myDigitalLife Blogs

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Jan 22

10 Quick Ways to Save Electricity

Posted by Shaun Dewberry in Untagged 

Shaun Dewberry
  1. For crying out loud, it's raining outside - turn off the aircon.
  2. Go home and read a book.
  3. Throw away your television. (This will save your life too)
  4. Try out a raw food only diet
  5. Throw stones at street lamps so the municipality has an excuse to replace the bulbs with CFL bulbs.
  6. Buy a sheep to mow the lawn.
  7. Charge your cellphone in the car or use a wind-up cellphone charger.
  8. Implement Daylight Savings Time - a newly introduced change in DST in the USA is saving them an extra 3 billion kilowatt hours.
  9. Use a towel, not a hairdryer, to dry your hair.
  10. Get to know electricity better - Here is what 1 kilowatt-hour can allow you to do:
1200 electric shaves (> 3 years) or
slice 100 breads or
dry your hair 15 times or
4 TV evenings (!!!) or
listen to 15 CDs or
use a small refrigerator for 24 hours or
20 microwave meals or
drill 250 holes or
4 evenings of light with 60 W incandescent lamps or
20 evenings of light with 11 W compact fluorescent light.


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Nov 13

ABSA? FNB? Go Phish!

Posted by Shaun Dewberry in Untagged 

Shaun Dewberry

I don't think there has been a single South African bank that has not been targeted by one of these online phishing scams. I'd be afraid if I was an amateur internet user.

FNB Online banking email phishing scam

It's simple, don't click there - read up on it on Phishing on Wikipedia. Delete the mail. You have been warned.
Sep 11

I got a free HP iPAQ 514 Voice Messenger for three months!

Posted by Shaun Dewberry in Untagged 

Shaun Dewberry
It's on my other blog, for which I must apologise, but the content is still relevant to mydigitallife...

My review of the HP iPAQ 514 Voice Messenger.

In summary - on price to feature ratio it beats everything out there.
Sep 05

ICT companies must not patent

Posted by Shaun Dewberry in Untagged 

Shaun Dewberry
So ITWeb is running a story which reads like a marketing brochure for a legal firm. FUD and broad, open-ended statements abound. Boy oh boy did that raise my hackles, but my attempt to comment on the story bailed. So here is my rant:

Patents restrict and hurt innovation. They prevent the natural progression and evolution of ideas. So called "cross-licensing" is a modern form of extortion. Patents prevent developing economies from using the latest ideas and technology without paying exorbitant amounts of money to first world countries.

Software patents are evil (and illegal) too. As Paul Graham put it "We, as hackers, know the patent office is letting people patent the knives and forks of our world"

The only people who ever get any real value out of patents are lawyers.

And if my comments here are not enough to convince you, read this transcript of a speech by Richard Stallman on software patents.
Aug 17

The Numbers that feed my Technology Addiction

Posted by Shaun Dewberry in Untagged 

Shaun Dewberry
I'm not an addict.
Seriously I'm not.

Ok fine, just hold on while I light a smoke and grab a cup of coffee and I'll tell you all about it....

Technology just invades and infiltrates my life. It parades its expensive little appeal right under my nose, laughing at the empty pockets on my jean pant. I don't think I actively go seeking it. It just appears right there in front of me, and well, by hook or by crook I inevitably end up owning the cunning device.

What's worse, online - it's all free, or close to free, so there's even more places to get hooked into the interwebs.

So let's take a quick inventory.

1 Laptop (Acer Dual core, 2GB RAM, 120GB HDD, ATI Radeon etc etc)
1 500GB external storage hard drive
1 120MB external storage hard drive
1 Sony Pocket digital camera (2 Batteries, 1.5Gigs of memory stick)
1 Nikon D80 SLR Camera (2 Batteries, 5Gigs worth of memory sticks, 2 lenses)
2 Cellphones (1 Nokia N95 and 1 HP Voice Commander (review to come soon))
1 Playstation Portable, unlimited games
1 60GB iPod with iTrip FM Transmitter (over 6000 songs - 300 megs free)
1 WiFi router connected to net
1 3rd-world-country-arms-cache of used/unused DVDs and CDs

3 Blogs (Mydigitallife, and
38 Firefox Web Browser Tabs currently open
59 Firefox Web browser extensions installed
5 email addresses (roughly)
53 unread mail messages (roughly)
169 unprocessed downloads
131 RSS Feed subscriptions
7547 Items from those RSS subscriptions read in the past 30 days
2 IM accounts (skype, Google Talk)
1 Twitter account
67 Facebook friends
53 329 people in my entire LinkedIn Network
1 178 Bookmarked items on
2 499 photos on Flickr
124 903 views of my most popular Youtube video

1 Girlfriend

0 time

You do the math, I'm going nuts here...

