Eish!!: August 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Cliff Jennings Story

For those of you who care.

The News Breaker : "Cliff Jennings a Fake"

The story gains momentum : "Another nail in the coffin of Idols"

... and "Mnet Idols - A Fake Contestant In Our Midst"

Mainstream media gets hold of the story : "Ogilvy confirms Idols fake"

Ah, the power of new media!

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What a wonderful world

I'm going offline for the weekend. So here is something that will amaze you, make you smile and think to yourself ... 'what a wonderful world!'

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Eish on the N3

My daily commute takes me over a mountain pass each day. Last week saw three serious accident occur within two kilometers of each other on the stretch of road. Maybe it's just me, but drivers are becoming increasingly reckless?

I found this and other pics on Colin Seymours blog yesterday, this along
with the others show the result of a massive accident on the N3 in Joburg earlier this week. While, remarkably, no-one was killed, this is becoming an all too common site on out roads.

Click here for more pictures.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Interview with Manto's Liver

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Window-washers threatened with jail

Illegal immigrants trying to clean car windows at traffic lights could face up to 3 months in jail, as the local government begins enforcing new laws enabling police to bring charges against window washers, confiscate their equipment and prosecute.

Some civic groups are grateful for the rules and subsequent action by city officials as the window-washers were "becoming more aggressive, especially to women alone in their cars."

Good news? This news was found @ Reuters and emanated from Florence, Italy.

Seems the Italians to have problems with traffic light (robot) nuisances.

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Clocking the world

Here's one of those little gems I found on the net ... if you are into this sort of thing!

Worldclock is brought to you by Poodwaddle.com (yes, someone decided to call their site Poodwaddle)
This clock does tell the time, but like the telecommercials say, there is so much more. Using approximations based on the latest statistics on hand, this clock counts things like population growth, disease infections, types of injuries, the earth's temperature, the amount of oil pumped and computers produced.

It makes for fascinating viewing.

Poodwaddle.com itself is something worth taking a look at. It's a personal homepage editor. Much like the iGoogle page, you are able to create your own homepage.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dream it possible

I ventured in. The venue, the faces, the format were all new and even a little foreign, but there was a strange familiarity that I just could not put my finger on, until much later as I drove home.

Somewhere around 10 years ago, I was part of a core team that dreamt, and made things possible. We allowed our creativity to overtake perceived boundaries, and after selling our vision to a broader group of individuals we were able to make a real difference in our immediate community. We still look back at that time every now and then, with great fondness. It was hard, hard work, but the freedom we gave ourselves to dream, the sense of greater purpose, the lack of egotism and the knowledge that each time we met we would be a step further in our journey, albeit sometimes in an unexpected direction made the hard work not just worthwhile, but fun and attractive.

This atmosphere of passion, creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation, was something I did not realise I missed ... until last night.

I left the my comfort zone and decided to attend the 27Dinner. I am a naturally reserved person, and doing something like attending an event that has, as it's very premise, social interaction, solo is not something I do often. But I decided to bite the bullet, or more accurately chew the Dirol, and make an appearance ... and (this may come as a surprise to some of those that I met) I am glad I did!
I really appreciated the genuineness that permeated through the evening. People were genuinely happy to meet each other, even if for the first time. While there was a fair amount of tech and marketing talk, what I really enjoyed and appreciated was the interest everyone had in each other's endeavours and the amazing openness and willingness to talk about themselves.

There was a sense of purpose amongst those attendees I met. What that purpose was, was to me not immeadiately evident, but I look forward to finding out over the next few such events.

Thanks to E, R, H, F, G ,M & N amongst others for the conversation and interaction. (Initials used in case I forgot or misheard anyone's name, there was a lot of ambient noise!) I look forward to gaining inspiration and passion through our future interactions.

As I processed the evening on my trip home (it was quite a long one) I was inspired enough to come up with a mantra, which I will be applying to all facets of my life in the foreseeable future : 'Dream it possible.' I look forward to finding out exactly what that means, and how it will apply to me.

If you want to know more about the 27Dinner concept you can pop over to the Wiki page, or pop back over the next couple of days and I will paste some links to other blogs and sites that may have more concrete reviews of the event.

Thanks Dave for all the effort you go to to organise the event.

Related Posts :
27Dinner viii - un-relish-ed
Hot and sweaty 28/8 Dinner
27 Dinner report back
27dinner on liquid fuel

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Friday, August 24, 2007

SA swimmers tackling Taiwan Strait - The Epic Adventure Ends

It's been a great pleasure bringing you the updates sent by the team, attempting the Taiwan Strait crossing. What follows will be the last update.

