Thursday, December 6, 2012

How noble of these people to give up their valuable time, to fight the E-Toll battle for the rest of us... Thank you!

At the risk of opening up a can of worms (we all know the general feeling about E-Tolls in Johannesburg), I decided to write this post as a special thank you.

Thank you to those noble souls who are currently partaking in today's protest action on the highways in and around Johannesburg.

Protesters, protesting.

Traffic, jammed.

Camera crew, check.

Of course the objective is to "send a clear message to government", however the side effects of the protest action are pretty big, especially to those of us who are not involved in the protest action, and who are actually doing whatever the hell we can to keep the economy of this country going.

Where were you today? Were you sitting in your car stuck behind one of the protest convoys?
How much of your day was wasted at the hands of the truly heroic souls who were defiantly waving banners and punching the air with their fists in the motorcade up ahead of you?
Just saying...

Don't get me wrong - I feel the same way about E-Tolls as the next guy / girl.
I just find it incredibly interesting that the majority of the protesters probably don't even own a car, nor do they seem to be interested in doing an honest day's work in the name of bettering South Africa.
Better to skive off work for the day and "protest" in the name of anything really.

After E-Tolls are done with (hopefully), what will the next protest be about, I wonder?
Thanks again protesters!
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ever wondered how Google manages insane amounts of data? Take a peek at their datacentres...

Humans are pretty excessive creatures by nature.
We like it when stuff occurs in large amounts, for example:

- Money
We all wanna be rich. Disagree? Not buying it. 
If I had a million bucks and gave it to you, would you bin it? 
Didn't think so.
- Food
Might not apply to everyone, but a lot of food 'aint a bad thing :) 
I know I like a big meal!
- Waste
Man oh man we humans are Professors of Waste. 
Go and Google the amount of waste that a single cruise ship generates for example. It's sickening stuff.

- Humans.
How many of us are there on the planet?
More than a handful I would guess...

You get my drift. 
We like excess, and that includes data - we generate crazy amounts of data on a daily basis.

I do not know the figures offhand, but just take a moment to consider the millions of people who are online right this second, doing their thing surfing, downloading, uploading, streaming, emailing, using VOIP, Facebook-ing, tweeting, hacking, backing up, syncing their devices to the cloud, using remote desktop, Teamviewing, IRC'ing (do they still do this? :)), Dropbox'ing... man I could go on all year, and all of next year probably as well!

The point is, huge amounts of data require a serious infrastructure.
Now I am not talking about your corporate office server room with a few rack-mounted switches and a handful of servers.
We are talking Google type stuff here, and I gotta say I look at things a little differently when I stop to think that as I am typing this post, my data is being saved live into a datacenter like one of these Google monsters...

Click each image to enlarge and see the description of each facility:

Little bit crazy, 'aint it?
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Scammers also need money at this time of year... :)

We all know about fake banking emailers that regularly get sent out, giving the impression that the mail is being sent from a legitimate financial institution.
We also know all about what to watch out for - I have written several posts on the topic in the past which you can search for if you need to find out more.

Anyway, I just received the latest FNB scam in my Inbox, and thought I would put some points out there about it:

- The mail supposedly comes from - alarm bells should be ringing there already, since the sender domain specified is (not;

- The mail did not go to Junk Mail, so somehow it got past my ISP filters and Outlook's Junk Mail filter;

- The body of the email is a bit dodgy (it's the first giveaway - oddly worded, no branding, plain text email...), and it goes like this:

         Debt. order ending 41405 from Old Mutual has deducted your monthly payment. 
         Click here to stop the order if you are not satisfied. 

- If you click the link, you get to the page below, which actually looks pretty good if you aren't keeping up to date with the current FNB page. If you enter anything into the User ID and Password fields, it actually goes on to a One-Time PIN page, keeping up a pretty good illusion of legitimacy.:

The fake FNB site...

The fake OTP page...

- Rule of thumb: ALWAYS check the URL (web address at the top of the page) to see where you really ended up after clicking the link. Check this one out - it's the "smoking gun"...:

The fake URL...

Somehow I just don't buy ""...
Once again, ALWAYS check the URL above the site. 

Sure, there are ways to mask URL's, but so far in all the scam mails I have received I have never come across a masked URL, so hopefully things remain this way...!
Be safe out there - even scammers need to eat, and they will send out anything remotely believable to try and prey on unsuspecting victims.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Is it about to be the End of the World as we know it? Do you feel fine...?

So according to the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar (most notably used by the Maya), time as we know it ends on 21 December 2012 (just over 5 weeks from now).

This has caused some commotion in the minds of doomsday lovers all over, who eagerly await the date just so that they can say "See? I told you so!".
Thing is, if the world does actually end on 21 December 2012, there 'aint gonna be no morning after to tell anybody anything anyway :)

So why do humans have this morbid fascination with the end of time?
From religious sects and cults who threaten imminent damnation upon us all, to New Age movements who throw their own spin on the theme, back to Biblical times and probably even before that too.
The Jehovah's Witnesses are especially good at (unsuccessful) end-of-world predictions, having conjured up many (failed) apocalypse dates, and they continue to do so even now. Keep up the good work guys!

Let's not forget that for some people, the 21 December 2012 will in fact be the end of their world (old age, illness, crime, car accidents, natural disasters etc. - we all gotta go some time!)

