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Jun 24
2009

No April Fool's Joke This Time: Seacom Delayed

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

redsaid
I was about to launch into the second part of my already-epic-and-still-ongoing Vodacom saga, when this bit of awful news caught my eye.

The much anticipated launch of the Seacom cable - which was just days away - has now been delayed by almost a month due to 'increased pirate activity'.

At first, it brought about a moment of déjà vu. Earlier this year, a news outlet (I can't remember which one. Perhaps MyADSL?) used it as their April Fool's Day story. After a momentary lapse of sanity (and temporarily forgetting which day it was), I caught on and laughed at their clever - if extremely cruel - little joke.

Unfortunately the news is no joke this time around! Seacom's owners told News24 today that, although the laying of the cable in the pirate-infested waters has already been wrapped up, further testing and splicing still had to be completed. They decided to postpone those activities, since it requires their ship to sail through an area where other ships have already been attacked or seized by pirates.

This gives a whole new meaning to the term 'Internet piracy', doesn't it?

Okay, my attempt at a lame joke aside: I'm deeply disappointed by this news. (And I know I'm not the only one!) Just the other night, I was smugly telling a friend how Seacom has miraculously defied all odds and how it is going to be launched right on schedule. Almost everyone who has had the great misfortune of speaking to me in person has been subjected to my reverent and passionate monologue about how that cable - which is going to provide high capacity bandwidth to Southern and East Africa via Europe and South Asia - is finally going to shrink the gaping digital divide between us and the rest of the world.

I've been told that I'm naive, that our greedy service providers won't suddenly slash the exorbitant fees they charge us for miniscule amounts of Internet access just because of that one cable. (Although I hate to even THINK it - let alone write it - I think they are correct to a certain extent. On the other hand, Telkom has already announced this week that they are increasing Internet caps on some of their ADSL offerings. Surely that couldn't have been a coincidence?)

So Seacom, my hope is still firmly fixed on you. I still believe that your arrival will herald a broadband revolution in South Africa. And when you finally DO launch - pesky pirates permitting - on 23 July 2009, I will welcome you with open arms!
Jun 17
2009

Very PC: My history with computers

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

redsaid
I'm typing this on my new notebook. When I say new, I mean BRAND new. It is a week and a half old today, so I'm still buzzing with that passion experienced by the newly in love and therefore completely blinded (an affliction which might be aided somewhat by the brightness of the 15.4" CrystalBrite LCD screen illuminating this huge, goofy, lovesick grin on my face?) to any character flaws it may possess. (Such as the fact that it completely depleted my savings account. But let's not get all materialistic so early in the relationship!) Since I'm still in this delightful honeymoon phase, I can see, feel, and hear no wrong. Even its new notebook smell is intoxicating and sweet! I constantly lean in, sniff and inhale the scent of the keys... Thank goodness the web cam is still turned off!

So any memory I may have had about the others that have come before, has now been a bit muddled. After all, there's nothing like a new relationship to help one get over and even completely forget the old ones.

I can barely remember the frustrated girl I used to be (until barely two weeks ago). That girl was depressed, unhappily trapped in a working and personal relationship with an infuriatingly uncooperative Mecer N259II notebook. I had picked it up in a moment of absolute, ignorant desperation, mere days after the sudden, unexpected death of the previous one. I was in shock and mourning - that's the only way I can ever even try and justify giving my heart (and the little bit of money I had back then) to an Intel (*shudders with horror and shame*) CELERON.

And thus began a relationship that spanned three and a half years... which was also about three and a half years too long. The Mecer was snail-slow from the beginning - behaviour I excused by telling myself that it would inspire me to learn virtuous patience. And oh, tried my patience it did! First its ten minute boot time merely wore my patience thin, and then wore it out completely. But before our relationship exceeded my boiling point, I deluded myself that we had much in common, such as the complete and charming inability to multi-task. Its dismal 256 MB RAM and 40 GB (!!! Even today's NETBOOKS are roomier!) hard drive soon began to heave under the strain of having to house my photos and writing. Later, I likened it to a menopausal pregnant woman: freezing up whenever I touched it to do something and overheating the rest of the time.

I don't know why I stayed with it for so long. I think it was a mixture of fear (rather the devil you know type of thing), sentimentality (I wrote some award-winning stories on it, so I became a bit superstitious) and being too broke to afford anything better. Or perhaps it was guilt.

