25 September 2009

Hands-on Tech Tips - you've stolen my dream!

Damn you HTT, damn you for all of your usefulness and helpfulness! I see I now have a real rival in the blogosphere for South African handy tips - and you've got a miles-long head-start on me, and made it to 2nd spot ...

I have to admit it, I am INSANELY jealous right now of how useful this blog is, and of all the tips it posts up. I have a feeling it's my long-lost twin brother running that blog, because that's the sort of scheming mind I have, and he's sharing his truth with the world. You go, buddy! Tell the world!

Check out this really helpful blog: http://handytechtips.blogspot.com/ ... I have to confess it's really handy stuff from what I've seen, and it can apply to a world of people - how to save money on Discovery, hot to get the best prepaid top-up value from the service providers, where to go to get your under-16 kid free movies for a year, etc. Looks really promising :)

24 September 2009

ASA seems to have their knickers in a knot

If you don't know about the ASA debacle, then read the following articles to get a better context.


And then here's the result of the meeting:

Basically we've got this president of the ASA - Leonard Chuene - who's allowed an 18-year old to run in a race and win the gold, despite his knowledge that Caster Semenye was under scrutiny for having an "unfair advantage". The scrutiny would lead to potential public humiliation for her, and an ignominous end to her athletics career. Chuene didn't seem to care, ignoring the team doctor (who's incidentally also Jacob Zuma's personal GP, and has been the team doctor for TWENTY YEARS, so he has some credentials) who basically advised to withdraw her from the race to avoid ruining her life. Caster won the race, but has had a nightmare of mockery and leaked stories about her gender ever since. What incites me to rage about this is how the ANC has come out in public support of Caster (and in a smaller extent, for Chuene too), sweeping the debacle under a raggedy carpet of racism, and deflecting the fury of the caring public instead towards the IAAF and white racist pigs who have obviously targeted black African athletes. Never mind that this isn't a race issue (it hardly ever is, except maybe for the guilty ANC cadres) and that recently we've heard the confession that Leonard Chuene was lying for weeks, ignored medical advice, and has cashed in on Caster's achievement.

People have been baying for Chuene to resign, but the long and the short of it is, Chuene is here to stay, and that means the ASA is being presided over by a liar. Plain and simple. A liar is still in charge. How does this bode well for South Africa's credentials? I'm not sure it makes a difference. We're just the topmost rotten apple sitting in a pile of rotten apples in the world's breadbasket (I think basket-case is more apt).

Unconfirmed (by the Courts) rumours already abound that our president is a rapist and a crook, and when we see his cadres being released from prison on medical parole (but living it up in Musgrave), it's hard to ignore these rumours.

I don't see how - in any way possible - someone who's confessed to lying can be given any sort of vote of confidence. If they've admitted to lying (and then only because they were caught doing it), then how do we know they haven't done it before, and won't do it again?

Caster had to undergo gender testing to verify if she was a he or a she or a something in between. I think the more appropriate step shouldn't have been a series of gender tests for Caster, but rather a series of agenda tests for Chuene.

23 September 2009

I have to admit it, I'm a fanboy...

Last night Kat and I took out the DVD "FANBOYS" to pass the time while South Africa crumbled to Sri Lanka and my body recovered from its (presumed) minor bout of food poisoning (note to self: avoid PnP beefy pies on Sundays).

This movie is a must-see for anyone who owns a still-sealed edition of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, waiting for "that day" when the box can be cracked open and a game played, where no-one will be able to say "you've memorised all the cards" when you astound them with your Star Wars nous (You know who you are...).

This movie is absolutely pointless unless you either (a) know a Star Wars fan, (b) know Star Wars, (c) know a Trekkie fan (sorry, "Trekker"), (d) attend comic-con's, (e) like to bully the socially-inept.

If you manage to fit into at least one of the categories above, then it's a must-see movie! Very light and thoroughly entertaining in how humiliating it all is, especially if you're a (b) or (d).

This movie pays homage, and in a great way, to all that is Lucas and Star Wars.

Without giving too much away, there's cameo's from Shatner, Darth Maul (if you don't spot him, how can you be a fan?), Chris McDonald, and even a sequel scene to a Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back moment.

If that's not enough to whet your appetite, we have ninja rolls, Leia, Lando, Judge Reinhold, a trashing of Khan, Trekkie-bashing, and a phaser trap to identify hapless Trekkie fans.

Really enjoyable movie - I had to ashamedly participate in the "prove you're a fan" quiz moments, but all-in-all, a funkie movie (and sadly so accurate).

18 September 2009

All beware the green justice mobile

I'm fed up with people who either cannot read or choose to ignore the "reserved" markings on the road.

This is a little taste of my justice.