It is all over. An epic adventure to conquer the virgin Taiwan Strait ended after only 26 hours of gruelling swimming. A difficult, but inevitable call to turn the fleet around was made by the small remaining team of swimmers exactly 26hrs after departure and one very long night.

This trip has been 10 days so filled with experiences, that an email could never come close to doing it justice and money could never buy. A foreign country, a completely foreign language, very different food and ways to eat it, two teams of swimmers from countries in such political conflict with each other thrown together in a room with 4 noisy, excited and die-hard South Africans, all part of a challenge to swim from Taiwan to China. Then throw a major typhoon into the mix... But in the end, I am still not convinced that it really was us (SA team) who were more out of our comfort zones.

One thing is for sure, once we stepped onto a small boat with 33 people and headed out to sea for a 4 day swim never attempted before, not one of us could possibly have felt comfortable. The massive media frenzy at the harbour again brought it home just how tough this might be and it was only minutes into the swim after leaving the shelter of the habour walls, that we hit really rough waters and a strong current against us.

It soon became very clear to us that there were a number of fundamental problems. To name a few, 1) the Taiwan team consisted of a number of inexperienced swimmers, some who swam the slower breaststroke style; 2) the stronger Chinese team had never trained in the sea and within minutes were all dreadfully sea sick, as were some of the Taiwanese team; 3) both teams were understandibly petrified of sharks and other sea wildlife and chose to wear a rash vest and attach a sharkpod to their legs, both slowing themselves down enormously; and 4) no-one had ever swum at night which can be hugely daunting. The SA team were by far the strongest and most experienced, did not wear the rash vest or shark protection and were never overcome by sea sickness. Within hours, the coast guard had to make three trips to collect sick people and we lost approx 15 of our 33 strong team. This included both cooks, one boat captain and the entire Chinese team, incl management. Kieron, Andrew, Herda & I remained strong and positive, but knew we would have to step in and severely increase our work rate. Swim progress was very slow and an emergency meeting decided that the SA team would swim every 4th hour, while all others would rest 12 hours between swims. This was necessary to keep us moving forward with Kieron & I cautiously confident that we had it in us and happy that we would be put to the ultimate test. More so than ever before the all eyes were on the 4 of us to give direction and take control of the expedition. Andrew's vast relay experience was very useful and all 4 of our positive attitudes, solid pace, sense of humour and abilities in rough water stood out head and shoulders above all others.

It was not long before darkness came and I must admit that swimming in the South China Sea 20km off the coast alongside a small rubber duck in the pitch darkness of 3am, with the larger support boats running approx 2-300 meters away from the swimmer, is enough to test anyone's nerves. Andrew got badly stung by a jelly on his second swim and shortly after I got one in my =
mouth and face. Really painful thing but overall it was very good to get the night experience.

Kieron & I also acted as the 911 team to solve a number of close disasters. We did not get to rest at all. What seems a simple task, like transfering sick passangers from our boat to the coast gaurds' boat, is made extremely dangerous when the sea is so rough. The duck drivers were not experienced enough and K & I took the responsibility to conduct the transfers. We also had to take care of a young swimmer who drifted away when the duck engine stalled and would not restart. We both immediately dived in to accompany her while the support boat turned to fetch the duck, not realising that the swimmer was drifting away. In waters so rough, a swimmer can be lost for good within seconds. Herda was a real Florence Nightingale helping the sick and wounded in-between strong swims herself.

Although we did not want to admit it to ourselves, 24hrs into the swim a relentless current running 4knot/hour was still pushing us north of our destination. It was K & my turn to swim and we agreed to give it absolutely everything we had to try to push us through. We both had excellent swims with all press and crew immediately recognising the increased pace and they did well to keep our spirits up. Certain that we had achieved the goal we re-boarded the boat to find that despite this effort, we still moved further away from our destination (much to Herda's great amusement that we swam "backwards"!). This was a decisive point where the SA team knew it was an impossible task and it was time to call it quits. A meeting was called and a decision made.

Back on land, we were met by another large press contingent and a conference that lasted over a hour. We then had to unload a fully stocked boat functioning on 30 hours of no sleep.

Hugely disappointing to us all, but we know this is unfortunately the true nature of open water distance swimming. I am just so happy and priviledged to have been a part of it all and something tells me this will not be the last time we make the attempt.

Sharing this with Kieron, Andrew and Herda has been amazing too. I am really proud of us all and know we had a big positive impact in the lives of both foreign teams and the sport of open water swimming. We all certainly have new friends and stories to take to the grave.

