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

Focusing on People vs Technology in INFOSEC : Additional thoughts

Posted on July 22, 2012

This evening I came across this rather post on titled “Focusing on People vs Technology in INFOSEC” and it struck home. Everything in there I agree with. I would suggest you go and read it (link here).

I don’t want to plagiarise huge sections of the article, but am quoting fair bits of it below to introduce my own thoughts on the matter. To summarise (and paraphrase):

  • Organisations seem happier to invest in technology, such as security products, rather than in people
  • Organisations tend to have higher capital expenditure budgets rather than operational (direct expenditure)
  • There is generally a lack of people and programmes to support security technology implementations
  • There needs to be a much greater focus on people, without the right people product implementations fail

The author then goes on suggest eight steps to consider when building a security programme. These are repeated verbatim below :

  1. Focus on culture and having a fun environment for your people to work.
  2. Sending the team to security conferences and additional training events.
  3. Have a clear and concise roadmap for your team and an understanding of career advancement.
  4. Focus on building security programs first before ever investing in technology — use technology for automation.
  5. Work on automating and streamlining processes versus adding additional work on broken ones.
  6. Staff appropriately and fight for additional headcount where it is needed. Be careful on over hiring.
  7. Take time out of your day to focus on people and seeing how they are doing and if there is anything you can do.
  8. Communication. Communication. Communication… Did we say Communication?

I agree with all of the above. There are organisations who want to hire experienced people who can come straight in and do the job, who have all the experience and qualifications, but then don’t want to send them on training or want them to learn new skills. I find this to be a very short-sighted view. One of the hardest parts of setting up and running an effective information security team is finding and retaining the high calibre staff which will make it successful.

What will attract the right kinds of people? A learning environment. One where they can come in, be part of a team, have fun, learn new skills, share existing skills and knowledge while making use of these skills and taking themselves to the next level. I have always found that by encouraging people in your team, across all levels, to study, to take on new challenges and to better themselves boosts the confidence and productivity of all. I see a lot of debate around whether CISSP or CISM is the better qualification, or sometimes whether they have any value at all. That is largely irrelevant in my view. I would (and have) encourage my staff to do either. Going through the process helps the inexperienced learn new skills, and gives recognition to those who already have the skills. This is good for self-confidence and career prospects, either in the organisation or outside.

I have also found that by focussing on people and teaming, people will develop loyalty, both to you as a manager and mentor, as well as to the organisation. You are more likely to retain these people longer, and reap the rewards from the investment that has been made, despite the fears that once qualified they will leave. When you have a great learning environment then people will also be attracted to come and work with and for you. Half the battle is then won.

All the grand plans in the world will come to nothing unless you have people who will work with you, support you and enable those plans to come to fruition. There are going to be times when a lot of hard work is required, but, hard work towards a known goal, where you are learning, having fun and being productive doesn’t always feel like hard work, and staff will give of their extraordinary efforts willingly. At the same time, don’t take them for granted. Small gestures can go a long way.

In all of this, technology is also important. Not so much the technology you end up implementing, but the technology you make available to the staff to experiment, play and learn with. While (mostly) any tool can get the job done, key is making sure that you know those tools intimately. When they are in production it is hard (and dangerous) to play with them, however, having a lab environment with the right hardware, software and connectivity gives the freedom for people to learn and become the best they can be. This also keeps the job fresh and rewarding. Don’t forget this when preparing the budget – even though it may appear to be an unnecessary luxury. Be prepared to debate around and defend this portion of the budget just as much as your capex, salaries and training.

@dave_rel1k (I am assuming you wrote the piece), thanks for sharing, and reinforcing for me the important aspects to focus on when building an information security team who can transform the organisation.

Lonehill Estate – Lonehill Estate : Great album and a bargain at the Nokia store

Posted on June 03, 2012

I’m rather enjoying Lonehill Estate’s new self titled album.  Having heard a few tracks on the radio (Technoband, Daans and now Look Good) and been pleasantly surprised to find out it was our local boys I decided to pick up the album. This morning at the local mall I had a look around and neither CNA nor Checkers had a copy (though I did get the Parlotones Journey Through Shadows from Checkers).