You see, before that Mecer, an amazingly benevolent friend gave (GAVE! Despite my insistence that I wanted to pay him for it) me another Mecer. I appeased myself by telling him that it would just be a loan. And then I proceeded to kill it... by keeping it on my lap (after all, it's called a LAPtop) and on my bed and on an array of equally sinful surfaces. (Here's a bit of useless trivia: I recently found out that it's because so many people burned out their laptops by keeping it on their laps and on other cloth-covered surfaces that the name "laptop" was changed to "notebook".) So yes, I unwittingly massacred it and caused it to overheat. So perhaps I stayed with this last Mecer for too long because I was still feeling guilty about murdering the other one?

Before that, I had a Compaq Pressario. Or I should say: I barely had a Compaq Pressario. It was my last purchase in the States - a bit of a consolation prize for being forced to endure the demise of my American dream - and I had it for less than a week before being forced to promptly donate it to the New South Africa. (What a welcome, hey? After almost a decade away, it was stolen the day I got back, on Christmas Day 2005.) So forgive me for not being able to remember any of its specs.

It was in the United States that I made my first laptop purchase. It was 1999, and a geek friend told me about a company selling off secondhand laptops for $300. I snapped it up immediately. I know that this is probably akin to blasphemy, but I can't even remember its make or any of its specs. I just remember that it was HUGE and heavy. But I didn't care! I finally felt like a proper writer. I used to lug it along to my favourite Starbucks coffee shops and furiously type on it (typing is the only thing I can do faster than most people, thanks to Pretoria Tech forcing its journalism students to take Typing 101 for a semester - which we actually learned on typewriters, even though it was already 1993!) and pretended to be a Washington Post reporter.

In the year 2000, I got a job at a news video monitoring service. My job was to record and watch television news bulletins (only in the States will they pay you to actually watch TV!) and then transcribe it (but not verbatim, thank goodness!). I typed so much, all the letters disappeared from the keyboard. Luckily I can touch type, but this means that no one else could use it! It finally succumbed to a malicious virus that was embedded in an e-mail (and not as an attachment - sneaky buggers!).

My former boyfriend (a Yank), one day surprised me with a Sony Vaio. The technically inclined should avert their eyes right now, because once again: I can't remember any of its specs. Also? I killed it, by burning it out. (No one TOLD me that I shouldn't rest it directly on the duvet or on my clothes!) That was actually my first laptop murder... (Before that, thankfully, I was tethered to desktops, which I miraculously did not kill.) Anyway, before I accidentally slaughtered the Sony, it was a fantastic companion during my long, dark depression. I watched endless movies and music videos on it and did not, I confess, accomplish much in the way of actual writing.

And now... the object of my current, new-found love and devotion. I actually had my doubts and shopped around a lot this time around - fondling lots of others - before finally returning to and settling on this one. After all, this relationship will have to last for a while.

So, ladies and gents, I'd love for you to meet my new darling: A fast and furious Acer TravelMate 5520. I'm by no means a shallow girl who makes judgements based on appearances, but it's GORGEOUS. And did I mention fast? It actually has an AMD Turion 64x2 (which is why I had my doubts initially. I've always had Intel inside) processor, but I have to tell you, after having been stuck with a Celeron for so long? This baby feels like a Ferrari! Before even leaving the shop, I downgraded to XP, so now, since it packs 4Gigs of RAM and ample room on its 250GB HDD, it positively FLIES.

Am I gushing? Really?

I love my ace Acer SO much? I have almost completely forgotten about that MacBook Pro I drooled over at the Waterfront last week...


Jun 10
2009

Incredible Service

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

redsaid
The state of my own digital life - especially the computing side of things - was a rather dismal affair until a few days ago.

Without going into the woeful details - I'll save that for the "My History with Computers" topic due for the next Click-A-Lot day - let's just say that the situation had become so dire, that I finally began the search for a new laptop in earnest a few weeks ago.

My methods involved pestering a fellow MyDLer, sending him e-mails filled with pages and pages of specs and incoherent, panicked ramblings. (Oh, so not all that different from my usual blog postings, then!) I also hung about the local online Apple store for hours, longingly gazing at and lusting over deliciously gorgeous machines that are priced WAY beyond the means of mere mortals. (The drool on my keyboard almost caused a short circuit.)

