Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Woolies vs. Frankie's... do they really look so much alike?

I thought I would jump onto this bandwagon right about now, given the amount of attention that the subject is getting.
Hey, it will do my visitor stats good at the very least :)

What I will not do, is go into the finer details of who copied what, and how they may or may not have done the same thing in the past.
In any case, this whole subject has been totally hashed to death in the short time since it all took to the social network airwaves.
Maybe Woolies are the "big bad corporate", and maybe Frankie's are the "little guy", but it is still quite interesting to see just how the general public have responded to it all, especially since Woolworths is such a well-known, well-loved, high quality brand in South Africa.

In addition, I have to wonder how much free airtime and marketing the Frankie's brand has received, as a result of this little ruckus...?

Back to my original question... which has to do with the similarities between the 2 products.
Firstly, here they are - the 2 contenders in question - click to enlarge, and take a close look at both product ranges:
I am no designer, but in the words of several posts I have read online from other graphically-gifted humans, the 2 designs are in fact totally dissimilar.
Sure, the wording may be similar in places (e.g. "fiery"), but to my ordinary eye, these 2 products look entirely different.
I would certainly not be "duped" into thinking that the Woolworths product is in fact the Frankie's product...

Ever noticed how similarly shaped some beer bottles are? Even the caps on top are the same!!
What about soft drinks? Them too? No way - could they be copying each other???
Of course not for flip sakes - it's how they all look dammit.

The only similar things in the picture above are the clear Cream Soda bottles (oops... might get in trouble for saying "Cream Soda"... twice :), and the word "fiery"... oh and the fact that all the bottles contain a carbonated beverage.

It's business. Get over it people.
Or if you really can't, then just stop shopping at Woolies.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Looking for a great freeware audio converter? You just found it...

In an attempt to batch convert a whole lot of music folders from WMA format into MP3 format, I recently stumbled across this fantastic freeware audio converter for PC (sorry Mac users...):

A very original and decidedly obvious name... :)

Sure, the program name "Any Audio Converter" might not be the most creative name I have come across, but the software certainly delivers on its promise.
The simple interface allows you to convert audio either as individual files, or as a batch - super handy if you need to convert a lot of folders as in my case.

The software is able to convert between MP3, WMA, WAVE, AAC, M4A and OGG audio formats, and it is also capable of extracting audio from video clips such as AVI to MP3, MP4 to MP3, WMV to WMA and RMVB to MP3.
Head on over to and download your free copy now.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Google doodle today celebrates the 84th Birthday of Robert Noyce (co-founder of Intel)...

If you have used Google today (and who hasn't...), then you would have noticed the cool Google doodle - in commemoration of the 84th Birthday of Robert Noyce.

Robert Noyce co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957, and subsequently co-founded Intel in 1968.
You can read more about him here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Will we see the iPad 3 in Feb 2012? Seriously?

Historically, Apple have been very good at releasing new iterations of their products at a rapid-fire rate.
It makes sense that they would want to keep competitors on their toes by doing this.

The problem with this (and this is not only my opinion - just Google it), is that each new product version is not really ground-breaking, so much as it is a general improvement over the outgoing version.
Historically, Apple customer expectations have often been much higher than the final product that they received.

Sure, each person has their own definition of the term "ground-breaking", but for me personally, it means a brand new feature or capability that simply blows the competition out of the water.
Something that has never been done before.
Crazy new innovation.
That type of thing.

The second problem with this (and one which loyal Apple fans generally fail to recognise), is that it is a great way to keep the Apple bank balance happy.
It is the old carrot-on-a-stick approach - one that just keeps the salivating fans coming back for more; waiting for the next Apple branded product to enter the market; more ways for them to show love and support for the brand, and a way to show off their "unique" social identity (along with the millions of other fans ;), in a world full of competitive techno-gadgetry.

The iPad 2 arrived on South African shores in April this year, meaning that it has been available here for a total of approximately 8-9 months.
For the first few months, only the Apple elite could get their hands on one.
Hell, if you owned an iPad 2, then Ferrari's were making way for you in the fast lane...

