31 July 2009

Anti-hijacking ideas

This has to be the most morbid post I've made - if not ever, at least recently - and it has to do with a very important subject; South Africa's crime.

I was driving to work today, and I got to thinking (and my drive isn't all that long, so my brain has no time to fire up on all cylinders in such short time, so forgive me if this is silly stuff) about what would happen if one were to break down in our neighbourhood, and thought to myself, it's not so bad, it's a safe neighbourhood. And then I extrapolated that to a bad neighbourhood, and thought of ideas to avoid being in trouble, and then it grew and grew and I decided there has to be some "survival kit" that is easy to implement and affordable to have for each South African car owner, and I came up with an idea...

It's a simple idea - and it works on the following principle;

  1. Break down or run out of fuel (that's generally a silly thing) in a bad area, what do you do?
  2. Lock the doors and wait for help, or get out of the car and run away.
  3. These are both good options provided you've got bullet-proof windows, or you are healthy and fit enough to outrun most trouble coming your way, and you know which way to go. These are not good options if you can't achieve either.
  4. The key - in my mind - is to be as invisible as possible in circumstances like this. So I thought about maybe one hiding in their boot - easy to access in most cars now, but not so smart if suddenly someone hijacks the car and you're in the boot.
  5. Then I thought that it should be an essential lesson for everyone to know how to open a boot from the inside, especially to alert others to your plight. But it's hard in the dark, so you'd need a torch.
  6. Then I realised that most people's cellphones offer enough light to illuminate the trunk of a car and would allow an unfortunate victim to see in the boot.
  7. Then I thought, why use the cellphone for light when you can use it to make emergency calls?
  8. Then I thought, well, if one were unfortunate enough to be hijacked, chances are the hijackers would steal the cellphone off of your person before bundling you into the boot of the car, in which case the cellphone is no good to you.
  9. Then I thought, what about putting a grotty old cellphone into the trunk of the car and storing it away somewhere as an emergency device.
  10. Then I thought, this was ingenious, because if it had GPS, you could also broadcast your GPS coordinates using a tool like Google Latitude, or in the very least, SMS your emergency contacts (you all have some, don't you?) and telling them you're in danger, and then they can contact the SP and say "triangulate their location! This is urgent!".
  11. Then I thought, the other good idea is to notify AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE rather than just try to reach one person at a time, so I thought this cellphone should have a mailing list of three or four (at least) people that you know are reliable and tech-savvy enough to help you; you get one SMS out to all of them and voila, they're all on your case and then you dump the phone hidden somewhere so it can be triangulated.
  12. It would be more comforting to be verbally communicating, but there's a risk the bad guys would overhear you and then snatch the phone away. A phone on silent with SMS comms is a safer bet. Hiding it away is even better.
So my briefly morbid, yet potentially life-saving and practical solution is to keep a cheap cellphone hidden in the trunk of your car that has been prepared for emergencies. Were the unthinkable (or rather, undesirable) to happen, one could simply grab the phone, use it as a source of light to open the trunk from the inside (if one knew how), or otherwise contacting the emergency list and advising them of your desperate need for emergency salvation.

I know most of us don't want to think of such things, but when I read stories of four guys trapped in the trunk of a car for eighteen hours, or someone being left in a car to roast, etc. it makes me think that we need to be a little more proactive than simply hoping it won't happen to us!

28 July 2009

USB and RAID - where have I been?

Maybe I've been out of it for a while, but this seems to me to be one of the first USB storage bays that supports RAID 0/1. It's like Albany's brown bread that tastes like white. Best of both worlds. I'm excited.

25 July 2009


Aaah such good memories of my youth! Star Wars! LEGO!

Finally, it is getting the shelf-space and attention that it deserves!

I'm a bit disappointed with the lack of original series selection (you need the 10 year anniversary badge of Darth Vader) and a lot of the Clone Wars stuff is just rehashed preludes to the "modern" stuff. The Twilight looks like a B-wing. The AT-AP Walker is a baby AT-AT. The AT-TE Walker is a baby AT-AT (R1199!!!).

I'd snap up Echo Base @ R399 except you only get a Hoth Han Solo. Ditto for Darth Vader's TIE Fighter - only Darth Vader (and I've already got him on my key ring).

Ah well. One can only hope they get more variety of the classics! It's apparently a re-run celebrating ten years of LEGO STAR WARS stuff (1999-2009).