And then, when the old machine began emitting what I am convinced was its last, rasping electronic breaths, I snapped out of my virtual fantasies and was forced to engage in a slightly more physical search. I stalked every mall from Paarl to Somerset West (okay, so about two then), venturing into every single shop that even hinted at selling electronics.

Every store except... Incredible Connection. Or rather, as it is better known to most of us, Incredible Corruption.

And here I want to digress and say how astounding and absolutely terrifying the speed is at which a brand's reputation can become irrevocably tainted. I don't think I had ever even bought anything from any of the shop's branches before, but ever since returning to South Africa, I have heard the most awful stories and complaints about the bad service there. Usually I make up my own mind about things, but I have heard the same refrain about the chain so often and from so many different, reputable sources, I began to believe that there must be something to it. Which is why I steered well clear of it during my search for a new laptop.

However, desperate times call for desperate measures, and so, one day almost two weeks ago, after already having been to every other chain selling computers, I went into the Somerset West branch.

And this following letter, which I sent to their head office yesterday, details my experience there:

To Whom It May Concern,

At the end of May I went to your branch in the Somerset West Mall. I had been looking to buy a new notebook computer - an experience which had left me entirely bewildered -  and I was assisted with great skill, patience and kindness by an employee named ****** *******. He took time to find out what my needs were and what my budget was and helped me accordingly.

I left the store that day without buying anything, because I wanted to shop around a bit more and make sure that I was going to get the best possible deal.

This past Saturday (6 June 2009), more than a week after I had been there, I returned to your Somerset West branch to buy the machine ****** had recommended to me.

When I walked in, I immediately asked for him, but I was told that it was his day off. I was so disappointed, because I had really wanted him to reap the benefits of making the sale. Unfortunately I could wait no longer, and so I purchased the machine. As I was waiting for the machine to be retrieved from storage, ****** actually walked into the store! He immediately recognised me and came over, even though it was his day off. For the next few HOURS, he stayed there and ended up setting up the machine for me. Once again, he was friendly, kind, helpful and patient.  I couldn't - and still can't - believe such dedication! Especially not from someone who wasn't even supposed to have been working that day! He had truly gone beyond the call of duty.

I am incredibly impressed and wanted to express my gratitude in a way that would hopefully make a difference in ******'s career at your company. I don't know if you have a reward system. If you do, then he deserves to receive it. I hope that, at the very least, his dedication would be noted on his employment record.

Thank you.

Kind regards,

Redsaid

Perhaps my great experience at Incredible Connection is an exception to the norm, but I am incredibly impressed. I hope the guy gets a massive raise, or, at the very least, becomes Employee of the Year!

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a brand with a bad reputation?

P.S. Totally besides the point, but after posting this I realised that this is my 100th blog post on MyDL! I can't believe you've all allowed me to subject myself to you a hundred times over! Thank you for reading!


Jun 03
2009

Last Call... My Brief Yet Complicated History With Cellphones

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

redsaid
Long before the day, news of the expected arrival had whipped up a frenzied buzz of excitement and anticipation. When the newcomer finally appeared from the foreign shores of its birthplace, it was approximately the same size and weight as a brick.

At first, it was silent. Then, it began to emit a ghastly, otherworldly, incessant, piercing, electronic sound, forever shattering the peace and quiet.

It was the early-to-mid 1990's, and the first cellphones had just fallen into the hands of several South Africans...
 
Suddenly, the Ray-Ban and Rolex-wearing set were lugging glamorous new accessories and they were trying their best to be as indiscreet as possible about it. The electronic ringing rudely interrupted conversations with friends/colleagues/family at brunches, lunches, dinners and drinks at sidewalk cafés, but were answered with secret relish instead of with annoyance. Even those of us who happened to be within ear shot of this entire spectacle and who very well should have been annoyed by such blatant show-offs, enviously stole second glances.

The first time I ever owned a cellphone myself was at the youthful age of 31. (And no, cheeky bastards, that wasn’t 700 years ago.) It was in 2006 and I had just returned to South Africa after spending (or wasting… the jury is still out on that one) almost a decade in the United States.

Yes, I never had a cellphone while I resided in the wired/wireless/gadget-filled first world. The States, you see, isn’t just the land of the free and the home of the brave, it’s also the land of the free-local-calls-from-landlines.
 