On Twitter @lonehillestate themselves suggested I get it from @Look&ListenSA. This evening I checked out the online store and found the Album for R100, which wasn’t too bad. I always fill a little reticent paying close to physical prices for downloads so was going to give it a skip when I thought to check out the Nokia Ovi store. Delight. The full album (here) for R60. Bargain. Sold!  I am now happily listening to the album.

Always worth shopping around, even online. Worth noting that their previous EP, Phone Home, is R100 on Nokia and only half the price at Look and Listen online. So Nokia isn’t always the cheapest, though generally I find them to be so.


lonehill estate

Click through for the album track listing

Read the rest of this entry »

More Android love from DSTVmobile. 19 more devices. Well done DSTVmobile!

Posted on June 02, 2012

Another update has been made of the Beta android application for the Drifta. You can get it here

This application now works on a wide range of Android devices running on Android 2.2, 2.3, 3.x and 4.x (with hardware buttons). So Gingerbread, Honeycomb and IcecreamSandwich are all supported now.

The full list is below. With the extent of changes I have been a bit lazy to pull out only the new devices. On the tweet announcing this @neilinspace indicated that 19 more have been added from the last version of the Beta, I will take his word for it. The list is now quite impressive, most device owners should be happy, including those lucky enough to have picked up the new Galaxy SIII or one of the new HTC One devices.

Well done DSTVmobile!

Now please can we get some Blackberry love? I know the platform is dying but I really would like some support on the Bold 9900.

Click through for the Full list:

Read the rest of this entry »

Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention 2012 : My tweet timeline recorded #in

Posted on March 17, 2012

On Tuesday 13 March 2012 I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention 2012 (link here) at the Sandton Convention centre as a guest of the conference organisers, representing the ISACA South Africa Chapter. The conference was really impressive and the speakers just got better as the day went on.

I tweeted quite a lot during the course of the day, capturing some of the essence of what the speakers had to say. For those of you who weren’t there, or who were and just wish to be reminded of what some of the excellent speakers had to say, below is a combination of the timelines of the @ISACAZA and @JJZA accounts I used to tweet from the day.

The theme of the convention was around ethical leadership and sustainable leadership. This lead to some really interesting presentations.

I hope this is useful to some of you.



2012/03/13 09:21 Isacaza: Thanks to the organisers of the Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention 2012 for inviting Isaca South Africa to be part of the event.
2012/03/13 09:22 Isacaza: Keynote speaker : Adv Thulisile Madonsela, our Public Protecter #tlc2012
2012/03/13 09:25 Isacaza: True leaders don’t need a title, they step up and lead. Those with titles may not be leaders, but just title holders #tlc2012
2012/03/13 09:32 Isacaza: Is ethical leadership in the corporate world an oxymoron? It is key to sustainable leadership. #tlc
2012/03/13 09:33 Isacaza: In ethical leadership the end does not justify the means. You must do the right thing the right way. Must not break the rules! #tlc2012
2012/03/13 09:36 Isacaza: Public protector often approached by shareholders where the directors have manipulated the system for self enrichment.  #tlc2012
2012/03/13 09:37 Isacaza: Ethics has become a requirement for an organisation to be a market leader. Clear link between ethics and sustainable performance #tlc2012
2012/03/13 09:40 Isacaza: RT @RaeleneRorke: Ethical leadership-at the core of the conference-loving the freshness of this theme.At last we make it cool to be an h …
2012/03/13 09:47 Isacaza: Protection of information bill in current state would have a negative impact  on public protector and others in ethics space #tlc2012
2012/03/13 09:48 Isacaza: RT @gradidgec: #TLC2012 Adv T Madonsela: ‘the most common challenge I come across is abuse of power’
2012/03/13 09:50 Isacaza: Quietly spoken, but thoughtful, confident and powerful. Our public protector. Adv Thulisile Madonsela #tlc2012 Great choice for keynote.
2012/03/13 10:07 Michael from Vodacom up on stage

Isacaza: By 2020 there will be no shortage of talent in South Africa, problem will be employability. Shortage in developed world #tlc2012 #dhl