I think I need to declare Internet bankruptcy. I'm going away for the next week.

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Jun 21

How Vodacom, MTN and iBurst punch (gaping) holes in your corporate security

Posted by Shaun Dewberry in Untagged 

Shaun Dewberry
Corporate network security is a number one priority for all large organisations. Companies are cracking down on what gets into and out of the network, and rightly so - their top management can now be held fully and directly responsible for any breach in IT security.

The measures that have been put in place include multiple (often overpriced) firewalls, De-Militarized Zones (DMZs), Orwellian mail scanners, virtual private networks, snooping proxy servers, company wide antivirus deployments, monthly (sometimes daily) password changes and stringent access control for all devices that connect to the network. Millions have been spent on network security. These are all good measures, great measures even, that if properly implemented will go a long way towards minimizing the risk of your average corporate network.

And then, suddenly in the blink of an eye all that infrastructure is put at risk by one silly little device: The Mobile Data Card. Here's how:

Fred in accounts loves Youtube. Access to Youtube is blocked at work. Fred gets an email from his buddy Joe, with a link to an amazing viral Youtube video. Fred gets upset because his access is denied. Suddenly Fred realizes he can access Youtube with his shiny new data card which he received so that he can submit his TPS reports from home on Saturday evenings. He slips it into his laptop and connects in seconds. He watches the video, has a good laugh, and then goes for coffee.

There's just one tiny problem: Fred didn't unplug his corporate network cable. Fred's Boss's Bank, (Pty) Limited now has a machine on its network that is exposed to the wildest wilds of the Internets. Fred's Boss's Bank's network now has a or domain directly wired to its core. Fred is probably running windows, and probably doesn't have desktop firewall software running. The current "survival time" (the average time for an unprotected system on the Internet to be attacked and compromised) is only 27 minutes. How lucky do you think Fred is feeling today? Fred's Boss's Bank is in deep trouble, with an exposed network sitting on the internet just waiting to be compromised. Hope Fred gets back soon from coffee.

Ditto the above story with Jenny in marketing. Except she enjoys Facebook. Or any other employee lucky enough to have a corporate sponsored data card. Or even the employee who has a private data card. Each and every data card in your organisation is a potential security breach.

Mobile data is a beautiful thing, bringing with it the countless advantages and huge business and personal benefits that the internet can offer. Unfortunately every data card that enters your premises also brings with it another potential security loophole for the hackers to jump through. (And hackers love jumping through hoops)

Mitigate that risk, Mr CEO. Your job depends on it.

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Jun 12

Why the Apple iPhone will fail miserably in Africa (and maybe elsewhere too!)

Posted by Shaun Dewberry in Untagged 

Shaun Dewberry
Apple iPhoneApple are lining up for an end of June launch of the much touted and discussed Apple iPhone. I don't believe it will be a success in Africa. Here's why:

It was just yesterday that they announced final details of how third party applications will be integrated into the iPhone without "compromising security". Their solution: use AJAX in a standard web browser operating on the phone, with a custom phone look-and-feel instead of the "browser feel". What a cop-out. What they're really saying is

'You're gonna have to be online to use custom applications on the iPhone'

There's just one small problem. Online all the time is not possible in Africa!!.

For starters the coverage generally sucks. I have just returned from Mozambique where I couldn't even roam on my own home provider's network (MTN), despite all the necessary roaming activations being in place. Strangely enough I could roam on an opposition network!

With cellular data the price is also prohibitive. In order to get the cheapest data rates you need to spend over R1000 ($125) a month and you pay R0.20 ($0.02) per megabyte. (P.S. Steve Jobs - some people only earn R1000 a month) That's the absolute cheapest for the highest end users. It may not seem like much but the cost will add up very quickly when you're checking contact details, updating your todo list or schedule, sending and receiving email, checking google maps, or using the "killer-app" Youtube integration. So cellular is not really a viable option for connectivity.