Not that I made much use of that perk. Due to the fact that I'm rather hard of hearing (it's unheard of to refer to people as 'deaf' nowadays) I've never been a particular fan of talking on the phone. (An aversion which is apparently very unusual for a woman to have.) Therefore the Yankee Doodle ex-boyfriend was assigned phone duty and picked up a lot of Afrikaans swear words from our home answering machine courtesy of all the furious fellow South African expats who called, and called, and called me to no avail.
 

Upon my return to South Africa, I became the very reluctant recipient of a mobile. I really didn’t want one, but everyone assured me that I had little choice in the matter.
 

That phone and I despised each other from the get-go. It used to belong to my mom and to call it a vintage would be way too kind. It was an ancient brick of a Nokia. According to my mom, it worked brilliantly, so no one was more puzzled than her when the battery promptly died on me and half the buttons simply refused to work!
 

This led my sister to bestow unto me a VERY nice phone. A phone the price of a small second hand car. So fancy, it didn’t even HAVE buttons. Oh, no, daahlings. So stylish was that phone - an i-Mate Jam - it had a STYLUS.
 

Of course, for the longest time, I couldn’t quite figure out where exactly said stylus was located!
 

I used my mother's other phone to phone my sister. "Where is the stylist?"

 

"..!?"

“The phone's little stick?”

After a moment she finally realised what I was on about: “Oh, ha ha! The STYLUS!"

 

"Right, that's what I said."

 

She sighed. "It’s there, in the phone.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“Maybe it fell out. Check the box.”

“I have. Nothing.”

“No, it’s there. Really.”
 

I finally had to go to a cellular shop in the mall. I’m very relieved to say that none of the employees in the first two stores knew how to locate the mysterious stylus either. I’d like to believe that it was a sign that I’m not quite as dumb as I look, but it’s more likely that those employees and I enjoy the same superior level of idiocy.
 

Finally, a woman at the third store (a Vodashop) made the stylus appear as if by magic. In fact, I could have sworn that she even waved it around smugly, like a wand, for a split second!
 

I’m sure she was highly annoyed at the injustice that such a luxurious device could be wasted on the likes of me! I could almost TELL that she thought I was way too inferior to have such a sophisticated, sleek phone in my possession.
 

That initial seek-the-stylus frustration should have served as an omen for the humiliating things that were to come. Because right off the bat, that phone also went all erratic and stubborn on me - after having performed flawlessly for my sister, of course! To this day, I’m still convinced that the woman in the shop had placed a curse on me when she waved the stylus around like that!
 

After a short-lived but intensely frustrating relationship, that phone also came to a mysterious demise. I swear it had nothing to do with the fact that it had accidentally slipped from my clumsy hands so many times… Surely it couldn’t have been that? It had seemed so sturdy!
 

Besides, I’m convinced it was suicide. I think it poked itself to death with its own stylus!
 

When it died, I didn’t shed a tear, but I have to confess that I really did miss the phone’s ability to take pictures.
 

After all, isn’t that what phones are for? To take pictures?
 

But despite all those cellphones shriveling up and spontaneously dying in my presence, I have sadly NOT been banned from owning one.
 

In fact, my landlady was even brave enough to loan me hers for a year. A newer Nokia than the one I had received from my mom, but still decidedly vintage and incredibly basic. But I could at least receive and send SMSes - an activity I still find infuriatingly frustrating, since I stubbornly refuse 2 typ lyk ths. No LOLs 4 me. When I find you amusing, I will inform you by verbosely ha ha ha ha-ing at you.
 

Despite my general fear and loathing of mobile phones - exacerbated by the fact that I seem to destroy all things cellular - I have, since joining MyDL in October 2007, entered every single contest on here in which cell phones were up for grabs. In an act which would surely have caused Tolkien to turn in his grave, I have written alternative endings to the Lord of the Ring trilogy starring BlackBerry Pearl, composed (and I use the term loosely) limericks singing the praises of Samsung, and even brutally massacred Valentine's Day... all to no avail.
 

Then, a few weeks ago, my sister (her of the i-Mate Jam fame) bestowed upon me her secondhand-but-still-gleaming BlackBerry Pearl! (Aren't I the luckiest and most spoilt brat?!?)


And even though there is no stylus anywhere near that phone, I'm still giving it only a few more days until it too promptly dies on me...




