Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Running on empty...? Maybe fill up tonight... just in case!

Strike, strike and still more strike it seems... Geez this is beginning to sound like a baseball game...!
The latest wave of panic that is making the rounds relates to petrol stations not being open from tomorrow, due to an apparent petrol attendant strike.
An email (of course!) has also been circulated with a similar message.

While the Fuel Retailers Association have issued a statement on their website, which reassures motorists as regards petrol availability tomorrow, I think it may still be a good idea to fill up anyway, just in case.

Hey, rather be safe than sorry.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Got a Dell? Control Panel been crashing lately...? This might help...

I am a Dell supporter through and through - ask me to recommend a laptop and you can be pretty sure I will mention Dell somewhere in there...

Lately though, I came across a rather irritating little problem on some Dell machines with a built in wireless card.
What happens is that the Control Panel hangs when opened for the first time after you start up.
Sure you can always force it to close, Explorer restarts and all is well.
Still damn irritating...!

After quite a bit of head scratching and online scouting, I established that the culprit is a 3rd Party Control Panel component called "Dell Wireless Card Utility".
I was unable to find an update on the Dell site, so I took the plunge, went into Control Panel - Programs and removed the Dell Wireless Card Utility.

A brief panic then arrived, as the wireless network suddenly dropped when I removed the utility...
Ok I thought, just do a reboot and see what happens - thankfully Windows 7 is simply genius when it comes to device management.
As I logged back in, Windows 7 reported a new device and promptly reinstalled the wireless card. Voila!

A quick look at the Control Panel revealed that the "Dell Wireless Card Utility" was now gone, as was the irritating Control Panel crash!
So there you have it - hope this one works for you as well as it did for me.
Apparently the offending utility does not actually add any meaningful functionality to the system anyway - Windows 7 handles the WLAN card just fine.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

...and still Cell C keeps on yapping but not delivering...

For ages now I have been following the Cell C 3G (now supposedly 4G) debacle, initially with great interest, but of late more with sarcasm and doubt.
Having been in touch with customer liaison officers, retentions departments etc. etc. blah blah at the company, all I ever seem to get from this rather dodgy company is empty promises and a whole lot of nonsense.

Back in February 2010 I was hopefully blogging away about the prospect of Cell C getting 4G - and here we still sit waiting (not so patiently) 6 months later.
In that time, not much if anything has happened to change or improve the dire state of affairs that is the Cell C data network.
Instead, a lot of hogwash hype has been generated for the media to willingly lap up:

- Comedian Trevor Noah has been appointed as the company "CEO" (that's Customer Experience Officer... how clever of you Cell C); He will be hearing from me soon when I send him a link to this post...
- Cell C now sports a new look and a new logo;
- The "4Gs" logo adorns the Cell C site all over the place, although in reality there is no such offering as yet on the Cell C network.
Personally I still crawl along at barely-EDGE speeds on a phone which is capable of a lot more...
Clicking on the "Internet - 4Gs" link on the Cell C site, takes you to a page which boldly proclaims:

"The future of mobile services is here, thanks to Cell C. We are proud to announce that Cell C is the first cellular operator in the country to roll out a 4Gs network..."

Ok Cell C - your customers are now just fed up. You claim that 4Gs is here... WHERE???
Is it only available to a few selected square metres of barren land somewhere in the Karoo? 
How about a real rollout in major metropolitan areas like ummm.. JHB maybe? Cape Town? Durban? Have you heard of those places?

All it takes is a bit of communication with the same people who actually pay the Cell C salaries at the end of the day. A countdown to 4G launch, an ETA of some kind, ANYTHING to give us an idea of what the heck is going on and when we can expect to have access to data speeds that are at least close to first world!

Cell C - your customers are getting tired of waiting for your empty promises to be fulfilled...

Friday, August 20, 2010

My chin is back... but alas - my wisdoms are gone!

What an odd title for a post, you must be thinking... :)
In order to shed some light on it though, it would help to know that I had all 4 of my wisdom teeth removed today... Yup - all 4 in one shot.

I can almost see the grimaces on faces of future readers of this post - everybody knows that horror stories are common and widespread, when it comes to the much-feared topic of wisdom tooth extraction.

Anyway, it is now approximately 12 hours after the procedure, and I can finally feel most of my chin again - hence the odd post title :)

Let's see how I feel in the morning... ;)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This is so funny you might even cry... if you appreciate a bit of healthy iPhone4 competition :)

As always, let me start by saying that Apple products are great - I work with them everyday and I am no Apple hater... but you have got to watch this hilarious take on the iPhone4 vs the HTC Evo cartoon on Youtube.

I just had some colleagues in tears of laughter... :)
there is some bad language involved... ;) :

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cool HTML5 / Flash games and goodies - check out this nifty site...