24 July 2009

Layout changes

The perfectionist in me grew bored. I was waiting an hour for a download to finish, and needed to give students time to do their Friday weekend work before rebooting the server for an important update. In the interim, I decided to fiddle with some gadgets...

If you are perceptive (and if you care), you'll have noticed I've added a followers & minions gadget and also a photostream to my public PICASA album (which isn't my primary photo storage option since it is limited to "only" 1GB of photo's, but it's there for now). Enjoy the extra slowness on loading :)

22 July 2009

You must be a member of the Administrators group on this computer to install this hardware (USB flashdrive)

If anyone else out there has to manage a locked down LAN, you'll know how frustrating it is when a little thing becomes a big problem. A little thing like inserting a USB flash drive and XP says you need to be an administrator to install it. Sigh. This shouldn't be so complicated.

After digging around for a host of options, I've narrowed down my particular solution for my particular problem in our student LABs, and here it is, in all of its documented glory!

Platform: HP DX7400, XP Pro
Event: Plugging in a USB flashdrive to the desktop lockdown image

This occurs on a DX7400 after we’ve done the windows repair of a DX2000 image. The DX2000 image works fine, but USB flashdrives won’t work on the DX7400.

Replace the USBSTOR.* files with older versions (i.e. from the DX2000 image) and it works fine.

As administrator, copy the files below into the appropriate directories. We keep older copies of these files on the NAS (\\nas.cs.ukzn.ac.za\SSCUWVL\Documentation\Sorted (as of May 2009)\SSCU LABs (notes, checklists, etc.)\Windows-related notes (lockdown, tweaks, etc.)\Windows bugs\USB Flashdrive Administrator bug), but otherwise copy them from another machine that works with USB.

Copy USBSTOR.INF (ours is august 23 2001) to C:\WINDOWS\INF

Copy USBSTOR.PNF (ours is july 5 2007) to C:\WINDOWS\INF

Copy USBSTOR.SYS (ours is august 3 2004) to C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS

Log off. Unplug USB. Log on. Insert USB. Job done :)

If we want users to be able to eject or unplug the USB with limited rights, then this is a GP edit, which is the subject for another post.

Here is a list of some links that may also prove helpful in troubleshooting the administrators group problem if the solution I've mentioned doesn't work for you...

20 July 2009

Blog from GMAIL and iGoogle!

It's easy, and I'm doing it from GMAIL right now!

In a nutshell; under gmail SETTINGS, enable "add gadget by URL" and then save. You then go back into SETTINGS and there should be a GADGET tab. Select it, and enter this URL - http://www.blogger.com/gadgets/post.xml. Bob's your uncle :)

Go to http://www.google.com/support/blogger/bin/answer.py?answer=143415 for all the details.

17 July 2009

Removing intel graphics tray context options

If you manage a bunch of desktops (like I do), you always have one or two idiots that decide to fiddle. In this particular case, the Intel graphics driver updates force a context-menu in the right-click on the DESKTOP and this gives the kiddies the joys of rotating the screen and freaking out the other users who are none the wiser for it.

Thankfully, Intel has given us an option to remove this context-menu, even though I'd prefer it even more that they didn't default install the darned thing. Check out this page (or google for the title above) and you should find the REG file to update the registry and stop those kiddies from messing with your screens.

The day that was the mark of the end of the week that was the first week or something...

I don't even know why I'm posting this post, but I guess these are the days that mark the hourglass sand-falling moments of our lives, or something...

AND BEFORE ANYONE judges me for posting while I should be working, I am waiting for an image to do its thing, so I have some time, okay?

First off, let's start at the beginning. Today I did a daily reading with Kat this morning, and it was Psalm 127. Brief, pointed, but a little scary :) God can be a little more obvious to us than we would prefer, sometimes! If you want to know what I'm talking about, go and read the Bible you heathen!!

On another point, there is much else going on in the world today that warrants attention, and here are just a few that caught mine eye (and don't justify any attention at all :)):

  1. Harry Potter 6 (AKA Half Blood Prince) is absolutely ghastly. I mean, honestly. I am not a fan of Harry Potter by any stretch of the imagination (and it takes a big stretch to enjoy his films, or probably even the books, which I also vehemently refuse to read because they sound like bollocks), but I picked watching it over "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" (please withhold your applause for later).