May 16
2009

Dowlnoad Coldplay's New Album For Free (It's Legal!)

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

redsaid
He may not have been kind when dreaming up hare-brained names for his offspring, but it turns out Gwyneth's husband and his band mates are rather generous souls.

The Brisith band, Coldplay, who is fronted by actress Gwyneth Paltrow's husband Chris Martin (dad to poor Apple and in-for-a-lot-of-teasing Moses) is offering an entire album, "LeftRightLeftRightLeft" as a free download on their official Web site.

The album is being given away to all concertgoers as a physical CD at most of the shows on their Vida La Vida summer concert tour, which kicked off in the United States last night. They have decided to make it available as a free download on their Web site too.

This give-away is not some sort of act of defiance against illegal music downloads and piracy, but rather a  “recession-busting mark of gratitude” to their fans for supporting them.

The nine-track album was recorded at various concert venues and contains raucously live renditions of hits such as "Clocks" and "Vida La Vida".

Of course, the concept of bands offering free individual tracks is nothing new. Most recently, The Dave Matthews Band offered the first single from its yet-to-be-released album as a free download for a limited time.

But bands giving away entire albums is still a bit unusual, especially at a time when the record industry is trying hard to clamp down on piracy. In late 2007, the music world was rocked when Radiohead offered its album "In Rainbows" as a download on a "pay as much or as little as you want" basis.

Coldplay is offering the album in Zipped format. So if you have about 55 Megabytes to spare on your remaining cap for the month, you can download it here.

(Source)

May 15
2009

Vodacom - My Disservice Provider

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

redsaid

Early this morning, I switch the laptop on.

 

I'm in a great mood. I'm brimming with ideas and inspiration and enthusiasm and I'm ready to plunge into work.

 

I'm not even too bothered by my dinosaur laptop's usual ten minute start up time. Nothing can get me down today! “Besides,” I think to myself. “this ancient laptop is teaching me patience and therefore making me oh-so-virtuous!”

 

If only I had known what was in store and how quickly I was about to tumble from my high horse!

 

I click on the little red Vodafone Mobile Connect (VMC) icon. Elephant cows gestate while I wait for it to open. Finally, it pops up. I wait for my usual, dismal one bar (two bars at best) signal. Nothing appears! Acquiring, it says, where it is supposed to say Vodacom.

 

I take a deep breath, reminding myself that it's okay, that I still have an option. I click on Tools and change my Mobile Profile to the slower-than-dial-up-I-swear GPRS. At least I'm getting three bars now! But still... no sign of Vodacom! It alternates between Acquiring and the blatantly untrue Not Registered to a Network.

 

Starting to panic a bit now, I remove the HSDPA data card. I reinsert it. Click on the icon again. The VMC box pops open. At last! Vodacom appears as my network. The GPRS signal is still three bars strong. I quickly click on connect, before it has a chance to change its mind again. Connecting, it says. I sigh with relief. Prematurely, it turns out, because the next minute I hear that heart-stopping, disheartening, infuriating, frustrating “Ping” sound as it throws up the error message box:

 

“While attempting to connect, an error with the number 678 occurred.

 

  • There is no answer.

 

  1. If there is no handshake, the number is probably incorrect.

  2. If there is a handshake, check your connection and network settings. If those settings are correct, it is probably a handshake error. Make sure that the correct device is selected and set up.

  3. Try upgrading the firmware on your device.

 

Click on OK to acknowledge that you've read and understood this lame excuse we regularly dish up for you.”

 

Now I'm yelling: “Come ON!” The virtue I so smugly felt earlier has evaporated faster than a dew drop. In its place, I feel the frustration and fury well up. Also a tear drop or two.

 

I remove the HSDPA card again. Restart my laptop. All of this has now about taken about half an hour. That is 30 minutes of my life that I can never, ever, ever get back again.

 

40 minutes later (slow laptop, remember?), I'm back. Still no luck with trying to connect with GPRS. Change my profile back to 3G. Nothing. Try 3G Preferred. It immediately latches onto the 3 bar GPRS signal. But still, no network.

 

Exasperated, I dial the Vodacom help desk. It can't be though, I think to myself. Because I called them just yesterday! So surely it can't be a network issue AGAIN?