Then, about 1-2 months ago, the rest of us started to experience the iPad 2.
Friends started getting them, you saw them all over the place, geez maybe even you got your hands on one.
Finally, the dream became a reality - oh the joy of beholding a real, live iPad 2 in the palms of your own hands, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, through sickness and health, until drop / steal / crash / other do you part...

Unfortunately, Apple do not believe in fairy tale endings such as these.
Yup, you better believe it... according to some online analysts who seem to know their stuff, we may well see the arrival of the iPad 3 in February 2012.
Sure, here in South Africa it will only arrive a month or 2 later, but that is still a disgustingly short time between the release dates of the iPad 2 and the iPad 3...

I suppose though, that if you consider the original iPad USA launch date - 30 April 2010, and iPad 2 USA launch date - 11 March 2011, then it spaces them about 11 months apart - roughly the same as if the iPad 3 were to launch in February 2012...

I understand very well that human beings today simply cannot keep up with trends, new gadgets and technology in general, but if what the analysts out there are predicting is true, then we may soon see Apple product life cycles even shorter than they already are, and I have to wonder how well that will sit with those loyal to the brand...

The fantastic online comic creator "The Oatmeal", sums it all up in pictures brilliantly here...

Care to comment anyone?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ditching Facebook and waiting for something to happen on Google+...

A few years ago, I deleted my Facebook. It was a bold move, but I haven’t once regretted it. 
Ok, I regret it occasionally when I forget someone’s birthday because I don’t have Facebook to remind me anymore. But the occasions in which I miss Facebook are rare. 
I first created a Facebook account in 2006, the year I started college and used an HP coupon for a new HP computer
Back then, I felt excited about technology and the burgeoning online social networking scene. 
Little did I know that what happened on Facebook would stay on Facebook…forever.

My college Facebook photos and goings-on became the property of Mark Zuckerberg. When I graduated from college in 2009 and started to look for a professional job, my concerns about privacy outweighed my desire to write on the Facebook walls of my friends and upload photos of my fun times. 
This year, when I received an invitation to Google+, I was excited. 
Google+ seemed like a new, better way for me to connect with my friends. And since I’m smarter about social networking sites now, I could make sure that everything posted by me and about me was appropriate and kept as private as the Google+ settings would allow.

So, I got a Google+ in July, added some people to my circles, and waited. A few of my friends began to post links to articles and videos they liked. Some people added photos of themselves and their friends. But it seemed like nobody really knew what to do with their Google+ accounts. 
As months passed, fewer and fewer people posted things on Google+. The whole site started to seem like a ghost town after a while. 
In fact, it would have been pretty entertaining if Google had added some tumbleweed animation to the Google+ main page. 

I’ve had a Google+ account for around five months now. I’m still waiting for something big to happen, and I’m still longing for Google+ to add some kind of wall feature. Commenting on streams and using the Google+ chat feature just can’t compare to Facebook’s wall. 
Recently, Google opened up the social networking site to everyone. So, it’s not invitation only anymore. Hopefully doing so will attract more people to the site, and things will become a little livelier. 

Until then, I’ll keep checking the site periodically to see if anything has happened yet...

Article written by Logan B from the Blog Content Guild.

Nybbles & Bytes gets a new guest writer...

One of the writers over at the Blog Content Guild read my post on Rain Spiders last week, and he got in touch with me afterwards and offered to send some fresh content my way.

So without further ado, Nybbles & Bytes welcomes Logan B as our newest guest writer!
To find out more about the Blog Content Guild and possibly see how they can add value to your blog, check out their website at

Monday, December 5, 2011

FNB's business tips for the holidays.

FNB are always at the cutting edge of banking nowadays, and one of the ways that they keep up to speed, is by sending out informative mailers at certain times during the year.

I just received this one from FNB, outlining 5 business tips to bear in mind as we wind down for the upcoming holidays.
Check it out - it's all pretty useful stuff:

Although you may be taking some time off for a holiday, not all your clients will be. Some will still try to get in touch with you, so setup your voicemail and out-of-office responses accordingly to reflect your holiday times. If a client then calls or emails, they know that there will be a delay in the response back to them.

Also, over this period, why not link your email to your phone? This will allow you to deal with any matters that may need urgent attention.