    Basically, the movie was almost three hours of utter boredom with a mild dollop of teen-angst and relationship blunders in the middle. Kat found it hilarious about the overly-obsessed girl running after Harry's sidekick, because it reminded her of our youth and a certain Stephanie pining after me. Yeah, whatever. Apart from the typical teenage / high-school antics (which were entertaining) the movie felt utterly predictable, boring, and sensationalist with a very wafer-thin plot and twists that should rather be called twosts because you can't ever figure them out from the clues in the movie (I called it predictable, didn't I? Wow, that's a twost in my review if ever there was one). The main problem is, I skipped HP5 and went onto HP6 and still figured out after a few minutes that my favourite actor in the franchise (Alan) wasn't half as bad as he makes out in the movie (oops, did I spoil it for someone?)... but anyway, go and waste your own three hours and figure it out for yourself - don't say I didn't warn you! I give it a four out of ten, because I'm in a good mood, and because I had tons of Waterfall Cinema popcorn to keep me sane.

  2. Prince Adam, Princess Adora, Trap-Jaw, Man-E-Faces, Mer-Man, Stratos, Battle Cat, Zodak, Ram Man, Orko, Moss Man, Gwildor, Eternia... oh, by the power of Grayskull (sic)!

    Yes, if you're old enough, you'll be smiling at least a little bit right about now. I did some nostalgia browsing (ah man, nostalgia ain't what it used to be) and decided after having watched all these spin-off movies from a currently imagination-challenged Hollywood that they were bound to be making another retcon / reboot of another old movie based on a successful toy-line or series. Didn't that happen with, um, most of the recent movies? Lord of the Rings (wow, that's a risky movie - the fan base is tiny), Spiderman (ditto - would anyone really buy into a mutant spider guy that can fight villains in New York City), Star Trek (ditto - I don't know guys, ten previous movies and more than five spin-off series tells me this is a risk we can't afford to take), Transformers (ditto * 2). They're mostly just redeux versions of classic 80's movies or series when the lack of CGI back then meant people had to be daring and take chances on movies, and not nowadays cash in on an already-established franchise and just chuck in copious amounts of CGI to make it look amazing, and get the kiddies frothing to watch it years in advance thanks to loads of viral-advertising beforehand. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA IS AN EXCEPTION BECAUSE IT WAS CANCELLED BACK IN THE 80'S AND THE STORY NEEDED TO BE CONCLUDED, OKAY??? Anyway, I digress. Where was I? Oh yes...

    He-Man is coming back!! I must admit, despite the reservations I have that it will stick to the canon, the cast sounds exciting - Jessica Biel (Teela), Brendan Gleeson (Man-at-Arms - I wouldn't have anyone else, except maybe Arnie), Mickey Rourke (Ram-Man), Dwayne Johnson AKA THE ROCK (Stratos), Frank Langella (again as Skeletor), Anne Hathaway (Evil-Lyn), Gary Oldman (Trap Jaw), Andy Serkis (AKA Gollum) as Mer-Man, and last - but not least - Ron Perlman as BEASTMAN (what movie is complete without Ron Perlman). Sounds exciting - now all we needed was Chris O'Donnell as Orko and we'd be set.

  3. I don't currently have a point 3. I think I'll just promote TWITTER or G.HO.ST or something - check them out. Enjoy your day. FRIDAY!!!

16 July 2009

Stefan Terblanche is so fit...

Rumour has it, Stefan Terblanche - at the age of 34 - has been the fittest player in the Sharks squad for over two years. While I was in Mozambique this past week, a bunch of us started lamenting why the Springboks lost their final test to the Lions, and almost in unison we all said Stefan Terblanche should have been in the team. We were all so adamant of this, that we pretty much consecutively cited the fact that he is regarded as the fittest player in the Sharks squad for over two years now. After a while, we got a bit silly, and I jotted down all the comments that came up - good and bad - and have compiled them for other people's enjoyment. I do not censor these comments, so some are absolutely terrible but they're there to honour the hard work of the men that served in the front-line of joke brewing!

In fact, Stefan Terblanche is SO FIT ...

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, he broke the bleep test. The bleep test only has twelve levels. Stefan got to level fifteen, so they wrote it onto his jersey.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, SMS stands for Stefan's Messaging Service

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, SOS actually stands for Send Over Stefan

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Stefan can tell you how long a piece of string really is.

