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Nov 24

Free At Last: Major Victory for the South African Telecommunications Industry

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 


I never thought I’d see the day, but I FINALLY approve of something that our Minister of (Anti) Communications, (Poison) Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, has done.


Or rather - to be more accurate - in this case, has NOT done.


The minister had until Friday afternoon to, again, appeal telecommunications group Altech’s court victory against her.


Earlier this year, Altech began taking the minister to court over her refusal to let them or any of the other value-added network services (VANS) receive individual-electronic communications network service (I-ECNS) licences.


If you are confused by all the acronyms... here it is in simple English. There are more than 600 VANS licensees in South Africa. Most of them are small voice and data carriers. Previously, only the major operators such as Telkom, Neotel and the cellular companies had the right to provide telecoms networks. This had forced the VANS to lease their backbone from those dominant players, thus artificially inflating bandwidth prices.


But I-ECNS licenses would finally give VANS the same rights to build telecommunications infrastructure and networks as those held by incumbent operators such as Telkom, Neotel, Vodacom, MTN and Cell C. Awarding them those licenses would finally fling open the doors of South Africa’s telecom industry to full-scale competition.


Which would at last mean lower prices to us consumers. And put a long-overdue end to Telkom’s monopoly.


Altech won the first few cases against her. That’s right, there was more than one trial, because since old Poinson Ivy probably owns a few thousand shares in Telkom, she couldn’t bare to put an end to the anti-competitive behaviour, and so she unsuccessfully appealed the rulings every step of the way.


On Friday, there was still a very real possibility that she would continue the fight to protect her unpopular policy of managed liberalisation, so the entire industry heaved a sigh of relief when she finally decided not to escalate the issue to the Supreme Court of Appeal.


Although I’m absolutely elated by the news, I still think Poison Ivy should be fired, since she has delayed this process for so long. Ministers, after all, are supposed to act in the interest of the people, and until Friday, she had only ever acted on behalf of Telkom and its shareholders. At the great expense of the people.


Now I just wonder how long it will take before we, the long-suffering South African telecommunications consumers, actually experience some drastic price cuts.


And most importantly, dare we hope that this new turn of events could finally signal the end of our restrictive Internet caps?

Nov 22

My last-minute WantItAll Nomination: A guy who is much stronger than his body

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 


When my aunt and uncle held their newborn son in their arms, they counted his tiny toes and fingers and heaved a sigh of relief that he had ten of each, all perfectly formed. After all, to them, the presence of those digits signified normalcy.


The first few months of his life went by in the usual bliss of babyhood. All milky burbs, long naps, eating, bathing, being cleaned, changed, cooed over and just generally being waited upon by his beaming parents and grandparents.


By the time the sole candle on the cake heralded his first birthday, they were mildly concerned that he didn’t seem to be developmentally quite on par with his peers.


But perhaps, they thought, he was merely a late bloomer.


Eventually, when they realised that he had the will to move and walk, but that his tiny body simply wouldn’t cooperate, their niggling worry of before had turned into full-blown alarm.


Exhaustive rounds of visits to doctors and specialists followed. And when he was around two years old, his parents received a devastating, soul-destroying blow. Johan was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, the genetic disorder which causes the muscle in the human body to degenerate.


The doctors were grim in their prognosis, predicting that my cousin would be in a wheelchair before the age of 10.


And since the heart is a muscle too, they said, he probably wouldn’t live to see the dawn of adulthood at 21.


That was almost 33 years ago.


On the 13th of August this year, Johan celebrated his 35th birthday. He has outlived a younger sister, who died from the same awful illness when she was just 24 years old.


He also didn’t get into his ‘wheels’ (as he refers to his wheelchair) until he was already in his mid-teens. By that time, the pain simply exceeded his stubborn determination to defy all the odds.


These days, he is mostly bed-ridden and on oxygen. But until last year, he still held down a job. Sure, it was only part-time, but I know that job made him feel worthy and useful and… yes… normal.


But let us not dare to feel sorry for him! Because he is so much more than this disease. He is clever, hilariously funny, and so infuriatingly stubborn. In short, a human being to be admired.