I came across this link today and had to share it - there is some fun to be had over at this site :)


Check out the HTML and Flash "doodles" - there is also some nice photography on the site, as well as an addictive Gmail-styled asteroids type game :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Radio stations use sneaky ways to make you spend money and listen for longer...

As I drive around JHB daily, I often find myself at a loss when it comes to which radio station to listen to.
I am pretty sure I am not alone here - Jacaranda seems to play some decent tunes for most of the day, while 5FM and Highveld have their moments too.
When all 3 options are exhausted though, sometimes I find myself tuning into Classic FM - it can be surprisingly calming in the midst of Johannesburg traffic madness :)

now this is a funky radio

So we have options - great.

The point of this post though, is to highlight how sneaky some (and probably all) of these stations can be - not sure whether we even notice it anymore...
For example, last week on Friday 13th (OOOOOOOOOH scary!), one of the DJ's (on Jacaranda I think...?) was asking listeners what they thought was the ideal Friday 13th movie to watch that night.
He then proceeded by saying "We know the perfect Friday 13th for you to watch tonight.......... if you want to find out what it is, just SMS the word "movie" to 39xxx and we will send it to you! SMS cost R 5 000 000 each..." :)

Ok so the SMS did not actually cost R 5 000 000 each, but you get the idea.
For an almost entirely useless opinion about a topic which is probably not immediately foremost on people's minds, the radio station will gladly charge you a fee. I wonder how many suckers fell for that one?

The other one I hear a lot (which is more a ploy to keep people listening), is when the DJ announces some part of the show that is "Coming right up!... after these 49033905 songs and an advert about gastro-intestinal reflux..."
...Or some other such delaying tactic - in the end, the part of the show that has listeners patiently hanging on, ends up being about 4.57 seconds in length, and is something you could probably have looked up on Google anyway...

Ok that's it for my ranting... for now at least :)
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Petermann Ice Island 2010 poses no immediate threat, say ice experts...

It is old news by now that a 250 square kilometre iceberg broke off Greenland on 05 August 2010.
Check out the NASA satellite photo below, where the bulk of ice is clearly visible as being separated from the rest of Greenland:
The debate is already on the go, as to what the giant iceberg will do next, and whether or not it will affect or endanger ships, oil platforms and the like as it makes its way away from Greenland.
Estimates are saying that a problem could only potentially arise in 1-4 years time - that is how long it could take for the iceberg to reach anything that it could pose a threat to.

Add to that the constant erosion taking place from sea water and weather conditions, and the possibility of the iceberg getting stuck in a bay or somewhere else, and the iceberg threat diminishes even further.
We shall just have to wait and see.

The scary bit for me, is the sheer size of the damn thing - 250 square kilometres works out to a mass approximately 16km x 16km in size - can you imagine a chunk of ice that size floating freely in the ocean?
That is no small iceberg - hence the naming of the colossal mass - "Petermann Ice Island 2010" - Petermann Glacier being the glacier from which the iceberg separated.

Check out these related articles:
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

A little bit about The Arrows...

Over the past few weeks a certain track has been catching my attention on the radio airwaves, and I could never catch who it was or what the song was called.

Then recently when I heard the track on radio, I waited patiently for the DJ to announce the eagerly-anticipated information directly after the track (as they usually do)... turns out the track is called "Lovesick" by a local Durban-based duo called "The Arrows".

I must say that I was seriously impressed by their sound.
Not to knock local music at all, but The Arrows really are of an international standard, in my opinion at least.

They released their debut album in 2007 - according to their Myspace profile, their genre is "Electroacoustic / Nu-Jazz / Pop" - go check it out at http://www.myspace.com/thearrowssa, where you can also stream some of their tracks for free.

Definitely worth a listen!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A simple, old school way to keep track of your life...

One of my biggest personal challenges each day, is to remember stuff.
Remembering stuff is the first step towards getting everything done in your day, be it personal tasks, business tasks or anything else for that matter.

So often I get asked to do something, and while I am going into my Tasks / To-do's on my phone to make a note, the damn thing rings, I take the call and then my train of thought is trashed.

Another source of daily stress is something which is designed to make our lives easier... or is it?
Call waiting, they call it... you know that little tone that beeps incessantly in the background while you are on a call?
Too many times now have I put a call on hold, so as to take the 2nd call, try to attend to it, and then return to the 1st call, try take care of that as well etc. etc. and so the cycle of disorganization spirals out of control.

I have tried using task lists on my phone, linking all my tasks up to my GMail Calendar, tried to use Outlook Notes and Tasks to help me get through all my to-do's, and yet none of these could quite achieve any kind of success.
The problem here is that I have been trying to use technology to make my days less stressful - ironically it is PC's, Smartphones, Push Email, Synced Calendars and the like, that can actually contribute the most stress to our lives.
Then about 2 weeks ago, someone told me to get myself a notebook. Nope - not the 21st Century, Core2Duo kind of notebook...