 

The recorded male voice answers, welcoming me to Vodacom's Dedicated (hahahahaha! That never fails to make me snigger) Data Call Centre. Is it my imagination or is the poor bugger sounding tired today?

 

No, I'm probably just projecting my own depleted energy onto him.

 

After telling me to press one if I want more information about Vodacom's listing on the JSE (he also neglects to mention that they are only listed on the JSE in the first place thanks to padding their pockets with billions of our hard-earned rands), he tells me to hold for further options.

 

Then, after another Elephant cow gestates, I hear this.

 

“Please be advised that we are currently experiencing connectivity problems via GPRS, 3G and HSDPA...”

 

Ja, no kidding, I think. But on the other hand I am rather disbelieving. Disbelieving that this is what we pay such exorbitant fees for every month. (I pay almost R400 for two measly gigs... which isn't even enough data to see me through the whole month anymore, since Web sites are becoming increasingly bandwidth intensive.) I am literally crying now. I have been at it since 8 this morning. It is now almost NOON. I wonder at all the revenue lost because of this happening on a week day. Or am I the only sucker still using Vodacom? (Actually, I have now decided that they truly live up to their VodaCON nickname.)

 

I rage at Vodacon. I rage at our former, late minister of Communications, who totally lived up to her nickname, Poison Ivy, too. (I know she is dead, and that one ought to have respect for the deceased and all, but let's not deceive ourselves. The act of dying does not automatically elevate a person to sainthood status.) To be fair, I never met her in person. For all I know she was entirely docile in her personal life. (Highly doubt it, though.) But we can't deny that she was lousy at her job, and that she totally enabled the ongoing Telkom monopoly by actively, ruthlessly discouraging any possible hope of competition. Which is why we are still stuck with such limited choices. (All our so-called service providers are equally inept, overpriced and helpless. Which is why most South Africans seem to have the attitude of rather sticking with the devil they know.) And which is why the likes of Vodacon can therefore freely screw us like this.

 

I rage at former President Mbeki for keeping Poison Ivy in that portfolio for so long, ensuring that the digital divide between us and the rest of the world have become so gapingly wide that it will probably take years... if not entire decades... for us to catch up. I rage at Zuma for appointing a guy with NO experience in telecommunications as Poison's successor.

 

I can't help but to think that the ANC government's stubborn refusal to take action and make the Communications department a priority is another, insidious form of Apartheid. Why are they so scared to give all South Africans affordable and unlimited access to the Internet? Is it because it will give everyone access to knowledge? Are they afraid that the masses, once given access to all that knowledge, will discover that they have been keeping a useless entity in power all these years? That the people will start to demand more positive action from the government who is supposed to be working for them?

 

In order not to feel so entirely helpless, I try to connect every five minutes. I again call the help line, only to STILL receive that message. Finally, at 12:10, I decide to try my luck and make an attempt to speak to an operator. After a miraculously mere 15 minutes (yes, trust me, that is a short time compared to how long I usually have to hold on) I get through to an actual human! I know that it is not his fault, so I remain calm. I even muster up some friendliness. I ask him politely if he has any idea about when the issue will be resolved. My mom was so right. It always pays to be friendly. You always attract more flies with honey. Because he is friendly back and helpful and sincere. Tells me that I have an option. That I should provide him with my SIM card number so that he can personally log the complaint for me. That way they can attend to the problem faster in my area.

 

I thank him and hang up. Make myself a cup of coffee. And begin to write this entire saga offline.

 

Providing Vodacom with my SIM card number turns out to not be that valuable after all, because it is now 4PM. The work day is almost entirely gone. About 30 minutes ago, I managed to get online long enough to send off the story which I had written LAST NIGHT ALREADY! I had time to at least send a brief second message explaining about the network problems before I was booted off again. (Oh, by the way, a continuously dropped connection? Is simply a part of my everyday life as a Vodacom customer.) Never even had a chance to source and send a photograph.

 

I honestly can't stand this anymore!

 

P.S. If I EVER manage to get back online again? I will immediately copy and paste this and post it to MyDL. Let's see how long it takes. (9:30PM. Eventually Vodacom's number didn't even ring anymore!)

 

P.P.S. Funny. During their meeting with ICASA the other day – in order to get to the bottom of why there have been so many dropped calls, undelivered SMSes and other service issues lately – Vodacom still so piously denied having any network problems. Wonder how they would define this wasted business day then?!?