What's more, the iPhone does not have 3G. So you have to access your custom phone apps off the internet using a slow-ass GPRS/EDGE solution. Apple of course will claim that you can use the WiFi capability instead of EDGE, but the general lack of public WiFi access points means you'll end up checking your mail or updating your schedule once a week while travelling - if you're lucky.

In another strange move, the iPhone only has a 2 Megapixel camera. What good is that? When we send pictures of our starving children to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation we need really high resolution pictures. Oh, perhaps it's to save on that scarce African bandwidth.

How should Apple fix this? Simple. It should be an open platform that is customisable with third party apps able to run and store data on the phone. 3G is a must - this is 2007 for heaven's sake! A 5 megapixel camera is possible. Keep the cool browser and the WiFi and add a GPS - Africa's an easy place to get lost. Oh wait, I've almost completely described the Nokia N95!

All in all the iPhone is a pretty rubbish, expensive deal for anyone in Africa with its price tag of around R8000. It's below industry spec, short on features and really not what one would expect from Apple.

It's only coming to South Africa at the end of November so we won't hold our breath waiting, that's for sure.

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Jun 07

Trying to filter the internet is ridiculous and dangerous

Posted by Shaun Dewberry in Untagged 

Shaun Dewberry

Superhero Blogger and Legendary champion of freedom, Cory Doctorow inadvertently boots all of Patricia de Lille's censorship requests out of the park with his piece "See no evil" which was just published on the Guardian website.

May 21

de Lille Parades her Tech-Legal-Free Speech Ignorance

Posted by Shaun Dewberry in Untagged 

Shaun Dewberry
Free Speech

ID leader Patricia de Lille has called on government to crackdown and regulate internet blog sites and also the popular Mxit text message service.

If there are three words that can be combined in a sentence to raise my hackles, unleash my claws and start me foaming at the mouth they must be "internet" "government" and "regulate". And those three words are combining just a little too much of late to make me feel comfortable.

Yes, my dear dear de Lille - surprise, surprise! The internet can be used by anyone to say anything they please in an openly visible and public forum. No longer are we misrepresented in our views by those of you who do whatever you do in parliament. No longer can you shut down the media because you dislike their tone of voice or their differing opinion. No longer can you shout the public opinion down with your PA system or loud-hailer. As a public figure you and your ilk are open to criticism from all sides. This critical voice now includes the internet-enabled generation and the tools they choose to use.

This is not to say that all speech should be considered free speech - we have a constitution which sets the parameters of free speech, placing "propaganda for war, Incitement of imminent violence and advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm" outside the bounds of protected speech. Give it a read through Ms de Lille - it's pretty good stuff... Simple, done, dusted, and it applies to all speech in South Africa. All of it.

If Ms de Lille wishes to raise issues of this sort she is welcome to contact her nearest police station and lay a charge. We do not need new special laws to be drawn up or to call on the National Intelligence Agency to investigate such criticism as this, purely because it's online and outside her sphere of influence, and we certainly do not need further damage to be done to any free speech related right in the course of making her feel comfortable.

In fact, Ms De Lille, I offer my services free of charge in attempting to hunt down whoever has wronged you. Hopefully then you will engage these people in conversation and attempt to understand their concerns instead of wasting our time and money on trying to implement new restrictive laws that will be abused by those in power and hated by those who are subjected to them.

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May 16

New Motorola RAZR 2

Posted by Shaun Dewberry in Untagged 

Shaun Dewberry
Motorola RAZR 2

Gizmodo got the lowdown on Motorola's new RAZR 2 which was announced earlier today. I suppose it is really just a glorified upgrade to the old faithful RAZR (a great phone in its time), but apparently there are a couple of nifty features included in this new gadget.

I'm tempted - I loved the form factor of the RAZR, and it performed its primary function - that of a phone - exceptionally well. I think I may want more though. I guess I still want a Nokia N95, and I'm not going to wait until July in the hopes that it is released here at that stage. Unless the fact that it is running a Linux operating system makes it more flexible and hackable. If that is the case, I'll take one right now, thank you very much.

View Gizmodo's video tour here.
Click the image above for Engadget's take on the new phone.

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