16 September 2009

Goodies for your mobile

I've now decided to update my list of WAP and .MOBI sites into a nice spreadsheet for you to look at. It's located here... http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tiRd8NN6hIIEIQuwC_5dJzQ&single=true&gid=0&output=html

First feature is the m.gmail.com lite-site for GMAIL!

Very basic in layout, it's an optional view for GMAIL which can be selected as either HTML or MOBILE. It shows conversations, labels, etc. but doesn't seem to show a way of replying to a current conversation, which to me is its primary limitation. For keeping track of things, though, it seems to be really useful and a valuable GMAIL tool for mobile!

12 September 2009

Awkward names..

Once in a while I come across some names that seem to be deliberately devised by some witty (or wicked?) parents. Names like Eileen Neal or Jenna Taylor.

In the latest UKZN INDABA newsletter, I spotted this rather unfortunate name for some who seems to have done all his crack in...

09 September 2009

Left4Dead (or left4Hawaii?) flight of terror

Picture it - an obliterated airport. Charred wreckage marring the runways as grim reminders of the carnage that befell a once bustling and energetic town. Luggage lies strewn across the departure lounge, the rancid, acrid stench of death and decay filtering through the hallways. Yet not even this vivid portrait of despair comes close to the foreboding portent that is the silence. The grim, deathly silence serves to overwhelm the visual nightmare, deafening a small team of survivors who are crouched hiding inside a safe room. "Should I close the door?" whispers Zoey... "I don't like this one little bit..."

"No!" snaps back Louis "We need to heal up first! Watch that door!". The oppressing silence is broken by the quick snapping of shotgun shells being loaded into the chamber. Zoey repeats her earlier request "should I close the door?" - there's a very clear element of fear in her voice. "There's a smoker out there..." she warns.

"No! Let's heal up first! I'm going to heal Louis" responds Francis. Zoey keeps her eyes and pistols trained on the aisles of departure lounge seats. She can hear the wracking cough of a smoker nearby. The eerie silence returns, only occasionally being interrupted by a wheeze or a sputter somewhere outside the safe room. Somewhere. Out there. Zoey knows it's out there. Zoey wipes the sweat from her brow. The bite wounds on her arm continue to ache. She clenches her grip around the pistols even tighter, fighting the pain that is ebbing through her body. She has to remain calm. She has to focus. The team needs to recover. She has to keep guard.

"SMOKER!!! THERE'S A SMOKER OUT -" Zoey's screams are brought to an abrupt halt as a tongue lashes around her body and drags her out of the sanction of the safe room. The team is caught completely off guard. Louis bolts for the doorway, trains his gun onto the smoker, and lets fire a clip-full of ammo into the Smoker's rotting body. Zoey scrambles back to the safety of the room, and with a pleading tone shouts "we have to close this door! We're sitting ducks like this!" ... at that moment Francis exclaims "okay, done patching up! We can go!" and Zoey closes the door, thinking to herself "why after all of this senseless proximity to death and my added pain, does Francis look decidedly fresher - almost angelic - and Louis is still bleeding all over me as badly as he had a few minutes ago? "...

And so begins the final level of the Dead Air campaign, with the team of survivors nearing death (Louis [Oltman] on 45% and Zoey [me] on 24%, with Francis [Simon] on 96% health, and Bill [Wayne] on 72%). Our esteemed guest back from the UK - Simon - had healed up himself from 80% to 96% instead of Oltman, and after all of that, I had been dragged out into the gaping maw of a Smoker for NOTHING much.

Anyway, the final level is spectacular - the plane-crash scene [spoiler averted] is phenomenal and draw-droppingly good, and it doesn't take long before you're in the horde/rescue stage.

First round, Simon manned the minigun, and I was on the ground watching his back and shoving away infected. Oltman and Wayne were stationed on the gas tanker's top. We became sitting ducks for the Boomers and in the end the Tank mauled through us.

Second round, we didn't fair much better with that strategy.

Third round, I suggested we go up my little hideaway nearby, and we adopted that strategy. It worked pretty well, except version 1 had Oltman watching at the end nearest the stairwell, to the left with Simon covering his back to the right (the front of the fuselage is 12 o'clock, so Oltman was watching 9 o'clock, and Simon was watching the stairwell at 3 o'clock). Wayne and I took up position at the far end away from the stairwell, with me on sniper duty, and Wayne on shoot-everything-that-moves (including me ... once again, byebye SAFETY FIRST ACHIEVEMENT) duty.

Simon bought it first, and the rest of us amazingly survived the Tanks and all of it, and made a run for the plane. The ramp never dropped in time and I was overwhelmed. Wayne was nailed before me, and Oltman made it onto the plane, but heroically, answering my Jedi-mind-trick advice, he didn't end the campaign, and hopped off the plane to die so we could try it again.