So where will you be on "Armageddon's Eve"...:
- Partying it up like there is (literally) no tomorrow?
- Chilling out and watching the event on a big screen somewhere?
- Engaging in activities that you otherwise might not engage in, were tomorrow not the end of the world?
- Indifferent to it all?

All I can say is this:
I personally think that we are all going to wake up quite healthy on the morning of 22nd December 2012, and those of us who didn't buy into the apocalypse are going to be damn relieved at the thought of all the things we didn't get up to the night before... :)

Time will surely tell...
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Monday, October 29, 2012

Milk maketh the coffee, methinks...

I love my coffee.
Nothing can quite match up to a fantastic tasting cappuccino. I just have a weakness for such things.

Description: Coffee cortado (An latte art exam...

Now although I am a devotee of the drink, I can in no way claim to be any kind of barista or professional-coffee-making-type-human.
Even so, I certainly go out of my way to make a good cuppa whenever the opportunity arises.
I get a kick out of it when a guest comments on decent cup of coffee that I conjured up myself :)
That, and of course it's always damn good to make a great cuppa to enjoy on my own.

So what is it that makes a great-tasting cup of coffee? 
Obviously the coffee itself needs to be of a certain quality, and that even applies to instant coffee - I mean Ricoffy instant doesn't quite match up to say, Douwe Egberts or Jacobs instant. Pretty obvious.

There is, however one factor which I am sure coffee professionals know all about, but which a pleb like me had to find out about the hard way - by drinking dodgy tasting coffee.
That factor is the milk - obviously if you like your coffee black, then this is not going to affect you.

It is all too easy to fall back on a carton of long-life milk when your fresh milk supply is all out, however in my experience, this is one of the things that can trash an otherwise perfectly decent cuppa joe.
I have no clue what it is - perhaps some process that long-life milk goes through to alter the taste or some other factor, but it just adds an unpleasant aftertaste to any cup of coffee that I make with it, even if I use the best quality coffee that I can find.

Coffee bean
Coffee bean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Are you a coffee-lover?
Does long-life milk do it for you or does it wreck the experience?

For me, it's fresh milk all the way... :)

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Telkom have delivered...! Been nice knowing you, 384Kbps...

For years now, I have been plodding along on Telkom's baseline ADSL offering (384Kbps).
At first it was fine, but the internet is now one massive data crunching machine, and this means that 384Kbps just won't do anymore.

Thankfully, Telkom have been promising free speed upgrades of their base offering, from 384Kbps up to 1Mbps (approx. 3 x faster), starting this month (October 2012).

Now we human beings just love to complain.
Here in South Africa, Telkom often bears the brunt of such moaning, as their reputation in recent years has become somewhat less than stellar.

Imagine my disbelief then, when I logged into my ADSL modem tonight and saw this tidbit of info...:

Telkom, I gotta say, I am pretty darn impressed.
It's only the 4th of the month and already you have upgraded my line - good going guys!

In addition, my internet now feels insanely quick when compared to what I had before - I am having flashbacks to when I had a performance pipe installed on my 125cc motorbike back in high school... :)

So from my side, no complaints or digs at Telkom today... just gratitude. Thank you Telkom!
Have you had your ADSL line speed upgraded yet?

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Richarge - an exciting and innovative new concept to keep your cellphone powered up while on the move...

I have written a fair deal on Nybbles & Bytes that relates to keeping mobile devices powered up when on the go.
We depend on cellphones, iPads and other electronic devices so heavily nowadays, that it feels like we have lost a limb when the battery dies...

I recently found out about a local company called Richarge - they have brought a highly innovative product to market, specifically geared towards South African cellphone users who need to top up their batteries when they are out and about, away from a ready power source or a charger.

Now you may be thinking that public cellphone charging stations are nothing new - I recall having seen this concept somewhere myself before.
The cool bit here though, is that Richarge is the first company in South-Africa to design and manufacture Secure, Public, Cell Phone Charging Stations - Proudly South African!
Richarge has therefore developed their charging stations with the South African context firmly in mind.

They sent me through this write up to provide a better idea of what the product can do:

RiCharge machines have been specifically designed with security in mind and offers people the opportunity to securely charge their cell phones in public areas – Proudly South-African!
With their sleek design and option of eco friendly solar powered units, this has to be one of the most innovative ideas to hit SA!

The RiCharge machine works like a normal vending machine:
  • You insert money (Normally R10 per 30 min);
  • You select your own unique 4-digit code (works like a small hotel safe);
  • The machine then selects an available secure charging compartment for you;
  • Inside each compartment you will find different charging tips (supports all phone models);
  • Select your tip + plug in your phone, then close the door; 
Your phone will now securely charge while you go about doing whatever you want to do.

RiCharge machines work great in any type of venue as there is a need almost everywhere for this type of service. Keep an eye open because RiCharge machines will soon be located at various locations – Malls, Airports, Restaurants, Bars, Outdoor events etc.
Think of us as a gas station for your phone!

So why are venue owners loving the RiCharge concept? By hosting a RiCharge machine at your venue you will instantly increase your foot count - this will automatically lead to an increase in sales and obviously make customers come back for more.

It’s a win win situation

...and it gets better – RiCharge machines are available to the public! 
Start your own RiCharge business or become a distributing partner - for more info on this exciting new industry, go visit

Even if you are just looking for an additional source of income on the side, and you have some cash to invest - this can be a great way to start a small business.

Sounds like a great concept to me - I hope we start seeing these all over the place!
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