  • That chicken. That road. Stefan knows why.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, he outran the Energiser bunny.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Stefan can send E. T. home.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Stefan can also see dead people.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, MTN stands for Mobile Terblanche Network. You get four complimentary tries with your first national contract.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, MTN provides fullbacking on all drops during your call.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Stefan Terblanche drop-kicked himself out of his mom's womb.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, every time his mom felt him kicking in her tummy, she got three points.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, when Stefan goes for a conversion, the nation of Islam is converted.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, when Stefan's tries are converted, everyone is converted.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Superman's S is a tribute to his mentor, Stefan.

  • Batman managed to get to level 14 on the bleep test. Batman cheated.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Chuck Norris' middle name is "stefanterblanche", pronounced Chuck stefanterblanche Norris.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Stefan Terblanche's name spelt backwards is still pronounced Stefan Terblanche.


  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Subaru Impreza WRX STi stands for Stefan Terblanche Inspired.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, In the French Open, the final point is translated "game, set, stefan".

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, all sainthoods begin "St" in honour of Stefan Terblanche.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Vernon Koekemor's daughters are named Stefan and Terblanche.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, he has started a fitness academy. It's called SA Champs. Stefan's Academy of Champs.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Stefan's Academy of Champs isn't just an academy. It's a nation. When Great Britain heard about the Academy, they renamed themselves to simply Britain.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, the sequel to 300 is simply called Stefan Terblanche. It's only a rough version of Stefan's life, since the true story is too epic and would span six feature-length movies. The CGI to recreate Stefan's abilities on the big screen hasn't been invented yet.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, When Neil Armstrong first landed on the moon he tripped over a rugby ball which had the initials "ST" on it.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, when the Ford Focus ST was first revealed, Ford was sued by Stefan because the ST was misleading people into thinking Stefan had a lower top speed than he actually does.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Bill Gate's first company name was MicroStefan but he later had it changed to avoid a lawsuit.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Cate Blanchette is a stage name in honour of Stefan. Her real name isn't relevant.

  • Stefan Terblanche is the epitome of fit. He can get through any gap. When he was three months old he could get a round peg through a square hole.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, in the US elections, Obama voted for Stefan.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, not even a dentist has been able to find a hole in Stefan's defence.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Stefan has more toe than a roman sandal.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Osama's next target is Stefan.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Iraq never really had WMDs. The CIA wasn't wrong with their report though. Stefan was simply visiting Iraq at the time of their assessment.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, were Stefan to ever snore, he'd break the sound barrier.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, the Ghostbusters call Stefan.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Stefan solved Fermat's Last Theorem with Stefan's First Theorem.

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, Stefan would save the cheerleader.

    (UPDATE 20/07/2009: It seems our trend is catching on; some dude I met for a few hours the night before has just SMS'ed me some more... woohoo - we've started a movement outside of our friendship circle!!)

  • Stefan Terblanche is so fit, he can breath above and below water.
    At the same time.

  • The 'Awesomeness' motivational poster in Barney Stinson's office is a photo of Stefan Terblanche.

  • Stefan Terblanche taught Lance Armstrong how to ride a bike.

  • Stefan Terblanche is The Stig.

12 July 2009

Back in RSA

I've been home for about 24 hours, and it really has been a bizarre reverse culture shock.

I arrived home to an empty house and felt quite awkward switching on the lights, boiling water in the cordless kettle, and using a toilet that flushes. Most distressing of all for me, being able to turn a tap and not only have water, but drinkable water!

The television was an issue I had to resolve with some prayer. I didn't simply want to veg out as soon as returning home, but based on the circumstances (my illness and exhausted physical state) I felt it was forgiveable.

The loneliness factor was quite obvious to me. Having spent pretty much every waking (and sleeping) moment with the team, it was quite an adjustment to come back to an empty home.

One other thing I've picked up - Zulu people, in general, are insanely aggressive when compared to their Moçambiquan counterparts, whom in contrast are very humble, reserved, and QUIET. Zulu people generally tend to be loud and determined, whereas the Picoco people are simple and community-focused, always helpful and allowing us to go in front of them in a queue etc.