Thanks for all the interest and support shown by so many.



ryan at stramrood dot co dot za

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Lightning strikes plane

It's Friday, so words will be few. Click on the picture below to see the video and share your amazement.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How addicted to coffee are you?

I was presently surprised at my score, now that I work in an office, with a coffee machine & willing coffee makers .
Click here to find just how addicted to coffee you are.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Is Web 2.0 really making us dumb?

Two weeks ago I wrote a post attempting to explain the Web 2.0 phenomenon. I stated then that this was a 'precursor to another article I have been formulating for a while.' That article is what follows in the next couple of paragraphs. Before you say 'ah, this is geeky' and click to another page, let me state that by being a blog reader, you are a Web 2.0 user. This is not geek talk, I promise. Please read on, I would love to hear your opinions.

About two months ago Andrew Keen started a debate about the effects of the web and ,web 2.0 on particular on the intelligence of the world's population. It was done essentially to promote his latest book “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture.” Since then I have been pondering his point of view and taking in the counter arguments with interest.
Obviously there was a slew of articles, blog posts, podcasts, vidcasts etc attacking Andrew Keen, declaring him as the anti-christ. Heck, he was attacking something that has become many people's livelihood and an even larger population's way of life. It was to be expected, and probably desired by Mr Keen, that there would have been such a response.
I have decided to distance myself from both camps as a premise to this post and simply look at this from my simple point of view.

Which is a good starting point. Who actually cares what my point of view is? If there are those who do, should they? After all, on the top right of this web page, I openly declare that I am 'just a normal Joe Schmo.' Web 2.0 has essentially given the chance to anybody with internet access to be published, literally. The moment I finish this post, I will click a button that says 'Publish Post.' There are hundreds of journalists that have spent years studying their profession, their craft, that spend hours, days, weeks, months creating articles that get published in the various print media. Is it really prudent to let 'Joe Schmo' have such a platform? Obviously I sway towards the 'hell, yes' camp, but there is a side of me that says, there are a whole load of people that really should not be given any opportunity to publicise their points of view... But then, how does one weed out the good from the bad. Does one do what I do in my garden and rely on a third party to do the weeding or do I trust my instincts and 'the greater good' to force these elements to be overgrown by the better quality content?

But all this is just one part of the argument. There is a whole other avenue that needs to be explored. My statistics show that the fact that you are here @ Eish!! (nice to have you by the way, please pop around from time to time ;-) means there is a high likelyhood that you use Google. How many of you use Google to convert celsius to fahrenhiet(by typin g 'x celsius to fahrenheit' in the search box) or dollars to Rand('X dollar to rand')? How many times have I not bothered with the correct spelling in this post, knowing I can simply right-click and correct? (non-Firefox users you are missing out) Where do you go if you need to find out the capital city of Bulgaria? No longer do we need to learn the skill required to a) store this information in our brains and b) know how to find it when it is needed. The contrarian view says 'Hang on, do we not know a whole load more as a result of our web travels?' I am currently exploring Russia through I blog I stumbled upon the other day. I am not just reading about Russia ala Encyclopedia Brittanica. I am, in a way, experiencing the country. The same can be said for countless other countries and cities both on our continent and others. So sure some things are easier to find on the net than actually remember, but does that make me dumber?

Another argument I assume gets covered in Keet's book is the potential for the loss of culture. [Maybe at this point I should qualify that although I have every intention reading it, I have not. I have also purposefully decided to write this article before doing so.] Web 2.0 is not only bringing a mass of information to the masses, but allowing for easy interaction with both the producers and the audience. This means that geographical borders are being replaced by web communities. These communities are not formed around a race, culture or belief, necessarily, but around interests and 'like thinking-ness.' (excuse the made up phrase, I am an amateur after all) Age-old cultures are becoming forgotten as users create new identities for themselves in online communities, using their own jargon and interacting in ways particular to those communities. Even those not going to that extreme are perhaps becoming part of a global community. Those of you on Facebook, look at the groups you have joined for instance. How 'global' are these? If a 'global culture' is the inevitable result of the internet and Web 2.0 then I would have to side with Mr Keen on this point. However, I am not that convinced of this inevitability. Also I think the geographic migrations of all peoples to all corners of the earth would have more effect than those online anomalies mentioned in this paragraph.

So let me wrap this up by admitting I have probably asked more questions than I have answered. Then let me state that, therein lies the beauty of Web 2.0. You, the reader, can and hopefully will, have an opinion and spend a couple of seconds or maybe even a few minutes and type your thoughts as a comment. I, along with the other readers will read your comments ... and be the richer for it.

Is Web 2.0 really making is dumb?