2012/03/13 10:20 Isacaza: Mobility is creating challenges for organisations instead of solving them #tlc2012 #vodacom
2012/03/13 10:21 jjza: RT @MarkJLamberti: Excellent meeting with Minister Manuel & others. What have you done to understand & respond to the work of the Nation …
2012/03/13 10:24 Isacaza: In Tanzania Malaria has almost been eradicated through use of SMS technology to identify and contain outbreaks #tlc2012 #vodacom
2012/03/13 10:29 Isacaza: RT @STNxumalo: Abuse of power is as bad as the waste thereof: You’re in a powerful position, but you do nothing! -Michael Allschwang # …
2012/03/13 10:31 Isacaza: Leadership without title is the most powerful. Leave titles behind. #vodacom #tlc2012
2012/03/13 10:31 jjza: RT @khanyisile: The five bases of power: position, reward, skill, knowledge and relationship power (trust, respect from other people etc …
2012/03/13 10:34 jjza: RT @NeilBierbaum: Vodacom presentation #TLC2012 about power. Power over others is implied; power over oneself is missing. Self-awareness …
2012/03/13 10:36 Isacaza: Execution with excellence sets you apart from others #vodacom #tlc2012
2012/03/13 10:40 jjza: Nobuzwe Mangcu from #mercedes up on stage talking about our future #tlc2012 without doing things together there is no future
2012/03/13 11:53


Sakie Macozoma takes to the stage

Isacaza: What will tomorrow’s leaders inherit from today’s leaders? #sustainable leadership #tlc2012 Sakie Macozoma, Chairman Liberty Group

2012/03/13 11:54 jjza: RT @JeremyK_za: #tlc2012. Great speakers >> Agreed
2012/03/13 11:57 Isacaza: Should we be measuring Gross National Happiness instead of Gross National Product? #tlc2012 #macozoma
2012/03/13 11:59 Isacaza: Largest population of retirees ever, depending on heavily indebited governments #europe #tlc2012 Europe will be in the doldrums for a while
2012/03/13 12:03 jjza: Do we have political leaders who understand the importance of funding of research ? #tlc2012 we need sustainable technologies
2012/03/13 12:04 jjza: RT @egoligal: Wow! Saki talking about #cradle2cradle design & #biomimicry as the way of the future! #Yes – taking direction from #Mo …
2012/03/13 12:08 Simone Zanetti takes to the stage

Isacaza: Is training killing knowledge? #tlc2012 the future of people’s performance

2012/03/13 12:13 jjza: @sikimgabadeli great, please share when you get the link.
2012/03/13 12:19 jjza: Split between structured and unstructured learning? Average 80% unstructured. Information is changing rapidly. #tlc2012
2012/03/13 12:21 jjza: We need to be learning faster, and in more unstructured ways. Average company in SA spends R30000/employee per year #tlc2012
2012/03/13 12:23 jjza: RT @egoligal: Forcefeeding information to employees a waste of time! Data shifting & increasing so rapidly that info based training  …
2012/03/13 12:24 jjza: Take away artificial ways of doing business and try to let them work in a way that brings out the best in people. #tlc2012
2012/03/13 12:25 jjza: RT @KMathelela: There is more information in a newspaper 2day than wat a middle-aged man wud learn in his entire life #TLC2012
2012/03/13 12:26 jjza: Less than 15% of what people are trained on is retained. #tlc2012
2012/03/13 12:28 Isacaza: The more you train the less people remember, and they won’t remember if what they remember is correct. Future is instant knowledge #tlc2012
2012/03/13 12:30 jjza: Natural language social knowledge systems the way of enhancing productivity in the future? #tlc2012
2012/03/13 12:31 jjza: RT @msalili: Train people how to FIND the correct info, rather than REMEMBER the correct info. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 12:34 jjza: Self learning predictive knowledge tools provide instant knowledge.  Not just a nice theory. Works for Standard Bank. #tlc2012
2012/03/13 12:35 jjza: RT @msalili: Eish, opening these bloody water bottles is a mission. Fire the supplier! #TLC2012
2012/03/13 12:45 jjza: RT @taraturk1: @KMathelela: Simone Zanetti, awesome speaker #TLC2012 > agree! >> most passionate of the day so far
2012/03/13 12:47 jjza: Think big and bold, but don’t lose sight of the problem and solution. Embrace partnerships. Don’t be afraid to fail. #tlc2012