And THAT is why I want to nominate him to be the recipient of the WantItAll giveaway. Now, I don’t WantItAll for him because of his illness, but because I have yet to meet someone able-bodied and healthy who possesses even an ounce of his grace.

I also want to give this to him, because of the amazing generousity he displays to those of us who love him. I know he fights for US, so that we can get more precious time with him.


Since he is mostly bedridden these days, and since I live so far from him, I would like for us to always be in touch with the Boost Mobile i776 Prepaid cell phone. The speaker phone and voice-activated dialling will enable him to call me without even having to lift up the handset.


Priced at R1 746, this is a Category 3 product.

For those days that he is well enough to be wheeled to the home computer in his father's study, I would also like for him to receive the Microsoft LifeCam VX-3000 (68A-00001) (A category 1 product at R497.) Again, this is a purely selfish gift from my side. I don't want to sound morbid, but I am so desperate to make the most of every remaining minute with him. Unfortunately I live far away from him, but since this webcam also has a built-in microphone which will enable us to chat face-to-face, it will definitely help to shrink the geographic distance between us.


Of course, I’d much MUCH rather give him the most priceless possession of all: excellent health...

Nov 17

TroopTube: A South African married to a US Marine weighs in

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

More than a decade has elapsed since the night their eyes had locked across a crowded basement club in downtown Washington, D.C., and during that time, South African Nicky M and her US Marine, who I shall just refer to as A, have already endured more than a lifetime's worth of separation.

But on that July night in 1997 - before A swooped in with his cute, closely cropped hair and irresistible broad grin and swept my friend off her feet amidst the din of the pulsing music; and years before Bush's ill-advised wars would forcibly turn theirs into a long-distance marriage - Nicky and I were simply carefree, single South African women in our mid-twenties, eagerly lapping up all that a vibrant city in the first world had to offer.

I used to joke that everything happens at a much faster pace in the States, which is why Nicky and A fell for each other so quickly and so hard.

I'm rather ashamed to admit this, but as Nicky's friend, I was at first rather skeptical of the whole affair. For one, Marines - especially those who pick up foreign girls in nightclubs - are notorious for being players.

And also? Nicky was due to return to South Africa in less than a year's time.

But no amount of trying to talk her out of possible heartbreak could stop her from loving her Marine. And luckily A proved himself by rising above the stereotypical image of playboy Marine with his unbelievable devotion to her.

So by the time Nicky did leave the States in 1998 to come home, they were already committed to each other and determined that no amount of geographical distance would tear them apart.

I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been. Of course they employed every means of technology available to them to stay in contact. (And from South Africa's side, where Internet access was still rather slow, limited and expensive, this was no mean feat.)

After she had been home for some time, they made plans to reunite in person. Either he was going to travel to South Africa, or he was going to get her back to the States somehow... but then the terrorists crashed into the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia.

Says Nicky: "After 9/11, he was given orders to come to Camp Pendleton and then he was training to deploy. He deployed in 2003 for the first time, and in 2004, when he got back, he said he would pay for my plane ticket, but I first had to sort out my visa. I never saw him again until 2005."

Fast forward to November 2008. Nicky, now a real-life 'Army Wife', is alone in their home in Oceanside, near the Marine Corps base of Camp Pendleton, California. She and A, who has since been promoted to Master Sergeant, finally got married in 2007, so technically they are still newlyweds.  Yet, for the past three months, he has been back in Iraq on his fourth(!) deployment since the war began.

He won't be home for Christmas either. In fact, Nicky won't see her husband again until March 2009.

Last week, more than a year after the US military banned their deployed personnel from using social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and video sites like YouTube due to security issues, the Pentagon announced that it has come up with TroopTube, allowing troops to send video messages to their loved ones back home.

I chatted to Nicky to find out if A had used it yet. It was the first time she had even heard of it. I sent her the link.

"General Petraeus uses it, so it must be good," she said.

Propelled by the possibility of seeing his face again, she said she was going to ask A about it.

So how do they stay in touch then?

Daily. A has free access to satphone, so they speak for 30 minutes every day at around noon her time, which is before he goes to bed. Nicky says the connection is clear.

Other than the calls, they use good old-fashioned e-mail. They do have VoIP service Skype, but never use it because being online at the same time is a bit of a logistical nightmare due to, amongst other things, the vast time difference between California and Iraq.

"Is he at least a good e-mailer?" I asked.

"Oh yes. He doesn't just write a short one. He obviously can't go into detail about what they are doing, but he always tells me what he is able to about his day and the food they eat."

And for now, those daily missives and a voice beamed via satellite from the other side of the world, has to be enough to feed their love.

I think, considering what they have already been through, it will be. 
Nov 14

MTN wants to finally come 2MyAid (and yours)

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

Whether one loathes them or loves them, one has to admit that Vodacom is usually strides ahead of the competition when it comes to launching new services.

Even though, admittedly, some of their ideas are a bit hare-brained at times...

Months after the launch of their Look4Me - a service allowing Vodacom subscribers to use their mobile phones to track any other consenting Vodacom customer - rival cellular provider MTN has finally launched their own version.

Called WhereRU and 2MyAid, it also allows users to keep tabs on the whereabouts of up to ten other consenting MTN users. (All would-be stalkers take note: the operative word here is "consenting"!)

When a consumer requests the location of a person, they will receive an SMS with an accurate, written description of the location. The service is available 24 hours a day and can be used with any type of cell phone.

2MyAid basically turns the subscriber's cell phone into a panic button. When the panic mode is activated, it will send a distress sms to four predetermined emergency contacts. The SMS will explain that assistance is required and contain the details of the sender's location.

According to MTN's General Manager for MTN SA's Consumer Segment, Donovan Smith, MTN launched the service because they understand that crime continues to be a "contentious issue" in South Africa and safety is an important aspect in the life of every South African citizen. "The MTN WhereRU and 2MyAid services are able to offer consumers an easy and affordable way to locate loved ones or ask for help in an emergency."

MTN WhereRU and MTN 2MyAid cost R12.49 each per month, making it almost a Rand more expensive than Vodacom's Look4Me monthly subscription fee of R11.70. (Just goes to show once again: even fear of crime pays!)

Now, call me cynical, but although I appreciate two of our cellular service providers' mock-sincerity for our safety, I can't help but think that other services would be far more useful to us: such as carrying over our unused - and super expensive - leftover data on our 3g Internet from month to month, instead of letting it expire after 30 days, as is the case now.

But of course they won't! Because that would be way too useful to us, their through-the-nose-paying customers.

Nov 12

So now you'll know if that dude you've been gmailing...

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

... really IS a dude!

I don't know if main VoIP player Skype is trembling at this news (perhaps they ought to be), but Google has just announced that they are also entering the voice and video chat domain.

This new freebie feature enables all Gmail account holders with webcams and microphones to chat to their far-flung online buddies/friends/relatives/business associates face to face, conveniently from within Gmail.

The only requirements for using it are having a webcam/microphone (Gmail kindly pimps various US-priced Logitech models on their 'learn more about voice and video chat' page), installing this plug-in (which seems to be small enough in size for those of us who operate under the barbaric bandwidth constraints imposed on us by our South African Anti-Communications Minister, Poison Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri - who, we suspect, is one ofTelkom's main shareholders - therefore we can install it without breaking our miniscule bandwidth limits and, subsequently, our banks), and lastly, having the sort of face people won't mind being subjected to whenever they communicate with you on Gmail...  

(This latter requirement, sadly, excludes me. In fact, I'm so insecure about myself, I can't even bring myself out of invisibility mode on Gtalk!)

Early reviews of the new voice and video Gmail chat feature seem to be favourable. Comparisons to Skype are obviously inevitable, but so far Gmail's seems to be winning with famous tech bloggers weighing in thusly: "This is obviously a big jab at Skype. With VoIP and video chat functionality in Gmail’s familiar surroundings, many users will feel less need to ever use Skype. Sure, Skype’s client has a ton more options than Gmail’s simple video chat, but many users will prefer Gmail for precisely that reason."