[Come back tomorrow for something a whole lot lighter ... I promise]

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Monday, August 20, 2007

SA swimmers tackling Taiwan Strait - Update III

Just to let you know that (at the time of writing) the swim is definitely on from tomorrow (Tuesday). We are due to start at 9am, but will first have a press conference and 'departure party'. We would normally be excited about a 'party' before the swim, but a) the SA team is on such a tight timeline and b) the Taiwanese idea of a party is a brightly lit room, crap food and speeches which we can't understand anyway...! Expect to leave late afternoon as we know how superb their time management is!!

We have been supplied with a small tog bag which is the only luggage we may take on board. We have been strictly briefed on the exact items we are permitted to pack - no food, water or cell phones - Andrew, Kieron & I are now concerned as to how we are going to conceal our case of beers, bottle of whiskey, 10 packets of chips, 6 boxes of biscuits, loads of Energades, chocolates and plenty other Western-looking snacks!! But a plan will be made!

For a minimun of 3.5 days from tomorow, we will have 28 swimmers and 5 crew (33 people) on board a 15 x 3 meter, multi-coloured boat...all sleeping together in a 3 x 2 meter cabin ( 15 at a time). Other attractions are 'face cloth' showers, aqua-dumps and water restrictions. But we are so ready to get this done. A second, larger boat will be alongside with a press contingent, management, coaches, etc...

As tensions between Taiwan and China are super sensitive, no flags will be flown and we have agreed to leave ours behind too...pity!

We are off to do our packing now, then a final briefing. It is possible that my next communication will be from an island called 'Matsu' on the Chinese coast (if we are successful and if I can smuggle my phone on board).

Thanks for all the wishes and interest...keep em coming!


Ryan Stramrood

ryan at stramrood dot co dot za

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My Perfect City Challenge - Voting opens

Last week I posted a musing about what 'My Perfect City' would look and feel like.
This has, along with a few others, been entered in the 'My Perfect City Challenge' initiated by Your Group of WebAddiCTs.

Voting opens today, which means you are able to read the submissions and give your rating/vote. As tempting as it may be to link directly to the Eish!! submission I have decided rather to link to the Challenge page. Click here and scroll down to the list of submissions. All the entries are very different in style and content and make for interesting reading. So read them all and the vote for Eishman's entry ;-)

Update : [It seems as if the links are a bit screwy on the page, if you would prefer to go directly to the Eish!! vote page click here.]

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

SA swimmers tackling Taiwan Strait - Update II

Ok, so now all we really have to do is send an update - house bound. Although it might sound like we are bored, there really is never a dull moment in a Taipei apartment with approx 14 Chinese, 1 Taiwanese and 4 South African's!

After our free day yesterday where some of the more affluent of us shopped in electronic mecca for 5 hours or so, we arrived home around 8pm apparently with seconds to spare before the devastating typhoon hit us - wind and rain already pounding. All we wanted to do was hit our wafer-thin blue matts and head off to sleep after a swim in the 25m complex pool. Upon hearing about our swim intentions, all eyes widened considerably and the plan was quickly crushed. Mr Wang (host) rather invited the team to his house down the road for a drink. All completely not keen, but remaining polite, accepted the invite as long as it was a "que que" visit - (hurry, hurry). We arrived at Mr Wang's ultra-modern apartment to be immediately met by a 76inch LCD screen, full surround sound system, lounge and bar. Suitably impressed, we were then escorted to the second floor which displayed another LCD screen, bar, lounge and kitchen for a bottle of wine and beer (hooray!). Then it was off to the 3rd floor for the same. Then to the 4th, then the 5th, then the 6th!! - an apartment with 6 floors and a full-on lift which goes 'ting' at each floor. Amazing and clearly a great display of wealth and status.

Mr Wang had made it known that we were to make ourselves at home and it was then clear that this was not designed to be a 'que que' evening and again the SA team had missed the brief. None-the-less we got stuck into some mighty fine wine and, at last, sitting around a table 5 days into our visit, we finally got to know all our new friend's names. You can forget about remembering even one of their real Chinese names as they are ridiculously complicated but most have an 'English name' too. Those who don't already have an English name, we have now allocated one. So its Fire, ET, Andy, Candy, Zoe, Mama, Lilly, Coach, Tom, Jerry and many others...communication is developing slowly.