2012/03/13 12:49


Thebe Ikalafeng takes to the stage

jjza: People are brands and can be branded. In 1997 Fortune said the only differentiator in the 21st century will be branding #tlc2012

2012/03/13 12:51 Isacaza: A brand is not what you say, it’s what others say #tlc2012  A brand is a storehouse of trust.
2012/03/13 12:51 jjza: A brand is not what you say, it’s what others say #tlc2012  A brand is a storehouse of trust.
2012/03/13 12:56 jjza: Great brands are : focused, distinctive, emotionally connected, evolve, build their country #tlc2012
2012/03/13 13:00 jjza: Age of mass individualisation. Innervation. What makes you distinctive? What is your brand? #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:02 jjza: Run your career like a business. You are the CEO of You Inc. If you can’t triumph with talent, triumph with effort    #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:05 jjza: Understand your context. Self examination. Listen to the gossip. When people talk about you it is an opportunity to reflect. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:08 jjza: Clarity. Clarify who you are, position yourself, create a vision of where you headed. What is the thing you are willing to die for? #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:15 jjza: You don’t want to merely be the best of the best, you want to be the only one who does what you do. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:16 jjza: Competence. You need some skills. The only real security is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:18 jjza: Cover. Package your thing. 55% of conclusions people make are visual. 38% vocal. 7% content. Packaging is everything. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:20 jjza: Community. If the house is on fire, forget the china, silver, wedding gifts. Grab the Rolodex. Contacts, access. The right people? #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:21 jjza: Who is in your network? Who do you need to fire? Fire those who diminish your brand. Six steps of separation. You know somebody. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:23 jjza: Constancy. Create presence. Be out there. Get the brand out there. Define yourself, don’t let others do it. Must be authentic. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:25 jjza: Congruence. The most important. Personal branding is a way of life. Not a word. A promise that gets fulfilled every day. 24×7. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:26 jjza: There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from what we do. Brand inside equals brand inside. Authentic #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:28 jjza: Personal value proposition resonate with Customer value proposition and Employer value proposition. Work together, no “other side” #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:30 jjza: Performance is impacted if you are not true to yourself. Work life alignment, not balance. Cannot be a fake. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:31 jjza: It takes 20 years to build a reputation and just 5 to destroy it. Pursue a vision of excellence whatever you do, work or play. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:32 jjza: Commercialise. How do you make money off the brand? Know which companies to go to and grow with.
2012/03/13 13:35 jjza: Chutzpah. We have all been rejected. How you react is what makes or breaks you. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:37 jjza: Closure. Everything comes to an end. Have you lived your brand at the end of your day? How will you be remembered? #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:38 jjza: Fix your programme before it happens. All you leave behind is your name. Protect it. Did you do what you needed to? Others agree #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:40 jjza: Nobody should ever have to retire from what they love. You can’t retire from breathing. Do your thing out there. Keep doing it. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 13:43 jjza: @thebelkalafeng Amazing, introspective, inspirational presentation. This is leadership, something for all of us to think about. 10q #TLC2012
2012/03/13 14:29 jjza: @AkiKalliatakis a pity that so many miss out on the “giving them what they want” part of that.
2012/03/13 14:33 Afternoon breakaway session : Transport and Logistics

jjza: Transportation and logistics breakaway session about to begin at #TLC2012. Very few people in the venue yet. Been great convention so far.