 

 

May 08
2009

M-Net Blames SA Cell Networks For Idols Foul Up

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

redsaid
Ha! I knew it!

A recount revealed that my favourite Idols finalist, Jason Hartman, won after all!

But to try and diminish the egg on their face a bit, M-Net announced a short while ago that Sasha Lee Davids, who was erroneously crowned as this year's South African Idol during the show's finale on Sunday night, will now share the crown with Jason.

M-Net admitted yesterday that there were some 'technical glitches' with the voting process. Viewers had the opportunity to still cast their votes via SMS or by phoning in during the show's finale, which was a special two-hour broadcast. Voting closed about an hour before the winner was announced.

On Monday morning, M-Net began receiving complaints from some viewers that their SMSes only went through much later that night, especially on the MTN network. The backlash became enormous. After all, viewers were charged R2 per SMS - an amount that was deducted whether one's SMS vote was sent through or not!

So after some deliberation, the pay-channel decided to recount the votes after all, this time including all the late SMSes too. Final tally? Jason received 1.3 million votes while Sasha Lee received 1.1 million.

My heart bleeds for both contestants, but especially for Jason. He won fair and square and yet now M-Net has decided to crown them both, since they felt that "the public loves them both". Nonsense, M-Net, you are just trying to save your red face. This means that they will now double the prizes to give them each a recording contract, a car, a laptop, etc. Okay, M-Net, since you claim to be the place 'where magic lives', what will you do to make up for the fact that Jason was supposed to have the magical experience of winning that night? What an anti-climax... and what a farce! (Then again, this pretty much sums up the South African definition of democracy, doesn't it?)

In the same spirit of sharing, the IEC has announced that Helen Zille and Jacob Zuma will share the precidency of South Africa...

May 07
2009

Calling all Phone Fanatics

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

redsaid
I'm working on a story about the HTC Dream cellphone (AKA the G1 or, more casually, the Google phone, since it runs the Google Android operating system) and I'd really like your help! (Please? *Pleadingly bats non-puppy dog eyes*)

It is now available in South Africa via MTN and I want to conduct an informal survey to find out if you find this phone dreamy enough to actually upgrade to it.

The features and specs include an 8.1cm TFT-LCD touch-sensitive screen with 480x320 resolution, a full qwerty keypad that can either slide or swivel for easier typing/texting, and a 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus. The HTC Dream also comes with Internet navigation controls below the touchscreen display and pre-loaded software supporting several of Google's most popular apps and services like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps and YouTube videos.

So what do you think, MTN customers? Would you be willing to shell out R529/month for a combined voice and data package with this phone? And if you aren't currently an MTN customer, would you consider leaving your current cellular service provider in order to get your hands on this handset?

What say you, oh MyDLers? Yay, or nay? Kindly RSVP in the comments below.
May 05
2009

A Little Porker in Honour of Cinco de Mayo

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

redsaid
Since I suffer from absolutely everything under the sun (except, of course, hypochondria), I feel feverishly compelled to devote some blog space to mentioning a topic that is currently hotter than ordinary strains of colds in winter. And it's even more fitting to mention, because today is Cinco de Mayo (the holiday celebrated by the Mexicans for beating the French at drinking shots ofTequila or something) and this particular thing has been the biggest export out of Mexico since Tequila and sambreros.

That's right, I'm finally talking about swine flu.

(Go on, admit it, you were sooo holding your breath that I would, weren't you? Oh, you weren't? Okay, never mind then.)

Yes, I know it's not officially called swine flu anymore. Sure, the Americans can try to rename it to sound more like a harmless robot from Star Wars so that Christians can continue to fearlessly devour strips of shiny, pink bacon with their eggs every morning, but as Shakespeare said: "A virus by any other name would be just as contagious." Or something not even remotely like that.

But back to the business at sweaty, trembling hand. This swine flu has really turned out to be a bit of a literal pain in the neck. My one imaginary friend is a physician and has said that, since news of the virus has spread across the Gulf of Mexico faster than a band of Mariachis playing an accelerated version of La Cucaracha, he has been pestered by patients plaguing him with questions and complaints about neck aches.

"It is all the fault of this swine flu," he said while twirling his stethoscope around his forefinger. (He likes to wear his stethoscope at all times. Apparently it's a bigger chick magnet than the gold chain he used to wear around his neck throughout med school.)

