Coffee pod compatibility : not so Nespresso compatible after all (updated)

Posted on August 28, 2014

I have two coffee machines. The Nespresso CitiZ (with milk) and a Verona Espresso Caffe Lux machine

Over the past two years or so since I got the first Nespresso machine I have tried out various Nespresso compatible pods. These come with brand names such as :

  1. Caffe Luxe ( (R40 for 10 to R90 for 25)
  2. Vida e Caffe (from Vida or from Cafe Lux) (+-R62 per 10)
  3. Mycoffee (First from Groupon and on (R40 for 10)
  4. Beaver Creek Coffee (from their shop on the Farm in Margate –  (R55-R64 per 10)
  5. Foreign Ground (Checkers) (R36 for 10, sometimes R29)
  6. Caffe Impresso (Some Pick n Pay’s and some Spars – wholesaler is (R50 – R62 per 10)
  7. Caffe Cagliari (First from Groupon and they were being sold by Aquazania but aren’t being stocked anymore) (R40 for 10, decaf only on special now for R20)
  8. Nespresso (the genuine article) (R63 – R73 per 10)

Now all of these different brands have worked (almost) perfectly across both of the machines I have. The very first Cafe Luxe pods I had sometimes didn’t pierce properly and a little bit of water would come out before the coffee, but it didn’t affect the flavour of the coffee. The did an upgrade which seemed to mostly fix the problem, but the pods remain a rather thick plastic container.

A few weeks back I had a reader complaining that the Caffe Luxe pods didn’t work at all in his machine. I hadn’t had that problem before and replied as much. I didn’t hear back from the individual.

Tonight I heard from another friend that there is definitely a problem. She bought a Nespresso U milk machine. It works quite nicely, makes your coffee then spits the pod out into its little basket without you having to “eject” it. When trying with the Mycoffee pods though, it huffs and puffs and a very little bit of water comes through but no coffee. Then it ejects the pod with no coffee having been produced. On examining the used pod it can be seen that the machine is having trouble piercing the plastic pod and therefore is unable to pump the water through the pod to brew the coffee. A further test with a Foreign Ground pod produced the same result.

Now a number of the local manufacturers seem to use the same plastic pods (numbers 1 to 5 on the list above). that somewhat limits your options in terms of which coffee pods you can buy. Caffe Luxe are quite adamant on their website and in their adverts that their pods work on all machines (they even expressly name the newer generation machines), so it seems more tested is going to be needed on their pods.

I have tested out some of the newer Caffe Luxe (Option 1) “Origins” range and confirmed they work just fine.  The “new compatible” Caffe Luxe capsules seem to work sometimes (but not all).

Foreign Ground (Option 5) have introduced two new flavours, which use a new pod design, which work just fine. See post here.

Options 6 and 7 seem to be imported (from Italy) and also use plastic pods, but a very different much thinner plastic. Further testing was done and there is no problem here. The Caffe Impresso capsules have a series of small holes pre-pressed into the back of the capsules. Water flows through here a little slowly at times if further holes aren’t punctured but this doesn’t affect the final outcome of a great cup of coffee.

This is incompatibility of “compatible” capsules is bit of a pain as one of the benefits of using the Nespresso system over some of the others was that there seemed to be a growing range of alternate (and cheaper) pods that could buy for daily use.  If you have come across other sources of compatible pods, and have any further test results as to which machines they may work in please do share your experiences.


Visualisation of time based attacks on DMZ (videos)

Posted on August 24, 2014

Visualisation of two weeks of IPS data

Critical and high significant IPS events detected on a public facing Palto Alto device, visualised using Microsoft Excel Power Map for a period in November and December 2013.

The data is taken from daily detection summaries so although it covers a nearly two-week period has 24 hour time resolutions.

The attacks are differentiated between Spyware and Vulnerability.

Note the fairly constant levels of vulnerability attacks from China, Turkey & Indonesia.

The practical application of such a visualisation in detecting or preventing attacks is limited, however, it provides an effective mechanism to explain the level of attack (directed and random) against the organisation on a pretty much constant basis.



Visualisation of 24 hours of IPS data

Critical and high significant IPS events detected on a public facing Palto Alto device, visualised using Microsoft Excel Power Map for a 24 hour period on the 10th and 11th December 2013.

The source data is per event detected over that 24 hour period.

The attacks are differentiated between Spyware and Vulnerability.

The video shows two types of visualisation, first a “phased decay” where the attack is plotted and then fades away if not detected. This shows the attacks coming and going across the globe with the exception of China which is fairly constant source of attack.

The second segment shows a continuous growth in the sizes of the attack bubbles over the period. This illustrates the overall relative number of attacks from the various sources.

Note the main sources of vulnerability attacks being China, Turkey, Argentina & Indonesia.

The practical application of such a visualisation in detecting or preventing attacks is limited, however, it provides an effective mechanism to explain the level of attack (directed and random) against the organisation on a pretty much constant basis.


Guest lecture to UKZN 2014 MBA Class : Security & Ethics

Posted on August 24, 2014

In this past week I once again had the pleasure of speaking with the UKZN MBA Class. It is always a pleasure to speak to a large group of some of the brightest minds in KZN. Unlike other presentations, these sessions are normally quite interactive and the class willing to share their ideas, experiences and questions.