2012/03/13 14:46 Isacaza: RT @sikimgabadeli: Saki’s speech will be posted on website #TLC2012 >> great, thanks
2012/03/13 14:55 jjza: @SeanReuben72 you should have been at #TLC2012  Been some really great presentations here. Diarise for next year.
2012/03/13 14:56 jjza: @fjlandman please keep the tweets coming, hard to choose between the sessions.
2012/03/13 14:59 jjza: The debate is not whether roads are good for the country, we need them throughout the country. Tolling is a funding issue. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:01 jjza: More economists disagree with SANRAL studies than agree with them. There are cheaper and more equitable ways to fund roads. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:02 jjza: >50% of tolls collected will be spent on collection. Fuel levy be a far more cost effective way to collect the money #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:03 jjza: Shortage of skills and cost of employment too high because of labour legislation encourages labour broking and off shoring #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:06 jjza: Walmart could use SA as gateway into Africa but uncompetitive revenue env means more likely go direct. Opp lost with no free ports. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:07 jjza: The government via rail will be a competitor to road freight. They need to improve efficiencies to compete with gov. Need be fair. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:08 jjza: Planting bamboo on unused land instead of buying carbon credits. #innovation #green #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:14 jjza: Don’t expect government policy to be proactive. It can take five years from recognition of gap to passing of legislation. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:14 jjza: Disconnect between levels of government, national provincial and local all implementing different things #transport #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:16 jjza: Taking shots at Transnet, turnaround strategy being called perpetual turnaround strategy. #transport #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:17 jjza: Lack of consultation between government and industry players, lack of looking at other governments, leaves SA trailing #transport #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:19 jjza: Entities like BUSA should be engaging more with government to give view of private sector to government. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:20 jjza: Singapore being highlighted as model of efficiency and case study of how things could be done. Service delivery excellence. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:22 jjza: No sense to carry coal or manganese by road. Would destroy roads. Rail must operate more efficiently for low value/ton commodities #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:24 jjza: We need slow speed freight rail, not high speed passenger lines. Road infrastructure and ports must improve. Heavy goods off roads. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:26 jjza: China has built effective rail and port network in less than 30 years, SA gov must invest in right places. SA can lose in Africa. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:27 jjza: @egoligal nobody here disagrees even the road freight crowd. They fill a gap where no railways and recognise not optimal #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:29 jjza: Whilst we bicker over immaterial items we fall behind. Give parastatals 3 years to get fixed or privatise them.  #transport #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:30 jjza: South Africa is less efficient than all our trading partners when it comes to trade. We are the weakest link. #worldbank #transport #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:31 jjza: Sort out road vs rail and carbon emissions are sorted for next 10 years. Rail went to road because of inefficiencies. #tlc2012
2012/03/13 15:32 jjza: 30% of the value of a car made in SA is made of transport costs. This is way too high globally. High cost low efficiencies. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:35 jjza: Take politicians out of Transnet and put back the technical people and we have potential to get rail back to number 3 in the world #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:36 jjza: @leenelson as a Transnet employee feeling a bit battered here :)
2012/03/13 15:38 jjza: SA companies have recognised opportunities to trade with other African countries and force out previous colonial masters #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:38 jjza: @leenelson great event and branding for you guys.
2012/03/13 15:40 jjza: SA should take the lead in opening up trade in Africa. No visas required in Europe yet need lots in Africa. Potential to sort out. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:43 Isacaza: SA needs to engage with neighbours and create framework more conducive for regional trade. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:47 jjza: Young black talent is a commodity going to the highest bidder. DHL is trying to get young individuals who associate with the brand #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:48 Isacaza: RT @ThebeIkalafeng: RT @RSAPatriot: #TLC2012 @ThebeIkalafeng absolutely on fire! >> the further you spread your message the better off SA is
2012/03/13 15:50 jjza: SA arrogant in dealing with Africa. We need to provide a value proposition not assume Africa will deal with us because we African. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 15:52 jjza: My Twitter coverage of #TLC2012 will end soon. iPad battery dying shortly. It’s been most interesting. Thanks to the organisers.
2012/03/13 16:00 jjza: There needs to be a marrying of minds between Government and Industry to attract the right skills into tertiary education. #TLC2012
2012/03/13 16:03 jjza: SMEs and business is more agile than government, need less government and more private business. Need SMEs to thrive. #TLC2012
Battery finally died, thanks again to the organisers for inviting @ISACAZA to attend the convention.

I will add links to some of the presentations at a later stage (when the organisers put them up). Check back then, just want to get this up for now.


Respect for the CPA, kudos Cape Union Mart pavilion

Posted on March 04, 2012

I have had a TomTom Go Live 1000 for the last 3 months or so, and it has worked really well. Whenever I am driving around Johannesburg I am most grateful for the ability to see what is going on in the traffic and have the GPS direct me around problems, saving me time and aggravation.