Nov 07

SA Voter Registration Weekend - Let's End Apathy

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

Barack Obama's miraculous and wonderful election victory in the US earlier this week has reignited a flame of hope and passion inside of me.

As I read through all the elated e-mails from friends back in Washington, D.C. (which, until three years ago, had been my home for almost a decade), I sensed the same excitement among them.

I responded to their e-mails by telling them how the rest of the world is sharing in their joy. How we are proud that they have come through to make the right decision.

"The elation you Americans are experiencing right now," I wrote back in response, "is reminiscent of the joy and hope we felt here in South Africa in April 1994, when Mandela became our first democratic President-Elect."

Do you remember it too? How the air was almost electric, literally crackling with all the hope? How Madiba magic swept the nation and the world? Whether one had voted ANC or not, one couldn't help but feel hopeful too. It was contagious.

What I omitted to say in my e-mail - I didn't want to rain on anyone's parade - was how that burning flame of hope had subsequently been snuffed out of South Africans, courtesy of crime, corruption, loved ones fleeing to safety in far-flung places, ripping families apart at the seams... How the hope had turned to ashes of downright hopelessness, despair, fury and - eventually - even apathy.

But then Obama was elected almost against all odds, and I realised that if THEY can affect change, perhaps we can again too. After all, we've done it before!

In an almost happy coincidence, hot on the heels of Obama's victory, this weekend is voter registration here in South Africa.

I have only voted once - in 1994. It was the first and last time I was eligible to vote in a South African election. Because when you relocate abroad for anything other than military service, diplomacy or studies, you aren't allowed to vote in a South African election. Yes, it infuriates me that South African ex-pats aren't allowed to vote. But hey, I am back now so I CAN and I plan to exercise my right.

So I'll be registering this weekend.

This morning, I spoke to my sister's two housekeepers. They are lovely women. Filled with humour and wisdom both conventional and unconventional! "Are you registered?" I asked them as I was stirring my coffee.

"No. We have never voted, nor do we EVER plan to vote."

I almost choked on my first sip of coffee. I couldn't believe my ears! "Why on earth not?"

They proceeded to tell me how their votes won't make a difference anyway, how they - and I quote - "Don't want to line the pockets of useless politicians who don't keep their promises anyway."

Their apathy scares the living daylights out of me, because I realise that there are millions of South Africans who feel the same way they do.

I tried explaining to them how important this is. How nothing will ever change or improve if we don't make it happen and how we can start by voting. I was met with blank stares and indifferent shrugs.

However, I'm not done with them. I'm driving them insane ("Do it for your kids!" "Do it for electricity!" "For more money!" I shout at them whenever I see them), for I'm nothing if not persistent. I also plan to drive them to our local voting station.

If you are a South African citizen over the age of 16 with a valid ID, here's how to become a registered voter this weekend:

- Register in person at the voting station in the voting district where you live during general voter registration. This means that, if you have moved since the last election, you have to register again.
- You can call the IEC Call Centre on 080011 8000 to check where to register at your voting station.
- Or click this link which is designed to assist a voter to find a map of the correct voting station at which he or she should register and vote. (Note that the Independent Electoral Committee's website is, annoyingly, only compatible with Internet Explorer (4 and up), but they are working to fix this gross oversight.)
- Voter registration weekend is this weekend, 8-9 November 2008. Voting stations open at 08:00 and stay open until 17:00.
- Register any time during business hours at your local Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
- Find a List of Municipal Electoral Officers on the IEC website under contact details or go to this link.
- Take your ID with you.
- Complete the relevant application form.
- The registration officer will attach a sticker in your ID with the voting district's number on it.
- You are responsible for checking your details on the voters roll before an election.
- SMS your ID number to 32810 to check whether you are registered.

Let's do this, South Africa! Let's get our country back on track!

Rock the vote in '09!

Nov 03

Sir (or lady? or Bot?) Spamalot Strikes Again... And I Am To Blame!

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

"Hrrr*! A message you have!"

There are not many sounds in life that makes one feel as acknowledged and special as logging onto My Digital Life and hearing that.

Especially on a loathed and dreaded Monday morning.

However, this morning the feeling of delightful anticipation quickly turned into puzzled disappointment.

Because when we entered our inboxes, there was not even one unread message. Never mind the unusual two (TWO!) that I had been promised!

It was kind of like being asked out on a blind date, and then getting all dressed up and working yourself into a frenzied fit of excitement and anticipation...

... Only to be stood up on the big night.

Being renowned for my stupidity regarding all things technological, I immediately assumed that I was perhaps doing something wrong. That the unread messages WERE there, but that I had perhaps pressed a button I shouldn't have, thus somehow misplacing the unread messages.

Trust me, I DO have a strange gift to misplace or even forever LOSE important computer documents.

I simply couldn't accept that I didn't really have any messages or comments from my two imaginary-yet-adoring readers!

A glance over at the Shout Box quickly solved the mystery. Dissol explained that a spammer was to blame.

However, since I was already in martyr mode this morning, I would like to tell you all that *I* am the one to blame. No, no... before you virtually stone me or... heaven forbid!... ban me, let me just make clear that I am not the spammer. I can hardly send one e-mail at a time under the best of circumstances! THAT is how technologically unsavvy I am.

So why then am I taking indirect responsibility for this? Well, a while ago I decided to try and apply the principles of The Secret on my life. And one of the things I had hoped I would magically summon and attract into my life simply by fervently wishing for it was to be "Absolutely spammed with comments on my My Digital Life blog!"

I guess one has to be careful what one wishes for!

*I have no idea how else to translate that grunt!
Oct 31

Pumpkin Time!

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

Just to prove to you all that my ill-advised almost-decade spent in the United States wasn't ALL for naught, here is the knowledge I had gained about Halloween while misspending my youth there.

For those of you not yet schooled in this utterly useless Northern Hemisphere holiday - for how could it possibly be called a holiday if we all have to go to work and school? - allow me to fill you in on the jargon.

Halloween 101.

Pumpkin: Strange-looking, orange, plump vegetable (Hey, that's me!!), despised by children worldwide when cooked and appearing undisguised on their dinner plates. Also a pet name regularly employed by the newly in love when cooing at one another, or by doting grandparents when addressing their little genius grandchildren. It falls under the same category as "honey bunny", etc.

Jack-o'-lantern: The first kind of pumpkin mentioned above (no, not me! The other one), only this time it's hollow inside and carved into a supposedly scary face. It's placed on the front porches of American homes on Halloween night with lit candles inside, causing the "face" on the pumpkin to be illuminated. Hence the 'lantern' bit in the name. While it's supposed to have a frightening effect, I believe that one can see scarier things in broad daylight on any given day in the U.S., e.g. George W. Bush, John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Jack-o is another name for Michael Jackson, that white black guy. (Also: Wacko Jack-o.) Seriously though, still trying to figure out who Jack really is. Will let you know during Halloween 202.

Pumpkin Pie: Again, above-mentioned veggie. This time, however, it's been transformed into such a yummy dessert that it can even be fed to unsuspecting children.

Halloween Costume: One's choice of fashion for the night of 31 October. Traditional choices are witches' garb (some gals don't need the dress to act the part, though!) and goblin gear. Newsworthy characters, like Sarah Palin facemasks, are apparently selling like hotcakes this year. Scary, hey? But then again, it IS Halloween.

Trick: No, not contorting yourself into mind-boggling shapes, juggling with your feet, or showing off how your dog can roll over and bark through its nose. It's not that kind of trick. During Halloween, tricks are threats by costume clad beings who knock on your door on Halloween night expecting to get treats. (See Treats.)

Tricks are traditionally annoying pranks like throwing toilet paper onto front lawns and trees. It's called rolling and works on the same principle as throwing streamers. Only, the mess is greater. There are also awful egg throwing stints which result in bigger disasters. Luckily for neighbourhood misers, tricks have been phased out for the most part since the 1980s. Now it's more of a traditional saying than a real threat. Besides, how seriously would you take a threat from a pint-size goblin?

Treats: SWEETS! LOTS of sweets. The best part of Halloween for young and old alike. Also known as candy in the United States.