What stands out for me in this set of discussions were three key diversions.

1. Bank fraud, and the divergence in opinions between the bank representatives and victims (customers)

There is always a lot of interest in, and debate over on-line frauds as they affect individuals. We all know someone, if not ourselves, who has been hit through some kind of bank fraud. In the class were a number of (un-named) employees of various (nameless) banks. They were adamant that the banks do their utmost to refund their customers in the event of frauds. The victims, however, had a polar opposite view and experience. They contended that the banks make it difficult to get your money back, denying, obstructing and delaying in the process while the victim suffers through no having access to the affected funds. For a bank dealing with hundreds of thousands of affected customers and millions in losses, a month may be a short period to resolve such an incident. For a victim needing access to their funds, a month is a payday away and that money could mean the difference between being able to pay your bills or defaulting.

2. Online identities (and password management)

Online identities are increasingly becoming integrated with your professional life. When being hired more and more organisations scan these to see whether they wish to employ you. Whether this is done as part of the background checks (for which prospective employees normally sign permission) or through other means varies. However, needing to take control of and responsibility for your on-line identity is important. Also don’t forget about your children. They may not yet comprehend the gravity of the situation, and could be creating a fun-filled but wholly undesirable persona that they come to regret later in life when they join the job market and are unable to control or erase their past sharings.

Related to this discussion was the age old one of passwords and password re-use. The dangers of password re-use were discussed in detail with some schemes for password protection. The example of people using the same password across all on-line services, and then having the local camera club hacked, with usernames and passwords being revealed and then those same passwords being used to log into gmail, a facebook “I lost my password” event resulting in the password being mailed to gmail, and very quickly the entire on-line identity can be stolen.

Some tips :  Use different passwords on-line, and at very least don’t use your primary mail account password anywhere else. It is better to use a password manager on your mobile (LastPass, Blackberry password keeper etc) then to re-use passwords. Also don’t use your phone address book to store passwords or bank pins and account numbers. If you use an iPhone or Android phone then this information is generally synchronised to the cloud, so when that Gmail account is hacked they also have all of your phone book without you ever knowing.

3. Return to old school

There was a comment / view put forward that with all of the information security breaches and discoveries of organisations and nation states lying to citizens about what is happening in this space that it would be better to return to the (golden) “olden days” . While that may appear to be the case, memory can be a strange thing. We often remember the good and forget the bad. Not so many years ago when cheques were still in common use cheque fraud was rife. The banks didnt like to disclose information on fraud (and still don’t) but some of the stats I remember seeing flashed up at fraud conferences indicate that the fraud we are seeing now is just a fraction of what was experienced at the peak of cheque fraud. Social media and the online information era just increase the level and speed of information sharing. The fewer incidents that happen now are just more widely reported and shared then ever before. Instances of misrepresentation and abuse by companies(and countries) are now more widely shared and reported, what is not clear is whether the actual occurrences are on the rise or just more visible.

We cannot go back in time, we need to move with the times. That said a dose of healthy skepticism in all we are doing can only be a good thing. Ask questions until your are satisfied with the answers. You may choose to trust, but trust and verify, don’t trust blindly.


Embedded below is a link to download the slides. Thanks for attending the sessions and for participating.  Feel free to drop me any questions you may have (or leave them here).

Information Security and Ethics 2014 August 2014


Thanks Andrew for the invitation and facilitating the discussion.


Finally tried Uber (X), great service!

Posted on August 23, 2014

I finally got around to trying out Uber last night. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. Everything was just slick, pleasant and worked. I ordered the ride off my phone (using the App I had installed the week before), it gave me the estimated time of arrival of the driver, his name and the car registration and details of the vehicle. He arrived right on time and Mthokozisi was very pleasant. He had been working for Uber for 6 months and seemed quite happy with them as an employer.

I was delivered home 12 minutes later, right to the address I had entered when I ordered the car. In-between ordering my ride and arriving home my phone battery had gone flat, so I was concerned it may have been an issue but not to be. My credit card details were preloaded into the app so no issue with payment, and its all cashless. The trip cost is calculated based on a combination of time and distance. R7/km and 70 cents (or so) per minute. So my 12 minute 7.5km trip came to R65.59.

My trip was however free as there is an UberX launch campaign going on in Durban this weekend (See details below).

After the trip the driver “rated” me as a passenger and provided feedback on his Uber App. He asked me to do the same on mine (which I did a few minutes later). A short while after I also received a follow-up email from Uber summarising the journey, the costs, time, and showing the exact route. All super slick.

If you are interested, then download the app and sign up. It’s free. If you use promo code Uberjjza you can get R90 credited to your account (and I get R90 too). Furthermore, if you enter the second promo code UBERXDBN you can get six uberX rides in Durban, up to R250 in value each, until Sun 24 Aug 2014 at 11pm.

It is no wonder that Uber is changing the face of personalised public transport across the Globe. I don’t see myself using conventional Taxi services again. Install the App and give them a try, you will be pleasantly surprised. Whats really cool is you can use the App to get quotes of how much it would be for various trips, so you can already price the trip to and from the rugby / motor cycle event etc.

Share you experiences, good (or bad) once you have given it a go.

Below is a screenshot of the summary mail that arrived post trip (with address and credit card digits removed)

Summary Mail

Summary mail

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