In the last week the device has started giving problems. It won’t charge properly and keeps restarting (every 5 to 15 minutes) which is a real pain when it is directing you on a route you don’t know. Further, with the lack of charge it wouldn’t connect to the cell network so there were no traffic updates, making the device rather useless.

I had bought the device at Cape Union Mart at Canal Walk in Cape Town. The Pavilion branch in Westville, Durban is closest to my house so I went there this morning to try to sort out the problem. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) makes it quite clear, faulty in the first six months the consumer gets the choice of Refund, Replacement or Repair. That’s the theory anyhow, in practice it seems to seldom work out that way.

I went into the store, explained the problem and the guy behind the counter was helpful to a point. He first implied that the “top of the range” device had a common fault and lots of people were having the same problem, and that TomTom had withdrawn it and were replacing it with a new model, cold comfort. He then explained the process of getting it replaced, which involved phoning TomTom (they aren’t open on weekends), getting a reference number, then coming back to the store, waiting for a replacement etc. It sounded like a long drawn out process and wasn’t going to work well for me given my travels and work schedule. He tried to call a branch in Jhb to set it up so I could do the swap there, but didn’t have a lot of luck with getting assurances the process would be smooth and work.

At this point I reminded him of my CPA rights and requested a refund as I could then just go buy another device elsewhere and bypass all of this problem (as well as extend my warranty by another 3 months). He took this well, and then offered to swap it with (a new one) they had in the back of the store somewhere. I agreed and left a few minutes later with the new device. Why he didn’t offer this when we first started the process I don’t know, but I was still happy with the outcome.

Thanks to Cape Union Mart for respecting the CPA, even if you did need a little coaxing and reminding. Don’t forget your rights, you can have a successful outcome to other painful situations if you just remind the service providers of your rights.


My thoughts on the USB DStv Drifta (Review)

Posted on August 05, 2011

Update :  The new iDrifta has been released (iDevice only) – unboxing here. Review to follow.

First reactions from my son :

  • Aww Dad, it’s so cute. Look how tiny it is compared to the old one.
  • Dad, I can’t plug in the memory stick next to the Drifta.

That, in a nutshell, sums up the new USB DStv Drifta. It’s small and cute, not quite the size of a memory stick (just  a tad fatter), so overlaps a second USB slot when plugged in (a cable is supplied to solve this). It works, and well, but doesn’t really cure any of the inherent problems with the first Drifta. That said, in the right scenarios it is a great device.

USB Drifta with Aerial extended

Onto the review proper :

Back on 14 July 2011 DStv announced (officially) the new USB DStv Drifta (release here).  The release and the pictures made the device look interesting. A week later their PR team mailed me and offered me a Drifta to test out and review (well, they just offered to send me one, my assumption it was to test and review).

This review doesn’t intend to rehash all of the detail from my review last year. This in many ways is just a simpler, smaller, cheaper version of the Drifta and it works much in the same way. Go and read that review if you want to understand more about the DStv mobile product as opposed to the USB Drifta itself.

Read the rest of this entry »

Finally got my phone back from Vodacom… Thanks Helena and @UysPJ

Posted on August 03, 2011

My ongoing saga with Vodacom with respect to my faulty phone is now (mostly) resolved. Thanks to Helena and @uyspj.

Background for those who missed it :

  • Got a new HTC desire on contract during late May
  • It worked for +- 10 days then died
  • Took it back to Vodacare, they confirmed it was dead (at very least the battery was stone dead and couldn’t be “boosted”), I asked for replacement under CPA as I thought was my right, they said go back Vodashop
  • Vodashop manager was extremely unhelpful, said CPA doesn’t apply to them, and they don’t represent Vodacom
  • I left the phone at the shop (on the counter and walked out) after laying a complaint with Vodacare against the shop
  • Same day I laid a complaint on Hello Peter
  • Had various interactions with Vodacom people over two months, nothing useful – weeks would go by while they were “waiting for feedback” from someone else

I sent a twitter message to @uyspj (just one) who responded immediately. Thank you Pieter, I really do admire you for interacting with your clients and following through on your actions.