It was not long before Mr Wang announced that we were to all relocate to the ground floor where he had some very 'special entertainment' for us. At first the mind boggled, but as soon as two microphones were produced, it could be only one thing.........karaoke!! Chinese karaoke! What followed could only be described as one of the most entertaining, different and fun evenings. The SA team managed to smash over 6 bottles of red and were just as tipsy as our super fit Chinese mates who were still on their first bottle. Thankfully there was English karaoke too and a really good sound system, which led to myself, Kieron and Andrew all giving it horns on the mike until the early hours...."I believe I can fly..." (I dont think I have laughed this much since Kieron announced in loud, fluent Chinese at the international press conference that he "needed to poo".... )

With the typhoon now coming in strongly, but still not getting to grips completely, we decided to follow through on our 'typhoon swim' and managed to convince 2 Chinese to join us. Good experience and often quite eery.

To illustrate how our communications are coming along, Mr Wang arrived this morning with news of a 'surprise'. He summoned Andrew to follow him who returned 5 min later telling us he had figured out that the surprise is "German Sausage" for dinner (we were not sure whether to be excited or scared about Taiwan-German sausage!) but a minute later, Mr Wang walked in with a new fan for the apartment. This was the 'surprise' and it had absolutely nothing to do with any kind of sausage!! But we really are improving...and even the meals are now fun and less traumatising. Herda, who finally has some comfort after receiving a spoon, is still battling a bit, but Kieron, Andrew & I are confident with the chop sticks, know what to avoid, have learned to lower our heads and slurp from the bowl rather than lift the food to our mouths and we no longer care about the inevitable laughing at our expense.

Last night was another 2hr strategy session where plans and rules are made. The only difference now is that they look to the SA team for direction...and we have manipulated this position to mould the entire event to suit us. It is interesting to note the difference between us and the Chinese....they would never dream of questioning a rule, where we are quick to point out that it is flawed or it does not suit us. For eg, there is a strict and well structured schedule for the swim. You are either swimming, 'on duty' or resting and in the mandatory 8 hr rest period, there is a very strict no talking policy. We all knew that keeping Kieron or Herda quiet for 8hrs is impossible, so we have negotiated it down to a lesser 6hrs of quiet time... Also, only the SA team refuse to wear the sharkpod and rather insist on it being tied to the accompanying duck alongside. They were very unhappy about this, but swimming with an strong electrical pulse down the leg is ridiculous and we all flatly refuse. They have now agreed (this causes huge issues as relay swimmer switching and sharkpod charging systems are very streamlined).

We are now off to clean boats some more and add finishing touches. Tuesday is looking good for departure...



ryan at stramrood dot co dot za

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Another reason not to move to Australia!!

Okay, so it's a remote island, but can you imagine living with this(these)???
[Found @ Jian Hong's My Entertainment Blog]

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Friday, August 17, 2007

SA swimmers tackling Taiwan Strait - Update

I have been able to make contact with one of the swimmers taking part in the Taiwan Strait swim I blogged about yesterday. Ryan Stramrood will try and send updates whenever possible and I will post them here, so pop back from time to time. This is no ordinary adventure.

... Thanks for this...I am surprised as the only mail I sent was a quick update to family. But I am glad it found its way ... and is doing the rounds we appreciate the interest. Although we are with the group 24/7, information is very hard to get and we find out what we are doing when we get to wherever it is. Literally 10min before it was bedtime the night before our big departure, they decided to postpone the swim to allow a very large typhoon to pass. Good decision of course, but it is now a race against time for the SA team as we are all booked on flights home. We are still in with a chance and scheduled departure is now Tuesday 21st. So, right now it is a whole lot of 'hurry up and wait'. We had to check out of the hotel and have been relocated to a villa where we are literally sleeping on hard wooden floors with a 'why-bother' mattress, no pillow and a swim towel for a blanket. If you wonder why we are persevering, we are the "VIP" guests of Mr Wang and he is covering all costs while here. They take hosting very seriously and if we were to relocate ourselves, it would be a big insult. Kieron & I did however sneak to the lounge last night and took all the 'Biggie Best' type cushions off the couch to sleep on. It was a good move, but we were up at 5am to go replace them as this breach would definitely be frowned upon. Yesterday we had our first sea swim. Again info supply was challenged and we only found out it was to be a 2hr straight swim as we got in the water. The sun was baking, the water temp around 28 degrees, no feeds, no chance to grease up and no idea where we were heading. To top it all off, we started in the same disgusting smelly harbour water, only this time we had to put our heads down. If you know anything about swimming, you'll know how much water goes down your throat no matter how desperate you are to avoid it! Despite the above, it was good to get in the water and better (only just) once out at sea. There was a nice bit of chop at play and the SA team clearly showed our experience in open water and it is clearer why Mr Wang wanted us here. He rates us very highly in the open sea and all the Chinese and Taiwanese swimmers look to us for direction despite the fact that they are all professional / ex-professional swimmers. This was their first sea swim and there is now a definite feeling of subtle respect / acknowledgment that we might just be worth our salt on the long haul. At dinner after our swim (which included frog, eel stew and odd looking eggs which Kieron keeps dishing up large helpings on my plate when I am not looking...) we were clearly incorporated into all conversation (read: long game of charades) with lots of jokes and fooling around. Although we know our host does not approve, we simply could not handle another evening drinking tea at dinner. Andrew broke the ice and ordered a beer. There was some silence before Mr Wang smiled again and ordered another beer to be shared in tot-sized helpings for all 20 at the table - not quite what we had in mind, so we ordered another 10 bottles to be shared, much to the delight of our younger fellow swimmers and the opposite for their coaches. A good evening followed... Today have been given a 'free' day and we planned to head out for some fun. But now apparently we must be back by 3pm as the typhoon hits at 5pm and they expect it to be of enough force to rip trees from the earth and certainly cancel all transport options. We are less convinced as to its ferocity, but best we trust the locals. Could be an interesting night for us. Imagine the blank stares when we beg for a 'typhoon swim' (in the pool) to be arranged - just for the experience! Will try to keep updates coming...not sure what reception will be like at = sea (or battery power). (Nic....you know! Xxx) Cheers Ryan

ryan at stramrood dot co dot za

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Thanks Ryan for the effort to get the info through.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Friday Fun - Video

Time for some Friday fun!!!

http://view.break.com/350100 - Watch more free videos

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SA swimmers to tackle Taiwan Strait

Four swimmers from SA are quietly making history by being part of an international team attempting to swim the Taiwan Strait.
Organised by veteran Taiwanese open water swimmer, Wang Han, the 28 person team includes 16 participants from Taiwan, 8 from China and the 4 South Africans. The trip is 170km (although taking currents etc into account it's estimated it equates to a 25okm swim) and is expected to take between 4 and 5 days. It will be down relay style with 2 swimmers always being in the water at any one time.
The 4 South Africans, Ryan Stramrood, Kieron Palframan, Herda Silverman & Andrew Chin have been part integrated fully into the team, which has meant that they have had to knuckle down and perform tasks that include cleaning barnacles off the support boat ... and of course sampling the interesting local cuisine.
If all goes according to plan, they should be starting the attempt today. We wish them good luck and are sure they will come back with many stories to tell.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Free Parental Control Software

I took a big parenting step a fortnight ago and installed a pc in my 12 year old daughter's bedroom, with internet access. What could have been an unnerving relinquishing of power and control was made extremely easy when I found Crawler Parental Control.
This awesome, free, package allows you to protect your children in a number of ways. On a pc level you are able to restrict the applications they can use and install, the folders they can access and even dictate the websites they can access. It has a built in website filter that will block inappropriate content and even prevent your credit card details being used without your knowledge.
For me, the most powerful module is the time scheduling. You are able to set, when your children are able to use the computer, by time of the day, day of the week and maximum hours per day, week etc. The same can be done for time spent online.
All this plus details reports of usage emailed to you, for free.

Download here.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Perfect City

I support Accelerate Cape Town
Accelerate Cape Town has initiated the "My Perfect City Challenge." [For more information check out the post @ Your Group of Web AddiCT(s).

This got me thinking. Obviously the perfect city does not, will not and cannot exist. For me though the criteria for the perfect city is quite simple. The perfect city would be a place that is so impressively amazing that I would consider leaving Cape Town to live there.

It would need to have a diverse population with a cultural mix which would allow me to experience food, entertainment and interact with individuals from the four corners of the globe. These same individuals would despite their roots being from other cities/countries/continents, have their hearts firmly set in this city. Be proud citizens of their adopted home.
As tempting as it would be to dream up a city that would have all citizens living a equally prosperous life, my perfect city would have a varied economic demographic. I believe this diversity creates an environment of diversity, creativity and entrepreneurship, enabling it to become the centre for innovation.
Geographically the city would, in my superficial opinion need to be on the coast, and not too far from the tropics this will keep the climate relatively moderate. The inhabitants would all be appreciative of their piece of the globe and maintain the environment with a sense of pride, ensuring that future generations too will be able to enjoy the environmental gifts currently being enjoyed. It is also important that the city offers some extraordinary natural phenomenon. That will ensure a steady flow of visitors to the city and ensure that it remains a desirable place to stay.
Again, let's keep away from what is assumed a given when dreaming about the transport system of this city. No, I don't want impressive highways, tramways or highspeed railways ... necessarily. The routes would be pleasurable to use. Looking out the windows of whatever the mode of transport being used would be an experience in itself. No tunnel walls flying past, but a view of the city's vistas, fellow dweller's lifestyles and natural beauty. Allowing the inhabitants to use the commute as an unwinding mechanism.
The work culture of the city would be one of innovation and service. The importance of free and extended family time would be inculcated into the fibre of all those involved in the
industries of the city. Things would happen ... when they should.