Trick or treat: What costume-clad beings say when they knock at your door. See above definitions. Also can be used in the following magnificent piece of poetry chanted by children:
"Trick or treat,
Smell my feet,
Give me something good to eat."

Okay, that was Halloween 101. Now you know almost all there is to know about it. Stay tuned for Halloween 202.

Seriously though, according to most encyclopaedias, the origins of Halloween date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, celebrated approximately 2 000 years ago in what are now the United Kingdom and northern France. It was celebrated on 31 October, to mark the beginning of their New Year (on 1 November), the end of the harvest and the start of the long winter, a season also associated with the end of human life.

They believed that the spirits of those who died during the past year returned to the earth and roamed the streets on Samhain, and that the lines between the living and dead therefore became blurred.

In order to honour the spirits, believed to cause trouble, they built huge bonfires, made offerings to the spirits, wore costumes (mostly consisting of animal skins and heads - very hip during that time) and told each other's fortunes (as whispered to them by the spirits).

Later, after the Romans took over most of the land, they continued commemorating the passing of the dead on a day in late October.

Eventually, with Christianity spreading into the area, it's widely believed and reported that the Roman Catholic Church established All Saint's Day on 1 November in order to replace the Celtic and Roman festivals of the dead with a church-sanctioned holiday. It was called All-hallows day (derived from an 'Olde' English word meaning All Saint's Day). 31 October became known as All-hallows Eve. Say that very fast a few times in a row and it becomes - aye, aye, fine lords and ladies! - Halloween! (All right, with a bit of imagination. You get my drift though.)

A few centuries later, the church turned 2 November into All Souls' Day, a day to still honour the dead. It ended up being celebrated in the same way as the original Samhain. Because they so enjoyed naming things and were constantly inventing new words, those three celebrations together became known as Hallowmas.

The American tradition of trick or treating apparently also date back to those days, when the poor begged for food during the All Souls' Day Parade. The wealthy, or rather, wealthier, would give them a type of cake or bread known as Soul Cakes, so named because the poor promised to pray for the souls of the deceased relatives of the wealthy.

The tradition of dressing up in ghoulish outfits also date back from that time, when it was believed that you would most certainly encounter ghosts on the streets when leaving your house. So, the living, always being one step ahead of the dead (hopefully), decided to dress like ghosts themselves, so as not to be recognised or picked on by the real ones.

Food was placed outside the homes as a further deterrent to the ghosts. They hoped that the food would please the ghosts, thus preventing them from haunting their houses.

The tradition swept over the Atlantic with the first immigrants to the United States, where it spread and evolved over the years into what it is today.

There you have it.

Go forth into the world with your newfound, utterly useless knowledge and haunt others with it!

Oct 22

Vodacom Introduces New Service

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

I don't know about you, but I'm not a particularly good text message sender.

For one, I have an ANCIENT Nokia. Really, the thing is a conversation starter. Whenever I pull it out of my handbag - and it is the size of an actual brick and weighs about the same as one, so there really is some pulling involved - people notice and literally stop dead in their tracks.

People over a certain age almost always heave a nostalgic sigh and say: "I used to have a phone EXACTLY like that! Yeah, it was my very first phone and it was when dinosaurs still roamed the earth."

To which I growl: "I hope they paid through their noses (snouts?) for that roaming!"

People below a certain age just about die laughing. Really, at this rate, the teenage population in Stellenbosch might be extinct soon. "That's not like, a REAL phone, is it?"

Anyway, so this vintage phone doesn't exactly enhance my sms experience. Because, you know, it was made in the day when cell phones were actually created for - isn't this novel - TALKING! It doesn't have word recognition and when I need to type two letters on the same number key, I have to wait about a minute before I can do so.

And heaven forbid if I have to scroll back to check my message or to delete something. I can only scroll sideways. Letter by letter. Line by line. No quick up and down for me, oh no. It is s-l-o-w. It's actually much faster to just delete the whole damn thing and just start over. Luckily I can only send 160 characters at a time. So no double messages from me!

But I have to confess: It's not merely the phone's fault that I'm a slow text message sender. I am one of those idiots who write out entire words. Because I just HATE txt spk. So no c u 2nite from me. I am so averse to it, I can't even bring myself to LOL during Internet chat. No, baby, when you amuse me, I hahahahahaha verbosely at you.

Vodacom must've suspected that people like me exist (hahahaha! I called myself a person!), because they've just introduced a new service. It's called SVS (Short Voice Service).

According to their press release it is "a voice-based message service that enables Vodacom customers to send a 30-second voice message to any other Vodacom customer's cell phone without having to talk to them."

In order to use it, you dial # followed by the other Vodacom user's normal number (i.e. #082 123 4567). A voice prompt welcomes you to the service and then you can leave your message. About 25 seconds in, it gives a succession of beeps to let you know that your time is almost up.

The recipient will receive an SMS to let them know that they've received an SVS. They'll have to dial #99 to receive it. It is free of charge for them. The sender is billed R0.90 (VAT included) at all times of the day. Good news is that the service is free to use until 9 November 2008. And it's for all Vodacom customers, including pre-paid and top-up users.

I have just tried it. My mom was my 'victim' - if you know me in person or if you've ever spoken to me over the phone, you'll know how unfortunate the sound of my voice is. And yes, it's certainly convenient. Yes, I felt a bit of pressure (YOU ONLY HAVE 30 SECONDS! The voice in my head reminded me with loud glee, causing me to get phone fright. Then again, I break out in a sweat when I have to leave a voice mail message for someone, so don't mind my neuroses too much), but all in all, it IS so much more convenient to speak than having to type, especially on MY brick... I mean... VINTAGE phone.

However, I don't know if I'll be a regular user of it. For one, after the regular billing kicks in on the 10th of November, it will be somewhat pricier than sending a text. Also, I'm bugged that you have to dial # before the person's number. I don't know about you, but I don't know anyone's number off by heart. So this means that I'll have to write down the number before I can dial it with the # in front.

So, it seems that my Nokia and I will spend many painful hours. Slowly. Sending. Text. Messages. Into. Infinite. And. Beyond.
Oct 15

Please W(h)ISP-er My Name

Posted by redsaid in Untagged 

Should someone ever write a biography about me (oh, don't ask why anyone would bother, just go with me here), they might as well call it: A Life Online.

I'm well suited to this life. For one, I'm a natural redhead, which means that my complexion and the sun aren't friends. At all. In fact, I hardly glance in the general direction of the sun and I spontaneously combust and burst into thousands of freckles. *SHUDDERS*

Not a pretty sight, I assure you.

So the soft glow of the laptop screen illuminating my profile is really the best (and ONLY) light I need. Besides, apart from keeping the much despised freckles at bay, it is way more flattering to my general appearance.

I love it here, online. I know you do too. And why wouldn't we? We literally have the world at our fingertips! With all the knowledge it has to offer! For free!

Only, here in South Africa it ISN'T free. With our country's barbaric practice of cruelly capping our Internet usage (and really, as far as I'm concerned, that is an absolute human rights violation), my 'little' Internet habit* has been costing me DEARLY.

So I have to make a plan. And quick. Which is why I've been looking into getting a WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider). A list of them can be found here.

Since most of the WISPs rig a satellite dish to the roof, I had to ask my landlord's permission. Apparently my impassioned plea of how unlimited access to uncapped Internet is absolutely crucial to my survival (melodramatic, MOI?), was enough to convince him.

Not only that, but apparently I've sold him on the idea. So we are looking into sharing a connection. Uninet, the WISP we've been looking into, said that sharing won't be a problem (since my place is attached to - and technically a part of - my landlord's house.) However, they say they don't normally deal with internal networking, but that we can always get an internal router.

This is where they've lost me. (Hey, I never actually claimed to KNOW anything about being online! I just want to BE here. All the time!) So can anyone kindly translate this into English? And tell me about cost?

Anyone else have any experience with Uninet or any other WISPS? Please share! Good or... yes... bad.

* I wouldn't call something that is so good for me an addiction, now would you? (Never mind the fact that my mouse finger begins to twitch uncontrollably when I venture more than five steps away from my laptop.)

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