@uyspj had Helena call me the next day, she asked a whole lot of questions, I mailed through what I had and forwarded various SMS’s, Helena then followed up for me.

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.

Am I registered to Vote on the 18th May

Posted on May 06, 2011

Update : The local elections are now tomorrow, time to go and make your choice count and stand up for what you believe in. A spoilt vote is no vote at all, it is better to vote for the best of a bad bunch than to make no vote at all. Even if you think you aren’t registered to vote, use one of the methods below to check. If you have ever voted you are likely to be on the voters’ roll and can cast your vote. Each of our votes count, use it.

Original post :

With the Elections almost upon us (just 12 days away) it is useful to confirm the registration status and where exactly that voting station is.

In a previous post I had mentioned an SMS number you could send your ID number to that would tell you your registration status. There are also other ways to do this.

There are three ways to do this :

Once you have those details you can use the interactive voting station finder to see where you need to go on the day. Don’t forget you need a valid green ID book to vote, if you don’t have one get to Home Affairs asap to see if something can be done to help you.

Thanks to the IEC for making it all so easy and for using the technology available.


voting station finder

Keeping up with the local deals – bring on “Today’s Deals”

Posted on April 02, 2011

There are now a number of collective buying sites (in the vein of Groupon) that are operating in South Africa. You can get some really good deals from them and I have bought quite a number of things from them over the last 3 months or so, ranging from dinners, sailing cruises, Blo-kart racing through to massages and other pamper sessions (yeah those were for the girlfriend, mostly :)

Originally there was just Wicount and Twangoo (now bought by Groupon) that were of interest and doing good deals, but now there are more competitors in the space all providing good deals (across multiple cities) I am finding my email inbox is getting flooded and it is a pain to try and keep up with all the deal, and it is really easy to miss the good ones.

Bring on “Today’s Deals – all the deals in one place” recently started by Eve Dmochowska. This great site monitors the other deal sites for you and acts as a central hub to monitor them all. So far it includes:

The only one that I watch that’s not on the list is Twangoo ( though with the takeover by Groupon it seems to have a lot of deals in common with MyCityDeal. Still worth watching that one by itself for now.

These deal sites now cover Johannesburg, Pretoria, Capetown, Durban and National Deals so there is something for everybody.

Add this site, Todays deals, to your daily watch list, subscribe by email or use the RSS feed and enjoy the bargains. Thanks for the great service Eve.

P.S. I have bought from Wicount, Twangoo and Zappon. All work very well, other than a few minor niggles. Zappon is the newsest on the block of those 3 and had the most problems, but their user support team was quick to resolve my issues in a friendly and efficient manner.

Blackberry Bold 9000 extended battery replacement (update)

Posted on July 30, 2010

I posted a week ago around the extended capacity battery that I had ordered off E-bay for the grand total of $10. Just a quick update after a week’s usage.

First foremost, this thing does what was advertised, and the battery life is a HUGE improvement over what I was getting from the the year old 1500mAh original Blackberry battery. The old battery was struggling to get me through a day. Even with some USB laptop charging during the day, with a full overnight charge and the day beginning at 6am, my battery was flat by 5pm.

This battery is new and yes it’s only the first week, however, with the same usage patterns as above (and described in my original post), the extended battery is lasting to 11pm and still having some life left over. Tonight as we speak I still have half a battery charge left. Wow, I don’t think I could go back to the old battery.

That said, the phone still feels HUGE. The new battery cover makes the phone feel twice the size. I read quite a bit on the device using the Kindle App (and that works great) so I had to get used to holding the phone all over again is it doesn’t feel the same. It also doesn’t fit neatly into my pocket with the Nokia E71. So I’m changing the little habits to make this thing work. Some people just won’t be able to get over the size, but for me, I’m sticking with the extended battery and would definitely recommend it to anybody who is struggling to get through a day.

$10 from soonhua_digital on ebay (US) with free shipping to SA, took a week to arrive (from China). Best R75 I have spent in a long time.