The next few rounds had mixed success, but we reviewed our strategy and had all of us at the far end of the fuselage, sheltered by the sidewalls and mentally overwhelming the infected, who couldn't seem to figure out how to run up the stairs, turn, and get to us. They create a tad logjam at the stairs and we could dispatch them quickly. Once in a while someone would get smoked, and then our plan would fall to pot with us sending out rescue attempts and dying. Armed with the only pipe bomb, I would throw it to distract the horde enough to rescue the incap'ed player, but this fell flat when a Tank starts to throw concrete blocks at a group in one corner.

We revised our strategy even further, with Oltman ingeniously planting propane tanks and gas cylinders around the base of the plane ramp so we could quickly clear a path on our escape route. We ended up refining our equipping of molotov's and pipe bombs in the end, and Oltman and I would have pipe bombs and the others would have molotov's. Simon had become a pro at hitting targets with his molotov, and had whooped for joy earlier when he had actually hit a Tank in the face, even though it was killing him. He died with a look of satisfaction plastered all over his face. Of course, I was a little less impressed, since he also managed to splash a Tank *and the team* in the corner in another round, and quickly expired all of us.

The final - winning - strategy was a masterpiece of execution. I must also congratulate the team for their quick-thinking rehash of an old strategy and their thinking on the run.

Here's how it came about (for the four people reading this post...):

I don't recall setting up any gas tanks around the plane - maybe - but I'm not sure. A comment below can help clear that up.

We healed up at the station, all grabbed a health pack, and made a run for the salvation airlines flight 4v10000. Oltman summoned the horde, and while he was running, I was aimed clearly down the stairwell to keep it clear for him. Wayne was firing off anyone in the pathway for his sprint to the stairwell, and Simon was ready to slow down the horde coming from the 9 o'clock plane.

Simon got up, we got to the far end (6 o'clock), and prepared ourselves. Interestingly, a crouched person doesn't seem to be shoved along as much as a standing person. At any rate, Simon watched the stairwell and a bit of the 9 o'clock show, Oltman watched the stairwell and more of the 9 o'clock show, and Wayne was standing at the back potting off anyone that got through the stairs. My job was to be about three paces in front, crouched by the gap in the side wall on the right side, ready to be smoked whenever a Smoker got to the stairs, so someone behind me (usually Simon) would despatch the death-grip and I could return to action.

This worked so well, that I think pretty much all of us just used our pistola. I was smoked three times or so, and rescued every time, and no-one was incapacitated. I do believe we even made it past the first Tank.

Then the side walls started to fade a bit, and the Smoker got greedy. Oltman (I think?) was the first to be smoked, and he hit the stairs, but we managed to rescue him before he was incap'ed and he bolted back upstairs. Next it went for Wayne, but this time we freed him, and he was disoriented, and he fell off the stairs. That's when the nightmare began to unfold a bit. I lobbed my pipe bomb to distract the hordes from him while Oltman valiantly leapt to his aid. Up, down, up, down the two went. I sprayed covering fire around them (I could only see about 270 degrees of their side, because they were UNDER the fuselage that we were inside), and when my pipe bomb didn't rescue them, Simon (or Oltman?) lobbed his, and bought them some time. Oltman managed to revive Wayne, and they made a run for it. Boomer! They were stenched. And another wave came. I was down to 54 bullets in my assault rifle, and I realised the end was night unless we intervened. I started to feel it was a lost cause, so I shouted "leave him! you've got to get up here!" and Simon quietly concurred. Oltman left Wayne and made a hobble up the stairs. Wayne was bleeding out; 50... 40... 30... and sadly we watched him die. I gave Oltman a revive from his 40% to 80%, in the middle of an impending Tank battle, and then he did the same for me. We managed to fend off a lobbed concrete block, and someone managed to spark flames around the sucker. A flaming Tank ran around haplessly and we felt quite safe in our position. Our little safe-haven soon became a death-cradle, as the Tank made his way up the stairs, and Oltman barked out the captain's orders "abandon ship!" abandon ship!" ... we could hear the plane starting up its engines, so we knew we had a hope to make it. We jumped out the 3 o'clock side, hopefully bracing our fall by bouncing off the broken fuselage next to us. I hit the ground. Oltman hit the ground. Simon hit the ground. I ran away. Oltman ran away. Simon whimpered. I think his legs were broken. Or his neck. Whatever, he was down, and a flaming Tank was making his way to the coup de grĂ¢ce.

I wasn't going to leave anyone to die, so I turned around, screaming to Oltman that we had to save Simon. Simon was whimpering like a jack-russell discovering his own shadow, and I ran into the fray. Oltman declared unilaterally that it was time to make an escape and to leave Simon. No ways Jose. I hadn't had my heroics for the round yet. Oltman was a bit "half-empty" because of his failed rescue on Wayne (which admittedly was a success, except for the meaty bits of Wayne that ended up on Oltman's clothes).