If you have been invited to any holiday parties or other festivities, make sure that you take some business cards along as you may meet potential clients or contacts. In the New Year you can follow up with any contacts you may have met.

December is a good time to reconcile your books. Go over your budget and actual revenues and expenses to help plan your finances for the upcoming year. Take the time to see where you are overspending and adjust accordingly to make sure your business is on track in 2012.

For some the holiday period is bustling and for others it's an idle period. Whatever situation your business may be in, you can take advantage of that fact.

If your business is bustling, why not invest some of your extra cash back into the business or into an investment account which could later give you great returns?

If your business is in an idle period and business is very slow, why not make use of an overdraft facility to help you get over the slump?

Take a step back in December and reflect on where your business was a year ago, where it is today and what you envision for the future.

If you are not happy with your situation, take time to re-evaluate your plans for the future and get them back on track. Perhaps you can also relook your business plan and adjust it to suit your current situation.

If you are happy with where you are, think about how to carry this momentum into the New Year. Put some plans into place to help upgrade your business in the New Year.

Have you ever tasted Hershey's chocolate...?

I love chocolate. Let me get that out of the way right off the bat.

Cadbury's, Ferrero, Lindt, Toblerone, Nestle... I am now busy drooling on my keyboard, and these are just the readily available retail brands... don't even get me started on the crazy "gourmet" chocolate brands out there.

That is why, when I was lucky enough to visit the USA recently, I was super keen to try some of America's finest - why Hershey's of course!

Hershey's does, after all, boast the largest chocolate factory in the world, in the quaint and aptly named town of Hershey, with a floor space of 200,000 square metres!

In addition, Hershey is one of the oldest chocolate companies in the USA, and an American icon for its chocolate bar.
So as soon as I set foot on American soil, off I headed to the nearest place I could spot the Hershey's logo, to sample a piece of the American Chocolate Dream.

Little did I know what awaited my unsuspecting tastebuds...
I should have done some homework on the matter - after all, look what Google's predictive search feature has to say about Hershey...:

Man oh man, I really don't want to bring down such an iconic brand, but seriously, either we are massively spoiled here in South Africa, or I just have some dodgy tastebuds in my mouth.
Then again, if it were just my tastebuds, then Google would probably not be associating Hershey's with vomit...

The thing is, it all starts off pretty well, just like one would expect from chocolate.
Then about halfway through, some pretty odd flavour emerges and begins to overpower all in its path, until all you are left with is a decidedly unpleasant aftertaste, and a puzzled expression on your face.

So puzzled was I in fact, that I had to do a double take, and then a triple take - I thought that I had just happened upon a bad batch of Hershey's...
Ah but alas, this was not the case.
Hershey's just tastes odd, and that is putting it mildly.

Happily though, the same does not hold true for some of their other brands - for example Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are just fantastic, but then again I am a peanut butter fan of note.

Have you ever tasted Hershey's chocolate? Was it nasty or nice?

This is why snow globes should be made out of plastic...

"Oy! Where's my globe gone?"

You would think that ornaments would be made tough - after all, they will eventually find their home somewhere in plain sight for you show off to family and friends alike.

Add to that the logistics of getting said ornaments from their place of purchase, to your home - especially if they are purchased in some far-off exotic country. Bubble wrap and all those other soft things.

Inevitably then, during their short life, ornaments are exposed to an assortment of knocks, drops, kids, pets, and numerous other terrifying safety threats, all of which could end their pretty existence in a second.

Take Mr Teddy Santa Snow Globe above, for example.
He too, was a peaceful, chilled out and laid back Christmas ornament once upon a time.
Just look at the poor guy now. What a shame.

Believe it or not, there is a point to all of this - and that is an appeal to ornament makers all over the world (a.k.a. China), to make your damn ornaments out of something just a tad stronger than the thinnest glass you could find.
How about clear perspex instead of glass? It's less likely to break when dropped, and it would sure as hell be a lot safer, because if it did break, you would not have microscopic shards of glass to worry about...

Just a thought... :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Where did all those damn Rain Spiders come from...?

