New Page : Things to do (and beers to try) in South Africa

Posted on June 30, 2011

I have added a new page to the blog, Things to do (and beers to try).

From time to time (and not enough) I have posted about cool things to see and do, from riding Segway at Spier to driving the awesome Blokarts on the beach. So last night I added the page to start. Hopefully in time it acts as a useful resource to those looking for cool stuff to do, and as a reminder to me of the things I have done and wish to do. Got cool stuff to do, share it. Have a different view on something written, share that too.

Onto Beer

Over the years whenever I have been in the UK I have really enjoyed their beer.  Not the bottled stuff available in the franchised bars, but the hand pumped “Real Ale” in the privately owned public house – Bitter beer. Thank’s to my mate Steve for the introduction.

The closest I have come to finding it in South Africa is “Kilkenny” available at most pubs that serve Guinness. It is a poor second cousin to some of the better English bitters but I still drink and enjoy it. I even had the privilege of drinking the “real” Kilkenny at a pub near the brewery in Ireland.

So now let us begin the quest to document “real” beer in South Africa. To visit, taste and enjoy as many of these local beers from the small guys as we can.

The page is always on the menu at the top of the page, so click through there, or here : Things to do (and beers to try)


Which Kindle to buy as a South African (updated May 2012)

Posted on June 30, 2011

I have posted a few times in the last little while around my challenges in buying ebooks from Kalahari, then on converting ebooks for use on the Kindle, and more generally on buying ebooks in South Africa.

In response to one of these posts I received a question from Henriet van Rhyn, covering the most obvious question which I hadn’t covered : “Please advise which Kindle to buy, seeing that there are so many versions available on Amazon these days. ”

I answered in the the comments to the post where Henriet posted the question, and after some thought decided it makes more sense to convert this into a full blown post. So below I repeat what I had put into the comments, with a few minor adjustments and ammendments.

Looking at Amazon on  29 June 2011 (Updated 25 May 2012)  (as a South African), there are 5 (were 3) different Kindles to choose from. I don’t bother listed local re-sellers as I haven’t found any of them to be competitive and Amazon just make it so easy to order from them.

  • Kindle (WiFi) = $109  (6″ screen) (was $139)
  • Kindle Touch (WiFi) = $139 (6″ screen) (newly available)
  • Kindle Touch 3G = $189 (6″ screen) (newly available)
  • Kindle Keyboard (3G+WiFi) = $189 (6″ screen) (unchanged price)
  • Kindle DX (3G+WiFi) = $379 (9.7″ screen)
  • Kindle Fire is still not available in South Africa

As a USA resident you would also have the option of buying an advert subsidised Kindle for $114. This model is pretty much the same as the WiFi version ($139) but with adverts displayed at various points. Since this is not an international version and can’t be purchased here in SA I don’t cover this any further.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daniel Cuthbert presenting at ISACA KZN Chapter meeting at Deloitte on 15 July 2011

Posted on June 28, 2011

The next meeting of the ISACA KZN Chapter will be held on Friday 15th July at Deloitte’s offices on La Lucia Ridge.  Please spread the word and make every effort to attend.

KZN regional chapter meeting

  • Date : 15 July 2011
  • Venue : Deloitte’s offices on La Lucia Ridge
  • Speaker : Daniel Cuthbert
  • Topic : “Doing it for the Lulz : Why Lulzsec has shown us to be an ineffective industry.”
    • Daniel will be talking on current activities in information security, web hacking and how to protect yourselves.

Confirmation of attendance

As always, please confirm your attendance with Nadine on 011-803 0803 or a few days ahead of time.


Don’t get your hopes up, your mobile device probably won’t be supported by Drifta anyway

Posted on June 23, 2011

A lot of people having been waiting in (vain) hope of being able to watch DSTV on their mobile phones (other than iPhones). Information and updates on progress on getting the promised clients for Nokia, Blackberry and Android has varied between slow and non-existent. The “promises” of 1 April 2011, 30 May 2011, Early 2011 etc have all been broken and no new real information or deadlines provided.

A user by the name of “eel” posted on the 13th June on the forum (link here) : (slightly edited)

  • There is an Android client in the works (no timeline yet)
  • There is a blackberry client in the works ( no time line yet)
  • There is a Nokia S60 version in the works (sooner than the other 2, but will only be ready when the coding is done). This version will utilise the Drifta with wifi support but the CPU needs to be above 700mhz.

I don’t know who “eel” is or how reliable his information is. However, if it is true, then it will come as a shock to many Nokia users, myself included. Very few Nokia’s run at a speed of 700mhz or above. In fact, I am not sure that ANY released before the Drifta itself was released in fact run at that speed.

The Nokia E71 runs at 381Mhz, the N95 at 330Mhz, the E72 runs at 600Mhz, N97 runs at 434Mhz. So speed requirement is true, then only Nokia S60 phones released in late 2010/2011 like the N8 and E7 (only 680Mhz) may well work with the Drifta.