Cape Town could well become this city. There's not a heck of a lot listed above that's not attainable, I don't think. Incidently, you will have noticed the absence of comment on crime. That's because in the perfect city, that would be a non-issue.

What do you think? I am sure there's a whole load more that can be dreamt up. Have your say, comment or blog your dreams.

[Update : This post has been entered in the My Perfect City Challenge. Click here to give it your rating THEN click here and enter yourself, it's a great excuse to dream]

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Thursday, August 9, 2007

Zimbabwe - could this be the beginning of the end?

Could this finally be the beginning of the end for Bob in Zimbabwe?

It is estimated that the current inflation rate is 9,000 percent or worse and the International Monetary Fund has predicted it could reach 100, 000 percent by the end of the year. Over 80 per cent of the population are trying to live below the poverty line, and Zimbabwe currently has 80 per cent of it's population unemployed. The economy is shrinking by 4.4 per cent a year(this must be conservative estimate!?!) The average man or woman is not expected to live more than 40 years, with 1/5 of all adults infected with HIV/AIDS. The is no press freedom. And the last four months have seen the government embark on another brutal campaign of state-sponsored violence against opposition groups and their supporters.

All the while Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF cronies have, by hook and by crook, managed to retain power of what was once the bread basket of Africa.

But now all that is about to change. Why? Today Reuters is reporting that the country's beer supply is now drying up. The population has been hungry for a long time now, but now with nothing left to drown their sorrows, perhaps this will finally spark sufficient dissent to get the population to revolt against those in power.

We can only hope.

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Happy Woman's Day - Video

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Cape Town & Western Cape making things happen ... finally

So it's slow and sometimes tedious, but things are starting to happen here in Cape Town (no, I will not refer to it as Slaapstad!)
With any initiative of appreciable size hampered by political infighting, the punishment meted out to the voters for giving sparring parties control of provincial and local governments, it's a big deal when something comes to fruition. Yesterday we had two such initiatives not launched, discussed by committees, thrashed out in the courts or even being appealed but actually become in to being.

The first is what is known as the B&T lane on the N2, one of the main arterials into the city. As of yesterday, the right-hand lane of the three lane highway is reserved for buses and taxi's only during the morning rush hour. While currently raising the ire of many motorists, as this has obviously added some serious travel time to those commuters not using public transport, I must commend the provincial politicians for taking the 'hard road' and implementing this idea. Here in Cape Town we constantly complain the lack of public transport. This is sure to give those providing the service extra a shot int the arm, as well as convincing more people to use the public transport providers to get to work.

The second initiative seems to have come along more quietly, and emanates from the City of Cape Town. Yesterday I received a big clear plastic bag and a pamphlet outlining the new recycling program in my letterbox. As of next week we will be able to place a full bag of recyclables with our usual rubbish and it will be taken, sorted and recycled. If successful this is going to make a huge difference to our landfill sites. Many people have been kept from recycling as it's been a hassle having to cart off your recyclables to a depot. I am personally looking forward to getting a large portion of my garage back.

Now, let's get those housing projects moving!

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Protect your mp3's - Keep your Anti-virus up-to-date

It's been a while since we have had a virus scare. Authors of viruses have moved their attentions to malware, which take over the infected pc's and allow them to earn money using these infected machines. Viruses provide no payload for their creators, making them less attractive to develop.

While the prevalence of this new virus is extremely low, W32.Deletemusic, is a sobering reminder that we need to keep our anti-virus software updated. The virus spreads via attached drives like flash drives or other removable media. It will really hurt if one gets infected and this virus does it's things, finds all your mp3's and deletes them.

Is your anti-virus up-to-date?

Related post : Anti-Virus (16 March 2007)

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Monday, August 6, 2007

What is Web 2.0?

As a precursor to an article I have been formulating for a while I have decided to discuss the Web 2.0 concept. It's a buzzword that is well entrenched in the consciousness of those who are web savvy but causes the average web traveler's eyes to gloss over.

Those of you worried about glossy eyes skip this paragraph. The following is the definition Tim O'Reilly came up with, which pretty much sums up what Web 2.0 is, albeit a little wordy
  • Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an "architecture of participation," and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences.