All-in-all, living off pap and mealie meals for a week, having to pump water for washing, having bucket-baths around an old and used long-drop out in the cold midnight air, waiting for a gas kettle to boil drinkable water in the mornings, being grateful for a full moon to shine some light in the evenings, and long-dropping all seem to have helped me yet-again realise how fortunate we are on this side of the border. I'm not going to cut off my hot-water supply any time soon, and I'm sure in about a month I'm going to be mostly back to normal, but one thing I am going to change is I'm going to grow my own vegetables!

The experience always changes you; one week with the poorest of the poor, you can't help but be changed. Right now I'm struggling to accept the "entitlement attitude" so many jerks have in this country; they need only sniff what's going on over the border and then they'll change their tune!

05 July 2009

Mozambique Mission

Two days into the mission "technically".

Started 530am on Saturday, and got going +-8am. There were delays (team waiting for the treasurer), VW TRANSPORTER needing oil, getting tyres pumped, etc. We were last in the convoy but made stop 1 earlier than the team getting the ZA stickers.

Our first casualty was Egg-poo being denied access to Swazi. Sent home.

The stretch from Swaziland to Moz was attended to by my co-pilot while I slept. When I awoke I didn't recognise the surroundings. Kinda did. Kinda didn't. Wasn't sure but we carried on. Eventually we found a sign saying Siteki to the right. I recognised the area but told the convoy to not turn. When we finally arrived at the luxury resort I realised we were going the wrong way. One of our team insisted Lamahashe was the right border, and another asked for directions to Goba border post, and both confirmed we were going the right way. I enquired about the description of this border post and soon concluded we were going to the wrong post.

Turn around. Backtrack. We arrived at Goba post at about 7pm. My Portuguese got us going so it was good. Rafael's Spanish also did wonders. We were through. Cellphone started to work again, and I got a host of smses from the others who'd gone ahead wondering where we were. I sms'ed and said we were heading to the YFC house. The girls in the car behind were getting frantic because they were exhausted by now.

I got us to the YFC house from memory - having shown everyone where Pikoko was on the way - only to receive an sms from Shannon saying we must go to Pikoko.

I pulled into YFC house and found Lauren and Debbie and Wes who were surprised to see us. At the moment I showed up, Debbie had just been asked to phone me because I was lost, so then we all went back to Pikoko in convoy and made it home and in bed by about 11pm.

I'd managed to get the team through Swaziland (once we ascertained we were lost), through Moz border. To YFC house, and then back to Pikoko.

On Sunday I had an early start (745am) and took us to the cemetery in Matola where we picked up Chico and headed to Elio's church.

Service started at 9am, and I got to finally do my sermon at 1145am. Hectic. We finished by 1230pm and have just come home.

Stay tuned for further updates.

03 July 2009

Mozambique 2009

Since 2005 I've been going to Mozambique for church missions. I have always loved the experience even though it's physically, and emotionally draining. The spiritual side is amazing, so that makes up for it. Mozambique 2009 is upon us, and I depart TOMORROW for this momentous mission!

As with all missions to Mozambique, there's been a last-minute scramble by yours truly to get everything into gear. This year, ironically, has been the least stressful preparation for me, and maybe that's because I'm now a five-time veteran or something, or because I know it's going to be arguably the toughest mission I've been on yet. You see, this time around, our leader has decided that the only way to REALLY experience community with the people we're going to work alongside, is to li
ve alongside them. That means, of course, that we are going to sleep in the community, eat with the community, and work with the community.

Why is this such a big deal?
There's no running water. There's no ablutions. The water you pump isn't drinkable. There's mosquitoes with malaria. There's nothing. Absolutely nothing. Oh, and there's this witch. The Witch of Pikoko. This "lady" and I had a v
ery intimate encounter last year, which ended up in me being rescued by a Land Rover that DIDN'T STOP MOVING and me bundling into it with explosions and gun-fire and curses and spells and all sorts. But that's for another time.

For now, if you want to know what we're up to, or want to pray for us, here's the itinerary:

Also, I'm preparing to preach this year. Something new for me in the sense that I'm preparing in advance, so there's a lot of responsibility and expectation on my shoulders. The sermon notes can be seen here; http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddptrndx_31gh429bfc

Please feel free to pray for the team, pray for the sermons, and for good health and effectiveness. And also for the ones left behind, or for some reason or another couldn't go on Mission this year - and for those that are spouses and family of the missionaries.

Thanks guys! A te prossima semana!