So I don’t hold out much hope then as my E71 is well below the requirement. Wish they had just told me this long ago.

This also makes me worry about which Blackberry Devices will be compatible with the Drifta.  The 8520 runs as 512Mhz, as does the 8900. The 9700,9780 and Torch all runs at 624Mhz. Maybe they will just be able to squeeze this to work? Still, most people have the 8520 so this doesn’t look promising.

A lot of the current Android devices run at 1Ghz or more, so it is far more likely that Android users will have a happier experience if the client gets released for them.

I wish DSTV would just come out and say what is planned. The waiting sucks when after the wait you still probably won’t be able to use the device you want when the clients eventually get released. Maybe that is the plan after all? If you wait long enough the devices people have will have caught up with the specifications you actually require but never told them? Too much conspiracy theory in there, but don’t say I never said it.


Buying eBooks in South Africa

Posted on June 19, 2011

There are a number of different eBook stores you can make use of in South Africa and abroad. Here we look at some of the features and pricing of these stores.

I list Angry Robot first as they are DRM free, and then the rest of the SA based bookstores. Amazon can never be excluded as so many have Kindles (awesome reader) and their reach is so wide (Kindle software works on so many devices).

  • Angry Robot (UK Based) – Good source of Sci Fi books. The only one of the stores listed that don’t DRM your books (big big plus). You can read them on any of your devices (use Calibre to convert them if you need another format).  Support them.
  • – Wide range of books, including local South African titles. Prices not always great, do a match with Amazon first before buying. Mostly in ePub Adobe Editions (DRM) format. They have their own “Beta software” reader which you are pushed into using. It’s OK but nothing special and not close to the Kindle.
  • (USA Based) – Wide range of books, not too many South African books. We are relegated to buying from the “Africa” region store which prices books $2 about the USA price and restricts us from buying many of the latest titles. Titles come in Kindle format, with DRM. Many devices support kindle software, including iPad/phone/touch, Android devices, Blackberries etc.
  • Exclusives online – Mixed selection of ebooks. Also uses Adobe DRM, though you use the standard Adobe client rather than a customised version (as per Kalahari). Seems slightly cheaper than Kalahari. See examples below.
  • Little White Bakkie – A site focussed on African ebooks. Again it uses Adobe DRM through digital editions and like Exclusives you use the standard Adobe client. Our test book , The Girl who kicked the hornet’s nest, was not available and books seemed to generally sell for between R120 and R200 which is a little pricey for ebooks, though on par with Kalahari.
  • eBookDiva – A site focused on Romance fiction. Yes, they have Mills & Boon, as well as all sorts of other romance novels. Prices range from R210 for a set of 3 Mills & Boon to much cheaper less known authors. They have 1615 titles under R45 and 165 under R20. If this is your thing check them out. It also seems you can write your own books and get them published. Haven’t checked this out in any detail.  As with most of the other South African sites their books are in the Adobe (DRM) ePub format.

Read the rest of this entry »

Converting your ebooks to read on your kindle

Posted on June 18, 2011

Those who read my post from yesterday will know I was frustrated with the process for buying books on and with the frustration of having to use their proprietary “Beta” software reader which would only work on my laptop but not on my Kindle. I wanted to read “Killing Kebble” on the kindle and couldn’t (Update 13 July, it’s now on Amazon).  Here is how to do it.

I am a long time fan of Calibre as an “iTunes for Kindle” application that will manage your library of books and covert them into the required format for most devices you can think of. It also handles downloading of web sites and making them into “mini magazines” for you to read any place any time. Really great software.

How does this help?

Well when buying books from non-Amazon stores they could be delivered in a number of different formats. epub is a common format for online publishers. Just be careful though. Not all epubs (or ebooks) are created equal and many that you buy will have embedded DRM that stops you using them when where and as you please.

A case in point, ebooks from and Exclusive books online make use of an Adobe DRM solution.

There is however a solution. Read the rest of this entry »

When the simple isn’t – Buying ebooks on Kalahari

Posted on June 17, 2011

For a while now I have been wanting to read Mandy Wiener’s “Killing Kebble”. Having just finished Lauren Beukes’ two books, Moxyland and Zoo City on my Kindle it was time.

Lauren’s books weren’t available on Amazon for Kindle, but she provided a useful hint in that the eBooks can be purchased from for £4.49 each, so around R100 for the pair. They come down in epub format and are quickly converted to work on the Kindle using the excellent Calibre (best friend of every Kindle owner).  Simple, quick and you can be reading in just a few minutes.