Web 2.0 is a term penned by either Joe Firmage or Tim O'Reilly in 2003. You will remember that in 2001 the dot.com bubble burst. There was a whole load of negative sentiment around all things online and, in my opinion, web-based innovations needed to distance themselves from what had been. Web 2.0, was the new internet.

There was more to it than that, however. The new internet startups that were re-igniting the sector were being built around some very different fundamentals. I like how one contributor puts it : Web 2.0 is made of people! While not exactly true, the difference between 'Web 1.0' the new 'Web 2.0' is the interactively.

Previously content was static and delivered to the users. Web 2.0 brings relevant content intuitively to the users and allows them to interact with the site owners and other users. But wait, there's more. Web 2.0 site visitors are able to contribute to the type of content displayed, what headlines are most prominent or even amend the content. A great example of this is the massively popular Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia built on the premise that anyone can edit the pages on the site.

Web 2.0 has also brings the whole concept of social networking to the masses. Again, through the interactive tools sites like MySpace, Bebo & Facebook have exploded. The intuitive design attributes meant you no longer needed to know the AIM or IM identity of your friends. You friends find you through your networks.

Finally, Web 2.0 has caused the advent of the 'New Media Revolution.' The online tools available have made it not only possible but easy, for the man-in-the-street to publish his thoughts, either like me via the written word, in audio form (podcasting) or even visually via online video. This has left the web awash with user-generated content to which a subsequent Eish!! article will be referring to.

Have I done a good job of explaining Web 2.0? If not, add your thoughts in the comments ... (now there's something Web 2.0ish, comments...)

Here's a list of Web 1.0 and the Web 2.0 equivalent that illustrates the way things have evolved.
(Source : www.anybudd.com)
  • AltaVista vs. Google
  • Hotmail vs. Yahoo Mail
  • Ofoto vs. Flickr
  • Mp3.com vs. iTunes
  • Geocities vs. Blogger
  • MapQuest vs. Google Maps
  • Encarta vs. Wikipedia
  • Netscape vs. Firefox
Click here for a massive list of Web 2.0 sites & companies.

Finally, click here for a YouTube presentation given on the topic.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

From one "Lank Tired Oke' for another

An email arrived in my inbox yesterday. The first paragraph reads :

"Howzit okes, and chicks, my name's Duncan Farenheit and I'm like, a muso from Obs. I used to play bass for a band called 'The Tired Okes', but the main oke in the band, an oke called Attie Pienaar fired me for forgetting to turn my amp on, so I formed my own band, bru, called Duncan Farenheit and the Lank Tired Okes.But then all the okes, like left the band, so then I became just One LANK Tired Oke. Or "OLTO", as I was also known as for awhile, even though I am like more of a baritone. Then I formed another band called 'No Friends of Attie'. But then we broke up, so I went solo. But I'm going to be playing like a reunion gig with the Lank Tired Okes at the Autonomous Riempie Chair Cafe' in Obs lower main road. Should be kief. So howz to come like check us, bru? Don't tune me nooit, hey. Shot. ... and Oh Ja, tell lank okes and chicks about it, 'cos it's a vris winter and it's better if we like huddle together to keep
warm, you check." - Duncan Farenheit (& The Lank Tired Okes)

After an introduction like that I reckoned that I could forego the usual Friday video and rather give those lucky readers staying in and around Cape Town something to go and do this weekend. So why not waltz off to the Orange Street and park off at the Intimate Theatre for what appears to be an hilarious musical evening.

Check out his blog for further info.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What's a mashup? Granny Teller explains

Arriving back at CT International after 11pm last night after flying to Johannesburg early that same morning for a meeting, Eishman was totally buggered and really not looking forward to the drive home. If you consider that this includes a trip over a mountain, the ride required me to be awake, something I was not.
Fortunately, I had burnt a cd with Adam Curry's 'Daily Source Code' to listen to. Two minutes into the drive I heard this mashup and I was awake and rocking! Nothing like a mash of Black Sabbath and Led Zep to ensure you are awake and ready to hit the highway.

So do I need to explain what a mashup is? I had planned to spend a paragraph explaining, but then I found this little video. Watch Granny Teller explain further.

In my opinion the all time classic mashup is Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Listen to it and you will never be able to hear Green Days "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," Oasis' "Wonderwall," Travis' "Writing to Reach You" and Eminem's "Sing (For the Moment)" (which samples Aerosmith's "Dream On") in the same light again.

There are many other gems available at MashupTown or PartyBen for download. Just be aware of the dubious legal nature of these mp3s. Personally the sheer artistry is something to behold.

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