Growing up in the 80's and 90's, on the more fashionable "Upper East Side" of Johannesburg (i.e. the East Rand ;), I was always one who would rather run away from little spiders, than man up to them and either remove or "deactivate" them...

Occasionally I would be forced to face up to my sissy boy fears, and I would then spend long periods of time trying to coax the tiny little critters out of my house, while maintaining a healthy distance between myself and the creatures in question, all the while clocking up severely high blood pressure and a heartbeat somewhere over 200 I would guess...

That was still ok - at the end of each ordeal the result would be a relocated 8-legged intruder, and in some sad and extraordinary circumstances, an ex-8-legged intruder.

Then one fine evening, sometime during my late teens as I recall (that would be in the late 90's), one of my family members spotted something crawling up a curtain that none of us had ever seen before...
Now we all know how huge spiders can get in places like the Amazon, or somewhere in Australia where they eat birds and span dinner plates, but here in Johannesburg, things had always been a bit less gargantuan on the arachnid front...
But to go from the good old Daddy Long Legs, to THIS... is just downright unacceptable and wrong...:

Spotted in Parktown a few weeks back... nice.

Just when did it become ok for all the rain spiders to emerge from some unseen spider lair and take over our homes?
Animal lovers, you guys rock and I love animals too, but this is just taking it all too far.

Every week I hear stories from friends and colleagues who have happened upon these "harmless" creatures in their homes or offices, and I have to wonder why I never saw or heard anything about them when I was growing up.
Yes, I know that they are not poisonous, but that is besides the point. They are frikkin' scary. End of story.

The usual retort somewhere here goes likes this:

"Oh but now Parktown Prawns - THOSE are scary and nasty and horrible!!"

Um, ok. A red cricket. Is that all you have?
Let's have them face off and see who wins... and the results are in:

Rain Spider 1000 - 0 Parktown Prawn. 

Need I say more?
Comments anyone? 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Who the hell is Spencer Dale anyway?

If you are reading this, then chances are that you have an email account. I mean who doesn't these days?

Having an email account then, also means that you have to defend yourself against the constant barrage of dodgy emails, being sent from apparently credible and legitimate sounding humans, who magically offer you large sums of hard cash!
Wow! Easy money!

Umm... no. It's not really that easy to make money now is it.

So when a techie like myself sees these dodgy emails arriving in my inbox, I generally just delete them without even giving it a second thought.
If however, I feel like a bit of light comic relief, I sometimes choose to open up these emails to find out a bit more... :)
Provided, that is, that I am 100% sure that there is no security threat attached to the email (a virus, worm etc.).

Reading through some of the drivel that these hopeless beings conjur up, I often pick up interesting sounding names in the copy.
Take these gems for example - surely nobody would hesitate to accept $5.5 Trillion from humans with such aristocratic sounding names?:

- Mr Spencer Dale (who in real life, actually happens to be Executive Director and Chief Economist of the Bank of England)
- Mr Cargill John
- Mr Charles Mills
- Dr Edward Fox
- Dr John Patrick
- Mrs Mercy Martins
- Dr Alex Cole
- Mr David Terry

Ok I'm bored. That's enough... but you get the point. The idea is to try and rope some unsuspecting individual in, who may actually buy this nonsense.
I mean does anybody fall for this anymore? 

It's kinda funny when you think about the amount of effort these scammers go to, merely to create pure trash, but then again it's damn annoying when they don't stop sending you the same junk over and over and over again.

So if you are an email scammer reading this (if you can actually read, that is), then here's a tip:- why not offer an opt-out service to those of us who just 'aint buying what you are selling (and we all know just what a great selling job you are doing ;)
Maybe in the next scam mailer that you send out, just put a little "Unsubscribe" hyperlink at the bottom of your mail somewhere.
That way you can stop wasting our time and yours, and focus on people who may actually think that your higher grade command of English, gargantuan IQ scores, and your truly remarkable sales pitch, are anything more than dog turd.

I am now watching my Inbox eagery, to see if email scammers out there actually take my good advice and implement this genuinely great and wonderful idea, which will go a long way to saving us all a few grey hairs.
This way, scammers get to keep doing what they love so dearly (i.e. scamming), and us honest, hard working, upright members of society get less junk mail.

It's a win-win for everybody.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An easier way to manage your Blogs using Scribefire... Now let's see if it actually works :)

So I got stuck into the Chrome Web Store today when I had a few spare minutes on hand.

This is a great place if you are looking for add-ons, tweaks and plugins for Chrome - but you could literally spend days browsing all of the apps available for Chrome. From games, to productivity apps, to music and imaging apps - the selection is just crazy.

One of the apps that immediately grabbed my attention was Scribefire.
Scribefire plugs into Chrome and allows you to manage all of your Blogs from within a single browser window. From here you can easily pull up and edit older posts, create new ones, schedule publishing times, create new templates and much more.

Even cooler, Scribefire now includes Zemanta integration - Zemanta is a content enriching tool that suggests images, news articles, links and other external content based on keywords within your current post.

Of course I had to try it out, so here I am, typing up this post in Scribefire. Let's see how it comes out when I click on "Publish"... :)
More feedback to follow... 

Monday, November 7, 2011

The perfect Christmas gift - never run out of power again :)

How many times have you come to the middle of a busy workday, only to discover that your cellphone is running on empty?
Given that we tend to rely on our cellphones so much these days, it can be rather inconvenient to be left with a dead cellphone, especially if your business depends on it.

Enter the PowerMonkey:

Granted, the name is interesting, but so is what the PowerMonkey does - it serves as a portable charger for a host of mobile devices, from iPhones, to a wide range of other smartphones, to iPods, iPads and much more.
That means that you charge it up before you go, and it will provide up to 2 full charges for your device (depending on what the device is, and how much power it requires).

In the box you will find:

- 1 x Powermonkey Classic Charging unit;
- 1 x Universal mains charger (to charge the Powermonkey) - it includes interchangeable heads for use all over the world;
- 1 x retractable USB cable to charge the Powermonkey from a USB port
- a variety of adaptors to charge a range of devices (Mini USB, Micro USB, iPod / iPad / iPhone, Samsung G600, LG Chocolate, Sony Ericsson etc.)

It is always a good idea to carry a charger with you when on the go, but the Powermonkey Classic is a great emergency back up in case you ever find yourself with a flat battery.
Email us now, or fill out our contact form to arrange these awesome little gadgets as Christmas gifts - now going for R 475 each.

There are also a number of other cool chargers in the range - please get in touch with us for further info.

Terms & Conditions:

All orders strictly COD;
Above pricing is subject to stock availability;
Product specifications may be subject to change without notice;
Please allow 4-6 working days for delivery;
Nybbles and Bytes cc is not a VAT vendor;
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Italy's Cinque Terre devastated by flooding

Several years ago, in 2006 to be precise, I was lucky enough to visit a part of Italy along the Ligurian coast, called the "Cinque Terre" - a breathtaking piece of the Italian Riviera where the land meets the sea in quite a dramatic way:

"Cinque Terre" is Italian for "five lands" - a reference to the 5 quaint seaside towns that appear to defy gravity as they cling to the hillsides here - Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.

Unfortunately last week, gravity, and several hundred tons of mud, got the better of this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site, as 20 inches of torrential rain fell in just a few hours, flooding streets and swamping the towns with tons of debris and mud.
The devastation was severe, with several lives lost, many more missing, and the 2 worst affected towns being Monterosso al Mare and Vernazza.
Photos such as this one show the volume of water that ploughed through the towns:

It's a national tragedy for Italy, and I hope that the Italian authorities get the necessary aid in quickly, so that this beautiful little slice of the world can get back onto its feet quickly.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Is this how we show our national pride...?

While parked at a shopping mall on the weekend, I noticed another car parking nearby.
A young guy then got out, beer in hand.

He then proceeded to down the contents of the bottle, and walked away while casually tossing the empty beer bottle into a flowerbed nearby.
Clearly sensing that he had been noticed, he then turned around and glared in my direction.
Had I decided to hold said glare for long enough, I might have had a volatile situation on my hands.

Thankfully though, I let it go and that was that.

Now we all see people littering on a daily basis, whether it's junk being thrown out of cars, to this kind of thing.
Add a bit of drinking and driving to the mix, and it gets me wondering how many South Africans (and people in general) behave in this fashion?

Is it ok to just dump trash in public spaces which other humans have to use as well?
Is it ok to operate a motor vehicle while brazenly consuming alcohol?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then maybe it goes a little way to explaining some of the problems we face in South Africa today...

Now South Africa is truly a beautiful country, and I think that our collective futures can hold great potential, but how can we have any pride in our country if we disregard the fact that other people might have to share it with us, or if we act like reckless rebels without a cause, all in the name of "looking cool", or because we just don't give a damn...?

Just saying...
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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Case of the Smoking Computer...

Charlie was a customer care technician at a small computer store. One afternoon, a frazzled-looking lady—my 62-year-old aunt—came in with a large box. Inside, she said was a broken computer that she had brought in from her office at work. She claimed that the computer was under warranty and produced a receipt from Charlie’s store dated four months prior. “You need to fix this,” she stated.

Before Charlie could even lift the flaps and get a glimpse of the computer, he smelled it. The stench of cigarettes clung to the once-beige tower case and every component of the entire computer system, which she had been so considerate as to bring along with her. Yellow tar and nicotine stains covered the keyboard, mouse, and liquid crystal display monitor. Unable to contain his stunned curiosity, Charlie blurted out, “What have you been doing to this poor computer?".

My frazzled aunt disclosed that the computer was a service machine for a taxi company. She was a smoker; the other dispatchers were smokers; all of the cabbies were smokers, and the office for the taxi company was less than 12 feet square. Smoking was a part of everyday life in the cab service, it seemed, and the computer was taking a lot of second-hand abuse. Charlie watched my mother's older sister as she spoke and noticed that she, too, was wearing signs of such a toxic environment.

Yellow clung to her teeth and fingers, and Charlie began to suspect that she might be quite a few years younger than she appeared.
She explained to Charlie that the keyboard and mouse were sticking, and she had trouble opening the compact disk drive. The computer was “unusually quiet” and would occasionally reboot itself unprompted. Charlie nodded, swallowed hard, and opened the case. The inside of the tower case, along with every card and wire within it, was covered in visible deposits of gummy brown tar.

“This is the problem,” Charlie began. He explained to her that a computer produces a lot of heat while operating, but it cannot work unless there is sufficient cooling – much like a taxi’s engine.
He showed her how the heatsink draws the heat from the processing unit to the fan and that the fan draws cool air from outside of the tower case to blow the heat away.
“The heatsink and cooling fan are loaded with cigarette tar, ma'am. Your computer is having trouble processing the heat through this thick layer of soot."

Charlie eyed her, wondering if she was equating her computer’s difficulty “breathing” with her own lungs. She certainly did not seem to be. He went on to explain that the same tar was causing her keys, mouse and compact disk drive to stick. The computer that she had been sold was beige and had been turned brown in only four months due to their excessive smoking, he explained.

Charlie told the woman that he would not be able to help her repair the computer. She indignantly reminded Charlie that the computer was under warranty, and demanded service.
Charlie insisted. “I’m sorry, miss. This computer has died from second-hand cigarette smoke, and smoking isn't covered on the warranty."

This article was contributed by Holly Miller, who writes for Coupon Croc. Shopping online for the latest computers and technology? Visit us for discounts on all the latest electronics.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Unboxing the New Samsung Central Station Wireless Hub Monitor...

Check out the unboxing of the new Samsung Central Station Wireless USB Hub Monitor below.

This awesome product includes a wireless USB 2.0 dongle that connects to a USB port on the portable computing device.
The monitor then ‘comes alive’ if your computer is within 3 feet of the ‘Central Station’ and what’s more, you can plug desktop peripherals such as a keyboard and mouse into it.

You can read more about this amazing product at the Samsung website here.
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Look what I found in Duty Free at OR Tambo...

One of the coolest recollections that I have of my childhood, is this:

If you are part of my generation, then you probably know what I mean.
This was the original "chocolate-egg-containing-a-toy" - the forerunner and inspiration for all of the copycat chocolate eggs that you can pick up at Woolies today.

Aside from the ultra cool toys that were packed inside, the chocolate itself was incredible - after all it is made by the Ferrero company - makers of the legendary Ferrero Rocher.

In recent years however, it became increasingly difficult to find the Kinder Surprise in any South African shops.
It was gradually replaced by a product called Kinder Joy - something which is now available at any major retailer.

Kinder Joy, great as it is, is not quite the same thing. 
While the shape is the same, and the toys inside are still pretty cool, it somehow just misses the mark for me.
Imagine my surprise then, when on a recent visit to Duty Free at OR Tambo International Airport, I spotted the original Kinder Surprise in all its glory!

Not quite believing my eyes, I purchased a pack of 3 (for R45... ouch!).
Turns out the ouch was worthwhile - the chocolate is still superb and the toys are still super cool :)

When I asked the lady behind the counter why we cannot find these in local shops, yet we can get them in Duty Free, she just shrugged and smiled suspiciously...

Hmmm... I might just decide to find out more... watch this space :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New Nokia app lets you look straight "through" the Earth...

When Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced earlier this year that the company would be abandoning the Symbian OS platform, nobody would at the time have predicted the kind of stuff that we are now seeing on new Nokia handsets.

Quite the opposite in fact - being a long time Nokia supporter, I got nicely bombarded from all quarters about what a sinking ship Nokia was fast becoming.
Even so, when it came to upgrade time, I stuck to my guns and patiently awaited my shiny new Nokia E7.
Thankfully, it was the right choice - for me at least. Not everyone likes the same stuff - that's just life and human nature.

Having already laid massive praise on the E7, I was getting a bit bored with the apps on my phone this week, so I decided to head over to Nokia Beta Labs - the place where Nokia puts up their pre-release apps.
Apps that you find here are often experimental and can be buggy, due to their Beta nature.
Not a problem for me - I don't mind a bit of Beta testing if it means some funky new apps for my phone!

The one that caught my eye is called "Nokia 3D World Gaze" - the title alone got me interested.
Now Augmented Reality is nothing new - in simple terms, it allows capable devices to give their users feedback about the world around them, or their immediate surroundings, by making use of GPS, AGPS, Accelerometers, Compasses and the Internet.

For example - you could point your phone at the sky, and the screen would display the constellations, star names and Meisser objects accurately, at that precise location, at that exact time of day or night.
It's a world of information in your hands, and it makes for a lot of fun in this new Nokia app.

Nokia 3D World Gaze first locates you via GPS and AGPS. It then works out your orientation via compass readings.
What you get is a virtual of view of the world around you, when you hold your phone up to the horizon, or even down, looking "through" the Earth.
Ever wondered where you would end up if you were to drill a hole straight down through the Earth, until you came out the other side?
Well guess what, if you are in South Africa, then it 'aint China!

According to Nokia 3D World Gaze, it is in fact, Hawaii!
The application also features layers that you can turn on and off - a News layer which provides contextually relevant headlines, a Photos layer which pops up photos of places in the area where you are aiming your phone at, and a places of interest layer, which provides info about places of interest related to where you are currently looking.

The software is nicely slick as well - move the phone around in a different direction, and the view and content update is quick and seamless.

Check out some screenshots:

Well done Nokia - this is some seriously cool software, and it is good to see that despite partnering with Microsoft (which in itself will prove a great move, I think), there is still a whole lot of work being done to keep Symbian competitive while Nokia devices still carry the software.

The recent Symbian Anna update has also added a lot to the operating system, with the upcoming Symbian Belle update promising a whole lot more.
Keep 'em coming Nokia!
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's raining cats and dogs in JHB... watch out you don't step in a poodle... :)

Ok ok I know that joke was totally lame, and right now I imagine that a whole whack of people just unsubscribed from my blog due to shockingly bad humour...

Lightning is a highly visible form of energy t...Image via Wikipedia

Regardless, Johannesburg is getting its first real taste of summer rain.
Complete with crazy lightning and booming thunder, all hell broke loose a few hours ago on the Highveld as the fury of the heavens was unleashed.
Thankfully, this means more green and less brown in our scenery.

On the downside (Part I), we now have seriously slippery roads to contend with (especially after these first showers), so exercise extra caution on the roads and give yourself just a bit more space to brake in an emergency.

On the downside (Part II), IT Consultants like myself are now called upon (usually frantically) in cases of lightning damage - something that we know about all too well.
Let's face it - if your PC / Mac / ADSL modem / Printer / [Insert IT Gadget Here] has been zapped by lightning, all you can really do is hope that your data is still intact.
Motherboards, RAM, printers and modems can all be replaced, but data is a different story.

So if you are one of those souls reading this right now who does nothing to backup their data, you had better get in touch with me to arrange a decent external hard drive to store all of your valuable data on!

Summer really is the best time of the year, as long as people drive properly, and as long as lightning leaves our computers alone :)

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Damn you, hot pies!

As I type this, my delicate tongue still feels the after-effects of the wrath of a tasty but well over-heated pie, which I consumed yesterday afternoon.

Yummy as chicken and mushroom may be as the innards of a pie, their yummyness is severely hampered when said pie is only slightly cooler than the surface of our sun.
To add to my gripe, consider that a pie is something that you would normally buy when in a rush.
This fact places it firmly in the fast food category, hence the word "fast".

Why then, are pies heated to within an inch of global meltdown, prior to being handed over to ravenous rush-hour consumers, who want nothing more than to wolf down a mouthful of fast food, rather than a mouthful of lava...?

Let me now take this even further...
A pie served at a comfortably warm temperature can quite easily be consumed in a non-messy fashion.
Minimal puff pastry bits on the ground, clean-ish hands... you get the idea.

A pie served at a hellish temperature leads to a lot of fumbling, half-biting, cursing, spitting out bits that have already seared the inside of your mouth, blowing on the pie, dropping bits that have now melted the skin off your hands... you get the idea. It's a mess, and it takes time to eat.

So, in conclusion:

- Hot pies burn the mouths and hands of innocent human beings;
- Hot pies are messy;
- Hot pies waste valuable time, because they take time to eat.

Please, pie-makers, serve your tasty treats at a more comfortable temperature!
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How many exhaust pipes have you got?

Nowadays when you venture out onto our roads, it's all about the number of exhaust pipes on a car isn't it?
Back when I was a kid in the 80's, if a car had 2 exhaust pipes, it was a big deal.

Today, this is a pretty common sight (the number of exhausts, not the car...:):
Most other cars only get this view of the BMW 1M...

I suppose the more beefy and macho cars become, the more exhausts will sprout out of their vehicular backsides... :)

Given the rapid change and progress in technology, and the need for faster, more powerful engines, can you imagine cars in a few years...?
Maybe 10 exhausts coming out of car backsides won't be an uncommon sight...!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Smelly feet and other attractive human qualities - just how do Doctors and other medical people deal with such things?

Having recently had to visit a biokineticist (which involves exercise sessions, sometimes after a long day at work), it occurred to me that it cannot be too pleasant for such practitioners to have to deal with the first item mentioned in the subject of this post.
I mean smelly feet are just the pits now aren't they?

If you are reading this right now and you can honestly say that you have some kind of affinity for smelly feet, then you, my dear blog reader, have some freaky-flavoured fetish going on there...!

Moving along then, in the name of consideration I decided to don a clean pair of socks prior to my most recent biokineticist appointment (much to the amusement of everyone within a few metres of me), and amusing as it sounds, I am pretty sure it was appreciated on some level :)

Now a biokineticist is one thing... what about other medical people?
First thing that springs to mind here is a podiatrist - they must see some freaky feet, and some freaky things on those freaky feet... yummy!
Next on my list would be a dentist - can you imagine all of the lovely tooth and mouth-related abominations that dentists must witness during their working life?

As I delve further and further into this list of medical practitioners who have to deal with the most undesirable things that the human body has to offer, my nausea level is steadily increasing.
It is therefore at this point that I will gratefully call it quits, and leave it up to any of my readers to further comment on this tasty little subject.
Perhaps someone in the medical field is reading this right now - if so, please comment here as it certainly takes a special kind of human being to have to deal with the human body on a daily basis.

Kudos to these special people for their service to humans everywhere.
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