Killing Kebble is available from as an e-book in epub format. Yay. Or so I thought. I paid the R105, got the sms on my phone confirming they had the money, and waited. Scavenged, looked. Mmmm. No download link, found a link to my “Library Box” where I found my purchased. Happily flagged with a status of “new”. Yes, I just bought it so I guess it is new. Still no download link, I click the “show only products to download”, nothing shows up. Odd I thought. Clicked the “More information” action button to be instructed to download Kalahari’s (Beta) e-reader, create an account on and a whole lot of stuff.

Bugger. I just bought a DRM’ed book. What the heck. Ok, so I want to read the book, let’s see how this works. I downloaded the 20 Meg reader, installed it, had a failed Adobe Air install. Loaded the reader, Air installed again and worked. Created the account on (do I really need to give them ALL my personal details, so many people have been hacked recently I am more nervous to hand these out). Finally all installed and ready and …

Read the rest of this entry »

Minor update for Microsoft Image Composite Editor now at version 1.4.4

Posted on June 09, 2011

A few days ago Microsoft Research Labs released a small update to Microsoft Image Composite Editor (MS ICE), now available as 1.4.4. The “new features” listed on the website are a little misleading and are the features listed are unchanged from the previous 1.4.3 release.

From the release notes in the forums the follow changes are noted for 1.4.4 :

  • Installer checks for minimum version # of C++ runtime
  • Fixed issue with videos that contain a crop rectangle
  • Color manage the thumbnail image for Upload to Photosynth
  • Added “(Windows 7 only)” to video panorama menu item
  • Added % done indication in the progress bar

As can be seen nothing major has been changed, mostly cosmetic and install related matters.

Update : It seems a number of users are experiencing problems using the tool after the update, the problems range from it not loading at all to having poor results with the stitching. These have been reported in the forums and are still be worked on. Probably best to hold off on the upgrade until these have been resolved unless you are prepared to uninstall and moved back to 1.4.3 if you experience the problems.

If you haven’t used MS Ice before take a look at my previous posts on the tool.

  • Info on release 1.4.3 and some tests of the awesome video panorama feature (click here)
  • View from my lounge (click here)
  • The Gautrain station in Sandton, taken from a Blackberry Bold (click here)

You can read the new frequently asked questions (FAQ) posted here.

I know I have said it many times before, but this really is an awesome tool, and for the price (FREE) you cannot beat it. It is simple to use and produces stunning results. Give it a go, it is really impressive, especially with used in conjunction with

Have fun.

Drifta client 1.3.1 released : Includes Mac OS X client?

Posted on June 08, 2011

DSTV Drifta client version 1.3.1 has now been released.  This time there is no associated firmware update. Compared to version 1.2.11 there is one interesting difference.

When opening up the .zip file downloaded, there are two folders

  • Decoder_1.3.1

Not having a Mac I wasn’t able to install this and see whether there is relief to those Mac users out there who have been begging DSTV to provide a Mac client without any luck. Someone want to give it a go and see if it works?

Update : After a bit of googling and playing with the zip file it seems that the .ZIP was created on a Mac, and OSX creates the _MACOSX as a internal (hidden Mac) file for storing attributes. Sadly doesn’t seem to actually contain the OS X installer. False alarm, damn. Bit of a stretch to assume that the developer is using a Mac and therefore a Mac version is soon to be delivered, but hey, we can hope.

Update 2 : I have seen and played with the OS X version. It is real, it is coming soon :)  Little more info here :

Other than the MacOSx folder, the Windows installer folder now has a .DS_Store file in it (haven’t yet worked out the purpose of this – another OS X hidden file it seems) and the windows decoder.exe has been updated (Dated 27/5/2011). There are no firmware or any other changes.

You can download the new version here :

P.S. There is also a new version of the iOS client available on iTunes (V1.01.02). The FAQ section has been updated with a link to a patched version to allow it to work on Jailbreak devices.

Pure Speculation : New DSTV Drifta decoder to be launched? #in

Posted on June 04, 2011

Updates :


A new version of the DSTV Drifta software was released recently (1.2.11). Doing some simple sleuthing around in the install reveals some potentially very interesting news. Is a Drifta2 about to be launched?

The following were the only files updated / added in the new installer:

1.2.11 vs 1.1.0

Existing files:

  • Decoder.exe  2011/05/10 06:57      1 512KB
  • infcopy.exe    2010/12/06 02:34          79KB
  • tvnb.bin           2011/04/20 08:39    8 288KB

New files:

  • IPSetup.exe      2011/03/18 06:21         58KB
  • tvnb_usb.bin   2011/05/03 02:09    5 840KB


The really interesting bit is in the new tvnb_usb.bin file.

The tvnb_usb.bin has an interesting identification string “Drifta2(DVB-H) 2.1.277 2011/05/03-14:09:23 ”  vs the older style tvnb.bin identification string “Tivit(DVB-H) 2.1.266 2011/04/20-17:03:51″.

Is this a hint at a new Drifta decoder to come?

Share your thoughts, on or off the record.

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