Importing NMAP .xml output into MS Access part 2

Posted on June 13, 2010

As in the previous post, our initial NMAP scan produced an XML file over 600mb in size. To finish the scans we split the remaining ip ranges into more manageable chunks and ended up with another 20+ xml files of around 50mb each.

Running all of these through Exult XML to get a single consolidated access database was a bit problematic. The tool didn’t have the functionality to add additional scans to our original database, so all of the XML files had to be selected together and run through the tool to produce a single database. The conversion ran for 24hrs without completing so we had to come up with a better plan. Initially we considered running the conversion on a more powerful machine with much faster disk, but when trying to install the tool discovered the license key wouldn’t work.  It used some (undisclosed) technique to ensure single install only. An email off to the developers and they sent us a new key (about 6 hours later – thanks to time differences, not any delay on their part). In the meantime plan B was in place.

Looking through the raw XML files I saw that the vast majority of the IP’s were non responsive and those few lines indicating this were taking up an awful lot of space when looked at collectively. A quick search and replace to remove these lines and the XML files were reduced to about 1/20th of their original size. With the new reduced file sizes Exult happily produced our Access database in less than half an hour and we were ready to continue with the exercise. The old sayings about better planning and new strategies certainly applied here.

Using access we were then able to produce great summary reports to pull out details on top active ports, numbers of machines in each class, active IP ranges etc etc. Next step choose our samples for more detailed scanning. the bad and the slightly better (updated)

Posted on June 03, 2010

Three weeks ago (20 days to be exact) I ordered the Blu-ray version of The Lord of the Rings trilogy from Exclusive Books online store. I had been given a gift voucher by ITWeb for talking at their Infosec conference so thought it would be a good way to spend it.

The online process was reasonably painless, I was signed up with a new account linked to my Fanat1cs card. I went to check out, was prompted that I had a R50 discount voucher from Fanat1cs (which I didn’t know about – nice bonus), and chose the option to deliver it to my local bookstore for collection. Nowhere in the process could I use my paper based gift vouchers. What a pity. Still, with the decent price and R50 off I placed the order anyway with a notice that I could expect delivery in 8-10 days. Great.

8 Days later I was in the local exclusive bookstore so visited to found out the status of my order. #fail. The store has no way of tracking my order and could only tell me to check online or call the call centre. mmm.

I went online, found my order, the status was useless. It told me the status was “confirmation”. Great. There was a button to “send a message” to customer service. Perfect, clicked that sent a message, 2 days later I hadn’t heard from them so called. Item was out of stock, I would definitely get it next week (being this week). This morning I went online, checked status, same status. Clicked on “send message” – heard nothing. This afternoon I called them around 4:15.

Sorry sir, our warehouse is closed, we can’t help you. Great. What happened to the message I sent online I asked? “We get too many messages online, we can’t possibly respond to them all, its better you phone us.” I see red. Why have the #@%@$$ button if that is the attitude. I asked if they had a customer services manager, they do. Can I speak to him? No, sorry, he is in a meeting. Mmmm, where have I heard that before. Anyhow, his name and number was promptly supplied. He was out of the meeting at 4:30 I was told. Called at 4:40, he answered :)

I spoke to the man, he was very apologetic, seemed appalled to hear the story, and what the staff in-store and on the call centre were telling me. He offered me a further discount on my purchase, promised to call me tomorrow to explain the whereabouts of my purchase, and explained the site was still being developed further to remove the teething troubles.  In my eyes he redeemed the situation (slightly) and if he follows through I will order from them again. If he doesn’t, they won’t be getting any more business. I certainly haven’t had these kinds of problems from or Amazing how the “big guys” can get on-line so wrong. Here is hoping they can turn it around and get things working properly. I really want to order Avatar Blu-ray and Fifa worldcup soccer for PS3. Their prices are good. Come through and you can have the business.


I received a mail this afternoon from Exclus1ves. They are now promising me that I can have it in another 11 days time (its been 21 days, and the original order said 10 days).

The mail tried to console me by telling me no retailers have stock (strange I have seen it at Look & Listen in the Pav a few times), and that if they can’t deliver they will give me a full refund (by then having had my money for 6 weeks). mmmm. I’m back to being less than impressed. Honesty I appreciate, but treating the customer like a fool?

%d bloggers like this: