friends were also seriously injured in the accident, and Jub Jub was arrested.

Read the full story on News24 here.

I know this was an accident, but it kinda gets you wondering about young Jub Jub (and his dicing friend of course) - after all his chosen charity in the current Survivor SA series turned out to be a non-existent one...

I don't usually like posting negative stuff on my blog, but I feel pretty strongly about this, as I am sure will anybody else who reads about it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Why do teenagers walk around with their cellphone speakers blaring?

Something I see a lot of nowadays, especially in malls etc., are teenagers who slither around with a cellphone in their hand, blaring out some arb music.
Cellphone speakers are at best, rubbish. You can barely hear what the heck is going on when you play music through them at high volume.

So what's the point?
Does it imply some kind of "street cred" if you can flaunt your cellphone while churning out what sounds a lot like the white noise you get from an untuned TV?

Ever heard of headphones...?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Which car would you rather be in...? Watch this...

I have heard a lot of people say that older cars are built better, safer and harder than new cars, which essentially means that they would rather be in an older generation car than one of our new generation Euro NCAP tested cars, in the event of a serious accident.

I guess the argument comes down to one thing - how well can the car absorb and dissipate the force of a crash, and how much of that force is transferred into the cabin of the vehicle?

To better illustrate this age-old argument, watch this Fifth Gear crash test between an old Volvo 940 Estate (one of the safer cars of its' generation) and a current Renault Modus (the first ever supermini to attain the coveted 5 star Euro NCAP crash rating).

Watch first, then draw your own conclusions...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

100 days to go... and so we update our Nybbles and Bytes Poll :)

So today marks 100 days until the kick-off of the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa, and we are all totally stoked and gearing up for the most amazing time ever!
Soccer shirts everywhere, South African flags flying high and all that :)

I'm not going to expand on the exhausing amount of press around the "100 day countdown" today, but what I have done is create a new poll on my blog - check it out on the right, and have your say about the upcoming World Cup in South Africa.

Are you a doomsday prophet who believes that the World Cup 2010 spells disaster for our 3rd-World malaria-infested jungle...? ;)
Or perhaps you are a bit more upbeat about the event, and think that it holds huge potential for South Africa, in terms of uplifting the country and getting all of our systems up to where they should be on the international stage...

Go on - vote now - let's see what people really think :)

Nybbles and Bytes... what does "nybble" mean anyway?

So here I am merrily posting away randomly every week, and I never stopped to think that my blog visitors might actually be wondering why the heck my site is called "Nybbles and Bytes"...

Well for starters, a "nybble", as defined by Wikipedia is "a four-bit aggregation" i.e. half a byte (in computing terms).
Nybble can also be spelt "nibble", but "nybble" is more in keeping with its' counterpart, "byte".

So with a title like "Nybbles and Bytes", my blog takes on a decidedly tech feel, which is really what started it all.
On the other hand, a "nibble" or a "bite" could be applied to pretty much anything, so my blog may also include "a nibble of this" or "a bite of that", this and that being pretty much anything interesting that I happen to come across at the time!

So there - I just taught you something you didn't know before... unless you are a computer geek :)

Dubai gets the Sol Kerzner touch...

Check out one of Sol Kerzner's latest escapades in Dubai - Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai.
It was opened in September 2008, so it's kinda old news but still a feast for the eyes.
For detailed info visit the Wikipedia page about the resort.

I was just blown away by this eye-candy of the place:

...and here we were thinking that Dubai had run out of money... :)

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