02 November 2016

Applying for a US visa on SA passport

Recently I had my UK passport stolen and had to fly out to the USA 2 weeks later. I was in Botswana at the time of the theft so I really had pressure.

I was able to apply online for an appointment at the US Consulate General in Cape Town and initially it said the earliest appointment was 4 November. I needed to get it done way sooner than that. I phoned the US Consulate General later that day and was advised that the booking slots had changed and I could get to them on 31 October. First lesson to learn:

17 May 2016

Beat the price increase with Xbox Live Gold : South Africa

So Microsoft is doing a douche financial move - they're more than doubling the SA Xbox Live subscription fee. There's only one thing for it - stock up now before the price increase hits!

Here's my simple (possibly painfully complicated :)) process:
(pardon the hastily drawn up blog post with terrible screenshots and indentations)

  1. Go to your Microsoft account page
  2. Select Service & Subscriptions
    and select show more
  3. Get more Gold
  4. (as an aside, I currently have 30.5GB free space on OneDrive but MS is reducing that to 5GB ... good luck to all the businesses running Office 365... MS isn't showing much favorable behaviour at the moment. They've even acquired Sunrise calendar and now they're discontinuing it :( ).

Choose your subscription, then follow the confirmation prompts, and voila! You'll get no confirmation of the purchase and will be dumped at an Xbox settings home page, none the wiser ...

To verify your subscription status, go back to the Services & Subscriptions page and confirm the new expiry and renewal dates. The best thing about doing the R50 monthly thing is you won't be screwed royally if you accidentally forget to cancel the auto-renew. You'll get enough warning to cancel it yourself before you are hit with a massive 12-month subscription price increase... you'll suffer one month of losses but that's better than the equivalent 12-month subscription auto-renewal coming off your account. 

10 May 2016

Android Angles: Contacts+, one of the most versatile contact apps for Android

I'm a complete perfectionist and it is the worst experience ever to have an Android device. There are far too many choices and I just can't decide which is the right one.

In order to save you from the same nightmare of choice, I present to you an app that I think will cover almost all the bases for those needing a better Contact management experience on their device.

I present... Contacts+ as enjoyed (or at least, installed) by more than 10 million users.

Why do I like this app? Well, it's not perfect, for starters, but it seems to cover my wishlist for a contacts management app:

  • Simple, intuitive, fairly minimalist interface
  • One-stop app to cover all my basic communication needs
  • Duplicate Contact management
  • SMS conversation management (including deleting multiple SMSes easily)
  • Fast dial functionality
  • Unknown number identification
  • Cloud backup
Looking through my list you'd think I was asking for the impossible. But thankfully, I found my home with Contacts+.

I must say from the outset that it's not at all 100% perfect in all departments - in fact, on a loan Samsung Galaxy S4 I found that received SMSes were blank "MMS" ... could have been the sender though, because other users were fine. At any rate, my experience has been around 95% satisfactory which is a large step up from using seven different mediocre individually focused apps.

Let's get started then, shall we?

25 February 2016

Mac OS X local HDD read-only

Recently had to run a recovery for someone on Mac OS X - the local disk was mounted read only.

To fix this:

mount -uw /


04 February 2016

iSCSI connection failure in RHEL / Linux


We're running a Dell PowerVault MD3600i iSCSI connection to a RHEL server. From time to time (rarely but more frequently than I like it) it seems to lose the mount and needs intervention.

Herewith the script that I've written to repair the lost mount connection - hope it's useful for someone. 

Script solution

Run a cronjob to check the mount exists and if not, perform a mount repair...
(note the *** portions of the below script are going to be different for your personal setup)

if grep -qs /data /proc/mounts; then
date >> /usr/local/sbin/logs/checkdatamount.log
echo "/data is mounted" >> /usr/local/sbin/logs/checkdatamount.log
echo "---" >> /usr/local/sbin/logs/checkdatamount.log
date >> /usr/local/sbin/logs/checkdatamount.log
echo "!!! /data is NOT mounted !!!" >> /usr/local/sbin/logs/checkdatamount.log
echo "^^^" >> /usr/local/sbin/logs/checkdatamount.log
echo "attempting repair" >> /usr/local/sbin/logs/checkdatamount.log
echo "..." >> /belfry/logs/checkdatamount.log
iscsiadm --m node -T iqn.1984-05.com.dell:powervault.md3600i.6f0******2d788ac --portal 10.***.***.1**:3260 -u
iscsiadm -m discovery -t st -p 10.***.***.1**
iscsiadm -m node --targetname "iqn.1984-05.com.dell:powervault.md3600i.6f0******2d788ac" --portal "10.***.***.1**:3260" --login
iscsiadm -m session
vgchange -an MD3600i***01
vgchange -ay MD3600i***01
mount /dev/mapper/MD3600i***01-MD3600i***Vol01 /data
echo "... repaired (possibly)" >> /belfry/logs/checkdatamount.log