Remember back in school - those tiny A5 notebooks with the words "Where is it?" embossed into the cover... yup you know which ones I am talking about!
Wonder of wonders - I seriously doubted this at the time, but as I look back and page through my little notebook, each item triumphantly ticked off, I can honestly say that this little hardcover gem has improved my productivity tenfold or more!
What could be simpler than jotting down a quick one-liner in your notebook, as a task comes your way... and then as you get through each one it just gets ticked off on the list.

If you struggle to get to all that you need to, and you find that you often "drop the ball" (to borrow a common corporate phrase), why not head off to Pick 'n Pay and pick up a notebook to help you take control of your time and your days.
Hey - maybe this doesn't work for everybody, but it is certainly a cheap and simple solution if it does work!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Brand new Dell Mini 10v Netbook for sale @ R 4700

I have 1 x  brand new unit of the following Netbook available - normally priced at R 5000, but now going for R 4700:

Dell Inspiron Mini 10v (Jade Green)
Intel Atom 1.6Ghz CPU
10.1" LCD
160GB Hard Drive
Wireless LAN
3 x USB Ports
Built-in 3G
1.3MP Webcam
Media Card Reader
VGA out
Audio out
Mic in
Windows 7 Home Basic (re-installation media included)
1 Year Parts only Warranty

Price - R 4700

It is a very solid little unit - ideal for someone who needs a compact, mobile workstation that can connect to the internet using 3G.
Please drop me a mail if you are interested - it won't hang around so neither should you!

Update @ 01-11-2010: This nifty netbook has already found a happy owner guys & gals - if you are still looking for one, please drop me an email and I will be happy to put a quote together for you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The confusing world of the slow, lagging Nokia N97... and a surprising little speed fix!

I have previously written a lot about the Nokia N97, it's ups and downs, features and frustrations.
Of late though, my trusty N97 has become unbearably slow - lagging to the point of ultimate frustration.
Random restarts do not really make the experience any better.

So I decided to take the plunge and hard reset the damn thing - for those non-techies reading this, a hard reset is essentially the same as a PC reformat - a complete wipe of the system drive, and a restoration to factory defaults.
It is usually the best way to restore a device to former glory.

So after a meticulous backup of all my data, I did the hard reset and held my breath...
Initially the process seemed to have worked - swiftness had returned!
... for about 5 minutes, that is, and then... return of the snail.

Next I tried a soft reset - which does not erase your data, but restores phone settings to factory defaults.
Same result.
So after both a hard and a soft reset, I resigned myself to a slow phone sometime during the day yesterday.
Not wanting to return the handset to Cell C again, I pretty much told myself to just live with the slowness.

Then last night I was checking the contents of the phone's internal 32GB memory, and I found about 10GB of data that I no longer need.
Wanting to keep space available for photos, videos and music, I deleted the 10GB as my 32GB was down to about 3GB free.
Miracle of miracles - this morning the damn thing is lightning fast again!

No more lagging while typing.
No more lagging while scrolling through lists.
Minimal waiting for apps to open.
No restarts (yet...)

So is this an undocumented little tidbit of the phone that Nokia have failed to pick up?
To my knowledge, the phone's performance is affected by free space on the C: Drive, not that of the 32GB onboard mass memory...
I am keen to find out if I am the only one who has had this result - if you are a Nokia N97 owner with a laggy phone, and your 32GB onboard memory is nearly full, try freeing up 10GB+ on there, and see if it helps matters...
Comments and feedback are always welcome!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Blogger in Draft allows for multiple image uploads

I am finding all kinds of new Google-y things out this week - the latest tidbit I picked up for Blogspot bloggers, is that Blogger in Draft offers the ability to upload multiple images at a time.

This has always been a pet peeve of mine as regards Blogger - if you ever wanted to upload a stack of images, in the past you had to do it one a time. Painful stuff!

Check it out - the ability to select multiple image files to upload is a huge time-saver for bloggers everywhere:

If you use Blogger for your own blog, you can access Blogger in Draft at http://draft.blogger.com.
Just login as you normally would, and you will now be presented with the Blogger in Draft interface instead of the normal Blogger interface.
You can also opt to make this your default option, as I have done - this means that I can access any new "Draft" features from Google, before they are officially released.

Super cool.
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Google Image Search gets a makeover of note...

I have no idea when this took effect, but the new Google Image search is just awesome.
It now displays a whole lot more results on the first results page, and when you mouse over a thumbnail, it automatically zooms into it to show more detail.

Check it out:

Keep it coming Google!

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