"How so?" I asked.

"Well, since the outbreak of the flu, they've all developed cricks in their necks from looking skywards so much.

"They wanted to see what it would look like when swine flew!"

Okay, so that story was a complete porker of lie. (Apart from the bit about Cinco de Mayo. Today really IS the fifth of May in Mexico. And whaddayaknow, what a coincidence. Here as well!)

So here's the true one. A real friend of mine happens to truly be a paediatrician in the States. He says that parents of his young patients who express concern about their children contracting the virus don't seem to grasp it when he tells them that they're likely only to come down with it when pigs fly...

I'm just surprised that he hasn't been sued yet for being so cheeky!

*Disclaimer: I realise that Swine Flu (AKA N1H1. See, doesn't that name make it sound more like it could be R2-D2's buddy droid in Star Wars?)... anyway, as I was saying: I realise that it's a serious, potentially fatal illness that has already killed too many people, but when I lived in their midst for almost a decade, I came to realise that Americans have a tendency to... shall we say... get a bit hysterical over things. During the West Nile Virus summer of 2004? They wouldn't let any Egyptians into the country... Or birds. Or mosquitoes.


May 03
2009

Vote, South Africa, VOTE!

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

redsaid
Is the title of this blog post evoking a bit of déjà vu? Don't worry, you aren't in some kind of time warp.

Neither, for a welcome change, am I.

Even though the presidential election is over and the fate of the country now sealed, we CAN still vote, South Africa! And we should!

I'm usually rather private about these things, but this time I'm proud to openly endorse my favourite candidate.

A lifelong resident of Cape Town, this candidate is world-renowned not only for possessing instantly recognisable, stunning looks, but also for being incredibly level-headed.

People have flocked from all across the globe in the hopes of catching a glimpse of my favourite candidate. The braver among these pilgrims even attempt to get close enough to touch.

Quietly keeping an eye on and reigning majestically over the Mother City, this candidate has inspired poetry, song, athleticism, romance and, I'm rather certain, even religion.

I really wish the name of this candidate could have been on the ballot of the South African presidential election, but unfortunately, in order to run for president, one has to be human (or pretend to be, as is the case with most of our elected officials).

However, the name of our beloved Table Mountain IS appearing on another important ballot: to become one of the world's new seven natural wonders.

There are over 30 other nominees, and for Table Mountain to get into the final seven, we all need to vote!

Voting will continue throughout 2010 and into 2011, but don't procrastinate, because if we want Table Mountain to get a shot at being among the final seven, we need to vote it into at least 11th position by 7 July 2009. Our flat top's current rank is 24, so we need to step it up, South Africans!

You can only vote once per e-mail address during every round. Vote by going to this link (http://www.new7wonders.com/nature/en/nominees/africa/c/TableMountainMountain/) or cast your vote via phone: +41 77 312 4041. (Remember though that it's an international, non-toll free number, so calling fees will apply!) After listening to the message, wait until the tone and then insert the three-digit code for our chosen nominee. In this case, of course, it is Table Mountain and the code, therefore, is 332. After that, you'll hear a message which will signal that you have completed voting.

Table Mountain was among the initial 430 nominations received from 224 different countries. Approximately half a million people participated in that nomination process during the first few months of the campaign.

If Table Mountain makes it to the short list of finalists, the New7Wonders World Tour will visit her to introduce her to voters around the world.

So get voting!!! Because really, you don't want me to start waxing lyrical about how the mountain is the Mother City's ample, mountainous bosom, do you? And how it is often modestly covered with a cloudy shawl...

P.S. And while you're in voting mode, kindly SMS 'Jason' to 34680 until 18h30 this evening! Yes, alas, I'm an unabashed Idols fan and Jason is by far my favourite. Since I don't have DStv myself, I undertake a pilgrimage to my sister's every Sunday. I have a bone to pick with MNET and Idols though: To vote via SMS cost R2 a pop. Which brings me to another point. Do MNET and DStv really have to turn EVERYTHING into a money-generating scheme for themselves? Why can't we get a toll-free number to dial to vote for our favourite Idol? Or why won't they allow us to vote online or via Mxit? Come on, MNET and DStv, your subscribers already pay through their ears for your (often repetitive) service, so making the voting process free is the LEAST you can do!

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