I ran into the burning Tank, and let rip a full auto of my assault rifle on him. He didn't flinch. Bugger. I then gave him a shove to distract him from Simon, who was now also on fire, and on about -40% life remaining. The Tank turned to me, let out an almighty roar, stamped his fists (which squished Simon), and then rolled over and died. [at this point I must submit that had we had a few more bullets into the Tank, perhaps Simon wouldn't have died... Oltman!! But nevertheless, had Oltman responded to the rescue attempt, perhaps the rest wouldn't have transpired as it had]

I turned to flee, hearing the horde surrounding us. I had NO bullets except for my akimbo pistols, and I wasn't going to go down again this time. I ran around a corner, and heard Oltman declare "pipe bomb by the plane" - the little genius had gone back to the ammo supply and grabbed a pipe bomb to clear the plane area - that was what my pipe bomb was SUPPOSED to be for, but the rescue raid on Wayne had depleted my reserve. Great job Oltman, we have a clear run for the plane - Oltman was on the left side, I was on the other side of the tanker. Around the corner, one step to freedom, and ... SMOKED! I was smoked!!! Pulled away into an icy kiss of death!!! SO CLOSE!!!

Oltman stopped, turned, aimed, fired, and freed me. My hero! I lumbered (I was that broken) to the plane, and as I was getting in, I saw Oltman make a dash, and get vomited on. Oh dear. I dispatched the Boomer, and told Oltman "come to my voice!" ... he managed to stagger blindly into the plane, and off we flew to freedom.

Strangely, and unofficially of course, the game closed with the credits "in loving memory of Bill (buddy), Francis (BadKat), and Louis (oltman)"... he may or may not have bled out on the deck of the plane in my arms... or maybe the door closed on his hand or something, but at any rate, he got the achievement, and he did make it to the plane twice, so that counts for a win :)

"Here lies Oltman's Louis... he may or may not have died, but he was the representative black IT guy"

"Here lies Simon's Francis... he died a happy man, because he had molotov'ed a Tank in the face"

"Here lies Wayne's Bill... he shot teammates. And he died"

08 September 2009

How legal is downloading TV series?

I've seen a lot of people downloading TV series, and a lot of people are doing it claiming that it's not illegal etc., well, I've always felt it's not right and especially if the product is available locally for sale, it surely must be considered a copyright infringement.

After several failed attempts to contact SAFACT via email (turns out some people aren't so pleased with what they're doing, so they are SPAM nuking their email), I decided today to phone them to put this baby to rest.

I spoke with an individual by the name of James, who was sitting in London somewhere at the time of our call, and we spoke briefly about my concerns. Below is a paraphrased edition of the conversation:

Bryan: Is downloading of TV series off the internet legal or illegal in South Africa?

James: It's an infringement on copyright, and no-one has the right to offer TV series for download in South Africa

Bryan: So it's illegal? What are the consequences?

James: It's a civil infringement if you download it. It becomes criminal if you distribute or share it.

There you have it, if you copy a TV series, you are committing a CRIMINAL offence.

James went on to say: Right now we are trying to start a campaign of awareness because most people don't seem to realise the consequences of their actions. If an owner has not given permission for someone to take something that doesn't belong to them, it's theft. If someone finds out about the theft, the thief can be charged. There's also the issue about how the theft impacts on the industry. Take District 9 as an example, once it's pirated or made available for download, it's going to sink District 9's profits. In the UK we are dealing with people who even refuse to pay for legitimately available downloadable material, so it's a mindset that needs to be changed.

And so he went on with some really interesting observations and I couldn't help but agree with him on everything he was saying. He also commented that he wanted to make sure people didn't view SAFACT as the bogeymen who were trying to pressgang people into submission. They're trying to protect people's rights and at the same time are very aware of the potential for freely downloadable stuff becoming unavailable if their measures are too strict.

So the bottom line is, downloading TV series is illegal - if you are doing it, you're a thief. Pretty much most people reading this post are not poor enough or desperate enough to need to steal a loaf of bread for survival, so what's your excuse for stealing a movie or series? If you claim to be a Christian, then even more reason to not download or share TV series any more. You've been convicted, and hopefully that's now enough to ensure you don't become a convict.

01 September 2009

Stupid Advertising

Sometimes in my daily grind I come across some really stupid adverts. I don't think I'm the only one to notice them, but then again, maybe I'm blessed?

Check this one out...

I know what FISHAWAYS is TRYING to do, but they're not doing a good job of promoting THEIR vegetables, now are they?

Sigh. If you don't get it, think about it. "You'll actually want to eat YOUR vegetables". Get it now?

Okay, so I've added some selective emphasis but it helps to illustrate the concept. There are enough grammatically challenged people out there to read it the way I've emphasised it. And for me, if it's not 100% clear, then it's not a good advert, unless maybe they've intended it to be ambiguous, but in this instance, they haven't.